GRIDIRON THRILLS: The NFL’s Most Memorable Moments

This week marks the beginning of the National Football League (NFL) Season, and here is a list of some of the NFL’s greatest moments.

1. The Catch (January 10, 1982): with less than a minute to go, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana throws a high pass into the back of the end zone, which was caught by a leaping Dwight Clark for the game-winning touchdown: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFsBSbx5UKY. On January 3, 1999, there was the Catch II, in which Steve Young threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Terrell Owens, giving the 49ers the victory over Green Bay: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzThn8pkpC0.

2. The Comeback (January 3, 1993): down 35-3, the Buffalo Bills rally to defeat the Houston Oilers in overtime, hence making it the largest comeback in NFL history: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FD5Fr9ug5U. On January 4, 2014, the Indianapolis Colts pulled off a similar comeback, rallying from a 38-10 deficit to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs 45-44: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beBwGiTe2vw.

3. The Monday Night Miracle (October 23, 2000): down 30-7 in the fourth quarter, the New York Jets rallied to defeat the Miami Dolphins 40-37 in overtime- a comeback predicted by Arnold Schwarzenegger at the half: http://www.newyorkjets.com/videos/videos/Jets-Flight-Plan—Monday-Night-Miracle/eb6374dd-f25a-45c1-b04a-49eab362b718.

4. Clock Play (November 27, 1994): with 30 seconds left in the game, Dan Marino did a fake spike and threw the game-winning touchdown pass to give the Dolphins a 28-24 win over the Jets: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZfzr9tB4oo.

5. The Music City Miracle (January 8, 2000): after the Buffalo Bills took a 16-15 lead with 16 seconds left, the Tennessee Titans scored the game-winning touchdown on the following kickoff via a lateral pass from Frank Wycheck to Kevin Dyson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCJFmL4oxPE.

6. River City Relay (December 21, 2003): down 20-13 and on second-and-ten at their own 25-yard line, the New Orleans Saints went for a pass play, which was caught at midfield by Saints receiver Donte Stallworth. After several broken tackles (as well as several laterals), the Saints managed to score a touchdown with no time left (hence the NFL’s version of the Cal-Stanford game of 1982). However, the extra point went wide right, thus giving the Jacksonville Jaguars a 20-19 victory: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTGco82JKHo.

7. 4th and 26 (January 11, 2004): down 17-14 to the Green Bay Packers with 1:12 left, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb threw a pass on 4th and 26 to receiver Freddie Mitchell, thus leading to an Eagles field goal and a 17-17 tie. In overtime, a Brett Favre pass was intercepted by Eagles safety Brian Dawkins, who returned it 35 yards, which in turn set up the game-winning field goal for the Eagles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOEq7p4r00U.

8. Miraculous Tackle (January 15, 2006): with 1:20 left and a 21-18 lead over the Indianapolis Colts, the Pittsburgh Steelers tried to put the game away after turning the ball over on downs at the Colts two-yard line. Jerome Bettis attempted to take it in for the Steelers, but Colts linebacker Gary Brackett forced a fumble, and it was recovered by Colts defensive back Nick Harper. Harper appeared to be on his way for a touchdown (and a Colts victory) but he was tackled by Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger at the Colts 42-yard line. The Colts would attempt a game-tying field goal, but it went wide right: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUcDGLHCOi4.

9. The Immaculate Reception (December 23, 1972): down 7-6 on 4th and 10 with 22 seconds left in the game, Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw threw a pass to halfback John Fuqua. Just as the pass reached Fuqua, so did Oakland Raiders safety Jack Tatum. The result was a collision, in which the ball seemed headed on its way to hit the ground (which would have resulted in an incomplete pass and a Raiders victory). However, fullback Franco Harris managed to catch the play before it hit the ground, and after evading several tacklers, scored the game-winning touchdown: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMuUBZ_DAeM.

10. The Heidi Game (November 17, 1968): the New York Jets took a 32-29 lead over the Oakland Raider with around a minute left in the game. However, the Raiders would score two touchdowns within the final minute to win the game 43-32. But the final minute of play was cut off due to NBC having been contractually bound to air the movie Heidi at 7 PM EST. Due to the game running late (and being a thriller), NBC executives (particularly NBC President Julian Goodman) decided to air the remainder of the game. Unfortunately, they were unable to get through to the broadcast control center (due to many people calling over whether the game would be shown to its conclusion or if Heidi would start on time). As a result, the last minute of the game was cut off in favor of Heidi, thus leading to an uproar from the football fans. An in-depth description of the fiasco can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heidi_Game and the final minute of the game can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vH04QzxBzAQ.

Image; http://joemontana.wikispaces.com/Joe+Montana

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Andrew Linn

About the author, Andrew Linn: Andrew Linn is a member of the Owensboro Tea Party and a former Field Representative for the Media Research Center. An ex-Democrat, he became a Republican one week after the 2008 Presidential Election. He has an M.A. in history from the University of Louisville, where he became a member of the Phi Alpha Theta historical honors society. He has also contributed to examiner.com and Right Impulse Media. View all articles by Andrew Linn

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