Thanksgiving Day 1980: Shortest Overtime in NFL History – Bears vs Lions

Once upon a time there was a championship team in Detroit. However that was back in the mid 1950s. For the next 25 years the Lions were one of the NFL’s bottom feeders. They made the playoffs only 1 time between 1957 and 1979.

Enter Billy Sims.

The 1978 Heisman Trophy winner was the Lions 1980 #1 draft pick. Billy Sims

The 1978 Heisman Trophy winner was the Lions 1980 #1 draft pick. Billy Sims

The Lions struck gold in drafting the former Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma. He hit the NFL running and the excitement the team generated had the entire Motor City abuzz.

After a 5-1 start, the Lions fell back to earth losing 4 of their next 6 games. Detroit’s mid-season swoon had begun with a 24-7 loss in Chicago. The Bears had been to the playoffs in 1979 but they came into Thanksgiving having lost 4 of their last 5 games. With the Lions 7-5 and the Bears 4-8, each team entered desperate to keep their playoff hopes alive.

So as the rest of America settled into turkey and stuffing, the Lions and Bears hit the field in the Silverdome. Would Detroit establish themselves as the team to beat in the NFC Central??  Or would the Bears right the ship and save their season??

In spectacular fashion the Bears had scored on back to back plays and overtime lasted all of :16 seconds. Thanksgiving dinners were ruined all over the state of Michigan. Athough the Bears swept the Lions they would finish 7-9 and miss the playoffs. The Lions were home for the postseason where 9-7 was not enough to get in either. The Minnesota Vikings stole the division on a Hail Mary.

Dave Williams scored 1 of his career 8 touchdowns in spectacular fashion in the shortest overtime in NFL history. If you’re going to be known for one thing, have it happen when all of America is watching.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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One thought on “Thanksgiving Day 1980: Shortest Overtime in NFL History – Bears vs Lions

  1. Remember watching that game I was 13 years old at the time and my father and I watched it together. We watched as the Bears won the coin toss in overtime to receive the kickoff. At that point I decided to go in and use the bathroom and get ready for the overtime period. As I was returning back to the living room all I saw was the entire Chicago Bear team jumping up and down and running toward the locker rooms in total jubilation. I looked over to my dad and with a total puzzled look on my face asked him ” now just what in the hell did I miss? He turned to me with a big grin on his face and said ” The shortest overtime game he’s ever seen.


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