25 Greatest Divisional Round Games in NFL History

Dan Van WieContributor IIIJanuary 11, 2012

25 Greatest Divisional Round Games in NFL History

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    We have survived the Wild Card Round of the 2011 NFL playoffs, and now are preparing for the Divisional Round coming up this weekend.

    All four home teams won the Wild Card Round, so will the teams that received a bye in the first round be able to follow form and come through in the Divisional Round?

    Today, we are going back in history to try to identify the 25 greatest Divisional Round games from the modern era (1970 to present).

    A game could be considered "great" due to a brilliant comeback win, a high scoring affair or a defense that put a high-scoring offense out of its misery.

    We also created a honorable mention page to acknowledge some outstanding individual performances. 

    There are easily going to be more than 25 games that would be likely candidates for consideration, based on the above criteria.

    If the divisional game you are wanting to see didn't make the list, feel free to add it to the group in the comments section.

    On to the presentation...

Honorable Mention: Some Great Individual Performances

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    There are quite a few remarkable Divisional Round playoff games that were famous more for a player having a great individual game than his team having a great game, so we wanted to acknowledge some of those efforts here.

    1985—Los Angeles Rams 20, Dallas Cowboys 0. Eric Dickerson rushed 34 times for 248 yards and two TDs.

    2007—New England Patriots 31, Jacksonville Jaguars 20. Tom Brady was almost perfect, going 26-of-28 for 263 yards and three touchdown passes.

    1993—San Francisco 49ers 44, New York Giants 3. Ricky Watters sets playoff record with five-TD day.

    2005—New England Patriots 28, Jacksonville Jaguars 3. LB Willie McGinest sets playoff record with a 4.5-sack performance.

    1982—Washington Redskins 21, Minnesota Vikings 7. John Riggins rushes 37 times for 185 yards and two touchdowns.

    2005—Carolina Panthers 29, Chicago Bears 21. Steve Smith has 12 catches for 218 yards and two TDs.

    1982—New York Jets 44, Cincinnati Bengals 17. Freeman McNeal rushes 21 times for 202 yards.

    1987—Minnesota Vikings 36, San Francisco 49ers 24. WR Anthony Carter catches 10 passes for 227 yards.

    1975—Los Angeles Rams 35, St. Louis Cardinals 23. Lawrence McCutcheon rushes for 202 yards.

    1985—Chicago Bears 21, New York Giants 0. Bears defense sacks Phil Simms seven times. Richard Dent gets 3.5 sacks on his own.

    1969—Oakland Raiders 56, Houston Oilers 7. Daryle Lamonica throws six TD passes in the game.

25) 2002 Divisional Playoff: Tennessee Wins Shootout with Pittsburgh

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    Date and Outcome: January 11, 2003; Tennessee Titans 34, Pittsburgh Steelers 31 in overtime

    In the 2002 regular season, the Tennessee Titans won the AFC South with a record of 11-5, while the Pittsburgh Steelers won the AFC North with a record of 10-5-1.

    These teams met each other in the Divisional Round, but we had some idea what might happen based on these teams meeting in Week 11 of the regular season, when Tennessee won 31-23.

    In the playoff game, both team took turns running off some streaks.

    The Titans opened up a 14-0 lead, only to see the Steelers come back with 20 unanswered points to take a 20-14 lead in the third quarter.

    The Titans were up 14-13 at halftime.

    In the third quarter, Steve McNair led the Titans on two straight touchdown drives to put them up 28-20. 

    In the fourth quarter, Tommy Maddox hit Hines Ward with a touchdown pass, and a successful two-point conversion tied the score at 28.

    Both teams hit a 40-plus-yard field goal down the stretch to send the game into a 31-all tie and overtime.

    In overtime, Joe Nedney nailed a 26-yard field goal to give the Titans their third win over the Steelers in less than one year.

    Steve McNair passed for 331 yards in the game.

    The Titans found a way to win, even though they lost the turnover battle four to one.

24) 1998 Divisional Playoff: Atlanta Squeaks by San Francisco

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    Date and Outcome: January 9, 1999; Atlanta Falcons 20, San Francisco 49ers 18

    The Atlanta Falcons won the NFC West in 1998 with a 14-2 record, while the San Francisco 49ers made the playoffs as a Wild Card with a record of 12-4.

    To give you an idea of how evenly matched these teams were, for the 1998 season, the Falcons had a plus point differential of 153, while the 49ers' margin was at 151.

    Not only that, but the teams had split their NFC West home-and-home schedule during the year, and this marked the dreaded third time that the teams would be playing each other in the same year. 

    The 49ers offense was loaded with Steve Young throwing to J.J. Stokes, Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens.

    The Falcons countered with Chris Chandler throwing to Terance Mathis and Tony Martin and handing the ball off to Jamal Anderson.

    As for the game, the Falcons jumped out to a 14-0 lead behind two touchdown runs by Jamal Anderson.

    The 49ers came back to cut the lead to 14-10 at halftime, thanks to a touchdown pass from Steve Young to Jerry Rice.

    Morten Anderson kicked two field goals in the second half to extend the lead to 20-10 in the fourth quarter.

    Young scrambled for a touchdown run in the fourth quarter, and a successful two-point conversion brought the score to 20-18, but that was as close as it got.

    Young passed for 288 yards, but the Falcons defense forced three turnovers to win the game.

23) 2006 Divisional Playoffs: New England Edges San Diego on Road

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    Date and Outcome: January 14, 2007; New England Patriots 24, San Diego Chargers 21

    In the 2006 season, the San Diego Chargers had the best record in the NFL at 14-2 and they also had the No. 1 point differential in the league with plus-189 points.

    The New England Patriots were the AFC East division winners at 12-4, but it was San Diego that seemed to hold all the aces.

    LaDainian Tomlinson was the league MVP and had scored 31 touchdowns that season. The Chargers had five players elected to the All-Pro team and had nine players going to the Pro Bowl.

    They were loaded.

    Chargers head coach Marty Schottenheimer had lost his previous five playoff games, but had LaDainian Tomlinson in his prime, and with the best record in the league and playing at home, they looked poised to end their playoff blues.

    In addition, the Chargers were a perfect 8-0 when playing at home that year.

    The Chargers jumped out to a 14-3 lead in the second quarter, but Tom Brady threw a touchdown pass to Jabar Gafney to cut the lead to 14-10 just before the half.

    In the third quarter, New England kicked a field goal to tighten things up at 14-13.

    In the fourth quarter, Tomlinson scored on a running play with less than five minutes left in the game to put the Chargers up 21-13.

    Brady was masterful over the final five minutes in leading the Patriots on two scoring drives to steal the game 24-21.

    The Chargers only had a total of 15 turnovers in the regular season but they had four in this game which helped to seal their fate.

    Nate Kaeding, one of the Chargers Pro Bowl players, tried to win the game with three seconds left in regulation, but his 54-yard field goal came up short.

22) 2007 Divisional Playoffs: Cowboys Learn Third Time Isn't Always a Charm

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    Date and Outcome: January 13, 2008; New York Giants 21, Dallas Cowboys 17

    In the 2007 NFL regular season, the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers were tied for the best regular season record in the NFC at 13-3.

    The Cowboys had swept the New York Giants in their NFC East home-and-away battles, beating the Giants by at least double digits in both meetings.

    But the Giants were able to get into the playoffs as a Wild Card, with a record of 10-6, and after they upset the Tampa Bay Bucs on the road in the Wild Card Round, it meant that the Cowboys would have to beat the Giants for that dreaded third time in a year if they wanted to move on in the playoffs.

    Amani Toomer opened and closed the scoring in the first half with two touchdown catches from Eli Manning.

    In between those scores, the Cowboys also notched two touchdowns, a touchdown run by Marion Barber and a Tony Romo touchdown pass to Terrell Owens.

    The teams went into the half tied at 14.

    In the second half, the Cowboys opened up the scoring with a Nick Folk field goal to take a 17-14 lead, which held up into the fourth quarter.

    Finally, the Giants scored on a one-yard dive by Brandon Jacobs to close out the scoring. The Giants made that touchdown stand up and won 21-17.

    There was only one turnover in the entire game, which was committed by Dallas.

    What really hurt the Cowboys was penalties, as they were flagged 11 times for 84 yards, compared to just three flags for the Giants for 28 yards.

    The Cowboys offense out-gained the Giants 336-230, but it wasn't enough to win.

21) 2005 Divisional Playoffs: Steelers Upset Peyton Manning

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    Date and Outcome: January 15, 2006; Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Indianapolis Colts 18

    In 2005, the Indianapolis Colts had the best regular season record in the NFL at 14-2 and the Colts were looking forward to their home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

    The Colts were a well-oiled machine led by Peyton Manning and their point differential of plus-192 was the best in the NFL.

    The Steelers won the AFC North with a 11-5 record, and their defense gave up the second-fewest points in the AFC. The AFC leader? The Indianapolis Colts.

    In Week 12 of the regular season, the Colts had hosted the Steelers and had beaten them rather handily, 26-7, limiting Ben Roethlisberger to a meager 133 passing yards.

    But they still have to play the games, right?

    In the playoffs, the Steelers jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, and shut down Peyton Manning and the Colts offense.

    The Colts managed a field goal in the second quarter to cut the lead to 14-3 at the half.

    Whatever halftime adjustments the Colts made, they didn't seem to be working, as the Steelers ended the third quarter up 21-3.

    Big Ben had thrown touchdown passes to Antwaan Randle El and to Heath Miller, and the Steelers also got a touchdown run from Jerome Bettis.

    The Steelers attempted to run out the clock in the fourth quarter, while Manning attempted a valiant comeback.

    The Colts did score 15 points in the fourth quarter to trim the margin to 21-18 but they couldn't come any closer.

    Manning hit Dallas Clark on a 50-yard pass and Edgerrin James scored on a running play to get the Colts close.

    The Steelers lost two turnovers in the game, while the Colts didn't commit any, but the Colts still lost anyway.

    The Colts were hurt by nine penalties in the game.

    The Steelers went on from this win and won the Super Bowl by winning three road playoff wins en route to winning the Super Bowl against Seattle.

20) 2009 Divisional Playoffs: N.Y. Jets Keep Winning Road Upsets

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    Date and Outcome: January 17, 2010; New York Jets 17, San Diego Chargers 14

    In 2009, the San Diego Chargers were the AFC West division winners with a record of 13-3.

    The New York Jets were only 9-7 that season, but their record was good enough for them to qualify as a Wild Card team.

    The Jets started off on the right foot when they scored an upset win in the Wild Card Game, by knocking off the AFC North division champion Cincinnati Bengals 24-14.

    The Chargers were coming in red-hot, winning their last 11 games.

    In the playoffs, the defenses took over in the first half, as there was only one score in the first 30 minutes.

    Philip Rivers hit Kris Wilson with a touchdown pass in the second quarter, so the Chargers had a 7-0 lead at halftime.

    In the third quarter, the Jets proceeded to reel off 17 straight points to take a 17-7 lead coming down the stretch of the fourth quarter.

    Philip Rivers scored from one yard out with 2:14 left in the game, to cut the lead to 17-14, but the Chargers couldn't recover the onside kick and the Jets were able to claim the only road win in the Divisional Round that year.

19) 1984 Divisional Playoffs: Redskins Lose First Home Playoff Game

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    Date and Outcome: December 30, 1984; Chicago Bears 23, Washington Redskins 19

    When the Washington Redskins were ready to host the Chicago Bears in the playoffs in 1984, they knew one fact that provided the team with great confidence: They had never lost a home playoff game in franchise history.

    In 1984, the Redskins were NFC East champions with an 11-5 record, while the Chicago Bears were the NFC Central champions with a record of 10-6.

    The Redskins opened up the scoring with a Mark Moseley field goal in the first quarter to take an early 3-0 lead.

    The Bears then managed to score the next 16 points thanks to two touchdowns and a missed extra point.

    Walter Payton threw a halfback option pass for a touchdown, and quarterback Steve Fuller hit Willie Gault for a 75-yard touchdown.

    John Riggins scored from one-yard out to make it 16-10 Bears, and then the Bears scored again on another touchdown pass from Fuller to Dennis McKinnon.

    John Riggins scored one more touchdown in the fourth quarter that cut the lead to 23-17.

    The Redskins were handed a safety when the Bears stepped out of the end zone to cut it to the final margin of 23-19, but the Redskins couldn't get any closer than that, and their home winning streak in the playoffs was history.

    The Redskins had 22 first downs in the game to only 13 for the Bears, but Chicago had more big plays and that was the difference in the game.

18) 1978 Divisional Playoffs: Danny White Replaces Staubach for Win

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    Date and Outcome: December 30, 1978; Dallas Cowboys 27, Atlanta Falcons 20

    In the 1978 regular season, the Dallas Cowboys were the NFC East division champions with a record of 12-4, while the Atlanta Falcons made it to the playoffs as a Wild Card with a record of just 9-7.

    The Cowboys must have really liked their chances for this game, considering that they had outscored their opponents by 176 points, while the Falcons, even though they were a playoff team, actually had a negative point differential of 50 points.

    The Falcons just weren't all that good.

    A good example of this was looking at what Steve Bartkowski did during the regular season, as he had a ratio of 10 touchdowns compared to 18 interceptions.

    In the playoff game, the Falcons jumped out to a lead at halftime of 20-13, thanks to a touchdown pass from Steve Bartkowski to Wallace Francis and a touchdown run by Bubba Bean.

    Roger Staubach started the game for Dallas, but after completing just 7-of-17 passes for 105 yards, he suffered a concussion and was pulled from the game in favor of backup Danny White.

    White proceeded to lead the Cowboys in a second half comeback.

    White threw a touchdown pass to Jackie Smith to tie the game at 20 all in the third quarter and then led the Cowboys to the winning score in the fourth quarter when Scott Laidlaw scored from one-yard out.

    There were a total of seven turnovers in the game, four of them belonged to the Cowboys.

    The Cowboys fumbled the ball six times, but luckily recovered half of their own fumbles.

17) 2008 Divisional Playoffs: Ravens Upset Titans on the Road

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    Date and Outcome: January 10, 2009; Baltimore Ravens 13, Tennessee Titans 10

    In the 2008 regular season, the Tennessee Titans owned the best NFL record, going 13-3 on the year.

    The Titans' plus point differential of 141 was tied for the best in the NFL, along with the Baltimore Ravens, who just happened to be the Titans opponent in the Divisional Round.

    The Ravens made the playoffs with a record of 11-5 as a Wild Card.

    The two teams had met in Week 5 of the regular season in Baltimore and the Titans prevailed 13-10.

    That game proved that the teams were basically even with each other, so it wasn't a complete shock that the teams would battle in the playoffs to another low-scoring affair, albeit the same score with just a different outcome.

    In the playoff game, Kerry Collins, the Titans quarterback, threw for 281 yards, but it wasn't enough, as the Titans only managed to put up 10 points on the tough Ravens defense.

    The Ravens were led by rookie Joe Flacco, who threw for just 161 yards, but the Ravens never turned the ball over. The Titans turned it over three times.

    The game was tied at 10 in the fourth quarter and wasn't decided until Matt Stover kicked a 43-yard field goal in the final minute of regulation to give the Ravens the win.

16) 2010 Divisional Round: Jets Upset Patriots for Third Straight Playoff Loss

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    Date and Outcome: January 16, 2011; New York Jets 28, New England Patriots 21

    In the 2010 regular season, the New England Patriots owned the best record in the league, with a 14-2 mark.

    The New York Jets qualified for the playoffs as a Wild Card, and their record was 11-5.

    One of the two Patriots losses on the year came on the road, when the Jets beat them in Week 2, 28-14.

    The Patriots were able to gain some revenge in Week 13 when they hosted the Jets and beat them up 45-3.

    Based on that most recent outing, most people figured the Patriots wouldn't have much trouble beating Rex Ryan and his troops again.

    The Patriots were motivated to end their two-game losing streak in the playoffs, and with all of the smack that the Jets were saying leading up to the game, the Patriots had plenty of bulletin board material to work with.

    As for the playoff game itself, the Jets were able to sack Tom Brady five times.

    The better quarterback on the day was the Jets' Mark Sanchez, who threw for three touchdown passes.

    The Jets owned a 14-3 lead at halftime by swarming the Patriots receivers and keeping Brady busy with their pass rush.

    Brady did bring the Pats back to a 14-11 deficit in the third quarter, but the Jets scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to kill any hopes New England had of coming back.

15) 1983 Divisional Playoffs: 49ers Win on Eddie Murray Missed FG

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    Date and Outcome: December 31, 1983; San Francisco 49ers 24, Detroit Lions 23

    In the 1983 regular season, the Detroit Lions won the NFC Central Division with a 9-7 record, while the San Francisco 49ers won the NFC West with a 10-6 record.

    The 49ers enjoyed a 139 point differential that year compared to the Lions' plus-61.

    In the playoff game, the 49ers jumped out in the second quarter to a 14-3 lead on touchdown runs by Roger Craig and Wendell Tyler.

    The Lions continued to fight and chip away at the lead.

    By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, the Lions actually gained their first lead of the game, 23-17, thanks to two straight touchdown runs by Billy Sims.

    Joe Montana led the 49ers to a fourth quarter comeback when he hit Freddie Solomon to give the 49ers a narrow 24-23 lead.

    But there was still time left on the clock, and the Lions drove down the field behind Gary Danielson to attempt a game-winning field goal for Eddie Murray.

    Murray had connected earlier in the game from 21, 37 and 54 yards away.

    The final attempt was from 43 yards away, and Murray missed the game-winning kick with just five seconds left in regulation.

    It is sort of amazing that the Lions had a chance to win this game.

    The Lions offense had no trouble moving the ball on the 49ers defense (Lions held the edge 421 to 291), but then you see that Danielson threw five interceptions in the game. The 49ers turned it over twice.

14) 1976 Divisional Playoffs: Raiders Win Due to a Penalty Call

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    Date and Outcome: December 16, 1976; Oakland Raiders 24, New England Patriots 21

    Can you believe that the Oakland Raiders were involved in a penalty-filled game (21 penalties) and the outcome of the game changed due to the Raiders getting a penalty break?

    Hard to believe, but true.

    The game in question was in the 1976 Divisional Round.

    The Raiders owned the best record from the regular season at 13-1, while the Patriots were tied for the AFC East lead with the Baltimore Colts at 11-3.

    The Patriots were holding on to a 21-17 lead in the final minute of regulation, when the Raiders were threatening to take the lead.

    The Raiders were faced with a 3rd-and-18, and quarterback Ken Stabler was forced to throw the ball away due to a big hit from Sugar Bear Hamilton, a Patriots defensive lineman.

    Stabler and the Raiders caught a huge break when Hamilton was flagged for roughing the passer, so instead of a 4th-and 18, the Raiders got a 1st-and-goal.

    Stabler was able to run it in for a touchdown from there, and the Raiders had their improbable win.

    The Raiders went on to win Super Bowl IX.

    One interesting aspect of this game was that the Patriots were the only team that beat the Raiders that year, back in Week 4, and quite handily at that, 48-17.

    In the Divisional Round game, the Patriots actually had a 21-10 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

    For what it is worth, the Patriots had 10 penalties for 83 yards and the Raiders had 11 penalties for 93 yards.

13) 1981 Divisional Playoffs: Brian Sipe Forces a Bad Pass

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    Date and Outcome: January 4, 1981; Oakland Raiders 14, Cleveland Browns 12 

    The 1980 NFL regular season was a little bit screwy because there were five teams that wound up tied for the best record in the AFC at 11-5.

    The five teams were Cleveland, Buffalo, Oakland, Houston and San Diego.

    Through the various tiebreakers, the Browns wound up playing the Raiders in the Divisional Round.

    In the first half, the Browns offense was shut out by the Raiders defense.

    The Browns scored on a defensive touchdown by Ron Bolton, who came up with a pick-six, but the Browns missed the extra point.

    The Raiders got a touchdown from Mark van Eeghen, so went in at halftime with a narrow 7-6 lead.

    In the third quarter, Don Cockcroft kicked two field goals to give the Browns a 12-7 lead.

    In the fourth quarter, van Eeghen scored another touchdown to put the Raiders up 14-12.

    The Browns had one last chance to win the game in regulation. Brian Sipe led the Browns down the field and had everything working in his favor. The Browns were deep in Raiders territory at the 13-yard line. All they had to do was get close enough to kick the game winning field goal without turning the ball over.

    The Browns called Red Right 88.

    Sipe threw a pass into the end zone to try to hit Ozzie Newsome, and the Raiders intercepted the pass, killing the Browns final chance.

    It wasn't the Browns only mistake, as they committed four turnovers in the game to the Raiders' three.

    If Sipe just threw the ball away and they kicked the winning field goal, history would have to change since the Raiders went on to win the Super Bowl that year.

    It should be noted that the weather was terrible, as the wind chill factor brought the temperature down to 36 degrees below zero.

12) 2005 Divisional Playoffs: Steve Smith Sparks Carolina

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    Date and Outcome: January 16, 2006; Carolina Panthers 29, Chicago Bears 21

    In 2005, the Chicago Bears and the Carolina Panthers each won their respective divisions with an identical record of 11-5.

    The biggest difference between the teams was that the Panthers had a better offense and the Bears had a better defence.

    The Bears were ranked No. 1 in points allowed for the year with just 202 points given up.

    No other team was even close to the Bears defensively.

    Steve Smith turned out to be a player that the Bears had trouble with, however.

    Smith caught 12 passes for 218 yards and two touchdowns.

    He also rushed the ball three times for another 26 yards for good measure.

    Smith was able to burn the Bears secondary repeatedly, and Jake Delhomme had no problem finding Smith running free down the field.

11) 1999 Division Playoffs: Kurt Warner Leads Furious Comeback

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    Date and Outcome: January 16, 2000; St. Louis Rams 49, Minnesota Vikings 37

    The Rams were the NFC West champs at 13-3 in the regular season in 1999, while the Vikings were a Wild Card entry from the NFC Central with a record of 10-6.

    The game did not go as planned for the Rams, as the Vikings went into the half with a 17-14 lead.

    Kurt Warner came out for the third quarter on fire and led the Rams to five consecutive touchdown drives.

    The 35 unanswered points put the game away for St. Louis as they opened up a 49-17 lead.

    The Vikings rallied in the fourth quarter to make the score respectable, but the surge by Warner was too much for the Vikings to overcome.

    All told, Warner threw five touchdown passes, throwing scoring strikes to the following receivers: Isaac Bruce, Marshall Faulk, Jeff Robinson, Ryan Tucker and Roland Williams.

    That is the kind of production you expect from the greatest show on turf.

10) 1979 Divisional Playoff: Vernon Perry Picks Dan Fouts Four Times

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    Date and Outcome: December 29, 1979; Houston Oilers 17, San Diego Chargers 14

    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 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.

    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 out-gained the Oilers 380 to 259, and had a big edge in first downs 25 to 15.

    The play of Vernon Perry more than made up the difference.

    The Chargers had five total turnovers.

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

9) 1974 Divisional Playoffs: Ken Stabler's Heave Beats Miami

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    Date and Outcome: December 21, 1974; Oakland Raiders 28, Miami Dolphins 26

    The Raiders had the best record in the AFC at 12-2, and the Dolphins, winners of the AFC East, were one game back at 11-3.

    The Dolphins had won the Super Bowl in both 1972 and 1973, so were looking to make it three in a row.

    The Dolphins were nursing a lead late in the fourth quarter, 26-21, with less than 30 seconds remaining in the game, and the Raiders driving to try to take the lead.

    Ken Stabler was about to get sacked, so he threw up shot put-type of pass towards the end zone.

    There were five Dolphins defenders in the immediate area, but somehow the ball wound up in the hands of Clarence Davis, who hung on and ended the Dolphins reign.

    Ken Stabler wound up with four touchdown passes to four different receivers: Fred Biletnikoff, Charlie Smith, Cliff Branch and Clarence Davis.

    Bob Griese threw a touchdown pass to Paul Warfield and got a kick return touchdown from Nat Moore.

8) 1989 Divisional Playoffs: Browns Edge Bills in Shootout

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    Date and Outcome: January 6, 1990; Cleveland Browns 34, Buffalo Bills 30

    The Buffalo Bills were on the verge of starting to become a good football team, but just barely won the AFC East division title with a record of 9-7, while the Browns edged out the Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Oilers to win the AFC Central with a record of 9-6-1.

    Neither defense proved to be very good, as both teams scored in every quarter of the game.

    The Browns opened up a 10-point lead three different times in the game, and each time the Bills scored, the Browns answered with a score of their own.

    Jim Kelly threw three touchdown passes, hitting Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed and James Lofton.

    Webster Slaughter caught two long passes from Bernie Kozar for touchdowns and Eric Metcalf returned a kickoff for a 90-yard touchdown.

    The Bills narrowed the Browns lead to 34-30 late in the fourth quarter on a pass from Kelly to Thurman Thomas, but the extra point failed, leaving the Bills four points down.

    They drove down the field with a chance to win the game, but the pass bounced off of Ronnie Harmon's hand in the end zone and the Bills' rally came up just short.

7) 1989 Divisional Playoffs: L.A. Rams Win in Overtime

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    Date and Outcome: January 7, 1990; Los Angeles Rams 19, New York Giants 13

    In the 1989 regular season, the New York Giants won the NFC East division with a record of 12-4, while the Los Angeles Rams made the playoffs as a Wild Card with a record of 11-5.

    Phil Simms led the Giants on two scoring drives in the first quarter that were capped of by Raul Allegre field goals to take a 6-0 lead.

    Jim Everett hit Willie "Flipper" Anderson for a touchdown pass before halftime, and the Rams went into the locker room with a narrow 7-6 lead.

    The Giants took a 13-7 lead in the third quarter thanks to an Ottis Anderson touchdown run but watched in the fourth quarter as the Rams came back to tie the game in the fourth quarter behind two field goals from Mike Lansford.

    The final field goal sent the game into overtime, which is when Jim Everett again found Anderson for another touchdown pass, and the Rams completed their road win, 19-13.

6) 1975 Divisional Playoffs: The Creation of the Hail Mary

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    Date and Outcome: December 28, 1975; Dallas Cowboys 17, Minnesota Vikings 14

    The Minnesota Vikings finished the regular season in 1975 with a record of 12-2, which was tied for best record in the NFC with the Los Angeles Rams.

    The Cowboys had finished the year at 10-4.

    The Minnesota Vikings had seemingly kept control of this Divisional Round game against the Dallas Cowboys as they watched the final minute ticking off the clock.

    The Vikings were clinging to a 14-10 lead and Dallas could only score a touchdown to take the lead.

    The Vikings dropped back in coverage as there was less than 30 seconds left in the game.

    The clock was down to 20 seconds when Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach launched a deep pass to Drew Pearson, who was sprinting down the sidelines.

    Pearson made the catch to score the winning touchdown, and just like that the Vikings had one more game to add to their postseason miseries.

    It was probably fitting that the Cowboys won since they out-gained the Vikings 356 to 215.

5) 1972 Divisional Playoffs: Cowboys Recover Onside Kick to Win

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    Date and Outcome: December 23, 1972; Dallas Cowboys 30, San Francisco 49ers 28

    This was a classic playoff game because the 49ers were thought to be an inferior team that year to the Dallas Cowboys and came oh so close to pulling off a major upset.

    The 49ers had built up a commanding 28-13 lead entering the fourth quarter, based on the strength of three one-yard touchdown runs by Larry Schreiber.

    The 49ers had to like their chances when they were up 15 points.

    But the Cowboys, to their credit, kept chipping away.

    They got a touchdown pass from Craig Morton to Lance Alworth, and two fourth-quarter touchdown passes from Roger Staubach to Billy Park and Ron Sellers.

    The Cowboys wound up scoring the final 17 points of the game to pull out the win.

    Morton had been the main QB for Dallas, since Staubach was nursing a shoulder injury, but with the game on the line, the Cowboys summoned Staubach to pull the game out, which he did. 

    However, it should be noted that following the first touchdown in the fourth quarter, with less than two minutes remaining in the game, the Cowboys had to kick an onside kick.

    Luckily for them, they recovered the kick and scored the winning touchdown in the final minute of the game.

4) 1977 Division Playoffs: Raiders Win in Double Overtime

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    Date and Outcome: December 24, 1977; Oakland Raiders 37, Baltimore Colts 31

    Ken Stabler dominated the matchup with Bert Jones, as "The Snake" threw for 345 yards compared to 164 for Jones.

    Still, the Colts found a way to hang with the Raiders all day thanks to a Bruce Laird pick-six and a kickoff return touchdown from Marshall Johnson.

    The game really belonged to Raiders tight end Dave Casper who caught three touchdown passes (none of them longer than 10 yards) but also caught the key 42-yard pass that is referred to as "Ghost to the Post" that set up his third touchdown catch of the game.

    That also happened to be the game-winning play in double overtime.

3) 1971 Divisional Playoffs: Miami Double Overtime Christmas Day Game

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    Date and Outcome: December 25, 1971; Miami Dolphins 27,  Kansas City Chiefs 24 in Double Overtime

    As hard as we could try to find a film clip of this game, we found this 9:17 video from NFL Films that includes footage of the longest playoff game in NFL history.

    It is a quality film, so if you are willing to sit through it, you will get a great blast of 1970s NFL history.

    This could also be called "The Ed Podolak Game" because Podolak had an amazing day.

    In total, he amassed 350 all-purpose yards.

    Podolak did a little bit of everything:

    He rushed 17 times for 85 yards and a touchdown.

    He received eight passes for 110 yards and he picked up another 154 yards returning kickoffs.

    One of his returns went for 78 yards towards the end of regulation that set the Chiefs up to win the game in the final minute, but Jan Stenerud missed the kick to send it to overtime.

    The game featured quarterbacks Len Dawson versus Bob Griese.

    Both teams had a chance to win in the first overtime, but each team suffered a missed field goal.

    Finally, in the second overtime session, the Dolphins came away with the win when Garo Yepremian hit a 37-yard field goal.

2) 1972 Divisional Playoffs: The Immaculate Reception

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    Date and Outcome: December 23, 1972; Pittsburgh Steelers 13, Oakland Raiders 7

    We included the YouTube video of "The Immaculate Reception" so that football fans could relive that play one more time.

    The situation was the 1972 Divisional Round game in the AFC, and the Pittsburgh Steelers had been contained for the majority of the game by the tough Oakland Raiders defense.

    The game was a defensive struggle throughout, as the teams went into halftime locked in a scoreless game.

    The Steelers finally kicked a field goal in the third quarter by Roy Gerela to take a 3-0 lead.

    Gerela added another field goal in the fourth quarter to make it 6-0, and then Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler finally got Oakland on the scoreboard thanks to a 30-yard run that put the Raiders up 7-6.

    That lead held up until the waning seconds of the game, when Bradshaw heaved up the pass and the rest is history.

    The Immaculate Reception covered 60 yards, for what it is worth.

1) 1981 Divisional Playoffs: The Epic in Miami

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    Date and Outcome: January 2, 1982; San Diego Chargers 41, Miami Dolphins 38 in overtime

    In what has to go down as one of the most classic playoff games in NFL playoff history, the San Diego Chargers defeated the Miami Dolphins 41-38 in overtime.

    Kellen Winslow had a game for the ages, catching 13 passes for 166 yards and a touchdown.

    He also made a huge play on special teams when he blocked a field goal in the final seconds of regulation that forced the game to go into overtime.

    Winslow played the game with a pinched nerve in his shoulder and had to be carried off the field due to exhaustion.

    Chargers kicker Rolf Benirschke opened the scoring and he closed it as well, kicking the game-winning 29-yard field goal to end the long contest.

    This game is also known as "The Epic in Miami."

    It is good enough to hold our No. 1 rank for this list.