15 of the Best NFL Playoff Games….EVER
The NFL playoffs are among us and the stakes are high. As things heat up amongst the remaining NFL teams and their fans the talk of past playoff match ups arise. Through out the history of the NFL there have been great games. The most memorable games happen during the post season. Everything is on the line and team’s seasons can be over in with one lost, so players put their all into playing. As a fan your blood pressure will probably rise if you team is playing in the playoffs. The post-season is when mind blowing plays and missed calls happen. This list includes the greatest NFL playoff games ever.
Broncos vs Steelers in 2011 playoffs
Tim Tebow’s run through the 2011 season truly was incredible. Tebow was coming off of a three game slump. Going into the game John Elway told him to “Pull the trigger”. That’s exactly what he did. After going into overtime, Tebow connected with Demaryius Thomas on an 80-yard touchdown pass on the first play of overtime. Tebow throw for 316 yards and two touchdowns. The Broncos won the AFC wild card game and silenced critics for the moment.
Seahawks vs the Saints in 2010 playoffs
People complained that the Seattle Seahawks should have been the away team instead of the home team considering their record was not as good as the Saints. Its an argument that still goes on five years later. Some will say that that was the deciding factor of the Seahawks victory over the Saints. Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselback was considered to be done for with multiple injuries, bad performance and old age. He showed everyone the he still had a little left in the tank as he completed 22 of his 35 passes for 272 yards and four touchdowns to bet the Saints 41-36.
Cardinals vs Packers in 2009 playoffs
Kurt Warner’s career was fizzing out by the time he made it to the 2009 playoffs. People were counting him out until the wild card game against the Green Bay Packers. Kurt Warner seemingly rose from the dead in this game completing 29 of 33 pass attempts for 379 yards and five touchdowns. He played without his star receiver Anquan Boldin and no quarterback has averaged more yards per postseason game. The retirement rumors got quiet after that game.
Chargers vs. Dolphins in 1982 playoffs
This is arguably the greatest playoff game ever. It doesn’t have a nick name like other great games but it is worthy of one. In 1982 the Chargers and Dolphins met for the AFC semi-finals. At the end of the first quarter, the Chargers led 24-0 despite the stifling heat. In the beginning of the second quarter, Don Strock came in the game as quarterback for the Dolphins replacing David Woodley. The Dolphins immediately began to come back ending the first half with a 40 yard “hook and later” play ending in a touchdown with no time left. The second half was tit for tat and the game went into overtime tied at 38-38. Finally after the Chargers missed a field goal the Dolphins hit a 29 yard field goal that won the game.
The Catch: 49ers vs. Cowboys in 1982 playoffs
Deemed “The Catch”, the 1982 NFC Championship game between the 13-3 49ers and the Cowboys was as exciting as any game can get. Joe Montana threw three touchdown passes. One of those touchdown passes was the game winner for the 49ers. After moving the ball down the field to the Dallas six yard line, Joe Montana threw a 10 yard pass to Dwight Clark who jumped to unbelievable heights to catch the ball at the back of the endzone. The game ended with a 49ers 28-27 victory.
The Drive: Broncos vs Browns in 1987 playoffs
The 1987 AFC Championship game was between the Denver Broncos and the Cleveland Browns. The Browns dominated the game and with 5:43 left in the game they led 20-13. It seemed that Cleveland would go to the Super Bowl, but the Broncos had John Elway. Elway, backed to his own two yard line put together one of the greatest drives in the history of the NFL. 13 plays for 98 yards which ended in a touchdown pass from Elway to Mark Jackson to send the game into OT. The Broncos kicked a field goal and continued to the Super Bowl.
Merry Christmas, Miami! Dolphins vs Chiefs playoffs in 1971
Played on Christmas day in 1971 the Dolphins played a tight game against the Kansas City Chiefs. At halftime, the game was tied, 10-10. In the second half the two went back and fourth, Chiefs up 17-10, Dolphins tie it; Chiefs up 24-17, Dolphins tie it. It looked like the Chiefs would win after a kickoff return put them in field goal range, but their kicker missed the 31 yard field goal sending the game into OT. The first OT was scoreless going into another OT where the Dolphins hit a 37 yard field goal to win the game. To date this game is the longest in NFL history clocking in at 82 minutes and 40 seconds.
The Fumble: Broncos vs Browns in 1988 playoffs
They’re are many games where teams have made a mistake and ended up losing. Nothing is worst that “The Fumble” during the ’88 AFC Championship game between the Broncos and the Browns. The game looked like a Denver cakewalk in the first half, with the Broncos piling up a 21-3 lead. The Browns did not give up. In the third quarter of the game the Browns came back, but still trailed 38-31. They made it into the Broncos territory when running back Earnest Byner fumbled the ball. The Broncos recovered and ran out the clock to win the game.
The Botched Call: 49ers vs Giants in 2003 playoffs
There is nothing worst for a fan and a team than to lose a game due to the referees getting a call wrong. In 2003 the 49ers and the Giants played a NFC wild card game for the last playoff spot. In San Fransisco, the 49ers came back to lead the Giants after trailing most of the game. At the time it was the second greatest come back in the NFL overcoming a 24 point deficit with less than 19 minutes left in the game. The Giants had a chance to regain the lead but couldn’t. A play that should have had a flag thrown did not. On the last play of the game New York botched the snap on a 41-yard field goal attempt as time expired, but the NFL later admitted pass interference should have been called on the 49ers, giving the Giants another opportunity.
Sea of Hands: Raiders vs Dolphins in 1974 playoffs
In the final 4:54 at the Oakland Coliseum, the Raiders and the Dolphins played a great game. The Dolphins led 19-14 but the Raiders came back on one of the quickest scoring drives ever. The first of the two plays was a completion, which moved Oakland from its 17 to the 28. The second was a 72 yard touchdown pass to Cliff Branch. The Dolphins stroke back bringing the game to 26-21 in their favor. On the last drive the Raiders managed to get to the Dolphin’s eight yard line. The pass was caught by Clearance Davis in the midst of three Dolphin defenders winning the game for the Raiders with only 24 seconds remaining.
The Immaculate Reception: Steelers vs Raiders in 1972 playoffs
The Immaculate Reception is probably the most memorable football game in history. Despite the rest of the game being a drag, that one moment has been worth decades of conversation. With 22 seconds remaining, the Steelers had the ball on their own 40. Terry Bradshaw threw down field to Frenchy Fuqua, who collided with Jack Tatum at the Raiders’ 35 yard line. The ball bounced off Tatum, and flew back to the 42 yard line, where Franco Harris scooped it up before it hit the ground and ran for a TD with five seconds remaining.
Browns vs Bills in 1989 playoffs
This is a game that is not often talked about but it should be. The Buffalo Bills and the Cleveland Browns went at it for a chance play in the AFC championship game. It was a brutally cold day. After going back and forth the whole game the Bills were at the 11 yard line looking to put the game away. Quarterback Jim Kelly threw the ball but it was intercepted by the Browns linebacker Clay Matthews at the one yard line with three seconds left on the clock. The Browns won 34-30.
Falcons vs Vikings in 1998 playoffs
The Vikings had set an NFL record with 556 points and won their nine previous home games by an average of 23 points, but they could not win this game despite maintaining a lead for nearly all of the time in regulation. Fox Sports ranked it the third most exciting NFC Championship Game ever. After keeping the lead, Minnesota drove to the Falcons 20-yard line, setting up a 38-yard field goal attempt for Gary Anderson, who had not missed a field goal all season. Another successful kick would have wrapped up the NFC title for Minnesota, but Anderson’s kick sailed wide left. Atlanta with 2:07 left responded with a scoring drive that tied the game. Later in overtime they kicked the winning field goal.
The Catch II: 49ers vs Packers in 1998 playoffs
The 49ers defeated the Packers, who had eliminated them from the playoffs in each of the past three seasons. Both teams were equally yoked in this game. Each capitalized on the others mistakes. With the game on the line and the score in favor of the Packers, the 49ers drove down the field 76 yards. On the final play, with only three seconds left, Steve Young through the winning 25 yard touchdown pass to Terrell Owens who was having a horrible game with four dropped passes and a fumble. This game is now referred to as The Catch II.
The Music City Miracle: Titans vs Bills in 1999 playoffs
A couple of things in this game happened. After a scoreless first quarter, the Titans opened up the scoring when Jevon Kearse sacked Buffalo quarterback Rob Johnson in the end zone for a safety. This was only the beginning of a long day for Johnson. He was sacked six times in the game. By half time the Bills were down 12-0, but returned the second half with new life. On the first drive of the third quarter the Bills scored. The Bills then intercepted the ball from the Titans which led to a scoring drive giving the Bills a 13-12 lead. Going back and forth with field goals the Bills kept the lead with a 16-15 score until late fourth quarter. It looked as if the Bills were going to pull this one off. The Titans had another trick up their sleeve though. On the last kickoff, Titans fullback Lorenzo Neal picked up the ball at his own 25-yard line. He then handed off to Frank Wycheck, who ran all the way to the right sideline before lateraling the ball all the way back to Kevin Dyson on the left side of the field. After taking the ball, Dyson ran 75 yards for a touchdown to give his team the win.