NFL: Winless Teams Defeating Undefeated Teams 4 Weeks or More into the Season
This Sunday, the winless St. Louis Rams head to Green Bay to play the undefeated Packers. The Rams are hoping to turn around their season with a major upset. It's an upset most don't feel the Rams will come close to pulling off.
Going back to the NFL's inception in 1920, there have been only seven instances in which a winless team four games or more into their season, has defeated an undefeated team that was four games or more into their season.
2002: 0-5 Rams Defeat the 4-0 Raiders 28-13
The start of the Rams' 2002 season was a complete disaster. Coming off of a heartbreaking loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 36, the Rams started the season 0-4. Meanwhile the Raiders, also coming off of a heartbreaking loss to the same Patriots team in the playoffs, started the season 4-0.
The upset in St. Louis wasn't enough to save the Rams season as they finished 7-9. The Raiders recovered, and finished the season 11-5 and made an appearance in Super Bowl 37.
1979: 0-5 Giants Defeat the 5-0 Buccaneers 17-14
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In 1979 there was talk of another undefeated NFL season in the state of Florida. Surprisingly nobody was talking about the Miami Dolphins. They were talking about the 5-0 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Only a few years coming off of their 26-game losing streak, the Buccaneers were at the top of the NFL mountain.
But then came the lowly New York Giants and their rookie QB Phil Simms. In his first career start, Simms and the 0-5 Giants defeated the Buccaneers 17-14 at the Meadowlands.
The Buccaneers finished the season 10-6, and made it all the way to the NFC Championship Game.
The Giants victory over the Buccaneers was the spark to a four-game winning streak, however the Giants slowed down at the end and finished their season 6-10.
1975: 0-4 Packers Defeat the 4-0 Cowboys 19-17
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The Green Bay Packers have historically struggled against the Cowboys in Dallas. However, in 1975 the Packers pulled off an amazing upset in Texas Stadium. The Cowboys were putting together a Super Bowl season, but their inability to hold a third-quarter lead against the lowly Packers, was a bad mark on their season.
The Packers went on to their losing ways again after their upset, losing four games in a row again. They finished the season 4-10. The Cowboys went 10-4 and won the NFC title.
The upset was Bart Starr's first win as a head coach in the NFL.
1968: 0-4 Falcons Defeat the 4-0 Giants 24-21
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Fran Tarkenton's return to the state of Georgia (he played for the Georgia Bulldogs in college) marked the end of the New York Giants dream season.
The 4-0 Giants went down to Georgia, only to lose to the 0-4 Atlanta Falcons. Afterwards, the Giants would only win three more games all season, to finish their season with a 7-7 record. The Falcons would only win one more game after their upset, finishing the season with a 2-12 record.
It was only the Falcons' second victory in Atlanta since becoming an expansion team in 1967. Their other win in Atlanta was against Fran Tarkenton's former and future team, the Minnesota Vikings.
1967: 0-4 Vikings Defeat the 3-0-1 Packers 10-7
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The Minnesota Vikings were off to a 0-4 start, and it looked they would be 0-5. The Vikings were on the road, going up against the two-time NFL defending champion Green Bay Packers.
At the end of the third quarter, the Vikings were down by seven points. But a 10-point fourth-quarter rally gave the Vikings their first win of the year, and the Packers their first defeat.
Their rematch later in the season was also a nail-biter, with the Packers defeating the Vikings 30-27.
The Vikings finished their season with a 3-8-3 record. The Packers would go on to win the Super Bowl with a record of 9-4-1.
1965: 0-6-1 Patriots Defeat the 5-0-2 Chargers 22-6
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It wasn't a major surprise when the 0-6-1 New England Patriots defeated the 5-0-2 Chargers in San Diego. This is because earlier in the season, the Patriots tied the Chargers 13-13.
The Patriots' Gino Cappelletti was the star of the game, with two touchdown receptions, two extra points, and two field goals.
The Chargers finished the season with a record of 9-2-3 and made an appearance in the AFL Championship Game. The Patriots finished the year with a record of 4-8-2.
1963: 0-5 49ers Defeat the 5-0 Bears 20-14
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Maybe the Chicago Bears were overconfident in their game against the winless San Francisco 49ers. The Bears were coming off of a 52-14 victory over the winless Los Angeles Rams
It what would be their only loss of a championship season, the Bears struggled mightily at Kezar Stadium. The 49ers started the game with 17 unanswered points and never let go of the lead.
The Bears would recover, and finished the year with a 11-1-2 record, and were NFL champions. The 49ers finished their season with a 2-12 record, but they could be proud that they beat the NFL champs.