Great individual divisional playoff performances


Great Individual Divisional Playoff Performances
Stabler, Dickerson, Kosar among the memorable names

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1974 AFC Divisional Playoff
Oakland Raiders 28, Miami Dolphins 26

The Oakland Raiders dethroned the defending champion Miami Dolphins due in large part to quarterback Kenny Stabler's miraculous performance. Guiding his team through a see-saw battle, Stabler threw for a total of 293 yards and four touchdowns. 

Stabler hurls the winning TD pass
Kenny Stabler hurls the winning TD pass from his knees

The "Snake's" first TD came in the second quarter, a 3-yard pass to Charlie Smith to tie the game. The fireworks, however, began in the third quarter when the Oakland QB connected with Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff on a 13-yard scoring play. In the fourth quarter, Stabler dialed long distance to Cliff Branch from 72 yards out to give his team a 21-19 lead. But the Dolphins, as they had all day long, refused to go away, necessitating a last minute drive culminating with an 8-yard TD to a triple-teamed Clarence Davis with only 26 seconds remaining.

Stabler and the Raiders went on to lose to the eventual champions, the Pittsburgh Steelers, in the AFC championship.

1979 NFC Divisional Playoff
Los Angeles Rams 21, Dallas Cowboys 19

Rams' quarterback Vince Ferragamo, forced to start for an injured Pat Haden, rose to the occasion and guided his team to victory over the Cowboys. Things started slowly for Ferragamo as he was sacked in the end zone for a safety in the first quarter. The Rams' hurler, however, quickly shrugged it off, as he completed TD passes to Wendell Tyler and Ron Smith in the second quarter. The scoring strike to Smith came with only three seconds left in the first half, giving the Rams a 14-5 lead.

The Cowboys were resilient though, fighting back to gain a 19-14 lead. But late in the game, the Rams forced the Cowboys to punt. On the ensuing play, Ferragamo's pass was tipped by linebacker Mike Hegman but miraculously caught by Rams receiver Billy Waddy. The play resulted in a 50-yard touchdown and secured Los Angeles' victory. Ferragamo threw for over 200 yards in the game, complementing his three TD passes. The Los Angeles quarterback led his team all the way to Super Bowl XIV where they finally fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

1985 NFC Divisional Playoff
Los Angeles Rams 20, Dallas Cowboys 0

This game featured another great performance by a Los Angeles Rams player against the Dallas Cowboys in the playoffs. This time running back Eric Dickerson delivered the memorable effort, rushing for a playoff-record 248 yards. 

Surprisingly, the game was somewhat of a defensive struggle for both teams in the first half. The Rams returned to their locker room with only a 3-0 lead. 

The second half is where Dickerson and the Rams began to flex their muscle. The West Coast team played tremendous defense while Dickerson ran for 170 yards. The running back's biggest impact came in the form of two long touchdown runs. The first a 55-yard run in the third quarter, and the second a 40-yarder early in the fourth quarter.

Dickerson and the Rams were run over by the Chicago Bears and the "Super Bowl Shuffle" the following week in the NFC Championship.

Bernie Kosar
Bernie Kosar threw for 489 yards in a Divisional game against the Jets

1986 AFC Divisional Playoff 
Cleveland Browns 23, New York Jets 20 (2 OT)
Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar threw for a playoff record 489 yards and led his team to a come-from-behind victory over the New York Jets. The Browns may not have needed Kosar's heroics, however, if not for so many missed opportunities the team suffered during the game. But the Browns' quarterback flashed shades of brilliance in the first quarter, guiding his team through a six-play, 98-yard drive, capped by a 37-yard TD from Kosar to Herman Fontenot, knotting the game at 7-7.

Kosar, with less than four minutes remaining in the game and Cleveland down 20-10, refused to give up. He led his team on a drive that included five straight completions for 66 yards before running back Kevin Mack scored from one yard out. On the Browns' next possession, Kosar completed a 37-yard pass to Webster Slaughter, allowing Mark Moseley to kick a 22-yard field goal, sending the game into overtime. The game finally ended in the second overtime on another Moseley field goal.

Kosar's record performance gave the Browns their first playoff win since 1969. The team went on to lose by the same score against Denver the next week in the AFC Championship.

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