The 5 Worst Drops in NFL History

Matt LechnerContributor IFebruary 21, 2012

The 5 Worst Drops in NFL History

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    Wes Welker has 650 catches during his career, but it's his one drop that still has people talking.

    The now-infamous dropped pass came with 4:09 remaining in Super Bowl XLVI. New England was clinging to a two-point lead when Tom Brady threw a pass, slightly behind Welker, that fell incomplete. It was shocking to see Welker drop a pass that has become routine for him.

    While Welker's drop is fresh in our memories, here are five other players who dropped the ball at the worst possible moment.       

Steve Johnson Lets Victory Slip Away, Blames God

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    Not much went right for the Bills in 2010. They lost their first eight games of the season and looked like the worst team in the NFL. But then they turned in it around in Week 10 and 11, winning back-to-back games.

    They would have had three in a row, if it weren't for one of the most memorable drops in NFL history.

    It was Week 12, the 2-8 Bills were hosting the 7-3 Steelers. Buffalo had no business being in this game, but they pushed Pittsburgh to overtime, tied at 16.   

    The Bills were on a role, too, outscoring the Steelers 16-3 in the second half. However, victory literally slipped through Buffalo's fingers, when Steve Johnson dropped a wide-open pass in the end zone. His drop led to a Buffalo punt and eventually a game-winning field goal by the Steelers.

    What made this drop memorable is Johnson's response after the game. The Bills receiver took to twitter and blamed God for the drop:

    "I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO...," Johnson tweeted.

Darrin Nelson's Drop Dashes Vikings Super Bowl Hopes

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    The Minnesota Vikings were the surprise team of 1987, especially during playoff time.

    Minnesota finished the strike-shortended season 8-7, which included a 0-3 record using strike-replacement players. They managed to sneak into the playoffs, eventually making it all the way to the NFC Championship Game.

    In the first round of the playoffs, they upset the New Orleans Saints (12-3). After that, they went to San Francisco and beat the 13-2 49ers. Those unexpected victories by the Vikings would set-up a matchup with the Washington Redskins at RFK Stadium. 

    In that game, the Vikings trailed 17-10 last in the fourth quarter. The Vikings had the ball and had driven to the Redskins' 6-yard line. With just over a minute left in the game, the Vikings were faced with a 4th-and-goal. Quarterback Wade Wilson spotted an open Darrin Nelson near the goal line, but Nelson was unable to make the catch.

    The drop by Nelson propelled the Redskins to the Super Bowl XXII, which they ended up winning easily 42-10 over the Denver Broncos.

Lewis Billups Gives Joe Montana a Second Chance

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    Super Bowl XXIII is best remembered for the 49ers' game-winning drive that started on their own 8-yard line.

    San Francisco was down 16-13 to the Bengals with with 3:10 left on the clock. The Niners would march 92 yards and take the lead when Joe Montana connected with John Taylor on a 10-yard scoring strike. The touchdown gave the Niners a 20-16 lead for good with 34 seconds left.

    While Montana's brilliance on that last drive was stuff of legend, one has to wonder what might have been had Lewis Billups intercepted a Montana pass early in the fourth quarter.

    The Niners had the ball on Cincinnati's 14-yard line, trailing the Bengals 13-6. Montana locked into Taylor in the middle of the endzone and Billups stepped in front of the pass and dropped the interception. On the next play, the 49ers scored a touchdown tying the game at 13. 

    There's no telling what would have happened had Billups held onto that ball and prevented the Niners from scoring the tying touchdown.

Asante Samuel's Miss Makes David Tyree a Star

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    It was late in Super Bowl XLII and the clock was ticking on the Giants season. Eli Manning escaped the Patriots pressure and found David Tyree for one of the greatest catches in Super Bowl history. Tyree's catch would set-up the game-winning touchdown by Plaxcio Burress, ruining the Patriots' perfect season.

    As great as that Manning-to-Tyree play was, it wouldn't have happened had Asante Samuel not dropped an interception a play earlier.

    The Giants had the ball with 1:20 left in the game, Manning tried to hit Tyree near the sideline. The ball sailed on Manning and it headed for Samuel. But instead of making a game-clinching interception, the ball hit Samuel's hands and fell incomplete.

    Sure the pass was high, but the Pro Bowl cornerback, who had intercepted 16 passes the last two seasons, had made that play before.

    That was Samuel's last game with the Patriots. He signed a massive free agent contract with the Philadelphia Eagles that offseason.

Jackie Smith's Hall of Fame Career Overshadowed by Super Bowl Drop

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    Jackie Smith's dropped pass in the endzone was so bad, even long-time broadcaster Vern Lundquist was sympathetic.

    It was third down, Dallas was driving on Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XVII. The Cowboys trailed by a touchdown and had the ball on the Steelers' 10-yard line. Quarterback Roger Staubach faked the hand-off and in rhythm threw a strike to tight end Jackie Smith in the endzone.

    The ball would hit Smith between the 8-and-the-1 on his jersey and fall to the ground incomplete. Lundquist famously said, "Bless his heart, he's got to be the sickest man in America."  

    The drop wound up being the difference in the game as the Steelers went onto win Super Bowl XIII 35-31.

    Unfortunately for Smith, most people only know him for that drop. In reality, Smith was an exceptional tight end and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.