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A shutout in American football is fairly uncommon. Keeping an opponent scoreless in American Football requires a team's defense to be able to consistently shut down both pass and run offenses over the course of a game. The difficulty of completing a shutout is compounded by the many ways a team can score in the game. For example, teams can attempt field goals, which have a high rate of success. The range of NFL caliber kickers makes it possible for a team with a weak offense to get close enough (within 50 yards) to the goalposts and kick a field goal. In the decade of the 2000s there were 79 shutouts in 1,168 regular-season games, for an average of only one shutout for every 15 games.

Shelbyville Tennessee's Bedford County Training School Fighting Tigers recorded 52 consecutive shutouts from 1942 to 1949, a record for an American high school football team. The second-longest streak is 18.

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