Nobody gave the Cardinals much of a shot in the 2008 playoffs after they won the wretched NFC West. Meanwhile, the Panthers were in good shape as the second-ranked team in the postseason. Jake Delhomme was unspectacular but safe.
Unfortunately, he decided to change the course of his career in this game. He threw a ridiculous five interceptions as he fell apart in the clutch. Nobody predicted that he would play so badly but he had one of the worst games in postseason history (via Bleacher Report).
This was one of the strongest Kansas City rosters of the nineties that somehow went one-and-done in the playoffs. They stormed to a 13-3 regular season as they won the AFC West. Most people expected them to cruise to victory over the Broncos in the divisional round (via SBNation).
But Denver’s defense refused to back down and this rocked the Chiefs. Kansas City had a quarterback controversy while Terrell Davis covered himself in vaseline. This had everything but in the end, the Chiefs lost this game at Arrowhead Stadium in ridiculous circumstances.
The Jets crept into the playoffs in 2009 with a 9-7 record. They became an afterthought in most people’s minds as they talked about the potential contenders. But the Chargers were on the other side of the spectrum. The No. 2 seeds went 13-3 in the regular season and excited everybody.
Unfortunately, San Diego threw it away in this Divisional Round game as the Jets pulled off a comeback. Philip Rivers delivered an inconsistent display as he threw a couple of interceptions. Furthermore, their lack of discipline cost them dearly because they committed too many penalties (via Reuters).
The Titans came into this Divisional Round game with vengeance in their hearts. They played the Baltimore Ravens and wanted to right the wrongs of the past. However, fairytales rarely play out in the NFL and this proved to be the case. Tennessee had a stronger team but they couldn’t win the game.
This was remarkably similar to their earlier meeting as the Titans dominated. Once again they didn’t put enough points on the board and the Ravens snatched a win. The 13-3 Titans fell foul of 12 penalties and this hit them hard (via Sports Illustrated). In the end, Baltimore’s productivity proved to be the difference.
Marty Schottenheimer was excellent at bringing teams to the playoffs. But everything changed when they stepped onto the field in the postseason. His record there left a lot to be desired and this was another one-and-done defeat with the Chiefs. Their fans experienced a lot of suffering over the years but this hurt a lot.
Steve Bono had a Pro Bowl year but nobody would have guessed from this performance. The head coach benched him in favor of Rich Gannon after he had a meltdown. Bono’s interceptions and failed completions handed Indy the win (via The Score). It was a wasted opportunity for the Chiefs because they should have gone on a deep run.
Everyone thought that this was Peyton Manning’s year after a glorious season. They went on a 13-game winning streak before easing off the gas ahead of the playoffs. A Super Bowl victory appeared to be inevitable but the Steelers burst the Indy bubble (via 247 Sports).
This Pittsburgh team was much better than their seeding suggested. They narrowly lost out on an AFC North title and had a brutal defense. Manning discovered this the hard way after they sacked him five times. Finally, Mike Vanderjagt missed the all-important kick to seal a Steelers’ win.
It’s almost a guarantee that the number one seed wins their opening postseason game. We say ‘almost’ because the Cowboys became the first-ranked team in 20 years to lose in the opening round. Shockingly, the 10-6 New York Giants stole a victory (via Bleacher Report).
This was crazy because the Cowboys were better in every aspect of the game. But they kept giving away penalties and the Giants made these count. Amazingly, the Cowboys crushed the Giants twice during the regular season. ‘Big Blue’ got its revenge in the New Year.