There is nothing like seeing an underdog rise from the ashes to defy the odds and leave a stadium full of spectators speechless.
Whatever the level of competition – high school, collegiate, professional – postseason comebacks tend to strip the glory of winning from one pair of shoulders and place it on another in an instant. Before you can blink, history has been rewritten.
Wait, who won?
The NFL is not immune to shocking playoff comebacks as evidenced by an unprecedented divisional round in 2022 that saw the Tampa Bay Buccaneers attempt a Super Bowl LI impersonation against the Los Angeles Rams and the San Francisco 49ers stun the Green Bay Packers for the fourth straight time in the teams’ postseason appearances.
How did those thrillers compare to these memorable NFL playoff comebacks:
What is the biggest comeback in NFL playoff history?
The most memorable fourth-quarter comeback was actually called “The Comeback.”
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This AFC wild card game featured the Houston Oilers and the Buffalo Bills back on Jan. 3, 1993, at Rich Stadium in New York. The Bills recovered from being down 32 points and eventually won in overtime 41-38.
What is the largest margin of victory in an NFL playoff game?
The largest margin of victory in the history of the NFL took place on Dec. 8, 1940, when the Chicago Bears took on Washington in the NFL Championship. Chicago pummeled Washington for the entirety of the 60-minute contest, finishing at 73-0.
Bears running back Bill Osmanski scored the first touchdown within seconds of the game beginning, contributing to Chicago’s 28-0 lead at the end of the first half. In fact, the Bears dominated so enormously that by the end of the second half, officials asked Bears coach George Halas to halt his team from kicking for extra points. According to History, “They were running out of footballs after too many had been kicked into the stands.”
What are the biggest comebacks in Super Bowl history?
Here are three of the biggest comebacks in Super Bowl history:
Super Bowl LI: New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons
The Patriots were trailing the Falcons with a 25-point deficit, 28-3, with only eight minutes left to go in the third quarter. Tom Brady and his team scored on five straight drives – two of those being touchdowns – to tie the Falcons at 28, sending the Super Bowl into overtime for the first time. New England’s James White scored a touchdown in OT, capping off the jaw-dropping, 34-28 win.
Super Bowl XLIX: New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks
With no points scored in the first quarter for either team, the score was tied at 14 at the end of the first half. The Patriots were 10 points behind the Seahawks at the end of the third quarter, entering the fourth facing a 24-14 deficit after a Doug Baldwin touchdown. Brady found Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, while Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw an unfortunate interception to Malcolm Butler, diminishing any chance at a victory. The Pats beat the Seahawks by a final score of 28-24.
Super Bowl XLIV: New Orleans Saints vs. Indianapolis Colts
Peyton Manning led the Colts to a quick 10-point lead in the first quarter, thinning New Orleans’ hopes. However, the second quarter consisted of zero points for the Colts and two straight field goals by Saints kicker Garrett Hartley.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees set the tone for the third quarter with a touchdown only three minutes into the period, finally giving the Saints a lead. The Colts landed a touchdown in the third quarter to take back the lead for a quick instant, only to allow 11 unanswered points thanks to another Hartley field goal, another Brees touchdown pass and a two-point conversion. But it didn’t stop there. The fourth quarter ended with Manning throwing a pick-six to Tracy Porter, making the final score 31-17 in favor of the Saints.