Classic MNF: 1983 Redskins vs. Packers
By Will Weiss
ABC Sports Online

"It was like the old AFL. You get dizzy watching a game like that."
--Washington Redskins running back John Riggins

A casual football fan might have viewed the Oct. 17, 1983 Week 7 Monday Nighter between the Washington Redskins and the Green Bay Packers as a potential snoozer. After all, the defending Super Bowl champs, powered by one of the most balanced and devastating offenses, were going against the league's worst defense.

Joe Theismann
Joe Theismann's 398 yards passing weren't enough to defeat the Packers in 1983's MNF barnburner.
The Pack showed signs of life throughout the first six weeks of the '83 season, but were still an inconsistent team for the most part. They upset the Los Angeles Rams before being humiliated by the New York Giants on a Monday night, and followed that by scoring a record 49 points in the first half in a 55-14 blowout of Tampa Bay.

If that wasn't enough, the Baltimore Orioles were closing in on ousting the Phillies in the World Series in Philadelphia, but Veterans Stadium wasn't the only venue that provided fans with excitement.

At the quasi-frozen tundra of Lambeau Field, the Skins and the Pack scored early, often and in every which way possible, engaging in a frantic seesaw contest that left both teams exhausted. In the end, Mark Moseley's 39-yard field goal drifted just wide as time expired, giving the Packers a 48-47 victory. The 95-point barrage remains the highest-scoring game in MNF history.

The Packers opened the scoring just 1:07 into the game when Mike Douglass hit Joe Washington, forced a fumble and returned it 22 yards for the touchdown. On the ensuing drive, another Redskins fumble took a fortunate bounce, as tight end Clint Didier pounced on John Riggins' miscue in the end zone to tie the game at 7-7.

Both teams continued to trade blows, Green Bay riding the arm of Lynn Dickey (22-of-20, 387 yards and 3 TDs), and the Redskins combining Joe Theismann's passing skills (27-of-39, 398 yards and 2 TDs) and Riggins' power running. The Pack managed to maintain the lead throughout the first 30 minutes, though, holding a 24-20 advantage at halftime.

The Packers opened up an 11-point lead less than a minute into the second half, when Gerry Ellis scored on a 24-yard sweep to cap a five-play, 82-yard drive. But, true to the game's form, the Redskins bounced back quickly, scoring on their next two drives, first on a 31-yard field goal by Moseley and later when Theismann and Washington connected from six yards out to cut Green Bay's lead to 31-30. Moseley then put the 'Skins ahead with 10 seconds left in the third quarter.

Inside the Numbers
  • 55,255: Attendance
  • 1,025: Total net yards
  • 771: Total net passing yards
  • 56: Number of first downs
  • 9.1: Packers' yards-per-play average
  • 18:00: Redskins' time of possession edge
  • 5: Lead changes in the 4th quarter
  • And that's when the fun really began.

    Harlan Huckleby returned the ensuing kickoff 57 yards to the Washington 39. Three plays and 15 seconds later, Gary Lewis waltzed into the end zone on a reverse to put the Packers back on top, 38-33.

    The Redskins responded using their familiar mantra of Riggins left, Riggins right and Riggins often (25 carries for 98 yards and 2 TDs). The big running back keyed several short-yardage plays on the drive, including the 1-yard TD that gave Washington the lead once again, and, more importantly, silenced the Cheeseheads.

    The quiet lasted about two and a half minutes, though. On a critical third-and-13 from the Washington 31, Dickey tossed a pass to fullback Mike Meade, who shook one defender at the 23 and sprinted down the sideline, hurdling free safety Mark Murphy at the 2 to score and give Green Bay a 45-40 lead with 7:23 remaining.

    With the absurd rate of scoring, it seemed each team was good for another three TDs.

    And Theismann followed through on his part, hitting Joe Washington again, this time from five yards out. Washington played an important role in the second half, with Riggins seeing limited time after aggravating a pinched nerve in his hip.

    Down 47-45 with 2:50 to play, Dickey threaded a short pass between linebacker Monte Coleman and cornerback Darrell Green (yes, he was playing then) to running back Gerry Ellis. Green eventually brought down Ellis at the 8.

    The Skins held firm in their goal-line defense. Green Bay called timeout with 54 seconds left to set up Jan Stenerud's eventual game-winning 20-yard field goal.

    But Washington still had time, driving 55 yards in six plays to set up Moseley's 39-yard try with three seconds to go. Over his career, Moseley had converted 82 percent of his field goal attempts from inside 40 yards to that point.

    Moseley later said they "kind of rushed" the kick, as the kick sailed right and Washington suffered the loss.

    After the game, the two quarterbacks, who combined for 785 yards passing, gave their perspectives on what was the wildest 60 minutes of MNF to that point.

    "I wish I could have been in the stands watching," Dickey said. "Everything you could want in a football game happened."

    Said Joe Theismann: "I have never been in a game like this before and I hope I never am again."

    Will Weiss is the editor of ABC Sports Online's Monday Night Football Web site.

     
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