Week 1 - Greatest Comebacks

01/01/2005

Comeback for the Ages
Saints Went Marching in First Half; Forty-Niners Struck Gold in Second Half
Joe Montana
"Montana Magic" was behind the greatest regular-season comeback in NFL history.

The date was December 7, 1980. The opponent was the San Francisco 49ers. And, the setting was Candlestick Park. The New Orleans Saints were on fire that day as they set team records at the time for passing (376 yards) and total offense (519 yards). Saints' quarterback Archie Manning had one of his best performances of his illustrious pro career as he connected on 24 of 38 passes for 377 yards and tossed three touchdowns.

There was just one problem - the Saints forgot to win the game. After building an impressive 35-7 halftime lead, the Saints let it slip away in the second half as the 49ers put together the greatest comeback in regular season history!

It all started with second-year pro and future Hall of Famer Joe Montana. He began the scoring onslaught in the third quarter with a one-yard rushing touchdown. Montana continued the magic with scoring strikes of 71 yards to Dwight Clark and 14 yards to Freddie Solomon. Running back Lenvil Elliott also helped to carry the load as he totaled 125 yards on 20 carries and scored the game-tying touchdown with a 7-yard scamper with just 1:50 remaining in regulation.

Placekicker Ray Wersching put the finishing touches on San Francisco's amazing 28-point comeback with a 36-yard field goal in overtime. Final score: 49ers 38, Saints 35.


Lenvil Elliot
Running back Lenvil Elliott helped the 49ers rally on December 7, 1980.

Greatest Comebacks in NFL History
(Most Points Overcome To Win Game)

REGULAR Season Games

From 28 points behind to win:
December 7, 1980, at San Francisco

New Orleans 14 21 0 0 0 35
San Francisco 0 7 14 14 3 38

NO - Harris 33 pass from Manning (Ricardo kick)
NO - Childs 21 pass from Manning (Ricardo kick)
NO - Holmes 1 run (Ricardo kick)
SF - Solomon 57 punt return (Wersching kick)
NO - Holmes 1 run (Ricardo kick)
NO - Harris 41 pass from Manning (Ricardo kick)
SF - Montana 1 run (Wersching kick)
SF - Clark 71 pass from Montana (Wersching kick)
SF - Solomon 14 pass from Montana (Wersching kick)
SF - Elliott 7 run (Wersching kick)
SF - FG Wersching 36


From 26 points behind to win:
September 21, 1997, at Buffalo

Indianapolis 14 12 0 9 35  
San Francisco 0 10 6 21 37  

Ind - Bailey 10 pass from Harbaugh (Blanchard kick)
Ind - Faulk 10 run (Blanchard kick)
Ind - FG Blanchard 39
Ind - FG Blanchard 36
Ind - FG Blanchard 49
Ind - FG Blanchard 22
Buff - Johnson 16 pass from Collins (Christie kick)
Buff - FG Christie 27
Buff - A. Smith 15 run (2-pt attempt failed)
Ind - FG Blanchard 25
Buff - Early 4 pass from Collins (Christie kick)
Buff - A. Smith 1 run (Christie kick)
Buff - A. Smith 54 run (Christie kick)
Ind - Harrison 2 pass from Justin (2-pt attempt failed)

From 25 points behind to win:
November 8, 1987, at St. Louis

Tampa Bay 7 7 14 0 28
St. Louis 0 3 0 28 31

TB - Carrier 5 pass from DeBerg (Igwebuike kick)
TB - Carter 3 pass from DeBerg (Igwebuike kick)
StL - FG Gallery 31
TB - Smith 34 pass from DeBerg (Igwebuike kick)
TB - Smith 3 run (Igwebuike kick)
StL - Awalt 4 pass from Lomax (Gallery kick)
StL - Noga 23 fumble recovery (Gallery kick)
StL - J. Smith 11 pass from Lomax (Gallery kick)
StL - J. Smith 17 pass from Lomax (Gallery kick)

From 24 points behind to win:
October 27, 1946, at Washington

Philadelphia 0 0 14 14 28
Washington 10 14 0 0 24

October 20, 1957, at Detroit

Baltimore 7 14 6 0 27
Detroit 0 3 7 21 31

October 25, 1959, at Minneapolis

Philadelphia 0 0 21 7 28
Chicago Cardinals 7 10 7 0 24

October 23, 1960, at Denver

Boston 10 7 7 0 24
Denver 0 0 14 17 31

December 15, 1974, at Miami

New England 21 3 0 3 27
Miami 0 17 7 10 34

December 4, 1977, at Minnesota

San Francisco 0 10 14 3 27
Minnesota 0 0 7 21 28

September 23, 1979, at Denver

Seattle 10 10 14 0 34
Denver 0 10 21 6 37

September 23, 1979, at Cincinnati

Houston 0 10 17 0 3 30
Cincinnati 14 10 0 3 0 27

November 22, 1982, at Los Angeles

San Diego 10 14 0 0 24
L.A. Raiders 0 7 14 7 28

September 26, 1988, at Denver

L.A. Raiders 0 0 14 13 3 30
Denver 7 17 0 3 0 27

December 6, 1992, at Tampa

L.A. Rams 0 3 21 7 31
Tampa Bay 6 21 0 0 27


Postseason Games

From 32 points behind to win:
AFC First-Round Playoff Game
January 3, 1993, at Buffalo

Houston 7 21 7 3 0 38
Buffalo 3 0 28 7 3 41

Hou - Jeffires 3 pass from Moon (Del Greco kick)
Buff - FG Christie 36
Hou - Slaughter 7 pass from Moon (Del Greco kick)
Hou - Duncan 26 pass from Moon (Del Greco kick)
Hou - Jeffires 27 pass from Moon (Del Greco kick)
Hou - McDowell 58 interception return (Del Greco kick)
Buff - Davis 1 run (Christie kick)
Buff - Beebe 38 pass from Reich (Christie kick)
Buff - Reed 26 pass from Reich (Christie kick)
Buff - Reed 18 pass from Reich (Christie kick)
Buff - Reed 17 pass from Reich (Christie kick)
Hou - FG Del Greco 26
Buff - FG Christie 32



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