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Classic Games • Fantastic Finishes


fiesta16January 2, 1987
Penn State Nittany Lions • Miami Hurricanes
Sun Devil Stadium • Tempe, AZ


Two unbeaten independents met in Arizona to determine the national championship of the 1986 college football season. More than 21 million fans tuned in to watch the game on NBC, which featured the Hurricanes’ juggernaut offense—which averaged 38 point per game—and the Nittany Lions’ stingy defense. Miami was led by Heisman winner Vinny Testaverde, along with running back Alonzo Highsmith and receiver Michael Irvin. Penn State was led by defensive All-Americans Shane Conlan and Tim Johnson. The game marked just the seventh time ever that the two top-ranked teams met in a postseason bowl game.

As expected, Miami tried to overwhelm Penn State, and did outgain the Nittany Lions in yards from scrimmage, 445 to 160. However, Penn State forced seven turnovers, picking off five Testaverde passes. The Hurricanes managed to find the end zone just once, and that was after scooping up a first-half fumble Screenshot20181101at12511PMin Penn State territory. The Nittany Lions responded with a 74-yard touchdown drive to make the score 7–7 at the half. Miami broke the tie with a fourth-quarter field goal, but Penn State grabbed its first lead of the night on a D.J. Dozier touchdown with 8 minutes to go.

The Final 2:00...

After an exchange of possessions, Testaverde took over, guiding the ’Canes down the field from his own 23 to the 5 yard line, with 45 seconds left. On second down, Johnson crashed through the line to sack Testaverde. On third down, Testaverde missed his receiver. On the game’s final play, with 18 second showing on the clock, he passed into the end zone but linebacker Pete Giftopoulos snatched it out of the air to salt away the national championship.

Penn State 14 Miami 10





Classic Games • Fantastic Finishes

item4January 4, 2004
Green Bay Packers Seattle Seahawks
Lambeau Field • Green Bay, WI

The NFC Wild Card meeting between the Packers and Seahawks was a rematch of an October battle, won by Green Bay 35–13 on its home field. This time the stakes were higher and the temperature colder, a crisp 20 degrees. It also featured a Master vs. Mentor storyline, with Brett Favre facing his former understudy, Seattle’s Matt Hasselbeck.

Seattle trailed 13–6 at the half but Hasselbeck had a Favre-like second half, engineering three touchdown drives. The third one tied the score 27–27 with 51 seconds left in packers04regulation. Favre responded by maneuvering his team into field goal range, but Ryan Longwell’s 47-yard kick fell short as time expired. The Seahawks won the coin flip and elected to receive to start the overtime period. “We want the ball,” he told officials, “and we’re going to score.”

The Final 2:00...

Neither team made much headway on its first possession, and the Seahawks got the ball back on their own their own 34 yard line. Hasselbeck completed a pair of passes for a first down just short of midfield. He then called Alex Bannister’s number, but cornerback Al Harris—known as much for his dreadlocks as his defensive prowess—jumped the route and intercepted the ball at the Green Bay 48. With nothing but daylight between himself and the Seattle end zone, he took the ball 52 yards for the game-winning score.

Packers 33 Seahawks 27