While there never is a shortage of questions about Ohio State for “You’re Nuts”, every once in a while we just have to branch out into other areas. Since college football is officially over for the season and the NCAA Tournament is still around two months away, the NFL Playoffs now take center stage on our viewing guide. This weekend certainly didn’t disappoint, with six games being played between Saturday afternoon and Monday night.
Some Ohio State fans that double as Bengals fans got a treat this weekend, as Cincinnati earned their first playoff win in 31 years, defeating the Las Vegas Raiders 26-19 in Cincinnati on Saturday afternoon. The win was even sweeter because the Bengals were led by quarterback Joe Burrow, who is not only from Athens, but also spent a couple years with the Buckeyes before transferring to LSU.
Over the years there have been plenty of incredible moments by former Ohio State players in the NFL playoffs, but today’s question doesn’t require the answer to include a Buckeye. The answer also doesn’t need to include an NFL team from Ohio, especially since there are very few positive moments from the Bengals and Browns in the NFL playoffs.
Today’s question: What is your most memorable NFL playoff game?
We’d love to hear your choices. Either respond to us on Twitter at @Landgrant33 or leave your choice in the comments.
Brett’s answer: “The Comeback”
Unless you have been living under a rock, you should know that I’m a Buffalo Bills fan. I grew up 70 miles south of Buffalo, so supporting the Bills was something that I was born into. I also was born in 1985, which thankfully allows me to remember the Super Bowl runs of the Bills. I know it probably seems weird to be glad to have memories of those times, but in those years everything up to the Super Bowl games were a lot of fun. Also, thankfully I was young enough to where I wasn’t in position to drown four straight Super Bowl losses with alcohol. Things would have been really mess if the Bills lost four straight Super Bowls when I was in my 20s.
What made this game even more memorable is that it wasn’t on television in the Buffalo area since the game wasn’t a sellout. Remember those days when there was NFL blackouts if teams didn’t sell out games? The Bills were coming off two straight Super Bowl losses, and Jim Kelly was ruled of this game after suffering strained ligaments in his knee, which he suffered the previous week against Houston in a 27-3 loss to the Oilers in the final game of the regular season.
So here’s little 7 1⁄2 year old B-Leez, with his ears glued to 97 Rock in Buffalo, listening to Van Miller and John Murphy calling the game. Houston would jump out to an 28-3 halftime lead (funny how those leads seem to get blown in critical games), and the Oilers would extend the lead to 35-3 early in the third quarter after an interception return for a touchdown. My dad and a couple of his friends had given up on the game, but for some reason I didn’t. Thankfully for them I didn’t, since they wouldn’t have known about the comeback until later in the day because we were in a time before the internet, so news traveled a lot slower.
Honestly, listening to the game instead of watching it made things a lot more memorable. It wasn’t until quite some time later that I saw actual video of the game, which meant I had to try and visualize it. Also, Van Miller is a Buffalo legend and one of the best play-by-play guys to listen to. He’s essentially to Buffalo what Paul Keels is to Ohio State.
Hopefully this year I’ll have the memory of a Buffalo Bills Super Bowl win to surpass this memory. Really though, the only thing that could be better than “The Comeback Game” is the Bills finally getting to raise the Lombardi Trophy. I know it’s going to be a tough road to possibly get the three wins that are still needed, but this feels like it could finally be the year for the Bills.
Meredith’s answer: 2021 AFC Wild Card
First of all, Brett, I’m so, so happy for you. I consider Bills fans kindred, long-suffering spirits, and I couldn’t have enjoyed Saturday night’s beatdown any more.
Which, naturally, brings me to my favorite NFL Playoff memory, when my own long-suffering fan base got the proverbial monkey off its back in dramatic fashion that brought days, weeks and months of utter elation.
ICYMI, for some deep background, I am a lifelong, avid, resigned fan of the Cleveland Browns. My darling husband (who decided for some reason to adopt this grueling life as a Browns fan upon our marriage) likes to tease me about the fact that, while I was not living during the time of The Drive, I still hold an unabating grudge toward the Denver Broncos in general and John Elway in particular.
The NFL Playoffs, as we all know, have not had their fair share of positive memories for the average Millennial Browns fan. After The Drive and The Fumble, there were the years when Cleveland had no football team. Then there was that famed decade (plus) where the Browns went through a literal laundry list of starting quarterbacks. One playoff appearance in 2002. No playoff wins since 1994.
Then came the 2020 season. Things clicked and, despite setbacks with COVID that at one point wiped out the Browns’ entire wide receiver room, Cleveland scraped into the playoffs with a win over the Steelers’ backups in week 17.
No one expected much from the Browns, who were down head coach Kevin Stefanski in that playoff game in Pittsburgh. I myself figured we would enjoy one last hoorah with some fellow fans in Chicago and maybe head home at halftime to finish watching there.
Perhaps the low expectations are what made that night so otherworldly, or the aforementioned deep background of literally never having a playoff high, but the game LITERALLY STARTED with a Steelers fumble, returned for a Cleveland score. Seven plays later and the Browns picked off Ben Roethlisberger. Then Jarvis Landry caught a touchdown pass from Baker Mayfield.
A Pittsburgh punt. Another Browns touchdown. Another interception by the Browns. Another touchdown by the Browns.
Suddenly, after one quarter, the Browns had a 28-0 advantage. And they didn’t blow it. I pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. It felt like the debt of every play, every call, every penalty, every moment that had ever gone so frustratingly wrong for the Browns in my 30 years on this planet — and there had been a lot of them — was finally paid.
The final result was a 48-37 win that did not reflect the steel grip the Browns had over the entire game.
As much as football is just a game, there was something indescribable in the magic that happened that night; the feeling of a weight coming off your shoulders and a pride in something that unites an entire city and fans across a nation. Heck, I’m smiling to myself now just thinking about it — even as the Browns missed the playoffs once again this year.
But as we Cleveland fans know better than most, there’s always next year.