MINNEAPOLIS -- For the Washington Redskins, Super Bowl XXVI was a work of art. It was their Picasso.
The 37-24 victory over the Buffalo Bills was the ultimate vindication for the system of coach Joe Gibbs, who got his third Super Bowl victory with hard-working, virtually faceless players who proved you don't need stars to win championships.
"It's a little bit of everybody getting it done. We don't just wait for somebody who's supposed to be a star to make plays," Gibbs said. "That's what I think our team exemplifies."
The Redskins are the fourth team to win three or more Super Bowls. The Pittsburgh Steelers and the San Francisco 49ers have won four and the Oakland-Los Angeles Raiders three.
It was the eighth straight victory for the NFC, and six of them
have been blowouts.
The Redskins let the Buffalo Bills do all the talking during the week but did all the talking themselves on the field yesterday.
"There's no question we're definitely the undisputed world champions," said defensive end Charles Mann.
It started with Mark Rypien, who was supposed to be a fumble-prone, injury-prone quarterback, but was developed by Gibbs over a six-year period into a Super Bowl Most Valuable Player.
Rypien, who beat the Bills at their own game by mixing in some no-huddle with Washington's regular offense, passed for 292 yards and two touchdowns and was intercepted only once.
He made a pair of critical third-down passes to Gary Clark in the third period for the touchdown that put it out of reach after the Bills had narrowed their deficit to 24-10.
"I'm just happy to be a part of the team," Rypien said.
That's the Redskins way. They like to pass the credit around.
"The players deserve the credit," Gibbs said. "I, along with the other coaches, was just along for the ride."
On defense, the Redskins' system again showed it can befuddle a high-powered offense with a series of different looks.
They did it in the playoffs against the run-and-shoot offense and they did it to the Bills' no-huddle offense.
Although Jim Kelly passed for 275 yards (on a Super Bowl-record 58 attempts), he was sacked five times and intercepted four times.
The Redskins also shut down Thurman Thomas, who spent the week complaining that he doesn't get enough attention. Held to 13 yards in 10 carries, Thomas, as usual, said he didn't get the ball enough, although it should be noted that Mann agreed with him.
"They just didn't use him today. I was surprised they didn't run the ball more," he said.
The Redskins probably took them out of their game plan and it didn't help that Thomas lost his helmet at the start of the game and missed the first two plays when he was scheduled to run.
The Redskins did it on defense by blitzing a lot -- stealing a page out of the game plan the Denver Broncos used against the Bills.
As defensive lineman Bruce Smith said, "They blitzed us all day. Everybody watched the same game. We saw the same thing you saw."
Coach Richie Petitbon, the assistant coach who runs the Redskins' defense, was even able to get players substituted even though the Bills were running the no-huddle.
"We wound up with plenty of time. We drilled all week with signals," Gibbs said.
The Redskins did it even though they lost three players on defense -- defensive backs A.J. Johnson and Darrell Green and linebacker Monte Coleman.
That hurt their depth, although Green came back from his calf injury, but the key was that the unsung players came to the front for the Redskins.
Brad Edwards, a former Plan B free agent, intercepted two passes and even got two votes for MVP. Martin Mayhew, another Plan B free agent who was supposed to be the weak link of the secondary, tipped one of the passes that Edwards intercepted.
Kurt Gouveia, who started at middle linebacker for Matt Millen, intercepted a pass at the start of the second half that set up a touchdown.
Alvoid Mays, a player who was working in an orange juice factory in Florida when the Redskins gave him a shot two years ago, came in when Johnson got hurt and knocked the ball out of Kelly's hands for a fumble.
Rypien, though, who stepped up and led the drive when the Bills had a shot at turning it into a game.
After the Redskins scored 17 points in the second quarter and then added a touchdown at the outset of the second half that was set up by Gouveia's interception for a 24-0 lead, the Bills struck back for 10 points to narrow the deficit to 24-10.
At this point, the Redskins looked as if they might be starting to sag, especially since Green, Coleman and Johnson were out.
"We thought we had them on the ropes," Thomas said. "I thought we were getting them a little bit tired."
Rypien, though, then put together an 11-play, 79-yard drive that gave the Redskins a 31-10 lead.
Rypien kept the drive alive with a 10-yard pass to Gary Clark on a third-and-four play and finished it off with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Clark in the right corner of the end zone on a third-and-10 .