If Saints players and coaches had some down time during their bye in Week Six, they should have watched some of last year’s “Tebowmania.”
Tim Tebow helped get a Broncos team that started the season 1-4 into the playoffs, a feat that the Saints will attempt to do this season. The preseason NFC South favorites got off to an 0-4 start before beating the Chargers.
History says it’s possible, but going from 1-4 to the playoffs isn’t easy, and it certainly doesn’t translate to playoff success. Here is a look at the six teams since 1990 (in chronological order) that have had a 1-4 record through five games and rallied to make the playoffs.
San Diego Chargers / 1992 — The Chargers started the ’92 season with an 0-4 record, punctuated by a 27-0 loss to the Oilers. They gave up more than 21 points in each of those four games, but only gave up 21 points two more times the rest of the way, as the defense buckled down. The Chargers rattled off 11 wins in their final 12 games, finishing with an 11-5 record and becoming the first and only team in NFL history to make the playoffs after starting the season 0-4. The defense, led by Junior Seau, had 51 sacks — 17 by Leslie O’Neal and 10 by Chris Mims. In the wild-card round of the playoffs, the Chargers beat the Chiefs, the team that had last defeated them during the season. They then lost in the divisional round to Miami, 31-0.
Houston Oilers / 1993 — The Oilers traveled to Foxborough in Week Seven of 1993 with a 1-4 record coming off a 35-7 loss to the Bills. The Oilers beat the Patriots 28-14, starting an 11-game win streak that gave them a 12-4 record. Houston rolled past teams during their streak, with an average margin of victory of 14.2 points. QB Warren Moon was a Pro Bowler, throwing for 3,485 yards and 21 touchdowns. FS Marcus Robertson had seven of the team’s 26 interceptions. The Oilers’ win streak came to an end in the playoffs, though, with a 28-20 loss to the Chiefs in the divisional round.
Tennessee Titans / 2002 — After winning their season opener, the Titans lost four in a row heading into a Week Six meeting with the Jaguars. The 1-4 Titans won 23-14, starting a five-game win streak. They went on to win 10 of their final 11 games to advance to the playoffs with an 11-5 record. RB Eddie George scored 14 total touchdowns, as the offense tallied at least 23 points in eight of the final 11 games. The Titans kept up their winning ways with a 34-31 overtime win over the Steelers in the divisional round of the playoffs, but they fell to the Raiders in the AFC title game, 41-24.
New York Jets / 2002 — The Jets couldn’t gain momentum from a Week One overtime win over the Bills, losing their next three games by margins of 37, 27 and 25 points, respectively. Head coach Herm Edwards benched Vinny Testaverde and turned to Chad Pennington, but they lost to the Chiefs in Week Five, 29-25. A much-needed bye week helped set up the Jets to win eight of their final 11 games, sneaking into the playoffs with a 9-7 record. Pennington finished the year with 22 TD passes and six interceptions. The Jets routed the Colts 41-0 in the wild-card round before falling to the Raiders 30-10 in the divisional round.
Green Bay Packers / 2004 — The Titans rolled up 48 points on the Packers in a 21-point win in Week Five, dropping Green Bay to 1-4 with a fourth consecutive loss. The Packers then rattled off six wins in a row, and finished the season with nine wins in 11 games to make the playoffs with a 10-6 record. RB Ahman Green rushed for 1,163 yards, WR Javon Walker had 1,382 receiving yards and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila had 13½ sacks. The Packers’ run ended in the wild-card round, though, with a 31-17 loss to the Vikings.
Denver Broncos / 2011 — The Broncos got off to a 1-4 start with Kyle Orton at quarterback. What happened next can simply be described as the unveiling of “Tebow Time.” After the bye, we saw Tim Tebow’s magic in an overtime win over Miami. A six-game win streak, which included two overtime wins, put Tebow and the Broncos on the map. They backed into the playoffs after losing three in a row at the end of the season, but Tebow’s 80-yard touchdown pass to WR Demaryius Thomas in overtime of the wild-card round helped keep the storybook season going, as they shocked the Steelers. A 45-10 loss to the Patriots in the divisional round ended the run, and Tebow’s career in Denver.