The day is finally here. It’s the day that we find out exactly which Detroit Lions team will be considered the best ever. You have probably noticed that this is the 4th and final part of the series. If you missed the first 3 parts, here is a quick breakdown of what happened. Feel free to click on each part to read the full breakdown of each game. In Part 1, I broke down the format for this crazy idea and revealed the 8 teams that would be competing to be known as the best Detroit Lions team ever. Part 2 included the results and breakdown of each of the 4 quarterfinal games. Finally, Part 3 was all about the semifinals and included a breakdown of each of the semifinal matchups.
So, without further delay, let’s find out who is the best Lions team of the Super Bowl era. Will it be the 1970 Lions, led by Greg Landry and Dick LeBeau, or the 1991 Lions, led by Barry Sanders and Chris Spielman? Here we go!
#1 – 1991 Detroit Lions vs. #2 – 1970 Detroit Lions @Ford Field, Detroit, MI
Some Super Bowls do not live up to their hype, but that was not the case this time when the 1991 Lions squared off against the 1970 Lions. This game will be remembered as the best Super Bowl that the Lions have ever played in.
Las Vegas set the opening line at -3 for the 1991 Lions, but that quickly dropped to a pick-em game when it was found that they played their semifinal game with overinflated footballs, thus giving them no advantage whatsoever. Now, I know what you are thinking, why in the world would the point spread drop if they were playing at a disadvantage? Well, apparently it was an advantage after all. Rodney Peete, in a secret interview with Peter King of Sports Illustrated, opened up about how he prefers his balls.
“I prefer them hard. I have always preferred them hard and I will always prefer them hard.” Peete said.
Enough talk about balls already! Let’s get to what happened in the game.
The 1st quarter started with a bang as Mel Gray took the opening kickoff back 101 yards for a touchdown, and Eddie Murray kicked the extra point, giving the 1991 Lions a 7-0 lead. Amazingly, on the ensuing kickoff, Bobby Williams matched Gray as he ran the kickoff back 97 yards to tie the game up, 7-7. The score remained that way until the last play of the 2nd quarter when Barry Sanders, who only had 35 yards up to that point, made what many are saying was the best run of his career. Sanders took the handoff and made no less than 8 players from the 1970 team miss, on his way to a 78-yard touchdown run to put the 1991 team up 14-7 going into the half.
The 2nd half started off much slower than the first, with both teams punting on their first 2 possessions. With 3:21 left in the 3rd quarter, Peete threw a pass over the middle that was intercepted by 1970 cornerback, Lem Barney, who returned the ball all the way to the 1991 teams 14-yard line. This set up a 5-yard touchdown run by Mel Farr to tie the game up once again at 14-14.
In the 4th quarter, both teams exchanged field goals to make the score 17-17 with 3:20 to go in the game. This is when Barry Sanders took over once again. The 1991 team started with the ball on their own 20-yard line and ran down the clock, as Sanders carried the ball on 10 consecutive plays, including on the final play of the drive. He spun around two players and walked into the end zone with only 5 seconds remaining in the game. After scoring the touchdown, Sanders just smiled and tossed the ball to the ref, just like he always does. Murray added the extra point to give the 1991 team a 24-17 lead. On what would be the final play of the game, Murray kicked the ball off to Bobby Williams, who had already returned one kick back for a touchdown. Williams made things interesting but was eventually tackled at his own 48-yard line to end the game.
1991 Detroit Lions 24 1970 Detroit Lions 17
So, the 1991 Detroit Lions will go down as the best Lions team of all time, do you agree? I hope that you had as much fun reading this series as I did writing it. As always, I look forward to reading your comments! Who do you think is the best Detroit Lions team of all time?