From the Mud Bowl to Aaron Rodgers‘ Hail Mary and the most points in a century’s worth of games, the NFL has revealed its top plays, from No. 100 to a tie for No. 31.
There’s also a Fog Bowl and a Freezer Bowl. Not to mention a bevy of Super Bowls.
In balloting conducted by The Associated Press, 65 media members and football historians on a nationwide panel voted for the top 100. The NFL announced 70 of them on Friday night with a TV special produced by NFL Films.
Hall of Famers populate the rosters of many of the matches, as do long-forgotten performers. There are desperation completions and fake spikes, stirring comebacks naturally accompanied by brutal collapses.
The list begins with the 1982 AFC title game between the Jets and Dolphins on a rain-soaked field in Miami. A.J. Duhe made three interceptions of Richard Todd in a 14-0 victory on a field better suited for pig farming. Jets coach Walt Michaels always insisted the Dolphins wanted that kind of playing surface.
“There were some things that went on,” Michaels said. “The league rule is to cover the field, and it wasn’t. What else has to be said?”
As for the Fog Bowl, which came in at No. 50, the Bears apparently beat the Eagles 20-12 in that 1988 NFC divisional playoff at Soldier Field; it was impossible to see anything for much of the contest.
“I remember looking to the left side of the field and we thought the stadium was on fire because it was that thick and it was billowing over the side of the wall,” former Eagles middle linebacker Mike Reichenbach recalled. “It was like a horror movie. It kind of engulfed the stadium in no time.”
These 70s games weren’t just about the weather. Though a few rain-making passes that wound up as winning touchdowns found their way into the collection. Rodgers had one that helped get the 2015 NFC divisional playoff between the Packers and Cardinals into a tie for 31st. While Rodgers’ miracle pass tied the, Larry Fitzgerald’s fabulous catch and run set up the win for Arizona.
Also at 31st was the 1950 NFL championship game, when the Browns, a powerhouse in the All-America Conference, had joined the NFL and then beat the Rams 30-28 on Lou “The Toe” Groza’s field goal with 28 seconds remaining.
The list ranges from as modern a game as the 2018 AFC title shootout won by New England at Kansas City, 37-31 in overtime (No. 36), to the 1933 NFL championship (No. 51), the first scheduled title game, won by the Bears 23-21.
There are high-scoring frenzies such as 49ers 39, Giants 38 in the 2002 NFC wild-card match that is dubbed “One Wild Finish” and came in 39th. And defensive battles: No. 81 is Red Grange’s NFL debut, when his Bears tied the Cardinals 0-0 in 1925.
Even “Heidi” makes an appearance, landing tied at 40th. When NBC pulled the plug on a Jets-Raiders 1968 regular-season game to air the children’s classic, Oakland’s two late touchdowns went unseen as the Raiders won 43-32.
The top 30 shows will be revealed next Friday night.