5 Most Incredible NFC Wild Card Games in NFL History

by Quentin Blount
5-most-incredible-nfc-wild-card-games-in-nfl-history

Fear not NFL fans, playoff football is right around the corner. The upcoming six-game slate is being dubbed Super Wild Card Weekend. As such, we are taking a look back at the five most incredible NFC wild-card games in NFL history.

5. Seattle 21, Dallas 20 (2006)

The Seattle Seahawks were just one year removed from their Super Bowl XL loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Meanwhile, the Dallas Cowboys were making their first postseason appearance since 2003. The man to lead them there? It was first-year starter Tony Romo, who is now an NFL commentator for CBS.

The Seahawks and Cowboys engaged in an entertaining, back-and-forth game on Jan. 6, 2007. The game took place at what was then called Qwest Field. However, there is only one play that stands out and is the reason this game makes our list — the botched field goal.

Seattle had taken a 21-20 lead when Romo marched the Cowboys 70 yards down the field to set them up for a potential game-winning field goal. If Dallas was able to hit the field goal, they would’ve taken a 23-21 lead with only a little over a minute left in the game and the Seahawks out of timeouts.

That’s when Romo, the holder on kicks, infamously fumbled the snap. Unable to get the ball up in time for kicker Martin Gramatica, Romo tried to run it in for a touchdown himself. He was ultimately caught from behind and the Seahawks would go on to win the game. The Cowboys were eliminated.

The fumbled snap was the start of a narrative that Romo couldn’t come up clutch in big games. Fair or not, it was a brand the now CBS commentator was never able to completely shake.

4. Green Bay 28, Detroit 24 (1993)

We couldn’t have put together this list without including a performance from Hall of Famer Brett Favre. His first postseason game was certainly a memorable one. Green Bay narrowly escaped their rivals in a wild-card match up that featured six lead changes, and a 40-yard touchdown pass from Favre to Sterling Sharpe with just seconds remaining.

The game had a ton of big plays and big performances from star players on both teams. Favre threw for 204 yards and three touchdowns and Sharpe had five catches for 101 yards and three touchdowns.

Meanwhile, Brett Perriman had ten receptions for 151 yards for the Lions. Oh, and not to mention Barry Sanders rushed for his playoff-career high 167 yards.

It wasn’t just the offense that shined in this game, though. Mel Jenkins had an interception return for the Lions and George Teague set an NFL record with a 101-yard interception return touchdown for Green Bay.

But it was the miraculous play from Favre to Sharpe that won the game. Favre rolled to his left, and threw across his body to the Packers tight end streaking down the sideline to give them the game-winning score.

3. San Francisco 39, New York Giants 38 (2002)

The New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers have faced multiple times in the postseason over the years. However, one game, in particular, went down as an instant classic. That was the wild-card matchup on Jan. 5, 2003, at Candlestick Park. Both the Giants and the 49ers came in with 10-6 records.

Fans had no idea that they were about to witness one of the most dramatic comebacks in playoff history. The Giants got out to an early 28-14 halftime lead and extended it to 38-14 in the third quarter. They appeared well on their way to face their next opponent in the divisional round.

All-Pro rookie tight end Jeremy Shockey had a drop in the end zone with four-and-a-half minutes remaining in the third quarter. forced the Giants to kick a field goal. Instead of leading 41-14 with 19 minutes remaining, they were ahead 38-14.

In addition to Shockey’s dropped touchdown, fights, a bad snap, squandered opportunities, and a blown call by the officials led to one of the most bizarre second halves in NFL history.

San Francisco star wide receiver Terrell Owens went on to score two touchdowns and two two-point conversions. Thanks to Owens and quarterback Jeff Garcia, the Niners were able to erase the 24-point deficit and take a 39-38 lead with just a minute remaining in the game.

The Giants answered quickly, however, driving down to the Niners’ 23-yard line with six seconds remaining. They were poised to win the game with an easy, chip-shot field goal.

But this was no ordinary game. The game ended when the New York long snapper botched the snap on the would-be game-winning field goal, leading to an improbably 39-38 victory for San Francisco.

2. Seattle 41, New Orleans 46 (2010)

There are a lot of wild games on this list but nothing was quite as Wild Card weekend as the 7-9, double-digit underdog Seattle Seahawks winning a home game against the defending champion New Orleans Saints in 2010. There were a number of incredible plays in this game, but none of them will be remembered quite like the “Beastquake,” arguably the greatest run in NFL history.

The Seahawks were the first team in NFL history to win a division title with a losing record. However, it was the Saints who proved to be the impostors, allowing too many big plays and failing to rally in the end.

It wasn’t all bad for New Orleans, though. They scored 36 points, gained 474 yards, and made seven trips inside the Seahawks’ 10-yard line. But three of those trips ended with field goals on a day when every point was critical.

Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck threw for 272 yards and four touchdown passes, three of them to wide-open receivers behind broken coverages.

And, as mentioned above, Seattle tailback Marshawn Lynch sealed the victory with a 67-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter. The powerful back eluded some defenders and just plain trucked over the others who touched him. There were at least six defenders who had a legitimate shot at bringing him down.

1. Arizona 51, Green Bay 45 in OT (2009)

Coming in at No. 1, the Arizona Cardinals and Green Bay Packers wild-card game in 2009 was the highest-scoring game in NFL postseason history. For more than 60 minutes in the desert, two gunslinging quarterbacks went toe to toe. Arizona’s Kurt Warner and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers combining for 801 yards through the air and 9 scoring passes.

Warner had only two incompletions after three quarters and finished with only four all game. He went 29 of 33 for 379 yards and 5 touchdowns. You read that right. Warner had more scoring passes than incompletions.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, had himself a game as well. He brought his team back from deficits of 17-0 and 31-10 and set a franchise record with 422 yards passing and 4 touchdowns.

The outcome in the game was not decided until the second minute of overtime when Arizona’s Karlos Dansby scooped up an Aaron Rodgers fumble and went 17 yards for a score to give the Cardinals a 51-45 victory.

The Cardinals’ Neil Rackers had a chance to win the game in regulation when he lined up for a 34-yard field-goal attempt with 14 seconds left, but his attempt sailed wide.

View the entire schedule for the upcoming wild-card weekend here. Also, click here for 5 more incredible games from the AFC side of the wildcard round.

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