2012 marks the 80th anniversary for a team that has seen a number of great and historic events over its time.
The team boasts almost 20 Hall of Famers, five league championships, 15 division titles and 22 playoff appearances.
Former Redskins standouts like Sammy Baugh and Doug Williams changed the way the game was played and made history while doing so. Baugh helped to usher in the era of the forward pass while Williams was the first black quarterback to play in the Super Bowl and the only to ever win one.
With such a rich tradition, let’s take a look back at the five best moments in Redskins history.
After the success of Sammy Baugh and the two titles he brought to town, Washington entered a drought as a franchise, missing the playoffs for almost two decades straight.
After the infamous segregation controversy and Vince Lombardi’s untimely death, the franchise needed an identity.
When George Allen came to DC to coach the ‘Skins, he signed a number of older free agents, creating the "Over-the-Hill-Gang." The team turned around, had a winning record and made the playoffs.
On New Years Eve 1972, the Redskins beat the Cowboys in the NFC Championship game to advance to Super Bowl VII. The team would go on to lose to the Miami Dolphins, but it marked their first Super Bowl appearance, conference championship and division title in the modern NFL.
During its first year in DC, a rookie quarterback who played offense, defense and special teams was an integral piece to the ‘Skins' 1937 championship.
Sammy Baugh led Washington to the title game defeating the Chicago Bears 28-21. The win was the team’s first championship during only their second playoff appearance.
It was the city’s second professional sports championship after the Washington Senators won the 1924 World Series.
The Redskins and Bears would meet again in the 1940 championship, which saw Washington on the wrong side of the worst loss in NFL history, 73-0.
Sammy Baugh would bring his team back to avenge that loss against Chicago two years later in the 1942 title game that the ‘Skins won 14-6. The two teams would meet again the following season with the Bears winning the title with a 41-21 win in what would be Washington’s second to last title game appearance before the merger.
Of note from that 1943 season: Sammy Baugh led the league that year in passing, punting and interceptions.
This win would prove to be a bittersweet one for Washington because it signaled the beginning of the end for the era of prosperity under Joe Gibbs.
With quarterback Mark Rypien under center, Washington got off to an 11-0 start, eventually finishing the regular season at 14-2.
The team would dominate the first two rounds of the playoffs, winning by a combined score of 64-17. Matching up against the dominate but unfortunate Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVI, Gibbs’ team would find themselves up 24-0 just after the start of the second half and would cruise to victory.
Washington managed to make its way into the playoffs the following season with a wild card berth, but Joe Gibbs would abruptly retire in 1993, ending the era of relevance for the franchise.
The 1987 season began with a 24-day players’ strike that saw the Redskins win three games with replacements. By the time the playoffs rolled around, the strike seemed to be a distant memory.
Washington would advance to Super Bowl XXII to face John Elway and the favored Denver Broncos.
By the end of the first quarter, Elway and company were up 10-0. But the second quarter would be a record setting 15 minutes of play for the ‘Skins.
Starting with a 80-yard pass to Ricky Sanders, Washington Scored five touchdowns and put the game out of reach. For the second quarter, Doug Williams went nine for 11 for 228 yards and four touchdowns, rookie running back Timmy Smith ran for 122 yards and a touchdown on five carries in his first NFL start and Sanders caught three more passes for a total of 168 yards and two touchdowns.
Great numbers for a Super Bowl but extraordinary for a single quarter of play. The team’s second Lombardi trophy win was a runaway victory for DC.
There’s something about players' strikes that give the Redskins a great chance at winning a Super Bowl. Of the three player strikes in NFL history, two have led to Redskins Super Bowl victories.
In 1982, the 57-day strike cut the regular season down to only nine games and didn’t finish until into January of 1983. Because of the shortened season, the NFL adopted a special 16 team tournament-style playoff for the postseason.
Super Bowl XVII would pit Hall of Fame coach Don Shula and his Miami Dolphins against second year coach Joe Gibbs.
With Joe Theismann at quarterback and John Riggins running the ball, Washington would defeat the very team that denied them their first Lombardi Trophy the decade prior.
If there is one single defining moment in Redskins history it would have to be John Riggins’ 43-yard touchdown run in the 4th quarter on fourth-and-one. The play gave Washington the lead, which they would never relinquish back to Miami. Riggo’s TD run was more yardage than the Dolphins had the entire second half.
Feel free to include your favorite moments in Washington Redskins history in the comments below.
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