• December 28 down the years

A low point for the Lions

The sporting events of December 28 down the years
Rod Marinelli was an angry man © Getty Images

The Detroit Lions lost 31-21 to the Green Bay Packers to end the regular season with no wins and 16 defeats, the worst record in NFL history. The only surprise about the sacking of coach Rod Marinelli was that it took so long. The Lions eventually lost 19 in a row before beating the Washington Redskins in 2009.

Pat Rafter was born in Queensland. One of the last top serve-volleyers, he won the 1997 US Open by beating Britain's favourite Canadian Greg Rusedski in the final, then retained the title the following year. He reached consecutive Wimbledon finals. In 2000 he won the first set on a tie-break and should have won the second the same way (he admitted he choked) before allowing Pete Sampras to win the title for a record-equalling seventh time. In 2001, Rafter lost an emotionally charged match 9-7 in the fifth to Goran Ivanisevic.

Charles Bennett was born. The first British track and field athlete to win Olympic gold, he did it in a blue riband event. In 1900, against a weak field in a fallow year for the event, he won the 1500 metres in what was listed as a world record despite being a lot slower than other times achieved during one-mile races. Later in the same Games, Bennett finished first in the 5000 metres team event, which Britain won. He was twice the National cross-country champion.

The 1958 NFL Championship Game is still regarded as perhaps the greatest ever played. It was the first title decider to go into overtime, which didn't seem necessary when the Baltimore Colts led 14-3 at half-time. Then the New York Giants drove 95 yards in only four plays to score a touchdown, and added another one to take the lead. Two minutes from the end, Baltimore's great quarterback Johnny Unitas organised one of the most famous drives in the game's history to set up an equalising field goal with only seven seconds left. In overtime, Unitas moved the team 80 yards in 13 plays to set up the winning TD. When someone ran onto the pitch, few people knew it was an NBC employee who'd been ordered to disrupt the game because a TV plug had come loose. The delay allowed NBC to solve the problem before the next play.

A sign of how seriously IBO boxing titles have been taken. In a super-middleweight fight in Aspen, Colorado, Vinny Pazienza stopped Canada's Dan Sherry in the 11th round - watched by a total 80 spectators.

Jack Lovelock died aged 39. He'd been having dizzy spells for several years, and fell in front of a train at a New York subway station. At the 1936 Olympics, he'd run one of the greatest 1500 metre races of all time. Two years before that, he'd won the mile at the Empire (later Commonwealth) Games. But his world record in the event, set in 1933, had been broken by America's Glenn Cunningham, who had a powerful sprint finish. So Lovelock began his own sprint with 300 yards to go, opening up a gap Cunningham couldn't close. His winning time broke the world record by a full second.

Abdi Bile was born in Somalia. In 1987 he stormed away from defending champion Steve Cram to win the 1500 metres at the World Championships. Injury kept him out of the 1988 and 1992 Olympics, which were out in perspective by the twenty members of his family who died in the country's civil war.

Alfred Flatow died in Thereienstadt concentration camp. To the wrong people, his Jewish background mattered more than his status as one of Germany's top gymnasts. At the 1896 Olympics, he won three events: parallel bars (individual and team) and horizontal bars team. In 1987 the street leading to Berlin's Olympic Stadium was renamed after Flatow and his cousin Gustav, another gymnast who died in the same camp.

Victoria finally finished gorging themselves on poor New South Wales. Their obese innings of 1,107 in Melbourne is still the record for all first-class cricket. Bill Ponsford helped himself to 352, Jack Ryder 295, two other batsmen reached three figures, one made a duck. NSW were all out for 221 and 230 and lost by an innings and a few. Wry leg-spinner Arthur Mailey quite enjoyed his bowling figures of 4 for 362, another world record. Ponsford was probably miffed at his piffling triple century: he'd hit 429 when Victoria hit the previous highest score, 1,059 against Tasmania in 1923.