Well, at least Oct. 27 hasn't been that bad to the Detroit Lions. With a 4-6 record on the date, the Lions, at the bare minimum, are a win on Sunday away from being five percent from .500. I'll take it.
Heading back to the 1940s, the Lions dropped two games on the 27th day in October. Against the Washington Redskins in '40, Detroit led 14-13 heading into the fourth quarter. But a Washington touchdown early in the frame gave the Redskins a 20-14 lead, which ended up being enough for the victory. Six years later, the Lions traveled to face the Green Bay Packers at home and couldn't find a way to edge the Cheeseheads. Detroit's offense failed to score any points -- the Lions' 7 points came off a 36-yard fumble return -- while Green Bay did just enough to earn a 10-7 win.
The '50s weren't any better for the Lions on Oct. 27, as Detroit fell in Los Angeles against the Rams by a score of 35-17. After surrendering touchdowns to the Rams on their first three drives, the Lions weren't able to close a comeback after cutting Los Angeles' lead to 21-17 heading into the fourth quarter. However, six years later, in 1963, Detroit crushed their division rival, the Minnesota Vikings, 28-10. In their first win on Oct. 27, the Lions rode a strong performance by quarterback Earl Morrall, who passed for 3 touchdowns on the day. Two of those touchdowns were to wideout Terry Barr, one for 35 yards and the second for 37 yards. The Vikings failed to gain more than 100 yards on both the ground and through the air, gaining 86 rushing yards and 84 passing.
Unfortunately, the Lions dropped their next game in the '60s, as they fell to the San Francisco 49ers by a score of 14-7. With the game tied at 7 in the fourth quarter, the 49ers were knocking on the door of the Lions, 12 yards away from the end zone. On a rushing play, San Francisco running back Gary Lewis fumbled the ball, giving Detroit a chance to stifle the threat. However, Dick Witcher of the 49ers scooped up the loose ball and rushed across the goal line to give San Francisco a 14-7 lead, which would stand.
Following the close loss against the 49ers, the Lions entered their most successful span of games on Oct. 27. In 1974, Detroit hosted the Packers and gained revenge for the '46 loss in Green Bay. The meeting was a back-and-forth affair, with the Lions scoring 3 in the first quarter, holding the lead at 9-7 at halftime and leading 16-10 heading into the fourth quarter. But the Packers took the lead in the early parts of the fourth, and for the first time all day, Detroit trailed. However, everything seemed to be in order as the Lions offense set up a 27-yard field goal attempt with 1:58 remaining in the game. On the kick, a Green Bay linebacker tipped the ball, and the game seemed to fall into the hands of the Packers. But Errol Mann -- Detroit's kicker -- ended up getting a rare second chance so late in a game. After forcing what I assume to be a three-and-out, the Lions regained possession at their own 40 with 40 seconds left to play. Detroit's offense drove into field goal range yet again and this time set up an 11-yard attempt. Mann didn't miss, and the Lions won the game 19-17.
Over a decade later, the Lions hosted the Miami Dolphins for the second time in history (currently, the game is one of 10 between the two teams). After losing at home to the Dolphins in '79, Detroit refused a repeat, as quarterback Eric Hipple ripped open the Miami secondary for 3 touchdown passes. With a 24-14 lead at halftime, the Lions surrendered a touchdown in the third quarter before gaining it back in the fourth on a 1-yard run by fullback James Jones. Aside from Hipple, Jones had himself a day, rushing for 114 yards on 36 carries with the aforementioned touchdown.
Entering the '90s, the Lions faced the Dallas Cowboys on the date of Oct. 27, which makes this week have a weird historical alignment. On Friday, I relived the Lions' dominant 1991 playoff victory over the Cowboys, which was the second blowout win for Detroit against Dallas that season. In the first game, the Lions lost starting quarterback Rodney Peete to injury, which opened the door for rookie Erik Kramer. In Peete's absence, Kramer shined by throwing his first 2 NFL touchdown passes, one to wide receiver Willie Green and the other to Barry Sanders. But Kramer wasn't the only bright spot in the 34-10 victory, as the Lions scored touchdowns via a blocked field goal returned 55 yards by safety William White and a 96-yard interception return by cornerback Ray Crockett.
It's a shame that the three-game Oct. 27 winning streak ends there. Since the Cowboys game, the Lions haven't won a game on Sunday's date, falling to the New York Giants 35-7 in 1996 and 24-17 to the Buffalo Bills in 2002. Neither game deserves much mention, but against the Giants, quarterbacks Scott Mitchell and Don Majkowski combined for 5 interceptions, and Barry Sanders gained a meager 47 yards on 16 carries. That sounds like a perfect recipe for disaster.
But against the Bills, the Lions actually had a chance to win the game. Quarterback Joey Harrington -- finishing 20 for 42 with 199 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception -- set up a 35-yard Jason Hanson field goal with 3:07 remaining. The boot cut Buffalo's lead to 24-17, but unfortunately, the score would stand, as the Lions fell short. With a little less than 2 minutes left, running back James Stewart rushed forward on a fourth-and-inches attempt from Buffalo's 20-yard line. Bills linebacker London Fletcher stuffed the rush to seal his team's victory.
So, Oct. 27 hasn't been the best date in Lions history. But it's nowhere near the worst (I'm sure there's a winless date somewhere). Seeing as Detroit dominated Dallas over two decades ago, there's no reason why the Lions shouldn't destroy the Cowboys on Sunday. I'm kidding, since I don't want to jinx the Lions, but even though Detroit hasn't performed at a peak level on Oct. 27, they have a strong instance of supremacy against the Cowboys on the date. So at the very least, Detroit has history on its side as they play on Sunday.
Overall record on Oct. 27
'40 vs. Washington Redskins, 14-20
'46 at Green Bay Packers, 7-10
'57 at Los Angeles Rams, 17-35
'63 vs. Minnesota Vikings, 28-10
'68 vs. San Francisco 49ers, 7-14
'74 vs. Green Bay Packers, 19-17
'85 vs. Miami Dolphins, 31-21
'91 vs. Dallas Cowboys, 34-10
'96 vs. New York Giants, 7-35
'02 at Buffalo Bills, 17-24