Bucks County’s 12 Games of Christmas
Run in the December 30th Bucks County Herald
The Ghost of Sports Present has canceled most events and the Ghost of Sports Future is unclear. Fortunately, the Ghost of Sports Past gifted Bucks County with plenty of stories worth re-visiting.
There has been a player with Central or Upper Bucks County ties in every NFL season since 1977. Area natives have participated in some milestone, historic or just plain weird pro football games. Here are a dozen worth recalling:
November 23, 1980- Midway through the second quarter, Seattle’s Will Lewis (Pennridge) fields a Denver Bronco punt and returns it 75 yards for a touchdown. It gives the Seahawks a 10-7 lead, in a game they ultimately lost 36-20. More importantly for Lewis, it is the first special teams touchdown in Seahawks’ history. It also marks the longest punt return in the 1980 NFL season.
September 2, 1984- Strong safety Ken Schroy (Quakertown) is starting opening day of his eighth and final season, all with the New York Jets. Schroy still ranks in New York’s top 20 in both interceptions (16) and fumble recoveries (11). The Jets’ 23-14 road win this day is significant for two reasons. It’s the very first game in Indianapolis Colts history. The Colts sneaked to the Hoosier State from Baltimore in the offseason, and the Jets are part of Indiana’s pro football debut. Second Schroy’s teammate, Mark Gastineau, sacks Indy quarterback Mike Pagel four times. Gastineau will end the season with 22 sacks, a single-season record that stands for 17 years.
November 18, 1984- Will Lewis’ brother Tim (Pennridge), a Green Bay Packer cornerback, is in the middle of a seven-interception season that will earn him All-Pro honors from the UPI. The Rams are driving in the fourth quarter on a chilly day in Milwaukee County Stadium when Lewis steps in front of a Jeff Kemp pass and returns it 99 yards for a touchdown. It seals a 31-6 Packer win. Lewis would score again next season on a fumble recovery.
January 20th, 1985- Jim Jensen (CB West) spent a dozen years with the Miami Dolphins. In the first act of his career, as special teams ace, he is on kickoff duty in Super Bowl XIX. Uwe von Schamann squibs kick it to 49er up man Guy McIntyre with 15 seconds remaining in the first half. McIntyre fumbles it and Jensen pounces on the loose ball. Von Schamann boots a 30-yard field goal one play later to cut San Francisco’s lead to 28-16 at halftime. The Niners shutout Miami in the second half en route to a 38-16 Super Bowl win.
September 7, 1986- Buffalo running back Robb Riddick (Pennridge) sees significant action in the Bills’ 28-24 opening loss to the Jets. Riddick, a proficient receiver out of the backfield, has seven touches for 45 yards. More importantly, the game marks the NFL debut of Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly.
October 23, 1988- Jensen was also present for a Hall of Fame quarterback debut: Dan Marino’s. On this date, veteran Marino completes 35 of 60 attempts for 521 yards and three scores, but interceptions doom the Dolphins in a 44-30 loss to the Jets. Jensen grabs six of those balls for 96 yards and a touchdown. At the time, it is the second-highest single-game passing yardage total in NFL history. As for Jensen, he was now into Act Two of his Dolphin career as a wideout. “Crash” caught over 200 balls from 1987 to 1991.
Christmas Eve, 1995- The Dawg Pound goes silent as the Cleveland Browns- and head coach Bill Belichick- fall to the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-21 at home on a last-second field goal. Defensive back Louis Riddick (Pennridge), Robb’s brother, sees action in his 47th straight Browns game. He won’t see 48 as the Browns move to Baltimore to play as the Ravens for the 1996 season. Cleveland won’t have another NFL game until the Browns’ rebirth in 1999.
October 27, 1996- The Jets’ Don Silvestri (Pennridge) kicks off six times and forces two touchbacks in New York’s 31-21 win at Arizona. It’s the only Jet win of the season; they will limp to a 1-15 finish.
September 6, 1998- Now Oakland Raider Louis Riddick tackles Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez in the second quarter in a 28-8 Kansas City Chief win. The game marks the heading coaching debut of former Eagle offensive coordinator and now Raider Jon Gruden. Gruden would later win a Super Bowl and gain notoriety as a longtime Monday Night Football color commentator.
January 28, 2001- The Baltimore Ravens thrash the New York Giants 34-7 in Super Bowl XXXV. Starting guard Mike Flynn plays penalty-free football and helps the Ravens score two offensive touchdowns. Flynn is a New Englander- A Maine grad who grew up in Massachusetts and now is a popular Boston radio personality. But he was born in Doylestown Hospital.
December 26, 2007- The Bills and Browns offenses had to battle defenses AND Mother Nature on a game that got four inches of snow and featured 35 MPH winds. Cleveland won 8-0- the first NFL game with that score since 1929. Buffalo linebacker Bryan Scott (CB East) had five tackles and a pass defense. Scott has a knack for playing in baseball-type score games. He was the Falcons’ starting safety on September 26th, 2004 when Atlanta topped Arizona 6-3 to set a Falcons’ record for the fewest points in a win. Scott recorded three tackles and recovered one of seven lost fumbles in the turnover fest. This one wasn’t Mother Nature’s fault, however. It was played in the Georgia Dome
November 24, 2019- Rasheed Bailey (Delaware Valley U) catches two passes for 15 yards as his Winnipeg Blue Bombers thump the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 33-14 and win the 107th Grey Cup. It ended Winnipeg’s 29-year CFL championship drought, the longest in Canada. Bailey found a home in Winnipeg during the back half of the ’19 season ultimately catching 23 balls.
Follow EasternPAFootball.com on Twitter @EPAFootball
Share This Post: