Thursday, March 27, 2014

Top 20 Most Memorable Plays From 2013 NFL Season

Honorable Mention: Kyle Orton Week 17 INT: For the second year in a row, the Dallas Cowboys had the opportunity to make the playoffs with a Week 17 victory, this time against the Philadelphia Eagles. The only problem: Tony Romo would not be able to play. Replacement quarterback Kyle Orton had played well throughout the game, but with 1:49 left in the fourth quarter, Dallas needed three points in order to earn a trip to the Super Bowl. Instead, Orton threw a pick on the first play of the possession, costing Dallas a spot in the playoffs.

20. Peyton Manning Running TD: With Denver up by 4 in a game against the Cowboys, Peyton Manning looked to maintain his team's perfect season by scoring on 3rd and goal. For the first time in five years, Peyton Manning pretended to hand the ball to his running back, which even fooled the camera man. Secretly, Manning had tucked the ball into his arm, and rushed for the score.

19. Matt Prater Breaks Kicking Record: With three seconds left in the first half, the Denver Broncos were seemingly too far to attempt a Hail Mary pass, which is why they brought out kicker Matt Prater. In the Denver air, a successful 64-yard field goal did not seem out of the question. Many kickers had already converted on a 63-yard kick, but no other kicker had exceeded 64 yards. In the end, Prater kicked it through the uprights, which makes it the longest field goal in NFL history.

18. Matthew Stafford Fake Spike: In a close game with the Dallas Cowboys, Matthew Stafford completed a 22-yard pass to Calvin Johnson, which placed the ball at the 1-yard line. With the clock ticking down, Stafford was calling for a fake spike, but as he lined up to snap the ball, he noticed that the Cowboys' linebackers were out of position. Once the ball was hiked, Stafford decided to run the ball into the end zone himself, which ended up being the game winning touchdown.

17. Patriots-Panthers Controversy: On a Monday Night Football game, Cam Newton and the Panthers had just drove down the field for the game-leading score. At one point, it seemed that the Patriots would be able to do the same, which would have won them the game. Instead, the final play of the game resulted in a controversial ending, where Tom Brady threw a deep pass to tight end Rob Gronkowski in the end zone, which was then intercepted by Robert Lester. Some people believe Luke Kuechly should have been called for holding, while others believe the refs made the right decision by not throwing a flag.

16. Super Bowl Pick 6: Although the Denver Broncos still had a chance to tie Seattle in Super Bowl XLVIII, that window quickly vanished following Malcolm Smith's pick six. Smith's interception gave Seattle the self-confidence needed to close out this game, and the interception earned Smith Most Valuable Player of the Super Bowl.

15. Patriots Lose to Jets on Questionable Penalty: Handing the New England Patriots their second loss in three games, the New York Jets were somehow able to beat the Patriots in overtime off of a missed field goal. Chris Jones of the Patriots was called for pushing one of his teammates into the pile on Nick Folk's missed 56-yard field goal. The 15 yard misconduct led to New York's game winning field goal on the next play.

14. NaVorro Bowman Pick 6 vs. Falcons: As the Atlanta Falcons marched down the field under quarterback Matt Ryan, the Falcons needed another 10 yards for a potential game winning touchdown on the road. NaVorro Bowman had other plans. After the ball was tipped by Falcons receiver Harry Douglas, Bowman caught the ball, and ran the ball 89 yards for a touchdown.

13. Ahmad Brooks' Sack Overturned: With less than four minutes left in the game, and the New Orleans Saints driving down the field, the San Francisco 49ers needed to stop Drew Brees' offense if they were to win this close game. Suddenly, Ahmad Brooks managed to run past the offensive lineman and drill Drew Brees, stripping the ball in the process. San Francisco recovered the ball, yet the referees overturned the play, saying that Brooks' tackle was too high, and therefore, a 15-yard penalty. The Saints went on to win the game.
12. Antonio Brown Steps Out of Bounds: Down six points, the Pittsburgh Steelers needed to score a touchdown in order to beat the Dolphins at home. As time expired, Ben Roethlisberger took the snap, and thew a pass to Emmanuel Sanders, who then lateraled the ball to fellow wide receiver Antonio Brown. Miraculously, it appeared that Brown would score the touchdown and win the game for Pittsburgh; however, at the 12 yard line, the edge of Brown's foot hit the sideline, thus costing Pittsburgh the game.

11. Punt Fumble in Pats-Broncos Game: To cap-off a 24 point comeback completed by the Patriots in a Sunday Night Football Game, the Patriots were forced to punt the ball back to Denver in overtime, instead of going for it on fourth down. The decision proved to be successful. The windy conditions caused the ball to flutter through the air, and eventually hit a Denver Bronco accidentally. The ball was then recovered by New England, which led to a game-winning field goal by Stephen Gostowski (video is here).

10. Ryan Succop Missed Field Goal: With a playoff spot on the line, the San Diego Chargers needed the Chiefs to miss a potentially game-winning field goal in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. Succopp went on to miss the field goal, as the Chargers went on to win in overtime, which ended the Steelers' bid for a playoff spot. Later, it was announced that the Chiefs were aligned in an illegal formation, that was left uncalled during the field goal.

9. Patriots Saints: After being handed the first loss of the season the previous week, New England were looking to do the same for New Orleans, who had yet to be defeated at the time. The Saints had multiple chances to end the game, but with five seconds left, Tom Brady connected with Kenbrell Thompkins for the game winning score at home, thus handing the Saints their first loss of the season.

8. Peyton Manning Record Breaking TD: On 1st & 10 with under 5 minutes left in the game, Peyton Manning dropped back in the pocket, unleashed a pass to the right side of the field, and watched as Julius Thomas caught the the 25-yard pass in the end zone to break the single season passing touchdown record. This was not the only NFL record broken by Peyton this season, but I'm sure this record will be the most memorable for Peyton.

7. AJ Green Hail Mary: Even though the Cincinnati Bengals would go onto to lose this game against their division rivals, AJ Green's miraculous Hail Mary catch as time expired sent the game into overtime. At one point, it seemed that the group of receivers and defensive backs would result in an incomplete pass, yet somehow, the ball floated into the hands of star receiver AJ Green.

6. Rodgers' Throw vs Bears: In Aaron Rodgers' return against the Bears in Week 17, the winner between Green Bay and Chicago would earn a trip to the playoffs. Although games between these two teams are normally intense due to their rivalry, this game had much more on the line. So with the Packers down by one with under a minute to go, Rodgers needed to help his offense achieve the game winning score in order to help his team win the NFC North. As Chicago's pass rush relentlessly pursued Rodgers, he launched a ball downfield to a wide-open Randall Cobb, ultimately the game winning touchdown.

5. Peyton Manning Safety: On the first play of Super Bowl XLVIII, Peyton Manning seemed ready to hike the ball, but at the last second, he took a few steps forward in the pocket to make one final audible. The center did not know this; as a result, the ball was snapped, and flew right past Peyton Manning's head. The ball rolled into the end zone for a safety, which was a terrible start for Denver in the Super Bowl.

4. Coach Tomlin Gets in Way: In one of the most bitter rivalries in all of football, Jacoby Jones of the Baltimore Ravens returned a kickoff against the Steelers, and in a one possession game, a score would have been extremely helpful for the Ravens. At one point, it seemed that Jones would have scored, but coach Mike Tomlin had other plans. Tomlin managed to get in the way of Jones, who was later tackled before entering the end zone. The Steelers went on to lose the game, and Tomlin was fined $100,000 for the incident.

3. Luck vs Chiefs lucky run: With 10 minutes remaining in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, Andrew Luck was in the process of mounting an incredible comeback. The Colts, at one point, were down by 28 points, yet Andrew Luck and the Colts would not go away. On this play in particular, running back Donald Brown fumbled the ball at the goal line, yet quarterback Andrew Luck swooped in and leaped for the touchdown. In the end, Indianapolis  went on to win the game and advance to the next round of the playoffs.

2. Megatron Triple team: In the fourth quarter, the Detroit Lions were down 7 to the Cincinnati Bengals and were in desperate need of converting on a 3rd and 18. So as a Bengals defender approached Stafford from his blind side, Stafford unleashed a pass downfield to Megatron. Impossibly, Calvin Johnson was able to catch the ball despite three defenders in his presence for the score (the link is here).

1. Sherman tip: With under three-and-a-half minutes left in the game, the San Francisco 49ers were given the ball on their own 22 yard line. With time winding down, Colin Kaepernick was marching his team downfield, and it almost seemed inevitable that the 49ers would score, thus, sending them to the Super Bowl for the second straight season. But Richard Sherman had other plans. As Kaepernick lobbed a pass in the end zone to Michael Crabtree, Richard Sherman tipped the ball into the arms of his teammate, sealing the win for Seattle. Sherman's rant following the game went viral, and as we know, this interception against San Francisco helped Seattle go on to win the Super Bowl against Denver. 

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