Ranking the 25 Most Shocking Upsets in NFL Playoff History

Dan Van Wie@@DanVanWieContributor IIIJanuary 9, 2012

Ranking the 25 Most Shocking Upsets in NFL Playoff History

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    When the baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies commence on July 20, only two players will be enshrined in the hallowed halls—Ron Santo and former Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin.

    Santo was selected by the Golden Era committee late last year, and Larkin was selected for induction by 86.1 percent of BBWAA voters on Monday afternoon.

    Larkin, a 12-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove Award winner and 1995 NL MVP, was selected in his third year of eligibility, and becomes the 48th member of the Hall of Fame who played his entire career with one team. Larkin was also the first shortstop in MLB history to join the exclusive 30-30 club, with 33 home runs and 36 stolen bases in 1996.

    A number of returning HOF candidates were able to increase their overall percentage of votes this year but still fell short of induction. Jack Morris picked up 13.2 percent more votes this year but still fell short of the 75 percent of votes required, collecting only 66.7 percent overall.

    Long-time Houston Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell also increased his vote total significantly, up from 41.7 percent in 2011 to 56.0 percent this year.

    Both Morris and Bagwell moved up significantly, however, with next year’s ballot containing several first-year candidates who will stir up much conversation and controversy. Can Bagwell and Morris garner enough votes for consideration?

    Bleacher Report will take a look at the candidates who will be on next year’s ballot for the Hall of Fame and attempt to rate their overall chances at success.

Green Bay Packers Upset Atlanta Falcons in 2010 Divisional Playoffs

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    Playoff Upset Scenario: The Atlanta Falcons had earned the top-seed in the NFC based on their strong regular season record of 13-3. The Green Bay Packers just made it into the playoffs in the final week of the 2010 season, as they were tied with the New York Giants at 10-6, but Green Bay held the tie-breaker advantage. Atlanta was 7-1 at home that year and looking forward to their home field advantage.

    Playoff Date: Jan. 15, 2011

    Outcome and Highlights: Green Bay 48, Atlanta Falcons 21. Aaron Rodgers was flawless as he completed 31-of-36 passes for 366 yards and three touchdowns. Matt Ryan was respectable in the game, going 20-of-29, but he only threw for 149 yards total. The Packers outgained the Falcons 442 to 194 and won the turnover battle 4-to-1.

    The Packers held the ball for 38 minutes to just 21 minutes for the Falcons. The Packers had a stretch where they scored 35 straight points. Green Bay never punted once during the game. Packers ended the first half with a 70-yard pick six courtesy of Tramon Williams. The Falcons never recovered.

Washington Redskins Upset Chicago Bears in 1986 Divisional Playoffs

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    Playoff Upset Scenario: The Chicago Bears won the NFC Central Division in 1986 (there were only three divisions in each conference in 1986), while the Washington Redskins made it into the playoffs as a Wild Card. The Bears (14-2) were the No. 2 seed, while the Redskins (12-4) were the No. 4 seed. The Bears team was the defending Super Bowl Champions from their famous 1985 team.

    Playoff Date: Jan. 3, 1987

    Outcome and Highlights: Washington Redskins 27, Chicago Bears 13. The Bears jumped out to a 13-7 lead at halftime, but came out flat in the second half, as the Redskins scored 20 unanswered points in the second half, to win going away 27-13.

    Doug Flutie was the Bears quarterback, and he hit Willie Gault for a 50-yard touchdown in the first half, but had no answers in the second half for the Redskins defense. The Redskins were quarterbacked by Jay Schroeder, and he threw two touchdown passes to Art Monk and George Rogers had a rushing touchdown. The Bears were hurt in the second half by a Flutie interception and a fumble by Walter Payton.

Los Angeles Rams Upset Dallas Cowboys in 1979 Divisional Playoffs

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    Playoff Upset Scenario: In 1979, the Dallas Cowboys were tied for the best record in the NFC with the Philadelphia Eagles at 11-5, while the Los Angeles Rams were barely above a .500 team at 9-7. The Rams qualified for the playoffs as the NFC West division winners despite the so-so record. This game would be remembered as the final contest that Roger Staubach ever played.

    Playoff Date: Dec. 30, 1979

    Outcome and Highlights: Los Angeles Rams 21, Dallas Cowboys 19. The Rams defense did a number on Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach, who could only lead the team to one field goal in the first half. The Cowboys defense came up with a safety, but it was the Rams offense that dominated the first half, opening up a 14-5 lead at the half.

    Vince Ferragamo threw for three touchdown passes on the day. He connected with Wendell Tyler, Ron Smith and Billy Waddy. In the second half, Staubach led the Cowboys on two touchdown drives, as Ron Spings ran in one score, and Staubach hit Jay Saldi for the other. The Rams held a slight edge in yardage 361 to 306, but turned it over twice, while the Cowboys had just one turnover in this close game.

Atlanta Falcons Upset Green Bay Packers in 2003 NFC Playoffs

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    Playoff Upset Scenario: In the 2002 NFL regular season, the Green Bay Packers were the NFC North division champions with a record of 12-4. They were tied for the best record in the NFC along with Philadelphia and Tampa Bay. The Packers were a perfect 8-0 at home that year, and were playing at home on a snowy day in January. The Atlanta Falcons were a Wild Card team, who made the playoffs with a 9-6-1 record, and were not playing in a dome. The Packers were heavily favored.

    Due to tie-breakers, the Packers were the No. 3 seed, while the Falcons were the No. 6 seed.

    Playoff Date: Jan. 4, 2003

    Outcome and Highlights: Atlanta Falcons 27, Green Bay Packers 7. This game featured Michael Vick (at just 22 years of age) versus Brett Favre. But it was the young upstart Falcons that came swarming out of the gate, as they opened up a 24-0 lead at halftime.

    The Falcons forced five turnovers in the game, with three of those coming at the expense of Favre. The Packers won the second half 7-3, but that was little consolation. The Falcons blocked a punt for a touchdown, and the Packers also muffed a punt, leading to another turnover. The Falcons knocked out Donald Driver early in the second half.  

Washington Redskins Upset Chicago Bears in 1942 Playoffs

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    Playoff Upset Scenario: In the 1940's, the Chicago Bears were a dynasty team. They had thoroughly routed the Washington Redskins in a 73-0 massacre in 1940. They had already won two consecutive championships, and came in to this game undefeated and looking for their third straight championship. Over their prior 26 games, they were 25-1, to show how dominating the team was. Chicago was favored by 14 points.

    The Bears were the West Division champions at 11-0, while the Redskins were the East Division champions with a 10-1 record.

    Playoff Date: Dec. 13, 1942

    Outcome and Highlights: Washington Redskins 14, Chicago Bears 6. The Bears opened the scoring on defense when Lee Artoe returned a fumble recovery 50 yards for a touchdown, but the Bears missed the extra point. That was the Bears only score for the entire game.

    The Redskins were led by quarterback Sammy Baugh. Baugh threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Wilbur Moore and Andy Farkas capped the scoring with a one-yard touchdown run. The Bears outgained the Reskins 188 to 170, but they committed four turnovers and that sealed their fate.

Green Bay Packers Upset San Francisco 49ers in 1996 NFC Playoffs

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    Playoff Upset Scenario: The San Francisco 49ers were the defending Super Bowl Champions from the 1994 season, and as the home team were favored by double digits to beat the Green Bay Packers. The 49ers offense was on a roll all year, as it outscored its opponents by 199 points during the regular season. The 49ers were the NFC West division champs with a record of 11-5, while the Packers were the NFC Central division champs with an identical record of 11-5.

    Playoff Date: Jan. 6, 1996

    Outcome and Highlights: Green Bay Packers 27, San Francisco 49ers 17. This game featured a young Brett Favre versus veteran Steve Young of the 49ers. The Packers scored first thanks to a 31-yard fumble return by Craig Newsome for a touchdown. Favre followed that up with two touchdown passes, one to Keith Jackson and the other to Mark Chmura. Before the 49ers knew what hit them, they were down 21-0.

    The 49ers did manage a field goal in the second quarter to cut it 21-3 at the half. The 49ers won the second half 14-6, but it wasn't enough to pull out the game. The 49ers had two rushing touchdowns, one by Steve Young and the other by Derek Loville. Turnovers decided this game as the Packers never turned the ball over once, while the 49ers lost the ball four times. Young threw two interceptions, and the 49ers had two fumbles.

San Francisco 49ers Upsets Minnesota Vikings in 1970 Playoffs

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    Playoff Upset Scenario: In 1969, the Minnesota Vikings were the NFL Champions, so they were looking to repeat in the 1970 playoffs. The Vikings owned the best record in the NFL at 12-2, and were playing at home, where they had been undefeated for over two years. San Francisco won the NFC West with a 10-3-1 record. The 49ers didn't have any recent playoff experience, as this was their first playoff game in over 10 years.

    Playoff Date: Dec. 27, 1970

    Outcome and Highlights: San Francisco 49ers 17, Minnesota Vikings 14. The Vikings defense made an impact on the opening drive of the game, when Paul Krausse picked up a fumble and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown. John Brodie led the 49ers to 17 straight points to open up a 17-7 lead. Brodie threw a touchdown pass to Dick Witcher and Brodie rushed for a touchdown. Ken Willard paced the 49ers in rushing with 85 yards.

    The Vikings offense never scored in this game until the fourth quarter, when Gary Cuozzo capped the scoring with a touchdown pass to Gene Washington to cut the margin to 17-14, but the Vikings couldn't get any closer. The 49ers won despite losing three of five fumbles in the game. The Vikings offense kept shooting themselves in the foot, as they committed four turnovers as well.

New York Giants Upset San Francisco 49ers in 1990 NFC Championship

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    Playoff Upset Scenario: The San Francisco 49ers owned the best record in the 1990 regular season at 14-2, so they enjoyed home field advantage as the No. 1 seed in the NFC. The New York Giants won the NFC East division with a record of 13-3, but had lost their starting quarterback Phil Simms to injury late in the regular season. The Giants had to turn to unproven backup Jeff Hostetler for the entire playoff run.

    Playoff Date: Jan. 20, 1991

    Outcome and Highlights: New York Giants 15, San Francisco 49ers 13. Joe Montana threw for 190 yards and Steve Young threw for 25 yards but it wasn't enough to pull out this game. Jeff Hostetler threw for 176 yards, but it was the foot of Matt Bahr and the Giants running game that proved to be the difference.

    Bahr kicked five field goals and the Giants out-rushed the 49ers 152-39, to control the tempo and pace of the game. The Giants' tough defense (Bill Belichick was the defensive coordinator) held Roger Craig to just 26 yards rushing. Joe Montana hit John Taylor with a 61-yard touchdown pass for the only touchdown of the game. The 49ers only committed one turnover, but that was the only turnover of the game.

Tampa Bay Bucs Upset Philadelphia Eagles in 2002 NFC Championship

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    Playoff Upset Scenario: In 2002, the Philadelphia Eagles were tied for the best record in the regular season at 12-4 with the Green Bay Packers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Eagles won the No. 1 seed in the NFC due to tiebreakers, and were led by Donovan McNabb. The Bucs were led by Brad Johnson. Needless to say, the Eagles were heavy favorites coming into the game.

    The logic behind the Bucs being underdogs was that they were not a cold-weather team, and would have trouble playing outside in Philadelphia in January. Well, that was the logic at that time.

    Playoff Date: Jan. 19, 2003

    Outcome and Highlights: Tampa Bay Bucs 27, Philadelphia Eagles 10. The game started out with both teams trading scoring drives in the first half as the game was tied at 10 all in the second quarter. Duce Staley got the Eagles on the board with a 20-yard touchdown run, while Mike Alstott countered with his patented one-yard dive.

    Before the half, Brad Johnson hit Keyshawn Johnson with a 9-yard touchdown pass, and the Bucs took a 17-10 lead into halftime. The Bucs stout defense shut out the Eagles in the second half, and the Bucs added 10 points to make the final score 27-10. The Eagles were driving in the fourth quarter (down 20-10), when Ronde Barber stepped in front of a McNabb pass and returned it 92-yards for a pick six to close out the scoring. Eagles committed three turnovers to one for the Bucs.

Pittsburgh Steelers Upset Indianapolis Colts 2005 Playoffs

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    Playoff Upset Scenario: In 2005, the Indianapolis Colts owned the best regular season record in the NFL at 14-2. They owned home field advantage through the AFC playoffs as the No. 1 seed. How good were the Colts that year? They started out 13-0 and looked unbeatable. The Pittsburgh Steelers were tied for the lead in the AFC North with the Cincinnati Bengals at 11-5. The Steelers had to win in the Wild Card round against Cincinnati in order to advance to play the Colts in the divisional round.

    These teams had met in the regular season back in Week 12. The game was also played in Indy, and the Colts overwhelmed the Steelers 26-7. Needless to say, the Colts were favored to beat the Steelers again by double digits.

    Playoff Date: Jan. 15, 2006

    Outcome and Highlights: Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Indianapolis Colts 18. Ben Roethlisberger came out in the first quarter and threw touchdown passes to Antwaan Randle El and Heath Miller to open up a big 14-0 lead. Peyton Manning and the Colts could only manage a first half field goal against the tough Steelers defense, so the score was 14-3 at the half. In the second half, Jerome Bettis opened up the scoring with a one-yard touchdown run, to give the Steelers a commanding 21-3 lead.

    From there the Colts mounted a furious comeback, as they scored 15 points in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 21-18. Manning threw a touchdown pass to Dallas Clark and Edgerrin James scored from three yards out. The Colts converted a two-point play to put them only a field goal. Mike Vanderjagt missed a 46-yard field goal with 21 seconds left that would have sent the game into overtime.

New York Giants Upset Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXV

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    Playoff Upset Scenario: The Buffalo Bills were ready for their first run at a Super Bowl when they demolished the Oakland Raiders in the AFC Championship Game 51-3. The NFL was still trying to figure out how to defend against the K-gun offense that featured Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas and Andre Reed. The Giants had the benefit of facing the Bills back in Week 15, when the Bills won 15-13. The Giants lost their quarterback Phil Simms in that game, and he would be ruled out for the remainder of the season.

    Both teams finished the regular season 13-3. The Bills were the No. 1 seed in the AFC, while the Giants had to beat the 49ers on the road, as the 49ers were 14-2 that year.

    Playoff Date: Jan. 27, 1991

    Outcome and Highlights: New York Giants 20, Buffalo Bills 19. This is the infamous Scott Norwood "Wide Right Game." The Giants came up with a great defensive game plan by defensive coordinator Bill Belichick to slow down the Bills high-powered offense. Giants backup quarterback Jeff Hostetler engineered enough long scoring drives to keep the Bills offense on the sidelines, as the Giants controlled the clock for more than 40 minutes, which left the Bills with less than 20 minutes of clock.

    Still the Bills were able to strike quickly on their drives, and scored two touchdowns on runs by Thurman Thomas and Don Smith. The Bills opened up a 12-3 lead, thanks in part to a Bruce Smith safety, when he tackled Hostetler in the end zone. The Giants outscored the Bills 17-7 the rest of the way, on a Stephen Baker touchdown catch and a touchdown rush by Ottis Anderson.

    Jim Kelly led the Bills on a furious drive to put the team in position to win, only to see Norwood's kick sail off to the side of the goalposts. On a personal note, this is the only game in the presentation that I attended personally.

Atlanta Falcons Upset Minnesota Vikings in 1998 NFC Championship

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    Playoff Upset Scenario: The Minnesota Vikings ended the 1998 season with the best regular season record in the NFL at 15-1. The Vikings were the No. 1 seed in the NFC and were so dominating that year that they outscored their opponents by 260 points. The Falcons weren't exactly slouches at 14-2, but they were still 11 point underdogs playing on the road in Minnesota.

    Playoff Date: Jan. 17, 1999

    Outcome and Highlights: Atlanta Falcons 30, Minnesota Vikings 27 (in OT). The Falcons scored first on a short pass from Chris Chandler to Jamal Anderson, but the Vikings then scored four straight times to open up a 20-7 lead. The Vikings scored on a sneak by Randall Cunningham and a touchdown pass to Randy Moss. Chis Chandler hit on a touchdown pass to Terance Mathis to trim the lead to 20-14 at the half.

    In the second half, the Falcons outscored the Vikings 13-7 to tie the game at 27 all in regulation. Chandler hit Terance Mathis again for a score, while Cunningham threw a touchdown to Matthew Hatchette. Gary Anderson had a chance to win the game in regulation for the Vikings but his field goal in the fourth quarter missed. In overtime, Morten Andersen connected on a 38-yard field goal to give the Falcons the improbable upset. 

Indianapolis Colts Upset Kansas City Chiefs, 1996 Divisional Playoffs

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    Playoff Upset Scenario: In the 1995 regular season, the best record in the NFL belonged to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs won the AFC West with a record of 13-3 and enjoyed home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. The Colts at that time were in the AFC East, and finished second to the Buffalo Bills. The Colts had a record of 9-7 and qualified as a wild-card team. They Colts weren't thought to have much of a chance, as they were playing without injured Marshall Faulk.

    The Colts had to travel to San Diego and won the Wild Card game 35-20, for the right to travel to Kansas City and face the Chiefs in the divisional round. The Colts were 11-point underdogs. The temperature in Kansas City that day with wind chill factor was below zero, making the conditions hard to kick.

    Playoff Date: Jan. 7, 1996

    Outcome and Highlights: Indianapolis Colts 10, Kansas City Chiefs 7. The Chiefs scored in the first quarter on a pass from Steve Bono to Lake Dawson. That would be it for scoring for the Chiefs for the rest of the day. The Colts tied the game in the second quarter when Jim Harbaugh threw a touchdown pass to Floyd Turner. The teams went into halftime tied at 7 all.

    In the third quarter, the Colts took a modest 10-7 lead when Cary Blanchard hit a 30-yard field goal. What nobody knew at the time was that this kick would be the end of the scoring, as the Colts hung on to win 10-7. All told, the Chiefs had a number of chances, but their kicker Lin Elliott missed three field goals. Not only that, but Bono threw three interceptions in the game. This was just one more bad playoff list to add to the career list of Chiefs head coach Marty Schottenheimer.

New York Giants Upset Chicago Bears in 1934 NFL Championship Game

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    Playoff Upset Scenario: The Chicago Bears finished the 1934 NFL regular season undefeated with a record of 13-0. The Bears were so good that they outscored their opponents in those 13 games by 200 points. The Bears were the first team ever to go through a regular season undefeated. The New York Giants on the other hand won the Eastern Conference with a record of 8-5, but were far from a dominating team. The Giants only outscored their opponents by a mere 40 points.

    The teams had met twice in the regular season, and the Giants lost both times, which seemed to make the NFL Championship game a formality. But Mother Nature decided to intervene, as the weather became a factor. It was nine degrees for kickoff, and the field became a sheet of ice.

    Playoff Date: Dec. 9, 1934

    Outcome and Highlights: New York Giants 30, Chicago Bears 13. The Bears had a great running back committee with Bronko Nagurski and Beattie Feathers. The Bears ground out a 10-3 lead at halftime. The Giants came up with the idea to take off their ineffective cleats and change into sneakers. The equipment change worked wonders as the Giants were able to gain their footing on the ice, while the Bears would helplessly slide past them.

    The Giants were led by Ken Strong, who had two touchdowns in the second half, and they rolled on to outscore the Bears 27-3 with their sneakers.

Denver Broncos Upset Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII

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    Playoff Upset Scenario: The Green Bay Packers are the defending Super Bowl champs, and win the NFC Championship game in the 1997 playoffs, with the hopes of winning back-to-back Super Bowls. They are made a 13-point favorite over the Denver Broncos. The Broncos had never won a Super Bowl before, and historically they had been embarrassed in the big game.

    Playoff Date: Jan. 25, 1998

    Outcome and Highlights: Denver Broncos 31, Green Bay Packers 24. Denver is led by John Elway and Terrell Davis. Davis had to sit out a portion of the game due to migraine headaches, but still managed to rack up 30 rushes for 157 yards and three rushing touchdowns.

    The game was tied at 24 all, and it took a game-winning drive from John Elway in the final two minutes of regulation to win it for the Broncos. Packers quarterback Brett Favre threw three touchdown passes in the game, two of them went to Antonio Freeman. The Packers committed three turnovers, while the Broncos committed two. The Packers outgained the Broncos 350-302, but still lost the game.

Houston Oliers Upset San Diego Chargers in 1979 Divisional Playoffs

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    Playoff Upset Scenario: In the 1979 regular season, the San Diego Chargers were tied for the best record in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers at 12-4. The Chargers had home-field advantage against the Houston Oilers, who came into the playoffs as a Wild Card team, with a record of 11-5.

    The Oilers had won their Wild Card game six days earlier, defeating the Denver Broncos 13-7. It was a costly win however, as starting QB Dan Pastorini, RB Earl Campbell and WR Ken Burrough were all hurt in the game. Burrough was available on limited duty, while the other two were out for San Diego, which made the Chargers big favorites.

    Playoff Date: Dec. 29, 1979

    Outcome and Highlights: Houston Oilers 17, San Diego Chargers 14. With so many key players missing for the Oilers, they needed somebody else to step up and have a big game. The guy that answered the bell was a member of the Oilers secondary, rookie Vernon Perry. Perry wound up setting a record with four pass interceptions on veteran quarterback Dan Fouts to save the Oilers season.

    Not only did Perry come up with the four picks, but he also blocked a 26-yard field goal and returned the block kick 57 yards, which led to an Oilers field goal. The fourth interception came in the final minute of the game to kill any chance the Chargers had to either tie or win the game. San Diego had controlled the game for the most part, as they outgained the Oilers 380 to 259, and had a big edge in first downs 25-15. But, the play of Vernon Perry more than made up the difference. The Chargers had five total turnovers.

    Here is a You Tube video link that highlights the big day that Vernon Perry had.

Seattle Seahawks Upset Miami Dolphins in 1983 Divisional Playoffs

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    Playoff Upset Scenario: In the 1983 NFL regular season, the Miami Dolphins were tied for the best record in the AFC with the Los Angeles Raiders at 12-4. The Dolphins had home-field advantage and were the reigning AFC Championship team from the 1982 season. The Seattle Seahawks were only eight years old as a franchise, and this was their first time they qualified for the playoffs, albeit as a Wild Card team. This was rookie quarterback Dan Marino's first playoff game in his career.

    Playoff Date: Dec. 31, 1983

    Outcome and Highlights:  Seattle Seahawks 27, Miami Dolphins 20. Dan Marino threw two touchdown passes in the second quarter, while Dave Kreig countered with one of his own. Thanks to a failed conversion kick, the Dolphins led 13-7 at the half.

    In the second half, the Seahawks outscored the Dolphins 20-7, as Curt Warner ran for two touchdowns to pace the Seahawks comeback win. Marino only threw for 193 yards passing in the game. The big story was that the Dolphins lost three fumbles and Marino threw two interceptions, as the Dolphins lost the turnover battle 5-1, and lost the game in the process as well. Warner wound up with 113 rushing yards for the day, and was the offensive star of the game.

Minnesota Vikings Upset San Francisco 49ers in 1987 Divisional Playoffs

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    Playoff Upset Scenario: In the 1987 regular season, the San Francisco 49ers had the best record in the NFL at 13-2. The 49ers won the NFC West division and owned home field advantage in the playoffs. The Minnesota Vikings barely squeaked into the playoffs as a Wild Card team, with a record of 8-7. The 49ers were double-digit favorites to beat the Vikings, which was understandable since they featured Joe Montana, Roger Craig and Jerry Rice. The Vikings were led by Wade Wilson.

    Playoff Date: Jan. 9, 1988

    Outcome and Highlights: Minnesota Vikings 36, San Francisco 49ers 24. This is sometimes simply known as the Anthony Carter game. The Vikings defense also had a great game, as they put so much pressure on Joe Montana that head coach Bill Walsh pulled Montana in the third quarter, sending him to the bench for Steve Young. The Vikings came out smoking, as Wilson led the Vikings to score on three of their first four drives.

    How good was Anthony Carter? He came up with 10 catches for a playoff record 227 yards (record at that time) and also ran the ball once for 30 yards. San Francisco led the NFL in rushing that year, but the Vikings defense held the 49ers to just 23 yards on the ground.

Jacksonville Jaguars Upset Denver Broncos 1996 Divisional Round

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    Playoff Upset Scenario: In the 1996 playoffs, the Denver Broncos (13-3) owned the best record in the AFC and were set to enjoy home field advantage in the playoffs. The Jacksonville Jaguars (9-7) barely made the playoffs as a Wild Card team. This was only the second year of the Jaguars existence as a franchise in the league. The Broncos were a two-touchdown favorite for the game.

    Playoff Date: Jan. 4, 1997

    Outcome and Highlights: Jacksonville Jaguars 30, Denver Broncos 27. The Broncos were led by John Elway, and the Broncos came out strong early to open up a 12-0 lead. The Broncos scored on two touchdowns but failed to convert on either conversion after the touchdowns. From that point on, it was all Jaguars, as they scored the next 23 points to take a 23-12 lead. The Broncos came back but fell one field goal short.

    Mark Brunell accounted for 289 total yards of offense, and Natrone Means rushed for 140 yards. For the Broncos, John Elway threw touchdown passes to Shannon Sharpe and Ed McCaffrey. Brunell countered with touchdown passes to Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell. The Jaguars rushed for over 200 yards in the game. There were no turnovers committed by either team.

Seattle Seahawks Upset Super Bowl Champs Saints in 2010 Wild Card

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    Playoff Upset Scenario: In the 2010 playoffs, the New Orleans Saints were the defending Super Bowl Champions, led by All-Pro quarterback Drew Brees. The Seattle Seahawks were the first losing team to make the playoffs, as the Seahawks won the arguably weak NFC West division with a 7-9 record. Because the Seahawks won their division, the Saints had to travel to Seattle. Despite being on the road, the Saints were made 10.5 point favorites for this Wild Card matchup.

    Playoff Date: Jan. 8, 2011

    Outcome and Highlights: Seattle Seahawks 41, New Orleans Saints 36. The Saints jumped out to an early lead in the first half, as they were up 10-0 and 17-7. Matt Hasselbeck threw two touchdown passes to John Carlson and then hit Brandon Stokley on a long pass to give the Seahawks a 24-20 lead at the half.

    In the second half, the Seahawks scored the first 10 points to end the third quarter up 34-20. In the fourth quarter, Drew Brees led the Saints to 16 points, but the infamous touchdown run of 67 yards by Marshawn Lynch put the dagger into the Saints comeback plans. It was an epic run by Lynch as he broke numerous tackles and pushed Saints defenders away. Pure "Beast Mode." Lynch gained 131 yards on 19 carries, which was his best game as a member of the Seahawks.

New York Giants Upset New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII

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    Playoff Upset Scenario: The New England Patriots went a perfect 16-0 in the regular season in 2007, and swept the AFC playoffs with the prospect of winning the Super Bowl to go a perfect 19-0 on the year. The Patriots team was so effective that year that they outscored their opponents by an amazing 305 points during the year. The New York Giants qualified for the playoffs with a 10-6 record, making it as a Wild Card team.. The Giants pulled off three road wins in the playoffs to meet New England.

    The Giants beat the Tampa Bay Bucs 24-14, beat the No. 1 seed Dallas Cowboys 21-17 and then won the NFC Championship in Green Bay, 23-20. The Patriots were 13-point favorites in the game.

    Playoff Date: Feb. 3, 2008

    Outcome and Highlights: New York Giants 17, New England Patriots 14. It turned out to be a very close, hard-fought defensive struggle, as the Patriots were nursing a 7-3 lead coming into the fourth quarter. In the fourth quarter, Eli Manning threw two touchdown passes, one to David Tyree and the other to Plaxico Burress. In between, Tom Brady hit Randy Moss with a touchdown pass.

    The Patriots were up 14-10 with just 2:42 left in the game, when Eli Manning started a length of the field drive, (83 yards), that included the amazing catch by Tyree, where he literally caught the ball on top of his helmet while falling down to the ground. Manning then found Burress in the back of the end zone with just 35 seconds left in the game to complete the upset and end the Patriots' perfect season.

Kansas City Chiefs Upset Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV

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    Playoff Upset Scenario: The New York Jets had already broken the ice for the AFL in the Super Bowl III victory over the Baltimore Colts, but many people considered the win to be a fluke. The Minnesota Vikings were favored by 13 points to restore order to the NFL by thrashing the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs didn't even win their division, as they finished second in the AFL West.

    The Vikings were 12-2 in the regular season and outscored their opponents by a whopping 246 points.

    Playoff Date: Jan. 11, 1970

    Outcome and Highlights: Kansas City Chiefs 23, Minnesota Vikings 7. The Chiefs were not fazed by the Vikings big name on defense. The Chiefs methodically moved the ball (matriculated the ball to be exact), up and down the field on the Vikings. Jan Stenerud kicked three field goals and Mike Garrett scored a touchdown to give the Chiefs a big 16-0 lead at halftime.

    The Vikings did score one touchdown in the second half, but that was it for their scoring. The Vikings were did in by committing five turnovers in the contest. The Chiefs outrushed the Vikings 151 to 67.

New England Patriots Upset St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI

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    Playoff Upset Scenario: The St. Louis Rams were the "Greatest Show on Turf" and had completed the 2001 regular season with an NFL-best record of 14-2. The Rams had outscored their opponents by 230 points during the season. The team featured Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt.

    The Patriots finished the regular season tied with the Miami Dolphins for the AFC East lead with a record of 11-5. To give you an idea, the Patriots point differential was just 99 points, compared to the Rams 230. Needless to say, the Rams were made 14-point favorites.

    Playoff Date: Feb. 3, 2002

    Outcome and Highlights: New England Patriots 20, St. Louis Rams 17. Ty Law intercepted a Kurt Warner pass and returned it for a touchdown. Tom Brady hit David Patten with a touchdown pass and the Patriots went in to halftime with a 14-3 lead, putting the Rams on notice that they were going to be in for a fight. Warner led the Rams on a comeback by running in for a touchdown, and throwing a touchdown pass to Ricky Proehl that tied the game at 17-all in the fourth quarter.

    The Patriots won the game in the final minutes as Brady engineered a drive that Adam Vinatieri capped off with a 48-yard field goal with seven seconds left in regulation to provide the final margin of victory. Warner passed for 337 yards to just 134 yards for Brady, but the Patriots took better care of the ball by not committing a single turnover. The Rams turned the ball over three times to seal their fate.

Cleveland Browns Upset Baltimore Colts in 1964 NFL Championship Game

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    Playoff Upset Scenario: The year was 1964, and the Baltimore Colts were widely considered to be the best team in the NFL. The popular opinion was so heavily favoring the Colts to beat the Cleveland Browns that Sports Illustrated started printing covers for the magazine with pictures of Johnny Unitas and coach Don Shula, assuming that the Colts would be the NFL Champions.

    The Colts finished the regular season with a 12-2 record and won the West division. The Browns captured the East division with a record of 10-3-1. The Browns were aided by a freezing day combined with winds that gusted to 20 miles per hour.

    Playoff Date: Dec. 27, 1964

    Outcome and Highlights: Cleveland Browns 27, Baltimore Colts 0. The game turned into a defensive struggle, as neither team was able to move the ball well on the other. The game was scoreless at the end of the first half. In the second half, the Browns made some adjustments and scored 17 points in the third quarter and then 10 more in the fourth quarter to finish off the 27-0 upset.

    The Browns were led by the combination of Frank Ryan and wide receiver Gary Collins, as the pair hooked up for three touchdown passes in the second half. The Browns defense did a number on the Colts offense, which featured Johnny Unitas throwing to Raymond Berry, Jimmy Orr and John Mackey. Ryan passed for 197 yards while Unitas only passed for 89 yards. The Colts turned the ball over four times, and the folks at Sports Illustrated had to scramble to get Frank Ryan on their cover.

New York Jets Upset Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III

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    Playoff Upset Scenario: Super Bowl III, the Joe Namath-guaranteed win for the New York Jets and the NFL over the Baltimore Colts and the NFL. The NFL had easily won the first two Super Bowls, while the AFL was fighting for respect and credibility. The Colts were heavily favored, by 18 points and went 15-1 in the regular season.

    Playoff Date: Jan. 12, 1969

    Outcome and Highlights: New York Jets 16, Baltimore Colts 7. Matt Snell rushed for 121 yards and scored the Jets only touchdown. As for Namath, he completed 17-of-28 passes for 206 yards.The Jets also got three field goals from Jim Turner and opened up a 16-0 lead in the fourth quarter before the Colts ever got on the scoreboard. The Colts finally managed a touchdown in the fourth quarter on a rush by Jerry Hill.

    The Jets proved to the rest of the world that the NFL wasn't superior to the AFL after all. The Colts continually shot themselves in the foot by committing five turnovers in the game, to just one for the Jets. Because of the magnitude of this win, it belongs as the No. 1 playoff upset in NFL history.


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