Games in the National Football League (NFL) are often close encounters, with historical results showing the most common score is 20-17, followed by 27-24. However, both competing teams occasionally throw caution to the wind, and the result is a super-high-scoring fixture that is remembered by anyone with even the remotest interest in American Football.
On September 24, 2023, the Miami Dolphins hosted the Denver Broncos at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. Although the Dolphins were the clear favorite to win the game, nothing could have prepared supporters in the stadium and around the world for what would happen over the four quarters, especially those who backed the over when betting on football games online that weekend. The Dolphins led 35-13 at halftime before finishing 70-20 victors and becoming only the third franchise in NFL history to score at least 70 points in a regular season game.
The extraordinary Dolphins versus Broncos game produced a total of 90 points, a massive sum, yet one that ranks the game as the joint 21st highest-scoring NFL regular game of all time. If 90 points in a game does not even make the top 20, how many points does it take to break into the top three?
Washington Redskins versus New York Giants (November 1966) – 113 points
Only five NFL regular season games have ever seen more than 100 points scored, and the Washington Redksins versus New York Giants fixture from November 27, 1966, is one of them. Indeed, this game was not only the first 100+ point fixture, it is the highest-scoring NFL game ever, with 113 points scored.
Defensive teams dominated the NFL in the 1960s, but you would never have guessed if the Redskins versus Giants game was your only insight into the sport. Held at the iconic Yankees Stadium amidst cold, swirling winds, the Redskins and Giants put on an offensive display rarely seen.
Giants’ quarterback Fran Tarkenton racked up 41 points, with wide receiver Homer Jones scoring three touchdowns and running back Ernie Koy adding another two. Not to be outdone, the Redskins quarterback Sonny Jurgensen threw five touchdown passes in a remarkable aerial display.
By the time the final buzzer sounded, the Giants had won 72-41, and the 113 points tally those supporters in the Yankee Stadium witnessed will likely never be surpassed.
Cincinnati Bengals versus Cleveland Browns (November 2004) – 106 points
Much more recently, on November 28, 2004, the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns faced off in a regular season game that ended with 106 points on the board, the second most in the game’s history.
The Bengals and Browns have a fierce rivalry, leading to the clash between them being known as the Battle of Ohio. Form tends to go out of the window as both teams go on the offensive, as they know how much the fixture means to their respective supporters. Being in the same conference, the Battle of Ohio occurs annually, but the 2004 edition was out of this world.
The Browns’ quarterback Kelly Holcomb passed 413 yards and five touchdowns, completing 30 of his 39 pass attempts, yet it proved not enough to prevent the Browns from slipping to a 58-48 defeat. Holcolmb’s opposite number, Carson Palmer, completed 22 of his 29 passes for 251 yards and four touchdowns, with running back Rudi Johnson scoring two touchdowns and amassing 202 rushing yards.
Three years later, the Browns and Bengals were involved in another high-scoring affair, with the Browns running out 51-45 winners. The 96-point total is the 11th highest-scoring NFL game ever.
Los Angeles Rams versus Kansas City Chiefs (November 2018) – 105 points
You know a game must have been incredible when the sports media called it the “Monday Night Massacre.” That is the nickname given to the Los Angeles Rams versus Kansas City Chiefs games that took place on November 19, 2018, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Both teams entered the game with impressive 4-0 records, and everyone was excited for what should have been a closely contested battle between two elite-level teams. While those people were correct to be excited, they could not have been more wrong with their predictions of a tight game.
The game was played at a blistering pace and with an almost unseen level of offensive aggression. The teams were tied 23-23 at halftime, but the scoring did not end there. Between them, the Rams and the Chiefs put up another 59 points, with the Rams emerging victorious 54-51 for 105 points in total.
Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw 478 yards and six touchdowns, with Tyreek Hill and Chris Conley scoring two touchdowns each. It is incredible to think Mahomes finished on the losing team despite those figures.
Rams’ Jared Goff ended the game with equally as impressive figures. Goff threw 413 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions; Mahomes was intercepted thrice. The Rams, buoyed by this result, ended the season 13-3 and progressed to the Super Bowl, where they fell at the hands of the New England Patriots.
Highest-Scoring Games Outside the Regular Season
At present, no NFL playoff game has seen the magical 100-point barrier breached, although a handful have come close. In December 1995, the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Detroit Lions 58-47, meaning a 95-point tally. Almost exactly 15 years later, 96 points were scored when the Arizona Cardinals ran out 51-45 winners after overtime against the Green Bay Packers.
Super Bowls are often battles between two stellar defenses. There is so much on the line that coaches adopt a more cautious style, resulting in fewer points scored. That said, in 1995, the San Francisco 49ers and San Diego Chargers decided to rip up the rulebook and go at each other hammer and tongs. The end result was a 49-26 victory for the 49ers. The 75 points scored in that fixture make the 1995 Super Bowl the highest-scoring since the Super Bowl became a thing.