Top 30 NFL Games of All Time – Modern Era

I am an insatiable NFL fan. When I was twenty-one years old and I first started sensing a call into Christian ministry, my greatest concern was that I might have to miss NFL games. I am so thankful that God called me to minister in a Presbyterian Church where there are no Sunday Evening Services. In the fall, after a wonderful morning of worship, there is no greater feeling for me than to buy a bucket of fried chicken, pop a couple of cold ones, and kick back in front of my big screen to watch the greatest sport on the face of the planet. Jonathan Edwards and Calvin, being pretty serious guys, would probably disapprove. But I don’t hold it against them.

I realize that they were never afforded the opportunity to see an NFL football game on a big screen TV. Enough said about that. If I say any more, you’ll probably start thinking that football is an idol in my life. So just get that out of your head. That’s not true. Football is not an idol. I’ll prove it. If there was ever a football team named the Golden Bulls, I would not watch them. So there you go.

Now, if you identify with me in this love of NFL Football…if you too are an NFL fan; if you are the kind of person who can name a player for every number 1-99 (#1-Warren Moon, #2-Charley Trippi, #3-Bronco Nagurski…etc.); if you can name the entire offensive line of the 1966 Green Bay Packers; if you can name the winner of every Superbowl; if you have a collection of 200 television recorded football games; if one of your proudest moments as a father was when your eight year old son argued with a group of grown men that Chuck Bednarik was the hardest hitting linebacker of all time; if the first real book that you ever read was “Instant Replay” by Green Bay guard Jerry Kramer; if it bothers you that you cannot find a recording of the 1958 Championship Game; if you know what I’m talking about when I recount the greatest moments in the NFL using terms like: “Immaculate Reception”, “Heidi Game”, “Wide Right”, “Hail Mary Game”, “Ghost to the Post”, “Ice Bowl”, “The Drive”, “The Fumble”, and “The Catch”; if you identify with me in this sickness, then you are in deep trouble. Get help. See a counselor. Or…

Or…get a bucket of chicken, pop a cold one, and enjoy my list as I recount the 30 greatest NFL games of all time. Only three more months until the season starts boys. Only three more months.

1. “The Greatest Game Ever Played”
Baltimore Colts 23, New York Giants 17 (OT)
NFL Championship Game, Dec. 28, 1958
It was the first NFL game ever to go into sudden death overtime. Also the first game ever to be nationally televised. It has since become widely known as The Greatest Game Ever Played. The game marked the emergence of the NFL into the modern area, immortalized Johnny Unitas as an American sports hero, and launched the rise of the NFL to the top of the United States sports market.

2. “The Ice Bowl”
Packers 21, Cowboys 17
NFL Championship Game, Dec. 31, 1967 at Green Bay.
In one of the coldest days in NFL lore, Bart Starr ends a bitterly fought game when he falls forward between guard Jerry Kramer and center Ken Bowman to score the go ahead touchdown. This was by far Vince Lombardi’s finest moment.

3. “The Catch”
49ers 28, Cowboys 27
NFC Championship Game, Jan. 10, 1982 at San Francisco
Who says white men can’t jump? The last time I looked, Dwight Clark was still ascending. No matter how many times I watch the replay, that leap still looks absolutely unbelievable. It has to be a CGI manipulated effect. No other explanation.

4. “The Comeback”
Bills 41, Oilers 38 (OT)
AFC Wild-Card Playoff Game, Jan. 3, 1993 at Buffalo, N.Y.
This game is absolute proof that Frank Reich really does have a relationship with God.

5. “Better than Perfect”
Giants 17, Patriots 14
Superbowl XLll, February 3, 2008 – Phoenix, AZ.
Eli Manning ruins the Patriots’ bid for perfection with an otherworldly completion to little known receiver David Tyree.

6. “Epic in Miami”
Chargers 41, Dolphins 38 (OT)
AFC Divisional Playoff Game, Jan. 2, 1982 at Miami.
In one of the greatest individual performances in sports history, Kellen Winslow gives his impression of the energizer bunny. The lean tight end overcomes incredible heat and leg cramps that double him over in pain. But through it all, he catches passes, block kicks, throws bone crushing blocks, and just keeps going, and going, and going…

7. “The Immaculate Reception”
Steelers 13, Raiders 7
AFC Divisional Playoff Game, Dec. 23, 1972 at Pittsburgh
No one but the refs saw Franco catch it.

8. “Ghost to The Post”
Raiders 37, Colts 31 (2OT)
AFC Divisional Playoff Game, December 24, 1977 at Baltimore, Maryland.
In the NFL’s third longest game, Ken Stabler lobbed a wobbly pass over the shoulder of tight end Dave “The Ghost” Casper, whose circus one handed grab ended the affair.

9. “The Upset”
Jets 14, Colts 7
Superbowl III, January 12, 1969, at Miami, Florida
Joe Namath guaranteed his Jets would beat the heavily favored Colts in an appearance before the Miami Touchdown Club. Needless to say, he backed up his promise.

10. “One Yard Short”
Rams 23 Titans 16
Super Bowl 34, Jan. 30, 2000
Arrgghh! Kurt Warner leads the Greatest Show on Turf to a victory over the Titans when Steve McNair’s pass to wide receiver Kevin Dyson fell one-yard short of the goal line to prevent a game-tying touchdown.

11. “The Fumble”
Broncos 38, Browns 33
AFC Championship Game, Jan. 17, 1988 at Denver, Colorado
In all of sports, Earnest Byner’s infamous play is overshadowed only by the Boston Red Sox’s Bill Buckner. It is one of the NFL’s greatest tragedies that this great player is almost completely defined by his worst moment. Keep your head up, Earnest! You played your heart out.

12. “Music City Miracle”
Titans 22, Bills 16
AFC Wildcard Playoff Game, Jan. 8, 2000 at Tennessee
This game is made great almost solely on the merit of the greatest single play in the history of the NFL. As much as I admire the play, I still think Frank Wycheck threw a forward lateral.

13. “The Holy Roller”
Raiders 21, Chargers 20
Season Game, Sept. 10, 1978 at San Diego
The Raiders just kept fumbling it forward until Dave Casper fell on it in the end zone. An incredible play.

14. “Hail Mary”
Cowboys 17, Vikings 14
NFC Divisional Playoff Game, Dec. 28, 1975 at Minnesota
The ever elusive Roger Staubach launches a prayer to Drew Pearson in the icy rain of Minnesota’s memorial stadium.

15. “Montana Impersonates Elway”
Chiefs 31, Broncos 28
MNF Classic Game, Oct. 17, 1994 at Denver
Joe Montana, playing with the Chiefs, beats John Elway at his own game in this Monday Night Football classic.

16. “The Drive”
Broncos 23, Browns 20 (OT)
AFC Championship Game, Jan. 11, 1987 at Cleveland
John Elway goes 90 yards in under two minutes to once again drive the dagger into Cleveland’s heart.

17. “The Tuck Rule Game”
Patriots 16, Raiders 13 (OT)
AFC Divisional Playoff Game, Jan. 19, 2002 at New England
Tom Brady’s…ahem…”forward pass” landed harmlessly in the evening snow. It looked like a fumble to everybody not wearing a Pats jersey.

18. “The Longest Game”
Dolphins 27, Chiefs 24 (2 OT)
AFC Disional Playoff Game, Dec. 25, 1971 at Kansas City
In the NFL’s longest game ever played (82 minutes, 40 seconds), Miami kicker Garo Yepremian kicked the winning 37-yard field goal after 7:40 of double-overtime.

19. “Duel in Dixie”
Cowboys 30, Falcons 27
NFC Divisional Playoff Game, Jan. 4, 1981 at Atlanta
Danny White, possessed by the ghost of Roger the Dodger, brings the Cowboys back from twenty points down.

20. “Wide Right”
Giants 20 Bills 19
Super Bowl 25, January 1991
The Bill’s Scott Norwood squanders Buffalo’s best chance to win a Superbowl when his potentially game winning kick misses wide right.

21. “Dirty Birds”
Falcons 30, Minnesota Vikings 27 (OT)
NFC Championship Game, January 17, 1999 at Minnesota
An absolute barn-burner. Fox Sports ranked it the third most exciting NFC Championship Game ever. Third most exciting? Maybe. But I say it comes in as only 21st in the greatest game department.

22. “John Taylor Runs Wild”
49ers 30 Rams 27
MNF Classic Game, Dec. 11, 1989
For once, Jerry Rice was not the show. Led by a career day from John Taylor, the 49ers overcame a 27-10 deficit. Taylor put up nearly 300 yards receiving and scored two long touchdowns.

22. “Miami Stops The Bears”
Dolphins 38, Bears 24
MNF Classic Game, Dec. 2, 1985 at Miami
Dan Marino and the Dolphins hold serve as the only undefeated team in NFL History by stopping the Bears’ undefeated run at 12 games.

23. “The Immaculate Tackle”
Steelers 21 Colts 18
AFC Divisional Playoff Game, Jan. 15, 2006
Ben Roethlisberger, spinning and falling, made a season saving, shoe string tackle at the Colts’ 42-yard line.

24. “Hey Ho Jumbo!”
Jets 40, Dolphins 37 (OT)
MNF Classic Game, Oct. 23, 2000 at New York
The Jets erase a 23 point second half deficit to win in OT. The key play was a lame duck pass to offensive tackle, Jumbo Elliot, who bumbled and stumbled and bobbled and finally cradled the pigskin for the game tying touchdown. Hey ho, Jumbo!

25. “Steve Smith Arrives”
Carolina 29 Rams 23 (2OT)
NFC Divisional Playoff Game Jan. 10, 2004
In the NFL’s 5th longest game, Steve Smith arrives on the scene, upstaging the favored Ram’s Greatest Show on Turf.

26. “The Skins & Boys’ Greatest Game”
Cowboys 31, Redskins 30
MNF Classic Game, Sept. 5, 1983 at Washington
In the season opener, rookie Darrel Green makes an astonishing debut, tracking down Tony Dorsett on a 77 yard run, six yards short of the end zone. Still, it wasn’t enough. The Cowboys prevail.

27. “Brett Wins One For His Dad”
Packers 41, Raiders 7
MNF Classic Game, Dec. 22, 2003
One day after his father dies of a heart attack, Brett Favre has his greatest day ever on a football field.

28. “White Shoes Resurrection”
Falcons 28, 49ers 24
Season Game, Nov. 20, 1983 at Atlanta, Ga
Billy “White Shoes” Johnson, in the twilight of his career, gives us one last incredible memory, catching the ball at the 2, then unbelievably twisting into the endzone as the final second ticks off the clock.

29. “Forgotten Classic”
Redskins 24, 49ers 21
NFC Championship Game, January 8, 1984 at Washington D.C.
In one of the best games that nobody remembers, the 49ers, succumbing to countless controversial penalties, lost the contest to Redskins’ kicker Mark Moseley, who overcame an awful day to boot the winning field goal.

30. “Peyton’s Turn”
Colts 38, Patriots 34
AFC Championship Game, Jan. 21, 2007 at Indianapolis
Peyton Manning finally defeats the evil empire to advance to the Superbowl.

Do you think I have it right? Did I leave a game off the list that you feel should be there? I’d love to hear your comments!

73 thoughts on “Top 30 NFL Games of All Time – Modern Era

  1. are you kidding me?

    Not one game including Tampa Bay? What about the 02 NFC Championship that was the last game in Veterans Stadium? The 02 Superbowl where Jon Gruden destroyed the team who had just gotten rid of him? Or how about the ’03 season opener in Lincoln field when Joe Jurevicious made 2 unreal catches while his son was dying in Tampa?

    And even though it was a loss, what about Tony Dungy’s MNF return to Tampa where the Bucs blew a 35-14 lead with 5:08 left to play?

    What are the Bucs, Rodney Dangerfield?


    • Good List- I was hoping the “Sea of Hands ” game would have made it. I thought that was a great game. Also didn’t see the ” Heidi Game” ? That was the greatest ending nobody ever saw!!


      • I was at both games. The excitement at the Sea of Hands game was amazing. Our seats were in the end zone where Stabler threw the pass to Davis. It was amazing.

        The thing about the Heidi bowl that I remember was the long pass from LaMonica to (I think) Clem Daniels. The fans went crazy when the Jets fumbled on the ensuing kickoff.

        That was not a greatest game but the ‘Sea of Hands’ game definitely. I wonder if Madden wouldb agree? Curt Gowdy thought so…


  2. Justin,

    I tried to look at the list from an objective standpoint. I’m like that. My only “homer” entry was number 28. Tell you what, pop that one out and insert Dungy’s return to Tampa. You’re right, that one was a classic. And yes, the Bucs are Rodney Dangerfield.

    With that said, Justin, let me encourage you to get out a little more. The NFL does have 31 other teams. I agreed that the Bucs are Rodney Dangerfield, but it may be more accurate to compare them to Madonna. That’s it! They’re Madonna! And you’re like the dude who fell in love with Madonna when he was in middle school. He grew up with her posters on his wall, never got married, and still holds out hope that someday she’ll say yes to him. Meanwhile, he hasn’t noticed that the she never really had a lot of talent to begin with, she was mismanaged, and now, well, the old girl she ain’t what she used to be.

    Here’s some humble advice for you Bro. Date around a little. It won’t hurt nothing. Pick a couple of teams…ask them to go to the movies or something. Monday Nights are good. Take ’em out to dinner. Show ‘em the town. Have a good time. That way, when the the Bucs comeback tour goes south, when the cosmetic surgery fails, when the posters fade; when the Bucs inevitably break your heart again – you’ll have a little something to cushion the fall.


  3. Nice post!

    What great memories of those awesome games. Although my memory only takes me back to the games starting in the sixties (even as a kid of 7 or 8 I was a rabid fan), I still know of, and lovingly watched the old clips of the big games of yore.

    What a suprise to see that you listed Charley Trippi. He’s my Mom’s cousin, and I always heard my Uncles talking about him when I was kid.

    As I grow older, and turn more into a dinosaur, I am losing my love for pro football. I think a lot of it has to do with the way the culture has changed the game. Cry baby millionaires with their goofy antics…Lombardi wouldn’t have put up with that crap.

    I like college football better these days and even there the goofy dancing after a tackle made, is starting to get on my nerves.

    In Heaven, when a guy makes a tackle, Lombardi will tell him that he needs to drive those legs more!

    Thanks Tim!

    – Steve Martin


  4. Doggone good list. I’m a recovering, nah, fully recovered NFL addict. I grew up watching the Packers — Jerry Kramer, the greatest guard not in the Hall of Fame is from my home town. I lived and died with the Packers. I could name both their offense and defense as well as most of their bench in those days. Yeah, the Ice Bowl was one of the greatest. Actually, the Cowboys really outplayed them until that last drive.
    After Lombardi left and Starr and the rest were gone, I really didn’t stay with the Packers. Yeah, I was a fair weather fan. I was a Cowboy fan in the the 70’s. Roger Dodger was my hero. I watched the Hail Mary game, unfortunately with a bunch of relatives who were Viking fans. Somewhere in the 90’s I quit watching very much until the playoffs came around. As with the Packers in the 60’s, I lived and died with the Cowboys in the 70’s. “The Catch” broke my heart. Oh, and I did see the 1958 Colts-Giants game. For Christmas that year (I was 7) I got a plastic football helmet and painted a horseshoe on it. I was Johnny U. I rarely agree with with Sports Illustrated about anything, but the greatest game of the 20th Century was the San Diego-Miami playoff game. Until the past 10 or 12 years, most Super Bowls were major disappointments, with one team failing to show up. But there have been some great ones lately. This past season I only watched one game from start to finish…the Super Bowl. And I think it was the best-played football game ever. “One yard short” and “the longest game” are two more of my favorites. And if you think that the Raiders were “fumbling” the ball in the “Holy Roller Game”, then you’ve got more issues than a possible football addiction. 🙂 Thanks for the list.


  5. you know who this is just by the title. The only thing I didn’t about the list is that the numbers two and three are Cowboys loosing but on down we were redeemed by two Redskins loosing so that trumps any of those others. Gets me fired up for Football I’m ready to paint my face and go to Texas stadium one last time before they move. I just found out that I like Don Bob even more another Cowboy Fan wow he might have to get invited to the annual football party at the Robersons.

    Great list love me some football



  6. DonBob,
    I stand corrected bro. Ken Bowman was the center for Green Bay in 1967. You are dead on about Ringo. I think Kramer told that story in “Instant Replay” if I remember correctly. I still have the copy of Instant Replay that I read as a kid. It was my first ‘real’ book. I used to dream about how great it would be to have played on that team with Lombardi. Actually, my ideal team to have played with would have been the 65 Packers when they beat Cleveland and Jim Brown for the Championship. That GB team had all the greats in their prime – Hornung, Taylor, Thurston, Gregg, Starr, Adderly, Wood, Nitch, Kramer, and W. Davis – and they played the Browns when they had all their greats – Jim Brown, Frank Ryan, Groza, G. Collins, P. Warfield, G. Hickerson and Jim Houston. That would have been a great game to see.


  7. I am with justin on the come back by Peyton Manning(a Tennessee Vol) but most people wont remember that one because most were in bed. There is also a Monday night football game were Earl Campbell in 1978 went crazy to beat the Steelers and all I remember was the song and all the blue and white shakers singing Houston Oilers number one. And there was the loss by the Cowboys to Pittsburg when the catch didnt happen but the drop in the end zone by Richards broke there back.The only game that really should not be on there is the Carolina game please an expansion team? You are right the personal performance was great but the Panthers should not be on the same web page as the Cowboys,Colts,Packers,Steelers these were teams when the Panthers werent even a twinkling in the NFLs fathers eye.Go Cowboys


  8. Ron,
    Yeah…the more I think about it, that Manning comeback game really should replace the Billy White Shoes game. I also remember the games you talked about. In fact, I have the Campbell game on DVD. They almost had to carry the guy off the field he was tired at the end of that game. He had four touchdowns! But, it was a great “performance”, not a great “game”. In my picks, my criteria was…
    1 – Was it a national audience
    2 – Was it a playoff game
    3 – Was it close
    4 – Was it an upset
    5 – Did the game change the NFL (ie. Tuck Rule)
    6 – Are people still talking about it
    7 – How many hall of fame-rs played in the game
    8 – Did it go into overtime
    9 – Did the weather impact the game
    10 – Did the game make or break someone’s career

    With that criteria, the first ten picks or so are a no brainer. I defend the Carolina win over the Rams because it has most of those ingredients. I’m not that big of a Panthers fan so I’m really not playing a homer pick on this. It was just a great game.

    But I do think I put it too high. I probably should swap number 25 with number 29. I should also take out number 28 and replace it with the Peyton Manning Game.

    In the future I plan to submit some posts of “Top 50 players”, “Top 30 Moments”, “Top 20 Goats”, “20 Best Quotes”, etc. It should be fun.


  9. I grew up with the BALTIMORE Colts and could see Memorial Stadium from my front porch. 1969 was a bad year for Baltimore sports-the loss to the Jets (#9) of AFL legend and the Orioles lost to the vastly underdog Mets in the 1969 World Series. If you want a great movie that touches on the devotion to Colts football see the movie Diner. One guy will not marry his fiancee until she passes a Colts trivia test. PS I had a woman friend of mine who in fact did not get out of bed for 4 days when the Colts left in the middle of the night to go to another city. I forget where they went.


  10. For current and/or former Cowboy fans, I have a favorite Roger Staubach story. After he retired at the end of the 1979 season, Roger did a stint as a color announcer for CBS. 1980 was the year of the Presidential race between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. On the last televised debate, the candidates were asked the most important issue facing America (don’t worry, I’ll get back to Roger). President Carter said that he had asked his daughter Amy the night before (I believe she was about 10 at the time) what the biggest challange facing our country is. According to the President, she said, “Dad, I think it’s the proliferation of nuclear weapons.”
    The next Sunday, Roger was doing for the Cowboy game (I don’t remember who they were playing or who was doing the play by play). The other dude asked what it was going to take for the Cowboys to win. Roger said, “Last night I asked my daugher Amy (he really has a daughter named Amy) what the Cowboys greatest challenge would be. She said, ‘Dad, all we gotta worry about is the bomb.’ Not surprisingly, CBS got a lotta complaint calls. I also remember hime saying, and I think it may have been in the same game, that an official had made a bad call against the Cowboys because his seeing-eye dog had died that week.


    • LOL. Roger Staubach complaining about the refs is really laughable considering he and the Cowboys benefitted from a really bad call in the Hail mary game.


  11. Based on Tim’s criteria, I think you would have to be a fool to leave the 2008 NFC championship game between the Giants and Packers off this list. In all seriousness, I believe this game to be one of the greatest ever. Lets look at the criteria points to see how it measures up:

    1. National Audience? Of course! Brett Favre, Lambeau Field, NFC championship, etc. etc.
    2. Playoff Game? Yes.
    3. Was it close? 5 lead changes and a tie game for most of the 4th quarter. Yea I’d say so.
    4. Was it an upset? Hell yes. The wild card Giants took down the NFC’s second best team on the road.
    5. Did the game change the NFL? Not quite.
    6. Are people still talking about it? Definetly
    7. Hall of famers? You have at least two with Favre and Strahan. It’s hard to say how many others will emerge.
    8. Overtime? Yessir.
    9. Weather factor? Nahhhh, just the third coldest game in NFL history. No biggie.
    10. Did the game make or break careers? It didn’t exactly break Favre’s career, but it’s hard to imagine a more bitter way to end a legacy. The careers of Charles Woodson and Al Harris very well might have been destroyed by the debacle. Only time will tell if the game will turn out to have made any careers. Possible candidates for that might be Lawrence Tynes or Ahmad Bradshaw.

    Anybody disagree?


  12. Dude, I have to give it up for you on that one. Maybe the impact of that game is still being assessed because it is so recent. But you make a very strong argument.


  13. Tim,

    Being a longtime Raiders fan who has witnessed most of their great classics, you ommitted the 1974 Sea Of Hands game with Miami, by far the most intense and exciting game not only have the Raiders played in, but one of the league’s all time best ever games, hands down. In fact NFL Films is as we speak finally putting a Greatest Games treatment on this for the fall season.

    John in Ohio


  14. John, I will look into that game in regard to placement, but you are completely right in insisting that this game should be on the list. I know exactly the one you’re talking about and it absolutely slipped my mind. I’m also thrilled that NFL will be putting this one into it’s library of Greatest Games. I’ll look forward to seeing that one. BTW, how did you find out that factoid about the Greatest Games Series…Is there a website out there that I should be aware of?


  15. I had to read the list twice just to make sure you didn’t forget the 49ers-Packer wild card game but you did, it was hands down one of the greatest games in NFL history. That a side it’s a good list, may I suggest a few more:

    Bucs vs. Colts (2003)-Colts make a great late comback to win in over time.

    Bucs vs. Redskins (2005)-Gruden goes for a late two pointer and gets it (these two were for the Bucs fan who was complaining).

    Bills vs. 49ers (1992)-Great shoot out between Young and Kelly.

    Pats vs. Dolphins (1994)-Bledsoe and Marino have it out in the first week of the season in a stadium that looks like a swimming pool.

    Pats vs. Panthers (Super Bowl)- The finest super bowl of the modern it had everything, a master class (the panther should have won!).

    49ers vs. Giants (Wild card 2002)- Awesome game, Niners make second biggest comeback in play off history and the match ends in a mess.

    49ers vs. Giants (1990)-Both teams were supposed to come into the game 10-0, but both lost the week before, the match was a defensive struggle to end them all.

    Packer vs. Vikings (2000)-Over time Packers win with a play as bizarre as the music city miracle.

    Saints vs. Jags (2003) – Taking about wild finish, how about the river city relay!

    Skins vs. Cowboys (1999) – You mentioned a few boys vs. skins matches but missed the best of all, a wild shoot out with a great ending in over time, the rocket still has it.

    There are many more but I have to get back to work.


  16. Breadfan,
    Great list man. Several of those games just fell short of the list. Your contributions make me want to make the list into a top 50. Thanks for stopping by!


  17. Gentlemen, has anyone ever run across a BETA or VHS of the 1971 Christmas Day game? I was 12 at the time. My father, now 83, and I would be so grateful to optain a copy. Please e-mail. My best.
    Ross Rayner
    Safety Harbor, FL


  18. In my opinion, the 2007 NFC Championship Game between the Giants and Packers played in -23 degree weather was the greatest NFL game of all time. You really need to re-watch the entire game on dvd to appreciate it.


  19. What about the 2002 NFC Wild card game between the Giants and the 49ers.Where after falling behind 38-14, Jeff Garcia and the offense had no choice but to produce the second-greatest comeback in 49ers playoff history. Scoring an unbelievable 25 unanswered points to take the lead. And the Giants offense with little time left, mustard up the strength and determination to set themselves within field goal range, but despite a valiant effort the 20 year veteran long snapper Trey Junkin (who not too long ago was retired, and just recently signed with the giants to replace the injured Dan O’Leary)threw a bad snap which forced the place kicker to try to throw for it. The pass was ruled incomplete, but there was a flag for pass interference. Consequently that wasn’t the only flag throw, the other one was for illegible receiver down field. The two calls canceled each other out and the game was over like that, but since it was such a critical play it got a 2nd,3rd,4th look at. And as people started to look at the play, they realized that the giant down field was in fact an legible receiver. The next day the NFL recognizes it’s mistake and apologizes for sticking a knife in the giants Superbowl hopes which weren’t really much too begin with. I don’t know why this game didn’t make the list


  20. in the Titans bills miracle pass wasnt there a film clip from the goodyear blimp clearly showing a forward pass but the NFL ref couldnt use it as it wasnt NFL sactioned????? Thanks Steve ( still a bills fan )


  21. Not a bad list but I guess it depends if you’re looking through other eyes or your own. I still believe that the best games of all time have happened the last 10-15 years or so. The older games had key historic “NFL Moments” but I think they were sinfully boring.
    Just cause my dad tells me stories of Bart Starr and Roger Staubach doesn’t make the old NFL more exciting. I prefer watching these faster, harder hitting and better football educated players that give me parity in the NFL each week. To each their own I suppose but my top 30 list would be more modern. I do agree on the Minny/Atlanta game . That was just plain awesome to watch.


  22. Okay you’re leaving out giants bills superbowl, patriots rams upset superbowl, patriots panthers superbowl (something against New England there?, cards steelers superbowl (maybe this was before that), colts beat patriots in championship, rams steelers superbowl and rams championship before that, and a bunch of other championship or superbowl meaningful games.


  23. I think you are going to have to add the 2010 NFC Divisional playoff game between Packers and Cardinals. As a Packer fan it was hard to see the Packers go down in defeat 51-45 but it was a great game none the less.

    A 1983 regular season, Monday-night football game between the Packers and Redskins was also a great game with the Packers winning it 48-47.

    Thanks for making this list.


  24. Super Bowl 42 was the best game ever played. Super Bowl 25 should be higher on this list. Super Bowl 36 and 38 were snubbed.

    I don’t know if the Tuck Rule game deserves to be on here. The Tuck Rule was in place before the game and the rule didn’t change after the game. I live in New England and you’d have to be blind to think the rule applied to that play anyway. (When does the tucking motion end? Surely when he has 2 hands on the ball looking down field its over.)

    I think the 2003 Colts comeback should be on here and the 2006 AFC Championship game should be higher (top 10). The game had everything–it had a huge comeback, a shootout, star power, playoffs.

    The 1994 Bledsoe-Marino shoot out should probably be on here too. I guess it just needs to be a top 50 games list, lol.


  25. I think you left off another great game……..

    NFC Wildcard Playoff Game 1998
    Green Bay Packers vs San Francisco 49ers

    Truly one of the greatest games of all time……..close game and at the last .08 seconds, Steve Young pulls of an incredible throw to Terrell Owens while owens was blocked by 4 defensive players and catches it to pull the 2nd biggest comeback in Niner History….It is mostly remembered as “The Catch Number 2”


    • historic game…the end of the Dolphin dynasty…big plays…multiple fourth quarter lead changes…amazing winning TD pass by Stabler…NBC game announcer Al deRogatis called it the greatest gaeme he had ever seen.


  26. why wasnt the saints game, when the saints returned to the super dome after hurricane katrina on this list? it was amazing, Steve Gleason blocked that punt for the saints to beat the falcons, and take that win away and the Saints wouldnt have gone to the playoffs that year.


  27. one of the greatest games i ever saw was in 2007, a game with no real meaning when the ravens played the undefeated patriots. that was an amazing game


  28. I think the NFC Wild Card game in 2010, Green Bay Packers vs Arizona Cardinals. Aaron Rodgers came back from a 3 touchdown deficit in his first ever play-off game to send it into overtime, got a bit unlucky in the end. 51-45 final score shows how much action was there to see.


  29. Tim….odd that just yesterday some of us on Pastor Search Committee were pondering if we would one day drop Sunday night services and I remarked that “Sometimes I bet our pastor wishes he were a Presbyterian.”

    Great trivia question: Who was the sideline official who got beaned with a whiskey bottle after Drew Pearson’s “Hail Mary” catch in Minnesota? No LOOKING.


  30. I have to admit I have a lot of problems when looking at this “list.”

    First off, you state that it’s the Top 30 NFL Games of All Time during the “Modern Era.” The NFL has stated that the modern era began in 1970 once the AFL-NFL Merger took effect, so that would automatically remove the top 2 games of this list. Yet, for some reason, they’re included.

    Secondly, there’s way too many regular season games. Sure, they might’ve been good ones, but you can’t honestly tell me John Taylor’s game against the Rams was more important, thrilling, or even better overall than his catch to help seal Joe Montana’s legendary comeback in Super Bowl XXIII.

    Third, the Patriots are clearly a team you don’t like, because of the three games you have them being involved in, two of them they’ve lost, while one’s the tuck-rule (an overrated game), and the other one they’re referred to as the “evil empire.” Granted, the Patriots aren’t the most lovable team, but you can’t have bias when making this list. I would easily put one of their two Super Bowl triumphs (Rams or Panthers) over the tuck-rule game.

    Fourth, if you want to include some of the older games, why not the 1950 NFL Championship between the Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles Rams,with Lou “The Toe” Groza kicking the game-winning field goal, or Tobin Rote leading one of the first comebacks in NFL playoff history as the Detroit Lions rallied from 17 points down to beat the San Francisco 49ers 31-27 in 1957.

    All in all, while there’s some good games on this list, half of them shouldn’t even sniff the Top 30, when you include other games, like Super Bowl XLIII, that will be fondly remembered in the years to come.


    • OK John let’s take your issues one at a time:

      First – “Modern Era” – I use the term “Modern Era” to include games after 1950 when the NFL merged with the AAFC. So there’s that.

      Second – “Too Many Regular Season Games” – My criteria for making the list is as follows:
      In my picks, my criteria was…
      1 – Was it a national audience
      2 – Was it a playoff game
      3 – Was it close
      4 – Was it an upset
      5 – Did the game change the NFL (ie. Tuck Rule)
      6 – Are people still talking about it
      7 – How many hall of fame-rs played in the game
      8 – Did it go into overtime
      9 – Did the weather impact the game
      10 – Did the game make or break someone’s career

      I would also add that this is a list that I made three years ago, so I definitely need to update it.

      Third – You’re a Patriots fan?! C’mon man! Really? That seriously undermines your credibility, bro.

      Fourth – Those two games in the 50’s were great. In fact, the one between the Browns and Rams probably should be included – and pretty high up. When the Jets won Superbowl 3, it marked the legitimacy of the old AFL. In much the same way, when the Browns won NFL championship over the Rams, it marked the legitimacy of the old AAFC. In the first year after the merger, the Browns of the AAFC beat the mighty Los Angeles Rams.

      All in all, good comments.


  31. Doesnt ANYONE have the december 25,1971 playoff game Miami Dolphins Vs Kansas City Chiefs [THE LONGEST GAME] on video,that would sell a copy of it???? watched every moment of it on that day,would love to have it to watch again,at the very least does nfl own the film and could show it possibly on christmas??


  32. Enjoyed the list and remembering many of the games. Any list will be subjective, but if I were thinking greatest NFL games in modern era, I would leave off more of the regular season games as well and focus more on the really big games.. playoff and championship.

    Couple more
    – 1960 NFL championship – Eagles 17, Packers 13. Jim Taylor tackled at 8 yard time as time expires. Only lose for Lombardi in playoffs.

    – 1963 NFL championship – Bears 14, Giants 10. Monsters of Midway hurt YA Tittle who someone finishes game… would be go ahead score dropped in end zone by Giants followed by play that Bears intercept Tittle

    – 1965 Western Conference final – Packers 13, Colts 10 in OT. Don Chandler kicks field goal in regulation to tie game.. Don Schula sayss kick was wide as well as others… goal posts extended thanks to this game.

    1966 NFL championship – Packers 34, Cowboys 27 – Don Meredith interceipted in end zone to end comeback.


  33. 1974 AFC playoffs: Raiders vs. Dolphins, the “Sea of Hands” game. This should be at least in the top five. Clarence Davis caught the winning pass from Ken Stabler, who was being tackled, with just 26 seconds left. The NBC announcers stated that this game surpassed the 1958 championship in greatness.


  34. Ice Bowl is the greatest game. No question.

    You had two great teams with legendary coaches competing for the NFL Championship.
    You had the worst conditions imaginable that taxed every player to the utmost.
    You had a wonderful trick play to put the Cowboys ahead.
    You had an amazing game-ending drive at the end in horrible conditions with the clock running down.
    You had the gutsy call to go for the victory with certain defeat if the QB sneak fails.
    You had the historic 3-in-a-row victory that solidified the Packer dynasty and Lombardi’s legacy as the greatest coach in NFL history.

    The great conflicts are: Man vs. Man; Man vs. Nature; Man vs. Himself.
    The Ice Bowl had them all.

    If I had to show someone one game to explain what football is, in all its glory, anguish, pain, and determination, the Ice Bowl is the game I would show.


  35. Why isn’t Superbowl 38 on here?!?…

    And the 03-04 Divisional Playoff game against Rams and Panthers should definitely be in your Top 10 if not Top 5… That was one of the greatest playoff games ever played!


  36. Giants at SF 1986 The Mark Bavaro catch and run game
    Giants down 17-0 at the half
    The Bavaro catch and run where he takes 1/2 the 49er team with him
    and just won’t go down
    inspires the Giants
    to pitch a 2nd half shut out and come back to win 21-17


  37. I’m surprised nobody has suggested the 1991 NFC Championship Game between the Giants & 49ers (though one person suggested their regular season meeting). I make the case using your own criteria:

    In my picks, my criteria was…
    1 – Was it a national audience —–YES!!
    2 – Was it a playoff game——–YES!!
    3 – Was it close —— Doesn’t get closer than a last play game winning field goal
    4 – Was it an upset —— Yes, Giants were 8 point underdogs!!
    5 – Did the game change the NFL (ie. Tuck Rule) —– Ended the 49ers dynasty; they were going for a record 3rd stright SB
    6 – Are people still talking about it —– Yes!!
    7 – How many hall of fame-rs played in the game — Many, plus many more than very well may be inducted and likely both coaches
    8 – Did it go into overtime — NO
    9 – Did the weather impact the game — NO
    10 – Did the game make or break someone’s career —– ?


  38. Saw the sea of hands game in 74. If you’re over 40 it has to stick in your mind as one of the great games all time. It had all of the things you would want to see in a playoff game. Two great quarterbacks. Future hall of famers. Playoff atmosphere. Back then, football was beginning to soar in popularity because of games like this one. Raiders always seemed to play exciting games back then.


    • Yeah. By all accounts that was a great game. I wish I could get my hands on a dvd copy of that game, but none of the collectors that I talk with have that one.


  39. Uhhhhh……….”Upset at Mile High”? Jacksonville 30 Denver 27 in a 1996 AFC Divisional Playoff classic. That game not included in the top 30 baffles me!


  40. what about the 2001 superbowl… patriots vs rams top brady drives like 90 somthing yards with 1:16 seconds left… u got a buch of games where the lose listed but theres so many great ones that they won.


    • Ok, so here’s the deal. I dislike the Patriots so I’m biased against them. It’s difficult to admit that because I want to seem like a fair minded guy. But it’s true. I just plain do not like the Patriots…at all. There’s nothing I can do about it. Their only redeeming quality is that they gave Danny Woodhead a place in the NFL, which validated the little guy and made me believe that if things had only fallen a tad differently, I could have made it as a running back in the NFL. Besides that, the Patriots appear to be nothing more than a mercenary bunch of cheating cry babies. Man I hate to admit that, but somehow it is very cathartic to just say it and be done. As I look back on it now, it took everything I had to include the Tuck Rule game in my list. It was a great game. So I put my personal feelings aside, succumbed, and rightfully included the game in my list. However, I did so with the knowledge that the Patriots win was completely bogus. It was bogus. Pure and simple. That truth was given even more weight last month (March 2013) when the NFL competition committee overturned the infamous “Tuck Rule”. That decision makes clear what everyone already knew: the Tuck Rule was a sham, the Tuck Rule game was a sham, and that win in the Patriot’s record book is a sham. That win should forever have an asterisk beside it. Still, it was a great game, so it’s on the list.


      • I’m a little late here, but I think the playoff game between the Patriots and Chargers on 1/14/2007 was one of the best games ever. Didn’t see it listed. Manning owes his lone SB win to the Chargers, because thst game took a lot out of the Patriots and they went to Indy pretty beat up.

        Troy Brown ripped the intercepted pass out of Marlon McCrees hands in what I think is a play right up there with “The Catch” and the “Immaculate Reception.”

        The Chargers had so much swag headed into that game.


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  42. sorry to disagree with you . although I may not be as old as you the greatest ever playoff game is the Epic in Miami with non stop action beginning to end period . as far as the Ice Bowl and supposed greatest ever played game AKA 1958 NFL Title Game ive seen this game and Im sorry to say it wasnt a great game it wasnt played all that well . Just because something is old it doesnt make it good or worse yet great . I wish people would get on board and stop classifying old games as great just because they are really old. I.E. Ford motor company oldest in North America and definately not even close to been the greatest or even good for that matter.


    • The criteria for the list is based on these factors:
      In my picks, my criteria was…
      1 – Was it a national audience
      2 – Was it a playoff game
      3 – Was it close
      4 – Was it an upset
      5 – Did the game change the NFL (ie. Tuck Rule)
      6 – Are people still talking about it
      7 – How many hall of fame-rs played in the game
      8 – Did it go into overtime
      9 – Did the weather impact the game
      10 – Did the game make or break someone’s career

      Not one of those are factors are: “Was it an old game.”


  43. Now that almost eight years has gone by, is the ’07 NFC Championship between the Giants and Packers old enough to make the list?


  44. 1990 NFC championship game between 49ers and Giants. Hardest hitting game ever, Giants ended a dynasty and knocked the great Montana out of the game. Giants won that game with a backup QB and a 35 year old running back. But they had a killer defense and Parcells as coach, that alone will get it done.


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