Washington Commanders Stats
NFL - NFC EAST
Stadium: FedEx Field
Coach: Ron Rivera
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Washington Team Overview
Founded as the Boston Braves in 1932, the team moved to Washington, D.C. in 1937. A bizarre incident precipitated the move to D.C. at the end of the 1936 season.
Boston won the NFL’s Eastern Division and was due to host the Green Bay Packers for the championship, but because team owner George Preston Marshall was unhappy with the level of fan support, he moved the game to the Polo Grounds in New York.
Boston lost that championship, and no surprise to anyone, they never returned to town, packing their bags for the nation’s capital.
The inaugural 1937 season in Washington was big and innovative. Washington became the first team ever to have a marching band or theme song. Their very first game was played under the lights, something that was a rarity in those days. 1937 also saw the debut of Slingin’ Sammy Baugh, who helped revolutionize the use of the forward pass.
That season also saw Washington win the NFL Championship and solidify itself as one of the most successful franchises in NFL history – a distinction that has continued through the Super Bowl era.
The team’s history is not without its controversy. They were the last NFL team to integrate and only did so under threat from the Kennedy administration in 1961.
The Redskins nickname was also controversial for decades, and it was finally dropped before the 2020 season under pressure from Nike and FedEx.
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The Washington Commanders are a professional American football team based in Washington, D.C. The team plays in the National Football League (NFL) as a member of the NFC East division. The Commanders have a strong tradition and are known for their hard-nosed, physical style of play.
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Championships by Washington Commanders
1937 NFL Championship
Playing at Wrigley Field against the Bears and legendary head coach George Halas, Washington made up for its championship game loss in 1936 with a 28-21 win over the Bears. Sammy Baugh threw for 355 yards and two touchdowns, including the 35-yard game-winner in the fourth quarter.
1942 NFL Championship
Washington returned to the championship game in 1940 but lost famously to Chicago 73-0. Washington was back in the game in 1942, and once again, it was against the Bears. Chicago was favored to win by two touchdowns, but three interceptions paced the Washington victory, 14-6.
Super Bowl XVII
It would be 40 years before Washington won another championship. They lost the Super Bowl to the 17-0 Dolphins 10 years earlier, but the rematch against Miami ended this time with a 27-17 Washington victory. John Riggins set a Super Bowl record with 166 yards, and he was named the game’s MVP.
Super Bowl XXII
Five years later, Washington was back in the Super Bowl and this time against the Denver Broncos and John Elway. Denver got out to an early 10-0 first-quarter lead, but a Super Bowl record 35-point outburst by Washington in the second quarter turned the game into a blowout. Doug Williams became the first African American starting quarterback to be named the game’s MVP.
Super Bowl XXVI
Head coach Joe Gibbs cemented himself among the all-time greats with not only his third Super Bowl win but with his third different starting quarterback. This time it was Mark Rypien leading Washington to victory, 37-24, over Buffalo. Rypien threw for 292 yards, two touchdowns and was the game’s MVP.
Key Stats by the Washington Football Team
Washington is one of just five NFL teams to have won more than 600 games in its history.
The five NFL championships won by Washington (two NFL titles and three Super Bowls) only trails five other teams – Green Bay, Chicago, New York Giants, New England Patriots, and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Washington has been the runner-up to the championship six other times – 1936, 1940, 1943, 1945, Super Bowl VII, and Super Bowl XVIII.
Washington has won 15 division titles.
Top Players in Washington Football Team History
Washington has two different quarterbacks that have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame – Sonny Jurgensen and Sammy Baugh.
Jurgensen was a five-time NFL passing leader and was named to the NFL’s 1960s All-Decade Team. Along with quarterback, Baugh was also a safety and punter and was either first or second-team All-Pro in eight seasons. In 1943 he led the NFL in completion percentage as a quarterback and interceptions as a defensive back.
It is Joe Theisman; however, that is the franchise’s all-time leader passer with 25,206 yards. John Riggins is the all-time leading rusher, and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992. Art Monk is the all-time leading receiver, and he became a Hall of Famer in 2008.
Other notable players in team history that are in the Hall of Fame include Darrell Green, Ken Houston, Sam Huff, Charley Taylor, and Russ Grimm. Deion Sanders also played in Washington, and he was inducted in 2011. And it’s notable that legendary coach Don Shula played the final season of his seven-year NFL career in Washington before joining the coaching staff at the University of Virginia.
Top Coaches in Washington Football Team History
Vince Lombardi coached one season in Washington, and fellow Packers legend Curly Lambeau coached two seasons in D.C. in the 1950s. And it’s said that those two men, especially Lombardi, helped set the stage for George Allen, the Washington coach during the team’s successes in the 1970s.
In seven years in Washington, Allen never had a losing season, winning 67 games to just 30 losses. He lost to Miami in Super Bowl VII and made four other trips to the playoffs during his tenure, and it was that success that led to the even greater heights of the 1980s.
Jack Pardee kept the seat warm in Washington for three years, getting a 10-win season in 1979. But the real successor to Allen’s championship calibre coaching was Joe Gibbs, the offensive coordinator in San Diego under Don Coryell.
Just two years after his hiring, Gibbs had Washington winning the Super Bowl. They repeated as NFC Champions in 1983. Won the Super Bowl again after the 1987 season. And then won it for the third time after 1991. In all, Gibbs won 154 regular-season games, and his 17 career postseason wins are top-5 all-time.
Gibbs was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996, then came out of retirement in 2005 and made two more postseason appearances.
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