When it comes to thrilling moments in the National Football League (NFL), few things can match the excitement of overtime games. These intense matchups bring out the best in teams and showcase the sheer unpredictability of sudden-death football. From epic comebacks to historic rivalries, playoff clashes to Cinderella stories, and legendary quarterbacks to unforgettable finishes, the NFL has seen it all. In this article, we delve into the archives and rank the top 10 most memorable overtime games in NFL history, each leaving an indelible mark on the sport.
The Top 15 NFL’s Most Memorable Overtime Games
Rams vs. 49ers (October 3, 1999)
During the early years of the new millennium, the St. Louis Rams embarked on a mesmerizing offensive journey, earning the moniker “The Greatest Show on Turf.” One of the earliest displays of their offensive prowess came on October 3, 1999, when they faced off against the San Francisco 49ers. In a back-and-forth battle of two offensive powerhouses, the Rams emerged victorious in a thrilling 42-20 shootout. This game showcased the birth of a new era in football, where high-scoring offenses reigned supreme.
Rams vs. Buccaneers (January 23, 2000)
Continuing their remarkable season, the Rams faced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship game on January 23, 2000. With a Super Bowl berth at stake, the tension was palpable. The game lived up to its billing, as the Rams found themselves trailing 6-5 with just minutes remaining. In a stunning turn of events, the Rams orchestrated a last-minute drive, setting the stage for a game-winning field goal by Jeff Wilkins. The 11-6 victory propelled the Rams to Super Bowl XXXIV, solidifying their place in NFL history.
Rams vs. Titans (Super Bowl XXXIV)
Super Bowl XXXIV is often remembered for its unforgettable ending. Facing off against the Tennessee Titans, the Rams found themselves in a tight contest that went down to the wire. With the Titans trailing by a touchdown in the final seconds, quarterback Steve McNair connected with wide receiver Kevin Dyson on a pass play that came just inches shy of the goal line. The Rams’ defense held firm, clinching a dramatic 23-16 victory and etching this game into the annals of Super Bowl lore.
Cowboys vs. Redskins (November 28, 1974)
Thanksgiving Day games have always held a special place in NFL tradition, and the matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins on November 28, 1974, was no exception. This overtime thriller captivated audiences as two legendary quarterbacks, Roger Staubach, and Billy Kilmer, led their teams in a battle for supremacy. The game swung back and forth until the Cowboys emerged victorious with a field goal, securing a 24-23 win in a contest that embodied the spirit of rivalry.
Steelers vs. Browns (November 10, 2002)
The “Battle of Ohio” has long been a source of intense competition between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns. On November 10, 2002, these two teams engaged in a fierce showdown that extended into overtime. With momentum swinging wildly, both sides traded blows until Steelers kicker Todd Peterson sealed the victory with a game-winning field goal. This thrilling encounter epitomized the intensity and passion that defines historic rivalries in the NFL.
Dolphins vs. Chiefs (Christmas Day, 1971)
Christmas Day, 1971, witnessed the longest game in NFL history, an epic battle between the Miami Dolphins and the Kansas City Chiefs. Lasting a staggering 82 minutes, this playoff clash showcased the determination and endurance of both teams. The back-and-forth action kept fans on the edge of their seats until the Dolphins emerged victorious with a 27-24 win. This game remains a testament to the resilience and unwavering spirit that defines playoff football.
Broncos vs. Steelers (January 8, 2012)
In a wild-card matchup on January 8, 2012, the Denver Broncos, led by quarterback Tim Tebow, faced the Pittsburgh Steelers in a game that would go down in NFL folklore. Tebow’s “miracle” overtime touchdown pass to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas secured a stunning upset victory for the Broncos, leaving fans in awe of the unexpected outcome. This game epitomized the notion that in the NFL, anything can happen, especially in the high-stakes environment of the playoffs.
Patriots vs. Falcons (Super Bowl LI)
Super Bowl LI will forever be remembered as the game that witnessed the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. The New England Patriots, led by quarterback Tom Brady, overcame a seemingly insurmountable 25-point deficit against the Atlanta Falcons. With the score tied at 28-28 in overtime, the Patriots marched down the field, and running back James White scored the game-winning touchdown, securing a 34-28 victory. This remarkable comeback showcased the resilience and never-say-die attitude that defines the NFL.
Giants vs. Patriots (Super Bowl XLII)
Super Bowl XLII pitted the New York Giants against the undefeated New England Patriots, in what many considered a “David vs. Goliath” matchup. The Giants quarterback, Eli Manning, orchestrated a miraculous escape from the clutches of the Patriots’ defense, completing a remarkable pass to wide receiver David Tyree. This play set the stage for Manning’s game-winning touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress, sealing a 17-14 victory and delivering one of the greatest upsets in Super Bowl history.
Packers vs. Vikings (November 6, 2000)
Divisional matchups often carry an extra level of intensity and significance. On November 6, 2000, the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings engaged in a field goal frenzy that showcased their bitter rivalry for divisional supremacy. The Vikings staged an improbable comeback, and kicker Gary Anderson delivered the game-winning kick in overtime, securing a thrilling 26-23 victory. This game served as a testament to the fierce competition that exists within NFL divisions.
Ravens vs. Steelers (November 6, 2005)
The rivalry between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers has always been characterized by hard-hitting and physical football. On November 6, 2005, these two bitter foes faced off in an overtime battle that lived up to its reputation. The Ravens’ defense held firm, preventing the Steelers from scoring, and ultimately sealed the victory with a field goal of their own. This game showcased the grit and determination that define divisional clashes in the NFL.
Cardinals vs. Packers (January 10, 2010)
In a high-scoring shootout between two dynamic quarterbacks, the Arizona Cardinals, and the Green Bay Packers provided fans with a true Cinderella story on January 10, 2010. Kurt Warner and Aaron Rodgers engaged in an offensive spectacle, but it was Warner’s heroics that prevailed as the Cardinals won a thrilling 51-45 overtime contest. This game exemplified the magic and unpredictability that can unfold when underdogs rise to the occasion.
Seahawks vs. Packers (NFC Championship, 2015)
The 2015 NFC Championship game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers will forever be etched in NFL history, thanks to the infamous “Fail Mary” controversy. Trailing by 12 points with just minutes remaining, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson orchestrated an improbable comeback, ultimately winning the game 28-22 in overtime. This game served as a reminder that even in the face of adversity, perseverance can lead to remarkable outcomes.
Peyton Manning’s Colts vs. Brett Favre’s Packers (November 16, 2008)
When two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks meet on the field, fans expect greatness. On November 16, 2008, Peyton Manning’s Indianapolis Colts faced Brett Favre’s Green Bay Packers in a quarterback duel for the ages. With the game hanging in the balance, Manning orchestrated a last-minute comeback, culminating in a game-winning touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne. This game exemplified the brilliance and competitiveness of these legendary quarterbacks.
Tom Brady’s Patriots vs. Drew Brees’ Saints (October 13, 2013)
In a matchup between two elite quarterbacks, Tom Brady’s New England Patriots clashed with Drew Brees’ New Orleans Saints on October 13, 2013. This high-scoring affair lived up to its billing, with both quarterbacks showcasing their skills. The game reached its thrilling conclusion in overtime when Brady connected with wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins for a touchdown pass, securing a 30-27 victory. This game exemplified the artistry and precision of two of the greatest quarterbacks of their era.
From high-scoring shootouts and historic rivalries to playoff clashes and Cinderella stories, the NFL has witnessed a multitude of unforgettable overtime games throughout its storied history. These games have left an indelible mark on the sport and captivated fans with their dramatic finishes, remarkable comebacks, and iconic moments. Whether it’s the “Greatest Show on Turf,” Super Bowl heroics, or legendary quarterback duels, the excitement of overtime football continues to showcase the unrivaled drama and unpredictability that makes the NFL one of the most captivating sports leagues in the world.
Q: What is the longest NFL overtime game in history?
A: The longest NFL overtime game occurred on Christmas Day, 1971, between the Miami Dolphins and the Kansas City Chiefs, lasting for 82 minutes.
Q: Who holds the record for the most game-winning drives in overtime?
Q: Which team has the most overtime wins in NFL history?
Q: Has there ever been a tie in an NFL overtime game?
Q: How is the coin toss conducted in NFL overtime games?