The 10 best football plays of all time include several memorable moments from championship games and were performed by some of the game’s all-time greats. Football soared into prominence in the mid twentieth century and its popularity is due to great games and great moments. The plays listed here will conjure some vivid memories.
- Immaculate Reception. Largely regarded as the best football play of all time, this religiously named play occurred in a playoff game between the Steelers and the Raiders. Terry Bradshaw’s pass took a crazy bounce off a defender and receiver, into the arms of rookie Franco Harris, who ran the ball in for a winning touchdown as time expired.
- Bart’s sneak. The Packers and the Cowboys were the titans of the NFL in the late 1960’s, and they met in the championship game in 1967—a game which would come to be known as “The Ice Bowl,” due to a game-time temperature of -13 degrees. Bart Starr ran the ball in over a famous block by his center and guard with just seconds remaining to seal the win.
- Ameche’s plunge. One of the best football plays of all time occurred in a game that was called “The Greatest Game Ever Played.” The Colts were driving against the Giants in the championship—a nationally broadcast came, which was rare in 1958. Alan Ameche took the ball over from the 1-yard line in overtime to seal the win.
- Harrison’s return. The Steelers’ James Harrison had one of the best football plays of all time in Super Bowl 43. He picked off a Kurt Warner pass on the goal line and ran it back 100 yards—the longest play in Super Bowl history—dodging and evading tacklers to score a touchdown as time expired in the half.
- Tyree’s catch. The Giants’ improbable victory over the Patriots in Super Bowl 42 was helped by an amazing catch by David Tyree, one of the best football plays of all time. On the game winning drive, quarterback Eli Manning escaped a sack and heaved the ball to Tyree, who held it against his helmet as he hit the ground.
- Music City Miracle. This is certainly one of the ten best football plays of all time and was the finale of a playoff game during the 1999 season between the Titans and Bills. Down by one and receiving a kickoff with just seconds left, the Titans ran some trickery with an across-the-field lateral to score on a kick return and win the game.
- The Holy Roller. This play, one of the greatest football plays of all time, occurred between the Raiders and Chargers in the 1978 season. About to be sacked as time ran out, Raiders QB Ken Stabler purposefully fumbled the ball, which was then batted forward by various Raiders into the end zone, before being pounced on by a Raider for a TD. The play resulted in a rule change after the season about forward-fumbled balls.
- The Hail Mary. Yes, this is a common term now used to describe any “prayer” of a pass thrown up by a quarterback in a desperate attempt to score at the end of a game, but it actually has a specific play tied to it. In a playoff game between the Cowboys and Vikings, Cowboys QB Roger Staubach threw up a desperation pass caught by receiver Drew Pearson.
- Marshall runs the wrong way. Jim Marshall had a hall-of-fame career with the Minnesota Vikings but will always be remembered for picking up a fumble and running the length of the field in the wrong direction, scoring a safety for the other team.
- Montana-to-Taylor. In Super Bowl 23, legendary QB Joe Montana led is team on a 92-yard drive against the Bengals with just a few minutes left. He capped the drive wit a strike to receiver John Taylor, earning the 49ers their third of four Super Bowls of the 1980s.
What Others Are Reading Right Now.
Acting, comedy and strong spirits converge in Speakeasy. When host Paul F. Tompkins interviews entertainers—Key and Peele, Alison Brie, Rob Delaney, Zach Galifianakis—about all sor …
Made Man Food Shows
We all love great food—and the people who make it! Our culinary video series introduces you to the country's best chefs and experts, so you can become one yourself. Pull up a chair …
We all love fine food—and the people who make it! Eats introduces you to those folks, taking you into the kitchens of all kinds of culinary luminaries. From BBQ to vegan, eco-frien …