Biggest blown lead in every NFL team’s history

Updated: 6667 American Football

When an NFL team takes a big lead only to have their opponent erase it, it’s devastating for the loser and electrifying for the winner. OLBG gathered and ranked the biggest blown leads by every team in the NFL. Here are each team’s biggest meltdowns.

Biggest blown lead in every NFL team’s history
Michael Calabrese US Content Manager

Experienced sports journalist, College sports expert and broadcaster, hailing from Pennsylvania

Biggest blown lead in every NFL teamRonald Martinez // Getty Images

When the Cincinnati Bengals blew a 4-point lead over the Los Angeles Rams with 1:25 left in the 2022 Super Bowl, crushing though it was for Cincy fans, it fell far short of the biggest blown lead in Super Bowl history. That dubious honor falls to the 25-point margin the Atlanta Falcons gave up to the New England Patriots five years earlier. Nor did it come close to the record 33-point blown lead in one particular heartbreaking 2022 game. (Is that one on this list? You bet it is.)

Any time your favorite team blows a lead, it’s heartbreaking. On the flip side, nothing is more thrilling than seeing your squad come back from a seemingly insurmountable deficit to take the win. Every football fan has certainly been on both sides of that equation, but it’s those blown leads, those wasted advantages, that linger in the heart and mind and draw up calls for tougher effort and smarter play-calling in post-game press conferences. With the popularity of sports betting growing throughout the US , first with NJ sports betting sites, now with 16 states allowing legal online betting, there is even more at stake when it comes to blown leads for those placing in game wagers.

To that end, OLBG researched details on the biggest blown lead in each NFL team’s history and ranked them by just how crushing the comeback was. In the case of a tie, rank was awarded to the winning team that scored the most points.

The 2022 Super Bowl stung and astounded in equal measure. As a very recent example of the kind of roughshod, take-it-in-the-teeth result every team in the league has faced, for good or ill, its memory serves as a good appetizer to this list of each team’s worst (or best, depending on your allegiance) day.

Jacksonville JaguarsDoug Pensinger // Getty Images

#32. Jacksonville Jaguars

- Blown lead: 17 points

- Final score: Baltimore Ravens 39, Jacksonville Jaguars 36

- Date: Sept. 10, 2000

The Ravens were desperate for a win—finally—against the Jaguars after losing eight straight games to their divisional rivals. But the prospects weren’t good when the Mark Brunell-led Jags took a 17-0 lead after a single quarter. Somehow, though, unheralded Ravens QB Tony Banks led a comeback that ended with a touchdown pass to newly signed superstar Shannon Sharpe with 48 seconds remaining in the game, giving the Ravens their second straight win of the season and setting the stage for what would become the team’s Super Bowl run.

Pittsburgh SteelersGeorge Gojkovich // Getty Images

#31. Pittsburgh Steelers

- Blown lead: 18 points

- Final score: Seattle Seahawks 24, Pittsburgh Steelers 21

- Date: Nov. 8, 1981

Terry Bradshaw’s 90-yard pass play and Franco Harris’ touchdown run highlighted the Steelers’ first four scores, which gave them a solid advantage of 21-3. But the Seahawks proved that you can win “small” with less-famous stars. Their 24 unanswered points while shutting out the Steelers included a Jim Zorn to Dan Doornink touchdown pass and two 1-yard scoring runs by Theotis Brown.

Oakland (now Las Vegas) RaidersRick Stewart // Getty Images

#30. Oakland (now Las Vegas) Raiders

- Blown lead: 18 points

- Final score: Buffalo Bills 38, Oakland (now Las Vegas) Raiders 35

- Date: Sept. 18, 2011

The Bills seemed to be asleep in the first half, falling behind to the Raiders, 21-3. But when they awoke, they were supercharged. A staggering 326-yard second half was highlighted by a Ryan Fitzpatrick TD pass with 14 seconds left in the game, snatching the win away and giving the Bills their first home-field victory of the season.

New York JetsFocus On Sport // Getty Images

#29. New York Jets

- Blown lead: 21 points

- Final score: Philadelphia Eagles 35, New York Jets 30

- Date: Oct. 3, 1993

Behind 21-0, it looked like things couldn’t go any worse for the Eagles—that’s when QB Randall Cunningham broke his leg, sending him out of the game. But QB backup Bubby Brister brought them all the way back. When Jets QB Boomer Esiason threw a pick-six late in the game, defender Eric Allen returned it 94 yards for a score to clinch the unlikely victory for Philly.

Minnesota VikingsFocus On Sport // Getty Images

#28. Minnesota Vikings

- Blown lead: 21 points

- Final score: Cincinnati Bengals 27, Minnesota Vikings 24

- Date: Dec. 24, 1995

Hoping to make the playoffs, the Vikings took a 24-3 lead in this Christmas Eve game. But the Bengals roared back, assisted by two straight field goal misses by Minnesota kicker Fuad Reveiz, to put coal in Minnesota’s stocking with a loss that foiled their postseason dreams.

Detroit LionsFocus On Sport // Getty Images

#27. Detroit Lions

- Blown lead: 21 points

- Final score: Washington Redskins (now Commanders) 41, Detroit Lions 38

- Date: Nov. 4, 1990

The Lions may be hapless in this century, but they glittered with stars in 1990. Highlighted by QB Rodney Peete’s two TD passes and Barry Sanders’ 45-yard rushing score, they went ahead, 35-14. Scrappy play by Washington, however, brought the Skins all the way back, and a Washington FG in OT clinched it.

Chicago BearsBettmann // Getty Images

#26. Chicago Bears

- Blown lead: 21 points

- Final score: San Francisco 49ers 35, Chicago Bears 28

- Date: Oct. 18, 1953

Three straight first-quarter TDs by the Bears—including a TD pass and three extra-point boots by QB/kicker George Blanda—put the Niners in a 21-0 hole. But then the “Joes” (neither named Montana) slipped on their racing cleats. Three TD runs by Joe Perry and a 60-yard TD sprint by Joe Arenas made for a pleasant trip home from Chicago to San Francisco.

Carolina PanthersDoug Pensinger // Getty Images

#25. Carolina Panthers

- Blown lead: 21 points

- Final score: Washington Redskins (now Commanders) 38, Carolina Panthers 36

- Date: Oct. 3, 1999

Carolina’s Tshimanga “Tim” Biakabutuka had a short, six-year NFL career, but 1999 was his best year, exemplified by his three straight rushing TDs to lead off this game. But the man with the long name had a long face by the time it was over after Washington’s Brad Johnson threw four straight TD passes and Brett Conway kicked the game-ending FG with 6 seconds remaining.

Buffalo BillsBoston Globe // Getty Images

#24. Buffalo Bills

- Blown lead: 21 points

- Final score: New England Patriots 49, Buffalo Bills 21

- Date: Jan. 1, 2012

The Bills’ New Year’s resolution to beat the archrival Patriots seemed to be in the bag at this New Year’s Day game in Foxborough. Ryan Fitzpatrick led them to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter. But then Tom Brady started finding his targets with TD passes to Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski to ensure this runaway 28-point slaughter.

Baltimore RavensMitchell Layton // Getty Images

#23. Baltimore Ravens

- Blown lead: 21 points

- Final score: Pittsburgh Steelers 42, Baltimore Ravens 34

- Date: Oct. 5, 1997

The Ravens and their QB, Vinny Testaverde, seemed to have the upper hand against the rival Steelers when they seized an early 21-0 lead. But a 97-yard kickoff return by the Steelers’ Will Blackwell to open the second half ignited a Steelers comeback that featured four straight Pittsburgh TDs, including three scoring passes and a rushing TD by QB Kordell Stewart.

Green Bay PackersVic Stein // Getty Images

#22. Green Bay Packers

- Blown lead: 22 points

- Final score: Los Angeles Rams 30, Green Bay Packers 28

- Date: Oct. 12, 1952

It looked bad for the Rams, which had the NFL’s best offense throughout the early 1950s when the Packers mounted a 28-6 lead after three quarters. What did they do about it? How about four straight fourth-quarter scores, capped by a game-winning FG—a much bigger comeback than the current Rams displayed in the 2022 Super Bowl, though this was only a regular-season game attended by 21,000. (112 million saw the comparatively “small” Super Bowl win.)

Philadelphia EaglesFocus On Sport // Getty Images

#21. Philadelphia Eagles

- Blown lead: 23 points

- Final score: Minnesota Vikings 28, Philadelphia Eagles 23

- Date: Dec. 1, 1985

The Vikings looked to be paddling against a tidal wave. The Ron Jaworski-led Eagles scored 10 in the first quarter, 10 in the second, and 3 more in the third; the Vikings scored zip. But then they exploded with four fourth-quarter TDs, including three TD passes by Wade Wilson, to shock the Eagles in front of an equally shocked Veterans Stadium crowd.

Miami DolphinsSTAN HONDA // Getty Images

#20. Miami Dolphins

- Blown lead: 23 points

- Final score: New York Jets 40, Miami Dolphins 37

- Date: Oct. 23, 2000

One number jumps out from the stat line for this game: 30. That’s how many points the Jets scored in the fourth quarter after trailing 30-7, thanks to four TD passes by Vinny Testaverde. The Giants Stadium crowd of 78,389 went nuts when John Hall kicked the game-winning FG in OT.

Los Angeles RamsFocus On Sport // Getty Images

#19. Los Angeles Rams

- Blown lead: 23 points

- Final score: Green Bay Packers 35, Los Angeles Rams 23

- Date: Sept. 12, 1982

Green Bay coach Bart Starr must have made one heckuva fiery halftime speech in the locker room because the team that entered that locker room trailing 23-0 emerged transformed. The Packers scored five TDs in the second half while the Rams scored nada. The deflated Rams would only win two games after that season opener—a far cry from the current Super Bowl champs—while the Packers made it to the divisional championships.

Cleveland BrownsMitchell Layton // Getty Images

#18. Cleveland Browns

- Blown lead: 23 points

- Final score: Philadelphia Eagles 32, Cleveland Browns 30

- Date: Nov. 10, 1991

It was Bill Belichick’s first season as an NFL head coach, so we shouldn’t be too hard on him. But the Browns, who he coached for five seasons before his current 22-year run with the Patriots, surrendered a 23-0 second-quarter lead to the arm of Jim McMahon (three TD passes) and the foot of Roger Ruzek (four FGs). Even worse for Belichick: The collapse came at home and against a QB (McMahon) who was only starting because Randall Cunningham was sidelined by a torn ACL.

Washington Redskins (now Commanders)Bettmann // Getty Images

#17. Washington Redskins (now Commanders)

- Blown lead: 24 points

- Final score: Philadelphia Eagles 28, Washington Redskins (now Commanders) 24

- Date: Oct. 27, 1946

Serving in the U.S. Army to help the Allied Powers win World War II was surely more important to Eagles QB Tommy Thompson than this NFL win 14 months after the war ended. But it still had to be sweet for Thompson, who was blind in one eye and interrupted his NFL career to serve in the Army, because he led the Eagles back from a 24-0 deficit at halftime with four unanswered TDs in the second half.

Seattle SeahawksDenver Post // Getty Images

#16. Seattle Seahawks

- Blown lead: 24 points

- Final score: Denver Broncos 37, Seattle Seahawks 34

- Date: Sept. 23, 1979

QB Craig Morton only completed 11 passes in this game, but three went for third-quarter TDs as he brought the Broncos back from a dispiriting 34-10 deficit early in that quarter to within three points of the lead. A rushing TD in the fourth quarter finally put Denver over the top in this Mile High Stadium game, prompting befuddled Seahawks players to wonder whether to blame themselves or the altitude.

San Francisco 49ersFocus On Sport // Getty Images

#15. San Francisco 49ers

- Blown lead: 24 points

- Final score: Minnesota Vikings 28, San Francisco 49ers 27

- Date: Dec. 4, 1977

It was 12 degrees (minus-two if you count the wind-chill factor) in Minnesota’s Metropolitan Stadium five years before Minnesotans opened their first indoor stadium, which should have favored the home team. But it didn’t look that way when the 49ers were relishing a 24-0 lead in the third quarter. Vikings QB Tommy Kramer apparently just needed to warm up, though, because he then unleashed four TD passes, including a game-clinching 69-yard pass play to Sammy White.

New York GiantsJed Jacobsohn // Getty Images

#14. New York Giants

- Blown lead: 24 points

- Final score: San Francisco 49ers 39, New York Giants 38

- Date: Jan. 5, 2003

Leading 38-14 late in the third quarter, it sure looked like the Giants were going to squash the Niners. But QB Jeff Garcia and star receiver Terrell Owens propelled San Francisco to 25 straight points, and a mishandled snap on the final play of the game—when Giants kicker Matt Bryant hoped to nail a 41-yard FG—sealed the deal.

New England PatriotsFocus On Sport // Getty Images

#13. New England Patriots

- Blown lead: 24 points

- Final score: Miami Dolphins 34, New England Patriots 27

- Date: Dec. 15, 1974

Don Shula was regarded by many as the NFL coaching GOAT in the pre-Belichick 1970s as he led the Dolphins to Super Bowl wins in 1972 and 1973. It appeared he would suffer a rare loss in this 1974 game, however, as Miami trailed 24-0 in the second quarter. But four Dolphins TDs and two Dolphins field goals later, Shula’s team prevailed.

Houston TexansDavid Eulitt // Getty Images

#12. Houston Texans

- Blown lead: 24 points
- Final score: Kansas City Chiefs 51, Houston Texans 31
- Date: Jan. 12, 2020

Chiefs fans were astounded when the underdog Texans jumped out to a 24-0 lead during this divisional playoff game. But then Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs' defense went to work. A series of turnovers inflicted by KC defenders and subsequent TD passes by Mahomes—including three in a span of just three minutes—led to KC's romp as they scored 51 points to Houston's 7 in the final three quarters.

Denver BroncosJared Wickerham // Getty Images

#11. Denver Broncos

- Blown lead: 24 points

- Final score: New England Patriots 34, Denver Broncos 31

- Date: Nov. 24, 2013

Peyton Manning, whose Broncos were Super Bowl-bound in 2013, threw a TD pass midway through the second quarter to give the Broncos a 24-0 lead. But Tom Brady found his favorite targets, Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski, in the end zone to bring the Patriots all the way back to an eventual win in OT. At least Manning can take comfort today in knowing that he tops Brady for the most NFL fourth-quarter comebacks in history, even though Brady played 22 seasons to Manning’s 17.

Dallas CowboysRonald Martinez // Getty Images

#10. Dallas Cowboys

- Blown lead: 24 points

- Final score: Detroit Lions 34, Dallas Cowboys 30

- Date: Oct. 2, 2011

QB Tony Romo was on a roll for more than half the game, putting America’s Team ahead of the Lions, 27-3. But then Detroit’s defense stepped up with three interceptions. Lions defenders scampered for two pick-sixes, and a third interception set up Matt Stafford’s game-winning TD with 1:39 left in the game—a hint of what he would do a decade later at the 2022 Super Bowl.

Cincinnati BengalsGeorge Gojkovich // Getty Images

#9. Cincinnati Bengals

- Blown lead: 24 points

- Final score: Houston Oilers (now Tennessee Titans) 30, Cincinnati Bengals 27

- Date: Sept. 23, 1979

When the Bengals blew a lead to lose by 3 points in the 2022 Super Bowl, some long-retired Bengals watching the game on TV must have experienced some deja vu. The same thing happened when the team faced the Oilers 43 years earlier—and in a more dramatic fashion because they wasted a 24-0 lead. Even worse, the Bengals did it at home in OT and sunk to an 0-4 record.

Chicago CardinalsRobert Riger // Getty Images

#8. Chicago (now Arizona) Cardinals

- Blown lead: 24 points

- Final score: Philadelphia Eagles 28, Chicago (now Arizona) Cardinals 24

- Date: Oct. 25, 1959

This game was not the only low point in the 61-year history of the Chicago Cardinals, but it was pretty bad. A pick-six by the Cards’ “Night Train” Lane gave them a 24-0 lead, but that was before the Eagles took flight. Four straight second-half Eagles TDs, including two TD passes from Norm Van Brocklin to Tommy McDonald, established the avian pecking order: Eagles over Cardinals.

Tampa Bay BuccaneersFocus On Sport // Getty Images

#7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

- Blown lead: 25 points

- Final score: St. Louis (now Arizona) Cardinals 31, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28

- Date: Nov. 8, 1987

When the third quarter ended, it seemed like the Bucs might as well take a victory lap around the St. Louis Arch. Their lead was 28-3. But four unanswered fourth-quarter TDs, including a 24-yard defensive fumble return by Niko Noga, turned Cardinals fans’ frowns upside down.

Atlanta FalconsJamie Squire // Getty Images

#6. Atlanta Falcons

- Blown lead: 25 points

- Final score: New England Patriots 34, Atlanta Falcons 28

- Date: Feb. 5, 2017

The Falcons’ worst-ever blown lead happened on the worst possible occasion: Super Bowl LI. Atlanta initially pulled off the rarity of making Tom Brady look bad as they led 25-3 by the third quarter. But there’s a reason Brady is considered the greatest QB of all time: He led the Pats to a 28-28 tie with 58 seconds left and then a win in the first-ever Super Bowl overtime.

#5. Los Angeles Chargers

- Blown lead: 27 points
- Final score: Jacksonville Jaguars 31, Los Angeles Chargers 30
- Date: Jan. 14, 2023

In this AFC Wild Card contest, things were shaping up perfectly for the visiting Los Angeles Chargers. Austin Ekeler ran for two first-half scores and the Charger defense intercepted Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence four times en route to a 27-0 lead. With 24 seconds before halftime, though, Lawrence's nine-yard touchdown pass to Evan Engram breathed some life into the home team. Lawrence tossed three more touchdowns in the second half and Riley Patterson drained a 36-yard field goal as time expired to complete a seemingly improbable comeback.

New Orleans SaintsSan Francisco Chronicle/Hearst Newspapers // Getty Images

#4. New Orleans Saints

- Blown lead: 28 points

- Final score: San Francisco 49ers 38, New Orleans Saints 35

- Date: Dec. 7, 1980

This game was a harbinger of the 49ers’ imminent dynasty—five Super Bowl titles from 1982 to 1995. With his team trailing 35-7 at halftime, Joe Montana earned the nickname “Joe Cool” when he calmly led them through a four-TD second half to tie the game before a field goal settled it in OT. It was the biggest comeback in NFL history at the time, unmatched for another 33 years.

Kansas City ChiefsRob Carr // Getty Images

#3. Kansas City Chiefs

- Blown lead: 28 points

- Final score: Indianapolis Colts 45, Kansas City Chiefs 44

- Date: Jan. 4, 2014

In a wild-card playoff battle, four Alex Smith TD passes put KC ahead 38-10 in the third quarter. But then the Colts galloped back to win on a 64-yard Andrew Luck TD pass play with four minutes left. The 89 points scored that day in Indy ranks third in most combined points scored in NFL playoff history.

Houston OilersRick Stewart // Getty Images

#2. Houston Oilers (now Tennessee Titans)

- Blown lead: 32 points

- Final score: Buffalo Bills 41, Houston Oilers (now Tennessee Titans) 38

- Date: Jan. 3, 1993

This wild-card playoff game proved to be the wildest game in NFL history, if “wildness” is measured by the magnitude of a team’s collapse. The Oilers quieted the Buffalo crowd of 75,000 by grabbing a 35-3 lead by the third quarter. But four Frank Reich TD passes, three of which went to favorite receiving target Andre Reed, saw the Bills stampede back from playoff oblivion. Bills fanatics had screamed their lungs out by the time a field goal ended it for the most improbable NFL comeback ever.

#1. Indianapolis Colts

- Blown lead: 33 points 

-Final score: Minnesota Vikings 39, Indianapolis Colts 36 

-Date: Dec. 17, 2022

The Indianapolis Colts arrived in Minneapolis' U.S. Bank Stadium and soon silenced the home crowd with a 33-0 lead at halftime. However, the Minnesota Vikings stormed back in the second half as quarterback Kirk Cousins threw four touchdown passes to force overtime. The Vikings won the game—and took the lead for the first time—when Greg Joseph nailed a 40-yard field goal with three seconds left in the extra period. The loss was especially brutal for Colts quarterback Matt Ryan. The 14-year league veteran has now been on the receiving end of four large blown leads, including the famous 28-3 game where Tom Brady and the New England Patriots rallied to win Super Bowl LI.


Experts contributing to this content include Bob Cooper, winner of numerous awards for his writing expertise and Jared Beilby a data reporter who has had his work published across numerous US media sites. The content was edited and fact checked by our in house US Sports expert Mike Calabrese and our Editor In Chief Steve Madgwick

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Article Authors

We are fortunate to have NFL expertise on either side of the Atlantic, where Luke Bradshaw-Lee is a keen UK-based NFL fan attending London games and burning the midnight oil to catch all the weekend action, Whilst in the US, Michael Calabrese [@EastBreese] is an Action Network correspondent and College sports podcaster with the deepest football knowledge we have ever come across. They combine to create the best football content on OLBG US

Michael Calabrese

Michael Calabrese

Us content manager

Michael Calabrese has covered college and professional sports in the US since 2007. He has been featured in print for publications including Fox Sports, The Action Network, Yardbarker, MSN, Saturday Down South, NumberFire, and He also regularly appears on ESPN Radio, Fox Sports Radio, and VSIN
Luke Bradshaw Lee

Luke Bradshaw Lee

Commercial content manager

🏈 Luke is a more than keen follower of the NFL taking in as many games as he can over the weekend and always trying to attend the London NFL games each year. American football remains his main personal betting focus and he creates and contributes to our NFL Articles

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