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Greatest Moments in NFL Playoff History: Moments 21-30

Posted on January 06, 2010 by A.J. Foss
The defending Super Bowl Champion Dallas Cowboys seemed headed for an early playoff exit until Roger Staubach brought them back against the San Francisco 49ers in the 1972 playoffs.

The defending Super Bowl Champion Dallas Cowboys seemed headed for an early playoff exit until Roger Staubach brought them back against the San Francisco 49ers in the 1972 playoffs.

As we dig further into our countdown of the top 50 moments in NFL Playoff history (since the start of the Super Bowl era in 1966), we explore some games that have become an important part of football lore for propelling great players and teams toward Super Bowl glory.

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30. 1972 NFC Divisional Playoff-Cowboys vs. 49ers

The legend of “Captain Comeback” begins with in this game as Roger Staubach replaces starting quarterback Craig Morton late in the third quarter and leads the Cowboys to 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter for a 30-28 comeback win over the San Francisco 49ers.

The winning score comes with 52 seconds left when Staubach finds Ron Sellers for a 10-yard touchdown.

29. 1977 AFC Championship Game-Raiders vs. Broncos
Late in the third quarter and trailing 7-3, the Raiders force a fumble when safety Jack Tatum hits Broncos running back Rob Lytle at the 2-yard line, knocking the ball loose.

The ball is picked up by Raiders nose tackle Mike McCoy who begins running down the field for an apparent touchdown that would give the Raiders the lead, when whistles are blown to stop the play.

The referees ruled that Lytle was down before the fumble even though he was clearly still in the air when he fumbled.

The reversal of fortune gave the Broncos the ball at the 1-yard line where Jon Keyworth ran in for a 1-yard touchdown to extend the Broncos’ lead to 14-3.

The Broncos would eventually win the game 20-17 to advance to their first Super Bowl.

28. 1979 AFC Divisional Playoff-Oilers vs. Chargers
Despite missing running back Earl Campbell, quarterback Dan Pastorini, and wide receiver Ken Burrough to injuries, the Houston Oilers knock off the top-seeded San Diego Chargers 17-14, thanks in large part to rookie safety Vernon Perry who makes a NFL playoff record 4 interceptions and blocks a field goal.

Leonard Marshall's hit on Joe Montana propelled the Giants to Super Bowl XXV and basically ended Montana's career with the 49ers.

Leonard Marshall's hit on Joe Montana propelled the Giants to Super Bowl XXV and basically ended Montana's career with the 49ers.

27. 1990 NFC Championship Game-Giants vs. 49ers
Giants kicker Matt Bahr kicks five field goals, including a 42-yarder as time expires, to give New York a 15-13 upset win over the San Francisco 49ers, ending the 49ers’ chances of winning 3 Super Bowls in a row.

The signature moment of this game however is when 49ers quarterback Joe Montana is sacked viciously by Giants defensive end Leonard Marshall, knocking him out of the game early in the fourth quarter.

Montana would not take another snap at quarterback for nearly two years.

26. 2007 NFC Championship Game-Giants vs. Packers
Seventeen years to the day of their upset win of the 49ers, the Giants pull off another upset on the road with another game-winning field goal.

This time, the hero is Lawrence Tynes, who despite missing two field goals in the fourth quarter that would have given the Giants the win, makes a 47-yard field goal in the -1 degree weather and in overtime to give the Giants a 23-20 win over the Green Bay Packers, ending the Brett Favre era in Green Bay.

25. 1976 AFC Divisional Playoff-Patriots vs. Raiders

Twenty-five years before the infamous “tuck rule” incident, the New England Patriots and the Oakland Raiders were involved in another playoff game surrounded in controversy.

In the last minute of the game and the Patriots leading 21-17, nose tackle Ray “Sugar Bear” Hamilton hits Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler just as he throws an incomplete pass on 3rd-and-18 at the Patriots 28.

But Hamilton is called for a roughing the passer and instead of facing a 4th-and-18, the Raiders get 15 yards and an automatic first down.

A few plays later, Stabler runs in for a 1-yard touchdown run with 10 seconds left to give the Raiders a 24-21 win over the Patriots.

Despite being sandwiched between two defenders, Terrell Owens caught the game winning touchdown for the 49ers against Green Bay in the 1998 Playoffs.

Despite being sandwiched between two defenders, Terrell Owens caught the game winning touchdown for the 49ers against Green Bay in the 1998 Playoffs.

24. 1998 NFC Wild Card Game-Packers vs. 49ers
49ers wide receiver Terrell Owens redeems himself for dropping four passes and losing a fumble to catch the game-winning touchdown, a 25-yard pass from Steve Young with three seconds left, for a 30-27 win over the Green Bay Packers.

Owens’ heroics would not have been possible if officials had not ruled that Jerry Rice’s knee was down on a fumble, even though he clearly was not down, a few plays before Owens’ game-winning catch.

23. 1980 NFC Divisional Playoff-Cowboys vs. Falcons
The Cowboys score three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to erase a 24-10 deficit to defeat the Atlanta Falcons 30-27.

The winning score comes with 47 seconds left when quarterback Danny White throws a 23-yard touchdown pass to Drew Pearson.

22. 1981 AFC Championship Game-Chargers vs. Bengals “The Freezer Bowl”
One week after defeating the Miami Dolphins in the heat and humidity of Miami, the San Diego Chargers travel to Cincinnati where they played the Bengals in -9 temperatures with a wind chill of -59, the coldest wind chill at a NFL game.

The Bengals overcome the Chargers and the weather as quarterback Ken Anderson throws two touchdown passes in a 27-7 win to give the Bengals their first trip to the Super Bowl.

Dan Reeves and the 1998 Atlanta Falcons flapped their way to an improbable victory over the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game.

Dan Reeves and the 1998 Atlanta Falcons flapped their way to an improbable victory over the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game.

21. 1998 NFC Championship Game-Falcons vs. Vikings
Vikings kicker Gary Anderson misses a 38-yard field goal, his first missed field goal or extra point of the entire season, with 2:07 left in regulation that would have increased Minnesota’s 27-20 lead over the Atlanta Falcons to 10 points and essentially icing the game.

Instead, the Falcons were given new life by the missed kick and took advantage of it by driving 71 yards in eight plays, culminating with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Chris Chandler to Terrance Mathis with 49 seconds left and tying the game at 27.

The game went into overtime where the Falcons drove 70 yards in seven plays to set up Morten Andersen’s game-winning 38-yard field goal that sent the Falcons to their first Super Bowl ever with a 30-27 overtime victory over the 15-1 Minnesota Vikings.

Check Out Earlier Entries in the Top 50:

Great Playoff Moments: 41-50

Great Playoff Moments: 31-40

Check back on Thursday for moments 11-20.


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