NFL's Top 10 Jaw-Dropping Moments Within the Last Decade
As we say hello to the new decade, I thought it would be great to have a look at some of the last decade's most jaw dropping events as the excitement builds for the season opener on September 9.
Every year NFL fans look towards the coming season with excitement, anticipation, and hunger to watch their favorite teams battle it out for the chance to win the Super Bowl. Sometimes along the way we're lucky enough to witness jaw dropping moments by some of the best and brightest in the league.
Last year we saw Tom Brady throw five touchdown passes in a single quarter on a snowy day in Foxboro against the Tennessee Titans. We also saw the Carolina Panthers' two-headed monster of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart rush for over 1000 yards each.
Jaw-dropping moments don't just mean stats and games played. Last year we saw perennial losers, the New Orleans Saints, win the Super Bowl over arguably the decade's most dominant team, the Indianapolis Colts. The Saints came off a combined 15-17 record over the last two seasons to win 13 straight games and book their place in the playoffs for only the seventh time in their 42-year history.
The following ten moments from 2000-2009 are by no means in order from least jaw-dropping to most, but rather just a collection of 10 moments that rocked our socks off.
(It still shocks me that Barry Sanders left the game so abruptly. I guess you could say he was the inspiration for this piece.)
Chris Johnson's 2,509-yard season
In only his second season in the NFL, Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson provided the only fire power to Jeff Fisher's offense by accumulating 2,509 total yards, breaking Marshall Faulk's 10-year record of 2,429 yards.
To put this into perspective, Johnson accounted for a whopping 45 percent of the Titans total offensive yards gained, 77 percent of their total rushing yards, and almost 46 percent of their total touchdowns scored. To say he was their MVP would clearly be an understatement.
Last season was a total mess for the Titans, losing six games to start the year. The team would not even be worth watching had it not been for Johnson's dazzling displays week after week.
The list of his achievements are long and absolutely unbelievable.
Other records set by Johnson in 2009:
First player in history to score touchdowns of 50+, 60+ and 90+ yards in a single game (Week Two vs. Houston Texans, September 20).
Tied an NFL record of six consecutive 125+ rushing yard games (Weeks 6-12.
Sixth running back in NFL history to rush for over 2,000 yards.
Broke Earl Campbell's franchise record of most rushing yards in a season.
Rushed for 800 yards in November to break Ricky Williams' November 2002 record of 797.
Became the only player to have scored three 85+ yard touchdown runs in a career. He did this in just one season.
Super Bowl XLII
I don't know about you, but when I was sitting there in my living room watching this game and saw David Tyree catch Eli Manning's pass on his helmet, I literally spat out my beer all over the carpet.
First of all, who the hell was David Tyree and how in the world did he manage to make that leaping one-handed catch on his helmet as he fell down? That was the single greatest moment in Super Bowl history. Hands down. Yes, Elway's Helicopter in Super Bowl XXXII is a personal favorite of mine, but this moment was just unbelievable.
At 3rd-and-5 from their own 44-yard line with 1:15 remaining, Manning broke free from three potential sacks and launched the ball 32 yards down the field to Tyree, who kept the Giants' potential comeback against the league's most potent offense in history well and truly alive.
Four plays and a Plaxico Burress touchdown later, the New York Giants had recorded the biggest upset in Super Bowl history.
2008 Detroit Lions
This picture really says it all doesn't it?
After going 7-9 the previous season, the Lions completely tanked the following year. It's ironic that the 2007 season ended with a team going 16-0 for the first time in NFL history and the 2008 season ended with a team going 0-16 also for the first time in NFL history.
Usually even the bottom feeder teams manage to win at least one game somehow, but I guess Detroit just didn't get the memo.
Round up of just how shockingly awful this team was:
Scored 268 points (27th) and allowed 517 points (32nd). Differential of -249, worst in the league.
27th in Team Offense
32nd in Team Defense
Three different starting quarterbacks and two backups who amassed 3,299 yards and a TD: INT ratio of 18:19 combined.
11 games where opposing teams scored 30+ points.
You can thank the 2008 Lions for one at least thing. It gave credence to the old adage, "it's only the preseason," as Detroit went undefeated in those preseason games before crashing out during the regular season.
The Bus Fumbles
It's the 2005 Division Playoffs versus the Indianapolis Colts. The score is 21-18. The Steelers are at the goal line, looking to ice the game. Second-year quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hands the ball off to Jerome "The Bus" Bettis, one of the most reliable running backs in the league, to steamroll his way into the end zone to take the Steelers through to the AFC Championship Game.
Bettis loses the ball off Colts linebacker Gary Brackett's helmet, fumbling for the first time all season, which is then scooped up by defensive back Nick Harper. Harper precedes to make his run down to the end zone to give the Colts the win.
Somehow, Big Ben manages to go after Harper, grabbing his ankle and pulling him down, saving the Steelers' season.
Wow. The Bus freakishly fumbles the ball and his young quarterback gets his game on and saves his ass. Just crazy.
Forty-six yard Touchdown Run by Michael Vick
In a regular season game against the Vikings, Michael Vick showed us just how amazing he could be, posting 173 rushing yards on 10 carries to break the 30-year record for most rushing yards in a game by a quarterback. He also accounted for 346 of the Falcons' 379 yards on offense.
And that wasn't even what was so great about this game.
In overtime, Vick snapped the ball, rolled to his left, cut back to the middle, broke two tackles, and ran his way into the end zone.
Say what you want about Vick's character issues, but there's no denying the talent he had out there on the field in his prime. And boy was this touchdown run positively awe-inspiring.
2006 AFC Championship Game: The Comeback
The biggest ever comeback in NFL conference championship history signaled the unofficial passing of the baton from then overachieving Tom Brady to the then underachieving Peyton Manning. Finally the Colts upstaged the mighty Patriots dynasty and thrust themselves into their first Super Bowl appearance in Manning's era after overcoming an 18-point deficit.
The entire comeback began with former Patriots legendary kicker Adam Vinatieri kicking a field goal for his new team with 11 seconds left in the first half, cutting New England's lead to 15 points. However, the real nail-biting moment came in the final two drives of the fourth quarter.
Three completions ate 58 yards. A penalty for roughing the passer gave the Colts another 12 yards and a first down at the 11-yard line. With a minute remaining on the clock, Joseph Addai scored a touchdown and gave the Colts their first lead of the game.
Brady got the ball back with plenty of time to stage a comeback. He led the Pats to Colts' 45-yard line but was then intercepted on the next play to kill the drive dead with 17 seconds remaining on the clock.
An edge of your seat game that was the turning point in the Patriots vs. Colts rivalry.
Music City Miracle and One Yard Short
Technically included in the decade as they occurred in 2000. I combined these two historic moments in Titans history because they both centrally involve Kevin Dyson and were make or break for the team in the 1999 season.
Music City Miracle
AFC Wild Card...
Kick off touchdown return needed to win the game...
Lorenzo Neal makes the catch, hands it off to Frank Wycheck...
Suddenly, Wycheck throws across the field to Kevin Dyson ,who precedes to run all the way down the sideline to score an improbable touchdown and send the Titans to the Divisional Round.
Spectacularly played and truly was a once in a lifetime miracle play for the Titans.
One Yard Short/The Tackle:
Oh, it really pains me to write this. One. Yard. Short. *chest pain*
From the ultimate high to the lowest of lows, the Tennessee Titans came one yard short of forcing Super Bowl XXXIV into overtime. With six seconds remaining and on the Rams' 10-yard line, quarterback Steve McNair found Dyson open mere yards from the goal line, only to be thwarted by a fantastic wrap around tackle by Rams linebacker Mike Jones at the two-and-a-half yard line.
Dyson reached for the goal ine but came just one yard short. I don't know anyone who wouldn't say how devastating it was and still is seeing Dyson's outstretched arm trying to will the ball into the end zone.
There's a reason this play is known as both The Tackle and One Yard Short. The Titans were just a single yard away from sending the first ever Super Bowl into overtime and Mike Jones made one of the greatest, most important clutch tackles ever in the history of the the NFL.
McNabb in his prime.
Down 17-14 with 1:12 on the clock and sitting on their own 26-yard line, the Eagles were in a fourth and long situation with no timeouts left in the 2003 Divisional Playoffs against the Green Bay Packers.
A nerve wracking Donovan McNabb 28-yard pass completion to Freddie Mitchell kept the drive alive as they picked up the improbable first down. The clutch play paved the way for a successful field goal by Eagles kicker David Ackers to force the game into overtime.
What a moment. What a play. You really just can't help but sit there and say bravo to the Eagles for not only calling that play but actually completing it in such a high pressure situation.
Adam Vinatieri and His Right Foot
The most clutch kicker in NFL history made a name for himself in the 2001 AFC Divisional Playoffs after kicking not one, but two field goals in the horrible heavy snow conditions of Foxboro Stadium to begin the Patriots dynasty.
After the Tuck Rule decision which allowed the Patriots to retain possession after Tom Brady was dispossessed, the Pats marched down to the Raiders' 30-yard line to give Vinatieri the chance to send the game into overtime with a 45-yard field goal.
I don't know how the hell he was able to make that kick in those conditions but by God it was absolutely magnificent to watch the ball fly through the thick falling snow, heart beating like a maniac, and see it just barely clear the crossbar.
What a kick.
Sheldon Brown Lays the Smackdown on Reggie Bush
Oh. My. God. Poor little rookie.
In the 2006 Divisional Playoffs against the Eagles, Saints No. 2 overall pick Reggie Bush got his ass handed to him on a clean hit by Sheldon Brown. If you've seen the YouTube videos of it on constant replay they still pack the same punch as that hit did on Reggie at the time.
He was so messed up by that hit that he when he tried to get up he couldn't stand up for long and ended up crawling on the ground in agony from the massive hit dished out by the Eagles cornerback.
The best (or worst) hit I've seen this decade. It has comical value now but at that moment it silenced the Who Dat Nation like nothing else could.