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USFL's Greatest Game
Los Angeles 27, Michigan 21
June 30, 1984
at Los Angeles Coliseum
Michigan Panthers X X X X 0 21
Los Angelese Express X X X X 6 27

The USFL's greatest game is without a doubt the Los Angeles Express and defending champion Michigan Panthers 3 overtime shootout in 1984 playoffs. USFL proclaimed it the "greatest game" just because it took so long to come up with a winner. Ninety-three minutes and 33 seconds of play had ticked away before Mel Gray of Express ran for 24 yard touchdown to give Express 27-21 win.

New time standard was established for the length of a pro football game. The shattered record had been set on Christmas Day in 1971 when the Miami Dolphins took 82 minutes and 40 seconds to beat the Kansas City Chiefs 27-24 in a NFL playoff game.

The determination of both teams not to allow their opponents to win puts LA-Michigan clash down in the books as a "best-ever".

Even after Gray had secured the Express victory and was well into the end zone at 3:33 of the third overtime, he was still being tackled by Panthers. In fact, he was tackled with such force that his left arm was broken, and the rookie from Purdue was out for the rest of the playoffs.

The rest of the playoffs proved to be only one more game for Express. If they were exhausted, you can't blame them. After the win, Express. Head Coach John Hadl said, "I've never been through anything like that in my life."

Michigan was ahead 21-13 with 8:57 remaining in regulation. On LA's final drive, the Express faced two fourth down attempts. They made them both. The second was fourth and goal at the one yard line. Kevin Nelson busted through for the touchdown, his second of the day, capping the 14-play, 80 yard drive that took 8:05 off the game clock. The Express trailed by two points.

Steve Young making his thirteeth pro start, took over the hero's role from Nelson. He rolled around left end and scampered in for the two-point conversion, tying up the game 21-21 with 52 seconds remaining in regulation.

Michigan still had two more chances, Novo Bojovic, their ace kicker who made 76 percent of his field goal attempts during the regular season, including eight out of ten from more than 40 yards out, set up for a 37-yarder in the first overtime. But he missed, wide left.

Bojovic got another chance in second overtime. This time it was a 36 yarder, but he was wide left again.

He said, "I felt like digging myself six feet into the ground."

The Express didn't take full advantage of their opportunites either. In the first overtime Dwight Drane intercepted a Bobby Hebert pass on the LA 38-yard line, but no points were put on the board. And in the second overtime Aaron Mitchell stole pass from Michigan Panthers backup Whit Taylor, but again there were no points scored.

Finally, in the third overtime the Express got on track. The final touchdown drive took five plays and went 75 yards. Young completed two passes to JoJo Townsell for 19 and 28 yards during the drive.

Young attributed part of the win to luck. "We've got to feel pretty lucky," he said after the game. "They had the game won, but we battled back."
- This article was taken from the Official USFL Magazine. All credit to the author.


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