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Which Player Has Scored the Most Game-Winning Touchdowns

Five years ago, Doug wrote an interesting post about game-winning touchdowns. Let’s be clear: tracking things like game-winning touchdowns is only interesting in a trivial sort way, but hey, it’s April.

Football doesn’t have a statistic like “game-winning RBIs” the way baseball does, although my friend Scott Kacsmar has been doing a great job tracking 4th quarter comebacks and game-winning drives for quarterbacks. I was wondering which players have scored the most game-winning touchdowns in the 4th quarter or overtime, and fortunately I have the data to answer that pretty easily. I looked at all games, regular and postseason, in all leagues, from 1940 to 2012, and counted all touchdowns scored that put the player’s team ahead for good (with one exception: I did not count touchdowns scored when down by 7 and the team successfully went for two afterwards).

The table below lists all players with at least five such touchdowns and the teams for which they scored those touchdowns.

Name
TDs
Team(s)
Marcus Allen10rai-kan
Jimmy Orr9pit-clt
Reggie Wayne8clt
Ahmad Rashad7crd-buf-min
Cris Carter7phi-min
Gary Clark7was-crd
Santonio Holmes7pit-nyj
Jerry Rice7sfo-rai
LaDainian Tomlinson7sdg-nyj
Steve Largent7sea
Lenny Moore7clt
Emmitt Smith7dal
Jim Taylor7gnb
Earnest Byner6cle-was-rav
Ron A. Johnson6cle-nyg
Jerome Bettis6pit
Roy Green6crd
Michael Haynes6atl
Larry Johnson6kan
Eric Martin6nor
R.C. Owens6sfo
Jimmy Smith6jax
Michael Turner6atl
Irving Fryar5nwe-mia-phi
Keyshawn Johnson5nyj-tam-dal
Andre Rison5atl-kan-rai
Herschel Walker5dal-min-phi
Gary Ballman5pit-phi
Bill Brooks5clt-buf
Plaxico Burress5nyg-nyj
Larry Csonka5mia-nyg
Tony Galbreath5nor-min
Leroy Hoard5cle-min
Curtis Martin5nwe-nyj
Santana Moss5nyj-was
Raymond Berry5clt
Cliff Branch5rai
Tim Brown5rai
Isaac Bruce5ram
Earl Campbell5oti
Mark Clayton5mia
Chad Johnson5cin
Lawrence McCutcheon5ram
Terrell Owens5sfo
Carl Pickens5cin
Sterling Sharpe5gnb
Steve Smith5car
Fred Taylor5jax
John Taylor5sfo
Rick Upchurch5den
Wesley Walker5nyj
Lorenzo White5oti
Billy Wilson5sfo

We can add this to an already impressive list of career accomplishments for Marcus Allen. You can see all of the boxscores for the games where he scored game-winning touchdowns below:

11/28/1996: kan 28, det 24
09/22/1996: kan 17, den 14
10/17/1993: kan 17, sdg 14
12/10/1989: rai 16, crd 14
11/20/1986: rai 37, sdg 31
11/17/1985: rai 13, cin 6
09/24/1984: rai 33, sdg 30
10/07/1984: rai 28, sea 14
10/09/1983: rai 21, kan 20
12/18/1982: rai 37, ram 31

Finally, here is a list of all players with at least three 4th quarter, game-winning rushing touchdowns:

Name
Rsh TDs
Team(s)
Marcus Allen7rai-kan
LaDainian Tomlinson7sdg-nyj
Emmitt Smith7dal
Larry Johnson6kan
Jim Taylor6gnb
Michael Turner6atl
Earnest Byner5cle-was-rav
Jerome Bettis5pit
Earl Campbell5oti
Lenny Moore5clt
Fred Taylor5jax
Lorenzo White5oti
Herschel Walker4dal-min-phi
Larry Csonka4mia-nyg
Stephen Davis4was-car
Corey Dillon4cin-nwe
Warrick Dunn4tam-atl
Tony Galbreath4nor-min
Ron A. Johnson4cle-nyg
Curtis Martin4nwe-nyj
Tiki Barber4nyg
Jim Braxton4buf
Ted Brown4min
Terrell Davis4den
Eric Dickerson4ram
Maurice Jones-Drew4jax
Edgerrin James4clt
Chris Johnson4oti
Leroy Kelly4cle
Jim Kiick4mia
Lawrence McCutcheon4ram
Joe Perry4sfo
Terry Allen3min-was-nor
Johnny Davis3tam-sfo-cle
Doug Flutie3nwe-buf-sdg
Lamar Smith3sea-mia-car
Ottis Anderson3crd-nyg
Roger Craig3sfo-min
Calvin Hill3dal-was
Joe Marconi3ram-chi
Tommy Mason3min-ram
Bam Morris3pit-rav
Gerald Riggs3atl-was
James Stewart3jax-det
Y.A. Tittle3sfo-nyg
Michael Vick3atl-phi
LeGarrette Blount3tam
Emerson Boozer3nyj
Terry Bradshaw3pit
Larry Brown3was
Norm Bulaich3mia
Willis Crenshaw3crd
Sam Cunningham3nwe
Tony Dorsett3dal
Arian Foster3htx
Barry Foster3pit
Frank Gore3sfo
Steve Grogan3nwe
Roland Harper3chi
Travis Henry3buf
Leroy Hoard3min
Marv Hubbard3rai
Brandon Jacobs3nyg
Jon Keyworth3den
Larry Kinnebrew3cin
Eddie LeBaron3was
Peyton Manning3clt
Tom Matte3clt
Wilbert Montgomery3phi
Jim Nance3nwe
Don Nottingham3mia
Walter Payton3chi
Elijah Pitts3gnb
Frank Pollard3pit
Mike Pruitt3cle
Errict Rhett3tam
John Riggins3was
George Rogers3was
Barry Sanders3det
Robert Smith3min
Haskel Stanback3atl
Jonathan Stewart3car
Steve Van Buren3phi
Ken Willard3sfo
Moe Williams3min

And all players with at least three 4th quarter, game-winning receiving touchdowns:

Name
Rec TDs
Team(s)
Jimmy Orr9pit-clt
Reggie Wayne8clt
Ahmad Rashad7crd-buf-min
Cris Carter7phi-min
Gary Clark7was-crd
Santonio Holmes7pit-nyj
Jerry Rice7sfo-rai
Steve Largent7sea
Michael Haynes6atl
Eric Martin6nor
R.C. Owens6sfo
Jimmy Smith6jax
Irving Fryar5nwe-mia-phi
Keyshawn Johnson5nyj-tam-dal
Andre Rison5atl-kan-rai
Bill Brooks5clt-buf
Plaxico Burress5nyg-nyj
Santana Moss5nyj-was
Raymond Berry5clt
Cliff Branch5rai
Tim Brown5rai
Isaac Bruce5ram
Mark Clayton5mia
Roy Green5crd
Chad Johnson5cin
Terrell Owens5sfo
Carl Pickens5cin
Sterling Sharpe5gnb
Steve Smith5car
John Taylor5sfo
Wesley Walker5nyj
Billy Wilson5sfo
Gary Ballman4pit-phi
Alge Crumpler4atl-oti
T.J. Houshmandzadeh4cin-rav
Qadry Ismail4min-rav
Eddie Kennison4ram-kan
Randy Moss4min-nwe
Shannon Sharpe4den-rav
Brian Blades4sea
Ben Coates4nwe
Marques Colston4nor
Mark Duper4mia
Eric Green4pit
Vincent Jackson4sdg
Greg Jennings4gnb
Don Maynard4nyj
Pete Retzlaff4phi
Charlie Sanders4det
Donte Stallworth4nor
John Stallworth4pit
Rick Upchurch4den
Warren Wells4rai
Roddy White4atl
Calvin Williams4phi
Joey Galloway3sea-dal-tam
Daniel Graham3nwe-den-oti
Anquan Boldin3crd-rav
Roger Carr3clt-sea
Dave Casper3rai-oti
Larry Centers3crd-was
Carroll Dale3ram-gnb
Billy Gambrell3crd-det
Harold Jackson3ram-nwe
Michael Jackson3cle-rav
Derrick Mason3oti-rav
Anthony Miller3sdg-dal
Haven Moses3buf-den
Gern Nagler3crd-pit
Art Powell3nyj-rai
Ricky Proehl3ram-car
Sonny Randle3crd-sfo
Reggie Rucker3nwe-cle
Jeremy Shockey3nyg-nor
Jerome Barkum3nyj
Fred Biletnikoff3rai
Andre Caldwell3cin
Chris Chambers3mia
Wayne Chrebet3nyj
Laveranues Coles3nyj
Gary Collins3cle
Bobby Joe Conrad3crd
Victor Cruz3nyg
Kevin Curtis3ram
Vernon Davis3sfo
Curtis Duncan3oti
Larry Fitzgerald3crd
Wallace Francis3atl
Antonio Freeman3gnb
Antonio Gates3sdg
Ben Hawkins3phi
Bob Hayes3dal
Drew Hill3oti
Tony Hill3dal
Joe Horn3nor
Michael Irvin3dal
Darrell Jackson3sea
Alfred Jenkins3atl
Calvin Johnson3det
Kevin Johnson3cle
Brent Jones3sfo
Gary Knafelc3gnb
Mal Kutner3crd
Dante Lavelli3cle
Brandon Marshall3den
Ray Mathews3pit
Ed McCaffrey3den
Tommy McDonald3phi
Bobby Mitchell3was
Jim R. Mitchell3atl
Herman Moore3det
Joe Morrison3nyg
Elbie Nickel3pit
Drew Pearson3dal
Peerless Price3buf
Mike Quick3phi
Kyle Rote3nyg
Rod Smith3den
Lynn Swann3pit
Lionel Taylor3den
Amani Toomer3nyg
Ben Watson3nwe
Dokie Williams3rai

Reggie Wayne comes up surprisingly high on the list; on the other hand, Marvin Harrison is conspicuously absent. He had just one fourth-quarter game-winning touchdown in his career way back in 1999.

{ 7 comments… add one }

  • Chase Stuart April 12, 2013, 11:05 am

    Rick Upchurch had just 35 touchdowns in his career, but that didn’t stop him from making these lists. Having one in seven TDs go for a game-winner is pretty sweet.

    Eleven of his 35 TDs came in the 4th quarter.

    Nine of those 11 came in wins.

    He had a 75-yard PR TD when trailing 14-13 against SD, a 12-yard catch against the Saints in a 3-3 game, a 32-yard receiving TD against the Skins when trailing 17-13, a 13-yard reception against the Jets in a 24-24 game, and a 30-yard catch when trailing 6-0 against the Chargers (obviously in a game Dan Fouts wasn’t playing in).

  • Chase Stuart April 12, 2013, 11:14 am

    Jim Brown had 127 touchdowns, with 34 of them coming in the 4th quarter. Thirty of those came in wins.

    But only five of those 30 came with the Browns trailing or tied, and only two of those five gave Cleveland the lead. Both of those times those TDs turned out to be the game winners, but 2 is a pretty surprisingly low total.

    Both came against the Eagles, in ’59 and then ’65.

  • Jazz April 12, 2013, 9:39 pm

    Could see this turning into a trivia question…or several.

    What player has scored the most fourth quarter TDs without a game winner?

    What player has scored the most TDs without a game winner?

    What player has scored the most touchdowns (overall) without a game winner?

  • willgfass April 13, 2013, 11:02 am

    YA Tittle with 3 game winning runs? I find that really funny for some reason, especially as that’s the same number Vick has right underneath him.

    • Chase Stuart April 14, 2013, 10:57 am

      That is pretty funny. They were from 1, 1, and 2 yards out.

      • willgfass April 14, 2013, 12:38 pm

        I wonder for comparison’s sake how far away Vick’s were. Wouldn’t surprise me if they were close TDs too.
        I went looking for other QBs on the list, I could find two others, who were a bit surprising: Terry Bradshaw and Peyton Manning.
        I bet they’re short run, scavengers too. Now what would be impressive is if a QB caught any game winning passes. Probably never in the modern era.

  • Chase Stuart September 24, 2013, 11:32 pm

    Santonio Holmes caught the game-winning TD against the Bills, giving him 8 for his career. That’s tied with Reggie Wayne for the 2nd most ever, and just one behind Jimmy Orr for the most in NFL history. Crazy.

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