The following is not a summary of historical events,but rather the results of my computer football replay of the 1969 AFL and NFL seasons using Second and Ten football. In reality on October 5, 1969, the Lions handed the Cleveland Browns their first defeat of the 1969 season, 28-21.
The Cleveland Browns maintained their undefeated status by holding off a furious rally by the visiting Detroit Lions en route to a 30-28 victory. The Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings and Browns remain the only undefeated teams in the NFL. The Browns jumped to a 27-0 lead in the first half before the Lions reached the scoreboard with a Bill Triplett touchdown run in the final minute of the half.
When John Garlington intercepted Lions’ quarterback Bill Munson on Detroit’s opening second half drive, the outcome seemed even more assured for Cleveland. The Browns cashed the turnover into another Don Cockroft field goal for a 30-7 lead. Munson and the Lions responded with a 9-play, 77-yard drive that resulted in a Munson touchdown pass to tight end Charlie Sanders. The Lions defense forced the Browns to punt after only three plays, and Munson again pushed the Lions downfield. But on the tenth play of the drive and in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter, Munson was again intercepted.
The Browns marched downfield and, with the benefit of a defensive pass interference call, reached the Lions 26. But the Lions defense rose to the occasion and sacked Nielsen twice forcing the Browns to punt. Lem Barney caught Cockroft’s punt at his own 12 and weaved through the Browns coverage for an 88 yard touchdown that breathed new life into the Lions. But the Lions could not mount another threat until the clock reached two minutes, just as they had in the first half. Munson connected with wideout Earl McCullouch for 38 yards to the Cleveland 35. A flare pass to Mel Farr put the Lions at the Browns 17, and a draw play by Farr brought the ball to the Browns’ 2 with a minute to go. Munson again found Sanders in the end zone and Errol Mann’s PAT closed the deficit to a mere two points. But the Browns recovered the onside attempt to remain undefeated as the Lions would have to be satisfied with perhaps a moral victory to go with their 0-3 record.
In other NFL action, the Minnesota Vikings unseated the Green Bay Packers with a 21-point second half rally in a 31-17 victory. Roman Gabriel led the Rams to a 13-10 victory over the New Orleans Saints with a 34-yard touchdown pass to Billy Truax in the final minute. Dallas outlasted Philadelphia, 28-20, as Lance Rentzel caught four touchdown passes from Craig Morton. Baltimore defeated the Falcons in Atlanta, 24-13, and the Redskins beat the 49ers in San Francisco despite the afternoon’s only 100-yard rushing game from Ken Willard. The Bears defeated the Giants, 21-7, and Pittsburgh crushed the Cardinals, 48-17. Roy Jefferson had 172 receiving yards and two touchdowns for the Steelers.