Now in its 51st season, Monday Night Football has played an integral role in the rise of the NFL’s profile. For the Green Bay Packers, that history on MNF includes some memorable performances, unique streaks and odd anecdotes.
This week, the Green Bay Packers will make their 68th appearance on Monday Night Football. In addition, the contest against Atlanta marks the 28th consecutive season in which the franchise appears on the series, which trails only Denver (29-straight seasons) for the longest active streak on MNF. Here is a primer on the Packers’ history on Monday nights.
Monday Night Football Before Monday Night Football
Prior to the debut of MNF on ABC, the Packers actually played thrice on Monday nights in the 1960s. The first instance came in 1964 when Green Bay picked up a 14-10 win over the Lions. The game itself was moved because of the Lions’ co-tenants, MLB’s Detroit Tigers, who had a game scheduled against the Boston Red Sox that Sunday and generally had priority on scheduling events at Tiger Stadium.
The next two Monday games were more planned, as the NFL experimented with playing games on Monday nights in the latter half of the 1960s. In 1967, the Packers eked out a 31-23 win against the St. Louis Cardinals and upstart QB Jim Hart. The NFL upped the profile of their Monday night contests in 1968, as Green Bay headed south to the Cotton Bowl to face the Dallas Cowboys in a rematch of the previous year’s famed Ice Bowl. Despite no Vince Lombardi on the sideline and an early 10-0 deficit, Bart Starr threw four touchdown passes to claim the redux tilt, 28-17.
Lambeau Field Rarity
Thanks in part to the team’s subpar showings in the 1970s and ‘80s, MNF only made three appearances at Lambeau Field in the series’ first 26 seasons. In fact, no Monday games were ever played in Green Bay until a 27-14 win over the New England Patriots in 1979. As a consolation, the Packers did get three MNF contests in Milwaukee in 1970 (a 13-10 loss to the Colts), 1971 (a 14-14 tie with the Lions) and 1973 (a 23-7 win over the Jets).
Yet, one of those three early MNF games at Lambeau still lives in team lore: the 48-47 shootout win over Washington. The game, which remained the highest-scoring game in series history until 2018, featured 11 touchdowns and 1,025 combined yards of offense on 132 plays from scrimmage (7.7 yards per play!), but wasn’t decided until Mark Moseley missed a 39-yard field goal as time expired.
The drought ultimately ended in 1996, when Lambeau Field hosted its fourth MNF game – a 39-13 drubbing of the Eagles. That game set off 10-straight seasons in which Lambeau hosted at least one Monday night contest and a run of 21 MNF games seasons (Monday’s game will make it 22) in Green Bay in the last 25.
When it comes to frequent opponents, the Packers have played the Bears 11 times on MNF and hold a 5-6 record in those contests. Interestingly, only three of those games have taken place in Green Bay (1986, 1997, 2013). With nine games between them, the Vikings are the second-most frequent Monday night opponent. Thanks to last season’s win in Week 16, Green Bay holds a slim 5-4 edge in those games. Outside the division, the Packers have had four games each against the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers. Conversely, there are five teams — the Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans — whom Green Bay has never faced in an MNF contest.
Career MNF Leaders
Having played in 33 career MNF contests, Brett Favre leads most every statistical category among Packer QBs. The stat line for “The Gunslinger” stands at 661-of-1120 passing for 7,878 yards, 57 touchdowns and 37 interceptions. Favre is also responsible for the longest play from scrimmage in MNF history, hitting Robert Brooks for a 99-yard scoring strike in the Packers’ 27-24 win over the Bears on Nov. 11, 1995. More recently, Aaron Rodgers has posted 4,125 yards, 29 TDs and 11 INTs on 364-of-548 passing in his 17 career MNF tilts.
Much like Favre, Ahman Green is at the top of the franchise’s career MNF rushing lists, having churned out 1,205 yards and 10 TDs on 271 carries in 14 games. Much further behind Green are Dorsey Levens (187 attempts, 693 yards, 6 TDs), Ryan Grant (114/422/0), John Brockington (105/415/3) and Edgar Bennett (96/386/2).
Receiving is a similar story with Donald Driver leading every major category. Across 28 career games, the Alcorn State alum posted 96 receptions for 1,392 yards and eight touchdowns, far outpacing Antonio Freeman (57 rec., 812 yards, 2 TDs), James Lofton (40/720/2) and Greg Jennings (56/700/5).
More Memorable Games
In Green Bay’s only matchup against Joe Namath, the Packers’ defense harassed the future Hall of Famer all night, holding him to 16-of-33 passing for 203 yards and an interception courtesy of Ken Ellis. Meanwhile, Green Bay’s potent backfield tandem of John Brockington and MacArthur Lane combined for 176 total yards and Chester Marcol connected on all three of his field goal attempts. The contest was the third – and final – Monday night contest to take place at Milwaukee County Stadium.
MNF’s inaugural appearance at Lambeau Field sees the Packers snag six takeaways in a win over the favored Patriots. Shaking off an early 7-0 deficit, Green Bay’s defense picks off New England quarterbacks Steve Grogan and Tom Owen a combined five times and getting 20 points off those turnovers. Offensively, Terdell Middleton churned out 126 all-purpose yards and a score.
On a Halloween night with downright spooky weather conditions (49 degrees with driving rain and 36 mph wind gusts), the Packers’ ground game picked up the slack with 223 rush yards and four scores in a blowout win. Brett Favre only attempted 15 passes on the night, completing six for 82 yards and a touchdown. However, his improvised 36-yard scramble midway through the second quarter busted open a close contest. Edgar Bennett ran for 105 yards and two touchdowns, while adding a third score on a 13-yard pass from Favre. The win spoiled what was supposed to be a memorable night for the Bears, as the franchise retired the jerseys of Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus at halftime.
On the night before a wild, down-to-the-wire presidential election, the Packers gave the nation something equally improbable when Antonio Freeman’s circus catch-and-run touchdown in overtime lifted them to a 26-20 overtime win over the favored Vikings. Tied midway through the third quarter, Green Bay’s defense held the potent Minnesota offense to just 51 yards over their next four possessions before the Vikings finally got to the Packer 15 with seven seconds left. However, on the game-winning field goal attempt, punter Mitch Berger bobbled the snap and his desperation pass was intercepted by Tyrone Williams, setting the stage for the wild theatrics to come.
In the first MNF contest following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Packers put forth a thoroughly dominating performance. On offense, Favre threw for 236 yards and three touchdowns, completing passes to eight different receivers on the night, while Ahman Green ran for 116 yards. Defensively, Green Bay held Washington to a paltry 137 yards and forced three turnovers.
A defensive slugfest was over with one big offensive play in overtime, as Greg Jennings’ 82-yard catch-and-run on the first play from scrimmage in the extra session helped the Packers escape with their first – and, to date, only – win in Denver. Favre and Jay Cutler exchanged first-quarter touchdown strikes, but field goals from Mason Crosby and Jason Elam provided the only points until overtime.
Aaron Rodgers threw five touchdown passes, becoming one of just six quarterbacks at the time to do so, in a dominating offensive showing against the Chiefs. Randall Cobb was on the receiving end of three of those strikes, while James Jones racked up 139 receiving yards and a score on the night. Green Bay’s defense sacked Kansas City’s Alex Smith seven times.