Patriots

The NFL's Greatest Play? Here's 20 of them from Tom E. Curran

The NFL's Greatest Play? Here's 20 of them from Tom E. Curran

I didn’t include the final play from the Greatest Game Ever Played Or Bart Starr capping the iconic Ice Bowl with a quarterback sneak. I didn’t include the Butt Fumble, the Miami Miracle, the River City Relay or Billy Sims’ karate kick run.

As iconic, outlandish, memorable or indelible as those plays are, they just didn’t make the cut. Your results may vary.

With the NFL entering its 100th season, the league partnered with the Associated Press and asked a panel of 50 voters (the same panel that votes for the NFL Awards and the All-Pro team) to make their selections on a series of polls. The first one was Greatest Play. We were provided with a list of 100 plays and charged with whittling those down to 50.

We’ll also vote on Greatest Teams, Greatest Games, Game Changers and Greatest Characters.

Since any list like this is going to be subjective based on the voter’s definition of “great”, no two lists will be identical. I’d be surprised if many of us even agreed on the top five. It was left up to us. And, knowing how much people will care about this ranking when it’s unveiled, it was both daunting and an honor.

When I made my selections, I gave the most weight to the importance of the game and when the play occurred in said game. So I’m Super Bowl-heavy at the top.

Next, I weighed the play for improbability/degree of difficulty. Call it the “Fall Off The Couch” quotient.

I gave added importance to the plays that “launched” something. Say, a dynasty. Like The Catch, Adam Vinatieri’s kick through a blizzard to tie the Snow Bowl and the Immaculate Reception.

After that, I was going by feel. The most incredible plays (Odell Beckham’s catch), the most stunning plays (Aaron Rodgers’ Hail Mary against the Lions) and plays that summed up the essence of some of the game’s legendary players (Jim Brown’s 5-yard gain where it took most of the Cowboys defense to bring him down, Gale Sayers’ 85-yard punt return for a touchdown, Jerry Rice’s one-handed catch against the Rams, Barry Sanders undressing the Cowboys).

The omissions are what drove me crazy. Some were easy to excise. Garo Yepremian’s gaffe in Super Bowl VII. Jim Marshall’s wrong-way jaunt for the Vikings in 1964. Refrigerator Perry bulldozing in from the 1 in Super Bowl XX. The Butt Fumble. We remember them but they weren’t “great.”

But Derrick Henry’s 99-yard touchdown run? De’Andre Hopkins tipping the ball to himself for a toe-tap touchdown? John Mackey and Mike Ditka bulldozing humans like they were toys? Steve Gleason’s blocked punt for the Saints in the first game in the Superdome post-Katrina? A case could be made for any of those – and some others – bopping off Leon Lett getting tracked down by Don Beebe at the end of a Super Bowl blowout, for instance, which I had at 32.

The Patriots were involved in 11 of the 100 plays on the list. Malcolm Butler’s pick, Julian Edelman’s catch, Vinatieri’s Snow Bowl kick, Randy Moss’ one-handed catch over Darrelle Revis, the Butt Fumble and Ben Watson’s chase-down of Champ Bailey were all there. So were the Helmet Catch, Miami Miracle, Philly Special, Mario Manningham’s catch in Super Bowl 46 and Barry Sanders spinning Maurice Hurst like a top.

One oversight, in my opinion, was failing to include Tom Brady to Randy Moss in the 2007 season finale that clinched the 16-0 season and set the touchdown pass and touchdown reception record. Another would be Vinatieri’s game-winner in Super Bowl 36 but kicks – made and missed – were virtually absent except for the Snow Bowl.

But there won’t be a fanbase in the league that isn’t left wondering, “Hey, what about (fill in the play)!?” That’s bound to happen when you take 100 years worth of football and try to catalog the best of the best ever.   

Here’s my Top 20 (click to watch each play): 

1. Malcolm Butler’s interception in SB49

2. Santonio Holmes game-winning catch in SB43

3. Rams WR Kevin Dyson tackled at the 1 on the last play of SB34

4. The Immaculate Reception

5. Snow Bowl Kick

6. The Catch

7. James Harrison’s Immaculate Interception in SB43

8. Joe Montana to John Taylor in SB23

9. Helmet Catch

10. Edelman’s Catch in SB51

11. Minneapolis Miracle in 2018

12. Sea of Hands

13. Music City Miracle

14. The Original Hail Mary

15. Aaron Rodgers Hail Mary vs. Cardinals

16. Lynn Swann’s tip catch in SB10

17. Elway to Mark Jackson to complete The Drive

18. OBJ’s one-handed catch

19. Tony Nathan’s Hook and Lateral

20. Philly Special

 

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Patriots TE Devin Asiasi joins Cam Newton, N'Keal Harry for workouts

Patriots TE Devin Asiasi joins Cam Newton, N'Keal Harry for workouts

Twelve days ago, Cam Newton was still a free agent looking for work.

But ever since he agreed to a one-year contract with the Patriots, he's been very busy trying to get ready for the 2020 season, learning the playbook and developing chemistry with his new receivers.

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In addition to N'Keal Harry, whose workout with Newton was captured on video, rookie tight end Devin Asiasi was also catching passes from New England's new quarterback. Twitter user amirmehrtash15 took pictures with both Asiasi and Newton at the UCLA practice session and posted them in reponse to the Providence Journal's Mark Daniels.

The workout wasn't limited to Patriots, as Browns wideout Odell Beckham Jr. was also in attendance.

Newton trying to fast-track a relationship with his new teammates makes perfect sense. He set up his first practice with Mohamed Sanu on the day he signed his Patriots contract, and in less than two weeks, he's already connected with three of the guys who will be among his top receiving options in 2020.

The Patriots certainly hope all that extra work pays off, as training camps could open as soon as the end of this month once the NFL and NFLPA can finalize preseason dates.

Jarvis Landry begs Tom Brady to speak up: 'We need to hear you'

Jarvis Landry begs Tom Brady to speak up: 'We need to hear you'

Tom Brady has lent his name, voice, and stature when players have had issues with the NFL in the past. In 2011, the then-Patriots quarterback was among 10 players who sued the NFL in federal court in an antitrust lawsuit asking to prevent a lawsuit.

And now, one of Brady's NFL brethren is asking the now-Bucs QB to step up again.

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Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry tweeted at Brady Thursday night, imploring the future Hall of Famer to step up and lend his voice on calls with the NFL.

While Landry didn't specify what he was asking Brady to speak up about, the NFL and NFLPA have been discussing a litany of issues regarding the upcoming 2020 season, which is only two months away.

A variety of medical and testing protocol questions amid the coronavirus pandemic have yet to be resolved, and the league's ban on postgame jersey swaps was widely lampooned by players on Thursday.

NBC Sports Boston's Tom E. Curran even suggested that the league should postpone the season by a month while it gets its business in order, but for now Landry wants one of the league's most prominent players to assist in the process.

He explained why he called out Brady specifically in a response to a tweet criticizing him for his original post. (Warning: NSFW language below.)

Whether or not Brady lends his voice, the time to figure out all of the roadblocks to a 2020 season is rapidly running out. Rookies are scheduled to report to training camps a week from Sunday.