…1983: The Packers defeated the Houston Oilers in overtime at the Astrodome, 41-38, to open one of the strangest seasons in the team’s history.
Coming off a rare playoff year, the Packers were expected to be strong contenders in 1983, and were picked by many experts to win the NFC Central Division. They seemed well on their way to doing so when they ran up a 28-10 second-quarter lead on the Oilers, thanks to four Lynn Dickey touchdown passes. (Dickey threw for 333 yards and five TDs — and completed his first 18 attempts, setting a team record — despite suffering from a migraine headache during the game.)
But in a development that would become all too familiar in ’83, the Packer defense couldn’t hold a big lead. Taking a 31-17 cushion into the fourth quarter, the Packers let the Oilers — who would win only two games in 1983 — back into the game via a trio of rushing touchdowns set up by the passing of Archie Manning, who threw for 348 yards.
The ailing Dickey was replaced by David Whitehurst, who quickly dispatched Houston in the overtime period. After winning the coin toss for the extra period, the Packers drove 59 yards to the Houston 25, where Jan Stenerud’s field goal with 9:05 left won the game.
The up-and-down nature of the game was all too typical of 1983 Packer contests. They played in an NFL record five overtime games, and six times they squandered leads of 17 points or more. Their inconsistency led to a frustrating 8-8 record and the ouster of coach Bart Starr.
Sept. 4, 1983
1 2 3 4 OT Final Packers 7 21 3 7 3 41 Oilers 10 0 7 21 0 38
GB: Paul Coffman 25 pass from Lynn Dickey (Jan Stenerud kick)
HOU: Florian Kempf 49 FG
HOU: Tim Smith 47 pass from Archie Manning (Kempf)
GB: John Jefferson 5 pass from Dickey (Stenerud)
GB: Jefferson 13 pass from Dickey (Stenerud)
GB: Gerry Ellis 11 pass from Dickey (Stenerud)
HOU: Earl Campbell 7 run (Kempf)
GB: Stenerud 46 FG
HOU: Campbell 8 run (Kempf)
HOU: Campbell 1 run (Kempf)
GB: James Lofton 74 pass from Dickey (Stenerud)
HOU: Larry Moriarty 2 run (Kempf)
GB: Stenerud 42 FG
TRIVIA: Lynn Dickey’s 18 consecutive completions in this game set a Green Bay record. Which quarterback later tied that record? The answer will appear in this space tomorrow.