Harv currently writes for Abstract Sports, the Sports History Network, and the magazine Gridiron Greats. Harv wrote the published book "Pro Football's Most Passionate Fans" and as a professional writer has had articles published in an array of sports publications.
Historical NFL Blowouts Revisited
In pro football, there are blowouts on the field and there are complete wipeouts. In NFL history there have been three teams who put up 70 points or more on an opponent in one single game. What follows are the five highest-scoring games by one team in NFL history.
Perhaps the worst defeat any team could suffer took place in no less than the NFL championship game. The date was December 8, 1940, and the Washington Redskins with their 9-2 record and winners of the Eastern Conference were playing the 8-3 Chicago Bears for the NFL title. To add insult to injury the Redskins were playing on their home turf. Washington not only lost the game, but they also got their doors blown off losing 73-0. The legendary George Halas was coaching the Bears and Ray Flaherty was the head coach in Washington.
The Bears put up 21 points in the opening quarter and never took their foot off the gas pedal scoring again before the half and adding 26 more points in the third quarter before closing the show with 19 more in the final quarter. 36,034 had to watch the massacre. Red Barber called the game and, in the end, Chicago hit the end zone 11 times. To add to the embarrassment, the game was the first NFL title game to be broadcast from coast to coast.
Some of the big scoring plays in that game included a 68-yard run by Bill Osmanski. A 42-yard run to paydirt by Joe Maniaci, Sid Luckman’s 30-yard pass for a score to Ken Kavanaugh, and a 44-yard run for a score from Harry Clarke. Chicago also scored three times on interceptions to the house by Hamp Pool (15 yards), Geroge McAfee (35 yards), and Bulldog Turner who picked off Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh and returned it 20 yards to the end zone.
The next time an NFL team scored 70 or more points was ironically turned in by the Washington Redskins. 26 years after getting smoked by the Chicago Bears, the ‘Skins turned it on in a game against the New York Giants. This time, however, the losing team was not shut out. In fact, the Giants scored 41 points which in a normal game would most likely result in a victory.
That might be true if the Redskins hadn’t scored 72 points to win 72-41. At halftime of this game, the score was 34-14 so the Giants were in striking distance and kept the score within a 20-point differential after three quarters but in the final stanza, Washington scored 24 points to New York’s 13 making it the 72-41 final.
Heading into the game, New York had won just one game, tied one, and lost nine times. The Redskins left this game with a 6-6 record. In the game, there were eight scoring plays going for 40 yards or more. The longest scoring play was a 74-yard pass and catch from Sonny Jurgensen to Charley Taylor. A.D. Whitfield ran 63 yards for a score for Washington. The game was played at the District of Columbia Stadium with Giants Coach Allie Sherman and for Washington, it was former quarterback great Otto Graham.
The only other time an NFL team scored 70 points was by the Los Angeles Rams on October 22, 1950, as the victims were the Baltimore Colts who lost that game by a score of 70-27. At this point in the 1950 season, Baltimore had yet to win a game, losing their first four while the Rams came into this game sporting a 3-2 record. In the vast confines of the L.A. Coliseum, only 16,025 attended this blowout.
The Rams scored in every quarter putting up 21, 14, 14, and 21 points in the first through fourth quarters respectively. The score after one quarter was just 21-13 Los Angeles but then they put their foot to the gas pedal and never looked back. The Rams had several star players who shined on this day including Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch who scored first for the Rams on a 58-yard pass from Glenn Davis.
Norm Van Brocklin was the Los Angeles quarterback on this day completing 11 of 14 passes and throwing two touchdown passes. On the ground, L.A. finished with 188 yards rushing using nine different players with Glenn Davis having the highest total of 51 yards. Davis was the “Mr. Inside” portion of the famous Army duo paired with “Mr. Outside” Doc Blanchard.
The Rams threw two interceptions, one by Van Brocklin and the other from the arm of Bob Waterfield. Despite only scoring 27 points, Adrian Burk of the Colts threw three touchdown passes but also three touchdown passes but also three picks with Y.A. Tittle adding another.
The fourth highest scoring game in NFL history by one team took place by the Rams again this time making the Detroit Lions red-faced with a 65-20 beat down. This game was also in 1950 and it came on the road for L.A. Following the blowout of Baltimore, the Rams would win five of the final six including the large margin victory over Detroit.
It was a great season in 1950 for the Rams that ended in disappointment when they lost the NFL title game to the Cleveland Browns 20-28. But along the way to get to the championship they were destroying teams scoring the 70 on Baltimore, and 65 against the Lions, but also defeating the Boston Yanks in game two by a score of 45-28, then the 49ers 35-14, Green Bay 45-14, the Yanks again 43-35, and in the final regular season game beating Green Bay 51-14. For the season, the Rams averaged 38.8 points per game to lead the NFL.
Finally, to round out the top five highest scoring games by one team in NFL history was the game played on November 13, 1949, when the then Chicago Cardinals were playing a team out of New York called the “Bulldogs” with the game taking place at the old Polo Grounds. Buddy Park’s Cardinals put up 31 points alone in the second quarter against the Bulldogs coached by Charley Ewart.
The great Charley Trippi scored first for Chicago and teammate Pat Harder added two more touchdowns rushing and a field goal. Bobby Layne, who would become famous at quarterback in Detroit and for the Pittsburgh Steelers was the New York quarterback on this day. Layne would finish the game with 213 yards passing. For Harder, he ran for 117 yards on 13 carries. Being both the running back and kicker, Harder kicked the PAT on his rushing touchdown. He would have a total of eight PATs on the day giving him 23 points scored in the game.
There have been plenty of high-scoring games in the NFL but these five featured the most points scored by one team ever.
Update: upon publishing of this article, all of the above remained true. Immediately after publishing, the Miami Dolphins absolutely ROLLED the Denver Broncos 70-20, putting up the second most points by an NFL team in history. It's the most points scored by a team since 1966! How's that for uncanny timing?