Heartbreakers: Shocking NFL Injuries That Ruined Games

Darren - September 12, 2023

Heartbreakers: Shocking NFL Injuries That Ruined Games

Darren - September 12, 2023

Sports Illustrated

Philip Rivers

Many praised Rivers when he played the 2007 AFC Championship Game with a torn ACL. The Chargers clashed with the undefeated Patriots as Rivers refused to back out. It was noble but ultimately it didn’t help his team overcome the odds. Rivers played every snap but the injury affected his productivity (via NESN).

San Francisco Chronicle

History remembers this game kindly because Rivers showed his grit and heart. But he didn’t play very well as he completed just 19 of 37 passes with zero touchdowns and two interceptions. Maybe a healthy Rivers could have changed the outcome of this game. Unfortunately, the injuries came out of nowhere to ruin their chances.

Sporting News

Tony Romo

America’s Team had massive hopes ahead of the 2015 season. Most fans agreed that they were desperately lucky to fall out of the playoffs the previous year. They had a great shot of making it through the weak NFC East. But then Tony Romo fractured his collarbone and they started 0-7.

New York Post

Romo’s injury killed their season because they lost their starting quarterback. That’s not a position that any franchise wants to be in and it hurt the Cowboys badly. Things became even worse for them when Romo refractured his collarbone. It was a miserable year for Dallas and their star (via The Guardian).

Sporting News

Drew Brees

It’s easy to forget that Brees spent five seasons with the Chargers before he joined New Orleans. He set dozens of passing records during his time in the Big Easy while his time in San Diego was average. In 2005, the Chargers hoped to improve on their 12-5 record but fell short of the playoffs.

NBC Sports

Brees had a labrum injury that curtailed his season and this hurt their chances of a postseason run. They won some huge games but ultimately didn’t make it to the promised land. Meanwhile, it gave Philip Rivers the chance to stake his claim and he became their new long-term starter (via Firstsportz).


Damar Hamlin

In January 2023, the Bills met the Bengals in a key season-ending game with huge postseason implications. But then a shocking moment came out of nowhere that put football out of most people’s minds. Bills’ safety Hamlin collapsed on the field and it was immediately clear that something was seriously wrong.

New York Times

Later, it emerged that he suffered a cardiac issue that could have killed him. The officials rightfully called off the game because the players weren’t in the right mental space to continue. Luckily, both teams made the playoffs and Hamlin made a full recovery (via NFL).

New York Times

J.J. Watt

The Cardinals thought that they pulled off a coup when they signed Watt after he left the Texans. A three-time Defensive Player of the Year, Watt left his heart and soul on the field. But he only played in seven games in 2021 and may have been the difference for the franchise.

Fox News

Arizona won 11 games but they missed their star defensive end as injuries began to take their toll. This was a major disappointment because they hoped for a deep playoff run. Watt returned and played 16 games the following year again but then he finally retired (via Bleacher Report).

Sports Illustrated

Rich Gannon

Many people don’t give Gannon the credit that he deserves. The quarterback was brilliant for the Raiders during their Super Bowl run in 2002. Yes, he had a meltdown in the showpiece event but he still had a great season. Furthermore, his absence was conspicuous throughout 2003.

NBC Sports

That’s because Gannon’s shoulder injury seriously impacted their playoff dream. They finished with a miserable 4-12 record after his problems. There’s a good chance they would have missed out anyway but this was a bridge too far for the franchise (via USA Today Sports).

The Washington Post

Robert Griffin III

Griffin had an outstanding rookie season as he helped Washington to the playoffs and earned a Pro Bowl nomination. He threw for 3,200 yards with 20 touchdowns as everybody expected him to go from strength to strength. But then he tore knee ligaments in the Wild Card round against the Seahawks.


Later, the quarterback admitted that he shouldn’t have played in the game. His body was under severe stress and he suffered several injuries throughout the year. In the end, he played through the pain barrier but it cost him dearly. It ruined more than one game because his career never recovered (via Bleacher Report).


Andrew Luck

The Colts went 8-8 in 2015 as they finished second in the AFC South. They only won a game fewer than the Texans as they narrowly missed out on winning their division. The biggest issue was that they couldn’t keep Luck healthy. Their quarterback was a genuine elite talent but injuries took their toll.

The New Yorker

He announced his retirement in 2019 at only 29. It was a major shock but concussions and a shoulder injury caused his departure. He wanted to retire with some working parts of his body. But it was a massive blow for the Colts who struggled to replace him (via The Guardian).

Sky Sports

Peyton Manning

Nobody thought that Manning would play anywhere except in Indianapolis. But the NFL is an unforgiving landscape for every player regardless of their reputation. He suffered a terrible neck injury in 2011 that came out of nowhere. The Colts immediately tanked the season without their star quarterback.


However, it also gave them a unique, unexpected opportunity. Stanford’s Andrew Luck fell into their laps and they sent Manning to the Denver Broncos. It’s safe to say that Manning’s injury changed the course of the entire franchise. He didn’t complain though because he won another Super Bowl ring in the Mile High City (via Sportscasting).


Kyler Murray

Murray’s injuries didn’t just ruin games, they also ruined an entire season. The quarterback signed a massive extension in 2022 but things went wrong very quickly. First, there was the controversial film clause that blew up his relationship with Kliff Kingsbury. But injuries and suspensions took their toll on the Cardinals’ season.

CBS Sports

Murray had a dreadful year but things went from bad to worse when he tore his ACL in Week 14. To be fair, they had no hope of making the postseason already. However, it also affected their start to the next season. Everybody assumes they plan on tanking a year after making him one of the league’s highest-paid players (via Pro Football Network).

Pro Football History

Steve Smith

The Panthers had high hopes in 2004 but it all fell apart out of nowhere. Everybody expected them to bounce back from their Super Bowl defeat with a vengeance. But a series of injuries meant that they suffered a serious hangover. Smith’s broken leg in their first game of the season was a massive blow.

Bleacher Report

He was Jake Delhomme’s most important weapon and his absence blunted Carolina’s attack. It ruined games because fans didn’t get to see the Panthers at their best. Meanwhile, their much-vaunted defense deteriorated as they started 1-7 in one of the most disappointing years ever (via ESPN).

Boston Globe

Tom Brady

Brady suffered a season-ending ACL injury in 2008 that cost the Patriots dearly. This gave Matt Cassel the keys to the quarterback engine out of nowhere. The backup guided New England to an 11-5 season and they narrowly missed the playoffs. Cassel fit into the system but Brady elevated it when he played.

The Athletic

That’s why his prolonged absence was a massive blow to the franchise. They had a strong roster but without their top signal-caller, they couldn’t reach their full potential. Meanwhile, Cassel tricked the world into thinking he was a decent NFL starter. Later, the Chiefs discovered this the hard way after they paid him (via Bleacher Report).

Sporting News

Travis Kelce

The Kansas City Chiefs suffered a tough start to their title defense in 2023. Their star tight end Kelce suffered a freak knee injury in a practice that prevented him from playing. Reportedly, he hyperextended his knee and it took him out of their season-ending game against the Lions.

The Spun

In the end, it was a major blow because the Chiefs narrowly lost this game. Detroit stole it after Kansas City made several key mistakes. Some people also said that it was a sign that Patrick Mahomes couldn’t win on his own. The brilliant quarterback struggled to find his weapons without Kelce as an option (via USA Today Sport).


Aaron Rodgers

Rodgers joined the Jets in the most significant blockbuster trade of the 2023 offseason. The legendary quarterback ended his relationship with the Green Bay Packers and became Gang Green’s new big hope. Everybody knows that the Jets are one of the unluckiest franchises in U.S. sports but they believed Rodgers would end this.

AP Photo

He finally made his much-anticipated debut against the Bills on September 11. But then disaster struck as he went down with an ankle injury after just four snaps. It was later revealed that it was a torn Achilles and his season was over. This also ruined the game for many people and it also may have signaled the end of Rodgers’ Jets tenure in only four plays (via AP News).