Remember when everyone said it was a huge advantage to get the first-round bye?
You can throw that belief out with the window with your empty Skoal can and Big Mac wrapper as you cruise down the information superhighway of pigskin analysis.
The 2007 Giants are the 12th team to appear in four games in a single postseason, and the seventh team in history to win all four of those games. Three of those seven four-game winners have pulled off the feat in the last three seasons.
Clearly, winning four playoff games is no longer an anomaly or an insurmountable challenge. It's now pretty common. Since the dawn of the 21st century, half of the Super Bowl champions (4 of 8) won the Lombardi Trophy by winning four postseason games.
Here are the seven teams that have won four playoff games in the same season:
- 1980 Raiders (Super Bowl XV)
- 1982 Redskins (Super Bowl XVII)
- 1997 Broncos (Super Bowl XXXII)
- 2000 Ravens (Super Bowl XXXV)
- 2005 Steelers (Super Bowl XL)
- 2006 Colts (Super Bowl XLI)
- 2007 Giants (Super Bowl XLII)
Five of these 12 teams lost their fourth postseason game:
- 1982 Dolphins (Super Bowl XVII)
- 1985 Patriots (Super Bowl XX)
- 1992 Bills (Super Bowl XXVII)
- 1999 Titans (Super Bowl XXIV)
- 2003 Panthers (Super Bowl XXVIII)
Nine of the 12 clubs that played in four postseason games were wild-card teams. The two Super Bowl participants in the strike-shortened 1982 season (Washington and Miami) also appeared in four postseason games, as the NFL eliminated divisional standings and created a 16-team playoff tournament following a nine-game regular season. The 2003 Panthers are the only division winner among the 12 teams who played in four playoff games.
History seems to have forgotten about the first wild-card team to reach the Super Bowl: the 1975 Cowboys.
History forgets because the 1975 Cowboys needed just two playoff victories to get to the championship. From the creation of the wild-card concept in 1970 until 1977, only one wild-card team from each conference made the playoffs. This gave each conference four playoff teams: the wild-card team plus the three division winners. So there was no extra wild-card round.
The 1975 Cowboys fell to Pittsburgh, 21-17, in Super Bowl X.
A second wild-card team was added during the 1978 season, giving each conference five playoff teams, and the extra wild-card round was created. A third wild-card team was added in 1990, giving each conference six playoff teams. This format existed until 2001. In 2002, with the creation of the four-division format, the number of wild-card teams was reduced to two, though the number of playoff teams from each conference still stands at six.
Eight of the 12 teams to play four postseason games have done so since the NFL expanded to a 12-team playoff in 1990.
The wild-card round is here to stay, and with it, more opportunities exist to join the short list of teams that have fought through four playoff games in a single postseason.