Top 10 Most Awesome TV Calls in NFL History
For every dramatic moment in the NFL, there is a soundtrack. Elated crowds, barking coaches and emotional players provide this, but the choice words of a play-by-play announcer have a way of encapsulating everything perfectly.
For decades, NFL audiences witnessed brilliant broadcasting styles evolve from Don Criqui to Pat Summerall to Gus Johnson. Each broadcaster had his or her unique methods, and because of this, a flexible criteria for what truly makes a great call is implemented.
Thus, a list of television's 10 most awesome calls can be made for our enjoyment.
10. Gus Johnson Calls Touchdown Run by Tennessee Titans' Chris Johnson
What's a list of memorable television calls without Gus Johnson?
One of the most exciting voices of the game lived up to his status by calling a touchdown run of one of the NFL's most exciting players, Chris Johnson. The star running back broke one of many huge runs during the 2009 season, and the former CBS commentator couldn't contain his enthusiasm.
"He's got 'getting-away-from-the-cops' speed," Gus Johnson said, and faced criticism for the remark. Nevertheless, it's yet another clip on Johnson's lengthy demo reel.
9. Joe Buck Calls Randy Moss' Moon at Lambeau Field
I know. I didn't think Joe Buck would have any place on this list either, so I'm sorry.
Hear me out, though.
I'm led to believe that announcers strive to make great calls as much as possible. In Buck's case, I can't believe this is true, given that he's made moments like David Tyree's helmet-catch in the Super Bowl sound about as exciting as watching Gigli.
So don't think of this as a validation of Buck's play-by-play prowess. It's more so saying that despite all the miraculous plays Buck has witnessed, his best call was delivered during a mooning gesture.
8. Don Criqui Calls "The Miracle at the Meadowlands"
Don Criqui and everyone at CBS thought this 1978 matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants was over. The credits wouldn't have rolled before the last play of the game if they felt otherwise.
To Criqui's shock, Giants quarterback Joe Pisarcik botched a handoff to Larry Csonka when all he had to do was take a knee to win the game. Before Criqui could utter a complete sentence, cornerback Herman Edwards was already halfway to the end zone with ball in hand.
The result? A call for the ages.
7. Dick Enberg and Mike Hall Call "The Fumble"
When a play-by-play announcer is caught off guard, it can make for a classic moment.
In this video, renowned broadcaster Dick Enberg admittedly concedes that he did not see Earnest Byner commit what would eventually be plainly known as "the fumble." As a result, his voice paralleled the same disbelief and uncertainty that the rest of the football world felt after experiencing a most unlikely scenario.
6. Vin Scully Calls "The Catch"
One of the greatest broadcasters of all time, Vin Scully, shows us how important a great soundtrack is to making a great moment.
Dwight Clark's catch from Joe Montana is a scene that could stand alone under its own power. Because of this, Scully's dramatic buildup to a play for the ages is often lost. Lines like, "The upstart 49ers are six yards away from Pontiac" give his exclamations at the peak of the play all the more impact.
5. Don Criqui Calls Tom Dempsey's 63-Yard Field Goal
Don Criqui added another bullet point to his résumé with a remarkable call during Tom Dempsey's record-setting moment.
The New Orleans Saints were not a franchise with much to cheer about in 1970, and when Dempsey nailed a game-winner from record distance, something memorable happened. Tulane Stadium, in Criqui's words, went "wild."
So did Criqui's voice.
4. Al Michaels Calls the Final Play of Super Bowl XXXIV
Al Michaels' call in the last play of Super Bowl XXIV accompanied one of the most exciting finishes in recent sports history. While the play on the field was certainly exciting enough on its own, Michaels had a hand in the excitement too.
Michaels' concise but brilliant comment, "The Rams win by a yard," is often overshadowed by the suspense he builds by giving context to the final scene of the 1999 season.
Providing the fact that no team had ever scored on the last play of regulation in a Super Bowl added just the right amount of suspense for another dramatic NFL moment. As a result, it made the final call of that season echo even louder.
3. Pat Summerall and John Madden Call "The Catch, II"
It wasn't Pat Summerall's style to overshadow the action with his vocal presence, but the weight of his baritone was always felt by his listeners. The 1998 Wild Card matchup between the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers was no exception to that.
As Steve Young delivered the game-winning touchdown pass in the game's final seconds, Summerall's voice quivers emotionally while delivering the simple but dramatic line, "Pass is caught by Owens, Owens made the catch," and caps a tremendous moment in NFL history.
Skip to the 7:50 mark to hear the famous call.
2. Curt Gowdy Calls "The Immaculate Reception"
It's hard to distinguish a great call from a great moment, but one of the most bizarre plays in NFL history had both.
Curt Gowdy had the very difficult task of not only maintaining composure, but accurately narrating an indescribable event during the final minute of an AFC playoff game.
His confusion showed during the initial play by fumbling over his words. Gowdy initially called that the ball was "picked off," and he didn't acknowledge that Franco Harris had the ball until he had been running for nearly 30 yards.
Give Gowdy tons of credit, though. The excitement in his voice and his clever quips in the immediate aftermath more than made up for a moment where anyone in his position would be hard pressed to find appropriate words.
1. Gus Johnson Calls Brandon Stokley's Winning Touchdown vs. Cincinnati Bengals
With 28 seconds to go, a Kyle Orton-led offense trailed the Cincinnati Bengals, 7-6. It was not an eventful game, and the chance that the game's final minute would provide anything different from the first 59 did not seem likely.
Then, a tipped pass fell into the hands of Brandon Stokley during the game's waning moments, and everything changed. While the play resulted in a game-winning touchdown, it was Gus Johnson's call that stole the show.
Sometimes, something as simple as screaming the name of a touchdown recipient can make for a moment of broadcasting greatness.
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