NFL playoffs, 1995–96: Wikis

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The NFL playoffs following the 1995 NFL season led up to Super Bowl XXX.

Playoff seeds
Seed AFC NFC
1 Kansas City Chiefs (West winner) Dallas Cowboys (East winner)
2 Pittsburgh Steelers (Central winner) San Francisco 49ers (West winner)
3 Buffalo Bills (East winner) Green Bay Packers (Central winner)
4 San Diego Chargers Philadelphia Eagles
5 Indianapolis Colts Detroit Lions
6 Miami Dolphins Atlanta Falcons

Contents

Wild Card playoffs

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December 30, 1995

AFC: Buffalo Bills 37, Miami Dolphins 22

1 2 3 4 Total
Dolphins 0 0 0 22 22
Bills 10 14 3 10 37

at Rich Stadium, Orchard Park, New York

Although Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino completed 33 out of 64 passes for 422 yards, the Bills jumped to a 27-0 lead going into the fourth quarter, and rushed for an NFL playoff record 341 yards. Buffalo running back Thurman Thomas, who rushed for 158 yards and caught 3 passes for 42 yards, opened up the scoring with a 1-yard touchdown run. Bills kicker Steve Christie kicked two field goals, running back Darick Holmes recorded a 21-yard touchdown, and quarterback Jim Kelly threw a 37-yard touchdown to wide receiver Steve Tasker, who finished the game with 5 receptions for 108 yards. Marino eventually completed two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter: a 5-yarder to wide receiver O.J. McDuffie and a 45-yarder to wide receiver Randal Hill. However, Buffalo also scored 10 points during that period to seal the victory: running back Tim Tindale's 44-yard touchdown and a 42-yard field goal by Christie. Dolphins running back Terry Kirby's 1-yard touchdown and McDuffie's subsequent two-point conversion reception closed out the scoring. The game was the final game in the coaching career of Don Shula, the NFL's all-time winningest head coach.

  • Scoring
    • BUF - Thomas 1 run (Christie kick) BUF 7-0
    • BUF - field goal Christie 48 BUF 10-0
    • BUF - Holmes 21 run (Christie kick) BUF 17-0
    • BUF - Tasker 37 pass from Kelly (Christie kick) BUF 24-0
    • BUF - field goal Christie 23 BUF 27-0
    • MIA - McDuffie 5 pass from Marino (Stoyanovich kick) BUF 27-7
    • BUF - Tindale 44 run (Christie kick) BUF 34-7
    • MIA - Hill 45 pass from Marino (Stoyanovich kick) BUF 34-14
    • BUF - field goal Christie 42 BUF 37-14
    • MIA - Kirby 1 run (McDuffie pass from Marino) BUF 37-22

NFC: Philadelphia Eagles 58, Detroit Lions 37

1 2 3 4 Total
Lions 7 0 14 16 37
Eagles 7 31 13 7 58

at Veterans Stadium, Philadelphia

The Eagles scored 31 points in the second quarter, recorded 6 interceptions, and held running back Barry Sanders to 40 rushing yards en route to a 58-37 victory in the second highest scoring game in NFL postseason history. Philadelphia scored first with running back Charlie Garner's 15-yard touchdown, but was countered with Detroit quarterback Scott Mitchell's 32-yard touchdown pass to tight end David Sloan. Then Philadelphia exploded in the second quarter with Eagles kicker Gary Anderson's 21-yard field goal, quarterback Rodney Peete's 22-yard touchdown to wide receiver Fred Barnett, defensive back Barry Wilburn's 24-yard interception return for a touchdown, running back Ricky Watters's 1-yard touchdown, and wide receiver Rob Carpenter's 43-yard touchdown reception on a Hail Mary pass at the end of the first half. In the second half, a 45-yard touchdown reception by Watters and two more field goals by Anderson increased the Eagles lead, 51-7, still with slightly more than nine minutes remaining in the third quarter. From there, backup quarterback Don Majkowski replaced Mitchell and threw 3 touchdowns, and Ron Rivers added a 1-yard touchdown run, but by then the game was well out of reach.

Peete completed 17 of 25 passes for 270 yards and 3 touchdowns, while also rushing for 17 yards. Barnett caught 8 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown. Watters rushed for 49 yards, caught 3 passes for 64 yards, and scored 2 touchdowns. Lions receiver Herman Moore caught 7 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown.

  • Scoring
    • PHI - Garner 15 run (Anderson kick) PHI 7-0
    • DET - Sloan 32 pass from Mitchell (Hanson kick) Tie 7-7
    • PHI - field goal Anderson 21 PHI 10-7
    • PHI - Barnett 22 pass from Peete (Anderson kick) PHI 17-7
    • PHI - Wiburn 24 interception return (Anderson kick) PHI 24-7
    • PHI - Watters 1 run (Anderson kick) PHI 31-7
    • PHI - Carpenter 43 pass from Peete (Anderson kick) PHI 38-7
    • PHI - Watters 45 pass from Peete (Anderson kick) PHI 45-7
    • PHI - field goal Anderson 31 PHI 48-7
    • PHI - field goal Anderson 39 PHI 51-7
    • DET - Moore 68 pass from Majkowski (Hanson kick) PHI 51-14
    • DET - Morton 7 pass from Majkowski (Hanson kick) PHI 51-21
    • PHI - Thomas 30 interception return (Anderson kick) PHI 58-21
    • DET - Sloan 2 pass from Majkowski (Rivers run) PHI 58-29
    • DET - Rivers 1 run (Moore pass from Majkowski) PHI 58-37

December 31, 1995

NFC: Green Bay Packers 37, Atlanta Falcons 20

1 2 3 4 Total
Falcons 7 3 0 10 20
Packers 14 13 0 10 37

at Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin

The Packers scored 13 unanswered points in the second quarter en route to a 37-20 victory over the Falcons. Atlanta scored first on quarterback Jeff George's 65-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Eric Metcalf. But Green Bay countered with running back Edgar Bennett's 8-yard touchdown, and later took the lead with wide receiver Robert Brooks's 14-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Brett Favre. In the second quarter, the Falcons cut the lead with kicker Morten Andersen's 31-yard field goal. However, Packers wide receiver Antonio Freeman returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown, and Green Bay extended their lead to 20-10 (after the two-point conversion attempt failed). In the closing minutes of the first half, the Packers marched 85-yards to score on Favre's 2-yard touchdown to tight end Mark Chmura to reach a 27-10 halftime lead. After a scoreless third quarter, the two teams exchanged touchdowns and field goals during the final period.

Bennett turned in the best postseason performance of his career, finishing the game with 108 rushing yards, 3 receptions for 11 yards, and a touchdown. Favre threw for 199 yards and 3 touchdowns.

  • Scoring
    • ATL - Metcalf 65 pass from George (Andersen kick) '|stadium=L 7-0
    • GB - Bennett 8 run (Jacke kick) Tie 7-7
    • GB - Brooks 14 pass from Favre (Jacke kick) GB 14-7
    • ATL - field goal Andersen 31 GB 14-10
    • GB - Freeman 76 punt return (bad snap) GB 20-10
    • GB - Chmura 2 pass from Favre (Jacke kick) GB 27-10
    • ATL - Birden 27 pass from George (Andersen kick) GB 27-17
    • GB - Levens 18 pass from Favre (Jacke kick) GB 34-17
    • ATL - field goal Andersen 22 GB 34-20
    • GB - field goal Jacke 25 GB 37-20

AFC: Indianapolis Colts 35, San Diego Chargers 20

1 2 3 4 Total
Colts 0 14 7 14 35
Chargers 3 7 7 3 20

at Jack Murphy Stadium, San Diego

Rookie running back Zack Crockett, who had only one rushing attempt during the regular season, found himself thrust into the starting lineup to replace injured starter Marshall Faulk on the first play of the game. He proved up to the task, rushing for 147 yards and scoring two touchdowns to help the Colts win their first playoff game in 24 years. San Diego gained 429 yards of offense, but quarterback Stan Humphries threw four interceptions, two to safety Jason Belser. Chargers running back Ronnie Harmon caught 10 passes for 133 yards.

The Chargers jumped to a 3–0 lead in the first quarter with kicker John Carney's 54-yard field goal. Later in the period, Colts linebacker Steve Grant intercepted a pass from Humphries and returned it 13 yards to the Chargers 33-yard line. But his team was unable to capitalize on the turnover. Five plays later, San Diego linebacker Junior Seau picked off a pass from Jim Harbaugh at the 1.

Later on, a 46-yard punt return by Colts defensive back Ray Buchanan set up Harbaugh's 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Ken Dilger. But San Diego retook the lead on their ensuing drive by moving the ball 68 yards in 18 plays and scoring with Humphries's 6-yard score to tight end Alfred Pupunu. However, Crockett later scored on 33-yard touchdown run to give the Colts a 14–10 lead. The Chargers countered with a drive to Indianapolis's 17-yard line. But with 17 seconds left in the half, Humphries' pass was intercepted in the end zone by Colts defensive back Ray McElroy.

The two teams exchanged touchdowns in the third quarter with Humphries throwing an 11-yarder to wide receiver Shawn Jefferson at the end of a 90-yard drive, and Harbaugh completing a 42-yarder to wide receiver Sean Dawkins. In the fourth quarter, Carney kicked a 30-yard field goal to cut Indianapolis' lead to 21–20. But on the Colts' next drive, Crockett ran for a 66-yard touchdown. Then on the next drive, Belser's 33-yard interception return later set up Harbaugh's game-clinching 3-yard touchdown run.

  • Scoring
    • SD - field goal Carney 54 SD 3–0
    • IND - Dilger 2 pass from Harbaugh (Blanchard kick) IND 7–3
    • SD - Pupunu 6 pass from Humphries (Carney kick) SD 10–7
    • IND - Crockett 33 run (Blanchard kick) IND 14–10
    • SD - Jefferson 11 pass from Humphries (Carney kick) SD 17–14
    • IND - Dawkins 42 pass from Harbaugh (Blanchard kick) IND 21–17
    • SD - field goal Carney 30 IND 21–20
    • IND - Crockett 66 run (Blanchard kick) IND 28–20
    • IND - Harbaugh 3 run (Blanchard kick) IND 35–20

Byes

Divisional playoffs

January 6, 1996

AFC: Pittsburgh Steelers 40, Buffalo Bills 21

1 2 3 4 Total
Bills 0 7 7 7 21
Steelers 7 16 3 14 40

at Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Running back Bam Morris scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter as the Steelers stopped the Bills from coming back. Pittsburgh jumped to a 20-0 lead by the second quarter with running back John L. Williams's 1-yard touchdown, quarterback Neil O'Donnell's 10-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Ernie Mills, and two field goals by Norm Johnson. However, Buffalo running back Thurman Thomas scored a 1-yard touchdown run with 45 seconds left in the first half. But Johnson made a 34-yard field goal with eight seconds left to give the Steelers a 23-7 halftime lead. In the third quarter, Johnson added a 39-yard field goal before Bills tight end Tony Cline caught a 2-yard touchdown reception. With 11:23 left in the game, Thomas scored on a 9-yard touchdown reception to cut the lead, 26-21. But Pittsburgh then marched 76 yards to score on Morris' 13-yard touchdown run. Linebacker Levon Kirkland then intercepted a pass to set up Morris' 2-yard score with 1:58 remaining to clinch the victory.

  • Scoring
    • PIT - J.L. Williams 1 run (Johnson kick) PIT 7-0
    • PIT - Mills 10 pass from O'Donnell (Johnson kick) PIT 14-0
    • PIT - field goal Johnson 45 PIT 17-0
    • PIT - field goal Johnson 38 PIT 20-0
    • BUF - Thomas 1 run (Christie kick) PIT 20-7
    • PIT - field goal Johnson 34 PIT 23-7
    • PIT - field goal Johnson 39 PIT 26-7
    • BUF - Cline 2 pass from Van Pelt (Christie kick) PIT 26-14
    • BUF - Thomas 9 pass from Kelly (Christie kick) PIT 26-21
    • PIT - Morris 13 run (Johnson kick) PIT 33-21
    • PIT - Morris 2 run (Johnson kick) PIT 40-21

NFC: Green Bay Packers 27, San Francisco 49ers 17

1 2 3 4 Total
Packers 14 7 3 3 27
49ers 0 3 7 7 17

at 3Com Park, San Francisco

The Packers jumped to a 21-0 lead en route to a 27-17 victory. Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre threw for 222 yards in the first half, and ended up with completing 21 out of 28 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns. Receiver Robert Brooks caught four passes for 103 yards. Meanwhile, their defense sacked 49ers quarterback Steve Young three times and intercepted him twice. Young ended up setting a playoff record with 65 pass attempts, but completed only 32 of them for 328 yards.

The Packers took the opening kickoff and held onto the ball for 7:11 before kicker Chris Jacke's 44-yard field goal attempt was blocked by 49ers defensive back Tim McDonald. But on San Francisco's first play, running back Adam Walker fumbled after being hit by linebacker Wayne Simmons, and defensive back Craig Newsome picked it up and returned it 31 yards for the touchdown. Then after forcing the 49ers to punt, the Packers advanced 62 yards to score on Favre's 3-yard touchdown to tight end Keith Jackson, who finished the day with four receptions for 101 yards.

Green Bay would later score on tight end Mark Chmura's 13-yard touchdown reception before San Francisco kicker Jeff Wilkins made a field goal to cut the lead to 21-3 before halftime. In the second half, Jacke kicked two field goals while the 49ers could only manage two touchdowns: a 1-yard run by Young and a 2-yarder by running back Derek Loville.

This turned out to be the only time during the 1990s that an NFC team won a divisional playoff game on the road.

  • Scoring
    • GB - Newsome 31 fumble return (Jacke kick) GB 7-0
    • GB - Jackson 3 pass from Favre (Jacke kick) GB 14-0
    • GB - Chmura 13 pass from Favre (Jacke kick) GB 21-0
    • SF - field goal Wilkins 21 GB 21-3
    • SF - Young 1 run (Wilkins kick) GB 21-10
    • GB - field goal Jacke 27 GB 24-10
    • GB - field goal Jacke 26 GB 27-10
    • SF - Loville 2 run (Wilkins kick) GB 27-17

January 7, 1996

NFC: Dallas Cowboys 30, Philadelphia Eagles 11

1 2 3 4 Total
Eagles 0 3 0 8 11
Cowboys 3 14 6 7 30

at Texas Stadium, Irving, Texas

With Eagles starting quarterback Rodney Peete injured, the Cowboys held Philadelphia to only 11 points, while scoring 27 unanswered points. The two teams exchanged field goals before Dallas capped off a 70-yard drive with Deion Sanders's 21-yard touchdown on an end-around. The Cowboys then marched 79 yards to score on running back Emmitt Smith's 1-yard touchdown. In the third quarter, Dallas kicker Chris Boniol added two field goals from 18 and 51 yards out. Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman then threw a 9-yard touchdown to wide receiver Michael Irvin. Philadelphia quarterback Randall Cunningham, who was the backup for most of the season, scored his team's only touchdown during the final period.

  • Scoring
    • DAL - field goal Boniol 24 DAL 3-0
    • PHI - field goal Anderson 26 Tie 3-3
    • DAL - Sanders 21 run (Boniol kick) DAL 10-3
    • DAL - Smith 1 run (Boniol kick) DAL 17-3
    • DAL - field goal Boniol 18 DAL 20-3
    • DAL - field goal Boniol 51 DAL 23-3
    • DAL - Irvin 9 pass from Aikman (Boniol kick) DAL 30-3
    • PHI - Cunningham 4 run (R. Johnson pass from Cunningham) DAL 30-11

AFC: Indianapolis Colts 10, Kansas City Chiefs 7

1 2 3 4 Total
Colts 0 7 3 0 10
Chiefs 7 0 0 0 7

at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri

The Chiefs, who held the league's best record during the regular season, lost four turnovers and kicker Lin Elliot missed three field goals en route to a 10-7 Colts upset. Kansas City scored first on quarterback Steve Bono's 20-yard touchdown to wide receiver Lake Dawson. In the second quarter, Elliot missed a 35-yard field goal attempt while Colts quarterback Jim Harbaugh completed a 5-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Floyd Turner to tie the game. In the third period, Indianapolis kicker Cary Blanchard made a 30-yard field goal to give his team the lead. Bono was replaced by backup quarterback Rich Gannon in the final period, but Elliot missed two more field goals that could have tied the game, including a 42-yard attempt with 37 seconds left.

  • Scoring
    • KC - Dawson 20 pass from Bono (Elliott kick) KC 7-0
    • IND - Turner 5 pass from Harbaugh (Blanchard kick) Tie 7-7
    • IND - field goal Blanchard 30 IND 10-7

Conference Championships

January 14, 1996

AFC Championship: Pittsburgh Steelers 20, Indianapolis Colts 16

1 2 3 4 Total
Colts 3 3 3 7 16
Steelers 3 7 3 7 20

at Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Running back Bam Morris scored the game-winning 1-yard touchdown run with 1:34 left in the game to pull Pittsburgh ahead for good. For the first three quarters, the game was basically a battle of field goals, with the Steelers' Norm Johnson making two and the Colts' Cary Blanchard hitting 3. Pittsburgh however scored a controversial touchdown on quarterback Neil O'Donnell's 5-yard touchdown to Kordell Stewart. Although television replays clearly showed that Stewart stepped out of bounds before catching the pass, it was difficult to determine if he had stepped out on his own, and thus a penalty, or if he was pushed out by a Colts player, and making the score legal. But the touchdown stood and the Steelers took the lead, 13-9.

Pittsburgh played a very solid first half of football, but let the Colts back into the game in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, Indianapolis quarterback Jim Harbaugh threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Floyd Turner to take the lead, 16-13. Pittsburgh then took the ball with 3:03 left and marched 67 yards to score on Morris' winning touchdown. The drive was aided by O'Donnell's 9-yard completion to wide receiver Andre Hastings on fourth down and 3 from the 47-yard line. But on the game's final play, Harbaugh attempted a game-winning hail mary pass from the Pittsburgh 29-yard line with 5 seconds left. Wide receiver Aaron Bailey tried to catch it in the end zone before it was ruled incomplete.

The Colts were the first No. 5 seed to advance to a conference championship game since the 1990 playoff expansion.

The game was featured in the NFL's Greatest Games television series, titled "60 Minutes."

  • Scoring
    • IND - field goal Blanchard 34 IND 3-0
    • PIT - field goal Johnson 31 Tie 3-3
    • IND - field goal Blanchard 36 IND 6-3
    • PIT - Stewart 5 pass from O'Donnell (Johnson kick) PIT 10-6
    • IND - field goal Blanchard 37 PIT 10-9
    • PIT - field goal Johnson 36 PIT 13-9
    • IND - Turner 47 pass from Harbaugh (Blanchard kick) IND 16-13
    • PIT - Morris 1 run (Johnson kick) PIT 20-16

NFC Championship: Dallas Cowboys 38, Green Bay Packers 27

1 2 3 4 Total
Packers 10 7 10 0 27
Cowboys 14 10 0 14 38

at Texas Stadium, Irving, Texas

Running back Emmitt Smith rushed for 150 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns as the Cowboys overcame a Packers 27-24 lead in the fourth quarter. Green Bay scored first on kicker Chris Jacke's 36-yard field goal, but Dallas quarterback Troy Aikman responded by throwing 2 touchdowns to wide receiver Michael Irvin. Packers quarterback Brett Favre countered with two touchdown passes of his own: a 73-yarder to Robert Brooks and a 24-yarder to tight end Keith Jackson. However, Cowboys kicker Chris Boniol made a 34-yard field goal to tie the game, 17-17. Dallas then took the lead with 24 seconds before halftime after marching 99 yards to score on running back Emmitt Smith's 1-yard touchdown. Green Bay then scored 10 unanswered points in the third quarter to take a 27-24 lead with Jacke's 37-yard field goal and 1-yard touchdown completion from Favre to Brooks. But Dallas regained the lead in the fourth quarter after Smith's 5-yard touchdown capped off a 90-yard possession. Then, Cowboys cornerback Larry Brown's 28-yard interception return set up Smith's 16-yard touchdown run to clinch the victory. Brooks finished the game with 6 receptions for 105 yards and 2 touchdowns.

After the contest, Reggie White was so visibly upset, he started shouting at television crews who were filming him on the sidelines. This was the third consecutive year that Dallas eliminated the Packers from the playoffs.

  • Scoring
    • GB - field goal Jacke 36 GB 3-0
    • DAL - Irvin 6 pass from Aikman (Boniol kick) DAL 7-3
    • DAL - Irvin 4 pass from Aikman (Boniol kick) DAL 14-3
    • GB - Brooks 73 pass from Favre (Jacke kick) DAL 14-10
    • GB - Jackson 24 pass from Favre (Jacke kick) GB 17-14
    • DAL - field goal Boniol 34 Tie 17-17
    • DAL - Smith 1 run (Boniol kick) DAL 24-17
    • GB - field goal Jacke 37 DAL 24-20
    • GB - Brooks 1 pass from Favre (Jacke kick) GB 27-24
    • DAL - Smith 5 run (Boniol kick) DAL 31-27
    • DAL - Smith 16 run (Boniol kick) DAL 38-27

Super Bowl

Dallas Cowboys (NFC) 27, Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC) 17, at Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Arizona

Bracket

  Wild Card Playoffs Divisional Playoffs Conference Championships Super Bowl XXX
                                     
6  Atlanta 20  
3  Green Bay 37  
  3  Green Bay 27  
    2  San Francisco 17  
      
        
  3  Green Bay 27  
NFC
  1  Dallas 38  
5  Detroit 37  
4  Philadelphia 58  
  4  Philadelphia 11
    1  Dallas 30  
      
        
  N1  Dallas 27
  A2  Pittsburgh 17
5  Indianapolis 35  
4  San Diego 20  
  5  Indianapolis 10
    1  Kansas City 7  
      
        
  5  Indianapolis 16
AFC
  2  Pittsburgh 20  
6  Miami 22  
3  Buffalo 37  
  3  Buffalo 21
    2  Pittsburgh 40  
      

References

  • Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (ISBN 0-06-270174-6)

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