American Football Database

The NFL playoffs following the 1985 NFL season led up to Super Bowl XX.

Because the Jets and Giants both used Giants Stadium as their home field, the two wild card playoff games were held on different days.

Playoff seeds
1 Los Angeles Raiders (West winner) Chicago Bears (Central winner)
2 Miami Dolphins (East winner) Los Angeles Rams (West winner)
3 Cleveland Browns (Central winner) Dallas Cowboys (East winner)
4 New York Jets New York Giants
5 New England Patriots San Francisco 49ers


Divisional Playoffs
    January 4 - Anaheim Stadium        
NFC Wild Card Game NFC Championship
 3  Dallas  0
December 29 - Giants Stadium     January 12 - Soldier Field
 2  L.A. Rams  20  
 5  San Francisco  3  2  L.A. Rams  0
January 5 - Soldier Field
 4  N.Y. Giants  17      1  Chicago  24   Super Bowl XX
 4  N.Y. Giants  0
    January 26 - Louisiana Superdome
 1  Chicago  21  
 N1  Chicago  46
January 5 - L.A. Memorial Coliseum
AFC Wild Card Game AFC Championship    A5  New England  10
 5  New England  27
December 28 - Giants Stadium     January 12 - Miami Orange Bowl
 1  L.A. Raiders  20  
 5  New England  26  5  New England  31
January 4 - Miami Orange Bowl
 4  N.Y. Jets  14      2  Miami  14  
 3  Cleveland  21
 2  Miami  24  

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Wild Card playoffs

December 28, 1985

AFC: New England Patriots 26, New York Jets 14

Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Patriots 3 10 10 3


Jets 0 7 7 0


at Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey

In the NFL's first ever playoff game at Giants Stadium, the Patriots dominated the Jets by forcing 4 turnovers and 5 sacks. New England jumped to 3-0 lead in the first quarter after Tony Franklin made a 33-yard field goal. Then after New York scored on quarterback Ken O'Brien's 11-yard touchdown pass to running back Johnny Hector, Franklin kicked his second field goal for 41 yards. Late in the second quarter, safety Fred Marion intercepted a pass from O'Brien to set up Tony Eason's 36-yard touchdown pass to Stanley Morgan, giving New England a 13-7 halftime lead. In the third period, Franklin made a 20-yard field goal to give the Patriots a 16-7 lead and on the ensuing kickoff, Hector was stripped of the ball by LB Johnny Rembert, who then picked up the fumble and returned it 15 yards for a touchdown, which gave the Patriots a commanding 23-7 lead, but the Jets cut the lead to 23-14 late in the 3rd quarter when Pat Ryan, in at QB for the injured Ken O'Brien, threw a 12 yard TD pass to Mickey Shuler. Late in the 4th quarter, Franklin later made his fourth field goal of the game, a 26-yarder, to close out the scoring.

December 29, 1985

NFC: New York Giants 17, San Francisco 49ers 3

Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
49ers 0 3 0 0


Giants 3 7 7 0


at Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey

In the Giants first home playoff game since 1962, despite the fact that the 49ers recorded 362 yards of total offense, with receiver Dwight Clark catching 8 passes for 120 yards, the Giants defense limited San Francisco to only one field goal the entire game, a 21-yard field goal by Ray Wersching in the 2nd quarter. Meanwhile, New York running back Joe Morris rushed for 141 yards. The Giants scored on their opening possession of the game with kicker Eric Schubert's 47-yard field goal. Then in the second quarter, New York defensive back Terry Kinard intercepted a pass from 49ers quarterback Joe Montana to set up Phil Simms' 18-yard touchdown pass to tight end Mark Bavaro. A 77-yard drive in the third quarter was capped by Simms' 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Don Hasselbeck which capped off the scoring for the day.

Divisional playoffs

January 4, 1986

AFC: Miami Dolphins 24, Cleveland Browns 21

Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Browns 7 7 7 0


Dolphins 3 0 14 7


at Miami Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida

The Browns jumped to a 21-3 lead midway through the third period, but the Dolphins then scored 21 unanswered points—the final touchdown with 1:57 left to play. Miami scored on their first drive with a 51-field goal by Fuad Reveiz. Cleveland later marched 82 yard to score on quarterback Bernie Kosar's 16-yard pass to tight end Ozzie Newsome. In the second quarter, Browns defensive back Don Rogers intercepted Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino, setting up a 21-yard rushing touchdown by running back Earnest Byner. Byner then ran for a 66-yard touchdown in the third quarter, the longest play in Cleveland's post season history, to give Cleveland a 21-3 lead. However, Miami then controlled the rest of the game. A 74-yard drive was capped by Marino's 6-yard touchdown pass to Nat Moore. Then running back Ron Davenport scored on a 31-yard touchdown. Davenport's winning touchdown, a 1-yard run with 1:57 remaining in the game, capped a 73-yard possession.

Byner finished the game with 161 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns on just 16 carries, while also catching 4 passes for 25 yards. Miami running back Tony Nathan rushed for 21 yards and caught 10 passes for 101 yards.

NFC: Los Angeles Rams 20, Dallas Cowboys 0

Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Cowboys 0 0 0 0


Rams 3 0 10 7


at Anaheim Stadium, Anaheim, California

Running back Eric Dickerson led the Rams to a victory by scoring two touchdowns and recording a playoff record 248 rushing yards. After the first half ended with a 3-0 Los Angeles lead, Dickerson scored on a 55-yard touchdown run early in the third period. On the ensuing kickoff, Kenny Duckett fumbled, and the ball was recovered by Vince Newsome to set up kicker Mike Lansford's second field goal. In the fourth period, Tony Hunter recovered a fumbled punt to set up Dickerson's 40-yard rushing touchdown. This was Tom Landry's final post-season game as the Cowboys head coach.


January 5, 1986

NFC: Chicago Bears 21, New York Giants 0

Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Giants 0 0 0 0


Bears 7 0 14 0


at Soldier Field, Chicago

The Bears defense dominated the game by allowing only 32 rushing yards and sacked Giants quarterbacks for 60 yards. Giants quarterback Phil Simms was sacked 7 times during the game, 3½ of them coming from Chicago defensive end Richard Dent. Chicago's first touchdown resulted on a New York punt attempt from their own 12-yard line. The wind caught the ball just enough for punter Sean Landeta to completely miss it, and Shaun Gayle picked it up and ran 5 yards for a touchdown. Gayle's run was the shortest punt return touchdown in NFL history. Bears quarterback Jim McMahon later threw two touchdown passes in the third period, both to Dennis McKinnon. McMahon finished the game with 216 passing yards, while running back Walter Payton rushed for 94 yards.

AFC: New England Patriots 27, Los Angeles Raiders 20

Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Patriots 7 10 10 0


Raiders 3 17 0 0


at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles

New England running back Craig James rushed for 104 yards, caught 3 passes for 48 yards and scored a touchdown while the Patriots converted 6 Raiders turnovers into 17 points. In the first quarter, a fumble by Raiders punt returner Fulton Walker set up Patriots tight end Lin Dawson's 13-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Tony Eason. Los Angeles then scored 17 unanswered points: a 29-field goal by Chris Bahr, a 16-yard touchdown reception by Jessie Hester, and Marcus Allen's 11-yard rushing touchdown. New England then scored with James' 2-yard run, and later tied the game, 17-17, after Ronnie Lippett's interception set up Tony Franklin's 45-yard field goal. But Bahr kicked a 32-yard field goal with 6 second left in the half to give the Raiders a 20-17 lead. In the third period, Franklin made a 32-yard field goal to tie the game. On the ensuing kickoff, Sam Seale fumbled and Jim Bowman recovered the loose ball in the end zone for the game-clinching touchdown.

Conference championships

January 12, 1986

NFC Championship: Chicago Bears 24, Los Angeles Rams 0

Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Rams 0 0 0 0


Bears 10 0 7 7


at Soldier Field, Chicago

The Bears defense dominated the game by limiting Rams running back Eric Dickerson to 46 yards, and holding quarterback Dieter Brock to 10 out of 31 completions for 66 passing yards. Los Angeles only gained 130 yards of total offense. The Rams had a chance to get back in the game as they got inside the Bears' 15 yard line in the waning moments of the first half. But poor play calling and clock management resulted in the clock running out. Chicago quarterback Jim McMahon scored on a 16-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, and later threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Willie Gault in the third quarter. Kicker Kevin Butler kicked a 34-yard field goal in the first period. In the fourth quarter, defensive lineman Richard Dent forced Brock to fumble, and linebacker Wilber Marshall picked up the loose ball and returned it 52 yards for a touchdown.

AFC Championship: New England Patriots 31, Miami Dolphins 14

Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Patriots 3 14 7 7


Dolphins 0 7 0 7


at Miami Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida

In an upset, the Patriots converted 6 Dolphins turnovers into 24 points. On Miami's first offensive play, running back Tony Nathan fumbled, and Patriots defensive end Garin Veris recovered the ball to set up Tony Franklin's 23-yard field goal. The Dolphins then marched on an 80-yard drive to score on quarterback Dan Marino's 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dan Johnson. But New England responded on a 66-yard possession to score on quarterback Tony Eason's 4-yard touchdown to Tony Collins. A fumble by Dwight Stephenson then led to Eason's 1-yard touchdown to Derrick Ramsey to give the Patriots a 17-7 lead. Just before halftime Miami missed the chance to cut the deficit down to 3 points when tight end Dan Johnson dropped a pass from Marino in the end zone on a 1st and 10 from the Patriots' 16. As the next two plays fell short of a first down, Miami settled for a field goal from the Patriots' 14 yards, but Fuad Reveiz' kick sailed wide to the right after a badly taken snap. Miami's Lorenzo Hampton then lost a fumble on the opening kickoff of the second half, and Eason converted the turnover into a 2-yard touchdown pass to running back Robert Weathers. The Dolphins finally scored again in the final period with Nathan's 10-yard touchdown reception to cut the deficit to 24-14, but New England's Mosi Tatupu later recorded a 1-yard touchdown to close out the scoring. Patriots running back Craig James was their main contributor on offense, rushing for a career postseason high 105 yards of the Patriots 255 total rushing yards in a game played in a steady rain. The win was the first for the Patriots at the Orange Bowl since 1966, the Dolphins inaugural season, ending a string of 18 consecutive losses by the Patriots in Miami and earning the Patriots their first trip to the Super Bowl in franchise history.

Super Bowl

Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Bears (NFC) 13 10 21 2


Patriots (AFC) 3 0 0 7


at Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana

  • Date: January 26, 1986
  • Game attendance: 73,818
  • Referee: Red Cashion
  • TV announcers (NBC): Dick Enberg and Merlin Olsen


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