“The field goal was touched beyond the line by the receiving team”: Leon Lett’s 1993 Thanksgiving Game Blunder 

“The field goal was touched beyond the line by the receiving team”: Leon Lett’s 1993 Thanksgiving Game Blunder 

WHO: Dallas Cowboys vs Miami Dolphins

WHAT: Cowboys annual Thanksgiving Day game

WHEN: November 25, 1993

WHERE: Irving, TX

MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: I can remember watching bits and pieces of this one at my grandparents house in Galion, OH. They had this old school LARGE electric piano that my brothers and I would play constantly throughout the day. We were not classically trained so obviously we were a delight to all in attendance.

Thanksgiving is upon us and for the special occasion what better 90’s sports moment to cover than one involving FOOTBAW. As a licensed 90’s super sports team hater, I was predisposed to despise the Cowboys on sight. While everyone normally thinks Charlotte Hornets Starter jacket, there was a little too much Dallas Cowboys jacket for my liking at Waldo Elementary. We’re to pick our tortured and perennially awful Ohio professional football franchise and stick to it dadgummit. 

Additionally, I had a soft spot for the Buffalo Bills and had high hopes of them taking down the Cowboy Death Juggernaut in the previous year’s Super Bowl XXVII (Adrian’s revenge!). How did that go for the Bills? Not well. 


If that weren’t bad enough that Super Bowl also introduced me to one of our fine American sports traditions: The horrible gambling beat. My dad entered my family’s names in a betting squares contest where the winner won something like $100. It might as well have been the Mega Millions to me and my brothers. We monitored the score throughout the game and I can’t remember the exact circumstances but if the Cowboys scored one more touchdown late in the 4th, I’d be Richie Rich. It didn’t look like there’d be much chance, and then Leon Lett happened. 

From reserved resignation of defeat to jubilation to devastation all within a span of about 30 seconds. Not to mention the Bills got decleated. The lesson as always, teach your children young about the coldness of this earth. 

Anyways, so the next year the Cowboys play their annual Thanksgiving Day game against the Miami Dolphins. A freak snowstorm hits Dallas and creates quite the visual for TV. Upon further research of this game the Dolphins came in hot but didn’t even have Dan Marino so surely it would be a laugher? Oh ho ho, not to be as we’ll see in today’s clip as the Dolphins set up for a potential game-winning field goal. At least  with a field goal attempt there’s no way for Leon Lett to mess this one up in any way right? Well let’s just say Dick Enberg and Bob Trumpy are on the call. Guess who did the Super Bowl the year prior? I think you already know the answer to that one.

https://youtu.be/TrU8z4w8T-4


0:00-0:06

pete stoyanovich

We start out with Miami kicker Pete Stoyanovich and really, with a name like that was Pete destined to become anything besides a kicker? It’s perfect.

0:14

miami blocked fg.png

O yeah just your standard snow covered turf field goal attempt surely nothing cou-BLOCKED.

0:23

jerry jones celebration

YEEE HAW!

0:30-0:32

When you think you’ve won the battle but turns out you’ve lost the war:

aikman irvin hugaikman irvin

All hell breaks loose as Enberg and Trumpy realize a Cowboy has touched the blocked kick after the fact, with a Dolphin player recovering. They’re at first convinced it’s a touchdown but we first must go through multiple minutes of referee deliberation to get to an end point. America’s game.

0:47

ref deliberation.png

Why don’t they have big framed photos like this hanging in sports bars? You’re telling me you wouldn’t spend an extra 10 seconds to see if your favorite referee of choice like Pete Morelli or Jeff Triplette was enshrined on the wall of your local Applebee’s?

0:59-1:02

Sliding into the DM’s like:

leon lett slide.png

“It’s Leon Lett! Nooooo!” Can’t deny Mr. Lett has a nose for the ball, no one ever said anything about having hands for it.

1:11-1:14

“If we had instant replay, that’s a touchdown.” What hasn’t been said about the ref going under the hood and what not but imagine where we’d be if there wasn’t replay today. I shudder to think of all the calls from this time period and before that were egregiously carried out. Good thing the replay system is infallible and fans never ques-ah dammit

bottlegate refs

1:32-1:34

Dick Enberg gives it an “Ohhhh-ohh-ohh my”. Coming from a guy who’s autobiography only solicited an “Oh my!” you know this must be something.

dick enberg oh my

1:34

mike golic

“Geezey pete refs, you’re taking longer than Greeny takes to lift a 5 pound weight! Ain’t that right, Greeny?” – Mike Golic, probably.

1:53

jerry jones ponder

You’d think Jerry is concerned about the outcome of this deliberation but really he’s just pondering if he should wear this all black motif more often.

2:14-2:38

Credit is due to pre-swole Ed Hochuli for a full explanation of the scenario, he really set the scene and told us a story. It was no “givin him the business” explanation but hey, what will ever compare?

 

2:40

jimmy johnson cold.png

Oh man it’s too cold for you anyway Jimmy.

This is the real Jimmy look, I always imagine him having a pina colada permanently attached to his hand.

jimmy johnson party

2:53

nbc nfl graphic

Credit to NFL on NBC for using the same font and graphics as the NBA on NBC, the ultimate instance of if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. If only they could have gotten Carrie Underwood to do some sort of version of Roundball Rock.

3:02

nfl telestrator

Am I the only one that gets way too much joy out of when the broadcast leaves the telestrator shot only to have the drawing remain? I think it’s because if I had access to that I would just draw on it the whole game and constantly make reference to it. “Well Dick the Dolphins sure are marching down the field but they’re going to face some problems soon when they have to get past the Abominable Snowman I have drawn on the 5 yard line.”

3:20

don shula.png

Full credit to Mr. Don Shula for perfectly embodying old Miami resident thrust into the icy tundra look. Very bundled, perhaps too bundled, but the hell if I’m going to get rid of my sunglasses, even in a primarily indoor facility.

Meanwhile, the broadcast becomes quite obsessed with the clearing of snow from the area where the next kick will be attempted. Quite frankly I can’t blame them, just imagine if this level of excitement was transported to other sports. “Well LeBron has to hit these crucial free throws but first J.R. Smith is shoveling all that hail that came through.”

4:08-4:14

“It’ll be a tough night to digest much less even masticate that turkey.” Dick Enberg consulted every 5th grader’s favorite newly learned vocabulary word for that one.

4:22-4:25

“You know we’ve ruined everybody’s nap this afternoon.”

Man, truer words were never spoken. That 2nd half of the Cowboys game nap is crucial. Just family members sifting through Black Friday coupons, light snoring and the occasional older relative stale fart. What a holiday.

4:40

Find anything in this world to give you the amount of joy that Enberg and Trumpy got out of the Dolphins trying to constantly clear off a spot for the ensuring field goal attempt. It’s the little things, people.

5:00

Boom goes the Stojanovich.

stojanovich boom

5:10

We goin’ Sizzler.

shula sizzler.png

Although hopefully Jack Klompus won’t harass him too much for missing the early bird.

jack klompus early bird.jpg

5:36

#LacesOut

stojanovich laces out

5:56

bryan cox keith byars

Why yes that is noted Hard Knocks MVP Bryan Cox (definitely in one of his tamer moments of that season):

 

And also Ohio State legend Keith Byars, who was once egregiously yet at the same time gloriously used as a fill in clip to represent A.C. Slater scoring a touchdown on Saved by the Bell. Although I can’t track down the Saved by the Bell clip, enjoy the real clip where Byars loses his shoe and still cuts up the Illini defense. They all retired from football after the play.

 

6:15

*Cue the Rudy music*

 

As mentioned in the linked piece earlier, the Dolphins would go on to win ZERO more games the rest of the season while the Cowboys wouldn’t lose a game. O well, for this Thanksgiving the Dolphins managed to warm this hater’s cold heart on an icy day. 

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