NFL

30 NFL Conference Championship Games That Changed Football Forever

Darren - February 2, 2022
NFL

30 NFL Conference Championship Games That Changed Football Forever

Darren - February 2, 2022

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

7. Broncos vs. Browns (1986)

John Elway was responsible for one of the most iconic quarterback plays of the decade in this thriller. The Broncos trailed the Browns in the AFC title game. The clock ticked down as Denver began to run out of time. Finally, with 37 seconds left, they finished a remarkable 98-yard touchdown drive. Suddenly, the two teams were tied(via ESPN).

Mandatory Credit: Bleacher Report

They carried this momentum into overtime as they opted to receive the ball. Then, the Broncos scored a field goal to win the game and earn a Super Bowl place. However, ‘The Drive’ was the real story of this game. It’s a play that is immortalized in NFL history because it’s an example of football at its best. Elway was crucial in this clutch situation because a lesser quarterback may have wilted.

Mandatory Credit: Sports Illustrated

6. Falcons vs. Vikings (1998)

Gary Anderson will never forget this game because of his awful miss. The placekicker maintained a perfect record throughout the regular season. Then he came up against Atlanta in the NFC Championship game. He had the chance to be the hero but instead ensured his place in infamy. It’s a shame because he was a consistent and talented player. But those are the breaks.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

Many consider this to be the most heartbreaking field goal, miss, in NFL history. All he had to do was kick the ball over from 38 yards to seal the win for Minnesota. It appeared to be a formality before he hit it wide left. Then, Atlanta dragged the game to overtime. Ironically, their kicker Morten Andersen won them the game. This rubbed salt into Anderson’s wounds (via Yahoo! Sports).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

5. Colts vs. Patriots (2006)

Tom Brady has been involved in some classic quarterback duels and usually, he is the winner. The New England Patriots were a clinical winning machine for most of his tenure. However, there were exceptions as this game proves. He met his match in Peyton Manning in the 20006 AFC Championship. This didn’t seem likely because the Pats led 21-3 at one point (via Fansided).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

The Colts showed great heart because they rebounded from a pick-six and scored 18 straight points. Finally, the fans had a game that they will never forget. Manning recovered from his earlier mistake and threw multiple touchdowns. Meanwhile, Brady had one of the few major costly blips of his career. An interception ended the game as well as New England’s hope of a Super Bowl appearance.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

4. Steelers vs. Colts (1995)

This title game was close throughout its entirety. In the end, it was a harrowing defeat for the Colts after a late Bam Morris touchdown. They tried a Hail Mary in the dying moments but it didn’t pay off. Instead, it was Pittsburgh who won the game and a place in the Super Bowl. It’s also likely that Aaron Bailey will never forget his failed catch.

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

That moment surely haunts his dreams because the ball slipped through his fingers. If he caught it, Indy would have won the game. Instead, the Steelers held onto a narrow 20-16 victory. Title games are all about fine margins but this took it to the extreme. It was an amazing moment for Steel City but it could have been so different (via 247 Sports).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

3. Cowboys vs. 49ers (1992)

Some title games are more significant than others because they represent the start of a dynasty. That was the case in this NFC Championship. America’s Team hadn’t won a Super Bowl since 1977. They were on track to break their duck but they needed to overcome San Francisco first. This wasn’t going to be easy because the 49ers were the best team of the ’80s.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Fans will never forget this game because it felt like a changing of the guard. Dallas clung desperately to a tight lead when they made a brave call. Some might even call it foolhardy because it could have gone very wrong. But they opted to seal the win instead of holding on. Troy Aikman threw a spectacular game-winning touchdown to Kelvin Martin (via CBS Sports).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

2. Seahawks vs. 49ers (2013)

Seattle fell behind early in this game but steadied the ship quickly. Russell Wilson didn’t play brilliantly for the Seahawks but it didn’t matter. Colin Kaepernick couldn’t deal with the 49ers’ defense because they were on top. They forced the Niners’ quarterback into a pair of crucial interceptions. In the end, these proved to be the difference between the two teams (via SBNation).

Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports

Meanwhile, it sealed Seattle’s first Super Bowl appearance since 2005. Fans will never forget this season because they were rampant. After winning the conference title, they crushed Peyton Manning’s Broncos. It’s also a painful memory for San Francisco fans because of the nature of the defeat. However, the Seahawks were too balanced for them to overcome.

Mandatory Credit: Sports Illustrated

1. 49ers vs. Cowboys (1981)

This NFC Championship game was one of the greatest of all time because of ‘The Catch’. It finished 28-27 after a dramatic series of events. The Cowboys took an early lead but couldn’t hold onto it. Joe Montana’s men came roaring back into contention and lit up Candlestick Park. This was a game for the ages because both teams showed a do-or-die attitude (via Sportscasting).

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

However, in the end, there could only be a single winner. San Francisco fans rejoiced after a Danny White interception. This was a historic moment that they will never forget because it signified their first Super Bowl trip. Then, they became one of the greatest teams of the decade. This was also a major step toward superstardom for Joe Montana.

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