Thursday, September 1, 2011

Five to Remember

Today's post in my Football Week 2011 series is guest written by another blogging and social media "maven" pal, Susan, a featured writer on

With the National Football and College Football season about to kick off, I thought it might be fun to look back on 5 plays (ok 4 plays and one game) that stick out from my lifetime of watching football. Are these the “5 Best Plays in NFL History”? No. I haven’t been alive nor watched every single game in history. And there are the obvious like the Immaculate Reception (again I wasn’t alive then), or Bill Parcels announcing that he’d like to buy the groceries AND cook dinner (but that isn’t on the field antics, now is it?) that aren’t here. This isn’t a look back on the NFL’s history, as much as a reflection of my history with the NFL. Times when I can honestly (in no particular order), “I remember where I was when…” and what I said. In some cases, I can remember what I threw at the TV.

Leon Lett Thanksgiving and Super Bowl Mishaps – 1993
Oh Leon Lett, will anyone ever forget. Truly it isn’t just the fact that my grandmother knew that you DON’T TOUCH THE BALL. It isn’t that everyone on the Cowboys was yelling to make sure no one touched the ball. It was that Lett not only touched the ball, but then topped touching the ball with his epic fail in the Super Bowl.

Seriously? After what happened during the regular season, you would think someone would have more brains then to try and dance into the end zone, ball hanging down like it was just a sack of groceries. No. Not Lett. He did just that and the Buffalo Bills made him pay. In spades.

Did you laugh? Cry? Or maybe you laughed and cried for Lett? If you were a Cowboys fan, maybe you laughed at Thanksgiving. I’m sure by the Super Bowl, the ability to hold out compassion or see the humorous side to all of it was no longer possible. However, for many of us (myself, an admitted Niners fan, included) it was pure comedy on a very national stage. It is also proof of the human condition. We all have the ability to fail and get up and then follow through when stupidity knocks on the door.

Steve Young trips up and comes up big with Terrell Owens –1998
Before the sharpie. There were plays like these. And again proof that the prevent defense does nothing but prevent a team from winning. The Packers had become the proverbial monkey on the back of the Niners. Coming into the NFC Wild Card game in 1998 the Packers were riding a 11-5 record and ready to roll straight through to the Super Bowl. However, down by four and with just under two minutes to go the Niners started a nine play, 76 yard drive that declared, “You Shall Not Pass”.

Then it happened. With just under ten seconds to play, the ball was snapped. Steve Young trips on the drop back, everyone’s hearts plunge to their stomach and then he regains his footing, finding Terrell Owens in the endzone. Mind you Owens was having the type of game that players have nightmares about, but he didn’t give up. Young stumbled but didn’t give up and it paid off. And yes that is that Terrell Owens crying on the side of the field… What happened to him?

Buffalo Bills comeback vs. Houston Oilers – 1993
Ok this isn’t just one play but who doesn’t remember the Oilers going up on the Bills 35-3 in the third quarter of the 1992 AFC Wild Card Game? That game was over. It was done. Not to mention that in context this was a Bills team that had wiped the NFL the previous two seasons, just to lose in the Super Bowl. This was a humiliation beyond just the game. This was a season plundered and it ended 7-5, just to stumble into the playoffs and into this?!

Starting right off the bat with Al Del Greco’s botched kick (hello mother nature and home field advantage…) Then the “Suicide Onside” OH COME ON! GET OUT… I’m pretty sure I threw something at the field when Steve Christie recovered his own kick. And at that point, did you not find yourself rooting for Buffalo? As they gained momentum… as the tide turned. You could feel it, right? I have goose bumps writing about it. The Bills didn’t even have a touchdown until there were less than 10 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, the Bills should have been dead. It was one of those moments in time when no one could believe it but it happened. It is also a perfect example of why Jim Kelly is a hall of fame quarterback without a ring and why you never ever leave a game early. EVER. NEVER EVER.

Dan Marino fakes the spike for a touchdown. -- 1994
Where were you when you screamed: “THEY DID NOT”! But oh boy they did. Dan Marino executed the trick play to end all trick plays. I’m pretty sure I scared the neighbors with my screams on this one.

Down by three points to the New York Jets, 30 seconds on the clock and the Dolphins rush to the line with Marino making all the classic “I’m gonna spike it” charades. Instead? The Dolphins snap the ball, the Jets just stand there and Marino finds Mark Ingram in the end zone to put the Dolphins up 27-24. Extra point is good and the Dolphins win the game 28-24.

Fun fact? After this game, the Jets went on to win a total TOTAL of six games in five years. It didn’t just confuse one team on one play, it nearly cursed an entire franchise.

The Tom Brady Tuck Rule – 2002
*Please note that I purposely chose this link because of its using the NHL’s award winning “History Will Be Made” Advertising Campaign.

Best part of this whole debacle, no matter what side of the fence you fall in (was he in forward motion- about to throw and so making it an incomplete pass… or no, no fumble… tuck rule!) is that it wasn’t even this play that ultimately decided the game. No, after all that to-do about the play and these massive men battling for 60 minutes, it came down to a tiny kicker, one play in a massive snow storm and one moment in history. It is a moment that might just have launched Tom Brady’s entire career.

Yes the AFC Divisional Playoff game, on that day, in that mess of Mother Nature was decided on a field goal by Adam Vinatieri. Of course, the Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl that year. Some things are just meant to be. It was named the “Tuck Rule” because of the NFL rule book allowing for the forward motion of the passer’s arm to indicate a pass, even if it is recoiled to tuck the ball back into their body. It does go on to say that if the ball has been tucked into the player’s body, it is a fumble. However, it was determined that Brady was somewhere in Tuck Rule gray area where his arm was in forward motion although the ball had not yet been released. No fumble. Patriots drive on. Credit though, if opportunity knocks (deservedly or not) and you don’t open the door and greet it, then what good is the chance to begin with?

If you liked today's post, you can catch Susan on and on Twitter at @RuffStough


1 comment:

  1. Nice post and let me give you two more to consider even though they were before your time:

    If you mention Leon Lett, you can't forget Garo Yepremian single handed (even though a kicker) letting The Redskins back in to the Superbowl:

    and for pure football magic Strock to Harris to Nathan in the 82 playoffs.

    I'm not a Miami fan, but these 2 plays really stand out. Thanks for bringing back these memories.