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On This Date in Sports November 7, 1943: Scoreless in the Mud

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The Detroit Lions and New York Giants play to a 0-0 tie at Briggs Stadium. It is the 73rd time an NFL game has ended in a scoreless tie, with a large majority of those scoreless games, coming in the league’s first dozen years. The weather was a large factor as a cold steady rain, made for slippery and muddy conditions in what to date, NFL last scoreless game.

The Detroit Lions were coached by Gus Dorais, famous for helping to spark the creation of the passing game, three decades earlier while playing for Notre Dame. After a winless 0-11 season in 1942, the Lions showed signs of improvement in Dorais first season running the Lions, as they won three games early, but still entered their final home game of the season with a record of 3-4. The New York Giants coached by Steve Owens meanwhile, held a record of 2-2 as they looked to improve off a 5-5-1 season in 1942.

The rain dampened the mood in Detroit as just 16,992 filled Briggs Stadium. The conditions were awful throughout as neither team could find their footing in the mud. Frank Sinkwich the 1942 Heisman winner out of Georgia had trouble passing, completing just 5-of-12 passes for 28 yards. The numbers were uglier for New York as Tuffy Leemans who had just one three-yard completion in four pass attempts. The Lions were somewhat successful running the ball as they topped 100 yards on the ground, the Giants, meanwhile had just 84 yards in total offense with just three first downs, while Detroit had six first downs. The Giants managed to cross into Lions territory one time, thanks to after Mel Hein returned the game lone interception to the 20. However, Ward Cuff missed a 15-yard field goal attempt. The Lions had their own adventures in the kicking game with Augie Lio missing three attempts, including a pair of botched kicks in the fourth quarter.

In the 75 years since the last scoreless game, there have been several games where the final score was 3-0. Perhaps the most famous of these games was the infamous snowplow game in 1982 when a prisoner on work release cleared a path on a snowy field for kicker John Smith to help the New England Patriots beat the Miami Dolphins 3-0.

The Dolphins were also involved in the most recent 3-0 game, which has been called the worst Monday Night Game in NFL history, as the winless Dolphins were beaten by the Pittsburgh Steelers 3-0 on a rainy muddy game at Heinz Field in 2007.