Monday's Texans-Titans game will be the 18th Monday Night Football game in Houston. The Titans, in their previous incarnation as the Houston Oilers, went 8-6 in the Astrodome from 1970-94, while the Texans are 1-2 at NRG Stadium, last hosting MNF in ...
Monday's Texans-Titans game will be the 18th Monday Night Football game in Houston. The Titans, in their previous incarnation as the Houston Oilers, went 8-6 in the Astrodome from 1970-94, while the Texans are 1-2 at NRG Stadium, last hosting MNF in 2010, when they lost to the Baltimore Ravens on a Matt Schaub pick-six in overtime.
Dale Robertson, who covered all but first three of the previous 17 MNF games played here – they were also, in his opinion, the worst three – ranks them in terms of drama, consequence and outcome.
1. Dec. 10, 1979: Oilers 20, Steelers 17
Luv ya Blue was officially born this night with fans receiving Columbia Blue flash cards with "Luv ya Blue" in white as they entered the Dome. The defending Super Bowl champion Steelers came in 11-3 and had destroyed the Oilers 38-7 in Pittsburgh the second week of the season. Bum Phillips' team, however, had recovered sufficiently to get to 10-3 before suffering a dreadful 14-7 loss in Cleveland the previous week. But they rose to the occasion before the largest crowd to see them play at home up to then — 55,293 — scoring first on a 25-yard Dan Pastorini to Ken Burrough touchdown pass in the second quarter and never surrendering the lead. In a typically brutal game between these AFC Central Division rivals, Earl Campbell did the heavy lifting for the offense, hammering the Steel Curtain 33 times for 109 hard-earned yards. He also threw the key block on Rob Carpenter's 4-yard touchdown run that gave the Oilers a late 20-10 lead. They probably could have tacked on an additional late meaningless touchdown after Jesse Baker forced a Terry Bradshaw fumble inside the Pittsburgh 10, but Bum Phillips saw no point in needlessly raising the Steelers' ire. He suspected he'd see them again in the playoffs and he was right. The rubber match — Pittsburgh won 27-13 at Three Rivers Stadium — remains the last AFC Championship Game for a Houston team.
2. Nov. 20, 1978: Oilers 35, Dolphins 30
Despite the magnitude of the aforementioned, this one is generally recognized as the most memorable prime-time football game in the city's history. The rookie Earl Campbell scored four touchdowns, the last of them covering 81 yards down the right sideline that gave the Oilers a 35-23 lead in route to their eighth victory against three losses. But Bob Griese, five seasons removed from his most recent Super Bowl triumph — the Dolphins, of course, had beaten Minnesota 24-7 at Rice Stadium— had Miami on the march late and wouldn't be defeated until linebacker Steve Kiner intercepted a pass deflected by safety Mike Reinfeldt with just over three minutes left.
3. Nov. 10, 1980: Oilers 38, Patriots 34
Kenny Stabler enjoyed his share of memorable Monday nights, but this one might have been his best. It was definitely the Hall of Fame quarterback's finest moment in two so-so seasons as an Oiler. With Earl Campbell — yeah, him again — rushing for 130 yards, Stabler went 15-for-18 with three touchdown passes, including a 79-yarder to Mike Barber as the Oilers built an impressive 24-6 halftime lead. The six-touchdown second half that followed, however, proved nearly as nuts as what we saw in last Monday night's Rams-Chief game. In defeat, Steve Grogan passed for 374 yards and three second-half TDs, two of them in the fourth quarter. The Oilers didn't secure their seventh victory against three losses until cornerback Greg Stemrick intercepted a Grogan pass with 29 seconds left.
4. Nov. 26, 1990: Oilers 27, Bills 24
Warren Moon tangled for the first time in Houston with former Houston Gambler Jim Kelly. Moon threw for 300 yards to Kelly's 224 and both fired a pair of touchdown passes. Moon's 3-yard scoring strike to Leonard Harris would be the game-winner — lifting Jack Pardee's first team to 6-5 — but Thurman Thomas' subsequent 2-yard touchdown run kept the fans nervous. It was a homecoming as well for Thomas, who had been a star at Willowridge High School. Despite the loss, the Bills would go on to win the AFC championship ... and drop the first of their four consecutive Super Bowls.
5. Nov. 13, 1989: Oilers 26, Bengals 24
Tony Zendejas' fourth field goal, a 28-yarder, split the uprights as time expired, giving Jerry Glanville's 6-4 Oilers a dramatic victory in a game that saw five lead changes — during the fourth quarter.
6. Dec 13, 2010: Ravens 34, Texans 28 (OT)
Gary Kubiak's underdog Texans fell into a 28-7 hole but battled back to tie the score against the playoff-bound Ravens with 21 seconds left in regulation on Matt Schaub's 5-yard pass to Andre Johnson. The Texans stopped the Ravens on the opening series of overtime, but Schaub's second-down pass from his own 9 went straight to Baltimore's Josh Wilson, who scored on a 12-yard pick-six (shades of things to come in 2013). Following a promising 4-2 start, the Texans lost their second of four in a row on their way to a 6-10 finish.
7. Nov. 7, 1988: Oilers 24, Browns 17
In Warren Moon's first Monday Night Football start, the Oilers surged to a 21-3 lead but nearly let Bernie Kosar beat them for what would have been the sixth consecutive time. Tony Zendejas' late 47-yard field goal secured the win, lifting the 7-3 Oilers to four games over .500 for the first time since 1980.
8. Dec. 7, 1992: Oilers 24, Bears 7
Replacing the injured Warren Moon, who was out with a broken arm, Cody Carlson engineered the victory with help from Lorenzo White's 116 rushing yards that included a fourth-quarter touchdown run. Bubba McDowell gave the 8-5 Oilers a 10-0 halftime lead with a 26-yard pick-six.
9. Dec. 1, 2008: Texans 30, Jaguars 17
Gary Kubiak's 5-7 Texans forced three Jaguars turnovers and Steve Slaton ran for 130 yards with two touchdowns in support of backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels, playing in place of the injured Matt Schaub.
10. Sept. 16, 1991: Oilers 17, Chiefs 7
Although it proved a dreadfully boring game start to finish — the teams combined for only 505 yards of total offense — the win lifted the Oilers to 3-0 for the first time in franchise history.
11. Nov. 23, 2009: Titans 20, Texans 17
Former Madison High School and University of Texas star Vince Young, in his only prime-time appearance in Houston, improved his record at NRG Stadium to 2-0 when Rob Bironas connected on a 53-yard field goal with 47 seconds left. Young threw for just 116 yards but had 13-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Britt that erased an early 7-0 Texans lead, and he ran for 73 yards on 11 carries. Chris Johnson aided the Titans' cause with 151 on 29 carries.
12. Nov. 21, 1994: Giants 13, Oilers 10
This would be Jeff Fisher's firstr game as a head coach, coming on the heels of Jack Pardee's firing. But, despite Lorenzo White's 156 rushing yards, the Oilers fell to 1-10 with their seventh consecutive loss in what became an 0-11 skid on a late 37-yard David Treadwell field goal. Five seasons later, however, Fisher would lead the Oilers ... er Titans to the franchise's first and still only Super Bowl appearance, a loss to the St. Louis Rams.
13. Dec. 2 , 1991: Eagles 13, Oilers 6
The Oilers' defense held the Eagles to 240 total yards but lost five fumbles as Warren Moon mishandled three center snaps by his lonesome. It was the only game of the Oilers' Run-and-Shoot era in which they failed to score a touchdown.
14. Dec. 13, 1982: Cowboys 37, Oilers 7
After taking a 7-0 first-quarter lead on Archie Manning's 54-yard pass to Mike Renfro, the Oilers surrendered 37 unanswered points as Danny White passed for three touchdowns and 324 yards. Worse, Michael Downs turned a Gary Allen fumble into an 86-yard scoop-six in what became the fourth of eight consecutive losses by the Eddie Biles-coached Oilers after play resumed following the lengthy players strike that season.
15. Nov. 24, 1975: Steelers 32, Oilers 9
Bum Phillips' inspirational "Hold the Rope" mantra had been the night's theme going in — every fan received a piece of white rope to wave — but Dwight White's sack of Dan Pastorini for a first-quarter safety proved anything but inspirational. The Steelers led 28-3 after three quarters as the Oilers, who fell to 7-3 and would miss the playoffs despite their turnaround 10-4 season, gave away the football four times on two fumbles and a pair of Pastorini interceptions.
16. Dec, 7, 1970: Browns 21, Oilers 10
Pearl Harbor Day was the backdrop for Houston's Monday Night Football debut. It went poorly, although the Oilers did force four turnovers. Leroy Kelly led the Browns with 108 rushing yards. A late Jerry Rhome-to-Jim Beirne touchdown pass accounted for the Oilers' only touchdown.
17. Oct. 9, 1972: Raiders 34, Oilers 0
This wasn't just Houston's worst Monday Night Football debacle ever. It was arguably the worst showing by any team ever in prime time, and even the Raiders lost four turnovers. Dan Pastorini threw one more interception — four — than he had completions — three— in 21 pass attempts to finish with a 0.0 rating. The loss dropped Bill Peterson's Oilers to 1-3 in what became the first of back-to-back 1-13 nightmare seasons. It's best remembered for a lonely, disgruntled fan's middle-finger salute captured by an ABC cameraman. Don Meredith quipped in response, "He thinks (the Oilers are) No. 1 in the nation."
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