6. Doug Williams, Washington
The Dawg Pound will always be grateful to Doug Williams. This article should normally be about how great it is that Doug Williams became the first African American quarterback to earn a Super Bowl ring and that it is really a great historical event that a man from Grambling State was able to lead his team to victory. It was a tremendous accomplishment for Washington and Joe Gibbs and Williams personally after surviving purgatory with the moribund Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
But with apologies to Washington fans everywhere, the best part of the Washington victory was making John Elway blow a 10-0 lead. To refresh your memory, this game was immediately after ‘The Fumble’ game, which the Browns nearly won, but Earnest Byner fumbled to end a drive.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Earnest Byner and read his book. People have no idea how hard he took ‘The Fumble’. My own view as a fan is that anytime the defense gives up 38 points, it’s not truly a championship team, and it’s not the running back’s fault. You have to give the defense credit for digging such an enormous hole in the first place.
Super Bowl XXII was also one year after ‘The Drive’, the 99-yard 4th quarter drive engineered by Elway. That feat proved he was an adversary worthy of replacing Terry Bradshaw as public enemy number one in the hearts of Browns fans.
If Joe Gilliam is the most talented quarterback I’ve ever seen, John Elway might have been the one who actually achieved his potential. I don’t think Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, or Peyton Manning could throw a football to a receiver any better than Elway. Elway was also a really good runner, and people forget he was a minor league outfielder for the Yankees for a while. He was just a really talented athlete.
I didn’t watch a lot of Tampa Bay Football, but when I did, it seemed like Williams had to run for his life due to lack of blocking, then he would throw a cannon shot to a receiver, hit the guy between the numbers and have the ball bounce off. Then for some reason, the announcers would blame Williams. “Well, it seems he is having trouble making his reads today.” Rule number one of lazy broadcasting is that it is always the quarterback’s fault.
But back to the Super Bowl.
In the first quarter, Elway connected for a 56-yard bomb to put Denver up 7-0, and then in the next possession connected with another deep pass to set up a field goal. It was an awful feeling.
But then Doug Williams, the supposedly washed-up veteran, started connecting with some of his receivers. Ricky Sanders got free deep and hauled in a pass and went to the house for an 80-yard touchdown. Then a touchdown by Gary Clark put Washington ahead 14-10.
Then rookie Timmy Smith took off on a 58-yard touchdown run to put Washington ahead 21-10. By the time the second quarter was over, the score was 35-10, Washington. Williams had gone 9-of-11 for 228 yards and four touchdowns. They added another touchdown in the second half.
Williams’ final stat line was 18-of-29 for 340 yards and four TDs. Timmy Smith rushed 22 times for 204 yards and two TD and basically picked up where Earnest Byner left off in the AFC Championship game. Denver’s rush defense was rags, face it.
Washington basically bludgeoned Denver to death. Had the Browns gotten past the Broncos, realistically they would not have been prepared to deal with Washington. Williams was way more advanced than some of the backup quarterbacks discussed elsewhere in this article. Denver’s defense was ready to be crushed and Williams executed. Good riddance.