by Rob Joyce
The postseason misery for Chiefs fans continues. Without a home playoff win since 1994, when Joe Montana was quarterbacking, Kansas City was on its way to ending the drought on Saturday. Up 21-3 at halftime against the Titans, the Chiefs were in firm control of the game… until they weren’t. Questionable play-calling and some Marcus Mariota heroics helped Tennessee storm back for the 22-21 victory.
Down 18 midway through the third quarter, on the road no less, the Titans’ comeback was among the unlikeliest in NFL history. But where exactly does it rank?
5) 2017 AFC Wild Card:
Fifth is the answer. It ranks fifth. Credit the Tennessee defense for pitching a second half shutout and Derrick Henry for his 156 rushing yards, but Marcus Mariota is the one stealing all the headlines. He started the comeback in the third quarter with a six-yard touchdown pass to himself, as he caught a deflected ball and ran it in. After a Henry touchdown run, Mariota’s connection with Eric Decker gave the Titans the 22-21 lead. Lastly, facing a 3rd and 10 late, the QB threw a key block to spring Henry free for a first down to ice the game.
Tennessee’s reward? A trip to Foxboro. Good luck.
4) 2013 AFC Wild Card:
Again, sorry Chiefs fans. Kansas City led 38-10 at Indianapolis early in the third quarter and looked to be rolling. Then the Colts’ Donald Brown ran for a couple of touchdowns, Andrew Luck threw for one and recovered his own fumble for another score. Suddenly the 28-point lead shrunk to six, 44-38. Then Luck hooked up with TY Hilton for a 64-yard dagger to lock up the 45-44 Colts victory.
3) 2002 NFC Wild Card:
The Giants and 49ers have had a couple wild playoff games this millennium (remember the Kyle Williams game?), this one included. A Matt Bryant field goal gave New York a 38-14 lead with 4:27 left in the third quarter, when everything went wrong for the Giants. San Francisco scored 19 unanswered points to cut the deficit to 38-33 by the midpoint of the fourth quarter. Then Jeff Garcia and company drove 68 yards in two minutes, capped by a Tai Streets 13-yard touchdown to take the 39-38 lead.
But the Giants weren’t done yet. They drove all the way to the San Francisco 23-yard line with six seconds left. But a botched snap by a long-snapper signed that week sealed the 49ers’ improbable comeback.
2) 1992 AFC Wild Card:
Statistically it’s the greatest comeback in postseason history. The Bills trailed the Oilers 35-3 in the third with backup quarterback Frank Reich. But four unanswered touchdowns by Buffalo cut the Houston lead to 35-31 by the end of the quarter. Andre Reed’s third touchdown catch of the day actually gave the Bills a 38-35 lead before the Oilers kicked a field goal to force overtime. In the extra session Steve Christie’s 32-yard field goal capped a 41-38 Buffalo win.
1) Super Bowl LI:
What else would the top spot be? The term 28-3 will forever be a part of the sports lexicon. For Patriots fans, a rallying cry; for Falcons fans, a point of despair. Even when things were starting to get dicey, Atlanta had 1st and 10 from the New England 22-yard line with under five minutes left, when a field goal would have put them up 11. A loss of one, a sack, a hold and an incompletion later, they punted. You know the rest – Julian Edelman’s inhuman catch, the Patriots tie it up, win the coin toss in overtime and march down the field to win 34-28, the fifth Super Bowl in the Brady-Belichick era.