What are the biggest blowouts in the history of the NFL postseason? First of all, we need to identify our criteria for identifying what constitutes a blowout.
Would it be a 25-point win? 28? 30? 32? How about a 35-point margin? Since there is no formal football definition for the point margin needed to qualify for blowout status, we are going to arbitrarily use a minimum 32-point margin of victory to qualify for this presentation. After conducting the research, that leaves us with 26 NFL postseason games that qualify as a blowout.
We will not include the NFL Playoff Bowl games, since the NFL considers those games to be purely exhibition games. Everything else goes though, from the AFL to the AAFL.
We will work our way up through the list from the smallest margin of blowout win (32 points) to the largest margin of victory (73 points).
While compiling the list of NFL postseason blowouts, I came up with another eight games that had at least a 30-point margin of victory but failed to reach the 32-point margin we used as our cutoff. I didn't want to cheat the fans of the following teams without at least receiving an honorable mention for a big playoff win.
30-Point Margin Wins
1975 NFC Championship Game: Dallas Cowboys 37, Los Angeles Rams 7
1977 NFC Divisional Playoffs: Dallas Cowboys 37, Chicago Bears 7
2004 NFC Divisional Playoffs: Atlanta Falcons 47, St. Louis Rams 17
31-Point Margin Wins
1991 NFC Championship Game: Washington Redskins 41, Detroit Lions 10
1992 AFC Divisional Playoffs: Miami Dolphins 31, San Diego Chargers 0
2003 AFC Wild Card Game: Indianapolis Colts 41, Denver Broncos 10
2009 NFC Divisional Playoffs: New Orleans Saints 45, Arizona Cardinals 14
2009 NFC Divisional Playoffs: Minnesota Vikings 34, Dallas Cowboys 3
In the 1991 NFC divisional playoffs, the Detroit Lions faced the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys won their wild-card game against the Chicago Bears 17-13 to advance to the next round, while the Lions had a bye in the first round.
In this game, Detroit came out on top 38-6.The Lions defense prevented the Dallas Cowboys' talented trio of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin from scoring a touchdown in the game.
Aikman threw a pick-six, and Detroit quarterback Erik Kramer threw three touchdown passes on the day. Barry Sanders finished off the scoring with a 47-yard touchdown run.
The Lions outgained the Cowboys 421-276, and the Cowboys committed four turnovers in the game.
In the NFC championship game, the Lions lost to the Washington Redskins, who wound up winning the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl XXII featured the Washington Redskins against the Denver Broncos. The Redskins won this game going away, 42-10.
The game was played in San Diego, and Doug Williams was named the Super Bowl MVP. The funny thing about this game was that it was the Denver Broncos that jumped out to the early lead, as they scored the first 10 points of the game.
After that, it was all Washington, as it scored 42 straight unanswered points with 35 points coming in the second quarter. The Redskins offense had three touchdowns in the second quarter that were at least 50 yards long.
The Redskins offense had a huge day, coming up with 602 total yards of offense, as the Broncos defense couldn't find a way to stop them. Denver gained 327 yards for the game.
In the 1967 AFL championship game, the Oakland Raiders creamed the Houston Oilers 40-7. The winner of the game would go on to represent the AFL in Super Bowl II, which the Green Bay Packers won, defeating the Raiders 33-14.
In the AFL championship game, Daryle Lamonica, the Mad Bomber, threw for two touchdown passes and rushed for one touchdown. George Blanda kicked four field goals, and Hewritt Dixon had a 69-yard touchdown run.
The Raiders outgained the Oilers 364 yards to 146, and predictably they won the turnover battle as well, three to zero.
The scene was the 1987 Wild Card playoff game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints.
The Vikings came out and put a whupping on the Saints 44-10. The Vikings also went on to win the divisional game against the San Francisco 49ers before eventually falling to the Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins, who beat them in the NFC championship game.
In the Wild Card Game, the Saints jumped out first with a touchdown pass from Bobby Hebert to Eric Martin. After that, it was all Vikings, as they outscored the Saints 44-3 the rest of the way. Wade Wilson threw a couple touchdown passes, and Anthony Carter had a long punt return for a touchdown.
The Vikings outgained the Saints 417-169 in total yards, and the Saints committed six turnovers.
Earl Morrall was the quarterback for the Baltimore Colts in the 1968 NFL championship game, going up against the combination of Bill Nelsen and Frank Ryan for the Cleveland Browns. The winner would have the right to play against Joe Namath and the New York Jets in Super Bowl III.
Tom Matte rushed for three touchdowns in the game, and the Colts cruised against the Browns 34-0. Both Nelsen and Ryan played for the Browns, but neither one could move the ball against the Colts' tough defense.
The Colts outgained the Browns 353 to 173 and held a big advantage in the ground game, out-rushing the Browns 184-56. The Colts sacked the Browns four times, and the Browns hurt their cause with three turnovers.
Of course, the Colts would go on to lose to Namath and the infamous Super Bowl guarantee that Namath made before the game.
The Denver Broncos had already won Super Bowl XXXII and were back in the playoffs the following year, still led by John Elway. The Broncos were meeting the Miami Dolphins in a AFC Divisional playoff game.
The Broncos ran it up against the Dolphins, as they easily won 38-3. The game featured Elway against Dan Marino, but even though Marino passed for more yards, 238-174, it was the Broncos offense that was the superior unit that day.
The Broncos offense generated 424 yards, compared to 252 for the Dolphins. The Dolphins committed three turnovers while the Broncos had none. Rod Smith caught a touchdown pass from Elway, and Terrell Davis ran for two scores, while Neil Smith returned a fumble 79 yards for another touchdown.
In 1968, the Oakland Raiders had to win a AFC Western Division playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs in order to advance to the AFC championship game against Joe Namath and the New York Jets.
The Raiders took care of business, and then some, when they blasted the Chiefs 41-6. They could have used some of those extra points when they narrowly lost to the Jets 27-23 in the AFC championship game. The Jets went on to win Super Bowl III against the Baltimore Colts.
The Raiders beat the Chiefs behind Daryle Lamonica, who was on fire with five touchdown passes. He hit Fred Biletnikoff with three touchdown passes and hit Warren Wells with two more.
The Raiders scored the first 21 points of the game, the Chiefs then rallied for two field goals and then the Raiders scored 20 unanswered points to close out the scoring.
Super Bowl XXVII pitted the Dallas Cowboys against the Buffalo Bills. The game offered eight future Hall of Fame players, a Michael Jackson halftime show and the infamous Don Beebe versus Leon Lett play, which is the standard play for never giving up. It is the only game from this presentation that I personally attended.
The Cowboys creamed the Bills 52-17, as the Bills continuously shot themselves in the foot, committing an outrageous nine turnovers in the game. Jim Kelly was knocked out of the game, and Frank Reich was not able to bring the Bills back from this huge deficit.
Troy Aikman was the MVP of Super Bowl XXVII, as he threw for four touchdown passes. The Cowboys defense was dominating all day, as it forced the nine turnovers and wound up returning two fumbles for touchdowns. Dallas would have had a third defensive touchdown if Lett didn't start celebrating too soon.
Super Bowl XX will be remembered for the tough Chicago Bears defense, as they rolled over the New England Patriots 46-10.
The Bears let William "The Refrigerator" Perry score a touchdown, and quarterback Jim McMahon had two quarterback sneaks for scores, but the Bears failed to let Walter Payton score.
The Bears racked up 408 yards, while the Patriots managed only 123 total yards of offense. The Bears picked up 167 yards on the ground, while the Patriots were held to just seven yards of rushing. The Bears won the passing game as well, 241-116. The Patriots had six turnovers and were sacked seven times.
The Bears held the ball for basically double of what the Patriots did, 39:15 to 20:45.
The 1961 NFL championship game featured the Green Bay Packers against the New York Giants. The title game was played on the final day of the year, and since it was December 31, you can imagine that it was a very cold day (17 degrees).
The game featured Bart Starr for the Packers versus Y.A. Tittle for the Giants. Starr thew three touchdown passes, and Paul Hornung kicked three field goals and rushed for a touchdown as well, and the Packers won going away 37-0.
The game was scoreless coming into the second quarter, and then the Packers exploded for 24 points before the half. The Giants had no answers. Tittle did not have a good game, as he completed just six of 20 passes, throwing four interceptions. The Giants later brought Charlie Conerly in, but he couldn't move the ball either.
In a 1981 NFC Divisional playoff game, the Dallas Cowboys shut out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38-0. The Cowboys would then lose by a single point, 28-27, in the NFC championship game to the San Francisco 49ers, who would go on to become Super Bowl XVI champions.
Danny White started out the scoring by hitting Tony Hill for a touchdown, and then four different Cowboys took turns scoring a rushing touchdown: Ron Springs, Tony Dorsett, James Jones and Timmy Newsome.
The Cowboys outgained the Bucs 345 yards to 222. The Bucs committed four turnovers, while the Cowboys had none. The Cowboys rushed for 212 yards, while the Bucs had only 74.
In 1956, the New York Giants were the Eastern Conference champions with a record of 8-3-1, while the Chicago Bears were the Western Conference champions with a record of 9-2-1. They squared off for the 1956 NFL championship, and it was never close, as the Giants whipped the Bears 47-7.
Charlie Conerly threw touchdown passes to Frank Gifford and Kyle Rote, while Alex Webster and Mel Triplett rushed for three touchdowns between them.
The Giants opened up a 20-0 lead before the Bears scored their touchdown (George Blanda kicked the extra point for the Bears, for what it is worth), and then the Giants reeled off the final 27 points.
The Giants rushed for 126 yards, while the Bears managed 67 yards on the ground. The Bears were hurt by three turnovers.
In a 2002 AFC Wild Card playoff game, the New York Jets annihilated the Indianapolis Colts 41-0. The Jets then lost the following week to the Oakland Raiders in the Divisional playoff round 30-24, and then the Raiders ultimately lost to Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII.
In the Wild Card Game, the Jets were led by quarterback Chad Pennington, who tossed three touchdown passes in the game. The Jets dominated in this game, outgaining the Colts 396-176. On the ground, the Jets gained 180 yards, while the Colts only managed 52 yards.
In what had to be one of the worst days of Peyton Manning's career in the postseason, the Jets held Manning to a terrible performance of 14-of-31 for 137 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions.
In the 2000 NFC championship game, the New York Giants smoked the Minnesota Vikings 41-0, which allowed them to advance to Super Bowl XXXV. There the Giants got a taste of their own medicine, as they got drilled by the Baltimore Ravens 34-7.
In the NFC championship game, the Giants were led by five touchdown passes from Kerry Collins, as he was spreading the ball all over the field. He threw touchdown passes to Amani Toomer, Ike Hilliard and Joe Jurevicius.
The Giants had their way with the Vikings, as they won the war on first downs 31-9, outgained the Vikings 518-114 and benefited from five Vikings turnovers. Collins threw for 380 yards, compared to 60 net passing yards for Daunte Culpepper.
In the 1993 NFC Divisional playoffs, the San Francisco 49ers played the New York Giants. The 49ers emerged with a big win, 44-3, before losing their next game in the NFC championship to the Dallas Cowboys 38-21. The Cowboys then went on to win Super Bowl XXVIII.
The 49ers humiliated the Giants behind the passing of Steve Young and the running of Ricky Watters. Watters wound up with five rushing touchdowns in the game. Young passed for 226 yards, while Phil Simms only managed to throw for 124 yards. Simms had two passes intercepted, while his backup Dave Brown had one pass intercepted.
Watters had 24 carries for 118 yards and the five touchdowns. The Giants' leading rusher on the day was Rodney Hampton with 12 yards on seven rushes. The Giants were outgained 413-194 in a humbling loss.
In the AFL championship game of 1963, the San Diego Chargers embarrassed the Boston Patriots 51-10.
The Chargers used all of their many weapons on offense, as Keith Lincoln, Paul Lowe, Larry Garron and John Hadl all rushed for a touchdown. Tobin Rote threw touchdown passes to Lance Alworth, Don Norton and to Keith Lincoln.
The reason that the Chargers were able to dominate this game was due to their ground attack. The Chargers rushed for a whopping 318 yards, while the Patriots only managed 75. For the game, the Chargers racked up 610 total yards, while Boston came up with 261 total yards of offense. The Chargers defense also came through, as they racked up six sacks on the day.
This blowout postseason game is the only one I am aware of from the All-America Football Conference. It occurred in 1948, when the Cleveland Browns met the Buffalo Bills in the AAFC championship game.
The Browns won in the championship match, 49-7, which made sense since they had easily handled the Bills twice in the regular season, beating them 42-13 and 31-14.
The Browns team was a perfect 14-0 in the regular season and finished the year off with a perfect 15-0 record. The Browns team was loaded, as it had six players that would eventually be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame: quarterback Otto Graham, running back Marion Motley, tackle/kicker Lou Groza, center Frank Gatski, receiver Dante Lavelli and middle guard Bill Willis.
In the 1983 NFC Divisional playoffs, the Washington Redskins faced the Los Angeles Rams. The Redskins won the game by 44 points, 51-7, to advance to the NFC championship game, where they beat the San Francisco 49ers 24-21, allowing them to represent the NFC in Super Bowl XVIII.
That is where their winning streak ended, as the Redskins fell to the other Los Angeles team, the Los Angeles Raiders, 38-9.
In the game against the Rams, the Redskins opened up with a 24-point lead based on two John Riggins rushing touchdowns and a Joe Theismann touchdown pass to Art Monk. The Rams finally answered with a touchdown pass from Vince Ferragamo to Preston Dennard, but that was it for the Rams. The Redskins scored the final 27 unanswered points to seal the deal.
Monk had two touchdown catches for the day, and Riggins wound up with three total touchdowns on the ground. Darrell Green ended the scoring with a pick-six. The Redskins outgained the Rams with 445 yards of total offense to only 204 for the Rams. The Rams committed four turnovers during the game.
In the 1957 NFL regular season, the Cleveland Browns were the Eastern Conference champions with a record of 9-2-1. In the Western Conference, the Detroit Lions were tied with the San Francisco 49ers at 8-4, so they required a one-game playoff to determine the Western Conference winners. Detroit beat San Francisco 31-27 in a tight game, so it now was in the finals against the Browns.
In the championship game, the Lions had no problem with the Browns, as Detroit buried Cleveland 59-14. The Browns had Jim Brown running the ball, but on this day it didn't matter. Lions quarterback Tobin Rote threw four touchdown passes and also scored on a running play. The Lions returned an interception for a score as well.
Brown did score a touchdown for the Browns but was limited to 69 yards on 20 rushes, well below his average.
Super Bowl XXIV featured the dynamic duo of Joe Montana throwing the ball to Jerry Rice, while the Denver Broncos countered with quarterback John Elway. This game was all San Francisco, as it stampeded the Broncos 55-10.
Montana threw for five touchdown passes, three of them to Rice, and Tom Rathman ran the ball in for two touchdowns. The 49ers put up two touchdowns in every quarter of the game. The score was already 41-3 before John Elway scored the only touchdown for the Broncos.
The 49ers gained 461 yards on offense, compared to 167 for the Broncos. The Broncos committed five turnovers, while the 49ers had none. Elway completed only 10 of 26 passes, while Montana completed 22 of 29 for 297 yards. Rice caught seven passes for 148 yards in a memorable performance.
From their regular-season records, the 1954 NFL championship game figured to be a pretty close game. The Cleveland Browns were the Eastern Conference champions at 9-3, while the Detroit Lions were Western Conference champions at 9-2-1.
So much for a close game, as the Browns rolled all over the Lions 56-10 to win by a big spread of 46 points. Otto Graham threw three touchdown passes, two of them to Ray Renfro. Graham also ran the ball in for three touchdowns.
The ironic part of this game was that the Lions actually gained more yards than the Browns did, as the Lions held the edge 331-303. But it was the turnovers that did the Lions in, as they committed nine on the day. The Browns weren't at their best either, as they committed four turnovers of their own in a sloppy contest.
In the 1986 NFC Divisional playoff game, the San Francisco 49ers met the New York Giants for the right to go to the NFC championship game against the Washington Redskins. The winner of that game would face the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXI, and the Giants would up winning the whole thing.
The Giants were up for the challenge, as they thoroughly routed the 49ers 49-3. When you hear 49-3 and the 49ers, your first thought is that they won big. But not on this day, as the Giants were all over them.
The game was played in the Meadowlands, and it was only 31 degrees. The 49ers kicked a field goal in the first quarter, and then they were done. Nothing else out of Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and company. It was so bad that Jeff Kemp had to come in to finish up for Montana.
Phil Simms threw four touchdown passes, Joe Morris ran for two touchdowns and Lawrence Taylor had a pick-six for another touchdown.
The Buffalo Bills of the 1990s were undoubtedly a great team, as evidenced by how many of their players have been elected to the Hall of Fame.
They were just starting to become an elite team in 1990, when they faced the Los Angeles Raiders in the AFC championship game. The winner of the game would be meeting the New York Giants in one week in Super Bowl XXV.
The Bills pummeled the Raiders 51-3 in as lopsided a game as you could want to see. It was 38 degrees at Rich Stadium that day, and the wind chill was down to 29. Since they were flying in from Los Angeles, you had the feeling that the Raiders didn't really want to be there. They managed a field goal in the first quarter from Jeff Jaeger, and then that was it for the Raiders offense. They mailed the rest of the game in.
Meanwhile, the Bills exploded for a 41-3 halftime lead and called off the dogs. The Bills won the second half as well, 10-0. Jim Kelly threw two touchdown passes to James Lofton, Thurman Thomas ran in for a touchdown and Kenneth Davis had three rushing touchdowns. Darryl Talley got in the act with a pick-six.
The Bills took it to the Raiders defense for 502 yards of total offense, while the Raiders managed 320. The Raiders also committed seven turnovers on the day. Is that bus warm yet?
In the 1969 AFL Divisional playoffs, the Oakland Raiders pounded the Houston Oilers 56-7. The Raiders then advanced to the AFL championship game, where they were eliminated by the Kansas City Chiefs 17-7, who then went on to capture another Super Bowl title for the AFL when they beat the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV.
In the 56-7 game, the Raiders were all over the Oilers. The Raiders scored the first 49 points of the game, as Daryle Lamonica went nuts, throwing six touchdown passes, and George Atkinson had a pick-six for another touchdown.
Even though the Raiders committed four turnovers in the game, the Oilers couldn't take advantage, as they were busy committing five turnovers of their own. The Raiders racked up 412 yards of total offense, while the Oilers could only muster 197 total yards.
Too bad the Raiders couldn't save some of those points for the Chiefs game the following week.
The 1999 playoff blowout by the Jacksonville Jaguars was the largest margin of victory ever recorded in an AFC playoff game, but it was also noteworthy due to it being the final game of Dan Marino's career.
The Jaguars lambasted the Dolphins 62-7 in the game.The Jaguars gained 520 yards of offense, while the Dolphins gained just 131 yards. The Dolphins committed seven turnovers in the contest.
The Jaguars had a balanced offensive attack with 257 yards on the ground and 263 passing yards. Fred Taylor had 18 rushes for 135 yards, while Mark Brunell and Jay Fiedler each threw two touchdown passes. Wide receiver Jimmy Smith caught five passes for 136 yards.
As for Marino, he wound up completing only 11 out of 25 passes for 95 yards and two interceptions. He was relieved by Damon Huard to avoid further embarrassment. Not the way that Marino envisioned hanging up his cleats.
The king of the hill with respect to the biggest playoff blowouts in the history of the NFL goes to the 1940 Chicago Bears, who humiliated the Washington Redskins 73-0.
This game should be noted for why you never want to give the opposing team any material for their blackboard. The way the story goes is that the Redskins beat the Bears 7-3 just three weeks earlier in the regular season. The Redskins claimed that the Bears were crybabies and quitters when the going started to get tough.
How bad was this game? The Bears intercepted eight passes and returned three of them for a touchdown. The Bears cranked out 501 total yards in offense, of which 382 came via the ground game, as they used the T-formation to perfection. The Bears were led by quarterback Sid Luckman. The teams both had 17 first downs, but that was the only part of the game that was close.
A funny note from the game was that due to the PATs being kicked into the stands, the officials asked the Bears to either run or pass for the point after touchdown since they were down to the last official ball.
Well, there you have it: the 26 biggest blowouts in NFL postseason history. We hope you enjoyed the presentation.