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NFL Playoffs: Greatest Wild Card Games of All Time

Wild Card Weekend of the NFL Playoffs is around the corner, it's a good time to look back at the best games from this round of the postseason.

We've chosen five great Wild Card games to break down ahead of this weekend's action.

Denver Broncos 29, Pittsburgh Steelers 23 (2012)

The most iconic moment of Tim Tebow’s career in Denver also happened to be his last play as a Bronco. At 8-8, the Broncos barely made it into the playoffs during the 2011/12 season and had the unlucky draw of facing the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were 12-4 in the regular season.

Tebow and the Broncos surged to a 20-6 lead at halftime which took everybody for surprise. However, the Steelers fought back and tied the game at 23-23 before the clock ran out. That meant only one thing - overtime.

The Broncos got the ball first in overtime, and that’s when Tebow cemented himself as a Denver legend. On the first play, Tebow faked the handoff and then connected with Demaryius Thomas for an 80-yard touchdown pass to win the game. It was mayhem in Denver after that.

Tennessee Titans 22, Buffalo Bills 16 (2000)

The Titans and Bills both came into this game after a fantastic regular season and an NFL Championship appearance in mind. This Wild Card matchup was back and forth the entire game until Steve Christie made a 41-yard field goal to give the Bills a 16-15 lead with just a few seconds remaining in the game.

Tennessee had 16 seconds left after Christie made the field goal. However, the Titans were prepared for this exact scenario. 

On the kickoff, Lorenzo Neal was the Titan who fielded the kick, and he immediately got the ball to Frank Wycheck instead. Wycheck began running up the sideline and it was clear that he wasn’t going to get too far with the Bills special teams just seconds away from a tackle.

That’s when the unthinkable happened. Wycheck turned around and threw the ball to Kevin Dyson, who was standing on the other side of the field waiting for the pass. Dyson caught the ball and ran it all the way for a touchdown, giving the Titans the win in the Wild Card Round. The game became known as the "Music City Miracle" thanks to that play.

Arizona Cardinals 51, Green Bay Packers 45 (2010)

This game set the record for the most points scored in a Wild Card game. Kurt Warner was in his final year of his career going up against Aaron Rodgers, who was in his second year as Green Bay's starting QB. 

The two elite quarterbacks put on a show for the fans as Warner and Rodgers combined for nine touchdown passes in the game.

The game was tied 45-45 going into overtime. The Packers won the toss and that gave Rodgers and Green Bay a chance to win it all. On a crucial third down, Rodgers was sacked as he threw and the ball came out.

It was a race to the ball, and the winner was Cardinals linebacker Karlos Dansby. Dansby picked up the ball and ran it back for a touchdown - ending Green Bay’s season.

Indianapolis Colts 45, Kansas City Chiefs 44 (2014)

One of the best games of Andrew Luck’s career came in the playoffs. The Colts and Chiefs were matched up in the Wild Card Round and it didn’t take long for the Chiefs to get rolling as they were winning 38-10 in the third quarter. Luck seemed to be out of luck.

However, the Colts got the momentum after a few touchdown passes from Luck, and the quarterback even ran it in himself to get it to a one score game. Even with those three touchdowns, Indianapolis still found itself losing late in the fourth quarter.

Luck was on the Colts’ side in that game as Luck connected with T.Y. Hilton for a 64-yard touchdown pass that won the Colts the game. It was a historic moment for Luck and the Colts, who rallied from a 28-point deficit to win the game. It was the largest comeback in franchise history, too.

Buffalo Bills 41, Houston Oilers 38 (1993)

For years, it was the biggest comeback in NFL history, and it happened in a playoff game. Buffalo went into the game with backup QB Frank Reich under center with Hall of Famer starter Jim Kelly injured, and things were going from bad to worse for the Bills as they found themselves down 35-3 in the third quarter. 

Buffalo’s NFL Championship dream seemed to be over before it started.

That’s when “The Comeback” started. Buffalo scored 35 unanswered points in just over a quarter to get back in the game. However, the Bills still weren’t winning until Steve Christie trotted onto the field. Christie nailed the game-winning 32-yard field goal to win the game 41-38 and cap the largest comeback in NFL history.

That record would be broken by the Minnesota Vikings in 2022 as they rallied back from down 33 points to beat the Colts. Still, “The Comeback” remains one of the most iconic playoff games in NFL history.

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