Has there Ever been a Scoreless NFL Game?

The concept of a scoreless game seems like an anomaly. Today, as we see into the annals of football history, we uncover a forgotten chapter that transcends the high-scoring spectacles we’re accustomed to. Join us on this journey as we explore the question: Has there ever been a scoreless NFL game?

November 7, 1943

In World War II, when the world was gripped by turmoil, the NFL witnessed an unusual event. On November 7, 1943, the Detroit Lions hosted the New York Giants at Briggs Stadium in a game that ended without a single point scored. The war had drafted many NFL players overseas, leading to diminished rosters and a unique set of circumstances.

The 0-0 tie between the Detroit Lions and the New York Giants in 1943 stands as a unique and almost forgotten chapter
The 0-0 tie between the Detroit Lions and the New York Giants in 1943 stands as a unique and almost forgotten chapter

As rain poured down on the unprepared fields, turning them into muddy battlegrounds, both teams struggled to make headway. The absence of sophisticated drainage systems compounded the challenge, creating an environment where even the most basic plays became a Herculean task.

The Game That Defied Expectations

The statistics of that game paint a vivid picture of the challenges faced. The combined efforts of the two teams yielded just nine first downs and 214 yards. In a game dominated by 77 running plays and a mere 16 pass attempts, it became evident that the conditions and circumstances were far from conducive to offensive prowess.

Notably, the single-wing offense, prevalent during that era, was a significant factor contributing to scoreless ties. However, as the T-formation emerged in the 1940s, the landscape of NFL games underwent a transformation. Teams found the end zone more frequently, ushering in an era where high scores became the norm.

The Struggles

Even the kicking game faced adversity in the face of the challenging conditions. Augie Lio, the Lions’ kicker, missed three field goals, while Ward Cuff, the Giants’ kicker, also failed to convert his lone attempt. In an era before overtime was introduced, the game concluded without a decisive winner, a rare sight in today’s NFL.


1943November 7: Detroit Lions vs. New York Giants game ends in a 0-0 tie at Briggs Stadium.
1940sIntroduction of the T-formation in the NFL leads to increased scoring in games.
1974Overtime is introduced to NFL games, providing a mechanism for breaking ties.
2023October: Inquiry arises – Has there ever been a scoreless NFL game in recent history?
PresentNFL games are characterized by high-scoring affairs, with an emphasis on passing and dynamic plays.

From Mud-Soaked Fields to High-Flying Offenses

The NFL has evolved significantly since that rainy day in 1943. The league, known for its dynamic and exciting nature, has seen a shift towards high-scoring affairs. Unlike the past, where running backs dominated and quarterbacks faced accuracy challenges, today’s game is characterized by prolific passing and lightning-fast wide receivers.

In the modern NFL, the emphasis is on quarterbacks airing the ball out, resulting in games where both teams often surpass the twenty-point mark. The evolution reflects changes not only in playing styles but also in the very fabric of American sports.

Scoreless Games Today

As we navigate the present landscape of NFL games, the idea of a scoreless encounter is a rarity. An anomaly that eludes the casual NFL fan, such a game stands as a testament to the evolution and progress of the sport. While the NFL continues to pride itself on its dynamic nature, the likelihood of witnessing a scoreless game in contemporary times remains minimal.


The 0-0 tie between the Detroit Lions and the New York Giants in 1943 stands as a unique and almost forgotten chapter. As we celebrate the high-flying offenses and thrilling touchdowns of today, let us not forget the challenges faced by those who played in an era defined by muddy fields and limited resources.

The scoreless NFL game of 1943 may be a distant memory, but its impact on the evolution of the sport echoes through the decades. As we continue to witness the NFL’s transformation, let this forgotten game serve as a reminder of the resilience and adaptability that define America’s most beloved sport.


Q: How many NFL games have ended in a 0-0 tie?

A: According to Pro Football Reference, 73 games in pro football history have ended in a 0-0 tie. However, the last occurrence was almost 80 years ago.

Q: When was the last 0-0 tie in the NFL?

A: The most recent 0-0 tie occurred on November 7, 1943, between the Detroit Lions and the New York Giants at Briggs Stadium.

Q: Why did the game end scoreless in 1943?

A: The game took place during World War II, with many NFL players overseas, resulting in diminished rosters. Additionally, poor field conditions due to rain contributed to the low-scoring affair.

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