Every professional sports star wants to be a hero. And every coach wants to look like a genius. But the truth is that sometimes their efforts end in calamity. In fact, some plays are so terrible they become the only focus of the game and go down in sports history.
Today we’re going to look at a number of awful plays from different sports from the past 10 years. We have shocking chokes from the NFL and the NBA. There were many horrendous individual errors for no good reason, as well as extremely dubious tactical decisions. But they’re all incredibly entertaining. Check out the list below via WeAreTheMighty.com.
30. Blair Walsh Misses
Walsh had the opportunity to be a hero. There were just 26 seconds left on the clock and the Minnesota Vikings had the chance to kick a field goal against the Seattle Seahawks to win the game. The weather was awful with a blisteringly cold wind chill, and the game was also a low-scoring affair. But Walsh single-handedly heated things up with his moment under the spotlight.
He missed a short attempt from 27 yards. Of all the plays you could put your money on, you’d expect this one to be the closest to guaranteed. There was no good reason for him to miss it, but the circumstances clearly affected him. So the Vikings crashed out of the playoffs and the Seahawks advanced. Walsh received a lot of hate online and the Vikings’ postseason woes continued.
Tony Allen was brilliant on defense for the Memphis Grizzlies, but every player has an off-day. The Grizzlies played the LA Lakers back in 2015 when Allen managed to defy physics and the laws of basketball. Somehow, Allen missed four layoffs as his wiring malfunctioned in one of the wackiest plays you will ever see. It was cringe-inducing but totally entertaining at the same time.
It was only nine seconds, but it felt like an eternity for the hapless Memphis star. First, he missed the easiest of the four. Then he gets the rebound but suffers a block and a miss again. Finally, he misses for a fourth successive time. The Lakers took the ball up the other end but lose control and the referee blew to save us all from this madness. You have to love it when the game descends into pure chaos.
Liverpool played Real Madrid in the 2018 Champion’s League final. This fascinating soccer game produced some exceptional plays – both brilliant and horrendous. However, one man in particular stood out for his contribution, but not in a good way. Liverpool’s German goalkeeper Loris Karius had a meltdown as he made two cringe-inducing errors to throw the game away.
Already a goal down, the Reds were still in the game when Karius lost all awareness of his surroundings. He made to throw the ball out to one of his defenders but Karim Benzema stuck his toe out and stole the ball away to score. Then Gareth Bale added two more goals. The first was an incredible bicycle kick, yet Karius allowed the second to slip through his gloves. He looked like he wanted a hole to open in the ground and swallow him up.
This wasn’t just a single play, but total carnage. The Cincinnati Bengals played AFC rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers in a 2015-16 Wild Card game. While games between these two teams are often entertaining, this one resulted in one of the biggest meltdowns we’ve ever seen. There were less than two minutes left when Jeremy Hill fumbled and set in motion a series of unfortunate events for the Bengals.
Over the next few plays, the Bengals gave up 30 yards in penalties and allowed Pittsburgh into field goal territory. The Steelers duly obliged and scored to win the game by two points. In sum, it was a miserable way for the Bengals’ season to end after a strong season by their standards. But they lost their composure at the most crucial of moments and it cost them massively.
Tebow was the gift that kept on giving. The hapless quarterback provided some moments of joy so heartwarming that they would even melt the Grinch’s icy heart. However, some are more iconic than others. In 2011, the Denver Broncos trailed behind the New England Patriots in the fourth quarter. They were desperate to make something happen. Then Tebow stepped up to the plate.
But it was too bad that he dropped it and ended up with egg on his face. He ran for 28 yards in the wrong direction with nowhere to go. Finally, he was closer to his own endzone that the Patriots’ and actually needed a 45-yard pass completion to score. The Patriots sacked him and Tebow looked like a clown. As entertaining plays go, this is up there with the very best of the bad.
The mantra is the same in every combat sports: defend yourself at all times. Overall, this means fighting intelligently and maintaining a solid defense. What it doesn’t mean is randomly turning your back on your opponent. But that’s exactly what Harut Grigorian did at Glory 42 against the experienced veteran kickboxer Murthel Groenhart. The referee didn’t stop the fight, so Groenhart immediately knocked his opponent unconscious from behind.
Grigorian couldn’t complain because he turned away without calling for a time out or giving the referee an indication he wanted to stop. But his fans didn’t like it and immediately stormed the ring to attack Groenhart. One even landed a hard punch that broke the Dutch kickboxer’s jaw. This whole series of events was bizarre and unsavory. Furthermore, they should have blamed Gregorian for his dumb moment.
When your team is trailing late in an NBA game, you can’t waste any of your plays. The clock is nobody’s friend and it’s difficult to retake the lead after you fall behind. The Sacramento Kings were losing against the Atlanta Hawks in 2011 deep into the fourth quarter. For some reason, the Kings assigned DeMarcus Cousins the role of inbounding the ball. It was a catastrophic decision.
He fired the ball enthusiastically towards his players who waited near the hoop. But he put far too much force behind his effort and the ball shot straight out of play. In sum, don’t allow a rookie to take responsibility during such a crucial moment. A score from the inbound would have resulted in at least a draw. But they allowed Cousins to literally throw away their hopes and dreams.
The Ryder Cup is one of the biggest golf events of the year. The best of Europe and the USA face off against each other in a bid to win the coveted trophy. In 2010, the game was on the edge of the knife. The U.S’s Hunter Mahan faced Europe’s Graeme McDowell. Mahan just needed one shot to win the game and the title for his country, but he flunked his test.
He melted under the pressure and missed a sitter. They came to the 17th hole and with everything on the line, the whole crowd waited with bated breath. But sadly for Mahan, he produced one of the most harrowing plays in golf in the most clutch of circumstances. Instead of bringing home the glory, he handed it directly to Team Europe, who celebrated immediately after his miss.
Poor Kyle Williams. It’s not so bad when plays go drastically wrong in the regular season because so many teams are playing that memory of the bad plays passes quickly. But don’t mess up a Championship game because it will tarnish your legacy for the rest of your life. It ended up exactly the situation for Williams, as he was responsible for the 49ers’ loss to the New York Giants in 2012.
Williams wasn’t San Francisco’s regular punt returner but ended up in that role anyway. He was responsible for the game going to overtime in the first place and then fumbled when the game effectively reached sudden death. It was a horrifying series of events for the young man. Just a few plays later the Giants were NFC champions and on their way to the Super Bowl.
All Matt Dodge had to do was punt the ball to the other side of the field. It was what he was on the field to do. It was the fourth quarter as the Giants and Eagles prepared for overtime with the game level at 31-31. In short, the Eagles were ready to take a knee with just a few seconds left and save their game. However, Dodge committed one of the most horrifying individual plays on this list.
He fired the ball straight at the deadly DeSean Jackson. This was like opening a lion’s cage in the Coliseum. Jackson sprinted down the field and scored the game-winning touchdown. However, Dodge’s dodgy punt cost the Giants more than just the game. It also meant that the Eagles went into the offseason in their place because they had won a single game more than New York.
One of the most bizarre plays on this list, it actually wasn’t really a play at all because the Bulls literally forgot to do anything. Chicago played the New York Knicks in 2011 when this strange moment occurred. Five Bulls players waited for the inbounder. The referee stood with the ball in his hands because no Bulls player came forward to claim it. Meanwhile, the player on the court continued to look for space.
It was as though a video game glitched or something cast some kind of spell on them. It was both hilarious and cringe-inducing at the same time because these professional players looked like amateurs. The Bulls have fallen a long way since the days of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Yet we thank them for this moment of joy.
Penalty shootouts are one of the most exciting events in soccer. The tension is always palpable because the game comes down to who can keep score with the utmost accuracy. Italy played Germany in the quarterfinals of Euro 2016. The game ended 1-1 after extra time, so the two teams headed into a straight shootout to declare a winner. Simone Zaza was the second Italian to step forward and attempt a kick.
Most people will either smash the ball in one direction or time their run so that the goalkeeper moves before they shoot. However, Simone took a different approach. He proceeded to march towards the ball like an Irish tap-dancer before blazing it into the sky. Honestly, we’re not sure if it has landed yet, but he should probably apologize to the Martians whose windows he broke.
Russell Wilson is a spectacularly good quarterback. But even geniuses can have awful moments as he proved on the biggest stage of them all. The Seattle Seahawks played the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX and had a chance to score a game-winning touchdown with just 28 seconds left from one yard away. Star running back Marshawn Lynch was ready to dash into the endzone. All Wilson had to do was hand the ball to him and the Seahawks would almost surely win.
But head coach Pete Carroll had other ideas and called for one of the most notorious plays in football history. Instead of ordering Wilson to offload to Lynch, he told him to make a pass-play. The QB threw to Ricardo Lockette but Malcolm Butler made a heroic interception. The Pats went on to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy 28-24 after one of the most spectacularly controversial plays in sports history.
Marcus Cooper thought he had achieved the spectacular. But instead, all he did was embarrass himself in front of the watching world. The Chicago Bears played the Pittsburgh Steelers early in the 2017/18 season when Cooper found himself with the whole field open in front of him. All he had to do was keep running because there was no way that anybody was going to catch him.
But arrogance cost him because he slowed down to bask in the glory of the moment. He didn’t have enough spatial awareness to realize that he hadn’t made the endzone. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh players closed in on him and made him pay. Vance McDonald forced Cooper to fumble and he duly dropped the ball with a whimper. He was responsible for one of the most embarrassing plays of the season.
Anderson Silva was the greatest MMA fighter on the planet from 2006-2012. Then he ran into Chris Weidman. The pair first met at UFC 162 in Las Vegas and Silva finally lost his middleweight crown. The Brazilian had defended his title an incredible 10 times before this but got overconfident against the American. He dropped his hands and showboated. That was all good until Weidman knocked him out cold.
It was an immensely embarrassing moment for Silva but it also severely impacted the remainder of his career. He fought Weidman again in an immediate rematch, but this time suffered a freak leg break. Then he won just one of his last seven fights with the promotion. If he had taken the first Weidman fight seriously, it’s highly like this career trajectory would have been very different indeed. In short, keep your hands up.
It was Week 17 in 2017 and the Buffalo Bills played the New York Jets. The Jets were cruising to victory (yes, really) with about three minutes left in the fourth quarter when the Bills served up a moment of amusement that made everyone cringe. After a losing season, the Bills packed their suitcases for a lengthy vacation. Their heads were already at the beach.
But there is still no excuse for producing one of the most dreadful defensive plays you will ever see. Nick Folks kicked upfield and the ball came down near Mike Gilleslie. The Bills player sprinted towards the ball and then just kind of looked at it dumbly. Then Doug Middleton seized the ball and scored an easy touchdown. Ultimately it didn’t affect the outcome of the game but it was still a laughably bad moment.
Basketball players must make decisions very quickly. You can’t be indecisive because opponents will make you pay. In one game for the Milwaukee Bucks against the Indiana Pacers, Knight did everything that he shouldn’t. This player knows adversity because opponents have dunked on him many times and also broke both of his ankles. But he also produced one of the most cringe-worthy plays in NBA history.
Knight picked up the ball and had two options. He could either shoot the three-pointer or pass to a teammate. Instead, he jumped into the air and floundered like a beached fish. The hapless player literally spasmed in the air several times before falling to the ground and turning the ball over. You have to feel sorry for him because it was like he was too excited and just lost control of his body.
Everybody loves a miracle moment in football, but the reality is that these plays rely on a moment of defensive ineptitude. The Denver Broncos led the Baltimore Ravens deep into the fourth quarter when Joe Flacco found Jacoby Jones. Jones then ran for an incredible 70 yards to score a touchdown. While this is the main story, it ignores Rahim Moore’s moment of miscalculation.
He misjudged Flacco’s pass and leapt hopelessly as he floundered out of position. Moore took his eye off the ball at a key moment and the Ravens made the Broncos pay. They forced the game to overtime where they won it and moved on in their glorious quest for Super Bowl glory. But Moore won’t want to look back at this moment because it was awful from an individual perspective.
Steven Gerrard is a Liverpool icon because he effectively carried the team on his back for a decade. But he was also responsible for the most cringe-inducing moment in their recent history. The Reds had mounted their first meaningful title challenge in many years back in 2014. They were five points clear at the top of the league with three games to go when they faced Chelsea. But rivals Manchester City had several games in hand so they could not slip up.
However, that’s exactly what Gerrard did in the most literal of circumstances. Mamadou Sakho passed the ball back to his captain, but then the England star stumbled and agonizingly tripped. Chelsea striker Demba Ba intercepted and ran through on goal, slotting the ball past the onrushing Simon Mignolet. This game cost Liverpool the title and it was all their captain’s fault.
If you’re a Vikings fan, then you’re probably wondering why this is on the list. In 2017, Stefon Diggs caught Case Keenum’s 27-yard pass and ran 61 yards to the endzone with only seconds left on the clock. The Vikings beat the New Orleans Saints with a touchdown as time expired. But there are two sides to every story. The Saints led by a point before this and just had to keep the Vikings out to win the game.
But then Saints’ safety Marcus Williams agonizingly missed a tackle to allow Diggs to break. It wasn’t even that tough of a tackle to make but he went too early and actually took out his own teammate Ken Crawley. Even worse was the fact that Crawley might have been able to catch up to Diggs, but we’ll never know that for sure. In sum, it was one of the most cringe-inducing defensive plays we’ve ever witnessed.
It was 2011 and the Boston Celtics played the Washington Wizards. Wafer, a rotational player who averaged about 12 minutes per game throughout his career, had his moment to shine. He seized the ball and produced a sensational slam dunk to seal the win for the Celtics. Or at least he thought he did. The truth was that he actually smashed the ball off the rim.
However, this isn’t even the most cringe-inducing moment of this terrible play. After believing that he had scored, Wafer turned away triumphantly towards the crowd before accidentally shoulder-barging his own teammate Jermaine O’Neal. Meanwhile, O’Neal had the ball in his hands and lost his balance, which resulted in a double-dribble. In sum, Wafer couldn’t do anything right on this play.
9. Sabri Sediri
French boxer Sediri discovered that showboating is extremely dangerous if you don’t do it right. He fought Sam Maxwell in 2019 and was cruising to victory. It was the final round and he staggered his opponent, leaving him woozy and shaky on his feet. In this situation, Sediri had two options. First, he could have looked for the KO because Maxwell was vulnerable. However, he could also have hung back and kept his guard up.
Sam Maxwell was losing and being taunted by his opponent all fight and then did this with 10 second to go!
But Sediri didn’t do either of these. Instead, he dropped his hands and proceeded to dance around Maxwell like a clown. Meanwhile, his opponent suddenly recovered his senses. As Sediri continued to showboat, Maxwell bided his time and smashed the arrogant Frenchman with a right on the jaw with just 10 seconds left. It was glorious but a harsh lesson for Sediri who certainly should have won the match.
Okay, this isn’t the worst by any means, but it was still hilarious. Daniel Jones was playing quarterback for the New York Giants against the Philadelphia Eagles in 2020. Then, suddenly, he found himself with space to run. And run he did, as he charged down the field toward the endzone. Seemingly unstoppable, he sprinted for 80 yards as fast as he could before running out of gas.
Yet while it should have been an easy touchdown, Jones tripped over his own feet at the eight-yard line and crashed to the ground. It was both hilarious and tragic at the same time and served up the Giants’ season in a nutshell. The Giants did score from the same attack to spare Jones’s blushed. But like their quarterback, the Giants fell short as they gave up a lead and lost the game. Regardless, this was the highlight of the game for sure.
Liverpool went through a tough time for a number of years before re-emerging as titans of world soccer. But before this, they made some terrible signings as they looked for bargains instead of signing quality players. One such athlete was Spain’s Iago Aspas, who never delivered for the club. Furthermore, one of his plays particularly stands out because it was so comically dreadful.
It was in a vital game against rivals Chelsea when Liverpool won a corner. They had an opportunity to make something happen and Aspas stepped up to take the setpiece. However, he just passed it straight to Chelsea’s attacker Willian and wasted the chance. It was the way he just gives the ball away to the opponent in such a clean manner that makes this moment so infamous.
The Indianapolis Colts produced one of the wackiest plays we’ve ever seen against the New England Patriots in 2015. It was late in the fourth quarter and the Colts were behind by six points. First, they set up to punt as expected, but then they moved nine players to right. This left two Colts players with three of the Patriots around them. In sum, there was nowhere for them to go.
The first thought was that the Colts were trying to get the Patriots to go offsides. But then Colt Anderson called the snap. Needless to say, the Patriots hit him hard and this bizarre play ended in the most embarrassing manner possible. It was a total waste because the Colts were still in the game and could have just punted it. A few minutes later, the Patriots scored a touchdown to seal the game.
When you fight someone like Shinya Aoki you can’t let your guard down for a second. The Japanese MMA fighter is one of the most vicious submission experts on the planet. Aoki has also fought for almost every major MMA promotion on the planet including the UFC, PRIDE, and ONE. However, back in 2009, he fought David Gardner at DREAM 7 in his native Japan.
Aoki had Gardner’s back and looked for the rear-naked choke. Gardner continued to hand fight as he fended off Aoki’s attempts to slide his forearm under Gardner’s chin. But then he inexplicably raised his hands in a burst of false self-confidence and shouted “I love Japan!” Immediately, Aoki sunk in the choke and forced Gardner to tap out. It was cringe-inducing and hilarious at the same time.
Bristol City played Norwich in an important Championship soccer game in 2020. The Canaries led 3-1 but Bristol suddenly got an opportunity to swing the momentum of the game. They won a penalty after Jacob Sorenson’s foul and Wells stepped forward to take it for his team. Usually in these cases you want to blast it into one of the corners as hard as you can, yet that’s not what Wells did.
In one of the worst plays you will ever see, Wells decided to do a Panenka. In short, for the unfamiliar, this is where you dink the ball down the middle of the goal, past the diving goalkeeper. It’s extremely risky because there is very little power in the shot but looks amazing when done correctly. However, Wells made a total mess of it and lifted his shot over the crossbar. Overall, he looked like a total fool and cost his team any chance of a comeback.
It was Thanksgiving 2012 when the world received one of the most iconic plays in NFL history. The New York Jets allowed the New England Patriots to score two quick touchdowns to fall behind early in the first quarter. In short, New York needed to make something happen to avoid the Patriots running away with the game. Then they had the chance to set up a run play, yet it all fell apart in a hilarious fashion.
QB Mark Sanchez wanted to offload to Lex Hilliard but he wasn’t there. With the play about to break down, Sanchez looked to make something happen. It did. He ran into Brandon Moore’s backside. In the end, the Patriots won 49-19 and scored directly after the “butt fumble.” Steve Gregory picked up the ball and carried all the way to the endzone without a challenge. In sum, it was both beautiful and ridiculous at the same time.
Starting pitcher Blake Snell was on fire for the Tampa Bay Rays in Game Six of the 2020 World Series. In fact, he only allowed one hit and zero runs. It was a must-win game but the Rays’ star pitcher was up for it. He made it to the sixth inning when the Rays manager Kevin Cash made the decision that will potentially define his career. He withdrew Snell and sent on Nick Anderson to the former’s bemusement.
You have to feel for Anderson because the relief pitcher just wasn’t in the same class as Snell. After taking the lead, the Rays fell behind and were never able to reclaim it. The Dodgers won 3-1 in Game Six and won their first World Series since 1988. But you have to wonder how the game would have gone if Snell had stayed in. As soon as Cash pulled Snell, the Rays lost the lead.
Every football player dreams of scoring the winning touchdown. But somehow Falcons’ running back Todd Gurley managed to score a losing touchdown against the Detroit Lions. The Lions let the Falcons 16-14 in the fourth quarter but had used up all of their timeouts. The Falcons knew they needed to run the clock out and score a field goal to win. It was that simple.
Todd Gurley tried to stop from scoring to run the clock out, but couldn't hold up.
The Lions scored the game-winning TD with 0 seconds on the clock.
But as we know, the Falcons know how to throw a game away. Gurley did so in the most dramatic of circumstances when he lost concentration and instinctively moved towards the endzone. He recoiled in horror when he realized what he was doing, but it was too late. His momentum carried his body over the line and the Falcons scored the touchdown. Then the Lions went straight back on the attack and duly got the win with a last-second touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford.