LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — There are lots of lists the 2014 Oakland Raiders would just as well not be part of, but they’ll need a win in December to avoid being the 10th NFL team to lose 15 games in a season.
Yes, the 2008 Lions set the record for futility with their 0-16 campaign, and the Raiders neatly avoided joining Detroit on that list when they took a 24-20 victory over Kansas City on a rainy Thursday night in Oakland. They followed that effort 10 days later with a 52-0 drubbing at the hands of the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. Now the Raiders have four more chances, starting with a Sunday game against their cross-bay rivals the 49ers, to avoid joining the 1-15 club.
The nine teams that staggered to a 1-15 finish since the league expanded to a 16-game season in 1978 include a handful that were a couple of years away from greatness, so winning just one game doesn’t mean a bounce-back season isn’t in the cards. In fact, all nine of the teams have played in at least one Super Bowl, although for a few it was a distant memory, and they are still trying to find their way.
1. 1980 New Orleans Saints
Two years after the NFL took two of its six exhibition games and added them to the regular-season schedule, the Saints (8-8 in 1979) became the first team to lose 15 games in a season. The team took on the nickname the “Ain’ts” as it got off to an 0-14 start, matching the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Perhaps the most embarrassing game for the Saints was a 38-35 overtime loss to the 49ers, a game they led 35-7 at halftime. No wonder some of the New Orleans fans had taken to wearing paper bags in the stands.
One win: At Shea Stadium, the Saints squeaked out a 21-20 victory over New York Jets (who finished the season 4-12) thanks to two Tony Galbreath rushing touchdowns and Archie Manning’s 14-yard scoring pass to Jack Holmes .
Just wait ’till next year: After closing the 1980 season with a 38-27 loss to visiting New England, the Saints went 4-12 in 1981. They finally had their first winning season in 1987, going 12-3 in a strike year, and made their first playoff appearance.
2. 1989 Dallas Cowboys
After a 3-13 season in 1988, in which they defeated the Phoenix Cardinals, Washington Redskins and Atlanta Falcons, the Cowboys hit rock bottom in 1989. In the offseason the team was sold, and new owner Jerry Jones sacked venerable head coach Tom Landry, replacing him with Jimmy Johnson. Their 0-8 start included close losses in Atlanta and Kansas City, but everyone pretty much agreed the season was lost by the end of October.
One win: At RFK Stadium the Cowboys got revenge for Washington’s 30-7 win in Week 3 with a 13-3 victory in a Sunday night game on Nov. 5. Roger Ruzek kicked two field goals and Paul Palmer scored the game’s lone touchdown on 2-yard run. The Redskins (10-6) are the only team to post a winning record but lose to a team that ultimately finished 1-15.
Just wait ’till next year: The Cowboys lost by less than a touchdown at Phoenix and at home to the Dolphins the next two weeks, and closed the season on a seven-game losing streak. They posted a 7-9 record in 1990, then went 11-5 and returned to the playoffs in 1991 before winning Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII.
3. 1990 New England Patriots
The NFL had gone nine seasons between the 1-15 clubs in 1980 and 1989, but the year after the Cowboys joined the list the Patriots (5-11 in 1989) had a clunker of a year as well. New England opened the season with a 27-24 loss to the visiting Miami Dolphins, with Dan Marino’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Tony Paige in the fourth quarter providing the difference. Considering the fact the Patriots would win their next game, then lose 14 in a row, there was not much to celebrate once summer turned to fall, starting with a 41-7 loss at Cincinnati in Week 3
One win: Hart Lee Dykes caught a 27-yard touchdown pass from Steve Grogan in the second quarter, and Jason Staurovsky added three field goals as the Patriots staved off the Colts (7-9) in Indianapolis, 16-14.
Just wait ’till next year: The blowout in Cincinnati started a losing streak that include a pair of big defeats (37-13 and 42-7) by the Jets, but the Patriots responded with a 6-10 season in 1991 (only to go 2-14 in 1992, but that’s a different list). Two years later they returned to the playoffs with a 10-6 mark, and have been mostly formidable ever since.
4. 1991 Indianapolis Colts
How do you follow a season in which you were the only team to lose to the 1-15 Patriots? With Ron Meyer at the helm, the Colts put up 9-7, 8-8 and 7-9 records going into 1991, but opened the season by allowing the Patriots to snap a 14-game losing streak in a 16-7 game in Indianapolis. Meyer would not survive September, getting fired after the Colts started out 0-5. They would lose four more times over the next five weeks, with a bye providing their only respite.
One win: Jeff George had three touchdown passes and Clarence Verdin scored on an 88-yard kickoff return as Indianapolis survived a late charge from the Jets (8-8), who had to settle for two short Pat Leahy field goals on fourth-quarter drives, and fell to the visiting Colts 28-27.
Just wait ’till next year: The euphoria was short-lived as the Colts lost their last six games of the season. But they rebounded strongly in 1992, posting a 9-7 record under Ted Marchibroda, although they still missed the playoffs.
5. 1996 New York Jets
The Jets had posted a 3-13 mark for Rich Kotite in 1995, losing their last four games. They started the 1996 season by losing eight more, although a 25-22 defeat by the visiting Bills on Oct. 20 came courtesy of a 47-yard field goal by Steve Christie with 10 seconds left.
One win: A lot of players contributed to the Jets’ 31-21 win over the Cardinals (7-9) the week after losing to the Bills. Reggie Cobb, Adrian Murrell and Richie Anderson each scored a touchdown on the ground, and Frank Reich found Keyshawn Johnson with a 34-yard pass for a fourth score. Nick Lowery also had a field goal.
Just wait ’till next year: The win came as the Jets were heading into their bye week, and they would not win again in 1996. Kotite was fired and his replacement, Bill Parcells, led the Jets to a 9-7 mark in 1997.
6. 2000 San Diego Chargers
The Chargers were coming off an 8-8 campaign in 1999, and had beaten Oakland and Denver to close the season on an up note. With solid play in the preseason, quarterback Ryan Leaf appeared ready to take on the starting role again after missing the entire 1999 season with a shoulder injury. But San Diego opened with a 9-6 loss at Oakland, then suffered a 28-27 defeat by visiting New Orleans, prompting coach Mike Riley to go with Moses Moreno in a game at Kansas City. Moreno got hurt midgame, and Leaf had to return to action as the Chargers lost 42-10. Then, in Week 4, Leaf suffered a wrist injury in a 20-12 loss to visiting Seattle, and missed two months. The Chargers had lost 11 straight when Kansas City came to San Diego on Nov. 26.
One win: Leaf threw two touchdown passes to Freddie Jones in the first half, but the Chargers needed a 52-yard field goal from John Carney with 3:01 to play to eke out a 17-16 win over the Chiefs (7-9).
Just wait ’till next year: A visit from the 49ers ended with a 45-17 rout the following week as the Chargers went 0-for-December. Riley survived the 1-15 season, but not the 5-11 encore in 2001, being let go at the end of the season.
7. 2001 Carolina Panthers
The Panthers were that rarity, an expansion team that came out of the gate with a couple of good seasons, going 7-9 in their inaugural campaign before posting a 12-4 mark and making the NFC championship game in 1996. Even a 4-12 record in 1998 didn’t dampen enthusiasm in the Carolinas. But in 2001, the Panthers lost 15 straight. That they did so after winning their opener against the Vikings made it all the worse.
One win: Steve Smith returned the opening kickoff 93 yards, and the visiting Panthers added a John Kasey field goal and rushing touchdowns from Daunte Culpepper and Chris Weinke to take a 24-13 win over the Vikings (5-11) on Sept. 9.
Fifteen losses: Carolina’s home opener was postponed in the wake of 9/11 and the Panthers returned to the field in Atlanta two weeks later, losing to the Falcons 24-16. In Charlotte the next week, they held a 7-0 halftime lead before losing to Green Bay 28-7. There were some close calls, including a 13-12 loss to the visiting Jets and a 25-24 defeat in Buffalo, but no Carolina victories.
Just wait ’till next year: Head coach George Seifert lost his job after the season, and John Fox took over, guiding the Panthers to a 7-9 mark in 2002, and an 11-5 record in 2003, with their season culminating in a loss to New England in Super Bowl XXXVIII.
8. 2007 Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins posted a 6-10 record in Nick Saban’s second year as head coach, but at the end of the season he accepted a contract to return to the college ranks at Alabama. Cam Cameron took over the team, but it would be mid-December before he could celebrate a win, as the Dolphins lost their first 13. Three of the first five losses, starting with a 16-13 defeat in Washington, were by a field goal.
One win: Quarterback Cleo Lemon found Greg Camarillo for a 64-yard touchdown with 8:26 to go in overtime as the Dolphins took a 22-16 decision over the visiting Baltimore Ravens (5-11) on Dec. 16. Jay Feeley had three field goals, and Samkon Gado a 7-yard touchdown run for Miami, but Matt Stover’s third field goal of the game forced the overtime.
Just wait ’till next year: The Dolphins ended the season with losses to New England and Cincinnati, and Cameron was let go. Tony Sparano took over as head coach and led the 2008 Dolphins to an 11-5 record and a playoff spot.
9. 2009 St. Louis Rams
With the Rams posting a 3-13 mark in 2007 and a 2-14 record in 2008, people looking for trends might have seen this one coming. St. Louis actually won back-to-back games over the Redskins and Cowboys on Oct. 12 and 19 the previous season before losing 10 straight to end 2008. With Steve Spagnuolo taking over as head coach, they lost seven more to start 2009. Two of those games were close, with Washington slipping past the visiting Rams 9-7 in Week 2, and homestanding Jacksonville taking a 23-20 win in overtime in Week 6.
One win: On Nov. 1, Steven Jackson broke a 10-all tie with a 25-yard touchdown run with 1:44 remaining as the visiting Rams took a 17-10 win over the Lions (2-14) in Detroit. Kicker Josh Brown had a first-quarter field goal and threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Fells on a fake kick late in the second quarter.
Just wait ’till next year: Just like the 1996 Jets, the 2009 Rams were heading into their bye week, and would not win again, losing their last eight. They would lose two more to start 2010 before taking a 30-16 win over the visiting Redskins. The Rams followed their 7-9 record in 2010 with a 2-14 mark in 2011.