10. Super Bowl XVII, 1983: Washington 27—Miami 17
An established coaching icon took on one who would soon become legendary in his own right, as Don Shula and Joe Gibbs squared off in a tense game filled with thrilling plays.
Competitiveness: 9 out of 10. Favored Miami jumped all over Washington early, scoring on their second drive and taking a 17-10 lead into the half. Washington began to creep into the game with dominating defense and a punishing running attack lead by John Riggins and the Hogs. With the end nearing, Washington finally charged ahead on Riggins’ remarkable 43-yard touchdown run on 4th and 1, one of the most celebrated plays in Super Bowl history.
Star Power: 8 out of 10. Shula and Gibbs would eventually combine to appear in a total of nine Super Bowls, winning six. Riggins is one of the games best loved and remembered iconoclasts.
Intrigue/Controversy: 8 out of 10. Super Bowl XVII took place following a strike-shortened 10 game season, the first work stoppage of its kind in league history. A second such strike-shortened season would occur four years later and Gibbs and Washington would win the championship that year as well, a tribute to the coach’s uncanny ability to deal with adversity.
Aftermath: 10 out of 10. Washington would appear in three more Super Bowls over the next eight years, winning two and establishing themselves as a legendary team of the era. Frustrated by the poor performance of his quarterback David Woodley, Shula would decide to modernize his offense with a new quarterback the following year. The Dolphins drafted Dan Marino.
Aggregate Score: 35 out of 40.
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