Five Patriots plays among Top 30 on NFL 100 list
Last week, the NFL released all but the Top 30 of its 100 greatest plays as part of its 100th-anniversary celebration. Seven plays involving the Patriots cracked that list.
This week, it was a countdown of plays 30 to 1 and the Pats found themselves well-represented again.
The list was selected by a panel of 50 voters (the same panel that votes for the NFL Awards and the All-Pro team), including our own Tom E. Curran, who listed his Top 20 plays earlier this summer, here. Voters were given a ballot of 100 plays and asked to rank 50.
The rest of the countdowns on NFL Network continue next week with Greatest Games (Sept. 27 & Oct. 4), Characters (Oct. 11 & Oct. 18), Game-Changers (Oct. 25 & Nov. 1) and Teams (Nov. 8 & Nov. 15).
The No. 1 play was Franco Harris' "Immaculate Reception" touchdown in the Pittsburgh Steelers' December 1972 playoff victory over the Oakland Raiders. Here are the Patriots' contributions to the Top 30 plays.
NO. 22: JULIAN EDELMAN'S SUPER BOWL LI CATCH
One of the key plays from the Patriots' comeback from a 28-3 deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI, Edelman's gravity-defying grab came amid three Atlanta defenders with 2:28 left in the fourth quarter and New England 64 yards from the end zone, trailing 28-20. When watched in slow motion, Edelman can be seen re-gripping the ball before he lands holding it, with the ball blocked from hitting the turf by Falcon Robert Alford’s knee, and teammate Ricardo Allen's arm. The play was reviewed but replay showed that Edelman had hung on, making a key 23-yard gain on the Patriots' tying touchdown drive. It kept the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history alive. Tom Brady would lead one more TD drive in overtime, capped by James White's 2-yard TD run that gave New England a 34-28 victory.
NO. 18: ADAM VINATIERI'S SNOW BOWL KICK
Bill Belichick called it "the greatest kick I've ever seen." The rest of the NFL may call it the "Tuck Rule Game" but to New Englanders, it's the Snow Bowl and Adam Vinatieri's field goals through the flakes are two of the biggest plays from a divisional playoff victory over the Raiders in January 2002 that helped launch the dynasty. The 23-yarder in overtime was the game-winner, but it's the 45-yarder through the heavy snow that tied the score to send it to OT that gets the distinction among the NFL's top plays. The low, line-drive kick through a blizzard tied the score at 13 and set the stage for the clutch kicks throughout the future Hall of Famer's career.
NO. 10: THE PHILLY SPECIAL IN SUPER BOWL LII
On fourth-and-goal with 34 seconds before halftime in SB52, Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson could've kicked a field goal to add to his 15-12 lead over the Patriots, instead, he ran the play that will live on in Philadelphia - and all Patriots-haters' - lore, The Philly Special. Quarterback Nick Foles moved behind his offensive line but the ball was direct snapped to running back Corey Clement, who pitched it to tight end Trey Burton, who hit a wide-open Foles for a touchdown. The bold move put the Eagles up 22-12 at the half on their way to knocking off the Pats 41-33 for their first Super Bowl title.
NO. 5: MALCOLM BUTLER'S INTERCEPTION IN SUPER BOWL XLIX
While Butler's absence was a key storyline of SB52, his presence three years earlier turned a potential Seattle Seahawks' victory into the Pats' fourth Super Bowl title. The rookie, an undrafted free agent from West Alabama, replaced an ineffective Kyle Arrington in the second half and made Seahawks coach Pete Carroll pay for his decision to throw the ball at the 1-yard-line with 26 seconds left after Marshawn Lynch was stopped short on the previous play. Butler turned likely defeat into jubilation in New England when he jumped Ricardo Lockette's route, pulled in Russell Wilson's pass and clinched the Pats' first Super Bowl title in a decade.
NO. 3 DAVID TYREE'S HELMET CATCH IN SUPER BOWL XLII
You knew it was coming. Not then, but now. No recent countdown of great NFL plays is without it. New England's dream of a perfect 19-0 season was thwarted in large part by a miraculous catch by an obscure New York Giants receiver, who pinned the ball to his helmet while in the grasp of Hall of Fame safety Rodney Harrison for a 32-yard gain. David Tyree's catch only came after Eli Manning escaped from the grasp of three Patriots defenders to get rid of the ball. It was the key play on New York's game-winning TD drive in a 17-14 victory that left the Pats 18-1 and win shy of immortality.