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5 Most Memorable NFL Divisional Playoff Games of All Time

Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Buffalo Bills in AFC Divisional Playoff game on Jan. 23, 2022

Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen engaged in a classic duel in Sunday's AFC Divisional Playoff game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills that featured a frantic final two minutes of regulation and wasn't decided until overtime

This past weekend's Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs was one of the best postseason weekends in the league's rich history. All four games came down to the last play. Two now hold the distinction of being the greatest Divisional Round games ever played.

Before we dive in, let’s give a shout to a few honorable mentions.

Miami Dolphins 27, Kansas City Chiefs 24 (2OT)
Dec. 25, 1971 — Kansas City, Mo.

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 was only three hours and 21 minutes, but the outcry of how it cut into Christmas Day prompted the NFL to avoid scheduling another game on this day until 1989.

Oakland Raiders 28, Miami Dolphins 26
Dec. 21, 1974 – Oakland, Calif.

The two-time defending champion Dolphins led the Raiders 26-21 with two minutes to play, but quarterback Ken Stabler drove Oakland to Miami's 8-yard line. There, he found no open receivers and as he was being pulled down by defensive end Vern Den Herder, he threw a duck of a pass to Clarence Davis in triple coverage. Davis managed to wrest the ball from a sea of hands of Dolphin defenders for the lead. On the next possession, linebacker Phil Villapiano intercepted Bob Griese’s pass, ending Miami's three-peat homes. The game is known today as "The Sea of Hands."

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.

Now, without further ado, here are the five most memorable divisional playoff games of all time.

5. Los Angeles Rams 30, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27

Jan. 23, 2022 – Tampa, Fla.

The Rams built a 27-3 third-quarter lead over the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers and the postmortem analysis of Tampa Bay began. Then Los Angeles blew every opportunity to put the game away from an errant snap to a missed field goal while Tom Brady reminded fans and pundits to never count him out. Running back Cam Akers fumbled a second time late in the game to give the Bucs the ball on the Rams' 30. Facing fourth-and-inches on the 9-yard line, Brady handed off to Leonard Fournette, who raced into the end zone to tie the game. Los Angeles got the ball back with 42 seconds left and instead of playing to go into overtime, Matthew Stafford hit Cooper Kupp with a 20-yard pass and then found him again with a beautiful 44-yard connection to bring them to Tampa Bay’s 12-yard line. Stafford spiked the ball with four seconds remaining and then Matt Gay kicked a 30-yard field goal as time expired.

4. 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.

3. San Diego Chargers 41, Miami Dolphins 38 (OT)

Jan. 2, 1982 — Miami

The "Epic in Miami" also was 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.

2. Kansas City Chiefs 42, Buffalo Bills 36 (OT)

Jan. 23, 2022 – Kansas City, Mo.

When you have two quarterbacks in Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes playing their best, you can expect a great game. Two teams scoring 25 points and changing the lead four times in the final two minutes of regulation is nothing short of extraordinary. The Chiefs led 26-21 when Allen hit Gabriel Davis with a 27-yard touchdown pass and then connected with Stefon Diggs for the two-point conversion to take a 29-26 lead with 1:54 remaining. Mahomes responded with a 64-yard scoring strike to Tyreek Hill to put Kansas City back up 33-29 with 1:02 to go. Allen then seemed to clinch the win with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Davis with just 13 seconds left, but Mahomes completed two passes covering 44 yards in 10 seconds and Harrison Butker kicked a 49-yarder to send the game into overtime. The Chiefs got the ball first and Mahomes drove his team 75 yards down the field in eight plays, the last being an eight-yard touchdown pass to Travis Kelce in the end zone for the win.

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.

— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports' Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.