Top 10 Most Iconic Moments In NFL History
What are the most iconic moments in NFL history?
1. The Helmet Catch
In the ultimate sports David versus Goliath matchup, 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 to 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 on his back and pinned the ball to his helmet, keeping hold of it on the way down. The Giants scored and held on producing the biggest playoff upset 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 Titan’s 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 a 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 sent them to the Super Bowl. This play marked the start of the Niners dynasty that perpetuated 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’s amazing catch to win the Super Bowl. 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 with under 30 seconds left in Super Bowl XLIX, the Seahawks opted to try to pass the ball on 2nd and goal with a timeout left, meaning they could have tried to punch the ball in with known bruiser Marshawn Lynch one time before resorting to the passing game. Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler jumped a short slant route and intercepted the ball, securing the Super Bowl victory for the Patriots and creating one of the best what-ifs 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 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, a 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 ten-yard line. Titans quarterback Steve McNair passed the ball to Kevin Dyson right before the goalline. 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 down 20-19 to the New York Giants. Much to the chagrin of Bills supporters, Norwood hooked the kick wide right, and Buffalo 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. 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 on lock if they could prevent a miracle. 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. When Saints safety Marcus Williams whiffed on a tackle, Diggs charged into the end zone to win the game. After giving a much-too-calm call for the Helmet Catch, commentator Joe Buck made up for it with his call on this play with an iconic, “Diggs! Sideline! Touchdown! Unbelievable!”