Top 10 Most Iconic Moments In NFL History

Top 10 Most Iconic Moments In NFL History

What are the most iconic moments in NFL history?

  1. The Helmet Catch
  2. Music City Miracle
  3. “The Catch”
  4. Santonio Holmes’s Super Bowl Winning Catch
  5. The Immaculate Reception
  6. Malcolm Butler’s Interception
  7. The Philly Special
  8. One Yard Short
  9. Wide Right
  10. The Minneapolis Miracle

1. The Helmet Catch

In one of the ultimate “David and Goliath” matchups in sports history, the New York Giants played the 18-0 New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. The Giants were down 14-10 late in the fourth quarter on a third down when this miraculous play happened. After escaping what looked like a certain sack, Eli Manning airmailed the ball down the middle of the field to David Tyree. Tyree, a low-in-the-depth-chart receiver who mostly played special teams, somehow rose up, with All-Pro safety Rodney Harrison clinging to his back, and pinned the ball to his helmet with his hands, maintaining control of it all the way down to the ground. The Giants scored and held on, producing one of the biggest Super Bowl upsets in NFL history.

2. Music City Miracle

Last-second laterals almost never work in football. This rarity makes the Music City Miracle one of the greatest moments in NFL history. After scoring a field goal with 16 seconds left, the Buffalo Bills had a 16-15 lead against the Tennessee Titans in the Wild Card Round of the 2000 NFL playoffs. The Titans’ only hope was to do something crazy. Once Titans’ tight end Frank Wycheck fielded the ball, he passed it across the field to Kevin Dyson, who then took the ball 75 yards to the end zone for the buzzer-beating win. While there is controversy as to whether Wycheck’s pass was forward or lateral, it only adds to the excitement of this crazy play.

3. “The Catch”

“The Catch” is the most iconic NFL play from the 1980s. With 58 seconds remaining in the 1982 NFC Championship game between the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers, Joe Montana lobbed a third-down pass to Dwight Clark, who made the catch with the edges of his fingertips to put the Niners up 28-27 and send them to the Super Bowl. This play marked the start of the Niners dynasty that lasted throughout the 1980s.

4. Santonio Holmes’s Super Bowl Winning Catch

Super Bowl XLIII, between the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers, was one of the best Super Bowls of all time. It had the narrative of an underrated Cardinals team led by Kurt Warner, who was thought to be washed-up, and Larry Fitzgerald, a fan-favorite who had one of the greatest playoff runs ever. The game also featured a 100-yard interception returned for a touchdown by a linebacker, but nothing beats Santonio Holmes’ amazing catch to win the Super Bowl for the Steelers. A six-yard touchdown was scored when Holmes retrieved the ball in the back corner of the end zone while somehow tapping his toes in bounds and keeping possession of the ball.

5. The Immaculate Reception

The Immaculate Reception happened during a Divisional Round game between the Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers in 1972. When Terry Bradshaw threw the ball to receiver John Fuqua, the ball took a big bounce off Fuqua and, out of nowhere, running back Franco Harris caught the ball in the air and ran it for a touchdown that propelled the Steelers past the Raiders. There are some naysayers that believe that the ball either touched the ground or the defender, which would mean the play was dead, but the referees did not believe this, so the play is etched into NFL history.

6. Malcolm Butler’s Interception

One of the most questionable play calls of all time led to one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history. When the Seattle Seahawks were down 28-24 against the New England Patriots, with under 30 seconds left in Super Bowl XLIX, the Seahawks opted to try to pass the ball on second and goal with one timeout left. This call was made instead of logically trying to punch the ball in with a run, which would likely have been a simple matter on account of known bruiser Marshawn Lynch, who was one of Seattle’s best runners. Instead, Russell Wilson dropped back, making a short throw towards the goal line. At that moment, Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler jumped a short slant route, knocked aside the intended receiver, and intercepted the ball, securing the Super Bowl victory for the Patriots and creating one of the best twist endings in NFL history.

7. The Philly Special

Trick plays are meant to keep the defense on their toes, but they are rarely used in the Super Bowl. Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Peterson took the risk of a lifetime by calling a trick play called the “Philly Special” on fourth down from the one-yard line just before the end of the first half in Super Bowl LII. The play included a direct snap to the running back Corey Clement, who then tossed it to Trey Burton. Burton quickly threw the ball to a wide-open Nick Foles, the team’s quarterback, for a touchdown. This play sent the Eagles to the half with a 22-12 lead over the New England Patriots and helped the franchise secure its first Super Bowl win in franchise history.

8. One Yard Short

Super Bowl XXXIV in 2000 was a fight between the Tennessee Titans and Los Angeles Rams, two teams searching for their first Super Bowl win. The Titans went down 16-0 before coming back and tying the game just before the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter. The Rams answered quickly with a touchdown, leaving a two-minute drill for the Titans to tie the game by marching 88 yards down the field. With five seconds left, the Titans had one play to score from the 10-yard line. Titans quarterback Steve McNair passed the ball to Kevin Dyson right before the goal line. Rams linebacker Mike Jones grabbed him and brought him down with Dyson trying to reach the ball over the plane, coming up one yard short.

9. Wide Right

This play encompasses the essence of the 1990s Buffalo Bills teams that made four Super Bowls in a row (the only team to ever accomplish this feat) but ended up winning none of them. With time expiring, Scott Norwood had the chance to bring the Buffalo Bills to glory with a 47-yard field goal attempt in Super Bowl XXV when the team was down 20-19 against the New York Giants. Much to the chagrin of Bills supporters, Norwood hooked the kick wide right, and Buffalo came up short in the Big Game. To this day, the team has still not won a championship. The game ended as the only 1-point victory margin in Super Bowl history, and Norwood lives on in infamy in Buffalo.

10. The Minneapolis Miracle

In the waning seconds of the 2018 Divisional Round game between the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings, it looked as if the Saints had the game locked in, barring an absolute miracle. Then, against all odds, an absolute miracle occurred. On what ended up becoming the last play of the game, Case Keenum dropped back and heaved the ball along the sideline to Stefon Diggs, who leaped into the air to make the catch. Saints’ safety Marcus Williams whiffed on a tackle, ducking beneath Diggs while he was in the air, and Diggs landed with the ball in hand and an open field before him, charging into the end zone to win the game in the final seconds. After giving a much-too-calm call for the “helmet catch” in Super Bowl XLII, NFL commentator Joe Buck made up for it with his performance on this play, with an iconic call of, “Diggs! Sideline! Touchdown! Unbelievable!”

Honorable Mentions

Largest Comeback in Super Bowl History

One of the many Super Bowl shockers involving the New England Patriots, Super Bowl LI will go down in history as one of the greatest comebacks of all time. After a tough first quarter for both teams, the Atlanta Falcons earned a dominant score of 28-3 by the middle of the third quarter, making many Patriots fans lose hope. However, in true Tom Brady fashion, the famed New England quarterback executed a stunning fourth-quarter comeback, overcoming an eight-point deficit with three minutes remaining to tie the game 28-28 at the end of regulation. In overtime, New England received the ball first, needing only a touchdown to win the game. With almost effortless grit, the Patriots stormed down the field, and on the final play of the drive, running back James White took the ball into the end zone on a wide run towards the sideline, snuffing out the Falcons in an absolutely stunning moment to secure a comeback score of 34-28. The game became known for the overconfidence of Falcons’ owner Arthur Blank, who famously came down onto the field during the second half in seeming celebration of an early victory, only to watch his team fall in the end.

John Elway’s Helicopter Dive

One of the most important moments in Broncos’ history was also one of the defining plays of John Elway’s career. He had been helming the team for 14 seasons without achieving his dream of Super Bowl victory. Finally, in 1997, the Broncos made it to Super Bowl XXXII against the Green Bay Packers, who were heavily favored. In spite of expectations, the Broncos were hanging tough, keeping the score tied at 17 with a little over two minutes left in the third quarter. On a third-and-six in the red zone, Elway shook off a pass and decided to run the ball himself. As he approached the sticks, Elway jumped into the air and was “helicoptered” into a spin by three Green Bay defenders. When he landed, Elway had picked up eight total yards and the first down. On the next play, Terrell Davis ran in a one-yard touchdown to take the lead over the Packers. Green Bay won the game 31-24 after the fortunate momentum shift. After finally achieving his dream, John Elway and the Broncos won a second Super Bowl the next year against the Falcons.

FAQ

What is the most famous football play of all time?

The most famous football play of all time is David Tyree’s “helmet catch” to win Super Bowl XLII. The Giants were down 14-10 late in the fourth quarter when Eli Manning dodged a sack and threw a hail mary to Tyree, who caught the ball against his helmet, despite heavy contact by Patriots safety Rodney Harrison. The Giants went on to score and achieved one of the biggest upsets in football history.

What was the best Super Bowl ever played?

The best Super Bowl ever played was arguably Super Bowl LI, between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons. This was the best of the big games because of the dramatic change of character and momentum in the game. New England was down 21-0 in the third quarter, and the situation looked hopeless. After a successful field goal, the Patriots went on to score 31 straight points, beating the Falcons 34-28 for one of the biggest comebacks in Super Bowl history.