Will Super Bowl Scorigami Happen Again?

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When Russell Wilson hit Doug Baldwin for a 10-yard touchdown pass and Stephen Hauschka kicked the extra point early in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLVIII, it was icing on the cake for the Seattle Seahawks, completing a 43-8 blowout win over the Denver Broncos.

It was also Scorigami.

Wait. What?

Scorigami, the brainchild of Jon Bois, an editor and video producer at SB Nation, is the name given to a final score that had never happened before in an NFL game.

Prior to the Seahawks’ Super Bowl win, no NFL game had ended with a score of 43-8. Even before the Wilson-to-Baldwin touchdown, the game was sitting on Scorigami at 36-8, and if the Broncos had gotten into the end zone in the final 11:45 and made either a one- or two-point conversion, making the score 43-15 or 43-16, it still would have been Scorigami.

But, of course, the Broncos didn’t score, and the final score of 43-16 would have to wait almost five more years to find its way into the NFL record books. Again, it was the Seahawks who made it happen. However, it isn’t the biggest surprise.

Head coach Pete Carroll is a beacon for Scorigami. When Seattle beat San Francisco 43-16 on Dec. 2, it meant that the Seahawks had won a game that ended in Scorigami in each of Carroll’s nine years on the Seattle sideline.

It was also one of eight first-time final scores during the 2018 season, bringing the all-time Scorigami total to 1,047.

The NFL on Sunday will conclude its 99th regular season when the Patriots and Rams meet in Atlanta for Super Bowl LIII. The league’s early years produced a lot of weird-looking final scores that would be extremely unlikely with today’s offensive machines.

Thirteen NFL games have ended in a 3-3 tie; the last of those happened in 1937. Between 1923 and 1938 there were five 2-0 games. Two games, one in 1921 and one in 1926, ended 3-2.

There have even been 73 scoreless ties. The last one, in a game between in the Lions and Giants in November of 1943, featured a total of nine first downs and 214 yards of offense. Five teams have recorded 5-0 shutouts.

But a case can be made that the NFL’s strangest-ever score happened in a game on Nov. 25, 1923, at Comiskey Park in Chicago.

When Shorty Barr scored a rushing touchdown of “unknown yardage” and Hank Gillo converted the PAT, the Racine Legion led the Chicago Cardinals 10-2 in the fourth quarter. The Cardinals responded with … a safety.

Final score: Racine 10, Chicago 4.

It is still the only time a team has finished an NFL game with four points. By contrast, the league’s most common final score, 20-17, has happened 264 times.

But there is a possible outcome that is even more improbable than 10-4. Call it the Holy Grail of Scorigami: 6-1. (Yes, 1 is possible.)

The NFL Scorigami website features an interactive chart with data and final scores from every NFL game ever played – from the Chicago Cardinals’ 0-0 tie with the Chicago Tigers in 1920 to the Rams’ 48-32 win (Scorigami!) over the 49ers on Dec. 30.

An excellent 21-minute video goes into detail about NFL scoring, and, at the 18:23 mark it describes how 6-1 is possible – it involves a 1-point safety – and also why it almost certainly will never happen.

With 3-2 barnburners in short supply these days, offense is the key to Scorigami.

This season’s never-happened-before final scores included the Packers-Vikings game that ended in a 29-29 tie and seven others in which the winning team scored 37 points or more. The Chiefs lost epic battles against the two Super Bowl LIII participants – 43-40 to New England in Week 6 and 54-51 to the Rams on Nov. 19 in the third-highest-scoring game in NFL history – and both games ended in Scorigami.

In the instant classic between the Rams and Chiefs, a Monday night game that had to be moved to Los Angeles from Mexico City, Scorigami-watchers were on high alert as the teams traded scores on seemingly every possession.

When Kansas City took a 51-47 lead around five minutes into the fourth quarter, Scorigami was a near certainty. The current score would have qualified, and just five teams in history had scored more than 47 points and lost. The only scenario that would not have produced Scorigami at that point involved a Rams safety and a Chiefs TD and two-point conversion.

Of course, Scorigami is rare. The eight times it hit this season constituted just 3 percent of the 266 games that have been played. If it’s going to happen on Sunday – especially with these two teams – it’ll probably come in a high-scoring affair.

With this likely to be a much closer game, let’s say Tom Brady caps a four-play, 68-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski with 12 seconds left to lift the Patriots to their sixth Super Bowl title with a 40-36 win.

That’s Scorigami.

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About the Author

Ched Whitney

Ched Whitney has been a journalist in Las Vegas since 1994. He worked for the Las Vegas Review-Journal for 18 years, where he was the paper’s art director for 12. Since becoming a freelancer in 2012, his work has appeared at ESPN.com, AOL, The Seattle Times and UNLV Magazine, among others. ​

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