Greatest NFL games of the 2010s: Part One

Another decade of National Football League football has passed. The period was marked by offensive resurgence and New England Patriots dominance and concluded with the league’s 100th anniversary.

And, as with everything, it’s now time to revisit the last decade of football. These past 10 years offered us more Super Bowl drama than in every other decade, in addition to the third-highest scoring game in history and memorable playoff finishes.

Which were the five best NFL games from the past decade? We wander around the best the league had to show us and find out which were the must-see games from recent memory.

Elite

Super Bowl LI: New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons (34-28 OT)

Nothing can describe that game better than the line “the best of all time”. It was special in so many ways – the first Super Bowl to end in overtime and the biggest Super Bowl comeback ever were just a few of the accolades. The score was the infamous 28-3 nearing the end of the third quarter before the Patriots scored three touchdowns and made two two-point conversions. James White’s OT score ended the championship game in Houston with Brady’s fifth ring.

Unlike Super Bowl XLIX, an unbelievable catch worked in the Patriots’ favour this time. It was by Julian Edelman and put the team in position to eventually tie the game at 28 after a rush TD by White and a successful two-pointer.

Super Bowl LI was the first NFL title game to go beyond regulation since the 1958 NFL Championship game between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants, labelled “The Greatest Game of All Time”. The Patriots vs. Falcons clash might have subsequently taken that title.

Super Bowl LII: Philadelphia Eagles vs. New England Patriots (41-33)

The Eagles, 5-and-a-half favourites prior to the games, were led by backup QB Nick Foles, completing the memorable story of the 2018 Philadelphia Eagles.

Foles won the Super Bowl MVP award, recording a 106.1 rating – he’s been better on just two occasions since. Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes and 505 yards through the air – a new Super Bowl record. The two teams combined for a Super Bowl-record 1151 total yards. A late fumble caused by Brandon Graham gave Jake Elliot a chance to make it an eight-point battle and an incomplete Hail Mary attempt sealed Philly’s first championship.


Super Bowl XLIX: New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks (28-24)

Another historically great Super Bowl game we witnessed during the 2010s delivered another infamous moment that will be talked about forever. Seattle and New England were both No. 1 seeds and the Seahawks were looking to become the first team since the 1994-95 49ers to be victorious in the Big Game in two years in a row. Brady threw a first-quarter interception before leading a late comeback.

In the last two minutes, Jermaine Kearse caught the equivalent of David Tyree’s “Helmet Catch” but that didn’t matter when Pete Carroll chose to pass the ball at the one-yard line instead of relying on his proven weapon in Marshawn Lynch. With the Patriots leading 28-24, Russell Wilson’s slant pass to Ricardo Lockette was picked off by Malcolm Butler, who joined Adam Vinatieri as the unlikely heroes in the Patriots dynasty.

Seattle offensive coordinator put some blame on Lockette after the conclusion of the game, claiming that he could’ve done more on that particular play. Meanwhile, Carroll and Wilson both blamed themselves while analysts and announces were anonymous in calling it “the worst play call ever”. But it made for a dramatic championship game.

2018: Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Rams (54-51 LA)

This Week 11 matchup from the 2018 season, between two one-loss clubs, resembled the marketing dream for the league and ESPN. The two highest-scoring teams in the NFL collided in a Monday Night Football clash between QB phenomena Patrick Mahomes, future NFL MVP, and Jared Goff. What’s also notable is the O/U of 64.5, the highest in NFL history.

Did it deliver? You’re absolutely right it did! It turned out to be the third-highest scoring game in NFL history, the highest-scoring in MNF history and featured three turnovers. Mahomes recorded 3 touchdown passes while Tyreek Hill caught 10 receptions for 215 yards. The Rams had more first downs with Goff throwing 4 TDs.

If the previous three all time-great games could be considered better due to the stage they happened. But this was the most anticipated regular-season game since 1994 49ers vs. Chiefs, and could very well be the greatest regular-season game ever.

Tier Below

2017 NFC Divisional Round: New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings (“Minneapolis Miracle”) (29-24 MIN)

The Vikings finally got revenge for the 2009 NFC Championship Game that started the “Bountygate” and sparked the passionate rivalry between the two sides. New Orleans had a late one-point lead with 10 seconds on the clock. Case Keenum threw a short pass to Stephon Diggs; rookie safety Marcus Williams botched the tackle and Diggs ran into the endzone with no time left.

The game cemented the legacy of Case Keenum and company in their unsuccessful efforts to reached Super Bowl LII at their home stadium in Minneapolis. The Vikings allowed 38 unanswered points a week later to lose the NFC Championship game to the Eagles 38-7.

It was KFAN’s Paul Allen that came up with the headline while announcing the dramatic play on radio.

2018 AFC Championship: New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs (37-31 NE)

The 11-5 Patriots, despite blowing out the Chargers in the Divisional Round, were so shaken up and the Chiefs were so powerful offensively that New England came into the game as a three-point underdog – just the second time the Pats were underdogs since 2007.

Nevertheless, New England took a 14-0 halftime lead to the locker room before teams traded three touchdowns in the fourth quarter only to go to overtime tied at 31. Sony Michel’s rushing score put an exclamation mark and made it clear that the dynasty wasn’t over.

For the first time Championship Sunday featured two overtime games, with the Rams defeating the Saints earlier in controversial fashion.

2010: Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants (“Miracle at the New Meadowlands”) (38-31 PHI)

It was because of that game that the Eagles won the division and the Giants ended up not reaching the playoffs. New York’s touchdown early in the final quarter made it 31-10, but Philly and Mike Vick had the final say.

The Eagles scored 21 points in the last eight minutes and the score was 31-31 with 14 seconds on the clock and a 4th down deep in Giants territory. Matt Dodge was told to punt the football out of bounds. Here’s what happened (hint: he didn’t) – DeSean Jackson caught it, fumbled, recovered, and ran all the way to the end zone.

The play was voted by NFL.com reader as the greatest of all time in 2013.

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About Teodor Tsenov 78 Articles
An avid MLB writer from Bulgaria. You'll also find me rambling about NFL and college sports. Jets, Mets and Grizzlies fan. Your top source for everything Bulgarian baseball.

1 Comment

  1. The article says that Case Keenum grew a short pass to Diggs for the game winner against the Eagles. That was NOT a short pass. It went 27 yards in the air from the line of scrimmage and 61 yards total.

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