Oakland Raiders Vault: Super Bowl XVIII, January 22nd, 1984

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Nov 20, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Los Angeles Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs former running back Marcus Allen attends the game between the Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Second Half

Washington came out of the locker room ready to do something about it. On the first play of the second half, Theismann hit Charlie Brown for a 23 yard gain, putting the offense in business at the Raider 47-yard line. After Riggins picked up 7 yards on two runs, Theismann hit two consecutive passes for 27 yards, followed by an eight-yard run by Riggins.

Riggins carried the ball three more times from the Raider five yard line, breaking through from a yard away on his third attempt for the first Washington touchdown. In about 3 and a half minutes, Joe Gibbs’ squad had closed the Raider lead to 21-9 after the Raiders’ Don Hasselbeck blocked the extra point try.

But the Raiders responded with a drive of their own, aided by a Washington blunder. Future Hall of Famer Darrell Green, deep in coverage, was called for a 38-yard pass interference penalty which put the Raider offense in business at the Washington 30-yard line. Plunkett hit three of five passes to move the ball down to the 5, and Marcus Allen scored from there to give the Raiders a 19 point advantage.

The two teams would trade punts again until late in the third quarter, when Washington began to get aggressive with the 4th quarter looming. After a fumble by Cliff Branch had given Washington the ball at the Raider 35 yard line, Gibbs realized this was his best opportunity to close the sizable gap going into the final period. On fourth down with a yard to go at the Raider 26 yard line, Gibbs passed on the chance to go for a Mark Moseley field goal and instead decided to hand the ball to his reliable workhorse MVP running back behind his outstanding offensive line.

It wasn’t a bad idea, but it didn’t work out for Gibbs, as Riggins was stuffed by linebacker Rod Martin for no gain, giving the ball right back to the Raiders, and setting up what may be the most memorable play in the history of the Raider organization (that doesn’t involve the Raiders getting shafted).

Marcus Allen had been solid all year but not spectacular, averaging about 3.8 yards per carry throughout the regular season but also contributing nearly 600 yards as a receiver. He had stepped up for the playoffs, however, gaining 275 rushing yards in two games leading up to the Super Bowl. Through 44 minutes and 48 seconds of Super Bowl XXVIII, he had been solid but not spectacular as well, carrying the ball 16 times for 72 yards and a touchdown. With 12 seconds left in the third quarter, he became spectacular.

The Raiders, deep in their own territory with a 28-9 lead, called a conservative power run play: 17 Bob Trey O, designed as an offside power play to the left side of the formation, employing a pulling guard. Plunkett handed the ball off to Allen, who angled left a bit too hard, putting him in the path of Washington safety Ken Coffey, who was crashing down hard. Allen stopped dead in his tracks, then reversed field, where the Washington defense had essentially vacated all cutback lanes to aggressively pursue Allen to the other side.

Allen took off, slipping a diving arm tackle by Coffey, and headed downfield, slipping past Washington defenders with his long, smooth strides. Allen, thought of as a slow running back, still put distance between himself and the entire Washington defense, save for cornerback Anthony Washington, who Cliff Branch managed to put a hat on deep downfield to secure the touchdown run.

Allen sailed smoothly into the end zone, having set the record for the longest TD run in Super Bowl history with the 74-yard scoring run. The Raider sideline ran to celebrate with him in the end zone en masse. The play would be memorialized forever with the voice of the great John Facenda, whose voiceover work on the highlight reel for Super Bowl XVIII would be his final work for NFL Films:

“As Washington’s hopes faded into the dying daylight, on came Marcus Allen, running with the night.”

Allen would add an additional 45 yards on three more carries, most of it on a 39-yarder midway through the 4th quarter that set up the final score of the game, a Chris Bahr field goal that made the final score 38-9. He would finish with a Super Bowl record 191 yards on 20 carries and 2 TD’s, good enough to be named Most Valuable Player.

During his traditional post-game telephone call to the winning locker room, President Ronald Reagan told Tom Flores – and a national TV audience – that Moscow had called and demanded that Marcus Allen, the “new secret weapon,” be dismantled. Flores and the Raiders had won their second Super Bowl in four years, and the franchise had won three in seven years. Only two years into their stay in LA, the Raiders had accomplished something the Rams never had: win a Super Bowl for the City of Angels.

It had been a dominant and stellar performance by the Raiders, who out-coached and outperformed the Washington team in every phase of the game. The Raider defense had done an amazing job in containing the powerful Riggins and in pushing back against The Hogs: Riggins had averaged less than 2.5 yards per carry, and Joe Theismann had been sacked six times. Theismann had also thrown two interceptions in the game, including the Squirek TD.

Allen had powered the Raider offense to victory, single-handedly accounting for 54% of the Raiders’ total offensive yards and two of the three offensive touchdowns. Cliff Branch, who’s block downfield allowed Allen to complete the 74-yard TD run, also led all receivers with 94 yards on 6 receptions and a score. Jim Plunkett had been efficient, completing 16 of 25 attempts for 172 yards and the one TD pass to Branch.