Since being built in 1984, (at a cost of 77.5 million dollars), the National Football League’s smallest statium, the Hoosier Dome, had host high school football, college basketball, NBA vs United States Men’s Basketball Team exhibitions, NBA ALL-Star basketball, and regular Sunday Indianapolis Colts’ games, but never Monday Night Football. That was until Halloween Night, Monday, October 31, 1988.
Colts Fans have three periods to be particularly proud of: The Payton Manning era, the early Baltimore years, and the 1987-1988 seasons. And, That Monday Night in 1988 may have been the best of all. After going 3-13 during the 1986 season, Indianapolis engaged in a three-team eight-player trade that brought Eric Dickerson to the Colts, one-year to the day, before playing host to the two-time defending Superbowl Champions, the Denver Broncos.
The Broncos, led by John Elway, came into the game with a 5-4-0 record, (same as the Colts), at a point in the season where playoff hopes lie in the balance. But, the Indianapolis Colts had hopes of thier own. Playing to a sold-out crowd during thier first Monday Night Football home game, the Colts ignited the Dome right from the start.
Eric Dickerson rushed in for three touchdowns in the first quarter, while the Colts’ defense shut down Elway and the rest of the Broncos’ offense. Fright Night for Dever continued into the second-half, with Indy going up by 31 before the Broncos finally got on the board when Elway completed a 2-yard pass to Steve Sewell for Denver’s first touchdown.
If the Broncos thought they were finally getting somewhere, those thoughts were crushed when Gary Hogeboom connected, (for the first and only time), with Bill Brooks for a 53-yard touchdown pass. Denver followed with a field goal that, too, was answered by the Colts, bringing the score at halftime to Colts 45-Broncos 10.
By the second-half, Indianapolis had replaced Hogeboom with Chris Chandler, who completed 10 of 13 pass attempts. Denver followed by replacing Elway with Gary Kubiak, who did go on to score two touchdown for the Broncos, bringing the final score to 55-23 Colts.
Indianapolis, who started the 1988 season 1-5, ended it with a 9-7 record but were second in the AFC East to the Buffalo Bills who went 12-4 that year. A six year playoff drought followed for the Colts. And of course, Denver went on to win the Superbowl again the following year. But, Monday Night Football that Halloween Night in 1988, was a game to remember.