The Washington Redskins were the defending Super Bowl champions, winners of 11 games in a row, and the NFL's highest-scoring team, reasons enough for them to be favored to win Super Bowl XVIII at Tampa Stadium on Jan. 22, 1984.
But they didn't intimidate the Raiders, who were making their only Super Bowl appearance representing Los Angeles. During the pregame buildup, defensive end Lyle Alzado snarled, "I'm gonna rip off Joe Theismann's head."
Indeed, the Raiders dismantled the Redskins, 38-9, the most one-sided Super Bowl to that point and the franchise's third Super Bowl triumph. Marcus Allen was voted the game's most valuable player after running for two touchdowns and a then-Super Bowl-record 191 yards.
Allen could have exceeded 200 yards, but he took himself out so teammate Greg Pruitt could get some Super Bowl experience. "I really felt at that time that we'd be returning to many more Super Bowls," Allen said in a 1993 interview with The Times. "Boy, was I wrong."
So-called experts predicted the Raiders would have difficulty against Washington's offensive line, nicknamed "the Hogs," and said their defensive backs couldn't corral the Redskins' smallish receivers, nicknamed "Smurfs."
Instead, the Raiders picked apart the Redskin defense, stifled their offense -- which had averaged 33.8 points a game during the regular season -- and were superior in every phase.
From early on, Raider defensive lineman Howie Long said, "I could see the frustration on [fullback John] Riggins' face. I could see the fear in Theismann's."
All of which was warranted.
"I think you rank with the great teams to have ever played any professional sport," Raider owner Al Davis told his players after the game.
Allen's touchdown on the final play of the third quarter provided the game's most enduring memory. After taking a handoff at the Raider 26-yard line, Allen went left but saw he had nowhere to go. He quickly reversed course, evading several tacklers as he finished off a Super Bowl-record 74-yard touchdown run that gave the Raiders a 35-9 lead.
"It was anticlimactic when it finally ended," Allen said.
Had he known the Raiders would go 19 years until their next Super Bowl appearance, he might have enjoyed it more.