Highest-scoring NFL playoff games: Breaking down the record for most points scored and in what matchup

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.

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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.

date Round Result points scored
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:

date Round Result
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