DEC. 18, 1965
With the Colts' Johnny Unitas and Gary Cuozzo injured and a playoff berth on the line, running back Tom Matte shared quarterback duties with Ed Brown in the season finale against the Rams. Coach Don Shula simplified the game plan, and Matte, getting significant action at quarterback for the first time since his junior year at Ohio State in 1959, wore a wristband with formations on it. Matte ran for 99 yards as Baltimore won 20-17.
OCT. 15, 1972
After the Dolphins' Bob Griese went out with a broken right leg and a dislocated ankle early in a game against the Chargers, 17-year veteran Earl Morrall was pressed into action. Morrall finished the 24-10 win and then led the Dolphins to wins in their next 10 games. Griese came back for spot duty during a 20-14 divisional playoff victory over the Browns and didn't return for good until the second half of the AFC Championship Game, a 21-17 win over the Steelers. Two weeks later, with Griese starting, Miami beat the Redskins 14-7 in Super Bowl VII and became the only team in NFL history to have an undefeated season.
NOV. 4, 1979
The Rams were sputtering along at 4-5 when Pat Haden broke the pinkie on his throwing hand in a game against the Seahawks. Jeff Rutledge finished the 24-0 win, but after a loss the next week to the Bears, Los Angeles turned to third-year man Vince Ferragamo against the Falcons. Los Angeles won 20-14 and three of its last four regular-season games under Ferragamo. The Rams then beat the Cowboys and the Bucs in the playoffs to earn their only Super Bowl berth. After leading at halftime, Los Angeles lost to the Steelers 31-19.
DEC. 15, 1990
After seeing only spot duty for the better part of three seasons, Jeff Hostetler stepped in for the injured Phil Simms during the Giants' 17-13 loss to the Bills. With Hostetler in charge, New York won its final two regular-season games, beat the Bears in the divisional playoffs and upset the two-time defending Super Bowl-champion 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. In Super Bowl XXV, against the seven-point favorite Bills, Hostetler completed 20 of 32 passes for 222 yards and one touchdown and directed an offense that controlled the ball for more than 40 minutes in a 20-19 victory.
JAN. 3, 1993
The Bills were trailing the Oilers 35-3 in the third quarter of an AFC wildcard game before Frank Reich, starting for the injured Jim Kelly, led the Bills on five second-half scoring drives. Then in overtime Reich led Buffalo to the Houston 15, and Steve Christie's field goal gave the Bills a 41-38 win, capping the greatest comeback in NFL history. Reich completed 21 of 34 passes for 389 yards and four touchdowns. The following week he led Buffalo to a 24-3 win over the Steelers and into the AFC Championship Game, for which Kelly returned.