4. The Fumble
With 1:12 to play in the 1987 AFC Championship Game, the Browns were poised to tie the Broncos. Trailing 38-31, they had moved to Denver’s eight-yard line, setting the stage for one of the most-agonizing plays in NFL history. Cleveland running back Earnest Byner appeared to be heading to the end zone when he was stripped of the ball, ending the Browns rally in an instant. If he scores, and if Cleveland wins in overtime, the legacies of Byner, quarterback Bernie Kosar and head coach Marty Schottenheimer change in an instant. And perhaps the Browns never move, as one trip to the Super Bowl changes a lot in Cleveland.
3. The Catch
Rarely is it easy to define when one dynasty ended and another began. But such is the game with the fall of the Dallas Cowboys and the rise of the San Francisco 49ers. It occurred with 58 seconds to play in the 1981 NFC Championship Game, when quarterback Joe Montana found wide receiver Dwight Clark in the back of the end zone for a touchdown that game the 49ers a 28-27 victory over the Cowboys. The win propelled San Francisco to the first of four championships in the 1980s and sent Dallas into a decade-long Super Bowl drought.