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    Ranking the Top 10 NFL Players Remembered for 1 Bad Play

    What are the most infamous blunders in NFL history? Here are the top 10 NFL players remembered for one bad play.

    While NFL lore is full of memorable, game-changing plays that bolstered teams’ chances, the league is also filled with the converse — infamous blunders that cost clubs wins, sometimes in high-profile matchups.

    What are the most notorious errors in NFL history? Here are the top 10 NFL players remembered for one bad play.

    Top 10 NFL Players Remembered for 1 Bad Play

    10) Dan Orlovsky

    There’s a lot going on during your first NFL start. You might forget certain things — like where the goal line is.

    Dan Orlovsky entered the Detroit Lions’ starting lineup in place of an injured Matthew Stafford in October 2008. Starting against the Minnesota Vikings, Orlovsky took a first-quarter shotgun snap from the back of his end zone and promptly ran out of bounds for a safety.

    “When they started blowing the whistle, I was like, ‘Did we false start, or were they offsides or something?'” Orlovsky said. “And I looked, and I was just like, ‘You’re an idiot.'”

    Those two points proved the difference as the Vikings beat the Lions 12-10. Detroit ultimately became the first NFL team in history to finish 0-16.

    9) Jackie Smith

    Tight end Jackie Smith made the Pro Football Hall of Fame after a 16-year NFL career. But his pro tenure was — at least, for a time — defined by a mistake in Super Bowl XIII.

    Smith had retired after the 1977 season, but Dallas Cowboys head coach Tom Landy convinced the then-38-year-old to lace up his cleats for another campaign in September 1978. While he didn’t catch a single pass during the regular season, Smith’s lack of a reception proved critical in the playoffs.

    Down 21-14 to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the third quarter of Super Bowl XIII, Smith dropped a third-down throw from Cowboys QB Roger Staubach that would have tied the score. Instead, Dallas had to settle for a field goal and eventually lost 35-31.

    The Cowboys had other chances to win the game, and both Landry and Staubach admitted that Smith’s drop was at least partially due to Staubach’s poor pass. But Smith took the brunt of the criticism.

    8) Kyle Williams

    We’re not talking about Buffalo Bills DT Kyle Williams, who earned six Pro Bowl nods and a second-team All-Pro berth over nine seasons in the AFC East.

    This is about ex-San Francisco 49ers WR Kyle Williams, who is unfortunately remembered as much for his mistakes as his NFL production. The 2011-12 NFC Championship Game was a nightmare for Williams, who was tasked with returning punts while Ted Ginn Jr. dealt with an injury.

    Williams muffed a punt early in the fourth quarter with the Niners up 14-10, giving the New York Giants the ball at San Francisco’s 29-yard line. Eli Manning hit Mario Manningham for a go-ahead touchdown seven plays later.

    The 49ers managed to get to overtime, but Williams coughed the ball up again. He fumbled after the Giants punted on their second OT drive, setting Big Blue up in range for a game-winning field goal and a trip to Super Bowl XLVI.

    7) Rahim Moore

    One year later, on the other side of the NFL playoff bracket, Denver Broncos safety Rahim Moore made just as egregious of an error as Williams.

    Denver held a 35-28 lead over the Baltimore Ravens with 44 seconds remaining in the 2012-12 Divisional Round. Joe Flacco and the Ravens had the ball at the Broncos’ 30-yard line, and the game appeared all but over.

    But Moore somehow allowed Baltimore wideout Jacoby Jones to get behind him down the right sideline. While his only goal was to prevent a game-tying touchdown, Moore ended up in poor coverage, desperately leaping for the football as it sailed over his outstretched arms into Jones’ chest for a 70-yard TD.

    The Ravens went on to win in double overtime and eventually won Super Bowl XLVII. Moore left the Broncos that offseason for a three-year, $12 million contract with the Houston Texans.

    6) Tony Romo

    While Tony Romo guided the Cowboys to a 6-4 record and a playoff appearance after replacing Drew Bledsoe in 2006, his inaugural starting season was overshadowed by a postseason gaffe.

    In the NFC Wild Card Round, Romo and the Cowboys trailed the Seattle Seahawks 21-20 with just over a minute left. Dallas lined up for a 19-yard field goal to put them ahead, but Romo — who was still the team’s holder — fumbled the snap.

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    Romo tried and failed to reach for the goal line. However, he was tackled two yards short, and the Seahawks held on for the victory.

    Romo and the Cowboys advanced to the Divisional Round twice over the ensuing three years. But Romo never reached an NFC title game over nine seasons as Dallas’ starting QB.

    5) Brandon Bostick

    The Green Bay Packers’ devastating loss to the Seahawks in the 2014-15 NFC Championship Game wasn’t entirely backup tight end Brandon Bostick’s fault — but he certainly played a significant role in the defeat.

    After cutting the deficit to 19-14 with a touchdown just before the two-minute warning, Seattle tried an onside kick to get the ball back. Bostick, who later admitted he was supposed to block for WR Jordy Nelson on the recovery attempt, instead lept up for the ball.

    Bostick missed the catch; the ball bounced off his helmet before being recovered by Seahawks WR Chris Matthews. Seattle took the lead on the ensuing drive and won overtime. Two weeks later, Russell Wilson and Co. lost to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX.

    Green Bay cut Bostick six weeks later. He started seven games for the New York Jets in 2016, his final NFL campaign.

    4) Jim Marshall

    Longtime Vikings defensive end Jim Marshall had a long list of NFL accomplishments; that’s what happens when you suit up for 282 games, the league record for a defensive player.

    Unfortunately, Marshall might be best remembered for a self-enforced error.

    In 1966, Marshall received an offensive fumble by the 49ers and ran 66 yards the wrong way into Minnesota’s end zone, throwing the ball out of bounds for a San Francisco safety.

    “Jim, you did the most interesting thing in this game today,” Vikings head coach Norm Van Brocklin told the two-time Pro Bowler after his foul-up.

    Minnesota still won the game, partly because Marshall forced another 49ers fumble that fellow Vikings defensive lineman Carl Eller returned for a touchdown. But Marshall’s “Wrong Way Run” went down in NFL infamy.

    3) Mark Sanchez

    The Jets entered their 2012 Thanksgiving Day contest against the Patriots with a 4-6 record and an outside chance of fighting back into the AFC playoffs.

    New York left that game all but eliminated from postseason contention and having committed one of the NFL’s most hilarious mistakes.

    Already down 14-0 early in the second quarter, Jets QB Mark Sanchez was supposed to fake a leftward toss to RB Shonn Greene before fullback Lex Hilliard took the handoff and went right. Instead, Sanchez went left, missed a connection with Hilliard, and decided to slide — right into New York guard Brandon Moore’s rear end.

    Sanchez went down hard and lost control of the ball, which New England defensive back Steve Gregory recovered for a scoop-and-score TD. New York ultimately lost three fumbles and was outscored 35-3 in the second quarter despite holding the ball for 12+ minutes.

    While Sanchez had already struggled as an NFL quarterback, the “Butt Fumble” turned him into something of a laughingstock. He was briefly benched to complete the 2012 season, left New York after 2013, and was never again a full-time starting QB.

    2) Earnest Byner

    When a play is referred to simply as “The Fumble,” you know it was consequential.

    Earnest Byner earned two Pro Bowls and topped 1,000 rushing yards three times over his NFL career, but he’s remembered primarily for his unforgettable fumble in the 1987 AFC Championship Game.

    Byner’s Cleveland Browns had already lost to the Broncos in the previous year’s AFC title game after John Elway engineered “The Drive,” a 98-yard game-tying drive followed by a Denver overtime win.

    The 1987-88 contest would prove just as devastating. Down 21-3 at halftime, the Browns roared back with three third-quarter TDs, including two from Byner. Cleveland was trailing 38-31 late in the fourth quarter when disaster struck.

    Byner fumbled on 2nd-and-5 from Denver’s 8-yard line, losing the ball at the 3 after a hit and recovery from Broncos defensive back Jeremiah Castille. Denver held on after taking an internal safety. Cleveland returned to the AFC title game two years later but made the playoffs just four more times over the next 34 years.

    1) Leon Lett

    We’ll cheat a little bit at the top of our list because Leon Lett wasn’t only remembered for one bad play — he has two infamous miscues on his résumé.

    Lett’s first error came in Super Bowl XXVII, but his Cowboys were leading the Bills by so much (52-17) that his mistake didn’t make a difference. But that doesn’t make the defensive tackle’s botched fumble recovery any less hilarious.

    After scooping a late fourth-quarter Buffalo fumble, Lett slowed and raised the football at the Bills’ 10-yard line. The two-time Pro Bowler later said he was watching himself on the Jumbotron and was trying to pull a “Michael Irvin.” Buffalo WR Don Beebe knocked the ball from Lett’s hands, resulting in a touchback and costing the Dallas DT a score.

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    The following season, Lett committed another error with more severe in-game consequences. The Cowboys looked to have sealed a Thanksgiving Day 1993 contest against the Dolphins after Dallas DL Jimmie Jones blocked what would have been a game-winning Miami field goal.

    If Lett had allowed the ball to roll to a stop on the snow-covered field, the Cowboys would have automatically regained possession and walked away with a victory. Instead, Lett went for the ball, slipped, and hit it forward into the end zone, where the Dolphins recovered. Muffed-kick rules gave Miami the ball at the 1-yard line, and Pete Stoyanovich nailed a chip-shot FG for the win.

    The Cowboys didn’t lose another game during the 1993 campaign, ultimately securing what would become their second Super Bowl in four years. Lett’s second error had minimal long-term effects, but he’s still the poster child for comedically memorable NFL plays.

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