Are you ready for some (more) quirky football failures? Following is part three of Failure’s three-part Quirkiest Football Failures series.
November 23, 1968: In the college football “Game of the Century,” the undefeated Harvard Crimson score 16 points on the undefeated Yale Bulldogs in the final 42 seconds and the contest ends in a tie. The miraculous rally inspires the following headline in the next edition of the Harvard Crimson: “Harvard Beats Yale, 29-29.” Afterwards, longtime Yale coach Carmen Cozza refers to this game as the “worst loss of my career.”
December 16, 2001: Arizona Cardinals placekicker Bill Gramatica, 23, jumps high in the air in celebration after converting a 42-yard field goal in the first quarter of a game against the New York Giants. He lands awkwardly, however, and tears the anterior cruciate ligament and medial meniscus in his right knee, an injury that requires major reconstructive surgery.
October 25, 1964: During a game against the San Francisco 49ers, defensive end Jim Marshall of the Minnesota Vikings scoops up a fumble and rumbles 66 yards into the end zone—the wrong end zone. Believing he scored a touchdown, Marshall hurls the ball into the crowd, and the 49ers are awarded two points for a safety. The Vikings go on to win anyway, 27-22.
November 25, 1993: With just seconds to go in a snowy Thanksgiving Day NFL game at Texas Stadium, the Dallas Cowboys block a 41-yard field goal attempt by the Miami Dolphins, seemingly assuring a one-point victory for the Cowboys. Yet, Dallas defensive lineman Leon Lett makes the mistake of touching the ball before the whistle is blown and then fails to control the “muff,” enabling the Dolphins to take possession and attempt another field goal. The second attempt is successful and the Dolphins win 16-14.
September 30, 2001: During an NFL game between the Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers, chunks of turf up to 18 inches long are torn up on Ericsson Stadium’s grass field, leaving six- to eight-inch holes in the playing surface. Numerous players are hurt during the contest, including Packers safety Antuan Edwards and Panthers rookie first-round draft choice, Dan Morgan, both of whom suffer season-ending leg injuries. The Panthers’ head groundskeeper had been fired for off-the-field transgressions earlier in the year.
November 12, 1972: Losing 31-0 to the Miami Dolphins at halftime, New England Patriots head coach John Mazur gathers his team, announces he is quitting, and walks out of the locker room. The Patriots go on to lose the game 52-0, and Mazur officially tenders his resignation the following day.
September 15, 2008: During the second quarter of a Monday Night Football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles rookie wide receiver DeSean Jackson catches a 60-yard pass from quarterback Donovan McNabb, then deliberately tosses the football backwards just prior to crossing the goal line. Luckily for Jackson, the Eagles are awarded the ball at the Cowboys’ 1-yard line, and ultimately score a touchdown on the next play.
December 20, 1980: NBC broadcasts an NFL game between the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins without announcers in the broadcast booth. The experiment is regarded as a failure, although the silent telecast draws a 13.5 rating, not far below the network’s 14.9 average for the 1980 regular season.
January 11, 2009: During an AFC Divisional Playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field, the San Diego Chargers set a record for fewest offensive plays in any quarter in a playoff game since the dawn of the NFL’s Super Bowl era in 1966. The Chargers run only one play on offense in the third quarter, and possess the ball for just 17 seconds during the 15-minute quarter. The lone offensive play results in an interception of San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers, whose pass is tipped by Steelers’ defensive end Brett Keisel and intercepted by linebacker Larry Foote.
December 16, 2007: After 32 seasons, 498 games and 1,865 kickoff returns, Michael Spurlock of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers returns a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown during a 37-3 rout of the Atlanta Falcons, becoming the first Tampa Bay player to score on a kickoff return in franchise history.