The year was 1981. Ronald Reagan became U.S. President, Pope John Paul II was nearly assassinated, the Boston Celtics won their 15th NBA Championship, Major League Baseball went on strike, and the Detroit Lions stole a victory from the Dallas Cowboys with 12 men on the field during Eddie Murray’s 47-yard field goal.
Yes, that Eddie Murray, the same one who would eventually go on to replace Lin Elliot in 1993, the Dallas Cowboys’ successful Super Bowl XXVIII run. On November 15th, 1981, he was kicking field goals for the 4-6 Detroit Lions, whose playoff hopes hung in the balance like a loose tooth in a six year-old’s mouth.
The 8-2 Dallas Cowboys jumped out to a 17-0 lead on the Lions in the Pontiac Silverdome, the same venue where the Cowboys were the Lions’ first ever regular season opponent in 1975. Dallas won 36-10 on Monday Night Football with Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, and Alex Karras, former Lions defensive tackle calling the game. Dallas was 7-1 in the past eight games. So why shouldn’t they jump out to a 17-0 lead? Business as usual for a team that was 2-0 against teams with losing records in 1981.