Ranking the most infamous and wild plays in NFL history


Just when you think you’ve seen it all…

The NFL provided another unforgettable ending on Sunday, as the New England Patriots handed a victory to the Las Vegas Raiders in an improbable finish.

Where does the Las Vegas Lateral rank among the craziest plays ever? Both franchises know a thing or two about famous final moments – including one 20 years ago against each other.

Here are 10 of the wildest finishes in NFL history:

Immaculate Reception: Raiders vs. Steelers, 1972 AFC playoffs

Perhaps the most famous play in NFL history, Franco Harris’ catch is still debated to this day – 50 years after the event.

Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw threw a pass to John Fuqua, which was deflected backwards where Harris snatched the ball off the ground. The ball allegedly didn’t touch the grass, allowing Harris to run 60 yards for the game-winning touchdown in this AFC divisional playoff game. With poor video quality and limited camera angles, this play will be debated until the end of time.

Helmet Catch: Patriots vs. Giants, Super Bowl XLII

This isn’t the first Patriots mention, and it won’t be the last. This one was undoubtedly the most heartbreaking for New Englanders, though.

The 18-0 Patriots were one defensive stop away from completing a perfect season, but David Tyree had other plans. Giants quarterback Eli Manning evaded multiple pass-rushers and heaved a pass 32 yards downfield. Tyree controlled the ball by pinning it against his helmet, even with Patriots safety Rodney Harrison all over him. The Giants went on to score four plays later, giving them a 17-14 win to end New England’s pursuit of perfection.

Tuck Rule: Raiders vs. Patriots, 2001 AFC playoffs

Cheer up, Patriots fans. This moment against the Raiders in January 2002 sparked one of the greatest dynasties in professional sports.

In the divisional round, a blizzard overtook Foxboro Stadium. With under two minutes remaining and the Raiders up by three, Charles Woodson appeared to force a fumble by Tom Brady – which Oakland recovered. That would’ve ended the game, but a replay review ruled that Brady tucked the ball back toward his body. The tuck rule, which was introduced in 1999, was correctly called and possession returned to New England. The Patriots went on to force overtime and eventually win, leading to their first of six Super Bowls in the Brady era.

Malcolm Butler Interception: Patriots vs. Seahawks, Super Bowl XLIX

Nobody saw this one coming – mostly because nobody knew who Malcolm Butler was before this play.

Down 28-24, the Seahawks were driving in the final minutes with a chance to win their second straight Super Bowl. After an improbable catch by Jermaine Kearse that Butler was unable to break up, the undrafted rookie made the play of his life at the goal line. Russell Wilson tried to hit Ricardo Lockette on a slant for the game-winner, but Butler jumped the route to intercept the pass and clinch the Patriots’ fourth Super Bowl.

Music City Miracle: Bills vs. Titans, 1999 AFC playoffs

All hope in Nashville was lost before a perfectly-executed lateral in the AFC wild card game.

The Bills pulled ahead of the Titans 16-15 on a field goal with 16 seconds remaining. On the ensuing kickoff, the Titans pulled off a miracle. Titans tight end Frank Wycheck threw a lateral across the field to wide receiver Kevin Dyson, who had a clear lane to run 75 yards for the game-winning score with three seconds to spare.

Dyson was back in the spotlight on another insane play a few weeks later in Super Bowl XXXIV, when he was tackled one yard short of scoring the game-winning touchdown.

Minneapolis Miracle: Saints vs. Vikings, 2017 NFC playoffs

The Vikings are used to heartbreaking playoff losses, but they experienced an unbelievable win in the 2017 NFC divisional round.

Minnesota led 17-0 in the first half, but New Orleans fought back to take a 24-23 lead with just 25 seconds left. On the last play of the game, the Vikings were at their own 39-yard line. That’s when quarterfinal Case Keenum tossed a 27-yard pass to Stefon Diggs at the sideline – but Diggs had bigger plans than just running out of bounds. He evaded one defender on the catch and ran untouched to the end zone to seal the 29-24 win.

Miami Miracle: Patriots vs. Dolphins, 2018 regular season

Look away again, Patriots fans.

New England took a 33-28 lead on a Stephen Gostkowski field goal with 16 seconds remaining. That left the Dolphins with one chance for a miracle… and they made the most of it. Ryan Tannehill completed a 14-yard pass to Kenny Stills, who then lateraled to DeVante Parker, who then lateraled again to Kenyan Drake. The running back did the rest of the work, evading multiple Patriots defenders (including Rob Gronkowski) to go 52 yards for the walk-off score.

Miracle at the Meadowlands II: Eagles vs. Giants, 2010 regular season

Over 30 years after one miracle between these two teams, lightning struck twice.

The Giants led the Eagles by 21 points with under eight minutes to play, but Philly scored 28 unanswered points to finish the game in regulation. The final touchdown came on a punt return by DeSean Jackson as time expired, when the Giants could’ve just punted the ball out of bounds. Jackson initially dropped the ball before scooping it up and going 65 yards to score – and stun the angry Meadowlands crowd.

Double Doink: Eagles vs. Bears, 2018 NFC playoffs

Was it the NBC microphones? Or the silence at Soldier Field? Whatever it was, the “Double Doink” was deafening to viewers at home.

The Eagles took a 16-15 lead over the Bears with 56 seconds to play. Chicago quarterback Mitch Trubisky moved his team down the field quickly, though, to set up a 43-yard field goal attempt with 10 seconds left. Cody Parker’s kick was grazed by Treyvon Hester before hitting the left upright and then the crossbar before dropping back into the end zone. NBC broadcaster Cris Collinsworth quickly dubbed the play as the “Double Doink.”

Las Vegas Lateral: Patriots vs. Raiders, 2022 regular season

This one won’t soon be forgotten.

The Patriots led 24-17 in the closing minutes before a controversial touchdown was upheld for the Raiders to tie the game. Mac Jones’ team had just 32 seconds to try and score, and New England got to its own 45-yard line with three seconds left before handing the ball off to Rhamondre Stevenson. Instead of going down and regrouping for OT, the Patriots decided to play the lateral game. Stevenson tossed it to Jakobi Meyers, who then threw it backwards – but his throw was caught by defender Chandler Jones, who went 48 yards the other way to score.

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