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Recent posts by Kevin Fishbain
One of the lasting images from last year’s playoffs came in arguably the most shocking result. The Broncos were 7½-point home underdogs to the Steelers, and found a way to force overtime. We all know what happened next: On the first play of overtime, Tim Tebow threw a strike to Demaryius Thomas, who outraced the Steelers’ secondary 80 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
The Steelers will get their chance at revenge right away, though they can’t get it against Tebow. Pittsburgh returns to Denver for the first time since their wild-card playoff loss in Week One. The rematch will be the first “Sunday Night Football” game of the season and our first chance to see Peyton Manning’s return to the regular season.
Here’s a look at the last seven times a Week One matchup featured a rematch of a playoff game from the previous postseason.
1. Steelers vs. Ravens / 2011 — Baltimore took full advantage of its early opportunity for revenge over its bitter rival. The Steelers had knocked the Ravens out of the playoffs in the divisional round the previous season in a 31-24 thriller. Eight months later, the Ravens stomped all over Pittsburgh by virtue of a 35-7 win. Ray Rice rushed for 107 yards and Joe Flacco threw three touchdown passes. That sparked Baltimore’s run to first place in the AFC North.
2. Vikings vs. Saints / 2010 — The rematch of the high-scoring NFC championship game turned out to be a low-scoring start to the NFL season in 2010. The Thursday-night opener went to the Saints 14-9. The Vikings returned to the Superdome, where they had just missed out on a chance to advance to the Super Bowl the previous January. New Orleans held the Vikings to 253 yards in the rematch after allowing 475 yards in the conference title game. The Saints marched back to the playoffs and Minnesota finished 6-10.
3. Patriots vs. Jets / 2007 — The Patriots dominated the highly anticipated playoff matchup pitting ex-Patriots assistant Eric Mangini against Bill Belichick in the 2006 wild-card round, winning 37-16 after outscoring the Jets 20-6 in the second half. Those Pats fell in the AFC title game to the Colts and then began the 2007 season with their rivals, Gang Green. In the first of 18 consecutive victories, the Patriots rolled 38-14. In Randy Moss’ first game as a Pat, he had nine catches for 183 yards and a touchdown. The Jets went 4-12 that season and the Patriots lost in the Super Bowl.
4. Eagles vs. Falcons / 2005 — In the first “Monday Night Football” game of 2005, the Falcons got to hand it to Philly for knocking them out of the playoffs in the 2004 NFC championship game. The Eagles routed the Falcons 27-10, before falling to the Patriots in the Super Bowl. In the rematch, the Falcons got off to a 14-0 lead and held the Eagles off, winning 14-10. Michael Vick had 68 rushing yards and a seven-yard touchdown run. Neither team made the ’05 playoffs, however.
5. Colts vs. Patriots / 2004 — The Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady matchup became an annual affair in the past decade, and in ’04 the two AFC powerhouses opened the season on Thursday night in Foxborough. Eight months earlier, the Patriots had defeated the Colts 24-14 in the AFC title game, thanks in part to five Adam Vinatieri field goals. In the rematch, Brady threw for 335 yards and three TDs in a 27-24 win. Those two teams would meet again in the divisional round of the ’04 playoffs, and the Patriots won that game as well, 20-3, en route to another Super Bowl title.
6. Raiders vs. Titans / 2003 — In the 2002 AFC championship game, Raiders QB Rich Gannon accounted for four TDs (three passing, one rushing) in a 41-24 win over the Titans. In the rematch, Tennessee got revenge with a 25-20 win, and that began a tumultuous season for the Raiders, who finished 4-12 following their Super Bowl appearance. The Titans, on the other hand, went 12-4 and won the AFC South.
7. Buccaneers vs. Eagles / 2003 — The defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers opened the ’03 season on “Monday Night Football” against the Eagles, whom they defeated in the NFC championship game the previous season. The Eagles couldn’t muster a point as they attempted to get revenge for their 27-10 loss. The Bucs held Philly to 245 total yards in Week One, defeating the Eagles 17-0. However, the Bucs stumbled to a 7-9 record and the Eagles went 12-4 and won the NFC East.