Warner Bros. // 1983 // 460 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Christopher Kulik (Retired) // October 28th, 2008
Hail to the Redskins, hail Victory! Braves on the warpath, will fight for old D.C.!
When Joe Gibbs returned to D.C. in 2004 as the Redskins' head coach, the reaction was huge. Public opinion previously held that Gibbs wanted to remain retired, as he was now devoted to his NASCAR championship team. However, the legendary coach who had created a dynasty in the 1980s and early '90s -- taking his team to four Super Bowls and winning three -- was coming back to what he truly missed doing.
The celebration would prove to be brief, however. Even though Gibbs signed a five-year contract, he bowed out in early 2008 after four years. Many factors contributed to this decision, including the tragic death of safety Sean Taylor. Now, the Redskins are actually doing better under new head coach Jim Zorn, who was previously the offensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks; ironically, the Skins lost to the Hawks both times they went to playoffs after Gibbs' return.
I cannot deny it: I'm a 'Skins fan, through and through. I barely remember them whooping the Denver Broncos in the 1988 Super Bowl, and still recall several key plays from the 1992 Super Bowl, in which they defeated/dominated the Buffalo Bills. However, the memories remained vague, and I wanted to revisit them by watching the Washington Redskins: 3 Greatest Games, which contains exactly what it's title says: the "complete and unedited" three Super Bowl wins by the Redskins under coach Joe Gibbs.
Disc One: Super Bowl XVII, Redskins vs. Dolphins, January 30, 1983
This is not the first time these two teams met at the Bowl, with Miami winning Super Bowl VII to consummate a perfect season. Naturally, the Skins wanted payback, and yet their performance in the first half was erratic, almost borderline depressing. Finally, late in the second quarter they marched almost the entire field for a touchdown, tying the game at 10. Then Miami's special teams' receiver Fulton Walker ran a record 98 yards for a touchdown, closing the half with expectations high. Even though the 'Skins would go on to win the game, Walker arguably had the most impressive play.
As it turns out, the Dolphins got suffocated in the second half, with only two first downs and Washington not allowing a single pass reception! The Skin's field goal kicker Charlie Brown (!) contributed his three cents, but the real star (and chosen MVP) was John Riggins, who scored a touchdown after getting away from Don McNeal, the Dolphin cornerback assigned to him; the replay would cite McNeal slipping on the turf, a game-changing mistake. Finally, Brown would solidify the Skins' win with an end zone catch, making the final score 27-17.
Footnote: My brother-in-law is a committed Miami fan and he blames the team's loss on the 57-day player's strike, which limited the number of regular season games to 9, and several supposedly key players were left out in the loop.
Running at a mere 2 hours and 20 minutes, it's clear this first game was edited down quite a bit, even dropping several plays. The key players and coaches from both teams are initially introduced, we get to see the infamous coin toss which caused confusion (they used a NFL commemorative coin), and the entire recording shows it's age with moderate fading. As with the other two games on this set, the halftime show is not included, and instead we simply jump into the third quarter without a break. Still, the footage of Gibbs and owner Jack Kent Cooke being presented the Vince Lombardi trophy is included, along with the particularly eye-brow raising moment of Gibbs getting a call from President Ronald Reagan congratulating him and his team on the win.
You know it's early 1983 when you see young, tough Mr. T cheering in the audience. I'm not exactly sure what team he was rooting for, but NBC premiered The A-Team right after the game. Coincidence?
Disc Two: Super Bowl XXII, Redskins vs. Broncos, January 31, 1988
While the Redskins followed their win with a second trip to the Bowl in 1984, their humiliating loss to the Los Angeles Raiders (38-9) and a career-ending injury to quarterback JoeTheismann the next year would cause Gibbs to make some changes. The first: recruit his old Tampa Bay player Doug Williams to be a backup QB; when starter Jay Schroeder was injured, Williams took over. As good as he was, most believed he didn't stand a chance against record-breaking John Elway, who was now serving as the Denver Bronco's QB. Indeed, the Broncos showed no mercy in the first quarter of the game, scoring seven points after only two minutes of play. A field goal would follow, along with limited advances by the Skins, but the arrow through the heart was when Williams was hurried and lost his footing, causing him to twist his leg in an odd way.
However, the game was far from over...and few would have guessed the comeback the Skins would make in the second quarter. In short: five touchdowns, two by Ricky Sanders, one by Gary Clark, one by Timmy Smith, and one by Clint Didier, gave the Skins a 35-10 lead. As for the Broncos, sporadic runs in the second half couldn't do anything, and a final touchdown by Smith assured the trophy would go to Washington. In fact, watching the third and fourth quarters were rather tedious because nobody scored and many of the plays were free of conflict or eye-openers.
Unlike the game on Disc One, this one doesn't look its age (aside from the network visuals, of course). The grass is bright green, the uniforms are bursting with color, and the print lacks any dirt, debris or fading. Plus, the game itself is presented pretty much uncut, although the post-game ceremony has been excised for some reason. Once again, no halftime show, though we do get commentator Al Michaels announce the premiere of a brand new show called The Wonder Years immediately following the game.
If you remember, Doug Williams made a surprise appearance at Super Bowl XLII, presenting the Lombardi trophy to the New York Giants after they beat the Cheatin' Patriots.
Disc Three: Super Bowl XXVI, Redskins vs. Bills, January 26, 1992
History would repeat itself, when MVP Williams would find his career cut short by a series of injuries. Luckily, his successor Mark Rypien would prove to be just as valuable to the Skins, and he guided the team to their last Super Bowl appearance in 1992. History would repeat itself again with the losing Super Bowl team from the previous year, the Buffalo Bills, coming back for another shot. However, the victory for the Redskins was not only expected before the game, it was also symbolic. Shortly before Super Bowl Sunday, my mother gave me a sweatshirt which showcased an Indian on a horse aiming an arrow at a buffalo. Needless to say, I wore it on the day of the game.
Of the three Super Bowl victories, this one is probably the most exciting on a repeat scale, with the Bills getting more perplexed -- and frustrated -- as the game wore on. The Redskins scored often in the second and third quarters, racking up four touchdowns, while the Bills would struggle with the burden of actually catching up. A pair of TD's in the final quarter was too little, too late, and the Skins would win 37-24. My only quibble with watching the game again was dealing with John "Duh" Madden's obvious commentating, with such embarrassing phrases as "It's always nice to see a referee wear glasses!" Seriously, can the guy be any more annoying?
This final game has the same high standards as the second one, and it even looks like it could have been played yesterday. I prefer the early-90's visuals to the late-80's ones, which seemed so cheap you would imagine they would be more clever than introducing players by their faces than their helmets. However, this game reeks of constant editing, with extra points to touchdowns barely being included as we zip to the next play at lightning speed; then again, the less Madden the better. The Lombardi trophy ceremony is there but extremely brief. To cap off Warner Bros. and NFL's presentations of these classic games, I have to ask why all the edits? The absence of halftime shows no doubt boils down to rights, as certain singers and entertainers would no doubt have to give their permission. Also, I don't think it would have hurt to include the original commercials.
Question: how the hell did the Bills go to four Super Bowls in a row and didn't win a single one? It will always be one of the great mysteries in NFL history.
The audio for all three games is DD 2.0 Stereo and there are no extras. Warner Bros. is found not guilty for their DVD presentation. Court is adjourned!
Review content copyright © 2008 Christopher Kulik; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 460 Minutes
Release Year: 1983
MPAA Rating: Not Rated