NFL Playoffs: Top 10 Divisional Round games time forgot
Nov 1, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; NFL logo after the game between the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
When it comes to the NFL Playoffs, don’t forget the classic games of the past that represent what Divisional Round weekend is all about.
While most of us are still getting over the fact that the NY Jets didn’t make the playoffs, the NFL always provides us with some of the best January memories to help us deal with the cold weather and the sorrow from taking down our Christmas lights and trees.
This weekend will be the annual Divisional Round weekend that has some great match-ups on hand as four of the quarterbacks starting were former number 1 draft picks, while five have won Super Bowls.
While everyone remembers divisional round games that brought us “The Sea of Hands”, “The Tuck Rule”, “The Epic in Miami”, “The Immaculate Reception”, “The Hail Mary” and “The Catch III”, here is my list of the top 10 Divisional playoff games that were great games which make this upcoming weekend so special.
Next: Rams vs Cowboys
Aug 13, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; A Dallas Cowboys fan hold up their logo during the third quarter against the San Diego Chargers in a preseason NFL football game at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
10. Rams at Cowboys – December 30, 1979
This was the fifth time that these two teams were meeting in the playoffs in the 1970s with the Cowboys having won three of those four previous meetings. After having punted down 19-14 with 2:41 left, it looked like the Rams would once again fall short as Roger Staubach was a master at running out the clock.
However, the Rams forced a 3-and-out, giving quarterback Vince Ferragamo one more chance to send the Rams to the NFC Championship. Taking over at the 50-yd line with 2:16 remaining, Ferragamo found Billy Waddy streaking across the Cowboys’ secondary securing the ball in and running the remaining 25 yards for the game-winning touchdown in what turned out to be Staubach’s final game.
Next: Dolphins vs Charger
Aug 13, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; A helmet from a San Diego Chargers player in a preseason NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chargers won 17-7. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
9. Dolphins at Chargers – January 8, 1995
Trailing 21-6 at halftime, the Chargers scored 16 consecutive second half points, the final 7 coming on a 8-yd TD pass from Stan Humphries to Mark Seay with :35 remaining. Dan Marino then took the Dolphins to the Chargers 30-yd line, where Pete Stoyanovich had a chance to win the game with a 47-yd field goal with :06 left.
Chargers fans jumped for joy when Stoyanovich’s kick missed badly to the right, sending San Diego to the AFC Championship Game.
Next: Ravens vs Steelers
Dec 6, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) looks to pass against the Indianapolis Colts during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
8. Ravens at Steelers – January 15, 2011
Trailing 21-7 at halftime, the Steelers scored 17 consecutive points to take a 24-21 lead with 12:15 left. After a Billy Cundiff field goal tied the game at 24 with 3:15 remaining, the Ravens looked like they would get the ball back with a chance to win the game when the Steelers faced a 3rd and 19 from their own 38.
However, Ben Roethlisberger found Antonio Brown along the right sideline, connecting on a 58-yd pass play, setting up Rashard Mendenhall‘s 2-yd TD run with 1:33 left, sending the Steelers to the AFC Championship.
Next: Jets vs Steelers
Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; A general view of a New York Jets helmet and an NFL football during the game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
7. Jets at Steelers – January 15, 2005
After winning 15 regular season games, the Steelers trailed 17-10 when Hines Ward scored on a 4-yard pass from Roethlisberger with 6:00 left to tie the game. Jets’ kicker Doug Brien then had a chance to give the Jets the lead when his 47-yard field goal hit the goal post with 1:58 remaining. However, the Jets got the ball right back after Roethlisberger was intercepted by David Barrett on the Steelers first play after Brien’s miss.
The Jets then drove cautiously from the Steelers’ 37 to the 25, giving Brien a 43-yarder to win it on the final play of regulation. With a chance to send the Jets to the AFC Championship, Brien again missed, this time very badly, pulling the ball to the left. When Jeff Brown kicked a 33-yard field goal with 3:56 left in the first overtime, the Steelers had survived, advancing to play New England in the AFC Championship.
Next: Seahawks vs Falcons
Jan 3, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) passes the football against the New Orleans Saints during the second quarter at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
6. Seahawks at Falcons – January 13, 2013
Trailing 27-7 entering the final quarter, the Seahawks looked like they would quietly bow out of the 2012 playoffs. However, behind rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, Seattle battled back, scoring 21 consecutive points to shock the Georgia Dome and give the Seahawks a 28-27 lead. Taking over at their 28-yd line with :25 left and two timeouts, the situation looked very bleak for Matt Ryan and the Falcons.
However, two receptions put the Falcons on Seattle’s 32-yd line with :13 remaining. Matt Bryant then connected on a 49-yard field goal to send the Falcons faithful into euphoria and Atlanta to the NFC Championship.
Next: Lions vs 49ers
Sep 14, 2015; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers former players Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott, and Jerry Rice laugh on the sideline during the second quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Levi
5. Lions at 49ers – December 31, 1983
In a game that was one of the ugliest in playoff history, the Lions and Niners combined for seven turnovers. Despite having committed five of them, the Lions found themselves with a 23-17 lead when Billy Sims scored his second rushing touchdown of the 4th quarter with 4:44 remaining.
Joe Montana then added to his reputation that would see him become one of the greatest clutch quarterbacks in NFL history when he connected with Freddie Solomon for the go-ahead touchdown with 1:23 left to give the Niners a 24-23 lead.
Despite throwing 5 interceptions already, Lions’ quarterback Gary Danielson drove the Lions to the Niners 25-yard line. Lions’ kicker Eddie Murray, who had already made 3 field goals on the day including a 54-yarder, now had the chance to give the Lions their first playoff win since 1957 from 42-yards out. However, Murray’s kick sailed off to the right, giving the Niners the win.
Next: Panthers vs Rams
Nov 22, 2015; Charlotte, NC, USA; A Carolina Panthers helmet lays on the sidelines during the second half against the Washington Redskins at Bank of America Stadium. Panthers defeated the Redskins 44-16. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
4. Panthers at Rams – January 10, 2004
After finishing 1-15 in 2001, the Panthers found themselves just 8:50 away from the NFC Championship after Brad Hoover‘s touchdown gave them an 11-point lead. However, the Rams fought back scoring 11-points in the final 2:39, which included recovering an onside kick, tying the game as regulation ended on a Jeff Wilkins 33-yard field goal.
Both teams missed chances to win the game in the first overtime and when Jake Delhomme connected with Steve Smith on a 69-yard touchdown on the first play of the second overtime, the Panthers were on their way to Philadelphia.
Next: Steelers vs Titans
Jul 26, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; General view of a Tennessee Titans helmet during training camp at Saint Thomas Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
3. Steelers at Titans – January 11, 2003
In one of the craziest endings in playoff history, the Steelers and Titans played to a 31-31 tie after four quarters. Steve McNair then drove the Titans down to the Steelers 14-yard line where Jeff Fisher decided to send out Joe Nedney for the game-winning 31-yard field goal on 2nd down. Nedney calmly kicked the ball right through the uprights, but the Steelers called timeout just before the snap to nullify to kick.
To make matters worse, the fireworks went off at Adelphia Coliseum with Nedney now having to rekick. On his second attempt to win the game, Nedney pulled the kick to the left, giving the Steelers a very brief second life until a yellow flag on the field indicated that Steelers cornerback Dewayne Washington had run into Nedney, giving him yet another chance to win the game. This time Nedney finally won the game, connecting on a 26-yard field goal to send the Titans to the AFC Championship.
Next: Bills vs Browns
Dec 27, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly on the sidelines before the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
2. Bills at Browns – January 6, 1990
A year before the Bills started their historic run at four straight Super Bowls, the “Bickering Bills” took on the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Trailing by 10 in the 4th quarter, Jim Kelly and the Bills went to a hurry up offense (the K-Gun) that saw him pass for over 400 yards and helped them cut the deficit to 34-30.
When Kelly hit Ronnie Harmon in the end zone with :09 left, it looked like the Bills would win the game. However, the ball bounced off Harmon’s fingers, falling incomplete and when Kelly’s next pass was intercepted by Clay Matthews, the Browns advanced to their third AFC Championship Game in four years.
Next: Steelers vs Broncos
Sep 27, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Denver Broncos general manager John Elway gestures prior to the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
1. Steelers at Broncos – January 7, 1990
While John Elway is better known for his playoff performances in “The Drive” and “The Drive II”, the Broncos would not have made it to their third Super Bowl in four years in the late 1980s without this great comeback by Elway.
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Trailing all game, Elway led the Broncos on a 71-yard touchdown drive to take a 24-23 lead on a 1-yard touchdown run by Mel Bratton with 2:27 remaining. After dominating the Broncos’ defense for over 400 yards, quarterback Bubby Brister could not bring the Steelers back, fumbling the snap on 3rd and 10 to send Denver to the AFC Championship.