FOX Sports senior NFL writer Alex Marvez takes a look at 18 of the most memorable divisional-round games since the league adopted a 12-team postseason format in 1990.
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1991 season: Denver 26, Houston Oilers 24
Although his game-winning drive against Cleveland in the AFC Championship game is more storied, Broncos quarterback John Elway worked his late-game magic here as well. Elway took Denver 87 yards in the final 2:07 to set up David Treadwell’s deciding field goal.
1996 season: Jacksonville 30, Denver 27
One of the biggest upsets in postseason history also showed the Jaguars had arrived in just their second NFL season. Jacksonville pounded Denver’s defense for 443 yards to topple the AFC’s top seed on the road.
Getty ImagesOtto Greule Jr
1999 season: Jacksonville 62, Miami 7
The final NFL game for Dolphins head coach Jimmy Johnson and quarterback Dan Marino is one both would rather forget. Jacksonville took a 24-0 lead in the first quarter en route to the second-highest scoring output in NFL postseason history.
AFP/Getty ImagesROBERTO SCHMIDT
2001 season: New England 16, Oakland 13 (OT)
One of the NFL’s most controversial calls led to this being known as the 'Tuck Rule' game. An apparent fumble by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady late in the fourth quarter was instead ruled an incompletion, ultimately leading to Oakland’s demise.
AFP/Getty ImagesMATT CAMPBELL
2002 season: Tennessee 34, Pittsburgh 31 (OT)
After the Titans missed a 31-yard field goal in overtime, Steelers cornerback Dewayne Washington was called for a controversial running-into-the-kicker penalty. Joe Nedney didn’t squander a second chance, hitting a 26-yarder for the game-winner.
Getty ImagesJamie Squire
2003 season: Carolina 29, St. Louis 23 (double OT)
Wide receiver Steve Smith’s 69-yard touchdown catch on the first play of double-overtime was a fitting end. This matchup featured five lead changes and the Rams overcoming an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to send the game into overtime.
Getty ImagesJeff Gross
2003 season: Philadelphia 20, Green Bay 17 (OT)
This is known as the 'Fourth-and-26' game. When facing that dire situation late in the fourth quarter, Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb converted with a 28-yard strike to Freddie Mitchell. The Eagles then tied the score and won in overtime following a Brett Favre interception.
Getty ImagesDoug Pensinger
2005 season: Denver 27, New England 13
New England’s chance to become the first franchise to win three consecutive Super Bowls ended with this five-turnover performance highlighted by Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey’s 100-yard interception return. Mike Anderson ran for touchdowns on two one-yard runs to pace Denver’s offense.
Getty ImagesMike Ehrmann
2005 season: Pittsburgh 21, Indianapolis 18
The Steelers became the first sixth-seeded playoff team to reach a conference championship game by upsetting the top-seeded Colts. Pittsburgh sacked Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning five times and Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt missed a 46-yard field goal that would have sent the game into overtime.
Getty ImagesAndy Lyons
2006 season: New England 24, San Diego 21
The game turned on a great defensive play turned sour for Chargers safety Marlon McCree, who fumbled after registering a Tom Brady interception midway through the fourth quarter. The Patriots proceeded to score the final 11 points for the comeback win.
Getty ImagesStephen Dunn
2007 season: New York Giants 21, Dallas 17
The emotional postgame outburst by wide receiver Terrell Owens defending quarterback Tony Romo weren’t the only tears being shed in Dallas. With a sloppy performance, the Cowboys became the NFC’s first No. 1 seed to lose its opening postseason game since 1995.
Getty ImagesWesley Hitt
2007 season: San Diego 28, Indianapolis 24
The Chargers lost quarterback Philip Rivers and running back LaDainian Tomlinson to injuries and still upended the defending Super Bowl champion thanks to clutch second-half performances from substitutes Billy Volek and Michael Turner.
Getty ImagesAndy Lyons
2010 season: New York Jets 28, New England 21
Jets linebacker Bart Scott’s pro wrestling-style postgame interview added a punctuation mark to one of the greatest wins in franchise history. New York quarterback Mark Sanchez threw three touchdown passes while the defense tormented New England’s Tom Brady with five sacks and an interception.
Getty ImagesAl Bello
2011 season: San Francisco 36, New Orleans 32
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft finally had his day in the sun. 49ers quarterback Alex Smith secured the win in his first career playoff game with a 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Vernon Davis with nine seconds remaining.
The 'Mile High Miracle' saw Joe Flacco heave a 70-yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones against Denver’s prevent defense in the final minute of regulation. Ravens kicker Justin Tucker ended the fourth-longest game in NFL history with a 47-yard field goal.
Getty ImagesJeff Gross
2012 season: Atlanta 30, Seattle 28
The Seahawks were 31 seconds away from the NFC Championship game, which proved too much time to give Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. He completed two passes for 48 yards to put Atlanta in position for kicker Matt Bryant’s game-winning 49-yard field goal with eight seconds remaining.
Getty ImagesKevin C. Cox
2014 season: Green Bay 26, Dallas 21
Call it the catch that wasn’t a catch. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo’s completion to wide receiver Dez Bryant deep inside Packers territory late in the fourth quarter was overturned on a challenge by Packers head coach Mike McCarthy. Although it looked like Bryant had hauled in the football, referee Gene Steratore ruled that Bryant didn’t 'maintain control of the ball throughout the process of contacting the ground.' The fallout from Steratore’s decision goes beyond the fact that Dallas ultimately lost the game. The NFL is still trying to formulate a way to better explain its catch rules to clear confusion among fans, players and coaches about what is and isn’t a reception.
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY SportsAndrew Weber
2014 season: New England 35, Baltimore 31
The Patriots used chicanery to help overcome a 14-point second-half deficit. Julian Edelman completed a 51-yard touchdown pass to fellow wide receiver Danny Amendola – the first time New England had used that type of gimmickry with quarterback Tom Brady on the field in more than a decade -- and the Patriots used unusual formation groupings of eligible and ineligible receivers to keep Baltimore’s defense off-balance. The NFL later changed its rules to prevent the further use of such deception but that served as little consolation for the Ravens and John Harbaugh, who drew a personal foul penalty while complaining that his defense wasn’t getting enough time to substitute personnel.