Most suspenseful final weeks of a season

Most suspenseful final weeks of a season

Postby CSKreager » Thu May 14, 2020 4:18 am

A few years back, 75_75_78_79 had a thread entitled 'Least suspenseful final week of a season 78-Present'

Well, I'm going for the opposite end of the spectrum here.

The finale weeks where most of the playoff teams have NOT clinched, or not locked into their seeds? The ones with the most important games that determined who got in or who would go higher/lower in the standings?

Three notable ones for me:

1979- PIT had not clinched the AFC Central yet, KC/TB in the rain, Bears famously run it up on St. Louis, the WAS/DAL epic, DEN/SD MNF for the AFC West (imagine if the Saints had won one more game and NO/LA would have been winner take all at the LA Coliseum).

1980- A tale of two conferences- NFC had all 5 playoff teams locked in, although there was the goofy PHI/DAL tiebreaker. AFC OTOH made up for that for no division titles were locked up, only HOU/OAK had playoff spots sewn up after 15 weeks. All three divisions still up for grabs!

1995- PIT/GB to determine the Central, the stunning SF/ATL plot twist that handed DAL the 1 seed after the 49ers had gone on a tear, DEN/OAK that allowed MIA to sneak in and the Raiders complete a stunning collapse from 8-2.
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Re: Most suspenseful final weeks of a season

Postby 7DnBrnc53 » Fri May 15, 2020 8:32 am

Week 16 of the 1989 season was like the Wild Wild West.

In the AFC, only three teams (Jets, Patriots, Chargers) were eliminated from playoff contention before the three games that were scheduled on Saturday, Dec. 23rd. The only certainty was 11-5 Denver (who had home field wrapped up).

On Saturday, the 9-7 Bills wrapped up the East with a 37-0 victory over the Jets, the 7-9 Seahawks lost 29-0 to Washington (although they were eliminated when the Bills won), and the 9-6-1 Browns wrapped up the Central with a 24-20 win over the 9-7 Oilers (who were already in the playoffs).

The next day (Christmas Eve) saw five 8-7 teams (Bengals, Colts, Dolphins, Raiders, Steelers) and the 7-7-1 Chiefs vying for the other AFC WC spot. That day, the Steelers won, and three of the other four 8-7 teams (Colts, Fins, Raiders) lost. The final WC spot would come down to a Monday night game on Christmas between the Bengals and Vikings.

Speaking of the Vikings, let's talk about the NFC.

None of the Saturday games had any bearing on the NFC playoff picture (the Redskins went 10-6 with their win, but they were already eliminated).

On Sunday, the East and the Central were still up for grabs, as well as the WC spots. The Giants beat the Raiders 34-17 to wrap up the East, but the Central and the WC spots were still open.

At 1:00, the Packers won in Dallas, but they needed the Rams to lose to be assured of a WC at minimum. It came down to the last play, but the Rams won 28-24 in Foxboro and Philly won 31-14 against the Cardinals to wrap up the WC spots.

Their hopes (and the Steeler hopes) would hinge on a Christmas night game between the Bengals and Vikings. If the Bengals win, GB wins the Central. If the Vikes win, Steelers go to Houston for the WC game.

I remember ABC showing Steeler Dwayne Woodruff watching the game (I don't remember them showing any Packer players watching the game, though). Both the Steelers and Packers were hoping to end fairly long playoff droughts (five years for the Steelers and seven for the Packers).

At the end of the first half, it looked like the Steelers were going to the House of Pain. Ex-Bronco K Rich Karlis made five field goals, and Wade Wilson hit Rick Fenney with a TD pass to put the Vikes up 22-7 at halftime.

However, the Bengals hung in there, and cut the lead to one with two Boomer Esiason TD passes. Packer fans probably were starting to get excited, and it looked like the Oilers would have to return to Cincy (where they got throttled a few weeks earlier).

The Vikes were able to get one more TD to put it away, and they wrapped up the NFC Central (and an ill-fated trip to SF) and sent the Steelers to Houston.
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Re: Most suspenseful final weeks of a season

Postby BD Sullivan » Fri May 15, 2020 9:51 pm

Week 14 of 1977:

*Bears get into the playoffs in the closing seconds of OT as Bob Thomas kicks a FG on a snow-covered field.
*Had Minnesota not won in Detroit the night before, they would have needed the Bears to lose (not sure about a tie). Otherwise, the Bears would have won the division and the Skins would have gotten the WC
*Colts barely get past the Patriots (thanks to a quick whistle), knocking out the Dolphins and enraging Shula.
*Bengals choke in Houston, which gives the division to Pittsburgh
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Re: Most suspenseful final weeks of a season

Postby 74_75_78_79_ » Sat May 16, 2020 11:48 am

1957

In the year before their back-to-back titles, the Colts who were leading the Western with two games to go collapsed thus allowing both Detroit and San Fran to pass them and play for that tie-breaker. Had Colts won their finale at 5-6 Rams, they would have enjoyed themselves a bye while awaiting the winner of Det/SF. Meanwhile, the Eastern champ Browns would have had to wait three weeks (into the following calendar year) to play for the League Championship!

1963

Though at the expense of my Steelers, this one intrigues me as well! Anti-'89 I guess you can call it! Along with '47, this would be the closest the 'Burgh would get to playing in an NFL Championship Game! They beat the G-men in the finale, as they did earlier in the year, 31-0, they win the Eastern being that ties did not count; 8-3-3 (.727) trumping 10-4 (.714). They, of course, would have then went on to play Halas's Bears whom they actually tied with that year albeit two days after the JFK assassination (no one's heads properly in that game, obviously, nor any of the others that still went on that day). A trip to Wrigley was not to be, however, with that Neil O'Donnell/SBXXX-precursor-on-super-steroids performance by Ed Brown. Ballman & Dial were open all day!

Honestly though, looking back (though that would have completed a sweep over NYG), it wouldn't have been fair being that G-men and Browns in this case would be at 10 wins each with the 'Burgh at just '9.5' if you're going by today's rules with ties now counting as half-wins/half-losses. I'm with what Reaser said in a previous post in that they should one-up it some more with number of wins being applied first-and-foremost; and ties simply being used as tie-breakers between teams with the same amount of wins and nothing else (all teams involved playing the same amount of games, of course). Had that ruling actually been the case back then, a Steeler win and a Cardinal win would have had StL, G-men, and Browns all tied atop at 10-4. But as it actually was, Clev & StL were locked-out going into that final week.

Across-conference, of course, if 5-7-1 Lions play spoiler at Wrigley, it's Green Bay that makes it to the League Championship Game (11-2-1 to Bears' 10-2-2)! Their fourth-straight LCG-berth it would have been, 3rd-straight vs G-men! And they would have played host.
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Re: Most suspenseful final weeks of a season

Postby BD Sullivan » Sat May 16, 2020 5:03 pm

74_75_78_79_ wrote:1963
Across-conference, of course, if 5-7-1 Lions play spoiler at Wrigley, it's Green Bay that makes it to the League Championship Game (11-2-1 to Bears' 10-2-2)! Their fourth-straight LCG-berth it would have been, 3rd-straight vs G-men! And they would have played host.


The Lions came close to pulling off the upset in that 24-14 loss, getting stopped on downs around the Bears 30 and then getting the ball back with 53 seconds left on their own 33. Dave Whitsell's pick-six with 30 seconds left sealing the win. The Lions led 7-3 at the half.
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Re: Most suspenseful final weeks of a season

Postby Todd Pence » Thu May 21, 2020 5:54 pm

On the final week of 1970, there were still a bunch of teams scrambling for the eight available playoff spots. In the NFC, I believe the Cardinals, Giants, Rams were all still alive.
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Re: Most suspenseful final weeks of a season

Postby CSKreager » Sat May 23, 2020 12:24 am

Todd Pence wrote:On the final week of 1970, there were still a bunch of teams scrambling for the eight available playoff spots. In the NFC, I believe the Cardinals, Giants, Rams were all still alive.


49ers, Lions and Cowboys. Other than Minnesota, nothing else was set in stone.
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Re: Most suspenseful final weeks of a season

Postby Bryan » Tue May 26, 2020 9:01 am

1968 - OJ Simpson is tearing it up at USC and is the consensus 1st overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft. It looks like OJ is headed to the Eagles, who are 0-11 with 3 games remaining. But, behind the running of Tom Woodeshick, the Eagles miraculously win their next two games and leapfrog Buffalo in the overall standings. In the last week of the season, the 1-11-1 Bills could still mess things up by defeating the Oilers, but they leave nothing to chance by putting Ed Rutkowski at QB, generating 89 yards of total offense, the Bills throw two TDs to Miller Farr of the OIlers, and in the end they lose to Houston 35-6 but win the battle for OJ, 1-12-1 versus Philly's 2-12.
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Re: Most suspenseful final weeks of a season

Postby SixtiesFan » Tue May 26, 2020 9:22 am

Bryan wrote:1968 - OJ Simpson is tearing it up at USC and is the consensus 1st overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft. It looks like OJ is headed to the Eagles, who are 0-11 with 3 games remaining. But, behind the running of Tom Woodeshick, the Eagles miraculously win their next two games and leapfrog Buffalo in the overall standings. In the last week of the season, the 1-11-1 Bills could still mess things up by defeating the Oilers, but they leave nothing to chance by putting Ed Rutkowski at QB, generating 89 yards of total offense, the Bills throw two TDs to Miller Farr of the OIlers, and in the end they lose to Houston 35-6 but win the battle for OJ, 1-12-1 versus Philly's 2-12.


In week Seven of the 1968 season, the 0-6 Eagles met the 0-6 Steelers. The press called it the "O.J. Bowl." The Eagles "won" by losing 6-3 to the Steelers.

For several weeks there were news stories about O.J. Simpson going to the Eagles. I think O.J. was even asked how he would like Philadelphia. Then, all of a sudden, Buffalo had the first choice in the draft.
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Re: Most suspenseful final weeks of a season

Postby 7DnBrnc53 » Tue May 26, 2020 10:52 am

Bryan wrote:1968 - OJ Simpson is tearing it up at USC and is the consensus 1st overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft. It looks like OJ is headed to the Eagles, who are 0-11 with 3 games remaining. But, behind the running of Tom Woodeshick, the Eagles miraculously win their next two games and leapfrog Buffalo in the overall standings. In the last week of the season, the 1-11-1 Bills could still mess things up by defeating the Oilers, but they leave nothing to chance by putting Ed Rutkowski at QB, generating 89 yards of total offense, the Bills throw two TDs to Miller Farr of the OIlers, and in the end they lose to Houston 35-6 but win the battle for OJ, 1-12-1 versus Philly's 2-12.


In Week 13, Ed Rutkowski fumbled the ball at the goal line late in the game against the Raiders. If he scores a TD, the Bills win that game, and the Falcons end up with the #1 overall pick.

Also, the Chiefs win the AFC West, and go to New York. Maybe The Guarantee doesn't happen.
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