There are so many to choose from, but here they are. The Top 10 greatest Divisional Playoff games in NFL history:
10) 2005 Steelers at Colts
This was supposed to be the Colts’ turn to win the Super Bowl. The Patriots were eliminated and Peyton Manning’s Colts were just too good on both sides of the ball.
Late in the game, Jerome Bettis fumbled deep in Colts territory, but Ben Roethlisberger saved the touchdown. The Colts had a chance to tie the game, down 21-18, but Adam Vanderjagt missed (and badly I might add) the field goal, wide right.
9) 1988 Eagles at Bears – “The Fog Bowl”
It was a tight battle of mostly field goals, but the weather made this game one of the strangest games in playoff history.
The fog was so thick that the announcers had a near impossible job of calling the game.
The Bears won 20-12 and though it’s been nearly 30 years, we have yet to see another game quite like this.
8) 1972 Raiders at Steelers – The Immaculate Reception
Most people are used to seeing the name of this game at the top of most lists for greatest moment, etc, but though the game deserves a place, it’s not the greatest divisional playoff game of all time.
In a low-scoring defensive affair, it would be the Raiders who would mount a drive late in the 4th, down 6-0. Ken Stabler ran for a beautiful 30 yard touchdown run to put the Raiders up 7-6 and it seemed bleak for the Steelers.
Terry Bradshaw tried to hit John Fuqua downfield, but the ball hit him and bounced right to Franco Harris, who took the ball all the way for a game-winning score, 13-7.
7) 1971 Chiefs at Dolphins
It is still the longest game in Pro Football history and it was a great one. What gets forgotten is the effort of Chiefs’ running back Ed Podolack. Podolack finished the game with 351 all-purpose yards on rushing, receiving and kickoff/punt returns and two touchdowns.
The Dolphins won the game 27-24 in two overtimes.
6) 1977 Raiders at Colts – “The Ghost to the Post”
This is another game doesn’t get enough credit. The Colts and Raiders had quite the fight, trading blows for blows and finally a 31-31 tie at the end of regulation.
This kept up until the second overtime when Dave Casper made a huge over-the-shoulder catch and ultimately won the game with the touchdown, but you will rarely find this game not in a top 10 all time divisional discussion.
5) 2011 Saints at 49ers – “The Catch III”
It was Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers’ first playoff game and they did not disappoint. The 49ers got up early and after the Saints fought back, it was on.
A shootout was happening after both the 49ers and Saints kept matching each other’s score.
After the Saints got up 32-29, the 49ers needed to mount one more drive. Alex Smith found Vernon davis on a huge gain to the Saints’ 15, where Vernon Davis would make a huge catch to vault the 49ers into the NFC Championship game.
4) 2012 Ravens at Broncos
The Broncos seemed to be on their way to the Super Bowl and the Ravens were supposed to go quietly into the night. But none of this was to be as Jacoby Jones caught a beauty of a touchdown pass, in tight coverage.
The Ravens woud intercept Brady late in the game and kick a game-winner, 38-35 in two overtimes!
3) 1986 Jets at Browns
This was a back and forth shootout but the Browns made more plays. Bernie Kosar threw for 489 yards and when Freeman McNeil rushed for a 25 yard touchdown to put the Jets up 20-10, later in the game, it seemed like The Browns’ dream of playoff success was fading away.
The Browns were able to tie the game and force overtime. After Browns kicker Mark Mosely missed a field goal to win, he made up for by winning the game.
2) 1974 Dolphins at Raiders – “The Sea of Hands game”
The Dolphins seemed like they’d win after Benny Malone scored to give Miami a 26-21 lead late in the game.
The Raiders would mount a drive and as Stabler was going down, He threw the ball to Clarence Davis, who was well covered, and it was an amazing catch. This game is one of the very best.
1) Dolphins at Chargers – “The Epic in Miami”
This is still arguably the greatest playoff game in NFL history.
The Chargers got out to a 24-0 lead and it seemed over. The Dolphins would bench quarterback David Woodley in favor of Don Strock and everything changed. They would respond and tie the game after a “hook and ladder” play right before the half and a third quarter score.
It was an amazing back and forth game that even had blocked field goals (two by Kellen Winslow). The Chargers would win on a field goal in overtime 41-38.
It’s the best playoff game I’ve ever seen and if you don’t believe me, watch the video.