Has all the increased passing in today’s game resulted in record performances? Find out as we go through the most points scored in an NFL playoff game and more.
Defenses win championships, right? Is that still the case in today’s golden age of passing?
Well, maybe not. The Kansas City Chiefs, known more for their Patrick Mahomes-led prolific offenses than great defenses, reached three Super Bowls between 2020-23. And the NFL champion put up 31 points or more in five of the seven Super Bowls between 2017-23.
But which team has the most points in an NFL playoff game?
Here’s that list:
Most Points by One Team in the Playoffs:
Pre-Super Bowl Era: Chicago Bears 73, Washington 0; Dec. 8, 1940
It took place in an era when the Bears had an inner-city rival in the Chicago Cardinals. The Bears lost to Washington 7-3 just a few weeks prior to the 1940 NFL Championship game, but it’s fair to say they flipped the script the second time around. Washington had nine turnovers and Chicago finished with 519 total yards. Just 119 of them were in the air (on 10 attempts) and Bill Osmanski rushed for a game-high 109 yards.
Most Points by One Team in the 21st Century in the Playoffs:
Jacksonville Jaguars 62, Miami Dolphins 7; Jan. 15, 2000
This divisional playoff game is just as notable for being one of the biggest blowouts in NFL history as it is for being former MVP Dan Marino’s final contest. The Jaguars entered the game as the top seed in the AFC and it was pretty much over by the end of the first quarter (Jags led 24-0). Fred Taylor had an NFL postseason record 90-yard touchdown run and it was 41-7 at halftime before the Jags padded the scoreboard with 21 more points in the second half. They finished the afternoon with 520 total yards to Miami’s meager 131. After the Dolphins had beaten the Seattle Seahawks 20-17 in the first round, Marino completed just 11-of-25 passes for 95 yards with one touchdown and two picks. Jacksonville couldn’t continue its dominance in the AFC Championship game, losing to the Tennessee Titans for the third time that season.
Here’s how the rest of the list looks across league playoff history:
- 59 – Detroit Lions vs. Cleveland Browns (Dec. 29, 1957)
- 58 – Philadelphia Eagles vs. Detroit Lions (Dec. 30, 1995)
- 56 – Los Angeles Raiders vs. Houston Oilers (Dec. 21, 1969)
- 56 – Cleveland Browns vs. Detroit Lions (Dec. 26, 1954)
- 55 – San Francisco 49ers vs. Denver Broncos (Jan. 28, 1990)
- 52 – Dallas Cowboys vs. Cleveland Browns (Dec. 24, 1967)
- 52 – Dallas Cowboys vs. Buffalo Bills (Jan. 31, 1993)
- 51 – Kansas City Chiefs vs. Houston Texans (Jan. 12, 2020)
- 51 – Arizona Cardinals vs. Green Bay Packers (Jan. 10, 2010)
- 51 – Buffalo Bills vs. Oakland Raiders (Jan. 20, 1991)
- 51 – Washington vs. Los Angeles Rams (Jan. 1, 1984)
- 51 – San Diego Chargers vs. New England Patriots (Jan. 5, 1964)
Highest-Scoring Playoff Game:
Arizona Cardinals 51, Green Bay Packers 45 (OT); Jan. 10, 2010
Everything happened so quickly in this wild-card game. Just over a minute into overtime, Cardinals linebacker Karlos Dansby stripped Aaron Rodgers and walked the ball into the end zone for six. It was a crazy ending to the highest-scoring playoff game in NFL history and one of the highest-scoring games of all time. These NFC teams combined for 28 points in the third quarter and over 1,000 yards overall. Rodgers threw for 423 yards and four touchdowns, while former St. Louis Rams star Kurt Warner threw for 379 and five for the Cardinals. In the end, it was a defensive play that made all the difference. Arizona would drop its next game to the New Orleans Saints, who beat Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl.
Highest-Scoring Super Bowl:
San Francisco 49ers 49, San Diego Chargers 26; Jan. 29, 1995
Steve Young connected with Jerry Rice for a 44-yard touchdown on the opening drive of Super Bowl XXIX and it was just the beginning of this one-sided matchup. Young followed that up with a 51-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Watters on the very next drive. He threw for 325 yards and six TDs in all with Rice finishing with 10 catches for 149 yards and three TDs. The Chargers put up 26 points of their own but the game was never particularly close as Young earned his only Super Bowl win while not backing up Joe Montana.
Highest-Scoring Super Bowl of the 21st Century:
Philadelphia Eagles 41, New England Patriots 33; Feb. 4, 2018
It’s hard to think that Tom Brady — the seven-time Super Bowl champion — could throw for 505 yards with three touchdowns and no picks in the big game and lose. That’s exactly what happened in Super Bowl LII. It was backup QB Nick Foles that led the shootout for Philly, throwing for 373 yards and three scores. New England took its first lead of the night late in the fourth quarter, but a Zach Ertz 11-yard touchdown and Jake Elliott field goal in the closing minutes led to a Philadelphia victory in this high-scoring affair.
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