1995 was an exciting year in the NFL. Jerry Rice set a then NFL single season record for receiving yards with 1,848. Brett Favre won his second consecutive MVP and led his team to the NFC Championship. Unfortunately for his Packers, they would lose in the NFCCG to the Dallas Cowboys, who would go on to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers for their 3rd Super Bowl in 4 years. Let’s not forget some quarterback named Jim Harbaugh won Comeback Player of the Year, led the NFL in passer rating and guided the Indianapolis Colts to the AFC Championship Game.
But in 1995, the Detroit Lions, in particularly this Lions’ offense, had one of the more memorable seasons in Detroit lore, but in the grand scheme of NFL history, nobody talks about as one of the all time fun to watch teams in NFL history. Maybe it doesn’t get talked about enough because they lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card Round 51-37 including at one point being down 51-7 in the 4th quarter.
In his second year as quarterback after being acquired in free agency from the Miami Dolphins, Scott Mitchell threw for 4,338 and 32 touchdowns. This was a major surprise as Mitchell struggled heavily his first season Detroit, with him ultimately being benched in 1994 in favor of Daniel Krieg, who would lead the team to the playoffs. On Thanksgiving in a 44-38 win over the Minnesota Vikings, Mitchel threw for 410 yards and 4 touchdowns.
In that same Thanksgving game, 3 of Mitchell’s receivers eclipsed the 100 yard mark. Brett Perriman had 153 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns. Herman Moore totaled 127 and a score. And rounding out the trifecta, Johnnie Morton had 102 yards and a touchdown himself.
Wide receivers Herman Moore and Brett Perriman would have monster years in 1995. Herman Moore broke Cris Carter’s reception record that year, posting a then NFL high 123 receptions and his 1,686 receiving yards ranked third in the NFL that season behind Rice’s 1,848 and Isaac Bruce’s 1,748 receiving yards. He also led his team with 14 touchdown receptions. He also posted 10 games with 100+ receiving yards.
His partner Brett Perriman also posted a career year that season. Perriman totaled 108 catches for 1,488 yards and 9 touchdowns. Moore and Perriman’s production in 1995 would’ve seen them rank first and second in receiving yards in 1996, 1998, 2004, 2006 and 2010.
But let’s not forget about the true superstar of this offense.
Sanders rushed for 1,500 yards, which was his 7th straight 1000 yard season (it was also his 7th year in the NFL), and he also scored 11 touchdowns. Sanders did contribute 398 yards in the receiving game as well.
The 1995 Detroit Lions ranked first in total yards (6,113) and second in points (436). Herman Moore, Barry Sanders and offensive tackle Lomas Brown were named first team All-Pros by the AP. Center Kevin Glover was named to the second team.
1995 had some of the greatest teams ever including the Cowboys, Packers, Chiefs, Bills and Steelers, teams filled with Hall of Fame talent. Detroit’s 1995 season may have faded away in the minds of most, but On The 50 Yardline we pay homage and remember the Original Greatest Show on Turf….