There have been countless great games and moments in the program's 50-year history
With the NFL's release of the 2020 schedule last week, fans now have the "Monday Night Football" slate for the fall. If pro football happens in the fall, this year's games looks promising as ever. "Monday Night Football" has been a staple of the NFL for 50 years, and there have been great games and moments every season. Here are the 10 most memorable, along with some others worth noting.
Baltimore Colts 34, New England Patriots 27
Sept. 18, 1978 — Foxboro, Mass.
The Patriots entered the game as 17.5-point favorites and led the Colts 13-7 going into the fourth quarter. Then Baltimore running back Joe Washington had his finest hour, throwing one touchdown pass and catching another before returning a kickoff 90 yards for another score with less than a minute left to win the game.
Miami Dolphins 16, New England Patriots 13
Dec. 8, 1980 — Miami
While this game was won with an Uwe von Schamann field goal in overtime, it's sadly best remembered because Howard Cosell had to break the news to millions of Americans that John Lennon had been murdered earlier that evening.
San Francisco 49ers 28, Seattle Seahawks 21
Oct. 14, 2002 — Seattle
San Francisco receiver Terrell Owens scored two touchdowns, including one where he pulled a Sharpie out of his sock and autographed the ball before giving it to one of his assistants in the stands.
Top 10 "Monday Night Football" Games of All Time
10. Cleveland Browns 31, New York Jets 21
Sept. 21, 1970 — Cleveland
The first "Monday Night Football" broadcast went with the league's most marquee player in Joe Namath. However, the main attractions on this night were "Broadway Joe's" three interceptions and the Jets' team-record 161 penalized yards.
9. Washington Redskins 13, Dallas Cowboys 7
Oct. 19, 1987 — Irving, Texas
A players' strike in 1987 prompted NFL owners to continue the season with replacement players, much to public outcry. Redskins coach Joe Gibbs made the best of the situation and won his three games with replacement players before the strike ended. The final win was on the road against the Cowboys on "Monday Night Football" after Danny White and Tony Dorsett had rejoined the team. The win inspired the movie, "The Replacements."
8. Minnesota Vikings 31, Dallas Cowboys 27
Jan. 3, 1983 — Minneapolis
The 1982 players' strike led to a week three matchup between the Cowboys and the Vikings being rescheduled for the last "Monday Night Football" game of the season. Down 24-13 and lined up on his one-yard line, Dallas running back Tony Dorsett took the handoff and ran 99 yards for a touchdown, the longest run from scrimmage in NFL history. Although the Cowboys lost, Dorsett's run lives on.
7. Los Angeles Raiders 37, Seattle Seahawks 14
Nov. 30, 1987 — Seattle
Bo Jackson won the Heisman Trophy at Auburn in 1985 but opted to play baseball with the Kansas City Royals. The Raiders signed him in 1987 with a contract that allowed him to join the team after the MLB season ended. Jackson debuted in Week 7, but his breakout performance came in Week 11. Playing football before a national audience for the first time since college, Jackson rushed for 221 yards and scored three touchdowns, including one for 91 yards and another where he ran over Seahawks linebacker Brian Bosworth, who had been talking trash before the game.
6. Seattle Seahawks 14, Green Bay Packers 12
Sept. 24, 2012 — Seattle, Wash.
The NFL referees went on strike in June 2012, and the issue remained unresolved going into that season. The league hired second-tier refs, who were not up to the challenge of calling an NFL game. Everything came to a head on the final play of the Week 3 "Monday Night Football" matchup. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw a "Hail Mary" pass into the end zone, and receiver Golden Tate shoved Packers cornerback Sam Shields out of the way and caught it simultaneously with safety M.D. Jennings before securing it after the two players hit the ground. The officials missed the pass interference call and gave Seattle the touchdown, causing controversy to ensue. Ultimately, the "Fail Mary" prompted the NFL to come to the table and end the strike with its referees two days later.
5. Green Bay Packers 26, Minnesota Vikings 20
Nov. 6, 2000 — Green Bay, Wis.
Tied 20-20 in overtime, Packers quarterback Brett Favre threw a pass to Antonio Freeman that was deflected by Chris Dishman and it appeared to be incomplete as Freeman fell to the ground with it. But the ball never touched the ground and Dishman never touched Freeman, who got up with it and raced into the end zone for the win.
4. Los Angeles Rams 54, Kansas City Chiefs 51
Nov. 19, 2018 — Los Angeles
Both the Chiefs and Rams entered the game at 9-1 with high-powered offenses. In the highest-scoring affair in "Monday Night Football" history, Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes hit Chris Conley with a 10-yard touchdown pass to take a 51-47 lead with less than three minutes to go. L.A. responded with a 40-yard strike from Jared Goff to Gerald Everett for the win less than a minute later. This game was originally supposed to be played in Mexico City but had to be relocated due to poor field conditions.
3. Washington Redskins 23, New York Giants 21
Nov. 18, 1985 — Washington, D.C.
There have numerous devastating injuries on "Monday Night Football," including Steve Young being knocked unconscious and Napoleon McCallum injuring his knee, but the one that is etched in every fan's memory is that of Lawrence Taylor sacking Joe Theismann and breaking his leg. The injury ended Theismann's career.
2. New Orleans Saints 23, Atlanta Falcons 3
Sept. 25, 2006 — New Orleans
Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and turned the Saints into nomads who split their home games between LSU's Tiger Stadium and San Antonio's Alamodome. They returned to the Crescent City with a renovated Superdome, a sold-out crowd, and an audience of 10.8 million viewers, the largest in ESPN's history. "Monday Night Football" has been many things over its 50-year history, but this was the first time it had been a healing point for a city.
1. Miami Dolphins 38, Chicago Bears 24
Dec. 2, 1985 — Miami
The '85 Bears were 12-0 and the team with the best chance of stopping them from ending the '72 Dolphins' distinction as the only team with a perfect record were... the '85 Dolphins. Members of the 1972 team stood on the sidelines as the Dolphins took a 31-10 halftime lead, the most points the Bears had given up in the first half since 1972. Miami sealed the deal in the third quarter when Chicago defensive tackle Dan Hampton tipped a Dan Marino pass and it landed 30 yards downfield in the hands of Mark Clayton, who took it into the end zone for a 38-17 lead.
— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports' Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.