Back on October 21, the Baltimore Ravens traveled to Reliant Stadium to play the Houston Texans. They were 5-1, with a four-game winning streak. They took an early lead that day, then things fell apart. Joe Flacco took a sack in the end zone, the Texans scored on a long pass play, then Flacco threw a pick-six the next drive. Things didn't get much better after that, and the Ravens came away with a 43-13 defeat. The Ravens still went on to win the Super Bowl, and they weren't the first team to do so after getting blown out. Here are the all-time worst losses by an eventual Super Bowl winner.
20 points-2001 Patriots, Week 4, at Miami. In Tom Brady's second career start, he had a day to forget, completing 12 of 24 passes for only 86 yards and losing two fumbles on sacks. The Patriots couldn't do anything offensively on the ground either, as Antowain Smith rushed for only 47 yards. Miami cruised, 30-10.
The aftermath: New England would get their revenge at home later in the season and knock off the Dolphins to win the AFC East via tiebreaker. They followed that up with a victory in the Tuck Rule Game, then upset first the Steelers and then the Rams en route to the Super Bowl. Tom Brady would play better games.
22 points-2007 Giants, Week 2, vs. Green Bay. This was a 1-point game at the start of the 4th quarter. Then Brett Favre found first Donald Lee and then Donald Driver after the Giants fumbled the ensuing kickoff for scores. Green Bay would add another score late and walk away with a 35-13 win.
The aftermath: These Giants would get their revenge on Green Bay in the postseason, but they weren't done with big losses yet.
22 points-1988 49ers, Week 16, vs. Los Angeles Rams. This game comes with a bit of an asterisk, as the 49ers had already clinched the NFC West and a first-round bye, while the Rams were fighting for their playoff lives. Jim Everett threw four touchdown passes, three to tight end Damone Johnson, while Joe Montana got a nice workout before Steve Young finished the game.
The aftermath: The 49ers showed no ill effects of their disappointing season finale, routing the Vikings and then the Bears in the NFC playoffs before edging Cincinnati in the Super Bowl on Joe Montana's late strike to John Taylor.
24 points-2007 Giants, Week 12, vs. Minnesota. Following their earlier loss to the Packers, the Giants reeled off a six-game winning streak and were 7-3 when the Vikings came to the Meadowlands. The Vikings defense would have a great day, intercepting Eli Manning four times and returning three of them for scores en route to a 41-17 upset.
The aftermath: All three pick-sixes came on option routes for Jeremy Shockey where the tight end ran the wrong route. Shockey would end the season on injured reserve and be traded to the Saints in the offseason after rookie Kevin Boss emerged as a valuable player in the postseason. Eli Manning would throw one interception in four games in the postseason as the Giants won three road games in a row before knocking off the playoffs in the Super Bowl.
24 points-1992 Cowboys, Week 5, at Philadelphia. On Monday Night Football, a fearsome and awesomely talented Eagles defense forced four Cowboys turnovers, including interceptions on back-to-back second half possessions they converted into Herschel Walker touchdowns and walked away with a 31-7 victory.
The aftermath: After holding Emmitt Smith in relative check this game, he ran wild in the teams' future meetings. In the regular season meeting in Dallas, he had 163 yards in a 20-10 Cowboys win, then had 25 carries for 114 yards in the postseason as the Cowboys blew out the Eagles 34-10.
25 points-2011 Giants, Week 12, at New Orleans. On Monday Night Football, Drew Brees and the Saints spread out a Giants defense that was playing without defensive end Osi Umenyiora and with a banged up linebacker Michael Boley. Without a pass rush or the ability to cover, Brees was able to spread the field and repeatedly find open receivers. He finished the game with 363 yards passing and five total touchdowns as the Saints rolled, 49-24.
The aftermath: With a healthy Umenyiora and Boley, the Giants were a much better pass defense, as they showed at times in the regular season and then demonstrated to good effect in the postseason by again holding in check potent Packers and Patriots attacks in winning another Super Bowl.
27 points-2006 Colts, Week 14, at Jacksonville. The 2005 Colts were a very good offense and a very good defense. For most of 2006, the Colts were a very good offense and a highly suspect defense. Never was that more apparent than in their late season trip to Florida. David Garrard only threw for 79 yards and an interception, but it literally didn't matter. Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor both had over 130 yards rush, while the legendary Alvin Pearman had 71 yards. All told, the Jaguars ran the ball 42 times for 375 yards in a 44-17 victory.
The aftermath: Bob Sanders happened. That, and a better commitment to total team defense. The man who would be the 2007 NFL Defensive Player of the Year only played in four regular season games, and this was not one of them. He made it through the playoffs, and the Colts stymied the run-based attacks of Kansas City and Baltimore in the postseason in a way totally at odds with how they'd played late in the regular season.
28 points-1979 Steelers, Week 12, at San Diego. The Chargers had a strong defensive effort, shutting out Lynn Swann and John Stallworth in the first half, and intercepting Terry Bradshaw five times on the afternoon, including a game-clinching 77-yard interception return for a score by Woody Lowe in the third quarter. The 35-7 win gave San Diego home field advantage in the postseason.
The aftermath: The Chargers were upset by the Houston in the postseason as Dan Fouts threw five interceptions, four of them to Vernon Perry after the Oilers discovered a tell in Fouts's game. The Steelers would knock off Houston at home in the Mike Renfro game that would help lead to the introduction of instant replay to the NFL before beating the Rams for their fourth and final Super Bowl title of the Bradshaw era.
-2012 Ravens, Week 7, at Houston. Joe Flacco would play a miserable game, the worst
in the past five seasons by ESPN's Total QBR, as Houston rolled, 43-13.
The aftermath: Flacco would go on to have a great postseason run and be named Super Bowl MVP.
31 points-2003 Patriots, Week 1, at Buffalo. It was a quick reunion, as Bill Belichick had just dubbed safety Lawyer Milloy expendable and the Bills quickly picked him up. In what ranks with hindsight as one of the more shocking performances in recent NFL history, the Patriots played horribly and the Bills played great, intercepting Tom Brady four times and coming away with a 31-0 win.
The aftermath: Tom Jackson that evening on NFL Primetime declared of the Patriots, "I want to say this very clearly: they hate their coach." Following a 2-2 start, the Patriots won their final 15 games. That included a matching 31-0 victory over Buffalo in the season finale.
31 points-1976 Raiders, Week 4, at New England. An offensive explosion for the Patriots. Sam "Bam" Cunningham had 101 rushing yards to lead a balanced attack that racked up nearly 300 yards on the ground, while quarterback Steve Grogan threw three touchdown passes as part of a very efficient performance. The Raiders fumbled four times, losing three of them, as a powerful offensive line struggled to create holes.
: This would be the Raiders' only loss of the season. The two teams met again in the postseason in what would become known as the Sugar Bear Hamilton game after the Patriots defensive lineman was flagged for a questionable roughing the passer
penalty on third-and-18 in the final minute. Ken Stabler scored with :10 to play, and Oakland knocked off a Steelers team playing without Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier and Minnesota to win the Super Bowl.
32 points-1994 49ers, Week 5, vs. Philadelphia. Randall Cunningham threw, and Charlie Garner ran, all over one of the league's most expensive and highly-regarded defenses. On the other side of the ball, the Eagles harassed Steve Young into one of his worst days as a pro, safetying him and forcing two interceptions. George Seifert would lift Young for Elvis Grbac with the Eagles leading 33-8 in the fourth quarter, a move the quarterback still operating in Joe Montana's shadow did not take very kindly.
The aftermath: Young's job status was not in question, as Grbac would not attempt more than 5 passes in any subsequent game until Young was lifted after some tuneup snaps in the meaningless regular season finale. The 49ers would score 131 points in three postseason games as Steve Young finally earned a ring without Joe Cool.
Whatever the results of these games, he who laughs last, laughs best, and none of these losses prevented the team from ultimately winning the NFL's ultimate prize that season.