Hot Potato: The Five Greatest Laterals in Football History
The lateral is one of the most controversial plays on the gridiron.
Those who pull off a successful lateral are often questioned. Was the pass really backwards? Was the player down before he threw the ball?
However, there is no doubt that the lateral has sparked some dramatic and exciting plays throughout history. Here are the five greatest laterals in the sport of football.
No. 5: Boise State Broncos vs. Oklahoma Sooners, 2007 Fiesta Bowl
The 2007 Fiesta Bowl featured David and Goliath.
Underdog Boise State played Oklahoma to a 28-28 tie with just over a minute to go in the fourth quarter. Bronco quarterback Jared Zabransky was picked off by Sooner defensive back Marcus Walker who returned it for a touchdown, giving Oklahoma a 35-28 lead with 1:02 left in the game.
With 18 seconds left, Boise State was faced with fourth down and 18 yards to go on the 50-yard line. Zabransky completed a 15-yard strike to receiver Drisan James.
James then pulled a fast one on the Oklahoma defense. He lateraled the ball to teammate Jerad Rabb in stride. Rabb would race down the left sideline for a touchdown with seven seconds remaining, sending the game into overtime.
As many know, Boise State would go on to upset Oklahoma, 43-42.
No. 4: New Orleans Saints vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, December 21, 2003
The December 21 Saints vs. Jaguars game came down to one final play. New Orleans had the ball on their own 25-yard line with seven seconds to go in the fourth quarter. Jacksonville held a 20-13 advantage.
Saints' quarterback Aaron Brooks dropped back to pass and fired a strike to Donte' Stallworth down the right sideline. Stallworth crossed midfield, broke a few tackles, and reversed field toward the left sideline.
He then pitched the ball to Michael Lewis on the Jacksonville 34-yard line. Lewis who took a few steps down the left sideline and handed the ball to Deuce McAllister, who advanced to the Jaguar 20-yard line.
McAllister then threw the ball across the field to a waiting Jerome Pathon, who would ultimately dive into the end zone for a New Orleans touchdown.
Kicker John Carney would then miss the extra point, handing the Jaguars a 20-19 victory.
No. 3: Buffalo Bills vs. Tennessee Titans, January 8, 2000
The 2000 Wild Card playoff game between the Titans and Bills ended in dramatic fashion.
With 16 seconds remaining, Buffalo kicker Steve Christie gave the Bills a 16-15 lead by knocking through a 41-yard field goal.
On the ensuing kickoff, Lorenzo Neal fielded the ball at the Titans' 25-yard line. Neal then ran toward the right sideline and handed the ball to tight end Frank Wycheck. He then threw a lateral across the field to a waiting Kevin Dyson, who streaked down the left sideline for a Tennessee touchdown.
No. 2: Trinity Tigers vs. Millsaps Majors, October 27, 2007
Who would have thought that one of the craziest plays in football history would occur in a Division III game?
With two seconds left in the game, the 19th ranked Trinity Tigers were down 24-22 to the 24th ranked Millsaps Majors. The Tigers then pulled off a miracle play that lasted over one minute.
Ultimately, 15 lateral passes were thrown on the play, eventually leading to a game-winning touchdown.
Instead of describing the play to you, just take a look at the video.
No. 1: California Golden Bears vs. Stanford Cardinal, November 20, 1982
This one is obvious.
"The Play" is arguably the craziest moment in football history. Stanford held a 20-19 lead with four seconds left in the game. It appeared that they were going to win the 1982 version of the rivalry.
On the kickoff, California used five laterals to avoid the Stanford defense and find the end zone to win the game, 25-20.
The Golden Bears also had to maneuver through the Stanford band that entered the field of play during the play, believing that the contest was over.
The video below shows "The Play" in its entirety, including that trombone player in the wrong place at the wrong time.