There have been countless instances where NFL players have cemented a victory for their team at a moment’s notice. Likewise, there have been just as many cases where a back-breaking mistake has led to a squad losing a contest.
While these instances generally result from a missed field goal or late-game interception, a few matchups have also been decided due to a more uncommon error. Some of these mistakes happened in the waning moments of a loss, while others happened early-on in a game. However, they all played a significant role in the outcome of a matchup.
10 Tony Romo’s Botched Hold
Tony Romo’s breakout 2006 season was a revelation for the Cowboys, as his third-year quarterback cemented his status as a Dallas’ franchise quarterback after finally getting a chance to play. However, the season was not a void of negative moments, and the biggest one occurred in their Wild Card matchup against the Seahawks.
The Cowboys were trailing by one when they lined up for a chip-shot game-winning field goal attempt late in the contest. However, their newfound franchise passer (who was inexplicably still tasked with being the holder) failed to get the snap down to give kicker Martín Gramática a chance and got tackled a yard away from the first-down marker (and two yards away from the end). zone). The moment will be forever stained in the minds of Cowboys fans, as many thought they had the potential to make some serious noise in the playoffs.
9 The Lions Two-Point Tragedy
The Lions were in the midst of their horrendous 2008 season (in which they went 0-16) when Dan Orlovsky, a former fifth-round selection, made his first start against the Minnesota Vikings. The signal-caller may not have been a rookie, but he did have his ‘Welcome to the NFL’ moment when he was five feet out of the back-end zone while the Vikings star passed pass rusher Jared Allen. snap from the one-yard line.
While the play may have happened early in the contest, it still had huge ramifications for Detroit, as they lost the game by only two points, losing their smallest margin to the season. Orlovsky has since found success as an NFL analyst, but he has yet to live down to this unfortunate (and utterly hilarious) moment.
8 Leon Lett Does It Again
Being one of the most dominant defensive tackles in the league, Cowboys star Leon Lett was no stranger to blunders. While his late-game fumble just before crossing the goal line against the Bills in Super Bowl 27 was his most memorable gaffe, it wasn’t the most consequential, as Dallas finished with a 52-17 lead. His most questionable moment occurred a year later during a Thanksgiving Day game against the Dolphins.
The Cowboys were up by one point with only seconds left when Lett tried to dive on the ball after the Dolphins missed a field goal attempt. He failed to corral the loose ball into the snowy conditions at Texas Stadium, and Miami had another opportunity to hit a game-winner from the one-yard line, which they didn’t miss. However, it didn’t affect the team much in the long haul, as Dallas did not lose another game and won their second Super Bowl in as many years.
7 “Miracle At The Meadowlands”
There have been countless examples of a team winning a contest with a walk-off touchdown, but none was more notorious than the famous “Miracle at the Meadowlands” game between the Giants and Eagles in 1978. New York was up 17-12 in the Eagles cornerback Herman Edwards picked up a loose ball that bounced off Giants’ fullback Larry Csonka’s hip and streaked into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown before the final minute of their Week 12 clash.
Unlike the other entries on this list, this botch was as much of a mistake in the play-calling as it was a failure to execute, as New York only needed one kneel-down (which was more of a fall-down at that time, as the traditional victory formation did not exist until a decade later) to win the game. The result sent the two teams caring in opposite directions, as the Giants lost three of their final four games while the Eagles eventually booked their ticket to the postseason.
6 Brandon Botch-tik’s Blunder
The Packers looked like they had booked their ticket to the Super Bowl with a 12-point lead over the Seahawks with just two minutes left to play in the 2014 NFC Championship Game. While doubts crept in when quarterback Russell Wilson cut the lead to five with a one-yard touchdown in the final minute, Seattle was still recovering onside kick to complete their comeback.
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Welllllll That’s exactly what they did, as Green Bay’s third-string tight end Brandon Bostick failed to corral the ball, which bounced into the waiting arms of Seattle receiver Chris Matthews, and the Seahawks went on to win the game in overtime. To make matters worse, Bostick was just supposed to be a blocker on the play, and he ignored the assignment in a presumed attempt to be a hero. Packer fans have yet to recover from the shocking mishap, and simply uttering Bostick’s name in Green Bay would put one at risk of getting a cheese wheel to the head.
5 John Kasay’s Super Bowl Gaffe
Super Bowl 38 between the Panthers and Patriots was one of the most exciting Super Bowls in league history, as an Adam Vinatieri field goal gave the Patriots a 32-29 lead with only seconds left in the contest. However, that attempt might not have happened if Carolina’s kicker John Kasay hadn’t sailed out of bounds as he began the game-winning drive at the 40-yard-line.
While we have avoided missed field goal attempts since they are commonplace in the NFL, Kasay’s botched kickoff attempt was significantly more egregious. The Patriots promptly drove down the field to get Vinatieri well within their range, and the victory marked their second Super Bowl win in three years.
4 Roger Craig Dynasty Death Knell
While the 49ers legendary Roger Craig may have been one of the best running backs of his generation, he was even capable of making a back-breaking mistake in a crucial moment, which he proved in the 1990 NFC Championship. San Francisco held a one-point lead over the Giants with only minutes left when Craig coughed up the ball after taking a massive hit from New York defensive tackle Erik Howard.
The Giants promptly drove down the field and kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired, and marked the end of Craig’s incredible career in San Francisco. Likewise, the loss is also cited as the 49ers’ dynasty, as they have won the past two Super Bowls, and the ’90 season was Joe Montana’s last as San Francisco’s full-time starter.
3 The Role Reversal
While the Giants benefited from a San Francisco botch in the 1990 NFC Championship Game, they were not so lucky when the two sides met in the 2002 Wild Card Round. New York held a commanding 38-14 and looked like a sure bet to come out victorious before the 49ers engineered a fierce comeback that saw them grab a one-point lead late in the contest.
Nevertheless, the Giants still had a chance to win with a last-second field goal, as they drove down the field relative ease with their final drive. However, their attempt got thwarted before it ever had a chance, as newly-signed long snapper Trey Junkin (a 19-year NFL veteran whose team coaxed out of retirement before the contest) rolled to the ball to holder Matt Allen, who had throw up an impromptu prayer. The fact that the refs missed a penalty did nothing but add to the Giants fans’ frustration, as they should have had another try.
2 Dwayne Rudd’s Bone-headed Move
The Browns have a long and storied history of disappointing their loyal fanbase, and their 2002 season opener against the Chiefs is a perfect example of that. They held a 39-37 lead with only seconds left in the contest before linebacker Dwayne Rudd was penalized after prematurely tossing his helmet into celebration when he took down Chiefs quarterback Trent Green for the game-winning sack.
The penalty allowed Kansas City to finish Cleveland with a chip-shot field goal, and they seized the opportunity. Rudd received a $ 5,000 fine after the incident, but the long-lasting ramifications were far more severe, as he only played one more year (with the Buccaneers) and is celebrating against a cautionary tale too early.
1 “The Fumble”
The Browns and Broncos were two of the top teams in the AFC throughout the mid-80s, and they faced off in a few high-stakes matchups during that period, including back-to-back AFC title games in 1986 and 1987. Cleveland suffered. After a heartbreaking loss in the first matchup, John Elway engineered a 98-yard drive to tie the game late in the contest (and win in overtime), and they were looking to get revenge the following season.
However, Denver got the best of their rivals again in their second clash, as they escaped with a 38-33 victory after Cleveland fought hard to erase an early deficit. They pulled off the comeback before Browns running back Earnest Byner, who had nearly 200 total yards on the day, fumbled the ball just feet from the goal line late in the contest. Much like their championship matchup last year (which earned the moniker ‘The Drive’), this moment is remembered in the NFL as ‘The Fumble.’