#20 has always been carrying the Detroit Lions, a tradition first introduced in 1980 when Detroit took Oklahoma running back Billy Sims with the first overall pick that year. Now a sensational sophomore in 1981, the former Heisman Trophy winner had six games with 100 or more scrimmage yards. He led the Lions to their first points with a three-yard touchdown in the second quarter to make it 17-7 Dallas.
Lubbock, Texas son Eric Hipple, the Lions’ starting quarterback, threw a touchdown to wide receiver Mark Nichols in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 17-14 Cowboys. It wasn’t helping that trusty Danny White would go on to throw 2 interceptions that day. The Lions were hanging close to the Cowboys and eventually tied them at 17 with a 37-yard field goal try from Eddie Murray.
Danny White wasn’t horrible that game. He was also the reason for all of their touchdowns. His third touchdown pass didn’t go to Drew Pearson, as the last two had, but to reserve tight end Jay Saldi – a 14-yard strike that put Dallas up 24-17 in the fourth quarter.
Billy Sims was an amazing athlete and a threat at any time. There’s a reason the Lions would make the playoffs from 1982-83. After thinking they had Detroit cornered like a bunch of scaredy cats, Billy Sims’ 81-yard touchdown catch and run gave them the courage to keep battling with America’s Team.