Scorigami origins and how it works in the NFL

·4 min read

Scorigami origins and how it works in the NFL originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Every Sunday is a new opportunity for fans to witness something that has never been seen on an NFL field or scoreboard.

There are countless possibilities for what the final score in a football game could be. Most teams reach their totals by adding up threes for field goals and sevens for touchdowns combined with extra points. Those aren’t the only two methods for scoring points, though, leaving some matchups with head-scratching finals.

Even with over 100 years of NFL history, the league still continues to find unique final scores. The phenomenon surrounding those never-before-seen totals picked up popularity in recent years and even has a name: scorigami.

As the NFL embarks on a new season, let’s break down the scorigami concept and its application in the league:

What does scorigami mean?

Jon Bois, SB Nation’s innovation editor, originated the term “scorigami,” which is used to find final scores that have never occurred in an NFL game. He narrated a thorough explanation on the topic in a video posted in 2017, giving a full rundown of the scores that have happened and diving into what is possible on an NFL scoreboard.

Scorigami is now something that is tracked with each NFL game. The Scorigami Twitter account does live analysis of each game through the context of scorigami. Developed by three-time “Jeopardy!” champion Dave Mattingly, the account calculates the chances of a given game ending with a scorigami and the most likely scorigami outcome.

The NFL Scorigami website has a full archive of every final score that has been achieved in league history, along with the scores that have yet to be reached. 

How many different NFL final scores have there been?

So far, 1,072 different final scores have been achieved in NFL history.

The lowest possible score is 0-0 and has been achieved 73 times, though the most recent scoreless tie came on Nov. 7, 1943.

The most points any team has scored in an NFL game is 73. Not only did the Chicago Bears score the most points for a single game, but they shut out Washington in the same game to earn the most lopsided win of all time.

What is the most common final score for an NFL game?

The most common final score for games throughout NFL history is 20-17, followed by 27-24. 

Here are the 10 most common final scores listed by how many times they have occurred throughout history:

1. 20-17: 274

2. 27-24: 224

3. 17-14: 198

4. 23-20: 193

5. 24-17: 170

6. 13-10: 166

7. 24-21: 156

T-8. 17-10: 141

T-8. 16-13: 141

10. 24-14: 139

How many scorigamis were achieved during the 2021 season?

Six games during the 2021 season ended in final scores that had never been recorded in league history:

  • 38-11: Rams over Giants, Week 6

  • 31-5: Cardinals over Texans, Week 7

  • 45-30: Colts over Jets, Week 9

  • 41-15: Colts over Bills, Week 11

  • 48-9: Chiefs over Raiders, Week 14

  • 51-26: Cowboys over Eagles, Week 18

The Green Bay Packers defeated the Bears 45-30 five weeks after the Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets set it as a final score for the first time in league history.

Why is a 6-1 score possible in football but a 7-1 score is not?

As Bois explains in the video, there is one situation where a 6-1 score is possible.

Team A would need to score a touchdown to break a scoreless tie. On the ensuing PAT attempt, if Team B gets a safety, it would be awarded one point as opposed to the usual two points for a safety since it came on a conversion attempt.

Because of this phenomenon, final scores of 1-0, 2-1, 3-1, 4-1, 5-1 and 7-1 are not possible. For Team A to get have exactly seven points after scoring a touchdown to go up 6-0, it would either need to:

  • Make an extra point, which would bring the score to 7-0 and eliminate the possibility of it ever being a 7-1 game.

  • Miss the ensuing conversion and score a safety after a Team B touchdown, which would inherently mean that Team B will finish with at least six points instead of one.