"The Big Game" is the ninth episode from Season 5 of Modern Family, it aired on December 4, 2013.

Plot Summary

With a big football game coming up and a record to break, Cam is intensely focused and showing no mercy even when the opposing team is playing with an unexpected disadvantage. Elsewhere, Claire is determined to prove to the staff that she is more than just the boss' daughter, and Phil tries to teach his kids a lesson about optimism, but the universe just isn't cooperating.

Episode Description

Cameron's football team has a big game today. With a win, he could become the winningest freshman coach in the school's history in their rookie season (with 3 wins). Everyone...well, Phil...was excited. Not enough for Cameron to try Phil's triple-wing play, but he managed to get everyone to go to the game. He tried to instill a little optimism in all of them, saying he always took his lucky pen and a smile to all of his open houses. Which he would need today, given he was facing his first month ever without selling a house and he was down to the last day. And then add the keys weren't at the house, he stepped in an aquarium going through an open window, had his pen leak and ruin his shirt, get locked out a second time, almost lose his shoe to a snake going in another window and ended up with a weird milk mustache he wiped off his face by using the cat. By the way, the prospective buyers decided to hold off until after they had their first nine months.

Claire wasn't faring much better. She had Jay drop her off several blocks from the warehouse because she was tired of being thought of as the boss' daughter, a fact not helped by Jay stopping one of his workers for chewing her out over a mistake she made. A mistake that left dozens of cabinets in the warehouse with no place to go because she forgot to authorize the pickup. Still, she refused to ask Jay for help, even when she got herself locked in one of the displays. And still refused Jay's help even though he could see her trying to climb out of the display on the monitor...and knocking down all of those cabinets in the process. This didn't sit well with Jay. Not the cabinets getting knocked over but the fact that Claire didn't even want to acknowledge him anymore. So she compromised and went back to calling him Dad whenever they were out of the office. Besides, she had to work that weekend at the warehouse. He suggested not wearing anything she liked.

Haley didn't want to go to the game because she had a mid-term to study for (yes, Alex was shocked too), but at least she got to meet Dylan at the football game. The school had become like a home to him, which had to treat him better than Alex, who got ignored by the guy who sits right next to her in English class. Dylan showed Haley what he wrote under the bleachers: Haley Dunphy Dome. (He always had problems with spacing words). Dylan wanted to take her out to a late movie, but she couldn't make it because of the test and he couldn't make an earlier movie because he was meeting his classmates from nursing school. (DYLAN: I used to make people feel better with my music, now I'll do it with drugs). Haley was disappointed but saw that was nothing compared to how everyone at the school ignored Alex. She figured Alex could use a little help with her reputation, so with a little ingenuity, Dylan's sign now read "Alex Dunphy Dome." (Fortunately, Alex figured out the spacing problem right away).

Luke, who had to do the announcing for the game, took to it like Howard Stern must have taken to that mic as a kid. Still, it beats Lily getting in trouble for tackling one of the boys and kissing him. Really, that was Gloria's fault. She told Lily you have to make the boys notice you. Meanwhile, Mitchell was ready to quit his job to take a new one at a legal aid office. He was missing the courtroom, but his boss was missing his girlfriend. And his boat. Mitchell didn't have the heart to quit while the guy was depressed, so he let his boss tag along to the game. Of course, he then made the mistake of leaving his resignation letter in his coat, which his boss found. Mitchell was upset, but his boss understood his motivations.

As for Cameron and Manny, they wanted to win and figured they had a shot against a team that hadn't won all year. Only the other team's coach died the prior night and they were playing the game in his memory. The team wanted to tank the game out of sympathy, but Cameron wasn't having it. Somehow he managed to convince them that giving it their best shot and letting the other team lose to them was more worth it then letting them have a victory. Well, it almost worked. They were losing by 6 with three minutes to go. Phil finally arrived and was ready to chuck it in about optimism since he would have a month where he didn't sell a house. Then Cameron decided to run his triple-wing trick play and they scored. Manny kicking the extra point gave them the win. Except he tried to miss on purpose. He was upset because he led the charge to tank the game, but Cameron got him to admit it was fun to be part of a team and get to be the hero. And Phil certainly felt better, given he sold Mitchell's boss a house sight unseen for cash later that day.

But Cameron had his victory and he even thought he was turning into quite the coach. They even wanted to name the stadium after him. (CAMERON: In the teacher's lunchroom, someone wrote "Cameron Tucker Dome").

Main Cast

(The characters striked out do not appear in this episode)

  • Jay Pritchett
  • Gloria Pritchett
  • Manny Delgado
  • Joe Pritchett
  • Claire Dunphy
  • Phil Dunphy
  • Haley Dunphy
  • Alex Dunphy
  • Luke Dunphy
  • Mitchell Pritchett
  • Cameron Tucker
  • Lily Tucker-Pritchett

Guest Starring



  • This is the first episode in which both Miller and Tim appear.
  • This episode takes place on September 30th since there is no 31th and it's quite warm. This is also explained by the fact that high school began earlier this season.
  • This is Charlie's fourth appearance after Benched, Halloween and Phil on Wire.

Cultural References