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NFL – Throwback Thursday: Coryell Sees His Future

24 Nov

On September 26, 1976 the San Diego Chargers and St. Louis Cardinals met, and they play each other again on this week’s NFL schedule, with both clubs calling different cities home. We highlight this matchup as our Throwback Thursday feature because the Cardinals’ coach, Don Coryell, would find himself as the head man of the Chargers a couple of years later. It was week 3 of the ’76 season and both teams entered the contest unbeaten at 2-0. Coryell had a top quarterback leading his offense in Jim Hart, and Hart played a pretty good game, but it was San Diego’s young signal caller, Dan Fouts, who dominated the action. He led a drive that ended with a Don Woods touchdown run to start the scoring, but Hart brought the Cardinals back with a 14 yard touchdown toss to J.V. Cain and a field goal drive. Since the Chargers had missed their extra point St.Louis now led 10-6.

Fouts and the Chargers took command in the second quarter. Rickey Young’s short scoring run started a 27 point avalanche, with Fouts throwing 3 touchdown passes. He found Charlie Joiner for a 30 yard score, then threw twice to Dwight McDonald for touchdowns from 44 and 18 yards out. Another extra point was missed, but it hardly mattered. San Diego now led 33-10 at the half. When Hart hit Wayne Morris with an 11 yard TD it looked as though the Cards might have some life, but Fouts snuffed that out by leading another field goal drive and throwing his fourth touchdown pass of the day, a short 1 yarder to Pat Curran. Morris added another touchdown for St. Louis but the outcome had been decided by then. The final result was a 43-24 beatdown by San Diego.

The seasons went in opposite directions for these 2 teams after this game. San Diego would stumble to a 6-8 record. The Cardinals went 10-4 but still wound up third in the NFC East, and had the dubious distinction of being the only 10 win club to not qualify for the playoffs in the 14 game season era. It was the first time in 3 years that they missed the playoffs. Ultimately, the Cardinals fired Coryell and in the middle of the 1978 season San Diego fired their coach, Tommy Prothro, and replaced him with Coryell, who had cut his teeth as a coach at San Diego State in the 1960s and early ’70s. He took Fouts and Joiner and added pieces like Chuck Muncie, John Jefferson and Kellen Winslow and created the “Air Coryell” offensive attack that the Chargers used successfully for the 9 years that he coached there.

 

Future Hall of Fame QB Dan Fouts

 

Classic Team Logo of The Day

24 Nov

With this being Thanksgiving week, we’ll highlight a logo for an annual tradition, NFL football in Dallas. The league has had it’s annual game on that day in Detroit since 1934, but added the additional game in Dallas in 1966, and it’s become the second part of the annual Turkey Day celebration ever since, with a couple of exceptions in the 1970s when St. Louis hosted the second game. The NFL also plays a night game on Thanksgiving now. The Cowboys’ all-time record on the holiday is 31-22-1.

 

Classic Sports Card of The Day

24 Nov

1982 Topps football card of former pro football quarterback Dan Fouts, who played his entire 15 year career for the San Diego Chargers. He was a four-time All Pro and six time Pro Bowler, and was named NFL offensive player of the year in 1982. Fouts was also named a member of the NFL’s All Decade team for the 1980s, and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1993. After retiring from the game he worked as an analyst for college and NFL games for Monday Night Football, CBS and the Westwood Radio Network. He also dabbled in acting, playing himself in the Adam Sandler movie The Waterboy.

 

NFL – Throwback Thursday: Flipping The Record Book

17 Nov

On November 26, 1989, an NFL contest was played between the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints, who also play on this week’s slate of games. We picked this matchup for our Throwback Thursday feature to highlight a record-breaking performance by a forgotten wide receiver from the Rams’ past, Willie Lee “Flipper” Anderson. The game was hotly contested but not really high scoring. It went into overtime and was decided by a 31 yard Mike Lansford field goal, 20-17 in the Rams’ favor. A couple of Saints’ players had good statistical games – Dalton Hilliard rushed for 112 yards on 24 carries and Eric Martin caught 5 passes for 107 yards and his team’s only 2 touchdowns. The Saints’ defense, for the most part, had a decent game, racking up 6 sacks and 2 interceptions. Their one problem was they had no answer for the passing connection of Jim Everett to Anderson. Everett threw for 454 yards, 336 of which went to the record-breaking Anderson. The connection befuddled the Saints. Los Angeles ran for only 57 yards in the game, but the passing attack enabled them to wipe out a 17-3 deficit and claim the overtime win.

One important running play in the Rams’ attack was a 5 yard touchdown by Buford McGee that cut the lead to 17-10, while Anderson caught a 15 yard scoring pass from Everett to tie the game in the waning moments of regulation. Flipper continued his dominance in the extra period by snagging a pair of passes to set up the winning field goal. The Rams finished up the year as a playoff team but were beaten by the powerhouse San Francisco 49ers when they got there. This was a memorable day for the franchise, however. Anderson’s record of 336 yards on 15 receptions still stands to this day, and only 5 receivers in NFL history have amassed 300 yards in a single game.

 

Flipper Anderson on his way to a record

 

Classic Team Logo of The Day

17 Nov

No, it’s not Bugs Bunny, it’s the old logo, used from 1971 until 1990, of a college football team, the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. A functioning gridiron program since 1900, the school currently resides in the Missouri Valley Conference. They’ve won 2 MVC titles, and 15 other conference championships as members of other leagues. Former Jackrabbits who have played pro football include Steve Heiden, Jim Langer, Pete Retzlaff, Adam Timmerman, Adam Vinatieri, Wayne Rasmussen and current players Dallas Goedert and Cade Johnson.

 

Classic Sports Card of The Day

17 Nov

1989 ProSet football card of former pro football wide receiver Willie “Flipper” Anderson, who played 10 seasons in the NFL for 4 different teams. He had his most success in the 7 years he spent with the Los Angeles Rams, including a record-setting game in which he recorded 336 receiving yards, a record that still stands today. He averaged over 20 yards per catch for his career. Anderson was a member of Denver’s Super Bowl winning team in 1997. His son Dres played college football at Utah and also spent time in the Canadian League.

 

NFL – Throwback Thursday: Battle Of The Icons

10 Nov

The Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers face off on the NFL’s week 10 schedule this Sunday, and for our Throwback Thursday feature we’ll wander back to November 11, 1960 for a game played between the 2 franchises. It pitted 2 former co-workers, Dallas coach Tom Landry and Packer head man Vince Lombardi, in their first meeting since both were top assistants with the New York Giants in the 1950s. The future icons were at opposite ends of the spectrum as far as the development of their respective teams. Lombardi was in his third season rebuilding what was a sad sack franchise when he took over in 1958, and the Packers would advance to the NFL title game in this season. Landry, on the other hand, had taken charge of an expansion team that year, and was still sorting out pieces of a roster that included a lot of older washed up veterans, the only type of players who were made available in expansion drafts back then.

Green Bay entered the game with a healthy 4-2 record, while the Cowboys were winless at 0-7. The game proceeded exactly like expected between a club starting to grow into a perennial title contender and a first year team trying to find an identity. Lombardi attacked the Cowboys with the style of play his teams would become known for – a relentless ground attack. Fullback Jim Taylor ripped off touchdown runs on 28 and 6 yards to start the scoring, and rough and tumble linebacker Ray Nitschke got the defense involved when he returned an interception 43 yards for a touchdown to put the Pack ahead 21-0. Paul Hornung added a pair of field goals and by halftime the game was essentially over as Green Bay led 27-0.

The Taylor show continued in the third quarter as the future Hall of Famer scampered 23 yards for his third touchdown, and Hornung joined the party again with a 4 yard touchdown run to wrap up Green Bay’s scoring. Don Meredith, one of 3 Dallas quarterbacks to see action in the game, scraped up a little pride for his sorry team by connecting with Walt Kowalczyk on a 14 yard scoring pass. The final gun ended the misery for Landry and the Cowboys, with the Packers earning a 41-7 win. Five Dallas turnovers contributed to the lopsided score, but in the end Landry’s unit of mismatched expansion team parts were no match for Lombardi’s fine-tuned club. The two legendary coaches would meet up again in the future in some classic title games, including the 1967 “Ice Bowl”.

 

 

Packers, Cowboys at the line of scrimmage (Green Bay Press Gazette photo)

 

 

Classic Team Logo of The Day

10 Nov

Used from 1965 until 1995, this is the logo of a college football team that resides in the Big Sky Conference, the Montana State Bobcats. Born in 1897, their program has claimed 16 Big Sky titles and 3 national championships at lower levels. They have been sending players on to pro football since the NFL’s inception, and that list of Bobcat alumni includes  Cory Widmer, Jan Stenerud, Sam McCullum, Bill Kollar, Ron East, Jon Borchardt, Michael Person and Bob Schmitz.

 

Classic Sports Card of The Day

10 Nov

1955 Bowman football card of former pro football end Billy Howton, who played a total of 12 seasons with 3 different teams. His greatest success came in his 7 year stint in Green Bay, where he was the top receiver on losing teams in the 1950s. When Vince Lombardi took over the Packers he traded Howton to Cleveland, and although he denied it many thought the reason for the trade was Howton’s involvement with the players’ union. He planned on retiring after the 1959 season, but the expansion Dallas Cowboys talked him out of it and the Texas native spent 4 more successful years there before retiring in 1963.

 

NFL – Throwback Thursday: Pop The Champagne!

03 Nov

It’s week 9 of the NFL season, and a matchup on this week’s schedule has the Miami Dolphins squaring off with the Chicago Bears. For our weekly Throwback Thursday feature we’ll land on a game played between these clubs on December 2, 1985. This was a magical season for the Bears. It culminated in a dominating Super Bowl win over New England and along the way introduced America to a wild cast of characters. There was brash coach Mike Ditka and his salty defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan. There was the defiant punk quarterback, Jim McMahon, who taunted commissioner Pete Rozelle by wearing a headband with a corporate logo on it from Adidas, a violation of the league’s strict dress code. After being fined for the violation, he wore a headband that said “Rozelle” on it the next week. He also mooned a helicopter flying over a Bears’ practice during Super Bowl week. The defensive unit was loaded with crazy characters. They included wild-eyed middle linebacker Mike Singletary, future pro wrestler Steve McMichael, and most notably, the lovable William “The Refrigerator” Perry, a plump giant who captured the nation’s affection when Ditka lined him up on offense and allowed him to score touchdowns at the goal line. The players also made a video called the “Super Bowl Shuffle” in which they danced and rapped their way to a Grammy.

Chicago’s wild bunch finished the regular season with a dominating 15-1 record, then shut out 2 playoff opponents before demolishing the Patriots 46-10 in the big game. The game we’re featuring, on that December Monday night, was the only blemish on their record. The Dolphins, of course, are the only NFL team to ever accomplish the feat of going through an entire season undefeated, which they did in 1972 when they went 17-0 overall and won their first Super Bowl. On this night, there were members of that undefeated team on hand for the game, and of course, coach Don Shula, who orchestrated the perfect season, was still coaching the Dolphins. So in effect the Dolphins, and young third year quarterback Dan Marino, were protecting the legacy of the ’72 team in facing the 12-0 Bears.

Marino and the Dolphins never appeared intimidated at all by the vaunted Chicago defense. Marino opened the scoring with a 33 yard touchdown pass to veteran Nat Moore. The Bears then tied the game when quarterback Steve Fuller, who started in place of McMahon who was nursing a shoulder injury, ran in from a yard out. Miami’s defense held the Bears to a field goal while racking up 24 points prior to halftime to lead at the break by an astonishing 31-10. The scoring outburst included a field goal, a pair of 1 yard runs by Ron Davenport, and another Marino to Moore touchdown pass, this time a short 6 yarder. Fuller valiantly tried to bring his team back into the game in the third quarter. He scored himself on another 1 yard run and threw a 19 yard scoring pass to Ken Margerum, but Marino countered those with a 42 yard bomb to Mark Clayton for his third touchdown pass of the game. The scoring ended after the third quarter, and Miami’s 38-24 lead held up as the final score.

The Dolphin defense did a number on Fuller and the Bears with 6 sacks and 3 interceptions, but the real surprise of the night was the ease with which Marino was able to carve up the Bear defense. The loss didn’t faze the Bears much as they didn’t lose another game the rest of the season, but on this night, Shula and the rest of those proud 1972 Dolphins were able to pop the champagne bottles and celebrate, as their mark of the only club to attain perfection remained intact.

 

Marino throws avoiding Bears’ Richard Dent