Washington Redskins 9
For the second year in a row, the Washington Redskins represented the NFC in the Super Bowl. The defending champs compiled a 14-2 regular-season record, losing only to Dallas, 31-30, and Green Bay, 48-47. In the playoffs, the Redskins destroyed the Los Angeles Rams, 51-7, before just holding off San Francisco, 24-21.
The Los Angeles Raiders dominated the AFC with 12 victories. Their four losses came at the hands of St. Louis (Cardinals), Seattle (twice), and the very team they were facing in Super Bowl XVIII, the Redskins. On October 2, in Washington, the Redskins registered a 37-35 victory over the Raiders by scoring 17 points in the final 6 minutes and 15 seconds
In playoff action, the Raiders easily knocked off Pittsburgh and Seattle.
The Skins still featured the same attack as a year ago. Theismann, the Hogs, and running back John Riggins, a hard-nosed runner who earned Most Valuable Player honors in Super Bowl XVII. But it was Raiders running back Marcus Allen that would go home with the award this time. Allen rushed for 191 yards on 20 carries, including a Super Bowl record 74-yarder, and caught two balls for 18 yards.
The Redskins thoroughly shut down the Dolphins a year earlier, but they were not as fortunate this time around. Less than 5 minutes into the game, the Redskins were dealt a blow when, after their first drive stalled at their own 30-yard line, punter Jeff Hayes, who had not had a punt blocked all year, had his kick swatted down by Derrick Jensen. The Raiders special teams captain then chased the ball into the end zone, where he fell on it for a touchdown. Chris Bahr's kick gave Los Angeles a 7-0 lead.
On their next possession, the Skins moved more than 50 yards to the Los Angeles 27 where the drive stalled. On fourth down, however, Mark Moseley pulled a 44-yard field-goal attempt left of the goal post and Washington came up empty.
Starting from their own 35-yard line early in the second quarter, the Raiders put together a drive that was keyed by a 50-yard pass from Jim Plunkett to wide receiver Cliff Branch that moved the offense to the Redskins 15. Two plays later Plunkett connected with Branch again, this time for 12 yards and the touchdown.
Washington finally got on the scoreboard after putting together a 12-play, 73-yard drive that resulted in a 24-yard Mark Moseley field goal.
When the Raiders' ensuing drive stalled, punter Ray Guy pinned the Redskins back at their own 12. With just 12 seconds remaining before halftime, Washington decided to try a screen pass, and the results were disastrous. As Theismanns pass slowly arched over the head of defensive end Lyle Alzado toward running back Joe Washington, second-year linebacker Jack Squirek stepped in front of the would-be receiver and took the pass five yards the other way for a touchdown and a 21-3 halftime lead.