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9 Greatest Overtime Games in NFL History

Kristopher KnoxFeatured ColumnistOctober 31, 2013

9 Greatest Overtime Games in NFL History

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    It is Week 9 of the 2013 NFL season, which means we have officially reached the halfway point.

    While there is sure to be plenty of action and drama waiting right around the corner, 2013 has already seen its fair share of both.

    We have seen trick plays, surprising upsets, bizarre official rulings and clutch last-minute performances.

    We've even had a few games go into overtime.

    Say what you will about the NFL's revamped overtime rules (most still seem to believe college has a better system), but sudden-death overtime can make for some of the most intense drama the sports world has to offer.

    Even when the overtime period itself is a letdown, most games leading up to an extra period are well-matched, thrilling and satisfying (usually).

    In honor of Week 9, let's take a look back at nine of the best overtime games in NFL history. 

    A game's ending doesn't necessarily have to be great to make this list, but the game itself does.

Tebow's Time

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    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    January 8, 2012

    The 2012 Wild Card Game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Denver Broncos was memorable for a couple of reasons.

    For one, it was an exciting back-and-forth duel between the underdog Broncos and the heavily favored Steelers that came down to the wire. It also was the last (perhaps only) time quarterback Tim Tebow was relevant in the NFL.

    Denver jumped out to a 20-6 halftime lead, but Pittsburgh battled back in the second half, tying the game on a 31-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger with just under four minutes remaining.

    The upstart Broncos couldn't score on their next possession. Roethlisberger was sacked on the final play of regulation, which set up the shortest overtime in NFL history.

    On the first play from scrimmage in overtime, Tebow connected with wideout Demaryius Thomas on an 80-yard touchdown strike which gave Denver the win just 11 seconds into the extra period.

Pinball Kicker

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    November 11, 2007

    The 2007 regular-season game between the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens stands out because of its unusual finish that resulted in an NFL rule change.

    The Browns led 27-14 heading into the fourth quarter, but the Ravens rattled off 16 unanswered points to take a three-point lead with just over 30 seconds remaining.

    A solid return by Josh Cribbs and a quick 24-yard drive set up Browns kicker Phil Dawson with a 51-yard field goal attempt to tie the game.

    The kick was initially ruled no good and the Ravens began to head to the locker room in celebration. However, after a lengthy conference by officials (the field goal was not reviewable by replay), it was determined that the ball had bounced off the back bar of the goalpost and was indeed good.

    The Browns won in overtime on a less-controversial Dawson field goal. The following offseason, the NFL Competition Committee instituted a rule change that allowed field goals and extra points to be reviewable by instant replay.

The Tuck Rule Game

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    January 19, 2002

    Oakland fans probably still wish that a certain rule had been changed prior to the 2002 divisional playoff game between the Raiders and New England Patriots.

    Oakland entered the fourth quarter with a 13-3 lead and looked to have a stranglehold on the game before second-year quarterback Tom Brady began the first of many memorable comeback attempts.

    Brady led one fourth-quarter touchdown drive. He then had the Patriots approaching field-goal range with less than two minutes remaining in regulation, when he was sacked by Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson and appeared to fumble the ball.

    However, officials reviewed the play and determined that the play resulted in an incomplete pass, thanks to a little-known rule commonly called the "tuck rule."

    According to the tuck rule, any intentional forward movement of a player's throwing arm starts a forward pass, even if that player loses possession of the ball while attempting to tuck it into his body.

    With new life, the Patriots sent the game into overtime with a 45-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal. New England won on another Vinatieri field goal in the extra period and moved on to the AFC Championship Game.

    The tuck rule was abolished this past offseason. Thanks to this game, however, we will never forget its existence.

     

Third Tynes a Charm

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    January 20, 2008

    The 2008 NFC Championship Game between the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers will be remembered and not just because it was Brett Favre's last game as a Packer.

    Favre and his team hosted quarterback Eli Manning in one of the coldest games in league history (reportedly negative-one before the windchill factor).

    Not only were the temperatures low in Lambeau, but the scoring by these two legendary quarterbacks was relatively minimal.

    The Giants held a 20-17 lead heading into the fourth quarter. However, the Packers tied the game early in the fourth on a 37-yard field goal from kicker Mason Crosby.

    The Giants responded with field-goal attempts on two of their next three drives. Unfortunately, kicker Lawrence Tynes missed on 43- and 36-yard attempts (he was "iced" on the final attempt in regulation), which put the contest in overtime.

    Fortunately for the Giants, Favre's first pass of overtime was intercepted by Giants cornerback Corey Webster, who advanced the ball to the Green Bay 34-yard line.

    After three plays and five scrimmage yards, Tynes was given a third opportunity to kick the game-winning field goal. This time he connected on a 47-yards attempt, sending the Giants to the Super Bowl and Favre into a short-lived retirement. 

Montana's Miracle

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    December 7, 1980

    This 1980 regular-season game between the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Giants makes the list because it marked one of the first memorable performances in what became a legendary career.

    Late in his second NFL season, 49ers quarterback Joe Montana found his team down 35-7 at halftime to Archie Manning and the Saints.

    While most second-year quarterbacks would have folded, Montana did not. Instead, he led his 49ers on a 28-0 second-half run to send the game into overtime.

    Ray Wersching booted a 36-yard overtime field goal to win the game for San Francisco and its upstart quarterback.

    It was the first of many legendary performances for Montana and remains the largest regular-season comeback in league history.

The Comeback

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    January 3, 1993

    The 1993 Wild Card Game between the Houston Oilers and Buffalo Bills remains one of the wildest overtime games in sports history.

    Warren Moon and the Oilers jumped out to a 32-point lead early in the third quarter and appeared to have the game in hand. 

    The week prior, Buffalo had lost to Houston 27-3 and had lost starting quarterback Jim Kelly in the process. It didn't appear that backup signal-caller Frank Reich would be able to rally the Bills in the playoff rematch. 

    However, Reich threw three second-half touchdown passes and pushed Buffalo to a three-point fourth-quarter lead. Houston would send the game into overtime with a field goal, but the Oilers' spirit was broken by the furious comeback.

    The Bills would take home a most improbable victory with an overtime field goal from kicker Steve Christie, capping the greatest comeback in NFL history.

The Blown-Coverage Game

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    January 12, 2013

    The 2013 AFC divisional playoff game between the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos was one of the longest and most memorable games in league history.

    Denver and Baltimore battled for all four quarters in what was mostly an evenly matched contest.

    How evenly matched? Each team scored 14 points in the first quarter, seven in the second and seven in the third.

    However, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning gave his team the lead in the fourth quarter with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas. 

    The Broncos kept Baltimore off the board for nearly the rest of the way. Unfortunately, Ravens receiver Jacoby Jones blew past the entire Broncos secondary to haul in a 70-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Joe Flacco with less than 40 seconds remaining in regulation.

    The game remained scoreless through the first overtime period, but Manning was intercepted by Ravens cornerback Cory Graham just before the start of the sixth quarter.

    The Ravens won in the second overtime period on a 47-yard Justin Tucker field goal and went on to win their second Super Bowl title in franchise history. 

Epic in Miami

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    January 2, 1982

    The 1982 divisional playoff game between the Miami Dolphins and the San Diego Chargers is still remembered as one of the most grueling contests in all of professional sports.

    The Chargers jumped out to a 24-0 first-quarter lead, but the Dolphins went on a 17-0 run in the second. 

    The teams traded blows over the next two quarters, with the Chargers taking over with 4:39 left in regulation and down by seven points.

    Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts tied the game with a touchdown pass with less than a minute remaining and tight end Kellen Winslow blocked Miami's potential game-winning field goal to send the contest into overtime.

    In the extra period, the teams traded missed field goals before kicker Rolf Benirschke connected on a 29-yarder to give San Diego a 41-38 victory.

The Greatest Game Ever Played

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    December 28, 1958

    Not only was the 1958 NFL Championship Game the first NFL playoff game to go into sudden-death overtime, but many view it as the game that set the league on a course to become the new American pastime.

    The nationally televised game was a back-and-forth affair between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants 

    While the game featured 17 future Hall of Famers, numerous turnovers and even a lost television feed, the game is best known for quarterback Johnny Unitas' late-game heroics.

    Down 17-14 with barely two minutes remaining, Unitas took the Colts from their own 14-yard line down to the Giants' 13 for a game-tying field goal.

    On the Colts' first possession of overtime, Unitas engineered a 13-play, 80-yard drive that was capped by a 1-yard Alan Ameche touchdown run.

    Baltimore left with a 23-17 victory and an NFL title, while the rest of America left with a new appreciation for the game of professional football.

     

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