The New York Giants defeated the Atlanta Falcons in the wild-card playoff round, 24-2.

Naturally, this got me thinking: In how many previous pro football games did a team score just 2 points?

And the answer, according to the marvelous, is: not many.

Including the NY-ATL tilt, there have been a total of 36 games in which one team scored 2 points.  The opposing scores in those games ranged from 0 (in fact, two teams won games by a 2-0 final) to 45.

Sixteen of those games took place in the NFL’s first thirteen seasons, between 1920 and 1932.  Taking 1933 as the beginning of the modern NFL – the league split into two divisions, began staging an annual championship game, and changed its rules to allow the forward pass from anywhere behind the line of scrimmage – there have been 20 such games in the NFL, the AFL, and the All-American Football Conference:

2-0 9/18/1938 Chicago Bears @Green Bay Packers
6-2 12/12/1970 Dallas Cowboys @Cleveland Browns
7-2 12/12/1993 @New England Patriots Cincinnati Bengals
13-2 12/5/1983 @Detroit Lions Minnesota Vikings
14-2 11/28/1935 @Detroit Lions Chicago Bears
9/19/1937 Chicago Bears @Green Bay Packers
11/11/1962 Baltimore Colts @Los Angeles Rams
20-2 10/10/1937 Chicago Bears @Cleveland Rams
23-2 9/20/1933 New York Giants @Pittsburgh Pirates
9/14/1963 Detroit Lions @Los Angeles Rams
24-2 12/17/1972 Pittsburgh Steelers @San Diego Chargers
12/14/1980 @New England Patriots Buffalo Bills
1/8/2012 @New York Giants Atlanta Falcons
27-2 12/22/1957 Pittsburgh Steelers @Chicago Cardinals
31-2 10/11/1936 @Green Bay Packers Boston Redskins
9/19/1965 @Dallas Cowboys New York Giants
34-2 9/22/1968 @Kansas City Chiefs Denver Broncos
35-2 11/6/1949 @Cleveland Browns Chicago Hornets
37-2 10/1/1972 San Francisco 49ers @New Orleans Saints
45-2 12/5/1953 @Los Angeles Rams Baltimore Colts


The most recent before Sunday was the 7-2 thrillfest between New England and Cincinnati in the thirteenth game of the 1993 season.

Both teams entered this tilt with 1-11 records.  The Patriots, in their first season under head coach Bill Parcells, were led by rookie quarterback Drew Bledsoe.  In a 17-14 loss to Pittsburgh the previous week, Bledsoe threw five interceptions.  Perhaps as a result, his game log against Cincinnati shows just 22 passes, compared to 48 the week before.

Shortly before halftime, Bledsoe hit tight end Ben Coates for an 8-yard touchdown.  Kicker Scott Sisson made the extra point.  This was not something to take for granted; he missed a 27-yard chip shot field goal from the middle of the field in the game, and it was his third consecutive miss from inside 30 yards.  His longest field goal on the season was just 40 yards.  Following the miss, a fan displayed a banner declaring Foxboro Stadium “HOME OF MISSIN’ SISSON.”  The fan was escorted from the premises.

Asked after the game if Sisson can kick in the NFL, Parcells replied, “I don’t necessarily think so.”  Unsurprisingly, this was Sisson’s last game with New England.  (I am grateful to Jesse Lamovsky, writing of the NFL Games of the Weak, for these tidbits.)

The Bengals’ offensive futility resulted in eight punts and the game’s only turnover.  David Klingler completed 9-of-25 for 89 yards in the 22 miles-an-hour wind.  He did scramble for 29 yards in the game’s longest play from scrimmage.  Klinger had been a first-round pick out of Houston, where he rode the run-and-shoot offense to NCAA records for touchdown passes in a season (54) and total yards in a game (716).  This game was more typical of his pro career; he went 4-20 as a starter.

Cincinnati pulled itself together for a final fourth-quarter drive, but on fourth and goal with 1:16 to play, running back Eric Ball lost a yard on his only carry of the day.  The Patriots ran three plays, then deliberately snapped the ball over their punter’s head with 21 seconds to play, conceding a safety but gaining a free kick from the 20.

The Bengals secured the top draft pick with the loss.  They took defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson from Ohio State.  New England, picking fourth, chose two-time Pro Bowler Willie McGinest out of USC.  Here, too, the Patriots came out ahead.





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