Monday Night Football

Season 9 Episode 20

1978 Week 16: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins

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Aired Monday 9:00 PM Dec 18, 1978 on ESPN
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1978 Week 16: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins
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      • This was the first time that ABC televised a MNF game in the final weekend of the regular season. From 1970 through 1977, ABC's contract did not include a game on Monday in the final week of the year, although ABC had often televised a Saturday night game during week 14. The NFL schedule was expanded to 16 games in 1978, and in the new NFL TV contracts, ABC was given the opportunity to televise a Monday night game in the final week of the regular season.

        Starting in 2003, however, the NFL reverted to the former policy of not playing a game on Monday in the final week of the regular season so that a team would not be put at a competitive disadvantage should it be playing in a wild card playoff game the next weekend.

      • New England coach Chuck Fairbanks was suspended for this game by Patriots owner Billy Sullivan. Fairbanks had angered Sullivan by agreeing to coach the University of Colorado in 1979, and Sullivan responded with the suspension despite the fact the Patriots had already clinched the AFC East championship and a home game in the divisional playoffs.

        Offensive coordinator Ron Ehrhardt and defensive coordinator Hank Bullough served as co-coaches for this game. Fairbanks returned for the playoffs, but the Patriots were beaten 31-14 by the Houston Oilers. Ehrhardt was named to replace Fairbanks as head coach for the 1979 season.

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