Over the past 100 years or so, the National Football League has given us everything that a sports fan needs. Whether it’s been moments of shock or elation, or incredible displays of athleticism and technique, rarely a season has passed that hasn’t left an impression.
The 20th century gave us iconic moments like the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson, single-handedly originating the Super Bowl halftime extravaganzas we’re so used to now. But what have been the most memorable moments of the 21st century? As the decade draws to a close, it’s time to find out!
Super Bowl 43
Many consider Super Bowl 43, contested between the Steelers (27) and the Cardinals (23), as the greatest Super Bowl of all time. Even though we don’t completely agree with that statement, this clash is certainly up there as one of the best NFL moments of the 21st century. Each of its four quarters were as thrilling as the last, what with James Harrison’s 100 yard TD and Larry Fitzgerald’s 64 yard TD. And let’s not forget Ben Roethlisberger’s historic drive that transported him to elite level.
Patriots vs. Raiders 2002 AFC playoffs
Currently pipped as favourites to win the Super Bowl LIV, the New England Patriots are used to making history so it should come as no surprise to see this game on the list. Taking place midwinter and mid-snowstorm, this divisional game brought into play a truly obscure rule. With just 2 minutes left to play, Charles Woodson sacked Tom Brady and knocked the ball out of his hands, with the Raiders jumping to recover it quickly. However, the refs actually returned the ball to the Patriots when a rule was introduced that Brady’s arm had been moving forward when the ball got knocked out. If that wasn’t enough, Adam Vinatieri then gave us two clutch kicks – the most ever played in the snow.
Aaron Rodgers’ Hail Mary
On December 3rd 2015, the Packers were trailing behind the Detroit Lions in the NFC North divisional. They needed a miracle to take the win, and Aaron Rodgers more than delivered. He launched the Hail Mary pass of all Hail Mary passes: a 61-yard pass right the way to the end zone, neatly delivering the ball into the hands of tight end Richard Rodgers. The Packers ended the game a victorious 27-23.
Super Bowl 33
Not all of the moments we best remember from the past decade have been celebratory ones, and Super Bowl 33 delivered one of the most heartbreaking. During 2003, the Carolina Panthers experienced one of the worst losses of all time, going from a lead on two-time champs the Patriots, to losing it, tying and losing it again all within the space of three minutes.
David Tyree catch
The Super Bowl era has given us some lucky and unlikely plays, but none of them come close to David Tyree’s legendary helmet catch. During the 2008 finals, the Giants were trailing 14-10 behind the Patriots and, with 60 seconds left in the game, everything was at stake. Manning heroically got the ball to midfield, whereupon Tyree miraculously caught it against the side of his helmet, securing a 32 yard catch in the process. All that was left was for Eli to pull-off that 13-yard touchdown and the greatest drive in the history of the sport was made.