Sports

Serious question: Was this the worst primetime football game ever?

This was a prime-time game...

This was a prime-time game…
Image: Getty Images

The J-Lo and Josh Duhamel movie trailer that came on after this game ended was better than the game itself. I don’t even remember the title, but the sheer jubilation I received after I no longer had to watch that football game made that trailer all the more enjoyable. HOLY SMOKES! Both teams were allergic to the end zone. The biggest offensive play of the night happened when two Broncos receivers nearly collided and tried to steal the ball from one another.

In case you didn’t know, this was the first time in NFL history that a game with two four-time Pro Bowl quarterbacks ever had zero touchdowns. In fact, this was the only game this year to have zero touchdowns. They combined for four interceptions (there were also more than a few fumbles that were thankfully recovered by the offense), which still didn’t come close to the number of injuries both teams sustained throughout. Nyheim Hines, Ryan Kelly, Garrett Bolles, Ronald Darby, Ashton Dulin. Even Russell Wilson had to get checked for a head injury at one point during the game. Aside from the defensive game plans, there wasn’t anything positive to take away from this game. However, this wasn’t a game of defensive mastery between two incredible units. This was just awful quarterback play personified. Both Wilson and Ryan continually missed reads, held onto the ball too long, and tried to evade pressure by running into D-linemen.

None of that actually warrants the title of “Worst game ever” though. So, what makes this one of the ugliest games ever witnessed? For one, this was a primetime matchup. This game got national attention. When other low-scoring games happen, most of the time there’s another game to swap to, but not here. Football fans were forced to watch in agony as the game dragged on and on and on, and didn’t even quit once it hit zeroes in the fourth quarter.

Second, the average score of an NFL game in 2022 is 22 points per team (21.9 to be exact). This game provided a -23 point differential from the league average. There was no bad weather to blame, no lack of talent on offense — nothing other than horrendous play from both sides. Sure, Matt Ryan isn’t what he once was, but he’s just two years removed from a 4,500 yards, 26-TD season. Russell Wilson might not be what he once was, either, but he’s two years removed from 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns. These aren’t young, inexperienced quarterbacks still learning the speed of the NFL. These are vets! And they served us a turd soufflé.

In NFL history, there have only been eight games to see one team record four or more field goals while their opponent records three or more without any touchdowns scored. The most recent was a 2017 contest between the Tennessee Titans and Cleveland Browns. The Titans went 9-7 that year. The Browns went 0-16. That game featured Marcus Mariota, DeShone Kizer, and Cody Kessler. They threw for fewer interceptions (three) than Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson (four) did. Pathetic.

Aside from that game, the last time two teams played in a game as horrendous as the one we just watched was in 2002. Fifteen years we went without a game like this! We took it for granted. In that riveting 2002 matchup, the eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Carolina Panthers 12-9. The Panthers were actually up 9-3 at the start of the 4th quarter, so at least the Bucs sort of got their offensive act together as the game winded down, and that’s more than either team in yesterday’s contest can say.

I understand that Jonathan Taylor and Javonte Williams didn’t play in this game. That doesn’t excuse anything, though. The Colts’ offensive line, supposedly one of the best in the NFL, got demolished by D.J. Jones all night. Even before Indy center Ryan Kelly left the game with a hip injury, the Broncos were bullying him into the Colts’ backfield. Just abysmal everywhere.

Normally, I’d blame an effort like this on the head coaches, but I genuinely think both did well. Blame Hackett for not running the ball on fourth-and-1 in overtime all you like. He remembers everyone getting angry with him after he refused to “let Russ cook” in Week 1, opting instead for a 64-yard field goal. He gave his franchise quarterback an opportunity to put the game away and Wilson couldn’t do it. Wilson even had K.J. Hamler wide open for a touchdown on that final play, but the QB’s eyes were glued to Courtland Sutton. I don’t blame Wilson for looking for his top guy, but Sutton was running a deep in, and was playing very physically against corner Stephon Gilmore all night. There was lots of hand-fighting between the two all game long. That’s going to take some time for that route to develop. At least look somewhere else while that happens. Just once, look at your second read. Wilson didn’t. Hamler slammed his helmet to the ground after the play was over.

That game was terrible. I’d rather watch my conception than a replay of that game. But hey, at least we’ll have Commanders-Bears next Thursday night. That will surely be much better. (Please tell me the sarcasm reads through here). [Editor’s note: It does.]

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