Just as the NFL’s unofficial summer vacation wraps up, we want to keep things macro for one final big-picture look at the NFL history books with a completely subjective summary of what we feel are the 25 most memorable plays in football history.
A few rules. First, we’re restricting this to the Super Bowl era. Why? Because we’re using the word “memorable” as literally as possible. Nobody under the age of 65 can remember the “Greatest Game Ever Played” between the Giants and Colts in 1958, so let’s just stay away.
Also, we aren’t talking about the best plays ever. Some of the plays on this list were actually more infamous than famous — good for being bad. This isn’t a highlight reel.
And finally, we’re not talking about moments. The play itself still had to be memorable on its own. So while the circumstances surrounding Adam Vinatieri’s game-tying kick in the Tuck Rule game were wild, the 45-yard field goal to tie the game just doesn’t cut it. However, because we’re talking about plays that can’t be forgotten, the importance of the game and the immensity of the circumstances was certainly a factor in the decision process.
These are the plays that immediately come to mind when you think of professional football. You remember where you were when they happened, and most of them can be referred to only by a single phrase.
Let the debate begin.
25. Tracy Porter’s pick six
With Peyton Manning and the Colts trying to charge back to force overtime in Super Bowl XLIV, Porter locked up the first-ever Super Bowl for the Saints franchise with an exhilarating interception and touchdown.
24. Bo Jackson goes 91 yards on Monday Night Football
I think this 1987 run by Jackson against the Seahawks in prime time really exemplified how incredible he was.
23. James Harrison’s pick six
The Steelers might not have won Super Bowl XLIII had it not been for an unbelievable 100-yard interception return from James Harrison with the first-half clock expiring.
22. Dan Marino’s fake spike
This is the ultimate water-cooler play — something that was certainly talked about in every workplace in America the following day. In a big late-season divisional game against the rival Jets in 1994, Marino capped a huge comeback with a touchdown off of a fake spike with less than 30 seconds to play.
21. Steve Gleason’s blocked punt
This play went so far beyond football. In the Saints’ emotional return to the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina, Gleason blocked a punt leading to a New Orleans touchdown only a minute and a half into the game. A lot of people say it was the loudest the Superdome has ever been.