I’m aware that the Indianapolis Colts and the New York Giants have played in some very big games in the past. Some might say, great games.
However, I want to focus on Halloween instead. That certainly has something to do with the fact that it is both tomorrow, and one of my favorite holidays.
I’m also sure that the second I mentioned Halloween in a Throwback Thursday article, a lot of you know exactly where I’m headed with this one.
Ever since the Colts drafted Manning, the team has been a staple on Monday Night Football, playing both home and away games. That wasn’t always the case.
Five years after moving to Indianapolis, the team finally hosted its first Monday Night Football game, it happened to be on Halloween, it happened to be against the two-time defending AFC Champion Denver Broncos, and it happened to be Eric Dickerson’s night.
Exactly a year earlier, on October 31, 1987, Colts General Manager Jim Irsay helped orchestrate a trade that would send 10 players to the Los Angeles Rams (via both the Colts and Buffalo Bills) and send Dickerson to Indy.
Honestly, it’s this trade that has always given me an irrational fear that the Colts would trade away a stud player, in his prime, if the deal was right. I know, Dickerson was in a contract dispute with the Rams, but still.
The Colts were 3-3 at the time of acquiring Dickerson, and finished the season 9-6 (due to the players’ strike) and were champions of the AFC East.
1988 was a different story, though, as the Colts entered the Monday night showdown with the Broncos with a 3-5 record. The Broncos weren’t faring much better, and entered with a 4-4 record.
Dickerson was reportedly nervous before the game began, wanting to show that the Rams made the wrong move by trading him. Nervous or not, all Dickerson did was set the Colts franchise record for rushing scores in a game.
Three Dickerson scores in the first quarter, and another early in the second, and the Broncos were all but finished. Dickerson would finish the game with 159 yards and the four scores. Not wanting to risk injury, coach Ron Meyer pulled Dickerson early in the second half.
The Colts would cruise the rest of the way to a 55-23 victory over the Broncos. John Elway was also pulled as the game got away from Denver. The Broncos leading passer on the night? Gary Kubiak.
This game also marked the first, and surprisingly only, time the Colts would defeat Elway after he refused to play for the franchise in 1983.
The win was a part of a five game win streak for the Colts. They finished 9-7, but missed the playoffs. The Broncos would finish the season 8-8.
Dickerson would go on to lead the league in rushing that year, becoming the first Colt to do so. However, it was only three years later that another flurry of contract disputes, in addition to declining ability, led to the Colts trading Dickerson to the Los Angeles Raiders. Subsequently, he was traded to the Atlanta Falcons and then the Green Bay Packers, where he failed a physical and retired.
While his time with the Colts didn’t yield many postseason success stories, the impact he had on the franchise was immense. Not only did Dickerson carry the Colts to the post season for the first time in the Indianapolis era, but he also gave the team a legitimate star player.
And that record of four touchdowns? It has since been tied by Joseph Addai, also on a Monday Night Game.
This game is a shining star in the history of the Indianapolis Colts. On the History of the Colts DVD, Bob Lamey mentions that 9/10 Colts fans would say that is the most memorable game in Indianapolis history. I might disagree with that, but the point remains, that this was a very, very memorable Halloween for Colts fans.