Super Bowl XXVI
For the second straight years, the Buffalo Bills posted a 13-3 record and returned the Super Bowl while also leading the AFC in points scored for the third consecutive season. The NFC offered the league's best Washington Redskins who went 14-2 and were seeking their second Super Bowl title in the last five years having won Super Bowl XXII over the Denver Broncos. The Bills still employed the no-huddle K'Gun" offense that was led by future Hall of Famers Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas and James Lofton as well as Pro-Bowl wide out Andre Reed. The Buffalo defense was not quite as strong as in years past, but still featured one of the historically great defensive corps with future Hall of Fame DE Bruce Smith and Pro-Bowl linebackers Darryl Talley and Cornelius Bennett. The Bills matched their previous record of 13-3 during the regular season before beating up on the Kansas City Chiefs 37-14 in the Division Playoff and then slipping past the Denver Broncos 10-7 in the AFC Conference Championship Game. The Redskins were led by quarterback Mark Rypien who threw for 3,564 yards and 28 touchdowns and led the NFL in game winging drives with five. The days of John Riggins powerful running were gone, but replaced by an air attack of an exceptional wide receiver corps that featured future Hall of Famer Art Monk, All-Pro Gary Clark and deep threat Rickey Sanders plus a running back trio of Earnest Byner, Ricky Ervins and Gerald Riggs. Byner rushed for more than 1,000 yards and five touchdowns while Riggs was the power fullback charged with short yardage and touchdown runs as he rushed 78 times for 248 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Washington offense clicked all year and posted a league-high 485 points while the defense only allowed 224 points – second best in the league – during the regular season. Once in the playoffs, after winning the NFC East, the ‘Skins faced the Atlanta Falcons beating them 24-7 a in the Division Playoff and then they throttled the Detroit Lions 41-10 in the NFC Conference Championship.
For the first time in Super Bowl history the game was awarded to a cold-weather city, playing at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota on January 26, 1992. The two teams were poised to make Super Bowl XXVII a high scoring event, and they did not disappoint. After a slow start to the game and no score in the first quarter, Washington, the NFL's top offense, attacked relentlessly in the second scoring three touchdowns on the first three second quarter drives. Chip Lohmiller began by booting a 34-yard field goal before Mark Rypien hit Earnest Byner with a 10-yards TD pass and Gerald Riggs rushed in for the third score on a 1-yard score. The Bills were knocked back on their heels as the Redskins took a 17-0 lead into halftime. Defensive ends Charles Mann and Fred Stokes and linebacker Wilber Marshall and the rest of the Washington defense kept heavy pressure on Jim Kelly and the Buffalo backfield forcing five turnovers including four interceptions and one fumble. The second half began with linebacker Kurt Gouveia picking off a Kelly pass intended for Keith McKeller to which the ‘Skins turned into a second Gerald Riggs touchdown on a 2-yard rush. Though the game was somewhat out of reach, the Bills came back to kick a Scott Norwood 21-yard field goal and add a 1-yard Thurman Thomas touchdown to cut the lead to 24-10 in the third quarter. But Rypien kept picking apart the Buffalo defense and hit Gary Clark with a 30-yard TD pass to increase their lead to 31-10. At the start of the fourth quarter, Lohmiller added two more field goals making the score 37-10. Unwilling to give up, having lost Super Bowl XXV by only one point, Kelly continued to go to the air, setting a Super Bowl record with 58 passing attempts, and the Buffalo offense mounted a comeback scoring two touchdowns on a 2-yard Pete Metzelaars TD catch and a 4-yard Don Beebe score to cut the score to 37-24. But, that is how the game would end with the Washington Redskins winning their third Super Bowl in the last ten years and head coach Joe Gibbs third with three different quarterbacks. Mark Rypien went 18-for-33 for 292 yards and two touchdowns to earn the Super Bowl XXVI Most Valuable Player award. Buffalo became the third team to lose back-to-back Super Bowls with the Minnesota Viking (VIII and IX) and the Denver Broncos (XXI and XXII).