Skip to content
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem and wants help, call 1-800 GAMBLER Responsible Gaming Responsible Gaming
Join
The Eagles aim to maintain their perfect record
  1. NFL

NFL: Championship crackers remembered

With the NFL conference championships looming this weekend, now is the time to look back on the greatest such games in the sport's history.

1981 NFC Championship game - San Francisco 49ers 28 - Dallas Cowboys 27

Perhaps the best demonstration of how iconic this game has become is that it has become synonymous with two words, The Catch.

The Dallas Cowboys were in their prime and America's Team led the San Francisco 49ers by six points with less than five minutes to go. Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana engineered a 13-play drive that left his side just six yards from the end zone.

On third and three, and with three Cowboys defenders chasing him down, Montana threw to receiver Dwight Clark who took a leaping catch in the very back of the end zone to complete the victory.

Ed 'Too Tall' Jones, one of the stars of the Cowboys, told Montana, "You just beat America's Team" to which the quarterback replied "Well, you can sit at home with the rest of America and watch the Super Bowl." The 49ers went on to win the Super Bowl, 26-21 over the Cincinnati Bengals.

The win ended the Cowboys' dominance of the 1970s and signalled the beginning of the 49ers' domination of the 1980s.

Future NFL superstar Tom Brady, who now has seven Super Bowls to his name, was also in the crowd as a four-year-old.

1986 AFC Championship game - Denver Broncos 23 - Cleveland Browns 20

Another game that crystalised the myth surrounding a future Hall of Fame quarterback was the 1986 AFC Championship tie, with John Elway leading the Denver Broncos to victory over the Cleveland Browns.

Trailing 20-13, Broncos returner Ken Bell fluffed the kick off and had to fall onto the ball on the two-yard line. Elway took over with five minutes to go and led his side the 98 yards to the Browns' end zone in a series now known as 'The Drive'.

Elway's 15-play sequence did not feature a single fourth down and ended with a five-yard touchdown to Mark Jackson with 37 seconds left to tie the game.

In overtime, Cleveland were forced to punt on their first drive before Elway led the Broncos 60 yards down field to set up a Rich Karlis 33-yard field goal to win it.

The game has become an iconic moment in NFL history, despite the fact that the Broncos went on to lose the Super Bowl, 39-20 to the New York Giants.

Elway would go on to win back-to-back Super Bowls with the Broncos in the last two years of his career while the Browns have not won the AFC Championship in the following 36 years.

1998 NFC Championship game - Atlanta Falcons 30 - Minnesota Vikings 27

This match will forever be remembered as one of the biggest upsets in NFL playoff history.

The Minnesota Vikings had gone 15-1 in the regular season and set an NFL record with 556 points and were expected to make it past the Atlanta Falcons with ease.

The game would be decided by two kickers called Morten Andersen and Gary Anderson.

Related NFL News

NFL: Rams hoping to break 49ers hoodoo

NFL: Bengals have hope in AFC decider

NFL: Rams ready for big-play moments

NFL: Jaguars primed to pounce for Leftwich

The Falcons' Andersen made two second-half field goals to narrow the gap to 27-20 before the Vikings' Anderson had a 38-yard field goal to put the game almost out of sight with a little over two minutes to go.

He missed his first kick of the entire season and the Falcons drove down the field to score a touchdown to level the game before an Andersen field goal in overtime secured the upset.

2006 AFC Championship game - Indianapolis Colts 38 - New England Patriots 34

Indianapolis Colts' Peyton Manning got a playoff monkey off his back with this comeback win over their great rivals' Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

The Pats raced to a 21-3 lead before Manning threw and then rushed for a touchdown each to level the score at 21-21 with four minutes to go in the third quarter.

With touchdowns fired back and forth, the game stood at 34-31 Patriots with less than three minutes to go.

The Colts then drove 66 yards down the field before a Joseph Addai touchdown gave them a 38-34 lead.

Brady threatened to come back again and managed to reach the 45-yard line before throwing an interception to Marlin Jackson to effectively end the game.

Manning and the Colts went on to win the Super Bowl, the only of his career and overcome the notion of him choking in the playoffs.

This game is also the biggest comeback in conference championship history.

2014 NFC Championship game - Seattle Seahawks 28 - Green Bay Packers 22

Defending Super Bowl champions Seattle Seahawks were 16-0 down at half time, it looked like game over. Even at 19-7 with less than four minutes to go, it seemed as though it was over for Seattle.

Quarterback Russel Wilson led his side on a 69-yard drive to close the lead to 19-14. With just one timeout remaining, the Seahawks hit an onside kick that bounced off a Packers helmet and was caught by Seattle's Chris Matthews.

A Marshawn Lynch touchdown and two point conversion later and the Seahawks were three points up, however Aaron Rodgers managed to march the Packers back into field goal range with time expiring and Mason Crosby nailed a 48-yard field goal to send the game to overtime.

Wilson found Jermaine Kerse, who made his way to the end zone, confirming the dramatic win.

Discover more from the world's favourite online betting brand

More US sports betting news

Latest betting lines

Win more with our US sports parlay bonus

Watch NFL live streaming

Build a bet with bet builder

Latest US sports results

Sign up - bet365 Open Account Offer

bet365 uses cookies

We use cookies to deliver a better and more personalised service. For more information, see our Cookie Policy