1971 Detroit Lions season

The 1971 Detroit Lions season was their 42nd in the league. The team failed to improve on their previous season's output of 10–4, winning only seven games.

Mired in adversity, the 1971 season turned especially tragic for the Lions and the NFL when, during their Week 6 hosting of the Chicago Bears, Lions wide receiver Chuck Hughes collapsed on the playing field. Unresponsive, Hughes was pronounced dead later that day of heart failure. Since 1971, no Detroit player has worn Hughes' #85 jersey save on special permission of the Hughes family.[1][2]

1971 Detroit Lions season
Head coachJoe Schmidt
Home fieldTiger Stadium
Division place2nd NFC Central
Playoff finishdid not qualify


Detroit Lions roster

Running Backs

Wide Receivers

Tight Ends

Offensive Linemen

Defensive Linemen


Defensive Backs

Special Teams

Reserve Lists
  • Currently vacant

Rookies in italics


Week Date Opponent Result Attendance
1 September 20, 1971 Minnesota Vikings L 13-16
2 September 26, 1971 at New England Patriots W 34–7
3 October 3, 1971 Atlanta Falcons W 41–38
4 October 10, 1971 Green Bay Packers W 31–28
5 October 17, 1971 at Houston Oilers W 31–7
6 October 24, 1971 Chicago Bears L 23-28
7 November 1, 1971 at Green Bay Packers T 14–14
8 November 7, 1971 at Denver Broncos W 24–20
9 November 14, 1971 Los Angeles Rams L 13-21
10 November 21, 1971 at Chicago Bears W 28–3
11 November 25, 1971 Kansas City Chiefs W 32–21
12 December 5, 1971 Philadelphia Eagles L 20-23
13 December 11, 1971 at Minnesota Vikings L 10-29
14 December 19, 1971 at San Francisco 49ers L 27-31


NFC Central
Minnesota Vikings 11 3 0 .786 5–1 9–2 245 139 W2
Detroit Lions 7 6 1 .538 2–3–1 3–6–1 341 286 L2
Chicago Bears 6 8 0 .429 2–4 5–6 185 276 L5
Green Bay Packers 4 8 2 .333 2–3–1 2–7–2 274 298 L1

Note: Tie games were not officially counted in the standings until 1972.


  1. ^ "YouTube". www.youtube.com. Retrieved 2016-11-08.
  2. ^ "1971 Detroit Lions Statistics & Players | Pro-Football-Reference.com". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 2016-11-08.
1971 in Michigan

Events from the year 1971 in Michigan.

The Associated Press (AP) selected the top 10 news stories in Michigan as follows:

Court-ordered busing in the Pontiac public schools (AP-1);

An order by federal judge Stephen Roth finding that the Detroit public schools were segregated by law, triggering concerns that he might order cross-district busing as a remedy (AP-2);

The Michigan Legislature's reducing the age of adulthood to 18 (AP-3);

A Supreme Court decision banning public aid to parochial schools (AP-4);

The Michigan Legislature's adoption of a 50% increase in the state income tax (AP-5);

Gov. William Milliken's plan to change the source of education funding by cutting local property taxes and raising the state income tax (AP-6);

The Michigan Legislature's reduction of penalties for drug possession (AP-7);

The debate concerning the state's budget which totaled more than $2 billion (AP-8);

An explosion on December 11 in a water tunnel being built under Lake Huron near Port Huron resulted when methane gas built up and caused the deaths of 21 workers (AP-9); and

A court challenge to the constitutionality of the property tax as a mechanism for funding education (AP-10).The AP also selected the state's top 10 sports stories as follows:

The death of Detroit Lions wide receiver Chuck Hughes after collapsing on the field with a heart attack during a game;

The retirement of Gordie Howe after 25 years with the Detroit Red Wings;

The Lions' release of Alex Karras despite having two years remaining on his contract;

Mickey Lolich winning 25 games and finishing second in voting for the Cy Young Award;

The 1971 Michigan Wolverines football team compiling a perfect 11-0 record during the regular season;

The 1970–71 Detroit Red Wings finishing in last place and the resignation of Ned Harkness as general manager;

Michigan State University athletic director Biggie Munn suffering a heart attack the week before the Michigan–Michigan State football rivalry game;

The resignation of Butch Van Breda Kolff as head coach of the Detroit Pistons and the hiring of Earl Lloyd as the first African-American coach in Detroit professional sports history;

The 1971 Major League Baseball All-Star Game held at Tiger Stadium in Detroit and home runs in that game by Reggie Jackson, Harmon Killebrew, and Frank Robinson; and

Eric Allen who set an NCAA single-game rushing record as halfback for the 1971 Michigan State Spartans football team.

Notable people
Division championships (4)
Conference championships (4)
League championships (4)
Current league affiliations
Seasons (90)

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