Playoff path often bumpy

NFL Week


When the Dallas Cowboys engage the Washington Redskins in Landover today, they'll try to make amends for a ghastly early-season defeat in this rivalry.

The Cowboys blew a 13-point lead to the Redskins at home on two big pass plays in a loss that ultimately could cost them a playoff spot in the NFC.

The road to the playoffs is earmarked every season with big wins, sparkling comebacks ... and losses that haunt. Here are the 10 worst losses suffered by teams in playoff contention coming into Week 15. ...

Washington 14, Dallas 13: The Cowboys were leading 13-0 in the final minutes of the Monday night game in Week 2. The Redskins pulled out an improbable victory when Mark Brunell threw a pair of touchdown passes to Santana Moss, covering 39 and 70 yards, the second with 2:35 left.

Philadelphia 37, Kansas City 31: The Chiefs had the Eagles on the ropes with a 24-6 first-half lead in Week 4. But the Eagles scored the next 31 points to send the Chiefs reeling at home.

Philadelphia 20, San Diego 17: The Chargers were attempting to right themselves after a slow start to the season. They led 17-13 with less than three minutes left when Nate Kaeding lined up a 40-yard field-goal try. But the Eagles turned the game when Quintin Mikell blocked the kick and Matt Ware returned it 65 yards for the lead.

The Chargers still had a chance to win, driving into Eagles' territory, before Reche Caldwell's fumble at the 19 ended the threat in Week 7.

Seattle 13, Dallas 10: Once again, the Cowboys seemingly had the game in hand with a 10-3 lead late in Seattle. But the Seahawks scored 10 points in the final 40 seconds to stun Dallas.

After a Matt Hasselbeck touchdown pass tied the game, the Seahawks' Jordan Babineaux intercepted Drew Bledsoe to set up a 50-yard field goal by Josh Brown as time expired.

Jacksonville 23, Pittsburgh 17, overtime: Without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver Hines Ward - both injured - the Steelers stumbled and fumbled at home in Week 6 against the Jaguars. Tommy Maddox, making his first start of the season, lost a fumble and threw three interceptions, the last of which was returned for a touchdown in overtime.

San Diego 23, Washington 17, overtime: For the third straight week, the Redskins blew a fourth-quarter lead. This time they took a 17-7 edge into the last quarter at home against the Chargers. But San Diego scored the last 16 points in the game, getting two long touchdown runs from LaDainian Tomlinson, to steal the victory in Week 12.

Green Bay 33, Atlanta 25: The Falcons couldn't stop running back Samkon Gado (103 rushing yards, three touchdowns) and lost to the 1-7 Packers in the Georgia Dome in Week 10.

Tampa Bay 36, Washington 35: This was the game that started the Redskins' fourth-quarter collapses. The Buccaneers scored on a 30-yard, Chris Simms touchdown pass with 58 seconds left. After a penalty, they opted for a two-point conversion and Mike Alstott was credited with bulling through the pile to the end zone for the Week 10 win.

Miami 23, San Diego 21: With a brutal schedule ahead of them, the Chargers failed to show up in a lethargic loss to the Dolphins at home last week.

New England 23, Miami 16: The Dolphins blew two second-half leads to let the Patriots escape Miami with a shaky win in Week 10. After the Patriots went ahead with 2:16 to play, the Dolphins drove 70 yards to the New England 5. But three Gus Frerotte incompletions and a short gain kept them out of the end zone.

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