Monday Night Football is an NFL tradition that began in 1970, and has given fans something to look forward to once all the Sunday games have come to a close. In the working world, Monday is the most miserable day of the week, but having a football game to close it out makes everything a little more bearable.
And the players love it too.
While Sunday Night games are also aired nationally on a weekly basis, it doesn’t have the same significance that a Monday Night game exudes. It’s the only game of the day, and all of the sports/NFL shows throughout the day use a great deal of time and discussion towards building up the game. Commercials are run the entire week leading up to the match to promote the biggest stage of the regular season.
These special games have brought fans some of the most incredible moments. From remarkable comebacks, to towel drops, and touchdown dances, Monday Night had it all. The highly anticipated game used to even have an intro that made fans want to strap on a helmet and run out onto the field. Voices such as Howard Cosell, Al Michaels, and Mike Turico have made the experience so pleasurable for those watching at home.
One thing is certain. Come Monday Night, whatever records each team possess, those can be thrown out the window. It doesn’t matter. The energy, the hype, and the excitement allow for the unthinkable to happen.
There are so many terrific games to choose from, that it’s damn near impossible to condense them into a short list. Therefore, we are not here to necessary present a list of games but a compilation of moments.
Get your popcorn ready; here are the Top 15 Most Memorable Monday Night Moments.
15. Terrell Owens Desperate Houswives Skit
Prior to a 2004 Monday Night game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys, ABC aired a rather racy opening.
The intro was set in the Eagles locker room, where Nicollete Sheridan dropped her towel for Eagles wideout Terrell Owens. It received plenty backlash.
TO and ABC later apologized for the bit.
14. Jerry Rice Breaks Touchdown Record
Most players can only dream of breaking an NFL record. Not only did Jerry Rice do it, but he accomplished it on the biggest stage of the regular season.
With Steve Young slinging it from under center, the greatest wide receiver of all-time eclipsed Jim Brown’s touchdown record of 126 on Monday Night Football against the Oakland Raiders back in 1994. Rice would finish his illustrious career with 208 scores.
13. Terrell Owens Sharpie Celebration
Remember the days when wide receivers were entertainers. When fans would sit on the edge of their seats AFTER a touchdown was scored, in anticipation of a celebration.
Those were some fun times, and Terrell Owens was the one of the main providers of that entertainment.
One of his greatest TD celebrations was when TO scored a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football, pulled a sharpie out of his sock, signed the football and gave it to his financial adviser Greg Eastman.
12. Elway vs. Montana
Two of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time dueling it out on the Monday Night football? What could be better.
Joe Montana vs. John Elway. On paper it looked like a classic, and the matchup lived up to its billing. The two battled back and forth at Mile High stadium, but in the last minute, Montana marched the Kansas City Chiefs 75 yards for a game-winning touchdown.
A classic game in the history of Monday Night Football.
11. Kick Six
It was destined to be the worst Monday Night Football game in the history of the NFL.
Josh McCown was quarterbacking the 2-8 Cleveland Browns, who were facing Matt Schaub and the 3-7 Baltimore Ravens. To make matters worse, it turned into Austin Davis vs. Schaub when McCown went down in the first half.
But in the NFL, you should always expect the unexpected.
On the final play, with the game tied 27-27, the Browns lined up for a 51 yard field goal. Make it, Browns win. Miss it, overtime. Right?
The Ravens blocked the kick, and Will Hill scooped it up and ran it in for a 64 yard touchdown in what was one of the wildest finishes in NFL history. If this was a more significant game with better teams, it would surely be higher up on the list.
10. Bo Jackson Bulldozes Brian Bosworth
Before his eventual career ending injury took place, Bo Jackson had the ability to become the best running back to ever play the game.
Everyone saw it. Well, everyone, except Seattle Seahawks rookie linebacker Brian Bosworth.
Prior to a Monday Night game, Bosworth ran his mouth about Jackson, claiming he was overrated. Jackson got the last laugh, though, absolutely trucking him for a touchdown.
9. Monday Night Miracle
I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t see this comeback victory until I watched the highlights on ESPN the next day.
The Miami Dolphins were dominating the New York Jets in every phase of the game, and led 30-7 heading into the fourth quarter. It was Oct. 23, and Miami’s defense had only surrendered 51 points and three touchdowns all year. The game was a wrap.
Then, all of the sudden, the Jets stormed back for an improbable, impossible, mind-blowing, 40-37 overtime victory. Quarterback Vinny Testaverde led the way for the Jets, tossing four fourth quarter touchdowns.
8. Peyton Manning Engineers One of The Greatest Comeback’s in NFL history
The Indianapolis Colts trailed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 35-14 following an Ronde Barber pick-six of Peyton Manning. With just 5:09 remaining the game was all but over, and it’s likely that the majority of the America tuned out.
Those who shut off the television learned a valuable lesson. NEVER count Manning out.
Brad Pyatt returned the ensuing kick-off 90 yards, setting up a one-yard touchdown run by James Mungro. The Colts recovered an onside kick, which Manning turned into a 28 yard touchdown pass to Marvin Harrison.
Indianapolis failed to recover the next onside kick, but forced a three-and-out. Ricky Williams (not the one your thinking of) punched it in from a yard out. Mike Vanderjagt capped off the miraculous win with a 29 yard field goal in overtime.
Okay, so Manning had a little bit of luck.
7. Howard Cosell Announces Assassination of Beatles Singer John Lennon
As New England Patriots kicker John Smith lined up for a game-winning field goal against the Miami Dolphins in a Monday Night game on December 8, 1980, announcer Howard Cosell made an announcement that left all 20 million viewers stunned.
Cosell released a statement that Beatles singer John Lennon was shot and killed outside of his apartment. His exact quote is below:
“Remember, this is just a football game, no matter who wins or loses,” Cosell told TV viewers. “An unspeakable tragedy, confirmed to us by ABC News in New York City: John Lennon, outside of his apartment building on the West Side of New York City, the most famous, perhaps, of all the Beatles, shot twice in the back, rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, dead … on … arrival. Hard to go back to the game after that news flash, which in duty bound, we have to take.”
Smith’s kick was blocked but the shocking news heavily overshadowed the game. This was one of the most tragic and historic moments in Monday Night Football history, and is still talked about today.
6. Favre’s Incredible Performance Following Fathers Death
Brett Favre’s father, Irvin, died of a heart attack one day before the Green Bay Packers were set to play at the Oakland Raiders on Monday Night.
No one would have questioned Favre if he decided to take the game off, but he opted to play. Knowing Favre, that was no surprise. Not only did he play but he turned in one of the best performances of his storied career.
Favre picked apart the Raiders for 399 and four touchdowns in a 41-7 romp. It was arguably the most inspiring game that the NFL has ever seen.
5. Fail Mary
Whenever a bad call is made against your team, just remember it could be worse. You could have been a Green Bay Packer fan on a Monday Night game back in September of 2012.
Oh, yes, the infamous replacement ref “fail mary” game featuring the replacement referees.
The Seattle Seahawks trailed the Packers 12-7, and had the ball on the Packers 24 yard line with one last shot at winning the game.
Russell Wilson dropped back and chucked up a prayer to Golden Tate, who was in the middle of three Green Bay defenders. Tate managed to get a hand on the ball, but it was clear that Packers defensive back M.D Jennings had possession. Somehow, someway, the refs declared it a touchdown.
The play, as all scores do, went to review. Everyone assumed it would be overturned, but it wasn’t. That game put an end to the dreaded replacement ref era.
4. Antonio Freeman’s Catch
The incredible game-winning overtime catch by Green Bay Packers wide receiver Antonio Freeman prompted play-by-play analyst Al Michaels to deliver one of his greatest one-liners ever.
“He did, what?!”
The Packers were tied 20-20 with the Minnesota Vikings, and faced a 3rd-and-4 at midfield with about 11 minutes to go. Quarterback Brett Favre rolled out and heaved a pass directed at Freeman. From the naked eye, it looked as if the ball had fell incomplete, but somehow Freeman kept it in the air with his body while on the ground, made the catch, and then ran it in for the win.
3. “The Bears Are Who We Thought They Were”
Dennis Green was angry. I mean, really, really angry.
No one could blame him for his frustration. The Arizona Cardinals had just blown a 20 point lead to the undefeated Chicago Bears after forcing six turnovers and not allowing any offensive touchdowns. Sounds impossible, but it happened.
That built up tension within Green and produced one of the most epic post game rants of all-time.
When asked about the Bears in the press conference following the loss, Green slammed the podium and shouted, “The Bears are who we thought they were,” several times, then finished by saying “and we let ’em off the hook!”
The rant was so incredible, that is was featured in a Coors Light commercial.
2. Lawrence Taylor Ends Joe Theismann’s Career
Joe Theismann’s stellar career came to an abrupt end at the hands of one of the greatest defensive players in the history of the game, and it was disturbing to say the least.
Taylor came around the edge as usual and sacked Theismann, who’s leg was twisted back so badly that it hurt to watch. Taylor immediately began waving for the Washington Redskins medical staff. That horrifying injury put an end to Thiesmann’s time in the NFL. He was 36.
1. Saints Emotional Post-Katrina Win in the Dome
Many say that the New Orleans Saints would have beaten any team in the history of football on this night.
It was the return to the Super Dome after Hurricane Katrina. The atmosphere was unlike anyone has ever seen, and the Saints did not disappoint.
New Orleans opened the game with a blocked punt for a touchdown, and didn’t look back, spanking the Atlanta Falcons 23-3. The Saints dominated every phase of the game and gave those who were affected by the natural disaster something to cheer about for the first time in a long-time.
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