Peyton Manning is no stranger to comebacks, with a 21-point comeback against the Bucs on a 2003 Monday night and his famous playoff recovery from an 18-point deficit against the Patriots en route to a 2007 Super Bowl championship highlighting his Colts résumé. But those were so last decade. He’s a Bronco now, and on Monday night of Week 6 in San Diego, he orchestrated his greatest comeback and earned Denver a spot among the top five comebacks in NFL history. Who else is on the list?
Oct. 15, 2012: Broncos 35, Chargers 24
Believe it or not, the Broncos' 24-point comeback was the 14th time it had been done; it happened as recently as last year when the Lions stunned the Cowboys. But on Monday night, Manning and his Broncos looked doomed from the get-go against their division rival, falling behind 10-0 in the first quarter and trialing 24-0 at halftime. But Manning never blinked, throwing only one incomplete pass in the second half while passing for 167 yards and three TDs with zero interceptions. His dominance, combined with the Chargers’ implosion, led to a 35-0 second-half whitewashing by the Broncos.
Nov. 8, 1987: Cardinals 31, Buccaneers 28
The Cards' 25-point comeback highlighted a season made famous by a players strike that cut the season to 15 games and saw replacement players play in real games. As the city of St. Louis bid farewell to its Cardinals, who would go 7-8 and move to Arizona the following season, QB Neil Lomax — no replacement player — gave the fans one last thrill in Week 9, using three TD passes to rally the Cards from a third-quarter hole against Steve DeBerg and the Bucs.
Sept. 21, 1997: Bills 37, Colts 35
The Bills, who actually make this list twice, were old hands at pulling off big comebacks when they pulled off a 26-point rally against Jim Harbaugh and the Colts. Down 26-0 in the second quarter, the Bills responded with a rally highlighted by Antowain Smith's three TD runs, and held on for the win when the Colts failed on the two-point conversion following Marvin Harrison's TD with 14 seconds left. What make it even more remarkable is that the Bills did it with a new starter at QB, Todd Collins, and that this team missed the playoffs.
Dec. 7, 1980: 49ers 38, Saints 35
The San Francisco 49ers of Joe Montana's second season also failed to make the playoffs, but they did pull off a 28-point comeback at Candlestick Park. Down 35-7 at halftime, Montana led one of his greatest fourth-quarter comebacks, but needed Ray Wersching's 36-yard field goal to win it.
Jan. 3, 1993: Bills 41, Oilers 38
The Bills' 32-point comeback was all the more epic because it happened in the AFC playoffs. Buffalo had lost 27-3 at Houston the previous week, losing star QB Jim Kelly to injury in the process. In the rematch, backup-QB-turned-starter Frank Reich (No. 14) and the Bills fell behind 35-3 in the third quarter as Warren Moon threw for four TDs and Bills RB Thurman Thomas went down with an injury. But Reich hooked up with Andre Reed for three TDs as the Bills fought back for a 38-35 lead. The Oilers forced OT with a field goal, but an interception of Moon set up kicker Steve Christie (No. 2) for the winner. His shoe went to the Hall of Fame, and the Bills went into the history books.