American Football Database

The NFL playoffs following the 1987 NFL season led up to Super Bowl XXII.

Playoff seeds
1 Denver Broncos (West winner) San Francisco 49ers (West winner)
2 Cleveland Browns (Central winner) Chicago Bears (Central winner)
3 Indianapolis Colts (East winner) Washington Redskins (East winner)
4 Houston Oilers New Orleans Saints
5 Seattle Seahawks Minnesota Vikings


Divisional Playoffs
    January 9 - Candlestick Park        
NFC Wild Card Game NFC Championship
 5  Minnesota  36
January 3 - Louisiana Superdome     January 17 - RFK Stadium
 1  San Francisco  24  
 5  Minnesota  44  5  Minnesota  10
January 10 - Soldier Field
 4  New Orleans  10      3  Washington  17   Super Bowl XXII
 3  Washington  21
    January 31 - Jack Murphy Stadium
 2  Chicago  17  
 N3  Washington  42
January 9 - Cleveland Stadium
AFC Wild Card Game AFC Championship    A1  Denver  10
 3  Indianapolis  21
January 3 - Astrodome     January 17 - Mile High Stadium
 2  Cleveland  38  
 5  Seattle  20  2  Cleveland  33
January 10 - Mile High Stadium
 4  Houston (OT)  23      1  Denver  38  
 4  Houston  10
 1  Denver  34  

This box: view · talk · edit

Wild Card playoffs

January 3, 1988

NFC: Minnesota Vikings 44, New Orleans Saints 10

Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Vikings 10 21 3 10


Saints 7 3 0 0


at Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana

In the Saints' first playoff game in history, the Vikings dominated the game by recording 2 sacks, forcing 4 turnovers, and allowing only 149 yards. New Orleans scored first after Vikings quarterback Tommy Kramer's fumble on a bad snap led to Saints quarterback Bobby Hebert's 10-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Eric Martin. Kramer then had to leave the game midway through the first quarter after reaggravating a pinched nerve in his neck that bothered him throughout the entire season. However, Minnesota took control of the contest from that point on. Backup quarterback Wade Wilson threw two touchdown passes, running back D. J. Dozier rushed for an 18-yard touchdown, and kicker Chuck Nelson made 3 field goals. Wide receiver Anthony Carter recorded an NFL playoff record 84-yard punt return for a touchdown, and finished the game with a postseason record 143 total punt return yards. Carter also scored a touchdown on a 10-yard halfback option pass from Allen Rice. New Orleans' only other score in the game was a 40-yard field goal by Morten Andersen. Wilson finished the game with 11 of 20 completions for 189 yards and 2 touchdown.

AFC: Houston Oilers 23, Seattle Seahawks 20 (OT)

Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Seahawks 7 3 3 7


Oilers 3 10 7 0


at Astrodome, Houston, Texas

Oilers kicker Tony Zendejas won the game with a 42-yard field goal 8:05 into overtime. Although Houston outgained Seattle with 427 total offensive yards to 250, the game remained close until the very end. The Seahawks scored first on wide receiver Steve Largent's 20-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Dave Krieg. The Oilers then scored 13 unanswered points with two field goals by Zendejas and running back Mike Rozier's 1-yard rushing touchdown. However, Seattle tied the game in the third quarter after kicker Norm Johnson made his second field goal of the game. Later in the third period, Houston quarterback Warren Moon threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Willie Drewrey to give his team a 20-13 lead. With only 1:47 left in regulation, Krieg threw his second touchdown pass to Largent, a 12-yarder, to tie the game. Largent finished the game with 7 receptions for 132 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Divisional playoffs

January 9, 1988

AFC: Cleveland Browns 38, Indianapolis Colts 21

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


Browns 7 7 7 17


at Cleveland Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio

Browns defensive back Felix Wright's interception deep inside his own territory sparked his team to score 17 unanswered points.

Cleveland started off the game with an impressive 15-play, 86-yard drive, converting five third downs on the way to Bernie Kosar's 15-yard touchdown pass to Earnest Byner. The Colts stormed right back, as quarterback Jack Trudeau threw completions for gains of 18 and 21 yards before finishing the drive with a 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Pat Beach. Cleveland responded by driving from their own 35 to the Indianapolis 2-yard line, but on third down and goal, Colts safety Freddie Robinson intercepted Kosar's pass in the end zone. After an exchange of punts, the Browns took a 14-7 lead on Kosar's 39-yard scoring strike to Reggie Langhorne with 1:51 left in the second quarter. Once again, the Colts responded with a touchdown drive of their own, moving the ball 59 yards in seven plays and tying the score on Trudeau's 19-yard touchdown pass to Eric Dickerson with 40 second left in the half

Indianapolis took the second half kickoff and stormed down the field, overcoming some blown plays along the way. During the drive, Trudeau was sacked for an 11-yard loss on second down and 11, but a defensive holding penalty negated the play and gave the Colts a first down. Later on, Dickerson fumbled the ball, but Trudeau picked it up and threw a 15-yard first down completion to Bill Brooks. Eventually, Indianapolis reached the Browns 20-yard line, but blitzing linebacker Eddie Johnson hit Trudeau as he threw a pass, causing the ball to go straight up in the air where it was intercepted by Wright at the 14.

After the interception, Kosar completed 5 of 7 passes for 65 yards while Byner rushed six times for 20 and capped off the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run, putting the Browns back in the lead, 21-14. Then after forcing a punt, Matt Bahr's 22-yard field goal gave the Browns a 10-point lead with just over 11 minutes left in the game. Following another punt, Byner fumbled the ball on a 25-yard run, but running back Herman Fontenot recovered the ball at the Colts 6-yard line, turning the play into a 41-yard gain. Three plays later, Kosar's 2-yard touchdown pass to receiver Brian Brennan made the score 31-14 with 3:44 left.

However, the Colts were not quite out of the game. With 1:07 remaining in regulation, Albert Bentley's 1-yard touchdown run cut the score to 31-21. Then Indianapolis recovered an onside kick on their own 41-yard line. But on the first play after that, Browns defensive end Al Baker sacked Trudeau for a 9-yard loss, knocking him out of the game. One play later, backup quarterback Sean Salisbury's pass was intercepted by Frank Minnifield, who returned the ball 48 yards for a touchdown to put the game away.

Byner finished the game with 122 rushing yards, 4 receptions for 36 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Kosar completed 20 of 31 passes for 229 yards and 3 touchdowns, with 1 interception.

NFC: Minnesota Vikings 36, San Francisco 49ers 24

Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Vikings 3 17 10 6


49ers 3 0 14 7


at Candlestick Park, San Francisco

Aided by wide receiver Anthony Carter's 10 receptions for an NFL playoff record 227 receiving yards, the Vikings upset the top seeded 49ers, who had earned the league's best record during the regular season at 13-2. After the teams traded field goals in the first quarter, quarterback Wade Wilson completed a 7-yard touchdown pass to tight end Carl Hilton. Minnesota then jumped to a 20-3 lead before halftime with Chuck Nelson's 23-yard field goal and defensive back Najee Mustafaa a.k.a. Reggie Rutland's 45-yard interception return for a touchdown. In the third period, San Francisco defensive back Jeff Fuller returned an interception 48 yard for a touchdown, but it was countered with Wilson's 5-yard touchdown pass to Hassan Jones. 49ers backup quarterback Steve Young, who replaced starter Joe Montana midway through the game, scored a rushing touchdown and threw another. But it was not enough as Nelson made 3 more field goals in the second half to put the game out of reach.

Until 2008, this was the last time the #1 seed in the NFC did not advance to the NFC Championship game.

January 10, 1988

NFC: Washington Redskins 21, Chicago Bears 17

Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Redskins 0 14 7 0


Bears 7 7 3 0


at Soldier Field, Chicago

The Redskins overcame a 14-0 Bears lead by scoring three touchdowns. Chicago's first score was running back Calvin Thomas' 2-yard rushing touchdown. Bears quarterback Jim McMahon then threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Ron Morris. However, Washington tied the game before halftime with George Rogers's 3-yard touchdown run and quarterback Doug Williams' 18-yard touchdown pass to tight end Clint Didier. In the third quarter, Redskins cornerback Darrell Green scored on a 52-yard punt return for a touchdown, a play made even more memorable when Green injured his ribs hurdling over a Chicago defender en route to the end zone. Chicago responded with kicker Kevin Butler's 25-yard field goal, but were shut down for the rest of the game. This was the final game in the Hall-of-Fame career of Bears running back Walter Payton, who rushed for 85 yards and caught 3 passes for 20 yards.

AFC: Denver Broncos 34, Houston Oilers 10

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


Broncos 14 10 3 7


at Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado

The Broncos jumped to a 14-0 early lead by converting two turnovers into two touchdowns. Denver defensive back Steve Wilson recovered a lateral pass by Oilers quarterback Warren Moon at the Houston 1-yard line, setting up Gene Lang's 1-yard rushing touchdown. Then on the Oilers next drive, linebacker Karl Mecklenburg intercepted a pass, and Broncos quarterback John Elway completed a 27-yard touchdown pass to tight end Clarence Kay. Both teams exchanged field goals in the second period before Elway threw a 1-yard touchdown to Kay. In the fourth quarter, Moon completed a 19-yard touchdown to wide receiver Ernest Givins, but it was countered with Elway's 3-yard touchdown run.

Broncos receiver Vance Johnson caught 4 passes for 105 yards, but was injured in the game and had to miss the rest of the postseason.

Conference championships

January 17, 1988

NFC Championship: Washington Redskins 17, Minnesota Vikings 10

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


Redskins 7 0 3 7


at RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C.

In a defensive battle, the Redskins played a little better by limiting the Vikings to only 76 rushing yards and forcing 8 sacks. Washington scored first on a 98-yard drive that was capped by running back Kelvin Bryant's 42-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Doug Williams. However, Minnesota tied the game before halftime with quarterback Wade Wilson's 23-yard touchdown pass to Leo Lewis. In the third quarter, Redskins linebacker Mel Kaufman returned an interception 10 yards to the Minnesota 17-yard line to set up kicker Ali Haji-Sheikh's 28-yard field goal. In the final period, Vikings kicker Chuck Nelson made an 18-yard field goal to tie the game, 10-10. The Redskins then marched 70 yards to score on Williams' 7-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Gary Clark to take the lead, 17-10, with 5:06 remaining in the game. Minnesota then advanced to the Washington 6-yard line, but Wilson's fourth down pass, intended for running back Darrin Nelson was dropped. With 52 seconds remaining, the Redskins ran out the clock.[1]

AFC Championship: Denver Broncos 38, Cleveland Browns 33

Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Browns 0 3 21 9


Broncos 14 7 10 7


at Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado

This game is best remembered for The Fumble when Browns running back Earnest Byner fumbled at the Broncos' 3-yard line with 65 seconds remaining. Also, these two teams were scheduled to meet during the regular season, however, the game happened to be scheduled during the week of games that was canceled (they were to meet on Monday Night Football).

Several early Cleveland miscues helped the Broncos jump to an early 14-0 lead. First, Cleveland kick returner Gerald McNeil was tackled by Tony Boddie on his own 12-yard line. Then after a sack by Denver lineman Simon Fletcher, Bernie Kosar threw a pass that went through the arms of Webster Slaughter and into the hands of linebacker Freddie Gilbert on the Browns 17, setting up John Elway's 8-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Nattiel. On Cleveland's next drive, FB Kevin Mack lost a fumble while being tackled by Tony Lilly. One play later, Gene Lang's 42-yard run (easily surpassing the team's longest run of the season; 29 yards) gave Denver a first and goal situation. Elway eventually threw an incomplete pass on third and goal from the Browns 3-yard line, but a defensive holding penalty on Frank Minnifield gave Denver a first down at the 1, and running back Steve Sewell scored a touchdown on the next play.

After the ensuing kickoff, Kosar completed a 25-yard pass to tight end Ozzie Newsome and a 19-yarder to Clarance Weathers on 3rd down and 17 on the way to a 29-yard field goal by Matt Bahr two minutes into the second quarter. But Denver stormed right back on an 80-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchodown run by Lang, making the score 21-3. A sack by Denver's Rulon Jones helped force the Browns to a three and out. This time all the Broncos could manage was a missed field goal by Rich Karlis. But once again Cleveland could not move the ball and turned it over with a fumble from receiver Brian Brennan that was recovered by cornerback Randy Robbins. This time the Browns defense stepped up, sacking Elway twice and forcing Denver's first punt of the game. After that, Kosar's 24-yard comepletion to Slaughter set up a 45-yard field goal attempt by Bahr, but he sent it wide right as time expired in the half.

Four plays into the second half, Browns defensive back Felix Wright intercepted a pass from Elway, setting up Kosar's 18-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Langhorne. But less than a minute and a half later, Elway threw a short pass to receiver Mark Jackson, who broke a tackle from Mark Harper and evaded a tackle attempt from Wright on the way to an 80-yard touchdown reception (the longest play in Denver postseason history), giving the Broncos a 28-10 lead. Cleveland responded with two consecutive touchdowns. First Kosar threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Byner. Then Broncos returner Ken Bell muffed the kickoff and was downed inside his own 10-yard line. Following a three and out, McNeil returned their punt to the Broncos 42. Kosar then completed four consecutive passes en route to a 4-yard touchdown run by Byner, making the score 28-24 with less than four minutes left in the third quarter. Denver struck back with a 38-yard field goal from Karlis to give them a seven point lead going into the final period.

In the fourth quarter, the Browns drove 87 yards and tied the score with Kosar's 4-yard touchdown pass to Webster Slaughter , but it was countered by Elway's 20-yard touchdown pass to running back Sammy Winder with 4 minutes left in the game.

After the ensuing kickoff, the Browns got the ball on their own 25-yard line. Byner started out the drive with a 16-yard burst and a 2-yard run, and then Kosar completed two passes to Brennan for 33 total yards. Following an encroachment flag on defensive lineman Andre Townsend and 6-yard run by Byner, an offsides penalty on Denver linebacker Karl Mecklenburg moved the ball to the Broncos 8-yard line with 1:12 remaining in regulation. The Browns had moved 67 yards in just six plays covering 2:41. On the next play, Byner took a handoff and appeared to be on his way to score the game-tying touchdown. But he was stripped of the ball by Broncos defensive back Jeremiah Castille, and fumbled at the 3-yard line. The Broncos recovered the fumble (Castille made the recovery), gave the Browns an intentional safety, and went on to win 38-33.

Byner's fumble ruined an otherwise superb performance, as he finished the game with 67 rushing yards, 7 receptions for 120 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Elway finished the game with 14 of 26 completions for 281 yards and 3 touchdowns with 1 interception, and also rushed for 36 yards. His top target was receiver Mark Jackson, who caught 4 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown. Nattiel added 5 receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown.

This game was later featured on NFL's Greatest Games

Super Bowl

Game summary
1 2 3 4 Total
Redskins (NFC) 0 35 0 7


Broncos (AFC) 10 0 0 0


at Jack Murphy Stadium, San Diego, California

  • Date: January 31, 1988
  • Game attendance: 73,302
  • Referee: Bob McElwee
  • TV announcers (ABC): Al Michaels, Dan Dierdorf, and Frank Gifford


This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at NFL playoffs, 1987-88.
The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with American Football Database, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.