|The List: Greatest NFL playoff upsets|
Page 2 staff
Underdogs and upsets -- the stuff the playoffs are made of.
The NFL has witnessed its share of unlikely victors, come postseason play. This year is no exception. Heck, we're still wondering how Hot-lanta beat the Pack, in January -- at Lambeau?!
1. "I guarantee it" -- Jets over Colts in Super Bowl III
2. The SI Cover jinx strikes early -- Browns trounce Colts for 1964 NFL
But the defense is ready as the teams battle in sub-freezing weather. A 20-mph wind and a tenacious Browns secondary shuts down the Colts passing game -- Unitas throws for only 95 yards -- and after a scoreless first half, it's all Cleveland. Johnny U. is his usual succinct self after the game.
His analysis: "They just beat the hell out of us."
3. The AFC is here to stay -- Chiefs defeat Vikings in Super Bowl IV
But the game is all KC. Jan Stenerud kicks three field goals and Mike Garrett runs five yards for a TD to give the Chiefs a 16-0 halftime lead. The second half is all Chiefs, also, and the Vikings manage to score one TD, but no more. The Chiefs D allows the Vikings only 67 yards on the ground, picks off three passes, and recovers two fumbles.
Final score: Chiefs 23, Vikings 7.
"The Kansas City defensive line resembled a redwood forest," says Vikings QB Joe Kapp. "I don't remember that one individual stood out -- they were all very active. They took the running game away from us. We went into the game wanting to run the ball, and they were able to take it all away with great defensive play."
4. The Replacements -- Oilers, sans Pastorini and Campbell, upset Chargers in 1979 AFC divisional game
Does it get any better? Adam Vinatieri kicks a 48-yard figgie with seven seconds left to lift the Pats over St. Louis in last year's Big Game. New England's win over Oakland in the snowy AFC divisional game two weeks earlier, again thanks (in part) to some clutcheousness from Vinatieri, was also a surprise.
6. Just do it -- Giants beat the mighty Bears in "Sneakers" game for NFL title
The Giants lost five games in 1934, including two to the Bears, and a Chicago win seems a near certainty. Then the Polo Grounds weather gets all funky -- game-time temp is 9 degrees -- and the teams battle it out on a sheet of ice before 35,000 hearty fans. The Bears lead 10-3 at halftime, but the Giants come back in the second half with a surprise: They've left their useless cleats in the locker room, and now wear sneakers. While the Bears continue to slip and slide, the Giants ride their sure-grips to 27 points (including two Ken Strong TDs) in the fourth quarter to win going away, 30-13.
7. Pinto vs. Corvette: Seahawks stun Dolphins in 1983 divisional game
But this matters not to Seattle. They keep it close. Trailing 20-17 with 3:43 remaining, Krieg and wide receiver Steve Largent connect on 16- and 40-yard passes, and Curt Warner (who ends the day with 113 rushing yards and two TDs) dives two yards for a score that puts the Seahawks ahead 24-20 with 1:48 left. The Dolphins still have a chance -- but not for long. Fulton Walker fumbles on the ensuing kickoff, the Seahawks recover and kick a figgie, polishing off a 27-20 win.
"When we came down here, nobody gave us a chance," says Seattle coach Chuck Knox. "They thought we were going to be blown out. Even after the Dolphins went ahead late in the fourth quarter, I thought we could come back. Our whole bench thought we could come back. We have been coming back like that all season. I can't tell you how proud I am of this team."
8. Diaper dandies -- Jags beat Broncos in 1996 divisional game
9. The Pack ain't back -- Denver beats Green Bay in a thriller in SB XXXII
Elway provides one of our most dramatic Super Bowl moments, too, late in the third quarter: Denver faces a third-and-6 at the Green Bay 12. Elway sprints from the pocket and leaps for the first-down marker, where he's met by two Packers defenders and sent flying -- past the first-down marker. Without a pause, he jumps up, pumps up, and gets back to work.
10. Slip-sliding away -- Vikings Carter burns 49ers in 1987 NFC divisional game
But Carter isn't the only story. The Vikings D stops Jerry Rice, who catches only three passes for 28 yards. The Niners led the NFL in rushing during the regular season; in this game, they net 23 yards on the ground. Finally, an ineffective Joe Montana is benched for the first time in nine years, exiting midway through the third quarter. Bill Walsh hopes that his replacement, Steve Young, can stir things up. No go.
The 49ers are a bit philosophical after being beat by the wild card team. SF safety Jeff Fuller: "The Vikings' performance makes this a little easier to swallow. We didn't beat ourselves. And Anthony Carter. He almost beat us by himself."