October 23, 2006


Horns slip past Huskers on walk-on kicker's game-winning FG (10/21/06, AP)

Texas coach Mack Brown had some encouraging words for Ryan Bailey before the backup kicker took the field in the final seconds.

"You're the luckiest guy in the world," Brown told the sophomore walk-on. "You've got a chance to be Dusty Mangum on your first kick."

Time will tell whether Bailey's 22-yard field goal with 23 seconds left to beat 17th-ranked Nebraska 22-20 ranks alongside Mangum's 37-yarder to defeat Michigan in the Rose Bowl two years ago. [...]

The Huskers were on the verge of pulling the upset after taking a 20-19 lead with 4:54 left. But Texas caught a huge break when receiver Terrence Nunn fumbled as the Huskers were trying to kill the clock. Marcus Griffin recovered at the Nebraska 44 with 2:17 left.

For those of you who did not see it: The receiver had the first down and almost certainly the win, had he not fumbled. The time seems opportune to discuss favorite sports screw-ups, so post them below and I'll decide which one is the greatest.

Posted by Matt Murphy at October 23, 2006 4:44 PM

By the way, the winner gets a free copy of my autobiography. If I ever write one.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at October 23, 2006 4:58 PM

Sports screw-ups? Being born in Cleveland and becoming a Browns fan.

Posted by: BJW at October 23, 2006 6:33 PM

Joe Pisarcik

Hands off

To Larry Czonka

Game. Set. Match.

(And I might note, what made it worse was the Giants had just intercepted the ball as the Eagles were going in for the game-winning touchdown. And if Herman Edwards had done on that play what he did for the Jets 25 years later, he would have fallen down at the 10 yards line).

Posted by: John at October 23, 2006 6:34 PM

Can I nominate the Cardinals' punt return team from last week?

Posted by: Brandon at October 23, 2006 6:45 PM

Have you every heard of a guy named Bill Buckner? Played for the Red Sox in 1986.

Posted by: pchuck at October 23, 2006 7:18 PM

Leon Lett's showboating that led to a touchback in the '93 Superbowl and denied Lett a touchdown.
For details: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leon_Lett

But the all time bonehead move goes to Gus Frerotte, who in a Redskins vs. Giants game, knocked himself out while celebrating a touchdown by running full bore into a post and using his head as a battering ram.

Posted by: Buttercup at October 23, 2006 7:31 PM

On-field AND replay officials screwing Oklahoma out of a victory at Oregon earlier this year? :)

Posted by: kevin whited at October 23, 2006 7:38 PM

Matt, did you hear that Terrence Nunn tried to commit suicide.?

He failed. He dropped the gun.

Posted by: Brad S at October 23, 2006 7:39 PM

Oh, BTW, how could anyone forget Chris Webber (a Fab Fiver at the time) calling a timeout in the national title game when Michigan didn't have one. Or Georgetown's Fred Brown throwing a pass to Carolina's James Worthy. Both happened in the same accursed Superdome.

Posted by: Brad S at October 23, 2006 7:42 PM

Brad, yes, both memorable. I would like to point out, simply for the historical record, that in both those last-second situations Carolina already had the lead.

(This does not make them unmemorable moments. It's just that the anti-Tar Heel crowd likes to posit them as "the only reasons Carolina won..." etc.)

Posted by: Tom at October 23, 2006 7:52 PM

kevin whited:

Sorry, any botched calls that went against Oklahoma are immediately disqualified from this contest. Three guesses as to why.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at October 23, 2006 8:24 PM

Incidentally, any others Huskers here know how to spell "OU gets hosed by refs?" K-A-R-M-I-C-R-E-T-R-I-B-U-T-I-O-N.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at October 23, 2006 8:28 PM

The above comment indicates I can spell correctly, at least as far as fan lingo is concerned, but can't keep the question mark outside the quotation marks and avoid disgracing my one-time high ACT verbal percentile. Preview is my pal.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at October 23, 2006 8:37 PM

Not sure if this qualifies as a "screw up" but the time when the California Golden Bears' band took the field before the game ended and the Bears player got a touchdown by dodging the band and running down the trombone player. Hilarious!
link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Play

Posted by: Buttercup at October 23, 2006 9:41 PM


What about the penalty against the Sooner Schooner in the 1984 Orange Bowl? Technically, it wasn't the football team's foul.

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 23, 2006 10:05 PM

Jets kicker Doug Brien missing TWO game-winning field-goals in the LAST TWO MINUTES at Pittsburgh in the 2004 playoffs.

That one (two) hurt.

Posted by: Matt Cohen at October 24, 2006 8:26 AM

Red Right 88.

Posted by: Mike Morley at October 24, 2006 9:46 AM

"Punt, 'Bama - Punt!"

Posted by: ratbert at October 24, 2006 10:15 AM

Punt Bama Punt is one of my favorite college games of all time, but I don't think it qualifies as the type of screw-up asked for. Mine is the same as John's--the Giants/Eagles game where the quarterback taking a knee would win them the game. But nooooooo....

Although there is Wrong-Way Riegels, who has the additional infamy of being adopted as a slur against Bush. Jim Marshall did the same thing as Riegels, but the Vikings won the game despite his screw-up.

Who was the Colombian player that scored a self-goal in the 1998 World Cup and was assassinated when he returned home? That one ranks up there...

Posted by: ken at October 24, 2006 12:43 PM

Leon Lett's Thanksgiving Day Ice Capades.

Posted by: Shelton at October 24, 2006 2:16 PM

jim hamlen:

Everything associated with the team is counted, especially the Pooper Scooper...er, the Sooner Schooner. Guilt by association, etc.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at October 24, 2006 2:53 PM

I'm declaring John the winner of my contest, for his mention of the infamous touchdown that the Giants bow-tied and delivered to the Eagles.

Fans of the college game may remember ten years ago, when Wisconsin failed to take a knee and instead let future Heisman winner Ron Dayne run a late play in a game against Northwestern. Fummmmble!!! Northwestern got a TD and won. The announcers joked that Barry Alvarez was going to tear out what remained of his hair.

I should also mention the Giants giving up a nine-point lead with about a minute-and-a-half left in that 1997 playoff game against Minnesota.

Punt, bama, punt gets a well-deserved honorable mention.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at October 25, 2006 8:48 PM


Just a bit off the bonehead issue, but what are the names given to the extra step of field and the missing step (due to official rulings) from the Penn State - Nebraska game in 1982?

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 25, 2006 9:33 PM

jim hamlen:

Good question. I am aware of no nicknames for that play -- at least nothing printable.

Not only was that obviously a terrible call, but the ball was quite possibly trapped on the ensuing touchdown. I watched part of that game once on ESPN Classic. The network announcers, who I think may have slanted even more towards the eastern schools in those days than they do now, did not mention any sort of controversy for either play.

Some Nebraska fans ambushed the Penn State tight end years later during a banquet at Boys Town, and he admitted he was out-of-bounds.

My dad was at a Nebraska game later in 1982, and the guy clearing the snow made an indentation at about the ten-yard line. It took him a few moments to get the joke.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at October 26, 2006 8:08 PM