NFL Power Rankings: 25 Biggest One-Hit Wonders in NFL History
NFL one hit wonders come around every so often. In a game as volatile as the NFL, if you don't succumb to injuries, than the fast and furious pace will.
Some were lucky to achieve their fame over the course of a season, while others on the biggest stage in sports had just one game that stood out.
Whether it was a single game, play or season, there are players who've had their 15 minutes in the spotlight only to fade back into obscurity.
25. Desmond Howard
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Desmond Howard was the fourth overall pick in the 1992 NFL draft. He was taken by the Washington Redskins where he was drafted to be a franchise wide receiver.
In his third season with the Redskins, he had 40 receptions for 727 receiving yards and five touchdowns. However, he was used primarily as a kick and punt returner in his remaining years.
In 1996, his first stint with the Green Bay Packers, Howard set an NFL record with 870 punt return yards. However, his biggest moment came during Super Bowl XXXI.
After the New England Patriots cut the Packers 27-14 lead down to six points on a Curtis Martin touchdown run, Howard returned the ensuing kickoff for a 99 yard touchdown. That touchdown and the two-point conversion essentially ended the Patriots hopes.
Howard took home Super Bowl MVP honors for his play that day. He had some solid years as a returner after that, but his 15 minutes came during Super Bowl XXXI.
24. Ladell Betts
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Ladell Betts was drafted with the No. 56 pick by the Washington Redskins in the 2002 NFL draft.
When Clinton Portis went down with a knee injury in 2006, Betts stepped in and started nine games. He rushed for 1,154 yards and caught 53 balls for 445 more yards.
Portis returned the following season and Betts saw his touches gradually decline.
Betts was eventually released at the end of the 2009 season and he is currently buried on the depth chart for the New Orleans Saints.
23. James Allen
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James Allen's first three seasons in the league were far from anything special, but he had a great season in 2000.
Allen ran for 1,120 yards and two touchdowns while catching 39 balls for 291 yards and another score.
He was out of league in two years and that one spectacular season accounted for nearly half of his career totals.
22. Kevin Curtis
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Kevin Curtis was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the 2003 NFL draft.
He was very bland through his first four years and eventually found himself on the Philadelphia Eagles in 2007.
While playing with Donovan McNabb, Curtis hauled in 77 receptions for 1,110 yards and six touchdowns.
The following year he missed nearly half the season due to injury and missed 12 more the year after that. He was released by the Eagles in 2010, but recently signed with the Miami Dolphins.
21. Lamar Smith
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Lamar Smith was taken with the No. 73 pick in the 1994 NFL draft.
Smith didn't really do much in his first six years, but had a breakout season in Miami in 2000.
He ran for 1,139 yards and 14 touchdowns while catching 31 passes for 201 yards and two more touchdowns.
Smith played three more years and finally finished his playing days in New Orleans.
20. Stacey Mack
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Stacey Mack was an undrafted free agent signed by the Jacksonville Jaguards in 1999.
During the 2001 NFL season, Mack got a chance to shine, running for 877 yards and nine touchdowns with 23 receptions, 165 receiving yards and another touchdown through the air.
The following year, his rushing yards were nearly cut in half. The following year he joined the Houston Texans and his numbers plummeted at the same rate. That would be his last season.
19. Drew Bennett
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Drew Bennett was an undrafted rookie signed by the Tennessee Titans in 2001.
However, it wasn't until 2004 that he blew up. He finished the season with 80 receptions, 1,247 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. His eight touchdowns in a three game span is tied for an NFL record.
Bennett played two more seasons with the Titans before signing a $30 million contract with the St. Louis Rams. He was cut after two years and hasn't played in the NFL since.
18. Barry Foster
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Barry Foster was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1990 NFL draft, but it wasn't until 1992 that he became the full blown starter for the Steelers.
Foster had an unbelievable season, rushing for 1,690 yards and 11 touchdowns with 36 receptions and 344 receiving yards. He ran for over 100 yards in a game 12 times that season and tied Eric Dickerson's NFL record.
Foster made the First-Team All-Pro and Pro-Bowl after his monster season and he was touted as the next big running back.
However, injuries derailed his career and he only played 20 games the following two seasons. He was out of the NFL two years later.
17. Olandis Gary
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Selected by the Denver Broncos in the fourth round of the 1999 NFL draft, Olandis Gary had a stellar rookie season, replacing an injured Terrell Davis.
Gary ran for 1,159 yards and seven touchdowns in only 12 games.
Injuries limited him the rest of his career and he only started four more games before he was finally out of league by 2003.
16. Robert Edwards
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Robert Edwards was selected with the No. 18 pick by the New England Patriots in the 1998 NFL draft.
Edwards went on to rush for 1,115 yards and nine touchdowns while hauling in 35 receptions for 331 more yards and three touchdowns.
In a flag football game, Edwards blew out his knee and didn't play again for several years.
He joined the Miami Dolphins in 2002 and played one season with the team before leaving the game altogether.
15. LaMont Jordan
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LaMont Jordan was the second round pick for the New York Jets in 2001. He served as backup to Curtis Martin for four years before signing a huge five year, $27.5 million contract with the Oakland Raiders.
In his first season with the Raiders, he ran for 1,025 yards and reached the end zone nine times. He also led all running backs with 70 receptions and had 563 receiving yards plus two more touchdowns through the air.
That would be his only productive year as injuries limited him in his final two seasons with the Raiders. He bounced from the Patriots to the Broncos before being released.
Jordan currently plays in the Washington Area Flag Football League.
14. Rex Grossman
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Rex Grossman was drafted in 2003 by the Chicago Bears and was given the starting job in 2006.
He threw for 3,193 yards, 23 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in the regular season.
While it was mostly the Bears defense that got them there, Grossman helped lead them to the Super Bowl where the team faced off against Peyton Manning.
Grossman only played eight games the following year, four after that and then made his way to Houston and finally to Washington, where he currently plays.
13. Tommy Maddox
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Tommy Maddox was taken in the first round of the 1992 NFL draft with the No. 25 pick by the Denver Broncos. He had the unenviable task of being the successor to John Elway.
Maddox quickly left the NFL and started selling insurance. He got another chance at football, playing Arena Football, then to the XFL, and finally returned to the NFL.
He signed as a backup with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2001, and got a chance to replace Kordell Stewart the following season.
Maddox took home NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award after throwing for 2,836 yards, 20 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. He led the Steelers to 10 wins, five losses and a tie that season. They went to the playoffs, but ended up falling short in the second round.
The following year, he had a poor season and the Steelers finished with a 6-10 record. The year after that, the Steelers drafted Ben Rothlisberger and the rest is history.
12. Derek Anderson
Derek Anderson took the NFL by storm in 2007. He threw for 3,787 yards, 29 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.
He was awarded a Pro Bowl berth for his huge season and a lucrative contract extension.
The following year, he played in only 10 games and threw for 1,615 yards, nine touchdowns and eight interceptions. The year after that was even worse, throwing for 888 yards, three touchdowns and 10 interceptions in eight games.
Anderson made his way to the Arizona Cardinals this season where he continued his poor play. In 12 games, Anderson has thrown for 2,065 yards, seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
His year finally culminated in his infamous post-game press conference where he exploded in a fit of rage.
11. Don Majkowski
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Don Majkowski was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 10th round of the 1987 NFL draft.
Majkowski didn't really get a chance to prove himself until the 1989 NFL season, but he broke out in a big way. He threw for 4,319 yards, 27 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. The Packers finished with a 10-6 record and Majkowski was selected to the Pro Bowl for his amazing season.
However, he tore his rotator cuff late during the 1990 NFL season, and had trouble holding onto the starting job the next two years.
After tearing a ligament in his ankle against the Bengals during the 1992 season, a young Brett Favre replaced the Majik Man and that was the end of a short-lived era for Majkowski and the beginning of a new one for Favre.
Majkowski played two more season—one with the Colts and one with the Lions—before calling it quits.
10. Rob Johnson
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Rob Johnson was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1995 with the No. 99 pick.
In his third season with the Jaguars, he finally had an opportunity to play in Week 1. He threw for 294 yards on 20 out of 24 attempts with two touchdowns, and he ran for 31 yards and another touchdown.
Soon after, he went down to injury and Mark Brunell took over.
His performance and win against the Baltimore Ravens prompted the Buffalo Bills to give up a first and fourth round pick in order to obtain Johnson and they paid him $25 million to become their franchise quarterback.
However, Johnson never played more than 12 games in a season, nor did he throw for over 2,125 yards.
Johnson earned the nickname Robosack during his tenure in Buffalo and went on to play for Tampa Bay, Washington and finally Oakland before retiring for good.
9. Ickey Woods
Elbert "Ickey" Woods was drafted in 1988 by the Cincinnati Bengals.
In his rookie season, he ran for 1,066 yards and 15 touchdowns. His 228 rushing yards and three touchdowns in the playoffs helped propel the Bengals into Super Bowl XXIII. While his team lost, Woods played well and he was in the national spotlight after his rookie season.
However, the following year, Woods tore his ACL in Week 2 and his career spiraled downward from there.
Woods played only played three more season and only in 21 games. He rushed for 459 yards and 12 touchdowns in those years and finally retired in 1991.
8. Clint Longley
Drafted in 1974 by the Dallas Cowboys, Clint Longley came in as the backup quarterback to Roger Staubach.
In a Thanksgiving Day game against the Washington Redskins, Staubach went down and Longley came in to replace him. The Redskins had a comfortable lead, but Longley led a comeback effort in the final quarter and a half, throwing for 203 yards and two touchdowns. His second touchdown came in the final minute of the game and was a game-winning 50 yarder to Drew Pearson.
That would be his one and only shining moment.
However, Longley really made a name for himself in 1976 when he pulled a sucker punch on Roger Staubach. That assault got him exiled from Dallas and sent to the San Diego Chargers where he was out of the league after three games.
I'm now convinced that Kenny Powers has part of his personality based on Longley, and all of his appearance.
7. Larry Brown
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In Super Bowl XXX, Larry Brown intercepted Pittsburgh Steelers' quarterback, Neil O'Donnell, two times and took home Super Bowl MVP for his efforts.
Brown received a lucrative contract from the Oakland Raiders following his MVP performance, but only started one more game. He played 12 out of a total 32 games with the Raiders and then rejoined the Dallas Cowboys for his final season in the NFL.
6. Jim O'Brien
Jim O'Brien entered the NFL as a wide receiver and was drafted by the Baltimore Colts in the third round of the 1970 NFL draft.
However, O'Brien was converted into a kicker, a position that he played poorly. O'Brien only made 19 out of 34 kicks in his rookie season, but got a shot at redemption in Super Bowl V. With nine seconds remaining in the game, he kicked the game-winning field goal to give the Colts a victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
He played two more seasons with the Colts and a final season with the Detroit Lions before hanging up his threads for good.
5. Mike Jones
Michael Jones originally signed with the Oakland Raiders as a rookie free agent.
After making his way over the St. Louis Rams, Jones came up big in what will be known simply as "The Tackle".
On the final play of Super Bowl XXXIV, Jones tackled Titans receiver, Kevin Dyson, at the one-yard line to preserve the victory for the Rams.
Up to that point, Jones was a rather unremarkable defensive player, but ended up making one of the biggest defensive plays in Super Bowl history.
4. Percy Howard
Percy Howard actually played college basketball, but the Dallas Cowboys brought him in with hopes of turning him into a receiver.
He never caught a single reception in the regular season, but got his chance to shine in Super Bowl X. When Golden Richards went down with a broken rib, Howard got the chance to start opposite Drew Pearson.
With less than two minutes to go, Howard caught a 34 yard touchdown pass over Hall-of-Fame defensive back Mel Blount to cut the lead to five. He came close to catching the game-winning touchdown with time running out, but just missed out on the opportunity.
3. Greg Cook
Greg Cook was selected with the No. 5 pick in the 1969 NFL draft by the Cincinnati Bengals.
The legendary Bill Walsh claimed that Greg Cook had the potential to go down as the greatest quarterback to ever play in the NFL.
Cook tore his rotator cuff in the third game of his rookie season and he missed the next three games. However, due to medical limitations, the injury went undiagnosed. Even so, he still managed to win Rookie of the Year after passing for 1,854 yards, 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
Surgery was required after his rotator cuff began to deteriorate. Doctors also discovered that he also had a detached bicep and after numerous surgeries, he retired.
Cook tried to make a comeback attempt in 1973, but he was never the same after his rookie season and only managed to throw three times before retiring for good.
2. David Tyree
David Tyree will forever be known for one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history.
The New York Giants were up against the then undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII and Tyree stepped up big time.
First, he caught a five-yard touchdown pass to give the Giants a lead late in the game.
Then, with 1:15 remaining in the game on third down and the Giants down by four, Eli Manning got out of a sack and heaved a bomb to Tyree 32 yards down field where he trapped the ball on his helmet and pulled it down for the catch.
That play helped to keep the Giants Super Bowl winning drive alive. Tyree's play won Play of the Year during the ESPYs.
Tyree was eventually cut in 2009, but signed with the Baltimore Ravens. He later signed a one-day contract with the New York Giants and retired from the NFL in 2010.
1. Timmy Smith
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Timmy Smith is in the record books for having the most rushing yards in the Super Bowl.
During Super Bowl XXII, Smith ran for 204 yards and two touchdowns against the Denver Broncos to help give the Washington Redskins a 42-10 victory. He did this on the biggest stage in his rookie season.
However, that would be his only contribution to the sport.
He only played in 12 games the following season, gaining 470 total rushing yards in the process. That would be his final season with the Redskins.
Smith attempted to continue his career with the Dallas Cowboys the following year, but didn't make it past Week 1. That would be the end of his career.