This year's NFL playoffs feature a fantastic slate of games in the Wild Card Round, with nearly each matchup being a complete toss-up. The four winners this weekend will be tasked with heading out on the road against the top-four teams in all of football, a group of teams that have clearly separated themselves from the pack and own a massive home-field advantage. However, being both the more talented and home team has not always worked out in the NFL playoffs, and given the excellent football that's upon us, it's a good time to reflect on some of the best road upsets in league history.
5. Vikings at 49ers (1988)
In 1987, the San Francisco 49ers rolled into the playoffs. With Bill Walsh running the show and Joe Montana and Jerry Rice in their primes, the Niners posted their best-ever regular season mark going 13-2 and earning a first-round bye. The visiting Vikings entered Candlestick Park coming off an impressive 44-10 victory over the Saints and used that momentum to shock the league and dominate the 49ers in the divisional round, winning by a score of 36-24. Minnesota receiver Anthony Carter racked up a record 227 receiving yards and their defense held San Francisco's No. 1 rushing attack in check and even got Joe Montana benched for the first time in his career.
4. Jaguars at Broncos (1997)
After missing the playoffs two years in a row, John Elway and the Denver Broncos ripped off a 13-3 season and were the top seed in the AFC, a football goliath by any standard. On the other side, the second-year Jacksonville Jaguars led by little-known coach Tom Coughlin, barely snuck into the playoffs with a 9-7 record and seemed to be in way over their heads after a stunning 30-27 victory over the Buffalo Bills. Playing in the thin air in Denver, the Jaguars survived a late touchdown and onside kick attempt by the Broncos to complete another 30-27 victory in what was later dubbed the "Ambush at Mile High."
3. Seahawks at Dolphins (1983)
The Seattle Seahawks dominated the Denver Broncos in the first round of the playoffs but were still seen as heavy underdogs going up against the Dan Marino-led Miami Dolphins. With just 4:43 remaining in the fourth quarter, Miami led by a score of 20-17 before Seattle charged down the field to score on a short run by Curt Warner to put them back up 24-20. Miami still had plenty of time to mount a comeback, but all hope was foiled when Fulton Walker fumbled the kickoff resulting in another Seattle score, making it a 27-20 game. Still with some time left on the clock, amazingly Walker managed to fumble the next kickoff, sealing the victory for Seattle.
2. Oilers at Chargers (1979)
The Oilers came into the game missing their three best offensive players as quarterback Dan Pastorini, wide receiver Ken Burrough, and All-Pro running back Earl Campbell all were injured prior to the contest, almost ensuring that they would have a hard time keeping up with Dan Fouts and the rest of San Diego's offense. Fortunately for Houston, their defense stepped up, big time. The Oilers held the Chargers to just 14 points on the strength of five interceptions, including a playoff record four by rookie safety Vernon Perry. It was later revealed that the Oilers' coaches had figured out the Chargers' play-calling signals, which helped their defensive backs know where to be on each play.
1. Giants at Packers (2008)
The fifth-seeded New York Giants were dubbed the "Road Warriors" in the 2007 season after capturing seven of their 10 regular season victories outside of Giants Stadium and winning in Tampa Bay and Dallas to advance to the NFC Championship Game against Brett Favre's Green Bay Packers. The conditions of the game were absolutely brutal, as snow blanketed Lambeau Field in -1 degree weather. The game was a back-and-fourth affair, resulting in an overtime period where Green Bay won the toss. After just two plays, Corey Webster intercepted a Favre pass to set up a 47-yard field goal attempt for Lawrence Tynes, who kicked the frozen ball through the uprights, making the Giants the second NFC team to ever reach the Super Bowl as a Wild Card team.