The old adage “defense wins championships” is no longer a ubiquitous adage at the NFL level. That’s in no small part due to the explosion of points the sport has seen in recent years.
In fact, the emergence of players like Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow and others has come at the direct expense of NFL defense, many of whom are still figuring out how to defend this latest wave of offensive prodigies.
This also applies to the most important phase of the NFL: the playoffs, where there is no “next time” or “next week” for the losing team. In fact, since the beginning of the new century, some of the most successful playoff games in NFL history have been played: seven in total, including three in each of the last three postseasons.
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Will the 2023 playoffs create another offensive explosion? Given the way the game’s young quarterbacks play, that wouldn’t be a surprise. With that, The Sporting News looks at the highest scoring games in NFL playoff history, as well as the highest scoring scored by a single team:
NFL record for most points scored in a playoff game
The record for most combined points scored in a playoff game is the 2010 NFC wildcard meetup between the Cardinals and the Packers. That game yielded 96 points as Arizona, led by Kurt Warner, earned a 51-45 victory in overtime over Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay.
The Cardinals led 17-0 after the first quarter before eventually going into halftime 24-10. Both teams scored 14 points in the third quarter, with Arizona still holding a two-touchdown lead heading into the fourth. There, Green Bay beat the Cardinals 21-7 and sent the game into overtime.
The game finally ended on the fourth play after scrimmage when a Michael Adams stripsack from Rodgers allowed Karlos Dansby to return the ball for the game-winning touchdown.
1/10/10 – The Cardinals defeated GB 51-45 in OT (the highest scoring playoff game in #NFL-hist) in the WC Rd. Michael Adams fired Aaron Rogers (28-42-423-4) and forced a fumble which Karlos Danby recovered and ran 17 yards for the game-winning TD. Warners: 29-33-379-5. #BirdCitySoccer pic.twitter.com/u8YMUW2Zi3
— Arizona Sports History (@AZSportsHistory) January 10, 2023
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Highest Scoring NFL Playoff Games
The rise in scoring at the NFL level has resulted in several recent games registering in the top 10 highest-scoring games in playoff history.
In fact, since the 2010 NFL playoffs (2009 season), six of the top 10 most successful games have been played. Four of these have occurred in the past five years, including one in each of the past three seasons.
|January 10, 2010||wildcard||Cardinals 51, Packers 45 (OT)||96|
|December 30, 1995||wildcard||Lions 58, eagles 37||95|
|January 4, 2014||wildcard||Chief’s 45, Colt’s 44||89|
|January 14, 2018||Divisional||Jaguars 45, Steelers 42||87|
|January 16, 2000||Divisional||Aries 49, Vikings 37||86|
|January 10, 2021||wildcard||Brown’s 48, Steeler’s 37||85|
|January 12, 2020||Divisional||Chiefs 51, Texans 31||82|
|January 3, 1993||wildcard||Bills 41, Oilers 38||79|
|January 2, 1982||Divisional||Chargers 41, Dolphins 38||79|
|January 23, 2022||Divisional||Chiefs 42, Bills 36||78|
Most points scored by a single team in NFL playoff history
Surprisingly, only three of the highest-scoring NFL playoff games match the record for most points scored by a single team. None of those three games — 1995 Lions-Eagles, 2010 Cardinals-Packers game, and 2020 Chiefs-Texans — feature the team that owns the NFL record.
That award instead belongs to the 1999 Jaguars, who in just their fifth year as a franchise broke the NFL record for most points scored in a playoff game in a 62-7 win over the Dolphins.
Here are the rest of the top 10 highest scoring teams in NFL single-game playoff history:
|January 15, 2000||Divisional||Jaguars 62, dolphins 7|
|December 30, 1995||wildcard||Lions 58, eagles 37|
|January 28, 1990||super bowl||49ers 55, Broncos 10|
|January 31, 1993||super bowl||Cowboys 52, Bills 17|
|January 20, 1991||AFC Championship||Bill’s 51, Raider’s 3|
|January 1, 1984||Divisional||Redskins 51, Aries 7|
|January 12, 2020||Divisional||Chiefs 51, Texans 31|
|January 10, 2010||wildcard||Cardinals 51, Packers 45 (OT)|
|January 4, 1987||Divisional||Giants 49, 49ers 3|
|January 24, 2016||NFC Championship||Panthers 49, Cardinals 15|