|Date||January 31, 1988|
|Stadium||Jack Murphy Stadium, San Diego, California|
|MVP||Doug Williams, quarterback|
|Favorite||Broncos by 3|
|Current/Future Hall of Famers|
|Redskins: Bobby Beathard (general manager), Joe Gibbs (coach), Emmitt Thomas‡ (asst. coach), Darrell Green, Russ Grimm, Art Monk|
Broncos: Pat Bowlen (owner), Stan Jones‡ (asst. coach), John Elway ‡ elected as a player.
|National anthem||Herb Alpert|
|Coin toss||Don Hutson|
|Halftime show||Chubby Checker and The Rockettes|
|TV in the United States|
|Announcers||Al Michaels, Frank Gifford and Dan Dierdorf|
|Nielsen ratings||41.9 |
(est. 80.14 million viewers)
|Cost of 30-second commercial||$645,000|
|Radio in the United States|
|Announcers||Jack Buck and Hank Stram|
Super Bowl XXII was an American football game between the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Washington Redskins and American Football Conference (AFC) champion Denver Broncos to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 1987 season. The Redskins defeated the Broncos by the score of 42–10, winning their second Super Bowl. The game was played on January 31, 1988 at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, which was the first time that the Super Bowl was played there.
This Super Bowl came at the end of a season that was shortened by a players' strike. Each team only missed one regular season game due to the labor dispute, but three games were played mostly with replacement players until the dispute was settled. The Broncos were making their second consecutive (and third overall) Super Bowl appearance, after posting a 10–4–1 regular season record, largely through the strength of their quarterback, John Elway. The Redskins, who were making their fourth Super Bowl appearance, posted an 11–4 regular season record. Washington was led by quarterback Doug Williams, who entered the season as a backup, and was 0-2 as a starter during the regular season. He ended up leading Washington to their two playoff victories. In doing so, he became the first African American quarterback ever to start in an NFL league championship game, let alone a Super Bowl.
After trailing 10–0 at the end of the first quarter of Super Bowl XXII, the Redskins scored 42 unanswered points, including a record-breaking 35 points in the second quarter, and setting several other Super Bowl records. Williams, who was named the Super Bowl MVP, completed 18 of 29 passes for a Super Bowl record 340 yards and four touchdowns, with one interception. He also became the first player in Super Bowl history to pass for four touchdowns in a single quarter, and four in a half. Williams became the first African American starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl.
NFL owners voted to award Super Bowl XXII to San Diego on May 24, 1984 during their May 23–25, 1984 meetings in Washington, D.C. This was the first Super Bowl played at Jack Murphy Stadium (now currently known as SDCCU Stadium) in San Diego, California.
Fourteen cities were part of the bidding process, which was scheduled to award four Super Bowls (XXI, XXII, XXIII, and XXIV). The bidding cities included: Anaheim, Detroit, Houston, Jacksonville, Miami, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Pasadena, Philadelphia, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, Tampa, and Tempe. The Philadelphia host committee assembled what was considered a strong, but long-shot bid, hoping to win the first outdoor Super Bowl in a cold weather city. Jacksonville and Tempe had no NFL team at the time; the Jacksonville Jaguars were founded in 1993 and did not start play until 1995, while the Cardinals moved from St. Louis to Tempe in 1988.
After the balloting for XXI took over two hours to complete, XXII was also voted on, but the voting for XXIII and XXIV was postponed. San Diego was awarded the game, marking the second time consecutive Super Bowls were played in the same state, with Pasadena hosting Super Bowl XXI. This has now happened three times in NFL history; Super Bowls II and III were both played at the Miami Orange Bowl and Super Bowls XLIII and XLIV were played in Florida (at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa and Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens).
The primary storyline surrounding Super Bowl XXII was that Washington's Doug Williams was the first African-American quarterback ever to start in a Super Bowl. This was even more meaningful given that the Redskins had once been among the league's most racist teams, being the last team to sign a black player after they reentered the league.
Williams had taken a rather unconventional route to the Super Bowl. He began his career as the first round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1978. After five seasons (including a trip to the NFC championship game in 1979), a contract dispute caused him to leave the team and sign with the Oklahoma Outlaws of the newly formed USFL. When that league folded a few years later, Williams found himself out of a job until Redskins coach Joe Gibbs asked him to join the team to be the backup for quarterback Jay Schroeder. Williams played just one game in 1986, and spent most of the 1987 season on the bench. But injuries and inconsistent play from Schroeder made Gibbs promote Williams to starting quarterback.
Williams had played extremely well in his five regular season games, passing for 1,156 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. The Redskins' main receiving threat was wide receiver Gary Clark, who caught 56 passes for 1,066 yards, an average of 19 yards per catch. Wide receivers Ricky Sanders and Art Monk were also deep threats, combining for 80 receptions and 1,130 yards. Running back George Rogers was Washington's leading rusher with 613 yards. However, Rogers saw limited action in Super Bowl XXII due to injuries that later forced him into early retirement. Rookie running back Timmy Smith started in his place. Fullback Kelvin Bryant also was a big contributor, rushing for 406 yards, and catching 43 passes for 490 yards during the 1987 season. The Redskins offensive line was by tackle Joe Jacoby, a 4-time pro bowl selection, and future Hall of Fame Center Russ Grimm.
The Redskins also had an excellent defensive unit, led by defensive backs Barry Wilburn, who recorded nine interceptions for 135 return yards and one touchdown; Todd Bowles, who intercepted four passes; and Darrell Green. Their line was anchored by defensive ends Charles Mann, who led the team with 9.5 sacks and recovered a fumble; and Dexter Manley, who recorded 8.5 sacks.
The Redskins finished the 1987 strike-shortened regular season as NFC East champions with an 11–4 record and the third seed in the NFC playoffs.
The Broncos advanced to their second consecutive Super Bowl, overall the third appearance in team history. Quarterback John Elway had another excellent season, passing for 3,198 yards and 19 touchdowns. He was also the team's second leading rusher with 304 yards and four touchdowns. Wide receivers Vance Johnson and Ricky Nattiel, and tight end Clarence Kay, combined for 104 receptions and 1,754 yards. Running back Sammy Winder was the leading rusher with 741 yards and six touchdowns, while fullback Gene Lang rushed for 304 yards and caught 17 receptions. Denver's offensive line was led by guard Keith Bishop, who earned his second consecutive Pro Bowl selection. The Broncos also possessed a solid defensive unit, led by outside linebacker Karl Mecklenburg, who recorded 7 sacks and picked off three passes, and defensive back Mike Harden with four interceptions. Defensive end Rulon Jones led the line with 7 sacks.
The Broncos routed the Houston Oilers in the Divisional round of the playoffs, 34–10, jumping to a 14–0 first-quarter lead off of two quick Oilers turnovers, with Elway completing 14 of 25 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns in the game. Vance Johnson recorded four catches for 105 yards, including a 55-yard reception to set up Elway's second touchdown pass. However, Johnson was injured during the game; he ended up missing AFC Championship game, and played only sparingly in the Super Bowl. Denver also lost safety Mike Harden for the rest of the season with a broken arm.
Denver then won the AFC Championship Game in exciting fashion over the AFC Central champion Cleveland Browns, 38–33 for the second consecutive year. The Broncos seemed to be in control of the game during the first half, taking a 21–3 lead. However, with quarterback Bernie Kosar, Cleveland rallied back and tied the score 31–31 in the fourth quarter. Elway responded with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Sammy Winder, taking the lead back with less than five minutes left in regulation. The Browns took the ball back and drove to the Denver 8-yard line, but the drive ended with a play that became known as The Fumble, resulting in more bad luck in Cleveland professional sports lore: Denver defensive back Jeremiah Castille stripped the football from Browns running back Earnest Byner and recovered the ensuing fumble as Byner was rushing in for the potential tying touchdown, securing the Broncos' win.
Meanwhile, the Redskins had narrow wins in the playoffs. First, they won at Soldier Field against the Chicago Bears, 21–17. The key play was a 52-yard punt return for a touchdown by Redskins defensive back Darrell Green for the go-ahead touchdown. The Bears' Kevin Butler kicked a field goal to close the deficit to 21–17, but the Bears could get no closer. Noteworthy was the Redskins trailed 14–0 early in the game.
The Redskins won a defensive battle against the surprising Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game, 17–10. The Vikings barely made the playoffs with an 8–7 record during the strike-shortened regular season, but advanced to the NFC championship by winning on the road against the teams with the best records in the NFL, defeating the 12–3 New Orleans Saints 44–10, and the 13–2 San Francisco 49ers 36–24. The experienced Redskins, who had narrowly defeated Minnesota in a 27–24 overtime game during Week 15 of the season, put an end to the Vikings' string of upsets, aided by Williams' go-ahead touchdown pass to wide receiver Gary Clark with five minutes remaining to lead 17–10. Then they sealed the victory with 56 seconds left when a hard hit by Green caused running back Darrin Nelson to drop a potential touchdown catch in the end zone on fourth down and four from the Redskins 6-yard line.
Coming into Super Bowl XXII, the Broncos were favored to win (−3 as noted on the NFL Today show by Jimmy "the Greek" Snyder) because most experts thought both teams were equal in terms of talent with Elway presumed to be the superior quarterback to Williams. Elway had won the NFL Most Valuable Player Award and was selected to start for the AFC in the Pro Bowl, while Williams had played just five regular season games in the 1987 season.
Before the game, it was announced that Williams underwent emergency root canal treatment for an abscessed lower right molar the previous night. Team dentist Barry Rudolph said there were no complications, and Williams then was pronounced fit to start.
The game was broadcast in the United States by ABC with play-by-play announcer Al Michaels and color commentators Frank Gifford and Dan Dierdorf. Keith Jackson hosted the pregame, halftime, and postgame coverage for ABC, joined by analysts Lynn Swann and Mike Adamle as well as then Cleveland Browns head coach Marty Schottenheimer and then Minnesota Vikings head coach Jerry Burns. (Bob Griese was originally supposed to co-host with Jackson, but had to bow out due to a family illness, as his wife Judi was in the late stages of breast cancer, from which she died on February 15, 1988.) Also helping with ABC's coverage were Jack Whitaker, Jim Hill and Becky Dixon. This was the first Super Bowl broadcast on ABC with the broadcast team of Michaels, Gifford, and Dierdorf in the booth (as the 1987 season was the first year the trio was together, with Dierdorf moving to ABC from CBS; Gifford was the only holdover from ABC's Super Bowl XIX telecast). The trio went on to man the booth for ABC's Monday Night Football from 1987 to 1997 and called Super Bowls XXV and XXIX.
It was simulcast in Canada on CTV and in the United Kingdom on Channel 4. It was also the first Super Bowl in which Mexico's Televisa brought a team of its own (instead of relying on the U.S. signal with comments made from Mexico City), airing on its Canal de las Estrellas.
The game was broadcast nationally on radio by CBS, with Jack Buck handling the play-by-play duties and color commentator Hank Stram in the broadcast booth, and Jim Hunter reporting from the sidelines. Brent Musburger anchored the Super Bowl XXII pregame, halftime, and postgame coverage with analysis from Will McDonough and Jimmy Snyder for CBS. Locally, Super Bowl XXII was broadcast on WMAL-AM in Washington, D.C. by Frank Herzog, Sam Huff and Sonny Jurgenson, and on KOA-AM in Denver, Colorado by Bob Martin and Larry Zimmer.
The Wonder Years premiered on ABC immediately following the game. This was only the second successful series to debut following a Super Bowl up to that time (The A-Team, which had premiered following Super Bowl XVII, was the first). The Wonder Years was a late switch by ABC; which had initially scheduled the two-hour premiere of China Beach for the post Super Bowl slot, but concerns about the game running long and potentially pushing the premiere episode's conclusion after midnight contributed to the program change. The NFL Films NFL's Greatest Games highlight film was titled Ambush at Super Bowl XXII; and was the first such highlight film to feature former Boston and Buffalo radio personality Jeff Kaye as its narrator.
The pregame festivities featured a tribute to entertainer Bob Hope, who was approaching the age of 85. Members representing the military service branches marched out onto the field in full dress uniforms, and in unison saluted Bob Hope for his dedication to helping the troops. Trumpeter Herb Alpert performed "The Star-Spangled Banner", while Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Don Hutson participated in the coin toss ceremony (the game happened to coincide with Hutson's 75th birthday). Alpert's performance was the last non-vocal performance of the National Anthem in a Super Bowl to date.
The halftime show, produced by Radio City Music Hall, was titled "Something Grand" and featured performances by vocalist Chubby Checker, The Rockettes, and 88 grand pianos. Among the 44 Radio City Music Hall Rockettes, American performer Jennifer Jones made her national debut as its first African American Rockette. Checker's performance marked the first time a major artist performed during the show.
Super Bowl XXII started out very well for the Denver Broncos. After forcing Washington to go three-and-out, the Broncos scored on their first play from scrimmage, when quarterback John Elway threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Ricky Nattiel, giving Denver a 7–0 lead after just 1:57 had elapsed in the game. It was the earliest touchdown any team had ever scored in Super Bowl history to that point (the record was later broken by Jerry Rice in Super Bowl XXIX, and again by Devin Hester in Super Bowl XLI). The Broncos quickly forced Washington to punt, and once again Elway displayed his superb scrambling skills. On the second play of Denver's ensuing possession, Elway completed a 32-yard pass to wide receiver Mark Jackson. Then, he caught a 23-yard pass from halfback Steve Sewell, becoming the first quarterback ever to catch a pass in the Super Bowl (Elway had scored a touchdown on that play during opening day the previous year against the Raiders). The Redskins managed to halt Denver's drive on the 6, but kicker Rich Karlis kicked a field goal to increase the Broncos' lead to 10–0.
After yet another Redskins punt, Denver managed to drive to the Washington 30 on their third possession with two runs by Gene Lang for a total of 24 yards and an 18-yard reception by Sewell. But this time they failed to score because Washington safety Alvin Walton sacked Elway for an 18-yard loss on third down, pushing the Broncos out of field goal range.
Meanwhile, the Redskins could not generate any offensive momentum in the first quarter, with the Broncos' defense forcing a punt on every drive. To make matters worse, late in the period, quarterback Doug Williams twisted his back leg while planting to make a throw and had to leave the game. Williams was untouched by a Bronco defender before he dropped the ball while falling to the ground; the referee, however, inadvertently blew his whistle, stopping the play & costing Denver a fumble recovery and an almost certain fumble return touchdown and a 17-0 lead. Backup quarterback Jay Schroeder was sacked by Denver's Karl Mecklenburg on his first snap, continuing the Redskins' offensive woes. By the time the quarter ended, the Broncos had more than twice as many total yards of offense (142) as the Redskins (64). In the previous 21 Super Bowls, no team had ever overcome a 10-point deficit to win.
Williams returned with 14:17 left in the second quarter, and the Washington offense began to click. And much like they had in the second half of Super Bowl XXI against the New York Giants, the Broncos defense collapsed.
On the Redskins' first play of the second quarter, receiver Ricky Sanders got behind defensive back Mark Haynes (who tried to jam him at the line of scrimmage) and safety Tony Lilly, caught a pass from Williams, and took it 80 yards for a touchdown. After forcing the Broncos to punt on their next possession, Washington advanced to the Denver 27. Facing third-and-one, Williams connected with receiver Gary Clark who made a diving catch in the end zone to give Washington a 14–10 lead.
After the ensuing kickoff, Denver drove to the Washington 26, aided by running back Sammy Winder's 27-yard reception and Elway's 21-yard run. But left tackle Dave Studdard, blocking defensive end Dexter Manley, went down with a knee injury. After Elway threw an incomplete pass on third down, Karlis missed a 43-yard field goal attempt. On the first play of the Redskins' ensuing drive, Williams threw a 16-yard completion to Clark. Then on the next play, running back Timmy Smith, a rookie in his first NFL start, took off for a 58-yard touchdown run, with blocking from guard Raleigh McKenzie and tackle Joe Jacoby, making the score 21–10. Washington's offensive line featuring McKenzie and Jacoby figured greatly in a play known as the Counter Gap, which the Skins ran repeatedly in the game.
The Redskins increased their lead to 28–10 on their next possession with a 50-yard touchdown pass from Williams to Sanders, making him the first player in Super Bowl history to catch two touchdowns in one quarter. Four plays after the ensuing kickoff, Washington defensive back Barry Wilburn intercepted a pass from Elway on the Redskins 21, and once again, the Redskins stormed down the field to score. First, Smith broke loose for a 43-yard run, then Williams completed a pair of passes to Sanders to reach the Denver 7. Two plays later, Williams threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end Clint Didier to make the score 35–10. On Denver's next drive, Elway completed three consecutive passes for 40 total yards to advance to the Redskins 36. However, Washington rookie defensive back Brian Davis intercepted Elway's next pass at the 21 with seven seconds left in the half.
In the second quarter alone, Williams completed 9 of 11 passes for 228 yards and four touchdowns; Smith rushed five times for 122 yards and a touchdown; and Sanders caught five passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns. The Redskins scored 35 points and gained 356 yards in total offense, both Super Bowl records, and scored five touchdowns on 18 total offensive plays.
During the regular season, the Broncos had allowed 35 points for the entire game only once—and it was in that game, a 40-10 loss to the Houston Oilers in Week 4, that they fielded replacement players, with the regular players having gone on strike.
By the end of the game, Elway was sacked five times and threw three interceptions, and Washington scored another touchdown on a 68-yard fourth-quarter drive featuring a 25-yard run by Clark on a reverse and three runs by Smith for 43 yards, the last a 4-yard touchdown to bring the game to its final score of 42–10.
Smith finished the game with a Super Bowl record 204 rushing yards, and scored two touchdowns. Sanders caught nine passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns, and returned three kickoffs for 46 yards. His 193 receiving yards and his 235 total offensive yards were both Super Bowl records, and his 80-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter also tied a Super Bowl record. Clark caught three passes for 55 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing once for 25 yards. Wilburn recorded two interceptions, while Walton had two sacks. Meanwhile, running back Gene Lang was the Broncos' leading rusher, with only 38 yards on five carries. Elway finished the game with 14 out of 38 pass completions for 257 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. He was also Denver's second-leading rusher with 32 yards on three carries; this was the only Super Bowl in which Elway played without scoring a rushing touchdown. Jackson was Denver's top receiver with four catches for 76 yards.
In 2015, on the occasion of Super Bowl 50, Slate writer Justin Peters watched all the games over a two-month period. He considered Super Bowl XXII to be the best Super Bowl ever, declaring it was, "The most significant Super Bowl ever played. The most unlikely comeback from the most unlikely quarterback, Doug Williams, who led his team to score 35 points in the second quarter: a single-quarter Super Bowl scoring record that still stands!"
|Washington Redskins||Denver Broncos|
|First downs rushing||13||6|
|First downs passing||11||10|
|First downs penalty||1||2|
|Third down efficiency||9/15||2/12|
|Fourth down efficiency||0/0||0/0|
|Net yards rushing||280||97|
|Yards per rush||7.0||5.7|
|Passing – Completions/attempts||18/30||15/39|
|Times sacked-total yards||2–18||5–50|
|Net yards passing||322||230|
|Total net yards||602||327|
|Punt returns-total yards||1–0||2–18|
|Kickoff returns-total yards||3–46||5–88|
|Interceptions-total return yards||3–11||1–0|
|Time of possession||33:15||26:45|
1Completions/attempts 2Carries 3Long gain 4Receptions 5Times targeted
|Player Records Set |
|Most passing yards, game||340 yds||Doug Williams (Washington)|
|Most rushing yards, game||204 yds||Timmy Smith (Washington)|
|Most receiving yards, game||193 yds||Ricky Sanders (Washington)|
|Most combined† yardage gained, game||235 yds|
|Most (one point) extra points, game||6||Ali Haji-Sheikh (Washington)|
|Longest pass||80 yds (TD)||Doug Williams (Washington)|
|Most touchdown passes, game||4|
|Most rushing touchdowns, game||2||Timmy Smith (Washington)|
|Longest Reception||80 yds (TD)||Ricky Sanders (Washington)|
|Most receiving touchdowns, game||2|
|Most kickoff returns, career||8||Ken Bell (Denver)|
|Most field goals attempted, career||6||Rich Karlis (Denver)|
|Team Records Set |
|Most points scored, first half||35 pts||Redskins|
|Most points scored in
any quarter of play
|35 pts (2nd)|
|Most points, second quarter||35 pts|
|Largest halftime margin||25 pts|
|Largest deficit a team overcame to win||10 pts|
|Most touchdowns, quarter||5|
|Most touchdowns, game||6|
|Most (one point) PATs, game||6|
|Most net yards,
rushing and passing
|Most rushing yards (net)||280 yds|
|Total offensive yards in a quarter||356 yds|
|Most passing touchdowns||4||Redskins|
|Most consecutive Super Bowl losses||2||Broncos|
|Fewest rushing touchdowns||0|
|Fewest points, second half||0 pts|
|Records Set, both team totals |
|Most points scored, first half||45 pts||35||10|
|Most points, second quarter||35 pts||35||0|
|Fewest points scored, second half||7 pts||7||0|
|Most net yards,
rushing and passing
|Most rushing yards (net)||377 yds||280||97|
|Records tied, both team totals|
|Fewest fumbles lost||0||0||0|
Source:Hall of Fame‡
|Gary Clark||WR||Mark Jackson|
|Joe Jacoby||LT||Dave Studdard|
|Raleigh McKenzie||LG||Keith Bishop|
|Jeff Bostic||C||Mike Freeman|
|R. C. Thielemann||RG||Stefan Humphries|
|Mark May||RT||Ken Lanier|
|Clint Didier||TE||Clarence Kay|
|Ricky Sanders||WR||Ricky Nattiel|
|Doug Williams||QB||John Elway‡|
|Don Warren||TE||FB||Gene Lang|
|Timmy Smith||RB||Sammy Winder|
|Charles Mann||LE||Andre Townsend|
|Dave Butz||LT||NT||Greg Kragen|
|Darryl Grant||RT||RE||Rulon Jones|
|Dexter Manley||RE||LOLB||Simon Fletcher|
|Mel Kaufman||LLB||LILB||Karl Mecklenburg|
|Neal Olkewicz||MLB||RILB||Ricky Hunley|
|Monte Coleman||RLB||ROLB||Jim Ryan|
|Darrell Green‡||LCB||Mark Haynes|
|Barry Wilburn||RCB||Steve Wilson|
|Alvin Walton||SS||Dennis Smith|
|Todd Bowles||FS||Tony Lilly|
|Ali Haji-Sheikh||K||Rich Karlis|
|Steve Cox||P||Mike Horan|
Following this game, Johnny Grier was promoted to referee, becoming the first African-American to lead an NFL officiating crew.
In addition to Grier, Dale Hamer was promoted to referee in 1989. Don Wedge was a referee from 1976 to 1978 before becoming a side judge in 1979.
Jack Fette retired following this game and became a replay official.
Categories: Super Bowl | Washington Redskins postseason | Denver Broncos postseason | 1987 National Football League season | American football in San Diego | 1988 in American football | 1988 in sports in California | 1980s in San Diego | Sports competitions in San Diego | January 1988 sports events in the United States