December 01, 2009
Time is running short on the last year of the '00s, so it's time to dive into the daunting task of ranking the NFL's best of the decade. Best what? Best everything. We're going with a series of top 10 lists, and if something miraculous happens between now and Dec. 31, well, we'll just have to catch it at the end of 2019.
Before the bottle at the airport and the flipping off of fans and the dogs and the prison time and the overhyped comeback, there was a brief moment when it looked like Michael Vick would be the future of the NFL. A magical 46-yard touchdown run in overtime against the Vikings, in which Vick looked like he could be tackled only by accident, made the non-believers believe and the believers go bonkers. The win in Lambeau two months later only intensified the hoopla.
For an instant it looked like Romo was going to recover the fumbled snap and run it into the end zone. But he was tackled at the goal line after his mad dash. The Cowboys still haven't won a playoff game since the 1996 season.
8. Kevin Dyson's stretch, Super Bowl, 2000
Kevin Dyson, the Tennessee Titans wide receiver who gallantly fell short of the end zone on the final play of Super Bowl XXXIV, and Steve McNair(notes) get more recognition for this play than Mike Jones, the Rams linebacker who made the game-saving tackle.
7. Fourth-and-26, NFC divisional playoff, 2004
Trailing 17-14 late in a divisional playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, the Philadelphia Eagles faced a fourth-and-26. It looked like the game was all but over. But Donovan McNabb(notes) evaded the Green Bay rush and heaved the ball downfield to Freddie Mitchell for a first down. David Akers(notes) hit a game-tying field goal later in the drive and then nailed a game-winner in overtime.
6. The tuck rule, AFC divisional playoff, 2001
It's still a stupid rule.
5. Antonio Freeman's Monday Night miracle, regular season, 2001
In overtime of a Monday Night Football game against the Vikings, Brett Favre(notes) had his deep pass deflected by Cris Dishman, as his intended receiver, Freeman, fell to the ground. Somehow, the ball deflected off an upright Dishman, hit Freeman's back and ricocheted into his outstretched hands. Untouched, Freeman scampered 15 yards for the game-winning touchdown and led Al Michaels to exclaim, "He did WHAT?!"
4. Harrison rumbles 100 yards before halftime, Super Bowl, 2009
The Cardinals were on the verge of going up before halftime in the last Super Bowl. But Kurt Warner(notes) threw the ball right to Steelers linebacker James Harrison, who huffed and puffed his way the length of the field for one of the biggest momentum swings in Super Bowl history.
3. Roethlisberger saves Bettis from infamy, AFC divisional playoff, 2006
The game was over. With a three-point lead and the ball on the Colts' 2-yard line, all Pittsburgh had to do was run out the clock to advance to the AFC championship game. But with Indy having all three timeouts, the Steelers called for the normally-sure-handed Jerome Bettis to run the ball up the middle. He fumbled, the ball was scooped up by Nick Harper(notes), who had an open field in front of him and looked like he was going to turn Bettis into Joe Pisarcik and score one of the most improbable wins in NFL history. But Harper zigged when he should have zagged and ran near Ben Roethlisberger(notes), who made a tremendous tackle at the 42-yard line. The Colts still had a chance to win, but Mike Vanderjagt(notes) missed a 42-yarder as time expired.
2. Tyree's catch, Super Bowl, 2008
The greatest play in Super Bowl history wasn't good enough to get to No. 1 on this list? There's one reason: The awe-inspiring throw and catch (by Eli Manning(notes) and David Tyree(notes), respectively) was only possible because of a massive defensive breakdown by the Pats line. (In this, it reminds me of
Jason Jeremy Giambi not sliding on the famous Jeter flip play.)
1. Music City Miracle, AFC wild card, 2000
Just eight days into 2000, the Titans made the play of the decade. A Steve Christie field goal put the Bills ahead with 16 seconds to go, seemingly validating Wade Phillips' decision to start Rob Johnson(notes) over Doug Flutie. But on the ensuing kickoff, Lorenzo Neal(notes) caught the kick, handed to Frank Wycheck who threw laterally (and controversially) across the field to Kevin Dyson, who ran 75 yards for the game-winning touchdown. The play, called "Home run throwback" by the Titans instantly became known as the Music City Miracle.
Comments, criticisms, omissions, and your own top ten lists are encouraged in the comments below.
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