The top title games
Yesterday’s NFC and AFC championship games weren’t exactly rough on the eyes. But for our money, they weren’t among the best ever played.
5. 2002 AFC:
NWE 24, PIT 17
Admittedly, this one is more for Patriots fans. With Tom Brady knocked out of the game, Drew Bledsoe stepped in and shut up the loudmouth Steelers in Pittsburgh. Troy Brown returned a punt for a TD, and Tebucky Jones and Lawyer Milloy each picked off Steelers QB Kordell Stewart late in the game, paving the way for Super Bowl XXXI.
4. 1988 AFC:
DEN 38, CLE 33
Who can forget “The Fumble”? Certainly nobody in Cleveland — those poor fans. Just a year after John Elway led the Broncos 98 yards in the closing minutes to beat the Browns, Denver prevailed again. With 1:12 left on the clock and a chance to tie, Browns RB Earnest Byner fumbled (somehow) at the 2-yard line, again breaking the hearts of beleaguered Clevelanders.
3. 1991 NFC:
NYG 15, SF 13
The 49ers were supposed to three-peat, but Bill Parcells and the Giants had other ideas. Down 13-9 in the fourth quarter, a New York fake punt was a success, leading to a field goal. With Joe Montana injured from an earlier hit, the Giants forced 49ers back Roger Craig to fumble with under three minutes left. New York recovered, marched down the field and kicked the game-winning field goal.
2. 2010 NFC:
NWO 31, MIN 28
Oh Brett Favre, you did it again. The game was tied at 28 in the closing seconds, and the Vikings were threatening to score. Favre dropped back under pressure and, true to form, scrambled and threw an erratic pass — straight to a Saints linebacker Tracy Porter. The pick sent the game into OT, where the Saints won it on a field goal.
1. 2007 AFC:
IND 38, NWE 34
The Pats were ahead by 18 points in the second quarter, and fans started making plans for their Super Bowl parties. But Colts QB Peyton Manning led his team all the way back by the third quarter. Down 34-31 late in the fourth, Manning orchestrated an 80-yard drive in a little over a minute to give the Colts a 38-34 lead and the win.