Worst games of the 2014 season
With the 2014 season in the books, it’s time to look back. The season gave us plenty of highlights (Super Bowl XLIX, the NFC title game, Seahawks-Rams in Week 7), but don’t forget about the lowlights. In between those great games -- and a wealth of on- and off-field controversy -- there was a mess of downright awful, ugly contests.
We’re here to celebrate that awfulness.
A caveat: No blowouts. The 2014 season gave us plenty of laughers, many of them coming in primetime. But with those games largely out of hand by halftime, even fans of the teams playing could safely change the channel. The games listed below were all close enough that you had to watch until the end if you were a fan of either team. Fans of the Cardinals, Rams, Titans, Jaguars, Vikings and Redskins -- who all appear on the list multiple times -- we’re sorry.
Wild-card weekend: Panthers 27, Cardinals 16
We can look back now and hold up the Super Bowl, the NFC Championship Game and a handful of other moments as the NFL's gold standard for postseason drama, but the opening game of wild-card weekend did all it could to ensure the 2014 playoffs had nowhere to go but up. The battered and undermanned Cardinals capitalized on two gift-wrapped Panthers’ turnovers to take an improbable 14-13 lead at halftime, but as so often happens, 20 yards of second-half offense were not enough to put the game away. A final botched hook-and-ladder play landed Arizona in the record books with 78 total yards of offense, the lowest mark in playoff history. The blame largely fell to Cardinals quarterback Ryan Lindley, who became a sympathetic figure as he stumbled through a 16-of-28 performance for 82 yards, the first touchdown pass of his career and two interceptions in his sixth NFL start. The Panthers played their own valuable role in this high-stakes eyesore: Brenton Bersin's truly impressive muffed punt and Cam Newton's pedestrian performance helped keep Arizona close before a long Fozzy Whittaker touchdown and Ted Ginn Jr.'s fumble on the ensuing kickoff wrapped things up. -- Eric Single
Week 16: Jaguars 21, Titans 13
All season long, the Thursday night football games were, quite frankly, terrible. So expectations were beyond low when fans were gifted with a matchup between two AFC South rivals limping toward the end of the season. In front of a national audience, Jacksonville QB Blake Bortles completed just 13 passes for 115 yards, and Charlie Whitehurst carried Tennessee to a 10-0 lead, before remembering that the potential No. 1 draft pick was at stake. Not surprisingly, it earned the lowest TV rating of any national NFL game last season. -- Bette Marston
Week 15: Cardinals 12, Rams 3
For fans of special teams, this game was an all-timer. For everyone else? Not so much. Kickers Greg Zuerlein and Chandler Catanzaro put all the points on the board, and the two punters combined to log over 700 yards in this snoozefest on Thursday Night Football. While the win helped the Cardinals maintain their hold on the NFC’s No. 1 seed for another week, an early injury to Drew Stanton set the stage for the sideshow that was the Ryan Lindley Experience. -- Ben Eagle
Week 6: Lions 17, Vikings 3
The first two appearances of Teddy Bridgewater's rookie year went according to script, as the first-round talent showed signs of learning on the fly, flashed his vast potential and even picked up his first career win heading into the Vikings' bye week. Detroit's defense quite literally brought Bridgewater back to earth two weeks later, sacking him eight times and coming away with three interceptions. The Lions went 1-for-13 on third down, endured a 1-for-3 performance on field goals from Matt Prater -- who had just been brought in earlier that week to serve as the team's third kicker of the season -- and still won this game comfortably. -- ES
Week 2: Rams 19, Buccaneers 17
The Bucs had a chance to snag an early win this season against the Rams, with rookie QB Austin Davis starting his first-ever game. But some conservative coaching from Lovie Smith and a bit of special teams magic from St. Louis (blocking a punt and a field goal) put Tampa Bay down by two points heading into the final drive. Looking to set up the potential game-winning field goal (what would have been the sixth of the game), the game came to an abrupt, anticlimactic and semi-controversial end when Mike Evans went down hard with only eight seconds left on the clock and no timeouts remaining for the Bucs. Bonus points: The game was delayed 51 minutes in the first half due to thunderstorms. -- BM
Week 6: Titans 16, Jaguars 14
Picking between Titans-Jags 1.0 and 2.0 was tough. The latter matchup got the nod because of its spot in primetime, but 1.0 may have been just as bad. Blake Bortles absorbed six sacks for the winless Jags, who were in position to pull the upset before a Josh Scobee kick was blocked in the waning seconds. -- BE
Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown, two of 2014's statistical marvels, each turned the ball over twice at MetLife Stadium, helping the Jets snap an eight-game losing streak. Michael Vick earned the win, the one and only during his brief tenure as the starting quarterback in New York, with just 33 yards passing after halftime. -- ES
Week 12: 49ers 17, Redskins 13
The 49ers broke a sad streak, scoring their first fourth quarter touchdown of the season, but that wasn’t enough to elevate this game. RGIII completed just 11-of-19 passes for 106 yards, fumbled once and was sacked five times, while the teams combined to go just 7-of-26 on third down. -- BM
Week 17: Vikings 13, Bears 9
“Is the season over yet?” A week after being benched in favor of Jimmy Clausen, Jay Cutler returned to the starting lineup and sleepwalked through four quarters. A sad last stand -- down by four, the Bears tallied three penalties before turning the ball over on downs -- was the perfect cap to Chicago’s worst season in 10 years. -- BE
Week 1: Texans 17, Redskins 6
The shine wore off head coach Jay Gruden and the Redskins' revamped offense in a hurry, as Robert Griffin III became just the first of J.J. Watt's many victims this season. Meanwhile, the Texans lost Jadeveon Clowney to a torn meniscus, the start of a frustrating season for the No. 1 overall pick that ended on injured reserve. -- ES