In any given season, it’s not easy to pick out the biggest NFL blowout of the year. The league is so competitive and filled with talent that most games are decided by small margins. However, there is the occasional blowout, which are sometimes more memorable than all of the competitive games we see week after week.
Perhaps, the heaviest losses in the NFL are memorable because they’re unusual. They tend to catch us by surprise, even when the spread of a game is a little on the high side. Naturally, that got us thinking about the largest blowouts in NFL history.
Biggest NFL blowout
But our interest isn’t just looking back at the biggest NFL blowouts. We want to find out why the game ended so lopsided.
Behind the largest blowouts in NFL history, there is usually a story and an explanation of how it happened. With that said, let’s take a closer look at the biggest NFL blowouts the league has ever had.
10. Patriots 56, Jets 3 (1979)
This game is interesting because the Jets weren’t a particularly bad team this year while the Patriots weren’t that good. Neither team made the playoffs in 1979 and New England only finished one game ahead of the Jets.
Of course, this one game in Week 2 ended up being the difference in the final standings. Veteran quarterback Steve Grogan had one of his best games, throwing five touchdowns in a game that quickly got away from the Jets and remains one of their worst performances of all time, which is saying something because that’s not a short list.
9. Packers 56, Falcons 3 (1966)
This matchup wasn’t particularly fair, as the Falcons were an expansion franchise at the time. In fact, they didn’t even have their first win in franchise history at the time this game was played against the reigning NFL champion Packers.
1966: Packers 56 Falcons 3. pic.twitter.com/X5Syh1elhC
— 𝙃𝙚𝙡𝙢𝙚𝙩 𝘼𝙙𝙙𝙞𝙘𝙩 (@HelmetAddict) September 18, 2017
Two Atlanta quarterbacks combined for four interceptions, including a pair of pick-sixes. Meanwhile, Bart Starr only needed eight complete passes to get to 220 passing yards, as Green Bay produced big play after big play. Needless to say, the game was one-sided for 60 minutes during the season that the Packers won Super Bowl I.
8. Bengals 61, Oilers 7 (1989)
On a cold day in Cincinnati, the team from Houston was a little out of its element. This led to a rough day for Warren Moon and the Oilers, who were held to just 96 yards. Meanwhile, Boomer Esiason wasn’t the least bit bothered by the weather, throwing four touchdown passes and giving the Bengals an easy win.
Of course, this blowout is best known for what happened late in the game.
Cincinnati coach Sam Wyche and Houston coach Jerry Glanville had a running feud, and so with the Bengals already leading by nearly 50 points in the fourth quarter, Wyche still called for the Bengals to run a halfback pass and an onside kick, as he had no problem rubbing it in the face of Glanville and the Oilers.
7. Bears 61, Packers 7 (1980)
Over the years, the Bears and Packers have had many close and competitive games, but this wasn’t one of them.
It was a cold day at Soldier Field, but the home team had no problem moving the ball through the air and on the ground. Walter Payton ran for 130 yards and three touchdowns while quarterback Vince Evans connected on 18 of his 22 passes for 316 yards and three touchdowns.
Green Bay coach and former quarterback Bart Starr had no answer for how to stop the Bears in a low point for the Packers in this bitter rivalry.
6. Saints 62, Colts 7 (2011)
Well, less than two years after the Saints and Colts met in the Super Bowl, New Orleans handed the Colts one of the worst defeats in NFL history.
No team has scored 60+ in a game since the Saints dropped 62 on the Colts in 2011.
— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) September 8, 2019
Indianapolis quarterback Curtis Painter had less than 70 passing yards while Dan Orlovsky had 35 passing yards off the bench. The fact that the Colts weren’t shut out in the game is a minor miracle but little solace.
While the Colts couldn’t do anything offensively, Drew Brees threw for 325 yards and five touchdowns. The Saints also had a pick-six in the fourth quarter for the final score in the 62-7 game.
5. Jaguars 62, Dolphins 7 (1999 playoffs)
As we’ve seen, it’s not that uncommon to see the occasional blowout in the NFL. But you almost never see one in the playoffs with this clash between Sunshine State rivals being the exception.
Thanks to a Fred Taylor 90-yard touchdown run and a fumble returned for a touchdown by Tony Brackens, the Jaguars went up 24-0 in the first quarter. Jacksonville pushed it to 41-0 in the second quarter before a Dan Marino touchdown pass finally got the Dolphins on the scoreboard.
But by then, the game was long over, as the Jags went on to outscore Miami 21-0 in the second half, ending Miami’s season with the most lopsided playoff game in NFL history.
4. Falcons 62, Saints 7 (1973)
At this point in each team’s history, both were still bad teams. But the Saints decided to be especially bad on this day to the benefit of the rival Falcons.
Archie Manning had a game that he would love to forget, throwing five interceptions, including one that got returned for a touchdown. The Falcons did most of their damage in the second and third quarters, scoring 45 points within that 30-minute span, as things quickly got away from the Saints.
3. Seahawks 58, Cardinals 0 (2012)
Late in the 2012 season, it was starting to become clear that rookie quarterback Russell Wilson and the Seahawks might be building something special.
That became even more clear after a 58-0 thumping of the Cardinals.
Only 2 games since 1976 have resulted in a bigger shutout victory:
• 2009 — Patriots 59, Titans 0.
• 2012 — Seahawks 58, Cardinals 0.
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) September 19, 2014
For good measure, the Seahawks scored 50 points against the Bills the following week too while winning five in a row to close out the regular season. Of course, early in Wilson’s tenure, it was still the Seattle running game and defense leading the way. Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin both rushed for over 100 yards while the Seahawks scored two defensive touchdowns, including a pick-six from Richard Sherman, to help make this game a little more lopsided.
2. Patriots 59, Titans 0 (2009)
Given the conditions and the opponent, the Titans never had a chance in this game.
The loss dropped them to 0-6 on the season, although they would win eight of 10 to finish the season. But before they turned things around, Tom Brady and the New England offense had their way with them. Brady threw six touchdown passes with both Randy Moss and Wes Welker racking up over 100 receiving yards and multiple touchdown catches.
Read more: Biggest rivalries in NFL history
1. Rams 59, Falcons 0 (1976)
The mid-1970s were a rough time for the Falcons, as nothing seemed to go right for them. Things surely hit rock bottom for them in this game, which came in the midst of their second straight 4-10 campaign.
The Rams steamrolled the Falcons with a great rushing attack led by Lawrence McCutcheon, who rushed for 121 yards and three touchdowns.
Of course, the Atlanta pass defense was just as bad. Los Angeles had two quarterbacks who saw significant action in this game with both James Harris and Pat Haden throwing touchdown passes. By the end of the game, third-string quarterback Ron Jaworski got a chance to play and complete passes against an embarrassed Atlanta defense. In the end, the Rams had 569 total yards to Atlanta’s 81 yards in the most lopsided game the NFL has ever seen.