Detriot Lions 1960; Earl Morrall Led Them Back Almost to Greatness

After a decade of Dynasty winning, the Detroit Lions won only seven games in 1958-59. The Baltimore Colts had defeated the New York Giants for the NFL crown these years. After eight games, here was what the Detroit Lions and Baltimore Colts did. The Colts were 6-2, lost the remaining four, and finished 6-6. The Lions were 3-5, won the last four, and finished 7-5.

The biggest victory in that spell was the Lions coming in to Memorial Stadium. Earlier the Detroit Lions had won at home 30 to 20. This rematch was perhaps the greatest game in the 60s. At halftime, the Colts led 8 to 3. Johnny Unitas threw a 80 yard touchdown pass to Lenny Moore. The third quarter was scoreless.

Quite frustrated, George Wilson pulled at Quarterback Jim Ninnowski for Earl Morrall. Morrall threw a 40 yard touchdown pass to Howard Cassday for one score. Another short drive had Jim Martin kicking a 40 yard field goal. The Lions led for the first time 15 to 13.

However, John Unitas took Baltimore on yet another of his drives. Fans, sure of victory, were gathering around the field. Their beloved Colts would appear in their third consecutive NFL Title Game but wait Unitas dropped back and threw his second touchdown pass to Lenny Moore. Moore made a sensational catch virtually parallel to the turf. This 37 yard play gave the Colts a 15 to 13 lead. I have never seen a crowd this loud, even by today’s standards.

After the kickoff, the Lions took over at their 35 yard line with 10 seconds left. Earl Morrall dropped back and threw a 65 yard touchdown pass to Jim Gibbons. The crowd was totally silent. They were stunned and left peaceably.

Detroit Lions, after finishing second, went the Playoff Bowl in Miami. They defeated the Cleveland Browns 17 to 16.


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