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NFL Scores History: Highest/lowest scoring game, common scores, and more

What are the highest and lowest scores in NFL history, which scores are the most common, and which scores have never happened in the NFL?

NFL Scores History: Highest/lowest scoring game, common scores, and more

In the rich history of the NFL, several scores stand out for various reasons. Whether it is the highest-scoring game of all time or the lowest-scoring, there are always intriguing wrinkles regarding NFL scores. Let’s take a look at those highest and lowest scoring games, the most common scores in NFL history, and which scores have never happened in the history of the NFL.

Highest-scoring game in NFL history

The highest-scoring game in NFL history actually came in the first post-merger season in 1966. The game was played in Week 12 of that season between the Washington franchise and the New York Giants. Washington entered with a 6-5 record while the Giants were 1-8-1 entering Week 12. A total of 113 points were scored as Washington came away with a 72-41 victory over their NFC East rivals.

The game would see 16 touchdowns and a single field goal scored. Included in those 16 touchdowns were a fumble return, an interception return, and a punt return (all by Washington).

Offensively, Washington’s Sonny Jurgensen threw 3 passing touchdowns, two to Charley Taylor. A.D. Whitfield added 2 touchdowns on the ground and caught the third passing touchdown from Jurgensen. The Giants also threw for 3 touchdowns, with two from Gary Wood and one from Tom Kennedy.

How many times have 100 points been scored in NFL history?

The game between Washington and the Giants may be the highest scoring, but it is not the only time over 100 points have been scored in an NFL game. In total, it has happened six times.

Pre-merger

Two pre-merger games saw over 100 points scored. The first of these was in 1948 when the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers 63-40. In that game, 49ers quarterback Frankie Albert threw 4 touchdowns and added 1 on the ground. Dodgers QB Bob Chappuis, meanwhile, threw 3 touchdowns in the game.

The second pre-merger game to go over 100 points was a 52-49 contest between the Oakland Raiders and Houston Oilers. In a thrilling game, the Raiders scored 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to win the game. Mike Mercer kicked the game-winning field goal with the score tied 49-49, also taking the game over 100 points in total.

Oakland QB Tom Flores threw 6 touchdowns, 4 of which went to Art Powell, who also had 247 receiving yards. For Houston, George Blanda threw 5 touchdowns, 2 of them to Willard Dewveall.

Post-merger

Including the game between Washington and the Giants, 100 points or more have been scored four times since the NFL merger. After 1966, the NFL did not see another 100-point game until 2004. In an NFC North divisional game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns, the Bengals won 58-48. The Bengals clinched the win with a 31-yard interception return from Deltha O’Neal.

The game saw Browns QB Kelly Holcomb throw for 413 yards with 5 touchdowns. Antonio Bryant had 131 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns, while Steve Heiden had 3 touchdowns on 7 receptions. For the Bengals, Carson Palmer threw 4 touchdowns, 2 of which went to T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Additionally, running back Rudi Johnson had 2 touchdowns and 202 yards on 26 carries.

In 2015, the New Orleans Saints defeated the Giants 52-49. Eli Manning threw 6 touchdowns, 3 of which went to Odell Beckham Jr. In the meantime, Drew Brees threw 7 touchdowns as the Saints secured a last-second victory thanks to a 50-yard field goal from Kai Forbath.

The most recent game to see over 100 points scored was between the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs. A total of 105 points were scored — the Rams won thanks to a 40-yard touchdown pass from Jared Goff to tight end Gerald Everett. Goff threw 4 touchdowns and rushed for another.

Simultaneously, Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes threw a total of 6 touchdowns. However, he did have a fumble and an interception returned for a touchdown by the Rams.

Lowest-scoring game in NFL history

Throughout the entire course of NFL history, 73 games have ended 0-0. However, that has not happened since the Giants and Detroit Lions did so in 1943. Similarly, five NFL games in history have finished with a score of 2-0. Again, this has not happened post-merger, with the last such game coming in 1938 between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers.

The lowest NFL score in the post-merger history is 3-0. In the course of the Super Bowl era, it has happened a total of six times. The first one came in 1971 when the Minnesota Vikings defeated the Packers with a fourth quarter field goal by Fred Cox. The most recent occurrence was in 2007 during a torrential downpour when the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Miami Dolphins. In that game, Jeff Reed kicked a 24-yard field goal with 17 seconds remaining.

What are the most common scores in the NFL?

The most common score in NFL history is 20-17, which has happened a total of 269 times. The first occurrence of that result came in 1944, whereas the most recent came in Week 14 of the 2020 season.

A 20-17 score occurred three times in the 2020 season and has happened an average of three times per season over the last three years. Yet, in 2017, a total of eight games finished with this score.

The next most common score in NFL history is 27-24, which has happened 217 times. The Buffalo Bills defeating the Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card round of the 2020 NFL season is the most recent occurrence. Last season, a scoreline of 27-24 occurred a total of six times. In the last three years, there has been an average of over five games a year that have finished 27-24. This scoreline first occurred in 1939 between the Cleveland Rams and the Packers.

The third most common score in the NFL is 17-14. That scoreline has occurred on 196 occasions, with the first coming in 1933 and the most recent on December 27, 2020. Somewhat surprisingly, a 17-14 score has happened just once in the last three seasons.

What NFL scores have never happened?

A number of scores have never occurred in NFL history. No team has ever scored just a single point. This is because the only way to do so is for a defense to register a safety on an extra point. The lowest possible score in which a team scores just one point is 6-1. That is because, for a one-point conversion to happen, at least one touchdown needs to be scored.

In terms of more likely scores that could occur, the lowest score to have never happened is 14-8. There are several ways that this scoreline could occur. For instance, the winning team could score 2 touchdowns, or 1 touchdown, a two-point conversion, and two field goals. On the other hand, the losing team could either score a touchdown with a two-point conversion or score two field goals and register a safety.

A full list of all scores to have never happened can be found on nflscorigami.com.

How could teams score four points in a game?

There are two ways in which an NFL team could score four points. Neither option is common, and four points have been scored just once in NFL history. This occurred in 1923 when the Chicago Cardinals scored four points against the Racine Legion. The Cardinals did so by twice scoring a safety. The only other option to score four points would be a field goal and to add a one-point safety by returning an extra point to the opposing end zone.

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