Largest comebacks in NFL history: Vikings’ stunner over Colts stands as biggest rally league has ever seen


The Minnesota Vikings capped off the biggest comeback in NFL history by clearing a 33-point halftime deficit to clinch a wild 39-36 overtime victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Kirk Cousins ​​threw for 417 yards in the second half and in overtime, the most of any player in NFL history – matching the biggest comeback in league history.

As the Vikings decided to rewrite the NFL record books, let’s take a look at the five greatest comebacks in NFL history — including the one that surpassed Minnesota in the process.

1. Minnesota Vikings 39, Indianapolis Colts 36 (OT) — 33 points (Week 15, 2022 regular season)

The biggest comeback in NFL history belongs to the Vikings, who overcame a 33-0 halftime deficit to pull off the improbable comeback to clinch the NFC North title. Cousins ​​threw four touchdown passes in the second half as the Vikings erased a 36-7 deficit with 4:53 left in the third quarter to score the final 32 points in this one.

Minnesota scored 22 points in the fourth quarter to tie the game on a Dalvin Cook 64-yard touchdown reception from Cousins ​​with 2:15 to play in the rules. The Vikings got the ball in overtime—after punting on their first possession in overtime—with 1:41 to play as Cousins ​​led the Vikings 60 yards down the field, resulting in a Greg Joseph 40-yard field goal for the win with three seconds remaining in overtime.

Cousins ​​overcame two interceptions to throw for 460 yards and four touchdowns in the win. Colts quarterback Matt Ryan eventually became the starting quarterback with two 25-point lead, the only quarterback in league history to hold this award.

2. Buffalo Bills 41, Houston Oilers 38 (OT) — 32 points (1992 AFC Wild Card Playoffs)

What was the biggest comeback in NFL history remains one of the most unlikely wins the league has ever seen. Bill’s backup quarterback Frank Reich engineered the game known as “The Comeback” as Buffalo erased a 35-3 deficit in the third quarter to clinch the win.

Reich threw four touchdown passes in the second half, three to Andre Reed and one to Don Beebe as the Bills took a 38–35 lead with 3:08 to play (Reich threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Reed). The Oilers rallied to tie the score when Warren Moon led them on a 63-yard drive that resulted in an Al Del Greco field goal to send the game into overtime.

Houston got the ball first in overtime, but Moon threw an interception to Nate Odomes who gave the Bills the ball at the Oilers’ 20-yard line. Replay showed that the intended target Ernest Givins was held by Darryl Talley, but no flag was thrown. Steve Christie hit a 32-yard field goal to complete the unlikely comeback as the Bills would advance to their third straight Super Bowl a few weeks later.

3. Indianapolis Colts 45, Kansas City Chiefs 44 — 28 points (2013 AFC Wild Card Playoffs)

In his first season with the Chiefs, Andy Reid looked en route to a playoff win after leading 38–10 early in the third quarter after Knile Davis caught a 10-yard pass from Alex Smith. The Colts defeated the Chiefs 21-3 for the rest of the quarter to cut the deficit to 41-31 going into the fourth.

Indianapolis fumbled the ball in an attempt to trim the deficit to three as Andrew Luck recovered the fumble and shot the ball in for a touchdown in one of the weirdest plays in NFL history. Luck struck TY Hilton for a 64-yard touchdown pass with 4:21 left to give Indianapolis a 45–44 lead as the Colts held the Chiefs on their ensuing possession to cap off the comeback.

Luck threw for 443 yards with four touchdowns, overcoming three interceptions. Hilton caught 13 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns as both teams finished with over 500 yards of offense.

The legend of Joe Montana in San Francisco began in this game. San Francisco was defeated 324–21 in the first half and trailed 35–7 at halftime, with the 49ers’ lone touchdown coming on a 57-yard punt return from Freddie Solomon.

Montana threw for two touchdown passes in the second half, a 71-yard pass to Dwight Clark and then a 14-yard pass to Solomon to make it 35–28. Lenvil Elliott tied the game with a 7-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter to force overtime.

Montana completed the comeback in overtime, as the 49ers got the win with Ray Wersching drilling a 36-yard punt. Montana threw for two touchdown passes and rushed for one in the second half, finishing 24 of 36 for 285 yards. The Saints fell to 0-14 with the loss, the worst loss for the infamous “Aints”.

5. Buffalo Bills 37, Indianapolis Colts 35 – 26 points (Week 4, 1997 regular season)

Buffalo trailed by 26 points in the second quarter before Todd Collins led the Bills to 10 unanswered points before halftime to make the deficit manageable. Antowain Smith rushed for three touchdowns in the second half, including a 54-yard run with 5:21 to play to give Buffalo a 37–29 lead.

The game wasn’t over yet, as Colts backup quarterback Paul Justin hit Marvin Harrison on a 14-yard touchdown pass with 14 seconds left. The Colts went for the two-point conversion and the tie to force overtime, but Kurt Schulz broke Justin’s pass for Harrison to maintain the 37-35 lead.

Indianapolis recovered the onside kick and attempted two desperate passes, but the last one towards the end zone was nicked by Ken Irvin. Buffalo won despite five turnovers and two muffled punts.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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