Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

The NFL's worst of the worst

1990 New England Patriots (1-15)

These Pats had the worst offense in the NFL, and their defense was next-to-last. They gave up 265 more points than they scored. They scored more than 20 points in a game only once all season but gave up more than 20 on 11 occasions. The average score that season? Opponents 28, Patriots 11.

1972 Houston Oilers (1-13)

1973 Houston Oilers (1-13)

Who was worse, the 1972 Oilers or the 1973 Oilers? Both went 1-13. Flip a coin, but we'll go with 1972. That season, the Oilers finished next-to-last in both offense and defense. They turned the ball over in every game but one and 33 times for the season — an average of more than two a game. Over those two seasons, quarterback Dan Pastorini was sacked 67 times. It got so bad that near the end of his career he was believed to be the first quarterback to wear a flak jacket. Man, that's the thing they use to stop shrapnel.

1982 Baltimore Colts (0-8-1)

The strike that season might have prevented the Colts from being considered the worst team ever. They scored only 113 points all season and still managed to give up 123 more than they scored. They turned the ball over 10 times in the final two games alone. There's more: They were shut out twice, gave up at least 30 points three times and, in one game, mustered only 88 yards of total offense.

1971 Buffalo Bills (1-13)

They were last in offense. Last in defense. Their quarterbacks threw 32 interceptions. They allowed 210 more points than they scored. They were shut out four times and never allowed fewer than 19 points in a game. Not even O.J. Simpson could save them. The Juice rushed for only 742 yards that season. Really, when you dig into the stats, this has to get serious consideration as the worst NFL team to ever take the field.

1976 Tampa Bay Bucs (0-14)

What did their coach, John McKay, think of the team's execution? He was in favor of it. Ah yes, the expansion Bucs went through their first season without a victory. They were shut out five times and never scored more than 20 points in a game. The average margin of defeat was 20.5 points, and they finished with a real bang, losing their final six games by scores of: 48-13, 34-0, 24-7, 49-16, 42-0 and 31-14.

1991 Indianapolis Colts (1-15)

Despite having QB Jeff George and RB Eric Dickerson, the Colts scored only 143 points — the fewest over a 16-game season. They were held to 10 points or fewer in 12 of the 16 games. Over a five-game stretch in the middle of the season, the Colts did not score a touchdown. They had only 14 touchdowns all season, and seven came in two games. Oh yeah, they had the third-worst defense in the league, too.

1981 Baltimore Colts (2-14)

The Colts beat the Patriots in the season opener, lost 14 in a row then beat the Patriots again in the season finale. (The Pats went 2-14 that season.) Overall, Baltimore gave up 533 points. Only one other team gave up more than 400, and that team, the Cardinals gave up 408. The Colts lost one game by three points and another by six. Other than that, they never came closer than 11 points and lost by at least 20 points eight times.

1980 New Orleans Saints (1-15)

How can we forget the infamous "Aints'' — a team so bad fans showed up with bags over their heads. They started the season 0-14 before beating the Jets, who went 4-12 that season, by a mere point. The Saints gave up at least 20 points in every single game and only twice held their opponents to fewer than 333 yards.

2001 Carolina Panthers (1-15)

Behind Florida State Heisman winner Chris Weinke, the Panthers won their opener then proceeded to lose 15 in a row. They finished 30th in yards gained and 31st in yards allowed. This was a bad team, of course, but not as bad as some of the others on this list. After all, the Panthers lost eight games by six points or fewer.

1989 Dallas Cowboys (1-15)

This was Troy Aikman's first year. He threw nine touchdowns and 18 interceptions as the Cowboys finished 28th in offense. In 10 of the 16 games, the Cowboys offense scored either one or no touchdowns. They turned the ball over in 15 of 16 games.

1992 Seattle Seahawks (2-14)

One of the least potent offenses you can find. The Seahawks never scored more than 17 points in a game. In seven games, the Seahawks couldn't even scrape up a touchdown. Really, that's what killed Seattle because the defense ranked 17th in the NFL. It held opponents to 20 points or fewer 10 times and gave 30 points only once.

1996 New York Jets (1-15)

One of the worst defenses you can find. The Jets gave up at least 31 points in 10 games. Only once did they allow fewer than 21 points in a game. They won their ninth game of the season then lost their next five games by an average score of 34-13.

They fumbled the ball away on their second offensive play. They later threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. They were down 21-3 before the first quarter was even over. That's when their punter clanked a punt that traveled all of 13 yards. And it was probably then that you thought, "This might be the worst NFL team of all time.'' The Lions' 47-10 loss to the Titans on Thanksgiving Day dropped them to 0-12 on the season. They are trying to avoid becoming the first team since 1976 to go through a full season without a victory. In fact, the Lions have lost 18 of their past 19 games. Their only victory during that span came against the Chiefs, who have lost 19 of their past 20. Because the Lions still have four games left, it's too early to put them among the worst teams ever. (But we are reserving space somewhere near the top, just in case.) Here's a look at our 13 worst NFL teams of all time in the Super Bowl era. Why 13? Seems like an appropriate number.

2000 San Diego Chargers (1-15)

Here's all you need to know. The Chargers once scored 31 points in a game and lost by 26 points. Another time, they scored 37 points in a game … and lost. With quarterback Ryan Leaf, they turned the ball over at least twice in every game and turned it over at least three times in nine games. Heck, they had three five-turnover games.

The NFL's worst of the worst 11/28/08 [Last modified: Friday, November 28, 2008 9:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. College World Series: Gators, LSU face off in all-SEC finals


    OMAHA, Neb. — The matchup for the College World Series finals bolsters the case for those who say the best baseball in the land is played in the SEC.

    Florida’s Brady Singer, delivering during a CWS win over Louisville last week, is scheduled to start tonight against LSU.
  2. Jones: Fox Sports Sun shows depth in Rays coverage

    TV and Radio

    tom jones' two cents

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) makes a run home for a score in the in the final game of a three-game series between the Tampa Bay Rays and AL East rival the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, June 25, 2017.
  3. Brian Boyle says returning to Lightning a 'huge option'


    As former Lightning forward Brian Boyle approaches free agency this week, he said he's trying to stay busy.

  4. Rays journal: Blake Snell to rejoin rotation, Erasmo Ramirez heads to bullpen

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — LHP Blake Snell is rejoining the Rays' rotation, but the move has as much to do with helping the bullpen as it does with Snell's improvement during his time at Triple-A Durham.

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Erasmo Ramirez (30) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in St. Petersburg.
  5. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.