The 1987 NFL season was a strange year. A players’ strike came after just two games. Unlike 1982, the league didn’t just shut down. They found replacement players and for three weeks, NFL uniforms were occupied by mostly unknown personnel with a handful of veterans who crossed the picket line. The regular players came back to finish out the season. The season ended the same way the strike year of ’82 had—with Joe Gibbs and the Washington Redskins hoisting the Super Bowl trophy.
In this series of articles, you’ll read about the following…
*How Gibbs and the Redskins went through a bit of a regular season roller-coaster, especially at quarterback. But they got it right in the end.
*John Elway won the MVP award and led the Denver Broncos back to the Super Bowl. For the second straight year, the Broncos had to win a hair-raising AFC Championship Game with the Cleveland Browns of Marty Schottenheimer and Bernie Kosar. And for the second straight year, Denver was physically manhandled by the NFC champ in the Super Bowl.
*The San Francisco 49ers were dominant all year and poised to return to glory. But a bad playoff loss sent them into the offseason with a bitter taste and the rumblings of a quarterback controversy between Joe Montana and Steve Young.
*The Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings battled with each other in the NFC Central and each suffered tough losses to the Redskins in the NFC playoffs that left each wondering what might have been.
*The Indianapolis Colts made the playoffs for the first time since their relocation to the Midwest, with a big trade for Eric Dickerson keying the success. And the Houston Oilers returned to postseason play for the first time since 1980, this time under the guidance of quarterback Warren Moon.
*The Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints each grabbed a wild-card berth and each took a tough loss in the playoffs. For the Saints in particular, the loss was galling after a terrific regular season that saw them run neck-and-neck with San Francisco in the old NFC West.
The articles below contain the game-by-game narratives for all ten playoff teams from 1987. Look back on the key players, the big moments and how the season looked as it was unfolding, through the eyes of its best teams.