Friday, December 07, 2007

NFL's 40 Greatest Playoff Games Since 1990

What started as an e-mail exchange with my McBlogging buddy turned into the genesis of a really fun blog post. I've been watching football since the 80's and one thing I've always found interesting is that football history is written in such a way that some of the best stuff is forgotten. Case-in-point, football fans are bombarded with Super Bowl highlights and Super Bowl memories every year at Super Bowl time, but the rest of the post-season is usually just a side bar. The truth is that there have been some great post season games in the NFL, particularly in recent years. What I have here is the list of the top 40 post season games since 1990 - I use 1990 as a start date because I was 10 in 1990 and saw most of these games and 1990 was the year the NFL switched from 5 to 6 playoff teams per conference and expanded the Wild Card round.

The rankings are certainly debatable, but without further ado, here are the NFL's top 40 playoff games since 1990. Super Bowls not included.

1. 2001 AFC Divisional Playoff: Patriots 16 Raiders 13 (OT) - The Patriots dynasty begins, Brady and the tuck rule, Vinatieri's kick, and Phil Simms getting hit with a snowball.

2. 1990 NFC Championship Game: Giants 15 49ers 13 - The Niners dynasty ends, Leonard Marshall nearly ends Montana's career, and Roger Craig's fumble leads to Matt Bahr's game winning field goal.

3. 1992 AFC Wild Card: Bills 41 Oilers 38 (OT) - Frank Reich leads the greatest come from behind win in NFL history after the Bills trail 35-3 at the half.

4. 1999 AFC Wild Card: Titans 22 Bills 16 - The Music City Miracle.

5. 2002 NFC Wild Card: 49ers 39 Giants 38 - Garcia and TO lead 4th quarter comeback, Trey Junkin becomes the Giants Bill Buckner.

6. 2006 AFC Championship Game: Colts 38 Patriots 34 - Colts overcome 21-3 deficit, Manning beats Brady in the playoffs, finally gets to Super Bowl.

7. 1998 NFC Championship Game: Falcons 30 Vikings 27 (OT) - Gary Anderson misses first field goal of the season, Falcons come back in improbable fashion to beat the NFL's all-time highest scoring team.

8. 1991 AFC Divisional Playoff: Broncos 26 Oilers 24 - John Elway leads another 4th quarter comeback - Broncos beat the run and shoot.

9. 1993 AFC Wild Card: Chiefs 27 Steelers 24 (OT) - Joe Montana ties game at end of regulation, wins game in overtime, solidifies his status as the NFL's all-time best quarterback, beating a good defense with J.J. Birden and Willie Davis at wide receiver.

10. 1998 NFC Wild Card: 49ers 30 Packers 27 - Steve Young to Terrell Owens for a 25 yard TD at the very end of regulation.

11. 2003 NFC Divisional Playoff: Panthers 29 Rams 23 (2OT) - Steve Smith beats Rams late, sends Panthers on a Super Bowl run.

12. 1993 NFC Wild Card: Packers 28 Lions 24 - The legend begins as Brett Favre beats the Lions with a 40 yard touchdown to Sterling Sharpe with under one minute remaining.

13. 2005 AFC Divisional Playoff: Steelers 21 Colts 18 - Pittsburgh's improbable upset, Bettis's fumble, Big Ben's tackle, and Vanderjagt's missed field goal.

14. 1995 AFC Championship Game: Steelers 20 Colts 16 - Captain Comeback, Jim Harbaugh, just misses the Super Bowl by inches as his hail mary lands on Aaron Bailey's stomach and slips to the ground.

15. 2006 AFC Divisional Playoff: Patriots 24 Chargers 21 - Brady and the Patriots overcome a 21-13 4th quarter deficit for yet another playoff win.

16. 1997 NFC Wild Card: Vikings 23 Giants 22: Vikings score late, recover onside kick, and kick the winning field goal, shocking the Giants at home.

17. 1994 AFC Championship Game: Chargers 17 Steelers 13 - Stan Humphries hits Tony Martin in the 4th quarter for the lead and Neil O'Donnell's comeback drive comes up just short of the endzone.

18. 2003 NFC Divisional Playoff: Eagles 20 Packers 17 - Donovan McNabb beats 4th and 26.

19. 2003 NFC Wild Card: Packers 33 Seahawks 27 (OT) - We're gonna get the ball, and we're gonna win, Matt Hasselbeck throws interception to Al Harris that gets returned for a touchdown.

20. 2002 AFC Wild Card: Steelers 36 Browns 33 - The Tommy Maddox-Kelly Holcomb aerial duel totaled a combined 796 yards and 6 touchdowns.

21. 1996 AFC Wild Card: Jaguars 30 Bills 27 - Mark Brunell and the Jags first big upset, coming from behind to win in Buffalo.

22. 2002 AFC Divisional Playoff: Titans 34 Steelers 31 (OT) - Joe Nedney misses two shots at game winning field goals, gets a second chance in overtime after a roughing the kicker penalty.

23. 1997 AFC Divisional Playoff: Steelers 7 Patriots 6 - Kordell Stewart's tightrope down the sideline is the only touchdown of a defensive struggle.

24. 2000 AFC Wild Card: Dolphins 23 Colts 17 - Lamar Smith's run concludes a big game and wins it in overtime.

25. 1999 AFC Wild Card: Dolphins 20 Seahawks 17 - Dan Marino has one last game winning drive.

26. 1999 NFC Championship Game: Rams 11 Bucs 6 - The Bert Emanuel rule of what constitutes a catch is born.

27. 1990 AFC Wild Card: Dolphins 17 Chiefs 16 - Dan Marino throws 2 late touchdowns and Nick Lowrey misses what could be a game winning field goal.

28. 2004 NFC Wild Card: Rams 27 Seahawks 20 - The Rams take the lead with 2 minutes left, Matt Hasselbeck takes the Seahawks all the way to the Rams 5, but can't tie the game.

29. 1994 AFC Divisional Playoffs: Chargers 22 Dolphins 21 - Stan Humphries leads the Chargers back from a 21-6 half time deficit.

30. 1991 NFC Wild Card: Falcons 27 Siants 20 - Chris Miller wins it on a 61 yard pass to Michael Haynes with under 3 minutes to play.

31. 2000 NFC Wild Card: Saints 31 Rams 28 - The Saints first ever playoff win is clinched with Az Hakim's fumble.

32. 1991 AFC Wild Card: Oilers 17 Jets 10 - Oilers stop Jets twice inside the 5 yard line in the 4th quarter.

33. 2001 AFC Wild Card: Raiders 38 Jets 24 - Wild 4th quarter in which 36 points were scored, only is settled when Charlie Garner scores on an 80 yard run with 2 minutes left in the game.

34. 2006 NFC Wild Card: Seahawks 21 Cowboys 20 - Tony Romo and the botched snap.

35. 2006 NFC Divisional Playoff: Bears 27 Seahawks 24 (OT) - This was just last year, it went to over time, and I remember watching it, but it strikes me as one of the more dull overtime games in recent memory.

36. 2003 AFC Wild Card: Titans 20 Ravens 17 - See above, except without the overtime as Gary Anderson wins it on a 46 yard field goal.

37. 2006 NFC Wild Card: Eagles 20 Giants 17 - Eli Manning brings Giants back, but does it too early as Jeff Garcia gets the Eagles in range to kick a winning field goal.

38. 2003 AFC Divisional Playoff: Patriots 17 Titans 14 - Freezing cold game won by Vinatieri with 4 minutes remaining.

39. 2004 AFC Wild Card: Jets 20 Chargers 17 (OT) - Nate Kaeding misses an overtime field goal, Marty loses, Herm Edwards wins.

40. 2004 AFC Divisional Game: Steelers 20 Jets 17 (OT) - See #39 as what happened the previous week to the Jet's opponent happened to the Jets, Doug Brien misses two game winning field goals and the Steelers win it in overtime.


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