This week the Blitzed Crew took some time to give us some of the best moments from the show. You can listen to that right here:
While listening, it inspired me to come up with some of my best moments from the NFL over the years. Here they are:
Best Screw Up on Thanksgiving Ever
No, it wasn't your Uncle Earl sharing his political views, it was the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day. The Cowboys were hosting the Miami Dolphins in “God’s Spittoon.” There was a rare wintery mix of weather that day making for sloppy playing conditions. With time running out, the Dolphins trailed 14-13 but had a chance as Pete Stoyanovich set up for a 40-yard field goal attempt. Stoyanovich’s kick never stood a chance as it was blocked. Jerry Jones raised his hands in victory as the clock wound down. Oh, if only Leon Lett had done the same thing. For some inexplicable reason Lett decided to chase the bouncing ball. His large hands and a slick football paired about as well as a Kardashian girl and, well, anyone. The ball squirted free and into the end zone. After some discussion (there was no replay) the ball was given to the Dolphins on the Cowboys’ one yard line with three seconds to play. This time Stoyanovich nailed the short field goal and the Dolphins left Dallas with a 16-14 win.
Best Turnaround to a Season
The 1992 San Diego Chargers were glad to put September behind them. They went winless for the month, being outscored by a combined 95-29. Fans were already making plans to spend more time at the beach or the zoo on Sundays. On October 4th they finally broke into the win column with a 17-6 victory over Seattle. After their bye week, three more wins and a .500 record. All of a sudden the beach could wait and the monkeys could make faces at each other. In all, the Chargers would win 11 of their final 12 games win the AFC West and qualify for the playoffs. They’d knock off the Chiefs in the wild card round, 17-0, but the magic ended a week later when the Miami Dolphins trounced them, 31-0. No other team in NFL history has ever lost its first four games and won more than nine games.
Best Punt by a Quarterback
Randall Cunningham was an incredible athlete. He had a cannon for an arm and he could take off and pick up big chunks of yardage with his legs. What many don’t know is that Cunningham was also a pretty good punter. For his career Cunningham had 20 punts with a 44.7 yard average. On December 3, 1989, the Eagles were playing the New York Giants at the old Meadowlands. Early in the fourth quarter and backed up on their own two after a sack, the Eagles would punt. Cunningham asked Buddy Ryan to let him handle the punting in favor of Max Runager. Ryan made the bold decision to listen to his quarterback. With a 25-mile an hour wind at his back, Cunningham drilled the punt over Giants’ return man, Dave Meggett’s, head. The ball hit at the Giants 39-yard line and was finally picked up at the seven by Meggett who returned it to the 16. It was the turning point of the game as a few plays later, Mike Golic, known more for his radio career than his NFL career, recorded a strip sack of Phil Simms with the Eagles recovering on the seven. It took just three plays for Keith Byars to score what would be the game-winning touchdown. For the record, Cunningham also had an 80-yard punt in 1994 and a 65-yarder with the Vikings in 1997. Not too shabby for a measly quarterback.
Best Embattled Playoff Performance
On January 2, 1982, the San Diego Chargers were in Miami for a playoff game against the Dolphins that would send one of the teams into the AFC Championship game. The Chargers jumped out to a 24-0 first quarter lead and those New Year’s Day hangovers for Dolphins’ fans just got worse. Don Strock and his teammates took a shot of B-12 and fought on. Trailing 24-10 late in the first half, the Dolphins ran a ‘hook & lateral’ play that resulted in a Tony Nathan TD and a 24-17 halftime deficit. The teams would fight to a 38-38 tie after regulation. The star of this game was Kellen Winslow, Sr. He’d have 13 catches in the game for 166 yards and a touchdown. He would also block a Uwe Von Schamann (a truly great kicker’s name) field goal to preserve the tie long enough for Rolf Benirschke (another truly great kicker’s name) to hit a 35-yard field goal that sent the Chargers to the title game. Winslow’s performance would be considered great by any standard but there’s more to the story. Winslow suffered all of the following in this game: shoulder injury, swollen eye, pinched nerve, busted lip, cramps, and, due to the extreme humidity, dehydration. His teammates literally carried him back to the locker room after the game. The following week saw a drastic change in temperature as the Chargers headed to Cincinnati to play the Bengals. The air temperature was -9 degrees with a -37 degrees Fahrenheit wind chill. There would be no magic for the Chargers this time as they lost 27-7.
Greatest End to a Playoff Game Ever in the History of the NFL and this Is Not up for Debate
Minnesota Vikings fans have endured some of the most excruciating playoff losses in the history of the game. I won’t go into them here as my doctor will not prescribe any more nitro pills for me. On January 14, 2018, we experienced a joy never before experienced but with 25 seconds to play against the New Orleans Saints it looked like another crushing defeat. The Vikings jumped out to a 17-0 lead on the strength of TD runs from Jerick McKinnon and Latavius Murray sandwiched around a Kai Forbath field goal. Vikings fans knew enough not to get excited for much like a Nightmare on Elm Street movie, just when you thought it was safe you get slashed by razors. Michael Thomas would catch two TD passes to cut the lead to 17-14.
Then with just over three minutes to play, Alvin Kamara caught Drew Brees’ third TD pass of the game and the Saints went ahead 21-20. Vikings fans quickly grabbed the cyanide tablets that were always on hand. Case Keenum and company kept us from swallowing the pills as he led the Vikings to the Saints’ 35-yard line for a Kai Forbath 53-yard field goal attempt. Vikings kickers and the playoffs were usually a recipe for disaster but Forbath coolly drilled the kick putting the Vikings up 23-21. We held on to those pills because Drew Brees had the ball and time on the clock plus a field goal would be enough to win. Sure as you need long johns for a Minnesota winter, Brees took the Saints 50 yards in 64 seconds and Wil Lutz hit a 43-yard field goal with 25 seconds left. A nice Blitzed Barkeep cocktail would wash down those tablets perfectly. But there were still 25 seconds left. Channeling our inner Lloyd Christmas, we all felt there was still a chance. After a touchback and a Mike Remmers false start, the Vikings realistically needed to move 45 yards to get into field goal range. Case Keenum hit Stefon Diggs for 19 yards. Two incompletions later it was third and 10 with 14 seconds to play. Still time to get those 26 yards. Keenum dropped back and calmly fired to the right sideline where Diggs was waiting. It was a beautiful toss and easily long enough to set up Forbath if Diggs could get out of bounds. Saints cornerback, Marcus Williams, whiffed on the tackle the way Blair Walsh whiffed on a chip shot field goal against the Seattle Seahawks. How the hell could he miss that kick?! How?! Breathe, MZE. Breathe. Anyway, Diggs found nothing between him and the goal line as he turned and scampered the final 34 yards for a 29-24 walk-off Vikings playoff win.
Vikings fans flushed the cyanide down the commode. The tears streaming down our faces were finally not ones of sorrow but joy. We all booked rooms in Minneapolis where we would revel and frolic for surely we would be the first host team to play in the Super Bowl. God has a sense of humor. The following week the Philadelphia Eagles would score the final 38 points of the NFC title game, drubbing the Vikings 38-7 and putting us out of our misery.
Those are five of my favorite ‘Best Of’ moments. What are yours? Post below in the comments and check out the work of the Blitzed Barkeep and the Blitzed Scout.
Until next time, Blitzers, tap a keg, tip your bartenders, and trip Tom Brady if he crosses your path.
Mike Zimmer's Ears is a Minnesota Vikings fan from Pennsylvania and is a #TeamBlitzed All Pro. You can follow him on Twitter.