9) 1975 Buffalo at Cincinnati
The playoff-bound Bengals toppled the Buffalo Bills, 33-24, on a mid-November Monday night in 1975. It was Cincinnati’s first win in three attempts on Monday Night Football. Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson threw for an astonishing 447 yards in what was a run-heavy era of pro football (1975 marked the second of two consecutive seasons in which Anderson led the NFL in passing yards). Speaking of the run game, Pro Football Hall of Famer O.J. Simpson rushed for 197 yards and two touchdowns for the Bills. The game was played in a downpour and showcased two NFL Legends at their absolute best. The Bengals went on to finish 11-3 that season, losing to the Oakland Raiders, 31-28, in the divisional playoffs.
With 3:30 left before halftime in Anaheim on Monday, Dec. 11, 1989, the 49ers were wondering if the Rams had their number. The 49ers had lost the last two games to the Rams, both at Candlestick, and were trailing this one 17-3 with the Rams threatening to extend the lead. The Rams’ drive stalled at the 49ers 4-yard-line, and Mike Lansford lined up for a 21-yard field goal. The kick was never attempted. Instead, holder Pete Holohan took the snap and ran but was tackled inches short of the end zone. The stop opened the door for one of the great individual performances in Monday Night Football history. On a team that boasted three of the greatest offensive weapons ever to play the game — Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, and Roger Craig — it was the 49ers’ second receiver, John Taylor, who almost single-handedly turned the game around as well as the karma of the two franchises.
Taylor caught two long touchdowns’s in the fourth quarter. Taylor’s final statistics: 11 catches, 286 yards, and two touchdowns. Montana’s: 30-of-42 for 458 yards and three touchdown passes.
This back-and-forth battle still stands as the highest-scoring game in MNF history. The lead changed hands five times in the fourth quarter. Packers quarterback Lynn Dickey threw for 387 yards and three touchdowns; the Packers offense averaged 9.1 yards per play. The teams combined for a total of 11 touchdowns and six field goals, the last of which was a 20-yarder by hall of fame kicker Jan Stenerud with less than a minute to go. Stenerud’s field goal ended up winning the game, but not before Redskins kicker Mark Moseley missed a 39-yard field goal attempt with 3 seconds left.
After Ronde Barber returned a Peyton Manning interception 29 yards for a touchdown with 5:09 left in the fourth quarter, the Indianapolis Colts were seemingly done. The defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers had taken a seemingly insurmountable lead 35-14, and their stout defense had limited the Colts’ explosive offense all night.
But on the ensuing kickoff, Brad Pyatt would break off a 90-yard return to give the Colts some life.
James Mungro scored on a fourth-and-1 run from the Buccaneers’ 3-yard line to cut the deficit to 14 with 3:37 remaining. Indianapolis then recovered an onside kick, and Manning would eventually convert another fourth down into a Colts’ score, this time a 28-yard pass to Marvin Harrison with 2:29 remaining.
The Colts failed to recover another onside kick, but the defense held. With 35 seconds left, the Colts tied the game at 35 all on a Ricky Williams 1-yard rush.
The 21-point rally with less than four minutes would be the largest comeback in NFL history, and the victory would be completed in overtime with a 29-yard Mike Vanderjagt field goal.
Dan Marino threw three touchdown passes and Ron Davenport ran for two more as the Dolphins handed the Bears their first (and only) loss of the season. Davenport’s TD runs and Marino’s two scoring passes to Nat Moore highlighted Miami’s first-half explosion, scoring on their first five possessions to take a 31-10 lead. The Bears, who had shut out their previous two opponents, had come into the game 12-0 and looking to become just the second team in NFL history to finish a season undefeated. The added drama was the 72 Dolphins in attendance and of course, Don Shula had been the coach of the 72 team.
With Miami leading 30-7 early in the fourth quarter, the crowd at Giants Stadium was thinning. But then Vinny Testaverde hit Laveranues Coles with a 30-yard TD pass and Jermaine Wiggins with a 1-yard TD pass. Suddenly it was 30-20. John Hall kicked a 34-yard field goal, and it was a seven-point game with more than five minutes to go. Wayne Chrebet’s 24-yard TD catch with 3:55 tied the game. The Dolphins responded with a 46-yard TD pass from Jay Fiedler. But Vinny would not be denied. Testaverde, who would finish the night 36-for-59 for 378 yards and 5 TDs, hit tackle eligible Jumbo Elliott with a 3-yard TD with 42 seconds left and then directed the team to a game-winning field goal by Hall in overtime.
Danny White passed for three second-half touchdowns and ran for another to rally Dallas from a 23-3 halftime deficit to beat the defending Super Bowl champions. The Cowboys compiled only 85 first-half yards but exploded for 271 in the final two quarters. White completed bombs of 75 and 51 yards to Tony Hill to put the Cowboys within striking distance. His 1-yard TD run 2:35 into the final quarter put Dallas up 24-23. Joe Theismann tried to rally Washington, but Ron Fellows’ 33-yard interception return set up Doug Cosbie’s 1-yard scoring catch two plays later to clinch the game. This game was a re-match of Washington’s 31-17 NFC Championship game from the previous year.
In one of the greatest exhibitions of gunslinging quarterbacks, Joe Montana and John Elway battled back-and-forth all night at Mile High Stadium. The game was tied after one quarter. The game was tied at the half. The game was tied after three quarters. Then, with 4:08 to go, Lin Elliott kicked a 19-yard field goal to give the Chiefs a 24-21 lead. Elway brought the Broncos back, and finished off the drive with a 4-yard TD run with 1:29 to go. Montana responded again, this time hitting Willie Davis for a 5-yard touchdown with eight seconds to go to give the Chiefs the win. Two of the greatest quarterbacks that ever lived gave us a game we will never forget.
I still can not get that Houston Oiler song out of my head from that night! Earl Campbell rushed for 199 yards and four touchdowns as he outdueled Bob Griese at the Astrodome. Miami took a 23-21 lead early in the fourth quarter when A.J. Duhe sacked Dan Pastorini in the end zone for a safety. But Campbell scored twice in the final seven minutes, including an 81-yard sprint with 1:11 to go to ice the game. Griese, who threw an 11-yard TD pass on the game’s final play, finished the night 23-for-33 for 349 yards and two TDs. This game displayed to the entire country what these Oilers meant to the city of Houston.
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