Rich 10 NFL Moments of the 2010s

10. Odell Beckham Jr. makes insane catch(Nov. 23, 2014)- Sadie Thompson

Coming in at tenth for the NFL top ten greatest moments of the decade has to be the Catch of the Year from 2014. The famous catch was from previous Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., in a one on one match up against the previous cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys, Brandon Carr. The catch was and is arguably the best catch ever in NFL history. The play was on a first and ten from mid field and the Giants were up 7- 3 at the start of the second quarter against divisional contenders. Eli Manning just sends a bomb deep to Beckham Jr. in the end zone for what looked to be an attempt to either draw a hopeful defensive pass interference or get a miracle catch from OBJ. The craziest part of the play was that there was a flag for a DPI from Carr and Beckham Jr. threw one hand up and completely lays out his body in the air and snags the football for an obvious catch for a touchdown.

This catch almost literally broke the internet. Videos and GIFs of the catch were all over twitter and social media for weeks. The catch brought attention to OBJ and proved to the Giants and the rest of the league that he was a smart draft pick for the Giants and was just beginning his climb to success and fame. In 2014 he was as a rookie out of LSU and after the catch and successful season he was crowned Offensive Rookie of the Year and has broken several receiving records throughout his current career in the NFL.

The Cowboys went to win the NFC East and the Giants got third under the Eagles which is the same place the Giants finished for another year. In 2016, the Giants finished second in the NFC East and lost to the Packers in the playoffs. Beckham saw more success in New York but has since moved to Baker Mayfield and the Browns. Beckham’s crazy catch inspired several wide receivers in the league to go for the miracle catches and there have been some catches that resemble what Beckham did in 2014.

9. Richard Sherman eliminates San Francisco(Jan. 19, 2014)- Sean Clark 

In 2012, the Seattle Seahawks had a breakout season after years of losing with a 12-4 record and reached the playoffs with a young but ferocious defense and a rookie Russell Wilson. The Seahawks beat the Washington Redskins 24-14 in the Wild Card Round before losing 30-28 to the Atlanta Falcons in the Divisional Playoff Round. At the same time, the San Francisco 49ers, coming off an NFC Championship Game the previous season, reached the Super Bowl with emerging dual threat star Colin Kaepernick. They narrowly lost, but their future was bright, as was the case with their divisional rivals, the Seahawks. 

In 2013, the two split their regular season matchups, and would meet in Seattle for a third time in the NFC Championship Game. It was a battle of two young teams with dual threat quarterbacks and elite defenses. It was a back and forth battle that led to a legendary moment. The 49ers trailing 23-17 with under two minutes to go and the 49ers were driving for a chance to reach their second straight Super Bowl appearance. While at the Seattle 18 yard line with 25 seconds left, Kaepernick looked for his number one receiver Michael Crabtree in the corner of the endzone, but all-pro corner Richard Sherman was there to bat it into the arms of linebacker Malcolm Smith to send Seattle to their second Super Bowl in franchise history. 

The Seahawks won, and Richard Sherman would then go on to have one of the most famous postgame interviews in NFL History. “Well I’m the best corner in the game. If you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you’re gonna get.” It was an unforgettable moment and it was the climax of an epic rivalry between the two teams. The Seahawks would win their first Super Bowl two weeks later and Colin Kapernick would regress after that game into an average quarterback that would become more famous for his protests than his magical Super Bowl run the previous season.

8. Philly Special(Feb. 4, 2018)- Sadie Thompson

The Philly Special. One of the most magical moments in NFL history. A huge factor into how the Philadelphia Eagles were able to win Super Bowl LII, their first in franchise history. Before we get into that, we have to talk about the situation the Eagles were in. The starting quarterback for the Eagles Carson Wentz, tore his ACL in week 14 after leading the team to a 11-2 record. So, the team was led through the playoffs with victories as underdogs over the sixth-seeded Atlanta Falcons and second-seeded Minnesota Vikings and a Super Bowl matchup against the Patriots with their backup quarterback Nick Foles. 

Doug Pederson, head coach for the Eagles was often scrutinized from his play calling and coaching skills. However, in this instance, fourth down thirty seconds left in the first half with a fourth and goal he calls the Philly Special. The Philly Special is when the center directly snaps the ball to the running back who then shuttle passes it to a receiver who then throws it to the quarterback who is now an eligible receiver. On this particular play, running back Corey Clement took the snap, pitched it to tight end Trey Burton and threw it to a wide open Nick Foles for a huge touchdown. This play took the lead from 15-12 to 22-12 coming out of halftime and this was huge. While the Patriots did take the lead at one point 33-32, the Philly Special was still the vital play of the game. If the Eagles do not convert that fourth down, the Patriots would have headed to halftime with more momentum and would have had a bigger lead in the fourth quarter. But the Eagles scored and had momentum heading into the second half. 

The Eagles ended up with a 41-33 victory, thanks in large part to the most famous trick play in Super Bowl history. It gave the Eagles a boost that led them to their first ever Super Bowl championship. The game was a classic, as we saw the highest combined total offense of any game in NFL history in the Super Bowl, and the Philly Special was the signature play of their historic win. 

7. Von Miller wrecks Cam Newton in Super Bowl 50(Feb. 7, 2016)- Sadie Thompson

Von Miller is an absolute beast and can also be known as the heartbeat of the Denver Broncos defense. One of the most famous plays from the outside linebacker has to be from the 50th Super Bowl in 2016. The Broncos, lead by Peyton Manning and Von Miller’s first strip sack, scored early in the game leading the Panthers 10-0 in the first quarter. The thing that I remember most when watching the game was watching the MVP, Cam Newton, absolutely break under the Broncos defense and the pressure that came from the Broncos offense scoring. This specific play at the end of the game was just the nail in the coffin for Newton’s career as he has never played the same since.

Early in the game, Miller had a strip sack that was recovered in the endzone for six. After finishing the season 15-1 and absolutely destroying the Cardinals in the NFC championship, the dabbing, overly confident quarterback fell and ultimately lost 24-10. After Miller’s stellar performance in the Super Bowl he was awarded Super Bowl MVP.

Denver’s defense was high pressure and in Newton’s face all night getting seven sacks and forced four turnovers bringing the dominant Panthers offense to multiple stops. The defining moment was with 4:10 to go and the Broncos up 16-10, Von Miller went on to strip the football from Newton deep in Panthers’ territory and TJ Ward recovered the ball to set up the game-clinching touchdown. The talk that came about the play was that Newton didn’t fall on the ball and basically gave up. The commentators absolutely tore into Newton after the replays were coming on the screen because you actually see Newton decide not to fall on the ball or attempt to get it he rather fell away from it. This would cause Newton to lose his swagger and he is now on his way out of Carolina after three subpar seasons and a season-ending injury. The Broncos won the Super Bowl and it was the last game legend Peyton Manning ever played in. 

6. Mile High Miracle(Jan. 12, 2013) – Sean Clark

NFL fans were treated one of the greatest games in the 100-year history of the NFL. The Denver Broncos, who were 13-3 and led by first-year Bronco Peyton Manning, hosted Joe Flacco, Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens. It was an incredible game. Trindon Holiday returned a punt and a kickoff for a touchdown for the Broncos, Flacco had two 40-yard plus touchdowns to Torrey Smith in the first half, and Manning threw a pick six. 

The Broncos showed why they were the AFC’s top seed, and led 35-28 with 41 seconds to go in the game. The Ravens had no timeouts, were at their own 30 yard line and faced a third and three. What happened next was madness. Flacco stepped up in the pocket and launched a prayer for Jacoby Jones. Broncos’ safety misjudged the ball and it fell into the hands of Jones  and he then ran into the endzone for a game-tying 70 yard touchdown to tie the game. It was unbelievable and the game was sent into overtime. 

The Ravens would win 38-35 in double overtime and would win the Super Bowl by beating San Francisco 34-31. It was a thrilling game that give fans a little bit of everything and with the shocking moment of the game-tying touchdown, it provided a moment that will go down in history as one of the greatest. 

5. Beast Quake(Jan. 8, 2011)- Sadie Thompson

For moment number five, I am going all the way back to the NFC Wild Card game in 2011. This year really helped the Seattle Seahawks emerge into the team they have become today and helps remember the intimidating Legion of Boom Seattle defense birth as well as several strong pieces to what would eventually grow into a powerhouse team. With what seemed would be a pretty easy win for the Drew Brees and the Saints turned out to not be as easy as expected. In late November, the Seahawks traveled to New Orleans and and lost 34-19 but the story was different in January.

With all the odds stacked against the Seattle Seahawks, first year head coach in Pete Carroll going up against the reigning Super Bowl champions in the first round of the playoffs and having a losing record so confidence isn’t very high and they would prevail! I mean wow, just wow. They somehow prevailed and won 41-36. The first half seemed to be all about the Saints but the roles definitely reversed in the second half and Sean Payton couldn’t keep up.

Matt Hasselbeck also threw a pick six early in the game to get the momentum started for the Saints and stunt and to start pulling away from the Seahawks. This game was so entertaining because there were so many big plays and it was so back and forth. This game was also the game where one of the best runs in history took place by the man of few words, Marshawn Lynch. The run was absolutely amazing and one that will definitely be played in the highlight tapes for many years. Need someone to give the ball to in crunch time? Beast Mode. Where was this in Super Bowl 49? We all don’t know. With the Seahawks up 34-30 with three and a half minutes to go in the game, Lynch got the ball and delivered an epic 67-yard run and score. He broke six tackles on his way to the endzone, including a Lynch stiff-arm on Tracy Porter so hard as soon as Lynch’s hand made contact with his helmet, he nearly flew five yards away. Just greatness with a score to top it off and then to win in Seattle in an NFC Wild Card game. While the Seahawks would lose the next week at Chicago, the run itself was one of the most incredible we have ever seen. 

4. Larry Fitzgerald overcomes Aaron Rodgers’ Hail Mary to Defeat the Packers(Jan. 16, 2016)- Sadie Thompson

This is one of my most memorable Arizona Cardinals games from watching as a little girl. My first memories of the Cardinals was during Kurt Warner’s reign but it was exciting to see the Cardinals have some success after he retired. The game I’m talking about is the Divisional Playoff game in 2015 with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers against Carson Palmer and the Cardinals. I remember it so well because the game was in Arizona and Larry Fitzgerald kept waving his arms attempting to get the crowd hyped up from his monster plays. 

I love to see great quarterbacks and teams fall to a team that wants to win more and I think this game was just that. There can be some arguments about how injuries and certain mistakes could be the reason of the outcome but the game went how it went. Randall Cobb, the star receiver on the Packers, was out of the game early due to a bruised lung. It happened on a very unfortunate play too because Cobb caught the football, but with offsetting fouls, the play was called back. This is when Palmer and Bruce Arians were cooking up something special and Palmer was getting the ball to his very competent receivers. There was some miscommunication and jitters from Palmer because he hadn’t been in a playoff game since 2009, but there were still some amazing plays. With very risky passes and several almost interceptions Palmer walked away with throwing two interceptions in the game.

The play that absolutely made my heart drop was when Rodgers sent a Hail Mary into the end zone with no time on the clock and it was caught to tie and finish the game at 20-20. Luck was hopefully about to change because the Cardinals ended up winning the coin toss to receive the ball first in overtime. The best play of the game happened shortly after that when Palmer threw the football to number eleven near the sideline. Fitzgerald then ran it all the way to the five-yard line for a 75-yard catch and run that saw him weave through the entire Packers’ defense. Two plays later, Palmer threw an easy shovel pass to Fitzgerald and he ran it into the end zone and the Cardinals won 26-20 in overtime. The Cardinals’ first playoff win since 2009 and against the dominant Green Bay Packers and it was in thrilling fashion. For Fitzgerald to have that long catch and run after the shocking Hail Mary by Rodgers made this an unbelievable game to watch. 

3. 28-3 Comeback in Super Bowl 51(Feb. 5, 2017)- Sean Clark

28-3. The mere mention of that score evokes memories of one of the greatest Super Bowls of all time and one of the greatest collapses we have seen in sports. Let’s set it up. 

The Atlanta Falcons entered Super Bowl LI on a six-game winning streak and were blazing hot with league MVP Matt Ryan leading the way and under the guidance of offensive mastermind Kyle Shanahan. The Falcons dominated the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers to reach the Super Bowl. They would take on the New England Patriots, who dominated the AFC despite having to deal with a four-game suspension of their legendary quarterback Tom Brady. 

The Falcons were looking to win their first Super Bowl and make a statement that they are the new team to beat in the NFL. The Falcons did make such a statement through the first 40 minutes of the game as they jumped out to a huge 28-3 lead. The game and the Lombardi Trophy looked all but officially theirs. But then the Patriots fought back. They scored a touchdown a field goal to cut the deficit to 16. Then, Donta Hightower came on a blitz and forced a fumble on Matt Ryan and recovered deep in Falcon territory. They promptly scored to cut the deficit to eight points. 

Then, the Falcons blew a golden opportunity. After a spectacular catch by Julio Jones, the Falcons were in field goal range with less than four minutes to go and in position to ice the game. But a sack, a holding penalty and  incomplete pass later, the Falcons were forced to punt. Then, Julian Edelman made an incredible catch in traffic with brilliant concentration to spark a game-tying touchdown drive that sent the game into overtime. Then in overtime, the Patriots got the ball and marched right down the field. Running Back James White would run it into the endzone from the two yard line to cap off an incredible comeback and a 34-28 Super Bowl victory. 

Coming back from a 25-point deficit in any football game is impressive. But to do it with only 17 minutes left in the game in THE SUPER BOWL is on another level. The comeback will forever live in the halls of NFL lore and it was an unforgettable experience for America to witness. 

2. Minneapolis Miracle(Jan. 14, 2018)- Sean Clark

Trivia question. What is the only walk-off regulation question in NFL postseason history? The answer is the Minneapolis Miracle that took place on January 14, 2018. The New Orleans Saints, coming off a thrilling 31-26 victory over the Carolina Panthers, headed to US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis for a Divisional Round matchup with the 13-3 Minnesota Vikings. It was the location of that year’s Super Bowl (see moment number eight) and it was the first playoff game played in that stadium. 

The first half did not set up a possible thrilling finish as the Vikings’ cruised to a 17-0 halftime lead as the Vikings’ defense suffocated the Saints offense. But things changed in the second half as Drew Brees found a rhythm. Brees hit Michael Thomas with two touchdowns, and then hit Alvin Kamara with a go-ahead touchdown (set up by a blocked punt) with three minutes to go to give the Saints a 21-20 lead. Then, after a crazy catch by Vikings’ receiver Adam Thielen, kicker Kai Forbath nailed a 53-yard field goal to give the Vikings a 23-21 lead with 90 seconds left. Then, Brees showed why he is a top 10 all-time quarterback and converted a fourth and ten and kicker Will Lutz drilled a 43-yard field goal to put the Saints back on top 24-23. 

With 10 seconds left, the Vikings were faced with a second and 10 at their own 39-yard line with no timeouts. The only hope the Vikings seemed to have was to complete a long pass out of bounds to set up a game-tying field goal attempt. But what happened instead was nothing anyone was expecting. Case Keenum threw a pass to the Saints’ 34-yard line to wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Saints’ safety Marcus Williams whiffed on the tackle and Diggs had no one in front of him and ran the Minnesota Vikings into the NFC Championship Game. The crowd went crazy, America went crazy and the Vikings won 29-24.

Once again, it was the only walk-off regulation touchdown in postseason history and for that play to happen in that scenario is nothing that anyone had ever seen before. For a Vikings’ franchise that had dramatic plays in postseason go against them, it was an incredible experience for Vikings fans everywhere. Even though Minnesota would get crushed the following week at Philadelphia, it was an unforgettable moment in the history of the Minnesota Vikings. 

1. Malcolm Butler Interception Seals Patriots’ win over the Seahawks in Super Bowl 49(Feb. 1, 2015)- Sean Clark

Instead of describing the moment objectively like I have for the previous entries, for this one, I am going to tell the story of myself watching the play that tops this list and the moments leading up to it. 

I am a die-hard New England Patriots’ fan, going back as far as 2004, although I started watching full-time during the 2005 season. The Patriots in between 2005-2013, made the playoffs every year except 2008, And in each postseason, the Patriots failed to win the Super Bowl, losing in the big game in 2007 and 2011 in heart-breaking fashion to the New York Giants. Those two losses incredibly stung, and all I wanted was one Super Bowl championship. Heading into the 2014 season, prospects looked very promising as they picked up shutdown corner Darrelle Revis and had a healthy Rob Gronkowski. 

The Patriots had to survive two 14-point deficits against the Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional Playoff Round and win 35-31 in a game that scared me a lot. After a demolition of the Colts in the AFC Championship Game that was clouded by the Deflatgate controversy, the Patriots entered Super Bowl 49 against the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. I felt very confident the Patriots would win, but at the same time, felt very nervous. 

The game was nerve-racking to watch as the teams traded blows in the first half and it was tied at 14 at halftime. Then, my nerves really skyrocketed as the Seahawks held a 10-point lead early in the fourth quarter. Even though I was watching it with family, I barely said a word to them the entire game as I was too nervous to talk. 

Then, Brady led a picture perfect drive and threw his third touchdown pass with 12:10 left in the game to cut the deficit 24-21. After a Seahawks’ three-and-out, the Patriots got possession. After another perfect drive, the Patriots took the lead 28-24 with 2:02 left. I was upset, however, as they left plenty of time for Seattle and I was scared the Patriots were going to give up another late touchdown drive as they did in their two losses to the Giants. 

While I laid on the couch a nervous wreck, the Seahawks drove to the Patriots’ 38-yard line with a little over a minute left. Russell Wilson threw a deep pass to Jermain Kearse, which was deflected and appeared to fall incomplete. But Kearse got up and ran out of bounds at the five-yard. Through replay, we saw it was a catch and I screamed in disbelief. The Giants had beaten the Patriots with incredible catches on their final drives and it was happening again. I was sick to my stomach. It was happening again. Now, I was hoping Seattle would score quickly  so the Patriots could get the ball back with a minute to go so they would have time to tie the game. 

Now, I waited for the inevitable Seahawks score. On first and goal, Marshawn Lynch got the ball and was tackled by Akeem Ayers at the one-yard line. I was screaming for a timeout to stop the clock, but the Patriots did not. I was deflated (pun intended) and ready to concede defeat. Then, Wilson stepped back to pass. When he did, a quick thought came to mind, the Patriots intercepted Ryan Fitzpatrick at the goal line on a late drive back in 2011 to seal the victory against the Bills. 

Then, the pass was INTERCEPTED and I absolutely lost my mind. Malcolm Butler stepped in front of Russell Wilson’s pass at the goal line and the Patriots won! I was more elated in that moment than at any moment in my life and the Patriots had won in the most heart-pounding and thrilling fashion imaginable.

It tops this list as it was the most unexpected moment I can remember in sports history and the Seahawks were never the same after that. The Legion of Boom lost their swagger after that as they were always upset with Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson for that play. The Seahawks has not returned to the Super Bowl since and the Patriots have won another two Super Bowls since.

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