7. Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints (2020)
Minnesota achieved one of the biggest playoff shocks of the last decade in 2020. They defeated the Saints in overtime and left them shellshocked. Kirk Cousins played a crucial role in masterminding this victory. He previously received criticism because he didn’t show up in big games. But he pulled off two important passes to help his team win.
Cousins went 19 for 31 with 242 completed yards (via Sporting News). One pass went to Adam Thielen as he ran to the goal-line. Another went to Kyle Rudolph for a walk-off touchdown. First, the Vikings rocked the Saints by taking the lead. However, Sean Peyton’s men forced overtime and it looked like they regained the momentum. None of the Saints’ quarterbacks took to the field in overtime as the Vikings pulled off a smash-and-grab.
In 2020, the Rams were Super Bowl contenders. Sure, they lacked a genuine franchise quarterback, but they still had a strong roster. They entered Week 13 with a 9-4 record. So it was natural that they were massive favorites against the 0-13 Jets. There were even questions over the Jets’ will to win because they wanted the first overall draft pick. A Trevor Lawrence-sized prize was waiting for the worst team in the NFL.
But the Green Gang stunned the Rams with one of the upsets of the last decade. They won the game 23-20 and proved that sometimes football makes no sense. All of the analysis and pre-game predictions meant nothing because the Jets mugged their opponents (via NBC Sports). This shows just how difficult it is to have a winning season in one of the toughest sports in the world.
Bob McAdoo’s Giants entered this game off the back of five straight defeats. Not many of their fans held out much hope of beating the Broncos. However, they pulled off one of the upsets of the last decade with a complete display. It’s bizarre how a terrible team can suddenly snap into gear. Usually, this isn’t sustainable but it’s always entertaining when it happens.
McAdoo handed play-calling duties over to Mike Sullivan for this game. Everything the offensive coordinator attempted came off perfectly. Eli Manning found Evan Engram an impressive five times. Meanwhile, the Giants’ pass rush ran rampant against the Broncos’ ragged defense (via Sports Illustrated). It was one of those games that give an entire group of supporters false hope. The Giants couldn’t keep it up.
There were questions about Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa before this game. Jacoby Brissett played a previous two games because of the Hawaiian’s injury woes. Furthermore, Tagovailoa had consistency issues. However, he came in and helped Miami stun the Ravens. The Dolphins put severe pressure on Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson and sacked him four times (via CNN).
According to Las Vegas, this was one of the upsets of the decade. But the Dolphins outplayed the Ravens on the day and ran out 22-10. Jackson struggled to find his targets and couldn’t build any rhythm. Tagovailoa sealed his return with a touchdown that killed the game off as a contest. This ignited Miami’s season and proved that they were making progress. Tagovailoa kept his team in the playoff hunt.
3. Washington Football Team vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2021)
Tampa was reigning Super Bowl champions in 2021. They expected to make it back to the postseason with relative ease. Needless to say, the Bucs didn’t expect much resistance from Washington. The Football Team came into this game on a four-game skid. Their season was fading away before their eyes. It started badly after Ryan Fitzpatrick’s injury. This put backup QB Taylor Heinicke in the firing line (via USA Today Sports).
But he contrived to help Washington pull off one of the shocks of the decade. Tom Brady threw interceptions on back-to-back drives in the first quarter as Washington came out hot. They never allowed the Bucs to settle and duly won the contest. Unfortunately, they lost their defensive star Chase Young to injury. But at least they earned a rare win against a genuinely elite contender.
There was no reason to believe that the Jaguars stood a chance against the Bills in this game. Urban Meyer’s short tenure in charge of Jacksonville was a turgid mess. He took a college football approach to the pro game and it was a disaster. Meanwhile, the Bills were bonafide AFC contenders. However, the Jaguars defied a 14.5 spread to upset the odds (via Tipico Sportsbook).
This game was a living nightmare for Bills QB Josh Allen. The Jaguars intercepted twice, sacked him four times, and forced a key fumble. Meanwhile, Jags outside linebacker Josh Allen had an amazing game. No, that isn’t a typo. The pair had the same name but vastly different fortunes. In the end, the Jaguars won 9-6 in one of the biggest upsets of the last decade. It was the sixth-biggest since 1990.
1. New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons (2016)
The Patriots came into Super Bowl LI as favorites but still managed to achieve one of the upsets of the last decade. Atlanta dominated the first three-quarters of the game and took a 28-3 lead. It appeared as though New England blew their hopes of winning. Las Vegas oddsmakers gave the Falcons a 99.8% chance of victory at the end of the third quarter. But major drama ensued.
Dan Quinn’s shellshocked squad imploded and conceded 25 unanswered points. This sent the game to overtime and of course, the Patriots won. It was sensational for neutral fans to watch because of the intensity and the drama. Meanwhile, Tom Brady was stellar as he earned the MVP award (via Bleacher Report). Many quarterbacks win this prize but he deserved it for his efforts. Atlanta went into a downward spiral after this harrowing loss.