5 Most Memorable NFL Divisional Playoff Games of All Time

Most of these games are so memorable that they have names

Wild Card Weekend is over, and eight teams remain in the NFL's Divisional Round. So many great moments have happened in this round over the decades that many of the games where they took place have names.

 

So before we delve into this list, I wanted to give an honorable mention shout-out to the "Sea of Hands," "Ghost to the Post," "Fog Bowl," and "Drive II." Now, without further ado, here are the five most memorable divisional playoff games of all time.

 

5. Miami Dolphins 27, Kansas City Chiefs 24

Dec. 25, 1971 — Kansas City, Mo.

With the 14-game schedule, 1971 marked the first year the NFL ever played on Christmas Day. The Chiefs and Dolphins battled back and forth and were tied 24-24 at the end of regulation. After a scoreless first overtime, they went into a second one. Finally, with 7:20 left in the second overtime period, Miami’s Garo Yepremian kicked the game-winning field goal. The game only took three hours and 21 minutes long, but the outcry of how it cut into Christmas Day prompted the NFL to avoid scheduling another game on this day until 1989.

 

4. Dallas Cowboys 17, Minnesota Vikings 14

Dec. 28, 1975 — Bloomington, Minn.

A one-yard touchdown run by Brent McClanahan put the Vikings up 14-10 with 5:24 left in the game. After failed possessions by both teams, the Cowboys got the ball back and quarterback Roger Staubach heaved a pass from the 50-yard line which Drew Pearson caught on the five-yard line and trotted into the end zone. The Cowboys sacked Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton twice on the final two plays and won. After the game, Staubach described his feeling on the pass by saying, "I closed my eyes and said a Hail Mary," and the expression became synonymous with desperate long bomb passes.

 

 

3. Minnesota Vikings 29, New Orleans Saints 24

Jan. 14, 2018 — Minneapolis

Minnesota jumped out to a 17-0 lead, but New Orleans’ offense began to click in the second half. Saints quarterback Drew Brees hit Alvin Kamara with a 14-yard touchdown pass to go up 21-20 with three minutes left in the game. The teams then traded field goals, and New Orleans took a 24-23 lead with 25 seconds to go. The Vikings faced third and 10 on their own 39-yard line with 10 seconds on the clock, and Case Keenum threw a pass to Stefon Diggs, who made a leaping catch on the right sideline. Saints safety Marcus Williams missed a tackle on him and ran into his teammate, and Diggs nearly lost his balance before standing upright and racing into the end zone as time expired. The "Minneapolis Miracle" marked the first time a playoff game has been won with a touchdown on the final play of regulation.

 

 

2. San Diego Chargers 41, Miami Dolphins 38

Jan. 2, 1982 — Miami

The "Epic in Miami" was also referred to by Sports Illustrated as the "Game No One Should Have Lost." San Diego's Air Coryell offense scored two touchdowns and Wes Chandler returned a punt 58 yards for a score as the Chargers took a 24-0 first-quarter lead. Dolphins coach Don Shula replaced David Woodley with backup quarterback Don Strock, and he led Miami on a comeback and tied the game in the third quarter. The teams matched each other touchdown-for-touchdown, and Dan Fouts threw a blind scoring pass to James Brooks to tie the game at 38-38 with 58 seconds left. Miami drove down to the Chargers 26-yard line and kicker Uwe von Schamann attempted a field goal that was deflected by Kellen Winslow, sending the game into overtime. Both teams missed field goals, but San Diego finally prevailed when Rolf Benirschke booted a 29-yarder after nearly 14 minutes of overtime. Winslow finished with a playoff record 13 receptions for 166 yards, battling through injuries and dehydration.

 

1. Pittsburgh Steelers 13, Oakland Raiders 7

Dec. 23, 1972 — Pittsburgh

Oakland led Pittsburgh 7-6 with 30 seconds to go when Steeler quarterback Terry Bradshaw threw a pass to John Fuqua. The ball either bounced off Fuqua’s hand or Raiders safety Jack Tatum's helmet. Either way, Pittsburgh running back Franco Harris scooped the ball up and ran into the end zone. If it only touched Fuqua, then the pass would have been incomplete — and many Oakland fans still contend that is what happened. However, there was no video evidence to prove that and the refs ruled that Harris scored a touchdown. Today, the "Immaculate Reception" is the most famous play in NFL history, and also one of the most controversial.

 

 

(Top photo courtesy of Getty Images)

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