DeSean Jackson and The 25 Craziest Game-Ending Plays In Football History

Zachary D. RymerMLB Lead WriterDecember 19, 2010

DeSean Jackson and The 25 Craziest Game-Ending Plays In Football History

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    DeSean Jackson's last-second punt return that completed the Philadelphia Eagles' comeback against the New York Giants earlier on Sunday is already being considered one of the most incredible finishes in football history.

    Indeed, if we were to consider both college and the pros, Jackson's touchdown is on par with the Immaculate Reception, The Play, The Music City Miracle, you name it.

    So naturally, whenever somebody makes a grandiose statement about football history, we here at Bleacher Report are there to answer the call. As a result, we have compiled a slideshow of the 25 craziest game-ending plays in football history.


25. SMU Beats UAB with Hail Mary in 2005

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    The SMU Mustangs were down to UAB 27-22 with 22 seconds left in their game in early October 2005.

    But the Mustangs managed to make it all the way to the UAB 31-yard line with three seconds left on the clock, which meant they had time for one final play.

    Jerad Romo dropped back and heaved one into the left corner of the end zone, where Bobby Chase was there to make an incredible catch for the touchdown.

    SMU won the game 28-22.

24. Brett Favre Shows the 49ers He Still Has It

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    Brett Favre joined the Minnesota Vikings for one last rodeo in 2009 (or so we thought at the time) and ended up having one of his personal best moments in Week 3 against the 49ers.

    With the Vikings trailing 24-20 with just a couple seconds left on the clock and the ball on the San Francisco 32-yard line, Favre evaded the 49ers pass rush and launched a bullet towards the back of the end zone. There to make an amazing catch was Greg Lewis, who just barely got both feet down.

    The play gave the Vikings a 27-24 lead with two seconds left on the clock and they would wrap it up on the ensuing kickoff. At that point, it was obvious that the old man still had plenty of life in him.

23. Jags Beat Texans on a Hail Mary from David Garrard to Mike Thomas

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    The Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans were tied at 24 in the final moments of their game in Week 10 of this year.

    The Texans were driving looking for a game-winning field goal, but their drive stalled when they fumbled the ball away to the Jaguars at the Jacksonville 35-yard line. With eight seconds to play, the Jags managed to get the ball to midfield and then had time to run one last play.

    David Garrard threw it with all his might, but the ball was batted down in the end zone. But there was Mike Thomas to catch the ricochet and he stepped into the end zone for the score with no time left on the clock.

22. Brandon Stokley's 87-Yard Touchdown on Opening Day 2009

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    The Denver Broncos were down 7-6 in their opening day matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals in 2009. And with only 28 seconds left in the game and field goal range still many yards away, things seemed hopeless.

    Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton dropped back to pass from his own 13-yard line and launched a prayer over to the left sideline. The ball was tipped up into the air by Leon Hall, but there to grab it was veteran wide receiver Brandon Stokley.

    Stokley caught the ball around the Denver 43-yard line and was untouched on his way to the house. Denver won the game 12-7.

21. Drew Tate Wins the 2005 Captial One Bowl for the Hawkeyes

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    There were nine seconds to play in the 2005 Capital One Bowl between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the LSU Tigers and the Hawkeyes needed a miracle off the arm of Drew Tate.

    From his own 40-yard line, Tate dropped back and heaved one up that was caught at the 10-yard line and run in for the game-winning score as time expired.

    Then LSU head coach Nick Saban made the jump to the NFL soon after.

20. Antonio Freeman's Improbable Bobble on Monday Night Football

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    The Monday Night Football matchup in 2000 between the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings went to overtime and the Packers had the first shot at ending the game.

    From the Minnesota 44-yard line, Brett Favre dropped back to pass and heavy pressure forced him to throw it up for grabs off his back foot.

    The ball looked to fall incomplete next to Antonio Freeman's body, but he got up with the ball and started running toward the end zone. The ball had actually bounced around on his body while he was on the turf and he had managed to snatch it before it hit the ground.

    The play stood and the Packers won the game, prompting Al Michaels to famously say: "He did what?"

19. Roger Staubach Invents the Hail Mary

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    Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach more or less invented the Hail Mary in 1975 in the playoffs against the Minnesota Vikings.

    The Cowboys trailed 14-10 and had the ball at midfield with 24 seconds remaining in the game. The legend goes that Staubach closed his eyes and said a Hail Mary before the play and then went up and completed a 50-yard touchdown pass to Drew Pearson.

    The Cowboys won the game 17-14 and the term "Hail Mary" stuck for good.

18. Ahmad Rashad's Catch Gives the Vikings a Division Title

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    In their late December 1980 matchup with the Cleveland Browns, the Vikings stood a chance to wrap up the Central Division. But they trailed 23-21 with just a couple seconds on the clock and they were well out of field goal range at the Cleveland 45-yard line.

    Tommy Kramer dropped back to pass and heaved one down the right sideline. The ball fell right into heavy traffic, where it was tipped and caught by Ahmad Rashad, who backed into the end zone.

    The play gave the Vikings a 28-23 win and they won the division.

17. DeSean Jackson's Walk-Off Punt Return

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    The Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants met to determine which team would claim first place in the NFC East on Sunday. And for much of the game, it looked like the Giants were going to claim the top spot with no contest.

    But then Michael Vick put the Eagles on the comeback trail. With his team trailing 31-10 with eight minutes left in the game, Vick engineered three touchdown drives to tie things at 31.

    But with just a few seconds left in the game, the Eagles forced the Giants to punt the ball away. And that's where DeSean Jackson and his three career punt return touchdowns come into the picture.

    As you well know, he ran the punt back for a touchdown as time expired, giving the Eagles their 10th win of the year and first place in the NFC East. Incredible.

16. Michigan State's Walk-Off Fake Field Goal Against Notre Dame

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    The Michigan State Spartans and Notre Dame Fighting Irish went to overtime in their game in September of this year and the Spartans needed a field goal to tie the game at 31-31, which would have sent the game into its second overtime.

    And that's exactly what it looked like they were going to do, as Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio had sent his field goal unit out on the field.

    But Aaron Bates, who was the holder on the play, took the snap and immediately looked to pass. He hit a streaking Charlie Gantt for a 29-yard score. The Spartans won the game 34-31.

    Interesting to note, of course, is that Dantonio suffered a heart attack a few hours later.

15. The Catch II

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    There were eight seconds left on the clock in the NFC Wild Card playoff matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers, and the 49ers trailed 27-23.

    But they did have the ball on the Green Bay 25-yard line and they had the great Steve Young under center. Instead of looking for Jerry Rice, he threw the ball into traffic at the goal line, where the ball was caught by a young Terrell Owens, who had four dropped passes and a fumble on the day.

    The 49ers won the game 30-27.

14. The Miracle in Michigan

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    The Michigan Wolverines had a 26-21 lead in Ann Arbor over Kordell Stewart and the Colorado Buffaloes in their late September matchup in 1994.

    From his own 34-yard line with six seconds to go, Stewart dropped back to pass and heaved a prayer towards the end zone. The ball was tipped near the goal line and then caught in the end zone by Michael Westbrook.

    Game over. The Buffaloes had won 27-26.

13. The Bluegrass Miracle

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    The No. 14 LSU Tigers were on the verge of being upset by the Kentucky Wildcats in early November 2002. The Tigers trailed 30-27 with two seconds to go and they were back on their own 26-yard line. They needed a miracle.

    Moments before, thinking they had the game in hand, Kentucky players had drenched head coach Guy Morriss in Gatorade.

    But LSU quarterback Marcus Randall chucked one up for grabs on the final play and the ball was reeled in with one hand by LSU wide receiver Devery Henderson, who ran it in for the touchdown.

    LSU won the game 33-30.

12. Garrison Hearst's Walkoff 96-Yard Run in Overtime

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    It was Week 1 of the 1998 season and the San Francisco 49ers were hosting the New York Jets.

    The game went to overtime at a 30-30 tie. The Niners had the ball on their own four-yard line in the opening moments of the OT and gave the ball to Garrison Hearst up the middle.

    Hearst ended up going 96 yards to the house, giving the Niners an incredible walkoff win.

11. The River City Relay

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    It was 2003 and the the New Orleans Saints entered their late December matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars with a 7-7 record, needing to win their last two games to qualify for the playoffs.

    Unfortunately, the Saints found themselves down 20-13 with seven seconds to play. They had their ball on their own 25-yard line and to say they needed a miracle is an understatement.

    But they got one. Aaron Brooks completed a pass to Donte Stallworth at midfield, who got a few yards before lateraling it to Michael Lewis, who in turn lateraled it to Deuce McAllister, who lateraled it to Jerome Pathon, who proceeded to run into the end zone for the score with no time left on the clock.

    All the Saints needed was a PAT from John Carney. And he missed wide right. The Saints lost 20-19.

10. Boise State's Statue of Liberty Play Wins the 2007 Fiesta Bowl

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    The 2007 Fiesta Bowl between the Boise State Broncos and the Oklahoma Sooners is probably one of the greatest college football games of all-time.

    Not only did the Sooners take a 35-28 lead on a pick-six with barely over a minute remaining, but the Broncos managed to tie the game and send it to overtime on a hook-and-lateral with seven seconds to go.

    After watching the Sooners get a touchdown in their first possession of the OT on a 25-yard run by Adrian Peterson, Boise State answered with a touchdown of its own. But instead of playing for the tie, they went for two and the win.

    To do so, they used one of the most outrageous plays in football: the Statue of Liberty. And it worked. Boise won the game 43-42.

9. The Miracle at the Meadowlands

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    It was November 19th, 1978 and the New York Giants had a 17-12 lead over the Philadelphia Eagles with 31 seconds to go. They also had the ball and only needed to run one more play on a third-and-two to ice the game.

    But instead of simply taking a knee, Giants quarterback Joe Pisarcik attempted to hand the ball off to fullback Larry Csonka. The ball went off Csonka's hip and squirted away.

    Eagles cornerback Herm Edwards, who had come on an all-out blitz, picked the ball up and ran it 26 yards for the game-winning score.

    Eagles fans remember it as "The Miracle at the Meadowlands." Giants fans remember it simply as "The Fumble."

8. LSU vs. Ole Miss, 1972: The Night the Clock Stopped

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    In the annual matchup between LSU and Ole Miss in 1972, the Rebels had a 16-10 lead with four seconds to play.

    But the Tigers had the ball on the Ole Miss 10-yard line and had a chance to win the game with a touchdown.

    LSU quarterback Bert Jones dropped back to pass, took his time and threw an incomplete pass. That should have ended the game, but the clock in Tiger Stadium showed that there was still a single second left.

    Jones completed a touchdown pass to Brad Davis on the next play and LSU won 17-16.

    A few days later, a sign on the Louisiana state line read: "You are now entering Louisiana. Set your clocks back four seconds."

7. The Holy Roller

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    San Diego Chargers fans know the "Holy Roller" better as the "Immaculate Deception," and perhaps for good reason. The play is one of the most controversial plays in NFL history, but it worked out fine as far as the Oakland Raiders are concerned.

    It was 1978 and the Raiders were taking on the Chargers at Jack Murphy Stadium. The Chargers had a 20-14 lead with 10 seconds left in the game, but the Raiders had the ball on the San Diego 14-yard line. Ken Stabler dropped back to pass and was hit by Woodrow Lowe, causing him to lose the football.

    Running back Pete Banaszak recovered the ball and tipped it forward to tight end Dave Casper. Casper proceeded to repeatedly nudge the ball toward the end zone, falling on it after it crossed the goal line as time expired. The extra point gave the Raiders a 21-20 win.

    The play caused the NFL to change the rules regarding fumbles.

6. The Music City Miracle

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    The fourth quarter of the 2000 Wild Card matchup between the Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills saw three lead changes in the final two minutes of the game.

    The first came when the Titans took a 15-13 lead on a field goal with 1:48 to play. The second came on a field goal by Buffalo kicker Steve Christie with 16 seconds left that gave the Bills a 16-15 lead.

    The third and most famous lead change came on the ensuing kickoff. Lorenzo Neal received the kick and immediately handed it off to tight end Frank Wychek. He ran towards the right sideline, drawing the defense. Then he whipped around and chucked the ball back across the field into the waiting hands of Kevin Dyson, who took it 75 yards down the left sideline for the score.

    The Titans had won the game 22-16 and the football world was graced with one of the all-time greatest play-by-play calls by Titans radio man Mike Keith: "There are no flags on the field! It's a miracle!"

5. The Miracle Bowl: Jim McMahon's Hail Mary Wins the 1980 Holiday Bowl

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    The BYU Cougars squared off against the SMU Mustangs in the 1980 Holiday Bowl and the game appeared to be in the Mustangs' pocket late in the fourth quarter, as they held a 45-25 lead with four minutes to play.

    But McMahon led the Cougars on a furious comeback and got his team to within striking distance at 45-40 with less than a minute to go. A blocked punt gave the Cougars the ball at the SMU 41-yard line and McMahon had a couple seconds left to run one more play.

    As time expired, he launched one towards the end zone that was caught by Clay Brown to give BYU a 46-45 win. The game has become known as "The Miracle Bowl."

4. The Miracle in Mississippi

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    There are no words that can adequately describe what happened at the end of the game between the Trinity Tigers and the Millsap Majors in October of 2007.

    All you really need to know is that there are a total of 15 laterals on this play and that it has since become known as "The Miracle in Mississippi."

3. Doug Flutie's Hail Mary against Miami

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    Doug Flutie and the Boston College Eagles squared off against Bernie Kosar and the Miami Hurricanes in late November of 1983.

    Kosar ended up setting a Miami record for passing yards and his team had a 45-41 lead with just a few seconds on the clock.

    But Flutie and the Eagles had the ball on the Miami 48-yard line with six seconds to play. After rolling out to his right, Flutie launched the ball to the end zone with no time left on the clock. It landed right in the hands of Gerard Phelan, who was just barely across the goal line.

    The play gave the Eagles a 47-45 win and is easily one of the most famous Hail Mary's of all-time.

2. The Immaculate Reception

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    It was 1972 and the Steelers were looking for their first-ever playoff win against the Oakland Raiders.

    With the Steelers leading 6-0 late in the fourth quarter, Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler scored on a 30-yard run to put the Raiders on top 7-6 with 1:17 to go.

    The Steelers faced a fourth-and-10 on their own 40-yard line, with 22 seconds on the clock and no timeouts. Terry Bradshaw took the snap, evaded the pressure and heaved up a prayer.

    The pass appeared to be broken up by Raiders safety Jack Tatum, but there to pick up the ricochet was Franco Harris, who caught the ball just before it hit the ground. He took it all the way down the left sideline and into the end zone.

    The Steelers won the game 13-7.

1. The Play: Cal vs. Stanford, 1982

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    In the 1982 Big Game between Cal and Stanford, the Cardinal was trailing 19-17 with less than a minute to go in the fourth quarter. But John Elway led a drive that ended in a field goal to give his team a 20-19 lead.

    There were only four seconds left on the clock for the ensuing kickoff. And in the words of Cal announcer Joe Starkey: "Only a miracle can save the Bears now!"

    Well, that's exactly what they got. Cal's Kevin Moen received the kick, lateraled it to Richard Rodgers, who lateraled to Dwight Garner, who lateraled the ball back to Rodgers, who made it into Stanford territory before lateraling it to Mariet Ford.

    Ford appeared to be swallowed up at the Stanford 25 but blindly pitched it back to Moen, who plowed through the Stanford band for the game-winning score.

    It was, once again in the words of Starkey: "The most amazing, sensational, dramatic, heart-rending, exciting, thrilling finish in the history of college football."