The 1999 NFC Championship game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Atlanta Falcons was a dramatic affair. With just 30 seconds left on the clock, the teams were level at 27-27. The Vikings were third-and-three on their own 30-yard line with two timeouts still available while the Falcons had none. But then Coach Green made the wrong call. He told his quarterback to take a knee and send the game to overtime.
Looking back, this was one of the most painful decisions in Vikings’ history. An exciting attacking unit with the likes of Randy Moss and Randall Cunningham, who knows how far they could have gone? They could have forced the ball closer and potentially found space for a winning field goal. However, the Falcons capitalized on Green’s error of judgment and scored first in overtime.
Phillips made Doug Flutie the Bills’ starting quarterback for the 1999 season. The unassuming signal-caller played well throughout the year, leading the team to an 11-5 record. Nobody even considered the possibility that he wouldn’t start Buffalo’s first postseason game against the Tenessee Titans. But Phillips put Rob Johnson in for Flutie in one of the most notorious decisions of all-time.
Later, Phillips claimed that owner Ralph Wilson forced him to start Johnson. However, it didn’t work. Johnson went 10-for-22 for 131 yards and no touchdowns while the Titans sacked him six times. The Bills didn’t even score until the third quarter. Then, the Titans pulled off the ‘Music City Miracle,’ by scoring a 75-yard touchdown with seconds left on the clock. It was a terrible day at the office for Phillips and co.
The Atlanta Falcons’ 2017 Super Bowl meltdown is the stuff of infamy. However, that’s not why Quinn makes this list because it was more a team meltdown. Instead, it relates to a 2015 regular-season game against the San Francisco 49ers. The Falcons trailed the Niners 17-13 and found themselves on the one-yard line on fourth down. Then Quinn made the fatal call to send out his kicking team.
This was plain stupidity because even by scoring the Falcons still trailed. But they basically gave the ball to the Niners to hold for a remaining couple of minutes on the clock. If they went for a touchdown they may not have gotten it, but the reaction to this would have been very different. In the end, many news sources called it one of the worst coaching decisions in NFL history.
Carroll probably wakes up in a cold sweat at night as a result of one of the worst decisions in Super Bowl history. The Seahawks played the New England Patriots in Super Bowl IX and were just a yard from victory. The coach had a choice to make. They could keep the ball grounded and unleash the juggernaut that was Marshawn Lynch or they could do something much riskier.
To the disbelief of millions of viewers, Carroll went with the latter option. Then came Malcolm Butler’s famous interception of Russell Wilson’s pass to Ricardo Lockette. The Patriots won the game 28-24 after Carroll’s infamous call. Later, he defended the attempted play by revealing statistics that showed Lynch’s relative ineffectiveness from similar positions throughout the regular season. But it was too late for that.
Peterson unleashed moral carnage in 2020 when he made one of the most controversial coaching decisions on this list. In sum, he blatantly tried to tank to improve his team’s draft prospects. First, he started rookie QB prospect Jalen Hurts before replacing him with third-stringer Nate Sudfield. Washington sacked Sudfield twice and the hapless signal-caller committed two turnovers in the final game of the regular season.
The New York Giants reacted furiously because they missed out on the postseason after the Eagles effectively threw the game. However, Peterson’s biggest risk was unsettling his roster with his dubious decision. If the Eagles won, they would have dropped from sixth to ninth pick. Technically, they didn’t do anything wrong, but the ramifications of this clear effort to lose will live on because the NFL could change rules for the future. Pederson was then fired after this decision was the last straw for him.