Top 50 Greatest Games in NFL History
The NFL's greatest game arguments kick up in every bar in every town in the nation whenever someone says the game that just ended was "the greatest game I've ever seen!"
It's true the NFL usually delivers at least one or two games a week that leave the onlookers and viewers at home on the edge of their seat, cheering, screaming, and completely sucked into the action.
So Bleacher Report has taken what we feel are the 50 best games of all-time and ranked them, based on the excitement the game generated and how much they resonate in fans memories.
Many of these games are playoff games and for good reason. The intensity level is ramped up and playoff games naturally are more prone to producing timeless moments that fans talk about for years.
So here we go. Enjoy!
50. 1934 NFL Championship Game (The Sneaker Game)
Date: Dec. 9, 1934
Teams: Chicago Bears Vs. New York Giants
Lore: According to the official history of the NFL as provided by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, this game was played in ice cold weather at the Polo Grounds in New York.
New York coach Steve Owen, in response to the icy conditions, gave his team basketball shoes at halftime so they could get better traction. The Giants scored 27 points in 10 minutes in the fourth quarter and beat the undefeated Bears 30-13 for the championship.
The victory denied the Bears their third straight championship, and the first undefeated and untied season in NFL history.
49. The Fog Bowl
Date: Dec. 31, 1988
Teams: Philadelphia Eagles Vs. Chicago Bears
Lore: This divisional playoff game got off to a relatively normal start, but late in the second quarter, a dense fog rolled in over Soldier Field. The fog was so thick teams pretty much abandoned the passing game as visibility shrunk to 10-15 yards.
Randall Cunningham still had 407 yards passing despite the adverse conditions, but the Eagles were unable to get the ball in the end zone as the Bears relentless defense held up. The Bears won the game 20-12.
This game would've been lost in time if it weren't for the broadcast, which is still being talked about as the announcers couldn't see what was going on as the fog created a unique viewing experience. There was suspense on every snap because you just had the feeling anything could happen.
48. The Fake Spike (or The Clock Play)
Date: Nov. 27, 1994
Teams: Miami Dolphins Vs. New York Jets
Lore: This was a Week 12 matchup between division rivals and would determine control of the AFC East. The Jets sprung out to an early 17-0 lead before Dan Marino found his rhythm and brought the Dolphins back.
The Dolphins forced three fumbles and intercepted Boomer Esiason three times in the second half, but were still down 24-21 with 22 seconds left in the game. With the ball on the Jets 8-yard line and out of timeouts, Marino yelled "Clock! Clock! Clock!" and motioned for the spike.
The Jets defense didn't line up properly, Marino alertly noticed an opening, faked the spike and then threw the ball to Mark Ingram for the game-winning touchdown.
The win helped push the Dolphins to the division title, and the loss sent Jets coach Pete Carroll back to the college ranks after the season.
47. Fourth And 26
Date: Jan. 11, 2004
Teams: Green Bay Packers Vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Lore: This NFC divisional playoff game was a hard-fought contest through four quarters. Even before the last play, it was a game everyone thought had lived up to the hype of Brett Favre versus Donovan McNabb, both in the prime of their careers.
On fourth down with 1:12 left, McNabb threw a 25-yard slant to Freddie Mitchell as the Packers' Cover 2 scheme broke down and the Eagles got a first down that led to a game-tying field goal.
The Eagles would win in overtime, and advance to the NFC championship game.
46. Red Right 88
Date: Jan. 4, 1981
Teams: Oakland Raiders Vs. Cleveland Browns
Lore: The first of many Cleveland Browns playoff losses on this list, because the Browns don't just lose playoff games, they lose them in spectacular, unforgettable fashion.
In the coldest game since the Ice Bowl, the Raiders led 14-12 with less than a minute remaining. In field goal range, Browns quarterback Brian Sipe called timeout. Head coach Sam Rutigliano told Sipe to "throw it into Lake Erie" if no one was open, as kicker Don Cockroft was battling a very injured back. Cockroft had missed two kicks and weather conditions made kicking even more perilous than usual.
Sipe misread the Raider defense, missed the wide open Dave Logan, and threw it into traffic toward Ozzie Newsome where the ball was intercepted by Mike Davis.
Little did Cleveland fans know that this game would just be the first of many disappointments that would end up with its own moniker.
45. Favre Plays For His Father
Date: Dec. 22, 2003
Teams: Green Bay Packers Vs. Oakland Raiders.
Lore: Brett Favre's father died the day before this game, but Favre elected to play anyway.
Favre passed for four touchdowns in the first half, and 399 yards in a 41-7 defeat of the Raiders. Afterwards, Favre said, "I knew that my dad would have wanted me to play."
44. 1945 NFL Championship Game
Date: Dec. 16, 1945
Teams: Washington Redskins Vs. Cleveland Rams
Lore: In the days of real smash-mouth football, the Redskins and Rams were playing down to the last minute with the Redskins up 14-13. Then Redskins quarterback Sammy Baugh threw a pass from the end zone that bounced off of the uprights of the goal posts, which were at the front of the end zones in that era.
This resulted in a safety and a 15-14 Rams victory. It also resulted in a rules change that made that kind of pass ruled incomplete. The rule now is moot since the goal posts have been moved back to the rear of the end zones.
43. Super Bowl XXXVIII
Date: Feb. 1, 2004
Teams: Carolina Panthers Vs. New England Patriots
Lore: This was the year the Panthers went from 1-15 to the Super Bowl. This was the year the game got overshadowed by Janet Jackson and the halftime show.
By the way, this was one of the most competitive Super Bowls in history with the Patriots winning their second Super Bowl in three years. A guy named Tom Brady was the quarterback.
You might have heard of him.
42. The Saints Return To The Superdome
Date: Sept. 25, 2006
Teams: Atlanta Falcons Vs. New Orleans Saints.
Lore: While the game was a divisional battle, it was the first game back in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina. It was on Monday Night Football, and the emotion surrounding the game was incredible.
The story of the game went beyond the sporting world, and New Orleans used the game to bring focus back to the city and its recovery efforts.
The Saints won 23-3 amid a Super Bowl-type atmosphere.
41. Super Bowl XL
40. Garo's Gaffe
Date: Jan. 14, 1973
Teams: Miami Dolphins Vs. Washington Redskins
Lore: The Miami Dolphins' perfect season almost ended on a horrible lapse in judgment by kicker Garo Yepremian.
The game was a defensive struggle, and the Dolphins led the Redskins 14-0 when Yepremian's 42-yard kick was blocked. Instead of just falling on the ball, Yepremian tried to throw a forward pass, but the ball squirted out of his hands.
The play was ruled a fumble since Yepremian hadn't begun a forward motion, and Redskins cornerback Mike Bass returned it for a touchdown.
Miami held on for the win and the undefeated season.
39. The Catch II
Date: Jan. 3, 1999
Teams: Green Bay Packers Vs. San Francisco 49ers
Lore: This NFC wild card matchup was a crazy game: lots of lead changes, turnovers, a Jerry Rice fumble incorrectly ruled down by contact, and Terrell Owens.
With two minutes left to play, Brett Favre threw a touchdown pass to Antonio Freeman, staking the Packers to a 27-23 lead.
Owens, who had dropped four passes and lost a fumble, got the game-winning touchdown with eight seconds left, and the 49ers advanced.
38. Ambush At Mile High
Date: Jan. 4, 1997
Teams: Jacksonville Jaguars Vs. Denver Broncos
Lore: This divisional playoff featured the 13-3 Broncos versus the wild card Jaguars, who barely squeaked into the playoffs with a 9-7 record.
But anything can happen on any given Sunday (or Saturday, in this case), and the Jaguars went into halftime up 13-12. Denver scored two touchdowns, but an extra point was blocked and a two-point conversion failed.
The Jaguars then outplayed the Broncos in the second half, and with the score 30-27, the Broncos failed to convert the onside kick, and with no timeouts, the Jaguars were able to run out the clock and advance.
37. The 15-1 Vikings Lose To Morten Anderson In OT
Date: Jan. 17, 1999
Teams: Atlanta Falcons Vs. Minnesota Vikings
Lore: The NFC championship game that year featured the 15-1 Vikings versus the 14-2 Falcons for the right to go to the Super Bowl.
In the fourth quarter, with a chance to put the game away, Vikings kicker Gary Anderson missed his first field goal of the year wide left.
The Falcons took the game into overtime, where Morten Anderson nailed the game-winning kick and sent Atlanta to its first Super Bowl.
36. Favre To Sharpe
Date: Jan. 8, 1994
Teams: Green Bay Packers Vs. Detroit Lions
Lore: This wild card playoff game featured Barry Sanders running for 167 yards, but it still wasn't enough to overcome a very young Brett Favre and the veteran Sterling Sharpe.
The score went back and forth in the fourth quarter with one big play after another, but in the end, a great throw by Favre and a miraculous catch by Sharpe gave the Packers a 28-24 victory.
35. Duel In Dixie
Date: Jan. 4, 1981
Teams: Dallas Cowboys Vs. Atlanta Falcons
Lore: Atlanta dominated the first half of this NFC divisional playoff game, but Dallas scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to take a 30-27 lead.
The Cowboys missed an extra point that would've forced the Falcons to score a touchdown to win the game, and Atlanta took over and began driving down the field. But they couldn't move the ball out of their own territory and turned the ball over on downs, sealing the Dallas victory.
34. End Of A Dynasty
Date: Jan. 20, 1991
Teams: New York Giants Vs. San Francisco 49ers
Lore: In a game noted for being a defensive battle, the 15-13 final score was no surprise.
But what happened during the game is what makes it memorable. Despite the low score, the quality of the defensive play made the game a nail-biter the whole way. Then in the fourth quarter, Leonard Marshall would deliver a brutal sack to Joe Montana, knocking him out of the game.
That sack would prove to be the turning point in Montana's career in San Francisco as Steve Young's rise could not be denied after that and Montana would finish his career in Kansas City.
33. The Forgotten Classic
Date: Jan. 8, 1984
Teams: Washington Redskins Vs. San Francisco 49ers
Lore: The 49ers, down 21-0 in the fourth quarter, rallied back to tie the game. The Redskins then went on a 13-play, 78-yard drive that took more than six minutes off the clock and were helped along by two controversial penalties.
Joe Montana then got the ball back and was driving down the field for what would've been the winning score, but was intercepted on the last play of the game, giving the Redskins a 24-21 win and advancing to the Super Bowl.
32. Super Bowl XXXII (Elway Finally Gets His Ring)
Date: Jan. 25, 1998
Teams: Green Bay Packers Vs. Denver Broncos
Lore: While John Elway had been to the Super Bowl three times before this, he'd never won any of them. That would change in 1998 versus the favored Green Bay Packers and Brett Favre.
The game was close, with neither team getting any kind of real lead. In the fourth quarter, the Broncos faced second and goal with 1:47 left in the game and the Packers had two timeouts remaining with the score tied at 24.
Head coach Mike Holmgren conceded the touchdown in order to give his team more time to come back and tie the game again. However, on third down, a wide open Antonio Freeman dropped the pass that would've moved the chains, and Favre's fourth down pass was broken up and the game was over.
31. The Heidi Bowl
Date: Nov. 17, 1968
Teams: New York Jets Vs. Oakland Raiders
Lore: This game is the reason "60 Minutes" is delayed on the East Coast. With the Jets leading 32-29 and 65 seconds left in a game that had everything you could ever want to see in a regular season matchup, NBC cut to its scheduled telecast of "Heidi."
There was a lot of offense, fights, and drama in the game right up to the cutaway to "Heidi."
Fans on the Eastern Seaboard didn't miss much, only the Raiders scoring 14 points in those 65 seconds.
As a result of the fiasco, television network rules were changed, mandating all sporting contests be aired to their conclusion.
30. Dolphins Vs. Raiders (Sea Of Hands)
Date: Dec. 21, 1974
Teams: Miami Dolphins Vs. Oakland Raiders
Lore: This AFC Divisional Playoff game, a continuation of what was at the time a very heated rivalry, was dubbed "Super Bowl 8 1/2" by the media in the buildup to the game.
It featured Don Shula versus John Madden on the sidelines and Kenny Stabler versus Bob Griese out on the field, plus some guys named Fred Belitnikoff, Paul Warfield and Cliff Branch. The Miami Dolphins were the two-time defending Super Bowl champions, and had a record of 43-5 over the past three seasons, including their undefeated season in 1972. The Raiders were 32-11 over that same period.
The game was very close, and at the end, Stabler threw the game-winning touchdown into a "Sea Of Hands" consisting mainly of Dolphins defenders, and somehow Raiders receiver Clarence Davis emerged from the pile with the ball and the Raiders advanced.
29. 1932 NFL Championship Game
Date: Dec. 18, 1932
Teams: Portsmouth Spartans Vs. Chicago Bears
Lore: This was the first NFL playoff game in history, and was the result of a tie in the standings between the Spartans and the Bears. Both teams had played each other to a tie twice during the regular season and ties didn't count in the standings at the time.
The game, originally scheduled at Wrigley Field, was moved indoors to Chicago Stadium due to a blizzard. Special rules were adopted for the game, and it included an 80-yard field goal. The Spartans won 9-0.
The game turned out to be very popular, and as a result, the NFL divided the league into two divisions for an annual playoff game.
28. Changing Of the Guard
Date: Jan. 17, 1993
Teams: Dallas Cowboys Vs. San Francisco 49ers
Lore: The 49ers and the Cowboys met in the NFC championship game, and it would signal an end to the 49ers' dominance in the NFC for the rest of the decade as the Cowboys would win the game and advance to the first of their three Super Bowls.
The game itself was a slugfest with Dallas scoring 10 points off of four turnovers. Both Troy Aikman and Steve Young threw for more than 300 yards, and the game didn't have one slow point in it.
27. Super Bowl XIII (Cowboys Vs. Steelers: The Rematch)
Date: Jan. 21, 1979
Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers Vs. Dallas Cowboys
Lore: This was the first rematch in Super Bowl history, and the game came down to the final minute.
Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw had a horrible first half, throwing an interception and losing two fumbles. He still threw for more than 300 yards and four touchdowns.
The Cowboys couldn't take advantage of the opportunities handed to them, made some controversial play calls, and turned the ball over as much as the Steelers did.
As usual in a Steelers Super Bowl, there was some controversy involving the refs and giving the Steelers calls the other team wasn't getting.
The Cowboys were down 35-31 with 22 seconds left in the game, but the onside kick failed and the Steelers won.
26. Peyton Manning Finally Beats The Patriots
Date: Jan. 21, 2007
Teams: Indianapolis Colts Vs. New England Patriots
Lore: The Patriots/Colts rivalry of the last decade has been one for the ages, but it's one that the Patriots have dominated.
Even if the Colts beat the Patriots in the regular season, Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and the Patriots always seem to have Manning's number in the playoffs.
Not so on this day. The Colts gained 455 yards, 32 first downs, and managed to overcome a 21-3 deficit to the Patriots to earn their first trip to the Super Bowl since 1970.
The Colts won 38-34, intercepting Tom Brady at the end of the game, and the Colts would end up winning the Super Bowl two weeks later against the Chicago Bears.
25. Super Bowl III (The Guarantee)
Date: Jan. 12, 1969
Teams: New York Jets Vs. Baltimore Colts
Lore: This was the game Joe Namath "guaranteed" would be a victory. The game itself was sloppy, but an injured Don Maynard still was a threat and the Colts made sure to keep him covered.
Namath threw for only 206 yards and didn't have a touchdown, but the fact the Jets beat the Colts, an AFL team beating an NFL team, has made this game resonate through the years.
And Namath's guarantee hasn't hurt its status, either.
24. Super Bowl XVII (John Riggins' Run For The Ages)
Date: Jan. 30, 1983
Teams: Miami Dolphins Vs. Washington Redskins
Lore: This was a game of turnovers, hard play, and John Riggins running for 166 yards, plus 15 more yards on a reception, giving him more yards than the entire Miami offense.
Joe Theismann had three interceptions in a row, but the Dolphins could not capitalize on any of them, and the Redskins dominated the second half.
Riggins' big run for 47 yards and the go-ahead touchdown has been immortalized in several NFL clip shows over the years.
23. The Monday Night Miracle
Date: Oct. 23, 2000
Teams: Miami Dolphins Vs. New York Jets
Lore: The Jets were down 30-7 as the fourth quarter began. But that didn't mean anything to the Jets, who scored 23 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and sent the game into overtime with the game-tying score made by tackle eligible "Jumbo" Jim Elliott.
The Jets' John Hall kicked the game-winner in overtime.
The game is notable for having the second largest fourth-quarter comeback in NFL history and the largest comeback in Jets history
22. Double Overtime In Lake Erie
Date: Jan. 3, 1987
Teams: New York Jets Vs. Cleveland Browns
Lore: This game featured a young Bernie Kosar announcing his presence to the world with more than 400 yards passing, missed field goals, comebacks on both sides, and a double-overtime marathon in this AFC divisional playoff game that Browns fans still talk about whenever the playoffs get brought up.
Mark Moseley, talked out of retirement by the Browns after Matt Bahr was injured earlier in the season, missed the game-winning field goal in the first overtime period after tying the game at the end of regulation.
Moseley made the game-winning kick a few minutes into the second overtime period. As Cleveland lore has it, some fans who left during the fourth quarter when the game looked over, were abandoning their cars on the side of the road and running back to try and get back in the stadium.
21. The Bears' 12-0 Season Meets The Miami Dolphins
Date: Dec. 2, 1985
Teams: Chicago Bears Vs. Miami Dolphins
Lore: The Bears, who were on their way to a Super Bowl victory in 1985, were 12-0 when they faced Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football.
The Dolphins won 38-24, but it would be the only game the Bears lost that year, and was one of the highlights of the 1985 season.
20. The Colts And Steelers Play All 60 Minutes
Date: Jan. 14, 1996
Teams: Indianapolis Colts Vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Lore: The game started out as a battle between the team's two kickers, but a controversial touchdown by Kordell Stewart, who may have stepped out of bounds or was pushed out, depending on your interpretation of the play, started a back-and-forth day.
The Steelers took the lead with 1:34 left in the game. Colts quarterback Jim Harbaugh got the ball to the Pittsburgh 29-yard line with five seconds left, but his Hail Mary pass bounced off of receiver Aaron Bailey's chest before hitting the ground.
The Steelers advanced to the Super Bowl, but lost to Dallas.
19. The Holy Roller
Date: Sept. 10, 1978
Teams: Oakland Raiders Vs. San Diego Chargers
Lore: This game was another good one, as the Raiders and Chargers went back-and-forth the whole day.
But with the Raiders down 20-14 with 10 seconds left, quarterback Kenny Stabler fumbled the ball. Two other Raider players ended up batting the ball forward and into the end zone where it was recovered by Dave Kasper for the touchdown and a 21-20 win.
While batting the ball forward intentionally was illegal at the time, the referees ruled that wasn't the case and awarded the Raiders the touchdown. After the game, all players involved admitted to intentionally batting the ball forward.
As a result, the rules have been changed to spot the ball at the point of the fumble to avoid a repeat of that situation.
18. The Music City Miracle
Date: Jan. 8, 2000
Teams: Buffalo Bills vs. Tennessee Titans
Lore: This wild card playoff had it all. The Titans struck first in the second quarter, but the Bills quickly rallied to tie the game.
In the fourth quarter, the Titans had a 15-13 lead with 1:48 left. But the Bills drove down the field and took a 16-15 lead with only a few seconds remaining.
The Bills kicked off, and Titan Lorenzo Neal caught the ball. Neal handed the ball off to tight end Frank Wycheck, who started toward his right, and then threw a lateral across the field to Kevin Dyson, who then ran down the sidelines for a 75-yard touchdown.
Officials reviewed the play, as it was thought Wycheck made an illegal forward pass, but the video was inconclusive, as the ruling of a lateral was upheld and the Titans won 22-16.
17. Super Bowl XXIII (Bill Walsh's Final Game)
Date: Jan. 22, 1989
Teams: Cincinnati Bengals Vs. San Francisco 49ers
Lore: One of the greatest Super Bowls ever played, this game was a highlight for several reasons. It was Bill Walsh's final game as a head coach, the game featured a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter by Joe Montana, and it had one of the ugliest injuries in the history of pro football when Tim Krumrie's leg snapped and splintered like a stalk of celery in the first half.
Montana's 11-play, 92-yard drive, down 16-13, capped with a 10-yard touchdown pass to John Taylor with 34 seconds remaining, gave the 49ers the victory and sent Walsh into retirement on a high note.
16. Miracle At The Meadowlands
Date: Nov. 19, 1978
Teams: Philadelphia Eagles Vs. New York Giants
Lore: This game was a classic battle between division rivals that would've been seen as a great game no matter what. The Eagles were the superior team at the time, and the Giants led 17-12 with seconds left to go.
Instead of kneeling on the ball, quarterback Joe Pisarcik attempted to hand the ball off, botched it, and Eagle Herman Edwards picked it up and ran the ball 26 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
There was a lot of in-fighting on the Giants at the time, and the play before resulted in a fight. Rumor has it Larry Csonka claimed he wouldn't take the handoff but that Pisarcik didn't hear him.
New York offfensive coordinator Bob Gibson was fired after the game, and never worked in football again.
15. The Fumble
Date: Jan. 17, 1988
Teams: Cleveland Browns Vs. Denver Broncos
Lore: After having their hearts ripped out the year before in the AFC championship game, the Browns and Broncos met again for a rematch in 1987.
Like the first match, the game didn't have very many dull moments. The Broncos jumped out to a 21-3 first half lead, but Bernie Kosar drove the Browns back, eventually tying the score at 31.
With four minutes left, the Broncos led 38-31. With 1:12 left, the Browns were close and handed the ball off to Earnest Byner, who was stripped of the ball at the two-yard line.
The Broncos took an intentional safety to seal the victory, and the Browns had to watch John Elway and the Broncos advance to the Super Bowl once again.
14. One Yard Short
Date: Jan. 30, 2000
Teams: St. Louis Rams vs. Tennessee Titans
Lore: The Greatest Show on Turf was in the Super Bowl, so it was a little strange the first half turned into a defensive battle. St. Louis was up 16-0 in the third quarter when the Titans began making a comeback.
With the game tied at 16 and two minutes left, the Titans then drove to the Rams' 10-yard line with six seconds remaining. On the final play of the game, Rams linebacker Mike Jones tackled Titans wide receiver Kevin Dyson one yard short of the goal line to prevent a potential game-tying touchdown.
The play would make it into Hollywood by the end of the year, with actress Helen Hunt talking about it in the movie "Cast Away."
13. The Catch
Date: Jan. 10, 1982
Teams: Dallas Cowboys Vs. San Francisco 49ers
Lore: For some reason, a lot of people think this catch happened in the Super Bowl, but the Joe Montana to Dwight Clark catch for the ages happened in the 1981 NFC championship game.
This was a tight game, there were several lead changes, and it seemed to be coming down to whichever team had the ball last. The 49ers were trailing 27-21 when Joe Montana began driving his team down the field.
With 51 seconds left in the game, and Ed "Too Tall" Jones chasing Montana out-of-bounds, Montana launched a pass high and to the corner of the end zone that Clark grabbed with his fingertips and hauled in for the catch.
It was a career-defining moment for both players.
12. Wide Right
Date: Jan. 27, 1991
Teams: Buffalo Bills Vs. New York Giants
Lore: Of all the Buffalo Bills' Super Bowl losses, this one might be the toughest because they were in every snap of the game.
The contest was clean, with no turnovers on either side, and neither team ever seemed to gain the upper hand.
Trailing by one point with a few seconds remaining, the Bills attempted a 47-yard field goal, which was near the limit of Norwood's range. It went wide right, and the Bills lost the first of what would be four Super Bowls.
11. The Helmet Catch
Date: Feb. 3, 2008
Teams: New York Giants Vs. New England Patriots.
Lore: The undefeated Patriots headed into this game as heavy favorites, having beaten the Giants in the last week of the regular season to maintain their perfect record.
What followed was one great moment after another as both teams refused to back down. With the score 14-10 and only 1:15 remaining, Eli Manning took the snap on third and five. Under pressure, he threw the ball to David Tyree, who snagged the ball, got hit, and clutched the ball to his helmet in order to maintain possession of it.
The refs ruled it a completion and the Giants scored a few plays later.
The Patriots were unable to come back, and their perfect season was over.
10. Ghost To The Post
Date: Dec. 24, 1977
Teams: Oakland Raiders Vs. Baltimore Colts
Lore: This was another double-overtime playoff game, that saw the Raiders down 31-28 with less than a minute to play.
Kenny Stabler threw for Dave Casper in a "post" route and found him for a 43-yard gain. It wasn't easy though, as Casper had to change direction to catch up with the ball and make a highlight-reel catch to complete the play.
A field goal sent the game into overtime, and Casper caught the game-winning pass 43 seconds into the second overtime.
9. The Hail Mary
Date: Dec. 28, 1975
Teams: Dallas Cowboys Vs. Minnesota Vikings
Lore: Roger Staubach said he threw the ball and said a "Hail Mary." The prayer worked because Drew Pearson came down with the ball, winning the game for the Cowboys and advancing them in the playoffs.
Trailing 14-10 with just under two minutes in the game, the Cowboys drove to midfield on nine plays. With 24 seconds remaining, Pearson caught the ball after pushing cornerback Nate Wright to the ground. While this should've drawn a penalty, no flag was thrown.
The crowd in Minnesota went nuts, but the play stood and the Cowboys won.
8. The Immaculate Reception
Date: Dec. 23, 1972
Teams: Oakland Raiders Vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Lore: A hard-fought, low-scoring game that was typical of the era, this game produced one of the most memorable plays in NFL history.
Franco Harris caught a Terry Bradshaw pass that bounced off of Raiders defender Jack Tatum, and ran it in for a touchdown. However, there were two questions surrounding the play: whether or not the ball hit the ground, and whether or not the ball actually bounced off of Steelers halfback Frenchy Fuqua.
At the time, if Harris had caught the ball off the rebound from Fuqua, that would've been a penalty. That rule since has been rescinded, but it was in effect at the time.
Numerous video replays have failed to categorically answer either question, and the Steelers got the win and advanced to the AFC championship game.
7. The Tuck Rule
Date: Jan. 19, 2002
Teams: Oakland Raiders Vs. New England Patriots
Lore: Playing in a nasty snowstorm, the Raiders and Patriots scrapped it out for four quarters, neither side able to fully utilize their offense in the rough conditions.
Late in the game, with the Raiders leading 13-10, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady dropped back to pass, saw the rush coming and in an attempt to get rid of the ball, he fumbled it.
Initally ruled a fumble on the field, the officials determined Brady's arm was going forward, therefore it was an incomplete pass. But reviews showed Brady might have been tucking the ball into his body in preparation for taking a sack, which would have been a fumble.
Whether or not Brady actually tucked the ball, he led the Patriots to a score with his second chance and won the game.
6. The Comeback
Date: Jan. 3, 1993
Teams: Houston Oilers Vs. Buffalo Bills
Lore: This wild card game, which didn't even sell out and was blacked out in Buffalo, featured Warren Moon completing 19 of 22 passes for 220 yards and four touchdowns in the first half, dominating the Bills in every aspect of the game.
But then the second half started. According to several Buffalo Bills players, defensive coordinator Walt Corey unleashed a tirade on the team at halftime for their timid play. They came out a different team in the second half.
After a Frank Reich interception for a touchdown made it 35-3, the Bills stormed back, scoring 21 points in 10 minutes. The Bills eventually went up 38-35 before the Oilers tied the game and sent it into overtime. But the Bills intercepted Moon, benefited from a face mask penalty and won the game 41-38.
5. The Longest Game Ever
Date: Dec. 25, 1971
Teams: Miami Dolphins Vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Lore: This is still the longest NFL game ever played at 82 minutes and 40 seconds. The Dolphins came out on top, 27-24.
The Chiefs jumped out to a 10-0 lead with Len Dawson behind center, but the Dolphins tied the game in the second quarter. Bob Griese tied the game again and the Chiefs missed a game-winning field goal at the end of regulation.
Both teams missed field goals in the first overtime period before Miami finally pulled it out in the second overtime.
4. The Drive
Date: Jan. 11, 1987
Teams: Denver Broncos Vs. Cleveland Browns
Lore: In what has become one of the most iconic games in NFL history, the Broncos came to Cleveland, fresh off of their double-overtime victory over the Jets the week before.
The game had plenty of excitement through the first half and most of the second. But with 5:32 left and the Broncos on their own two-yard line, Cleveland fans could taste the Super Bowl.
Unfortunately, the Browns defense went into Martyball mode and a prevent defense that allowed John Elway to execute a 15-play drive that forced the game into overtime. The Browns did not force the Broncos into a fourth-down situation once during the drive.
Broncos kicker Rich Karlis kicked the game-winning field goal in overtime, but had video reviews been in use at the time, they would have seen the kick actually went wide.
3. The Ice Bowl
Date: Dec. 31, 1967
Teams: Dallas Cowboys Vs. Green Bay Packers
Lore: There is no more iconic game in the history of the NFL than the Ice Bowl. The 1967 NFL championship game was played at Lambeau Field in arctic conditions between two of the league's most recognizable teams.
It was cold, coaches Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry were at their best; and the players suffered on that field due to the negative temperatures.
Every part of this game is legendary, and the final drive by Bart Starr is required learning for any football coach. Led by "The Block" from Jerry Kramer, Starr took the ball into the end zone himself for the game-winning score.
Lombardi told Starr to go for it rather than try and tie the game and send it into overtime because of the extreme conditions. He didn't want to risk missing the kick, and he didn't want to keep the players or himself out there any longer than they had to be, according to reports from players involved.
2. The Epic In Miami
Date: Jan. 2, 1982
Teams: San Diego Chargers Vs. Miami Dolphins
Lore: Sports Illustrated dubbed this game "The Game No One Should Have Lost."
This game never was in anybody's hands, despite the Chargers jumping out to a 21-0 lead. Dolphins head Coach Don Shula benched his starting quarterback in favor of Don Strock in the second quarter just to give his offense a spark, and it worked.
The game went into overtime, and the Chargers prevailed 41-38.
Kellen Winslow, the undisputed MVP of the game, blocked a field goal and caught a NFL playoff-record 13 receptions for 166 yards and a touchdown.
During the game, he was treated for a pinched nerve in his shoulder, dehydration, severe cramps, and a gash in his lower lip that required three stitches. A picture of an exhausted Winslow being helped off the field by two teammates is an image the NFL has used for years.
1. The Greatest Game Ever Played
Date: Dec. 28, 1958
Teams: Baltimore Colts Vs. New York Giants
Lore: The first NFL game televised nationally, it turned into an epic battle between the two titans of the time with Johnny Unitas starting at quarterback for the Colts.
The score was 14-3 at the half in favor of Baltimore, aided by two Frank Gifford fumbles. The second half saw the Giants rally back, and with the Giants in the lead, Unitas got the ball with a few minutes left to play.
Unitas executed a two-minute drill, and the Colts tied the game with seconds left to play, causing the first overtime in NFL championship history.
The Colts executed another great drive on a tired Giants defense, and won the game 23-17.