As a die hard sports fan, this has been one hell of a decade for football fans of the NFL and College football. Some of the most dramatic finishes of all-time occurred in the last 10 years which is why I have complied my list of the Top 10 NFL & College games of the 2000’s.
#10. 2007: Div 1-AA Appalachian State upsets then #5 Michigan 34-32 on a last second blocked field by the Mountaineers.
#9 2002: Patriots defeat Raiders 16 to 13 in OT in the AFC Divisional Round in the game that will infamously be known for the Tuck Rule. Patriots QB Tom Brady was sacked and apparently fumbled the ball, but instead was ruled that he tucked the ball and ruled it an incomplete pass even though he never threw the ball. A fumble recovery by the Raiders would have given them the game, but instead the Patriots went on to win the game and the first of three Super Bowls this decade.
#8 2000: A game that will forever be known as the Music City Miracle, the Tennessee Titans fell behind the Buffalo Bills 16-15 with only 16 seconds left. The game was seemingly over and all that remained was a kickoff. The ball bounced to TE Frank Wycheck who advanced forward, planted, and darted the ball across the field, backwards by about 6 inches to WR Kevin Dyson. Dyson caught the ball and with an escort to the end zone, scored an unbelievable touchdown to give the Titans a 22-16 victory and advance them to the Superbowl where they will show up later on in this article.
#7 2008: In a battle of the unbeatens, #7 Texas Tech battled #1 Texas late in the season in a huge Big 12 match up. Texas went up 33-32 late in the game and after a long drive to the 28 yard line, QB Graham Harrell threw a perfect pass to star WR Michael Crabtree who shrugged off two Texas defenders to score a miraculous TD with 1 second left and give Texas Tech a 39 to 33 victory.
#6 2000: The Titans managed to make this list 2 times in the same season. Unfortunately for them, Kevin Dyson is on the short end of this effort. After the Music City Miracle only 3 weeks prior, the Titans found themselves in the Superbowl against Kurt Warner’s St Louis Rams and the greatest show on turf. With 6 seconds left and the ball at the 10 yard line, the Titans needed a score to tie the game and force overtime. QB Steve McNair (RIP) hit WR Kevin Dyson who caught the ball but was tackled 1 yard short by Mike Jones, subsequently giving the Rams the Superbowl by a score of 23-16.
#5 2003: The National Championship game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and Miami Hurricanes wasn’t even suppose to be a game. The Buckeyes were double digit underdogs and for a whole month everyone said OSU didn’t have a chance and basically shouldn’t show up for the game. The Buckeyes came out the gate on fire and took an early lead. The game went back and forth and eventually went into 2 OT’s. A controversial play on a 4th down in OT occurred with WR Chris Gamble got interfered with on an incomplete 4th down pass, giving the Buckeyes another shot and after a huge defensive stand, their first National Championship since the 1960’s by a score of 31 to 24.
#4 2008: The undefeated New England Patriots came into the Superbowl looking to be the first team to ever go 19-0. There was one problem no one ever thought could get in their way: little known WR David Tyree. While trailing 14-10 late in the 4th quarter, QB Eli Manning escaped about 4 sacks and heaved a ball down field where WR David Tyree caught the ball on his helmet with S Rodney Harrison all over him. This huge conversion lead to a Manning to Burress game winning touchdown, and one of the biggest upsets in Superbowl history with the Giants beating the Patriots 17 to 14.
#3 2006: In a matchup for the ages, #1 USC took on #2 Texas in the National Championship. The game went back and forth for 4 quarters and late in the 4th, Texas stopped the Trojans on a 4th and short to get the ball back with 2:09 remaining and trailing 38 to 33. With multiple key conversions, Texas found themselves at the 9 yard line facing 4th and 5. Young took the shotgun snap, and with all the receivers covered, took off running to the corner of the end zone scoring his 3rd rushing touchdown of the game. A 2 point conversion later, and only 8 seconds left, the USC drive went no where and Texas pulled off an amazing comeback to win the National Championship by a score of 41 to 38.
#2 2007: A classic David vs Goliath match up in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl had the Oklahoma Sooners against the Boise St Broncos. After Boise State came out and took a stunning 28 to 10 lead, they did everything they could to blow the lead until they found themselves down 35 to 28. With 18 seconds left and a play that seemed to only work on video games, QB Jared Zabransky threw a ball to a receiver running a deep in route who then flipped the ball backwards to a receiver on a dead sprint in the other direction. The hook and ladder worked to perfection giving Boise St a touchdown to tie the game and send it to OT. In OT, Oklahoma scored a touchdown to go up 42 to 35 and after a Boise St touchdown to make it 42 to 41, coach Chris Petersen called another play only fitting for a video game. Zabransky faked right, and pulled the old Statue of Liberty play out and RB Ian Johnson grabbed the ball and scored the 2 point conversion giving Boise State a stunning 43 to 42 victory in the Fiesta Bowl. After the game in a post game interview, Ian Johnson proposed to his cheerleader girlfriend ending a game that will be remembered forever.
#1: 2009 In a close contest, I’ve decided to give my boys the benefit of the doubt and the #1 play of the decade. Hate them or not, it is hard not to argue that this Superbowl was one of the best of all time. The heavily favored Pittsburgh Steelers jumped out to an early lead but right before half the Arizona Cardinals were threatening to score a go ahead touchdown. With the ball on the 1 yard line and 18 seconds left, QB Kurt Warner tried to sneak a slant route to WR Anquan Boldin that Steelers LB James Harrison stepped in front of and took 100 yards back for a touchdown and the longest play in Superbowl history. The Steelers went to halftime leading 17 to 7 but this game was far from over. After a FG by the Steelers and a touchdown by Arizona, the Cards got the game to 20 to 14. A holding in the endzone gave Arizona a safety and 2 plays later, Warner hit slanting all world WR Larry Fitzgerald for the go ahead touchdown with 2:37 left and a 23 to 20 lead. QB Ben Roethlisberger took over with 78 yards to go and a Superbowl trophy on the line. After a few key conversions, Big Ben got the ball to Santonio Holmes who broke past a defender advancing the ball to the 6 yard line. The next play Big Ben threw a perfect pass to Santonio Holmes that went right through his hands. With 35 seconds left, Roethlisberger looked right and left and right again and threw the best pass of his career to tripled covered Santonio Holmes in the corner of the endzone for a go ahead touchdown. After a sack and fumble recovered by the Steelers, they went on to win their NFL record 6th Superbowl and Big Ben and Superbowl MVP Santonio Holmes left us arguably the best ending to a game in the 2000’s decade.