With the NFL Divisional Round in the playoffs getting underway this weekend, we’re taking a look at some of the biggest upsets at this stage of the postseason.
History has shown that upsets, including some very big ones often take place in the divisional round, and after some of the results in the Wild Card round, including the Detroit Lions huge upset win against the Minnesota Vikings, could we have another upset on the cards this weekend?
Jan 5, 1986: Patriots 27-20 Raiders
In a fairly historic season for the New England Patriots, they became the first team in NFL history to make it all thw way to the Super Bowl by winning three straight games on the road.
This victory in LA was significant, as the Raiders had gone 12-4 and were one of the league’s most dominant teams. The Patriots also won on the road against the Miami Dolphins the following week, however lost in the Super Bowl final to the Chicago Bears in a damaging 46-10 defeat.
Jan 13, 2008: Chargers 28-24 Colts
In a game that the Chargers were punished with injuries, including their quarterback Philip Rivers, they persevered to hold on for a big upset progressing to the next round.
The Chargers went 11-5 in the regular season, whilst the Colts, led by Peyton Manning had gone 13-3 and were the current holding Super Bowl champions.
San Diego’s defense (now known as Los Angeles) was the key to their victory, and they shut down two fourth-quarter drives by the Colts on the fourth down and eventually held out for the win.
Dec 30, 1979: Rams 21-19 Cowboys
In a game that had the Dallas Cowboys taking home the win all over it, well, it was the opposite with the LA Rams progressing with a huge upset.
The Cowboys had already beaten the Rams 30-6 during the regular season, and in the previous year’s Conference Title game, Dallas beat Los Angeles 28-0 in a complete whitewash.
Rams QB Vince Ferragamo threw three touchdown passes, including a game-winner with just over two minutes remaining on the clock. It was also a game that turned out to be the last of Dallas QB Roger Staubach.
Jan 11, 2009: Eagles 23-11 Giants
Coming into the game, the New York Giants were the top seed, the defending Super Bowl champions, and had home-field advantage on a fairly warm day.
However, the Philadelphia Eagles defense played a huge game and stepped up forcing three turnovers, and kicker David Akers made three field goals, and it was the fifth time in eight seasons that the Eagles had made the NFC title game. Eli Manning and the Giants were stunned.
Jan 16, 2011: Jets 28-21 Patriots
During the regular season, the Patriots boasted a record of 14-2, and they hammered the 11-5 Jets 45-3 in a nationally televised game, allowing for the whole nation to see just what the Patriots could do.
The same was expected to follow in this Divisional round game, however it was far from that. In the end, the Jets pulled off an unlikely upset, with quarterback Mark Sanchez throwing for three touchdowns, and the New York defense also sacked Patriots star Tom Brady five times, in a legendary defensive performance.
Jan 10, 2009: Cardinals 33-13 Panthers
The Arizona Cardinals were lucky to even secure a playoff spot, after going 2-4 in their last six games of the regular season, only just getting in with a 9-7 record.
They dispatched the Falcons in the Wild Card round, and then took on a highly rated Carolina Panthers squad in the Divisional round who went 12-4 in the regular season, and were a strong contender for the Super Bowl.
Arizona were led by Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald and played up to their “Shock the World” slogan, and beat the Panthers, eventually making the Super Bowl, but lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers at the final hurdle.
Jan 23, 2022: 49ers 13-10 Packers
On a snowy Green Bay day, the Packers were knocked outrageously knocked out by the San Francisco 49ers in a huge upset and wild comeback.
The Packers were top seed and 13-4 for the season with an 8-0 home record too. Robbie Gould of the 10-7 49ers helped complete an improbable comeback, and the team scored 10 unanswered points in the last five minutes of the game to come from behind and knock out one of the Super Bowl favorites.
San Francisco’s win, paired with the Cincinnati Bengals’ 19-16 victory over the Tennessee Titans earlier on in the day marked the first time that both No. 1 seed lost in the divisional round in the same season since 2010.
Jan 9, 1988: Vikings 36, 49ers 24
Joe Montana rarely played a bad game for San Francisco, however in this particular game, he did and it was punished by the Minnesota Vikings who intercepted Montana four times at Candlestick Park, and he eventually got benched.
However, the Vikings were on hand to dish out an upset, and were led by Anthony Carter’s receiving 227 yards to defeat the 49ers, but then lost to the Redskins in the following NFC Championship Game.
Jan 7, 1996: Colts 10, Chiefs 7
The Indianapolis Colts were in the playoffs this year after winning their last five games to get into the playoffs at 9-7 for the season, and they were up agains the No. 1 seed 13-3 Kansas City Chiefs.
It was expected to be an easy win for the Chiefs, however it didn’t turn out that way.
The Colts defense was on point, and they intercepted Steve Bono three times in the second half, and Kansas kicker Lin Elliot also missed three field-goal attempts in a terrible performance for the Chiefs overall.
Jan 4, 1997: Jaguars 30, Broncos 27
The Jacksonville Jaguars only came into the NFL as an expansion team the year before, and shocked many by finishing 9-7 in the regular season.
They faced a strong Super Bowl candidate in the Denver Broncos who were 13-3 ahead of the postseason. The Broncos did start the game well and went into a 12-0 lead, however they then seemed to lose all momentum, and the Jags scored 23 straight points.
Mark Brunell three for 245 yards and two touchdowns, and Natrone Means rushed for 140 yards as the Jaguars got through to the AFC Championship Game rounding off one of the biggest upsets in the Divisional round history before being defeated by New England.