A Look Back: The 1998 Turkey Day Coin Flip Fiasco Vs. The Lions

Thanksgiving

In September a revised edition with new chapters and updated stats, dedicated to the Black and Gold book was back out in stores, as my 2010 release, “100 Things Every Steelers Fan Should Know Before They Die,” was back on the shelves!

The book, published by Triumph Books, is available in all major book stores and goes for $14.95. It is also available for through Amazon and Borders, or if you want an autographed copy for that someone special (or just for yourself) for the upcoming holiday season, email me at [email protected] and I will let you know how you can get one!

With the Detroit Lions in town Sunday, I felt it fitting to relive maybe the most vivid memory of the two teams playing each other, so today we highlight chapter 80 – “Turkey Day Coin Flip Fiasco in Detroit” – and if you are a Steelers fan – you know the game and the future Hall of Famer involved.

The 1998 season seemed to have promise for the Black and Gold, as they jumped out to a 2–0 record after wins over the Ravens and Bears. Then after a Monday night win over Brett Favre and the Packers in Week 10, the team was 6–3 and seemed right in the thick of things in the AFC. Enter Phil Luckett and the famous “coin flip fiasco” in Detroit three weeks later.

The Steelers were facing the Lions in the Silverdome to play what for them was a rare Thanksgiving Day game, only their third in team history. Pittsburgh seemed to have things in order, leading 13–3 after wide receiver Will Blackwell caught a deflected pass off the hands of running back Jerome Bettis from quarterback Kordell Stewart and took it 24 yards for the first touchdown of the game to give the Steelers a 10-point lead.

At that point, the team had bottled up Lions Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders (he ended the game with 33 yards on 20 carries) and had limited Lions quarterback Charlie Batch. All looked well, but then, just like that, things went haywire. Detroit got a 51-yard field goal from Jason Hanson, then in the fourth quarter went on a six-play, 80-yard drive that saw Batch hit two big pass plays and ended with him hitting Herman Moore with a 21-yard score to tie the game at 13–13.

The Lions took a 16–13 lead after a Steelers fumble by Blackwell on the following kickoff, and the momentum totally shifted. The Steelers and Stewart would not be denied, though, and they went on a 15-play drive that covered 74 yards. With one second left in regulation, Norm Johnson booted a 25-yard field goal to tie the game and send it into overtime.

Don’t forget, order the book through Amazon and Borders.

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