Wild Card weekend is here in the NFL playoffs, and that means craziness. Sure, some of the games will be blowouts and quickly forgotten, but there is always the chance of an instant classic, an I-was-right-there-when-it-happened moment. The great thing about those snapshots in time is you never know when they are going to happen, and therefore cannot be emotionally prepared for.
Sports are built on games like the ones we will see this weekend. For eight teams, it is nothing but high-drama and raising the stakes with every snap of the ball. Since the playoffs expanded from eight to 10 teams in 1978, Wild Card games have been the signal that the postseason had arrived. In 1990, two more playoff teams were added, giving us four Wild Card games instead of two.
Here are the five best, the ones you could never forget:
5. Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos, Jan. 2012
Yes, Tim Tebow is entering your life again. Tebow was a horrific NFL quarterback for the most part, but enjoyed his only 300-yard game against the Steelers on this day. Tebow was 10-of-21 on the day for 316 yards, culminating in a 80-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas for a 29-23 overtime victory. Tebow would never again become a full-time NFL starter and was out of the league one season later. Still, this game will live on.
4. Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals, Jan. 2010
Whenever you have Aaron Rodgers and Kurt Warner combining for 802 passing yards and nine touchdowns, you have a classic. Rodgers and Warner went back and forth in a can-you-to-this epic, with the game ironically decided on a defensive score. Arizona linebacker Karlos Dansby scooped up a Rodgers fumble in overtime and scampered 17 yards for the winner, clinching a 51-45 victory.
3. Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers, Jan. 1999
San Francisco was aiming to dethrone the NFC champions, a team which has beaten it in the previous three postseasons. The 49ers fell behind at Candlestick Park, down 27-23, with only nine seconds remaining. From the 25-yard line, Steve Young threw a dart to Terrell Owens for a game-winning touchdown, sending the Bay Area into bedlam. The game will also be remembered for a blown call on an apparent Jerry Rice fumble on the last drive, which would have ended the game.
2. Houston Oilers at Buffalo Bills, Jan. 1993
Houston was a team on the rise throughout the 1992 season, and came into Buffalo facing backup quarterback Frank Reich. The Bills were two-time defending AFC champs, but fell behind 35-3 in the third quarter. However, Reich led Buffalo to the largest comeback in NFL history, taking the contest 41-38 in overtime. The Bills made the Super Bowl that year and the next, only to fall in both.
1. Buffalo Bills at Tennessee Titans, Jan. 2000
Another game between the same franchises, just involving a different city. The Titans came into the game as five-point favorites over the Bills. Tennessee trailed Buffalo 16-15 with 16 seconds remaining before pulling off the infamous Music City Miracle from Frank Wycheck and Kevin Dyson. The play gave the Titans a 22-16 win, propelling them to a Super Bowl appearance. The Bills went in the opposite direction, yhet to make another playoff appearance.