Our NFL Thursday miniseries dives deeper into the 1980s as we take on the 1983 season, one where the defending Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins scored a then-record 541 points and also established the record that still stands today for turnover margin (plus 43). Yet they ran into trouble during the playoffs, twice really, as the NFC Championship Game exposed some weaknesses.
(And if you’re curious, check out our first miniseries entry on this year for context.)
Super Bowl XVIII MVP: Marcus Allen, RB, Los Angeles Raiders (original, confirmed)
The Los Angeles Raiders beat the Redskins, 38-9, to win their first NFL championship in their new city, and they did it by scoring a special-teams TD, a defensive TD, a passing TD, and 2 rushing TDs—as both the running scores came off the legs of voted MVP Marcus Allen, the Raiders star running back who had earned ROTY honors the season prior (even though we didn’t give him our nod).
We will confirm Allen’s MVP vote, for his 191 yards rushing were a Super Bowl record at the time, and both his scores came in the third quarter after Washington had tried to get back into the game with a TD by Super Bowl XVII MVP John Riggins. Allen’s famous 74-yard TD run, complete with cutback amazement, basically broke the back that may have already been busted a few times in this game.
Overall, the Silver & Black averaged 7 yards per carry in this game, while holding the high-flying Redskins offense to just one touchdown. Washington quarterback Joe Theismann, who won our 1970 Heisman Trophy designation, threw 2 interceptions, fumbled once, and was sacked 6 times. That’s a tough day. Raiders linebacker Rod Martin again had a big Super Bowl, with a sack, a fumble recovery, and 5 tackles.
1983 NFL ROTY: Eric Dickerson, RB, Los Angeles Rams & Vernon Maxwell, LB, Baltimore (original); Dickerson (revised)
There are actually five legitimate candidates for this award: Miami Dolphins QB Dan Marino, Los Angeles Rams RB Eric Dickerson, Seattle Seahawks RB Curt Warner, Raiders defensive end Greg Townsend, and Baltimore Colts LB Vernon Maxwell. The votes went to Dickerson and Maxwell, but we will have to dig deep here to figure out the proper honoree.
First, the Colts missed the postseason, so Maxwell (11 sacks, 1 INT) won’t make the cut. Marino (96.0 QB rating) led his team to 12 wins and a division title, while Townsend (10.5 sacks) helped his team to 12 wins and a division title as well. Those teams had a 4-game margin of error for the postseason, so arguably the Dolphins and the Raiders may have been fine without their rookie stars.
But the Rams and the Seahawks each qualified for the postseason with just 9-7 records, the lowest of all playoff participants. Both teams barely outscored their opponents, so we give this nod to Dickerson (2,212 scrimmage yards and 20 TDs), who posted better stats than Warner (1,774 scrimmage yards and 14 TDs), doing more of the dirty work for a fledgling contender.