The 2022 NFL regular season is drawing to a close this weekend, which means in a matter of weeks, the winner of the Super Bowl will be decided.
Before that, the playoffs will need to take place, and the fight to make it will go down to the wire for several teams.
There are two remaining playoff spots to be claimed in the NFL this season, and it promises to be a thrilling battle as teams try to secure the final wildcard spots.
The Super Bowl is the pinnacle of the sport so every team harbours hopes of reaching the playoffs, to give themselves the opportunity to land the biggest prize of all – top seeding or wildcard matters little as you’ve got to be in it to win it first and foremost.
Only three teams from each conference qualify for the postseason with a wild card, but those sides can still make an impression despite less impressive regular-season records.
Here are the seven teams that have previously managed to win the Super Bowl after sneaking into the playoffs with a wild card.
1980 – Oakland Raiders
Thanks in large part to their head coach John Madden, the Oakland Raiders were able to dominate in the 1970s, but after his retirement in 1978, their stock fell.
After finishing with a 9-7 record in 1979, they struggled during the early stages of the next campaign.
Quarterback Jim Plunkett replaced the injured Dan Pastorini after the latter broke his leg in Week 5, and the rest, as they say, is history. Oakland beat the Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns, and San Diego Chargers to reach the Super Bowl before overcoming the Philadelphia Eagles 27-10.
1997 – Denver Broncos
After a fast start to the 1997 campaign, the Denver Broncos began to falter, ending the season 6-4 to finish at 12-4 overall. That meant they had to settle for a wildcard as they finished one game behind the Kansas City Chiefs for the divisional title.
Thanks in part to eight touchdowns from running back Terrell Davis though, the Broncos advanced past the Jacksonville Jaguars, Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers to reach Super Bowl XXXII.
They then won 31-24 against the Green Bay Packers to land their first Super Bowl success.
2000 – Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore ended 2000 with a 12-4 record, but they still had to settle for the wild card round after finishing second in the AFC Central.
They won their final seven games after introducing Trent Dilfer into the team as quarterback, although it was arguably their defence that got them through the playoffs.
The Ravens conceded only 16 points in their first three games before beating the New York Giants 34-7 at the Raymond James Stadium.
2005 – Pittsburgh Steelers
After losing in the Divisional Round in 2004, the Steelers had to settle for a wild card spot 12 months later.
QB Ben Roethlisberger’s knee injury slowed their progress, but he returned in time to guide his team to the Super Bowl. They beat the Seattle Seahawks 21-10 in the big one, with Hines Ward winning the MVP award after ending the game with five receptions, 123 yards and a touchdown.
Roethlisberger made history in 2005, becoming the youngest quarterback to win the Super Bowl.
2007 – New York Giants
Before the 2007 season, the Giants had lost in the Wild Card Round in three of the previous five campaigns. They made amends eventually, though, despite struggling down the stretch.
The Giants were outsiders entering the playoffs, but pulled off successive upsets to overcome the Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys., and needed overtime to beat Green Bay in the NFC Championship game.
To most people’s surprise, they then battled past the New England Patriots, who had reached the showpiece with a perfect 16-0 record, 17-14 in Super Bowl XLII.
Eli Manning and co trailed 14-10 with two minutes remaining, but the quarterback led his team downfield – aided by the famous helmet catch made by David Tyree – to help them record one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history.
2010 – Green Bay Packers
Green Bay beat the Steelers 31-25 in Super Bowl XLV, but they had to work hard to get there.
QB Aaron Rodgers was enjoying his third season in the NFL, and had done enough to guide his team into the postseason.
Three successive victories away from home, culminating in a 21-14 win at Soldier Field, saw them win the NFC Conference Championship, before they got their hands on the Vince Lombardi trophy for a fourth time by holding off a Steelers comeback, with Rodgers winning the Super Bowl MVP award after completing 24 of 39 passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns.
2020 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The last team to go all the way from the wildcard round was the 2020 Buccaneers. With Tom Brady, Leonard Fournette, and Rob Gronkowski on their roster, the Bucs appeared to be well-equipped, but ultimately only just made the playoffs.
In what was his first season with the Buccaneers though, Brady led them all the way through the playoffs before they then stunned the Chiefs on home soil in the Super Bowl, recording a one-sided 31-9 victory.
Of Brady’s seven Super Bowl championships, the 2020 success was his first from the wild card spot, and his performance will live long in the memory.