Nov. 7, 1972

In the first Monday Night Football extravaganza at Schaefer Stadium, the Patriots lost to the Baltimore Colts, 24-17.

It could have been worse.

The Colts had a touchdown called back by a referee’s mostly unheard whistle. The whistle came when a fan fired a beer onto the field. Baltimore eventually settled for a field goal.

In the most important – and memorable – play of the night, a fellow by the name of Jumpin’ Joe Gerlach dived from a hot air balloon onto an air mattress at halftime.

A gaggle of ushers and other non-uniformed men were stationed around the mattress as Jumpin’ Joe directed them to move it to precisely the right spot at midfield. When finished the gaggle swiftly backpedaled out of harm’s way.

With a gusty wind rocking the balloon, Jumpin’ Joe could be counted as courageous – or extremely lucky. He landed on his back, lay motionless for a few seconds, then leapt to his feet for a bow.

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