In our simulation of the 1989 National Football League season, the New York Giants had a nice 11-5 regular season but finished a distant second in the NFC East.
Meanwhile the Los Angeles Raiders entered the final five games of their season at 4-7, their playoff hopes non-existent and Head Coach Mike Shanahan was shown the door.
For the second time in the history of this simulation two Wild Cards met in the Super Bowl, with the New York and Los Angeles markets both involved. That would be the hype to end all hype.
The 1989 NFL Draft also brought an incredible infusion of fresh talent into the league, a rookie class that included Troy Aikman, Derrick Thomas, Barry Sanders, Deion Sanders and Tony Manderich.
Whoops – someone on this list is not like the others.
- 1989 also marked the year of Don Majkowski, in real life the University of Virginia product rallied the Green Bay Packers to unlikely wins on a weekly basis and nearly to a playoff berth. That did not translate over to the sim as Green Bay finished a quiet 5-11.
- In the actual Super Bowl XXIV, Joe Montana coronated his career and legacy of the 49ers in a 55-10 rout over Denver. In the sim Montana went 21-24 in a 55-0 thrashing of Atlanta. Montana and his wife also welcomed a baby daughter named Hannah.
- Another impact rookie was Dave Meggett of the Giants, a return man who ran wild in a snowy 26-0 late-season win at Denver.
- Bo Jackson highlights included a 194-yard effort in a 46-7 win over Seattle, 168 yards and 2 TD against Kansas City, 189 yards in a win over the Eagles, three scores in a 58-6 annihilation of Cincinnati, 161 yards and three TD’s in a 62-10 win over New England and 221 yards and two TD in a must-win over Phoenix.
- Mike Ditka’s Chicago Bears somehow finished 1-15, don’t ask how.
As the fifth and final AFC seed, the Raiders playoff run began in Denver, where Jackson ran for 147 yards in an easy Raiders win. The Browns opened the season 11-0 and earned the AFC’s number one seed, but lost four of their last regular season games. Browns faithful waited for the other shoe to drop as the Raiders came to town for the second time in three years. Jackson ran for 152 yards and Bernie Kosar threw a disastrous pick six to send the Raiders to the AFC Championship. Counting a Super Bowl II loss, the Browns dropped to 0-3 against the Raiders in postseason play.
The Rams and Giants hooked up in the Meadowlands for the Wild Card round as they did in real life in a division playoff, a game that ended when Flipper Anderson caught the game-ending TD pass and ran straight to the locker room. In simulation Bill Parcell’s team held on for a 27-21 victory.
The rest of the playoffs had a similar feel to the 1990 conference championships. The Giants defense rattled Joe Montana at Candlestick Park to earn a 20-17 upset over the 14-2 49ers. The Raiders traveled to upstate New York to face the Bills, and unlike the actual title game a year later had Jackson in the fold. Bo rushed for 118 yards and a touchdown to send the Raiders to their second Super Bowl in three years, the ninth Super Bowl appearance for a tenant of the Los Angeles Coliseum. New coach Art Shell also becomes the first African-American coach to take his team to the big game.
The Giants went to RFK Stadium in Washington to face Joe Gibbs 14-2 team, and won in even more dramatic fashion. Eschewing a game-tying field goal, Lewis Tillman ran 19 yards with five seconds remaining in regulation to give the Giants a 28-24 victory and their long-awaited first simulation Super Bowl appearance.
The Raiders eight-game winning streak ended when Raul Allegre’s 33-yard field goal attempt sailed through the uprights to end the second overtime Super Bowl game in simulation history. Bo Jackson did his part with 105 yards and a touchdown, but was upstaged by 33-year-old Ottis Anderson who ran for 173 years and named game MVP. The Giants won their four playoff games by a combined 16 points.
The 1980s ended with the NFC victorious in all ten Super Bowls, expanding their all-time count in the series to 18-6. The Raiders and Miami Dolphins remain the lone two Super Bowl wins by original AFL teams.
Two-time winners for the decade included the Eagles, Bears and 49ers – along with the Lions, Vikings, Giants and Washington.
In simulation, the Majik show fell flat.