No one can say for sure, but it seems unlikely that there has ever been an NFL game without a score. After all, points are the whole point of the game! However, there have been some close calls. In 1943, for example, the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers played to a 0-0 tie.
In an NFL game, both teams have the same goal: to score more points than their opponents. But what would happen if neither team could manage to get any points on the board?
It’s a unlikely scenario, but it’s not impossible. In fact, there have been a handful of NFL games throughout history where neither team has been able to score a single point.
The most recent game to end in a 0-0 tie was between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers in 2016. But it’s not the only game to have ever ended in a scoreless tie. Here are all of the other NFL games that have resulted in a 0-0 final score:
-1943 – New York Giants vs. Detroit Lions
-1946 – New York Giants vs. All-Americans
-1949 – Philadelphia Eagles vs. Los Angeles Rams
-1949 – Baltimore Colts vs. New York Yanks
-1950 – New York Giants vs. Cleveland Browns
-1954 – Baltimore Colts vs. Chicago Cardinals
-1969 – Minnesota Vikings vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
What is the NFL?
The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league consisting of 32 teams, divided equally between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). The NFL is one of the four major North American professional sports leagues, the highest professional level of American football in the world.
The First NFL Game
On November 22, 1892, the Allegheny Athletic Association played the Pittsburgh Athletic Club in what is considered to be the first professional football game. The game was played in Pittsburgh and ended in a scoreless tie.
The First Scoreless NFL Game
The first scoreless NFL game was played on October 28, 1923, between the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants. The game ended in a 0-0 tie.
Why There Have Been No Scoreless NFL Games Since
It’s been nearly nine full NFL seasons since the last time a game ended in a 0-0 tie, and the longer it goes without happening, the more people seem to be talking about it. The most recent game to end scoreless was a contest between the San Francisco 49ers and the Atlanta Falcons on December 16, 2013.
While it may seem like an odd thing to have never happened since the NFL’s inception in 1920, there are a number of reasons why scoreless games are increasingly rare. One major reason is that teams are now more adept at scoring once they get into the red zone. In the early days of the NFL, teams were often content to settle for a field goal attempt once they got inside their opponent’s 20-yard line.
But now, with more sophisticated offensive schemes and better execution by quarterbacks and receivers, teams are much more likely to come away with seven points rather than three. In fact, over the last decade or so, there has been a dramatic increase in the percentage of red zone possessions that result in a touchdown.
In 2003, only 47 percent of red zone possessions resulted in a touchdown; by 2013 that number had risen to 60 percent. That means that teams are six times as likely nowadays to score a touchdown once they get inside their opponent’s 20-yard line than they were just 10 years ago. And that is one major reason why we haven’t seen a 0-0 game in nearly nine years.
In short, no NFL game has ever ended scoreless. In fact, the league has only had two games in which neither team scored a touchdown. The first was a 0-0 tie between the New York Giants and the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1943, and the second was a 21-0 shutout by the Chicago Bears over the New York Giants in 1946.
While no game has ever ended without points being scored, there have been plenty of close calls. In 2009, the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders played to a 6-6 tie in what is considered one of the ugliest games in NFL history. And in 2014, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Carolina Panthers played to a 7-7 tie after regulation, with each team scoring a touchdown in overtime.
So while an NFL game without any points is highly unlikely, it’s not impossible.