This past Saturday, the Jacksonville Jaguars won the Wild Card game against the San Diego Chargers, in an unlikely comeback in the second half from a 27-point deficit to win by a score of 30-31. This placed the Jaguars in third among the greatest victories by a team in NFL games.
Looking at the best two coming-from-behind wins in the playoffs, two of the top followed teams in this year's playoffs are in the Buffalo Bills and the Kansas City Chiefs who are expected to face each other to win the AFC divisional title.
The top playoff spot for comebacks goes to the Indianapolis Colts against the Chiefs in the 2014 Wild Card round. Much like the Chargers were able to do on Saturday however, the Chiefs lost by one point.
The Chiefs were ahead by 28 points entering the third quarter. Quarterback Andrew Luck would lead the Colts to score 35 points. The Chiefs responded with just six points.
The change in momentum was quite palatable as Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith fumbled the football and the Colts scored on a scoring drive. The Colts simply kept going. Luck was on his side, as one of the most Luck-inspiring moments of his career, and took back the Colts goal line fumble and then leaped into the endzone to score the touchdown.
The most successful playoff comeback of all time is simply referred to as “The Comeback”, where Buffalo Bills bested the Warren Moon-led Houston Oilers in 1993. The Bills were able to come back from a deficit of 32 points, with the scoreboard reading 35-3 during the 3rd quarter. It marked the very first occasion that a NFL team was defeated after having a lead of 30-points.
A sportscaster decided to quit for the Bills just an hour into the 2nd half, after the Oilers defense reclaimed an unreflected ball. After all, no team had ever overcome a 35-3 scenario:
The pass from [Frank] Reich to the TE Keith McKeller deflected off of the receiver's hands to the hands of Houston Safety Bubba McDowell.
The story of one Houston broadcaster was immortalized in NFL films, with the statement that was prophetic: “The lights are on here at Rich Stadium, but you might as well turn them off…this one is over”.
However, the game was not finished and, in fact, was going to overtime.
In the 3rd quarter, the Bills were able to recover their own onside kick and Reich would stop the drive with a pass to Andre Reed in a 26-yard touchdown pass. The Oilers following possession resulted in a dropped pass from Warren Moon, intercepted by Bills' Henry Jones. Three plays later, in a fourth-down scenario, Reich again found Reed for the score.
Note the tweet below begins the historic game by saying “Seems not important now” because of Damar Hamlin's heart-related event that took place the evening prior to this post on the 30th anniversary of the Bills coming back.
During the fourth quarter, the Bills took the lead. The Oilers were able to come back by scoring an extra field goal, and then taking the game to overtime. Moon was again intercepted leading to Bills Steve Christie's winning field goal, making this the final chapter of the greatest comeback in postseason history that has ever been witnessed.
The 2023 playoffs are underway. We are reminded that comeback stories of the unimaginable can occur and, when they do, football history will be able to retell the tales.