Fumbling the football is every offensive player’s worst nightmare, especially in situations when it costs the whole team a win. Unfortunately, fumbling can be hard to avoid, even for the best athletes. There have been several moments where dropping the pigskin has been incredibly damaging, with some players never quite getting over the horror of the moment.
And it’s not just the players affected by unforeseen fumbles wrecking offensive plays. Sports bettors must account for these mistakes when placing things like prop wagers, preferring more consistent players to ones known for the occasional error. Vegas NFL odds also reflect this, although it is hard to ever genuinely predict a ball drop – it can happen to anyone. Keep reading for a look at the 5 biggest NFL fumbles in history, and brace yourself for some secondhand embarrassment.
This example proves that fumbling the ball can happen even to the best players. DeSean Jackson is widely regarded as one of the best receivers in Philadelphia Eagles history, but in a game against the Dallas Cowboys, he had a moment to forget.
In a trademark burst of pace, Jackson beat the defense with ease. It looked like another touchdown was on the cards for the prolific wide receiver, except he had forgotten to take the football the whole way. We’ll never know why Jackson dropped the ball behind him before reaching the end zone, but at least it didn’t affect the result, as the Eagles still won.
Thurman Thomas may have powered the Buffalo Bills to four consecutive Super Bowl appearances and be in the NFL Hall of Fame, but he was no stranger to costly errors. Many fans argue that the running back was the primary reason the Bills lost all four appearances from 1990 to 1993.
The most high-profile mistake was against the Dallas Cowboys, handing them the momentum in a game the Bills had previously been on top with a 13-6 lead. Seconds into the third quarter Leon Lett robbed Thomas to set up a 46-yard touchdown for the Cowboys. An unneeded error cost the Bills the lead and ultimately the Super Bowl.
This fumble, commonly dubbed “Miracle at the Meadowlands”, spawned a complete overhaul in the New York Giants that spurred them to unqualified success in the 1980s and early 1990s. They were 17-12 up against the Philadelphia Eagles with under a minute remaining on the clock and complete control.
Unfortunately, the Eagles managed to bungle the most straightforward play in the book when quarterback Joe Pisarcik fumbled a short pass to Larry Csonka. The confusion cleared the way for Herm Edwards of the Eagles to take control of the ball and run it through for a massively game-altering touchdown.
Although the Oakland Raiders had a promising 2016 season and reached the playoffs, their 2017 showing was a significant step in the wrong direction. Everything was going wrong for the Californian franchise, and nothing sums it up more than Derek Carr’s crazy attempt to land a touchdown during a game against the Dallas Cowboys.
The quarterback gained valuable yardage and looked likely to secure a potentially game-winning down, but he inexplicably reached for the endzone. He came up comically short, ending the Raiders’ chances of a valuable win over the Cowboys. Nevertheless, Carr bounced back to have his best year in 2018.
Earnest Byner’s fumble for the Cleveland Browns has been one of the most damaging in memory. They had unexpectedly found themselves in the 1987 AFC Championship Game, one step away from a Super Bowl debut. A resilient and in-form Denver Broncos stood in their way, but in the game’s early stages, the Browns looked like they could easily pull off an upset.
A resilient and trustworthy running back with endless stores of energy, Byner was a dependable part of the Browns’ roster. He broke through several tackles in the final moments against the Denver Broncos but couldn’t avoid fumbling the ball under pressure inside the five-yard line. Byner recovered from his fatal error to have a fruitful career, but the loss hurt the Browns, plunging them into years of bad form.