1992 AFC Championship Game

The NFL playoffs following the 1992 NFL season led up to Super Bowl XXVII.

Playoff seeds
Seed AFC NFC
1 Pittsburgh Steelers (Central winner) San Francisco 49ers (West winner)
2 Miami Dolphins (East winner) Dallas Cowboys (East winner)
3 San Diego Chargers (West winner) Minnesota Vikings (Central winner)
4 Buffalo Bills New Orleans Saints
5 Houston Oilers Philadelphia Eagles
6 Kansas City Chiefs Washington Redskins

Bracket

  Wild Card Playoffs Divisional Playoffs Conference Championships Super Bowl XXVII
                                     
5  Houston 38  
4  Buffalo 41  
  4  Buffalo 24  
    1  Pittsburgh 3  
      
        
  4  Buffalo 29  
AFC
  2  Miami 10  
6  Kansas City 0  
3  San Diego 17  
  3  San Diego 0
    2  Miami 31  
      
        
  A4  Buffalo 17
  N2  Dallas 52
5  Philadelphia 36  
4  New Orleans 20  
  5  Philadelphia 10
    2  Dallas 34  
      
        
  2  Dallas 30
NFC
  1  San Francisco 20  
6  Washington 24  
3  Minnesota 7  
  6  Washington 13
    1  San Francisco 20  
      

Wild Card playoffs

January 2, 1993

NFC: Washington Redskins 24, Minnesota Vikings 7

Game summary
1 2 34Total
Redskins 3 14 7024
Vikings 7 0 007

at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Running back Brian Mitchell led the Redskins to the 24-7 victory with 109 rushing yards and 100 total yards on receptions and punt/kickoff returns. The Vikings scored first on running back Terry Allen's 1-yard touchdown that capped a 74-yard drive, but Washington controlled the game from that point on. Redskins kicker Chip Lohmiller scored a 44-yard field goal and running back Earnest Byner recorded a 3-yard touchdown to give Washington a 10-7 lead. Then on fourth down at the Minnesota 44-yard line late in the second quarter, Mitchell rushed 36 yards on a fake punt. He would then score on an 8-yard touchdown run. Quarterback Mark Rypien's 24-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Gary Clark in the third period closed out the scoring.

AFC: San Diego Chargers 17, Kansas City Chiefs 0

Game summary
1 2 34Total
Chiefs 0 0 000
Chargers 0 0 10717

at Jack Murphy Stadium, San Diego

The Chargers shut out the Chiefs as San Diego scored two touchdowns in the second half. The game remained scoreless until midway through the third period when Chargers running back Marion Butts scored on a 54-yard rushing touchdown. Then, San Diego defensive lineman Leslie O'Neal intercepted a pass on Kansas City's next drive to set up kicker John Carney's 34-yard field goal. In the final period, Chargers linebacker Steve Hendrickson, who lined up as a running back, scored on a 5-yard touchdown run.

In addition to his interception, O'Neal also had two sacks.

January 3, 1993

AFC: Buffalo Bills 41, Houston Oilers 38 (OT)

Game summary
1 2 34OTTotal
Oilers 7 21 73038
Bills 3 0 287341

at Rich Stadium, Orchard Park, New York

Known as The Comeback, the Bills mounted the greatest comeback in NFL history, overcoming a 35-3 deficit against the Oilers. The Bills were without future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly (who was injured in the last game of the season, a loss to the Oilers), All-Pro linebacker Cornelius Bennett and they lost starting running back Thurman Thomas to a hip injury in the second half.

Houston dominated the game early, as quarterback Warren Moon completed 19 of 22 passes for 220 yards and 4 touchdowns in the first half, while the Oilers held the ball for 21:12, keeping the Bills' high-powered offense off the field for most of the first two quarters. On the opening drive of the first quarter, Moon completed 6 of 7 passes on an 80-yard scoring drive that took over 9 minutes off the clock and ended it with his first touchdown throw to wide receiver Haywood Jeffires for 3 yards to give the Oilers a 7–0 lead. Buffalo responded on their ensuing drive, as Kenneth Davis returned the kickoff 33 yards to the 44-yard line. Frank Reich subsequently led the Bills to the Oilers 18-yard line where Steve Christie made a 36-yard field goal, to cut the score to 7-3. But Moon struck right back, leading the Oilers on a second quarter scoring drive that was nearly identical to their first one, completing 6 of 7 passes on another 80-yard drive and finishing it with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Webster Slaughter. Then after forcing the Bills to a three-and-out, Moon threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Curtis Duncan. Later on, with 1:15 left in the half, the Oilers drove for another touchdown, aided by an encroachment call against the Bills on fourth down and 1. Moon completed the drive with his second touchdown pass to Jeffires, this one a 27-yarder, and the Oilers went into their locker room with a 28–3 halftime lead.

1:41 into the third quarter, Reich threw a pass that bounced off the hands of tight end Keith McKeller and went into the arms of defensive back Bubba McDowell, who returned the interception 58 yards for a touchdown, increasing the Huston lead to 35-3. However on the kickoff, The wind shifted the ball just before it was kicked by Al Del Greco. As a result, it became an unintentional squib kick that the Bills recovered with great field position at midfield. Buffalo then drove 50 yards in 10 plays, including a pass to Pete Metzelaars that went right through the hands of linebacker Eddie Robinson, and scored with a 1-yard touchdown run by Davis, cutting the deficit to 35–10. On the drive, Reich completed a 24-yard pass to tight end Metzelaars and a 16-yard strike to Andre Reed, while Davis kept the drive going with a 5-yard run on fourth down and 2 before finishing it off with a touchdown run with 8:52 left in the 3rd quarter.

Christie then recovered his own onside kick and the Bills scored on the fourth play of their ensuing drive with Reich's 38-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Don Beebe (on a play in which one of Beebe's feet went partially out of bounds during the run before he made the catch—an illegal touching of the football; this was pointed out on ESPN's "NFL Primetime" postgame recap as well as by Todd Christensen on the NBC broadcast). This made the score 35-17 with 7:46 left in the third quarter.

Houston was then forced to punt for the first time in the game on their next drive, and Greg Montgomery's 25-yard kick gave Buffalo the ball at their own 41-yard line. Reich started out the ensuing drive with an 18-yard completion to James Lofton. Davis gained 20 yards on a screen pass and then Reich threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Reed, trimming the lead to 35–24. Then on the first play of the Oilers' ensuing possession, Moon's pass was tipped off the hands of Slaughter; Bills' safety Henry Jones intercepted the pass from Moon and returned it 15 yards to the Houston 23-yard line. Three plays later, Buffalo faced fourth down and five on the 18-yard line. Rather than attempt a field goal, Reich connected with Reed for the touchdown. With the score (including the extra point), the Bills had cut their deficit from 32 points to four in a span of just 6:52. On the Oilers' next drive, linebacker Darryl Talley forced a fumble from Moon while sacking him. Houston recovered the fumble, but they were forced to punt, and Montgomery's 24-yard kick gave Buffalo the ball at its 48-yard line.

This time, the Bills could not take advantage of their excellent starting field position and had to punt. Moon's run and shoot offense began to move the ball effectively again. Despite two sacks by Jeff Wright on the drive, Houston reached the Buffalo 14-yard line. Del Greco attempted a field goal to increase the Oilers' lead, but Montgomery fumbled the snap and Talley recovered the ball on the 26-yard line. After two plays, the Bills faced third down and four. With Houston's defense dropping back and expecting a pass, Reich handed the ball off to Davis, who stormed through the line and took off for a 35-yard gain. Then Reich went back to passing the ball, completing a short pass to Reed at the Oilers' 17-yard line on third down and two for the first down. With just 3:08 left in the fourth quarter, Reich threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Reed, giving Buffalo its first lead of the game 38–35 (after the extra point); for the first time all season, the Houston defense (ninth in fewest points allowed that season) had allowed over 29 points. But Moon led Houston downfield on a 63-yard drive to score the tying 26-yard field goal from Del Greco to send the game into overtime. A key play on the drive was an 18-yard completion to Slaughter on fourth down and four from the Bills' 34-yard line.

Houston won the coin toss and got the ball at its 20-yard line. Two plays later, Moon was intercepted by Nate Odomes, enabling Christie to kick a field goal and win the game.

Reich finished the game with 21 of 34 pass completions for 289 yards and 4 touchdowns, with 1 interception. Reed had 8 catches for 136 yards and 3 touchdowns. Davis rushed for 68 yards and a touchdown, while also catching 2 passes for 25 yards and returning a kickoff for 33. Moon recorded 36 of 50 completions for 371 yards and 4 touchdowns, with 2 interceptions. His 36 completions set a playoff record that would stand until broken by Drew Brees's 39 completions in 2010 (Brees's New Orleans Saints also lost that game). Givens caught 9 passes for 117 yards. Jeffires recorded 8 catches for 98 yards and 2 touchdowns.

NFC: Philadelphia Eagles 36, New Orleans Saints 20

Game summary
1 2 34Total
Eagles 7 0 32636
Saints 7 10 3020

at Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana

The Eagles overcame a 20-10 Saints lead late in the third quarter by scoring 26 points in the final period. New Orleans scored first on running back Craig Heyward's 1-yard touchdown run, but it was countered with Philadelphia quarterback Randall Cunningham's 57-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Fred Barnett. The Saints then went ahead 17-7 before halftime with kicker Morten Andersen's 35-yard field goal and wide receiver Quinn Early's 7-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Bobby Hebert. The two teams exchanged field goals in the third quarter, and the score was 20-10, New Orleans, going into the final period.

With less than 11 minutes left in the game, Cunningham connected with wide receiver Fred Barnett for a 35-yard touchdown completion. Then on the first play of the Saints' next possession, Eagles linebacker Seth Joyner intercepted a pass to set up running back Heath Sherman's 6-yard touchdown, giving Philadelphia the lead, 24-20. After New Orleans got the ball back, Eagles defensive lineman Reggie White sacked Hebert in the end zone for a safety. Philadelphia kicker Roger Ruzek then added a 39-yard field goal, and 19 seconds later, defensive back Eric Allen intercepted Hebert and returned it 18 yards for a touchdown.

Byes

Divisional playoffs

January 9, 1993

AFC: Buffalo Bills 24, Pittsburgh Steelers 3

Game summary
1 2 34Total
Bills 0 7 71024
Steelers 3 0 003

at Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The Bills forced 4 turnovers and 7 sacks as they held the Steelers to just a field goal. Buffalo quarterback Frank Reich threw for 160 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions; while running back Kenneth Davis rushed for 104 yards Steelers running back Barry Foster rushed for 104 yards and caught a pass for 7.

Pittsburgh scored first with kicker Gary Anderson's 38-yard field goal on their opening drive. However, Steelers quarterback Neil O'Donnell lost a fumble while being sacked by Bruce Smith, which Bills defensive lineman Phil Hansen recovered on the Bills 41-yard line. Buffalo then advanced 59 yards to score on Reich's 1-yard touchdown pass to Mitch Frerotte, an eligible lineman. On the opening drive of the second half, the Bills moved the ball 80 yards and scored with Reich's 17-yard touchdown pass to James Lofton. In the final period, a botched Steelers field goal attempt set up a 44-yard drive that ended with Bills kicker Steve Christie's 43-yard field goal. The next time Buffalo got the ball, they drove 86 yards and scored on a 1-yard run from fullback Carwell Gardner.

NFC: San Francisco 49ers 20, Washington Redskins 13

Game summary
1 2 34Total
Redskins 3 0 3713
49ers 7 10 0320

at Candlestick Park, San Francisco

Despite committing 4 turnovers, 49ers quarterback Steve Young passed for 227 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for 73 yards, to beat the Redskins. Young threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver John Taylor to open the scoring. Then after the two teams traded field goals, Young connected with tight end Brent Jones on a 16-yard touchdown completion to give San Francisco a 17-3 lead before halftime. In the third quarter, Washington kicker Chip Lohmiller made a 32-yard field goal to cut the lead, 17-6. Later in the period, Young lost a fumble at the San Francisco 15-yard line, and Redskins quarterback Mark Rypien scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to 17-13. Washington then reached the San Francisco 23-yard line before Brian Mitchell fumbled the ball back to the 49ers. San Francisco then marched on a 14-play, 59-yard drive that consumed more than seven minutes off the clock to score on Mike Cofer's game-clinching 33-yard field goal. This was the last game of Joe Gibbs' first tenure as Redskins head coach.

January 10, 1993

NFC: Dallas Cowboys 34, Philadelphia Eagles 10

Game summary
1 2 34Total
Eagles 3 0 0710
Cowboys 7 10 10734

at Texas Stadium, Irving, Texas

The Cowboys defense had 5 sacks, and held the Eagles offense for 178 yards and 10 points. Philadelphia scored first on a 32-yard field goal by kicker Roger Ruzek, but Dallas then scored 34 consecutive points. Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman threw two touchdown passes: a 1-yard score to tight end Derek Tennell and a 6-yarder to tight end Jay Novacek. Running back Emmitt Smith, who finished the game with 114 rushing yards, scored a 23-yard touchdown run, running back Derrick Gainer rushed for a 1-yard touchdown, and kicker Lin Elliott made two field goals. Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham's 18-yard touchdown to wide receiver Calvin Williams closed out the scoring.

AFC: Miami Dolphins 31, San Diego Chargers 0

Game summary
1 2 34Total
Chargers 0 0 000
Dolphins 0 21 01031

at Joe Robbie Stadium, Miami, Florida

The Dolphins defense shut out the Chargers, holding San Diego quarterback Stan Humphries to just 18 of 44 completions for 140 yards and intercepting him four times. Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino threw 3 touchdown passes in the second quarter. All of Marino's touchdowns were set up by interceptions. Miami defensive back Troy Vincent's interception set up running back Tony Paige's 1-yard touchdown reception. Another interception by Vincent led to tight end Keith Jackson's 9-yard touchdown. Then linebacker Bryan Cox's interception set up Jackson's 30-yard touchdown. In the fourth period, Dolphins kicker Pete Stoyanovich added a 22-yard field goal and running back Aaron Craver recorded a 25-yard rushing touchdown.

Conference championships

January 17, 1993

AFC Championship: Buffalo Bills 29, Miami Dolphins 10

Game summary
1 2 34Total
Bills 3 10 10629
Dolphins 3 0 0710

at Joe Robbie Stadium, Miami, Florida

The Bills intercepted Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino twice, recovered 3 fumbles, forced 4 sacks, and held Miami to just 33 rushing yards. Although the Buffalo offense had trouble getting into the end zone because it was both quarterback Jim Kelly and running back Thurman Thomas's first game after recovering from injuries, kicker Steve Christie made an NFL playoff record-tying 5 field goals. Thomas rushed for 96 yards and caught 5 passes for 70.

Midway through the first quarter, Bills lineman Bruce Smith forced a fumble from Marino while sacking him, and linebacker Darryl Talley recovered it, setting up a 21-yard field goal by Steve Christie. Miami struck back on their next drive with a 51-yard field goal from Pete Stoyanovich. After the ensuing kickoff, Kelly led the Bills 64 yards in 7 plays and finished the drive with a 17-yard touchdown to Thomas early in the second quarter. Later on, Buffalo defensive end Phil Hansen intercepted a pass from Marino and returned it to the Dolphins 24-yard line, setting up Christie's second field goal and giving the Bills a 13-3 lead by the end of the first half.

Then on the opening kickoff of the second half, Miami returner Mike Williams fumbled the ball while being tackled by Mark Pike, and Buffalo's Carwell Gardner recovered it at the Dolphins 25-yard line. Five plays later, running back Kenneth Davis scored on a 2-yard touchdown run, giving the Bills a 20-3 lead. Buffalo's defense took over the rest of the third quarter, holding the Dolphins offense to 2 offensive yards while Christie added two more field goals to increase their lead to 26-3. Marino completed a 15-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Mark Duper in the final period. However, Christie kicked his 5th field goal of the game to clinch the victory.

This was the second straight year the Bills defeated a future Hall of Fame quarterback to advance to the Super Bowl as they beat John Elway and his Denver Broncos 10-7 a season earlier.

NFC Championship: Dallas Cowboys 30, San Francisco 49ers 20

Game summary
1 2 34Total
Cowboys 3 7 71330
49ers 7 3 3720

at Candlestick Park, San Francisco

Even though the Cowboys had only one more yard of total offense than the 49ers (416–415), Dallas forced four critical turnovers that helped them earn the win. On San Francisco's first drive of the game, a holding penalty on offensive lineman Guy McIntyre nullified a 63-yard touchdown completion from quarterback Steve Young to wide receiver Jerry Rice, and the 49ers had to punt. Despite a 19-yard reception from Michael Irvin on the Cowboys first play, they also had to punt, but returner Alan Grant fumbled the football after a hit from Dixon Edwards and Dallas fullback Daryl Johnston recovered it on the 49ers 22. Once again the Cowboys started their drive with a completion to Irvin, this one a 21-yard gain to the 1-yard line. But the San Francisco defense managed to hold them up on three consecutive plays, forcing Dallas to settle for Lin Elliot's 20-yard field goal.

San Francisco 49ers running back Marc Logan returned the ensuing kickoff 50 yards to the Cowboys 48-yard line. Aided by a 16-yard run from Ricky Watters, San Francisco drove 48 yards and scored with Young's 1-yard touchdown run to take a 7-3 lead. Dallas was forced to punt on their next drive after Troy Aikman was sacked twice (one by Bill Romanowski and the other by Martin Harrison) for 19 total yards, and Grant returned the football to the Cowboys 47-yard line. San Francisco then drove to the Dallas 29-yard line, but the drive stalled there and Mike Cofer missed a 47-yard field goal try. After a punt, Watters lost a fumble that was recovered by defensive back Kevin Smith. Aided by a defensive holding call against Pierce Holt for holding up running back Emmitt Smith at the line on third down (the 49ers objected, stating that Holt was fooled by a fake handoff into thinking Smith actually had the ball), Dallas took a 10-7 lead with Smith's 4-yard touchdown run. A 21-yard reception by Rice sparked a 49ers drive to the Cowboys 10-yard line where Cofer made a 28-yard field goal to tie the game with less than two minutes left in the second quarter. Cofer's kickoff went out of bounds, giving Dallas a chance to score before the end of the half. Aikman managed to lead them to the 49ers 25-yard line, but Elliot's 43-yard field goal attempt went wide right and it was tied at 10 going into halftime.

After receiving the second half kickoff, the Cowboys marched 78 yards, featuring a 38-yard leaping catch by Alvin Harper over defensive back Eric Davis, to score on running back Daryl Johnston's 3-yard touchdown run to take a 17-10 lead.

The 49ers struck back with a 35-yard completion from Young to Rice that set up a 43-yard field goal by Cofer, cutting the score to 17-13. However, Dallas put together a 79-yard drive which consumed nine minutes with a key 31-yard reception by tight end Jay Novacek. This second long drive was capped by Aikman's 16-yard touchdown pass to Smith, giving the Cowboys a 24-13 advantage.

Midway through the final period, Cowboys linebacker Ken Norton Jr intercepted a pass from Young and returned it to the 49ers 45-yard line, and Dallas subsequently marched to the 7. Rather than attempt a field goal on 4th down and 1, Smith attempted to run for the first down, but was tackled by linebacker Mike Walter for no gain. The 49ers then drove 93 yards to score on Rice's 5-yard touchdown reception, cutting the lead to 24-20 with 4:22 left in the game. But on the first play after the ensuing kickoff, Aikman threw a 14-yard pass to Harper, who ended up running for a 70-yard gain to the San Francisco 9-yard line. Three plays later, wide receiver Kelvin Martin scored on a 6-yard touchdown reception, making it 30-20 (the extra point was blocked) with 3:43 to play. The 49ers attempted one last drive to come back, but Young was intercepted once again, this time by free safety James Washington.

Aikman threw for 322 yards and 2 touchdowns with no interceptions. Smith rushed for 24 carries and 114 yards, caught 7 passes for 59 yards, and scored 2 touchdowns. Harper caught 3 passes for 117 yards. Defensive tackle Tony Casillas recorded 3 sacks. Meanwhile, Young recorded 313 passing yards and one touchdown, but threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter. Rice caught 8 passes for 123 yards and a score. Watters rushed for 69 yards and caught 6 passes for 69.

This was later featured on NFL's Greatest Games as Changing of the Guard.

Super Bowl XXVII: Dallas Cowboys 52, Buffalo Bills 17

Further information: Super Bowl XXVII
Game summary
1 2 34Total
Bills (AFC) 7 3 7017
Cowboys (NFC) 14 14 32152

at Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California

  • Date: January 31, 1993
  • Game attendance: 98,374
  • Referee: Dick Hantak
  • TV announcers (NBC): Dick Enberg and Bob Trumpy

References