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- English Football team Arsenal going an entire league campaign without losing back in 2004. When you consider that a Premier League season lasts for 38 games, punctuated by two domestic cups and European competition as well as players going on international duty, that's no mean feat. (It should be noted that they did lose games in the aforementioned cup competitions.) Their total unbeaten league streak was actually 49 games, and it took a controversial match against Manchester United to finally break it.
- Two years earlier, Arsenal went on a 30-game unbeaten streak, comprising the latter half of their title-winning 2001-02 season, and the opening part of the 2002-03 season. But the goal that broke it was an even more awesome moment: struck in the closing seconds, from 25 yards, by the youngest goalscorer in Premier League historynote .
- Hugo de León lifting the trophy from Copa Libertadores 1983 for Grêmio Football Porto Alegrense, blood dripping from his forehead◊, after a 2-1 victory over Peñarol.
- The UEFA European Championships of 1992 was a huge Moment of Awesome for Denmark. Although they finished second to Yugoslavia in their qualifying groupnote , United Nations sanctions caused by the civil war in Yugoslavia meant that Denmark was given a place in the finals just two weeks before they began (contrary to popular belief, they were not on holiday when they replaced Yugoslavia: they were preparing for a friendly match against the CISnote when the UEFA disqualified Yugoslavia as a result of UN sanctions and replaced them with Denmark). After drawing against England and losing to hosts and eternal rivals Sweden, Denmark beat France to advance to the semi finals. They beat the Netherlands on penalties to reach the final against Germany, which they won 2-0. They hadn't qualified, had barely trained for the tournament, and were without their biggest starnote , and still won it all.
- Doubling as a Heartwarming Moment: Cienciano from Cusco (Peru) winning the 2003 Copa Sudamericananote against Argentinian giants River Plate (considered the favorite of the tournament and having the best team by far), making them the very first Peruvian club team ever to win an international club tournament. They held River Plate to a 3-3 draw in Buenos Aires, and won the second leg in Arequipa 1-0 despite having two players sent off. Just imagine that you were playing against better opponents and giving even more effort to keep them up... this is a good example of extreme determination on how to reach to their goals. Even more awesome? The goal they did was when they were with 10 men.
- 11 July 2010. Johannesburg. It's the final match of the South Africa 2010 World Cup. The contenders: Spain and Netherlands. Neither have won yet a World Cup title. It's Spain's first World Cup final, and Netherlands' third. Both teams play very well, but Netherlands employs very aggressive tactics against the Spanish players (the most notorious one was Nigel de Jong's kick on Xabi Alonso's chest, which is the image for Unnecessary Roughness) that throw off Spain's game. Casillas and Stekelenburg, the keepers for Spain and Netherlands, are showing how good they are in stopping the opposite team's attacks. The ninety minutes of normal game pass, and it has to go to extra time. Netherlands has one of its players expelled after a rough kick. Time reaches minute 115, five remaining till it has to be decided on a penalty shootout. And then... Jesús Navas sprints with the ball into Netherland's half-field, and initiates a series of passes. The ball ends up reaching Cesc Fàbregas, and he makes a long pass to Andrés Iniesta, who is in the Dutch area. He controls with his chest, lets the ball fall to the floor, and shoots towards the goal, in such a way that Stekelenburg is unable to reach the ball. Four minutes later, the Spanish squad becomes the World Champion of FIFA 2010 World Cup.
- The United States' run in the 2009 Confederations Cup. After losing to both Italy and Brazil, it seemed that the Americans were going home after a match against Egypt. It would have been easy for them to give up and focus on the following year's World Cup, but they didn't and crushed Egypt 3-0. That victory, combined with Brazil's 3-0 win over Italy, somehow allowed them to get through the semifinals, where they were drawn against Spain on June 24, 2009 in Bloemfontein. Having won Euro 2008, Spain were already drawn to be the favorites in the competition and everyone expected them to win the tournament. The US however had none of it as Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey help the United States pull a massive upset to reach their first ever FIFA tournament final, snapping Spain's 35 game winning streak in the process. And then in the final against Brazil, United States scores two (one of which was again from Dempsey) to lead in the half. Even though the United States sadly blew the lead in the second half to end up as the runners-up, their success in what was considered to be a minor tournament helped football (soccer in the US) reach an all-time high in popularity in a country where baseball, golf and American Football are more popular.
- Let's set the scenario: Italy's national football team, four-time World Cup winners, failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup after faltering against Sweden in the playoff finals; it was the first time in 60 years the Azzurri failed to qualify for the final stage of the World Cup in 60 years. Then-head coach Gian Piero Ventura was shown the door and then-FIGC leader Carlo Tavecchio resigned, sending the whole team into a deep crisis that seemed difficult to get out of. Gabriele Gravina, the new head of the FIGC, managed to convince, of all people, Roberto Mancini (of Lazio, Inter Milan and Manchester City fame) to take the reins of the national team. Obviously, the rebuilding period was long and arduous, but the fruits of their work were more than plentiful: the Azzurri curb-stomped their Euro 2020 qualifying group in incredible fashion, winning all their matches while playing a fearless brand of attacking football that apparently went against the Italians' historically defensive playstyle. In the tournament proper, they also made short work of their group rivals Turkey, Switzerland and Wales, and after beating Austria, Belgium and Spain in the sudden death rounds they arrived to the final at Wembley, playing against an equally young and hungry England, which they beat on penalties after an arduous match that felt like an away game in its atmosphere, lifting up their second European Championship in the process. In barely three years, the Azzurri went from arguably the lowest point of their illustrious history to one of their greatest, most unlikely triumphs.
- The 2011-2012 English Premier League came down to simultaneous final-day games for Manchester City and Manchester United - going in, the teams were tied on points, but City held the tiebreaker (goal differential). If City won, it would just be its first championship in 44 years. City's match with Queen's Park Rangers entered second-half injury time with QPR leading 2-1 while down a man. Meanwhile, United had already won their match at Sunderland, and were starting to organize an informal victory celebration. Two minutes into injury time, Edin Deko scored the tying goal, but that wouldn't have been enough for City to take the title back... until Sergio "Kun" Agüero scored the winning goal (and the final Premier League goal of the season, as it turned out) to cap off a beautiful team play in the dying seconds. All of this with United, and their fans that had traveled with them to Sunderland, in shock as the results filtered into the Stadium of Light. The frantic finish helped make the 2011-12 season the best of the Premier League's first 20, according to a fan poll.Premier League Productions commentator Peter Drury: [Deko's match-tying goal] "Deko scores! FOUR MINUTES to save themselves! FOUR MINUTES to find their crown! 2-2 in stoppage time. The most thrilling Premier League finale of all time! Edin Deko - hope, a vestige of hope."[Agüero's winner] "Balotelli...AGUERO! Staggering! Just staggering! He's won the League with 90 seconds of stoppage time to play! United's game was over! They had it! They've had it stolen back! It's just the most extraordinary scenario you could have dreamt up! Where does football go from here? Drama of the ultimate type! Tears of distress turn to tears of unbridled joy!"Sky Sports 1 commentator Martin Tyler: "It's finished at Sunderlandnote . Manchester United has done all they can. That Rooney goal was enough for the three points. Manchester City is still alive here. [Balotelli kicks the ball to Agüero] Balotelli...[Agüero scored the game winner] AGÜEROOOOOOOOO!!!! I swear you'll never see anything like this ever again! So watch it! Drink it in! Theynote just got the news from Stadium of Light! Two goals in added time, from Manchester City, to snatch the title away from Manchester United!"
- The FA Cup, the oldest and most prestigious association football knockout cup in England and Wales, has seen many awesome moments over the years, but in a special category are "giant killers", non-league clubs who have knocked out a top-flight club.note Since World War I, this has happened just eleven times:
- On 10 January 1920, Southern League club Cardiff City defeated First Division side Oldham Athletic 2-0 in the First Round (at the time, the round of 64, to which all Football League sides were given a bye). They followed this with a 2-1 win at Second Division club Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Second Round before going down 2-1 to Second Division side Bristol City in the Third Round.note
- On 19 January 1920, having fought out a goalless draw at home in their First Round tie, North East League side Darlington defeated their First Division hosts Sheffield Wednesday by a score of 2-0. They were defeated 4-0 in the Second Round by Birmingham FC (now Birmingham City).note
- On 12 January 1924, Corinthian FC, an amateur side with no league affiliation, defeated First Division club Blackburn Rovers 1-0 in their First Round match. They were beaten 5-0 in their Second Round tie at West Bromwich Albion.note
- On 10 January 1948, Southern League side Colchester United defeated First Division high-flyers Huddersfield Town 1-0 in the Third Round (the round of 64 as of 1925, to which all clubs in the top two divisions receive a bye). Two weeks later, they knocked out Second Division side Bradford Park Avenue 3-2 to advance to the Fifth Round, where they lost 5-0 to Blackpool.note
- On 21 January 1949, Southern League club Yeovil Town, having already knocked out Second Division side Bury in the Third Round, became the first non-league side since World War I to knock out a First Division side in the Fourth Round with a 2-1 win over Sunderland. They were ultimately beaten 8-0 in the Fifth Round by Manchester United.note
- On 5 February 1972, Southern League club Hereford United hosted First Division side Newcastle United in a replay of their Third Round tie, having fought out a 2-2 draw in the original match at Newcastle. Though Newcastle opened the scoring in the 82nd minute with a goal from Malcolm "Supermac" Macdonald, Hereford equalised three minutes later with a 30-yard strike from Ronnie Radford, sparking a pitch invasion by jubilant Hereford fans. Thirteen minutes into extra time, substitute Ricky George scored the winning goal for Hereford, sparking a second pitch invasion by the ecstatic home fans. The match has, on multiple occasions, been voted the biggest shock in FA Cup history, helped by its status as the first "giant killing" to be televised and the commentary by a young John Motson, later one of the BBC's most recognisable sport broadcasters. In the Fourth Round, Hereford held First Division side West Ham United to a goalless draw at home before losing the replay 3-1 thanks to a hat trick from 1966 World Cup Final hero Geoff Hurst.note
- On 4 January 1975, Southern League club Wimbledon became the first non-league side since 1920 to defeat First Division opponents away from home with a 1-0 win at Burnley in the Third Round. They went on to hold Leeds United to a goalless draw in the Fourth Round before losing the replay 1-0.note
- On 14 January 1986, Football Conference side Altrincham followed in Wimbledon's footsteps with a 2-1 defeat of their Third Round hosts, First Division side Birmingham City. In the Fourth Round, they were beaten 2-0 at York City, then in the Third Division.note
- On 7 January 1989, Football Conference side Sutton United defeated First Division side Coventry City (who had won the Cup in 1987) by a score of 2-1 to advance to the Fourth Round, where they lost 8-0 at Norwich City, another First Division side.note
- On 26 January 2013, Football Conference side Luton Town (a former top-flight side who had fallen on hard times financially and been relegated out of the League in 2009), who had already beaten Championshipnote side Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 in the Third Round, became not only the first "giant killers" of the Premier League era, but also the first non-league side since 1949 to defeat top-flight opponents in the Fourth Round (and the first to do so away from home since World War I) with a 1-0 victory at Norwich City. They were ultimately defeated 3-0 in the Fifth Round by Millwall.note
- On 18 February 2017, National League side Lincoln City (a former Football League side who had been relegated in 2011), having already beaten Championship sides Ipswich Town 1-0 in a replay in the Third Round and Brighton and Hove Albion 3-1 in the Fourth Round, became the first non-League side to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup since Queens Park Rangers in 1914 with a 1-0 Fifth Round victory at Burnley, giving their hosts the unfortunate distinction of becoming the first top flight club since World War I to suffer two FA Cup defeats to non-League opposition; to compound their embarrassment, they had home advantage both times. Lincoln were finally defeated 5-0 by Arsenal in the quarter-finals.note
- The FA Cup final has also seen its fair share of heroics and other awesome moments since the first tournament in 1872, but, again, underdog victories are in a special category of awesomeness.
- The 1973 final saw Leeds United, one of the dominant sides in English football in the early 1970s (if controversial for their brutally physical style), playing against Sunderland, at the time in the Second Division. The final was marked by two particularly awesome moments: Ian Porterfield's goal for Sunderland in the 31st minute, and an improbably acrobatic double save by Sunderland goalkeeper Jimmy Montgomerynote from Leeds forwards Trevor Cherry and Peter Lorimer. Sunderland held on to win 1-0.note
- In 1976, the final once again pitted a giant of the sport against a Second Division club as Manchester United met Southampton. In a parallel with the 1973 final, Saints goalkeeper Ian Turner made a series of impressive saves, and Bobby Stokes' goal seven minutes from time won it for Southampton.
- The final of 1978 saw Arsenal, who had won the League and FA Cup double just seven years before, playing Ipswich Town, who were appearing in their first ever FA Cup final and had been demolished 6-1 by Aston Villa in their final League fixture of the season. However, to the surprise of all who saw the final, Ipswich proceeded to dominate the match and claim a 1-0 win with a 77th minute goal from Roger Osborne (who was so overwhelmed by the emotions of the experience that he fainted and had to be substituted and revived with smelling salts).
- Arsenal exorcised the ghosts of their 1978 loss with an awesome (if non-underdog) 3-2 win against Manchester United in the 1979 final,note and made a third consecutive final appearance in 1980. Their opponents were Second Division West Ham United, who were expected to pose no threat to Arsenal's quest to retain the FA Cup. However, England international Trevor Brooking headed the only goal of the match in the 13th minute, and a solid performance by Phil Parkes and the West Ham back four preserved the 1-0 scoreline to hand the Hammers the Cup.
- In 1987, Tottenham Hotspur, who had won seven out of seven FA Cup finals in their history, faced Coventry City, who were appearing in their first ever FA Cup final. Clive Allen opened the scoring for Spurs after just two minutes, only for Dave Bennett to equalise six minutes later. Gary Mabbutt put Spurs in front again just before half-time, but Keith Houchen equalised for Coventry just past the hour mark. The score was still 2-2 at 90 minutes, and six minutes into extra time, Gary Mabbutt scored again... unfortunately, this time he scored against his own goalkeeper, Ray Clemence, and Coventry held on for a 3-2 win.note
- The 1988 final set runaway League champions Liverpool, seeking a second League and FA Cup double in three seasons, against "the Crazy Gang" of Wimbledon FC, who had only joined the Football League in 1977. Following the same pattern as the 1973 and 1976 finals, goalkeeping heroics from Dave Beasant (including saving a penalty from Liverpool's Irish striker John Aldridge, the first penalty save in an FA Cup final) and a goal from Lawrie Sanchez gave Wimbledon the astonishing 1-0 win.
- In 2013, the final saw Manchester City, the previous season's Premier League winners, taking on a Wigan Athletic deep in a Premier League relegation battle, who had only joined the Football League in 1978. Once again, although Manchester City had more shots on target, Wigan goalkeeper Joel Robles kept a clean sheet, and Ben Watson's 91st-minute header gave Wigan a shock 1-0 victory.
- It's 2005, the Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul, and it's the Champions League Final.
- In one corner, we have AC Milan: winners of the tournament in 2003, a side full of world class international players, household names who're more than familiar with winning the tournament, such as Clarence Seedorf, who had won it with three separate teams, Milan included, and Cafu, twice a World Cup winner with Brazil, the second time as captain. They've strolled to the final, easily topping a group featuring giants such as Barcelona and Celtic, before swatting aside Manchester United, Inter Milan, and PSV Eindhoven in the knock out stages, while narrowly losing out on the Italian league title.
- In the other corner, we have Liverpool: four times European Cup winners, still at this point the team with the most titles in English football history, but a fallen giant - the last league title was 15 years ago, last European title was over 20, they lost the League Cup final to rivals Chelsea, and they've finished 5th in the Premier League, meaning they didn't even qualify for the next season's Champions League (to rub salt in the wound, local rivals Everton took 4th place). Oh, and they'd lost star striker Michael Owen to Real Madrid, and their captain and other world class talent, Steven Gerrard, looks like he's leaving too. The rest of the team is of mixed quality, from good (Xabi Alonso would become world-class in his own right) to famously error-prone (the unfortunate but much loved Djimi Traore), and they're heavily reliant on Gerrard. They've struggled to the final by the finest of margins, scraping out of the group by a single goal, and narrowly squeezing past Italian Champions Juventus, soon-to-be English Champions Chelsea (via the infamous 'Ghost Goal' from Luis Garcia). On paper, they don't stand a chance.
- Milan go 1-0 up within 40 seconds, then go 3-0 up before half-time. Meanwhile, talented Liverpool forward Harry Kewell has gone off with an injury and replaced by departing midfielder Vladimir Smicer. Liverpool are seemingly doomed. Liverpol's new manager, Rafael Benitez, responds by going for broke: removing right-back Steve Finnan and putting on defensive midfielder Dietmar Hamann, moving Gerrard up to a de facto second striker position. Liverpool pull one back in the 54th minute, with a thumping header from Gerrard. 3-1. Two minutes later, they score again, a drilled 25 yard shot from Smicer. 3-2. Another four minutes later, Gerrard surges into the 18 yard box and is brought down with only the keeper to beat - penalty. Alonso steps up to take, it's saved, but he hammers in the rebound. Three goals, six minutes, and it's level. Milan throw everything up to and including the kitchen sink at Liverpool, who defend for their lives - star striker Andriy Shevchenko heads down from 8 yards out, Liverpool keeper Dudek stops it. Shevchenko follows it in, and Dudek saves again from two yards out. Liverpool win on penalties, no one can believe their eyes, and Liverpool, as was practice with all five-times winners, get to keep the cup permanently. Unsurprisingly, Gerrard stays, and the game becomes known as 'The Miracle of Istanbul'.
- In 2006, Liverpool were 3-2 down against West Ham in stoppage time, having gone 2-0 down, clawed their way back to 2-2, then conceded another goal. Just as they were announcing the amount of stoppage time, the ball dropped to Steven Gerrard, the captain, 35 yards out, who'd already scored one goal and was suffering from cramp so bad he could barely walk. He responded by rocketing a shot into the bottom corner. Liverpool went on to win on penalties, one of which was also scored by Gerrard. Unsurprisingly, this final is unanimously known as 'The Gerrard Final'.
- In 2014, heavily-favored Arsenal were up against Hull City in what should have been an easy win for the Gunners, who had beaten Hull by a combined score of 5-0 in the Premier League season. In the first ten minutes, Hull scored twice, leading Arsenal fans to lose their confidence, believing this would be another collapse in a big game that mattered. In the 17th minute, Santi Cazorla rocketed home a free kick to put Arsenal a goal behind, and in the 71st, Laurent Koscielny put in an equalizer. The game went to extra time where Aaron Ramsey, the man of the year for Arsenal, put in a beautiful goal in the 110th minute, which would prove to be the game-winner for Arsenal, who not only ended their nine-year trophy drought, but also became the first team to come back from 0-2 down to win the FA Cup Final since 1966.
- In the 2008/09 English League Two, AFC Bournemouth began with -17 points due to financial problems. They managed to avoid relegation despite this setback, and the following season were promoted to League 1. They got better and better in League 1, before finally winning promotion in 2013 to the Championship. Seven years after their -17 point start, in the 2014/15 English Championship campaign, they clinched Premiership status for the first time in their 116-year history by winning the league. If you think seven years isn't really that long a time in sports years, keep in mind that teams in football typically stay right where they are for decades due to money awards per place in the final standings.note Bournemouth was able to buck that trend and command their destiny.
- FC Bayern Munich had an entire season of awesome in the 2012-13 Bundesliga (Germany's top tier domestic league), finishing 25 points clear of second-placed Borussia Dortmund, only losing one match (a 2-1 home defeat against Bayer Leverkusen) and drawing four, and tying or breaking a staggering thirty league records.note They followed this utter dominance of the Bundesliga with a 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions' League final and a 3-2 defeat of VfB Stuttgart in the final of the DFB-Pokal (Germany's premier domestic knockout tournament) to become the first treble winners in German football history. Not bad for a team that was once persecuted by the Nazis.
- The 2012 Scottish Cup Final: The two teams from the capital, Heart of Midlothian and Hibernian FC, meet in the final for the first time since 1896. A hungry Hibs haven't lifted the great trophy since 1902. A packed Hampden awaits a fiercely fought clash and a possible chance for Hibs to unseat their rivals as Edinburgh's top team. Lifting the trophy would be a fitting end to Hibs' "narrative arc" in the 2012/13 season. Unfortunately, reality ensues: A rampant Hearts smash a ten-man Hibs 5-1, with club legend Rudi Skacel scoring two fantastic goals and Hearts writing a new page in the history of Edinburgh derby hammerings.
- Raja Casablanca's FIFA World Club Cup run in 2013 may have ended in defeat in the final, but that they managed to reach the final at all is a moment of awesome for the club, and for Moroccan football in general. The FIFA World Club Cup is contested for by the champions of the six continental knockout tournaments and the league champions of the host country; as the 2013 tournament was held in Morocco, Raja were the only participants not to have won a continental tournament (the previous season's CAF Champions League having been won by Egypt's Al-Ahly, widely regarded as Africa's most successful football club), and were the lowest-ranked club at the World Club Cup. However, they proceeded to defeat New Zealand's Auckland Citynote in a preliminary playoff, followed by a 2-1 quarter-final win over Mexico's Monterreynote and a 3-1 semi-final win over Brazil's Atletico Mineironote , whose squad included international superstar Ronaldinho. Raja may not have won the tournament, but they were certainly the most extraordinary team there.note
- No one can argue with the fact that Leicester City clinching the Premier League title in the 2015/16 season belongs here. As 5,000-1 underdogs and more likely to be tipped for relegation, they had the entire set up for a true underdog story. A first XI that cost less than just one of the star players in other wealthier teams. A manager in perennial "nearly man" Claudio Ranieri, who had been lambasted in the media as never quite getting the job done for success. A proud goalkeeper in Kasper Schmeichel, constantly being compared to his extremely successful goalkeeping father. A fantastic midfielder in Riyad Mahrez that had cost only £350,000 compared to others being more around the multi million mark. A record-breaking striker in Jamie Vardy, who four years before was playing non-league football after being rejected by Sheffield Wednesday due to his height. And many others in the team, not to discredit their achievements. These men came together, battled, struggled and clawed their way to the top. Everyone who was anyone doubted them, constantly worn down by reality and saying that at any moment, the fairytale would be over. And come May 2nd, it did... with the happiest ending anyone could imagine.
- Consider this timeline:
- Start of play on 4 April 2015: Leicester City are nailed, bolted, and hard-welded to the bottom of the Premier League table. The Foxes have been propping up the table since November, have won only two matches since late September, and their last win was on 10 January.
- 18 April: After three straight wins, the Foxes are off the bottombut still sit in the drop zone in 18th.
- 25 April: Another win finally gets Leicester out of the drop zone.
- 24 May: The 201415 season ends with Leicester safely in 14th, after seven wins and a draw from their last nine matches.
- Preseason 201516: Bookmakers set the odds at Leicester winning the Premier League at 5,0001.
- 2 May 2016: Leicester are Premier League champions after second-placed Tottenham are held to a 22 draw at Chelsea.
- For an awesome moment within the campaign, the Foxes' top striker, Jamie Vardy, broke the record for most consecutive Premier League matches with a goal scored, scoring in an 11th consecutive match against Manchester United on November 28, 2015. The record was previously held by former United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, who naturally congratulated Vardy on the feat. What really made this awesome, though, was the fact that Arlo White, Leicester native, and life-long Leicester City supporter, was calling the match for the U.S.'s Premier League broadcaster, NBC, and he couldn't hide his joy when Vardy's record-breaking goal came:"Jamie Vardy, is this the moment?!" [Vardy scores] "HISTORY IS MADE! Jamie Vardy has scored in ELEVEN! CONSECUTIVE! PREMIER LEAGUE GAMES!"
- Or how he called the raising of the trophy:"Wes Morgan...[and] Claudio Ranieri...lift the trophy to the skies! Leicester City are the champions of the Premier League! 5,000-to-1 chance! They have stunned the football world! It's the greatest tale told in the history of English football!"
- Consider this timeline:
- Jordan Henderson proving his detractors wrong by becoming the fifth Liverpool captain in history who lifted European Cup/UEFA Champions League trophy in 2019. This especially feels wonderful after receiving harsh critics from Vocal Minority part of Liverpool fan base, having to dig his heels in to prevent being part of a swap deal for American forward Clint Dempsey, as well as "character assassination" from Sir Alex Ferguson in his booknote . Lifting "The Big Ears" along with UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup while Manchester Unitednote finished previous season trophyless and were currently struggling only makes things better for Henderson.
- The next season, he one-upped himself, finally coming out of legendary predecessor Steven Gerrard's shadow by doing the one thing Gerrard never managed: win the Premier League. And not only that, but win it in style, twenty five points clear of previous champions Manchester City, winning with 7 games to go (the earliest a Premier League has ever been won - though also the latest, because of a three month Covid related hiatus), finishing the season in cruise control and still racking up 99 points, the second highest points total ever recorded in the top flight's 130 plus year history. Speaking of that Covid hiatus, he took the time to lead his fellow Premier League captains in the #PlayersTogether campaign, coordinating fundraising efforts across the Premier League to support NHS frontline workers, while also acting as an ambassador for the NHS Charities Together.
- And while Liverpool's Premier League season the year after that imploded in January, thanks to exhaustion and injuries to almost all of the key players in the squad, Henderson included, as well as star goalkeeper Alisson Becker having to cope with losing his father (and, since his father lived in Brazil, being unable to return for the funeral due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions), he hasn't let that stop him. For starters, he's continued his fundraising work, reached out to LGBTQ fans, gave testimony to a government panel on social media safety, handed over control of his social media accounts to Cybersmile (an anti-cyberbullying non-profit) while holding a Zoom conference with Instagram executives to discuss how to improve anti-bullying measures, corralled fellow captains and consulted black players on how to support the Black Lives Matter protests (the BLM badge on the sleeve was his idea, but only on the approval of black players), and coordinated and led the player protests against the European Super League note . Oh, and he was listed in the top 10 UK charity donors by proportion of personal wealth raised/given (14%), with fellow footballer Marcus Rashford (125%) taking top spot. With all that in mind, it's not surprising that when the New York Times did a profile on him, they called it 'Jordan Henderson: The Captain of Everything'.
- The aforementioned Marcus Rashford of Manchester United deserves particular praise, both for rising from serious poverty (his mother was working multiple jobs and while they still had to rely on food banks, she made sure he got to every match) to become a star for Manchester United and England, and for not forgetting his roots. And by 'not forgetting his roots', we mean that at the tender age of 22, he teamed up with food waste charity FareShare, originally to make a 'substantial donation' to help support children who - thanks to schools being closed due to Covid-19 - were no longer getting free school meals. Instead, it became a full blown partnership and within a couple of months, it reached four million children (about 1/3 of the UK's under 16 population).
- He then took on the government in what was referred to by The Guardian as "a political masterclass", forcing a u-turn on free school meals (keeping them provided over the summer holidays) within a day of releasing an open letter appealing for an end to child poverty. He received an MBE for his actions, and kept going, promoting on Twitter individuals and groups supporting FareShare and rallying much of the North-West of England, and launching a detailed Parliamentary petition the following week about ending child food poverty. 10,000 signatures means it receives a government response, 100,000 means it's debated in Parliament. At 300,000 signatures, the Labour party launched an opposition day motion proposing legislation to implement it, but it was voted down. In a week, it became only the sixth to cross one million signatures. Cue another government u-turn, and £400 million ($566 million) pledged over the next 12 months. This was in early November. Meanwhile, Rashford was organising a Christmas appeal that raised millions.
- And that's still not it. The following January, Rashford used his Twitter to highlight the "unacceptable" food packages provided by a government contractor, forcing yet another u-turn from the government after Rashford had a conversation with Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He also had talks with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions over making a temporary £20 a week increase in Universal Credit (social security) payments permanent, while also teaming up with a celebrity chef to create recipes and tutorials for cheap and simple dishes. Oh, and he started learning sign language to help judge a poetry competition for children with hearing impairments as part of World Book Day, and partnered with MacMillan to launch a book club for vulnerable and underprivileged children.
- And would you believe that he also managed to maintain a career as a top-class international footballer at the same time? Given the givens, his political opponents are probably hoping he has a long career on the pitch...
- All in all, it really isn't surprising that Ian Byrne, Labour MP, supporter of Liverpool FC (Manchester United's bitterest rivals) and co-founder of Fans Supporting Foodbanks commented; "It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that a Manchester United striker's name will be sung on the Kop [Liverpool's home stand] and the Gwladys Street [Everton FC's home stand]. He has the sort of principles and moral values that most people hold. He's clever, passionate and well advised".
- Both of Chelsea's European Cup wins, for entirely separate reasons.
- 2011-12. Andre Villas-Boas is dismissed from his job with Chelsea struggling in 6th and 3-1 down to Napoli after the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16. Assistant Manager Roberto Di Matteo comes in and in the second leg, Chelsea win 4-1 in extra time to advance to the quarter finals, where they beat Benfica home and away to set up a semi final against Barcelona.
Gary Neville: "He's in, Fernando Torres is in!"Alan Parry: "This could be the most dramatic story of the season! It's Torres to give Chelsea a place in the Champions League Final..."(Torres rounds Valdes and steers the ball into the empty net)Gary Neville: "OOOOOOAAAAGGGGHHH!"Alan Parry: "The headline has been written!"Gary Neville: "UN-BE-LIEV-ABLE!"Alan Parry: "Fifty Million Pounds have just been repaid by Fernando Torres, Scorer of the Goal, that will send CHELSEA FOOTBALL CLUB to Munich on the Nineteenth Of May!"
- 40 minutes into the second leg of the semi final, all seems lost. Barcelona have gone into a 2-0 lead to overturn Chelsea's 1-0 first leg advantage. Chelsea's captain John Terry has been sent off, and with Gary Cahill having gone off injured earlier, Chelsea are without a natural centre-back on the pitch. However, just before half time, Ramires chips the ball over Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes to reduce the deficit and put Chelsea in front on away goals. Barcelona throw everyone forward, miss a penalty and have a goal disallowed as Chelsea batten down the hatches. And then in stoppage time, a ball is cleared from the area to Fernando Torres, who has become something of a joke since joining Chelsea...
- The final in Munich was against Bayern Munich, who were heavy favourites, with Chelsea needing to win to qualify for next season's Champions League. A makeshift Chelsea side defend for their lives until Thomas Muller scores in the 83rd minute. Game over, one might think, but then Chelsea win a corner with two minutes left. Didier Drogba meets it with a header into the back of the net.Martin Tyler: "Drogbaaaa! He's pulled a rabbit out of the hat again! Can you believe it? Chelsea just WILL NOT let go of the Champions League!"
Gary Neville (as Drogba walks forward) "I'm going to say it now, it is written in the stars."(Drogba sends Neuer the wrong way and places his penalty into the back of the net)Martin Tyler: "He's done it! The greatest night in the history of Chelsea Football Club! European Champions at last! They've beaten Bayern in their own backyard! They've found the holy grail after an adventure fraught with danger! And Drogba, who may never play for Chelsea again, will never be forgotten! He's immortal at this football club!"
- Bayern miss a penalty in extra time and the match goes to penalties. Chelsea miss their first penalty but Bayern miss their fourth and Chelsea tie the shootout with theirs. Bastian Schweinsteiger then misses Bayern's fifth, meaning that if Drogba scores, Chelsea are European Champions.
- The 2020-21 campaign, meanwhile, saw Chelsea concede just four goals throughout the tournament, being behind for just five minutes in total in a campaign which saw them face Atletico Madrid, Porto, Real Madrid and Manchester City. In addition, two of their starting players had risen through the youth team, their keeper, Edouard Mendy, had been unemployed five years previously, and the player who scored the winning goal, Kai Havertz, had struggled to find form after contracting Covid earlier in the season. This also meant that manager Thomas Tuchel and defender Thiago Silva, who were both part of the Paris Saint Germain squad that lost the Champions League just the previous season, could finally win it this time.
- 2011-12. Andre Villas-Boas is dismissed from his job with Chelsea struggling in 6th and 3-1 down to Napoli after the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16. Assistant Manager Roberto Di Matteo comes in and in the second leg, Chelsea win 4-1 in extra time to advance to the quarter finals, where they beat Benfica home and away to set up a semi final against Barcelona.
- England winning the 2022 Women's UEFA European Championships. At long last, football has come home.
- Context: England have only ever won an international tournament a grand total of once, back in 1966 at the World Cup, and have been desperate for another win. The fact that any England team have achieved this feat, especially at Wemberly, especially after the men's made it to the final the previous year only to lose on penalties, is nothing short of spectacular.
- The very fact that it was the women who achieved this. To put it bluntly, the last time England won a major tournament in 1966, women were banned from playing.
- Further context: The FA banned women from playing football in 1921 on the grounds of the sport being 'unsuitable' for them (when in reality women's football was popular thanks to World War 1 and the men were intimidated that they wouldn't be able to get spectators back to watch the men's game). When the ban was finally lifted after 50 years in 1971, no one was interested. For years women had to fund themselves from kit to travel expenses, facing constant scrutiny and most schools preventing girls from playing. Only in recent years has more funding allowed top players to go pro, but those starting out still had to take second jobs. To win a major tournament, over the men, in spite of all this, is not only massively deserved but is also one big middle finger to the FA who banned them over a hundred years ago. Now people in the sport are saying this win will change the country's approach to women's football forever.
- And to win the title they beat Germany, their greatest rival, who have previously won this tournament 8 times - one of which was when they beat England back in 2009. England not only beat them, but they also beat their goal-scoring record from that very same tournament.
- Real Madrid's run to the 2022 Champions League Final was made of WIN.
- In the Round of 16, against Paris Saint Germain, they lost the first leg 1-0 with a goal by Mbappé. The second leg began with Mbappé scoring in minute 39' - and in the second half Madrid answered through Benzema scoring a hat-trick.
- In the quarter-finals, Madrid won against Chelsea in the first leg by 1-3. In the second leg, Chelsea managed to three goals in 75 minutes, putting them ahead. Then Luka Modrić passed the ball from the midfield to Rodrygo Goes, who kicked the ball in to tie the heat and sending the game to overtime, where Benzema scored the winning goal.
- In the semi-finals' first leg, Manchester City managed to get ahead 2-0 with De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus in the first eleven minutes. Benzema managed to score in minute 33, Foden's goal in minute 53 was answered by Vinicius two minutes later, and Silva's in minute 75 by Benzema eight minutes later, leaving the score 4-3. In the second leg, Madrid kept attacking with no way to score, only for Mahrez to put City ahead by one, forcing Madrid to score twice to go into overtime. Cue Rodrygo Goes scoring twice in a minute (with the game in extra time) and finally Benzema ending City's hopes with a penalty kick goal in overtime.
- The final game against Liverpool became very contested, with both teams proving to be very tough in their attempts to score with both goalkeepers (Courtois for Real Madrid, Alisson for Liverpool) stopping several amazing shots - when Valverde sent a long cross to an unmarked Vinicius for the winning goal.
- The 2000 Indianapolis 500. Juan Pablo Montoya was criticized by other drivers for not treating the track as it is. What did he do? He led over 80% of the race and won. On his first try.
- Dale Earnhardt's team, Dale Earnhardt Incorporated (an offset of Richard Childress Racing, who fielded Sr's famed black Goodwrench #3), got four big moments in 2001 after tragedy.
- First, in the first race after Sr's death on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500 (in a crash which looked relatively minor compared to some of his more memorable hits in previous seasons), DEI driver Steve Park won in Rockingham to start DEI 2-for-2 in race wins (Michael Waltrip won the 500).
- Two races later, Sr's replacement Kevin Harvick, in the now-white renumbered 29, held off eventual champion Jeff Gordon at the line to win in his third career Cup start. Kevin was originally supposed to begin his rookie campaign the following year, Sr's death forced Childress to call him up a year early. After four races, cars with some connection to Sr had won 3 of 4 (the race at Las Vegas was won by Gordon).
- When the series returned to Daytona, Dale Jr (in the third DEI car, the #8) won with Michael Waltrip second. Waltrip celebrated his 500 win in the infield with Jr, both of their pit crews, and Danny "Chocolate" Myers of Sr's crew.
- Junior would also get the fourth memorable win, and the only one that doesn't relate to the Daytona 500, by winning the first race after 9/11.
- Alex Zanardi's return to the Eurospeedway Lausitz in 2003 to complete the 13 laps he missed after a serious crash almost two years prior. Zanardi lost both his legs in the crash and was forced to drive with the throttle, clutch, and gear shifter on the steering wheel and controlling the brakes with his prosthetic leg. He not only completed the laps, he later returned to professional motorsport in the World Touring Car Championship and actually won races.
- And then he went on to win Paralympic gold medals in handcycling. And won one of them on a racetrack where he had driven both before and after losing his legs.
- The weekend of May 4-5, 2013 was a pretty awesome weekend if you were an auto racer going for your second career win in your respective series:
- NASCAR Nationwide Series regular Regan Smith initiated the madness, charging from 7th to 1st in the final lap of the series' race at Talladega with a three-lane wide sweep to steal the lead from moonlighters Joey Logano and Kasey Kahne. A wreck happened behind them as they came through the trioval; Kahne nipped Smith and Logano three wide at the line which led many to think he won, but NASCAR ruled the caution came out and froze the field with Smith barely in front.
- The IndyCar Series took the second leg at São Paulo, Brazil. Takuma Sato, fresh off his maiden victory at Long Beach, had to hold off fellow 2013 first-time winner James Hinchcliffe on worn tires. Hinchcliffe faked Sato out down the long backstraight and cut under him in the last turn hairpin to steal the win and regain momentum after contact in the previous two races.
- While Hinchcliffe was pulling his magic, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega was mired in a rain delay lasting nearly four hours. They were well past the half distance required to make the race official, but the workers dried the track off to finish the race. What resulted was the Front Row Motorsports tag team of the Davids, Ragan and Gilliland, shocking everyone by storming through the pack on the final two-lap dash. Ragan pulled a block on Carl Edwards out of turn 4 to thwart a return pass, and Gilliland kept him at bay through the trioval to let Ragan pick up his second Cup Series win unchallenged. And yes, Gilliland finished 2nd to complete the biggest two-teammate upset in modern NASCAR history. It was Front Row Motorsports' first race win; they would subsequently claim a fog-shortened race in Pocono in 2016 with rookie Chris Buescher and the 2021 Daytona 500 with Michael McDowell, and all three wins were by the team's 34 car.
- The 2015 Australian motorcycle Grand Prix. This race has a super tight battle at the front between 4 riders and 3 different bikes that lasted the entire race.
- Valentino Rossi shows a huge determination in order to stay with the leader to defend his championship lead. While he ended up in 4th, it was amazing to see a 36-year old man keeping up with the youngsters, especially considering his amazing turnaround after he failed miserably when he joined Ducati and seemingly couldn't keep up to Lorenzo (and Márquez) when he returned to Yamaha in 2013.
- Andrea Iannone; despite being struck by a seagull early in the race; manages to keep up despite having a slightly inferior bike that is the Ducati. The GP15's much improved handling compared to any other previous Ducatinote certainly help him to keep up, with the best moment being pulling off an amazing double overtake late in the race.
- Jorge Lorenzo really has meet up his Kryptonite Factor here. He can't pull off a huge lead which he would control the rest of the race; and every time he was involved in a battle (especially if he lost a large lead mid-race), he has a large chance to lose the race. So he decided to keep calm and hoping for the best. Amazingly, he still managed to lead the majority of the race (and mostly avoiding the scrap between Márquez, Rossi, & Iannone), and with 2 laps to go looks sure to win, until...
- ...one particular Marc Márquez's amazing comeback. As they crosses the line to start the final lap, he was fourth, 0.8 seconds behind Lorenzo. What did he do? He overtakes both Rossi and Iannone after they run a little bit wide at the Southern Loop, and manages to make up that gap in the final lap alone, even overtaking Lorenzo for the win on the last few corners, setting the fastest lap in the process. Oh, do we mention that with this victory, he already had a total of 50 Grand Prix wins at the age of just 22?
- Special mention goes to rookie Maverick Viñales in the Suzuki. The Suzuki was rather underpowered compared to the top teams, and lacked a seamless gearbox, which was a must-have at the time. However, the Suzuki had a large advantage in the turns, which Viñales used to perfection. While he finished 6th, he was just 6 seconds behind the leaders, 16 seconds ahead of the team's expected target.
- MotoGP's streak of 8 races with 8 different winners in the 2016 season. This includes the first win from Ducati since 2010, Suzuki's first since 2007 (including their 3-year sabbatical between 2012 to 2014), the first victory for a non-factory team since 2006, and four of them are first-time winners in the premier class. To wit:
- Italian GP: Valentino Rossi suffered a heartbreaking engine failure midway through the race, leaving scrappies Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Márquez to duke it out for the win. On the last corner, it seemed like Marquez would get the victory... only for Lorenzo to do a split-second overtake just before the finish line, winning by just 0.019 seconds.
- Catalonian GP: Friday was marred by the death of Moto2 rider Luis Salom during free practice session, causing a circuit layout change for the race. With Lorenzo torpedoed by Iannone midway through the race, it left Rossi to get a victory from Márquez. It was at this race that Rossi shook hands with Marquez post-race, signalling the end of their hugely infamous rivalry and rescuing Márquez from the scrappy heap.
- Dutch TT: This is where things started to go out of control. A wet race caused a lot of shocking stuffs; with notable moments including Aspar rider Yonny Hernández shockingly taking the lead early in the race (and crashing out later on), a lot of riders (including Rossi) crashing out after the restart, as well seeing Lorenzo going extremely slow in the wet conditions. In the end, it was Jack Miller of all people who took a very surprising victory from Márquez, Miller's first in MotoGP class and the first non-factory team win since Toni Elias in 2006.
- German GP: After three consecutive races becoming runner-up, Márquez finally gets himself a race win after risking to change to slicks earlier than the others, which paid off when the track dried midway through the race. Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso completed the podium despite pitting much, much later than Márquez did.
- Austrian GP: In MotoGP's return to Red Bull Ring, Andrea Iannone takes his first premier class victory over Dovizioso in what was Ducati's first win since 2010. The track's long straights really helped Ducati a lot here, with their closest contenders in this race (the Yamaha's) unable to catch them once both Iannone and Dovi overtook them early in the race.
- Czech GP: In another rain-hit race, it's Cal Crutchlow who became the third first-time winner in 2016 and the sixth-consecutive race winner in the season; despite falling all the way to the back early in the race. With the rain dried midway but not dry enough to accomodate change to slicks, those who chose hard wet tire compounds in the race got a massive advantage late in the race; with Crutchlow (all hard), Rossi (rear hard), and Loris Baz (all hard) able to charge from the back of the field to first, second, and fourth respectively at the end; with only Márquez and Hector Barbera being able to keep up with them after being smart enough to save some grip from their soft compound wet tires for late in the race.
- British GP: It's Maverick Vinales' turn to take a surprising victory, the fourth first-time winner in the season. His Suzuki was overly dominant on the race, getting to first in the first lap and never looked back since. Behind him, a very interesting five-way battle for second place ensues; with home crowd hero Crutchlow getting second, Rossi third, Márquez fourth after going wide due to pushing himself too hard late in the race, Dani Pedrosa fifth, and Iannone crashed out midway through.
- San Marino GP: Just as fans think the streak is going to be over, Dani Pedrosa surprised everyone with a late charge enabling him to overtake Rossi late in the race to become the eight different winner in eight races. Rossi eventually finished second, with Lorenzo finishing third and Márquez fourth.
- NASCAR has several moments that could be considered awesome if you follow the sport:
- Bill Elliott winning the 1985 Winston 500 at Talladega certainly counts. He had mechanical problems in the race that forced him to go down two laps, and he overcame the deficit, without the aid of yellow flags or being able to draft off the field. His dominating performance in the 1985 Season over all, including winning the Daytona 500 and Southern 500, helped earn him the moniker "Awesome Bill from Dawsonville".
- March 16th-17th 2003 at Darlington is definitely considered to be the wildest weekend in NASCAR history. It featured two epic battles in the closing laps.
- The Winston Cup race on the 16th featured Ricky Craven beating out Kurt Busch by .002 seconds after beating and banging for three laps straight, for the closest finish in NASCAR history at that point. This was the final victory for Ricky Craven as a driver in the Winston Cup Series, as well as being the final victory for Pontiac as a manufacture in NASCAR, as they left at season's end.
- The Busch Series race, run on March 17th after being postponed from Saturday was just as epic. It featured Todd Bodine, driving an unsponsored car beating out Jamie McMurray on the last lap, as McMurray got loose coming off the corner and spun out to finish 2nd.
- Speaking of McMurray, he won the fall Charlotte race in 2002 in only his second career Cup start. As a substitute driver for an injured Sterling Marlin. The only other driver who can claim such an early win on their resume in terms of total starts is Trevor Bayne, who took the Wood Brothers' 21 to victory lane in the 2011 Daytona 500.
- But Turkish motorcycle rider Can Oncu has them beat; thanks to an FIM regulation letting the current Red Bull Rookies Cup champion compete in Moto3 at the age of 15, Oncu (15 years, 115 days) won on his debut at Valencia as a wildcard rider.
- The World Series has been won four times by teams who hadn't won a title in over 85 years - in three cases, since before the NHL, the NFL, and the NBA even started play.note The first came in 1980, by which time all of the original 16 Major League Baseball teams had won at least one World Series... except the Philadelphia Phillies, who couldn't even claim a championship from the pre-World Series era, despite having joined the National League in 1883. They had only reached the World Series twice, losing to the Boston Red Sox in 5 games in 1915 and the New York Yankees in a sweep in 1950. To rub salt in Philly's wounds, the New York Mets, a 1962-expansion team, won the World Series in 1969.
- At the end of a regular season that saw so many narrow victories that they were nicknamed "the Cardiac Kids", the Phillies went to Montreal for a three-game series against the Expos, with whom they were tied at the top of the NL East; victories in the first two games (the second in 11 innings) handed Philadelphia the division title by a single game, and they faced the Houston Astros in the NLCS. The series went the full five games, with the last four going to extra innings; Garry Maddox was the hero for the Phillies in the tenth inning of Game 5 in the Astrodome, hitting a double that drove in Del Unser and put the Phillies ahead 87. Dick Ruthven retired the Astros in order in the bottom of the 10th to give the Phillies their first pennant since 1950.
- In their first World Series since 1950, the Phillies faced the Kansas City Royals, who were making their first World Series appearance (and the first by an AL expansion team). After splitting the first four games, the Phillies came from behind in the top of the ninth inning of Game 5 to return to Veterans Stadium up 32 in the Series. They led 41 in the top of the ninth and one out, when the Royals' Frank White hit a pop-up into foul territory. Catcher Bob Boone raced over to the first base dugout to try and catch the ball, but he closed his glove too soon and dropped it. However, first baseman Pete Rose, who had come over as well to back Boone up just in case, was right there to catch it himself to get the second out. Pitcher Tug McGraw went on to strike out the next batter, Willie Wilson, to give the Phillies their first title in their 97-year history. NBC commentator and former catcher Joe Garagiola had only this to say:Joe Garagiola: The crowd will tell you what happens.
[After McGraw throws the final pitch to strike out Wilson, the players and home fans alike go wild; Garagiola simply lets their reactions speak for themselves]
- The ending of the 1993 World Series. Saturday, October 23, 1993. The Toronto Blue Jays' Joe Carter comes up to bat after Rickey Henderson walked and Paul Molitor hit a single off the Philadelphia Phillies' closer Mitch Williams, who was nicknamed "Wild Thing" for how unpredictable he could be when he took the mound. After falling behind Carter 20, Williams managed to get the count even. Carter followed that by hitting a gigantic home run on the 22 pitch over the SkyDome's left field wall, which made 52,000 Jays fans unleash one of the loudest fan explosions in MLB history. To date, it is still the only time that a come-from-behind home run helped a team win the World Series, and one of only two to end with a walk-off home run (the other being the Pittsburgh Pirates' win in 1960, discussed in more detail below). And Joe Carter still gets to say that he's the only one who's done that.
Tom Cheeknote : Joe has had his moments. Trying to lay off that ball, low to the outside part of the plate, he just went after one. Two balls and two strikes on him. Here's the pitch on the way. A swing and a BELT! Left field, way back, BLUE JAYS WIN IT! The Blue Jays are World Series Champions, as Joe Carter hits a three-run home run in the ninth inning and the Blue Jays have repeated as World Series Champions! Touch 'em all, Joe, you'll never hit a bigger home run in your life!
- In a list of the Top 50 Finishes in MLB History (anything from games played since the start of the 1962 MLB season), aired on the MLB Network, Carter's home run was selected as the #1 finish in Major League Baseball.
- The 2001 World Series. Just the fact that it was even being played at all after dealing with the aftermath of 9/11 earlier that year felt incredible enough on its own accord. However, when you consider it's the New York Yankees, a then-26x champion team that won the World Series 4 out of 5 times from 1996-2000, including a three-peat, going up against an upstart Arizona Diamondbacks, a team that was only 4 years old entering the World Series for the first time ever, it truly felt like a David Vs. Goliath story for professional baseball. Whenever key pitchers Randy Johnson & Curt Schilling were on the mound for the games they played in, it made the Yankees' work feel that much harder on their end. However, in the games out in New York, it truly showed how not just the state of New York, but the U.S.A. as a whole was truly strong and resilient with themselves. Between President George W. Bush's first pitch from Game 3, Game 4 going from Halloween to November 1 with Derek Jeter's home run to win it for the Yankees, and another tense comeback win for the Yankees in Game 5, it showed how it was a World Series to remember everywhere. However, the highlight of the event came from Game 7, where after a tight pitching battle between Curt Schilling and Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson came in as a surprise closer for the Diamondbacks in the 9th inning, followed by some key hits from Diamondbacks Mark Grace, Damian Miller (from a bunt of all things), Jay Bell, and a double from Tony Womack alongside an unintentional hit on Craig Counsell making it all even again before a decisive hit by Luis Gonzalez (known for being a Home Run winner that season) won it all for them at the bottom of the ninth with a soft floater single under a situation most kids would dream of being under for a decisive World Series. Both Randy Johnson & Curt Schilling shared the honor of being named World Series MVPs together (a rare feat where the honor was shared by multiple players in one year only once before, as well as the first by two pitchers for the same team), while Game 7 of that World Series was later ranked as the best playoff game for the 2000's decade by Sports Illustrated.
- The 2004 ALCS. The Red Sox were down three games to none after a soul-crushing 198 loss to their hated rivals, the New York Yankees. Down by one run and facing Mariano Rivera in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 4, they rallied to force extras (Kevin Millar walked and Bill Mueller drove in the pinch-runner Dave Roberts, who immediately stole second) and won it in the twelfth (off the bat of Sox slugger David Ortiz). Then, they took Games 5 (in 14 innings, again off the bat of Ortiz), and 6, and finally pulled off the Miracle Rally in Game 7, becoming the first team in MLB history to rally from a 30 series deficit in the process and creating indisputably the single greatest series comeback in the history of the sport. They went on to sweep the World Series in four straight games - and brought the title home to Boston for the first time since 1918. Considered by most the greatest moment in baseball history, and surely the greatest eight-game run by any baseball team.
- It should also be noted that, at the time, only two teams in American professional sports history had ever come back from three games down in a seven-game playoff series (both in the NHL - the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1942,note and the New York Islanders in 1975). It had never been done in over a century of American baseball. To further illustrate how monumental this comeback was, only two teams in the history of baseball had even forced a Game 6 after going down 30. And the Sox became the only team to even make it to Game 7.
- One specific moment of awesomeness was Game 6 - Curt Schilling pitched 7 innings with a torn tendon sheath stapled to his ankle bone.
- Better still, the Red Sox winning the World Series was sandwiched between two back-to-back Super Bowl victories by the New England Patriots (only two/three years after their first-ever Super Bowl victory), and later followed up by both the Boston Celtics (2008) and Boston Bruins (2011) taking home their respective championship trophies, for the first time in over 20 years and nearly 40 years, respectively. The eleven-year period between 2001-2011 saw all four Boston teams banish a collective 192 years of drought with seven championship wins. The closest range of the three (non-NFL) Boston teams winning it before that? 32 years. (Bruins in 1972, Celtics five times from 197486, * and the Sox championship of 2004).
- In 2005, the Chicago White Sox ended their own curse, winning the World Series for the first time since 1917 (meaning their wait was actually two years longer than the Red Sox) and did it in particularly dominant fashion. From Opening Day until the end of the regular season, they maintained first place in their division, though late in the season their play began to lag and they nearly dropped from first. In the playoffs, they first proceeded to sweep the defending champion Red Sox 30 in the divisional series, and then went on to beat the Angels 41 in the championship series. In the World Series, they swept the Astros 40. With 11 wins and 1 loss in the playoffs, the White Sox tied for the second-best playoff percentage in MLB history (the 1976 Cincinnati Reds are the only team to post a perfect playoff record, though they only had to play seven games). Their entire run, from Opening Day until the final out of the World Series, was one of the most dominant seasons in MLB history.
- As they went into Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, the underdog Pittsburgh Pirates trailed the mighty New York Yankees in every offensive category except for games won: the series was tied at 3. Game 7 seesawed back and forth throughout; the Pirates took an early 40 lead on a 2-run shot by Rocky Nelson and a 2-run single by Bill Virdon in their first two at-bats. The Yankees finally got on the board in the fifth when Bill "Moose" Skowron led off the top of the inning with his second home run of the series. Then in the top of the sixth, Mickey Mantle hit an RBI single that drove in eventual Series MVP Bobby Richardson. Yogi Berra followed that with a 3-run shot to right that was so close to going foul that Mel Allen had to correct himself, since he said it was going to be a foul ball at first. The Yankees added two more in their half of the eighth on an RBI single by Johnny Blanchard, then an RBI double by Clete Boyer. Then the Pirates had their half of the eighth. After a pinch-hit single by Gino Cimoli, Bill Virdon hit a ground ball to Yankee shortstop Tony Kubek. However, the ball took a bad bounce and hit him in the throat, which forced his departure from the game. Dick Groat then hit an RBI single to make it 75 New York. The next batter, Roberto Clemente, hit a ground ball toward first base; however, due to Skowron and Jim Coates both trying to get the ball at the same time and Clemente's speed, the only thing Skowron could do was hold it as Virdon scored to make it 76. Hal Smith then hit a 3-run shot, Pittsburgh's second of the game, to give them a 97 lead and set off a delirious celebration in Forbes Field. In the top of the 9th, Richardson and pinch-hitter Dale Long both hit singles that forced a pitching change. Mickey Mantle hit another single to drive in Richardson once again and make it 98 Pittsburgh. Yogi hit a grounder straight at Rocky Nelson, whose momentum led him to step on first base to retire Berra; Mantle dove back to first since he knew that he had no chance to beat a play at second (he also thought the ball had been caught in the air).note He barely avoided Nelson's tag (which would have ended the series) while Gil McDougald (who was pinch-running for Long) raced home to tie the game at 9. The Pirates came up to bat in the bottom of the ninth inning. Leading off was the Pirates' #8 batter, the great-fielding but weak-batting Bill Mazeroski. On the 10 pitch, he hit a home run to become the first batter in World Series history ever to win the series with a game-ending homer.note
- Don Larsen was nothing more than a so-so journeyman pitcher for his Major League career. Except for Game 5 of the 1956 World Series, where he went out and tossed a 27-up, 27-down perfect game. In Yankee Stadium. Against the Yankees' hated cross-town rivals, the Brooklyn Dodgers. As the lead in the New York Daily News put it "The imperfect man pitched the perfect game."
- It was the only postseason no-hitter ever pitched in MLB until 2010.
- And while we're on that subject, Roy Halladay deserves a double-helping of awesome, for that second postseason no-hitter...and his first (a perfect game) earlier in the 2010 season. Only five other pitchers in history have pitched two no-hitters in the same season: Johnny Vander Meer (who is extra awesome for pitching them in consecutive starts), Virgil Trucks, Allie Reynolds, Nolan Ryan (who is extra awesome for pitching seven no-hitters total), and Max Scherzer.
- The 2010 World Series provided moments of awesome for both teams, the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers.
- No one thought the Giants would win. Polls showed only California had hopes for them. All the newscasters scoffed and said the Giants would never win. Still, the Giants pushed on and ended up winning in five games to capture their first World Series since they moved to San Francisco in 1957.
- The Rangers entered the 2011 season as the oldest MLB franchise to never reach the World Series; their postseason record to that point: Three eliminations in the Division Series (all to the New York Yankees) with only one game won in that span. The franchise also started the season in bankruptcy court thanks to owner Tom Hicks having frivolously spent money he didn't have. The club ended up being put up for public auction in July before the group led by Nolan Ryan finally put in a bid that satisfied Hicks' creditors. They won the American League West and then finally advanced in the postseason by beating Tampa in the ALDS - and then made just about every Rangers fan's dreams come true by not only finally reaching the World Series, not only beating the Yankees in the ALCS to get there, but by ending the ALCS in the absolute best way imaginable: former Ranger Alex Rodriguez looking at strike three.
- The Minnesota Twins winning the 1991 World Series, which 20 years on is still remembered as one of the greatest of all time. Both teams had been last in their division on the last day of the 1990 season, and through some very astute offseason moves, a certain amount of good fortune in avoiding injuries on the field and simply winning a lot (the Twins put together a 15-game winning streak from late May to mid June, essentially putting the lights out in the AL West before the All Star Break). The series was already awesome when it returned to Minneapolis with the Twins staring down elimination after Game 5. In the bottom of the 11th inning of Game 6, Kirby Puckett hit a walk-off home run, etching Jack Buck's call of "And we'll see you tomorrow night!" in the memories of everyone watching. In the decisive game 7, Jack Morris pitched a 10-inning shutout for the Twins, before Gene Larkin hit a soft fly ball over the infield's heads to score Dan Gladden for the only run of the game. This World Series was rated by ESPN as the greatest of all time.
- On August 25th, 2011, the St. Louis Cardinals were 10½ games back in the NL Wild Card race. In just a month's time, they managed to go 22-8 and, thanks to a 9-17 September collapse by the Atlanta Braves (and a good luck necklace given to manager Tony LaRussa by Carlos Santana), they drew even with the Braves with one game to play. At the same time, the Tampa Bay Rays, who were 9 games back of the then division-leading Boston Red Sox on September 1st, won 6 out of 7 games against the Red Sox that month (they went 10-9 otherwise) which, along with the Red Sox's 7-19 (Tampa Bay games included) collapse, also brought the AL East rivals even heading in to the final day. September 28th itself had two games with Miracle Rallies, plus one inversion:
- The inversion was the aforementioned Braves, leading 3-1 after 6 innings. At that point, the Philadelphia Phillies showed why they got 100+ wins by cobbling together single runs in the 7th and 9th innings, and another with two outs in the 13th. The 3-6-3 double play in the bottom of that inning capped off the Cards' Miracle Month (having won their game almost an hour earlier). This was win #102 for the Phillies, breaking the previous franchise record of 101 set in 1976 (and also in 1977).
- As for Boston, they led the Last-Place Baltimore Orioles 3-2 after 6 and a half innings and about one-and-a-quarter hours of Rain Delay. After nothing doing on Baltimore's part for two innings* , the Red Sox were 1 out away from at least living another day. But then, the Orioles hit two consecutive doubles (one of them Ground-Rule) and then an outfield single, for two runs, and the win, on that last out.
- Which wouldn't have mattered seeing as how the AL-leading New York Yankees were up on the Rays 7-0 after 7. Then, in the 8th: Single, Double, Hit-By-Pitch, Walk (1), Hit-By-Pitch (2), strikeout, sac Fly (3), Evan Longoria Home Run (4-6).
In the 9th, however, the first 2 Rays got out, leaving them down to, at the time, their last out of the season (Baltimore was still in Rain Delay at this point). Cue Pinch Hitter Dan Johnson, who hit a solo shot, forcing extra innings.
12:02 AM EDT: Baltimore polishes off its 2-run Rally, putting Boston on the canvas.
12:04 AM EDT: The Baltimore Rally Win shows up on the Tampa Bay scoreboard.
12:05 AM EDT: Longoria strikes gold again in the 12th inning; capping both a Miracle game and a miracle month.
- While calling September 28th "the day of the Miracle Rally" is a bit of a stretch , the Awesomeness of this date is acknowledged even by Braves Fans. ESPN assembled the timeline of events.* Who Needs Game 163?
- What makes this all Hilarious in Hindsight is that starting the following year, the top two wild card teams from each league would make the playoffs, playing each other in a one-game playoff for the right to advance to the Division Series. So this was the last possible year that something amazing like this could happen, because in any subsequent year, both teams would make the playoffs!
- First afterthought: The races for 2nd place (and Home Field) in both Leagues also came down to this last day, with Texas and Milwaukee ahead of Detroit and Arizona respectively by 1 game each going in. With Milwaukee taking care of business, Arizona attempted (and failed) 9th inning rally would not have mattered* . As for the AL race (and the right to put off the Yankees for 3 games): Detroit traded blows with Cleveland but still won with a solo-shot in the bottom of the 8th which Cleveland couldn't answer. However, it was for naught as Mike Napoli of the Rangers broke a 1-1 tie against the Angels in the Top of the 9th with a two-run shot that the Angels couldn't answer.
- As a postscript to the above, the St. Louis Cardinals, after getting to the 2011 World Series (and beating the favored Phillies and Brewers to do so), twice were one strike away from losing in Game Six in the ninth and tenth, and both times managed to tie it. And then Homegrown Hero David Freese, who had tied it in the ninth, manages to win it with a walk-off homer in the eleventh to tie the Series. Busch Stadium practically EXPLODED after that win. Then Freese, in Game Seven, managed to tie it after the Rangers took the lead in the game, made a foul catch at the rail in the crowd to deny Josh Hamilton another pitch, and the Cardinals go on to win the World Series, their eleventh win. David Freese also gets one for winning both the World Series MVP and the League Championship Series MVP in the same season.
- One of the most memorable events in the history of American sport: Babe Ruth calling his shot in the 1932 World Series. There may be some question of where he was pointing (he may have simply been pointing mockingly at the Chicago Cubs' bench), and it was in only the fifth inning in only the third game of the Series, but it remains one of the most indelible images in baseball history from one of the sport's greatest players.
- The 2005 Gibsonburg High School baseball team went 6-17 during the regular season. In Ohio, all baseball teams went to the playoffs, however, and Gibsonburg pulled off the miracle, winning eight straight games to win the Ohio state championship. To date, they are the only high school team in any state in any sport to win a state championship with a losing record. And yes, someone did buy the movie rights.
- October 3, 2012, the last day of the main season, ended up being one massive one for the Yankees, Nationals, and Miguel Cabrera. The Yankees played against the Boston Red Sox in a game that would help determine whether or not the Yankees clinch the AL East. Not only did they defeat the Red Sox 14-2, the Orioles, the main threat to their chances, were defeated during the game. Miguel Cabrera became the first man to win the Triple Crown in over 40 years. And the Nationals clinched the NL East and entered the post season for the first time since the Washington Senators did so in the 30's. Not only that, but the Running Gag of Teddy Roosevelt always losing a race that is used for mid-inning entertainment was broken and Teddy finally won after receiving support from both John McCain AND one of Barack Obama's spokespeople, a Republican and Democrat, respectively. It was a DAY of awesome. Except for Boston, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, who all lost in some way.
- Not even the best part of the day. The Oakland Athletics, predicted at the beginning of the year to lose 100 games, were 93-68 and facing the mighty Texas Rangers, who were... 93-68. Two teams, the high-spending juggernaut and the thrifty, Moneyballing underdog, tied for first with the division title coming down to this last game. This was after the A's had been 13 games out and 9 below .500 in June, and 5 games behind Texas with only 9 to play. Coming into this three-game series with Texas, they were two games out, so needed to sweep to win the West. They won the first two, so the stage was set for one final winner-take-all game. Oakland jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, but the Texas bats showed their power by scoring 5 runs in the top of the third. The A's should have rolled over now; after all, weren't they facing a vastly superior team? Hell no! They came roaring back in the fourth by scoring six runs to pull back ahead of the Rangers. The final two runs in that inning came when Texas' highest-paid player, superstar Josh Hamilton, dropped a routine fly ball to allow Oakland to take the lead. The reinvigorated Athletics didn't take their foot off the Rangers' throat for the rest of the game, routing Texas 12-5.
- They followed this up with a terrific effort against the Tigers in the ALDS, coming back from an early 2-0 deficit and forcing a Game 5 before finally bowing to Detroit's star-studded roster. The A's received a ten-minute standing ovation following their final defeat at the hands of the Tigers, in recognition of the group of hitherto-unknown underdogs who managed to defy the logic of the sport.
- Jackie Robinson's first Minor League game with the Montreal Royals, when everything was riding on him to prove that black players play with white ones on a professional level. In his five trips to the plate against the Jersey City Giants, Robinson had four hits, including a three-run home run. He also scored four runs, drove in three, and stole two bases in the Royals' 141. In short, when it really counted, Robinson had a spectacular first game that topped the fictional game in The Natural!
- The 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates finally ended 20 consecutive years of miserable losing in winning fashion and have made people proud of the team again. In the Wild Card game against rival Cincinnati Reds, the ebullient and raucous crowd at PNC Park so unnerved Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto that he ended up dropping the baseball on the mound and the Reds never recovered from it. It was a well deserved season for Pirates fans.
- The 2013 Boston Red Sox. After an epic collapse out of playoff contention in 2011, to a brutal 2012 season that found them in last place, the Sox rebounded in a big way, first winning their division, then having the best record in the American League, and culminating in their third World Series Title in 10 years - and the first Series clincher at Fenway Park since 1918. Boston Strong indeed.
- Daniel Nava. The epitome of the Determinator. After he started high school at only 4'8" and 70 lbs, his parents started giving him HGH to try and help grow. They stopped when his hands started to swell. He would hit a growth spurt that saw him at 5'5" his senior year. He got an opportunity to walk on for the Santa Clara baseball team but failed to make the team. He then had to leave the school entirely when he could no longer afford tuition, and had to go to junior college. He tried out for that school's team and made it, where he did so well he was listed as a JC All-American. Santa Clara then gave him a scholarship and brought him back for his senior year. After going undrafted, he tries out with an independent baseball team, only to be cut. He was brought back a year later after an injury sidelined another player, where he did so well the Boston Red Sox signed him. After three years in the minors, the Sox call him up after they suffered many, many injuries, he swings at the first pitch he sees to hit a grand slam home run, becoming just the second player ever to do such a feat.
- He had another awesome home run a few years later. Just days after the Boston Marathon bombing that killed 3 people and gravely injured 176 more, in the Red Sox first home game since the bombing, Nava hit a 3-run go-ahead home run in the bottom of the 8th to win the game. His home run is only the second post-terrorist attack home run in the history of baseball; the other is a 2-run shot by Mike Piazza of the Mets shortly after 9/11.David Ortiz: This is our fucking city, and nobody is going to dictate our freedom to us!Don Orsillo (when Nava hits the home run): Boston, this is for you!
- He had another awesome home run a few years later. Just days after the Boston Marathon bombing that killed 3 people and gravely injured 176 more, in the Red Sox first home game since the bombing, Nava hit a 3-run go-ahead home run in the bottom of the 8th to win the game. His home run is only the second post-terrorist attack home run in the history of baseball; the other is a 2-run shot by Mike Piazza of the Mets shortly after 9/11.
- The Miracle Mets. Established in 1962 to fill in the void the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants created by moving to Los Angeles and San Francisco respectively, the New York Mets consisted of castoffs from other teams and rookies. After seven losing seasons in which they finished in either ninth or tenth place in the National League, the Mets shocked the baseball world in 1969. They overtook the National League East-leading Chicago Cubs with just under a month left in the season and never looked back, finishing with a 100-62 record (39-11 in their final 50 games). After sweeping the Atlanta Braves in the inaugural National League Championship series, they faced a heavily favored Baltimore Orioles team who had won 109 games in the regular season and easily dispatched the Minnesota Twins in the first American League championship series. The Mets lost the first game but won the next four, finishing off an improbable year with their first World Series victory (beating their division rival Philadelphia, mentioned above, to the title by eleven years).
- The Mets' 1986 run was equally impressive. They won their division handily with a 108-54 record but their dramatic postseason display made up for it. Game 5 of the NLCS against the Houston Astros ended with the then 1-for-21 Gary Carter hitting a game-winning RBI single in the 12th inning, giving the Mets a 3-2 edge. In the top of the ninth inning of Game 6, the Mets rallied to tie the score and won it in the sixteenth inning. Jesse Orosco, despite giving up a game-tying home run in the fourteenth inning, became the first reliever to win three postseason games. The Mets then faced the Boston Red Sox in the World Series which they won in seven games after losing the first two at home. The fabled Game 6 comeback with two outs in the tenth inning began with three consecutive singles to Gary Carter, Kevin Mitchell and Ray Knight. A wild pitch tied the score, followed by Mookie Wilson hitting a ground ball through the legs of Bill Buckner, sending Knight home with the winning run. The Mets also rallied from three down to win Game 7 and the series.Vin Scully: A little roller up along first - BEHIND THE BAG! IT GETS THROUGH BUCKNER!! HERE COMES KNIGHT AND THE METS WIN IT!!!
- The Red Sox deserve a special mention in 1986. They faced a 3-1 series deficit against the California Angels entering Game 5 of the American League Championship series. It all began in the top of the ninth with a single and a home run to cut their deficit to one run. With two outs, a runner on and the Red Sox down to their last strike, Dave Henderson crushed a home run to left field that put the Red Sox on top by one run. After the Angels rallied to force extras, Henderson came through again with a go ahead sacrifice fly. The Angels never recovered, losing Games 6 and 7 by a large margin and the Red Sox won the pennant. And who started the rally in the ninth inning of Game 5 that brought the Red Sox to the World Series? Bill Buckner!
- The Mets' 1986 run was equally impressive. They won their division handily with a 108-54 record but their dramatic postseason display made up for it. Game 5 of the NLCS against the Houston Astros ended with the then 1-for-21 Gary Carter hitting a game-winning RBI single in the 12th inning, giving the Mets a 3-2 edge. In the top of the ninth inning of Game 6, the Mets rallied to tie the score and won it in the sixteenth inning. Jesse Orosco, despite giving up a game-tying home run in the fourteenth inning, became the first reliever to win three postseason games. The Mets then faced the Boston Red Sox in the World Series which they won in seven games after losing the first two at home. The fabled Game 6 comeback with two outs in the tenth inning began with three consecutive singles to Gary Carter, Kevin Mitchell and Ray Knight. A wild pitch tied the score, followed by Mookie Wilson hitting a ground ball through the legs of Bill Buckner, sending Knight home with the winning run. The Mets also rallied from three down to win Game 7 and the series.
- Mark Smith, a journeyman outfielder with the 2000 Marlins, hit two home runs in a 2-1 win in Montreal on the afternoon of July 2nd, and then proceeded to pull a man from a burning car on his way home from the airport that same evening.
- The 2016 World Series. On one side, you have the Cleveland Indians, who haven't won a World Series in 68 years. On the other side, you have the Chicago Cubs, who hadn't even appeared in a World Series in 71 years, or won one in 108 years.
- In Game 4 of the 2016 National League Division Series, the Cubs trailed 5-2 and were three outs away from allowing the San Francisco Giants to even the series. Then, Kris Bryant singled, Anthony Rizzo walked and Ben Zobrist doubled to score Bryant. Willson Contrerasa rookie who had only been called up four months priordrove in the tying runs with a single. Jason Heyward bunted into a force play but Brandon Crawford threw the ball away, allowing Heyward to reach second. Javier Baez drove in Heyward for the fourth run of the inning, completing the comeback. Closer Aroldis Chapman struck out the side to put the Cubs in the NLCS.
- Going into Game 7, the Cubs and Indians had each won three games. The score was tied at 6 at the bottom of the ninth. The game went into extra innings. In the top of the tenth, the Cubs pulled ahead by two runs. Then it was the Indians' turn... and they only managed one run with the final score at 8-7, giving the Cubs victory in their first World Series in seven decades. Just to make it clear how hard fought this win was, they had come back from a 3-1 deficit. For some bonus points, this was Cubs catcher David Ross's final game before retiring.
- Even if they lost, the Indians in general were this. Sure, they ultimately blew a 3-1 lead, but they were anything but chokers — even after they lost momentum and went into Game 7 with their backs against the wall, they proceeded to rally from down 6-3 with two outs in the 8th to tie against a flame-throwing Aroldis Chapman, capped off by Rajai Davis, who was more known for his speed, cranking a two-run homer, one of the greatest in baseball history. And even after giving up two runs in the 10th, they managed to rally again, cutting the deficit to one run, and it was only a Michael Martinez groundout that nearly turned into an error that put them down for good.
- And even if it was a year late, Marty McFly's prediction came true after all.
- Only 15 players in the modern era of MLB have pulled off an unassisted triple play, making three putouts all at once. Bill Wambsganss of the Cleveland Indians did it during a World Series game in 1920; as of 2019, it's still the only triple play in World Series history.
- The Houston Astros going from being the worst team in MLB in 2013 to winning over 100 games and beating the Dodgers, the favorite to win the 2017 World Series.
- Game 5 in particular. A furious scoring rally on both ends, from multiple runs in more than one inning to the Dodgers tying the game when they were one strike away from losing, only for the Astros to score a solo homer to end the round 13-12. It made for the highest scoring World Series game in two decades.
- And Sports Illustrated gets a special bit of awesome for predicting it would happen...in 2014. And the player they put on that cover, George Springer, was the World Series MVP. Call it the ultimate subversion of the Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx.
- The series went the distance with Houston winning Game 7 on the road. The last time an American League team did this was 1972.
- Though that victory would be tarnished in 2020 when it came out that the Astros had devised a scheme to use live video feeds of games to steal pitchers' signs.note That being said, commissioner Rob Manfred would not strike either the Astros' 2017 World Series or the Red Sox's 2018 World Series (who had some personnel from the 2017 Astros) from the record books... though their wins can still be considered black eye wins like the Cincinnati Reds' World Series win over the Chicago White Sox (a.k.a., the Black Sox) from 1919.
- The 2019 Washington Nationals, the season after losing star player Bryce Harper, started out dismally, with a 19-31 record in May. They then proceeded to surge throughout the rest of the season and make the playoffs, where they were expected to exit quickly based on their under-performance in elimination games over the last several postseasons. Instead, the Nats won the NL Wild Card game on the implosion of the Milwaukee Brewers' Josh Hader, defeated the 106-win Los Angeles Dodgers with the help of two road wins, swept the St. Louis Cardinals to make the World Series, and defeated the heavily favored, 107-win Houston Astros with FOUR road wins to win the World Series for the first time in franchise history.
- Italy's Dorothea Wierer already had a reputation for being one of the fastest shooters in World Cup competition, but when the World Championships came to her home track in Antholz in 2020, she gave the crowd possibly the greatest shooting stage they will ever see, taking only 19 seconds from getting on the mat to firing her last shot.
- France's Emilien Jacquelin is another very fast shot. During the 2021 World Championship, in the pursuit discipline, he went into the first standing shoot (third shoot in total), and took down all targets in 17.3 seconds. He almost repeated the performance on the final shoot, clocking in at 17.7 seconds. That's how you defend your title in style.
- Anyone that casually does bowling knows that bowling a perfect game with a 300 score is the ultimate achievement to achieve there.
- April 6, 1996: The finals of the Flagship Open in (ten-pin) bowling's PBA Tour, held in Erie, Pennsylvania on lanes set up in the city's main indoor arena, now known as Erie Insurance Arena. The first match of the five-player stepladder finalsnote , nationally televised on ABC, featured Erie's own Bob Learn Jr. In front of a loud hometown crowd of 4,500, Learn began the finals by bowling a perfect game (12 strikes), earning a $100,000 bonus. It got even crazier from thereLearn went on to win the tournament, setting a new PBA record for a four-game series at 1,129. The combined scores of his four opponents (1,083) were higher than the series record that Learn had just broken (1,070).
- James "Buster" Douglas. Having been a middling heavyweight fighter with a 2941 record and a reputation for never training seriously, he got a championship fight with the "baddest man on the planet" Mike Tyson in 1990 simply because there was no one else left to contend (other than Evander Holyfield). The fight was held in Tokyo because no American venue was interested. It was believed that the fight would be so one-sided that only about eight U.S. journalists went to Japan. Then Douglas' mother suffered a massive (and fatal) stroke 23 days before the fight, causing suspicion that would just distract him even further. Instead, it motivated Douglas to train harder and be more focused than ever before, and the result was him picking apart the previously invincible Tyson for nine rounds before knocking him out in the 10th to take the Undisputed World Heavyweight Championship. It is still considered the greatest upset in boxing history.Charley Steiner: "Buster Douglas was never that good before and never that good since. But on that one night in Tokyo, he was pretty near perfect."
- On August 14, 2015, Marco Huck from Germany and Krzysztof Glowacki from Poland were set for a boxing match for the WBO Cruiserweight Championship. By this point, Huck had defended his title 13 times in a row and needed only one more victory to set a new record for most successful title defenses. The match started very close, with both fighters matching each other blow-for-blow, but in the 6th round, Huck managed to knock Glowacki down. Pole somehow managed to stand up at 9-count, and everyone expected the match to be over soon... but instead, Glowacki went on the total offensive and completely caught Huck off guard, forcing him to stay defensive for the rest of the round. After four more rounds, Huck had advantage on all three scorecards, meaning the only way Glowacki could win was by knockout. And somehow, he pulled it off - first, he noticed German leaving himself open for a split second and knocked him down, and when Huck managed to - barely - get up, he followed up with flurry of blows so brutal he nearly knocked Huck through the ring ropes, breaking his streak and coming out with the title. The whole fight was named WBO Fight of the Year, and for a very good reason. Watch it in all its glory here.
- For Virginians, the VCUnote Rams moving on to the NCAA Final Four in 2011 for the first time in the school's history is an awesome moment of itself. More? This was the first season that the NCAA tournament had expanded to 68 teams, with eight having to play in the new "First Four" round to get into the main 64-team bracketand VCU was one of those eight. In other words, they had to win five tournament games to reach the Final Four, while the other three Final Four teams that season needed only to win four. Still more? The coach that brought them therenote had been in the school's basketball program for not even two years. That a young and inexperienced coach had done something that no one in the program's history says something. They may not have won, but for one week, everyone was a Ram.
- It gets better when one remembers that VCU's crosstown rival, the University of Richmond, also made it to the Sweet Sixteen and happened to be in the same regional, both playing in San Antonio. After Richmond was defeated by Kansas, the entire city rallied around the Rams, who avenged their rival and solidified that Richmond, VA was indeed Hoopstown, USA.
- The Wham Line from the University of Virginia play-by-play announcer says it all:Dave Koehn: For the first time in thirty-eight years, the Cavaliers are ACC Tournament Champions in 2014!
- In the 2018 NCAA tournament, the University of Virginia saw themselves on the wrong side of history when the UMBCnote Retrievers did what no other school had done in the history of the 64-team tournament: becoming the first #16 seed to topple a #1 seed in the first round with a 74-54 smackdown of the Cavaliers (and not just any #1 seed, but the #1 ranked team in the country at the end of the regular season). While the game was pretty evenly matched throughout the first half with the score tied at 21-21, the second half of the game wasn't even close. UMBC took the lead early and never looked back, out-shooting and out-rebounding the Cavs (who were a pitiful 4-for-22 from downtown).
- Postscript: A year later, the Cavs, once again a 1 seed, in the first round looked ugly and were nearly upset again. But they recovered from that quickly and won the whole thing. With many of the stars who had been blown out by UMBC on the floor, no less.
- While the game itself had little impact on the season as a whole, the 1992 game between Troy State (now Troy) and DeVry made history by ending with a final score of 258note -141, the highest score ever recorded at any level of the sport, by far. Jon Bois gives a pretty good summary of just how incredible this feat is on the part of everyone involved - not just Troy State, but for DeVry, who managed to keep up with their breakneck pace with only 7 players suited up, and even the scorekeepers, who were left with nothing but pencils and hope when the scoreboard ran out of room.
- February 24, 2020: To say that this day was emotional for Sabrina Ionescu was the grossest of understatements. The Oregon superstar, favorite for national player of the year, began the day in Los Angeles, where she was one of several featured speakers at the memorial service for Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, who had died in a helicopter crash a month earlier. (Kobe had become a mentor and close personal friend to Ionescu in the last two years.) Immediately after the service, she boarded a charter flight to the Bay Area, where the Ducks were set to play Stanford in a key game in the Pac-12 and NCAA tournament seeding race. Also, she was chasing history of her own. Already one of only two players in NCAA history (men or women) with 2,000 points and 1,000 assists, Ionescu was 9 rebounds away from 1,000 in her career. No college basketball player at any level had reached "2K-1K-1K" before. And may we add that she was battling the flu, and barely ate that day. So what does Ionescu do? 21 points, 12 assists, and 12 rebounds, reaching the unprecedented "2K-1K-1K" and leading the Ducks to a 7466 win. The triple-double extended her NCAA career-record total to 26. That's more than twice the total of the NCAA men's career leader, and more than the next three players on the NCAA Division I women's list combined. It was also her eighth of the 201920 season, tying her own single-season record from the previous season. And, even the numbers of the date proved telling. 2: Gianna's number in youth basketball. 24: Kobe's number for the last half of his career with the Los Angeles Lakers. 20: Sabrina's Oregon number.
- While TCU's victory over Wisconsin in the 2011 Rose Bowl was pretty cool in its own right, the true Moment of Awesome came off the field, with an epic Take That! to E. Gordon Gee, president of the Badgers' conference rival Ohio State, in reference to some disparaging remarks he made about the quality of opponents faced by non-AQ schools such as TCU and Boise State.
- Vince Young in the 2006 Rose Bowl. After a month solid of hearing how great USC was, the entire state of Texas was ready to knock some Cali heads in the National Championship Game. Late in the game, down 12 points, Young puts the team on his back and scores a touchdown to pull within 5, the defense held tight and forced a turnover on downs, Young drives the offense down the field, and on fourth and five, less than thirty seconds left with literally everything on the line, Young takes the ball himself and runs across the goal line untouched for the game winning touchdown, sending the entire state (with the possible exception of College Station) into a frenzy, then to put the icing on the cake, scores the two point conversion himself. Regardless of college affiliation, a great moment for the state of Texas.
- Appalachian State upsetting the heavily favored #5 ranked Michigan Wolverines in the opening weekend of the 2007 season counts. Appalachian State dominated early and had to hold off a furious rally from the vaunted Wolverines to win the game 34-32. Michigan tumbled out of the AP Top 25 after the game, marking the first time an AP Top 5 time had fallen out of the top 25 after a loss. Michigan as a program was reeling from this loss for more than a decade, as their next Big Ten championship didn't come until 2021, whereas Appalachian State went from being an FCS powerhouse to the FBS Sun Belt Conference, winning a bowl game every year from 2015-2020.
- The 2007 Fiesta Bowl. The Boise State University Broncos went into the game as huge underdogs to the Oklahoma Sooners, one of the most storied programs in college football. After blowing an 18-point lead, the Broncos found themselves down by a touchdown late in the game. On 4th and 18, with 18 seconds to go in the game, Boise State threw a 15 yard pass, and then the receiver lateraled the ball to another receiver who not only got the first down, but ran all the way to the end zone to tie the game and force overtime. Oklahoma got possession first in OT and scored on their very first play. On their ensuing possession, Boise State needed a touchdown to stay alive. On 4th down, from the Oklahoma 5-yard line, Boise State ran a trick play, and had a receiver throw a pass which was caught in the end zone for a touchdown. The Broncos elected to go for a two-point conversion for the win rather than an extra point to tie. They would use another trick play, a variation of the Statue of Liberty play, to win the game and finish the season as the only undefeated team in Division I FBS football.
- The 2013 AlabamaAuburn Iron Bowl when Chris Davis caught a missed Alabama field goal nine yards deep in his own end zone in a 2828 game with 7 seconds left, and running it all the way for the 34-28 win. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn put Davis, who doubled as Auburn's return specialist, in the back of the end zone in the event Alabama's field goal try fell short. It did, and Davis shot up the left sideline 109 yards to score, staying inbounds and avoiding two Auburn players (one of whom was the holder, one of the two Alabama players on the field with decent speed as everyone else were mainly offensive linemen; the other decently quick Alabama player was kicker Adam Griffith, who ran into an Auburn blocker elsewhere before Davis got close).Rod Bramblett: Chris Davis is gonna drop back into the back of the end zone in single safety. Well, i guess if this thing comes up short he can field it, and run it out. Alright, here we go. Fifty-six yarder, it's got - no, it does not have the leg. And Chris Davis takes it in the back of the end zone. He'll run it out to the 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 45 - THERE GOES DAVIS! (his broadcast partner lets out an "Oh my god!" at this point) DAVIS IS GONNA RUN IT ALL THE WAY BACK! AUBURN'S GONNA WIN THE FOOTBALL GAME!! AUBURN'S GONNA WIN THE FOOTBALL GAME!!! HE RAN THE MISSED FIELD GOAL BACK!! HE RAN IT BACK 109 YARDS!! THEY'RE NOT GONNA KEEP 'EM OFF THE FIELD TONIGHT! HOLY COW! OH MY GOD! AUBURN WINS! AUBURN HAS WON THE IRON BOWL! AUBURN HAS WON THE IRON BOWL IN THE MOST UNBELIEVABLE FASHION YOU WILL EVER SEE! I CANNOT BELIEVE IT! 34-28! And we thought 'A Miracle at Jordan-Hare' was amazing! Oh my Lord in Heaven! Chris Davis just ran it 109 yards and Auburn is going to the Championship Game!
- 1982, University of California vs Stanford. With four seconds left in the game and Stanford up by one point, the Stanford marching band starts prepping to march out and play the Stanford anthem. Only problem: Stanford is about to lose this game. As soon as Stanford kicks the ball, Cal's receivers spring into action, catching the ball running and using five lateral passes to not only slip through Stanford's defensive linebackers, but dodge around the band members who've jumped the gun and started marching onto the field. Such an astounding finish to what was already a close game between rivals has gone down in history only as "The Play", and commonly makes top ten lists of awesome sports moments.Joe Starkey: "Oh, the band is out on the field!"
- In college football, the team with the longest consecutive home game sellout streak is the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Cornhuskers, dating back to 1962. There's a reason the stadium is said to become the third largest city in the state every game day.
- How about the Western Michigan Broncos during the 2016-2017 college football season? Coach P.J. Fleck had his work cut out for him with having a 1-11 team three years ago. Now, all of a sudden, the Broncos go on an undefeated streak all throughout the regular season, something only perennial powerhouse Alabama Crimson Tide could also claim. What makes the moment even more special is, because they come from the MAC, the ranking committee had concerns of their "strength of schedule", meaning other teams like Boise State and Navy came close to snatching away the ticket to the Cotton Bowl. Undaunted, the Broncos continued to take care of business, winning a MAC title for the first time in years. With the losses of Boise State and Navy, they would go on to the Cotton Bowl and play against Wisconsin. Even though they didn't win to complete a perfect season and P.J. Fleck would go on to Minnesota, the Broncos kept it a one-score game against a seasoned Big Ten team.
- On October 4, 2003, Washington State alum Tom Pounds drove 700 miles from his home in Albuquerque to Austin to visit relatives. He also brought a school flag along, and on a whim, went to the University of Texas campus to wave said flag in front of the cameras for ESPN's pregame show, College GameDay. The moment resonated so much with Cougars alumni and fans that an effort started to get the Cougar flag, soon nicknamed Ol' Crimson, in front of future GameDay shows. Two weeks later, the flag flew in Madison, Wisconsin, and the group vowed to fly it at every GameDay until the show came to Washington State. Months went by... and years... no GameDay in Pullman, but Ol' Crimson was the one constant. Then came the announcement that Coug Nation had been waiting for... October 20, 2018, GameDay went to Pullman. With the city actually declaring a state of emergency for the event, which drew what was believed to be a record crowd for the show. And even before the show, the alumni club announced that the flag would continue to fly at future shows. But the real Moment of Awesome was ESPN's opening sequence. The camera initially focused on the official Ol' Crimson... and we'll let GameDay host Rece Davis take it from there (video available here):Davis [loud crowd noise in background]: "It started with a flag. A symbol. Not just of a campaign, but a crusade. And here is the godfather of the crusade [camera pans out]... TOM POUNDS!! [who was waving the official Ol' Crimson] Fifteen years they've waited for this moment, and there is pandemonium on the Palouse!"
- The Ashes, the Test cricket series between England and Australia, has largely been dominated by the Aussies since its inception in 1883. However, England have had a few moments of brilliance, and one of the most remarkable came in the fourth Test at Old Trafford in the 1956 Ashes. England were all out for 459 in their first innings, with centuries for Peter Richardson and David Sheppard and an 80 for Colin Cowdrey, but that was just the opening act for the real moment of awesome. Australia were all out for just 84 runs in their first innings, with Jim Laker taking nine wickets for 37 runs (only Jim Burke fell victim to another bowler, namely Tony Lock). Australia had to follow on,note and this time Laker took all ten wickets for just 53 runs as the tourists were all out for 205, losing by an innings and 170 runs. Laker's feat of taking all ten wickets in an innings has only been equalled once in international Test cricket,note and his feat of taking 19 wickets in a match has never been equalled. A cartoon at the time featured a gravestone bearing the inscription "Here lie the Aussies of '56 / Skittled by Laker for next to nix."
- The 1981 Ashes are nicknamed "Botham's Ashes" due to the outstanding performances of England all-rounder Ian Botham. Australia won the first Test at Trent Bridge by four wickets, while the second Test at Lord's finished as a draw, with Botham being out for a duck in both innings and being stripped of his captaincy after the match. Then things began to turn around for both Botham and England...
- In the third Test at Headingley, the Aussies declared at 401-9 in their first innings, while England slumped to 174 all out and had to follow on. The second innings started as badly as the first, with England collapsing to 135-7... then Botham partnered with Graham Dilley, Chris Old, and Bob Willis to bring England's total to 356, with Botham himself finishing 149 not out. Australia only needed 130 runs in the second innings to snatch victory, only for Bob Willis to take eight wickets for 43 runs as the Aussies were all out for 111, giving England an 18-run victory. It was only the second time in international Test history that a team had won after having to follow on.note
- But Botham was just getting started. In the low-scoring fourth Test at Edgbaston, Australia needed just 150 runs in their second innings to win, and soon raced to 105-5. Botham proceeded to take five wickets for one run in 28 balls to dismiss the Aussies for 121, handing England a 29-run win.
- The fifth Test at Old Trafford may not have been as close as the previous two, with England winning by 103 runs, but Botham still gave a master performance at the crease in the second innings (after having been out for a duck in the first innings), racking up 118 runs. He also took five wickets as a bowler and caught four players out across the two innings.
- And while the final Test at the Oval may have finished as a draw, Botham took ten wickets, six in the first innings and four in the second, to cap off the best Test series of his career.
- First Test of the 2013 Ashes series. Ashton Agar is 19 years old, on debut, the last man in, has just watched his team implode, and has only a struggling, out of form batsman for support. What does he do? Plays like a seasoned pro and drags his team back into the game by scoring 98 of the best, breaking half a dozen world records in the process.note
- The final of the 2019 Cricket World Cup was a parade of awesome for both finalists, tournament darlings New Zealand and perennial underachievers England. Although England scored a 119-run win over New Zealand in the round-robin, and New Zealand only qualified for the semi-finals due to their superior net run ratenote over Pakistan, the latter were favourites for the final after their emphatic victory over India in the semi-final, and they proceeded to set a target of 241 runs. After a slow start that saw England at just 93-4 after 25 overs, the runs came thick and fast - but as the final over approached, the wickets also came thick and fast, and two balls into the final over, England were 227-8. Ben Stokes hit the next two balls for six runs each (the second by accident as Martin Guptill threw the ball toward the wicket to run Stokes out, only for the ball to bounce off his outstretched bat and skid across the boundary)... then New Zealand took the final two wickets on the next two balls. But as Stokes had managed a run on each of them, the score was tied, requiring a tiebreaker via "super over";note if the score was still tied, England's 26 boundaries to New Zealand's 17 would hand victory to the former. England set New Zealand a target of 15 runs... which New Zealand matched exactly as Martin Guptill was run out on the final ball of the over, handing England their first ever Cricket World Cup title.
- Johnny Hoogerland. In stage 9 of the 2011 Tour de France, a five-man breakaway including Hoogerland and Juan Antonio Fletcha had a sizeable lead on the rest of the race. Due to his performance in the breakaway, Hoogerland had reclaimed the King of the Mountains (best climber) jersey, and it waited for him at the finish. Then, disaster - a TV car, trying to pass them and avoid a tree at the same time, sideswiped Flecha. Flecha met the pavement... and turned out to be the lucky one. His bike slammed into Hoogerland, sending Hoogerland flying through the air and into a barbed wire fence. The fence destroyed his shorts and left him with deep lacerations on his legs and bottom. And what did he do? He disentangled himself from the wire, got a new pair of shorts, got back on his bike, and kept riding while the medics patched him up with every bandage they could find. He finished 15 minutes behind everyone else and was in visible pain as he stood on the podium to accept his jersey and "most aggressive ride" prize (poor consolation for what had happened, but the best the organizers could do). Only then did he go to the hospital, and he ended up needing 33 stitches to close the cuts on his legs. He stayed in the Tour in spite of his injuries, and finished 102nd. The man is badass.
- Despite arguably misinformed talk over a weakened field, whether his teammate Chris Froome was a better climber or even rider and defensive tactics stifling the Tour, Bradley Wiggins' Tour de France General Classification victory in 2012 must surely count. The first Brit ever to win the Yellow Jersey, leading out a Brit-heavy team at Sky with Froome coming second, though in the end not that close, behind him. A man who was a Gold Medal winning specialist in far shorter Pursuit track disciplines lost 10% of his body weight to be competitive at the Tour. In previous years he managed to come 4th, but also disappointed with 23rd place in his first season as team leader, then crashed out and broke his collar-bone after a good start in 2011. Finally he came good, cracking the defending champion in the mountains, riding an untouchable minute and a quarter faster than anyone in the penultimate individual time trial phase, showing sportsmanship all the way and selflessly leading his team members to individual stage victories on more than one occasion. He finished with panache, leading out Sprinting World Champion Mark Cavendish to a win on the Champs-Élysées. His team, brilliantly marshalled by Dave Brailsford, also had the second place cyclist Froome and a multistage winner in Cavendish and when Brailsford claimed it would lead a British cyclist to the Yellow Jersey within 5 years when he formed it in 2009, he was seen as a laughing stock. Three years later, it was done, comfortably and just 5 days before many of the team would go to the Olympics, where Wiggins and Froome promptly took gold and bronze in the time trial.note
- On the 6th stage of the 2013 Vuelta a España, Tony Martin attacked from the beginning, with nobody going with him. He spent the entire day riding solo, only to be caught within the last 20 meters and finish seventh. His attack was essentially a 175 km individual time trial which he managed to complete as well as an entire peloton, going with the average speed of 44.8 km/h. A Moment of Awesome for the big German, even if he didn't win.
- For the first time ever, Paris-Roubaix was televised from start to finish in 2016. That's something many cycling fans would consider a MoA in itself. The riders decide to repay it by giving the viewers nearly six hours of non-stop action: The race opens with action from the first moments, as everyone are trying to get in the early breakaway, and the pack are fighting to neutralize it. The breakaway that gets away is started by Jelle Wallays and Magnus Cort, and ends up containing some strong riders including Sylvain Chavanel, Mathew Hayman, Yaroslav Popovychnote , Imanol Erviti among othersnote . Upfront, the group is working reasonably well together, with Cort taking extra pulls to allow his teammate Hayman to save energy, while Etixx are working hard in front of the pack because they didn't get anyone into the break. After a crash that took out pre-race favourites Fabian Cancellara and Peter Sagan, and promted Etixx to set a very high pace through Tony Martin (see above). Martin's pace reduced the front group to five riders, until the LottoNL-Jumbo team bridged the gap for Vanmarcke and several others, not including Cancellara (plus teammates Stuyven and Popovich, the latter having dropped back) and Sagan (no teammates around), both working hard to get back to the front group. The group containing Tony Martin, Tom Boonen, most of Team Sky, most of LottoNL-Jumbo and a few other strong riders catch the early break, and riders from the early break and Lotto domestiques are dropped through hard work for their captains, general sacrifice plays or fatigue. Down the road, Cancellara crashes, while Sagan dodges in a moment worthy of its own MoA, taking the two out of the contest. Up front, Team Sky have taken control until losing two riders in two crashes, and the front group is reduced further to nine riders, and later to five riders: Vanmarcke, Boasson Hagen, Stannard, Boonen, and Hayman from the early breakaway. Hayman is nearly dropped after a Vanmarcke attack, Vanmarcke is brought back, and in the late kilometers, literally everyone attacks, and the finale is a five-man sprint in the Velodrome, which is surprisingly won by the 37-year old Australian veteran Hayman, winning his second professional cycling race ever, in front of the legend Tom Boonen and British Ian Stannard. If anyone has six hours to spend and want to know why people are interested in cycling, this is what they should watch.
- In 2006, Western reiner Stacy Westfall won the All-American Quarter Horse Congress reining title with her horse Wizards Baby Doll, to the song "Live Like You Were Dying". But that wasn't the awesome part. The awesome part was that she did it with no saddle, no bridle, and no reins. It's one of the most virtuoso displays of horsemanship ever.
- Kim Yu-Na, the reigning Olympic figure skating ladies champion, comes back from taking an entire season off and easily defeats her opponents with a near flawless free skate, becoming the World Champion the year before the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
- Jason Brown's amazing Riverdance-inspired free skate earned him a place on the U.S. Olympic Squad for the Sochi Olympics and went viral, having more than two million views at the time of posting. He shattered his own personal best score for the routine by more than 20 points, and reduced the NBC commentators (Scott Hamilton especially) to giddy laughter. He actually beat Jeremy Abbott's free skate score, and only finished second to Abbott because of his third place placement after the short program.
- That said, Jeremy Abbott was no slouch in the short program that year either. He set the new American record for that segment, leading to his eventual ''fourth'' national title.
- Two performances at the 2015 U.S. Figure Skating National Championships, by best friends and training mates, Ashley Wagner and Adam Rippon. Wagner brought the house down after her Moulin Rouge! themed long program, including two triple-triple combinations. Rippon attempted one of the absolute hardest jumps anyone can perform: a quad lutz, a jump that begins with a counter-rotation and includes four revolutions in the air. He landed the rest of his jumps with ease, including two triple axels, a jump he has historically struggled with. Both performances smashed the old U.S. record in their respective disciplines for the long program. Wagner easily won her third National title, and Rippon stood on the podium for the first time since 2012, with a silver medal. In addition, both skaters are considered to be "older" by skating standards, and they had a major Take That! to their detractors.
- Ashley Wagner ends a 10-year American medal drought in ladies figure skating, with the two best performances of her career, winning the silver medal at age 24.
- The holder of the 2016 world champion title in figure skating is Evgenia Medvedeva, who was a seventeen year old girl at the time of winning the title. Medvedeva is also the world record holder for the ladies free skate score (160.46).
- The world record for the ladies short program score is held by Alina Zagitova (82.92). She earned this score at the 2018 Winter Olympics, when she was fifteen years old.
- One word: Bolero. This 1984 Olympic gold-medal-winning routine by the legendary British ice dancing team of Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean remains, to this day, the only figure skating program to be awarded perfect 6.0 scores across the board — and quite right, too. The dancing is masterful, but it's the exquisite chemistry between the two longtime partners that makes this program. Why is this listed here and not just on the relevant Olympics page, you ask? Well, because thirty years later, they've still got it. Phenomenal.
- The "Duel in the Sun". In 1977, the first (British) Open Championship to be held at the Ailsa course of the Turnberry golf resort (which has been part of the course rotation ever since) saw a memorable battle between Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus. The two greats started their tournament well, both shooting 68 for the first round and 70 for the second. Entering the third round in a four-way tie for second, one shot out of the lead, they would be paired for that round. The normally unpredictable Scottish weather would be clear and sunny, making low scores possibleand both greats delivered by shooting 65 (with par as 70), ending the third day with only one golfer within 6 shots... and that man was three back. As the top two, they were paired again for the final round, again played under clear skies. Nicklaus led Watson three different times during the first 15 holes, but Watson battled back each time, sending them to the 16th tied. Both parred the 16th, and then Watson took his first lead of the day with a birdie on 17 to Nicklaus' par. On 18, Watson drove into good position on the fairway, while Nicklaus ended in the rough. Their second shots ended with Watson 2 feet from the hole, while Nicklaus managed to get his second on the green but 35 feet away. Nicklaus sank his long birdie putt, which meant that Watson suddenly had to make his (much easier) putt for his own birdie to avoid a playoff. Watson delivered, ending the day with 65 to Nicklaus' 66. Watson (268) and Nicklaus (269) were a mile ahead of third place (Hubert Green at 279), and annihilated the previous 72-hole Open Championship scoring record of 276. The 18th hole at the Ailsa course, which had originally been named "Ailsa Hame" (Scots for "Ailsa home"), was renamed "Duel in the Sun" in 2003.
- Jordan Spieth becoming the first teenager in over 80 years to win on the PGA Tour: first he holes a surprise bunker shot on the 72nd hole, then after all three members of the playoff find tee shot trouble on the fifth hole of sudden death, Spieth hits a clutch shot from the trees to set up a par that would be good enough for the win.
- Phil Mickelson overcomes a 5-shot deficit after 54 holes to win the Open at Muirfield, less than a month after another heartbreaking runner-up finish at the US Open. He birdied 4 of the last 6 holes and shot a 66 (on a day where the scoring average was about 73). And now the US Open is the last major left for Lefty to achieve.
- Tiger Woods vs Chris DiMarco in the Final Round of the 2005 Masters. Both players started tied at in the final pairing, and the duel swung back and forth all day. DiMarco bogeyed the famous 12th hole par 3 on Amen Corner leaving him two back from Tiger, but an amazing approach shot on 15 netted a birdie, leaving Woods and DiMarco separated by just one stroke with three to play.
- On the 16th hole par 3, DiMarco's shot was solidly within birdie distance. Woods hit an uncharacteristic draw, pulling the ball wide to the left, and not just missing the green entirely but also leaving the ball collared against the rough - a difficult rescue shot now even harder. Given the next two holes are some of the hardest on the course, any damage here would give DiMarco a chance to beat the then-unstoppable young Tiger Woods.
- And then this happened. The fans went ape. DiMarco would choke and miss his birdie. Two back.
- In short, Tiger's bogey on 17 brought DiMarco back into the game, but both players were short of the 18th green. DiMarco hit the pin but got a ricochet instead of a chip-in. Tiger bogeyed from the sand to tie the game. In the playoff, Woods would snipe a birdie putt on 18 to finally beat DiMarco.
- What's important was the shot on 16 - everything was perfect, from the shot down to the ball briefly sporting the Nike logo as it dropped. This literally established Nike Golf as a brand, as it would be watched and used over and over. Today, it still stands as one of the best chips of all time, and one of the most exciting finishes in Masters history.Verne Lundquist: Here it comes ... Oh, my goodness! ... OH, WOW! IN YOUR LIFE, have you seen anything like that?!
Chris DiMarco: I went out and shot 68 around here on Sunday, which is a very good round, and 12-under is usually good enough to win. It was just that I was playing against Tiger Woods.
- Adam Scott's (no relation to the Parks and Recreation actor) 2013 season will go down as one of the greatest in the history of Australian golf. He starts off by breaking his country's curse in the Masters with one of the most clutch 72nd hole birdies ever to force a sudden death playoff he'd win in two holes. He follows it up with a T3 at the Open Championship, a T5 in the PGA Championship, and then wins a FedEx Cup playoff event holding off the likes of Justin Rose and Tiger Woods for good measure.
- And then things get insane once he returns to Australia in November. He wins two of the country's biggest tournaments, and the week after his second, represents Australia in the World Cup on the same course. Scott suffers a quintuple bogey 9 in his first round and rallies back to finish third in the individual standings. Had that 9 been a par it would have been enough to win the individual title. But that 9 might have been better off, because the individual winner is his teammate Jason Day, putting together one of the biggest performances of his career after losing eight relatives to Typhoon Hainan * , and helping the Australians demolish the team competition. Scott's quest for the Australian Triple Crown ended one stroke shy of a resurgent Rory McIlroy but a solo second was still a fine end to an excellent run.
- Martin Kaymer's record-breaking performance at the 2014 U.S. Open. He shot 65 in each of his first two rounds to record the best 36-hole total in the tournament's history (10-under-par 130). No one else in the field was able to get close, and he cruised to his second major title.
- Speaking of the "Duel in the Sun", both Nicklaus and Watson agreed that the final-round battle between Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson at the 2016 Open Championship was even better golf than their legendary duel nearly 40 years earlier. Going into the final round at Royal Troon, Stenson was one shot ahead of Mickelson, who in turn was five shots clear of the field. As the two leaders, they were paired for the final round under weather very similar to that of the final two days of the WatsonNicklaus battle. Mickelson took the lead on the first hole with birdie to Stenson's bogey, but Stenson stormed back with five birdies on the next eight holes, regaining his one-shot lead at the turn. They were tied again after 11 holes, but Stenson birdied four of the last five holes to finish with a 63 (8 under par), tied for the lowest final-round score in major championship history. And it wasn't as if Lefty collapsed, since he shot 65, and his 266 broke Greg Norman's previous Open Championship record 72-hole score of 267. Stenson was simply two shots better; his 20-under-par 264 set a new 72-hole scoring record for all majors (on total shots; the aforementioned Jason Day recorded 20 under at the 2015 PGA Championship).
- Soviet superstar Elena Mukhina winning the 1978 all-around world championship in what is to this day one of the most dominant victories in the history of the sport. She didn't just beat her competition; she crushed them, and her unique combination of daring skills and flawless artistry made her a legend despite this being her only appearance in World- or Olympic-level competition. She was that impressive.
- Olga Mostepanova's blowout win over literally everyone else at the Friendship Games (aka Alternate Olympics) in 1984. She scored twelve perfect tens, including the only "Perfect 40" ever recorded in international elite competition in the all-around final, and won gold on the vault, balance beam, and floor exercise as well (she was two-per-countried out of the uneven bars final). To sum up: there were six gold medals available in women's gymnastics at that Games, and Mostepanova won all but one of them.note
- 2015 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, Glasgow, UK:
- On home soil, the British women's gymnastics team accomplishes what they never have before and land on the podium in a Worlds team final competition, behind only the dominant United States and a rock-solid China. While it will take more than one Worlds to say that the Big Fournote has truly been broken, it is definitely safe to say that the British women are on their way up in this sport. Claudia Fragapane, Ellie and Becky Downie, Amy Tinkler, Ruby Harrold, and Kelly Simm — welcome to the history books.
- The women's all-around final was a cavalcade of awesome:
- Simone Biles of the United States wins her third straight all-around title, making her indisputably one of the best American gymnasts ever. She's the first American gymnast to defend her All-Around title since 1994 and only the second to do so, and the first female gymnast ever to win three world AA titles back-to-back-to-backnote . She has the most World gold medals of any American gymnasts, at 10, and with 14 medals total, she has officially beaten the all-time American medal count record held by Alicia Sacramone, who has 10. The kicker? It took Sacramone 6 years to win 10 medals. It took Biles only 3 years to win 14.
- Larisa Iordache of Romania, the bronze medalist, had an absolute disaster of a qualification round, qualifying 16th into the final. But on the night it mattered, Larisa came out with all guns blazing and didn't slow down. It would prove to be Romania's only medal of the competition, as no Romanians qualified into any event finals.
- Gabby Douglas of the United States, reigning Olympic all-around champion, returns to the World Championships after three years out of the sport — and wins the silver medal. As you do. Everyone who called her Olympic win a fluke can now officially shut their traps.
- Despite finishing just off the podium, Shang Chunsong of China had an absolute corker of a competition, going for broke and nailing every single routine without one fall. For a member of the notoriously inconsistent Chinese squad, that is not a minor accomplishment.note
- Kohei Uchimura won every all-around world championship from both 2009 through 2011 and 2013 through 2015, and won the Olympic all-around title in 2012 and 2016. No male gymnast had won the all-around title in a complete Olympic cycle (three worlds and the Olympics) before, and he did it twice. He was essentially the best male gymnast in the world for eight years in a row, a feat that very likely will never be equaled.
- Similarly, the 2019 World Championships:
- Italy breaking into the Big Threenote to finish on the podium at the 2019 World Championships, upsetting China for the bronze after China had a rough go of it in the team finalnote .
- Simone Biles winning five gold medals, a first for her despite her dominance in the sportnote , and also breaking the record for the most World Championship medals won by any gymnast, regardless of gender. If that doesn't sound impressive enough, keep in mind that men's gymnastics has 24 medals available in each World Championships (team, all-around, and six apparatus finals) while women's gymnastics only has 18 (team, all-around, and four apparatus finals), so for a female gymnast to beat a male gymnast's record is that much more difficult because of that.
- Biles also introduced two brand-new (and absolutely insane) elements in her routines: a triple-twisting double back on floor, and a double-twisting double back dismount off the balance beam. The former was given an unprecedented "J" rating, meaning it's worth a full point in difficulty value (previously, the highest-rated skill in the code, the "Moors" on floor, had an "I" rating, worth 0.9 points).
- American first-year senior Sunisa Lee tying her more experienced teammate Jade Carey on floor exercise in qualifications, bumping her out for the second US spot in the floor finals after a tiebreaker, despite Carey having over half a point difficulty score advantage. And Carey didn't fall apart in qualifications or anything (she had some form issues, but nothing out of the ordinary for her); Lee was just that good.
- Lee also coming back from rough performances in the team and all-around finalsnote to win two medals in the apparatus finals. And all of this while she was also coping with a major personal tragedy (her father was severely injured in an accident in August 2019).
- Great Britain winning three individual medals in three consecutive event finals (women's vault, men's pommel horse, women's uneven bars). Making it a CMOH as well, the two women who won medals are sisters (Ellie and Becky Downie).
- Belgian Nina Derwael winning her second straight world title on the uneven bars, as well as coming in fifth in the all-around. A few years ago, she was barely on the radar (in Rio, she qualified only to the all-around final and finished near the bottom of the pack); now she's considered a serious threat for Olympic bars gold, and can't be counted out for factoring into the all-around medals either, especially if she can upgrade a few skills. It should also be noted that Derwael is unusually tall for a female gymnast and uneven bars is one of the events where height can be a major detriment — but not for her.
- Derwael's routine alone is a CMOA in itself. In the past, medal-winning routines on the uneven bars have usually been those that gained a lot of difficulty from high-value circle/turning elements (i.e. inbar skills or one-handed pirouettes). But Derwael's routine has only one turning element (a relatively simple toe-on full), generating almost all of its difficulty from flight skills, including some of the most difficult releases being done in the world today — and it not only gets a top difficulty score, it looks amazing.
- For that matter, the fact that all of the medal routines had a similar formula to Derwael's. Derwael's routine would still be awesome even if it was unique, but the fact that other medal-winning routines were similar speaks to a larger trend. A new style of bar routine is coming onto the scene — and it is dominating the field.
- Secretariat, a big chestnut Thoroughbred colt who rose from the ashes of a fallen-from-grace racing stable to take home the Triple Crown for the first time in twenty-five years. He came from behind to win in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. Then he went to Belmont Park, where he broke first out of the gate and thoroughly dominated the rest of the field. How majestically did he dominate the race? He took home the Belmont, and with it the Triple Crown, with a thirty-one-length lead, and was still accelerating when he crossed the wire. He also set the record for the fastest running of the Belmont Stakes, a record that has yet to even be approached, and went on to set a track record for the mile and five-eighths as he was coasting out from under the wire. Did we mention that he ran not only the fastest Belmont in history, but the fastest mile-and-a-half on dirt run anywhere in the world? And that that record hasn't been broken yet, either? During his Triple Crown campaign, he ground every relevant race and track record to dust under his neatly polished hooves. He was named Eclipse Horse of the Year in 1972 and 1973, Sports Illustrated's Athlete of the Year in 1973, and one of the 25 greatest athletes of the 20th century in 2000, and to this day is widely considered the greatest racehorse to ever live.
"Secretariat is widening now! He is moving like a tremendous machine!"
- Chic Anderson, who called Secretariat's Belmont run for CBS, had his own MOA with his call:
- For years, Secretariat didn't own the official track record at Pimlico (the Preakness track) because the timing clock malfunctioned, but around time of the 2012 Preakness Stakes, they re-evaluated footage of the Secretariat race with modern technology and concluded that the official clocks were slow. Secretariat's time was proven the fastest Pimlico run even to this day.
- Bear in mind that the Belmont Stakes, where Secretariat dominated, is usually the race where Triple Crown contenders fall short — since Citation's Triple Crown win twenty-five years before, seven horses had taken both the Derby and the Preakness, but couldn't win the Belmont. Being both the last race and the longest one, the fastest horses at the Derby and Preakness are often in less than peak condition by the time of Belmont, leading to a horse that didn't contend (or often, didn't even run) at the earlier races to win. But Secretariat? No way was he going to let some other horse outrun him just because they were better-rested.
- The aforementioned Anderson, who by then had become the track announcer at Belmont Park, had another memorable call in the 1978 Belmont, featuring a stretch duel between Affirmed, gunning for his own Triple Crown, and his rival Alydar. In a call that was simulcast by CBS:We'll test these two to the wire! Affirmed under a left-hand whip! Alydar on the outside driving! Affirmed and Alydar heads apart. Affirmed's got a nose in front as they come on the wire! [shuts off PA microphone, keeps CBS mic hot] At the finish, it's going to be dead tightAffirmed won it! He wins the Triple Crown.
- Tom Durkin had his own MOA while calling the 1995 Breeders' Cup Classic, in which Cigar, already all but assured of Horse of the Year honors, was shooting for an unbeaten season:And here he is! The unconquerable, invincible, unbeatable Cigar!
- For fairness, a British example: Jim McGrath, who called the 2001 Epsom Derby for BBC television, gave a Shout-Out to Queen, specifically "Bohemian Rhapsody", immediately after Galileo won.This is the real life, this is not fantasy!
- With 13 challengers falling by the wayside in the past years (including one the year before with the same jockey, no less), Victor Espinoza jockeyed American Pharoah to win the Belmont Stakes by more than two lengths to seal the first Triple Crown since Affirmed. (And at a point when people were seriously wondering if there would ever be a Triple Crown winner again, no less.)"And here it is! The 37-year wait is over! American Pharoah is finally the one! American Pharoah! Has won! The Triple Crown!"
"A Triple Crown winner! A Breeders' Cup winner! A horse of a lifetime! American Pharoah has won the Breeders' Cup Classic over Effinex and Honor Code in a final time of 2:00.07 — he went out in style!"
- Which would be given its exclamation point on Halloween 2015, when AP won the Breeders' Cup Classic, becoming the first ever 'Grand Slam' horse in U.S. Thoroughbred Racing history.
- In a similar vein, turn-of-the-20th-century Standardbred Dan Patch, one of harness racing's all-time greats, never lost a race, and was so successful that the city his trainer, Marion Willis Savage, lived in (Hamilton, Minnesota) was renamed in honor of the trainer. One of the primary streets on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds is named Dan Patch Avenue.
- Hello, Ruffian, Queen of the Fillies, winner of the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Two-Year-Old Filly, with an average winning margin of 8.5 lengths, running the fastest 6 furlongs by any two-year-old colt or filly, which remains untouched! Going into her final race, a match race against Foolish Pleasure, she was not only unbeaten, but led at every point of call in every race!! Did we mention that she only lost the last race she'd ever run, and that due to injury (she was winning until she broke her leg and couldn't continue)? Seriously, the filly wouldn't stop running, even if it killed her. Though it borders Tear Jerker, she was one awesome horse.
- Charismatic in the 1999 Triple Crown. He started out as a 31-1 longshot who came out of nowhere, then took the Preakness. It was looking like he'd take the Belmont and be the first Triple Crown winner in quite some time, when he injured himself running. He still took third and would not stop running until after the race. If he hadn't injured himself, there's a good chance he would have won the Triple Crown.
- The 1967 Grand National, the biggest event on the British horse racing calendar, was held on a very soggy racetrack, with two horses falling and one, Popham Down, throwing his rider at the very first fence. However, Popham Down continued to run without his jockey, as did April Rose when his jockey was thrown at the third fence. Just as commentator Michael O'Hehir was observing that the riderless Popham Down didn't seem to be interfering with the other racers, both riderless horses suddenly ran to the inside of the track just before the twenty-third fence, causing a massive pile-up in which at least nine other horses either fell, threw their jockeys, or turned around and refused to jump, while almost every other horse was caught in the mayhem and had to wait for a chance to jump... all except 100-1 outsider Foinavon,note who had been lagging so far behind that he was able to run around the pile-up and jump the fence uninhibited, opening a lead of over thirty lengths. Though a number of horses did finally jump the fence, Foinavon was too far ahead to be caught, and became one of the most improbable yet awesome Grand National winners in the race's history. The fence at which the pile-up occurred is now known as the Foinavon Fence.
- Only three years after American Pharoah, Justify becomes the thirteenth horse to win the Triple Crown. He had a 3-0 record prior to racing in the Kentucky Derby; he never raced as a two-year-old and became the first horse to win the Derby having not raced as a two-year-old since Apollo did it in 1882! That's not the impressive part. The impressive part is said Derby and the Preakness were won in the muddy rain."He's just perfect! And now, he's just immortal!"
- The 2022 Kentucky Derby saw a massive upset when 80-1 (seconds before the race) underdog Rich Strike, who had just been added as a replacement for another entry only the day before, made a late surge on the final stretch to win the Derby as the second-longest shot to ever win the first jewel of the Triple Crown (only Donerail was longer at 93-1). For trainer Eric Reed, it was a moment for him as well just a few years removed from losing a number of horses in a devastating barn fire.
The Stanley Cup has its own page. Some of the examples here are also listed there, but they'll stay here cause, let's face it, they're so awesome they need to be listed twice.
- There's a page on That Other Wiki called List of Goaltenders Who Have Scored a Goal in an NHL Game. This is a feat so rare that it's notable enough to merit its own Wikipedia page in the first place. As of 12 May 2022 only twelve goaltenders have a goal credited to their name, of the fifteen goals listed eight of them were shot by the goaltender himself (the rest were own goals credited to the goalie since he was the last opposing player to touch the puck), and of those twelve goalies Ron Hextall has two of those goals and Martin Brodeur has three.
- In 1903, a hockey team called the Kenora Thistles, from a town no one had heard of, in a part of Ontario that no one cared about challenged the Ottawa Silver Seven, the world's best hockey team, for the Stanley Cup. They lost. They challenged again in 1905, and lost. By this time, they had gained a reputation for fair play and brave tactics. Still, no one thought seven teenagers from a frozen wasteland like Northwestern Ontario would ever win the cup. Cue 1907, when Kenora beats Montreal, 4-2 and 8-6. Little kids from the Northwest can still see the cup the Thistles brought back to the boonies in the Hockey Hall of Fame, complete with "Kenora Thistles, 1907" engraved in the side. Kenora remains the smallest town to ever win the Cup.
- In all the years baseball, basketball, and ice hockey have used best-of-seven formats for the postseason, only five teams have lost their first three games and come back to win their next four. One is the 2004 Boston Red Sox (who did it against the dreaded New York Yankees no less); the other four are all hockey teams.
- The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs were trailing 3-0 to the Detroit Red Wings after the first three games of the Stanley Cup final series, but rallied to win the next four and bring the Cup back to Toronto for the first time in ten years. It remains the only recovery from a 3-0 deficit in the finals of any North American sporting championship.
- After joining the NHL in 1972, the New York Islanders were cellar-dwellers in their first two seasons, but finally reached the playoffs in 1975 and, after scraping through a three-game series against their crosstown rivals, the New York Rangers, they faced the Pittsburgh Penguins in their first-ever best-of-seven series in the quarter-finals. Not only did the Islanders lose the first three games, but they never even took the lead. However, for the next four games, it was the Penguins who never even took the lead, and Ed Westfall's goal in the third period of Game 7 gave the Islanders a 1-0 win and a 4-3 series win. Incredibly, the Islanders came within one game of repeating the feat against the Philadelphia Flyers in the semi-finals, but the Flyers won the deciding game 4-1 and went on to retain the Stanley Cup.
- In 2010, the seventh-seeded Philadelphia Flyers and the sixth-seeded Boston Bruins both upset higher-seeded opponents in the conference quarter-finals to face each other in the conference semi-finals. The Bruins romped to a 3-0 series lead, but the Flyers won the next three games, leading to a deciding Game 7 at TD Garden in Boston. The Bruins scored three goals in the first 15 minutes, but the Flyers had tied the score by the end of the second period, and then Simon Gagne fired home a winner for the Flyers with just over seven minutes left. The Flyers thus recovered not just from a 3-0 series deficit, but a 3-0 Game 7 deficit. They went on to the Stanley Cup finals, where they lost 4-2 to the Chicago Blackhawks.
- The first round of the 2014 playoffs featured an all-California series between the San Jose Sharks and the Los Angeles Kings. The Sharks posted blowout wins on home ice in Games 1 and 2 and an overtime win in Game 3 to put themselves within one game of sweeping their division rivals. However, the Kings proceeded to blaze through the next four games, winning each one by a margin of at least three goals and limiting the Sharks to two goals in the last three games combined (including a shutout in Game 5). The Kings went on to grind out seven-game wins over the Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks to reach the Stanley Cup finals for the second time in three years, where they beat the New York Rangers 4-1.
- Often considered one of the most memorable goals in hockey, Paul Henderson scores the game winner in the final match of a series that an entire country practically shut down to watch. It's one of the most frequently viewed goals and one of an extremely limited number of goals considered more influential on the sport than Crosby's overtime winner. To anyone unfamiliar with the series in question, the 1972 Summit Series was the first series of games played between the Soviets and a professional team from Canada.note It consisted of eight games, four in each country, starting in Canada and ending in Russia. By Game 4, the Canadian fans were booing their team off the ice (leading to a famously emotional speech by Phil Esposito), and the Soviets took a 2-1 series lead back home (Game 3 having finished as a tie), only for Canada to fight back to 3-3 by the end of Game 7. In Game 8, the teams were tied at 5. Then with 34 seconds to go, Henderson fired home what Foster Hewitt referred to as "the goal heard around the world". note
- Fifteen years after joining the NHL as one of the 1967 expansion teams and with very little to show for it, the Los Angeles Kings qualified for the 1982 playoffs as fourth seed in the Smythe division and faced the heavily-favoured Edmonton Oilers, led by such rising stars as Mark Messier, Paul Coffey, Grant Fuhr, and the Great One himself, Wayne Gretzky, who was coming off a triple-record-setting regular season in which he scored 92 goals and 120 assists for a total of 212 points.note After splitting the first two games in Edmonton, the two teams headed to the Los Angeles Forum for Game 3. The Oilers stormed to a 5-0 lead in the first forty minutes, and all seemed lost for the Kings. Then, in the final twenty minutes, the Kings scored five goals of their own, including three in the last five minutes and one in the last five seconds. In overtime, Mark Messier almost scored an immediate winner for the Oilers, but it was the Kings' Daryl Evans who broke the deadlock after just under three minutes to complete the improbable comeback, dubbed "The Miracle on Manchester". The Kings went on to win the series 3-2.
- "And after twenty-two years... RAYMOND BOURQUE!" Those were the words of ESPN's Gary Thorne as Canadian hockey legend Ray Bourque, who in 1998 had been named the greatest player never to have won The Stanley Cup, finally got his chance to lift the Cup as part of the victorious Colorado Avalanche in 2001, at the end of the twenty-second and last season of his professional career.Patrick Roy: A name was missing from [the Stanley Cup], and today it is back to normal.
- The 2012 Stanley Cup run of the Los Angeles Kings. One of the six 1967 expansion franchises, the Kings had been consistently sideshowed by more famous, talented teams throughout their 45 years in the NHL, and even getting Wayne Gretzky in 1988 couldn't seal the deal (their closest approach to the Stanley Cup was the 1993 final series, where the Gretzky-led Kings lost in five games to the Montreal Canadiens). For decades, they had been derisively dubbed "The Kings Without a Ring".
Though regarded as championship contenders at the beginning of the 2011-12 season, an unsettled first few months (which ended with the appointment of Darryl Sutter as coach) meant that they only qualified for the postseason in the last week of the regular season, and back-to-back losses in their final two games against the San Jose Sharks meant that they had to settle for eighth seed in the NHL West and a conference quarter-final against the President's Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks, who were among the favourites to win the Stanley Cup.
Then the postseason began. The Kings beat the Canucks in five games, followed by a sweep of the second seed St. Louis Blues, a five-game win over the third seed Phoenix Coyotes (making the Kings the first eighth seed to beat the top three seeds in their conference), and a six-game win over the New Jersey Devils to claim the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. They became the first eighth seed to win a national championship in any of the four major North American team sports. As eighth seed, they never had home advantage for a series, yet they managed to win ten road games in a row, tying the NHL record for most road wins in a postseason and breaking the records for both consecutive road wins in a postseason and consecutive road wins across multiple postseasons (with a total of 12). They also became the first team to win their first three games in all four rounds since the playoffs went to an all best-of-seven format in 1987.
- Special mention should go to Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, who recorded a save percentage of 0.946 and a Goals Against Average of just 1.41 across the Kings' twenty playoff games, both records for goaltenders starting in more than ten games in a single postseason. To give you an idea just how remarkable these numbers are, even the best goaltenders that many people know of, Martin Brodeur, Patrick Roy, and even Dominik Haek couldn't come close to matching those numbers even during their prime.note That shows how scarily efficient Quick's goaltending was in the playoffs and Finals. For his efforts, he became only the third American-born player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy for the Stanley Cup playoffs MVP.
- On CBC's coverage of the final game, for the last few minutes the commentators sat mostly silent and allowed the pure joy coming from the fans to be the only comment needed.
- 2013 NHL Quarterfinals Game 7, Boston Bruins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs. Toronto took a 4-1 lead before Boston scored to bring it within two with half a period left in the game. The Bruins then scored 2 goals in the last minute and a half of regulation and scored to win the series 6 minutes into overtime. They're the only team to come back from a 3-goal deficit in the 3rd period of a Game 7 in history.Bruins announcer Jack Edwards: WITH THE POINT OF THE DAGGER AT THEIR THROATS, THEY RIP IT OUT OF TORONTO'S HANDS, AND KILL THE BEAST!!!!
- The Chicago Blackhawks' 2013 Stanley Cup triumph had two noteworthy awesome moments:
- Winning game 1 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final at home in triple overtime. But one of the more awesome parts of a moment already awesome? The music guy at the United Center ended up playing Iron Maiden's song "2 Minutes to Midnight" at, well, 11:58 PM local time. which unexpectedly became their Near Victory Fanfare when they scored the game-winner at midnight.
- Despite having a 3-2 series lead heading into Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, the Blackhawks were trailing the Boston Bruins 2-1 with time running out in the game, and it appeared that Boston was going to force a climactic Game 7. Cue Chicago player Bryan Bickell tying it up at about 1:16 left in the game, as the Blackhawks pulled their goalie for an extra attacker. 17 seconds later, David Bolland picks up the go-ahead goal (and eventual game-winner) to help the Blackhawks pull off a similar comeback feat that the Bruins themselves managed in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals versus Toronto. Moreover, the Game 6 win gave Chicago its second Stanley Cup in four years, and provided the perfect capstone to a season where they managed a record of 24 games with at least a point to start the lockout-shortened season.
- In the 2nd round of the 2017 Playoffs, the Ottawa Senators were losing a game 5-3 to the New York Rangers, after having given up 2 shorthanded goals. With 3 minutes left on the clock, hometown player Jean-Gabriel Pageau stepped up, and got his second goal of the night, pumping new life into the team, and then, with 1 minute left in Regulation, he scored again, getting a natural hat trick, and tying the game. Not content to rest on his laurels, in double OT, he got a breakaway, and scored the game winning goal, his 4th of the game, making the home crowd go wild.
- Just the fact that the Vegas Golden Knights, a team in their first year of existence in a city not known for hockey, made it to the Stanley Cup finals in 2018.
- At the beginning of 2019, with the season nearly half over, the St. Louis Blues were dead last in the entire NHL, and thought to be finished. After replacing coach Mike Yeo with Craig Berube and bringing up a new, rookie goalie from the minors in Jordan Binnington, they experienced a stunning turnaround that saw them make it to the playoffs and eventually to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Boston Bruins. In winning Game 7, while away at Boston, the Blues went from being the worst team in the NHL to winning their first ever championship in the span of six months. This also makes the Blues the first team in all American professional sports to make good on "Worst to First" in Real Life during a season. Quite a few teams have gone from worst in one season to first the next, making this phenomenon a popular plot in TV and film. For example, both teams in the aforementioned 1991 World Series had finished last in their divisions in 1990. However, no other team in the history of the NFL, NHL, MLB, NBA, or MLS has ever climbed from last place to the title game in the same season.
- Also in the 2019 playoffs, San Jose came back from 3-1 down in the series and 3-0 in Game 7 to beat Vegas 5-4 in overtime. The first four Sharks goals in Game 7 all came during a 5-minute power play for Joe Pavelski getting injured (scored by Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl tipping a blast by Erik Karlsson, Couture again, and Kevin Labanc in that order); Barclay Goodrow scored the overtime winner (after Vegas' Jonathan Marchessault tied it at 4 with 47 seconds left).Couture's first goal: It took six seconds, and the Sharks are on the board!
Hertl's goal: Hertl, and the Sharks are within one! Here they come!
Couture's second goal: LOGAN COUTURE HAS TIED THE GAME!
Labanc's goal: KEVIN LABANC, AND THE SHARKS HAVE TAKEN THE LEAD!!
Goodrow's overtime winner: BARCLAY GOODROW! THE OVERTIME WINNER! AND THE SHARKS HAVE COME BACK TO WIN THE GAME AND THE SERIES!!!
- February 22, 2020: During the Carolina Hurricanes and the Toronto Maple Leafs game (broadcast live on Hockey Night in Canada), the Hurricanes lose both of their goalies due to injury: James Reimer early in the first period, and backup Petr Mrazek midway through the second. Enter David Ayres, a 42-year old operations manager and Zamboni driver at the Toronto Marlies' (the Maple Leafs' minor league affiliate) home arena, as the Hurricanes' emergency backup goalie. After allowing two goals to narrow the Hurricanes' lead to 4-3, he stops the next eight shots for a 6-3 Hurricanes victory that humiliates the Maple Leafs and their fans, and delights the rest of the NHL.
- The whole Sherpa tribe. They start out as obscure peasants living up in the mountains, and they all of a sudden decide that climbing to the top of Mount Everest was a handy way to make a living. As a result they carry tons of cargo up high cliffs, thousands of feet on their backs through atmosphere that is so thin that people have to wear oxygen tanks. Today they are famed throughout the world and on at least one expedition it was Europeans who actually competed for the honor of just getting to be the porter for a famous Sherpa climber, thus reversing traditional roles.
- Tenzing Norgay. Started as a porter, then earned the respect of his employers until he and Hillary were the first two that got to the top - neither of them saying who was first because it would strain the team.
- In terms of all-time greats, one of the truest legends of the game of basketball was Wilt "The Stilt" Chamberlain, an athletic force of nature that once was offered a shot to return to the NBA at 50 years old! While plenty of games throughout his professional career feel absolutely unreal in terms of his overall impact for the teams he played for, only one game out of the many awesome ones in his life holds a landmark that still gets talked about to this day: the 100-point game. While no recordings of the entire game were preserved due to the NBA's early troubles of competing with college basketball at the time (save for an audio recording of the fourth quarter), the efforts of preservation held by guys like Harvey Pollock and Frank McGuire helped make sure the game wasn't forgotten about like it might have been during the early 1960's in Hershey, Pennsylvania. In a night that seemingly felt like any other night, on March 2, 1962, Chamberlain had a first half that felt a tiny bit more exciting than usual, scoring 41 points there with 23 points in the first quarter alone. Once the team decided to go for Wilt throughout pretty much the rest of the second half, that's when the truly incredible came into play. Scoring 50 early in the third quarter helped get the crowd pumped up under an otherwise blowout-looking match, and Chamberlain getting to 69 points by the end of the third quarter, with the realization that he could break multiple scoring records of his truly get into his mind there. By the fourth quarter, the Knicks were trying everything they could to stop Chamberlain from scoring any more points than they already allowed, but the Warriors made sure to counter just enough to not only allow Wilt to break his then-record of 78 points by the early fourth quarter, but to continue to give him the ball and score higher and higher as best as he possibly could have, with the team sacrificing their own personal efforts to help out along the way. Eventually, Chamberlain made a dunknote with 46 seconds left in the game, ending it with a 169147note Philadelphia Warriors win, breaking multiple records that night beyond Wilt's own scoring records, and later earning the respect it deserved for one of the best performances ever recorded in league history.
- Like Michael Jordan before him, Kobe Bryant's pro career has had plenty of highlights that had him rivaling MJ in terms of greatness. However, in terms of individual highlights, two games can be considered the cream of the crop in terms of overall play from him, both for similar, yet very different reasons.
- The first game in mind was from January 22, 2006, where the Toronto Raptors looked to have had the Lakers' number that night, being up 63-49 by halftime with Kobe scoring only 26 points in the first half. However, Kobe turned on his Black Mamba switch like no one else in the modern-day era had beforehand, scoring 27 points in the third quarter to get the Lakers a 91-85 lead entering the third quarter. Then, not to be outdone by that, he scored 28 points in the fourth quarter to get a blowout 122-104 win over the Raptors that night. To a whole new generation of fans, it showed that reaching Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point total can be possible someday.
- The second game in mind, and most bittersweet of them all, is his very last game in his final season with the Lakers. By that point in time, Kobe's body was getting too battered and bruised up to keep going like he used to do early on, and with the Lakers having another losing record by that point, knew he couldn't reach Jordan's six championships with some of the guys left on the team by then. Still, he knew his last night with the Lakers was going to be a special one, and with former-teammate Shaquille O'Neal asking if he could score 50 against the Utah Jazz on his final night, he knew it was a challenge he had to take on. From the homage on the court representing the two numbers he wore with the Lakers on the court that night (8 & 24) for 20 years to knowing that he wanted to at least end his career on a high note, Kobe went and gave it his all that night, having a performance to remember by showing many fans he still had some fight left in him for at least that game. Then once he reached 50 points for the night, he knew he wasn't satisfied with that, especially with Utah still holding the lead by a still catchable amount at the time; he knew he still had some more game in him to get one last win for the Lakers that season. With the rest of his teammates helping out, he not only broke through to get 60 points in his last game (23 in the fourth quarter), but also did everything in his power to get a 101-96 win over the Jazz. While he didn't consider it the perfect ending for his career, he knew he was proud of that last performance to leave the fans on a high note. And with one last speech afterward, only two words best describe the bittersweet euphoria held that day: "Mamba Out."
- During Game 3 of the 2013 NBA Finals (San Antonio Spurs vs. Miami Heat at the AT&T Center), an 11 year-old Mexican American singer (also known from America's Got Talent) named Sebastian De La Cruz sang the National Anthem at the beginning of the game. However, some people made a bunch of racist comments about it. A lot of people shunned the racist people and everyone praised Sebastian for singing the National Anthem. He was positive about it (and responded to these negative comments) and people liked his performance so much, the Spurs invited the kid for an encore at Game 4 at the AT&T Center.
- The 2011 NBA Finals. Not just because the Dallas Mavericks, after contending for so long but falling short, finally won their first long-awaited NBA Championship, but they did so against the Miami Heat, who had beaten them during their previous Finals appearance in 2006. Highlights include Dirk Nowitzki's rampage during the second half of Game 2, clinching the game on a left-handed layup with two broken fingers on said hand, longtime Dallas man Jason Terry stepping up in a big way during Games 5 and 6 (after Nowitzki went down with a fever that severely hampered his performance after Game 4, though he still turned in a great 4th quarter in 5 that drew comparisons to the famous "Flu Game" of Michael Jordan), and J.J. Barea, a 6'0" Point Guard, taking the legendary LeBron James (a 6'8" monster who dwarfed most of Dallas' roster) to the paint time and time again, scoring layups repeatedly against one of the best men to ever play basketball. Really, Dallas' "Miracle Run" in the 2011 playoffs was laden with these: They were the underdog all throughout the playoffs due to them not making it past the first round since 2006. After being taken to 6 games by the Portland Trail Blazers, Dallas went into the Semifinals the complete underdog against the Lakers and their ambition for a three-peat as champs. The Dallas Mavericks then proceeded to sweep the defending NBA Champions out of the playoffs 4-0, catching just about everybody off-guard in the process. They then went into the Conference Finals against the OKC Thunder, who were regarded as the best young team in basketball while Dallas' lineup was stacked with aging but experienced veterans. Again, Dallas was the underdog, and again it pulled up some shocking comebacks on their path to the Finals including an overtime win in Game 4 that gave them a 3-1 series lead. Then came the Finals, where Dallas was again the underdog against the Miami Heat, who had just acquired LeBron James to round out their Big Three of James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh that many saw as the "Team of Destiny" (perfectly encapsulated by LeBron's infamous "Not four, not five, not six, not seven" promise of Heat championships during his televised introduction when coming to Miami). And again, Dallas pulled it off despite the odds. While the Mavericks haven't been back to the Finals since, with some rather stupid moves by upper management in addition to Nowitzki's age eventually catching up to him (he would retire at the end of the 201819 season), the 2011 NBA Finals remain a very special moment for the fanbase.
- 2013 NBA Finals. Miami Heat vs San Antonio Spurs. After holding a 1-0, a 2-1 and a 3-2 series lead at different points, the Spurs held a five point lead with 30 seconds remaining in Game 6. Some of the fans left the building. Officials were actually bringing in the yellow tape and the championship trophy in anticipation for the Spurs' impending win. After LeBron missed a three pointer, Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen battled the ball around the air, with Mike Miller coming up with it and throwing an over the shoulder pass to LeBron. He launched another three, and this time, it made it through the net, cutting the lead to two. To keep the Spurs from winding down the clock, Kawhi Leonard was fouled and went to the line. He missed the first free throw (and damn-near had a Heroic BSoD), but hit the second, bringing the lead back up to three for the Spurs. LeBron threw up another three, but it missed. Chris Bosh corralled the rebound and threw it over to Allen, who ran to the three point line, fired a jump shot and tied the game with five seconds remaining, without ever looking down. Parker missed a chance to win it for the Spurs and the game was sent into overtime, where the Heat prevailed. Seen by many as one of the greatest games in the history of the NBA Finals (although a train wreck for the Spurs. Miami would go on to win the championship in Game 7.
- On the other side, the following year, the Spurs (who had a Game 7 with the Dallas Mavericks and had an overtime with the Oklahoma City Thunder) and Miami Heat (beating the Indiana Pacers yet again in the Playoffs) eventually joined again for a rematch. The first game had the Spurs winning in their home arena, but the following game had the Miami Heat win in the Spurs' arena. However, the following two games in Miami were not only won by the Spurs (with the help of Kawhi Leonard, who was eventually named the Finals MVP), but in Game 3, the Spurs were ahead by 21 points at halftime, which broke a record of the greatest halftime lead in a Finals game by a road team since 1996. Additionally, the victories in Games 3 and 4 broke a record itself as the Spurs were the first team to win two consecutive games on the road by 15+ points in the Finals. In Game 5, the Spurs looked like they were significantly behind in the first quarter, but in the second quarter, they got back up and eventually beat the Miami Heat 10487.
- The end of the "Cleveland Sports Curse": For 52 years, Cleveland fans endured thrice a year heartbreak as all of their pro teams failed to win a title. Combined together, all three teams went through 147 seasons without a title. The pain was punctuated with moments like "The Drive", "The Fumble", and "The Move", where victory was snatched away at the last second. Though the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers, led by former prodigal son LeBron James,note went 12-2 throughout the Eastern Conference Playoffs, they faced the ultimate foe in the NBA Finals: the Golden State Warriors, who not only vanquished them in the prior year's Finals, but went 739 in 2015-16 (beating the all-time record set by Michael Jordan's full return in the 1995-96 season's 7210 record), only losing twice at home in the regular season and once in the Western Conference Finals.note With Cleveland losing Game 4 at home, it seemed like yet another year of coming-up-short for the Mistake by the Lake. But in part due to suspensions and injuries to the Warriors, and in part through sheer grit and determination by James, Kyrie Irving, and the rest of the squad, the Cavs overcame the 31 deficitnote with a blowout in Game 5 and a hard-fought-to-the-end Game 7, both on the road, breaking the 52-year Championship drought for the city! Even better, the Cavaliers were the only Cleveland team that had never won a title before, as they were founded six years into the city's drought. Also, just one month before the Cavs won the title, ESPN, in their 30 for 30 series, released a film detailing the history of the curse and fans woe. The film was then re-released with a new ending.
- The Toronto Raptors' journey in the 2019 NBA Playoffs was an unprecedented one. Led by their new superstar Kawhi Leonard (who they received with Danny Green from San Antonio in exchange for beloved Raptors fan-favorite DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Pöltl, and a 2019 first-round pick), along with key player Marc Gasol (also received in a later trade during the season), they finished the regular season 58-24, good enough for 2nd in the East, and finishing just one win above defending NBA Champions Golden State Warriors.
- First Round, vs. Orlando Magic: After a close Game 1 where Orlando's D.J. Augustin delivered a game-winner to lead the series 1-0, the Raptors easily handled them afterwards, winning the series 4-1.
- Conference Semis, vs. Philadelphia 76ers: One of the closest series in the year's playoffs, it all came down to Game 7 in Toronto, and ended with quite possibly one of the greatest endings to any NBA Playoff series. With only 4.2 seconds left after Toronto called a timeout, the game was tied at 90. The inbound pass went to Kawhi. He dribbled the ball all the way to the corner and released the shot inside the 3-point line just before time expired. It bounced once, twice, thrice, and a fourth before it dropped into the basket, sealing the Sixers' fate and sending Toronto to the Conference Finals for a showdown with the record-topping Milwaukee Bucks, who had 60 wins to solidify themselves with homecourt advantage throughout the entire playoffs. Kawhi finished with 41 points. The crowd went nuts, and Kevin Harlan also gave us one of the best calls made in the Playoffs:Harlan: It's off to [Kawhi] Leonard, defended by [Ben] Simmons. [Kawhi shoots as the buzzer sounds] Is this the dagger?
[Kawhi's shot bounces, then goes in]
Harlan and Greg Anthonynote : OHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!
Harlan: GAME! SERIES! TORONTO HAS WON!
- Not to be outdone, Matt Devlin, the Raptors play-by-play caller, had this for Sportsnet in Canada.Devlin: 'Kawhi....up top. Looks at the clock. Turns the corner. FOR THE WINNNN?!!!
[Kawhi's shot bounces, then goes in]
Devlin: GOT IT!!! KAWHI LEONARD! WITH THE GAME WINNER! Hanging in the air! The ball suspended in air! It's taken them 18 years later! The Raptors get The Shot to GO!
- Conference Finals, vs. Milwaukee Bucks: Toronto opened the series on a sad note, losing both games in Milwaukee. But after a scrappy win back at home in Game 3 where they had to go through double OT to get the win, it flipped a switch in the entire team, as they went on to win the next three games, going from down 02 to 4-2 to advance to their first ever NBA Finals!
- NBA Finals, vs. Golden State Warriors: Because the Raptors finished one win ahead of Golden State, they had home-court advantage. In a series that many favored the Warriors to defend their title, the Raptors defied all odds to win Game 1 in dominant fashion, led by Kawhi once again. Game 2 proved to be close, with the Warriors eventually pulling out the win. Games 3 and 4 for the Raptors, despite being in Oracle Arena, weren't even close, winning both games by a margin of at least 13 points. In Game 5, with Kevin Durant returning to play after being out of commission since Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals with a calf injury, he contributed 11 points but unfortunately tore the Achilles in his ailing leg, putting him out for the next season. Still, the Warriors didn't let his play go in vain, as they staved off elimination after a heavily close battle in the closing minutes of the 4th as Toronto made a huge comeback. Game 6 was even closer from the start, with Kyle Lowry this time opening the game strong and the Warriors responding in kind. While the Warriors did their best to stave off elimination once again, an awkward landing on his left foot that resulted from a fouled play resulted in Warriors star Klay Thompson tearing his left ACL, putting him out of commission for possibly the majority of next season, if not the entire season. In the end, while Golden State kept it as close as possible, Toronto could not be denied, and led by Kawhi Leonard, in their 24th season, WIN THEIR FIRST-EVER NBA CHAMPIONSHIP!
- During the Raptors runs, new ratings records were being broken in Canada regarding basketball, to the point that by the Finals, they were doing over double what the Stanley Cup Finals ratings were. The championship-winning Game 6 ended up being the third-most watched non-Olympic event in Canadian historynote . Not bad for a country where Hockey and Football (both Canadian and American) dominate.
- The awesome didn't stop with the 2019 playoff run. After delivering the Raptors their title, Leonard left as a free agent for his hometown of L.A., signing with the Clippers. On December 12, 2019, the Clippers came to town for the first time since the Raptors' title. The Raptors pulled out all the stops for Kawhi's return, including a two-minute tribute video. The biggest MOA came during the video when the house lights were turned down, with the soundtrack featuring the play-by-play call of his game-winner against the Sixers. With lights retracing Kawhi's steps during said play. It ended with Kawhi getting his championship ring from friend and former teammate Kyle Lowry, with nothing but loud cheers throughout the video and ring ceremony.
- The fact that once the 2020 NBA Bubble was implemented after the original regular season schedule was no longer seen as possible to work through due to COVID-19's existence, it ended up being completely successful with the overall results. While trying to figure out how to continue the 2019-20 season back when the COVID-19 Pandemic was picking up in its first wave, the NBA wondered how they could best continue their regular season period, if possible. After a few months of deliberation, the league decided to utilize Walt Disney World and the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex nearby Orlando, Florida to complete not just the rest of the regular season that was even possible for the teams that were allowed in (8 teams failed to qualify there, most of them being in the Eastern Conference), but also the NBA Playoffs and a potential play-in tournament setting that was revitalized after last being used in the 1950s. Due to stringent rules and regulations at the time to get the situation to work at all, the NBA managed to complete the entire bubble set-up with 0 COVID-19 infections from the season's resumption to the last game in the 2020 NBA Finals. Of course, you can expect plenty of awesome moments from multiple teams that participated in the NBA Bubble setting.
- Starting with something a bit more simplistic in nature, the Phoenix Suns came into the NBA Bubble as one of two last-minute additions for the bubble setting, noting their record being as close of the final seed of the Playoffs as some of the other Western Conference teams competing for a spot there. However, they alongside the Washington Wizards in the Eastern Conference had the longest odds to succeed with the hardest schedule of them all in their race to Seed 8 due to the competition they faced combined with everyone else in the Western Conference having better odds and easier schedules to force a play-in tournament to get Seed 8 than Phoenix did. Even worse, a few of their players were later confirmed to have had COVID-19 before being allowed to enter the Bubble, including Ricky Rubio and Aron Baynes, with Baynes and Kelly Oubre Jr. also being out of play throughout their time due to injuries they had before being allowed to play again. In fact, their sole, emergency signing for their Bubble Suns roster featured Cameron Payne, who fizzled out of the NBA earlier that season and hoped to return to the NBA after a failed stint in China with a brief NBA G League stint. Yet despite those odds being against them, the Suns (mainly led by Devin Booker and Ricky Rubio) not only won and won after being 26-39 earlier in the season, but other teams against them were losing enough to give Phoenix a shot back after being out of the Playoffs since 2010. Phoenix ended up managing to get a perfect 8-0 finish in the Bubble for their season (the only team to do that there), but due to a tiebreaker and a missed buzzer-beater by Brooklyn, missed out on the play-in tournament. However, their fate changed as a result of the Bubble Suns with not only Cameron Payne proving to be a successful back-up point guard beyond the bubble setting, but also being a factor for both getting Chris Paul to help end their playoff drought the next season and expanding the play-in tournament to also include the 10th seeded team from each conference the next season forward.
- On the note of awesome teams during the resumed season, the Portland Trail Blazers count as that also, mainly due to the way Damian Lillard went Hellbent on making sure they weren't eliminated in the regular season. Throughout the resumed season, Lillard played the regular season period like he was actually the MVP that entire season instead of the actual MVP that year, knowing that the more losses they had, the less likely they would have been to make it to the play-in tournament and upset the actual 8th seed at the time, the Memphis Grizzlies. Despite the threats of looming challengers like the Bubble Suns and Spurs, Lillard in particular kept scoring out of his mind the more he played in the Bubble, eventually averaging 37.6 points per game in the resumed season, including his third 60+ point game of the season (joining Wilt Chamberlain as the only other player to do that), a 50+ point game, and two different 40+ point games in key wins for Portland, including their last regular season game against the Brooklyn Nets. Then in the NBA's first ever play-in tournament game, Portland actually finished as the new #8 Seed for the play-in tournament, now needing only one win to get in over Memphis... which they succeeded with a 126-122 win by everyone in the Trail Blazers working together to survive against Memphis' onslaught late in the game. And while Portland eventually became too tired and hobbled up to beat the Lakers in the first round, they proved they were worthy of being in the Playoffs that season all along.
- In the 2020 NBA Bubble Playoffs, a work stoppage took place when the Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic agreed to not play on the same day Jacob Blake, a man in Kenosha, Wisconsin, was shot seven times in the back, reminding them of the civil unrest from earlier in the year and how it felt like nothing was changing at all in terms of continued racial profiling from police officers. After the Bucks and Magic decided not to play that day, more games scheduled in the next few days were halted in favor of hearing what they should do with the Playoffs this season and what they might need to do to help out going forward. After their few days with meetings, the NBA was back to its scheduling plans for the season, with plans on helping communities from being further active against racial profiling to helping out impoverished communities to even allowing their arenas to become official voting booths for people to vote in the 2020 Presidential election.
- During the 2020 Playoffs, the #3 seeded Denver Nuggets faced not one, but two different 3-1 deficits against some tough opponents in the Western Conference... and won both of them! Most teams would be glad to have just one 3-1 comeback in their lifetimes, and yet the Denver Nuggets are the only team to have multiple 3-1 series comebacks in the same season! How is that even possible, you might ask?
- In the first round against the #6 seeded Utah Jazz, the Denver Nuggets actually won their first game with an overtime win that also had a 10-point lead in the end, being led by international stars Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokić. However, the Jazz managed to blowout the Nuggets in their next two games, with Utah winning Game 4 by Donovan Mitchell's 51 points beating out Jamal Murray's 50 points that night. However, Murray managed to make that loss as motivation to lead the Nuggets in Games 5 & 6 (including another 50 point game in Game 6) before Jokić took over in a more defensive minded Game 7, leading Denver with 30 points and 14 rebounds in an 80-78 win over Utah to survive a potential upset.
- Not long afterward, the Nuggets faced the #2 seeded Los Angeles Clippers, who added both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to their roster in a bid to end their longtime drought of actually making it to a conference finals match, let alone a NBA Finals championship. Almost immediately, the Clippers showed Denver why they were considered championship contenders earlier that season with a blowout win in the Clippers' favor for Game 1, with Denver playing in a more balanced effort for Game 2 before the Clippers' new dynamic duo led them to closer wins for Games 3 & 4. One thing to note in the final three games of that series is that for each of those games, Denver was down by halftime in double digits against the Clippers, sometimes by near insurmountable numbers late in those games. That being said, Denver's dynamic duo led the Nuggets in more balanced attacks against the Clippers to upset them in Games 5 & 6 before their dynamic duo gave their one-two punch to finish the Clippers off for good that season. By that point, the Nuggets became meme legends for that season, to the point where once the Nuggets won Game 3 and the Lakers won Game 4, people genuinely thought the Nuggets could have pulled off yet another 31 upset comeback that season!note
- Of course, it wasn't all just Western Conference teams being awesome in the bubble setting. After the Miami Heat played their last regular season games without much care on their end (finishing that part with only a 3-5 record, including a win and a loss over the Indiana Pacers, their future first round opponent), they ended up dropping down to the #5 seed in the Eastern Conference, though they still won their division that season. Despite the drop down, coach Eric Spoelstra, Jimmy Butler, and the rest of the Miami Heat showed how their teamwork can work just as well as a roster that features some star or even superstar players as their key pieces. They first showed it by sweeping the Indiana Pacers in convincing fashion, then almost sweeping Giannis Antetokounmpo's Milwaukee Bucks (losing a close Game 4 in overtime before beating them in Game 5), followed by a team effort mainly led by Sixth Man of the Year candidate Goran Dragić and young star players Tyler Herro and Edrice "Bam" Adebayo resulting in a 4-2 series win over Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and the Boston Celtics. This was not only Jimmy Butler's first ever run to the NBA Finals after dealing with controversies leading to ugly exits in Chicago, Minnesota, and Philadelphia, but also Eric Spoelstra's first NBA Finals appearance without Dwyane Wade playing for the Heat.
- In the end, we all knew that the Los Angeles Lakers had to be saved for last in this one. After missing the prior season's playoffs, LeBron James and his new teammate, Anthony Davis, led the Lakers back to being the top of the NBA again with a 49-14 record, returning to the Playoffs in March to the first time since 2013, before the NBA suspended their season for a few months. To compound the uncertainty of finishing up their season at all, the Lakers also had to deal with the emotional turmoil of losing Kobe Bryant in January 2020, which affected how they were trying to deal with the season at the time even more than most other teams had to deal with the pandemic. Still, despite trying to gather their bearings to finish the season on a strong note, they finished the rest of their regular season with a 3-5 record, though still had the best record of the season in spite of the results there. Then in the 2020 Playoffs, the Lakers managed to beat all three of the Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets, and Denver Nuggets by winning each of these series matches 4-1, getting their wins in rather convincing fashion, before beating the Miami Heat 4-2 in further convincing fashion to get their league-tying 17th NBA Finals Championship. Even in spite of emotional turmoil between the death of Kobe, the COVID-19 pandemic, trying to live out a few months in a bubble setting, joining the Clippers as the only other team to not bother finishing up the season at one point, and later dealing with the derision of having a "Mickey Mouse Ring" afterward despite the talk of earning respect for the work they've done, the end result was worth it for the Lakers, with a heartwarming moment of dedicating their championship win to Kobe Bryant after the end of the championship series.
- Even with the 2020-21 NBA season cutting out 10 regular season games by force with the COVID-19 Pandemic in mind, the season provided many awesome moments that represent changes of the guard or narratives with certain teams that went far into the Playoffs this season. No joke, each team that made it to the Conference Finals had awesome moments that got rid of awful narratives that surrounded them throughout the season. So much so, in fact, that it would make fans of each team there proud of their seasons they've had already.
- The first team that should be mentioned was the one that hinted things to come going into this season after their time in the NBA Bubble: the Phoenix Suns. After seeing their improbable success from that period, the Suns made an all-in move similar to the Toronto Raptors trading for Kawhi Leonard: this time trading fan favorites in Kelly Oubre Jr. and Ricky Rubio (alongside Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque, and a future first-round pick) to the Oklahoma City Thunder for superstar point guard Chris Paul and Abdel Nader. Not only that, but they also made a few key signings, with Jae Crowder from the Miami Heat being their main signing. Outside of a later trade in the season regarding another team down below netting them Torrey Craig, the Suns pretty much kept most of their roster from the Bubble intact throughout the season. Turned out it was a bet that paid off in dividends, ending a decade-long playoff drought by having the second-best record in the entire NBA at 51-21note and being the #2 seed in the Western Conference after having a tough time cracking through even a #8 seed throughout the 2010's! Former player turned general manager James Jones won Executive of the Year for his moves done this season, with Monty Williams winning the Coach of the Year by his coaching peers as head coach. By then, the Suns watched a play-in tournament game that guaranteed them a tough opponent between the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Lakers, with them being considered "lucky" to play LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the defending champion Lakers.
- Even in Game 1 during the first round, the Suns knew it wouldn't be an easy fight, especially once Chris Paul had a shoulder twinge that seriously affected his performance throughout the entire series. However, due to the work that the younger players like Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, and Mikal Bridges did throughout the series, the Suns made sure they either won or at least kept things close as best as they could for the first few games of the series. However, after a considerably embarrassing Game 3 that had Jae Crowder mocked by the Lakers due to how he was defending LeBron in a particular play in the fourth quarter, the Suns flipped a switch that made them go from good to great by Game 4, blowing out the Lakers in Games 5 & 6 with Devin Booker proving himself to be a leading star on the national stage to win their first playoff series 4-2 against the Lakers for LeBron's first ever first round playoff series loss. Then in the second round, they faced the Denver Nuggets, who may have lost a few key players from last season going into this season (including Jamal Murray to a season-ending injury and Torrey Craig later going to Phoenix), but still had the third-best record in the Western Conference with Nikola Jokić (a 2014 second round pick) being the MVP of the league that season for a reason. Unlike the first round, the Suns felt like they had an easier time with the competition, usually sealing the deal against them by the third quarter throughout the series to eventually sweep them (being the only team to get a sweep by the second round that season), with Chris Paul returning to form by the start of this series. Considering their last playoff appearance had them go into the Western Conference Finals in 2010, it's like the franchise never even missed a beat between playoff appearances, despite clear cut generational differences at hand. In fact, judging from later results in these playoffs, they managed to do more by comparison to the teams they had even in the mid-to-late 2000's.
- Next, a franchise that has had much worse luck in general: the Los Angeles Clippers. Long considered the Butt-Monkey of the entire NBA, the way their regular season went for them had them feeling like not much changed from them like they had from the last half-century of their existence. Even worse for them, some of their moves they madenote felt like they were making some serious downgrades from what they had expected from last season, finishing as the fourth seed in the West. It even felt that way early on when they not only played their first round rematch series against Luka Dončić and the Dallas Mavericks, but also the best team in the West (in terms of records) with the Utah Jazz. However, after their first round felt like a repeat of the 2019 World Series where the road team won every time, the Clippers managed to subvert that expectation for Game 7, winning 126-111 that time before going to Utah. Even better than that, the Clippers managed to adjust themselves to the Jazz (who had both a Sixth Man of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year winner on the same team alongside three different All-Star players) after losing their first two games to Utah, winning each game afterward by no more than 8, including a blowout win by 26 points and coming back from a 25-point deficit to win by 11 (led by an unknown second-rounder named Terence Mann getting 39 points to lead their comeback) to end the series with a 4-2 series in their favor, finally entering a conference finals (either out East in Buffalo or in the West after moving to California) for the first time in over 50 years, winning Games 5 & 6 in that series without superstar Kawhi Leonard playing for the rest of the Playoffs! Even better, these same Clippers became the first team ever in the entire NBA's history to win multiple series of games in the same season after starting out 0-2 early on in each of them. Not to mention it helped give Tyronn Lue more credibility as a head coach after previously being seen as a lackey to LeBron James back in Cleveland more than an actual head coach. Despite how this season ended for them, it's definitely considered their best season yet by their fans, without question! (At least, until they get something better than just a conference finals appearance.)
- For the Eastern Conference, their highest seeded team that made it to the Eastern Conference Finals this year was the #3 seeded Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks started their season off very interestingly by trying to make a team worthy of Giannis Antetokounmpo's chances of winning the NBA Finals this season by switching up their roster with getting players like Jrue Holiday and Bogdan Bogdanović in trades... only for the Bucks' trade for Bogdanović to fall apart because of the Bucks jumping the gun on the trade before free agency officially began, which also led to them doing a Plan B with signing guys like Bryn Forbes and Bobby Portis in free agency, as well as losing a future second-round pick and then another team getting Bogdanović later in the season. Even a signing like Torrey Craig ended up leading to future trades during the season for a player like P.J. Tucker to help improve their roster during the season, primarily on the defensive end. However, while they did not improve their regular season record from the prior season(s), they did improve in the way that mattered most of all for them: playoff success. After having trouble with the Miami Heat in the 2020 NBA Bubble Playoffs, the Bucks managed to sweep the Heat in convincing fashion after their overtime win in Game 1, being the only team to sweep a series in the first round that season. Then after that, they had very tough competition in the #2 seeded Brooklyn Nets, which revolved around a team full of All-Star caliber players like Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan (with LaMarcus Aldridge previously being there before an unexpected retirement with his health came up that season) being coached by a Hall of Fame MVP player turned coach in Steve Nash. Throughout the first two games there, the Nets looked to win that series in convincing fashion before the Bucks won their next two games in closer manners, though with Kyrie Irving later being out by injury and James Harden being less effective in nature that series. While Kevin Durant did the keep the Nets in the series for Game 5, the Bucks gained enough confidence in Game 6 to force a Game 7 in epic fashion. Both Kevin Durant & Giannis managed to each score over 40+ points for their teams on that game, with Durant even forcing an overtime there (literally having inches worth of a difference between the Nets moving on to the next round instead and them going to overtime due to Durant's footing on his last fourth quarter shot) before that tightly defended overtime resulted in the Bucks upsetting the Nets with a 115-111 overtime win in their home court. For the Bucks, not only did they conquer previous playoff demons and gave Giannis redemption for this season (albeit barely), but they also helped open up the championship race for someone new to win it after previously dealing with super teams led by a select few players being expected there for over a decade.
- Last, but not least, there's the unique case of the Atlanta Hawks, who previously faced derision and considerable irrelevancy themselves. Unlike the rest of the teams mentioned here for this season, the moves the Hawks made weren't seen as plentiful on the surface (outside of getting Bogdan Bogdanović before the start of the season), but they did make an immediate impact early on. However, at one point in their season, their original head coach, Lloyd Pierce, had the Hawks get a 14-20 record with a 4-11 record for February 2021. They then replaced coach Pierce with interim head coach Nate McMillan (who opted to be an assistant coach there after being fired by the Indiana Pacers due to perceived stagnation from him, only accepting the interim coaching gig by Pierce's own recommendation)... who quickly got them 9 straight wins in his return before trading Rajon Rondo for Lou Williams, which also helped the Hawks go from being out of even the play-in tournament to suddenly competing with the New York Knicks (who had an awesome season themselves that season) for the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference. While the Hawks didn't win Seed 4, they did win the playoff war against them in the end, getting their first round series 4-1 off of performances led by Trae Young and Clint Capela, with their only loss being in Game 2 that series. Then in their second round series against the #1 seeded Philadelphia 76ers (primarily led by Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons), they had an interesting series where each team started out with one win on the road and one win at home (with Atlanta leading 2-1 by Game 3 with more players like Danilo Gallinari being instrumental in their games) before the pivotal point of the series changed by Game 5, with the Hawks upsetting the 76ers with a 109-106 win on the road after being down by 26 points at one point. Then after losing at home for Game 6 (with a blackout occurring near the end of that game, similar to Super Bowl XLVII), Game 7 had a poor shooting night from young star Trae Young... but were still led through by Kevin Huerter and John Collins helping out on both ends of the court, completely shutting down Ben Simmons late in every game to win their series 4-3 with a 103-96 victory. What helped make this become awesome beyond the fact that they improved a lot under Nate McMillan and gave the Hawks a brighter future going forward was the fact that it helped improve McMillan's reputation as a coach after previously having only one total series win early on in his career back when he coached the Seattle SuperSonics back when they existed. Overall, regardless of who won it all, each team had justified reasons to be proud of their seasons on display.
- Both of the conference finals matches also had some tough roads ahead for the winners at hand.
- For the Suns, before they even had a chance to game plan for the Clippers due to the aforementioned series against the Jazz, their star point guard, Chris Paul, got infected with COVID-19 despite already being vaccinated for it back in February 2021. However, the Suns still managed to hold the fort without him in the first two games; they first won by Devin Booker getting his first ever professional triple-double through 40 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists in Game 1 and then by Cameron Payne scoring a career-high 29 points combined with a buzzer-beating alley-oop dunk from Jae Crowder inbounding out of bounds to Deandre Ayton to stun the Clippers at home in Game 2. After Chris Paul got better for Game 3, but not better enough to beat the Clippers in Los Angeles due to Paul George's efforts in a 106-92 loss, the Suns won another tense, grind out game with a low scoring 84-80 win for Game 4, which was topped off by the 22-year-old Deandre Ayton getting 19 points and 22 rebounds that night. Finally, after failing to counter some gritty Clippers performances by Paul George, Reggie Jackson, and Marcus Morris for a 116-102 Game 5 loss in Phoenix, the Suns responded back by being gritty themselves through a more balanced effort in Game 6 on the road. While Ayton performed as well as he has in his wins throughout the Playoffs, it was Chris Paul who brutally put the dagger against his old team, scoring 41 points and getting a game-high 8 assists with no turnovers to blowout the Clippers with a 130-103 win in Game 6 to not only get Chris Paul and most of the gang to their first ever NBA Finals appearancenote , but also get the Suns back to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1993!
- As for the Bucks, they didn't get off to the best of starts by losing a close Game 1 with a 116-113 defeat at home. However, they did counter with a major first half combined with containing Trae Young to only 15 points after getting 48 in Game 1 to blowout the Hawks with a 125-91 win at home. Milwaukee then made sure to contain the rest of the Hawks outside of Trae Young doing his thing before he got hurt in the Bucks' 113-102 Game 3 win to regain the series back for their 2-1 series lead. However, an unfortunate injury involving their superstar, Giannis, resulted in the Hawks, minus Trae, blowing out the Bucks right back with a 110-88 loss to tie their series back up 2-2 again. Despite being without Giannis for the rest of the series, however, the Bucks managed to regain the series with a 123-112 Game 5 win at home due to not just Brook Lopez scoring a game-high 33 points, but with Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, and Bobby Portis all scoring at least 22 points that night. Then, even with Trae Young returning for the Hawks at their home for Game 6, the Bucks managed to not only stop Young from getting hot like he was in Games 1 & 3, but also allow both Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday to go off on bigger scoring nights once again to take the series away from the Hawks with a 118-107 win that night. With their return to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1974 (last winning it in only their third season back in 1971), the Bucks proved they can not just win, but also take over a series with or without Giannis leading the way for them.
- Even the NBA Finals got off to a very interesting start for both teams. With the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo returned from his serious-looking injury earlier in the Eastern Conference Finals, and his performance from Game 1 alone felt like his Greek Freak nickname was earned even more than it was before from his body type. As for the Suns, back-up power forward Dario arić accidentally tore his right ACL only two minutes into him playing in his first ever NBA Finals, but they more than made up for it with Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and Deandre Ayton each scoring over 22 or more points (and in Ayton's case, was one rebound away from getting a 20/20 performance in his NBA Finals debut, with Chris Paul also having an NBA Finals debut comparable to an older Michael Jordan due to CP3 making his debut at 36 years old) to win 118-105 in their return home for Game 1. Game 2 had some more of the same, with Giannis having a monstrous game there, but the Bucks were defeated 118-108 by the Suns' starting line-up working together to either score at least 20 points or getting a double-double if they couldn't reach 20 themselves. With Game 3, this was all Giannis with another 40-point double-double with 41 points and 13 points in a blowout 120-100 win at home in Milwaukee. Game 4, meanwhile, was more of a leading scorer's battle, with Devin Booker scoring 42 points and Khris Middleton scoring 40 that day. However, the Bucks ultimately won 109-103 to tie the series with the key plays that game involving Giannis blocking a critical dunk by Ayton that could have tied the game up and Chris Paul making a costly turnover not long afterward. Game 5 in Phoenix saw the Suns come out on fire (pun not intended), building a 16-point lead... only for the Bucks to erase the Suns' lead by the middle of the second quarter, and take a 14-point lead early in the fourth quarter. But the Suns chipped away at the lead, and had the ball in the final 20 seconds trailing by 1. Then Jrue Holiday stripped the ball from Devin Booker in the lane, running the ball down the court. He could have pulled out to run some time off the clock, but saw Giannis trailing the play and threw an alley-oop that Giannis dunked while being fouled by Chris Paul. With Giannis being a mediocre free-throw shooter, it wasn't a given that the Bucks could close out the game, and he missed badly... but the ball bounced toward him, and he was able to tap it out to Middleton, who was fouled and sank one of two free throws to end the scoring. Back in Milwaukee for the potential decider, Giannis took over the game, especially in the final quarter, becoming the first player to score 50 in a championship-clinching game since Bob Pettit back in 1958. He also had 14 rebounds, giving him his third Finals game with at least 40 points and 10 boards.
- The first team that should be mentioned was the one that hinted things to come going into this season after their time in the NBA Bubble: the Phoenix Suns. After seeing their improbable success from that period, the Suns made an all-in move similar to the Toronto Raptors trading for Kawhi Leonard: this time trading fan favorites in Kelly Oubre Jr. and Ricky Rubio (alongside Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque, and a future first-round pick) to the Oklahoma City Thunder for superstar point guard Chris Paul and Abdel Nader. Not only that, but they also made a few key signings, with Jae Crowder from the Miami Heat being their main signing. Outside of a later trade in the season regarding another team down below netting them Torrey Craig, the Suns pretty much kept most of their roster from the Bubble intact throughout the season. Turned out it was a bet that paid off in dividends, ending a decade-long playoff drought by having the second-best record in the entire NBA at 51-21note and being the #2 seed in the Western Conference after having a tough time cracking through even a #8 seed throughout the 2010's! Former player turned general manager James Jones won Executive of the Year for his moves done this season, with Monty Williams winning the Coach of the Year by his coaching peers as head coach. By then, the Suns watched a play-in tournament game that guaranteed them a tough opponent between the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Lakers, with them being considered "lucky" to play LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the defending champion Lakers.
Canadian Football League
- The Ottawa Redblacks of the Canadian Football League winning the Grey Cup in only their third year of existence. Even sweeter for the city is that it's also the first Grey Cup win for an Ottawa-based football team in 40 years!
- The Calgary Stampeders went undefeated (12-0) in the 1948 season. They went undefeated in the playoffs on their way to their first Grey Cup victory over the favoured Ottawa Rough Riders. They turned the Grey Cup into a nationwide party that continues today. They started the 1949 season 10-0, for 22 regular season wins in a row, and a 25-1 record over two seasons.
National Football League
- The 1972 Miami Dolphins are, to this day, the only team to finish an entire NFL season without ever losing a game. They went a perfect 17-0, capped by a 14-7 win over the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII.
- New York got its own back in football in 2007, when the New York Giants produced a late come-from-behind victory in Super Bowl XLII over the New England Patriots, who were en-route to cap off the above achievement list with a perfect season (which, as stated above, was only accomplished by the 1972 Dolphins), providing an even greater cherry on top of the list of accomplishments above. The Patriots were favored by 12 points. Their fanbase felt the team was absolutely invincible. Tom Brady was considered the best quarterback in the league at that point, with some people putting him on the same pedestal as Joe Montana. It was the perfect underdog story, with a team people had declared dead in September knocking off a team that hadn't lost a game up to that point. And then the Giants repeated the feat four years later to prove it was no fluke. And just like that, the legend of Eli Manning was born.
- The crowning moment was the Giants' game-winning drive in Super Bowl XLII in which they came in trailing by four points. Giants running back Brandon Jacobs converted a 4th and 1 on the Giants' 37. Three plays later, Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel dropped an interception that could have sealed New England's perfect season and the Giants faced 3rd and 5 on their own 44 with 1:15 left. On the very next play, Eli Manning scrambled around Patriots defenders (one of whom had him by the jersey) and threw downfield to David Tyree who pinned the ball against his helmet.◊ Plaxico Burress then caught the game-winning touchdown with 35 seconds left in the game. Eli's scramble and Tyree's catch are now almost universally considered the single greatest play in Super Bowl history.
- The 2010 Green Bay Packers, especially when you read about their season leading up to their Super Bowl win. After their Week 15 loss to New England (a game in which star quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sidelined with a concussion), leaving them with an 8-6 record, many analysts were already counting them out of the playoffs... only for them to roar back for the last two games of the season, winning both (the first by a massive 45-17 margin) to boost their record to 10-6 which was just enough to clinch the final playoff berth, but coming in as the sixth-seed Wild Card team, they had a hard road ahead as all of their playoff games would be away games. They proceeded to absolutely dominate the post-season, including a huge 48-21 blowout in the divisional round, making them the first sixth-seed team in NFC history to make it to the Super Bowl. And then, just to put the icing on the cake, they win it. Defines The Determinator, indeed.
- Almost immediately after the victory, WWE went to Green Bay and invited the champions to attend. Among the Packers who did attend was star linebacker Clay Matthews, who promptly helped Edge retain his World Heavyweight Championship against Dolph Ziggler as a second referee (the original ref, Vickie Guerrero (who was aligned with Ziggler), injured herself attempting to spear Edge).
- Speaking of that postseason, in the NFC Championship game, you have to give some props to the Bears' third-string quarterback Caleb Hanie as well. After Jay Cutler was injured and the primary backup Collins was ineffective, Hanie came in in the final seconds of the third quarter, in an incredibly high stakes game with his team having zero points on the scoreboard thus far — and he goes out and plays the game of his career, putting up 14 points, making the Packers fight for the win that at one point had appeared to be already in the bag, and massively outdoing Cutler by pretty much every measure (passing yards, completed passes, completion percentage) despite having only about half as much playing time as Cutler. Even though the Bears ultimately couldn't pull out a victory, Hanie's performance was pretty remarkable under the circumstances; many people were left wondering if the outcome might have been different had the Bears skipped over Collins and gone right to Hanie to begin with.
- The 2002 Super Bowl. The Patriots were tied with the heavily-favored Rams at 17 after the Rams had scored on a touchdown drive with 1:30 left on the clock in the fourth quarter. The Patriots had no time-outs left, and John Madden was recommending they run out the clock and win in overtime. After returning the kickoff, Tom Brady threw three passes to get to the Patriots 41-yard line with 33 seconds left. An incomplete pass, a short post pass to the tight end, and a 6 yard rush put the Patriots on the Rams 30 yard line, where Brady spiked the ball to stop the clock. There was time for literally one more play (3 seconds left on the clock), and the Patriots call in Adam Vinatieri, the kicker, who boots it as the clock runs out. The ball just barely splits the uprights, and the Patriots win the game at the latest possible moment, beating the 14-point spread against them for the biggest upset in football history, and making the New England Patriots a force to be reckoned with in American Football for the next decade.
- New Orleans Saints vs. Seattle Seahawks, 2010 Wild Card Round. The first team in NFL history to win a division with a losing record against the reigning Super Bowl champions. After falling behind early 10-0, the Seahawks fight back and take a 34-20 lead going into the fourth quarter. The Saints cut the lead down to 34-30 and seem poised to retake the lead - until Marshawn Lynch uncorks one of the greatest plays in franchise history, a 67-yard touchdown where Lynch sheds eight tackles on the way to the end zone. Seahawks go on to win the game 41-36. And if you still don't think that run was Moment of Awesome-worthy, consider this: the fans in the stands went so crazy during the play that they set off earthquake sensors nearby.
- For that matter, the 2014 Super Bowl. After an ugly conference-deciding match against rival San Francisco, and a 30+ year history of being the Butt-Monkey and punchline of American pro sports, they're up against the Denver Broncos, who were led by one of the greatest offenses in NFL history. The Hawks proceed to murder the Broncos in an embarrassing blowout.
- Super Bowl XLIV. The most-watched event in television history, where the New Orleans Saints, still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Katrina, pulled off a stunning upset to win their first championship.
- The Miracle at the New Meadowlands. The Philadelphia Eagles, after trailing the New York Giants 3110 with 8:17 left in the game, orchestrated a Miracle Rally to tie the game at 31 with 1:16 left. The Eagles defense then forces a three-and-out by the Giants, who drain the clock down to 0:14 before calling time. On the ensuing punt the ball is snapped high to rookie punter Matt Dodge. This forces him to rush the punt and is unable to direct the ball away from returner DeSean Jackson, who takes the punt 65 yards for the game-winning touchdown with no time remaining. Final score: Eagles 38, Giants 31. Jackson's touchdown was also the first of its kind in the history of the NFL (game-winning punt return TD with no time left).
- In the last moments of the 1982 NFC Championship game, the San Francisco 49ers trailed the favored Dallas Cowboys 2721. After leading a drive close to the end zone, the 49ers had two downs left. Quarterback Joe Montana took the ball, and, under pressure from the Cowboys' defense, threw into the end zone... where wide receiver Dwight Clark jumped as high as he could and caught the ball with fingertips, landing for a touchdown. The 49ers won the game, and proceeded to their first Super Bowl, which they won. The moment is known in NFL lore simply as "The Catch". Adding to the awesomeness, as the crowd went wild, Cowboys defensive end Ed "Too Tall" Jones said to Montana "You just beat America's Team." Montana replied "Well, you can sit at home with the rest of America and watch the Super Bowl."
- In Super Bowl XXXI, towards the end of the third quarter, the Green Bay Packers were leading the New England Patriots, but momentum was starting to swing the Patriots' way when they scored a touchdown to cut Green Bay's lead to six points... that is, until the kickoff following said touchdown, when Packers kick returner Desmond Howard ran the ball back 99 yards to answer the Patriots' touchdown with one of their own, re-extending the Packers' lead to 14 with a two-point conversion. The Packers won the game 35-21, and Howard became the only special teams player in history to win Super Bowl MVP.
- By 1997, the Denver Broncos had developed a reputation for playing well and often getting to the championship, but always being humiliated in the Super Bowl. This was exacerbated by the fact that they had a superstar quarterback in John Elway who, despite having a reputation for being one of the better quarterbacks in the game and for pulling off comeback wins, always seemed to be stifled in the Super Bowl. That year, the Broncos were facing off against the defending champion Green Bay Packers, and before the game the spread was at 12 points for the Packers. However, the Broncos had something they hadn't had in previous years a running game. Running back Terrell Davis chewed up the Packer defense for 157 yards and three touchdowns rushing, and ended up being named the MVP for his impressive performance in a 31-24 Denver victory.
- The play often considered as the defining moment of the game comes from John Elway, however. Termed "The Helicopter," it refers to an 8-yard run by the quarterback. On 3rd and 6 at the Green Bay 12, with the score tied at 17, Denver needed a first down to keep the drive alive. After finding nobody open, the 37-year-old quarterback decided to tuck the ball in and run. He managed to make a first down, but got hit so hard on the play by three defenders that he spun around in midair. After this, he immediately got up and headed back to the huddle, ready to continue playing.
- Cincinnati Bengals head coach Sam Wyche only needed nine words to deliver a devastating "The Reason You Suck" Speech to unruly Bengals fans who were throwing debris on the field.
- Wyche: Will the next person that sees anybody throw anything onto this field, point 'em out, and get 'em out of here? You don't live in Cleveland, you live in Cincinnati!
- Super Bowl LI: The New England Patriots shock the Atlanta Falcons, and the world, by overcoming a 25 point-deficit (as far as midway through the third quarter, they were losing 28-3) to force the first ever overtime period in Super Bowl history. They would go on to win the game 34-28, giving Tom Brady and Bill Belichick their fifth Super Bowl victory, the most ever for any quarterback or head coach.
- Julian Edelman's miraculous catch has to be seen to be believed, catching a tipped Brady pass an inch from the ground and keeping the Pats' game-tying drive alive. David Tyree, eat your heart out.
- The Buffalo Bills were a team that had been known for being pretty weak since the century started and after their four straight Super Bowl losses in the 90's, which wasn't helped by the fact that they shared a division with Brady and Belichick. They feel victim to the famous Music City Miracle to kick off (no pun intended) the new millennium, which was their final playoff appearance...until December 31, 2017. Entering Week 17 at 8-7, they had to beat their division rival Miami Dolphins on the road - which they did - and the Cincinnati Bengals had to beat their division rival Baltimore Ravens who were ready for a win-and-in round, also on the road. Cincinnati led 24-10 at one point, partially thanks to an 89-yard interception in the third quarter, but the Ravens would proceed to drop 17 unanswered points on them. With under a minute to play, one timeout left, and facing a 4th & 12, they had one last chance to get the first down and then into field goal range and force overtime or even take that lead back. Andy Dalton threw a 49-yard pass to Tyler Boyd, who fended off multiple Ravens receivers and score a touchdown to put them up 31-27 and win them the game, which allowed the Bills to make the playoffs via tiebreaker. There was much celebrating. Sure, they went one-and-done against the Jacksonville Jaguars in a disappointing and pretty boring 10-3 loss, but the fact that it even happened was something for their fans - and the team itself - to be happy for after so much misery.
- Doubles as a heartwarming moment for what happened afterward; a local Buffalo restaurant delivered over a thousand of the city's famous chicken wings to the Bengals with all the trimmings as a way of thanking the Bengals for getting the Bills into the playoffs.
- Even though the Bills' 4 trips to the Super Bowl all ended in heartbreak (the closest they came to winning was the first attempt, which only ended in a loss because Scott Norwood's attempted game-winning field goal went wide right), one bright spot was making the biggest comeback in NFL history, now known as "The Comeback". In the 1992-93 playoffs, the Bills made the playoffs again as a wildcard and were playing against the Houston Oilers (who have since become the Tennessee Titans). By the third quarter, the Oilers built a 35-3 lead over the Bills when Buffalo's backup QB Frank Reich rallied the team to win 41-38 in overtime.
- The Philadelphia Eagles' 2017-18 Super Bowl run:
"WHAT'S UP, DALLAS?! We heard you were in Philly last year! I like standing up here before you, as an undrafted free agent! Representing that shield for 15 years. TONIGHT! I'm representing the Philadelphia Eagles! NFC East champs! Divisional champs! AND WORLD CHAMPS! THE WORLD CHAMPS! Hey, Dallas! The last time you were in the Super Bowl, these draft picks weren't born!"
- Quarterback Carson Wentz had an MVP-caliber sophomore season, guiding his team to a nine-game winning streak to put them atop the NFC East and in prime position for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. When Wentz went down with a season-ending ACL injury against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 14, the Eagles turned to their backup quarterback and former starter Nick Foles, who had recently been cut by the Rams and was considering retirement. Foles' play kept the Eagles in prime playoff position, even with a throwaway 6-0 shutout loss to the Dallas Cowboys to end the regular season.
- The Vegas oddsmakers were understandably apprehensive about the Eagles' playoff chances after losing Wentz to injury after such a great season, and thus made them the underdogs in all of their playoff games despite being the #1 seed. The Philly fans embraced their underdog status and proved the oddsmakers wrong by taking out the Atlanta Falcons in the divisional playoff game by a score of 15-10, and then dismantling the Minnesota Vikings 38-7 in the NFC Championship game, denying the Vikings the chance to be the first team to ever play the Super Bowl in their home stadium.
- Minnesota would then be beaten to that honor by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in their first year with Tom Brady at quarterback; Tampa Bay won.
- Then came the Big Game itself: a rematch against the New England Patriots, the team that had previously broken their hearts in Super Bowl XXXIX, and was only one year removed from the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history against the Atlanta Falcons. The Eagles built an early lead and held it for most of the game, only allowing the Patriots to slip ahead once in the fourth quarter before bouncing right back with a Foles touchdown pass to tight end Zach Ertz (though they would miss the two-point conversion, putting the score at 38-33). Super Bowl LII is also a testament to the strengths of both teams' offensive lines, as there was only one quarterback sack between the two teams for the entire game, and it was the one that would make the biggest difference—Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham, at the climax of the game, would force Patriots QB Tom Brady to fumble the ball, which landed in the hands of fellow DE Derek Barnett. The Eagles would push further ahead on a Jake Elliott field goal to lock the score up at 41-33 with just over a minute to go, and denied the Patriots the chance to pull off another Super Bowl Miracle Rally, clinching a Super Bowl LII victory, giving the city of Philadelphia its first ever Lombardi Trophy, and Foles got named Super Bowl MVP (he also caught a touchdown pass on a trick play, which New England also tried only for Brady to drop).
- To add on to that, 30 Super Bowl records were broken during the game, including a total of 1,152 yards between both teams just before the final play of the game, the most of any NFL game, regular or postseason. 16 others were tied alongside them. It's worth noting that this came right after Super Bowl LI, which had 37 records broken and 9 tied, quite a few of which were broken again here.
- And on that note, in the 2018 NFL Draft, which took place in AT&T Stadium where the Dallas Cowboys play, when the Eagles got the 49th pick, David Akers is brought up to the podium. But before introducing the Eagles' draft pick in Dallas Goedert (how fitting), he proceeds to troll the Cowboys and their fans in their own stadium and it can be seen in its entirety here. Even as the booing got louder, he didn't let up.
- The 1981 AFC Divisional Playoff Game between the San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins (known as the "Epic in Miami") would be called "The Game No One Should Have Lost" by Sports Illustrated, and with good reason. By the time the game ended as a 41-38 Charger victory in overtime; league records were set for most combined points in a post-season game (79); combined passing yards (809) and total yards (1,036). However, two players would gain special attention for their exploits in this game.
- Kellen Winslow, the Chargers' future Hall-of-Fame tight end, contributed a playoff-record 13 catches for 166 yards and a touchdown; even coming in to block a potential game-winning field goal by Miami kicker Uwe von Schamann to force overtime. All impressive under normal circumstances, but even more so considering that by the 4th quarter Winslow was being treated for a pinched nerve in his shoulder, severe cramps and dehydration in the hot, humid for January standards at the Orange Bowl; with the most famous image being of Winslow being helped off the field at the end of the game by teammates Billy Shields and Eric Sievers.
- On the losing side, Dolphins backup quarterback Don Strock. Strock, a career backup, had spent most of the season as the 2nd half of a quarterback tandem known as "Woodstrock" behind talented but inconsistent quarterback David Woodley. At the end of the 1st quarter of this game, the Chargers had exploded to take a 24-0 lead over the Dolphins, resulting in head coach Don Shula sending Strock in. Strock would lead the Dolphins to three scoring drives over the Chargers' notoriously porous defense to cut San Diego's lead to 24-17 at halftimenote . While the Dolphins lost (and Strock reverted to being primarily a backup for the rest of his career), Strock easily had the finest moment of his career, throwing for 403 yards and 4 touchdowns (still a record for a quarterback coming off the bench).
- The 1972-73 AFC Divisional Game between the Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers. Up to that point, the Steelers never won a playoff game in their franchise history. The Steelers were leading 6-0 until the Raiders scored a touchdown to take the lead 7-6. With only a little more than a minute to play, the Steelers were facing a 4th down from their own 40 yard line when Steelers QB Terry Bradshaw threw towards halfback John Fuqua, who was trying to grab it before being blocked by the Raiders. However, Steelers fullback Franco Harris got through and grabbed the ball before it hit the ground and took it in for a touchdown, for a play now known as the "Immaculate Reception", ending with a 13-7 win for the Steelers. Though the Steelers would lose 21-17 to the undefeated Miami Dolphins in the AFC Championship Game, it set the foundation for one of football's greatest dynasties. In 2019, it got named the greatest play in NFL history.
- November 19, 2018. Monday Night Football. Two 9-1 teams in the Los Angeles Rams hosting the Kansas City Chiefs. Knowing how these two teams were hanging points on their opposition like nobody's business, everyone expected fireworks in this outing, and sure enough that was exactly what these two teams would give. While this game was originally planned for Mexico City, it was relocated to Los Angeles due to the field in Mexico City being in insufficient condition for play. Yet that didn't stop the game from being a true classic, especially as far as regular season and MNF go. This was a game that had both teams in it the whole way, as the Chiefs erased 10+ point deficits twice, and yet the final score ended up being 54-51 Rams with 1,001 total yards. To give you an idea of how insane this game was, it was the first game in NFL history where both teams scores at least 50 points, and Kansas City set a record for most points ever scored in a loss. This was a game that was much needed for the city of Los Angeles in the wake of the disaster that had recently struck the city between the Thousand Oaks shooting and Woolsey Fire. The game won Best Game at the 2019 ESPY Awards, and rightfully so.
- The Patriots' overtime drive in the 2018 AFC Championship Game, overcoming three consecutive 3-and-long situations to score the game winning touchdown and go to the Super Bowl for the third consecutive year and fifth time that decade.
- The Patriots defense at Super Bowl LIII, stifling the Los Angeles Rams explosive, high-scoring offense to a single field goal, keeping them out of the red zone the entire game. Stand out plays were Jason McCourty's mad dash across the field to knock the ball out of Brandin Cooks' hands in what would otherwise have been a touchdown, and Stephon Gilmore snatching an errant pass by Jared Goff out of the air at the three-yard line, icing the game and essentially securing the win for New England.
- The Kansas City Chiefs' run to winning Super Bowl LIV was quite the story:
- To start, after the reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes went down in Denver in Week 7, it put the team's hopes at contending in serious question, especially since they had just dropped back to back games at home against the Colts and Texans, and the defense looked terrible along the way, even worse than they did the previous year. After splitting a pair of home games against NFC North opponents, Mahomes returned only for them to take a brutal loss to the Titans in Nashville, which even left a few people questioning they had a legitimate chance to miss the playoffs entirely. But they would proceed to rattle off wins in all six of their remaining games, where the defense was the best in the league during that frame. But the most important win during that stretch was getting their revenge against the Patriots in Foxborough in Week 14.
- But thanks to their early blunders, they were gonna need some big time help to get a first round bye. The Bills were unable to beat the Patriots in Week 16 despite a valiant effort. That left a win at home against the Miami Dolphins, who they were 17 point favorites against, as the only thing standing between them and said bye. But they fell behind 10-0 early on thanks to a pick-six in the second quarter. The Patriots did not lead all game until there were under four minutes remaining as they took a 24-20 lead. But Ryan Fitzpatrick orchestrated an epic drive topped off by their tight end Mike Gisecki, allowing Miami to take the lead back with 24 seconds to go and leaving most of America bursting into applause. The Patriots were stunned in the most unimaginable way possible, which denied them a first round bye for the first time in a decade thanks to Kansas City having the head-to-head tiebreaker on them. And they would go on to lose to the aforementioned Titans team.
- Then it was Kansas City's time with a rematch against the Texans. But thanks to special teams miscues galore, they were spotting up 24-0 in the second frame. Things looked grave, but Mahomes knew nobody was giving them a chance and gave his teammates a nice shouting to do something special. And that was exactly what they did, as they proceeded to hang 28 unanswered points to erase that deficit before halftime. And the final score ended up 51-31, making them the first team to win a postseason game by 20 points after being down by 20 points, as if that deficit never even happened. The stadium even ran out of fireworks from using them after all the touchdowns the Chiefs scored. And despite another slow start against the Titans, they came out on top to get to their first Super Bowl in 50 years, and Andy Reid's second after Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005.
- And finally the big game itself, Super Bowl LIV, a battle against the San Francisco 49ers and their coveted defense. Most of the game was slow, but after Mahomes threw a pick in the fourth quarter down 20-10, things looked dire once again. That was when the Chiefs proceeded to storm for touchdowns on three consecutive drives, including having to overcome a 3rd and 15 on the first. In the end, the Chiefs won by a final score of 31-20, granting Andy Reid his first Super Bowl ring in his 21 year coaching career, and ending the Chiefs aforementioned 50 year drought. This also made the 2019-20 Chiefs the first team in NFL postseason history to win three games after trailing by double digits in each, all by double digits at that. Those deficits were all represented on their rings handed out at the ceremony.
- This catch by Green Bay Packers' wide receiver Antonio Freeman. To recap, on a third down in sudden-death overtime against one of their major rivals (the Minnestota Vikings)note , quarterback Brett Favre throws a pass for Freeman which initially appears to be incomplete, but it just so happens to be deflected in a way that instead of hitting the ground, it lands right on top of Freeman, who manages to locate it, bounce it into the air, grab it, and run 15 yards for a game-winning touchdown. Even the Monday Night Football announcers were gobsmacked:Al Michaelsnote : He did WHAT!?!?
- In an off-the-field case, the 2018 NFL Draft played host to one such moment. The honor of announcing the Steelers' first pick was given to retired Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier, who was just five months removed from a spinal injury that had many questioning whether he'd ever walk again — and yes, Shazier did walk (with a little assistance) to the podium to make the announcement. Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders, who was working as an announcer for NFL Network for that draft, was visibly moved to tears, and he was far from the only one.
- The 2021-22 postseason opened with a Wild Card round with multiple boring blowouts. But all four of the games in the Divisional Round were anything but boring. It was the first one in NFL playoff history where all four games were decided on the final play, with each game more dramatic than the last:
- First up were the AFC's top seeded Tennessee Titans hosting Jow Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals, who were fresh off their first postseason win in over three decades. Tennessee had just gotten back their star running back Derrick Henry, who was out for the entire second half of the season after suffering a foot injury in Indianapolis on Halloween, then operating while having a metal plate in said foot. After a sluggish first half, the two teams got much more dynamic in the second half and entered the fourth quarter deadlocked at 16. Tennessee looked poised to get into field goal range with seconds left, but Ryan Tannehill threw a pass that was deflected and dropped into the hands of Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson, allowing them to get into field goal range from 52 yards and win it for the Bengals at the gun despite Burrow being sacked a postseason record nine times in one game.
- Next was the NFC's top seeded Green Bay Packers hosting the San Francisco 49ers. Despite San Francisco being two years removed from a Super Bowl appearance, this wasn't quite the same team that trounced them in the playoffs to get to said Super Bowl. Jimmy Garoppolo had not played in a game below 40 degrees in his career, and this game was in 14 degrees weather. The game was very slow and lacking in scoring, but with under five minutes to go and the Packers leading 10-3, following a 3 and out, a Green Bay punt was blocked and brought in for a touchdown. The 49ers would soon get the ball back and time it right to allow Robbie Gould to win it with a 45-yard field goal at the gun.
- Then we had Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosting the Los Angeles Rams. Although Matthew Stafford and Sean McVay got out to a 27-3 lead after halftime, they committed multiple fumbles and a botched snap that the Bucs were able to benefit off of that would allow them to tie the game with under a minute remaining, and it looked like it was bound to be Super Bowl LI all over again. But Stafford was able to complete two excellent passes to Cooper Kupp to get into field goal range, allowing Matt Gay to win it for them at the gun.
- But all three of those pale in comparison to the final game of the round: Patrick Mahomes and the defending AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs hosting Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills, who beat them pretty soundly in that same building in Week 5. In October, the Chiefs were at 3-4 and appeared on the brink following a complete implosion in Tennessee against the Titans. Then they got hot and were every bit the team we had known them asnote , so the stage was set for this to be a great game. There was lots happening, but to talk about what made this one for the ages, let's get to the final four drives of regulation:
- Trailing 26-21, Buffalo construed a 17-play drive that ate up 7 minutes of clock, including two 4th downs, one being right out of the 2-minute warning on the final play of said drive, a 4th and 13 to Gabriel Davis in the end zone for a touchdown. The 2-point conversion attempt was successful to Stefon Diggs to make the score 29-26 in favor of the Bills with 1:54 left.
- After a few plays from the Chiefs, a 64-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill put the Chiefs back ahead 33-29 with 1:02 to go.
- It didn't take long for Josh Allen to get another touchdown drive in, taking all of 49 seconds capped by Gabriel Davis for his fourth touchdown pass of the night, making the score 36-33 for Buffalo with 13 seconds left. Mahomes is magic, but surely 13 seconds is too much for even him, right?
- Well, the answer to that question would be no, thanks to the Chiefs still having all three of their timeouts. It took two plays for them to get 44 yards, and Harrison Butker's 49-yard attempt was good, tying the game at the gun.
- The Chiefs won the coin toss and proceeded to get it down the field easily enough for the walk-off touchdown to win the game 42-36 for the right to host their fourth straight AFC Championship Game.
- For some perspective, the Wild Card had games that were decided by 30, 16, 21 and 23 points. The combined point differential of the final scores of all four Divisional Round games? 15.
- The rise of Roller Derby as a sport. After the crash and burn of the extremely gimmicky RollerJam (a heavily choreographed, purely Sports Entertainment version of the sport that featured a figure-8 track and an "alligator pit" (a water-filled pool that skaters could be knocked into), a DJ in Texas had the idea of a version of roller derby that combined punk rock and burlesque. After he skipped town before the first bout was even staged, the women of the TXRD Lonestar Rollergirls (the same league fictionalized in Whip It) put together a workable set of rules, pooled their funds to rent a practice space and hire a band for halftime and went and created a competitive sport out of what had previously been mere spectacle. The split of TXRD into the Lonestars (banked track) and the Texas Rollergirls (the inventors of Flat Track roller derby, which changed the face of the sport by eliminating the expensive and heavy wooden track and allowing leagues to practice anywhere they could rent space without needing to store and maintain a track) could have ended the sport but instead transformed it and brought it to the world. By the time the Women's Flat Track Derby Association was formed in 2005, roller derby had already spread nationwide and by the first WFTDA Championships in 2007, worldwide. By 2013 there was serious talk about roller derby being brought to the Olympic Games, which may happen for the 2020 games (as roller sports as a whole are being considered for the 2020 Games), which may be the fastest a sport has ever gone from ground-zero to an Olympic sport.
- The 2015 WFTDA International Championships:
- The first day of competition ended with the host team Minnesota RollerGirls, struggling through a rebuilding season after losing two of their strongest jammers of the previous year to moves to other cities and expected to be blown away by a more than 200 point margin, actually leading at halftime and fighting to the very end, finishing the game with an epic 17-point jam by Shiver Me Kimbers that brought the team within 12 points. If the jam had been called off just three seconds earlier, Minnesota would have had the opportunity to take a time-out, stopping the clock and bringing up Rookie of the Year Jacked Pipes - potentially swinging the game the other way.
- The second day closed with a bout between eventual bronze medalists Victorian Roller Derby League and the four-time reigning champions Gotham Girls Roller Derby, who had not lost a single game in three years (an exhibition match with Your Mom Men's Roller Derby) and hadn't lost a single ranking match in five years, which ended with VRDL finishing just two points shy of defeating the undefeated champions. And just when you thought it couldn't get any better...
- IT DID. In the final jam of the tournament, the Rose City Rollers Wheels of Justice put up 23 year old Loren Mutch, an alumnus of their junior league, the Rose City Rosebuds, to jam against Fisher Twice of Gotham Girls Roller Derby. Mutch drew a no-pass-no-penalty call on a track cut as she completed her initial pass, allowing Fisher to gain lead jammer. The two jammers circled the track, Mutch putting eight points on the board to Fisher's four as the jam expired, Rose City ending Gotham's five-year undefeated streak and four-year reign as the Champions of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association, to the explosive cheers of the thousands watching in the Roy Wilkins Auditorium, and those on ESPN watching the first roller derby championship to be televised in four decades.
- Queensland's rugby union team The Reds had its Moment of Awesome in 2011 when it won its first Super Rugby title of the professional era, despite the state itself producing more Wallabies in that period than any other. Despite being a dominant force in the Super 12 Rugby competition in the mid to late 90s, the Reds never won a game in the knockout section of the competition. Between 2003 and 2009, the team did not once win more than 5 games in season, with their highest overall finish at 8th (of 12). In 2009, at the darkest point in the club's history, management began proceedings for filing for bankruptcy, the team was to be without a major sponsor for the next season and was coachless. The next season, a desperate team rallied, beating both teams that would end up in the Grand Final, and only missed out on the finals themselves by one team. The next year, The Reds were the Champions of the world's premier provincial Rugby competition, winning 13 of their 16 games, and setting a new Super Rugby attendance record for the final game of the season. After their performance, many long-time Reds supporters switched from the typical "We are Red" chant to saying "We are Redeemed".
- The greatest winning streak in sports; in 1851, the schooner America won the "R.Y.S. Cup". It's known as America's Cup now, and the 1851 victory started the longest winning streak in sports, with the United States defending the cup successfully for one hundred and thirty two YEARS.
- Snooker is low-key enough that it doesn't seem to be a natural source of awesome moments, but it has still provided its fair share of them over the years.
- Perhaps the most fondly remembered final of the World Snooker Championship came in 1985. England's Steve Davis, the game's most dominant player in the 1980s, had won three of the previous four championships, and had made short work of previous champions Cliff Thorburn and Ray Reardon on his way to the final to face Northern Ireland's Dennis Taylor, who had only reached the final once before (losing to Terry Griffiths in 1979). Davis dominated the first session of the best-of-35 frames final, racing to an 8-0 lead, but Taylor fought back to 9-7, then a seesaw battle saw them level at 17-17 just after 11pm on 27 April. Both played defensively in the deciding frame, but after nearly an hour, Davis opened up a 57-44 lead after the final red had been cleared, and went on to pot the yellow and the green to extend his lead to 62-44. However, Taylor then potted the brown, blue, and pink to cut Davis' lead to 62-59, meaning whoever potted the black ball, the last ball on the table, would be the winner, earning the final the nickname "The Black Ball Final". Taylor missed his first two attempts, but each time left Davis with such awkward shots that Davis chose instead to leave Taylor difficult shots instead of potting the black himself. Taylor then missed his third attempt, leaving Davis with what looked like a routine pot into the lower left pocket, but Davis over-cut the shot, and Taylor finally potted the black at the fourth attempt to win his first and only World Championship.note The final was watched by 18.5 million people, a BBC2 record and the UK's largest audience for a post-midnight broadcast.
- The 1991 Masters final pitted Scotland's Stephen Hendry, two-time defending champion and widely regarded as one of the greatest players ever to pick up a cue, against England's Mike Hallett, who had been on the wrong end of the only whitewash in Masters history in the 1988 final against Steve Davis. Hallett rocketed to a 7-0 lead in the best-of-17 frames final, and although Hendry won two of the next three frames, Hallett was poised to seal the win in the eleventh frame with the score 61-49 to Hendry and only the pink and the black left on the table. However, Hallett needed a cue rest to line up his shot on the pink and missed, allowing Hendry to pot the pink to take the frame. Hendry proceeded to win the next six frames to complete one of the most extraordinary comebacks in snooker history.note
- The 2010 UK Championship. Earlier that year, John Higgins was suspended from the sport, over match-fixing allegations of which he was ultimately cleared. Everyone assumed he would have difficulty getting back into the game due to being out of practice, but he made it to the final and then faced Mark Williams, one of the all-time greats. Williams at one point led the first-to-10 match 9-5, but Higgins fought back to 9-9, including one frame in which he came back from the "snookers required" stage. In the deciding frame, Higgins made a strong break that meant he would win if he potted one more ball, but he missed a red and then Williams made a strong comeback but could not pot the brown. The skirmish over the brown ended when Higgins doubled it into the far corner pocket, a shot that the commentators had not seen was possible until he played it. Now that is how to return to a sport in style.
- Shaun White getting the first perfect score (100) in the 2012 Winter X Super Pipe.
- Laird Hamilton riding "The Wave" at Teahupo'o reef, regarded by many as the heaviest, most dangerous wave ever ridden.
- Wimbledon 2011, Men's Quarter finals, Roger Federer vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Federer takes the opening two sets and breaks Tsonga's serve in the third. Tsonga then plays some stunning tennis, breaks back and breaks Federer's serve, winning the set. He goes on to win the next two sets 6-4. To repeat, Tsonga, seeded twelve (Roger was 3, but considered a favourite for the title), beat one of the best tennis players of all time from 2-0 and a break down. This is also the first time in Federer's entire career that he has lost from 2-0. That sort of awesome deserves a medal all of its own.
- Another Wimbledon 2011 example in Bernard Tomic. An 18-year-old Australian, he had to fight in the qualifiers to even get to Wimbledon. In the first round, he beats the 29th seed Nikolay Davydenko, in round 2 comes back from 2-0 to beat Igor Andreev, in round 3 beats 5th seed Robin Söderling in straight sets, then does the same to Xavier Malisse in the 4th round, reaching the quarter-finals. That makes him the youngest player since Boris Becker in 1986 to reach the Quarters, and not only that, but he went on to take a set from Novak Djokovic, the world number two, pushing him right up until the end of the 4th set, which Djokovic won 7-5. He came out of nowhere to become Australia's number one. AWESOME.note
- Speaking of Boris Becker, let's mention him. Youngest Wimbledon champion ever at seventeen in 1985, coming out of nowhere to win that year's Queen's tournament and then go on to take the Wimbledon title. He took the title again the next year, 1986. In short, Tennis is full of awesome!
- And speaking of Robin Söderling, he pulled off one of the biggest upsets in history at the 2009 French Open, handing Rafael Nadal the only loss he experienced at that tournament between 2005 and 2014, only weeks after Nadal has massacred him at another tournament, and even followed it up with a run to the final (in which Roger Federer made history, but Söderling the "yoker" still stole the victory ceremony). And as if that wasn't enough, the next year he came back and shocked Federer too.
- The 2017 Australian Open. In an era where Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic are battling for the No. 1 ranking while simultaneously fighting off challengers like Milos Raonic and Stan Wawrinka, the final ended up being a Federer vs. Nadal matchup, which hasn't happened in a Grand Slam since 2011, and Federer won, which hadn't happened since 2007. It was a total blast from the past, a vintage match from the glory days of the Big Four era. And Federer was 35 at the time and spent half of the previous season recovering from injuries and watching his ranking fall out of the top 10 for the first time since 2002.
- Andy Murray winning the men's singles at Wimbledon in 2013, making him the first British men's singles champion since Fred Perry won three tournaments in a row between 1934 and 1936. Though many British tennis fans are old enough to remember Virginia Wade winning the women's singles tournament in 1977 (an awesome moment in itself), far fewer are old enough to remember Perry's victories, and after so many near misses by first Tim Henman in the 1990s and early 2000s and then Murray himself in the early 2010s (including a four-set loss to Roger Federer in the 2012 final), the 77 years of heartbreak finally ended with a straight sets win over Novak Djokovic.
- 2010 Wimbledon: John Isner defeated Nicolas Mahut after 11 hours and 5 minutes of play. The match took three days to finish, with a final score of 64, 36, 67(79), 76(73), 7068 for a total of 183 games.
- Juan Martín del Potro winning a silver medal in men's singles tennis at the 2016 Rio Olympics despite yet another career-threatening wrist injury preventing him from being able to play in the last two years, entering the Olympics at a lowly ranking of No. 141, and having to play Novak Djokovic in the first round and Rafael Nadal in the semifinals. And then he topped off his phoenix-like 2016 by coming down from two sets against Marin Čilić in the Davis Cup final to help clinch Argentina's first-ever Davis Cup title.
- The final of the 2017 Australian Open came down to sisters Serena and Venus Williams, the 28th time they've faced each other in competition and the first ever time that two women over the age of 35 had even played in an Open. Younger sister Serena walked away with the win, for a record-breaking 23rd career Grand Slam. Four months later Serena announced her pregnancy, and the world was quick to do the math and realize she had been three months pregnant during her Australian Open win.
- The mere fact that Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic have all surpassed Pete Sampras's previous Open Era men's record of 14 Grand Slams while having to play each other and are all still better than almost all other players on tour in their 30s over a decade after they began winning Slams (Federer won his first Slam in 2003, Nadal in 2005, and Djokovic in 2008... and all the Slams in 2018 and 2019 were won by these players only, and Djokovic won all of the first three Slams in 2021!). When was the last time in any sport that three players in the same era have all made very strong cases for being the three greatest players of all time in that sport?
- US Open 2021: British teenager Emma Raducanu, ranked world number 150, whose ranking wasnt even high enough to have direct access to the main draw and had to go through qualifying first, absolutely stormed to victory without dropping a single set throughout the entire tournament. That's twenty sets in a row (14 sets in the 7 main draw matches, and 6 sets in the 3 qualifying matches). As a result she shot up the world rankings from 150 to 23 immediately after the tournament, and finished the year inside the world top 20.
- What makes this more awesome is that this not only made her the first British woman since Virginia Wade in 1977 to win a Grand Slam, but her victory is so amazingly unprecedented in that she became the only qualifier to reach the final of a Grand Slam tournament (be it men or women), as well as the only qualifier ever to win a major (i.e. Grand Slam) championship (again, be it men or women), and as such it also meant she has played the most matches in a winning championship run ever.
- In 2018, Flora Duffy became the first woman in World Triathlon Series history to get the best time in all three segments of a race (swimming, cycling, and running). Probably the only reason she didn't set the record for largest victory margin is that the next two finishers were in a sprint-off for second place, while Flora was so far ahead she didn't need to push things. (To make the victory even sweeter, it was the first WTS event held on her home soil of Bermuda.)
- Anytime a sports team that relocated in the past returns to its home. Notable examples include the Winnipeg Jets and Los Angeles Rams, as well as teams that returned via technical retcons like the Cleveland Browns and Charlotte Hornets.note The passion of the fans of teams thought long gone make it awesome, regardless of results at hand.
- Very special mention should go to AFC Wimbledon. Consider first that team relocation is almost unheard of outside the USA and especially in England where the concept of "franchise sport" is highly frowned upon. Yet thanks to a number of circumstances leaving the club formerly known as Wimbledon FC without a full time place to play, the club owners relented and agreed to move the club in 2002 to the town of Milton Keynes, officially becoming known as MK Dons. Refusing to accept the 56-mile commute away from the southwest London neighbourhood of Wimbledon to support their relocated former club, a contingent of Wimbledon supporters chose instead to completely form a new club from scratch. This would mean having to start play all the way in England's ninth and lowest tier of organized football. Yet from AFCW's founding in 2002, they ascended all the way from that ninth tier league to the third tier - the same level the former Wimbledon club was in - by 2016. 2020 saw the club truly reach full circle when they finally opened a brand new stadium, Plough Lane, located about 200 metres from their former stadium, the original Plough Lane.