If you managed to stay up to watch the finish to the dreadful Sunday night game between the 49ers and the Broncos, you witnessed a small piece of NFL history. That is because for just the second time in the NFL's 102-year history, a game ended with a final score of 11-10.
2008 Chargers vs. Steelers
You only need to go back 14 years to 2008 to find the first time an NFL game ended with the bizarre score of 11-10. On Nov. 16, 2008, on a cold early evening in Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers — two former first-round draft picks — led their teams into the NFL history books. Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson led the scoring with a 3-yard TD run. The Steelers' James Harrison tackled Marcus McNeill in the end zone for a safety, and Jeff Reed hit a field goal to make the halftime score 7-5.
The second half was a half of field goals, as Nate Kaeding hit one to Reed's two to end the game at 11-10, an NFL first. The game is also most remembered as featuring one of the top plays of Hall of Famer Troy Polamalu's career, when he dove through the air and scooped up a Rivers pass that wasn't corralled by Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson. Before the ball could hit the ground, a leaping Polamalu extended his body and his arm, getting his hand between the ball and the ground at the last second to make a one-handed interception.
2022: 49ers vs. Broncos
Fast forward 14 years later to this past Sunday night, and fans were treated (if you can call it that) to the second 11-10 game in NFL history. There were no miraculous interceptions in this one, I'm afraid. After a 7-3 49ers halftime lead, the only points scored in the third quarter were from a safety that didn't come by way of something respectable like a sack; it came when cast-aside backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo stepped out of the back of the end zone on a drop-back. That lack of awareness surely won't re-endear him to 49ers fans. It also was the difference maker on the scoreboard. San Francisco kicked a 51-yard field goal to make it 10-5 in the fourth. The Broncos got into the red zone for the first time in the game with 5:30 left. Melvin Gordon punched in Denver's only touchdown but missed the two-point attempt, making the final score 11-10.
Garoppolo's safety gaffe aside, he was sacked four times, as was Russell Wilson, and each walked away with a very low passer rating. There were times the Broncos heard boos raining down from the fans at Empower Field for drives that stalled out or never got going in the first place. For viewers who stuck it out until the end, the unusual score was the best part of the game. At least the game came down to the wire, which made for a pretty interesting last four minutes. And, thankfully, Mother Nature chipped in, delaying the Yankees game, so no one missed an Aaron Judge at-bat.
A lot of things have to happen to get 11 points in a football game. A safety is a must. After that, three field goals should cover it as they did in 2008. Or, as was the case Sunday, the Broncos went the harder route with a field goal, a safety, and a touchdown with the missed two-point conversion. Despite their rarity, 11-10 games tend to be snoozersNFL Game Ends With the Final Score of 11-10, so let's hope we have to wait even longer than 14 years for the next one.
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