Top 25 Zaniest Bloopers in NFL History

Thomas CopainCorrespondent IApril 11, 2011

Top 25 Zaniest Bloopers in NFL History

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    We like to think of football as this perfectly-performed opera.

    This drama unfolding on a football field, with precision-trained warriors playing their guts out on a blood-and-sweat soaked field for three hours, giving all they have to achieve another victory.

    So when you see these amazing athletes look around in bewilderment after a ball bounces off their helmet, or look around when they run into each other or into the referees, you can't help but chuckle just a little bit. And for a game that's so dependent on execution, these bloopers (or follies as the NFL likes to call them), seem to happen a lot.

    If they didn't, John Madden wouldn't have put out a bunch of those "Boom! Bang! Whap! Doink!" videos back in the day.

    So as the labor situation rolls on, here are the 25 zaniest bloopers in NFL history.

25. An Epic Run, or Just Bad Tackling

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    I'm not taking anything away from what might be one of the best, if not more memorable, runs in NFL history.

    But what does it say about Marshawn Lynch that he was able to do that while treating the entire Saints defense as Pop Warner players trying to tackle him? Don't get me wrong; that's an amazing effort. But wouldn't you think professional players would be able to tackle better than that?

24. One Too Many Celebrations for Bill Gramatica

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    If you remember the Gramatica brothers from the late 1990s-early 2000s, you remember that both Martin and Bill had an unique way of celebrating a field goal.

    That being said, you just knew in the back of your head that eventually it was going to catch up to them. And unfortunately for Bill, that happened back in 2001 when he celebrated a field goal in the Meadowlands and suffered a knee injury.

    Suffice to say, the celebrations stopped after that.

23. "The Bears Are Who We Thought They Were!"

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    To say Dennis Green was upset after the Cardinals had blown a big lead against the eventual NFC Champion Bears in 2006 (on Monday night at home, nonetheless) was a given, but what resulted was one of the more memorable coach rants in recent memory.

    It's no "Playoffs?!", but it's still a memorable rant.

22. "Giving Him the Business"

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    The NFL has had some characters for referees during the years (although any discussion of that begins and ends with Ed "Mr. Universe" Hochuli). 

    But you'd have to go a long way before you hear an explanation of a penalty quite like the one called on the Jets' Marty Lyons for roughing up Jim Kelly in a scuffle back in the day. And quite frankly, I don't know what makes it better: the actual call of "giving him the business" or the accompanying hand motion?

21. Drew Brees' Oddest Touchdown

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    You see things like this happen from time to time, but it never gets any less strange.

    There are a couple of plays like this on the list, but this situation goes as such. Drew Brees has a pass at the end of the half picked off by Kareem Moore. Moore tries to return it, but Robert Meachem strips Moore of the ball and returns it for a game-tying touchdown at the end of the first half.

    The Saints went on to win this game during their Super Bowl season of 2009. So that not only explained how the Saints were able to get that kind of break, but also sums up the Jim Zorn era in Washington.

20. Mike Sherrard's 39 Yards of Fame

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    Mike Sherrard was a former first round pick who had a nice career in the NFL.

    But perhaps Sherrard will never be remembered more than for his only touchdown of 1992, a 39-yard scamper officially ruled as a fumble recovery. But in actuality, Sherrard stole the ball from Phoenix Cardinals linebacker Eric Hill, who had intercepted the ball off a tip from tight end Brent Jones.

19. Sean Landeta's Whiff

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    Landeta has been one of the most traveled punters around during his career.

    But he'll never live down his missed punt for the New York Giants during the 1985 NFC Championship Game. Yes, I said missed punt.

    Landeta missed the ball, and it rolled away for a couple of yards. It was bad enough it happened; it was even worse for Landeta that it happened at the Giants' five yard line. Shaun Gayle of the Bears picked it up and waltzed in for what turned out to be the decisive score in the Bears' 21-0 victory.

18. Dan Orlovsky Forgets Where He Is

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    He was a quarterback for the Detroit Lions during the 2008 season, so it should make perfect sense that Orlovsky "safetied" himself by running out of the back of the end zone to avoid Jared Allen.

    Still, it's not exactly a proud moment for Orlovsky. But considering how the 21st dentury has gone for the Lions, should we really be surprised?

17. Steve Young Gets Some Help

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    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Steve Young has been right at the heart of some of the most zaniest plays in NFL history during his Hall of Fame career.

    But it'll be hard to top this gem from his Tampa Bay days back in 1986 in a game against the Bears. Young threw an interception to Todd Bell. Bell, trying to set up a return, ran to the sideline and threw a lateral to Mike Richardson. Richardson then went for another lateral.

    The only problem was Tampa receiver Vince Heflin, who stepped in front of the lateral and took it downfield for a score.

16. Sage Rosenfels' Daring Flight

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    Rosenfels has been a backup that has bounced around the NFL, but for the most part, he played well in Houston subbing for Matt Schaub.

    Against the Colts, Rosenfels was trying to close out a rare Texans win against Indy when he tried to make a move around three Colts defenders. At this time, I could only imagine he had that famous John Elway run from Super Bowl XXXII playing in his head because he inexplicably tried to helicopter through the defense.

    Of course, Rosenfels fumbled, Cato June returned the fumble for a touchdown and the Colts eventually erased the deficit and won in the final minutes.

15. Knock It Down!

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    In terms of football strategy, Glover Quin did exactly what you're supposed to do when you're defending a hail mary. Unfortunately for him, there was one tiny error.

    Instead of knocking it down, he knocked it out.

    And in a play that basically sums up the Texans' franchise to date, he knocked it right to Mike Thomas, who ducked into the end zone for the game-winning score. Not only was it one of the most fantastic finishes of 2010, it also gave us another epic call from Gus Johnson.

14. The Extra Point Is Never a Given

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    In the annals of NFL history, the "chaos on the field" play (known as "The Band Is On The Field" in college football) isn't a rarity at the end of games.

    When it works, that's a different story. And it did for the Saints back in 2003, who scored an improbable touchdown that appeared to keep their playoff hopes alive. All that was needed was the extra point to tie the game, which John Carney pushed to the right.

    The Saints lost the game and were eliminated from the playoff race because of it.

13. "Playoffs?!"

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    It may not be a blooper on the field, but the now infamous "Playoffs" rant from Jim Mora as the coach of the Colts has become legendary in the annals of post-game press conferences.

    Mora was no stranger to memorable press scrums, but his playoffs rant has become one of the most memorable soundbites of the last 20 years. And in terms of the press conference Hall of Fame, it's right up there with "You Play To Win The Game" and "Practice."

12. Johnson to Johnson

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    What can I really say?

    I don't really know what's more amazing about this: Is it that Johnson caught his own batted pass, is it those dry heaves that I'm guessing resembled jukes or is it that he turned a batted pass into a touchdown?

    I'd go with the touchdown, although I must say no guy should ever make those moves again.

11. A.J. Jones' Miscue

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    Mike Powell/Getty Images

    Now I'll start off by saying that's not a picture of A.J. Jones; rather, it's Giants receiver Phil McConkey. But both players were big parts in this gaffe.

    In a game against the Giants, Jones (of the Los Angeles Rams) let a kick go over his head and bounce into the end zone. The only problem was it was a kickoff, not a punt. Ergo, it was a live ball and McConkey fell on the football in what might be the easiest touchdown he ever scored.

10. Thurman Thomas' Lost Helmet

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    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Thomas will go down as one of the better running backs of the 1990s and a key cog in the high-powered Buffalo Bills offense.

    But he'll also be remembered for missing the first two plays of Super Bowl XXVI after he had misplaced his helmet on the bench. Sub Kenneth Davis went in instead, and the Bills went on to their second of four straight Super Bowl defeats.

    Asked before the next year's Super Bowl whether or not he'd be remembered for that if the Bills won, Thomas told the Baltimore Sun: "Probably not. I know what the first headline is going to be: 'Bills win Super Bowl -- Thurman Thomas finds helmet.' "

9. "Give Me a Minute"

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    It's rare when the officials show an ounce of humanity, it seems like. And it's moments like that that we remember that even officials need help.

    This referee needed some help sorting out the penalties during the Texans-Cowboys game last season, and eventually, he got everything sorted out. Not before getting booed by the Reliant Stadium crowd, though.

    He did accomplish something, though: He managed to get a chuckle out of Joe Buck.

8. The Headbutt

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    In 1997, the Redskins and surprising Giants were going back and forth for the NFC East title when they met in Washington for the first time that season.

    Early in the game, the Redskins and Gus Frerotte made a statement by taking an early 7-0 lead on a Frerotte touchdown run. Fired up, Frerotte decided to celebrate by ducking his head down and ramming himself into the wall.

    Frerotte gave himself a concussion, and the gaffe became the most memorable part of a 7-7 tie.

7. One Yard Short

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    Shannon Sharpe would've been proud.

    Before Jackson become one of the most dangerous weapons in the NFL, he was a rookie who made a big play in a frantic Eagles-Cowboys game back in 2007. Unfortunately, during his celebration, he spiked the ball before he crossed the goal line.

    Fortunately for the Eagles, they retained possession and eventually scored. 

6. The Holy Roller

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    It's one of the most infamous plays in NFL history and one that changed the rulebook.

    Ken Stabler just trying to get the ball downfield turned into absolute chaos at Jack Murphy Stadium, ending with Dave Casper just falling on the football (and perhaps intentionally kicking it forward) in the end zone and providing the winning score for the Raiders.

5. Miracle in the Meadowlands

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    Joe Pisarcik, Larry Csonka and Herman Edwards combined on a late afternoon in 1978 to produce one of the biggest gaffes and one of the more memorable finishes in NFL history.

    The first "Miracle at the Meadowlands" eventually brought on the evolution of taking a knee and the so-called "victory formation", while it still brings back bad memories for Giants fans more than 30 years after. 

4. Garo's Gaffe

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    This blooper needs no introduction.

    If you love football, you've heard the story and seen the highlights of Garo Yepremian, Miami Dolphins kicker. Yepremian tries to attempt a field goal to ice Super Bowl VII, it gets blocked, Yepremian tries to pass and bats it right into the hands of Mike Bass of the Redskins.

    It's one of the most infamous gaffes in NFL and sports history. Although fortunately for Yepremian, it didn't cost the Dolphins the game or the perfect season.

3. Leon Lett, Part 1

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    Leon Lett was an important cog for the Cowboys' defensive line during their rebirth as America's Team during the 1990s.

    That being said, he made two gaffes during his time in Dallas that aren't even remembered. They're, well, what would be the bizarro version of legendary?

    One of which famously came in the Super Bowl, as the Cowboys were manhandling the Buffalo Bills. Lett picks up a fumble and starts to celebrate only to see the human rocket Don Beebe knock the ball out of his hands and out of the end zone for a touchback. Embarrassing for sure, but at least it didn't cost the Cowboys.

2. Leon Lett, Part 2

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    His other blunder, that's a different story.

    The Cowboys are trying to hold off the Dolphins on a snowy Thanksgiving Day in 1993. The legendary Pete Stoyanovich lines up for the game-winning field goal, only to have it blocked. The ball rolls in the snow, and the Cowboys believe they've won the game.

    But Lett tries to fall on the football and boots it. Instead, Miami recovers on the one-yard line, and Stoyanovich hits the chip shot to ice a 16-14 win for Miami.

1. Marshall's Mad Dash

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    Although while what happened for Leon Lett was embarrassing, it still doesn't top the legendary Jim Marshall.

    Marshall, a defensive lineman for the Vikings in 1964, finds the top spot on this list for his fumble recovery and subsequent safety after he runs nearly the entire field in the wrong direction against the 49ers. It's one of those plays that will be remembered forever, but also one that makes a lot of football fans chuckle even to this day.