A players' strike reduced the regular season to nine games. Thus, the league used a special 16-team playoff format (dubbed the "Super Bowl Tournament"), just for this year. Division standings were ignored (although each division did send at least one team to the playoffs). Eight teams from each conference were seeded 1-8 based on their regular season records:
Because of the eight-game first round, this was the first (and currently only) time that NFL playoff games were regionally televised across the United States instead of nationwide. This year was also the only season in which the conference championship games were played on separate days.
WAS - White 77 interception return (Moseley kick) WAS 7-0
WAS - field goal Moseley 26 WAS 10-0
WAS - Garrett 21 pass from Theismann (Moseley kick) WAS 17-0
WAS - Garrett 21 pass from Theismann (Moseley kick) WAS 24-0
WAS - Garrett 27 pass from Theismann (Moseley kick) WAS 31-0
DET - Hill 15 pass from Hipple (Murray kick) WAS 31-7
The Redskins jumped to a 24-0 lead enroute to a 31-7 victory over the Lions. Washington receiver Alvin Garrett, who only caught 1 pass during the regular season, recorded 6 receptions for 110 yards and 3 touchdowns. Fullback John Riggins led the team on the ground with 119 rushing yards. Quarterback Joe Theismann compiled 210 passing yards and 3 touchdowns. And the defense forced five turnovers to lead this romp over Detroit.
Jeris White got Washington on the board with a 77-yard interception return for a touchdown. Then after Mark Moseley's 26-yard field goal made it 10-0, Joe Theismann connected with Garrett for touchdowns twice in the second quarter.
NFC: Green Bay Packers 41, St. Louis Cardinals 16Edit
Green Bay quarterback Lynn Dickey threw for 260 yards and 4 touchdowns en route to a 41-16 win. The Packers scored four touchdowns on four consecutive possessions. It was their first playoff victory since Super Bowl II in 1968. Oddly, this victory was 15 years after that Super Bowl victory, 15 the same jersey number of Super Bowl II MVP (and then-Packer coach) Bart Starr.
After stopping the Cardinals on fourth and goal on the Packers 1-yard line, Dickey put Green Bay in the lead by finishing off two long drives with touchdown passes to John Jefferson and James Lofton. Later in the first half, they converted two St. Louis turnovers into a pair of touchdowns by Eddie Lee Ivery.
By the end of the game, the Packers had set numerous franchise post season records, including most touchdown passes in a game (4). most receiving yards (6 receptions for 148 yards by Jefferson), longest touchdown reception (Jefferson's 60-yard score), and longest field goal (46 yards by Jan Stenerud)
Cardinals receiver Roy Green caught 9 passes for 113 yards.
AFC: Miami Dolphins 28, New England Patriots 13Edit
MIA - Hardy 2 pass from Woodley (von Schamann kick) MIA 7-3
MIA - Franklin 1 run (von Schamann kick) MIA 14-3
NE - field goal Smith 42 MIA 14-6
MIA - Bennett 2 run (von Schamann kick) MIA 21-6
MIA - Hardy 2 pass from Woodley (von Schamann kick) MIA 28-6
NE - Hasselbeck 22 pass from Grogan (Smith kick) MIA 28-13
The Dolphins controlled most of the game with four long touchdown drives, and intercepted Patriots quarterback Steve Grogan twice. Miami quarterback David Woodley had one of the best performances of his career, completing 16 of 19 passes for 246 yards and 2 touchdowns (both to tight end Bruce Hardy) with no interceptions, while also rushing for 16 yards. David Woodley's passer rating for this game was 153.8.
AFC: Los Angeles Raiders 27, Cleveland Browns 10Edit
NYJ - Ray 98 interception return (Leahy kick) NYJ 37-17
NYJ - Crutchfield 1 run (Leahy kick) NYJ 44-17
The underdog Jets overcame an early 14-3 deficit by racking up 517 yards of offense and scoring 21 points in the fourth quarter. Running back Freeman McNeil led the Jets to a victory with 210 rushing yards and a touchdown, while also catching a pass for 9 yards and throwing a touchdown pass on a halfback option play. Receiver Wesley Walker caught 8 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown. Jets quarterback Richard Todd completed 20 of 28 passes for 269 yards and a touchdown. Playing in the final postseason game of his legendary career, Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson completed 26 of 35 passes for a career playoff high 354 yards and 2 touchdowns, but was intercepted 3 times. Receiver Cris Collinsworth caught 7 passes for 120 yards.
Two first quarter touchdown passes from Anderson gave the Bengals an early 14-3 lead, but New York stormed back with 17 points in the second quarter and added a field goal early in the third. With time running out in the third quarter, Bengals kicker Jim Breech made 20-yard field goal. So despite giving up 20 unanswered points, Cincinnati only trailed 23-17 going into the final period. However, the Bengals self destructed in the fourth quarter, suffering one of the worst collapses in franchise history. Throughout the fourth quarter, Cincinnati had a 69-yard touchdown pass called back by a false start penalty, gave up two Jets rushing touchdowns, missed a 46-yard field goal, and threw two interceptions, one of which was returned a playoff record 98 yards for a touchdown by safety Darrol Ray.
AFC: San Diego Chargers 31, Pittsburgh Steelers 28Edit
The game began disastrously for the Chargers when James Brooks fumbled the opening kickoff, which was recovered for a touchdown by Guy Ruff of the Steelers. But San Diego battled back. Quarterback Dan Fouts threw for 333 yards and 3 touchdowns with no interceptions to lead his team to victory. With the Steelers leading 28-17 in the fourth quarter, the Chargers scored two touchdowns in the final period—the second with only a minute remaining. Chargers running back Chuck Muncie rushed for 126 yards and caught a pass for 12, while tight end Kellen Winslow caught 7 passes for 102 yards and 2 touchdowns. Steelers receiver John Stallworth caught 8 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Terry Bradshaw threw for 325 yards and 2 touchdowns and scored a rushing touchdown in his final postseason of the game, but was intercepted twice.
NFC: Dallas Cowboys 30, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17Edit
DAL - Springs 6 pass from D. White (Septien kick) DAL 13-10
DAL - field goal Septien 19 DAL 16-10
TB - Jones 49 pass from Williams (Capece kick) TB 17-16
DAL - Hunter 19 interception return (Septien kick) DAL 23-17
DAL - Newsome 10 pass from D.White (Septien kick) DAL 30-17
The Cowboys had 445 yards of total offense, while their defense held Buccaneers quarterback Doug Williams, playing in his final game in a Bucs uniform, to just 8 of 28 completions for 113 yards and intercepted him 3 times. Dallas running back Tony Dorsett rushed for 110 yards, while kicker Rafael Septien made 3 field goals.
This was Tampa Bay's last playoff game until 1997, by which time the Buccaneers ditched their orange uniforms. From 1983 through 1996, the Bucs suffered 14 consecutive losing seasons, 13 of which saw Tampa Bay lose 10 or more games.
RAI - Barnwell 57 pass from Plunkett (Bahr kick) RAI 14-10
NYJ - Dierking 1 run (Leahy kick) NYJ 17-14
Scott Dierking scored the Jets' winning touchdown with 3:45 remaining to upset the top-seeded Raiders. The New York defense then forced two interceptions in the final minutes to seal the victory. Jets running back Freeman McNeil rushed for 105 yards and caught a pass for 11. Wesley Walker caught 7 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown.
MIA - Moore 9 pass from Woodley (von Schamann kick) MIA 7-0
MIA - Franklin 3 run (von Schamann kick) 14-0
MIA - Lee 6 pass from Woodley (von Schamann kick) 21-0
MIA - field goal von Schamann 24 MIA 24-0
SD - Joiner 28 pass from Fouts (kick failed)MIA 24-6
MIA - field goal von Schamann 23 MIA 27-6
SD - Muncie 1 run (Benirschke kick) MIA 27-13
MIA - Woodley 7 run (von Schamann kick) MIA 34-13
Miami avenged their divisional playoff loss to San Diego in the previous season known as The Epic In Miami with dominating 34-13 win. The Dolphins defense completely shut down Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts, limiting him to just 15 of 34 completions for 194 yards and a touchdown while intercepting him 5 times. The Dolphins led 27-13 at halftime. Miami quarterback David Woodley, who was benched in the second quarter of the Epic in Miami due to poor performance, redeemed himself by completing 17 of 22 passes for 195 yards and 2 touchdowns with 1 interception, while also scoring a rushing touchdown. The Dolphins converted 3 turnovers, including 2 fumbled kickoffs, into 21 points. This was the final postseason game in the hall of fame careers of Chargers stars Dan Fouts, Charlie Joiner, and Kellen Winslow.
DAL - Thurman 39 interception return (Septien kick) DAL 20-7
GB - field goal Stenerud 30 DAL 20-10
GB - field goal Stenerud 33 DAL 20-13
DAL - field goal Septien 24 DAL 23-13
GB - Lofton 71 run (kick failed) DAL 23-19
DAL - Cosbie 7 pass from D.White (Septien kick) DAL 30-19
GB - Lee 22 interception return (Stenerud kick) DAL 30-26
DAL - Newsome 1 run (Septien kick) DAL 37-26
The Cowboys scored touchdowns on two 80-yard drives while cornerback Dennis Thurman had 3 interceptions, including a 39-yard touchdown and one to clinch the victory. Packers quarterback Lynn Dickey threw for a franchise postseason record 332 yards and a touchdown, but his 3 interceptions were too costly to overcome. Receiver James Lofton caught 5 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown, and also had a 71-yard touchdown run on a reverse play, which tied the record for longest running play in a playoff game at the time.
Two field goals by Rafael Septien, a touchdown run by Robert Newhouse, and Thurman's 39-yard touchdown return gave the Cowboys a 20-7 lead by halftime. In the second half, the Packers mounted a strong comeback attempt, racking up 363 yards and scoring 19 points. Midway through the fourth quarter, Green Bay defensive back Mark Lee's 22-yard interception return for a touchdown cut the Packers deficit to 30-26. But later on, Thurman's third interception set up a 74-yard scoring drive to put the game away with Newhouse's second touchdown run.
Green Bay finished the game with a franchise playoff record 466 total yards.
This would be the final playoff game that Cowboys' coach Tom Landry would ever win in his career.
WAS - Brown 19 pass from Theismann (Moseley kick) WAS 7-3
WAS - Riggins 1 run (Moseley kick) WAS 14-3
DAL - Pearson 6 pass from Hogeboom (Septien kick) WAS 14-10
WAS - Riggins 4 run (Moseley kick) WAS 21-10
DAL - Johnson 23 pass from Hogeboom (Septien kick) WAS 21-17
WAS - field goal Moseley 29 WAS 24-17
WAS - Grant 10 interception return (Moseley kick) WAS 31-17
The Redskins sealed the victory by converting 2 turnovers in the final period into 10 points. The Cowboys scored first after a 75-yard drive led to a 27-yard field goal by kicker Rafael Septien. But Washington then scored on an 84-yard drive that was capped by quarterback Joe Theismann's 19-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Charlie Brown. Then in the second quarter, after Redskins kicker Mark Moseley missed a 27-yard field goal attempt, Dallas' Rod Hill lost a muffed punt, setting up a 1-yard rushing touchdown by Redskins running back John Riggins to increase their lead, 14-3.
With 32 seconds left in the first half, Cowboys quarterback Danny White suffered a concussion after being hit by Washington's Dexter Manley and was replaced by unknown backup Gary Hogeboom for the rest of the game. A short Redskins punt early in the third quarter then set up Hogeboom's 6-yard touchdown toss to Drew Pearson, capping a six-play, 38-yard drive, cutting the score to 14-10. But on the ensuing kickoff, Mike Nelms returned the ball 76 yards down the right sideline to the Dallas 21-yard line. A 22-yard pass from Theismann to Brown was then followed by Riggins' four-yard touchdown run. Hogeboom then responded by leading Dallas on an 84-yard, 14-play drive capped by his 23-yard scoring pass to Butch Johnson, cutting the margin was back to 21-17 with 3:25 left in the third quarter.
Dallas threatened to cut the lead further, driving to the Washington 23-yard line early in the fourth quarter, but Septien missed a 42-yard field goal. Following a Washington punt, Dallas had the ball at the Washington 32-yard line, but linebacker Mel Kaufman made a leaping, over-the-shoulder interception that was intended to Cowboys receiver Tony Hill, setting up Washington kicker Mark Moseley's 29-yard field goal with 6:55 left to play. Then from the Dallas 20-yard line, defensive lineman Dexter Manley tipped Hogeboom's delayed screen pass intended for running back Tony Dorsett; tackle Darryl Grant caught it and returned it 10 yards for the game-clinching touchdown.
Riggins, who ran nine straight times to help Washington run out the clock in the final period, finished the game with 140 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns.
MIA - Duhe 35 interception return (von Schamann kick) MIA 14-0
On a wet, muddy field (the Jets complained about the Dolphins' decision not to place the tarp over the field before the game), the Dolphins defense held Jets quarterback Richard Todd to only 15 of 37 completions for 103 yards and intercepted 5 of his passes. Linebacker A.J. Duhe led Miami to a victory with 3 interceptions, scoring a 35-yard touchdown and setting up the other Dolphins score. Miami held the Jets to 139 total yards and forced 5 interceptions. The game was scoreless until the third period when Duhe intercepted a pass from Todd. Aided by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Jets, the Dolphins advanced to the New York 7-yard line where Woody Bennett rushed into the end zone for a touchdown. Then early in the final period, Duhe intercepted a screen pass and returned it 35 yards for the game-clinching touchdown.