NFL Playoffs 2011: 50 Best Divisional Round Games of All Time

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJanuary 15, 2011

NFL Playoffs 2011: 50 Best Divisional Round Games of All Time

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    Let's take a look back at the best games this weekend has offered, from Garo Yepremian's Christmas Day field goal to Shonn Greene putting the New England Patriots' season to bed with a late touchdown run yesterday.

    The following are the 50 best Divisional Round games in modern NFL history (1970 until today). Each slide has a summary, some random did-you-know facts, box score links and video evidence, if available.

    Note: The previous incarnation of this article included my mediocre predictions (in the interest of full disclosure, I went 2-2). This most recent version includes the Jets and Steelers' wins from this past weekend.

Christmas Day 1971: Dolphins 27, Chiefs 24 (Double Overtime)

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    Summary

    The longest game in NFL history ended when Garo Yepremian kicked a 37-yard field goal 7:40 into the second overtime.

    The Dolphins scored a touchdown to tie the game at 24 with under two minutes left. The Chiefs' Ed Podolak returned the kickoff to the Dolphins' 22-yard line, and after a couple plays, Hall of Famer Jan Stenerud missed the game-winner from the Chiefs' 15-yard line. He also missed a kick in overtime, as did Yepremian, but the latter kicker got his chance at redemption. 

     

    Did You Know?

    This was the last playoff game to be played on Christmas Day.

     

    Box Score

    Ed Podolak had 350 all-purpose yards: 155 on return yardage, 110 receiving yards and 85 rushing yards.

December 23, 1972: Pittsburgh 13, Oakland 7

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    Summary

    Immaculate Reception. That speaks for itself.

    There was much controversy over whom the ball deflected off on that 4th-and-10 play. In 1972, an offensive player could not catch a pass that was previously deflected only by his teammate. If the ball deflected just off Steelers running back Frenchy Fuqua, the play would have become moot. However, the referees deemed that the ball hit Raiders safety Jack Tatum at some point.

     

    Did You Know?

    A guy by the name of Michael Ord came up with the name. He told it to a friend, Sharon Levosky, who then suggested it to Steelers broadcaster Myron Cope, who popularized the term.

    The ball most certainly hit Jack Tatum. Check the slow motion replays.

    *Cue vitriolic response from Raiders fans.

     

    Box Score

    Only three penalties? How is that possible?

December 23, 1972: Dallas 30, San Francisco 28

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    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Summary

    The upset that never was, and the game that was never remembered because it was played on the same day as the Immaculate Reception.

    The 7-6-1 49ers took a 28-13 lead over the defending Super Bowl champion Cowboys, only to give up 17 unanswered points and lose.

    The Cowboys needed to recover an onside kick with under two minutes left to have a chance at winning. They did so and scored a touchdown with 52 seconds left.

     

    Did You Know?

    Roger Staubach did not start this game. Craig Morton got the nod because he was the main QB as Staubach rested a shoulder injury for most of the season. Head coach Tom Landry called on Staubach with the Cowboys down 28-13 to ignite the team.

     

    Box Score

    Larry Schreiber had three one-yard touchdown rushes in this game. He had only 14 touchdowns in his entire career, playoffs included.

December 21, 1974: Raiders 28, Dolphins 26

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    Summary

    The Sea of Hands play. Kenny Stabler shot put a pass to Clarence Davis even though five Dolphins were in his neighborhood. Davis caught it anyway with 24 seconds left to give the Raiders a 28-26 win.

    Davis ruined the Dolphins' chances at a three-peat; Miami was coming off its 1972 undefeated season and a 1973 romp over the rest of the NFL.

     

    Did You Know?

    Ben Dreith, who officiated this game, is most famous for this call during a Jets vs. Bills game in 1986 and for heading the officiating crew that reffed the Sugar Bear Hamilton game in 1976.

     

    Box Score

    And now you know why Fred Biletnikoff has an award named after him.

December 28, 1975: Cowboys 17, Vikings 14

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    Summary

    The first "Hail Mary." Roger Staubach fired a 50-yard pass down the sideline to Drew Pearson for a game-winning touchdown with under 20 seconds remaining, giving the Cowboys a 17-14 win at Minnesota.

    The Hail Mary did not come without controversy, as the Vikings claimed Pearson should have been called for offensive pass interference. You be the judge.

     

    Did You Know?

    The field judge who did not make the offensive pass interference call, Armen Terzian, was knocked unconscious by a whiskey bottle when the Vikings began launching a desperation drive at the end of the game. He was replaced by a substitute referee.

    Roger Staubach actually coined the term Hail Mary to represent a long, desperation pass, telling the media that he said a Hail Mary prayer as the ball flew through the air to Pearson.

    Sadly, Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton's father died during the third quarter.

     

    Box Score

    If your name is Billy Joe Dupree, you just might be a redneck.

December 18, 1976: Raiders 24, Patriots 21

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    Summary

    The Sugar Bear Hamilton game.

    The Raiders were down 21-17 and facing a 3rd-and-18. Hamilton was called for a roughing-the-passer penalty on Kenny Stabler as the Snake's pass fell incomplete. A 4th-and-18 became a 1st-and-10, and the Raiders eventually drove for the game-winning touchdown...and a Super Bowl IX win.

     

    Did You Know?

    The Raiders lost only once that season, a 48-17 Week 4 rout to...the New England Patriots.

     

    Box Score

    Twenty-one penalties were called in this game. Do you think the referees had an agenda?

December 24, 1977: Raiders 37, Colts 31

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    Summary

    The Ghost to the Post. With the Raiders trailing 31-28 at their own 44-yard line with under a minute left, tight end Dave Casper made a tremendous tracking catch from Kenny Stabler that went for 42 yards and put the Raiders in field goal territory. Errol Mann tied the game with a 22-yard field goal to send the game to overtime.

     

    Did You Know?

    Well, you know this if you're a Raiders fan, but Casper also caught the game-winning touchdown, a 10-yard pass in double overtime, that sent them to the AFC Championship Game.

     

    Box Score

    Casper had three touchdowns, and the game featured eight lead changes.

December 30, 1978: Cowboys 27, Falcons 20

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Summary

    Six years after the 49ers nearly pulled off an incredible upset, the 9-7 Falcons nearly did the same, this time at Texas Stadium.

    Ironically, while Roger Staubach replaced a quarterback mid-game the last time a NFC West team nearly pulled off a monstrous upset (unless you count the Rams' 14-12 win over Dallas in 1976 as a monstrous upset), he was replaced by Danny White after suffering a concussion.

    White threw the game-tying touchdown pass to Jackie Smith and led Dallas on its game-winning touchdown drive after a bad punt put the Cowboys on the Atlanta 30-yard line. 

     

    Did You Know?

    The Falcons' best runner that year was a guy named Bubba Bean, and starting QB Steve Bartkowski threw 10 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. Everyone talks today about how much parity there is in the NFL and about Any Given Sunday, yada, yada, yada. This team proves that Any Given Sunday was around long before the salary cap came to fruition. 

     

    Box Score

    The Cowboys proved that teams can fumble the ball six times and still win.

December 30, 1979: Rams 21, Cowboys 19

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    Summary

    Vince Ferragamo and the 9-7 Los Angeles Rams shocked the Dallas Cowboys on their own home turf en route to becoming the first nine-win team to make the Super Bowl.  

    Vince Ferragamo? Yes, Vince Ferragamo. He threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Billy Waddy with two minutes remaining to give the Rams a 21-19 lead. The Cowboys never encroached field goal territory, and the game ended.

     

    Did You Know?

    The Cowboys got a taste of their own Hail Mary medicine when Ferragamo let fly a 43-yard touchdown pass to Rod Smith as halftime expired, giving the Rams a 14-5 halftime advantage.

    Roger Staubach's last pass as a professional was completed...to an offensive lineman. The play was on fourth down and a great quarterback's career ended in melancholy fashion.

     

    Box Score

    When you're a quarterback and one out of every three completed passes goes for a touchdown, you're in business.

January 4, 1981: Cowboys 30, Falcons 27

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    Summary

    Two years later, different location, same old story. The Falcons blow a lead to the Cowboys in the NFC Divisional Round. This time around, Dallas had to overcome a 24-10 disadvantage in the fourth quarter. A touchdown from Robert Newhouse and two touchdowns from Drew Pearson sealed the deal for the Cowboys.

     

    Did You Know?

    Dallas fumbled four times, but lost only one.


    Box Score

    Danny White and Steve Bartkowski partied like it was 2010, with both of them combining for 642 passing yards and five touchdowns.

January 4, 1981: Raiders 14, Browns 12

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    Summary

    Red Right 88. With the Browns down 14-12 and at the Raiders' 13-yard line, QB Brian Sipe threw an interception while trying to force the ball into Ozzie Newsome in the end zone. Game over.

     

    Did You Know?

    The Browns started their potential game-winning drive after stopping the Raiders on 4th-and-inches. 

    Thirteen of Cleveland's last 15 games that season went down to the wire.

     

    Box Score

    Mark van Eeghen had two one-yard touchdown rushes, Don Cockroft had two 30-yard field goals and Ron Bolton had a 42-yard interception return for a touchdown. Five interceptions were thrown. The lesson here is that when it's 36 degrees below wind chill outside, offenses aren't going be explosive.

January 2, 1982: Chargers 41, Dolphins 38

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    Summary

    What don't you know? It's the best Divisional Round game in NFL history. There is no close second. Hook-and-lateral, Miami's 38-7 run, Kellen Winslow can't walk off the field, 80 percent humidity, missed game-winning field goals, the list goes on.

     

    Did You Know?

    Rolf Benirschke, the Chargers kicker, was the daytime host for Wheel of Fortune in 1989.

    The next week, San Diego played in the coldest game of all time, losing in negative-59 degree wind chill at Cincinnati.

     

    Box Score

    Kellen Winslow: 13 catches, 166 yards, one touchdown, one blocked field goal at the end of regulation. What a boss.

December 31, 1983: 49ers 24, Lions 23

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    Summary

    This was in the middle of the 49ers dynastic years, but the 1983 version went a pedestrian 10-6. Still, they reached the NFC Championship Game after Lions kicker Eddie Murray missed a 43-yard field goal wide right with five seconds remaining. He doesn't deserve blame, as Lions QB Gary Danielson threw five interceptions and no touchdowns. Still, two Billy Sims touchdown rushes turned a 17-9 49ers lead into a 23-17 Lions advantage.

    However, Freddie Solomon's touchdown catch turned out to be the game-winner for San Francisco.

     

    Did You Know?

    Dick Vermeil was an announcer for this game. Who knew he was a color commentator?

     

    Box Score

    Detroit out-gained San Francisco, 412-291, and still lost.

December 30, 1984: Bears 23, Redskins 19

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    Summary

    The season prior to the Super Bowl Shuffle crew's dominance over the NFL.

    The Redskins had never lost at home at RFK Stadium until this day. Chicago forced three turnovers and held on late for a 23-19 win over the Redskins, thanks in part to Walter Payton's 19-yard touchdown pass to Pat Dunsmore. Washington advanced as far as the 24-yard line late in the game but could not encroach any further.

     

    Did You Know?

    This game featured one of the toughest hits in NFL history (see above).

     

    Box Score

    Twelve sacks occurred in this game, with Rich Milot of the Redskins accruing three-and-a-half of them.

January 3, 1987: Browns 23, Jets 20 (2 OT)

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    Summary

    Cleveland gets some breaks for once. Mark Gastineau commits a stupid roughing-the-passer penalty with the Browns pinned deep in their own territory and down 20-10 late in the fourth quarter. A 3rd-and-24 on the 18-yard line becomes a 1st-and-10.

    The Browns score a touchdown on the drive, force a quick three-and-out and kick a game-tying field goal to send the game to overtime. In the second overtime period, Mark Moseley kicked a 27-yard field goal to win the game.

     

    Did You Know?

    The Jets committed a 26-yard pass interference penalty on Cleveland's game-tying drive. The Browns had no timeouts with 51 seconds left as they started the drive on their own 32-yard line, but they managed to get down all the way to the five-yard line to give Moseley a chip shot.

    Moseley actually missed a 22-yarder later in overtime that would have given the Browns the win in the first OT.

     

    Box Score

    Bernie Kosar went 33-of-64 for 489 yards. What an underachiever.

January 9, 1988: Vikings 36, 49ers 24

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    Summary

    The 8-7 Vikings pulled off one of the biggest upsets in NFL playoff history, defeating the 13-2 49ers in San Francisco thanks to Anthony Carter's 10-catch, 227-yard day. The 227 receiving yards are a playoff record, and helped the Vikings maintain at least a nine-point lead from the middle of the second quarter through the rest of the game.

    Carter is most famous for the above catch-and-run, but has any player gained more receiving yards without scoring a touchdown?

     

    Did You Know?

    Joe Theismann acted as the color commentator. I had no idea he was making fans suffer since 1987.

     

    Box Score

    Steve Young was the game's leading rusher with 72 yards even though he played only half the game, replacing Joe Montana.

January 10, 1988: Redskins 21, Bears 17

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    Summary

    Walter Payton's last game. The Bears jumped out to a 14-0 lead at home before giving up 21 unanswered points, capped by a 52-yard punt return touchdown from Darrell Green.

     

    Did You Know?

    The temperature never went above zero. It was minus-three degrees during the game, with a -20 wind chill.

     

    Box Score

    Has there ever been a bigger contrast in starting running backs in an NFL game? On one side, you had Walter Payton, arguably the best running back in NFL history, and maybe its best citizen too. On the other side, you had Timmy Smith, a one-hit wonder running back who went to jail for selling cocaine.

December 31, 1988: Chicago 20, Philadelphia 12

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    Summary

    The Fog Bowl. Fog creeps over Soldier Field late in the first half with the Bears up 17-6, rendering it nearly impossible for players to play, referees to ref, announcers to announce and fans to watch. The game goes on, only nine more points were scored and Chicago won, 20-12.

     

    Did You Know?

    CBS had to switch to sideline cameras in order to give fans a better view of the game. The view was still terrible.

     

    Box Score

    Randall Cunningham somehow threw for 407 yards during this game, but he also had three picks and no touchdowns.

January 6, 1990: Browns 34, Bills 30

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    Summary

    The Bills heartbreak that no one ever talks about.

    Buffalo was down 34-30 with 14 seconds left, facing a 2nd-and-10 at the Browns' 11-yard line. Jim Kelly found Ronnie Harmon wide open in the corner of the end zone, but he dropped the pass. On the next play Clay Matthews intercepted Kelly at the one-yard line to seal the game.

     

    Did You Know?

    This was the only time in NFL history that two teams with nine wins or less faced each other in the Divisional Round. The 9-6-1 Browns won the AFC Central and hosted the 9-7 Bills, the AFC Wild Card. In 2008, the 9-7 Cardinals defeated the 9-6-1 Eagles, but that was in the NFC Championship Game.

     

    Box Score

    Running optional in this game, as Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas caught 13 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns. He had only 27 rushing yards for 10 carries.

    Jim Kelly and Bernie Kosar combined for 656 passing yards and seven passing touchdowns. Hot damn.

January 7, 1990: Broncos 24, Steelers 23

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    Tim DeFrisco/Getty Images

    Summary

    Steelers running back Merril Hoge had the game of his life, accruing 180 all-purpose yards and a touchdown, but once again John Elway led the Broncos to victory with a late touchdown drive. Mel Bratton scored from one-yard out to tie the game at 23 with 2:27 left, and David Treadwell's PAT gave the Broncos the lead, finishing off the 71-yard drive.

     

    Did You Know?

    This was a rematch game. In Week 9, the Broncos won 34-7.

     

    Box Score

    John Elway had a pretty pedestrian game, going 12-of-20 for 229 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Yet it doesn't matter, since he came through in the clutch once again.

January 7, 1990: Rams 19, Giants 13 (OT)

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    Summary

    The Flipper Anderson Game. The Rams wide receiver caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Jim "Chris" Everett in overtime and ran inside the Giants Stadium tunnel, taking the Giants' playoff hopes with them.

    This play was of course preceded by a BS pass interference call on Sheldon White that never should have been whistled. It would have been 3rd-and-long from around midfield if the penalty wasn't called. What a crock.

     

    Did You Know?

    Not as big an upset as people think, with the Rams beating the Giants 31-10 earlier in the season, holding them to six rushing yards. However, Parcells thought the 1989 Giants had the potential to go all the way that year.

     

    Box Score

    Flipper Anderson had two catches. Both were for touchdowns. Pretty efficient, no?

January 12, 1991: Bills 44, Dolphins 34

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    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Summary

    A battle between two Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Jim Kelly out-duels Dan Marino in a Wild West shootout, 44-34, thanks to Kelly's trusty sidekick, Thurman Thomas.

    The Dolphins were down 20-3 and crawled to within 30-27, but two consecutive Bills touchdowns sealed their fate in the fourth quarter.

     

    Did You Know?

    Jim Kelly had missed the last four games of the regular season, and returned with a vengeance by throwing for 339 yards and three touchdowns.

     

    Box Score

    Marino wasn't so bad, throwing for 323 yards, three touchdowns and two picks. He could not get revenge two years later in the playoffs, as Miami lost to Buffalo in the AFC Championship Game, 29-10.

Janaury 4, 1992: Broncos 26, Oilers 24

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    Summary

    The Drive II, this time featuring two Hall of Fame quarterbacks. The Broncos trailed 24-23 with 2:07 left, and was starting a drive on their two-yard line. John Elway converted a 4th-and-6 and a 4th-and-10 on the drive, and eventually drove the Broncos down to the 11-yard line.

    Once there, David Treadwell kicked a 28-yard field goal to win the game.

     

    Did You Know?

    The snap on the game-winning field goal attempt was high, and the holder had to make a great catch and spot for Treadwell to make the kick against Houston for the win.

    The holder's name was Gary Kubiak, the Houston Texans' head coach.

    It's hard to believe, but Houston's playoff loss was twice as bad next year. Actually, blowing a 35-3 lead might be the worst NFL loss, period.

     

    Box Score

    Denver overcome a 21-6 deficit to win.

January 9, 1993: 49ers 20, Redskins 13

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    Summary

    Almost counts only in horseshoes and hand grenades. The 9-7 Redskins, who had won the Super Bowl the previous year, almost pull off a big upset against the 14-2 49ers in Candlestick Park, but come up a touchdown short.

     

    Did You Know?

    Washington had a great chance to take the lead down 17-13, but QB Mark Rypien fumbled the ball away at the 49ers' 23-yard line. San Francisco then scored on a field goal, and the Redskins never came close again to scoring the game-tying touchdown.

    This was the last game of Joe Gibbs' first stint as the Redskins head coach.

     

    Box Score

    Steve Young committed four turnovers (one interception, three fumbles), but so did the Redskins as a whole.

January 15, 1994: Bills 29, Raiders 23

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    Summary

    The Raiders did not get revenge on the Bills for losing 51-3 in the 1990 AFC Championship Game. Raiders WR Tim Brown's 86-yard touchdown catch gave the Raiders a 23-22 lead, but the Bills immediately marched down the field and re-took the lead after Bill Brooks caught his second touchdown of the game.

     

    Did You Know?

    Napoleon McCallum scored two touchdowns in this game, but unfortunately he is most known for his gruesome knee injury on Monday Night Football during the 1994 season opener that ended his career. He graduated from Navy and runs a computer graphics business today.

    Like many of the games on this list, it was freaking cold. Game-time temperature was zero degrees with a -18 wind chill.

     

    Box Score

    The Raiders had nine penalties to the Bills' two, fueling Al Davis' theory that the NFL hates the Raiders.

January 16, 1994: Chiefs 28, Oilers 20

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    Summary

    Joe Montana makes a miracle run to the AFC Championship Game as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs. The week before, the Chiefs beat the Steelers, 27-24 in overtime. In this game, the Oilers led 10-7 after the third quarter, but 31 points were scored in the fourth quarter. Montana had two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, and with the Chiefs up 21-20, Marcus Allen capped the scoring with a 21-yard rush for the game's final score.

    Note: The two-point conversion wasn't in effect until 1994 yet, so eight points was a bit more insurmountable in 1993.

     

    Did You Know?

    This was Montana's 10th straight game with a touchdown pass, and the last playoff game in Houston. The franchise moved to Tennessee in 1997, probably because teams can't recover from three awful playoff losses in a row.

     

    Box Score

    This was Montana's fond farewell, as he threw three touchdown passes and 299 yards.

January 8, 1995: San Diego 22, Miami 21

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    Summary

    More Wide Right dramatics. The 1994 San Diego Chargers went on a miracle run to Super Bowl XXIX, winning their two AFC playoff games by a combined five points, but they were saved by a bad snap and a Pete Stoyanovich missed field goal from 48 yards out that would have won the Dolphins this game.

    Miami led 21-6 at the half, but could not hold on.

     

    Facts You Don't Know

    The Dolphins had only 16 offensive plays in the second half.

     

    Box Score

    This game is presented to the jury as Exhibit A for why the Marino-led Dolphins never won a Super Bowl, as Miami had only 26 rushing yards on the day.

January 7, 1996: Colts 10, Chiefs 7

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Summary

    Before he was a brilliant head coach, Jim Harbaugh led the 9-7 Colts to the 1995 AFC Championship Game. En route to that contest was an ugly 10-7 win that the Colts gutted out thanks to four Chiefs turnovers and three missed field goals from Lin Elliot. The Chiefs were 13-3 and had a phenomenal year led by Derrick Thomas and Marcus Allen.

     

    Did You Know?

    The 1995 Colts became the first No. 5 seed to win a conference Divisional round game.

     

    Box Score

    I'd give you some stats, but my eyes started to bleed after looking at the offensive numbers.

January 4, 1997: Jacksonville 30, Denver 27

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    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Summary

    This was the year John Elway was supposed to lead Denver to the Super Bowl. He would have to wait one more season, as Jacksonville won its second consecutive playoff game by a 30-27 score. The 9-7 Jaguars overcame an early 12-0 deficit and took the lead for good on a Mike Hollis field to give them a 13-12 lead at halftime.

    The Broncos made the score 30-27 with under two minutes left, but did not recover the subsequent onside kick and lost.

     

    Did You Know?

    Jacksonville won its last five games of the season and needed Atlanta's Morten Anderson to miss a last-second field goal in Week 17 just to make the playoffs as a Wild Card.

     

    Box Score

    No turnovers in this game. It's one of the most underrated games in NFL playoff history.

January 4, 1998: Broncos 14, Chiefs 10

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    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Summary

    The Broncos won an ugly road game thanks to Terrell Davis' 101 rushing yards and two touchdowns, and Chiefs QB Elvis Grbac threw a late incompletion in the end zone to seal Kansas City's fate.

     

    Did You Know?

    The Chiefs lost as the No. 1 seed at home in the Divisional round for the second time in three years.

     

    Box Score

    The Broncos won a road playoff game where John Elway went just 10-of-19 for 170 yards. That's a testament to how good the Broncos were in 1997.

January 3, 1998: Steelers 7, Patriots 6

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Summary

    Kordell "Slash" Stewart scores the game's only touchdown, a 40-yard rush. Adam Vinatieri made two field goals, but it wasn't enough in an ugly 7-6 game. Of course, this led to another AFC Championship Game which the Steelers hosted...and lost.

     

    Did You Know?

    Patriots RB Curtis Martin was injured for this game and could not play, so Sedrick Shaw started in his place. Seeing as how he did not carry the ball once during the 1997 regular season, this had no chance of working out. Shaw had 10 carries for 22 yards and one catch for 13 yards.

     

    Box Score

    This game was atrocious. No real stats of note.

January 9, 1999: Falcons 20, 49ers 18

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    Summary

    Two things stand out from this game. First, this was the Dirty Birds' first win in their run to the Super Bowl, and also, 49ers RB Garrison Hearst suffered a brutal broken leg in the first quarter that essentially ended his career. Who knows what would have happened in this game had Hearst not been hurt?

    The Falcons led 20-10 before the 49ers scored a late touchdown and two-point conversion. The 49ers then forced the Falcons to punt, but they had only 34 seconds left and no timeouts. The game ended with a midfield interception and a Falcons kneel down.

     

    Did You Know?

    This 49ers loss followed one of the greatest Wild Card games in NFL history, when Steve Young threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Terrell Owens to defeat the NFC Champion Green Bay Packers, 30-27 at Candlestick Park.

     

    Box Score

    Jamal Anderson had 29 carries for 113 yards and two touchdowns.

    On the flip side, Steve Young had three interceptions, one of which was returned 77 yards by Eugene Robinson that led to a field goal, giving the Falcons a 17-10 lead.

January 15, 2000: Buccaneers 14, Redskins 13

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    A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Summary

    The Buccaneers overcame a 13-0 deficit thanks to two Redskins turnovers in the second half. With the Bucs down 13-7, fullback Mike Alstott converted a 4th-and-1 to keep a fourth-quarter drive alive, leading to a John Davis touchdown catch from Shaun King.

    The Redskins attempted a 51-yard field goal with seconds remaining, but the snap from Dan Turk was awry.

     

    Did You Know?

    Shaun King was the first rookie QB to win a playoff game since Pat Haden led the Rams to a playoff win in 1976. Haden is now the AD at USC.

    Redskins quarterback Brad Johnson would win a Super Bowl with the Bucs just three seasons later.

     

    Box Score

    Brian Mitchell gained more yards on his 100-yard kickoff return for a TD that gave the Redskins a 10-0 lead than the running backs from both teams accrued all game.


January 16, 2000: St. Louis 49, Minnesota 37

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    Summary

    The Greatest Show on Turf from 1999-2001 plays the Greatest Show on Turf in 1998. Since this game was played in 1999, which team do you think won?

     

    Did You Know?

    The Rams were actually down at halftime, 17-14, before scoring 35 consecutive points.

     

    Box Score

    Kurt Warner and Jeff George combined for nine touchdowns and 814 passing yards. Randy Moss was the leading receiver with nine catches, 188 yards and two touchdowns.

January 19, 2002: Patriots 16, Raiders 13 (OT)

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    Summary

    The Tuck Rule game. I think we are all well-versed on what happened here. In short sum the Patriots overcame a 13-3 fourth quarter deficit thanks to one of the worst rules in sports. Give Adam Vinatieri credit though for a phenomenal 45-yard field goal to tie the game at 13 and send it into overtime.

     

    Did You Know?

    Lost in the Tuck Rule shuffle was a fantastic overtime drive. The Patriots drove 61 yards in 15 plays, including a 4th-and-4 conversion on the Raiders' 28-yard line—a six-yard completion from Tom Brady to David Patten. Vinatieri would make a 23-yard field goal later in the drive to win the game en route to the Patriots' first Super Bowl victory.

     

    Box Score

    Brady threw for 312 yards in the snow. Not bad for a sixth-round draft pick.

January 11, 2003: Titans 34, Steelers 31 (OT)

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Summary

    Titans kicker Joe Nedney missed potential game-winning field goal kicks at the end of regulation and in overtime, but the latter kick was erased because of the Steelers' Dewayne Washington's running-into-the-kicker penalty. Nedney made good on his third shot, making a 26-yard field goal for the 34-31 win. Bill Cowher claims that he called a timeout before the kick and was infuriated that it was not honored.

    This game was a series of runs. The Titans took a 14-0 lead, before the Steelers scored 20 straight. Then the Titans scored 14 straight, grabbing the lead back at 28-20. Eleven straight Steelers points were followed by a Nedney field goal to tie the game at 31.

     

    Did You Know?

    Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala, the man with the greatest name in NFL history, caught one pass for five yards. I only mention him here for his name; his game was non-descript.

     

    Box Score

    Your leading rusher in a game that featured Eddie George and Jerome Bettis? Amos Zereoue, with 49 yards.

January 10, 2004: Patriots 17, Titans 14

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    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Summary

    On a four-degree day, Adam Vinatieri does it again, as he made a 46-yard field goal with 4:02 left to give the Patriots a 17-14 lead that stood. The Titans drove down to the Patriots' 33-yard line but then went backwards thanks to two penalties.

     

    Did You Know?

    New England only committed two penalties to Tennessee's nine.


    Box Score

    Willie McGinest sacked Steve McNair three times.

January 10, 2004: Carolina 29, St. Louis 23 (2 OT)

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    Summary

    Steve Smith scored on a 69-yard touchdown pass from Jake Delhomme to give the Panthers a win on the first play of double overtime, making this the fifth-longest game in NFL history.

    The 2003 Panthers were known as the Cardiac Cats. They went 11-5 but only outscored their opponents, 325-304 throughout the entire season. They played five overtime games that season, winning four. Only two of their 11 regular season wins were by seven or more points.

     

    Did You Know?

    Remember Ricky Manning Jr., the cornerback who beat up a guy at a Denny's? His interception set up Smith's game-winning touchdown, but he had three interceptions of Donovan McNabb the following week too. His career spiraled downward when he signed as a free agent with the Bears in 2006, and he was most recently a member of the UFL's Florida Tuskers, but that franchise went belly-up earlier this week.

     

    Box Score

    This game featured eight field goals, a fumble recovery in the end zone for a touchdown, two short rushing touchdowns and a very long touchdown pass. Odd game.

January 11, 2004: Eagles 20, Packers 17 (OT)

39 of 50

    Summary

    Fourth-and-26. I still don't believe what I saw.

    Freddie Mitchell's catch led to David Akers' game-tying field goal from 37 yards out, sending this one to overtime. Once there, Eagles safety Brian Dawkins intercepted a Brett Favre lollipop pass and returned it 35 yards to the Eagles' 34-yard line. Eventually Akers hit a 31-yard field goal for the win.

     

    Did You Know?

    Freddie Mitchell appeared on Millionaire Matchmaker, that vapid reality TV show on Bravo.


    Box Score

    Donovan McNabb was sacked eight times, and yet had a good game by going 21-of-39 for 248 yards and two touchdowns.


January 11, 2004: Indianapolis 38, Kansas City 31

40 of 50

    Summary

    Defense optional in this game. There were no punts as Peyton Manning threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns in a Colts victory, out-dueling Trent Green. Priest Holmes had 208 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns, but his third quarter fumble led to a Colts field goal that gave Indy a 24-10 lead. Kansas City was forced to play catch up and got a 92-yard kickoff return for a TD from Dante Hall, but it wasn't enough.

     

    Did You Know?

    The Chiefs were 9-0 to start the season and received a first-round bye, but they once again lost a Divisional Round game at home. That being said, this 2003 Chiefs team was fantastic, featuring one of the best offensive line units in league history, one of the best return men in league history and a single-season performance from Priest Holmes that was simply phenomenal, as he scored 27 touchdowns.

     

    Box Score

    Fifteen different receivers made catches, and there were only five penalties.

January 15, 2005: Pittsburgh 20, New York Jets 17 (OT)

41 of 50

    Summary

    The Doug Brien Game. He won a Super Bowl with the 49ers as a rookie in 1994, but unfortunately he will be remembered most for missing two field goals in the last two minutes of regulation. A 43-yard field goal as time expired would have given the Jets the upset victory over the 15-1 Steelers at Heinz Field.

     

    Did You Know?

    After Brien missed the 47-yarder with two minutes left, David Barrett picked off Ben Roethlisberger two plays later and returned the ball to the Pittsburgh 36. Redemption was on the Jets' door step.

     

    Box Score

    If Brien made that last field goal to end regulation, the Jets would have won the game by scoring a punt-return touchdown, a interception return for a touchdown and two field goals, marking one of the few times in playoff history a team has won without scoring an offensive touchdown.

January 15, 2006: Pittsburgh 21, Indianapolis 18

42 of 50

    Summary

    Pittsburgh almost blows a 21-3 lead, but hangs on for a 21-18 win. The Steelers had the ball late in the game on the Colts' two-yard line, but Indy LB Gary Brackett forced Jerome Bettis to fumble, and Colts safety Nick Harper recovered it. His only man to beat until the end zone was Ben Roethlisberger, but Big Ben made an awkward, lunging arm tackle that tripped up Harper at the Colts' 42-yard line.

    The Colts drove to the Steelers' 28-yard line, but Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt missed a 46-yard field goal wide right by three miles.

     

    Did You Know?

    The Steelers became, at the time, the only No. 6 seed to beat a No. 1 seed in the playoffs, and the first No. 6 seed to play in, and win, a Super Bowl.

     

    Box Score

    Manning was sacked nine times, and the Colts committed nine penalties to the Steelers' two. When do you ever see a road team favored that much in penalty calls?

January 14, 2007: Bears 27, Seahawks 24 (OT)

43 of 50

    Summary

    A back-and-forth game in which neither team led by more than seven points ends with Robbie Gould's 49-yard field goal in overtime to give the Bears a 27-24 win.

     

    Did You Know?

    This was the second of three brutal playoff losses Seattle suffered in an NFC North team's stadium within five seasons. At least Matt Hasselbeck didn't make a victory guarantee after the overtime coin toss this time.

     

    Box Score

    This was Shaun Alexander's last hurrah. He had 26 carries for 108 yards and two touchdowns.

January 13, 2007: Saints 27, Eagles 24

44 of 50

    Summary

    Buoyed by a raucous home crowd, the New Orleans Saints win an emotional playoff game, 27-24 over Jeff Garcia and the Philadelphia Eagles. After Brian Westbrook's 62-yard touchdown run gave the Eagles a 21-13 lead, Saints RB Deuce McAllister scored two third-quarter touchdowns to give the Saints a 27-21 advantage. David Akers hit a 24-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't enough.

     

    Did You Know?

    This was the only season in NFL history where both Divisional Round games in the same conference finished with the same score.

     

    Box Score

    Donte Stallworth, a long-time Saint, caught three passes for 100 yards and a touchdown for the enemy Eagles.

January 14, 2007: Patriots 24, Chargers 21

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Summary

    The "They Showed No Class" Game. The Patriots overcome deficits of 14-3 and 21-13 to eventually win 24-21, with the capper being a 31-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski.

    After the game, LaDainian Tomlinson angrily confronted celebrating Patriots on the field, and then railed against them in the postgame press conference.

     

    Did You Know?

    The big play of the game occurred in the fourth quarter. San Diego defensive back Marlon McCree picked off Tom Brady as he tried to convert a fourth down with the Pats down 21-13. Wily Patriots veteran Troy Brown stripped McCree of the ball, and Patriots wideout Reche Caldwell recovered. Caldwell eventually scored a touchdown on the new drive, and Kevin Faulk converted the two-point conversion to tie the game.

     

    Box Score

    Seven turnovers were committed.

January 13, 2008: Giants 21, Cowboys 17

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    Summary

    Cabo vacation. Jessica Simpson. T.O. crying. Dallas' playoff victory curse continues, as does the Giants' incredible Super Bowl-winning run.

     

    Did You Know?

    Lost in the shuffle of this game was Marion Barber's disappearance in the fourth quarter. Was he tired? Did the Cowboys want to put the game in Tony Romo's hands? Who knows, but Barber had 27 carries for 129 yards and a touchdown.

     

    Box Score

    How did Plaxico Burress have only one catch for five yards?

January 10, 2009: Ravens 13, Titans 10

47 of 50

    Summary

    A gritty defensive battle ends in controversy. With the score tied at 10 and under three minutes remaining, Joe Flacco and the Ravens faced a 3rd-and-2 at their own 22-yard line. The play clock clearly expired before Flacco fired a 23-yard completion to Todd Heap. The play stood, and Matt Stover would eventually hit the game-winning 43-yard field goal on the drive to win the game.

     

    Did You Know?

    Three out of the four home teams during the 2008-09 Divisional Round lost.

     

    Box Score

    How did Justin Gage end up with 10 catches and 135 yards? How did Chris Johnson only have 11 carries?

January 17, 2010: Jets 17, Chargers 14

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    Summary

    Shonn Greene's 53-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter gave the Jets a 17-7 lead, and Gang Green held on for a 17-14 win thanks in part to three missed field goals from Nate Kaeding.

    The Jets converted a late 4th-and-1 with one minute left to seal the game.

    It was a big upset, and gave the Jets a lot of credibility it needed to gain after people criticized the team for receiving help in winning its last two regular season games when the Colts and Bengals decided to rest their starters.

     

    Did You Know?

    The Chargers have lost at home in the playoffs three times in the last seven seasons.

     

    Box Score

    Philip Rivers passed for 298 yards, and Mark Sanchez threw for 100. Yet the Jets won. You gotta love the NFL.

     

    Predictions

    They're up next!

January 15, 2011: Steelers 31, Ravens 24

49 of 50

    Summary

    The Helmet Catch II. The Steelers overcome a sloppy first half and a 21-7 halftime deficit to win 31-24 thanks in part to a 58-yard pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown on 3rd-and-19 with under three minutes remaining. Three plays later, Rashard Mendenhall ran the ball in for the winning score.

     

    Did You Know?

    We know it now, but we'll forget it down the road: Anquan Boldin dropped a touchdown pass that would have given the Ravens a 28-24 advantage. Instead, the Ravens settled for a field goal prior to the Steelers' game-winning drive. Also,TJ Houshmandzadeh dropped a first-down catch on the Ravens' final drive that would have given Baltimore a first down around the 35-yard line.

     

    Box Score

    Yes, it is possible to score 24 points in an NFL game despite gaining only 126 yards, including negative yardage in the third quarter.

January 16, 2011: Jets 28, Patriots 21

50 of 50

    Summary

    Rex Ryan's humble foot soldiers, nine-point underdogs coming into this game, out-coach, out-play and out-everything the Patriots, exacting revenge on a 45-3 Monday Night Football beatdown in December by defeating Belichick and Brady, 28-21.

     

    Did You Know?

    We know it now, but we'll forget it down the road: Bill Belichick makes a poor call right before halftime, calling a fake punt on 4th-and-3 at midfield with his team down 7-3, even though the Pats were getting the ball back to start the third quarter. Pats safety Patrick Chung drops the snap and is stuffed behind the line. This leads to a Jets touchdown right before the half.

     

    Box Score

    New England had a 14-play, 48-yard drive in 7:45 in the fourth quarter down 21-11, and came up empty. Shades of Donovan McNabb and the Eagles during Super Bowl XXXIX, except the Eagles at least scored a touchdown on that drive.