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NFL playoffs, 1991-92


NFL playoffs, 1991-92

The NFL playoffs following the 1991 NFL season led up to Super Bowl XXVI.

Playoff seeds
1 Buffalo Bills (East winner) Washington Redskins (East winner)
2 Denver Broncos (West winner) Detroit Lions (Central winner)
3 Houston Oilers (Central winner) New Orleans Saints (West winner)
4 Kansas City Chiefs Chicago Bears
5 Los Angeles Raiders Dallas Cowboys
6 New York Jets Atlanta Falcons


  Wild Card Playoffs Divisional Playoffs Conference Championships Super Bowl XXVI
5  Dallas 17  
4  Chicago 13  
  5  Dallas 6  
    2  Detroit 38  
  2  Detroit 10  
  1  Washington 41  
6  Atlanta 27  
3  New Orleans 20  
  6  Atlanta 7
    1  Washington 24  
  N1  Washington 37
  A1  Buffalo 24
6  N.Y. Jets 10  
3  Houston 17  
  3  Houston 24
    2  Denver 26  
  2  Denver 7
  1  Buffalo 10  
5  L.A. Raiders 6  
4  Kansas City 10  
  4  Kansas City 14
    1  Buffalo 37  

Wild Card playoffs

December 28, 1991

AFC: Kansas City Chiefs 10, Los Angeles Raiders 6

Game summary
1 2 34Total
Raiders 0 3 306
Chiefs 0 7 0310

at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri

Chiefs Quarterback Steve DeBerg completed a play-action 11-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Fred Jones in the second quarter, which was the difference in K.C.'s narrow 10-6 win over long-time rival Los Angeles. K.C. Running back Barry Word was arguably the Chiefs' most effective offensive weapon, rushing for 133 yards. This was Kansas City's first postseason win since Super Bowl IV in the 1969 season.

The Raiders started rookie quarterback Todd Marinovich over veteran Jay Schroeder. Marinovich, who performed well in a loss to Kansas City the week before, instead threw 4 interceptions in the wild card rematch, including the one to Kansas City defensive back Deron Cherry that set up DeBerg's touchdown.

The Raiders defense gave up huge rushing yardage to Word, but kept the game close by limiting the Chiefs to field goal tries after DeBerg's touchdown throw. Usually reliable Kansas City kicker Nick Lowery missed two field goals that could have given the Chiefs breathing room. The Raiders drove deep into Kansas City territroy on several occasions, but came away with only 6 points from Jeff Jaeger field goals.

Marinovich, who was rattled in the first half, found a rhythm in the second half, completing key passes to Raiders wideout Tim Brown that moved Los Angeles into scoring position. But a fumble by Raiders running back Marcus Allen gave the Chiefs the ball again. Four plays later, Lowery redeemed himself with an 18-yard score in the fourth period that put the Chiefs up 10-6.

Los Angeles advanced to the Kansas City 24-yard line in the closing minutes. But the offense self-destructed with almost a dozen successive penalties in the drive that moved the ball back behind mid-field. Chiefs linebacker Lonnie Marts sealed the victory for the Chiefs with an interception of Marinovich.

The game was also significant in that it featured what was at the time the oldest starting player in the NFL (DeBerg) and the second-youngest player to start at QB in a playoff game in Todd Marniovich (Cleveland's Bernie Kosar being the youngest).

NFC: Atlanta Falcons 27, New Orleans Saints 20

Game summary
1 2 34Total
Falcons 0 10 71027
Saints 7 6 0720

at Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana

Falcons quarterback Chris Miller completed the game-winning 61-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Michael Haynes with 2:41 left in the contest. Miller completed 18 out of 30 passes for 291 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Saints jumped to a 10-0 with quarterback Bobby Hebert's 26-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Floyd Turner and kicker Morten Andersen's 45-yard field goal. But the Atlanta tied the game with wide receiver Andre Rison's 24-yard touchdown reception from Miller and a 44-yard field goal by Norm Johnson. The score was later tied 20-20 late in the final period as the teams traded scores: Andersen and Johnson each added another field goal, Miller threw a 20-yard touchdown to Haynes, and New Orleans running back Dalton Hilliard rushed for a 1-yard touchdown. After Haynes scored the winning touchdown for the Falcons, the Saints reached the Atlanta 35-yard line before Hebert threw an interception to Falcons defensive back Tim McKyer to clinch the victory.

December 29, 1991

NFC: Dallas Cowboys 17, Chicago Bears 13

Game summary
1 2 34Total
Cowboys 10 0 7017
Bears 0 3 3713

at Soldier Field, Chicago

The Cowboys jumped to a 10-0 first quarter lead and held on to win their first playoff game in nine years. Dallas' first score was a 27-yard field goal by Ken Willis. Then Cowboys linebacker Darrick Brownlow blocked a punt that was recovered by linebacker Ken Norton Jr., setting up a 1-yard touchdown by running back Emmitt Smith, who finished the game with 105 rushing yards. Bears kicker Kevin Butler kicked two field goals to cut the score 10-6 by the third period. However, Dallas responded by marching 75 yards to score on quarterback Steve Beuerlein's 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jay Novacek. With 2:42 left in the game, Chicago wide receiver Tom Waddle scored on a 6-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Jim Harbaugh, but the Bears could not score again.

AFC: Houston Oilers 17, New York Jets 10

Game summary
1 2 34Total
Jets 0 10 0010
Oilers 7 7 0317

at Astrodome, Houston, Texas

After leading 14-10 at halftime, the Oilers stopped the Jets twice inside the 5-yard line in the second half to preserve the victory.

Houston got the ball first and on their opening play, they lost 3 yards on a screen pass. Once that was done, quarterback Warren Moon got them rolling all the way to the end zone. Despite two fumbled snaps on the drive, he completed 8/10 passes for 64 yards, including a 24-yarder to Haywood Jeffries, on a 16-play, 80-yard drive that took 9:14 off the clock and ended with his 5-yard touchdown pass to receive Ernest Givins. New York had to punt on their first possession, but got the ball back with great field position when defensive back Erik McMillan intercepted Moon's pass on the Oilers 39-yard line. The Jets then cashed in on their opportunity with a 9-play drive to score on Ken O'Brien's 10-yard touchdown pass to Al Toon, who made an athletic catch in the back of the end zone while barely managing to keep his feet in bounds. Later on, Houston defensive back Bo Orlando intercepted a long pass from O'Brien on the Oilers 25, and Moon led the team to a touchdown from there, completing passes to Hill and Givins for 20 and 35 yards before Givins' 20-yard touchdown reception made the score 14-7 with 3:56 left in the half. New York ended up punting, but at the 1:10 mark, Houston's Al Del Greco missed a 46-yard field goal wide right. O'Brien then completed a pair of passes to Toon for 36 total yards on a drive to the Oilers 16-yard line where Raul Allegre kicked a 33-yard field goal to cut the score to 14-10 going into halftime.

The Jets then took the opening kickoff of the second half and marched to the Houston 8-yard line, but O'Brien threw an interception to Oilers defensive back Bubba McDowell. Houston took the ball back at their own 3-yard line and moved into scoring range. Despite two sacks by the Jets on the drive, Moon completed 7/8 passes, including a 17-yarder to running back Lorenzo White, moving the team close enough for Del Greco to make a franchise postseason record 53-yard field goal to increase their lead to 17-10.

New York responded with a drive to the Oilers 3-yard line. Facing fourth down and inches, running back Freeman McNeil tried to advance the ball but was tackled for no gain. Late in the game, New York had another chance to score when safety Lonnie Young forced a fumble while sacking Moon and Tony Stargell recovered for the Jets on the Oilers 26-yard line, but they turned it over on downs again. With just over a minute left, New York managed to get the ball back for one last drive, but McDowell intercepted a pass from O'Brien on the game's final play.

Moon completed 28/40 passes for 278 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception. Toon caught 8 passes for 91 yards and a score. New York linebacker Mo Lewis had two sacks.


Divisional playoffs

January 4, 1992

NFC: Washington Redskins 24, Atlanta Falcons 7

Game summary
1 2 34Total
Falcons 0 7 007
Redskins 0 14 3724

at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, Washington, D.C.

During their regular season meeting, Washington defeated Atlanta 56-17, with quarterback Mark Rypien throwing for 446 yards and 6 touchdowns. Atlanta starting QB Chris Miller and CB/KR Deion Sanders missed that initial meeting however. In this game the score was closer, but the result was still the same.

Under rainy and muddy conditions, the Falcons' pass-happy run-and-shoot offense turned the ball over 6 times, with Chris Miller, who had problems all game with his footing, throwing 4 INTs. The Redskins held the ball for over 36 minutes, scoring two touchdowns in a span of 3:11 in the second quarter. Washington scored first by driving 81-yards to score on running back Ricky Ervins' 17-yard rushing touchdown. Then, Redskins defensive lineman Jumpy Geathers recovered a fumble to set up running back Gerald Riggs' 2-yard touchdown. The Falcons mounted a long drive to draw within 7 at halftime on a 1-yard Tracy Johnson TD run. Washington's Chip Lohmiller missed 3 field goals in the first half which could have widened the lead.

In the second half, Lohmiller scored a 24-yard field goal to make the game 17-7, while Atlanta's Norm Johnson missed a critical field goal on the ensuing possession. Following another Atlanta fumble at midfield in the 4th quarter, Riggs added a clinching 1-yard touchdown run, prompting the fans in attendance to shower the field with the yellow seat cushions that were given out before the game.[1]

AFC: Denver Broncos 26, Houston Oilers 24

Game summary
1 2 34Total
Oilers 14 7 0324
Broncos 6 7 31026

at Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado

Trailing 24-23 with 2:07 left in the game, quarterback John Elway led the Broncos from their own 2-yard line to the winning 28-yard field goal by David Treadwell with 16 seconds left. On the drive, he converted on two fourth downs. On fourth down and 6 from the Denver 28, he rushed for 7 yards. Then on fourth down and 10, he completed a 44-yard pass to wide receiver Vance Johnson.

The Oilers jumped to a 14-0 lead with quarterback Warren Moon's two touchdown passes to wide receivers Haywood Jeffires and Drew Hill for 15 and 9 yards, respectively. Elway then completed a 10-yard touchdown to Johnson, but kicker Treadwell missed the extra point. Moon responded by throwing a 6-yard touchdown to wide receiver Curtis Duncan to give Houston a 21-6 lead, but Denver safety Steve Atwater's interception set up back Greg Lewis scored a 1-yard touchdown before halftime on an 88-yard drive.

In the second half, each team scored a field goal, which gave Houston a 24-16 lead in the fourth quarter. The Broncos then marched 80 yards to score on Lewis' 1-yard touchdown run on a drive that included a fumbled snap that Elway recovered to complete a first down pass, and a 26-yard completion on fourth down and a four. Denver's defense subsequently forced a punt for the first time in the game, and Greg Montgomery's 44-yard kick was downed on the 2-yard line. From there, Elway started off the drive with a 22-yard pass to Mike Young. The Broncos were forced into fourth downs twice in a row after that, but Elway converted each one with a 7-yard run and 44-yard completion to Johnson at the Oilers 21-yard line. One play later, Treadwell kicked a 28-yard field goal for the win.

Moon finished the game with 27 of 36 completions for 325 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception. 6 of his passes were caught by Ernest Givins for 111 yards.

January 5, 1992

AFC: Buffalo Bills 37, Kansas City Chiefs 14

Game summary
1 2 34Total
Chiefs 0 0 7714
Bills 7 10 71337

at Rich Stadium, Orchard Park, New York

Buffalo avenged their 33-6 loss to Kansas City during the regular season by eliminating them from the playoffs with a dominating 37-14 win, outgaining them in total yards 448-213.

The Bills crushed the Chiefs by jumping to a 24-0 lead in the third quarter. Buffalo quarterback Jim Kelly threw 3 touchdown passes: a 25-yarder to wide receiver Andre Reed, a 53-yard one to Reed, and a 10-yarder to wide receiver James Lofton. Bills kicker Scott Norwood added 3 field goals, running back Kenneth Davis scored a touchdown on a 5-yard run, Reed finished with 4 receptions for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns, and running back Thurman Thomas recorded 100 rushing yards. Meanwhile, Chiefs starting quarterback Steve DeBerg was knocked out of the game in the second period with a sprained thumb, and backup quarterback Mark Vlasic threw 4 interceptions in the second half.

The Chiefs had gained 239 rushing yards in the regular season game against Buffalo, with running backs Harvey Williams and Christian Okoye rushing for over 100 yards each, but could only gain 77 yards on the ground in this playoff rematch, with their leading rusher (Barry Word) gaining just 50. Kansas City did not cross midfield until 5:34 remained in the third quarter, when linebacker Lonnie Marts intercepted Kelly's pass and returned it 12 yards to the Bills 43-yard line. The Chiefs only managed one more drive into Buffalo territory after that.[1]

This was Thomas' fourth straight postseason game with at least 100 rushing yards, the second longest streak in NFL history (behind John Riggins' 6)

NFC: Detroit Lions 38, Dallas Cowboys 6

Game summary
1 2 34Total
Cowboys 3 3 006
Lions 7 10 14738

at Pontiac Silverdome, Pontiac, Michigan

Detroit had defeated Dallas 34-10 in the regular season, and this meeting would be no different. Quarterback Erik Kramer led the Lions to their first and only postseason victory since 1957 by completing 29 out of 38 passes for 341 yards and 3 touchdowns. Dallas quarterback Steve Beuerlein was held to just 7 of 13 completions for 91 yards, with 1 interception, before being replaced by Troy Aikman, who was unable to lead the team to any points after stepping on the field.

Kramer completed a 31-yard score to wide receiver Willie Green to open up the scoring. Dallas responded with an 18-yard run from Emmitt Smith setting up a 28-yard field goal by Ken Willis. But the next time Dallas had the ball, Melvin Jenkins intercepted a pass from Beuerlein and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown. The Cowboys responded with another 28-yard Willis field goal, but before the end of the half, Detroit receiver Mike Farr's 20-yard reception set up Eddie Murray's 36-yard field goal to make the score 17-6. In the second half, the Lions added 21 more points on two more Kramer touchdown passes, one to Green and the other to Herman Moore, and a spectacular 47-yard touchdown run by running back Barry Sanders.

Green finished the day with 8 receptions for 115 yards and two touchdowns.

Conference championships

January 12, 1992

AFC Championship: Buffalo Bills 10, Denver Broncos 7

Game summary
1 2 34Total
Broncos 0 0 077
Bills 0 0 7310

at Rich Stadium, Orchard Park, New York

Buffalo relied on missed field goals by Denver and some key plays from their defense to edge the Broncos 10-7, in what was a knock-down, drag-out defensive drama that featured devastating pass rushes that limited both offenses to meager, hard-fought-for yardage throughout the game.

The score was 0-0 at the half, even though Denver advanced into Buffalo territory on all five of their first half possessions. After the first three drives of the game ended in punts, Vance Johnson gave Denver good field position with a 13-yard return to their 49-yard line. The Broncos then drove to the Bills 34-yard line, but three consecutive plays for negative yardage, including a big sack on third down by Jeff Wright, pushed them all the way back to their own side of the field. After their punt, Denver quickly got another scoring chance when Ron Holmes deflected Bills quarterback Jim Kelly's pass at the line of scrimmage and nose tackle Greg Kragen made a diving interception on the Buffalo 29-yard line. But again Denver ended up with negative yardage and failed to score when David Treadwell was wide right on a 47-yard field goal attempt. Buffalo then drove to Denver territory for the first time in the game, but were stopped there and had to punt.

The Broncos then went on a rough back and forth drive featuring numerous penalties (including an encroachment call against the Bills on 4th down and 4), negative plays, an Elway fumble that he recovered himself, and an interception overturned by replay review. Despite all this, Denver managed to reach the Bills 16-yard line, but then Elway's fumble and recovery lost the team 5 yards and a 3rd down sack by Bruce Smith pushed them back another 8. On the next play, Treadwell missed a 42-yard field goal attempt, this time hitting the right upright. Johnson returned Buffalo's next punt 10 yards to midfield. Then on Denver's first play, Steve Sewell gained 26 yards on a screen pass. But after two tackles near the line of scrimmage by Cornelius Bennett, Elway was stopped on a QB draw and Treadwell missed again, this time hitting the right upright from 37 yards out. Meanwhile, Buffalo finished the half with just three first downs, one week after racking up 29 in their win over Kansas City.

Early in the third quarter, Denver QB John Elway (who was sacked 3 times) suffered a deep thigh bruise that limited his mobility. Meanwhile, Buffalo finally managed to mount a sustained drive. Aided by a 16-yard run from Andre Reed on a reverse play, they drove all the way to the Broncos 27-yard line. But continuing the trend of the day, they failed to capitalize when defensive back Tyrone Braxton intercepted Kelly's third down pass.

On the Broncos ensuing possession, they faced second down and 10 at their own 19-yard line. Elway attempted a middle screen pass to Sewell (which had been Denver's most effective play), but it was tipped by Bills defensive lineman Jeff Wright into the arms of linebacker Carlton Bailey. Bailey broke an Elway tackle and returned the ball 11 yards for what would be Buffalo's only touchdown of the game.

Elway's injury worsened to the point of his being replaced by backup Gary Kubiak in the 4th quarter. Kubiak managed to lead the Broncos into Bills territory, but they turned the ball over on downs when defensive back Cliff Hicks tackled Mike Young on the Buffalo 23-yard line one yard short of a first down on 4th and 11. After being completely dominated up to this point, Buffalo's offense got on track with a pivotal 25-yard third down completion by Jim Kelly to tight end Keith McKeller. A few runs by hobbled Buffalo running back Thurman Thomas and a 10-yard catch by Reed carried the Bills to within field goal range, and with 4:18 left in the game, Buffalo kicker Scott Norwood made a 44-yard field goal to increase the lead to 10-0.

Kubiak, who was playing in his last NFL game before retiring, started out the Broncos next drive with an 11-yard scramble and then a completion to Vance Johnson at midfield. Another completion to Johnson moved the ball to the 43, and then Mark Jackson caught a pass for a first down at the Bills 39. Following an encroachment penalty and an incomplesion, Johnson made spinning mid air catch on the Bills 10-yard line. Then after Johnson hauled in his 4th reception of the drive, Kubiak finished the 8-play. 85-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run on a quarterback draw, cutting the score to 10-7 with less than 2 minutes left. Denver defensive back Steve Atwater then recovered the ensuing onside kick on the Broncos 49-yard line, but on the next play defensive back Kirby Jackson forced and recovered a fumble from Sewell with 1:28 left. Denver forced Buffalo to punt, but there was only 17 seconds left when they started their drive from the Broncos 20-yard line. Kubiak completed two passes to move his team near midfield. However, second play ended inbounds and the clock ran out.

Denver finished the game leading in almost every statistical category, except for rushing. Vance Johnson, who had only 208 receiving yards during the season, finished with 7 receptions for 100 yards and 3 punt returns for 36. Kubiak completed 11 of 12 passes for 136 yards and rushed for 22, outscoring and out-passing Jim Kelly and John Elway. The Broncos defense held the high-powered Bills offense to 13 catches (most completed to tight ends and running backs) and 3 offensive points.

NFC Championship: Washington Redskins 41, Detroit Lions 10

Game summary
1 2 34Total
Lions 0 10 0010
Redskins 10 7 101441

at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, Washington, D.C.

In their season opening game, Washington beat the Lions 45-0. The Lions now had future Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders, who had missed their first meeting in week 1 with an injury, but it didn't help.

The Redskins crushed the Lions, 41-10, as quarterback Mark Rypien completed 12 out of 17 passes for 228 yards and 2 touchdowns. Detroit quarterback Erik Kramer was sacked 5 times, three of them by Washington linebacker Wilber Marshall. Sanders, who rushed for 1,548 yards during the season, was held to just 44 yards on 11 carries.

The Redskins forced 2 turnovers on the Lions' first two possessions, and jumped to a 10-0 lead with just 4:02 into the game. On Detroit's first play of the game, Washington defensive lineman Charles Mann forced Kramer to fumble, setting up running back Gerald Riggs' 2-yard touchdown. Then Redskins kicker Chip Lohmiller made a 20-yard field goal after linebacker Kurt Gouveia intercepted a pass and returned it 38 yards to the Detroit 10-yard line. In the second period, Kramer completed an 18-yard touchdown to wide receiver Willie Green, but it was countered by Riggs' 3-yard touchdown. Lions kicker Eddie Murray then made a 30-yard field goal and the Redskins only led 17-10 at halftime.

However, Washington scored 24 unanswered points in the second half. Lohmiller scored his second field goal of the game, a 28-yarder. Rypien threw a pair of touchdown passes to wide receivers Gary Clark and Art Monk for 45 and 21 yards, respectively. Cornerback Darrell Green also returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown.

After the game, the Redskins dedicated their win to WUSA sports anchor Glenn Brenner, who died from a brain tumor later that week.

Super Bowl XXVI: Washington Redskins 37, Buffalo Bills 24

Further information: Super Bowl XXVI
Game summary
1 2 34Total
Redskins (NFC) 0 17 14637
Bills (AFC) 0 0 101424

at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Minneapolis, Minnesota

  • Date: January 26, 1992
  • Game attendance: 63,130
  • Referee: Jerry Markbreit
  • TV announcers (CBS): Pat Summerall and John Madden


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