Fourth-and-hopeless … Clock winding down … Throwing up a prayer …
These are the expressions used to describe the situations you are about to watch. One team has the ball with only a few seconds to score, tie, or win the game. In some cases, they have the ball far from the opposing end zone.
But sports would not be greatly entertaining if wasn’t for the impossible sometimes happening and those times when the underdogs laugh in its face. You might have seen endings like this in the movies, but these videos are not Hollywood scripted. They are pure, authentic, real-life drama.
Just like this past Thursday night’s match-up between the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions, where the Packers were down by two points with no time left on the clock. Granted one last play by way of a Lions’ penalty, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers heaved a 70-yard pass into the Lions’ end zone. Amidst the crash of bodies, Packers’ tight end Richard Rodgers (no relation) emerged with the ball and the Packers had a last-second win, a win which they sorely needed to get back on the positive side after some less-than-stellar play recently.
So sit back, get some popcorn, and get pumped up and inspired by the 10 craziest and exciting last-minute plays in football history:
10. Miami defeats Duke – 2015
The game between the Miami Hurricanes and Duke’s Blue Devils was a close one all night. At halftime, the Hurricanes held a 14-3 lead, but Duke stormed back in the third quarter to pull to within 2 points. The fourth quarter saw both teams pile on the points, and Duke scored a touchdown to take a three-point lead with just six seconds left on the clock.
The Blue Devils took a three point lead and were kicking off to the ‘Canes. Would six seconds be enough time for the Hurricanes to score? And with so much craziness, would the play even stand?
9. Boston College defeats Miami – 1984
Boston College’s mighty mouse quarterback Doug Flutie had a great professional career in the CFL and NFL, but will probably be remembered for this game, and more specifically, this play that showed off his cannon arm for Boston College in a shootout against Bernie Kosar’s Miami Hurricanes in 1984.
The game was a slugfest, with neither offense willing to slow down. The score was 28-21 in favour of Boston College at half-time, but the Hurricanes were ahead 45-41 as Boston College took possession of the ball for the last drive. They quickly moved the ball forward, and with only a few seconds left, Flutie had to heave the ball from his own 37-yard line to the opponents’ end zone to get a touchdown to win the game.
8. St. Louis Rams defeat Tennessee Titans – 2000
This Super Bowl was one of the most exciting in recent memory. After being shut out the entire first half, the Titans stormed back in the second half to tie the Rams at 16-16 in the fourth quarter. The Rams scored a touchdown to then make it 23-16. Down seven with only a minute to go, the Titans marched the ball back towards the Rams end zone.
The Titans had some luck earlier in the playoffs, including a play that is still to be discussed, but their luck ran out about a yard from the goal line, with six seconds left on the clock. Steve McNair’s quick pass to Kevin Dyson was completed, and Dyson had a bit of daylight towards the end zone, with only linebacker Mike Jones in his way. Would he make it?
7. New England Patriots defeat Seattle Seahawks – 2015
The New England Patriots had a lot to play for in this Super Bowl, and so did the Seattle Seahawks. The Patriots were coming off “Deflategate,” where they were accused of knowingly under-inflating footballs in the AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts. Meanwhile, the Seahawks were the defending champions and looking to make their mark as the next great dynasty, a title that belonged to the Patriots.
In a tense Super Bowl, the Patriots lead the Seahawks 28-24 with two minutes remaining. The Seahawks drove downfield, on the strength of Marshawn Lynch’s beastly runs and quarterback Russell Wilson’s arm. With less than 30 seconds left, Russell Wilson dropped back and fired a laser at receiver Ricardo Lockette. Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler read the play and closed the gap quickly. Would he get there in time?
6. Pittsburgh Steelers lose to Miami Dolphins – 2013
This was just a regular season game, but the stakes were high. It was week 14, and both teams were playing for a possible playoff spot. Miami was up 10-7 at halftime, before both offenses exploded in the second half, and with just over two minutes remaining, the Dolphins took a 34-28 lead.
To set up this play, the Steelers received the ball with less than a minute to go. Three plays went for no yards, and on fourth down as the clock expired, the Steelers snapped the ball for one last chance. Sometimes teams pull off an almost perfect play. This is one example.
5. Georgia Tech defeats Florida State – 2015
Florida State entered the game as the favourites, undefeated as this game kicked off only a few weeks ago. There is even a regional rivalry in this game, as the schools are only about three hundred miles apart. Both schools are also members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, making this an important game from a standings perspective.
Florida State had every reason to be ahead, as Georgia Tech have been struggling this year. In fact, FSU were ahead as the fourth quarter started. But Georgia Tech’s defense came to life in the fourth, and completely shut out the Seminoles’ offense. Only, the Bulldogs had yet to score a touchdown of their own, and, with the game tied and only 6 seconds left on the clock, Florida State was getting set to line up a game-clinching field goal. But then, a miracle happened.
4. Boise State defeats Oklahoma – 2007
First off, this was the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, one of the biggest bowl games of the college bowl season. It was played on January 1, 2007, which is a holiday in North America and one where many viewers were home to watch. Boise State was undefeated entering the game, so the buildup was huge. Then, there was the game itself.
Boise State opened up a big lead throughout the first three quarters, before Oklahoma stormed back with 25 unanswered points to take a 35-28 lead with just one minute left in regulation.
Boise State drove the ball downfield and scored the game-tying touchdown on a famous “hook-and-ladder” style play. In overtime, Oklahoma scored a touchdown first and elected to kick the extra point, which was successful. Boise State responded by scoring a touchdown on their drive, then went for the all-or-nothing two-point conversion. This play, which would end the game, also came with a BIG question mark afterwards.
3. Tennessee Titans defeat Buffalo Bills – 2000
A wild card playoff game in January 2000, this game was dubbed the “Music City Miracle.” and it will be forever debated between Bills and Titans fans. After a low-scoring game, the Titans and Bills exchanged late fourth-quarter field goals, which gave Buffalo a one-point lead with 16 seconds remaining in the game.
On the kickoff, the Titans knew they needed to gain a ton of yards to at least put themselves in field goal position. They unleashed a special teams play called “Home Run Throwback,” and got more than just the yards they needed. They got a controversial touchdown.
2. New Orleans Saints lose to Jacksonville Jaguars – 2003
The touchdown is supposed to be the hard part, not the extra point. In this regular season game in 2003, the Saints needed a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. Down 20-13 with just seven seconds left, the Saints needed some magic.
Now called the “River City Relay,” this was one of the most heartbreaking moments I can remember watching, and I’m not even a Saints fan. At least the loss did not cost the Saints a playoff spot, as they could only have ended with nine wins, but all NFC playoff teams had 10 or more wins.
1. Cal defeats Stanford – 1982
“The Band Is On The Field!!” That’s when you know the game is over, right? Well, not so fast. This 1982 classic rivalry game is easily one of college football’s most controversial endings. The two teams had a long-standing football rivalry, as the 1982 game was the 85th annual “Big Game,” as it was known.
Stanford took a 20-19 lead with just eight seconds remaining, and kicked off with four seconds left. California’s Golden Bears had to score on the kickoff, or time would expire. Stanford kicked a “Squib” kick, which is a bouncing, rolling kickoff meant to be harder to catch and allow the defense to catch up and tackle the receiver more easily.
Well, it didn’t exactly work out that way. Everyone thought Cal was done, including Stanford’s band and bench players. But the Bears did not quit, and pulled off the most unbelievable finish in football history.
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