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The NFL's 10 greatest games

THE BALTIMORE SUN

1 Baltimore Colts 23, New York Giants 17 (OT)

F: NFL championship game Dec. 28, 1958, at Yankee Stadium

The two-minute mastery of the Colts' John Unitas and the drama of overtime made this a game for the ages. It created a market for the pro game and forever linked the NFL with television, leading, ultimately, to today's billion-dollar contracts.

Trailing 17-14 at their own 14 with 1: 56 left in regulation, the Colts moved down the field on three Unitas-to-Raymond Berry passes to set up Steve Myhra's tying, 20-yard field goal in the closing seconds. In overtime, Unitas hit Berry for 21 yards on a third-and-15 play to trigger an 80-yard drive that ended with Alan Ameche's 1-yard touchdown run.

2 San Diego Chargers 41, Miami Dolphins 38 (OT)

=1 AFC playoff game Jan. 2, 1982, at Orange Bowl

Voted by the Pro Football Hall of Fame as the "NFL's Game of the '80s," this shootout produced NFL playoff records for most points (79) and most total yards (1,036). It was the first game in NFL history in which two quarterbacks passed for more than 400 yards.

The Dolphins overturned a 24-0 deficit behind backup quarterback Don Strock (29-for-43 for 403 yards and four touchdowns). Strock took a 38-31 lead into the final minute of regulation, when San Diego's Dan Fouts (33-for-53 for 433 yards) tied the game with his third TD pass. Rolf Benirschke's 29-yard field goal 13: 52 into overtime won it after a 39-yard Fouts-to-Charlie Joiner pass carried to the Miami 10. Kellen Winslow had 13 catches for 166 yards for the Chargers.

3 Green Bay Packers 21, Dallas Cowboys 17

NFL championship game Dec. 31, 1967, at Lambeau Field

The Packers captured their third straight NFL title -- and fifth in seven years -- with this dramatic victory in the famed Ice Bowl. Played at temperatures of 13 degrees below zero, the Packers took a 14-0 lead on a pair of Bart Starr-to-Boyd Dowler touchdown passes. But the Cowboys rallied for a 17-14 lead when Dan Reeves threw a 50-yard halfback option pass to Lance Rentzel for a touchdown.

The Packers drove 67 yards in 11 plays over the Lambeau tundra to the Dallas 1 with 16 seconds left. Then, on third down with no timeouts remaining, Starr persuaded Vince Lombardi to call a sneak, and the quarterback lunged behind guard Jerry Kramer for the winning score.

4 Miami Dolphins 27, K.C. Chiefs 24 (2 OTs)

AFC playoff game

A5 Dec. 25, 1971, at Kansas City's Municipal Stadium

Garo Yepremian's 37-yard field goal ended the epic Christmas Day battle after 82 minutes and 40 seconds, the longest game in NFL history. The Dolphins came from behind three times to force overtime and then both Yepremian (45 yards) and Kansas City's Jan Stenerud (42 yards) failed to convert field-goal tries. A 29-yard run by Larry Csonka to the Chiefs' 36 set up the Yepremian winner in the second overtime.

5 Pittsburgh Steelers 35, Dallas Cowboys 31

Super Bowl XIII

-! Jan. 21, 1979, at Orange Bowl

Behind quarterback Terry Bradshaw's MVP performance (318 yards passing, four touchdowns), the Steelers became the first team to win three Super Bowls. They broke open a 21-17 game with two touchdowns in a 19-second span of the fourth quarter. A 22-yard touchdown run by Franco Harris and an 18-yard TD pass to Lynn Swann put the Steelers in front, 35-17.

But Dallas answered with two Roger Staubach touchdown passes around a recovered onsides kick to make it 35-31. The Steelers' Rocky Bleier recovered a second onside kick with 17 seconds left to secure the title.

6 Cleveland Browns 30, Los Angeles Rams 28

NFL championship game

3' Dec. 24, 1950, at Cleveland Stadium

The Rams took a 28-20 lead into the fourth quarter, when Browns quarterback Otto Graham directed a 65-yard touchdown drive to pull within a point. With 1: 48 left, the Browns got the ball at their own 32. After three Graham completions, Lou Groza kicked a 16-yard field goal with 20 seconds left to win.

7 New York Giants 20, Buffalo Bills 19

Super Bowl XXV Jan. 27, 1991, at Tampa Stadium

The Giants earned their second Super Bowl victory when Buffalo's Scott Norwood was wide right on a 47-yard field-goal attempt at game's end. They pulled off the upset with an offense that controlled the ball for a record 40: 33. The Bills, who scored 95 points in two previous playoff games, had possession for less than eight minutes in the second half.

After Thurman Thomas' 31-yard touchdown run gave Buffalo a 19-17 lead one play into the fourth quarter, the Giants went ahead on a 21-yard field goal by Matt Bahr. Giants running back Ottis Anderson (102 yards rushing) was the game MVP.

8 Chicago Bears 23, New York Giants 21

NFL championship game Dec. 17, 1933, at Wrigley Field

The Bears won the NFL's first championship game when Billy Karr scored a touchdown with less than a minute left on a 32-yard pass and lateral. Bronko Nagurski's halfback option pass of 13 yards went to end Bill Hewitt -- one of the game's last helmet-less players -- who lateraled to Karr at the Giants' 19. The Bears needed a game-saving tackle by Red Grange on the last play to hold off the Giants.

9 Pittsburgh Steelers 13, Oakland Raiders 7

G; AFC playoff game Dec. 23, 1972, at Three Rivers Stadium

Franco Harris' "Immaculate Reception" enabled the Steelers to eliminate the Raiders in a highly controversial finish. Trailing 7-6, the Steelers had the ball at their 40 with 22 seconds left. Terry Bradshaw threw a 20-yard pass for running back Frenchy Fuqua, but the ball and Raiders safety Jack Tatum arrived at the same time. The ball caromed toward Harris, who caught it off the turf and raced to the winning touchdown. The rule at the time dictated that a ball deflecting off an offensive player to a teammate was incomplete. Tatum said he never touched the ball, and Fuqua has refused to say whether he touched it.

10 Buffalo Bills 41, Houston Oilers 38 (OT)

AFC playoff game

-! Jan. 3, 1993, at Rich Stadium

The Bills overcame a 32-point, third-quarter deficit to stage the greatest comeback in NFL history. Down 35-3 after the opening series of the second half, the Bills scored touchdowns on their next four possessions behind quarterback Frank Reich, playing for injured Jim Kelly. Reich put Buffalo ahead, 38-35, with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Andre Reed with 3: 08 left in regulation. Houston forced overtime with a 26-yard Al Del Greco field goal.

In overtime, Bills cornerback Nate Odomes intercepted Warren Moon and three plays later, Steve Christie cashed in a 32-yard field goal.

Pub Date: 12/27/98

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