NFL NFL Lore

GG.exe

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Nice wikipedia page that highlights famous games and moments of every decade.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Football_League_lore

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Games and plays

The following is a selected list of memorable plays and events that have stood the test of time and are considered common knowledge by NFL fans:

1920s


  • The Staley Swindle (December 4, 1921, Buffalo All-Americans vs. Chicago Staleys) The Staleys, having won every game of their 1921 season (partially by refusing to play any road games) except their Thanksgiving game against the then-undefeated All-Americans (who, other than their match against Chicago, also had played all of their games at home), challenged the All-Americans to a rematch. Buffalo, having already scheduled their last game for December 3, agreed on the condition that it be considered a "post-season" exhibition match and not be counted in the standings. When Chicago won the rematch 10-7, Staleys owner George Halas persuaded the league to count the game in the standings by playing two more games, in an effort to discredit the All-Americans' "post-season" claim and to bring their win percentage to the same as the All-Americans. The league then instituted the first-ever tiebreaker for the championship (a now discontinued rule stating that a rematch counts more than a first matchup) and handing the championship to Chicago. The "Staley Swindle" name is primarily used by Buffalo sports fans. The league was forced to place a finite end to the season after the incident; by 1924, when Chicago attempted to do the same thing with a post-season match against the Cleveland Bulldogs, the league disallowed it and allowed Cleveland to keep its title.

  • 1925 Chicago Cardinals – Milwaukee Badgers scandal (December 10, 1925, Milwaukee Badgers vs. Chicago Cardinals) In 1925, the Chicago Cardinals were in the running to win the NFL championship with the Pottsville Maroons. The Maroons had beaten the Cardinals 21-7 earlier in the season at Comiskey Park. This loss gave Pottsville a half game lead in the standings. However, the Cardinals felt that they could make up for the loss. Many professional football teams during the first decade of the NFL would schedule some easy extra games to pad their record and place in the standing. The Cardinals had hoped that the move would help bump the team to a first place finish over Pottsville. Prior to 1933, the team with the best record in the standings at the end of the season was named the season's NFL Champions.The two extra games were scheduled against the Milwaukee Badgers and Hammond Pros, both of which were NFL members but had disbanded for the year. The Badgers had difficulty in fielding a team, so Art Folz, Chicago's substitute quarterback hired a group of high school football players to play for the Milwaukee Badgers, against the Cardinals. This would ensure an inferior opponent for Chicago. Upon his discovery NFL Commissioner, Joseph Carr, fined Chicago owner Chris O'Brien fined $1,000 for allowing his team play a game against high schoolers, even though he claimed that he was unaware of the players' status. Milwaukee owner Ambrose McGuirk was ordered to sell his Milwaukee franchise within 90 days. Meanwhile Art Folz, for his role, was barred from football for life. O'Brien's fine and Folz lifetime bann were recinded months later. However McGuirk already sold his franchise to Johnny Bryan.

  • 1925 Pottsville Maroons The Pottsville Maroons were declared NFL champions after they defeated the Chicago Cardinals in a game that was moved to Chicago because the stadium in Pottsville was too small and the game had league championship implications. The Maroons won, 21-7. The next week they went on to play the University of Notre Dame All-Stars in a contractually obligated game, which included the Four Horsemen. That game took place in Philadelphia, at Shibe Park. The Maroons won that game in the last minute with a field goal, 9-7, stunned the crowd and legitimized professional football at a time when college football was considered superior. The NFL stripped the Maroons of their championship for supposed league violations and suspended the franchise for the remainder of the season. They were reinstated for the next season, out of fear they would defect to a newly created rival, the AFL. The controversy remains vivid to this day. The Chicago Cardinals' owner at the time, Chris O'Brien, refused the championship, calling it "bogus". The 1925 title was not claimed until Charles Bidwell purchased the team in 1932. Some people ascribe the Cardinals' ongoing futility to a "curse" from the people of Schuylkill County.
1930s


  • December 18, 1932, Portsmouth Spartans vs. Chicago Bears, 1932 NFL Playoff Game[1] The first NFL Playoff game was the result of a tie in the standings between the 6-1-4 Portsmouth Spartans and the 6-1-6 Chicago Bears. At that time, ties were not counted in the standings, and both teams had played (and tied) each other twice. To solve the problem, the league decided to arrange a playoff game, the first in NFL history, to determine the league champion. The game was to be played at Wrigley Field, but due to severe blizzards and sub-zero wind chill, the game was moved indoors to Chicago Stadium, then used for hockey. Because of the size of the arena, several special rules were adapted for the game, including an 80-yard long field and goalposts on the goal line. The Bears ended up beating the Spartans 9-0. The popularity of the game led to the NFL splitting into two divisions, with the winners of each division playing in the NFL Championship game.
  • "The Sneakers Game" (December 9, 1934, Chicago Bears vs. New York Giants, NFL Championship game)[1] The game was played at the Polo Grounds in frigid weather on a frozen field. At halftime, New York coach Steve Owen provided his team with basketball shoes for better traction. Gliding on the ice with the sneakers, the Giants scored 27 points in 10 minutes during the fourth quarter, and ended up beating the until-then undefeated Bears 30-13, winning the championship and denying the Bears their third straight championship (their second against the Giants) and the first undefeated and untied season in NFL history.
1940s


  • December 8, 1940, Chicago Bears vs. Washington Redskins, 1940 NFL Championship Game Sparked by a comment made by Redskins owner George Preston Marshall, who had said three weeks earlier that the Bears were crybabies and quitters when the going got tough, Chicago crushed Washington, 73-0. This game currently stands as the most onesided victory in NFL history. Redskins quarterback Sammy Baugh was interviewed after the game, and a sportswriter asked him whether the game would have been different had wide receiver Charlie Malone not dropped a tying TD pass in the first quarter. Baugh reportedly quipped, "Sure. The final score would have been 73-7."
  • December 16, 1945, Washington Redskins vs. Cleveland Rams, 1945 NFL Championship Game The Rams scored a safety when Redskins quarterback Sammy Baugh, throwing the ball from his own end zone, hit the goal posts (which were on the goal line between 1933 and 1973). The two points was the margin of victory as the Rams won 15-14. After the game, the rules were changed so that when a forward pass thrown from one's own end zone hits the goal posts, it is instead ruled incomplete. This rule is essentially null and void now that the goalposts are in the back of the end zone.
1950s


  • "The Greatest Game Ever Played" (December 28, 1958, Baltimore Colts vs. New York Giants, NFL Championship game)[2] In the first-ever sudden death overtime in NFL history, Fullback Alan Ameche's 1-yard touchdown run gives the Colts a 23-17 win over the Giants. 17 future members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame were involved in the game. The nationally-televised game was watched by over 50 million people on NBC and helped springboard the NFL's popularity into the 1960s.
1960s


1970s


  • The Immaculate Reception (also referred to as the Immaculate Deception by Raiders fans) (December 23, 1972, Oakland Raiders vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, AFC Divisional Playoff Game)[7] With Pittsburgh trailing Oakland 7-6 and facing fourth-and-ten on their own 40-yard line with 22 seconds remaining in the game, Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw threw the ball toward halfback John "Frenchy" Fuqua. However, the ball bounced into the air as Fuqua collided with Raiders safety Jack Tatum. It was then caught by Steelers fullback Franco Harris, who then ran the rest of the way downfield to score a touchdown that gave the Steelers a 12-7 lead with five seconds remaining in the game. The catch is controversial because it could not be determined by available camera angles whether the ball had been touched last by Fuqua, Tatum, or both. The NFL rules at the time dictated that two offensive players could not consecutively touch a forward pass unless and until an opposing player had touched it in between their touches. Therefore, if Fuqua touched the ball before Harris without Tatum touching it in the interim, the play should have been ruled dead as an incomplete pass. Under current rules, the play would be deemed legal.
  • Miami's Perfect Season (1972) The Miami Dolphins became the only NFL team to have a perfect season, capped by winning Super Bowl VII. It is a well-travelled urban legend that each year the surviving members of the team had made a ritual of getting together and drinking champagne when the last unbeaten team loses. In actuality, only a small group of ex-players - namely Bob Griese, Nick Buoniconti and Dick Anderson, who all live in Coral Gables, Florida - gathered to uncork the champagne and have a celebratory drink.[8]
  • Garo's Gaffe (January 14, 1973, Miami Dolphins vs. Washington Redskins, Super Bowl VII) The Perfect Season almost ended with the first shutout in Super Bowl championship history, but with 2:07 to go in the game, Dolphins placekicker Garo Yepremian's 42-yard field goal attempt was blocked. Instead of falling on the ball, he attempted a forward pass, but let go of the ball before any forward motion because his hands were too small. The ball was fumbled, and returned by Redskins cornerback Mike Bass for a touchdown, cutting the Dolphins' lead to 14-7. To this day, no team has been shut out in a Super Bowl.
  • The Sea of Hands (December 21, 1974, Miami Dolphins vs. Oakland Raiders, AFC Divisional Playoff Game) With 24 seconds left in the game, Raiders RB Clarence Davis somehow caught the game-winning touchdown pass among "the sea of hands" of three Dolphins defenders. This game eliminated Miami from the playoffs after they had made it to the Super Bowl in each of the last 3 seasons. Also known as the "Lost Game" due to both NBC and NFL Films losing their English copies of the broadcast. It was thought until recently that the only remaining copy was NBC's Spanish version, when NFL Films found their copy buried deep in storage, which they thought was lost in a move in the early 80's. [9]
  • The Hail Mary (December 28, 1975, Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings, NFC Divisional Playoff Game)[10] The term Hail Mary pass first came to national awareness with this game. With 24 seconds left in the game, Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach, nicknamed "Captain Comeback", threw a desperate 50-yard winning touchdown pass to "Mr. Clutch" Drew Pearson to defeat the Minnesota Vikings. Until this time, a last-second desperation pass had been called several names, most notably the "Big Ben."
  • Ghost to the Post (December 24, 1977, Oakland Raiders vs. Baltimore Colts, AFC Divisional Playoff Game) Raiders tight end Dave Casper, nicknamed "The Ghost" by his teammates, caught a 42-yard reception (on a pass route headed towards the goal posts) to set up the Raiders' tying field goal near the end of regulation. Then Casper caught a 10-yard touchdown pass with 43 seconds into the second overtime period to win the game.
  • The Holy Roller (September 10, 1978, Oakland Raiders vs. San Diego Chargers) The Raiders were trailing the Chargers with 10 seconds remaining. Quarterback Ken Stabler fumbled the ball and running back Pete Banaszak swatted it into the end zone where tight end Dave Casper fell on it for a touchdown. After this play, it was made illegal to move the ball forward by deliberately swatting or kicking it after a fumble; and in the final two minutes of each half, plus on fourth down at any time in the game, a forward fumble recovered by any member of the offensive team other than the fumbler is spotted at the point of the fumble, not the point of the recovery.
  • The Miracle at the Meadowlands (also referred to as The Fumble by Giants fans) (November 19, 1978, Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Giants) Leading 17-12 with 31 seconds left in the game (and the Eagles having no timeouts left), Giants quarterback Joe Pisarcik tried to hand off to running back Larry Csonka instead of simply kneeling with the ball to run out the clock. The exchange was fumbled and the Eagles' Herman Edwards picked up the loose ball and ran it in for the game-winning touchdown. The Eagles won 19-17 and the next day Giants' offensive coordinator Bob Gibson was fired, with head coach John McVay losing his job at the conclusion of the season. As a result of the botched late-game handoff, the so-called "victory formation" has become a standard across all levels of football at the end of games.
1980s


  • Red Right 88 (January 4, 1981, Oakland Raiders vs. Cleveland Browns, AFC Divisional Playoff Game) Trailing 14-12, the Browns choose to attempt an end zone pass play (Red Right 88) instead of trying for a game-winning field goal in the final minute, but the pass was intercepted by Raiders safety Mike Davis. With that interception, the Raiders held on to eventually advance to and win Super Bowl XV. The air temperature was 4 degrees Fahrenheit, but wind chill was -36 °F.
  • The Epic in Miami (also known as The Game No One Should Have Lost) (January 2, 1982, San Diego Chargers vs. Miami Dolphins, AFC Divisional Playoff Game) The temperature was 85°F (29.4°C) at the Miami Orange Bowl, but it did not stop either team's offense. This game set playoff records for the most points scored in a playoff game (79; the record has since been broken by the Packers and Cardinals in 2009), the most total yards by both teams (1,036), and most passing yards by both teams (809). By the end of the first quarter the Chargers stormed to a 24-0 lead, but the Dolphins cut their deficit to 24-17 by halftime and took a 38-31 lead on the first play of the fourth quarter. However, the Chargers went on to tie the game before time ran out, causing regulation to end with a 38-38 tie. In overtime, San Diego beat Miami, 41-38.
  • Freezer Bowl (January 10, 1982, San Diego Chargers vs. Cincinnati Bengals, AFC Championship Game) One week after their victory over the Dolphins in "The Epic in Miami" in Florida's scorching heat, the Chargers travelled to Cincinnati to face the Bengals in the coldest game in NFL history based on the wind chill. The air temperature was -9 degrees Fahrenheit (-23 °C), but wind chill was -59 °F (-51 °C). In an attempt to intimidate the Chargers, several Bengals players went without long sleeved uniforms. Cincinnati won the game 27-7 and advanced to their first Super Bowl in franchise history.
  • The Catch (January 10, 1982, Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers, NFC Championship Game)[11] With 58 seconds left and the 49ers down by 6, Joe Montana threw a very high pass into the endzone. Dwight Clark leapt and completed a fingertip catch for a touchdown. The 49ers won 28-27 and went on to win Super Bowl XVI.
  • The Snow Plow Game (December 12, 1982, Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots) After a snowstorm held both teams scoreless, Patriots head coach Ron Meyer ordered the area where the ball was to be spotted for a field goal attempt cleared by a snow plow. Mark Henderson, a convict on work release, cleared the path for John Smith's attempt. It won the game for the Patriots, 3-0, and the practice of using snow plows during games was later banned.[12]
  • Mud Bowl (January 23, 1983, AFC Championship Game, New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins)[13] The game was played on a wet, muddy field which largely negated the Jets' advantage in speed at the skill positions, and emphasized the Dolphins' strengths; the Killer B's Defense and a solid power running attack. The Dolphins defense held Jets quarterback Richard Todd to only 15 of 37 completions for 103 yards and intercepted 5 of his passes. Linebacker A.J. Duhe led Miami with 3 interceptions, scoring a 35-yard touchdown and setting up the other Dolphins score in the 14-0 victory. Afterwards, the Jets complained about Dolphins coach Don Shula's decision not to place the tarp over the Miami Orange Bowl's grass field before the game. The Dolphins completed a 3 game sweep of the Jets with this victory, the first time this was accomplished in NFL history, and deepening the already bitter Dolphins–Jets rivalry.
  • 70 Chip (January 30, 1983, Super Bowl XVII, Miami Dolphins vs. Washington Redskins) Trailing 17-13 in the fourth quarter, the Redskins were facing 4th and 1 in Miami territory. Washington running back John Riggins was the obvious choice to drive through the line for a first down. The play "70 Chip" was called in by offensive coordinator Joe Bugel. The play was designed for The Hogs to clear what appeared to be a path straight through the defensive line, but had a wing back, Clint Didier run across the formation, fake and come back to the left side and block the strong safety, opening up a hole on the left for John Riggins to run through. Riggins was usually known for straight ahead, line busting runs, taking several opponents to bring him down, not necessarily a long distance runner. While following Didier in motion, defensive back Don McNeal briefly slipped; although he recovered to try to stop the play, Riggins brushed him aside to run 43 yards for the touchdown and put the Redskins ahead 20 to 17. The run was immortalized by NFL Films showing Riggins' strength and determination all the way to the end zone, including the sound of a diesel train (Riggins' nickname). The Redskins went on to defeat the Dolphins 27-17, winning their first Super Bowl title. Riggins won the Super Bowl MVP Award for his efforts in the process.
  • The Drive (January 11, 1987, Denver Broncos vs. Cleveland Browns, AFC Championship Game) After a muffed kickoff return, and trailing 20-13, the Broncos were positioned at their own two-yard line with 5:32 remaining in the game. In 15 plays, Denver quarterback John Elway drove his team 98 yards for a touchdown to tie the game, which the Broncos won in overtime to advance to Super Bowl XXI.
  • The Fumble (January 17, 1988, Cleveland Browns vs. Denver Broncos, AFC Championship Game) Trailing 38-31 with 1:12 remaining in the game, the Browns' Earnest Byner appeared to be on his way to score the game tying touchdown, but he fumbled the ball at the 3-yard line. The Broncos recovered the ball, gave the Browns an intentional safety, and went on to win 38-33, sending the Broncos to their second consecutive Super Bowl appearance (Super Bowl XXII).
  • The Fog Bowl (December 31, 1988, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Chicago Bears, NFC Divisional Playoff Game) A heavy, dense fog rolled over the stadium (Soldier Field) during the second quarter, cutting visibility to about 15-20 yards for the rest of the game. The fog was so thick that TV and radio announcers had trouble seeing what was happening on the field. The Bears ended up winning 20-12.
  • The Instant Replay Game (November 5, 1989, Chicago Bears vs Green Bay Packers)[14][15] Late in the game, Green Bay quarterback Don "Magic" Majkowski rifled a desperation fourth-down pass into the end zone, caught by receiver Sterling Sharpe for a TD that would give the Packers a 14-13 victory with the extra point. However, a penalty flag was thrown, and it charged that Majkowski had thrown an illegal pass after he stepped over the line of scrimmage. After review, replay official Bill Parkinson ultimately ruled a touchdown for Green Bay. The Bears organization protested, and to this day, it is marked in their media guide as "The Instant Replay Game."
  • Bounty Bowl (November 23, 1989, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys) In the Cowboys' annual Thanksgiving game, the Eagles won 27-0, in the only Thanksgiving shutout Dallas has suffered to date. The game was ill-tempered, with several scuffles between opposing players, and Cowboys (and former Eagles) kicker Luis Zendejas was knocked out of the game with a concussion thanks to a hard hit during a kickoff. After the game, Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson accused Eagles coach Buddy Ryan of placing bounties on Zendejas and Dallas quarterback Troy Aikman.
  • Bounty Bowl II (December 10, 1989, Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles) The equally ill-tempered rematch, won 20-10 by the Eagles, was played in a Veterans Stadium that was not cleaned of snow that had fallen for several days in Philadelphia. The notoriously rowdy Eagles crowd, lubricated by considerable amounts of beer, threw snowballs, iceballs, batteries, and other objects at anyone in sight. One game official was knocked to the ground by a barrage of snowballs, Johnson had to be escorted from the field by Philadelphia police through a hail of debris, and CBS broadcasters Verne Lundquist and Terry Bradshaw had to dodge snowballs aimed at the broadcast booth. Even Eagles star Jerome Brown became a target when he stood on the players' bench pleading with fans to stop throwing debris on the field.
1990s


  • The Body Bag Game (November 12, 1990, Washington Redskins vs. Philadelphia Eagles, Monday Night Football[16]) In the days leading to the clash, Eagles head coach Buddy Ryan threatened a beating so severe that "they'll have to be carted off in body bags." Ryan's words were prophetic. The Eagles defense scored three touchdowns in a 28–14 win and knocked eight Redskins out of the game, including two quarterbacks. The Redskins finished with running back-returner Brian Mitchell playing quarterback. Two months later, however, the Redskins would have the last laugh, returning to Philadelphia for a playoff game and defeating the Eagles 20-6.
  • Wide Right (January 27, 1991, Buffalo Bills vs. New York Giants, Super Bowl XXV) With eight seconds remaining, Scott Norwood was called in to kick a 47-yard field goal for the Bills, who were down 20–19 against the Giants. The kick had plenty of distance, but sailed wide right, beginning the Bills' streak of four consecutive Super Bowl losses.
  • The Comeback (January 3, 1993, Houston Oilers vs. Buffalo Bills, AFC Wild Card Playoff Game) With quarterback Jim Kelly, running back Thurman Thomas, and linebacker Cornelius Bennett out injured, Frank Reich led the Bills back from a 32-point deficit, to defeat the Oilers 41-38 in overtime in a wild card playoff game, thought by some to be the greatest comeback ever in pro football history. Incidentally, Frank Reich had quarterbacked the University of Maryland team to what was then the greatest comeback in college football history, during a 1984 game versus the University of Miami.
  • The Clock Play aka The Fake Spike Game (November 27, 1994, Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets) With 22 seconds remaining in regulation and trailing 24-21 in a battle for AFC East supremacy, the Dolphins had the ball at the Jets' 8-yard line but were out of timeouts. Running to the line of scrimmage, Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino yelled "Clock! Clock!" and motioned that he was going to spike the ball to stop the clock and set up an attempt at a game-tying field goal. The Jets defense, anticipating a spike, lined up haphazardly. Marino took the snap, but instead of spiking the ball, dropped back to pass. The Jets had bought the ruse and were caught off-guard, enabling Marino to deliver the game-winning touchdown pass to a wide open Mark Ingram in the front corner of the end zone. The 28–24 victory moved the Dolphins to 8–4 en route to the division title, while the Jets dropped to 6–6 and went on to lose their final four games in a season that culminated with the firing of head coach Pete Carroll. The Jets would reach new lows in the following two seasons, winning a total of 4 games over that span.
  • The Helicopter (January 25, 1998, Denver Broncos vs. Green Bay Packers, Super Bowl XXXII) Late in the third quarter, with the scored tied 17-17, Denver faced a third and six at the Packers' 12 yard line. Quarterback John Elway, unable to find a receiver, held onto the ball and sprinted through the Green Bay defense. At the 6 yard line, and with Packers strong safety LeRoy Butler bearing down on him, Elway dove into the air. Despite missing Elway head-on, Butler got enough to send him spinning in mid-air like the rotors of a helicopter. Elway landed at the 4, enough for a first down, and leaped back into the huddle. The Broncos would score two plays later, and go on to win the team's first championship, 31-24. Elway's selfless play is credited with inspiring his teammates to victory.
  • The Catch II (January 3, 1999, Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers, 1998 NFC Wild Card Playoff Game) Brett Favre, Mike Holmgren, and the Packers led 27–23 late in the game. However, the 49ers managed to get a late drive all the way down to Green Bay's 25-yard line. With 8 seconds left, QB Steve Young got the snap, stumbled for a bit, and then threw the game-winning TD pass to WR Terrell Owens. Owens (who until this point only had two receptions and many dropped passes) would get hit by two defenders, yet he would hold on to preserve the win. Many Packers fans contend that the drive never should have gotten that far down the field, as a Jerry Rice fumble was incorrectly ruled down by contact earlier on the drive.
2000s


  • Music City Miracle (January 8, 2000, Buffalo Bills vs. Tennessee Titans, AFC Wild Card Playoff Game) With 16 seconds left in the game, the Titans received a kickoff. The Titans' Lorenzo Neal handed the ball to Frank Wycheck, who then lateraled the ball across the width of the field to his teammate, Kevin Dyson, who in turn ran the length of the field down the sideline for the game-winning touchdown (22-16). Controversy surrounded the play, hinging on whether Wycheck's pass to Dyson was an illegal forward pass, though the play was held up by instant replay review by referee Phil Luckett. The Tennessee Titans went on to lose the Super Bowl in the "One Yard Short" play.

  • The Tackle/One Yard Short (January 30, 2000, St. Louis Rams vs. Tennessee Titans, Super Bowl XXXIV)[17][18] Trailing 23-16 with six seconds remaining in the game, the Titans, who had no timeouts left and possession of the ball on the Rams' 10-yard line, had one final chance to tie the game. Titans quarterback Steve McNair passed the ball to Kevin Dyson on a slant, but Rams linebacker Mike Jones came across the field and tackled Dyson perpendicular to the end zone. Dyson stretched out towards the goal line, but was only able to reach the one-yard line before being ruled down.


  • Tuck rule game (January 19, 2002, Oakland Raiders vs. New England Patriots, AFC Divisional Playoff Game) This is also known as Snowjob for Raiders fans, and as the Snow Bowl for Patriots fans. With less than two minutes to play in regulation, the Patriots trailed the Raiders, 13-10, in a game played mostly under a driving snowstorm. Oakland defensive back Charles Woodson blitzed Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and sacked him, causing what appeared to be a fumble. The ball was recovered by the Raiders' Greg Biekert at the Oakland 42-yard-line. When referee Walt Coleman reviewed the play, he ruled it an incomplete pass because of the Tuck Rule (NFL Rule 3, Section 21, Article 2, Note 2) which states that "even if the player loses possession of the ball as he is attempting to tuck it back toward his body" it is still a forward pass. The Patriots retained possession, and later tied the game on a dramatic, 45 yard Adam Vinatieri field goal that barely cleared the crossbar with 27 seconds left in regulation — regarded as one of the greatest kicks of all time, given the conditions. They won the game in overtime on a 23-yard field goal. The rule had been addressed as correct after the season, and has not been altered.

  • River City Relay (December 21, 2003, New Orleans Saints vs. Jacksonville Jaguars) With the Saints needing a victory to keep their postseason hopes alive, the Jaguars held a 20-13 lead with seven seconds left in regulation, and the Saints had possession on their own 25. In a scene evoking memories of one of the most famous college football plays of all-time, Aaron Brooks passed to Donté Stallworth for 42 yards, who then lateraled to Michael Lewis for 7 yards. Lewis lateraled to Deuce McAllister for 5 yards, and McAllister lateraled to Jerome Pathon for 21 yards and a touchdown. With the score 20-19, an extra point would have capped the miracle play and forced overtime. However, in an unlikely twist, John Carney, who in his career made 98.4% of extra points attempted and had not missed one in a full decade, inexplicably missed the extra point wide right, ending the game, and seemed to cause the Saints to miss the playoffs for yet another season. However, the Saints needed another team to lose that day, which they did not, rendering the missed extra point moot.

  • January 10, 2004, Carolina Panthers vs. St. Louis Rams, NFC Divisional Playoff Game After Carolina jumped out to a 23-12 lead, St. Louis rallied back by scoring 11 points in the last 6 minutes to send the game into overtime. During the first possession of the first overtime period, the Panthers marched down to the Rams 22 yard line and kicker John Kasay made a 40-yard field goal that would have won the game, but the play was called back after a delay of game penalty. Kasay subsequently missed the 45-yard attempt wide right, and on the Rams ensuing possession, kicker Jeff Wilkins would attempt a 53-yard field goal. Unlike Kasay's, it was straight on, but it fell just inches short of the goalpost. On the first play of the second overtime period, and after Ricky Manning Jr. intercepted a Marc Bulger pass, Panthers QB Jake Delhomme threw a 69-yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith to give the Panthers the win in the fifth-longest game in NFL history, hand the Rams their first home loss in 14 games, and help pave the way for their appearance in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

  • 4th and 26 (January 11, 2004, Green Bay Packers vs. Philadelphia Eagles) Down 17-14 with 1:12 on the clock and no time outs left in the NFC Divisional Playoff Game, the Eagles had 26 yards to go on fourth down. The play (74 Double Go) called for a 25-yard slant running route for wide receiver Freddie Mitchell, and saw Quarterback Donovan McNabb toss a perfect 28-yard strike to Mitchell deep into the Packers secondary. Packer safety Bhawoh Jue saw Mitchell running free and ran over to deliver a hit, but he was too late. Mitchell completed a leaping reception and was brought down at the Packers 46, giving the Eagles a first down. The play set up David Akers' 37-yard field goal attempt after McNabb ran for another first down. The field goal was good, and the game went into overtime, where Eagles star safety Brian Dawkins was able to intercept a Packers pass and return it 35 yards, setting up another Akers field goal try. The 31-yard kick was good, giving the Eagles a dramatic 20-17 victory in sudden death overtime. The play helped send the Eagles to their third straight NFC Championship Game.

  • The Helmet Catch (February 3, 2008, New York Giants vs. New England Patriots, Super Bowl XLII) With the score 14-10 in favor of the New England Patriots, the Giants got the ball with just over 2 minutes to play. They were able to drive down the field with short plays but time was running down. Then, on a third-and-five, quarterback Eli Manning went into the shotgun and was soon surrounded by Patriot defenders. A couple of Patriots were able to grab Manning's jersey, but he broke free and scrambled away from the pile, setting his feet and firing the ball downfield to wide receiver David Tyree. Tyree leapt for the ball, tightly covered by Patriots safety Rodney Harrison, and completed the 32-yard reception by pinning the ball against his helmet, bringing the Giants to the 22 yard line with 58 seconds left. The Giants would soon score a touchdown with 35 seconds left, and held on to win the game.
 

GG.exe

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Just wanted to post a very good thread from another NFL board.

The Forgotten Teams Few Remember

Just a very good read, from a lot of knowledgeable long-timers, discussing many great teams over the years that people don't talk about much.

For instance....

DawgX said:
Jaguarfan said:
The '96 and '99 Jags made it to the AFC championship.
The '99 Jags went 14-2, losing to only one team that entire year.
We destroyed Marino 62-7 that year in the playoffs, too.
I remember the Titans were the only team to beat the Jaguars in 1999. Twice in the regular season and then in the AFC Championship game. If it weren't for the Titans, the Jaguars would have went undefeated and would have went to the Super Bowl.
 

Iason

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God, I loved those teams. I remember staying up to watch the wild card game against the Broncos at the old Mile High when nobody gave us a chance, and Brunell's scramble at the end to seal it made him my first sporting hero. The '99 team was just a dynamo, and all you can really say is the Titans had our number that year.

Was at my best friend's house watching the Marino game. I've never seen a team get that much right in one game since.
 

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Iason

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The salary cap situation before he left town was ugly, so a lot of fans were calling for his head. We didn't think he'd actually get fired, though. That was a strange day.
 

Woodson

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I've been reading a book titled 'Run It! And Let's get the hell out of here' which features 100 best plays over a 3 page read each play. Also purchased '100 Yards of Glory' which is a great book to read if you like the history of the NFL and the dynasties. Thanx for posting GG. Great thread. :thumbsu:
 

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Here's a very good read on what happens in those fumble piles...

Dirty Deeds

Buckle up your chinstrap, dear reader. This is not a story for the faint of heart. We're diving into the NFL pile, a place where rules are abandoned and no body part is safe.

The pursuit of a fumbled ball is, by all accounts, football's final frontier -- the wild, wild mess. While games might be endlessly televised, replayed and legislated, the pile remains the one place on the field shielded from prying eyes.

That might be for the best. It's not pretty under here.

"Man, it's no-holds barred," said Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, the Los Gatos native. "Everything happens. I bet that ball changes hands 15 times down there."

The Pile, as it shall be known, is football's reverse meritocracy; a place where people are constantly striving to get to the bottom. To get there, players will resort to eye-gouging, arm-twisting and well-placed pokes. It's a "Three Stooges" routine with shoulder pads.

It also happens to hold the key to the NFL playoffs, which begin this weekend. The top three teams in the league in turnover differential -- the 49ers (+28), Green Packers (+24) and New England Patriots (+17) -- went a combined 41-6 and earned first-round byes. The 49ers' mark broke the franchise record of +22 set by the 1981 team, the one that launched San Francisco's dynasty.

To put it simply: Get the ball, get the win. Just ask New York Giants defensive lineman Dave Tollefson, who lived to tell about his game-changing fumble
recovery against the St. Louis Rams earlier this season.

"It's pure pandemonium," the former standout at Concord's Ygnacio Valley High told reporters. "You would think that the football had the key to life in it. Seriously. It's unlike anything I've ever been involved in sports."

As San Diego Chargers linebacker Takeo Spikes, a survivor of 18 career fumble recoveries, said: "If piles could only talk."

Today, they do.

Here are true tales from football's sweaty underbelly.

'HE TRIED TO FEEL ME'

The first rule of The Pile is that there are no rules. There is also no code of honor, no professional etiquette, no regard for human decency.

"No, no, no," Raiders defensive lineman Tommy Kelly said. "There are no other rules other than, 'Get it!' However you get it, get it. If you have to bite him, bite him."

And if he's hurt, hurt him more. Adrian Peterson recently accused the New Orleans Saints of using the cover of darkness to target his injured left ankle. "Guys are going to try to take their shots when we're on the pile and try to twist it up and things like that," he said. "It kind of got overboard."

Speaking of overboard, former 49ers and Raiders linebacker Bill Romanowski was not the kind of guy you'd want to meet at the bottom of a dark pile. He was known as one of the dirtiest players of his day, drawing fines over the years for kicking Larry Centers in the head, spitting in J.J. Stokes' face and throwing a football at Bryan Cox's crotch.

So imagine what Romanowski did when shielded from view.

"I used to go to a pretty dark place and there wasn't much that was off limits," Romanowski acknowledged. "I'm not proud of some of the things I did. But I just wanted to win so badly that I would do anything to get a piece of that ball and get it back."

In a playoff game against the New York Giants in 1994, the 49ers linebacker was trying to pry a ball away from running back Dave Meggett. Let's allow Romanowski, now an analyst for Comcast Sports Net, give the play-by-play: "I'm trying to rip the ball out of his hands and as I'm ripping, all I could get was a finger. I ripped as hard and as fast as I could and cracked his finger like a chicken bone."

That brazen, whatever-is-necessary attitude underscores an important fact about life on the bottom: The ball is changing possession, sometimes frequently. That helps explain the ritual dance that plays out on The Pile's fringes, when players from each team signal with equal certitude that the ball belongs to them.

They might be right, if only for a fleeting moment. As Patriots coach Bill Belichick said: "It's not who gets the ball. It's who comes out with it." New England tied with the 49ers, the New Orleans Saints and the Buffalo Bills this season for fewest fumbles allowed (five).

Getting to the prize is the easiest part.

"You don't need no skill level to fall on a ball," the Raiders' Kelly added. In fact, the true challenge is enduring the outrageous indignities that occur once you have the football. Explained Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell: "They're pulling. They're tugging. They're punching your gut. They're turning your neck."

"Guys do what they want to do," added Houston Texans running back Arian Foster. "I try to be as humane as possible when I play this game. Other people don't. You can't account for those."

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers accused Seattle defensive end Darryl Tapp giving him a chomp during the 2008 season.

"It felt like a bee sting," Rodgers said. "I was looking down and he was biting my arm, so I had to get his teeth off my shoulder."

When Rodgers went public a season later, Tapp denied it, sort of.

"I'm pretty sure it didn't happen -- pretty positive," he said.

But Tapp's tactics have nothing on defensive end Shaun Smith, who was accused not once, but twice of grabbing a particularly sensitive region of an opponent last season in scrums. After he claimed his second victim, the 49ers' Anthony Davis, and received a $10,000 fine, Smith became known in cyberspace as The Genital Giant.

"He tried to feel me," Davis said. "That's weird, right?"

Actually, that's just typical. It's why Ben Leber, now a St. Louis Rams linebacker, once said: "In the pile you hear some screams of pain, but you don't know where it is coming from -- unless it's you."

Sometimes, no one can hear you scream. Barry Sims, the former 49ers and Raiders lineman, recalled the fear of being trapped underneath an avalanche of humanity.

"What went through my mind was: 'Oh my god, I'm stuck!" Sims said. "It got me thinking of what it would be like to be trapped in rubble, like after an earthquake. I had to calm myself down and remind myself that everyone would be unpiling in a moment. But, boy, it made me realize that being buried alive would be a scary experience."

SORTING THROUGH THE PILE

While the 300-pound behemoths are playing tug-of-war, the crew of seven officials must keep the peace. Mike Pereira, the league's former head of officials, said the key is to peel away the players as quickly as possible to locate the ball.

"Once they find it," Pereira said, "then they worry about who has it. ... We recognize that the ball could change hands two or three times before we find the location."

It makes for an odd scene: the smallest men on the field -- many with AARP cards in their wallets -- trying to separate a herd of testosterone-fueled brutes. The 49ers' 323-pound Davis recently tugged daintily on his T-shirt to demonstrate what it feels like when officials are trying to drag him off the scrum.

And when the 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals were fighting over a football earlier this season, 325-pound guard Adam Snyder just plain ignored the officials who were trying to sort through The Pile.

"I'm not getting off until we have the ball!" Snyder recalled yelling.

Pereira, now a Fox analyst, acknowledged the challenge.

"You've got a 60-year-old guy who weighs about 175 pounds soaking wet trying to separate those big guys," he said. "It's a miracle they don't get pulled right into the pile with them."

Officials probably could throw a personal foul flag during every scrum. But that's not their focus. Their eyes are locked in on finding the 11-inch long, 28-inch wide football under what might be, by a conservative estimate, 2,500 pounds of men and equipment. As NFL vice president of football operations Ray Anderson said, "You can't enforce what you can't see ... I guarantee if we see something, we'd take action."

AN NFL TRADITION

The importance of pouncing on a loose ball is as old as the game itself. William "Pudge" Heffelfinger, who became the first professional football player on Nov. 12, 1892, celebrated his $500 payday from the Allegheny (Pa.) Athletic Association by recovering a fumble and returning it 35 yards for the game's only touchdown.

Just like that, the importance of the turnover was born.

Over the years, leather helmets and the wing-T have come and gone, but the value of the old-fashioned scrum has remained the same, as the late Ray Nitschke understood.

The Green Bay Packers linebacker was hailed as the hero of the 1962 championship game after recovering two fumbles against the New York Giants. To hear one former teammate tell it, Nitschke recovered neither. He simply sweet-talked teammates Bill Forester and Dan Currie into sliding him the ball once his Packers had secured possession. "So Ray got credit for two fumble recoveries, became the MVP and won a Corvette -- all at the bottom of the pile," former Packers lineman Jerry Kramer, 75, recalled with a laugh.

Championship history took a sharp detour beneath the stack of human rubble in Super Bowl V. Dallas Cowboys running back Duane Thomas was trying to fight his way across the goal line when Baltimore Colts linebacker Mike Curtis jarred the ball from his hands.

The ball popped safely into the arms of Dallas center Dave Manders. But as Colts players swarmed him, they obstructed the view of official Jack Fette. Colts tackle Billy Ray Smith began signaling wildly in his team's favor, by yelling "Our ball! Our ball!"

A flummoxed Fette signaled the same, giving the Colts the ball at the 1. Never mind that Manders got up, still clutching the ball, and pointedly handed it to the referee. The Cowboys on the verge of going up 20-6, instead went on to lose 16-13.

"We ought to give the game ball to Billy Ray," Colts defensive lineman Bubba Smith later said. "He conned that official right out of the Super Bowl."

And in the history of the Super Bowl, the team with the edge in turnovers is 33-3 (.916)

'GET DOWN THERE AND DO IT'

By all accounts, nobody has it worse than the quarterback. They're The Pile drivers, the ones most often on the business end of botched snaps, bumbled handoffs and blindside hits that jar the ball loose.

The three players with the most career fumble recoveries all are quarterbacks: Warren Moon (56), Dave Kreig (47) and Boomer Esiason (45).

It's also why one of Jim Harbaugh's fondest moments of his 15-year playing career is a play that no one else ever saw. He made a Pro Bowl and led the Indianapolis Colts to within a Hail Mary of making the Super Bowl, but Captain Comeback points instead to the time he was Private Pile.

Looking back on his career, Harbaugh called holding on to a fumble despite searing pain "probably my proudest experience."

"It was like an arm-wrestling match down there," added Harbaugh, recalling how he started with half the ball. "I couldn't lift up my arms after I was done because I was straining so hard down there to get the leverage on the ball."

As a quarterback, shouldn't he weigh the danger factor and leave the brutality to the linemen?

"It would be hard to live with yourself if you turned that down," Harbaugh said. "It would bother a person for all the rest of his life."

And players never forget what happens in The Pile.

Eric Davis, who spent six of his 13 NFL seasons with the 49ers, remembers the time he discovered Chargers quarterback Ryan Leaf clinging to the pigskin at the bottom of a scrum. Davis grabbed Leaf's fingers and began bending them backward. Leaf looked at Davis in horror, wondering if he really was willing to break his fingers.

Davis just smiled.

"It's not worth it," he told him.

Leaf let go of the ball.

Romanowski, upon hearing that story, wondered why Davis took it so easy on the quarterback.

"I would have snapped him," he said. "Oh, yeah."
 

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No great surprise from Romanowski...

One game that I was surprised wasn't on the list and one I'll never forget is the 1989/90 NFC Championship game. The Leonard Marshall hit on Montana was massive. Steve Young nearly got the 49ers over the line until a late Roger Craig fumble in scoring position gave the Giants the ball and time to drive to a game winning FG.

It signalled the end of the 49ers decade of dominance with Montana. The season after that saw Craig and Lott gone through Plan B and the Steve Young era began. May also have affected the Buffalo Bills legacy indirectly.
 

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---Q: Offensive tackles are the offensive linemen furthest away from the ball, but defensive tackles are the ones closest to the ball on their line. Why is this?

---A: A long time ago the standard defense was the 7-diamond, seven players lined up opposite their seven offensive counterparts. In the 1930s and '40s, this gave way to the 6-2-2-1, six linemen, in other words. Tackles still played the offensive tackle head up, or maybe to the outside shoulder. There were two defensive guards inside. They were eliminated when the 4-3 came in, and the tackles now had to move inside or there would be a huge hole over the middle. So they became the guards of yesteryear, while the defensive ends became the tackles.

 

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Interesting tidbit in here on how the Dallas Cowboys were born...

Hail to the Redskins

Hail to the Redskins is the fight song for the Washington Redskins. It was written sometime between 1937 and 1938 and was performed for the first time as the Official Redskins Fight Song on August 17, 1938. The music composed by the Redskins team band leader, Barnee Breeskin, and the lyrics were written by Corinne Griffith, the wife of the Redskins team owner, George Preston Marshall.

History

In 1937, Redskins team owner George Preston Marshall moved the Redskins from Boston, MA to Washington, DC. With this move and the introduction of his team to the nation's capital, Marshall commissioned a 110 member band to provide the new fans with the "pomp and circumstance" and "pageantry" of a public victory parade. Marshall stated that he wanted to his team and their games to emulate the spectacle of the Roman Gladiators at the Coliseum. He oufitted the band with $25,000 worth of uniforms and instruments and asked the band leader, Barnee Breeskin, to compose a fight song worthy of such a team of gladiators and warriors. Breeskin composed the music, and the original lyrics were penned by Marshall's wife, Corinne Griffith. So, this song was not the fight song of the original Boston Redskins team; it was, in fact, written for what Marshall saw as his new Redskins team. Hail to the Redskins was written and introduced in 1938, the year after the Boston Redskins made their transfer to Washington, DC.

The original lyrics were written to reflect the Indian Warrior imagery of the team as the Redskins. These original lyrics were never intended to disparage any groups of people or any Native Americans; the song was written at a time when American public consciousness was not as focused on the political correctness of the culture as it is in current times. So, the lyrics were eventually updated to the lyrics sung today which are considered to be more politically correct than they were originally. Nonetheless, much of the lyrics remain the same and the fight song is one of the oldest known football fight songs in all of American professional football.

Hail to the Redskins is the second oldest fight song for a professional American football team; the oldest fight song is "Go! You Packers! Go!", composed in 1931. During the 1938 season the Redskins played their new fight song for fans in attendance at the games as they played the Philadelphia Eagles, the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Cleveland Rams, the New York Giants, the Detroit Lions, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Chicago Bears football teams.

Changes to the Lyrics/References to Dixie

In the song's original first stanza, the line "Fight for old Dixie", was changed to "Fight for old D.C.". The original version of the song also closed to the open of the well known southern folk song, "Dixie".

Dixie refers to the American South, where slavery was practiced until the American Civil War. This reference was seen as potentially offensive to African-Americans, many of whom are descendants of slaves. For some,"Dixie" simply refers to the South and is not racist. For others, though, "Dixie" does carry racist undertones. Team owner George Preston Marshall, who has been called "the leading racist in the NFL", excluded African-American players until 1962. The lyric change, which occurred only after the team was integrated, was largely an attempt to disassociate the Redskins from previous racism against blacks.

The Dixie reference may also seem confusing to those unfamiliar with the history of the NFL. Washington, D.C. is very close to the Mason-Dixon line (which by itself is not an indicator of geographic or cultural identity), far from the center of the American South, but was considered to be a part of the South until the 20th Century, and did have slaves. Furthermore, in the late 1930s when Hail to the Redskins came into use, there were no other Southern teams in the league.

Dallas Cowboys Controversy

When the NFL began considering Texas as the state to host a proposed expansion team, the move was strongly opposed by the Redskins owner, who had enjoyed a monopoly in the South for three decades. Potential owner Clint Murchison, who was trying to bring the NFL to Dallas, bought the rights to "Hail to the Redskins" from a disgruntled Breeskin and threatened to prevent Marshall from playing it at games. Marshall agreed to back Murchison's bid, Murchison gave him back the rights to the song, and the Dallas Cowboys were born.

Native American Stereotypes

The original lyrics also perpetuated stereotypes of Native Americans. The second stanza of the original version exhorted the team to "scalp" their opponents, and invoked more stereotypes with lines like "we want heap more!" Those phrases have since been replaced with standard football play references like "run or pass or score, we want a lot more".

Despite these changes, some Native American groups still take offense to the lyrics in their present form. First, the song references the team name, Redskins. There has been considerable debate over whether the term "redskin" is a racial slur against Native Americans. Second, the line "braves on the warpath" is another alleged stereotype, similar to the removed "scalping" reference. Both phrases also refer back to the team's origin in Boston, as the team was named after the Boston Braves.

The updated version is seen as less offensive. It remains one of the most popular and well-known fight songs in the NFL. For example, on November 30, 1972 The Seldom Scene released on Rebel Records a version of the song lasting 2:02 which originally appeared as a 45rpm record but that is now readily available as an MP3 download from mainstream outlets such as amazon.com.
 

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NFL, CFL used to meet in the preseason

Posted by Mike Florio on June 23, 2012, 5:15 PM EDT
Reuters
As the Canadian Football League approaches its annual Canada Day launch to its regular season, let’s fill some space on a slow (relatively speaking) Saturday and look back in time at a series of preseason games once played between teams from the NFL and CFL.
While recently perusing the Official 2011 NFL Record & Fact Book (the 2012 version should be coming out soon, and like a total dork I actually look forward to getting it), I noticed at page 531 a full list of the league’s International Games.
From August 1950 through August 1961, teams from the NFL and CFL played six times during the NFL preseason, in Canada. (For the Canadian teams, the games were exhibitions played during the CFL regular season.)
It started in 1950, when the Giants beat the Rough Riders in Ottawa, 27-6. The following year, the Giants thumped the same team in the same town, 41-18.
The series resumed eight years later, when the Chicago Cardinals clobbered the Argonauts, 55-26, in Toronto. In 1960, the Steelers slammed the Argonauts in Toronto, 43-16.
The exercise ended the following year, with a pair of contests played three days apart. On August 2 in Toronto, the Cardinals (which had since moved to St. Louis) cold-cocked the Argonauts, 36-7. On August 5, the Bears bested the Alouettes in Montreal, 34-16.
But the Canadians saved a little face three days after that. In the one and only AFL-CFL game, the Tiger-Cats took apart the Buffalo Bills in Hamilton, 38-21.
In the past 51 years, no NFL team (or AFL, during the league’s remaining years of existence) has ever again played a CFL team, in Canada or elsewhere. It’s unlikely that it will ever happen again. Still, every time you hear the name “Tiger-Cats” remember that they own the bragging rights over the Bills and, in turn, the league that absorbed the Buffalo franchise in 1970.
 

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Interesting article....

In 1979, SI took an intriguing look at the future of the NFL


The online vault at SI.com contains all sorts of treasures that no one has the time to search for. Fortunately, one of our readers had both the time and inclination to find an article that I vividly recall reading at at time when I was younger than my kid is now.

In 1979, Sports Illustrated pondered the future of pro football. Here are some of the quotes, each of which were followed by comments from Frank Deford that best can be described as pre-Internet snark.

“In the year 2000, there won’t be any contact below the waist.” —Bum Phillips, Head Coach, Houston Oilers. (Said DeFord in response, “Yeah, O.K.”)
A dozen years after 2000, Bum’s vision has yet to come to fruition. But it’s moving in that direction. And it could take another big step there in the offseason, after the 2011 hit by Bills receiver Stevie Johnson on Chiefs safety Eric Berry and the hit from earlier this month by Jets guard Matt Slauson on Texans linebacker Brian Cushing.

“Players will look a lot different: lighter equipment, more formfitting shoulder pads, a different type of helmet, soft rib pads.” —Dan Rooney, President, Pittsburgh Steelers.

Of course, we won’t notice any of those differences this weekend when the Steelers play; we’ll be too distracted by the prison bumblebee throwback uniforms.

“There’ll be a little metal fleck in the football, so you can tell for sure whether the guy with the ball got over the goal line or was pushed back.” —Tex Schramm, General Manager, Dallas Cowboys.

Schramm was a sage. And that’s one change the NFL needs to embrace.

“Everything will become more specialized. On defense, you’ll get pass rushers and run defenders, first-down and third-down defensive ends. You’ll see relief quarterbacks.” —Tom Flores, Head Coach, Oakland Raiders.

Relief quarterbacks have yet to take root, but for the 2007 season, when the Cardinals would bring out Kurt Warner whenever they fell behind. And then they’d putt Matt Leinart back in when Warner pulled things even.

“It’s a very tough, very hard game, and I think more and more it’s going to be played by the so-called underprivileged. It’s too tough, too physical a game for a society that’s become so affluent. Kids can get the same great cardiovascular exercise from soccer.” —Marv Levy.

That’s the argument that has been raised in the wake of the new sensitivity to concussions. Football could become a way out for the have-nots, and the best of the best eventually will entertain the haves and the have-mores.

The article, after the parade of quotes, focuses on Byron Donzis, a then-47-year-old inventor who had developed a flak jacket and who had all sorts of other ideas (some crazy, some sane) about the future of pro football, from an equipment standpoint. But Deford eventually focuses on broader assessments of the game.

“The feeling is that rosters will grow, but the schedule will not (you believe that?), and that the NFL won’t expand abroad because the foreigners wouldn’t be sufficiently interested in an American game played by Americans,” Deford wrote. “No, even in 2000 the referees won’t use TV replays to assist them in making their calls.”

It’s an intriguing article. And it makes us wonder how different the NFL will be in another 33 years. Feel free to drop some ideas below.
 

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The NFL and college football will completely collapse as the rules piss people off and the fans turn to the attire worn by competitors in rival leagues such as the LFL.
 

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Looking at the Jets-Raiders rivalry from the past...

Raiders-Jets Rivalry Has a Long History


The hilarity of the episode can’t be understated. It was a playoff game in January 1983. The New York Jets were on the road playing the Los Angeles Raiders. A phone call came through to the Jets locker room at halftime.

Jets head coach Walt Michaels was handed the phone. The voice on the other end claimed to be Jets owner Leon Hess. What followed was a tirade, making Michaels feel the heat for his Jets underperforming.

Michaels knew it was a prank, but his anger bubbled over.

"I'm gonna have something special to say about this damn Raider organization," he promised after the call.

Obviously, Walt thought the prank was the work of the Raiders. What he did not know was that the prank was from a New York bartender.

Well, unfortunately for Raiders fans, the Jets beat the Raiders 17-14 that game. Afterwards, Walt Michaels said, "I just want to say that whatever member of the Raider organization called me on the phone at halftime and said my owner wanted to talk to me is a sick SOB. It's a sick, rotten way to try to disrupt our team. His initials are A.D. and I don't care if he knows it or not."

Comedy gold.

So how did a bartender manage to make a phone call and catch an NFL head coach in the locker room to begin with?

The security guy who initially answered the call said later,

"The guy said he was Leon Hess, the Jets' owner, and he had to talk to Walt Michaels. He sounded quite normal. When Joe Namath was here you'd get a lot of crazies calling, but Carroll Rosenbloom (then the owner of the LA Rams) used to call down a lot at halftime, too, so how was I to know? Anyway, Walt just happened to be in the hall at the time, so I gave him the call. I feel like a fool now."

More comedy gold.

It turned out the bartender came clean, though, and told the press.

“The conversation lasted about 30 seconds. I told Coach Michaels to tell his team to fight harder in the second half, to go out and kick hell out of the Raiders, and to make (defensive end) Mark Gastineau stop doing his sack dance because he looked like a real jerk.

"The coach kept saying, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah.'

"I heard that Al Davis was getting blamed for it and I didn't want it laid on Al so I called the press to give my side of it."

The Jets and the Raiders, two original American Football League teams, have been playing each other since 1960. The rivalry came on strong in the late ’60s. The Raiders’ Ike Lassiter broke Joe Namath’s cheekbone in 1967. The following season, on their way to winning Super Bowl III, the Jets beat the Raiders in the AFL championship game at Shea Stadium as Namath threw three touchdown passes.

Earlier that season, the Jets and the Raiders played in the famous Heidi game. The Jets took a 32-29 lead with 65 seconds remaining when, at 7pm on the east coast, NBC cut to the start of Heidi, the television movie scheduled to begin at that time. Viewers missed witnessing two stunning touchdowns by the Raiders, who won, 43-32.

Michaels is a man who remembers it all. Including those trips to Oakland to play Al's Raiders when Michaels was Jets head coach Weeb Ewbank's defensive assistant.

He remembers that Al Davis fired him as a Raiders assistant before he joined Weeb's staff. Needless to say he remained aware of the enlarged photograph at Raiders' HQ of Ben Davidson knocking Joe Namath's helmet off.

Walt remembers Al Davis causally coming into the Jets' hotel to talk shop with Namath on the eve of a game. He remembers Al’s paranoia that the Raiders locker room was bugged at Shea Stadium and the supposed retaliation in Oakland when the tarps were mysteriously unrolled on the field in 1968 where the Jets were to practice.

Walt remembers the league fine the Jets absorbed when Michaels stormed the referees locker room after a loss at the Oakland Coliseum as he hammered the door with his fists trying to get the last word in with the refs.

Yes, Walt remembers. Maybe winning that playoff game in 1983 was some measure of consolation for him.

One thing is certain: the Jets-Raiders rivalry is no longer that intense.

The 1983 playoff game was in front of 90,000 fans in the LA Coliseum, a game with 10 turnovers. Two offsetting personal foul penalties had been called in the first quarter. Raiders defensive end Lyle Alzado had ripped off the helmet of Jets tackle Chris Ward and flung it at him. The game-ending quarterback kneel down at the very end by the Jets Richard Todd was marked by a flurry of fists.
Jets–Raiders rivalry

When the Jets played the Raiders, it wasn't a rivalry. It was a war.
—Frank Ramos, Director of Public Relations, New York Jets[1]

The Jets and Raiders were founding members of the American Football League; both teams began to play in 1960, the Jets under the name Titans of New York.[2] Both teams had little success in their early years, playing so poorly that both the Titans and Raiders were allowed to draft players from other AFL teams following the 1962 season.[3] In 1967, the Jets, under the guidance of coach Weeb Ewbank and quarterback Joe Namath, posted their first winning record at 7–5–2.[4][a] Oakland, on the other hand, won the Western Division in 1967 with a 13–1 mark under coach John Rauch and then the AFL Championship Game over the Houston Oilers, 40–7, before falling to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl II.[2] Both teams were seen as likely contenders for the 1968 AFL Championship.[5]

Any time we went into a Raiders game, we knew we were gonna come out of it sore. Guaranteed to get the crap beat out of you. They were a rough, physical team. Dislike isn't the word I'd use to describe how we felt about them. Downright hatred would be more accurate. -- Jets guard Randy Rasmussen[6]

The two teams did not play in the same division. However, each AFL team played all other teams in the league each year, allowing the Raiders and Jets to forge a bitter rivalry.[7] In 1963, Oakland general manager (later owner) Al Davis traded guard Dan Ficca to New York during training camp, without mentioning to Ewbank (who was also the Jets' general manager) that Ficca would not be released from his military service for another six weeks.[8] In 1966, with less than a minute to go and the Raiders leading at the new Oakland Coliseum, 28–20, Jets left tackle Winston Hill predicted to Namath in the huddle that the man he was blocking, Ben Davidson, would rush on the next play, leaving the Raiders exposed to a draw play. Namath called the draw, and handed the ball off to running back Emerson Boozer for 47 yards and a touchdown. After a Jets two-point conversion, the game ended in a 28–28 tie, and an embittered Davidson stated, "I'll get even. They still have to play us next year."[9] They did, twice. In Week 4, the Jets defeated the Raiders at Shea Stadium, 27–14; this was the Raiders' only regular season loss.[10][11] In Week 14, each team's 13th game, the teams met again, in Oakland. Sportswriter Paul Zimmerman said of the second 1967 Jets-Raiders game:

The 1967 game was one of the most vicious in Jet history. Namath was slugged to the turf; he was hit late, punched in the groin. They aimed for his knees, tried to step on his hands ... And Davidson got Namath. He got him on a rollout, with a right that started somewhere between [California cities] Hayward and Alameda. It knocked Namath's helmet flying, and broke his jaw, but Namath didn't miss a play, and he threw for 370 yards and three TD's in that 38–27 loss.[9]
The Jets' loss to the Raiders in 1967 knocked New York out of a tie for first place in their division[12]—the AFL East was won by the Houston Oilers.[13]

In the 1968 season, the Jets, San Diego Chargers, Raiders, and Kansas City Chiefs established themselves as the leading teams. Going into Week 11 of the AFL season, each team had lost only two games; the Chiefs, who had not yet had a bye week, had eight wins, the others seven. In an era with no wild card teams, the Raiders needed a victory over the Jets in Week 11 to avoid falling a game and a half behind the Chiefs in the AFL West—finishing second, however good their record, would end their season. The Jets, on the other hand, would clinch at least a tie for the AFL East title with a victory over the Raiders in their only regular season meeting. Depending on the results of other games, the Jets could win the division if they beat the Raiders, gaining a berth in the AFL Championship Game, the winner of which would play the NFL champion in the Super Bowl.[14] The ill-feeling of previous years was resurrected by an immense blown-up photograph of Davidson smashing Namath in the head posted in Raider headquarters. The photographed play was said to have broken the quarterback's jaw (though Namath stated he had broken it on a tough piece of steak, and some claim it was Raiders defensive end Ike Lassiter who injured Namath). Although the poster, which had been placed by Davis, was removed before the game, word of this "intimidation through photography" reached the Jets in New York.[15][16]

In 2000, The New York Times sportswriter Dave Anderson wrote of the Jets' preparations for the Oakland game:

When the Jets went to Oakland in 1968, that photo on the Raiders' wall symbolized the rivalry as well as Coach Weeb Ewbank's distrust of Davis. Whenever a helicopter flew anywhere near a Jets practice the week before a game against the Raiders, Ewbank would look up and shake his fist. He just knew Davis had somebody spying on the Jets.[16]
The Raiders declined to allow New York reporters to watch practices, a courtesy Ewbank extended to Oakland pressmen. Raiders assistant coach (later head coach) John Madden was responsible for the exchange of game films with upcoming opponents; he sent the films to the Jets through Chicago so they would arrive a day or two late, reasoning that Davis, not him, would be blamed for the delay. Ewbank blamed Davis for heavily watering the Coliseum field to slow the Jets' speedy receivers, a tactic the Oakland co-owner credited to Madden.[16]
 

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This article was written in the 2011/12 season.

Wonder how many are still "unbreakable"....


The 10 Most Unbreakable Records in NFL History
By

Scott Kacsmar
(Featured Columnist) on June 12, 2012

93,322 reads
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Johnny Unitas threw a touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games, but Drew Brees is at 43 entering 2012.

Records are made to be broken. Some just take more effort than others.

Fans love records, and they love to watch the pursuit that takes place. But it is important to understand the context behind them, why certain people own certain records and the degree of difficulty associated with them.

Some records have an incomplete past, such as sacks only being officially recorded since 1982. Some have a sordid history of inconsistency. Do not even get Captain Comeback started on fourth-quarter comebacks. Some records walk the line on whether or not to include the postseason. Some are rate stats with specific requirements in order to qualify.

As we get closer to the 2012 season, there are a few notable records that could be broken in the first month of the season alone.

Drew Brees has thrown a touchdown pass in 43 consecutive games (regular season). The record is still held by Johnny Unitas, who did it in 47 consecutive games for the Baltimore Colts from 1956 to 1960. Including the postseason, Brees has already tied Unitas at 49 consecutive games with a touchdown pass.

It is one of the most famous records in NFL history, equivalent to Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, but it did not even crack my top 10 due to Brees being so close. If you are a Unitas fan, you can always root for Brees to have a slow start. That is assuming the Saints pay up, and he plays this year.

The first time Peyton Manning leads the Denver Broncos to a victory via an offensive scoring drive while trailing in the fourth quarter, it will be the 36th such win of his career. That will tie Dan Marino for the most in NFL history, and this is what you call the record for fourth-quarter comeback wins. Expect to hear more on that one this year.

For now, soak in the 10 records unlikely to be broken in our lifetime.

Honorable Mentions (with Important Caveat)

Don Hutson dominated his era, but his era helped the domination. (AP)

I would be remiss not to recognize the misleading article title here, as there are other NFL records not listed in the top 10 that will truly never be broken.

So the top 10 you are going to see is a list of records that actually have a realistic chance to be broken one day, but the chances are one in a million.

But I’m telling you there’s a chance…

Records based on single plays (longest play, which can technically only be tied now) or single games (most receiving yards) should nearly all be fair game. For as much as football has drastically changed in the 93-year history of the NFL, anything can happen in that small of a sample.

The main reasons for these other unbreakable records are the schedule and number of teams in the league.

The 1932 Chicago Bears still hold NFL records for fewest points (44) and touchdowns (six) allowed in a season.

These records will never be broken. The 2000 Baltimore Ravens allowed 165 points, which is the record for a 16-game season. That is nearly four times greater than what the 1932 Bears allowed.

Likewise, no team will ever score just three touchdowns in an entire season like the 1933 Cincinnati Reds (and one of those was from a punt return).

The first significant factor is the length of schedule. For counting stat records, the older teams are going to dominate ones based on “fewest,” while today’s teams will dominate ones based on “most.” For rate stats, it is easier for older teams to maintain superior averages over a smaller number of games.

It is no surprise the single-season records for completion percentage (Ken Anderson) and passing yards per game (Dan Fouts) were both set in the nine-game strike season of 1982. Drew Brees holds both records now.

Tommy O’Connell (1957 Browns) holds the unbreakable record for highest passing yards per attempt in a season at 11.17. He only attempted 110 passes, but a minimum of 100 was all he needed in 1957 to qualify. Only Sid Luckman (10.86 in 1943), Otto Graham (10.55 in 1953), and Norm Van Brocklin (10.14 in 1954) have exceeded 10.0 YPA.

The closest a player has been in today’s era was Kurt Warner’s 9.88 YPA in 2000. He missed five games and attempted 347 passes. Through five games, Warner was at 11.80 YPA on 165 attempts, proving that O’Connell’s mark can be beaten, but the problem is maintaining that average for the rest of the season.

Today’s passers must attempt at least 14 passes per team game (224 in a 16-game season) to qualify. Two games later Warner was down to 10.63 YPA on 230 attempts and injured. That is the closest anyone has come to O’Connell, who was largely a one-year wonder. But no one is going to take his name out of the record books.

The other significant factor has been expansion increasing the difficulty for several records. The once-smaller league helped that era’s dominant players put records out of reach in the “most seasons leading the league in [category]” section It is much easier to lead the league when there are only nine other teams compared to 31.

For example, Don Hutson was the dominant receiver of his era (and that’s putting it lightly). He holds records for most scoring titles (five; tied with Gino Cappelletti), most consecutive scoring titles (five; 1940-44), most seasons leading league in touchdowns (eight) and most consecutive seasons leading the league in touchdowns (four; done twice by him).

The eight seasons leading the league in touchdowns are especially out of reach, as the next closest three players did it just three times.
  • Jim Brown also took advantage of a smaller league on his way to a record eight rushing titles. No other player has won more than four rushing titles. There were 12-14 teams in the NFL during Brown’s career.
  • Lance Alworth was the AFL-equivalent of Hutson, and he dominated the mid-60’s AFL (eight-nine teams).
  • Emmitt Smith managed a very respectable three seasons leading the league in touchdowns for the dominant team of the early 90’s in Dallas.
For just receiving touchdowns, Hutson led the league a record nine times. Jerry Ricemanaged six, but if you gave him the smaller league that Hutson and AFL players had to compete with, he would have added these records to his enormous list.

Combine “league-leading stats” in a smaller league with rate stats over a shorter schedule, and you get more records that will never be broken just because of the league’s setup:
  • Sid Luckman led the league in passing yards per attempt seven times in Chicago (also a record five consecutive seasons). Steve Young managed to do it an outstanding five times in the 1990’s despite expansion, longer seasons and more passing.
  • Len Dawson led the league in completion percentage eight times (record six consecutive seasons) with the Chiefs. Most of this damage was done in the AFL (8-10 teams). Sammy Baugh did it seven times in Washington.
  • Baugh also holds the record for most seasons leading the league in lowest interception percentage (five). The next closest is three, with Ken O’Brien amazingly being the only 16-game era quarterback to do it.
Some older records have shockingly stood the test of time in spite of them holding no distinct era advantages:
  • Norm Van Brocklin (RAM) passed for 554 yards against the New York Yanks on September 28, 1951. It is still the highest single-game passing total in NFL history.
  • Bill Groman (HOU) had 1,473 receiving yards as a rookie in 1960 (a 14-game season). Anquan Boldin came the closest with 1,377 yards in 2003 for Arizona.
  • While five quarterbacks have passed for a single-game record seven touchdowns, none have done it since 1969.
Despite the fact no one has surpassed these records after many decades of trying, you can see them still being broken in today’s passing league. It is really just a matter of time. That is why none of them were included in the top 10.

Before we get to that list, let’s knock out a few more records that just missed the cut.

George Blanda’s incredible 26 seasons of service spanning four decades are legendary, but kicker Morten Andersen put in 25 seasons, last playing in 2007. He would have tied Blanda at 26 but did not make a roster in 2005 before returning to Atlanta for the 2006-07 seasons. Some kickers seem able to play forever, so watch out for this one.

Speaking of 26, the beginning of football in Tampa Bay began with a record 26-game losing streak for the Buccaneers in 1976-77. The most recent challenger was the Detroit Lions, losers of 19 straight from 2007-09.

However, Detroit went 1-25 in a 26-game stretch, and the 2008-10 St. Louis Rams managed to go 1-27. What was the only win for the Rams? Over those Lions of course. So you can see the plausibility of this record being broken even in an era of proposed parity.

Likewise, while the 1972 Miami Dolphins (17-0) remain the only perfect team in the Super Bowl era, we know the 2007 New England Patriots (18-1) were one stop away from 19-0. They just couldn’t end the greatest drive in NFL history by New York. It seems as though someone challenges the perfect season every year these days. One team may finally pull it off.

Now for the records that did make the top 10.
 

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10. All-Time Rushing Title: Emmitt Smith, 18,355 Yards

Emmitt Smith surpasses Walter Payton's rushing total in a 2002 game. Getty Images.

The Record
In 2002, Emmitt Smith surpassed Chicago’s legendary Walter Payton (16,726 rushing yards) as the all-time leading rusher in NFL history. After leaving Dallas, Emmitt added 1,193 more yards to his total in Arizona, finishing with 18,355 yards. It has also taken a NFL record 4,409 carries, or 571 more than Payton.

The “Unbreakable” Factors
While few fans outside of Dallas would say Emmitt is the greatest running back ever, the truth is he didn’t have to be to set the record. He was the most durable and played with some of the best offensive lines in the league.

Most running backs begin to wear down in their 30s. The same was true for Smith, but he still managed to rush for 5,789 yards in his thirties, which is another record. After a great prime that included four rushing titles, Smith’s ability to add on the yardage later in his career puts him on a very high pedestal.

When you consider the league currently throwing the ball at its highest rate, and the increase in running back by committees, the days of the workhorse back could be numbered.

Just two running backs had at least 300 carries in 2011. In 1995, Emmitt’s best season and one that was extremely heavy on the pass, there were still nine backs to carry it at least 300 times. This also bodes well for a record like Eric Dickerson’s 2,105 rushing yards in 1984.

No one is going to be able to break the all-time rushing record without a large, steady diet of carries year after year. In a league that is moving away from that offensive philosophy, Emmitt Smith’s 18,355 yards will look more daunting with each passing season.

The Competition
The player with the best chance to break the record was Barry Sanders, but he retired abruptly after the 1998 season, leaving him 3,087 yards shy of surpassing Emmitt’s total. Many feel Sanders could have reached 20,000 yards had he kept playing, but that’s in the past.

LaDainian Tomlinson was once thought to be the player who would break Smith’s rushing records, but after quickly tailing off and being practically retired, LT finishes 4,671 yards short. The best three-year stretch of his career was 4,751 yards (2005-07).

Adrian Peterson may be a consensus choice for best active running back, but at age 27 and coming off a major knee injury, Peterson would have to rush for 11,604 yards to break Smith’s record. That is about the equivalent of Fred Taylor’s entire career.
Who holds the record for rushing after age 27? It is Emmitt Smith, of course, with 9,399 yards. Maurice Jones-Drew is also 27, but even if he rushed for what Emmitt did (post-27) the rest of his career, he would finish with 16,253 yards, or 2,102 fewer yards than the record.

He may not be as good as Jim Brown, Walter Payton or Barry Sanders, but Emmitt Smith came into the league at the right time (nothing but 16-game seasons) and was the most durable back, and he should be able to go to his grave as the NFL’s all-time rushing leader.

9. Most Consecutive Super Bowls: 1990-93 Buffalo Bills, 4

Rick Stewart/Getty Images

The Record
Starting a new decade in NFL history with changes to the playoff format (12 teams now qualified), the Bills did the unthinkable and reached four consecutive Super Bowls. But the incredible part is that they managed to lose all four games, and the best opportunity they had came in the first one. It is one of the greatest achievements of resiliency (and heartbreak) in NFL history.

The “Unbreakable” Factors
While reaching one Super Bowl is tough enough (ask Cleveland and Detroit), going to an unprecedented four straight is hard to fathom. Then, how does a great team like that fail to win a single one of these games?

Maybe they were meant to win the first one. Buffalo lost Super Bowl XXV by a score of 20-19 to the New York Giants after kicker Scott Norwood failed on a 47-yard field goal attempt with four seconds remaining. It was the first of only two do-or-die field goal misses in an NFL Championship game. It never got any better than that moment for Buffalo in the Super Bowl.

Their run also concluded as free agency was just beginning in the NFL. Since Buffalo’s four-peat, no team has appeared in more than two consecutive Super Bowls. No team has repeated as Super Bowl loser in those 18 seasons.

There has even been a supposed curse of the Super Bowl loser. Starting in 2001 with the New York Giants, seven of the 11 Super Bowl losers failed to return to the postseason the following year. None of the four teams that did make the playoffs made it past the Divisional Round.

The Competition
There have been some past challengers to Buffalo’s four-peat. The closest were the 1973-76 Minnesota Vikings, losing three out of four Super Bowls. The one year they missed out, 1975, looked to be another appearance. But a Hail Mary by Roger Staubach put a shocking end to that season in the NFC Divisional playoffs.

The 1986-89 Denver Broncos also lost three out of four Super Bowls but did not even make the playoffs in 1988. The 1971-73 Miami Dolphins were the first team to ever play in three consecutive Super Bowls, losing the first before a repeat performance in 1972-73.

The 1992-95 Dallas Cowboys and 2001-04 New England Patriots each won three out of four Super Bowls. In 1994, the Cowboys lost the NFC Championship to San Francisco, while the 2002 Patriots failed to make the playoffs.

You have to be a great team to pull off such a feat, and that’s what Buffalo had. Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Bruce Smith, James Lofton and coach Marv Levy are all in the Hall of Fame (with Andre Reed likely to follow).

They failed to win a Super Bowl ring, but the record-setting legacy they left behind is permanently carved into NFL history.

8. Largest Comeback in a Game: 1992 Buffalo Bills, 32 Points

Frank Reich, after the greatest comeback in NFL history in January 1993. Original photo: Getty Images.

The Record
Sticking with Buffalo, here’s the scoop on their most famous playoff win. In the 1992 AFC Wild Card game, the Buffalo Bills fell behind the Houston Oilers 35-3 with 13:19 remaining in the third quarter. What took place next was the largest comeback in NFL history. Buffalo scored four quick touchdowns to pull within four points as the game went to the fourth quarter. They would finally take the lead with 3:08 remaining in the game after Andre Reed’s third touchdown catch of the half. But after Houston forced overtime, it took a Warren Moon interception to set up the game-winning field goal by Steve Christie.

Amazingly, the Bills accomplished this with backup quarterback Frank Reich, who just so happened to be the same quarterback who led Maryland to a then-record 31-point comeback over the Miami Hurricanes. The fact that it was 32 points, happened in the postseason and with a backup quarterback makes this the greatest comeback in NFL history.

The “Unbreakable” Factors
Not a record you would want to gain a lot of experience in trying to break—what makes it so impressive for Buffalo is that the first four touchdowns all happened very quickly. By the fourth quarter, it was simply a one-score game, which is common in the NFL. A lot of things had to go right for Buffalo (and very wrong for Houston), and they did.

Right now 32 points would be a four-score game, though the plan of four touchdowns and four two-point conversions has never come close to being executed. A larger deficit would mean five scores. The average team is going to get 10-12 drives in an entire game. Assuming you have blown nearly half your drives after the other team got up 32+ points, you have to be near flawless the rest of the way.

A high-powered passing game would be the best way to get back into such a game, but you likely will need to steal a possession via special teams or getting a quick turnover on defense.

The Competition
The Bills were involved in the other largest deficit erased in NFL history. It happened in a little-known game back in 1960, the inaugural year of the AFL. Buffalo led 38-7 in the third quarter before Denver scored 31 unanswered points to force a 38-38 tie. The fact that it ended tied is likely why you haven’t heard about it.

One more Buffalo: The 1997 Bills erased a 26-0 deficit for a 37-35 win against the Colts in 1997.

The second largest comeback win in NFL history happened in 1980, when a young Joe Montana led a 28-point comeback against the New Orleans Saints. Trailing 35-7 at halftime, the 49ers scored four touchdowns in the second half before winning the game on a field goal in overtime.

The largest fourth quarter comeback win (25 points) just so happens to be the fourth largest comeback win in NFL history. The St. Louis Cardinals trailed Tampa Bay 28-3 to start the fourth quarter, but three Neil Lomax touchdown passes and a fumble return score gave the Cardinals a 31-28 victory.

Thirteen other teams have come back from a 24-point deficit to win, including one postseason comeback by San Francisco against the New York Giants. That makes for just 17 comeback wins in NFL history when trailing by at least 24 points.

There were a single-season record six comebacks from at least a 20-point deficit in 2011, so perhaps bigger comebacks are on the rise.

Some teams have made good attempts at large comebacks but ultimately fell short in the end. There’s just something about that range of 25-32 points…
  • After trailing 31-0 to the Cardinals in a 1998 game, the Redskins scored 36 second-half points to pull within a field goal in the fourth quarter on two occasions. They lost 45-42.
  • Both the 1980 Colts and 2007 Texans trailed by 25 points in the fourth quarter, rallied back to take the lead, but lost on a last-second field goal by the Bengals and Titans, respectively.
  • Down 28-0 to Minnesota in 1994, Dan Marino led the Dolphins back to a 28-28 tie, but the Vikings pulled away for a 38-35 victory.
  • Trailing Kansas City 35-3 in the second quarter, the 1985 Chargers rallied in the second half, pulling within 38-34 with 2:48 remaining. However, they were unable to get the ball back as the Chiefs ran out the clock.
But the most interesting comeback attempt I have found to date happened exactly three months, 21 days beforeBuffalo’s Wild Card win.

On September 13, 1992, the Dallas Cowboys took a 34-0 lead over the New York Giants with 13:30 left in the third quarter. After a lethargic first half with just 53 yards of offense, fans had every right to leave the stadium. But that’s when the comeback attempt started.

Behind Phil Simms, the Giants started moving the ball with ease. A pair of 80-yard touchdown drives closed the gap to 34-14 as they moved to the fourth quarter. After a Dallas punt, it was a 62-yard touchdown for the Giants. Feeling the pressure, Dallas went three and out. Five plays later, Simms ended a third straight drive with a touchdown pass, and the Giants were only down 34-28 with 6:52 left.

Dallas punted, and the stage was set. After four straight touchdown drives covering 277 yards, the Giants had 3:42 left to drive 81 yards for the game-winning touchdown, capping off a 34-point comeback.

New York went three and out.

So much for momentum. Simms completed two passes on the drive for a net of one yard. After punting the ball back to Dallas with 2:07 left, it only took a few runs by Emmitt Smith and a first-down pass to Michael Irvin before the clock expired. Dallas held on for the win.

You never know when history can be made.

7. Interceptions: Various

NFL statistics for interceptions since 1950.

The Record(s)
Let’s just say I am not being picky on this one. There are several fascinating records involving interceptions, making it too hard to only “pick “one. So here is a list:

Most Interceptions, Season: Night Train Lane, 14, 1952 (also most by a rookie)
Most Interceptions, Career: Paul Krause (1964-79), 81
Most Interceptions Thrown, Game: Jim Hardy, 8, 9/24/1950 vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Most Interceptions Thrown, Season: George Blanda, 42, 1962
Most Interceptions Thrown, Career: Brett Favre (1991-2010), 336

The “Unbreakable” Factors
For each of these records, the same theme persists. Interceptions are less frequent in today’s game. That makes it harder for quarterbacks to throw a lot of them, and it is harder for defenders to come up with a lot of them.

The data in the picture is based on statistics from the NFL only (no AFL).

Interceptions were more than twice as common on a pass play during Night Train Lane’s career. Still, his record of 14, done as a rookie in 12 games, is one of the all-time great records in NFL history.

The more dubious records of interceptions thrown by quarterbacks are still gaudy in their own “make you want to puke” kind of way. Any quarterback would likely get tossed from the game before tossing eight interceptions like Jim Hardy did that day.

It’s the same way with Blanda and the statistical marvel that is his 1962 season for the Houston Oilers. Blanda threw 42 interceptions in 14 games, the Oilers had 57 turnovers as a team yet they still finished 11-3. It does help to have a defense that had 52 takeaways and allowed the second fewest points in the league.

The Oilers won an absurd six games with at least five turnovers (four in a row at one point). Those are “records” as well. They almost won the AFL Championship game with Blanda throwing five interceptions.

Only four teams in NFL history have thrown at least 40 interceptions in a season. Three of them played in the AFL (1962 Oilers, 1961-62 Broncos).

Needless to say, the early days of the AFL were unique. That’s just another reason why we’ll never see 42 interceptions again in a season.

We also won’t see another “gunslinger” like Brett Favre. He had six seasons with at least 21 interceptions.

The Competition
Night Train’s mark should be here to stay, as no player since Lester Hayes in 1980 has had 13 interceptions in a season. Ever since moving to a 16-game schedule in 1978, no player has had at least 11 interceptions since Everson Walls in 1981. While some recent players like Champ Bailey, Asante Samuel and Antonio Cromartie have had a season with 10 interceptions, they are still four behind the legendary Lane.

Likewise, Paul Krause’s 81 interceptions appear safe. Emlen Tunnell is second with 79, but he retired before Krause even debuted. The great Rod Woodson finished with 71, and he managed to play 238 games but still finished 10 short (Krause played 226 games). Darren Sharper recently finished with 63.

Ed Reed is the active leader at 57, but he has talked about retirement and would need at least three great seasons to catch Krause. Reed had three interceptions while playing in all 16 games in 2011.

Charles Woodson has 54 interceptions, but he will be 36 years old this season. After that, you would have to look at Asante Samuel (45 interceptions at age 31), but his new role is unclear in Atlanta.

When it comes to Hardy’s eight interceptions in a game, Ty Detmer was the last to throw seven in a 2001 game against the Browns. Even Peyton Manning and Brett Favre have thrown six in a game in the last decade. But I’ll bet anything no one ever throws nine in one game to break Hardy’s record.

Blanda’s 42 interceptions are seven more than runner-up Vinny Testaverde (35 with the 1988 Buccaneers in 15 games). That was the last time anyone exceeded 30 interceptions. Any quarterback would be benched in today’s game before throwing 42 interceptions. No team had more turnovers in 2011 than Tampa Bay, and they had 40. That is for the entire team; not just the quarterback. Blanda is safe.

At retirement, Blanda held the record with 277 career interceptions, but Favre was able to extend that to 336. Favre has also thrown more passes than any player in NFL history (10,169), so it’s not as though he was terrible in the interception department. He just threw more than his fair share.

As quarterbacks continue to throw more short passes, the gunslingers are a dying breed. There may never be another Favre: a quarterback who was as durable as they come and played with reckless abandon.

Peyton Manning is now the active leader with 198 interceptions, but even if his tenure in Denver is long and disastrous, he will not sniff the 138 interceptions required to match Favre. That would be nearly 28 per season if Manning played five more years.

Drew Brees is actually next in line with 146 interceptions. Only 190 away from Favre.

As you can see, the interception records speak to an older era of just letting it rip. There’s not much room in today’s efficient game for that sort of “fun.”

6. Most Points in a Game: Ernie Nevers, 40

Ernie Nevers, Photo from Underwood & Underwood, Chicago

The Record
On November 28, 1929, the Cardinals’ Ernie Nevers had himself a historic day that may very well be the main reason he is in the Hall of Fame. Against the Chicago Bears, Nevers scored a record 40 points in the game. It is just about the oldest record in league history. Nevers also rushed for a record six touchdowns and made four extra points.

The “Unbreakable” Factors
When you can set a record in 1929 and still hold it in 2012, that alone says something about the unbreakable nature of it. What makes it so hard is that today’s players are not going to kick extra points like in the past. That is an essential part of the argument I used against Paul Hornung being in the Hall of Fame. Hornung once had a 33-point game, which ranks fourth all time.

The kicking duties make up a big difference. To break Nevers' record, a player would have to score seven touchdowns in one game (42 points). 49-point outbursts are rare enough to begin with, but to get that many scores on the ground with the same player sounds impossible.

When you talk about records involving a lot of points being scored in today’s game, there is the concept of running up the score, which is something the New England Patriots have been accused of often in the last five years.

Most teams take the air out of the ball after a certain lead is established late in the game, and that makes it harder to add on to the score. Grinding out the game on the ground is also one of the smartest strategies in football.

But even with a grinding philosophy, those carries can be going to backup running backs, as you would probably need a star player to be able to score this many touchdowns in one game.

The Competition
Dub Jones managed to score six touchdowns in one game (36 points) for the Browns in 1951, but Lou Groza kicked all six extra points. As a rookie, Gale Sayers had a mesmerizing 36-point performance against the 49ers in 1965, scoring six touchdowns (four rush, one receiving, one punt return).

Five players have scored five rushing touchdowns in a game (last: Clinton Portis in 2003), but only Nevers had six. Only three receivers have caught five touchdown passes in a game. Jerry Rice was the last to do it in 1990.

Basically, a player would have to play in the shootout of all shootouts, and maybe get to score a pair of two-point conversions just to hit 40 points. It’s not happening.
 

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5. Most Consecutive Road Wins: 1988-90 San Francisco 49ers, 18

Bill Walsh celebrates the final win of his career in Super Bowl XXIII. (Source: The Comedy Point)

The Record
Bill Walsh’s 49ers did a lot of great things in the 1980s, but at their peak they went on one of the league’s all-time winning streaks. Starting in 1988, the 49ers managed to win 18 consecutive road games in the regular season, a streak that did not end until the season opener in 1991. As a West Coast team, they even won 10 of these games that started with their body clocks set to 10 a.m. PST at kickoff.

In addition to the 18 games, they also won the 1988 NFC Championship on the road in Chicago and won two Super Bowls played on neutral fields. Add it all up, and that’s 21 consecutive wins away from Candlestick.

The “Unbreakable” Factors
There is a home-field advantage in the NFL, so any long streak of road wins is going to be hard to come by. Some teams are better suited for different elements, whether it be the fast track often found in a dome or the superior playing surface often not found at Heinz Field.

This is one of the records that should generate discussion on why postseason games are selectively not included for certain records. At the very least, true playoff road games should count, putting the record at 19 games for the 49ers, making it even more difficult to break.

It will take one really great team to beat this record, which has to take place over the course of three seasons. Few in history were as consistent or dominant as the 49ers from that era.

The Competition
The 2006-08 New England Patriots are in second place with 12 consecutive regular-season road wins. The streak ended with a 30-10 defeat in San Diego, one of the games without Tom Brady in 2008. But their streak does feel hollow given the 2006 AFC Championship loss at Indianapolis and the neutral-field loss in Super Bowl XLII to the New York Giants.

Tom Coughlin’s Giants have picked up a bit of a reputation for being road warriors thanks to their two championship wins in the last five years. After dropping their season opener in Dallas, the 2007 Giants won their next 10 road games. They also won Super Bowl XLII on a neutral field, ending New England’s perfect season. But they would lose to the Cleveland Browns in 2008, ending their streak at 11 games (12 if you count the Super Bowl).

Four other teams have won 11 consecutive road games in the regular season: 1960-61 Chargers, 1987-88 49ers, 2004-05 Steelers and 2008-09 Colts.

4. Most Consecutive Wins Without Trailing in 4th Quarter: 2010-11 Green Bay, 19

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Record
Before the 2011 season even began, I made note of the way Mike McCarthy’s Packers rarely won close games via a late score. Little did I know they would set off on the greatest front-running streak in NFL history: 19 consecutive wins without trailing in the fourth quarter.

It blew away the previous record of 13, held by the 1942-43 Washington Redskins. Amazingly, the Packers spent just three minutes and 16 seconds tied in the fourth quarter during the streak.

The “Unbreakable” Factors
I have already written all that needs to be said about this streak. It is the most unique winning streak in NFL history. The 2003-04 New England Patriots may have won a record 21 consecutive games, but they needed four fourth quarter comebacks and eight game-winning drives in the process.

Most games are close in the NFL. Last season, 59.2 percent of all games saw a team trail in the fourth quarter by one score with possession of the ball. It’s not that Green Bay didn’t play close games during the streak. They had to protect a one-score lead in the fourth quarter 11 times.

The Packers jumped out on opponents in a way that we are just not accustomed to seeing. In 10 of the 19 games, they opened with a 14-0 lead. It speaks to the type of special, competitive team they have had under McCarthy. The Packers had a streak of 43 games from 2009-11 where they held at least a fourth-quarter tie with their opponent.

The Competition
There has not been much. The only other team with a streak longer than 11 games was the 1942-43 Redskins (13 games). A total of 16 teams have managed at least 10 consecutive wins without trailing in the fourth quarter.

The 1947-48 Cleveland Browns won 18 straight games without trailing in the fourth quarter, but that was in the AAFC and still one short of the Packers.

Since the streak ended, Green Bay has gone 2-2 and trailed in the fourth quarter of three of the four games, so maybe they will return to something normal in 2012.

But for a 19-game stretch, they really were the hardest team in NFL history to get ahead of late.

3. Career Receiving Totals: Jerry Rice—1,549 Receptions, 22,895 Yards, 197 TD

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The Record
Simply the best. Rice launched an all-out assault on the NFL record books in San Francisco, and he continued it all the way through 20 seasons and 303 games. The career totals are staggering: 1,549 receptions for 22,895 yards and 197 touchdowns.

The “Unbreakable” Factors
Last season I wrote about Rice’s records being unbreakable. A year later, they look even more unbreakable.

Like Emmitt Smith did with the rushing numbers, Rice has put the receiving totals out of reach, which is even more impressive given the passing numbers being put up today.

Rice owns so many of the NFL’s receiving records, but I am just focusing on his career receiving totals.

While Rice’s prime is one of the greatest ever by a wide receiver, where he really separated himself was the production he had as an older player. After turning 34, Rice still managed to put up 607 receptions for 7,772 yards and 51 touchdowns. At age 40, he had 92 catches for 1,211 yards and seven touchdowns in Oakland.

The only other player to even catch a pass in their 40s was Brett Favre: one he threw to himself for a loss of two yards.

It is daunting enough to keep up with what Rice did in his prime, but to continue producing at such a high level at an age when most receivers are retired? Impossible.

The Competition
Andre Johnson was a receiver I looked at last season, but after going through multiple hamstring injuries in 2011 (he played in seven games), Johnson is all but out of the race. He will be 31 next month. You can double his career totals of 706 receptions, 9,656 yards, 52 touchdowns, and he’d still finish short of Rice in all three categories.

Larry Fitzgerald (29 in August) had a good year in 2011 (80 receptions for 1,411 yards, eight TD), but he is still in need of monster numbers. Should Fitzgerald play 12 more seasons up through age 40, he would have to average 71.3 receptions, 1,106.7 yards and 10.3 touchdowns a season to match Rice.

Calvin Johnson (27 in September) has taken over as the best wide receiver in the league and cashed in this offseason with a huge $132 million contract. But even if Johnson had eight straight seasons with 2,000 receiving yards (keep in mind Rice holds the record with 1,848), he would still finish 1,023 yards shy of Rice’s total.

He’s great, but even "Megatron" is not going to have the greatest receiving season in NFL history eight times over.

If any of the records were to fall, it would be the receptions, due to the nature of short passes in today’s game. The second leading receiver in NFL history, Tony Gonzalez, sits exactly 400 catches behind Rice with 1,149 in his career. He’s 36, and it has taken him five seasons to exceed his last 400 catches. Gonzalez does not have five years left in him. In fact, he has already said 2012 will be the final year of his career.

Wes Welker is a receptions machine (554 of them in New England since 2007), but at age 31, does he have 900 catches left in him to pass Rice? Not a chance.

Hines Ward retired this offseason. Derrick Mason retired this week. Two more bite the dust. Chad Ochocinco is in Miami, but he might get more airtime on HBO for Hard Knocks than he will in NFL games this season.

Will Randy Moss, 45 touchdowns away from surpassing Rice, even make the roster in San Francisco this season? After you get past Moss and Gonzalez, the next closest player in receiving touchdowns is Antonio Gates with 76. He turns 32 next week and has missed nine games the last two seasons.

With no active players in sight, Rice is exactly where he belongs: high up on the pedestal of greatness.

2. Most Consecutive Games Started: Brett Favre, 297 (321 Including Playoffs)

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Record
It is the iron-man streak in NFL lore. After taking over for an injured Don Majkowski to lead the Green Bay Packers to a win, a week later Brett Favre made his first start on September 27, 1992. After multiple retirements and stints with the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings, Favre started in 297 consecutive games up until December 5, 2010. Including the playoffs, Favre started 321 consecutive games.

The “Unbreakable” Factors
Well, you have to start every single game for nearly 19 seasons. If that’s not a reason to doubt the break-ability of this record, then I don’t know what is.

Anything can happen, from a lineman stepping on your foot, to a broken thumb, to a death in the family or a concussion. Many of these things happened to Favre, but the streak still went on.

You have to have some luck, whether it’s the placement of a bye week, the start time of a game or just luck with general good health that keeps you out of those nasty plays quarterbacks are injured on.

Like Emmitt Smith, Favre came into the league at a time when there were non-stop 16-game seasons, which helped him achieve his record. Dan Marino once started 145 consecutive games (154 including playoffs), but because of the 1987 strike when games were played with replacement players, Marino’s streak is not officially recognized.

Drew Brees would have an active streak of 131 consecutive starts (140 including playoffs), but his coaches decided to rest starters for the playoffs in Week 17 for both the 2004 and 2009 seasons.

Not any ordinary player can pull this off. You have to actually want to be there for your teammates every single week no matter what’s going on in your life. It does speak to leadership and commitment to your craft.

You also have to be pretty damn good to remain a starter that long in this league. Had Favre’s level of play continued to slip like the funk he was in during the 2005-06 seasons, this record may be about 60 games shorter.

Even then, it might still be unbreakable.

The Competition
For any position player, Jim Marshall once held the record with 270 consecutive starts (289 including playoffs). That was at defensive end for the Minnesota Vikings. Since Favre’s streak is more closely related with his position, the competition has been weaker.

Peyton Manning was the last great hope in beating Favre’s record, and he really appeared like a lock to do it. Manning started the first 208 games of his career (227 including playoffs) and had only missed one snap due to injury.

But after multiple neck procedures, Manning shockingly missed the entire 2011 season, ending his streak 90 games short of surpassing Favre.

Including the playoffs, only seven quarterbacks have had streaks of more than 100 consecutive starts. That includes one of 103 by Philip Rivers. After that, it’s just Joe Flacco at 73 for active streaks.

Interestingly enough, it is another Manning (good genes) in position to perhaps one day beat Favre’s iron-man streak. Eli Manning is third all time with 119 consecutive starts (130 including playoffs). Assuming 16-game seasons, Eli would still have to start every game up until the early portion of the 2023 season. He will be 42 years old.

While a Manning may still end up breaking some of Favre’s records, this is one that will be his to keep. Fitting, in that it’s a record made for someone who has a great love for the game and an unwillingness to stay away from it.

1. Most Career Coaching Victories: Don Shula, 347 Wins

Mike Powell/Getty Images

The Record
While Brett Favre just had to take the first snap on offense each week, Don Shula coached teams in Baltimore and Miami for 33 years and won 347 games. Shula was 328-156-6 (.678) in the regular season and 19-17 (.528) in the playoffs. His 526 games as a head coach are another record.

The “Unbreakable” Factors
First, let’s imagine you are lucky to be hired as a head coach at age 33, just like Shula was. Unlike Shula, let’s assume you get to coach your whole career with 16-game seasons (it may even be more in the future).

Now let’s assume you still think retiring after age 65 sounds like the (fading) American Dream. You coach 33 seasons in the NFL. Your teams average 10 wins a season, which is good enough for you to keep your job through this whole process.

Guess what? You are still 17 wins short of Shula’s 347. Now you have to come back another year, in which you are very unlikely to win 17 games. So then you come back yet another year, and now you are coaching at age 67. How likely is that?

That’s the difficulty involved with this record.

You have to coach a very long time, and you have to be consistently successful so that you keep your job. Even some of the greatest coaches in NFL history have been let go by their teams. Some coaches just burn out from the insane work week associated with the job.

Consistently winning 62.5 percent of your games is no easy task. Just 24 coaches have done it (minimum 50 games), and only half of them coached more than 100 regular-season games.

Also, does anyone find it interesting that Shula’s record is widely known as 347 because it includes postseason wins, while Favre’s consecutive starts record is better known as 297, excluding his postseason starts? Just another shoddy case of semantics with records.

But one thing’s for sure, this record is the real deal.

The Competition
In second place, George Halas won 324 games with the Chicago Bears after a long career. Halas never got to coach in 16-game seasons or play under a true playoff format, but how many coaches would start at age 25 and coach until they were 72?
Tom Landry comes in third with 270 wins in his 29 seasons in Dallas. Only seven coaches have managed at least 200 wins.

There are several active coaches with strong winning percentages, but none of them will ever get to Shula’s 347 wins.
  • Baltimore’s John Harbaugh got off to a late start at age 46.
  • His brother Jim Harbaugh went 14-4 with San Francisco last year but was already 48.
  • Mike Smith was even older at 49 when he took the job in Atlanta in 2008.
  • Sean Payton was poised for great things in New Orleans, but he won’t even coach this year and will turn 50 in 2013.
  • Just like Payton, Green Bay’s Mike McCarthy got his start in 2006 at the age 43. He would have to average 12.7 wins per season until he was 70 to reach Shula.
New England’s Bill Belichickis widely considered the best coach in the league. But with 192 wins at age 60, Belichick would have to average 15.5 wins per season for the next decade to match Shula. With many expecting him to retire the same time Tom Brady does, this simply is never going to happen.

The active coach seemingly in the best position is Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin. With just three head coaches since 1969, the Rooney’s have shown great loyalty for the coach’s job. The Steelers are always competing, never in a rebuilding phase.

But with 60 wins at age 40, does anyone see Tomlin averaging 10 wins per season over the next 29 years, when he will be 68 years old in the 2040 season?

No one even knows how he will handle future departures of key pieces like defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, Troy Polamalu, and Ben Roethlisberger. Tomlin may easily not be in Pittsburgh by 2020, let alone 2040. Dr. Foreman watched House come to an end this year. Nothing lasts forever.

Saving on repetition, I did not mention that for practically all of these individual records, the best candidate to break them is likely not in the league yet. He may not even be born yet.

While the future is uncertain, hopefully this exercise has helped in explaining the past, and defining where we are at in the present. When someone breaks a record this year, stop to think about how he did it too.

Records are history, and the history of the record is important.
 

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Guest Post: Quarterbacks and fourth quarter comebacks, Part I

Posted by Doug on August 6, 2009

Just above these words, it says "posted by Doug." And it was literally posted by Doug, but the words below the line belong to researcher Scott Kacsmar, who has agreed to write this guest post for us. And we thank him for it.
Forty-seven. The most famous number when it comes to quarterbacks and fourth quarter comebacks is 47. It may also be the most misleading number in NFL history. No matter what source you look at, John Elway is credited with a NFL record 47 comebacks in the 4th quarter. This leads much credence to the "clutchness" of a QB in his career, and is often cited in debates between Elway and other great QBs. But if you research all of his wins, you will have found that he is being credited for comeback wins in a game that ended in an overtime tie, and in several games the Broncos never trailed in the fourth quarter. You cannot come back when there's no deficit to come back from. Dan Marino, always credited with 37 comebacks, has been ranked in 2nd place since retirement. Even DanMarino.com has 37.

Currently, Marino sits 3rd behind Favre (42 is the widely reported number) and Elway (lucky 47). But when the PR staff for the Miami Dolphins exclude wins that the Dolphins never trailed in the 4th quarter, while the Favre and Elway people do not, does that not suggest a serious issue with the validity of these “records”? And why has this been allowed to go on for over a decade?
That's where my research comes in.


In part I, we are going to look at just Elway and Marino’s comebacks. In part II, I will show how several other QBs have had their comebacks tracked and try to create a standard method of crediting comebacks and game-winning drives.

I have taken the time to go through each player's career and get to the bottom of things. As I looked through the games, I used a source for each QB to guide me through how they had arrived at the widely reported numbers.

Marino, from a Dolphins site
Elway, from the HOF website

I will point out the issues with those games, and bring up games missed by those lists. Before starting with Marino, let’s quickly create the definition of a comeback (there will be more detail on this in part II).

For it to be a 4th quarter comeback win, you must:
  • Win the game (no ties or losses)
  • Take the field with a 1--8 pt deficit (1--7 prior to 1994) and score as an offense (no fumble return TD to win the game)
  • It does not have to be the final winning score (hence, that applies to the number of game-winning drives)
Got it? Now it’s time for the data. Note that this includes both postseason and regular season.

Marino is credited with 37 comebacks and 13 game-winning drives (games where the Dolphins did not trail in the 4th quarter and he broke a tie for the win). My data has 51 games, and the boxscores to those games are listed below. An asterisk (*) denotes games that were drives to break a tie and are not comebacks.

*1983-11-06 @ SFO W 20-17 [1]
1983-12-04 @ HOU W 24-17 [2]
1984-11-04 @ NYJ W 31-17
1984-11-11 PHI W 24-23
*1984-12-17 DAL W 28-21
1985-10-06 PIT W 24-20
*1985-10-20 TAM W 41-38
1985-11-10 NYJ W 21-17
1985-12-08 @ GNB W 34-24
*1985-12-16 NWE W 30-27
1986-01-04 CLE W 24-21
1986-11-16 @ BUF W 34-24
*1986-12-14 @ RAM W 37-31 OT
1987-11-01 PIT W 35-24
1987-12-20 WAS W 23-21
1988-10-16 SDG W 31-28
*1988-12-12 CLE W 38-31
*1989-10-08 CLE W 13-10 OT
1989-10-15 @ CIN W 20-13
*1989-10-22 GNB W 23-20
1989-11-19 @ DAL W 17-14
1990-09-09 @ NWE W 27-24
1990-10-07 NYJ W 20-16
1990-12-09 PHI W 23-20 OT
1991-01-05 KAN W 17-16
*1991-09-22 GNB W 16-13 [3]
*1991-11-10 NWE W 30-20
1991-11-24 @ CHI W 16-13 OT
1992-09-14 @ CLE W 27-23
1992-09-27 @ SEA W 19-17
1992-10-11 ATL W 21-17
1992-11-22 HOU W 19-16
1992-12-20 NYJ W 19-17
1992-12-27 @ NWE W 16-13 OT
1993-09-05 @ IND W 24-20
1994-09-04 NWE W 39-35
1994-10-16 RAI W 20-17 OT
1994-11-06 IND W 22-21
1994-11-27 @ NYJ W 28-24
1995-10-01 @ CIN W 26-23
*1995-11-05 @ SDG W 24-14
1995-12-03 ATL W 21-20
*1996-11-17 @ HOU W 23-20 [4]
1997-09-07 TEN W 16-13 OT
*1997-10-05 KAN W 17-14
*1997-12-07 DET W 33-30
1998-10-25 NWE W 12- 9 OT
*1999-01-02 BUF W 24-17
1999-10-10 @ IND W 34-31
1999-12-19 SDG W 12- 9
2000-01-09 @ SEA W 20-17

There are four issues with these games (the ones with a bracketed number) that I have resolved.

[1] It is not known what 13 games a few sources have listed as the games Marino led a game-winning drive to break a tie, but I’m guessing they are missing one from his rookie season against the 49ers (source). The Dolphins led 17-14 to start the 4th before Joe Montana drove the 49ers to a game-tying field goal. Marino led the game-winning field goal drive for the Dolphins, picking up yardage on a Ronnie Lott pass interference penalty. This makes Marino +1 in overall 4th quarter wins (51).

[2] The dolphinsinfo.com source misses Marino’s very first comeback, also from his rookie year. At Houston on 12/4/83, the Dolphins trailed 17-10 starting the 4th. Marino threw a TD to Tony Nathan to tie the game at 17. Later he led an 82 yd drive for the winning TD in a 24-17 win (source). Marino was injured and left the game the play before the Nathan TD. But by virtue of his TD to Nathan and being out there for most of the game-winning drive, this is most definitely a 4th quarter comeback, the first of Marino's career. So Marino is +1 in both comebacks (38) and overall GW drives (51).

[3] 9/22/1991 vs. Green Bay - the Dolphins started the 4th quarter trailing 13-6. The Miami offense had been rather impotent to this point. NT Chuck Klingbeil recovered a Don Majkowski fumble for a TD to tie the game at 13. So this cannot be a comeback since Marino never did anything while trailing. Marino completed a 40 yard pass to Duper to set up the winning field goal for a 16-13 win. This is a game-winning drive, not a comeback. So subtract a comeback (that'd keep him at 37).

[4] 11/17/1996 vs. Houston - Similarly, the Dolphins trailed 17-13 to start the 4th quarter. Zach Thomas scored on an interception return to take a 20-17 lead. This cannot be a Marino comeback. The Oilers tied the game on a field goal at 20-20. Marino then led a game-winning field goal drive for a 23-20 win. This is a game-winning drive, not a comeback. Subtract it from the total (36).

Marino results: Marino had 51 overall wins decided in the 4th quarter/overtime, and 36 of them are comebacks. This is one less than what he's usually credited with.

Elway is credited with 47 comebacks. According to the HOF article and in the Denver media guide, "Elway chalked up a record 47 fourth quarter come-from-behind comebacks during his pro career." Come-from-behind? Not quite. Here is my list of 50 Elway games, again with asterisks pointing out games that were not comebacks.

1983-12-11 BAL W 21-19
1984-11-04 NWE W 26-19
1984-11-11 @ SDG W 16-13
*1984-12-09 SDG W 16-13
1985-09-22 @ ATL W 44-28
*1985-10-20 SEA W 13-10 OT [1]
1985-11-11 SFO W 17-16
1985-11-17 SDG W 30-24 OT
1985-12-01 @ PIT W 31-23
1985-12-14 KAN W 14-13
1985-12-20 @ SEA W 27-24
1986-09-07 RAI W 38-36
1987-01-11 @ CLE W 23-20
*1987-09-20 @ GNB T 17-17 OT [4]
1987-11-16 CHI W 31-29
1987-12-06 NWE W 31-20
*1988-01-17 CLE W 38-33
1988-10-09 @ SFO W 16-13 OT
1989-10-08 SDG W 16-10
1989-10-22 @ SEA W 24-21 OT
*1989-11-12 @ KAN W 16-13
1990-01-07 PIT W 24-23
1990-09-17 KAN W 24-23
*1990-09-23 SEA W 34-31 OT [2]
*1990-10-21 @ IND W 27-17
*1991-10-20 KAN W 19-16
*1991-10-27 @ NWE W 9- 6
*1991-12-08 @ CLE W 17- 7
1991-12-15 PHO W 24-19
1992-01-04 HOU W 26-24
1992-09-06 RAI W 17-13
1992-10-04 KAN W 20-19
1992-10-18 HOU W 27-21
1993-12-12 KAN W 27-21
1994-10-23 @ SDG W 20-15
*1994-11-13 SEA W 17-10 [3]
1994-11-20 ATL W 32-28
*1995-09-17 WAS W 38-31
*1995-11-19 SDG W 30-27
1995-12-24 @ OAK W 31-28
1996-09-15 TAM W 27-23
1996-10-20 BAL W 45-34
1996-11-04 @ OAK W 22-21
1996-11-24 @ MIN W 21-17
*1997-10-26 @ BUF W 23-20 OT
*1997-11-02 SEA W 30-27
1998-01-04 @ KAN W 14-10
*1998-01-25 @ GNB W 31-24
1998-11-01 @ CIN W 33-26
1998-12-06 KAN W 35-31

Again, several issues here. First, the Broncos' PR people must have fallen asleep while looking at games against the Seattle Seahawks. There were three Seattle games where Elway should be credited with a game-winning drive (but no comebacks since they never trailed).

[1] 10/20/85 vs. Seattle – Denver led 10-7 to start the 4th quarter. Seattle forced OT with a field goal. After the teams traded punts twice, Dave Krieg threw an interception that put Denver at the Seahawks' 15 yard line. The offense, with Elway, came out and ran 3 plays for 8 yards. They kicked a 24 yd FG for the 13-10 OT win. Hardly the stuff of legends, but it still counts as a game-winning drive.

[2] 9/23/90 vs. Seattle – Denver led 28-24 to start the 4th. After adding a field goal to the lead, Seattle forces overtime with a TD for a 31-31 tie. In OT, Elway completes three passes and Bobby Humphrey ran 26 yards on a draw on a 66 yard drive that led to the winning field goal.

[3] 11/13/94 vs. Seattle – Denver led 10-3 to start the 4th quarter, only to see the Seahawks tie the game on a TD run. Denver answered with the winning TD drive, capped by a Leonard Russell 11 yard TD run. On the 9-play, 80 yard winning drive, Elway completed all five of his passes.

None of the three are comebacks, but they are game-winning drives. I was thinking the reason Denver people didn't list the first two is because they have nothing to do with the 4th quarter; they were OT drives. The third one was not, and they just flat out missed it.

But if you look closely at that Denver/HOF link with the 47 games, you'll find this gem:

"Oct. 26, 1997 at Buffalo — Directs 9-play, 43-yards drive in 4:47 during overtime to set up a 33-yard Jason Elam field goal with 1:56 remaining on the clock, giving Denver a 23-20 win."

That’s right; it is the exact same situation as the first two games they missed. This is why my Elway data includes 50 games (the 49 wins and the tie). Of those 50 games, 15 of them saw Elway lead a game-winning drive without ever trailing in the 4th quarter. Subtract these 15 from the comeback total, and that makes it 35 comebacks.

Some people have mentioned backup QB Gary Kubiak filling in for an injured Elway and finishing off a winning drive, thinking that Elway should not get credit. This was on 12/20/85 vs. Seattle (something about Elway and Seattle). That thinking is wrong. Twice, Elway led game-tying touchdown drives in the 4th quarter when Denver trailed by 7. With the game tied, he completed a 27 yard pass, and then was knocked out of the game. Kubiak scrambled to finish off the drive and they won on a field goal. Elway deserves credit for this one, one of his finest comebacks and NFL games period.

[4] Finally there's the issue of the 17-17 tie against Green Bay in 1987. Granted, the Broncos were down 17-10 and he led an 18-play drive to tie the game at 17. But the next 20+ minutes of the game were scoreless and the game ended in a tie. While this technically can be seen as a comeback, there's no win attached to it. Call it a tying comeback, a special situation, but do not call it a comeback win. Subtract this one too.

Elway results: Elway had 49 overall wins decided in the 4th quarter/overtime, and 34 of them are comebacks, and another game was a comeback that produced a tie. This is 13 fewer than he gets credit for, and the overall number of drives is fewer than Marino's.

Even if you count the tie, it's still 51 to 50 in favor of Marino. If you count the tie as a comeback, it’s still 36 to 35 in favor of Marino for comebacks. No matter what you wish to call them, Marino has more than Elway, and deserves to be recognized for it.

Next time we’ll look at some other QBs and how their comebacks have been tracked, not to mention how Elway may actually be only third all-time instead of the clear #1 position he has held for over a decade.

In the mean time, if you're interested in more studies of 4th quarter comebacks, see Jason McKinley's article at Football Outsiders, and Clark Heins' research, which you can read about here.

Feel free to send any special questions or comments about this to me at smk_42@yahoo.com.

Editor's note: here is a direct link to Part II of this article.

Related posts:
Quarterbacks and fourth quarter comebacks, Part II
Quarterbacks and fourth quarter comebacks, Part III
Chronology of the Fourth Quarter Comebacks and Game-Winning Drives Records
Guest post: Best Draft Classes Revisited
Guest post: Will we ever see another John L. Williams?
 

bgt2110

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Feb 1, 2011
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Loved the dirty deeds article, interesting and funny. Maybe my weird sense of humour but i loved the bit about Barry Sims being trapped and relating to how it must feel being stuck beneath rubble and having to calm himself down and not panic. The name Romanowski was one that i had completely forgotten but his name rings a bell from my very early days of watching NFL. Glad this thread was revisited yesterday, would have completely missed it otherwise.
 

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What It Was Like To Play In The Most Violent NFL Game Ever





After the most violent NFL game ever played, Marc Wilson sat on the team flight back to the West Coast, nursing his injured thumb. A Raiders team doctor approached. He had a secret message to pass along.

"They're not going to tell you this, and you didn't hear it from me," Wilson recalled the doctor telling him. "But your thumb is broken. They won't tell you about it because they need you to keep playing."



Secrets Of A Hitter: How Doug Plank Inspired The NFL's Meanest Defense


It was early November 1984, and the Raiders had just lost to the Bears, 17-6, at Soldier Field. The Raiders played in L.A. at the time, and they were known for their wrathful, swashbuckling style. They were also the reigning Super Bowl champs, and they came to Chicago with a 7-2 record. But that afternoon they were pounded into a fine pulp by Buddy Ryan's famous 46 defense, which was well on its way to setting the NFL record for sacks in a season (72). By day's end, the Bears had recorded nine sacks, and forced three interceptions and two lost fumbles.

How ugly was it? Mike Ditka, Chicago's coach, called it "the most brutal football game I've ever watched." Merlin Olsen, calling the game on NBC, said at one point, "I'm sure Al Davis is wondering if maybe he better recruit some extra trainers." Sports Illustrated's Curry Kirkpatrick wrote: "So brutal was the Bear onslaught that Al Davis was seen covering his face with his hands."

It was ugly enough that the Raiders considered playing their punter at quarterback.

It was ugly enough that the punter refused.

Everyone who played in the game seems to have a vivid memory of it. Its physicality so frustrated Howie Long, a Raiders defensive end, that Long at one point threatened Bears guard Kurt Becker. "I'm going to get you in the parking lot after the game and beat you up in front of your family!" Long reportedly shouted at Becker. Several years later, Long owned up to making the remark:

"Yeah, I said it," Long says. "He'd spent the day flying over the pile and hitting defensive backs late. He was my target for the game, but I had missed him and sprained my back, so I was upset. Everyone has their favorite threat, and that's mine. [Lyle Alzado]'s is 'I'll kill you and everything you love.'"​
The Bears didn't escape the game unscathed, either. Jim McMahon, their quarterback, would get knocked out early in the third quarter. When McMahon went down and NBC's cameras showed him wincing on the sideline, play-by-play man Dick Enberg said the injury was a "bruised back." The actual diagnosis? A lacerated kidney. McMahon would spend nearly two weeks in the hospital and miss the rest of the season. In Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and The Wild Heart of Football, Rich Cohen's recently released book, McMahon's agent, Steve Zucker, summed up his client's condition this way: "I went down to the locker room—this was in the middle of the game—and I found Jim there, standing at the toilet, in his pads, pissing blood."

But what about Wilson, the Raiders' quarterback? He had become the starter because Jim Plunkett, the two-time Super Bowl winner, was out with a pulled abdominal muscle, an injury he'd sustained earlier in the season. Wilson would get knocked out of this game twice before halftime. The first time, he got slammed to the turf after a sack. Olsen, from up in the booth and without the benefit of a sideline reporter to confirm actual information, repeatedly told the NBC viewing audience that Wilson's injury was "whiplash." (When McMahon first got hurt, Olsen said, "It looked like he had the same kind of whiplash that took Marc Wilson down the first time.")

Wilson, now 56, spent 10 seasons in the NFL, all but two of them with the Raiders. It was a middling career that never matched the heights of his time at BYU, where he was an All-American (and a teammate of Jim McMahon). In the NFL, he threw 82 touchdowns and 102 interceptions, and his passer rating was 67.7. He talked to me by phone not long ago from suburban Seattle, where he works in real estate. He said that what actually happened when he was hit by the Bears' Otis Wilson was something worse than "whiplash."

"I smacked the back of my head on that Astroturf," he said. "It was hard as a rock. For a while, I wasn't sure where I was."



This was 1984, of course, so there was little concern that Wilson had sustained what was clearly a concussion. Olsen at one point even predicted that Wilson would return to the game rather quickly. "That whiplash," Olsen said as the camera showed Wilson after he had gone to the sideline, "may have just numbed his senses a little bit."



Wilson missed just two series before returning. His replacement, David Humm, was a veteran backup, but Humm had been living in Las Vegas and "playing golf" earlier in the year, according to Enberg. After Humm, the Raiders' emergency QB was veteran punter Ray Guy.

In the second quarter, Wilson had to leave the game again. This time, Wilson's hand connected with another player's helmet as he followed through:



Wilson busted up his thumb pretty badly on the play, and he was in obvious pain as he left the field. Humm returned to replace him, but he kept getting battered around. At one point, according to Wilson, Humm even took a shot that knocked out a couple of his teeth. With 1:09 to go in the first half, Humm finally took one hit too many. He blew out his knee. The Raiders, it seemed, were going to have to turn to Guy, their punter. This is how the scene looked on TV that afternoon:


In Da Bears! How the 1985 Monsters of the Midway Became The Greatest Team In NFL History, author Steve Delsohn shared a story from Bears tight end Emery Moorehead, who related what Raiders running back Marcus Allen had once said to him:

Guy refused to go in. Then all of them were arguing at halftime about who was going back in—was it gonna be David Humm or Marc Wilson? Nobody wanted to go back in.​
I made several attempts to talk to Guy, but a Raiders spokesman eventually told me he "wasn't interested at this time." Wilson, meanwhile, was in the locker room when Humm got hurt, getting an X-ray on his thumb. On a television, the X-ray technician saw Guy talking to coach Tom Flores about possibly going in.

"Do you guys have any other quarterbacks?" the technician asked. When Wilson answered "No," the tech said, "Dude, you better get back out there." Wilson never did get the results of that X-ray.

"Ray was a great athlete—he could really throw the ball," Wilson said. "But there's a big difference between practice and a game."
When Wilson went back in the game again, as you can see in the video above, receiver Malcolm Barnwell had to help him fasten his chin strap to his helmet. On the first play, Wilson pitched the ball to Allen, who fired a halfback pass deep downfield that sailed incomplete. When the second half began, no one knew who was going to be under center for the Raiders until Wilson took the field. NBC certainly didn't know. It flashed a graphic showing the second-half lineups. The Raiders quarterback was listed as "? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?" L.A. would run the ball several times before Wilson attempted his first pass. It didn't go so well:



"It's not easy playing with a broken thumb," Wilson said, laughing. "I couldn't grip the ball between my thumb and forefinger. It really affects the deep throws, because you need to be able to grip the ball."

Wilson would complete four of 11 pass attempts in the second half and somehow avoid any additional injuries. He would finish out the season, which the Raiders ended with an 11-5 record before losing to the Seahawks in the AFC wild-card game. Humm never played another down in the NFL.

The Bears would win the Super Bowl the following season. Years later, the Los Angeles Times would say of the game, "In a single afternoon, you could watch two franchises' destinies passing."

Wilson has since read and heard stories about how violent that long-ago game was against the Bears, but at the time he didn't realize it. "I know a lot of guys got carted off that game," he said. "But playing in the game, I really didn't have a sense that it was that bad."

Even the matter of the broken thumb was unremarkable, by Wilson's lights. "It was a different time, a different era," he said. "I didn't worry about it.

"I was grateful that they still wanted me to play," he continued. "Because I desperately wanted to play."
 

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Also see this old Wilmington Sunday Sun Article from 1953

One-platoon system


The one-platoon system, also known as iron man football, was a system in American football where players played on both offense and defense. It was the result of rules that limited player substitutions, rules that are also standard procedure in many other sports, but were eliminated in the 1940s. The alternative system is known as the "two-platoon system", or simply the "platoon system", because of its use of separate offensive and defensive units. Each system was used at different times in American college football and in the National Football League.

History

Prior to 1941, virtually all football players saw action on "both sides of the ball," playing in both offensive and defensive roles. From 1941 to 1952, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) allowed unlimited substitution. This change was originally made because of the difficulty in fielding highly skilled players during the years of the Second World War, in which many able-bodied college-age men volunteered for or were drafted into military service.

The first known use of the so-called "two-platoon" system was by Michigan head coach Fritz Crisler in 1945. Crisler utilized eight players each who played only on offense and defense, with three playing both against an Army team under head coach "Colonel" Earl "Red" Blaik. Michigan lost the game 28–7, but the system impressed Blaik enough for him to adopt it for his own team. Blaik, a former soldier himself, coined the "platoon" terminology in reference to the type of military unit. Between 1946 and 1950, Blaik's two-platoon teams twice finished the season ranked second in the Associated Press polls and never finished lower than 11th.

In 1954, the NCAA emplaced a set of new rules requiring the use of the one-platoon system, primarily due to financial reasons. The system allowed only one player to be substituted between plays, which effectively put an end to the use of separate specialized units. Tennessee head coach "General" Robert Neyland praised the change as the end of "chickenshit football".

After the 1964 season, twelve years since the mandate requiring one-platoon, the NCAA repealed the rules enforcing its use and allowed an unlimited amount of player substitutions. This allowed, starting with the 1965 season, teams to form separate offensive and defensive units as well as "special teams" which would be employed in kicking situations. The reinstatement of the two-platoon system allowed players to become more specialized by focusing on a limited number of plays and skills related to their specific position. By the early 1970s, however, some university administrators, coaches and others were calling for a return to the days of one-platoon football.

The sport of arena football used a limited one platoon system (from which quarterbacks, kickers and one "specialist" were exempt) from its inception until 2007.

Controversy

The 1954 rule change and its subsequent reversal were not without controversy. Numerous coaches, pundits, and athletic department officials have argued on both sides of the debate.

Arguments in support of one-platoon football
  • A significant reduction in financial expenditures through reducing the amount of scholarships, equipment, and staff. Kansas State president Jon Wefald estimated that one-platoon football would result in a 40% reduction in expenditure.
  • It would "get back to the basics" by simplifying the playbooks and focusing on the fundamentals. Former Missouri head coach Dan Devine said, "Blocking doesn't teach you to tackle, so what two-platoon football does is make a man a lesser player ... We have these kids who have never blocked and the other half who have never tackled."
  • It would result in better athletes, both by improving players under the system and eliminating "one-dimensional" specialists from the game. Former Washington State head coach Mike Price said that the "all-around athlete would become a star again. He would play all the time."
  • A potential reduction in the risk of and severity of injuries by creating more equal match-ups between players.
  • A potential reduction in the severity of injuries by reducing the speed of the game and thereby the force of collisions.
  • A limitation on the role of coaches and increase the role of player decision-making. College athletics were originally formed as a diversion for student athletes and should therefore maintain a focus on the players themselves. Oklahoma head coach Bud Wilkinson said two platoons caused an increase in the size of the coaching staff, and a decrease in the importance of the head coach himself.
  • It would potentially make smaller schools more competitive with the "big-time" college football programs by decreasing the roster size and thus deepening the pool of available prospects to each team.
  • The use of specialized football players is not in keeping with the "true" nature of the game (cf. the argument against the designated hitter rule in baseball).
  • Football scholarships are a privilege, not a right. Former Iowa State head coach Jim Walden said, "Nobody promised we'd have trees to cut down forever or that people would burn coal forever or that we'd have 95 scholarships forever."
Arguments in support of two-platoon football
  • It allows a more diverse assortment of players. Individuals with different physical builds and body types can be competitive in specialized positions, whereas they would not be if required to play in both offensive and defensive capacities. In a 1954 issue of Sports Illustrated, then-Michigan State athletic director Clarence Munn stated that, "One-platoon rules have forced a return to the big man, the 220-pound lineman who can withstand the pounding of two-way football."
  • An increase in the speed, and thereby the excitement, of the game.
  • An increase in the complexity and intellectual aspect of the game.
  • A potential reduction in the risk of injury, due to less-fatigued players, and because players would spend less time on the field.
  • A decrease in the role of coaches by eliminating a "substitution battle of wits" and potential gaming of substitution rules.
  • It allows more college athletes to acquire scholarships to attend universities for which they might otherwise not be able to compete.
  • By switching to one-platoon, major college football programs could allegedly maintain a monopoly over potential recruits simply by recruiting more than they need, negating any benefits to smaller schools.
  • Modern defenses such as the 4-3 defense and 3-4 defense did not exist at the time when one-platoon football was mandated. As a result, a return to one-platoon football would cause hardships because the offense is still mandated to have no more than five eligible receivers while the defenses would not be subject to such restrictions. This would result in the need for a trade-off: either build the team for offense and go back to older, less effective defenses such as the 5-2 defense, or build the team for a modern defense and put undersized linebackers on the offensive line. Either option compromises quality of play on either side of the ball.
Noteworthy professional one-platoon players
  • Sammy BaughWashington Redskins quarterback, tailback, defensive back, and punter credited with revolutionizing the use of the forward pass. Baugh was the 1943 NFL leader in passing, interceptions, and punting.
  • Chuck BednarikPennsylvania and Philadelphia Eagles linebacker and center, first-overall 1949 NFL Draft selection, and professional football's last full-time two-way player. Bednarik has been an outspoken critic of the modern football player's lack of stamina under the two-platoon system.
  • Charley TrippiGeorgia college and Chicago Cardinals professional quarterback, halfback, punter, and return specialist, also switched to defence and remained punter for his final (1954, 1955) seasons with the Cardinals. Jim Thorpe called Trippi "the greatest football player I ever saw."
  • Troy BrownNew England Patriots wide receiver who made 17 receptions in their 2004 season, also contributed in what was originally an emergency role on defense as a cornerback, ranking second on the team in interceptions with three.
  • Mike Furrey – After playing one-platoon football in the Arena Football League in 2002 and 2003, Furrey played on both sides of the ball with the NFL's St. Louis Rams, Detroit Lions, and the Cleveland Browns at wide receiver and safety. Furrey did not see defensive game action in a season in which he also started on offense. He has recorded 10 career pass deflections and four career interceptions on defense, and 221 career receptions and seven career touchdowns on offense.
  • Julian Edelman – After playing quarterback in college at Kent State, Edelman switched to slot receiver and kick returner after being drafted in the 7th round. Due to injuries to the New England Patriots' secondary in the 2011 NFL season he was utilized as a slot cornerback on defense and is seen as the new Troy Brown for the Patriots because of his versatility.
 

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Early highlights as the Portsmouth Spartans include the "iron man" game against Green Bay in 1932. In that game, Spartan coach Potsy Clark refused to make even a single substitution against the defending NFL champion Packers. Portsmouth won 19–0 and used only 11 players all game.[2] At the end of the 1932 season, the Spartans were tied for first place in the league with the Chicago Bears.[3] That prompted what in retrospect became known as the first NFL playoff game. Blizzard conditions in Chicago meant the game was moved from Wrigley Field indoors to Chicago Stadium, which allowed for only an 80-yard field. The game was won 9-0 by the Bears, on a touchdown pass from Bronko Nagurski to Red Grange.[3] The resulting interest led to the establishment of Eastern and Western conferences and a regular championship game beginning in 1933.[2]
 

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