Where's the Defense? Some Of The NFL's Greatest Defensive Blunders

Mat CroninContributor IJuly 16, 2009

Anyone who is a fan of the NFL can appreciate a good offense.  There is nothing like seeing your favorite running back blast through a hole for a 60+ yard touchdown, or watching your favorite quarterback complete over 65 percent of his passes for over 300 yards.  Sometimes, however, our favorite offenses get a little help from the defense.  There have been some very notable defensive collapses in the NFL which have resulted in mind boggling offensive statistics. 

I present the following defensive meltdowns to you in no particular order, because all of these defenses proved to be great end zone hosts to their offensive guests.  In fact, they were such great hosts that the offense felt comfortable enough to visit over and over again within the same afternoon.  When they weren't sharing their end zone with the likes of Jerry Rice and Gayle Sayers, they were watching Drew Bledsoe and Mark Brunell throw over them, and Adrian Peterson run around and through them. 

1) The Atlanta Falcons defense vs. Tory Holt.  Sept. 24, 2000.

Apparently Tory Holt doesn't like birds.  He really doesn't like birds that give up over 450 points in a season and only score 252.  On this fateful day, Mr. Holt decided he would just run right by the 4-12 Falcons defense.  Holt averaged over 63 yards per catch against these birds, and set a record.  In order to set a record for reception average, you have to catch at least three passes.   

2) The Atlanta Falcons defense vs. Jerry Rice.  Oct. 14, 1990.

The Falcons defense loves Jerry Rice.  They love him so much that they invited him into their end zone five times through the air.  There really isn't anything else to say about this, and the Falcons deserve a break. 

3) Washington Redskins vs. New York Giants.  Nov. 27, 1966.

New York and Washington must have thought the fans would like to see two offenses scrimmage air.  If not, then both of these teams need to work on their defensive endurance.  At the end of the first half, this game looked like a typical blow out in Washington's favor 34-14.  That was until these teams decided to score a combined 65 points in the second half to finish with a 72-41 barn burner with Washington emerging as the victor.  Their combined 113 points and 16 touchdowns are still records. 

4) "Mr. Comeback" Frank Reich vs. Houston Oilers.  Jan. 3, 1993. 

We all know the story of "the comeback" so I will keep this brief.  If you are beating Frank Reich 35-3, don't put in your reserves.  Houston should have known better, as Frank had an epic come from behind win against the University of Miami during his days at Maryland.  Frank beat Houston 41-38 in OT, and then handed the helm back over to Mr. Kelly.  Where did the Houston defense go in the second half?  To be fair, the Bills defense wasn't spectacular either, allowing Warren Moon to throw 36-50 for 371 yards and 4 touchdowns. 

5) New York Yanks vs. Norm Van Brocklin's arm.  Sept. 28, 1951.

"The Dutchman" was a little too much to handle for the Yanks secondary.  Van Brocklin torched the Yanks by throwing for 554 yards, a record that still stands today, on his way to leading the LA Rams to an 8-4 record and the top of the NFL National division.  The Yanks finished last, going 1-9-2.   

6) Houston Texans vs. Mark Brunell's awareness.  Sept. 24, 2006.

Mark Brunell has always been one of my favorite NFL quarterbacks.  When he was in his prime, there wasn't much he couldn't do.  Mark could run the ball and scramble with the best, throw accurate passes over 50 yards, and put Dan Marino into retirement after shellacking the Dolphins in the playoffs.  By the time he was a Redskin, his career as a starter was beginning to end.  That didn't stop the Texans from allowing him to complete 22 consecutive passes, in a single game. 

7) Minnesota Vikings vs. Drew Bledsoe’s cannon.  Nov. 13, 1994.

Drew Bledsoe (as a lifelong New England fan) is a legend.  The man had (and probably still has) an absolute cannon of an arm.  Unfortunately it wasn't the most accurate cannon, and Drew had no problem standing in the pocket for what seemed like hours as he tried to find an open receiver.  "GET RID OF THE BALL DREW!" was a line that could be heard throughout New England in the 1990s.  On Nov. 13, 1994, Drew listened.  Drew aired the ball out 70 times for 45 completions, 426 yards and three touchdowns.  Even though the longest pass he completed was 31 yards, he was determined not to be overshadowed by Warren Moon who threw for 349.  The Patriots went on to win 26-20.  That may not seem like a defensive meltdown, but if you throw the ball 70 times and only complete 45 of them...why didn't Minnesota have a single interception?

8) San Diego Chargers vs. The New Kid on the Block Adrian Peterson.  Nov. 4, 2007.

San Diego!  What’s up with you guys?  The rookie "Purple Jesus" tore you to shreds.  Over 295 yards on the ground by one player is the definition of a meltdown.  Shawne Merriman, Stephen Cooper, Brandon McKinney, Jamal Williams, Igor Olshansky, Quentin Jammer, and Marlon McCree were all useless against this one man highlight machine.  Adrian is now regarded as one of (if not THE) best running backs in the league, and this game sure helped him achieve that status. 


There you have it, some epic NFL defensive meltdowns.