After sneaking into the playoffs for the first time in their eight-year history, the Seahawks traveled to a rainy Orange Bowl for a date with standout rookie Dan Marino and the Dolphins. Seattle trailed 20-17 with four minutes remaining in regulation -- but Krieg hooked up with Steve Largent on a pair of long completions to set up the go-ahead touchdown. Miami fumbled the ensuing kickoff, Seattle's Norm Johnson tacked on three insurance points and the Seahawks, improbably, flew into the AFC title game.
2 of 12Tony Duffy/Getty Images
Wilson passed for 298 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the Vikings stunned the 49ers, who had stormed into postseason with the league's best record. Minnesota sprinted to a 20-3 halftime lead and never looked back. Wilson's biggest benefactor was wideout Anthony Carter, who caught 10 balls for a playoff-record 227 yards on the soggy Candlestick Park turf. How desperate did the Niners get? Bill Walsh benched Joe Montana -- for the first time in nine years -- midway through the third quarter.
3 of 12George Rose/Getty Images
With victories in 11 of their first 13 contests, New York entered the homestretch with a full head of steam. But when Phil Simms suffered a season-ending broken foot in Week 14, the fatalists in Gotham lamented their lost season. Enter longtime understudy Jeff Hostetler, who steered the Giants to victories in their final two games before sweeping through the playoffs. In a dramatic 20-19 victory over Buffalo in Super Bowl XXV, Hostetler completed 20-of-32 passes for 222 yards with one touchdown and zero picks.
4 of 12Rick Stewart/Getty Images
After a knee injury sidelined Jim Kelly in the regular-season finale, Reich (14) took the reins for Buffalo's wild-card playoff against the high-octane Oilers. A nightmarish first half saw Houston take a 28-3 lead -- and the visitors intercepted Reich's first pass of the third quarter to open a 32-point advantage. But Reich would come alive, firing four touchdown passes in the second half to bring the Bills all the way back. The 41-38 overtime victory remains the greatest comeback in NFL history.
5 of 12Mike Powell/Getty Images
Rypien enjoyed a career season as the Redskins finished with a 14-2 mark and advanced to Super Bowl XXVI. But few could foresee the Washington quarterback's complete dismantling of Buffalo's vaunted defense, as Rypien directed the `Skins to a 24-0 lead in the third quarter. Rypien ended up completing 18-of-33 passes and a pair of touchdowns to become the first Canadian-born player to garner Super Bowl MVP honors.
6 of 12Otto Greule/Getty Images
In a 35-20 rout of defending conference champion San Diego, Harbaugh tossed two touchdown passes and scrambled for a third to lead the Colts to their first playoff win since 1971. The following week, Indianapolis upended a Kansas City team with the NFL's best record. In a back-and-forth AFC title showdown with the Steelers, Harbaugh and the Colts came within a dropped Hail Mary pass of the Super Bowl -- falling short in a 20-16 thriller.
7 of 12Al Tielemans, Peter Read Miller/SI
Kerry Collins, Carolina Panthers, and Mark Brunell, Jacksonville Jaguars, 1996
The Panthers and Jaguars entered the league as expansion teams in 1995. Seventeen months later, Carolina's Collins and Jacksonville's Brunell engineered bracket-busting runs through the playoffs -- carrying their infant franchises to within 60 minutes of Super Bowl XXXI.
8 of 12Peter Muhly/AFP/Getty Images
Not since Pat Haden in 1976 had a first-year quarterback won a playoff game. With Washington pitching a 13-0 shutout against King's Buccaneers midway through the third quarter of their divisional playoff, the visiting Redskins had a little history on their side. But King would rally the Buccaneers for a pair of late-scoring drives to secure a 14-13 victory which propelled Tampa Bay into the NFC Championship Game.
9 of 12Bill Frakes/SI
Montana, Aikman, Elway ... Dilfer? The unsung signal-caller of the defensive-minded Ravens sure didn't pass the smell test for Super Bowl quarterbacks on the eve of the championship showdown against the Giants. But in completing 12-of-25 passes for one touchdown and no interceptions in a 34-7 rout of the Giants, the much-maligned veteran earned his championship stripes.
10 of 12Damian Strohmeyer/SI
After throwing for 312 yards and digging the Patriots out of a 10-point hole in the fourth quarter against Oakland in the infamous "Tuck Rule" game, Brady teamed with deposed starter Drew Bledsoe to defeat lopsided favorite Pittsburgh for the conference championship. Installed as two-touchdown underdogs against the Greatest Show on Turf in Super Bowl XXXVI, the first-year starter guided the Patriots to a stunning upset -- becoming the youngest quarterback to win the Super Bowl until Ben Roethlisberger.
11 of 12Bill Frakes/SI
Johnson returned from a late-season back injury to throw for 196 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a 31-6 stomping of the 49ers in the divisional round. The following week, the journeyman overcame frigid conditions and a hostile crowd in leading Tampa Bay to a surprising upset of the Eagles in their final game at Veterans Stadium. Johnson tossed for more than 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns in Tampa's victory over the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.
12 of 12Bob Rosato/SI
The other Manning -- a model of inconsistency throughout his four-year tenure with the Giants -- has done a lot of growing up during this postseason. After leading the NFL in interceptions during the regular season, Manning has thrown four touchdowns and zero picks during New York's surprising run to the NFC Championship Game.
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