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On This Date in Sports January 22, 1984: Marcus Allen Running Wild

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The Los Angeles Raiders crush the Washington Redskins 38-9 in Super Bowl XVIII at Tampa Stadium. The Redskins seeking a second straight Lombardi Trophy had no answer for Marcus Allen, who rushed for a record 191 yards, with two touchdowns. Allen was named Super Bowl MVP as his 74-yard touchdown run became the game’s signature play. It was the third Super Bowl title for the Raiders in eight years; they have not won one since.

Coached by Joe Gibbs, the Washington Redskins were high on the hog in 1983, beating the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII, they had their first championship in 40 years and were looking for more. Despite starting the season with a loss to the rival Dallas Cowboys, the Redskins looked invincible as they posted a franchise-best record of 14-2, with both losses coming by a single point in games on Monday Night Football. (It seems even in the glory days the Redskins did not like Mondays).  On defense, the Redskins set an NFL record with a +43-turnover margin, as they stole the ball away 61 times. On offense, Washington set a record with 541 points scored, as they a +209-point differential with Joe Thiemann being named MVP. In the playoffs, the Redskins steamrolled the Los Angeles Rams 51-7 in the Divisional Round and beat the San Francisco 49ers 24-21 in the NFC Championship Game.

The Los Angeles Raiders were playing at the Memorial Coliseum in their second season after their controversial move from Oakland. Continuing their Commitment to Excellence, the Raiders posted a record of 12-4 for coach Tom Flores, which was the best record in the AFC. On the way to their fourth Super Bowl, the Raiders buried an old rival in the Pittsburgh Steelers 38-10 in the Divisional Round. Moving on to the AFC Championship, the Raiders avenged two regular-season losses and beat the Seattle Seahawks 30-14.

Super Bowl XVIII was the first played on Florida’s Gulf Coast at Tampa Stadium. The Redskins went into the game as a three-point favorite. The teams had met in Week 5, at RFK Stadium, with the Redskins winning a 37-35 shootout. Both teams failed to score the first time they had the ball, but the Raiders’ special teams made something happen when Derrick Jensen blocked a punt by Jeff Hayes and returned it for a touchdown. The Raiders would extend the lead to 14-0 in the second quarter as Jim Plunkett completed a 65-yard drive in three plays, connecting with Cliff Branch on a 50-yard bomb and a 12-yard touchdown pass. The Redskins got on the board with a 24-yard field goal with three minutes left in the first half. After the Raiders pinned Washington deep, Joe Thiemann made a critical error that showed things were beginning to get out of hand. Passing from their own ten with 12 seconds left, Thiemann had as pass batted up and returned by Squirek for a touchdown.

The reeling Redskins looked to get some momentum back as the third quarter began as they completed a 70-yard drive with John Riggins crashing into the end zone. However, even when things went right, they went wrong for Washington as Mark Mosley missed the PAT. Leading 21-9, Los Angeles began to turn to its ground game and Marcus Allen to keep the game under control. Allen scored his first touchdown on a five-yard run, to take any momentum the Redskins may have gathered from their first drive away. As times got desperate, the Redskins came up with their first turnover of the game, as Cliff Branch fumbled at the 35. However, needing three scores, the Redskins were turned away as Riggins was unable to get the first down, facing fourth and one from the LA 26. On the next snap, the Raiders would put the game on ice, as Marcus Allen had a dazzling 74-yard run, which at the time was the longest in Super Bowl history to give the Raiders a commanding 35-9 lead as the end of the third quarter.

The Raiders would smother the Redskins passing game the rest of the way, forcing a pair of turnovers in the fourth quarter, as Chris Bahr closed out the scoring with a 21-yard field goal. The Los Angeles Raiders had claimed their third Super Bowl victory with a 38-9 win, forcing Commissioner Pete Rozelle to again hand his nemesis, Al Davis, the Lombardi Trophy for the third time. Marcus Allen was named the game’s MVP by rushing for a Super Bowl record 191 yards on 20 carries. The previous record of 166 yards had been set by John Riggins a year earlier. The record would stand until Super Bowl XXII when Timmy Smith of the Redskins topped 204 yards, mostly in garbage time.