The NFL’s most thrilling season ever? Ranking the record-breaking 32 walk-off wins

The 2021 NFL season has been like few others. If it seems like nearly every week a game is won on the final play, that is exactly what is happening. There have been 32 games — including two more this Sunday — featuring a game-winning score on the final play, which surpasses the 2012 season for the most in a season since the merger in 1970.

There have been 15 wins in overtime and everything else from NFL records to an absurd number of field goal misses that eventually led to a win. The Minnesota Vikings surprise few by being the team mentioned the most in the winning and losing columns combined — it’s kind of the theme to their season. And the Las Vegas Raiders have the most walk-off wins with five — the fifth coming in Sunday’s win over the Indianapolis Colts.

To find the most thrilling game of the season, we ranked all 32 of these games from most thrilling to least thrilling using the win probability of the final play — we call it the NFL Thrill Index. We also show what the win probability was on the start of the drive to provide greater context. Our NFL Nation reporters then recap the games because some wins are more wild than just the score lets on.

So let’s start with the most thrilling win — the Lions’ first win of the season:

1. Lions 29, Vikings 27 (Week 13)

Lions’ win probability before the final drive: 13.9%
Lions’ win probability before the walk-off play: 18.9%

What happened: The Lions’ first win of the season couldn’t have happened in more dramatic fashion, with quarterback Jared Goff finding rookie receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown for an 11-yard touchdown pass for the walk-off at Ford Field. Goff drove the Lions 75 yards on 14 plays in 1:50 of game time.

Detroit’s victory happened on the heels of a tragic shooting at nearby Oxford High School that same week that left four teenagers dead and several others with injuries. Coach Dan Campbell dedicated the win to the victims. “This game ball goes to the whole Oxford community and all those who were affected,” he said. — Eric Woodyard

2. Buccaneers 33, Bills 27 in OT (Week 14)

Buccaneers’ win probability before the final drive: 41.7%
Buccaneers’ win probability before the walk-off play: 37%

What happened: With 5:42 to go in overtime on third-and-3, Bucs quarterback Tom Brady found wide receiver Breshad Perriman on a shallow crossing route for a 58-yard catch-and-run, outrunning Tremaine Edmunds for a touchdown. Perriman had just been called up from the practice squad the week before. He hadn’t had a catch all game, and when he crossed midfield with Mike Evans in what’s known as a mesh concept, Evans was supposed to take the underneath route — not Perriman, but Perriman wound up underneath instead.

“They kind of jumped Mike coming across the field and left BP back there, and I kind of picked him out of the corner of my eye,” Brady said. “He’s got great speed. Once I saw him in the open field, I was like, ‘Go BP! Run!'”

It was just the second walk-off touchdown in Brady’s career and his 700th career touchdown in regular-season and postseason games combined. — Jenna Laine


3. Vikings 19, Lions 17 (Week 5)

Vikings’ win probability before the final drive: 8.1%
Vikings’ win probability before the walk-off play: 46.2%

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What happened: With the Vikings ahead 16-9 at the two-minute warning, backup running back Alexander Mattison — who was filling in for an injured Dalvin Cook — fumbled just outside Minnesota’s red zone. The Lions quickly scored and converted their two-point attempt to take a 17-16 lead. Once the Vikings got the ball back, Kirk Cousins found Adam Thielen deep twice for 21 and 19 yards, respectfully, and set up Greg Joseph for a 54-yard game-winning field goal as time expired. Joseph found redemption after missing a would-be game winner in Arizona three weeks earlier. — Courtney Cronin

4. 49ers 26, Bengals 23 in OT (Week 14)

49ers’ win probability before the final drive: 24.5%
49ers’ win probability before the walk-off play: 61.6%

What happened: After 49ers kicker Robbie Gould missed a game-winning field goal in regulation, the Bengals took the opening possession of overtime and marched for a field goal, putting the Niners in a do-or-die situation. Then, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo took over. He went 6-of-6 for 78 yards and threw the game-winning touchdown pass to receiver Brandon Aiyuk on the Niners’ only overtime possession. The thrilling win kept the Niners squarely in the NFC playoff hunt. — Nick Wagoner

5. Packers 30, 49ers 28 (Week 3)

Packers’ win probability before the final drive: 1.3%
Packers’ win probability before the walk-off play: 66%

What happened: Thirty-seven seconds. That’s all Aaron Rodgers & Co. needed for the game-winning drive after the 49ers had just taken the lead. Two Rodgers passes to Davante Adams, one for 25 yards and another for 17, got the Packers to the 49ers’ 33-yard line, where Rodgers raced to the line of scrimmage to spike it with three seconds left, prompting him to pump his first before turning it over to Mason Crosby for the game-winning 51-yard field goal at the gun. — Rob Demovsky

6. Chiefs 34, Chargers 28 in OT (Week 15)

Chiefs’ win probability before the final drive: 55.1%
Chiefs’ win probability before the walk-off play: 71.3%

What happened: Travis Kelce’s 34-yard touchdown catch on the first possession of overtime came at a great time for the Chiefs. The victory gave the Chiefs a huge edge in their quest for a sixth straight AFC West championship. Kelce’s run after making the catch at the 30 was most impressive. At least seven Chargers gave chase, but no one was able to catch him before he got to the end zone. That capped a career night for Kelce — he had 10 catches for 191 yards and two touchdowns. — Adam Teicher

7. Raiders 16, Browns 14 (Week 15)

Raiders’ win probability before the final drive: 34.3%
Raiders’ win probability before the walk-off play: 72%

What happened: The Raiders let a Browns team playing its third-string quarterback hang around. Derek Carr, with less than three minutes to play, was picked off by Browns cornerback Greedy Williams on a deep ball thrown to wide receiver Zay Jones. Cleveland took over on its own 23-yard line. A first down, and the game was clinched for the home team. But Las Vegas forced a three-and-out and the Raiders started at their own 29-yard line, trailing by a point and with 1:50 to play and no timeouts.

Carr moved the Raiders downfield with short and intermediate passes — hitting RB Josh Jacobs for 9 yards, TE Foster Moreau for 3 and 12 yards, Jones for 12 and 15 yards — and suddenly they were at the Cleveland 30-yard line. Daniel Carlson was true twice — the first boot was waved off by a Cleveland timeout trying to “ice” him — as he nailed the walk-off 48-yarder as time expired. — Paul Gutierrez

8. Vikings 34, Panthers 28 in OT (Week 6)

Vikings’ win probability before the final drive: 52.5%
Vikings’ win probability before the walk-off play: 72.8%

What happened: Minnesota’s prevent defense failed on the final drive of regulation, when the Vikings let Sam Darnold march the Panthers 96 yards downfield in 1:27 to tie the score 28-28 and send it to overtime. The Vikings won the coin toss, and K.J. Osborn was heralded as a hero for his third-down catch followed by a 27-yard touchdown on a deep corner route that allowed Minnesota to capture its second walk-off win in as many weeks. — Courtney Cronin

9. Jaguars 23, Dolphins 20 (Week 6)

Jaguars’ win probability before the final drive: 77.4%
Jaguars’ win probability before the walk-off play: 78.7%

What happened: With the score tied with five seconds to play, the Jaguars had the ball on Miami’s 44-yard line at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. After calling timeout, then head coach Urban Meyer and OC Darrell Bevell opted to call a play called “slider” instead of attempting a Hail Mary. It’s a quick throw that would take only a few seconds and would still allow the team to call a timeout before the clock expired.

Trevor Lawrence completed a 9-yard pass to Laviska Shenault, and Meyer called timeout with one second to play. Matt Wright then kicked a 53-yard field goal to snap the franchise’s 20-game losing streak — the second-longest losing streak in NFL history. — Mike DiRocco

10. Washington 30, Giants 29 (Week 2)

Washington’s win probability before the final drive: 37.5%
Washington’s win probability before the walk-off play: 79.3%

What happened: After throwing an interception deep in his own territory, leading to a Giants field goal and 29-27 lead with two minutes left, quarterback Taylor Heinicke responded. He completed 6 of 8 passes for 40 yards on the final drive — but kicker Dustin Hopkins missed the last-second 48-yard field goal attempt. However, New York’s Dexter Lawrence was flagged for being offsides. Hopkins kicked again and drilled a 43-yarder to win the game. — John Keim

11. Packers 25, Bengals 22 in OT (Week 5)

Packers’ win probability before the final drive: 65.5%
Packers’ win probability before the walk-off play: 80.3%

What happened: In a game of field goal follies, Mason Crosby finally won it on a 49-yard kick with 1:55 left in overtime. Before that, Crosby missed three times — twice in the final 2:12 of regulation (including one at the final gun) and once early in overtime. Bengals’ rookie kicker Evan McPherson also missed with 21 seconds left in regulation and again after Crosby’s first miss in overtime. In OT, McPherson celebrated as if it went through the uprights only to learn that it had missed wide left. — Rob Demovsky

12. Cowboys 20, Chargers 17 (Week 2)

Cowboys’ win probability before the final drive: 53.7%
Cowboys’ win probability before the walk-off play: 81.7%

What happened: It wasn’t the cleanest of two-minute drills, and Mike McCarthy’s clock management came into question when he opted to let more than 20 seconds run off the clock after a Tony Pollard run. Not only that, McCarthy said the clock he was watching went out and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore had his clock obscured by a camera truck. It was all very bizarre, but Greg Zuerlein bailed everybody out with a 56-yard field goal on the game’s final play. — Todd Archer

13. Cowboys 35, Patriots 29 in OT (Week 6)

Cowboys’ win probability before the final drive: 51.6%
Cowboys’ win probability before the walk-off play: 82.3%

What happened: The Cowboys seemed as if they were in control when Trevon Diggs returned an interception for a touchdown and a 26-21 lead with 2:27 to play. But Mac Jones hit Kendrick Bourne for a 75-yard touchdown pass on the next play, which required Greg Zuerlein to send the game to overtime with a field goal with 20 seconds left.

After the Dallas defense got a stop on the first drive of overtime, Dak Prescott went to work, hitting all six of his passes — including a 35-yarder to CeeDee Lamb for the winning touchdown. On the play, Prescott suffered a right calf strain that forced him to miss a game, and, save for one game, the Cowboys’ offense has not been the same since. — Todd Archer

14. Raiders 33, Ravens 27 in OT (Week 1)

Raiders’ win probability before the final drive: 87.5%
Raiders’ win probability before the walk-off play: 82.5%

What happened: First, Daniel Carlson drilled a 55-yard field goal with two seconds left in regulation to force overtime, just 35 seconds after the Ravens had taken the lead with their 47-yarder. Then, after the Raiders seemingly won on a 33-yard TD pass from Derek Carr to Bryan Edwards on the opening drive of OT, the replay official ruled Edwards down at the 1-yard line. A stuffed Carr sneak, an Alex Leatherwood false start and an incompletion later, Carr fired a fastball off Willie Snead IV’s hands and into the waiting arms of Ravens cornerback Anthony Averett for an end zone pick. All the Ravens needed was a field goal to win.

But five snaps later, Carl Nassib strip-sacked Lamar Jackson, and Darius Philon recovered at the Baltimore 27-yard line. After a 1-yard run by Kenyan Drake, and with the Raiders trying to set up for a game-winning field goal, they caught a delay of game penalty. No matter, Carr hit a wide-open Zay Jones for the walk-off 31-yarder. And a breathless Monday Night Football audience — including those attending the first regular-season NFL game in Las Vegas with fans — exhaled. Finally. — Paul Gutierrez

15. Titans 34, Colts 31 in OT (Week 8)

Titans’ win probability before the final drive: 84%
Titans’ win probability before the walk-off play: 86.5%

What happened: The Colts picked up a first down on the opening drive in overtime. On the next play, Kevin Byard baited Carson Wentz into making an ill-advised throw to Michael Pittman on a deep out-breaking route. Byard intercepted Wentz’s pass at the Colts’ 46-yard line and returned it 14 yards to the 32. Ryan Tannehill hit A.J. Brown on the middle of the field for a 13-yard gain after a penalty on first down. Derrick Henry picked up 2 yards to put the ball on the left hash at the Colts’ 27-yard line. Randy Bullock’s 44-yard field goal gave the Titans the win. — Turron Davenport

16. Falcons 30, Dolphins 28 (Week 7)

Falcons’ win probability before the final drive: 40.7%
Falcons’ win probability before the walk-off play: 87.3%

What happened: By now, this had started to become a Falcons theme this season. Atlanta watched a 27-14 lead disappear in the fourth quarter after a Mack Hollins touchdown reception with 2:27 left, giving Matt Ryan the ball trailing by a point. Ryan found Kyle Pitts on two consecutive plays for 23- and 28-yard gains to give Atlanta a chance and once again allow Younghoe Koo to make a game-winning field goal, for 36 yards this time around. — Michael Rothstein

17. Ravens 19, Lions 17 (Week 3)

Ravens’ win probability before the final drive: 82.9%
Ravens’ win probability before the walk-off play: 88.2%

What happened: Justin Tucker saved the day by winning the game with the longest field goal in NFL history. His 66-yard kick as time expired avoided a loss to the then-winless Lions and showed once again why he’s the most clutch kicker in the game. Tucker improved to 16-for-16 in his NFL career on field goals in the final minute of regulation. “He’s the best kicker in history,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. — Jamison Hensley

18. Ravens 31, Colts 25 in OT (Week 5)

Ravens’ win probability before the final drive: 52.5%
Ravens’ win probability before the walk-off play: 90.1%

What happened: Critics said Lamar Jackson couldn’t lead a major comeback because of his inconsistent passing. But down 19 points in the second half, Jackson rallied the Ravens by throwing for 442 yards and four touchdowns. He won the game in overtime with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Marquise Brown. Jackson became the first quarterback in the league to complete 85% of his passes in a 400-yard game. “It’s one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. — Jamison Hensley

19. Falcons 17, Giants 14 (Week 3)

Falcons’ win probability before the final drive: 59.1%
Falcons’ win probability before the walk-off play: 90.4%

What happened: The Falcons, already 0-2 with two blowouts, went to New Jersey desperate for a win. And it wasn’t looking promising with five minutes remaining as the Falcons trailed, 14-7. Then Matt Ryan found Lee Smith with 4:13 left for the game-tying touchdown. A Dante Fowler sack forced a Giants punt, and then Ryan found Cordarrelle Patterson for a 28-yard gain and then Kyle Pitts for 25 yards to set up a game-winning 40-yard field goal by Younghoe Koo. — Michael Rothstein

20. Falcons 27, Saints 25 (Week 9)

Falcons’ win probability before the final drive: 21.7%
Falcons’ win probability before the walk-off play: 93.1%

What happened: For the second time in three weeks, the Falcons blew a double-digit, fourth-quarter lead needing a comeback in the final seconds. After a Kenny Stills touchdown catch (and failed two-point conversion) gave New Orleans a 25-24 lead, Atlanta got the ball with 1:01 left. This time it was Cordarrelle Patterson with a big play down the sideline — a 64-yard catch from Matt Ryan — to set up Younghoe Koo for his third game-winning kick at the buzzer this year, this time a 29-yarder. — Michael Rothstein

21. Steelers 23, Seahawks 20 in OT (Week 6)

Steelers’ win probability before the final drive: 93.0%
Steelers’ win probability before the walk-off play: 93.1%

What happened: Without T.J. Watt, the Steelers might’ve had two ties this season. Watt’s strip sack of Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith, recovered by Devin Bush with 4:27 left in overtime, set them up for a 37-yard game-winning field goal by Chris Boswell a few plays later. Pittsburgh jumped ahead early with a 14-0 halftime lead, but the defense couldn’t contain the Seattle backups in the second.

Alex Collins rushed for 82 of his 105 yards in the second half, and Smith completed 13 of 16 attempts for 115 yards. The two teams traded field goals in the second half, with Jason Myers 43-yard field goal sending the game to overtime. Watt opened the period with a 13-yard sack on third down of the Seahawks’ first drive before forcing the strip sack a drive later. — Brooke Pryor

22. Giants 27, Saints 21 OT (Week 4)

Giants’ win probability before the final drive: 52.5%
Giants’ win probability before the walk-off play: 93.3%

What happened: The Giants entered this contest 0-3 and opened as more than a touchdown underdog in New Orleans. It was not expected to go well. But offseason acquisition Kenny Golladay came to life, first-round pick Kadarius Toney made his first real impact and star running back Saquon Barkley finally appeared to regain his old form throughout this game, especially with the 54-yard touchdown reception early in the fourth quarter that helped them chip at an 11-point deficit. Graham Gano then hit the tying field goal with seconds left in regulation, and Barkley ran for the winning touchdown on the opening drive of overtime. — Jordan Raanan

23. Titans 33, Seahawks 30 (Week 2)

Titans’ win probability before the final drive: 79%
Titans’ win probability before the walk-off play: 94.4%

What happened: Ola Adeniyi sacked Russell Wilson to force a punt from the Seahawks’ 1-yard line. The Titans took over on the 39-yard line and ran Derrick Henry four times for 21 yards. Henry’s last run put the ball on the left hash for Randy Bullock to nail a 36-yard field goal for the win. — Turron Davenport

24. Ravens 34, Vikings 31 in OT (Week 9)

Ravens’ win probability before the final drive: 46.1%
Ravens’ win probability before the walk-off play: 94.5%

What happened: This marked the third time this season that Lamar Jackson led Baltimore to a comeback after being down by double digits in the second half. Trailing 14 points in the third quarter, Jackson threw for 266 yards and ran for 120 before setting up Justin Tucker’s winning 36-yard field goal with 16 seconds left in overtime. This was Tucker’s 53rd straight field goal made in the fourth quarter and overtime. — Jamison Hensley

25. Bears 16, Lions 14 (Week 12)

Bears’ win probability before the final drive: 44.6%
Bears’ win probability before the walk-off play: 94.6%

What happened: By beating the Lions with a 28-yard field goal by Cairo Santos on Thanksgiving, the Bears ended a five-game losing streak and temporarily ended speculation about a midseason coaching change. Earlier in the week, a report had surfaced that Matt Nagy was told he would no longer coach the Bears after the Detroit game. But afterward, Nagy said team chairman George McCaskey told the team the report was inaccurate. With Justin Fields out with injury, Andy Dalton helped orchestrate an 18-play, 69-yard drive that took the final 8:30 off the clock to set up for Santos’ game winner. — Brooke Pryor

26. Bengals 24, Jaguars 21 (Week 4)

Bengals’ win probability before the final drive: 48.5%
Bengals’ win probability before the walk-off play: 94.9%

What happened: For the second time this season, a late throw from Joe Burrow to C.J. Uzomah set the Bengals up for a game-winning field goal at the end of regulation. On second-and-13 with 69 seconds left, the Jaguars called a zero blitz, which Burrow picked up, then found Uzomah for the big gain. On the sideline, Burrow exclaimed that teams “Can’t zero me,” a catchphrase that further endeared him to Bengals fans. — Ben Baby

27. Raiders 36, Cowboys 33 in OT (Week 12)

Raiders’ win probability before the final drive: 53%
Raiders’ win probability before the walk-off play: 95.6%

What happened: A 56-yard FG by Daniel Carlson and a 45-yarder by Greg Zuerlein with less than two minutes to go in regulation set up overtime. The Raiders defense forced a three-and-out on the Cowboys’ initial possession of OT and Las Vegas’ vertical game went to work. Sort of. Because with the Raiders facing third-and-18 at their own 43-yard line, Derek Carr uncorked a bomb to Zay Jones down the right side. Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown was flagged for pass interference, his fourth such flag of the game (his PIs totaled 91 yards), and the Raiders were at the Dallas 24-yard line.

Three runs gained 8 yards before a false start and a pair of neutral zone infractions placed the ball at the 11-yard line. Carlson ended the three-hour, 53-minute Thanksgiving Day marathon with a 29-yard field goal. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones lamented the number of PIs, calling it, “Throw Up Ball.” — Paul Gutierrez

28. Raiders 23, Colts 20 in OT (Week 17)

Raiders’ win probability before the final drive: 65%
Raiders’ win probability before the walk-off play: 95.6%

What happened: The Raiders were at the Colts’ 48-yard line with 54 seconds to go in a tie game while facing a third-and-10. That’s when Derek Carr, under heavy pressure, stepped up in the pocket to his right and led a breaking Hunter Renfrow with a perfectly placed ball over Colts cornerback Kenny Moore II. Renfrow came down with it inside the 25-yard line, and only a heel touch by Moore, as Renfrow lost his balance and slipped to the turf, kept it from being a touchdown. It was initially ruled a TD before the replay official saw the touch, and Las Vegas was at the Indianapolis 24-yard line.

“I didn’t think I was [touched] at first, but I’m glad I was. Because then we were able to run the clock down,” Renfrow said.

Three Josh Jacobs runs later and the Raiders were at the Colts’ 15-yard line with two seconds to go. Enter kicker Daniel Carlson. Ballgame. And Las Vegas’ improbable march to a potential playoff spot remained on track with its fifth wild walk-off win of the season. — Paul Gutierrez

29. Vikings 34, Packers 31 (Week 11)

Vikings’ win probability before the final drive: 57.9%
Vikings’ win probability before the walk-off play: 96.1%

What happened: Greg Joseph’s 29-yard game-winning field goal was set up by Minnesota’s offense acing the two-minute drill. Kirk Cousins placed a perfect tight window throw in Adam Thielen’s hands down the visitor’s sideline for a 26-yard reception that moved the Vikings deep into Green Bay territory. Dalvin Cook said he wanted to score “so bad” but understood the situation perfectly (i.e., not giving the ball back to Aaron Rodgers with over a minute to play) and purposefully fell down at the Packers’ 7-yard line. Cousins knelt down to burn the clock until there were two seconds left for Joseph to seal the game and get carried off the field by his teammates. — Courtney Cronin

30. Bengals 27, Vikings 24 in OT (Week 1)

Bengals’ win probability before the final drive: 64.8%
Bengals’ win probability before the walk-off play: 96.2%

What happened: On fourth-and-1 with less than a minute left in overtime, Joe Burrow audibled at the line of scrimmage and found C.J. Uzomah, who had never caught a pass in this specific playcall. Uzomah rumbled down the field for a 32-yard gain. That helped put rookie kicker Evan McPherson in range for a game-winning field goal in his NFL debut. — Ben Baby

31. Raiders 31, Dolphins 28 in OT (Week 3)

Raiders’ win probability before the final drive: 56.4%
Raiders’ win probability before the walk-off play: 97.8%

What happened: Having fallen behind 14-0 at home for the second time in three weeks, the Raiders scored 25 unanswered points only to see Miami force OT on a two-point conversion with two seconds left in regulation. Then it got spicy as the teams traded field goals on their initial OT possessions. Enter backup running back Peyton Barber, signed off the street a week before the season began.

After a 34-yard pass from Derek Carr to Bryan Edwards that got the Raiders to the Dolphins’ 46-yard line, Barber ran the ball four times for 40 yards to get Las Vegas to the 6-yard line. A neutral zone infraction preceded Carlson’s game-winning 22-yarder with three seconds left in OT. Las Vegas improved to 3-0 in what would be Jon Gruden’s final win as Raiders coach. — Paul Gutierrez

32. Bengals 34, Chiefs 31 in OT (Week 17)

Bengals’ win probability before the final drive: 46.9%
Bengals’ win probability before the walk-off play: 98.1%

What happened: The biggest play on the final drive that lasted the last 6:01 of the fourth quarter? A third-and-27 conversion from Joe Burrow to Ja’Marr Chase with 3:19 left that left Kansas City coach Andy Reid fuming. After multiple penalties in the red zone ruled in Cincinnati’s favor, Evan McPherson hit a 20-yard field goal as time expired to secure the AFC North division crown. The win probability differential from the start of the final drive to the final play was the third highest of any game this season that was won on the final snap. — Ben Baby

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