12up Logo12up Logo

4 Unexpected NFL Conference Championship Game Performances We'll Never Forget

Raheem Mostert, B.J. Goodson
Raheem Mostert shrugging off Green Bay's defense as he tore through them all night. | Harry How/Getty Images

The NFL playoffs either bring out the best in players or the absolute worst, and the ones who thrive under the pressure aren't always your well-established stars. This year's Conference Championship saw the likes of Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill perform at their best, but sometimes, stars don't always shine the brightest.

Occasionally, the impressive performances come from the last guy on the bench, or the rookie who no one thought could adequately handle the pressure. Who had the monster games no one saw coming over the years?

4. Raheem Mostert, 2019

Raheem Mostert
Raheem Mostert had the game of his life in the AFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers. | Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Perhaps this is recency bias, but Raheem Mostert ran through, around, in between and over the entirety of the Green Bay Packers run defense on Sunday night. The former Purdue running back never found his footing in the NFL but the 49ers gave him the keys to their run game, and he repaid them in the NFC Championship by running for 220 yards and scoring four touchdowns in Tevin Coleman's absence. He was explosive, breaking through lines quickly, and using his strength fight for multiple first downs in Levi's Stadium. If only any one of the seven teams that famously cut him had kept him in the clubhouse.

3. Kerry Collins, 2000

New York Giants QB Kerry Collins
New York Giants QB Kerry Collins

Kerry Collins' blasting of the Minnesota Vikings goes down in the history books forever. Captaining a New York Giants team that expected to win based mostly on defense, he quarterback threw for 381 yards and five touchdowns to win the NFC Championship 41-0 over the Minnesota Vikings, going above and beyond anything the world expected of him. Monstrous effort from an unassuming guy on the biggest stage. Exactly what we're looking for.

2. Nick Foles, 2017

Nick Foles
Nick Foles was a beast in the 2017 Conference Championship. | Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Did the Philadelphia Eagles' postseason hopes end the very second Carson Wentz went down with an injury in 2017? By no means. Nick Foles, who nearly retired before the season began, was able to throw three touchdowns and pass for over 300 yards against the Minnesota Vikings in the 2017 NFC Conference Championship, sending the Minneapolis Miracle Workers home a few weeks early. Foles had this Eagles offense on his back the whole playoffs, and their win against the Vikings proved to the world that the run they were on was real.

1. Earnest Byner, 1987

Cleveland Browns RB Earnest Byner
Cleveland Browns RB Earnest Byner

Only a 1,000-yard rusher once (several years prior), Earnest Byner had an incredible game in the 1987 AFC Championship to bring the Browns back from 21-3 down against Denver. He had 120 receiving yards on seven receptions with a touchdown, and 67 rushing yards, also piling up a TD on the ground. Unfortunately, all of that came to an end with The Fumble, costing the Browns a chance to tie the game once again late. We'll never forget Byner's emergence, though, and no one else should -- he came out of relative obscurity to fuel one of the best conference title game comebacks ever.