20 WTF Game-Ending Moments
Wait a minute! What in the good gravy just happened?!
Weird stuff comes and goes like the funky morning tide in sports, but the best stuff—the juiciest juice—always come from controversial and off-the-wall game-ending plays.
Nothing gets fans' blood cooking like some unexpected weirdness that results in one team winning, and the other going home to sob over a big bowl of Phish Food.
The following are some of the most ridiculous game-ending sequences, forfeitures and buzzer-beaters in the realm of athletics.
These moments left fans scratching their head and screaming themselves hoarse—don't be surprised if they do the same to you.
Khalil Edney Nails Freakish 55-Footer to Win State Finals
The world slipped into bullet time for New Rochelle’s Khalil Edney in the final moments of the New York Section One Class AA final against Mt. Vernon this March.
With his team down two points, with 2.9 seconds remaining in the contest, Edney mistakenly threw the ball away to a Mt. Vernon player, who chucked the ball up the air looking to run out the clock.
Fortunately for New Rochelle, Edney didn’t give up and go home to his Cabbage Patch Kids after making the poor pass. Instead, No. 11 went into Matrix mode, picking off the thrown ball and sinking a 55-foot mindblower from behind half court as the clock hit double zeros.
Referees initially waved off the basket, but after some deliberation awarded New Rochelle the points and the win.
Also worthy of noting is how the officials ran off the court, presumably to catch Chili’s Happy Hour and laugh about how that was the longest three seconds of all time.
The Pine Tar Incident
In the name of preserving and reusing baseballs, the MLB created a rule stating only certain length of a batter’s bat can be covered in pine tar—a sticky substance used by batters to this day in the name of getting a better grip on their bats.
The obscure rule wasn't a big deal until 1983, when it decided the outcome of a regular season game between the Kansas City Royals and the New York Yankees.
Royals third baseman George Brett stepped up to the plate in the ninth inning, down 4-3 against the Yanks with two outs and a man on base. He connected on a fastball, knocking the pitch out of the park and into the stands for a two-run homer.
The Royals had won, that is, until Yankees manager Billy Martin trotted out of the dugout and asked umpires to take a look at Brett’s bat, claiming it had too much pine tar on it (a fact he allegedly had been waiting to pull out).
The bat was found to be illegally coated, Brett was called out and the game was ended. And that’s why the Yankees are called the “Evil Empire.”
CFL Game Goes Kick-Crazy
Locked in a 30-30 tie with the Toronto Argonauts, the Montreal Alouettes attempted a field goal to win the game.
What followed, was a game-ending kick festival crazier than anything seen in a rugby game. The Alouettes field goal went wide and was fielded by the Argonauts, who kept the ball in play and kicked it back up the field.
Several kicks later, the rock ended up in Montreal possession in the end zone. No one knew what the heck had just really happened, except the Alouettes had won the game.
We can only assume this play led to some sort of strange holiday in the city of Montreal, where citizens drink beer and kick greased hams around the street in memoriam of this wonderfully goofy play.
The Serbian Shootout
The lead changed four times—off four three-pointers—all in the final 25 seconds of the contest.
The last moments of the April matchup between Sloboda Užice and Radnički Kragujevac defy explanation, except for the obvious:
These Serbs can shoot.
Buzzer Beater Nearly Kills Spanish Commentator
Check his pulse, elevate his legs and for God’s sake, somebody find some honey and chamomile tea for this man.
Whether you speak Spanish or not, it wouldn’t be hard to believe this commentator screamed his voice box into pieces calling the end of this nail-biter between Real Madrid and Unicaja Malaga.
Between the blocked shots, diving ball-saves and wild three-pointers that made up the last 40 seconds of the contest, this man about pierced a lung.
Machete-Pipe Fight Ends Soccer Game
A recreational soccer game in Virginia was called off in January after two players got into an intense altercation on the field.
Scratch that—the game was ended after the players had an altercation that ended in one pulling out a machete and the other producing a length of pipe.
The situation was defused and no one was hurt, but the game was canceled immediately due to the whole near-machete/pipe-fight thing. No word has been said on where these guys found their weapons, but we can presume it went something like this:
The Mississippi Miracle
The last play of this Division III football game between Trinity University and Millsapps College took over an entire flippin’ minute to pan out.
The ball was lateraled over and over, the commentators slowly built a frothing foam of excitement. Millsapps did their very best, but the Trinity players were slippery as greased panthers and on the 15th lateral, one broke through into the end zone.
The sportscasters went ape-crazy and the “Mississippi Miracle”—the lovechild flurry of failed tackling and backwards passing—was born.
The Game That Never Was
A baseball game between two Chicago-area high schools was ended before it ever had a chance to begin.
The reason? Forfeit. The reason for the forfeit? Drive-by shootings.
The parents of players on the Walter Payton College Prep High School lobbied their team’s coach after finding out their boys were scheduled to play a game at Von Steuben High, a school on Chicago’s South Side.
They were afraid the game would put their children in harm’s way, and that they would end up the victims of the gun violence-prone area.
New York Giants player Fred Merkle had the biggest slip-up ever—a real “boner”—as it was called, and it cost the Yankees a chance at the pennant.
As the story goes, a 19-year-old rookie was on first base during a game against the Chicago Cubs in 1908 when a game-winning single was hit by one of his teammates. Merkle ran toward second base, but his teammate on third, Moose McCormick (best name ever), made it to home first.
Seeing Giants fans rushing the field, Merkle veered off the base path and headed for the outfield exit. Cubs players noticed Merkle forgot to touch the base, and they tried get the ball to second base, which would cancel the run and effectively end the game.
As legend has it, a Giants fan on the field grabbed the ball and threw it into the stands, trying to keep it away from Chicago. Eventually the ball made its way to second, where the umpire called the out and the Giants lost the game.
Replacement Referees Give Seahawks the Win
Still fresh in the mind of all NFL fans is the botched game-ending to the Week 3 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks.
On the final play of the game, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson chucked up a Hail Mary into a crowd of Packers and Seahawks in the end zone. The ball was mostly caught by Packers’ safety M.D. Jennings, but the referees awarded the touchdown and the game to the Seahawks’ Golden Tate.
At this exact moment, veteran NFL referees across the nation shuddered involuntarily as they sat at home.
International soccer matches don’t work like this, as the referees whistle the game after an allotted amount of injury time.
That being said, this (high school?) game apparently had a very specific time limit, and this goalkeeper juiced a 30-yard blast at the last moment. Pulling the goalie can help you sometimes, but it never pans out this well.
High School Football Team Forfeits so They Don’t Get Hurt
Fearing extreme bodily injury (and mental anguish) the football team at Kearny High School forfeited their game against juggernaut program St. Peters Prep School in 2012.
Kearny High had lost its prior two games by an aggregate score of over 80 points. So yeah, not a call that’s going to earn you a platinum man card, but probably the right call.
The ‘Malice at the Palace’
The infamous brawl at the The Palace of Auburn Hills in 2004 was one of the most violent game-ending occurrences in American sports.
The brawl started with Ron Artest leaping into the stands and spilled out on the floor, with fans punching players, players decking fans and a mob scene that threatened all-out anarchy.
It was all black eyes on that day—for many the people at the Palace, and for the sport of basketball as a whole.
“The most AMAZING, sensational, dramatic...heart-rending...!”
Words can’t righteously describe the insanity that occurred during the final play of the 1982 game between Stanford and Cal. It’s just that kind of play.
Somehow, all six Cal players who touched the ball over the course of this return managed to stay upright and hold onto the rock. Stanford couldn’t stop the Bears, Stanford’s marching band couldn’t stop the Bears—it was just that kind of magic.
The crust on the WTF pie that is this play was Cal’s Kevin Moen finishing the run by tractor-trucking an oblivious trombone player celebrating in the end zone. You just can’t write that kind of poetry.
Harlem Shake = Game over
You hear that? That’s the sound of a team Harlem Shaking their playoff hopes away.
The Nyack-Tappan Zee Ice Hawks allegedly were forfeited from the playoffs in their New York hockey league for posting this video of players doing the most annoying dance to the Internet.
Harsh? Maybe. Great lesson about the why the Harlem Shake should be banned in public? Absolutely.
Russia Robs US Basketball Team of Gold and Glory
The 1972 Olympic finals game between Russia and the US basketball team remain cloaked in controversy over 40 years later.
Russia won the game on a last-second layup made possible by a ridiculous ruling by an international basketball official, which reset the clock and gave the team an additional three seconds to run their final play.
Thus the US ended up with silver medals—medals they chose not to accept, as part of their protest against the game’s outcome and the denial of their protest.
Jim Joyce Robs Armando Galarraga’s Perfect Game
Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga was one out away from a perfect game when umpire Jim Joyce made a call that erased the historical moment and made himself the most recognizable umpire in baseball history—never a good thing.
Joyce called Cleveland Indians shortstop Jason Donald safe on what should’ve been a ground out to win the game for Detroit, but the umpire believed Galarraga was late in delivering the ball to first and made the call.
It’s technically not a game-ending play, per se, but the WTF part is that it should have been.
The Fifth Down Play
The now-infamous “Fifth Down” play that occurred at the end of the 1990 game between Colorado Buffaloes and Missouri Tigers will go down in history as perhaps “the biggest blunder in college football history.”
An ugly stew of dumb luck and dumb-dumb on the part of the officials (and everyone in attendance, really) allowed the Buffaloes to sneak in a fifth down at the end of the game—a down they used to run a final touchdown.
The win allowed the Buffs to clinch a share of the Division-I NCAA national championship title, as well as a spot at the top of the college football pantheon of absurd plays.
Lisa Leslie Dominates Opponents into Giving Up
After scoring 101 points in the first half of a game against South Torrance High, high school basketball star Lisa Leslie just wanted a couple more baskets.
The Morningside High School standout had obliterated South Torrance, scoring 49 and 52 points in the first two quarters of the game, and needed only 5 more to break the 105-point high school girls scoring record set by Cheryl Miller.
Unfortunately for Leslie, her play had so demoralized her opponent that the team up and quit at halftime, forfeiting the rest of the game and heading home for what was presumably the saddest post-game meal ever eaten.
The Immaculate Reception
The Immaculate Reception, presented to you without commentary, and only the utmost respect for this magical moment in football.
Okay, a little commentary: A statue of Franco Harris, the receiver of the Immaculate Reception, has been erected in the Pittsburgh airport. It’s next to George Washington.