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Published: Jan. 2, 2013 at 04:46 p.m.
Updated: April 29, 2014 at 01:33 p.m.

Wild Card Weekend memories

From the greatest comeback to the "Music City Miracle," the wild-card round has produced some of the seminal moments in NFL history. Take a look at some classic images from the opening round of the NFL playoffs.

18 Photos Total

  • 2011: Broncos 29, Steelers 23 18

    Tom Hauck/Associated Press

    2011: Broncos 29, Steelers 23

    Before he became a part of the three-ring circus 2012 for the New York Jets, Tim Tebow was providing late-game heroics for the Denver Broncos in a magical 2011 season. Tebow won seven of 11 starts to lift the Broncos into the AFC West crown. In an unforgettable wild-card showdown, Tebow stunned the Pittsburgh Steelers with an 80-yard touchdown strike to Demaryius Thomas in what was the quickest ending to an overtime game in NFL history to give the Broncos a 29-23 win.

  • 2010: Seattle Seahawks 41, New Orleans Saints 36 17

    Bill Nichols/Associated Press

    2010: Seattle Seahawks 41, New Orleans Saints 36

    The defining moment of the Seahawks' upset of the Saints was Marshawn Lynch's 67-yard game-clinching touchdown run. The run set off a seismic event in Seattle as the Seahawks -- a 7-9 entry in the playoffs as the NFC West winners -- knocked off the defending Super Bowl champions. The Seahawks' magical playoff ride came to an abrupt halt the next week in Chicago.

  • 2008: San Diego Chargers 23, Indianapolis Colts 17 (OT) 16

    Ben Liebenberg/NFL

    2008: San Diego Chargers 23, Indianapolis Colts 17 (OT)

    In what would turn out to be Tony Dungy's final game for the Colts, his team was outdone again by the Chargers (Indy was felled a year earlier by San Diego in the AFC divisional playoffs). Darren Sproles scooted 22 yards for the winning score in overtime to send NFL MVP Peyton Manning and the Colts home nearly 50 years to the day after the Baltimore Colts' famed overtime win over the New York Giants in the 1958 NFL Championship.

  • 2006: Seattle Seahawks 21, Dallas Cowboys 20 15

    Kevin P. Casey/Associated Press

    2006: Seattle Seahawks 21, Dallas Cowboys 20

    A botched field-goal attempt doomed Dallas in Seattle when holder Tony Romo mishandled the snap and opted to take off with the ball for what could have been the game-winning touchdown. Instead, Romo was tackled short of the end zone and the defending NFC champion Seahawks lived to fight another day. Their playoff run would end the next week in Chicago to the eventual NFC representative in Super Bowl XLI.

  • 2004: Minnesota Vikings 31, Green Bay Packers 17 14

    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    2004: Minnesota Vikings 31, Green Bay Packers 17

    Randy Moss' fourth-quarter touchdown clinched the wild-card victory for the Vikings, and his subsequent celebration prompted Fox-TV announcer Joe Buck to say, "That is a disgusting act by Randy Moss!" The Vikings were one of two 8-8 teams to make the playoffs that season (the Rams also defeated the Seahawks on Wild Card Weekend), but the postseason run ended the next week in Philadelphia, as the Eagles would go on to their fourth straight NFC Championship game appearance and first Super Bowl berth in 24 years.

  • 2003: Green Bay Packers 33, Seattle Seahawks 27 (OT) 13

    Mike Roemer/Associated Press

    2003: Green Bay Packers 33, Seattle Seahawks 27 (OT)

    After winning the overtime coin toss, Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck bombastically proclaimed to the Lambeau Field crowd and national-TV audience that "we want the ball and we're going to score!" However, what happened next did not meet the claim of Hasselbeck, who threw a game-winning pick six to Al Harris. Fortunately, Hasselbeck has been a good sport about the incident.

  • 2002: New York Jets 41, Indianapolis Colts 0 12

    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    2002: New York Jets 41, Indianapolis Colts 0

    Richie Anderson's 56-yard scoring play on a pass from Chad Pennington set off a scoring barrage against the overwhelmed Colts. While Pennington threw three touchdown passes in the rout, Colts QB Peyton Manning struggled against the Jets, completing just 14 of 31 passes for 137 yards and two interceptions. The next week in the divisional playoffs, the Jets lost to the Raiders -- the AFC representative in the Super Bowl that year. The Colts, meanwhile, started a streak of nine consecutive 10-plus win seasons as AFC South champions.

  • 2002: San Francisco 49ers 39, New York Giants 38 11

    Julie Jacobsen/Associated Press

    2002: San Francisco 49ers 39, New York Giants 38

    The incredible finish of this wild-card showdown only added a punctuation mark to one of the most exciting playoff games in NFL history. After spotting the Giants a 38-14 lead by the third quarter, the 49ers mounted the second-greatest playoff comeback in NFL history (behind only the Buffalo Bills' win over the Houston Oilers in the 1992 wild-card round) to eventually take the lead. After the Giants squandered that lead, they had one last shot to redeem themselves. What followed was chaos. It was a wild day for football, since earlier in the afternoon the Steelers topped the rival Browns in another epic clash.

  • 2002: Pittsburgh Steelers 36, Cleveland Browns 33 10

    Tom Puskar/Associated Press

    2002: Pittsburgh Steelers 36, Cleveland Browns 33

    The Steelers faced a 17-point halftime deficit to the Kelly Holcomb-led Browns, but managed to surge past their rivals to claim victory. Holcomb had been thrust into the starting lineup following an injury to starter Tim Couch in the regular-season finale. This still marks the only playoff game for the Browns since their return in 1999 following a three-year hiatus.

  • 2000: New Orleans Saints 31, St. Louis Rams 28 9

    Andrew J. Cohoon/Associated Pres

    2000: New Orleans Saints 31, St. Louis Rams 28

    The work of voodoo priestess Ava Kay Jones finally paid off in the 2001 wild-card round for New Orleans, which to that point had never won a playoff game. An NFL member since 1967, the Saints had lost their four previous playoff encounters, but managed to prevail for the first time in the postseason against the defending Super Bowl champion Rams. The Saints built a 31-7 lead in the fourth quarter, but the "Greatest Show on Turf" mounted an epic rally that appeared as if it would continue the Saints' playoff woes. However, a botched punt return by Az-Zahir Hakim set off a New Orleans party.

  • 1999: Tennessee Titans 22, Buffalo Bills 16 8

    Wade Payne/Associated Press

    1999: Tennessee Titans 22, Buffalo Bills 16

    The play is called "Home Run Throwback" and it produced one of the greatest play-by-play calls most fans can remember: "Touchdown Titans! There are no flags on the field! It's a miracle! Tennessee has pulled a miracle!" Kevin Dyson's kickoff return touchdown off a lateral pass from Frank Wycheck pushed the Titans past the Bills in their first playoff game as the Tennessee Titans. The Titans would go on to Super Bowl XXXIV, but lost on the final play to the Rams when linebacker Mike Jones tackled Dyson a yard short of the end zone. The Bills, meanwhile, have not reached the postseason since that Music City Miracle defeat, the longest playoff drought in the NFL.

  • 1998: San Francisco 49ers 30, Green Bay Packers 27 7

    Susan Ragan/Associated Press

    1998: San Francisco 49ers 30, Green Bay Packers 27

    With the Packers coming off two Super Bowl appearances -- and playoff wins over the 49ers both of those years -- this game was set up as a classic grudge match. In a back-and-forth clash of two evenly matched teams, it was the one with the ball last that pulled out the victory. It ended with redemption for Terrell Owens and one of the most amazing finishes in NFL postseason history. The 49ers lost the next week to the eventual NFC champion Atlanta Falcons. In Green Bay, "The Catch II" turned out to be Mike Holmgren's final game as Packers coach.

  • 1995: Green Bay Packers 37, Atlanta Falcons 20 6

    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    1995: Green Bay Packers 37, Atlanta Falcons 20

    Mike Holmgren's third career playoff victory earned him an ice-cold dousing by LeRoy Butler and Edgar Bennett. The Packers would go on to knock off the defending Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers the next week before falling to the eventual Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship Game.

  • 1994: Cleveland Browns 20, New England Patriots 13 5

    Jeff Glidden/Associated Press

    1994: Cleveland Browns 20, New England Patriots 13

    Wide receiver Michael Jackson is chased by defensive back Ricky Reynolds in a showdown between Patriots coach Bill Parcells and his former coordinator, Browns coach Bill Belichick. Parcells' first playoff game as Patriots coach was also the last won by the Browns, who fell the next week in Pittsburgh and have only been back to the playoffs once since the 1994 season. Two years after the wild-card loss in Cleveland, Parcells had the Patriots in the Super Bowl, where they lost to the Green Bay Packers.

  • 1992: Buffalo Bills 41, Houston Oilers 38 (OT) 4

    John Hickey/Associated Press

    1992: Buffalo Bills 41, Houston Oilers 38 (OT)

    Buffalo's remarkable run of four consecutive Super Bowl appearances included the greatest comeback in NFL history. When a Bubba McDowell 58-yard interception return for a touchdown gave Houston a 35-3 lead early in the second half, all seemed lost for Buffalo, which had backup Frank Reich in at QB for the injured Jim Kelly. Reich, who in 1984 engineered what was then the greatest comeback in college football history -- 31 points, vs. Miami (Fla.) -- guided the Bills to 35 unanswered points. Kicker Steve Christie won the game in overtime with a 32-yard field goal, propelling the Bills to their third straight Super Bowl. For the Oilers, it was just one more postseason frustration, which hit an apex the following season when they earned home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs only to lose in the divisional round.

  • 1989: Pittsburgh Steelers 26, Houston Oilers 23 (OT) 3

    Associated Press

    1989: Pittsburgh Steelers 26, Houston Oilers 23 (OT)

    Merril Hoge scored the game-tying touchdown to force overtime, when a Steelers team quarterbacked by Bubby Brister earned the victory on a Gary Anderson field goal. It was the final playoff victory for Steelers coach Chuck Noll, who a decade earlier had led the franchise to its fourth Super Bowl triumph. A week later, the Steelers fell to the eventual AFC champion Denver Broncos.

  • 1987: Minnesota Vikings 44, New Orleans Saints 10 2

    Tennen Maury/Associated Press

    1987: Minnesota Vikings 44, New Orleans Saints 10

    The first playoff game in Saints history ended with the home team on the wrong end of a massacre at the hands of Minnesota. While D.J. Dozier's touchdown capped the rout, the dynamic play of Anthony Carter -- who had a TD via a punt return and another on a reception -- and a defense that picked off Saints passers four times helped set it in motion. The victory started a remarkable playoff run for the wild-card Vikings, who upset the 49ers in the divisional playoffs before a loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins in the NFC Championship Game.

  • 1980: Oakland Raiders 27, Houston Oilers 7 1

    Associated Press

    1980: Oakland Raiders 27, Houston Oilers 7

    Ken Stabler and Bum Phillips leave the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum field in a melancholy way following a loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Raiders. Just four years prior, Stabler led the Raiders to victory in Super Bowl XI. For Phillips, one of the greatest characters in NFL history, it was the third time his "Luv Ya Blue" Oilers were thwarted in their attempt to reach pro football's pinnacle event.

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