WhatIfSports Duel to the Death Season: Week 12 (Part 1)

Now basically two-thirds of the way through the simulated Greatest of All Time Season, we’re hitting the point where, if this were a real life thing, we’d be hitting Thanksgiving and the ’62 Packers and ’52 Lions would get the day started and then the ’92 Cowboys would keep the ball rolling by hosting the ’07 Patriots and we’d all be gleefully jamming as much turkey down our throats as we could without choking ourselves. Of course, this isn’t real life and we’re stuck in late April (not that I’m complaining, weather-wise!). But while you’re reading these game recaps, feel free to make yourself a nice Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings. After all, you deserve it. TO THE SIM ENGINE…

1962 Green Bay Packers (9-2) 24, 1952 Detroit Lions (2-9) 7

Jim Taylor rushed for 164 yards and had a 20-yard touchdown run included in his 20 carries as the Packers moved to 9-2. The Lions actually scored first on a 47-yard punt return by [UNKNOWN PLAYER] in the second quarter, but from there the Packers dominated. Bobby Layne was sacked five times and Detroit managed a total of only 183 yards on offense. Meanwhile, Bart Starr’s 17-yard touchdown pass to Ron Kramer late in the fourth quarter essentially cinched the game.

1992 Dallas Cowboys (8-3) 31, 2007 New England Patriots (9-2) 9

Showing once again how they can be essentially unstoppable when they’re running on all cylinders, the Cowboys held the Patriots offense to 170 total yards and enjoyed a big day from their Triplets en route to a lopsided win at Texas Stadium. Emmitt Smith ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries and added a receiving touchdown as well, Michael Irvin picked up 113 receiving yards on five catches and Troy Aikman threw two touchdown passes for Dallas. The Cowboys’ most impressive feat, however, was clearly holding Tom Brady to 14-of-26 for 111 yards and an interception. The only bright spots for New England were Stephen Gostkowski’s three field goals and Junior Seau’s two interceptions.

1991 Houston Oilers (6-5) 38, 2012 Atlanta Falcons (4-7) 24

Warren Moon shook off an early pick-six to torch the Falcons for 236 yards and four touchdowns on 23 attempts and the Oilers moved back above .500 with a win at the Georgia Dome. Haywood Jeffires had 101 receiving yards and two touchdowns on six catches; Ernest Givins and Drew Hill caught Moon’s remaining touchdown throws. Lorenzo White also added 101 yards and a touchdown on the ground on only 13 attempts. Matt Ryan threw two touchdown passes for the Falcons but also two interceptions.

1969 Kansas City Chiefs (7-4) 10, 1985 Chicago Bears (6-5)

Len Dawson’s two-yard touchdown pass to Otis Taylor late in the first half proved to be the only touchdown of the game, as the red-hot Chiefs went into Soldier Field and handed the Bears their third loss in a row. Dawson overall wasn’t anything special, going just 12-of-25 for 106 yards but the Chiefs’ ground game was able to churn out 154 yards on 36 carries. On the other side, the Bears’ two-headed quarterback monster of Jim McMahon and Mike Tomczak could only combine for 146 yards on 39 dropbacks and Walter Payton was largely held in check, picking up a modest 78 yards on 19 carries.

2000 Tennessee Titans (10-1) 16, 1990 Buffalo Bills (5-6) 10

Tennessee only scrounged up 191 yards of total offense on the day and didn’t score an offensive touchdown, but three Al Del Greco field goals and (more importantly) a 53-yard interception return for a touchdown by Randall Godfrey moved the Titans to 10-1 on the season. Godfrey’s pick-six came when the Bills had the ball up 10-0 late in the first half; after that, Jim Kelly and Co. were continually thwarted by the likes of Jevon Kearse, who had two sacks on the day. Thurman Thomas only rushed for 37 yards on 17 carries.

2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-4) 27, 2009 New Orleans Saints (4-7) 6

Brad Johnson threw two touchdown passes and Simeon Rice sacked Drew Brees four times as the Buccaneers broke their two-game losing streak with a home throttling of the Saints. Shelton Quarles and John Lynch added interceptions for the Buccaneers, who also benefited from 67 receiving yards from Keyshawn Johnson. The Saints, meanwhile, were kept out of the end zone as Brees piled up an inefficient 245 yards on 51 pass attempts.

1979 San Diego Chargers (10-1) 40, 1998 Denver Broncos (5-6) 15

The unstoppable Charger machine kept on chugging, as Dan Fouts was a remarkable 15-of-17 for 222 yards and a touchdown and San Diego scored 20 points in the last ten minutes of the game to turn a close game at Mile High Stadium into another blowout win for the Chargers. San Diego’s rushing attack led by Clarence Williams and Mike Thomas was also potent, netting 191 yards and three touchdowns on 43 attempts. Terrell Davis had 124 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries for Denver in a losing effort.

1986 New York Giants (5-6) 17, 1973 Minnesota Vikings (3-8) 14

Raul Allegre’s 53-yard field goal as time expired capped a 14-point flurry for the Giants in the last six minutes of the game and gave Big Blue their fourth consecutive win. Fran Tarkenton’s 47-yard touchdown throw to Chuck Foreman early in the fourth quarter gave the Vikings a 14-3 lead and the Giants’ chances seemed particularly poor since Phil Simms had already thrown three interceptions up to that point. But Fred Cox’s three missed field goals for the Vikings would turn out to cost them the game, as Simms led the Giants on drives capped by an Allegre 33-yard field goal and a 54-yard Joe Morris touchdown run, followed by a successful pass to Mark Bavaro for the tying two-point conversion with 1:04 remaining in the game. After Minnesota went three-and-out, Simms hit Phil McConkey with a 28-yard pass with a second remaining, setting up Allegre’s game winner. Morris ended up with 181 yards on the ground for the Giants.

Tomorrow: The ’72 Dolphins try to get above .500 for the first time all season against the ’91 Redskins; the ’99 Jaguars take on the ’81 Bengals in an important game in the AFC wild-card picture; and the ’89 49ers try to avoid a complete ouster from the playoffs when they take on the ’99 Rams.

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