The 8 Debate

January 14, 2013

Last weekend's wild-card games were decidedly unwild: Only one of the four games was decided by fewer than 10 points. And certainly none stacks up with these eight, the best conference playoff games in NFL history.

1 Chargers 41, Dolphins 38

AFC DivisionalPlayoff, Jan. 2, 1982

At the conclusion of the Epic in Miami, which the Chargers won in overtime after blowing a 24--0 first-quarter lead, San Diego tight end Kellen Winslow (right), who caught 13 passes and blocked a potential game-winning field goal, said, "I've never felt so close to death before. That's what Muhammad Ali said in Manila, and that's how I felt out there at the end."

2 49ers 28, Cowboys 27

NFC Championship,Jan. 10, 1982

San Francisco booked its first Super Bowl trip with the Catch, Dwight Clark's leaping grab of a Joe Montana pass with 51 seconds left.

3 Broncos 23, Browns 20

AFC Championship,Jan. 11, 1987

John Elway led Denver on the Drive, a 15-play, 98-yard TD trek that sent the game to OT, where the Broncos won.

4 Steelers 13, Raiders 7

AFC DivisionalPlayoff, Dec. 23, 1972

Trailing 7--6 with 22 seconds left, Pittsburgh's Franco Harris snagged a deflected pass and galloped into the end zone for a 60-yard TD on what became known as the Immaculate Reception.

5 Titans 22, Bills 16

AFC Wild Card,Jan. 8, 2000

Down a point with 16 seconds left, Tennessee won on the Music City Miracle—Frank Wycheck's lateral to Kevin Dyson, who sprinted down the sideline for a 75-yard kick return touchdown.

6 Raiders 28, Dolphins 26

AFC DivisionalPlayoff, Dec. 21, 1974

Oakland QB Ken Stabler lofted a desperation pass into the end zone, where running back Clarence Davis, draped by three Dolphins defenders, pulled it in amongst a Sea of Hands, as the play is known.

7 49ers 39, Giants 38

NFC DivisionalPlayoff, Jan. 5, 2003

San Francisco rallied from a 24-point deficit, but its win was secured only when New York botched the snap on a field goal as time expired.

8 Bills 41, Oilers 38

AFC Wild Card,Jan. 3, 1993

Buffalo fell behind 35--3, leading to a mass fan exodus, but backup QB Frank Reich spurred a comeback that inspired the Bills to waive their no-reentry policy, allowing fans to return to see the conclusion of the largest comeback in NFL history.

The longest NFL postseason game (82 minutes, 40 seconds) took place on Dec. 25, 1971, when the Dolphins beat the Chiefs 27--24 despite 350 all-purpose yards by Kansas City's Ed Podolak (left).

The NFL's Greatest Conference Playoff Games

Join the Debate on SI's App for Windows 8

• Launch the SI app for Windows 8 on your tablet or computer

• Tap or click on the 8 Debate live tile in the app timeline

• Watch exclusive video of Dan Fouts talking about the Epic in Miami

PHOTOFOCUS ON SPORT/GETTY IMAGES (PODOLAK) PHOTO ILLUSTRATIONPHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY SI IMAGING: HEINZ KLUETMEIER (WINSLOW) PHOTO

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)