Aaron Rodgers completed 24 of 39 passes for yards and two touchdowns, including a beautiful yard throw to Allen Lazard for his first career score. Rodgers linked up with Jamaal Williams for the other score. Williams finished with yards on 14 carries for Green Bay, which captured its first win in five tries against its NFC North rival. Matt Prater was good from 26, 22, 41, 51 and 54 yards for the Lions Matthew Stafford finished 18 of 32 for yards and was sacked three times.
Main article: Monday night National Football League games prior to During the early s, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle envisioned the possibility of playing at least one game weekly during prime time that could be viewed by a greater television audience while the NFL had scheduled Saturday night games on the DuMont Television Network in and , poor ratings and the dissolution of DuMont led to those games being eliminated by the time CBS took over the rights in An early bid by the league in to play on Friday nights was soundly defeated, with critics charging that such telecasts would damage the attendance at high school football games.
Undaunted, Rozelle decided to experiment with the concept of playing on Monday night, scheduling the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions for a game on September 28, While the game was not televised, it drew a sellout crowd of 59, spectators to Tiger Stadium , the largest crowd ever to watch a professional football game in Detroit up to that point.
Two years later, Rozelle would build on this success as the NFL began a four-year experiment of playing on Monday night, scheduling one game in prime time on CBS during the and seasons, and two contests during each of the next two years. Negotiations with ABC[ edit ] During subsequent negotiations on a new television contract that would begin in coinciding with a merger between the NFL and AFL , Rozelle concentrated on signing a weekly Monday night deal with one of the three major networks.
Despite the network's status at the time as the lowest- rated of the three major broadcast networks , ABC was also reluctant to enter the risky venture. It was only after Rozelle used the threat of signing a deal with the independent Hughes Sports Network , an entity bankrolled by reclusive businessman Howard Hughes , did ABC sign a contract for the scheduled games.
Speculation was that had Rozelle signed with Hughes, many ABC affiliates would have pre-empted the network's Monday lineup in favor of the games, severely damaging potential ratings.
Setting out to create an entertainment "spectacle" as much as a simple sports broadcast, Arledge hired Chet Forte , who would serve as director of the program for over 22 years. Arledge also ordered twice the usual number of cameras to cover the game, expanded the regular two-man broadcasting booth to three, and used extensive graphic design within the show as well as instant replay.
From to , a Saturday night game was scheduled for Week 14 and televised live by ABC in lieu of a game on Monday night. Cosell, Jackson, and Meredith[ edit ] Looking for a lightning rod to garner attention, Arledge hired controversial New York City sportscaster Howard Cosell as a commentator, along with veteran football play-by-play announcer Keith Jackson.
Jack Buck was also considered, but when Arledge assistant Chuck Howard telephoned Buck with the job offer, Buck refused to respond due to anger at his treatment by ABC during an earlier stint with the network.
However, Gifford suggested former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Don Meredith , setting the stage for years of fireworks between the often-pompous Cosell and the laid-back Meredith. The Browns defeated the Jets, in a game which featured a yard kickoff return for a touchdown by the Browns' Homer Jones to open the second half, and was punctuated when Billy Andrews intercepted Joe Namath late in the fourth quarter and returned it 25 yards for the clinching touchdown.
However, Cleveland viewers saw different programming on WEWS-TV , because of the NFL's blackout rules of the time this would apply for all games through the end of the season ; beginning in , home games could be televised if tickets were sold out 72 hours before kickoff. One of the trademarks of Monday Night Football is a music cue used during the opening teasers of each program, a Johnny Pearson -composition titled " Heavy Action ", originally a KPM production library cue and also used as the theme music for the BBC programme Superstars , which MNF began using in That success would continue over the course of the season, helping establish a phenomenon on Monday nights in the fall : movie attendance dropped, bowling leagues shifted to Tuesday nights and a Seattle hospital established an unwritten rule of no births during games.
ABC refused, and Ford had a change of heart once the show's ratings were made public.
Cosell dodged another controversy when he appeared to be intoxicated on-air during the November 23 game between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles. Already ill, Cosell drank at a promotional party prior to the game, then ended up vomiting on Don Meredith's cowboy boots near the end of the first half.
Jackson and Meredith ended up announcing the rest of the contest. Cosell, Gifford, and Meredith[ edit ] In , Frank Gifford became available after his contract with CBS Sports concluded; Arledge brought him to ABC to serve as play-by-play announcer, replacing Jackson who returned to broadcasting college football for the network, which he continued to do for the next 35 seasons.
In that capacity for Monday Night Football from to , Gifford was often criticized for his see-no-evil approach in regard to discussing the NFL, earning him the dubious nickname "Faultless Frank. Cosell's abrasive personality gave him enough recognition to host a live variety show on ABC in the fall of That show is remembered today only as a trivia question, as its title, Saturday Night Live , prevented a new late-night sketch comedy program on NBC from using that title until the ABC show was canceled.
That seeming popularity was in contrast to the repeated criticisms in the media, as well as bar room contests in which winners were allowed to throw a brick through a television image of Cosell.
After beginning with critical acclaim, Meredith began to take his weekly assignments less seriously, while also beginning an acting career. By , his motivation for the broadcasts seemed highly suspect, given incidents during a trio of contests.
On October 29, Meredith was drinking during the Buffalo Bills — Kansas City Chiefs game, which was preceded one week earlier by his pre-game analysis of the Denver Broncos — Oakland Raiders game: "We're in the Mile High City and I sure am" — a not-so-subtle reference to his use of marijuana at the time.
President Richard Nixon as "Tricky Dick". Fred Williamson , a former Kansas City Chiefs defensive back nicknamed "The Hammer" for his often-brutal hits, was selected by ABC to replace Meredith in , but following a few pre-season broadcasts, proved so inarticulate that he was relieved of his duties prior to the start of the regular season, becoming the first MNF personality not to last an entire season much less no part of the regular season at all.
The highlight of Williamson's MNF career was probably at the introductory press conference where he quipped that he was hired to "bring some color to the booth.
Cosell, Gifford, Meredith, and Tarkenton[ edit ] Meredith returned to the ABC booth in , but seemed to lack the enthusiasm that had marked his first stint from to While the NFL moved to a week schedule in , Meredith was contractually obligated to work only 14 games, leaving Cosell and Gifford to work games as a duo or with newly retired Fran Tarkenton beginning in One of the more somber contests in the run of the series came on November 27, when the San Francisco 49ers hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Despite the complaints that followed, the NFL chose to play the game, a decision that mirrored the league's decision to play its scheduled games during the weekend following the assassination of President John F.
Kennedy 15 years earlier. The opening contest of the season saw a poignant moment as former New England Patriots wide receiver Darryl Stingley was introduced to a sellout crowd at the Patriots ' Schaefer Stadium. Stingley had been paralyzed in a preseason game the year before and was making his first visit to the stadium since the accident.
Bush was interviewed in the broadcast booth at halftime. Prior to the election, none of the candidates were invited on the program due to equal time regulations governing appearances during campaigns.
Later that same season in Southern California, movie star Bo Derek , well known for her role in the movie "Ten", was the half-time guest and was interviewed by Howard Cosell. Some of the production crew teasingly referred to the segment as "The Beauty and the Beast".
It was the first season of Monday Night Football produced by Bob Goodrich , who would lead the production team for another 6 years.
In addition, was the first year a woman joined the traveling production crew of over 40 cameramen, engineers, producers and directors. Alexis Denny, then a sophomore at Yale University , served as the stage manager of the telecasts and wrote the script for the half-time highlights that Howard Cosell would voice over in a style for which he was known throughout his career.
John Lennon tragedy[ edit ] One of the most remembered moments in Monday Night Football history occurred on December 8, , yet had nothing to do with the game or football in general.
During a game between the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots , Howard Cosell broke the news of famed Beatle John Lennon 's assassination ,  news that stunned a nationwide audience.
Remember, this is just a football game, no matter who wins or loses. From to , ABC also aired a Friday night game in the final week Week 16 of the regular season, in addition to the normal Monday night game. Cosell, Gifford, Meredith, and Simpson[ edit ] Cosell continued to draw criticism during Monday Night Football with one of his offhand comments during the September 5, game, igniting a controversy and laying the groundwork for his departure at the end of that season.
Later, a special on Howard Cosell showed him calling Mike Adamle a white player a "little monkey. He felt that this should have been ABC's reward for raising the league's profile. That same year, O. Simpson replaced Tarkenton as a fill-in when Meredith or Cosell, who also was a broadcaster for the network's coverage of the Major League Baseball playoffs, was unavailable.
The season would serve as a study in contrasts as one of the most exciting Monday night games ever was followed the next week by one of the most badly played in the run of the series. On October 17, , the second highest scoring game in Monday Night Football history took place in the Green Bay Packers -Washington Redskins game, with the Packers winning the game by a score of 48— One week later, the New York Giants and St.
The deadlock had come after dropped touchdown passes by Cardinal wide receivers Willard Harrell and Roy Green , and a trio of missed field goals by teammate Neil O'Donoghue , including two in the final 63 seconds of the overtime period.
Gifford, Meredith, and Simpson[ edit ] When Cosell left prior to the start of the season, the trio of Gifford, Meredith and Simpson handled the duties. Cosell's departure seemed to have the greatest effect on Meredith, who many believed to be a poor analyst in his absence.
Falling ratings also gave indications that much of the mystique that surrounded the weekly event had disappeared. In a coincidental twist, both Namath and Simpson were busy prior to the telecast with their induction into the shrine.