Marino is a Dolphins legend because of his brilliant tenure as their franchise quarterback. His final game came in 1999 when the Dolphins played the Jaguars. No doubt he wanted his last appearance as a player in front of his fans to be memorable. It was but not for the reasons he would have wanted. This game was terrible to watch because it was as one-sided a blowout as NFL fans have ever seen.
Mark Brunell and Jimmy Smith annihilated the Dolphins, while Fred Taylor sprinted in a 90-yard score. However, for Dolphins’ fans, this was the stuff of nightmares. By halftime, the Jaguars were winning 41-7. But neutrals changed the channel. Nobody wanted to see Marino leave the NFL like this but the league can be incredibly cruel. It also started a downward spiral for the franchise.
Thanksgiving in 1993 saw the Dallas Cowboys host the Miami Dolphins at Texas Stadium. While most people associate Texas with the arid desert heat, it can get some freezing cold weather. A Blue Norther storm brought ridiculous snow and sleet but they played the game anyway. On the one hand, it was entertaining because of the unique circumstances as they were knee-deep in snow. But it was also unwatchable in terms of quality.
A terrible error by Leon Lett allowed Miami to score a winning field goal, but in the end, the Cowboys went on and won the Super Bowl. He was out of control on the slippery surface and committed a typical hilarious mistake. This is one of those games that achieved iconic status because of the unusual conditions, but for the frozen fans and players, it was definitely a battle of attrition.
On a cold November day, Dallas traveled to Ford Field for one of the bleakest games in NFL history. There is no reason why anybody would remember this match because it was football at its worst. There were no excuses. Many of these entries on this list have some dramatic influence such as adverse weather or poor refereeing, but neither team could claim anything other than being garbage.
Field goals can provide incredible moments of drama but nobody wants every single score in a game to be a kick. However, the two teams treated their fans to a display of kicking on that grey afternoon. In the end, the Lions won the game 9-7 after three successful kicks. But fans had to wait until the third quarter to see the first score because of their toothless offenses.
Unlike Miami, Buffalo and Cleveland are more than familiar with adverse weather. But there’s a big difference between living with awful weather and trying to play a high-level NFL game. In 2007, the Browns hosted the Bills in Ohio when some bizarre conditions from a nearby lake totally ruined the game as a spectacle. Blinding snow and 40 mph winds resulted in an unwatchable game.
In the end, the Browns won 8-0 thanks to two Phil Dawson field goals. Some people will be nostalgic about this game but in reality, nobody enjoyed it at the time. It was awful to watch on television because the snow was so thick. Meanwhile, imagine being a fan in that stadium? Any fan who stayed there until the end deserves a ton of respect because that was a display of endurance in itself.
A unique entry on this list, Super Bowl XL saw the Seahawks meet the Pittsburgh Steelers. Unfortunately, this game was unwatchable because of the dreadful officiating. After the game, most fans and analysts agreed that referee Bill Leavy and his team made several horrendous and downright bizarre decisions. Because of this, there were even accusations of match-fixing.
The referee handed the Steelers a ghost touchdown after Ben Roethlisberger hit the ground short of the endzone. Then, a controversial penalty resulted in the Steelers taking the ball upfield and scoring again. It was infuriating to watch because it was so clear and obvious that the decisions were wrong. Meanwhile, Mike Pereira, NFL Head of Officiating, flew straight to Costa Rica after the game.
This game confused Donavon McNabb because he didn’t understand what happens in the event of a tie. This was reasonable because this game ended with the NFL’s first draw in six years and only the second since 1997. In short, they were extremely rare events. The score was 23-23 after a fairly bleak game of football between the two teams. It was a yawn-inducing fare with no scores in the first quarter.
This game was all about the defenses because neither teams’ offense could fire. McNabb believed that they would play until there was a winner but luckily for the fans this wasn’t the case. Meanwhile, the Eagles’ quarterback threw three interceptions and fumbled once. They could have played for another week and there wouldn’t have been a winner because both teams were so bad.
Buffalo can lay claim to having played in two ‘Lake Effect’ games. The first was in Cleveland, but the second was at home in New York. They hosted the Indianapolis Colts in 2017 in some of the direst weather conditions in NFL history. It started when a lake effect snowstorm dropped a massive amount of snow on the playing field. A lofty nine inches fell during the game alone.
The Bills’ mafia has a fondness for this game because it helped them on their way to their first playoff appearance for 18 seasons. However, the snowstorm had a dire effect on the game with Adam Vinatieri missing a punt as a direct result of the weather. The game was practically unwatchable until overtime when visibility finally began to improve. In the end, Buffalo emerged 13-7 winners.
One of the most atrocious games of football ever played, this one went down on Monday night, November 26, 2007. An incredibly unwatchable game, the weather conditions were so bad that the media nicknamed it the ‘Mud Bowl.’ A catastrophic storm hit the surface of the Heinz Field Stadium but the Steelers placed new turf over the wrecked ground so that their game against the Miami Dolphins went ahead.
After a lightning storm delayed the game for 30 minutes, they started to play. It was like being in the trenches of Europe during World War II because they were literally running through pools of muddy water. This resulted in a terrible game that the Steelers won 3-0 from a punt with 17 seconds left. In the third quarter, Brandon Fields’ 38-yard kick stuck in the mud.
The oldest entry on this list was also the most recent scoreless draw in NFL history. Almost 17,000 fans at Briggs Stadium witnessed Detroit and New York play in miserable conditions. The rain continued to fall down making this one of the most unwatchable matches ever. In fact, neither team got inside the others’ 15-yard line. Furthermore, there were field goal attempts but both teams kicked them wide.
This was one of the worst games of football ever because the weather was miserable and the quality on display was shocking. Few games in the annals of the sport were as unwatchable as this. Of course, it is now legendary because it ended scorelessly but nobody enjoyed sitting through it. However, when it came to the last few minutes fans almost didn’t want a winner because at least a rare scoreless game was unique.
On the one hand, this was a unique game with an entertaining ending. But for the watching fans and the shivering players on the ‘field,’ it was a nightmare. The Miami Dolphins traveled to Boston in 1982 for a clash with the Patriots but faced ludicrous levels of snow. Match officials called for snowplows to come and clear the yard markers because nobody could see anything.
Meanwhile, the falling snow made the game unwatchable for viewers in Schaefer Stadium and at home. The blizzard also affected the quality on the field as the score remained 0-0 until the Patriots kicked a field goal with less than five minutes left. Snowplow operator Mark Henderson came onto the field to clear a section of the field so that John Smith could actually kick the ball.
There are other low-scoring games on this list but there was usually a contributing factor like horrendous weather. However, this game between two of the most miserable franchises in recent years doesn’t have any excuses except that both teams played awful. However, there has to be some appreciation for the Jets and Redskins’ dedication to ineptness through the decades. They have turned to be unwatchable into an art form.
The only score of this game came in the first quarter from Cory Blanchard’s 45-yard field goal. Fans should have gone home after this because there was nothing else to entertain them in the entire game. It also meant that the Jets had gone 14 quarters without scoring a touchdown, but it was a relief just to get a win. This was a battle of the defenses which doesn’t lend to an entertaining game.