With the NFL celebrating its 100th season they’ve really ramped up the list game. The only problem with the list game is it’s impossible to get right. I don’t care how many people you have vote on it, they’ll fuck it up. Because people are idiots. Not some of them, all of them. The inconsistencies on this list are what confuse me the most. There’s a massive slant towards plays from teams that won their respective games, which is somewhat understandable for the majority of the list. But, for example, the Julio Jones catch against the Patriots.
Matt Ryan will never throw a better pass than this. That’s not even a knock on Matty Ice, few people in the history of arms and pigs have thrown a better ball than he did on this play. And Julio getting two feet down in bounds remains one of the more insane things I’ve ever witnessed. What bothers me about this list is that if the Falcons didn’t shit their pants the rest of the game they would take the Edelman catch off this top 100 and replace it with this catch. Why? It’s not Julio’s fault the Falcons lost that game. Just like it wasn’t Devin Hester’s fault the Bears lost to the Colts.
If the rest of the Bears show up for this Super Bowl there’s no way this kickoff return misses the list. But because the Colts won the game it takes away from how spectacular Devin Hester’s Super Bowl opening kickoff return for a touchdown was? Bullshit. The Buttfumble was hysterical, there’s no way that was one of the 100 greatest plays football has ever seen. It certainly wasn’t better than Hester housing the kickoff that everyone in the world “called” before it happened.
With all that being said, let’s parse through this top 10 and see what they got right, if anything at all.
10. The Philly Special
0/1. 10? You think there were NINE better plays than this in history? Not a chance. While you can’t point to this specific play and say that it won the Eagles the Super Bowl, you can point to it as the moment in this game the Eagles knew they were going to win. And considering there are plays ahead of this that not only didn’t even happen IN Super Bowls, but also didn’t directly lead to victories either it’s garbage to have it this low. And I say that as a Patriots fan.
9. Minnesota Miracle
I don’t have a huge problem with this. I could see the argument against it being recency bias… But really the only argument against it is recency bias. I don’t think time is going to work against the absurdity which was this walk-off touchdown. Worst attempted hit stick ever. How the Vikings didn’t ride the momentum of this dub all the way to a Lombardi remains the only good counterpoint against momentum I’ve ever seen.
8. The Ice Bowl
Look me in the goddamn face and honestly tell me this one yard rush was a better play than this.
I know Marshawn’s run fell just outside of the top 10, so it isn’t a wild snub. But this is where I don’t understand the full criteria of the list. If it’s the 100 Greatest Plays of all time there’s no debate that Marshawn’s run was better than Bart Starr falling forward. If the debate weighs importance of the game that much more heavily than the play itself, then sure. Bart Starr’s game-winning run against the Cowboys is definitely a better play than a Seahawks’ running back scoring a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in the first round. But, based on how the rest of this list played out, I know that’s not true. Marshawn’s run was so good it caused an earthquake because people were going so ape shit that the actual planet shook.
7. The Immaculate Interception
Incredible play. Certainly an all time moment. Extremely pivotal turning point in this game. But hold on, let’s check on number six real quick.
6. Tony Two Tap
You’re going to tell me that TWO of the SEVEN best plays in NFL HISTORY took place in the Steelers-Cardinals Super Bowl? If that’s truly the case then the NFL is indirectly calling it the greatest game ever played. It has to be, no other game produced multiple top SEVEN plays in the history of pro football. The Holmes catch absolutely deserves to be this high. I’d even argue it should be higher. It directly won the Steelers a Super Bowl. I have no idea how Ben got that ball to Santonio, I’ll never understand how Santonio got both his feet down. I’ll never understand how I watched this entire game and didn’t realize I was watching the greatest game ever played, either.
5. The Butler Did It
This is insultingly low. FIFTH? Even if Butler just breaks up the pass, the Seahawks remember they have MARSHAWN LYNCH on their roster and run it into the end zone seconds later, win their second Super Bowl and who knows what happens from there. Their locker room probably doesn’t revolt against Pete Carroll and second guess every decision made the next six years, maybe they even win another Lombardi. Who knows what happens if Brandon Browner and Malcolm Butler don’t perfectly execute their responsibilities on this play and pick off the most ill-timed playcall in NFL history. Again, if the list criteria weighs the importance of the game, the timing of the play in said game, and whether or not that play directly led to a victory I don’t see an argument for having more than two plays ahead of it. The NFL disagrees. Sick list.
4. Music City Miracle
A perfect example of what I’m talking about. What is this list? Is it just the play being cool as hell? Is it the importance of the game? The Music City Miracle is one of those moments that would have been incredible to live through with Twitter. This Titans team was the only cool Titans team in NFL history, and yet this play wasn’t even the most impressive play they were involved with that MONTH.
Again, this list seems to pick and choose what is important. Some plays just the fact that they took place during the Super Bowl is what raises their importance. Others, like the Mike Jones SUPER BOWL WINNING TACKLE, apparently not. Don’t get me wrong, the 11th best play of all time is nothing to snuff at. But it literally won the Rams that Super Bowl. And by “literally” I mean the clock expired while Kevin Dyson was laying helpless on the ground and confetti cannons were shooting off into the night sky. I have no problem admitting that the Music City Miracle was cool as hell. One of my earliest football memories that really got me into the sport. But there’s no way that you can convince me that beating the Bills in the playoffs is more impressive than a Super Bowl winning open field tackle as the clock expires. In fact I’d argue it’s more pathetic than impressive that the Titans needed to resort to such theatrics just to beat the Bills in January.
3. The Helmet Catch
I have no recollection of this play. This is actually the first time I’m seeing it. Feels like potentially doctored footage. Photoshop is crazy these days. Ever since AVATAR you’ve really been able to do anything with a computer.
No, but seriously, this is where I admit it’s truly impossible to make this list. Because I’ve always argued that the Mario Manningham pitch and catch was a better *play* than the Helmet Catch.
Eli never threw a better pass in his life than he did to Mario Manningham with the season on the line. Mario Manningham never made a better catch in his life than he did in this moment. And as I write this I still believe that. However, the Patriots weren’t 18-0. Brady wasn’t undefeated in Super Bowls in this game. He had already lost to Eli. This was a familiar pain, but the second knife to the chest doesn’t hurt as much as the first. We’re still thinking about that first knife today. Which is why the Helmet Catch is entirely too low on this list. No, it wasn’t a touchdown. Big fuckin’ whoop. I can’t imagine caring less about it being a touchdown or not. Eli broke free of every defensive lineman in Patriots history before locating David Tyree, a man who never played football prior to or since this game, and made the single greatest play in football history. The Patriots were mere minutes away from 19-0, and this play erased that from history forever. Rodney Harrison played this pass perfectly, didn’t matter. I still haven’t forgiven Asante Samuel. Goddammit, man.
2. The Catch
Whatever dude. I cannot believe Eli made that throw. Who the fuck is David Tyree? Why was Plaxico Burress single covered in the red zone with a 5’2″ cornerback???
1. The Immaculate Reception
I’ll never understand how this play was physically possible. What a perfectly timed hit from the safety just for it to not matter at fucking all. Was it a catch? Who cares. Franco Harris played it off so smoothly that he deserves the touchdown. The all time, and I very much mean ALL TIME, right place right time moment not just in football history, not just in sports history, in history history. No one has ever been in a better place at a better time than Franco was on this play. While a lot of these plays led directly to a Super Bowl victory, this kicked off a dynasty. Four titles in six years does not happen without this play, and for that it has to be number one. They may have got 2-100 wrong, but they absolutely crushed #1. Maybe. Fucking Eli, man.
I can’t just bash the NFL’s Top 100 and not give my own ranking, so the correct Top Five is:
5. The Santonio Holmes Catch
4. The Malcolm Butler Interception
3. That Time Aqib Talib Ripped Off Michael Crabtree’s Chain. No, Not That Time The Other Time
2. The Helmet Catch
1. The Immaculate Reception
See, not that hard. You’re welcome, everybody.