Saints vs 49ers and 5 of the Greatest Playoff Games of the Last Decade
The San Francisco 49ers downed the New Orleans Saints 36-32 Saturday in an incredible NFC Divisional Round playoff matchup that was almost certainly be labeled an "instant classic".
The game brought to mind some of the fantastic postseason contests we've witnessed over the past decade, so here's a look back, both at this afternoon's thriller and a handful of other games that left us absolutely slack-jawed when the final gun sounded.
2012 NFC Divisional Playoffs: NO at SF
It may be the most recent, but that doesn't make it any less thrilling.
In just the final five minutes of Saturday's barnburner between the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers four touchdowns were scored and the lead changed hands the same number of times.
It was the last score that mattered most, as the 14 yard scoring strike from 49ers quarterback Alex Smith to tight end Vernon Davis with nine seconds left shocked the Saints and propelled San Francisco to the NFC Championship game.
2007 AFC Championship: NE at IND
Prior to the 2007 AFC Championship Game the New England Patriots had eliminated the Indianapolis Colts from the postseason two of the three previous seasons, and this game appeared to be no different, as the Patriots raced to a 21-3 lead.
However, quarterback Peyton Manning led the Colts on the largest comeback in conference title game history, and after a 38-34 victory the Colts exorcised their Patriots demons and went on to victory in Super Bowl XLI.
2010 Wildcard Playoffs: GB at AZ
In a game that featured absolutely no defense, the Arizona Cardinals, led by quarterback Kurt Warner, raced to a 17-0 lead before becoming embroiled in the shootout to end all shootouts, topping Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers 51-45 in overtime.
This game featured the end of one era and the beginning of another, as it was the last playoff game ever won by Warner and the last playoff game that Rodgers and the Packers have lost to date.
2003 Wildcard Playoffs: NYG at SF
When the New York Giants scored to make it 38-14 in the third quarter of their matchup with the San Francisco 49ers in the 2003 Wildcard Round many 49ers faithful likely started the long and lonely trek to the parking lot.
Those that did missed one of the greatest comebacks in NFL playoff history, as San Francisco reeled off 25 consecutive points, and a botched 41 yard field goal attempt as time expired (that featured a botched pass interference call on the 49ers that would have given the G-Men one more shot) gave the 49ers an improbable 39-38 victory.
Super Bowl XLII: NYG vs. NE
Kinda hard to leave this one off.
The undefeated New England Patriots steamrolled their way to a berth in Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, Arizona, and many viewed a victory over the New York Giants as a foregone conclusion en route to coronating the Pats as the greatest single-season team in NFL history.
However, someone forgot to tell the Giants, who harassed New England quarterback Tom Brady all night, and a clutch late drive by quarterback Eli Manning that featured possible the greatest catch in NFL history by Giants tight end David Tyree set the stage for a 17-14 Giants victory that stunned the football world.