The Miami Dolphins put up a 70-20 whupping on the Denver Broncos that was more rare than a hybrid solar eclipse.
Quick, when was the last time an NFL team scored – or gave up – 70?
You’d have to go back 57 years, to 1966, when the Washington team blasted the Giants, 72-41. At least the G-Men scored a few of their own on that November afternoon.
The good news: It only counts as one loss for Denver. Miami was a heavy favorite and Denver’s defense played without injured safety Justin Simmons and edge rusher Frank Clark. So, it was going to be tough regardless against MVP contender Tua Tagovailoa, The Cheetah (Tyreek Hill) and the serious scheming of whiz kid Mike McDaniel. But to lose in such a fashion – like a Power Five school hosting a Football Championship Subdivision team – is an embarrassment that suggests a whole lot of quit.
Then again, as convincingly lopsided as it was, it may not have been the worst loss on a Blowout Sunday in the NFL. There are too many candidates for worst loss:
The Dallas Cowboys and the NFL’s best defense (at least it was in Week 1 and Week 2) were shredded for a 28-16 loss at Arizona. The hopes for a last-minute comeback were doused with Dak Prescott’s end zone interception late in the fourth quarter, but it was pretty much over before that, as Arizona rushed for 222 yards and Dallas committed 13 penalties.
The New Orleans Saints blew a 17-0 lead at Lambeau Field, losing 18-17 after rookie Blake Grupe missed a 46-yard field goal with just over a minute to play. At least it wasn’t costlier, as initial reports contend that the right shoulder injury that knocked Derek Carr out of the game won’t end his season.
The Chicago Bears and quarterback Justin Fields were blasted in Kansas City, 41-10, which put an exclamation point on such a horrible week. Chicago converted just four third downs. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes converted three touchdown passes.
The defending AFC South-champion Jacksonville Jaguars lost a second consecutive home game in unspectacular fashion. A week after falling to the defending Super Bowl champs, Jacksonville was exposed a rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud who notched his first win, 37-17, for the Houston Texans. Even worse, the Jags allowed the upback – fullback Andrew Beck – to return a short kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown.
The Washington Commanders entered FedEx Field averaging 27.5 points per game. They left on the wrong end of a 37-3 disaster against the Buffalo Bills as Sam Howell threw four picks.
The Baltimore Ravens lost at home to a backup quarterback (Gardner Minshew) and the Colts. Usually, Justin Tucker is the best kicker on the field. This time, Indy’s Matt Gay was as he nailed three 53-yard field goals and a 54-yarder – all in the second half or overtime – in the 22-19 shocker.
Tennessee was smashed in Cleveland, 27-3, as Ryan Tannehill was sacked 5 times. Whatever happened to DeAndre Hopkins?
All that, and the Minnesota Vikings' 28-24 home loss against the Los Angeles Chargers deserves special consideration. The Vikings rallied back from an 11-point deficit in the second half, fell behind again late in the fourth quarter, then blew a gift-wrapped opportunity to pull it out at the end.
— NFL (@NFL) September 24, 2023
In a matchup of winless teams, the suspect game management in crunch time seemed to suggest that both teams were chasing 0-3.
Chargers coach Brandon Staley, whose fingerprints are on that enormous playoff loss at Jacksonville in the wild-card round in January (they lost after leading 27-0), went for it on fourth-and-1 from L.A.’s 24-yard line with under two minutes to play.
For who? For what? Staley’s gamble to seal the game with a fourth-down run backfired. Hugely.
He could have, no, should have punted to at least force Minnesota to drive the length of the field.
The Vikings, though, proved to be just as sorry at game management as they squandered the gift of great field position. Inexplicably, the Vikings, with zero timeouts and under a minute to play, proceeded to waste roughly 30 seconds by not spiking the ball to stop the clock after a 9-yard completion to tight end T.J. Hockenson set up a first-and-goal at the 6.
Instead, they rushed the play – another throw to the tight end as the clock ticked to 12 seconds. Kirk Cousins should know better. And the sequence was even worse as it ended when a double-tipped pass to the goal line was intercepted in the end zone by linebacker Kenneth Murray with seven seconds to play.
What a bad way to lose.
No, the Vikings were not alone. There was plenty of company with that theme.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Cowboys, Broncos, Vikings all have claim to worst NFL loss in Week 3