NFL in 2010: Best games of the year
A look at the top 10 games of the 2010 calendar year that includes three memorable postseason games and a Hail Mary:
10. Nov. 11: Falcons 26, Ravens 21 – The reputation of the Ravens’ intimidating defense took a hit when it allowed the Falcons to march down the field for the winning score in only 65 seconds. Let’s be blunt: Roddy White(notes) should’ve been called for pass interference on his game-winning TD grab with 20 seconds left. But it doesn’t absolve the Ravens, who got a valiant effort from their offense in overcoming a 20-7 fourth-quarter deficit. Overall, it was a prime-time classic for two Super Bowl contenders.
9. Sept. 12: Bears 19, Lions 14 – This was an ugly game, in which there was only one score in the second half. But it’s memorable for an incompletion that still has fans miffed as to what is a catch in the NFL. Detroit’s Calvin Johnson(notes) appeared to have snagged the winning touchdown in the final seconds. But because he didn’t show control in the “second act” of the catch, it was later deemed incomplete, touching off a firestorm over the rulebook.
8. Dec. 5: Steelers 13, Ravens 10 – It was your typical grudge match between these two AFC North rivals. Big hits (some illegal) and big defensive plays. Troy Polamalu(notes) provided the biggest play when he sacked Joe Flacco(notes) and forced a fumble that Pittsburgh recovered. Ben Roethlisberger(notes), broken nose and all, threw the winning TD pass with 2:51 left. If you’re a fan of defense, this was your game of the year.
7. Nov. 21: Patriots 31, Colts 28 – Another chapter was added to football’s best rivalry. Peyton Manning(notes) and the Colts roared back from a 31-14 deficit and had a chance to win in the final minute at Foxborough. But Manning paid dearly for gambling late, tossing an interception – a 2010 theme for him – to James Sanders(notes) with 31 seconds left.
6. Nov. 15: Eagles 59, Redskins 28 – “Monday Night Football” blowouts are eyesores, but you couldn’t turn away from the brilliance of Michael Vick(notes) in the game of his career. His stat line: Four TD passes, two rushing scores and a QB rating of 150.7. It was brilliant, electric and thorough, everything Vick’s talents had promised since he was a rookie. From the first snap until Vick took a seat from the lopsided contest in the final two minutes, you couldn’t look away.
5. Nov. 14: Jaguars 31, Texans 24 – When a matchup ends in a Hail Mary, it’s a lock for making a “games of the year list,” especially when CBS announcer Gus Johnson is on the play-by-play call. David Garrard’s(notes) 50-yard heave and Mike Thomas’(notes) reception will go down as one of Jacksonville’s most thrilling regular-season victories.
4. Dec. 19: Eagles 38, Giants 31 – Move over Herm Edwards and Joe Pisarcik. There’s a new Meadowlands Miracle. The latest one ended when DeSean Jackson(notes) became the first player in NFL history to return a punt for the winning score on the final play of regulation. The touchdown capped a great comeback by the Eagles, as Michael Vick rallied Philly from 21 down in the fourth quarter. Just as unforgettable was Tom Coughlin’s temper tantrum at punter Matt Dodge(notes) for kicking to Jackson on the final play. Great comeback, great collapse.
3. Jan. 10: Cardinals 51, Packers 45 (OT), NFC wild-card game – Teams that jump out to a 17-0 lead at home in the playoffs should cruise the rest of the way. Luckily for football fans, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers(notes) mounted an epic comeback to force overtime. Adding spice to this classic was the controversial ending, at least in the eyes of Packers fans: Should a facemask penalty have been called on Rodgers’ fateful fumble that Karlos Dansby(notes) returned for the winning score? Don’t let that dampen the fact that Rodgers and Kurt Warner(notes) combined to throw for nine TDs and 801 yards in a shootout for the ages.
2. Jan. 24: Saints 31, Vikings 28 (OT), NFC championship game – There were two points in this game when the Superdome couldn’t have gotten any louder: Favre’s interception at the end of regulation and Garrett Hartley’s(notes) winning field goal that put the Saints in their first Super Bowl. It was a heartbreaking end to Favre’s fabulous season and a moment of ecstasy for the Big Easy.
1. Feb. 7: Saints 31, Colts 17, Super Bowl XLIV – The days of yawner title games seem to be dead. These teams gave us another championship classic, this one featuring a gutsy onside kick from the Saints and the most memorable interception return in Super Bowl history when Tracy Porter(notes) took it to the house 74 yards in the fourth quarter. Did Reggie Wayne(notes) run the wrong route? Or did Peyton Manning just throw a bad pass? Your answer can barely be heard above the chants of “Who Dat!” as the Saints earned their first Super Bowl title, with Drew Brees(notes) taking home MVP honors.