Top 10 Games of 2013
The past year in sports has provided us constant water cooler chatter and has fans asking themselves “Did that just happen?” As we approach the final days of 2013, we review the year’s best games.
Atlanta Falcons vs Seattle Seahawks – NFC Divisional Playoff
The top seeded Atlanta Falcons faced a lot of criticism on their inability to win a playoff game. Future Hall of Famer and Falcon, Tony Gonzalez, had actually never won a playoff game in his entire career. Both parties managed to silence the critics with an epic win over Seattle. Leading 27-7 going into the 4th quarter, the Falcons appeared to be headed for an easier victory. Then in Falcon fashion, they proceeded to blow the lead, giving up 21 straight points to Seattle. Down 28-27 with :25 seconds remaining, Matt Ryan completed two big passes to set up a game winning field goal by kicker Matt Bryant to head to the NFC championship. Their season would end in dramatic fashion one week later to the 49ers, but this game against Seattle will be one Atlanta fans won’t soon forget.
Auburn vs Georgia
The Auburn Tigers have been labeled a team of destiny due to such improbable finishes. This game is the origin of that label. Auburn had previously lead by 20 points but found themselves trailing Georgia 38-37 and facing 4th and 18 from their own 27 yard line with just :36 seconds remaining. Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall’s pass was deflected by two Georgia defenders before landing in the hands of receiver Ricardo Louis, who then coasted in for a miraculous game winning touchdown. The dream was still alive — more on that later in the countdown.
Baltimore Ravens vs San Francisco 49ers – Super Bowl XLVII
Super Bowl XLVII, otherwise known as the Harbaugh Bowl, in reference to brothers Jim and John Harbaugh coaching against each other, became so intense that the lights were blown out…literally. Up 28-6, the Ravens and QB Joe Flacco were turning the title game into a blowout before the power went off and delayed the game for 34 minutes. The Ravens’ momentum died off and the 49ers took advantage and scored 17 straight points by the end of the third quarter. With momentum now on the 49ers’ side, they only trailed 34-29 with the ball inside the ten yard line and less than two minutes to go in the game. However, the Ravens defense stood firm on four straight plays, sending Ray Lewis out a winner and giving the Ravens their second Super Bowl in franchise history.
St. Louis Cardinals vs Boston Red Sox – World Series Game 3
With the series tied at one game a piece, Game 3 would end up becoming arguably the most controversial finish in World Series history. The Red Sox were down 4-2 but scored two runs in the eighth inning to tie the game. In the bottom of the ninth, with one out and men on second and third, and the infield playing in, the Cardinals Jon Jay stepped to the plate. Jay hit a grounder to a diving second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who popped up and threw to home plate to tag out Yadier Molina. But Boston catcher, Jarrod Saltalamacchia threw wide to third baseman, Will Middlebrooks trying to get the Cardinals’ Adam Craig who was attempting to advance from second to third. The ball went behind Middlebrooks and into foul territory, prompting Craig to try to advance to home plate. While laying on his stomach, Middlebrooks raised his legs to trip Craig and slow him down en route. It worked…sort of. Craig was unable to get to home plate before the catcher, now with the ball, was there to tag him out. However, third base umpire Jim Joyce, signaled obstruction.
The call resulted in a Game 3 victory for the Cardinals causing Red Sox players to freak out and argue the call. It was a bizarre and lousy way to end a game. Regardless of the call, the Cardinals wouldn’t win another game in the series.
Miami Heat vs San Antonio Spurs – NBA Finals Game 6
The Miami Heat were a mere seconds away from being dethroned and missing out on their second consecutive NBA championship. Up by five with :28 seconds to go, the Spurs subbed out Tim Duncan for defensive purposes. Lebron James put up a hideous brick that didn’t even hit the rim, but with Duncan out the Spurs were unable to grab the rebound and somehow James got it back to hit a three pointer with :20 seconds remaining. The Heat would foul Kawhi Leonard, who would only make one of two at the line. Now down 95-92 and with Duncan back on the bench again, the Heat pushed it up the court. James bricked another three but Miami’s Chris Bosh grabbed the offensive rebound and passed to Ray Allen in the corner; Allen decided to save Lebron and be Mr. Clutch, hitting a game-tying three pointer with just five seconds left on the clock. The Heat would go on to win in overtime, tying the series, and ultimately winning the deciding game seven.
Chicago Blackhawks vs Boston Bruins – Stanley Cup Finals Game 6
The 2013 Stanley Cup finals had fans biting their nails and sitting on the edge of their seats throughout the entire series. Both teams seemed evenly matched and with three of the first four games of the series going into overtime, it is hard to dispute such a statement. No moment culminated such an epic championship series like Game 6 though. With the Blackhawks up three games to two, the Bruins led 2-1 with under a minute and a half remaining. All of Boston was expecting a dramatic Game 7 to be decided in Chicago. The Blackhawks had other plans. Chicago’s Bryan Bickell scored the tying goal with 1:16 to go. Another overtime, right? Nope. Just 17 seconds later, Chicago’s Dave Bolland scored the series winning goal. The Bruins’ choke job now rivals Bill Buckner’s folly in the 86’ World Series.
Baltimore Ravens vs Denver Broncos – AFC Divisional Playoffs
This game would later be known as The Mile High Miracle. Peyton Manning’s run at another Super Bowl would have to wait another season. Both teams couldn’t break free from each other and neither team ever lead by more than one score. However, things looked grim for the Ravens as they faced a 28-35 deficit and were on their own 30 yard line with just 42 seconds on the clock. Baltimore’s Joe Flacco dropped back and, trying to avoid the rush, stepped up and threw a hail mary to a streaking Jacoby Jones. Denver’s safety, Rahim Moore, completely misjudged the ball as it went over his head into Jones’ hands for the tying score that sent the game into overtime. Justin Tucker’s 47 yard field goal in overtime would win it for Baltimore, completing a game for the ages.
Boston Red Sox vs Detroit Tigers – ALCS Game 2
The Tigers led 5-1 in the bottom of the eighth, with two outs, the bases loaded, and Boston’s most clutch hitter, David Ortiz, up to bat. With one swing, Big Papi’s line drive to right field sailed over the wall — as did Detroit’s Torii Hunter, who was trying to catch it. The grand slam tied the game and sent Fenway Park into a frenzy. The baseball world was provided an iconic image when Bullpen cop, Steve Horgan, a Red Sox fan, threw his arms up in celebration with no concern at all for Hunter, who had injured himself right beside Horgan. It was classic and hilarious. One inning later, Boston’s Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s single would drive in Johnny Gomes for the winning run.
Boston Bruins vs Toronto Maple Leafs – Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 7
The Boston Bruins proved that you should never give up when there is still time on the clock. After being dominated the whole night and trailing 4-1 to Toronto with less than 11 minutes go to in the game, things suddenly turned in Boston’s favor. Nathan Horton scored, making it 4-2. The Maple Leafs showed very little concern. Only 90 seconds remained in the contest with the score 4-2. The home crowd in Boston just seemed to be going through the motions waiting to see if their Bruins could pad the stats or do the ‘unthinkable.’ No one could see what came next. Boston’s Milan Lucic scored to make it 4-3 with 1:22 to go. With 51 seconds left, Patrice Bergeron scored the tying goal. The crowd erupted in a roar and the sound was defining. Could the Bruins actually pull this off?
In overtime, it would be the Bruins’ Bergeron, again, scoring the deciding goal and putting the dagger into the Leafs’ throat.
Auburn vs Alabama – The Iron Bowl
There are no words that can properly describe this hate-filled rivalry or the improbable finish that would occur when these two teams would meet in this year’s Iron Bowl. No.1 Alabama and No. 4 Auburn would battle with the SEC and national championship hopes on the line. The stakes were high, to say the least. The 4th quarter alone was movie-esque. Early in the 4th quarter, the game tied, the defending champions were at their own one yard line. Bama quarterback A.J. McCarron ran a play-action pass to Amari Cooper, who had no problem catching it down the right side and scampering to the endzone for a 99-yard TD. Now trailing by seven, Auburn’s Nick Marshall would fake the run and hit a wide open Sammie Coates for a 39 yard score to tie the game with only :32 seconds left. The Tide would attempt to answer back. After some controversy on how much time was left following Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon’s run, the officials decided to put one more second on the clock instead of going to overtime.
Auburn, meet your destiny.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban would make his worst coaching decision in his life. Instead of opting for a hail mary, he looked to a freshmen kicker to try and hit a 57 yard field goal. The kick was short and Auburn’s Chris Davis fielded the kick from nine yards into his own endzone. Davis sprinted down the left side of the field to score a game winning 109 yard field-goal return for a touchdown. The level of this rivalry, combined with the high stakes and the miraculous finish, make this one of the greatest games of all time.
Joshua Caudill is a writer for CraveOnline Sports, a surfing enthusiast, a college sports fanatic, and an expert on all things Patrick Swayze. You can follow him on @JoshuaCaudill85.