Never Say Never In The NFL
By Jerry Tapp
I’ll be the first to admit that I went to bed after watching the Denver Broncos take a 24-0 into the locker room at halftime in their November 24, 2013 game against the New England Patriots. Imagine my surprise (and that of others who also turned off the game after the first two quarters) when I opened the newspaper the next day to read about New England’s overtime win over Denver.
The Patriots not only found themselves in a heap of trouble after the first half, but what also didn’t help was that it was a home game. When they won the game, it was only the seventh time in NFL history that a home team won a game after being behind by 20 points or more at half. It was also the second greatest deficit overcome at halftime by a home team in league history. In addition, this was not the first time that a New England team had overcome a 20-point deficit at home at half and gone on to win the game (more on that in a moment).
The Patriots-Denver contest was the fourth this season where a home team was behind by 20 points or more at half. Prior to the Patriots comeback, the Jaguars, Colts and Falcons could not erase their large halftime deficits at home and eventually lost those games.
The last time a home team won a game after being behind by 20-plus points at half was on November 26, 2006 when the home team Tennessee Titans were behind 21-0 to the New York Giants after two quarters of play. The Titans scored 24 unanswered points in the second half to win that game.
Here’s a look at the seven home teams that were behind by 20 or more points at half and went on to win that contest.
Nov. 24, 2013: Denver @ New England (New England down by 24 points at half) Patriots won 34-31
Nov. 26, 2006: New York Giants @ Tennessee (Tennessee down by 21 points at half) Titans won 24-21
Sept. 19, 1999: Indianapolis @ New England (New England down by 21 points at half) Patriots won 31-28
Dec. 24, 1995: Minnesota @ Cincinnati (Cincinnati down by 21 points at half) Bengals won 27-24
Sept. 12, 1982: L.A. Rams @ Green Bay (Green Bay down by 23 at half) Packers won 35-23
Dec. 7, 1980: New Orleans @ San Francisco (San Francisco down by 28 at half) 49ers won 38-35
Nov. 30, 1958: San Francisco @ Baltimore (Baltimore down by 20 at half) Colts won 35-27
Prior to the game against the Broncos on November 24, the Patriots had not been behind by 20 points or more at home since 1999. The Steelers now have the longest gap between such games; they have not been behind by 20-plus points at halftime in a home game since 2000.
Following is the last year each NFL team played a game where they were behind at halftime by 20-plus points at home.
2004: San Francisco
2006: Green Bay, New Orleans
2007: Baltimore, Minnesota
2009: New York Giants, Oakland
2010: Arizona, Buffalo, Chicago, Seattle, Washington
2011: Cleveland, Denver, Houston, Tampa Bay
2012: Carolina, Dallas, Kansas City, Miami, New York Jets, San Diego, St. Louis, Tennessee
2013: Atlanta, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, New England