In recent years Gary Danielson has become known for his college football analysis where he remains convinced that the SEC is the only conference that matters.
But back in the day Danielson was a pretty good quarterback. He played his college ball at the University of Purdue – yes, in the Big Ten, that conference that always gets killed by the SEC come bowl season.
His pro career spanned 13 seasons with the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns. He only started all 16 games once – in 1980.
And in KACSPORTS sim Danielson helps lead the 1980 Lions to the promised land in dramatic fashion.
It should be noted that their were no true powerhouse teams in 1980 – the Raiders and Eagles met in the Super Bowl, a wild card against a number two seed. About a dozen teams could have had a shot if the cards fell right.
The Lions improved dramatically after Danielson missed the 1979 season (when coaches did inane things like play starting QB’s in the final exhibition game) and the team went 2-14.
Behind offensive Rookie Of the Year Billy Sims, the Lions improved to 9-7 in real life, just missing out on a division title. In the sim Detroit exceeded that benchmark with a 12-4 record and the NFC’s top seed.
Don’t ask me about the hate towards the Dolphins (1-15) or Vikings (2-14) in the simulation. Do not have an explanation on the apparent discord towards Don Shula or Bud Grant.
The San Francisco 49ers showed promise with a 9-7 season, although the team claims to remain committed to Steve DeBerg, they also wanted to looked at the second string quarterback they drafted in the third round the year before. The coaching staff feels he provides a change of pace…
The playoffs would begin with a AFC Wild Card clash between the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Colts.
The defending champion Steelers would give up their crown, falling in a home playoff game for the fifth time in six years. The top-seeded Chargers advanced to Super Bowl XV as Don Coryall joined George Allen as the only coaches to coach two different teams to the faux big game.
After six home playoff losses in eight years to the Los Angeles Rams, the Dallas Cowboys returned the favor by defeating the Rams in Anaheim in the divisional round – but Dallas would fall in the NFC Championship to Detroit.
In the Super Bowl, the Chargers appeared headed towards the championship as they went into the fourth quarter leading 24-7. But San Diego would endure a meltdown that will be talked about as long as pro football is played.
- With 12:40 remaining John Cappelletti fumbles deep in his own territory with the Lions recovering
- Detroit would do little inside the red zone, as Danielson would be sacked by former teammate Jim Laslavic and the Lions settled for a field goal to make the score 24-10.
- The Chargers move the ball on their ensuing drive, but Coryall channels his inner-Mike Sherman and elects to punt on fourth and 1 from the Detroit 38. The punt would pin the Lions back to their own three.
- It would take all of four plays for Detroit to navigate the 97 yards. Billy Sims gained 37 yards on two quick runs, and Danielson fires a 42-yard touchdown to Horace King to make it 24-17.
- The Chargers move the ball and chew up clock, and Detroit burns its first timeout after the 2-minute warning. San Diego ultimately punts from the Detroit 45 and the Lions would start 86 yards away from the tying score. It would not take long, Danielson throws a 63-yard score to Leonard Thompson to tie Super Bowl XV at 24-24.
- With less than a minute remaining, the Chargers go hurry up in an attempt to get into field goal range. They get a first down, but a draw play to John Cappelletti goes horribly awry. The Heisman Trophy winner who played on three faux-World Champion Los Angeles Rams teams fumbles for the second time in the quarter, and Detroit recovers.
- At this point Danielson could just take a knee and then kick a 51-yard field goal, but they attempt to move the ball instead. The first play results in a fumble, but luckily Detroit recovers.
- The Lions finally get close enough, and the game ends with a 29-yard Eddie Murray field goal, and the Super Bowl trophy went to Detroit.
So Bill Buckner pulled a Cappelletti in the World Series and Jordan Speith Cappelletti’d the 12th hole. Now you know where the term originated…