The National Football League (NFL) has witnessed numerous thrilling and unforgettable moments throughout its history.
One of the most captivating aspects of the game is the ability of teams to mount incredible comebacks, turning seemingly insurmountable deficits into stunning victories.
Here we look at the biggest comebacks in NFL history, both in the regular season and playoffs.
We will dive into the details of these remarkable turnarounds, analyze the factors that contributed to their success, and highlight the impact they had on the teams involved and the league as a whole.
Regular Season Comebacks
1. Minnesota Vikings vs. Indianapolis Colts (2022)
The Minnesota Vikings and Indianapolis Colts played each other in Week 2 of the 2022 NFL regular season on September 18th.
The game was played at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
The Colts led that game 33-0 in the second quarter. It was one of the biggest deficits the Vikings had ever faced.
The Vikings then scored 4 unanswered touchdowns to make it 33-28 Colts in the fourth quarter. This marked the second biggest comeback in Vikings history.
With just seconds left, the Vikings tied the game 33-33 on a field goal and forced overtime.
In overtime, the Vikings completed the big comeback by kicking a field goal to win the game 36-33 over the stunned Colts.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins had a huge game, throwing for 351 yards and 3 touchdowns.
2. Buffalo Bills vs. Houston Oilers (1993)
In a wild AFC Wild Card playoff game on January 3, 1993, the Buffalo Bills staged the greatest comeback in NFL history.
The Bills found themselves trailing the Houston Oilers by a staggering 32 points early in the third quarter, with the score at 35-3.
However, led by their star quarterback Frank Reich, the Bills orchestrated an extraordinary rally, scoring 35 unanswered points to tie the game at 35-35 by the end of regulation time.
In overtime, Buffalo’s Steve Christie kicked a field goal to secure a remarkable 41-38 victory.
This historic comeback showcased the resilience and determination of the Buffalo Bills, who refused to give up despite facing an enormous deficit.
It also highlighted the importance of momentum swings in football and how a single play or decision can completely change the course of a game.
3. San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints (1980)
The San Francisco 49ers’ comeback against the New Orleans Saints on December 7, 1980, is another unforgettable moment in NFL history.
Trailing 35-7 at halftime, the 49ers, led by quarterback Joe Montana, mounted an incredible rally in the second half.
Montana threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, leading the team to a stunning 38-35 victory.
This comeback not only showcased Montana’s brilliance as a quarterback but also demonstrated the importance of halftime adjustments and the ability of a team to regroup and refocus after a poor start.
It served as a turning point for the 49ers, who went on to win four Super Bowls in the 1980s.
1. Indianapolis Colts vs. Kansas City Chiefs (2014)
In an AFC Wild Card playoff game on January 4, 2014, the Indianapolis Colts engineered an incredible comeback against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Trailing by 28 points in the third quarter, with the score at 38-10, the Colts, led by quarterback Andrew Luck, staged a remarkable rally.
Luck threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, leading the team to a thrilling 45-44 victory.
This comeback not only showcased Luck’s exceptional talent but also highlighted the importance of perseverance and belief in the face of adversity.
The Colts’ victory served as a testament to the unpredictable nature of playoff football and the potential for dramatic turnarounds even in the most challenging circumstances.
2. New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons (Super Bowl LI)
The New England Patriots’ comeback against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI on February 5, 2017, is widely regarded as one of the greatest comebacks in sports history.
Trailing 28-3 in the third quarter, the Patriots, led by quarterback Tom Brady, mounted an extraordinary rally.
They scored 25 unanswered points to tie the game at 28-28 by the end of regulation time. In overtime, the Patriots completed their comeback, winning 34-28.
This comeback not only showcased Brady’s brilliance and the Patriots’ resilience but also highlighted the importance of teamwork and never giving up.
It served as a reminder that no lead is safe in football and that anything is possible until the final whistle blows.
The Patriots commemorated the comeback in their Super Bowl ring, with 283 diamonds per ring.
Q&A – Biggest Comeback in NFL History (Regular Season & Playoffs)
1. What is the biggest comeback in NFL history?
The biggest comeback in NFL history occurred in a regular season game between the Buffalo Bills and the Houston Oilers on January 3, 1993.
The Bills overcame a 32-point deficit to win the game 41-38 in overtime.
2. Who led the Buffalo Bills’ historic comeback in 1993?
The Buffalo Bills’ historic comeback in 1993 was led by their quarterback, Frank Reich.
He orchestrated the rally, throwing four touchdown passes and leading the team to victory.
3. What is the largest halftime deficit overcome in an NFL game?
The largest halftime deficit overcome in an NFL game is 33 points.
The Minnesota Vikings beat the Indianapolis Colt 36-33 after being down 33-0 on September 18, 2022.
4. Who orchestrated the San Francisco 49ers’ comeback in 1980?
The San Francisco 49ers’ comeback in 1980 was orchestrated by their legendary quarterback, Joe Montana.
He threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, leading the team to a stunning victory.
5. What is the biggest comeback in NFL playoff history?
The biggest comeback in NFL playoff history occurred in a game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Kansas City Chiefs on January 4, 2014.
The Colts overcame a 28-point deficit to win the game 45-44.
6. Who led the Indianapolis Colts’ historic playoff comeback in 2014?
The Indianapolis Colts’ historic playoff comeback in 2014 was led by their quarterback, Andrew Luck.
He threw for four touchdowns and led the team to a thrilling victory.
7. What is the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history?
The greatest comeback in Super Bowl history took place in Super Bowl LI between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons on February 5, 2017.
The Patriots overcame a 25-point deficit to win the game 34-28 in overtime.
8. Who led the New England Patriots’ historic Super Bowl comeback in 2017?
The New England Patriots’ historic Super Bowl comeback in 2017 was led by their quarterback, Tom Brady.
He orchestrated the rally, throwing for 466 yards and two touchdowns, leading the team to victory.
9. What factors contribute to a successful comeback in the NFL?
Several factors contribute to a successful comeback in the NFL, including strong leadership from the quarterback, effective halftime adjustments, momentum swings, and the ability of the team to maintain belief and perseverance in the face of adversity.
10. How do comebacks impact the teams involved and the league as a whole?
Comebacks have a significant impact on the teams involved and the league as a whole.
They serve as inspirational moments, boosting the morale and confidence of the winning team.
They also create memorable moments that fans cherish and discuss for years to come, generating excitement and interest in the sport.
11. Are comebacks more common in the regular season or playoffs?
Comebacks can occur in both the regular season and playoffs.
However, due to the higher stakes and intensity of playoff games, comebacks in the playoffs tend to be more memorable and impactful.
12. What are some other notable comebacks in NFL history?
Some other notable comebacks in NFL history include the “Music City Miracle” in the 1999 playoffs between the Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills, the “Miracle at the Meadowlands” in 1978 between the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants, and the “Immaculate Reception” in 1972 between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders.
13. How do comebacks affect the momentum of a game?
Comebacks can completely shift the momentum of a game.
A team that was previously trailing and struggling can gain confidence and momentum from a successful comeback, while the team that was leading may lose their composure and struggle to regain control.
14. What are some strategies teams use to mount comebacks?
Teams use various strategies to mount comebacks, including aggressive play-calling, adjustments in game plans, exploiting weaknesses in the opposing team’s defense, and relying on the leadership and performance of key players.
15. Can comebacks be attributed solely to the efforts of one player?
Comebacks are rarely attributed solely to the efforts of one player.
While individual performances can be instrumental in turning the tide of a game, successful comebacks require a collective effort from the entire team, including coaches, players, and support staff.
Summary – Biggest Comeback in NFL History (Regular Season & Playoffs)
The NFL has witnessed several remarkable comebacks throughout its history, both in the regular season and playoffs.
These comebacks serve as a testament to the unpredictable nature of the game and the potential for dramatic turnarounds even in the most challenging circumstances.
The Buffalo Bills’ comeback against the Houston Oilers in 1993, the San Francisco 49ers’ rally against the New Orleans Saints in 1980, the Indianapolis Colts’ comeback against the Kansas City Chiefs in 2014, and the New England Patriots’ historic comeback against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI are just a few examples of the greatest comebacks in NFL history.
These moments not only showcased the brilliance of individual players but also highlighted the importance of teamwork, perseverance, and belief in achieving success on the football field.