Top 10 NFL Games of the 21st Century

Michael AkelsonCorrespondent IDecember 13, 2009

As time runs down on the first decade of the 21st century. I will try to do the impossible. Rank the 10 Best games of a decade that included some of the defining moments of our League's history.

Whether it were Super Bowls, Championship games, or even regular season games we've been treated with some special moments. So I present you with the 10 best games of our decade as we see it fade away.

10. 49ers 39, Giants 38   NFC Wild Card; Jan. 5, 2003

The second biggest comeback in playoff history. The 49ers came back after trailing by 24 points with 3 minutes remaining in the 3rd Quarter. A game that involved fights and controversy definitely didn't lack excitement.

From the end of the 3rd Quarter on Jeff Garcia absolutely dominated. He took the team on his back and totaled 3 TD's in crunch time. With 1 minute left in the game the 49ers took the lead by 1.

However, the Giants were able to get themselves in position for a 41 Yard field goal with only 6 seconds left on the clock. Then came one of the most controversial plays of the decade. A low snap resulted in holder Matt Allen having to make a throw that would be talked about for years.

The Giants got called for illegal men downfield and ended the game. However it was later discovered that the 49ers should have been called for pass interference which would have let the Giants re-do the play and probably would have resulted in a Giants victory.

9. Giants 23, Packers 20  NFC Championship Game; Jan. 17, 2008

The Ice Bowl Part 2 gave us all the thrill of the 1st one and then some. A game at −1 °F was well below freezing. The Giants had to do the impossible, go into Lambeau Field in the freezing weather and beat the Packers. 

With the Packers trailing 20-17 late in the fourth Quarter and the Packers moving the ball on the Giants 31 Brett Favre threw a pass near the Giants endzone that was intercepted by R.W McQuarters.

This pick should have just about iced the game, but Ryan Grant did something you would never expect from your starting Running Back he stripped the ball from McQuarters at the 19 gaining 12 yards for the Packers on an interception.

Green Bay however couldn't capitalize and settled for a game tying field goal. The Giants got in position for a 43 yard field goal but Lawrence Tynes couldn't connect.

Then after 3 more punts and a huge battle for a fumble the Giants got in position for a 35 yard game winning field goal with 4 seconds left, but once again he couldn't connect.

The Packers won the overtime coin toss and on the first play of overtime Brett Farve threw his final pass as a Packer which was intercepted by Corey Webster.

After the pick and 5 more yards added on offense Lawrence Tynes hit a 47 yard field goal in the freezing cold and wind at Lambeau and the Giants advanced to the Superbowl where they defeated the Patriots.

8. Rams 23, Titans 16  Super Bowl XXXIV; Jan. 30, 2000

Above is an image that will forever be remembered. An ending that you wouldn't expect to see anywhere but a Disney movie. The Titans came back from a 16 point deficit on a comeback led by Steve "Air" McNair.

After the Titans tied the game at 16 one of the greatest offenses of all time responded as Kurt Warner hit Isaac Bruce with a 73 yard TD. Steve McNair brought the Titans to the Rams 12 yard line with 6 seconds left on the clock.

Rams fans held there breath as one play could erase everything "The Greatest Show on Turf" had achieved.

So as Steve McNair took the snap out of the Shotgun he hit Kevin Dyson on a historic slant pattern at the 3 yard line, with a Mike Jones on his back desperately trying to bring him down.

Dyson stretched his arm out like he didn't care if it fell out the socket which left us with one historic image, the arm of Dyson stretching out at the goal line but coming up as short as you could possibly come up without getting in and that was the game.

The Titans came up just 1 yard short in a game of inches and the Rams were Super Bowl champions.

7. Steelers 21, Colts 18   AFC Divisional Playoff; Jan. 15, 2006 (The Bettis Fumble)

A game that could have ended a legendary career in Jerome Bettis instead launched a legendary one in Ben Roethlisberger.

With the Steelers on the Colts 1, the game was all but over as Jerome Bettis was getting ready to do what he's been doing his whole career and punch it in from the 1 when he did something that he was known for never doing: he fumbled the ball for the first time that season.

However, that's not even the weirdest part of the play because after the fumble Nick Harper picked it up and was off to the races and it looked nobody was going to catch him he was in the open field and off to the races for what appeared was going to be an improbable Colts victory.

Then one of the most surprising plays in NFL history happened. The equivalent to Derek Jeters flip against the A's in the 2001 MLB playoffs. Ben Roethlisberger tackled Harper from his back and saved the game for the Steelers.

However, the Colts drove into scoring position for one of the most accurate kickers in the NFL, but Mike Vanderjagt missed a 46-yard game tying field goal with 21 seconds left and the Steelers won the game.

6. Patriots 16, Raiders 13 AFC Divisional Playoff; Jan. 19, 2002 (The Tuck Game)

A game played in a snowstorm that brought out one of the most unknown rules in the NFL. With under 2 minutes remaining in the game and the Patriots trailing by 3 Charles Woodson sacked Tom Brady and knocked the ball out and the fumble was recovered by the Raiders.

Then came the crazy part the refs gave the ball back to the Patriots after it was deemed that Tom Brady's arm was moving forward while the ball was knocked out.

However, nobody knew what that meant and everybody was confused, the rule was later verified in the rulebook. Five plays later, Adam Vinatieri hit a clutch field goal to send us to OT and then another in OT which were two of the most clutch kicks ever in the snow.

5. Titans 22, Bills 16 AFC Wild Card; Jan. 8, 2000 (The Music City Miracle)

The Bills trailed 12-0 but made it 16-15 with just 16 left in the game. Virtually ending the game unless for a miracle. However, what we saw that day was a miracle and there's no other way to explain it.

Fullback Lorenzo Neal fielded the Kickoff and he handed it to Frank Wycheck who threw it across the field on a so called "lateral" to Kevin Dyson who took it all the way to the house winning the game for the Titans.

This play was upheld after review, however it is still doubted whether it was actually a lateral or a forward pass. None the less the Titans won the game.

4. Colts 38, Patriots 34  AFC Championship Game; Jan. 21, 2007

The rivalry that defined our decade was Patriots vs. Colts, Manning vs. Brady. However for the better part of our decade that rivalry was dominated by the Patriots. That looked like it would continue in this game as the Patriots led 21-3 at halftime.

After a few strange plays the Patriots were leading the Colts 34-31 with 3:49 left. Then Peyton Manning led the Colts down the field 80 yards to win the game and eventually win the Super Bowl.

This was perhaps the signature matchup of this decade that finally got the Colts a win in this rivalry.

3. Jets 40, Dolphins 37  Oct. 23, 2000 (The Monday Night Miracle)

For a regular season game that occurred on Oct. 23 to appear on this list you better believe it was a special game and it was. The score to start the fourth quarter was 30-7 Miami. Sounds like a blowout, right? Wrong!

The Jets made the greatest comeback in NFL history as Vinny Testaverde led them up and down the field time after time. This game was tied with 42 seconds left on a TD throw to an offensive tackle named Jumbo Elliott.

The Jets went on to win it in OT on a 40-yard field goal. This was the arguably the best regular season game of the decade.

2. Giants  17, Patriots 14 Super Bowl 42; Feb. 3, 2008

Coming into the game the 18-0 Patriots were expected to wipe the floor with the Giants. The Patriots had dominated everybody they played all year.

Although they found themselves using there defense more then there historic offense through three quarters as they led just 7-3. Then came a historic fourth quarter with arguably the greatest play in Super Bowl history.

With the Patriots leading the Giants 14-10 with one minute remaining. Eli Manning dropped back  and was hit by great pressure, he was grabbed by several Patriot players and looked like he was going to be sacked and there was no way they would pull it off, but then he escaped and chucked it down field almost as if he had no idea where he was throwing then David Tyree jumped up and hauled in a high pass against his helmet with Rodney Harrison on his back and pulled it down.

Arguably the most amazing play in Super Bowl history.

However, the game wasn't over and the Giants hadn't won yet, but this set up the Eli Manning's 13-yard game winning TD pass to Plaxico Burress and the Giants had pulled off the upset of the decade maybe the best upset ever.

1. Steelers 27, Cardinals 23 Super Bowl 43; Feb. 1, 2009

Arguably the greatest Super Bowl of all time definitely didn't lack in excitement. What made it better then the previous Super Bowl was that not only did it have an exciting fourth quarter but it also had a thrilling first three quarters.

It included a thrilling end to the first half with the James Harrison an OLB returning an interception for a 100 yard TD. In the fourth Quarter the Cardinals put together a 13 point 4th quarter comeback including a 64-yard TD to Larry Fitzgerald with 2:34 left in the game.

Then came an historic drive that brought Ben Roethlisberger from a pretty good QB to an elite QB. He brought the Steelers down the field on a 78 yard drive resulting in a historic tiptoe catch in the corner of the endzone by Santonio Holmes with 35 seconds left and a Super Bowl winning catch.

So that's how I stack up my top 10 games of the decade. This is just my opinion so comment if I missed anything or if you liked it.  


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