By Danny Cox
Monday night’s comeback by the Denver Broncos can easily go down as one of the greatest in the history of the NFL. Down 24-0 to the San Diego Chargers at halftime, anyone would have suspected that the game was completely and totally over.
Well, anyone that had never seen Peyton Manning play before.
Manning went out in the second half and contributed greatly to the Broncos‘ comeback that led them to a 35-24 victory. The Denver quarterback went 13-of-14 for 167 yards in the second half with three touchdowns to down the Chargers and send them to a 3-3 record.
The comeback tied the fourth biggest regular season comeback in the history of the league.
“It sure was special considering what was on the line,” said Manning, a Super Bowl winner and four-time NFL MVP.
With the victory by the Broncos on Monday night, it jumped up into the top five comebacks ever in the NFL. There are only three other games that involved better comebacks so let’s take a look at what other games have landed in the best returns from the proverbial points cellar.
5.) November 8, 1987: St. Louis Cardinals 31 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28
The Buccaneers were leading 14-3 at halftime, but with two touchdowns in the third quarter, they really blew things open and were up 28-3. The fourth quarter belonged to the Cardinals though as they scored 28 points thanks to three touchdown passes from Neil Lomax. J.T. Smith caught two of them to help stun Tampa Bay by three.
4.) October 15, 2012: Denver Broncos 35 – San Diego Chargers 24
It was a great game, and there surely had to be a ton of people that tuned out and turned it off after the first half. If they did, they missed out on Manning shaking off the rust and showing that he still is one that could hold the title of the greatest quarterback in NFL history.
3.) December 7, 1980: San Francisco 49ers 38 – New Orleans Saints 35
Archie Manning and the New Orleans Saints went out to Candlestick Park and just totally decimated the 49ers in the first half. Manning threw three touchdown passes and the Saints even had a 57-yard punt return for a touchdown. San Francisco’s Joe Montana didn’t believe that everything was over though when the Saints led 35-7 at halftime.
Montana threw for two scores and rushed for another, but it was a 36-yard field goal by Ray Wersching that ended the scoring and gave San Francisco the win in overtime.
2.) September 21, 1997: Buffalo Bills 37 – Indianapolis Colts 35
Buffalo was down 26-0 in the third quarter, and relied on the legs of Antowain Smith who scored three rushing touchdowns to get them back into the game. The Colts didn’t get blown away and actually got a scoring reception from Marvin Harrison with less than a minute left. A failed two-point conversion gave Buffalo the win with brand new starting quarterback Todd Collins under center.
1.) January 3, 1993: Buffalo Bills 41 – Houston Oilers 38
Yes, the Buffalo Bills appear twice on this list, but it is absolutely necessary that they do. Football fans can’t help but know about this game, even if they are too young to remember it.
The AFC Playoffs saw one of the greatest comebacks in any sport or level, period. Backup quarterback Frank Reich was filling in for an injured Jim Kelly, and saw his team fall behind 35-3 in the third quarter. Oilers’ starter Warren Moon had thrown for four touchdowns and the Bills lost running back Thurman Thomas to injury. The rout appeared to be on.
Somehow then, Reich found wide receiver Andre Reed for three touchdowns and the Bills impossibly led 38-35. Houston ended up forcing overtime before Bills kicker Steve Christie hi the game winner in an unforgettable game.
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Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. His work can be found on Examiner.com.