25 Worst QBs in NFL History

25 Worst QBs in NFL History

Coaches expect their quarterback to be the face of the franchise, but the worst QBs in NFL history were far from that. In fact, they were the exact opposite. They were an embarrassment to the team and an embarrassment to the decision makers that chose to draft or sign them. 

Let’s be honest, it’s an easy being a quarterback in the NFL. It’s one of the toughest positions and comes with a great deal of responsibility. While they often receive most of the praise when things are going right, they also receive a majority of the criticism when things are going wrong. 

Quarterbacks need to be leaders. They need to have a strong arm, they need to be accurate, they need to thrive under pressure, and they need to possess a high football IQ. Unfortunately, not every quarterback has these traits and the worst QBs in NFL history are perfect examples.  

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Who Are the Worst QBs in NFL History?

25 Worst QBs in NFL History
Debby Wong / Shutterstock

In order to be considered one of the worst QBs in NFL history, things have to go incredibly wrong for you when given the keys to the offense. Not only does the coach expect you to play well, but so do your teammates. When you don’t deliver, that opportunity will quickly slip away. 

There are several factors we’re going to consider when determining the worst QBs in NFL history, but it’ll largely be centered around two major things — how badly they performed and how high their expectations were when they entered the league. Both are equally important. 

While not all the quarterbacks listed below had high expectations, they all share one thing in common — they were bad. Not just bad, but terrible, horrifying, embarrassing. Bad enough to result in widespread regret and cause discord throughout the organization they played for. 

25. Mark Sanchez

Drafted: 1st Round (5th Overall)

Years: 2009-2018 (8 seasons)

Teams: Jew York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins

Record: 37-36-0

Stats: 79 games, 1,314 completions, 56.6% completion percentage, 15,357 yards, 86 touchdowns, 89 interceptions

Most known for the ‘Butt Fumble,’ Mark Sanchez has better stats than most quarterbacks on this list, but don’t let that fool you. He struggled everywhere he went and seemed to get worse the more he played. It was actually surprising how long the New York Jets kept him around. 

You can view the rest of Mark Sanchez’s career stats here

24. Jimmy Clausen

Drafted: 2nd Round (48th Overall)

Years: 2010-2015 (4 seasons)

Teams: Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Baltimore Ravens

Record: 1-13-0

Stats: 21 games, 255 completions, 54% completion percentage, 2,520 yards, 7 touchdowns, 14 interceptions

Jimmy Clausen had an impressive junior year at Notre Dame, completing 68% of his passes for 28 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Unfortunately, that success didn’t follow him into the NFL. He had a 1-9 record his rookie year and threw for 3 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. 

You can view the rest of Jimmy Clausen’s career stats here

23. Brady Quinn

Drafted: 1st Round (22nd Overall)

Years: 2007-2012 (4 seasons)

Teams: Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs

Record: 4-16-0

Stats: 24 games, 296 completions, 53.8% completion percentage, 3,043 yards, 12 touchdowns, 17 interceptions

Speaking of Notre Dame, Brady Quinn had 69 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in his final two years on campus. In his first three seasons with the Browns, he had a 3-9 record. After a couple years out of play, he had a disastrous comeback with the Chiefs (1-7 record, 2 touchdowns, 8 interceptions). 

You can view the rest of Brady Quinn’s career stats here

22. Jack Thompson

Drafted: 1st Round (3rd Overall)

Years: 1979-1984 (6 seasons)

Teams: Cincinnati Bengals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Record: 4-17-0

Stats: 51 games, 449 completions, 53.1% completion percentage, 5,315 yards, 33 touchdowns, 45 interceptions

Jack Thompson was an interception machine in college and things didn’t change when he made it to the NFL. He threw for 13 touchdowns and 19 interceptions in his first three years with the Bengals, and 20 touchdowns and 26 interceptions in his next two years with Tampa Bay.

You can view the rest of Jack Thompson’s career stats here

21. Joey Harrington

Drafted: 1st Round (3rd Overall)

Years: 2002-2007 (6 seasons)

Teams: Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons

Record: 26-50-0

Stats: 81 games, 1,424 completions, 56.1% completion percentage, 14,693 yards, 79 touchdowns, 85 interceptions

The Detroit Lions allowed Joey Harrington to lead their team for four straight years, compiling a 18-38 record with the team. He followed that up with a 5-6 record in Miami and a 3-7 record in Atlanta. It didn’t matter who he played for, Harrington never led his team to a winning record. 

You can view the rest of Joey Harrington’s career stats here.

20. Rick Mirer

Drafted: 1st Round (2nd Overall)

Years: 1993-2003 (8 seasons)

Teams: Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders

Record: 24-44-0 

Stats: 80 games, 1,088 completions, 53.3% completion percentage, 11,969 yards, 50 touchdowns, 76 interceptions

Another quarterback out of Notre Dame that became one of the worst QBs in NFL history, Rick Mirer was given four years to prove his worth to the Seahawks. The only thing he proved was a 41-56 touchdown-interception ratio, a 20-31 record, and an eventual trade to the Chicago Bears. 

You can view the rest of Rick Mirer’s career stats here

19. Nathan Peterman

Drafted: 5th Round (171st Overall)

Years: 2017-present (4 seasons)

Teams: Buffalo Bills, Las Vegas Raiders

Record: 1-3-0

Stats: 10 games, 71 completions, 52.6% completion percentage, 573 yards, 3 touchdowns, 12 interceptions

No one really had expectations for Nathan Peterman other than the Buffalo Bills’ brass. Despite drafting him in the fifth round, they believed he could be the QB of the future. Unfortunately, his 3 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 8 games with the team was not what they were hoping for.

You can view the rest of Nathan Peterman’s career stats here

18. Johnny Manziel

Drafted: 1st Round (22nd Overall)

Years: 2014-2015 (2 seasons)

Teams: Cleveland Browns

Record: 2-6-0

Stats: 14 games, 147 completions, 57.0% completion percentage, 1,675 yards, 7 touchdowns, 7 interceptions

Johnny Manziel received a lot of attention at Texas A&M and a lot of hype leading into his NFL career. It didn’t take long for him to become another one of the Cleveland Browns’ horrible busts. His struggles on and off the field led to his release after 2 years, never to play in the NFL again. 

You can view the rest of Johnny Manziel’s career stats here

17. Andrew Walter

Drafted: 3rd Round (69th Overall)

Years: 2006-2008 (3 seasons)

Teams: Oakland Raiders

Record: 2-7-0

Stats: 15 games, 174 completions, 52.3% completion percentage, 1,919 yards, 3 touchdowns, 16 interceptions

For a man that threw 16 career interceptions, it’s sad to think Andrew Walter only threw for 3 touchdowns. He was given the keys to the offense his rookie season and started 8 games after poor play from Aaron Brooks, but a 2-6 record didn’t help his case to maintain that role for long.

You can view the rest of Andrew Walter’s career stats here

16. Kelly Stouffer

Drafted: 1st Round (6th Overall)

Years: 1988-1992 (4 seasons)

Teams: Seattle Seahawks

Record: 5-11-0

Stats: 22 games, 225 completions, 51.5% completion percentage, 2,333 yards, 7 touchdowns, 19 interceptions

The Seattle Seahawks expected a lot from Kelly Stouffer — otherwise, they wouldn’t have drafted him sixth overall. Over the next four seasons, he started 16 games for Seattle and never threw more touchdowns than interceptions in a single season, compiling a mere 5-11 record. 

You can view the rest of Kelly Stouffer’s career stats here

15. Mike Phipps

Drafted: 1st Round (3rd Overall)

Years: 1970-1981 (12 seasons)

Teams: Cleveland Browns, Chicago Bears

Record: 38-31-2

Stats: 119 games, 886 completions, 49.2% completion percentage, 10,506 yards, 55 touchdowns, 108 interceptions

If quarterbacks today played like Mike Phipps did in the 1970s, they wouldn’t have a job for too long — let alone 12 seasons. How this man lasted in the NFL for that long is beyond me. His record isn’t terrible, but he nearly threw twice as many interceptions as he did touchdowns.

You can view the rest of Mike Phipps’ career stats here.

14. David Klingler

Drafted: 1st Round (6th Overall)

Years: 1992-1997 (6 seasons)

Teams: Cincinnati Bengals, Oakland Raiders

Record: 4-20-0

Stats: 33 games, 389 completions, 54.2% completion percentage, 3,994 yards, 16 touchdowns, 22 interceptions

David Klingler started 24 games for the Bengals in his first three years in the league, only winning 4 of them. Despite 13 starts in 1993, Klingler only threw six touchdowns and coupled that with nine interceptions. He spent two years with the Raiders, but only played in two games. 

You can view the rest of David Klingler’s career stats here.

13. Norm Snead

Drafted: 1st Round (2nd Overall)

Years: 1961-1976 (16 seasons)

Teams: Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers

Record: 52-100-7

Stats: 178 games, 2,276 completions, 52.3% completion percentage, 30,797 yards, 196 touchdowns, 257 interceptions

Being one of the worst QBs in NFL history, it’s amazing that Norm Snead played a full career in the NFL. In 16 seasons, he only had two seasons with a winning record — 2-0 in 1971 and 8-5 in 1972. His consistent losing should’ve been a red flag to owners, but they kept signing him. 

You can view the rest of Norm Snead’s career stats here

12. Tim Couch

Drafted: 1st Round (1st Overall)

Years: 1999-2003 (5 seasons)

Teams: Cleveland Browns

Record: 22-37-0

Stats: 62 games, 1,025 completions, 59.8% completion percentage, 11,131 yards, 64 touchdowns, 67 interceptions

It takes a special player to be drafted first overall, but Tim Couch proved that sometimes it takes an incompetent scouting team and general manager — especially with Donovan McNabb on the board. He went on to win 2 of 14 games his rookie season and went 22-37 in his career. 

You can view the rest of Tim Couch’s career stats here

11. Jack Trudeau

Drafted: 2nd round (47th Overall)

Years: 1986-1995 (10 seasons)

Teams: Indianapolis Colts, New York Jets, Carolina Panthers

Record: 19-30-0

Stats: 67 games, 873 completions, 53.1% completion percentage, 10,243 yards, 42 touchdowns, 69 interceptions

Jack Trudeau started his career with an 0-11 record in 1986, throwing for 8 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. He would only throw more touchdowns than interceptions in one season and finished with a 19-30-0 record as a starter. It’s crazy that he lasted eight years with the Colts.

You can view the rest of Jack Trudeau’s career stats here.

10. Matt Leinart

Drafted: 1st Round (10th Overall)

Years: 2006-2012 (6 seasons) 

Teams: Arizona Cardinals, Houston Texans, Oakland Raiders

Record: 8-10-0

Stats: 33 games, 366 completions, 57.1% completion percentage, 4,065 yards, 15 touchdowns, 21 interceptions

Matt Leinart had an amazing career at USC, throwing for 10,693 yards, 99 touchdowns, and 23 interceptions in three years on campus. He played in nearly the same number of games in college as he did in the NFL, but never lived up to the hype and only lasted six years in the NFL.

You can view the rest of Matt Leinart’s career stats here

9. Chris Weinke

Drafted: 4th Round (106th Overall)

Years: 2001-2007 (5 seasons)

Teams: Carolina Panthers, San Francisco 49ers

Record: 2-18-0

Stats: 29 games, 386 completions, 54.4% completion percentage, 3,904 yards, 15 touchdowns, 26 interceptions

Chris Weinke was given the keys to the Panthers’ offense in his rookie season, leading them to a miserable 1-14-0 record with 11 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. After that season, he was named the backup quarterback to Jake Delhomme and only won one of his next five starts. 

You can view the rest of Chris Weinke’s career stats here

8. Rick Norton

Drafted: 1st Round (2nd Overall)

Years: 1966-1970 (5 seasons)

Teams: Miami Dolphins, Green Bay Packers

Record: 1-10-0

Stats: 32 games, 159 completions, 41.6% completion percents, 1,815 yards, 7 touchdowns, 30 interceptions

Being drafted second overall comes with high expectations, but Rick Norton never met them. In his first three seasons, he started six games and lost all of them — throwing 4 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. In his final season with Miami, he threw2 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. 

You can view the rest of Rick Norton’s career statistics here.

7. DeShone Kizer

Drafted: 2nd Round (52nd Overall)

Years: 2017-2018 (2 seasons)

Teams: Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers

Record: 0-15-0

Stats: 18 games, 275 completions, 53.1% completion percentage, 3,081 yards, 11 touchdowns, 24 interceptions

Many people have forgotten about DeShone Kizer, even though he was in the league just four years ago. He led the Cleveland Browns to an 0-15 record in 2017, throwing 11 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. He was the backup in Green Bay for a year, which is the last we saw of him.

You can view the rest of DeShone Kizer’s career stats here

6. Frank Tripucka

Drafted: 1st Round (9th Overall)

Years: 1949-1963 (8 seasons)

Teams: Detroit Lions, Chicago Cardinals, Dallas Texans, Denver Broncos

Record: 17-34-1

Stats: 75 games, 879 completions, 50.4% completion percentage, 10,282 yards, 69 touchdowns, 124 interceptions

Frank Tripucka had a hard time winning and nearly threw twice as many interceptions as he did touchdowns. He went 4-8-0 in his first four years — 18 touchdowns and 39 interceptions. He then played in the CFL for 8 years before returning to the NFL, throwing 80 interceptions over the next three years. 

You can view the rest of Frank Tripucka’s career stats here

5. Kim McQuilken

Drafted: 3rd Round (69th Overall)

Years: 1974-1979 (5 seasons)

Teams: Atlanta Falcons, Washington Redskins

Record: 2-5-0

Stats: 26 games, 108 completions, 39.7% completion percentage, 1,135 yards, 4 touchdowns, 29 interceptions

Kim McQuilken had a miserable career in the NFL. He only started 7 games, but somehow managed to throw 29 interceptions to just 4 touchdowns. His 39.7% completion percentage shows just how inaccurate he was and he averaged just 4.7 yards per passing attempt. 

You can view the rest of Kim McQuilken’s career stats here

4. Heath Shuler

Drafted: 1st Round (3rd Overall)

Years: 1994-1997 (4 seasons)

Teams: Washington Redskins, New Orleans Saints

Record: 8-14-0

Stats: 29 games, 292 completions, 49.2% completion percentage, 3,691 yards, 15 touchdowns, 33 interceptions

Heath Shuler threw more than twice as many interceptions as he did interceptions, which is unacceptable by any team’s standards. He had a 1-7 record his rookie year with 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, then a 4-5 record with 2 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in his final year in the NFL. 

You can view the rest of Heath Shuler’s career stats here

3. Akili Smith

Drafted: 1st Round (3rd Overall)

Years: 1999-2002 (4 seasons)

Teams: Cincinnati Bengals

Record: 3-14-0

Stats: 22 games, 215 completions, 46.6% completion percentage, 2,212 yards, 5 touchdowns, 13 interceptions

Akili Smith will go down as one of the biggest draft busts in NFL history, along with the next two guys on this list. Drafted third overall, he only lasted four years in the league and had a 3-14-0 record. He could run the ball well, but also had 19 career fumbles — just to add to the misery.

You can view the rest of Akili Smith’s career stats here.

2. Jamarcus Russell

Drafted: 1st Round (1st Overall)

Years: 2007-2009 (3 seasons)

Teams: Oakland Raiders

Record: 7-18-0

Stats: 31 games, 354 completions, 52.1% completion percentage, 4,083 yards, 18 touchdowns, 23 interceptions

Jamarcus Russell was supposed to be the quarterback of the future for the Oakland Raiders, but he only lasted three years in the league. He started 15 games in 2008, leading the Raiders to a 5-10 record. The next season, he had a 2-7 record, throwing for 3 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. 

You can view the rest of Jamarcus Russell’s career stats here

1. Ryan Leaf

Drafted: 1st Round (2nd Overall)

Years: 1998-2001 (3 seasons)

Teams: San Diego Chargers, Dallas Cowboys

Record: 4-17-0

Stats: 25 games, 317 completions, 48.4% completion percentage, 3,666 yards, 14 touchdowns, 36 interceptions

Perhaps the biggest draft bust of all-time, Ryan Leaf is hands-down one of the worst QBs in NFL history. If it weren’t for Peyton Manning, Leaf would’ve been drafted first overall — which means he would’ve ruined the Colts’ franchise instead of the Chargers’ franchise. 

He only lasted three years in the league and threw more than twice as many interceptions as he did interceptions. His 4-17-0 record is all you need to know about how his career turned out. 

You can view the rest of Ryan Leaf’s career stats here

Who Are the Worst QBs in the NFL Right Now?

The only thing worse than throwing an interception is throwing them more often than you throw touchdowns. It’s not a recipe for success and is something that will lead to your swift demise in the NFL. Coaches don’t like it, owners don’t like it, and your teammates don’t like it.

In today’s NFL, some of the worst quarterbacks include Andy Dalton, Colt McCoy, Josh Rosen, AJ McCarron, Mitchell Trubisky, Drew Lock, Nathan Peterman (mentioned above), Jacoby Brissett, Mason Rudolph, Mike Glennon, Blaine Gabbert, and Geno Smith.

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There are also several rookies in the NFL right now that are having not-so-good seasons thus far, including Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, and Mac Jones. While they’ll improve as they continue their career, they’re certainly some of the worst QBs in NFL right now.

25 Worst Plays in NFL History

We frequently reminisce about the best plays in NFL history, but let’s not forget about the worst plays in NFL history. After all, the worst plays in NFL history provide laughter, embarrassment, and confusion as the football community tries to wrap their heads around what just happened.

Coaches pride themselves on being prepared, playing smart, making the right decisions, and executing on game day. Unfortunately, things don’t always go their way on their football field and sometimes a play can take a turn for the worse in a hurry. You never know what might happen. 

Sometimes it’s at the fault of the players, sometimes it’s at the fault of the play call, but most of the time it’s a combination of both. Either way, the worst plays in NFL history are sure to be the focal point of the team’s next practice — unless they decide to move on and just be better. 

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What Are the Worst Plays in NFL History?

25 Worst Plays in NFL History
Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock

It takes a special kind of play to be considered one of the worst plays in NFL history. One that makes everyone cringe in unison as they watch the play unfold. One that makes a coach throw their headset out of frustration or a player throw a fit on the sideline — those types of plays. 

Let’s be honest, we get to witness at least one of those types of plays every week in the NFL, so there are plenty of plays to choose from when ranking the worst plays in NFL history. With that said, there are a select few that I’m sure everyone can agree are worse than other plays. 

As we celebrate the same plays we should be forgetting, let’s take a look at some of the absolute worst plays in NFL history. Some of them might be personal to your favorite team, some of them might be from a rival, and others might even bring back some memories!

25. Brandon Weeden Throws Awkward Interception

Let’s take it back to 2013 when the Lions and Browns met in Week 6. The Lions had a 7-0 lead after the first quarter, but Cleveland scored 17 straight points in the second quarter to take a 17-7 halftime lead. The Lions answered by scoring 17 straight of their own in the second half. 

Down 24-17, Browns’ quarterback Brandon Weeden was looking to lead a late comeback. He had the ball in Lions’ territory and dropped back to pass, but no one was open and the pass rush was closing in. Instead of throwing the ball away, he threw a backhand lob right to the defense. 

It was Weeden’s second interception of the game. The Browns went on to lose the game 31-17. 

24. Dan Orlovsky Runs Out the Back of the Endzone

The Detroit Lions were on the positive end of the Weeden interception, but they also suffered one of the worst plays in NFL history. It was a Week 6 matchup in 2008 between the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings. The Lions were 0-4 and the Vikings were 2-3 entering the game. 

Both teams were tied at zero entering the final minute of the first quarter. The Lions had the ball at their own one-yard line and quarterback Dan Orlovsky dropped back to pass. With the pass rush closing in quickly, he unknowingly ran out the back of the end zone while running away. 

The play was ruled a safety, the Lions went down 2-0, and they eventually lost the game 12-10. 

23. Blair Walsh Misses Game-Winning Field Goal

The Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks were matched up in a Wild Card game on January 10, 2016. The Vikings held a 9-0 lead over the Seahawks after three quarters, thanks in large part to Blair Walsh’s three field goals — two of which were from more than 43 yards out. 

Seattle woke up in the fourth quarter, scoring a touchdown and field goal within the first seven minutes of the quarter. Teddy Bridgewater led Minnesota down to the nine-yard line with 26 seconds left in the game, but Blair Walsh missed the 27-yard game-winning field goal. 

It was a disappointing end to what was the best Vikings’ season since 2009. The Seattle Seahawks would go on to lose to the Carolina Panthers in the next round of the playoffs. 

22. Stevie Johnson Drops Potential Game-Winner

When the Pittsburgh Steelers and Buffalo Bills met in late-November 2010, no one expected the Bills to compete. The Steelers were 7-3 and the Bills were 2-8, but Buffalo managed to tie the game up at 16-16 with a 51-yard field goal with just a couple seconds left in regulation play. 

The first two possessions of the overtime period were both punts, but the Buffalo Bills started to put a drive together. With just over 10 minutes left, Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a beauty to Stevie Johnson in the end zone. Despite being wide open, Johnson dropped the pass incomplete.

The Bills were forced to punt a few plays later and gave up a game-winning field goal the ensuing possession. Buffalo lost the game 19-16 in overtime and fell to just 2-9 on the season. 

21. Kirk Cousins Accidentally Kneels Instead of Spiking

Kirk Cousins had himself a fine game on December 26, 2015, throwing for 365 yards and four touchdowns in the Washington Redskins’ 38-24 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. With that said, he also had one of the worst plays in NFL history as the first half came to an end. 

The Redskins were driving down the field with a 16-10 lead, eventually making it to the Eagles’ six-yard line with six seconds left. With no timeouts, Cousins went to spike the ball to stop the clock. Instead, he accidentally took a knee, the clock kept running, and the half came to an end.

You have to wonder what was going on in Kirk Cousins’ head, but sometimes mistakes happen. Despite the bone-headed play, the Vikings still won the game and improved to 8-7 on the year. 

20. Tim Tebow’s Infamous 28-Yard Loss

Tim Tebow and the rest of the 2011 Denver Broncos entered Week 15 with an 8-5 record, a six-game win streak, and the division lead. They were playing another division leader in the New England Patriots, who made it clear they were the better team with a 41-23 Patriots’ victory

Late in the fourth quarter of that game, Patriots’ linebacker Rob Ninkovich sacked Tim Tebow for what went down as a 28-yard loss. At the time, it was the longest sack in NFL history and felt like a dagger to a Broncos’ team that was losing 41-23 at the time of the Ninkovich sack.  

The Broncos would follow this loss up with two more losses to end the season 8-8, but still won the division. After beating the Steelers in the Wild Card, they lost to the Patriots in the Divisional. 

19. Kyle Williams Fumbles an Important Punt Return

Making it to the NFC Championship game is a great accomplishment and means you’re one game away from the Super Bowl. Suffering one of the worst plays in NFL history in an NFC Championship game, well, that’ll pretty much ruin your career — and it did for Kyle Williams.

He was filling in as the backup return specialist in the 2011 NFC Championship game against the New York Giants. The game was tied 17-17 with under 10 minutes left in overtime and Williams was back to return a punt. Unfortunately, he fumbled the return and lost possession. 

The Giants scored the game-winning field goal six plays later and went on to defeat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. The 49ers, however, would win the Super Bowl in 2012. 

18. Marcus Cooper Celebrates a Little Too Early

The Chicago Bears and Pittsburgh Steelers were battling it out in an overtime thriller in Week 3 of the 2017 NFL season, but it’s what happened at the end of the first half that made the news headlines. It was an excellent play at first, but turned bad in a hurry as the game clock expired.

With just seconds left, the Steelers had their field goal blocked by Sherrick McManis. Marcus Cooper recovered the fumble and had a clear shot at the end zone. Unfortunately, he slowed down and started to celebrate prematurely. He fumbled the ball before reaching the end zone. 

The Bears got lucky and ended up getting the ball at the one-yard line thanks to a Steelers’ penalty on the play. They kicked a field goal and eventually went on to win the game in overtime. 

17. Michael Koenen Throws Interception After Blocked Punt

Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ punter Michael Koenen had a bit of a double-whammy play against the Kansas City Chiefs in a Week 6 matchup in 2012. His team was up 21-3 in the fourth quarter and he was getting ready to punt, but it was blocked by Chiefs’ running back Shaun Draughn

The play didn’t stop there. Instead, Koenen picked the ball up to try and salvage the play, despite the ball being in the end zone. He quickly realized he didn’t have time or space and decided to throw the ball, which was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Chiefs’ LB Edgar Jones.

Luckily, that was the Chiefs’ only touchdown of the game and the Buccaneers went on to win 38-10. Koenen spent the next two seasons with Tama bay before retiring from the NFL.  

16. Rahim Moore Allows Mile High Miracle With Botched Coverage

The Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens were matched up in the 2012 AFC Divisional Playoff as they looked for a ticket to the AFC Championship. Both teams were scoring well, but Joe Flacco and the Ravens were down 35-28 with just one minute left in the fourth quarter. 

On 3rd and 3, Joe Flacco dropped back to pass and found Jacoby Jones for a 70-yard touchdown with 30 seconds left in the game. Rahim Moore is the player that got beat and allowed Jones to get open. The touchdown tied the game and sent the game into overtime. 

The Ravens would go on to win the game 38-35 in a second overtime. Behind Joe Flacco, the Ravens won the Super Bowl that season and a lot of it is credited to Moore’s botched coverage.

15. Garo Yepremian Almost Ruins the 1972 Perfect Season 

The Miami Dolphins were 16-0 heading into their Super Bowl VII matchup with the Washington Redskins. They were trying to do what no other team had ever done — the perfect season. All they needed was a victory and everything seemed to be going so well most of the game. 

Up 14-0 with under three minutes left to play, the Dolphins sent out Garo Yepremian to attempt a 42-yard field goal kick. The kick was blocked by Washington, but recovered by Yepremian. He rolled out right and attempted to pass the ball, but his butterfingers fumbled the ball instead. 

The fumble was recovered by Redskins’ defensive back Mike Bass and returned for a 49-yard touchdown. The Dolphins lead was cut in half, but they wound up winning 14-7 in the end. 

14. Leon Lett’s Thanksgiving Day Blunder

On Thanksgiving Day in 1993, Dallas Cowboys’ defensive tackle Leon Lett was at the center of one of the worst plays in NFL history. After surrendering an early touchdown to the Miami Dolphins, the Cowboys would score 14 unanswered points to take a 14-7 lead into halftime. 

Dallas allowed a field goal in the third and fourth quarter to bring their lead down to just one. With Miami lining up for a game-winning field goal, the Cowboys blocked the kick and the ball sat near the 10-yard line. Then Leon Lett came crashing in, mishandling the ball into the end zone. 

Miami was awarded the ball and another chance at a game-winning field goal. This time around, the field goal kick was good and the Dallas Cowboys walked away with a loss on Thanksgiving.

13. New Orleans Saints’ Secondary Breaks Down

The Minneapolis Miracle will go down as one of the greatest moments in NFL history for the Minnesota Vikings, but also one of the worst plays in NFL history for the New Orleans Saints. It all went down at the end of the 2017-18 NFC Divisional Playoff game and boy was it a doozy. 

With 1:29 left in the game, the Vikings hit a field goal to take a 23-21 lead over the Saints. One minute later, the Saints answered with a field goal of their own to take a 24-23 lead. That’s when Case Keenum hit Stefon Diggs for a 61-yard touchdown as time expired to win the game. 

When you watch the tape, you see how much of a blunder this was for Saints’ safety Marcus Williams, who not only missed his tackle on Diggs, but took his teammate out of the play.

12. New Orleans Saints Miss a Game-Tying Extra Point

Speaking of the New Orleans Saints, we can’t talk about the worst plays in NFL history without mentioning the infamous missed extra point — a play that’s known as the River City Relay. The Saints scored a touchdown as time expired thanks to three laterals executed to perfection. 

The touchdown brought the Saints just one extra point away from tying the game and bringing it to overtime — keeping their playoff hopes alive. Instead, Saints’ kicker John Carney missed the extra point, New Orleans lost the Week 16 matchup, and they missed out on a playoff berth. 

It’s crazy how quickly the tide can turn in a football game. Just when the Saints thought they tied the game and sent it to overtime, the Jacksonville Jaguars squeak away with a one-point win.

11. Brett Favre Throws a Late Interception 

The 2009 NFC Championship game was one for the ages. The Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints — yeah, those teams again — were trading shots throughout the whole game. Both teams scored four touchdowns and were tied at 28-28 late in the fourth quarter. 

Brett Favre and the Vikings were moving the ball down field and were almost in field goal position with under 30 seconds left. After a five-yard penalty made it 3rd and 15, Favre dropped back to pass, rolled to his right, and threw an interception as he tried to throw across his body. 

While the Saints wouldn’t score off that turnover, it eventually sent the game to overtime. There, the Saints scored a field goal after putting together a nice drive to start the overtime period. 

10. Cincinnati Bengals Fall Apart Late In the Game

It was the 2015-16 season and the Cincinnati Bengals just had their best season since 1988. They were matched up against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Wild Card Playoff game — the Bengals’ fifth-straight year in the Wild Card. Unfortunately, it was their fifth-straight loss, as well. 

It’s not just one play that’s being considered as one of the worst plays in NFL history, but rather a string of plays that led to the Bengals’ loss. First, Bengals’ running back Jeremy Hill fumbles the ball with 1:36 left in the fourth quarter, giving Pittsburgh possession on their own 9-yard line. 

After the Steelers drove the ball 50 yards in one minute, the Bengals suffered back-to-back 15-yard penalties — bringing the Steelers close enough for a game-winning field goal.

9. Miracle At the Meadowlands

This is a two-for-one in regards to the worst plays in NFL history. First, we have the Miracle at the Meadowlands. It occurred in 1978 when Herm Edwards returned a fumble for a touchdown as time expired, giving the Philadelphia Eagles a 19-17 win over the New York Giants. 

Second, we have the Miracle at the New Meadowlands, which occurred in 2010 when the Philadelphia Eagles completed a 21-point comeback against the New York Giants as time expired with a DeSean Jackson punt return touchdown. The Giants completely dropped the ball.

Both of these plays are synonymous with how big the rivalry has gotten between the Giants and Eagles. Twice now the Giants have fallen after suffering two of the worst plays in NFL history. 

8. Seattle Seahawks Pass Instead of Run

When the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots squared up for Super Bowl XLIX, both teams were hungry to end their season on the right foot. The game was going well for both teams until under a minute left in the fourth quarter when the Seahawks made a terrible call.

Down 28-24 with 26 seconds remaining in the game, the Seahawks decide to throw the ball on 2nd & Goal — opposed to running the ball with Marshawn Lynch. After dropping back to pass, Russell Wilson was picked off by Patriots’ cornerback Malcolm Butler on the one-yard line.

The Patriots would go on to kneel and run the clock out. That’s how Super Bowl XLIX ended and that’s how close the Seattle Seahawks were to a win. All they had to do was run the ball. 

7. Leon Lett It Go In the Super Bowl

Earlier on this list, we mentioned Leon Lett’s terrible blunder on Thanksgiving Day, but now let’s talk about his blunder at Super Bowl XXVII against the Buffalo Bills. The Cowboys were leading 52-17 in the fourth quarter, but it was Leon Lett’s fumble recovery that made the headlines. 

Lett recovered a fumble and ran it nearly 70 yards. As he neared the end zone, he started to celebrate a little too early. Buffalo wide receiver Don Beebe was running his tail off trying to catch Lett, which he eventually did — forcing Lett to fumble the ball before crossing the end zone.

The Cowboys would go on to win the Super Bowl 52-17 over the Bills, but Leon Lett will forever be remembered for his two worst plays in NFL history — starting with this Super Bowl blunder. 

6. Tony Romo Mishandles the Snap

The year was 2007 and the Seattle Seahawks were hosting the Dallas Cowboys in a NFC Wild Card Playoff matchup. With just 1:19 left in the game, the Cowboys were trailing 21-20 with the ball on the goal line. All they had to do was kick a field goal and everything would’ve been fine.

Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. They were lined up to kick the field goal, but Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo botched the snap. He tried to make a run for it, but failed to pick up a first down or a touchdown. Instead, the Dallas Cowboys suffered a turnover on downs. 

Seattle would go on to win the game 21-20 after running the clock the following possession. While Tony Romo did a lot of good things for Dallas, he will forever be remembered for this play. 

5. Jim Marshall Runs the Wrong Way

Whether you’re on offense or defense, it’s imperative that you understand which way to run and which end zone you’re trying to score in. While those are two very simple objectives, Jim Marshall completely botched them during a 1965 meeting between the Vikings and 49ers

The 49ers’ quarterback dropped back to pass and completed one to his wide receiver. During the tackle, the receiver fumbles the ball and Marshall recovers it. With no one chasing him, he runs all the way into the end zone for what he believes to be a fumble recovery touchdown. 

Unfortunately, Marshall ran the wrong way. When he threw the ball out the end zone to celebrate, the believed touchdown turned into a safety and two points for the 49ers. 

4. Buffalo Bills Give Up Touchdown On Their Own Kickoff

Kickoffs are a fairly easy concept to understand, but the Buffalo Bills made a huge kickoff mistake during a Week 17 matchup with the New York Jets in 2017. Already down 23-3 with three minutes left in the final quarter, the Bills were set to receive a kickoff after a Jets’ field goal. 

The kick was a little short and the Bills let the ball bounce into the end zone, which would’ve been fine if they covered the ball or kneeled with it. Instead, they chose to not field the kickoff, allowing the Jets to recover the kickoff in the endzone for a touchdown. A wicked turn of events.

The Bills would score a couple minutes later, but the damage was done. The Jets won the game 30-10, the Bills fell to 7-9 on the year, and their woes continued as the laughing stock of the NFL. 

3. DeSean Jackson Drops the Ball

It was Week 2 of the 2015-16 season as the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles looked to start their season off right. Things were going well on offense for both teams — the Eagles held a 27-21 lead in the second quarter, but then one of the worst plays in NFL history happened.

Everything looked good as Donovan McNabb completed what seemed to be a 61-yard touchdown pass to rookie DeSean Jackson. After further review, Jackson dropped the ball as part of his celebration too early, fumbling the ball on the one-yard line and taking a score away.

Eagles’ running back Brian Westbrook would score on the ensuing play, but both teams would continue battling for all four quarters. The Cowboys eventually won the game 41-37. 

2. Mark Sanchez & the ‘Butt Fumble’

The year was 2012 and it was Week 12. The New York Jets were in the midst of a lost season, the New England Patriots were riding high with Tom Brady, and Bill Belichick was looking for his 200th win as a coach. With that said, it was Mark Sanchez that made the front page headlines. 

It was the second quarter and the Jets had possession down 14-0. Mark Sanchez dropped back to pass, but immediately decided to start running the ball up the middle of the field. Before he could find some open room, he ran into his offensive lineman’s butt and fumbled the ball. 

Steve Gregory recovered the fumble and returned it for a touchdown to put the Patriots up 21-0. Their lead would grow to 35-0 in the second quarter, eventually winning the game 49-19. 

1. Indianapolis Colts Forget How to Play Football

Coming in at No. 1 on our list of the worst plays in NFL history, the Indianapolis Colts had everyone scratching their heads after their bone-headed play against the New England Patriots on October 18, 2015. In fact, the play still has people scratching their heads to this day. 

There was just over one minute left in the third quarter and the Colts were down 27-21. As they got ready to punt the ball, all the Colts’ players lined up near the sideline except Griff Whalen, who lined up as center, and Colt Anderson, who lined up as the quarterback. It looked awkward.

They should’ve never snapped the ball, especially considering there were multiple Patriots’ pass rushers and only one blocker (Whalen). Unfortunately, they did snap it and it resulted in a turnover on downs. 

What Are the Worst Plays In Super Bowl History?

Having one of the worst plays in NFL history is one thing, but there’s nothing worse than having such a play on the biggest stage in the world — the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, we’ve seen it happen far too often and it generally costs a team their shot at a trip down championship lane.

For example, the Seattle Seahawks electing to pass the ball on the goal line instead of handing it off to Marshawn Lynch is one of the most famous flops in Super Bowl history. There’s also Packers’ head coach Mike Holmgren, who forgot what down it was in Super Bowl XXXII.

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The Atlanta Falcons not running the ball late in their Super Bowl LI loss, the Washington Redskins’ screen pass in their Super Bowl XVIII loss, and the Dallas Cowboys’ failed reverse play against the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XII are some other great examples.

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