AFC South: 2014 Memorable Plays
Date: Jan. 21, 2007. Site: RCA Dome
In a closer vote than it should have been, Indianapolis Colts cornerback Marlin Jackson's interception against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game -- a play that helped seal an 18-point comeback and a spot in the Super Bowl -- was voted as the team's most memorable play.
I was wrong. So were a number of other people, too.
That play received 40 percent of the more than 30,000 votes, barely edging out quarterback Peyton Manning's then-record breaking 49th touchdown pass against the San Diego Chargers in 2004. Manning's touchdown pass received 38 percent of the votes.
The Colts' 28-point comeback against Kansas City in the playoffs last season was a distant third in the voting (22 percent).
Manning's record-setting touchdown passing obviously is huge because it's a milestone during what will end up being a Hall-of-Fame career. But Jackson's interception was substantial for the franchise.
The Colts had been eliminated by the Patriots the previous two times they faced each other in the playoffs. Indianapolis finally got New England, the AFC power squad, off its back in a fashion that didn't seem possible when the Colts walked into the locker room down 15 points at halftime.
So after four consecutive playoff appearances that ended short of a Super Bowl appearance, Manning and the Colts celebrated clinching a Super Bowl berth in front of their fans.
"[The Patriots] were a nemesis of ours for years," Jackson said. "We beat them to get over the hump. And the fashion we were able to come back after being down by 18 points and still believing because of a great simple speech by coach Tony Dungy."
The Colts went on to beat the Chicago Bears 29-17 in the Super Bowl.
An interception that helped the franchise eventually win a Super Bowl or a touchdown pass that set a single-season record?
Seems like an easy choice to make even if the voting didn't appear that way.
Date: Jan. 8, 2000 Site: Adelphia Coliseum
ESPN.com readers rated the Music City Miracle the franchise’s most memorable play in a landslide vote, and they got it right.
Kevin Dyson's fruitless reach for the end zone that came up 1 yard short on the final play of Super Bowl XXXIV is an iconic NFL play, but much more for the Rams and Mike Jones, who made the tackle.
But two "negative" plays never stood a chance against a phenomenal positive play.
The Music City Miracle is a prominent fixture in lists and videos of all-time great finishes in the NFL and in sports.
It was a creative surprise. It pulled a win out of a loss. It sparked a playoff run.
It made or enhanced reputations for coach Jeff Fisher; play architect Alan Lowry; Lorenzo Neal, who fielded Steve Christie's squib kickoff; Frank Wycheck, who threw the lateral; and Kevin Dyson, who fielded the lateral and scored a 75-yard touchdown.
Although it seems clear that the throw didn't go forward, good luck convincing anyone in Buffalo of that.
The lasting controversy over that only helps to make it more memorable.
The most memorable play in the franchise's history.
Date: Jan. 4, 1997 Site: Mile High Stadium
We have a winner. The voters picked Mark Brunell's pass to Jimmy Smith to beat the Denver Broncos in the playoffs as the Jacksonville Jaguars' most memorable play. And it's understandable because of what a huge upset that was, but Morten Andersen’s missed field goal in 1996 is the play that I consider the most memorable.
What happened in late December 1996 and early January 1997 is the most magical time in Jaguars history. The playoff victory in Buffalo and the amazing come-from-behind victory the following week in Denver against the top-seeded Broncos sent Jaguars fans into a frenzy.
Who can blame them? A second-year franchise playing in the conference title game? Ridiculous. The New Orleans Saints were born in 1967 but didn’t have a winning season until 1987. They didn’t get their first playoff victory until their 34th season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made the playoffs in their fourth season (1979) but lost their first 26 games and went 7-37 in their first three seasons.
Perhaps the most captivating part of their playoff run happened in the early morning hours following their 30-27 upset of the 14-point favorite Broncos, a game which included one of the other nominees for most memorable play. The pilot of the team charter had gotten word that about 40,000 fans who had watched the game on the Jacksonville Municipal Stadium scoreboards hadn’t left and were waiting for the team. He even detoured for a quick flyover of the stadium.
Fans lined the main road to Jacksonville International Airport and cheered as the team buses headed toward the stadium. They arrived to a raucous pep rally that lasted well past 1:30 a.m.
Even though the Jaguars lost at New England in the AFC Championship Game, that 16-day span remains the most wonderful time in franchise history -- even ahead of the 1999 season in which the Jaguars went 14-2 and lost in the AFC title game.
Remember how incredible it was? The amazement? electricity around the city?
None of that would have been possible without Andersen missing that field-goal attempt.
Andersen had made 59 consecutive field goals from 30 yards or closer dating back to 1989, and this was a 30-yarder from the middle of the field. Piece. Of. Cake.
But then ... his right foot slipped as he planted ... his left-footed attempt sailed just left of the upright ... and the Jaguars were in the playoffs.
That play started it all and it should be the one Jaguars fans never forget.
This is one of three nominations for the most memorable play in team history. In the next two days we'll feature: Mark Brunell's touchdown pass to Jimmy Smith to clinch the 1996 AFC Divisional playoff game over the Broncos; and David Garrard's fourth-down scramble to set up Josh Scobee's game-winning field goal in the 2007 AFC Wildcard game. Please vote for your choice as the Jaguars' most memorable play.
Score: Jaguars 19, Falcons 17
Date: Dec. 22, 1996 Site: Jacksonville Municipal Stadium
Four consecutive victories -- all by seven or fewer points -- put the Jaguars on the cusp of their first playoff appearance in just the franchise's second season. All they needed to do was beat the 3-12 Falcons at home.
Mike Hollis' three field goals . But the Falcons sandwiched touchdowns around another Hollis field goal and cut the Jaguars' lead to 19-17.
Atlanta then put together what should have been a game-winning drive and set up kicker Morten Andersen with a short 30-yard field goal attempt in the final seconds. Anderson had made 59 consecutive field goals from 30 yards or closer dating back to 1989, so the Jaguars were going to be cleaning out their lockers the next day.
But the left-footed Andersen slipped when he planted his right foot, and the ball squirted left of the upright. The remaining Jaguars fans went crazy, but on the home team sideline there was a moment of disbelief.
"It almost renders me speechless," coach Tom Coughlin said after the game. "We're in the playoffs."
And boy did they make the most of that early Christmas present.
The Jaguars went to Buffalo the following week and upset the Bills in a wild-card game and then produced what is arguably the greatest victory in franchise history. The Jaguars were 14-point underdogs but upset the top-seeded Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium.
Suddenly, they were in the AFC Championship Game.
It wouldn't have been possible without Andersen's shocking miss. To this day, Andersen still holds a place of reverence among Jaguars fans.
Surprisingly, Andersen has embraced his piece of franchise history. He served as a surprise presenter at the Florida Sports Awards show that was held in Jacksonville the summer of 1997. Andersen even pretended to slip as he was announced and made his way on stage.
The award he presented: The Jaguars' MVP, of course.
This is one of three nominations for the most memorable play in team history. We’ve already looked at Mike Renfro's non-catch catch for the Houston Oilers in the 1979 AFC championship game and the "Music City Miracle" that won the Tennessee Titans a 1999 playoff game against the Bills. Please vote for your choice as the Oilers/Titans’ most memorable play.
Score: Rams 23, Titans 16
Date: January 30, 2000 Site: Georgia Dome
The St. Louis Rams, The Greatest Show on Turf, had run out of gas.
Steve McNair guided the Titans to the Rams’ 10-yard line, where they stopped the clock with six seconds remaining. Six seconds to score a touchdown and kick an extra point to force overtime for the Super Bowl XXXIV championship.
The play call wasn’t a bad one. McNair’s favorite target, Frank Wycheck, ran a route into the end zone, and if he wasn’t open, it would mean he’d drawn attention to leave some room underneath. That’s what happened, so McNair threw to his other option, receiver Kevin Dyson, who caught the ball with a man to beat to barge into the end zone for a score.
Only that man was linebacker Mike Jones, who read the play beautifully and broke off of Wycheck and toward Dyson as the play unfolded. Jones made an excellent form tackle that left Dyson twisting and reaching fruitlessly for the plane of the end zone, just short of glory and the first overtime in Super Bowl history.
“I doubt if they'll ever be a greater play made on the final play of a Super Bowl with one second left on the clock,” Rams coach Dick Vermeil said. “It just isn't possible."
The play is certainly a memorable one for the Rams, and it’s a candidate in their three-play poll.
It’s a Titans candidate, too, and illustrates the frequent fate of the Oilers/Titans, who even in their best moments -- AFC title games in Pittsburgh in the late '70s, the playoff collapse in Buffalo and now their lone Super Bowl appearance -- came up short.
This is one of three nominations for the most memorable play in Houston Texans history. On Monday, we featured J.J. Watt's pick-six against the Cincinnati Bengals, which helped propel the franchise to its first playoff win. On Tuesday we featured a downer -- the Rosencopter. Please vote for your choice as the Texans' most memorable play.
Score: Texans 19, Cowboys 10
Date: Sept. 8, 2002. Site: Reliant Stadium
Few franchises have a fan base that can still remember watching the organization's most important firsts. For the Texans, several came in this play.
Dallas Cowboys, an instate rival they rarely face. A fan in the stands had a sign that said "1-15 is OK, just win this one."
Expectations and hopes were high for the success of No. 1 overall pick David Carr, the quarterback expected to guide them for many years to come. With the help of a solid kickoff return and a hefty penalty against the Cowboys, the Texans began the first drive in franchise history at the Cowboys' 21.
Carr threw the first pass attempt in franchise history, but it fell incomplete. James Allen rushed for 2 yards on the first carry in franchise history. Then Carr completed his first pass -- a 19-yard touchdown to Billy Miller. The Texans beat the Cowboys for the first win in franchise history.
In choosing this play, some suggested to me that while this was a very big game, the most important play came much later. Seth Payne sacked Cowboys quarterback Quincy Carter in the fourth quarter for a safety. That play didn't literally end the game, but it sealed the teams' fate.
It was a tough call, but ultimately I went with the touchdown pass because of its unprecedented nature. The first time something happens, it leaves a mark for better or worse.
This is the last of three nominations for the most memorable plays in Indianapolis Colts history dating to when they moved to Indianapolis in 1984. The first nomination was second-year quarterback Andrew Luck leading the Colts from 28 points down in the second half to beat Kansas City in the AFC playoffs last season. The second was cornerback Marlin Jackson's interception of New England quarterback Tom Brady with 18 seconds left to seal the Colts' 18-point comeback in the AFC Championship Game in January 2007.
Score: Colts 34, Chargers 31
Date: Dec. 26, 2004. Site: RCA Dome
Peyton Manning would break Dan Marino's season touchdown passing record on this day. For 59 minutes you thought Manning would have to wait until the season finale against the Denver Broncos to pass the record.
Manning was untouchable by defenders all season leading up to the Week 16 game against San Diego.
But the Chargers sacked him four times, forced two fumbles and intercepted him once.
With the game on the line, though, Manning did what he does best: Be clutch.
Manning shook off the play call that came in through his headset and decided to make a backyard play call to receiver Brandon Stokley.
Manning told Stokley to run a post route.
Lined up in the slot, Stokley threw the defense off balance by faking a fade to the corner and cutting back inside on the post to catch the 21-yard touchdown pass from Manning. Chargers safety Terrence Kiel was faked out so badly by Stokley looking as though he was going to run the corner route that he fell in the end zone.
"You think the NFL is real complex," Manning told reporters after the game. "But it turns into street ball real quick."
The touchdown pass was the 49th of the season thrown by Manning, breaking the record set by Marino in 1984.
"It says a lot about Peyton that here we are, the game on the line, and he calls a play we've never run before," Stokley told reporters. "He calls a post. I just didn't want it to hit me in the face."
Manning spent the weeks leading up to that game talking about how playoff seeding was more important than passing Marino's record. The Colts beat the Chargers in overtime.
"At the time I threw it, there wasn't a lot of emotion for me, because if we don't get the 2-point conversion, this is a down locker room right now," Manning said after the game. "The fact that it happened, we won the game ... . It sure made for an exciting day."
This is one of three nominations for the most memorable play in Jacksonville Jaguars history. On Wednesday, we’ll feature David Garrard’s fourth-down scramble to set up Josh Scobee’s game-winning field goal in the 2007 AFC wild-card playoffs. On Monday, we featured Morten Andersen’s missed field goal in the 1996 regular-season finale that sent the Jaguars to the playoffs. Please vote for your choice as the Jaguars’ most memorable play.
Score: Jaguars 30, Broncos 27
Date: Jan. 4, 1997 Site: Mile High Stadium
You could argue that the Jaguars didn’t belong in the playoffs in just their second year of existence. They got in only because Morten Andersen slipped and missed a chip-shot 30-yard field goal in the 1996 regular-season finale.
Mark Brunell threw an end-zone interception and had another pick returned for a touchdown, but the Jaguars turned a Jim Kelly fumble into the game-winning points.
But you can’t debate that the Jaguars pulled off one of the biggest upsets in playoff history by beating the top-seeded and 14-point favorite Broncos to earn a trip to the AFC Championship Game. The Jaguars outgained the Broncos by 92 yards, didn’t turn the ball over and won the game, thanks to two of the franchise’s greatest players.
The Jaguars trailed 12-0 into the second quarter but then scored on six consecutive possessions. The last in that streak was the most important because it gave the Jaguars a 10-point lead with 3:39 remaining.
The touchdown came on a play that the Jaguars had run countless times: a fade pass to Jimmy Smith. From the Denver 16-yard line, the left-handed Brunell took a three-step drop and lofted the ball down the sideline toward Smith, who had gotten behind cornerback Tory James. Smith caught the ball three steps into the end zone before free safety Tim Hauck could get over to help.
Brunell threw 195 touchdown passes (11 in the playoffs) and Smith caught 74 touchdown passes (seven in the playoffs) in their NFL careers, but none may have been bigger than that one. That touchdown, one of Smith’s three catches in the game, gave the Jaguars a 10-point cushion.
The Broncos scored their second touchdown of the fourth quarter on John Elway’s 15-yard pass to Ed McCaffrey with 1:50 remaining to pull to within 30-27, but Jason Elam’s onside kick attempt traveled only 5 yards and the Jaguars ran out the clock.
@ESPNdirocco Brunell to Jimmy to seal Denver game. Big play, big call— Paul Prisco (@soflnoles1) June 11, 2014
This is one of three nominations for the most memorable play in team history. We’ve already looked at Mike Renfro's non-catch catch in the 1979 AFC Championship Game. We will also feature Kevin Dyson's desperate, unsuccessful reach for the end zone that came up a yard short of forcing overtime as time expired on Super Bowl XXXIV. Please vote for your choice as the Oilers/Titans’ most memorable play.
Score: Titans 22, Bills 16
Date: January 8, 2000 Site: Adelphia Coliseum
As a head coach, Jeff Fisher prided himself on having his team ready for everything.
In a playoffs-or-pink-slips season, the franchise's first as the reinvented Tennessee Titans, Fisher got to offer the best possible example of that.
The Titans responded with “Home Run Throwback,” a play designed by special teams coach Alan Lowry. It called for Frank Wycheck to field an expected squib kick, sell the coverage team he was returning it to the right, and then whirling and throwing a lateral to Derrick Mason.
Mason was out with a concussion, however, and his backup for the play, safety Anthony Dorsett, was also unable to play.
Kevin Dyson was quickly coached up to take on the role.
It wasn’t Wycheck, but Lorenzo Neal who fielded the kick. He handed it back to Wycheck, who sold the fake and made the throw. Dyson came back to collect the low throw, turned and sprinted into wide-open space with a convoy of blockers ahead of him. He pulled up and eased into the end zone for a 75-yard touchdown.
It withstood a replay review by referee Phil Luckett, and provided the winning margin for a team that went on to make the franchise’s lone Super Bowl appearance.
The Music City Miracle added to the lore of Buffalo sports teams coming up short, while creating an incredible story in Tennessee in just the ninth meaningful game played in the stadium built to draw the Oilers from Houston to Nashville.
This is the second of three nominations for the most memorable plays in Indianapolis Colts history dating back to when they moved from Baltimore in 1984. The first nomination was second-year quarterback Andrew Luck leading the Colts from 28 points down in the second half to beat Kansas City in the AFC playoffs last season. The final play is Peyton Manning's 21-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Stokley for Manning's 49th TD of the season, which broke Dan Marino's single-season TD record in 2004.
Score: Colts 38, Patriots 34
Date: Jan. 21, 2007 Site: RCA Dome.
The Colts were down 21-6 at halftime when coach Tony Dungy gave his team a speech that even had his players wondering what he was talking about.
“The speech Coach Dungy gave was quite simple and for us it quite shocking at the same time when he said it. He came in with his cool, calm demeanor. Most coaches wouldn’t be cool and calm at that point in the game. He said it almost jokingly. He goes, ‘You know we got them right where we want them.' He said, 'We’re going to come out after halftime we’re going to go down and score, we’re going to stop them, we’re going to score again and we’ll be right back in the game.’ We were like, ‘We got them what?’ That’s exactly what happened. I think it was his demeanor not as much as what he said, but the way he came across that there was no doubt in his mind that we were going to win the game. We fed off his interview at halftime.
"As far as the play goes, I remember leading up to that play there was a sense that they were coming out in a certain formation. It was trips to my side. Troy Brown was in the slot and a receiver to the outside. I can’t remember the tight end as the third guy. They were pretty much running the same play two to three times in a row, trying to hit the tight end down the seam. It was obvious the first two times when they were dumping the ball down to the back out of the backfield.
"On the actual play, I saw the formation was the same thing so I backed up deeper so I didn’t have to take a deep drop and actually have it be a wasted step making my break on the ball because I was anticipating he was going to go to the tight end in the seam. I knew because of my film study that [Tom] Brady always in those types of situations would throw blindly in the opposite direction and that’s exactly what he did. Snapped the ball, looked opposite of me so I knew once he turned back my way I had already broke on the tight end, which allowed me to get a great jump to make the play and get the interception.
"For me it was a moment of disbelief, like did that really just happen? Did I really just make that play? We were now going to the Super Bowl. It was even sweeter because it was a victory over the New England Patriots. That made it even more special because of the history of the organization leading up to that game. They were a nemesis of ours for years. We beat them to get over the hump. And the fashion we were able to come back after being down by 18 points and still believing because of a great simple speech by coach Tony Dungy.”
@MikeWellsNFL this is too hard! Marlin Interception vs Pats gotta be #1 Watched that last night. I've got like 6 others. I can't pick.— Christie Grennes (@cgrennes) June 5, 2014
This is one of three nominations for the most memorable play in Houston Texans history. On Monday, we featured J.J. Watt's pick-six against the Cincinnati Bengals, which helped propel the franchise to its first playoff win, and tomorrow we'll feature Billy Miller's touchdown against the Cowboys in 2002, the franchise's first touchdown, leading to its first win. Please vote for your choice as the Texans' most memorable play.
Score: Colts 31, Texans 27
Date: Oct. 5, 2008 Site: Reliant Stadium
Some studies have shown that the human brain tends to remember negative events more than positive ones. Naturally, the most memorable moments in a franchise's history won't always be the happiest ones. For a 13-year-old franchise that has had only three winning seasons, that's especially true.
It took a 21-point fourth quarter for the Indianapolis Colts to rally for this Week 5 road divisional win. It started with the Rosencopter.
The Texans were up 27-17 with 3:54 remaining in the game. Quarterback Sage Rosenfels had a simple task: gain a few yards and slide, bringing the game closer to its conclusion. Instead Rosenfels tried to hurdle a Colts defender. He didn't quite make it. Grasping the football in one hand, Rosenfels' body spun around in the air like the propeller atop a helicopter.
He fumbled the ball, Colts linebacker Gary Brackett grabbed it, returning the fumble 68 yards for a touchdown.
The Texans dropped to 0-4 to start a season they finished 8-8.
"For one play I made a really stupid mistake, and that started the downward spiral," Rosenfels told reporters at the time. "I feel like I let those guys down."
This is one of three nominations for the most memorable play in team history. In the next two days we’ll feature: the Music City Miracle trick kickoff return that won a playoff game against the Bills for the Titans in January 2000; and Kevin Dyson’s desperate, unsuccessful reach for the end zone that came up a yard short of forcing overtime as time expired on Super Bowl XXXIV. Please vote for your choice as the Oilers/Titans’ most memorable play.
Score: Steelers 27, Oilers 13
Date: Jan. 6, 1980 Site: Three Rivers Stadium
Oh, for replay in the 1979 NFL playoffs.
The Oilers went on to lose the AFC title game 27-13, failing to get to the Super Bowl with a second consecutive championship-game loss in Pittsburgh.
Houston lost in the playoffs after the 1980 season, too, to eventual champion Oakland, and Bum Phillips was fired as coach after three playoff seasons with a good team failed to produce a Super Bowl appearance.
Renfro’s “catch” would have only tied the game with plenty still to play. Who knows what would have happened from there? Oilers fans would have liked to have found out. Had their team won that game and gone on to a Super Bowl title, a lot could have changed between then and 1996, when the Oilers struck a deal to leave Houston and move to Nashville, Tennessee.
The impact of the play went well beyond Houston.
"It brought about the use of instant replay a lot faster than it would've gotten here," Renfro said in a Fort Worth Star-Telegram piece in 2008. "I do know that."
This is one of three nominations for the most memorable play in Jacksonville Jaguars history. On Monday we featured Morten Andersen’s missed field goal in the 1996 regular-season finale that sent the Jaguars to the playoffs. On Tuesday we featured Mark Brunell’s touchdown pass to Jimmy Smith to clinch the 1996 AFC divisional playoff game over the Broncos.
Score: Jaguars 31, Steelers 29
Date: Jan. 5, 2008 Site: Heinz Field
The Jaguars have won just one playoff game since their run to the 1999 AFC Championship Game, and it came thanks to a gutsy play call, a couple of good blocks and a holding penalty that wasn’t called.
Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes hooked up for a touchdown, and Pittsburgh’s comeback got jump-started.
The Steelers eventually took a 29-28 lead with a little more than six minutes to play. After the teams traded possessions, the Jaguars drove into Pittsburgh territory but faced a critical fourth-and-2 from the Steelers' 43 with 1:56 remaining.
Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter didn’t choose a pass play or a run by Fred Taylor or Maurice Jones-Drew. He called a quarterback draw out of the shotgun formation, putting the season on David Garrard’s feet.
Four players threw key blocks: Center Brad Meester sealed linebacker James Farrior on the inside, left guard Vince Manuwai drove defensive end Brett Keisel backward, right tackle Maurice Williams took down nose tackle Casey Hampton and tight end Marcedes Lewis turned safety Troy Polamalu outside.
That opened a huge hole for Garrard, who put a move on safety Tyrone Carter and ran by him at the 30 before Carter finally ran him down at the Pittsburgh 11-yard line. That play set up Josh Scobee’s 25-yard field goal with 37 seconds remaining, and defensive end Bobby McCray sacked Roethlisberger and forced a fumble that defensive tackle Derek Landri recovered with 20 seconds to play to give the Jaguars a 31-29 victory.
Except it shouldn’t have happened.
Officials missed a pretty blatant hold by left tackle Khalif Barnes on linebacker James Harrison. Barnes got his feet crossed as Harrison went outside and then back inside and grabbed Harrison’s jersey by his shoulders. By the time Barnes let go, Garrard was already past the first-down marker.
Steelers players and fans were irate about the noncall. Their complaints were eventually validated when the NFL’s head of officiating admitted the following spring that the crew working that game missed the holding call.
There was obviously nothing the NFL could do about the outcome. That remains the last time the Steelers lost a playoff game at home.
@ESPNdirocco David Garrard on 4th down in Pitt: made jags only team to ever beat the steelers on their home soil twice in same season— David Lipton (@d_lipton14) June 10, 2014
This is one of three nominations for the most memorable plays in Colts' history dating back to when they moved to Indianapolis from Baltimore in 1984. In the next two days we'll feature: Peyton Manning's 21-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Stokley for Manning's 49th TD of the season, which broke Dan Marino's single-season TD record in 2004, and cornerback Marlin Jackson's interception of New England quarterback Tom Brady to seal the Colts' 18-point comeback in the AFC Championship Game in January 2007.
Score: Colts 45, Chiefs 44
Date: January 4, 2014 Site: Lucas Oil Stadium
Indianapolis Colts second-year quarterback Andrew Luck was playing in his first home playoff game, against a team he had beaten two weeks earlier.
Seven-point deficit. Ten-point deficit. Seventeen-point deficit. Twenty-one point deficit. The deficit grew as large as 28 points, and many of the Colts fans at sold-out Lucas Oil Stadium sat stone-faced, not believing what they were watching on the field.
Luck wasn't helping the situation. He looked like a rookie quarterback taking his first snaps. His third interception of the game gave the Chiefs a short field to work with, which they used to increase their lead to 38-10 just 81 seconds into the second half.
“[Luck] kept telling us, even at 38-10, 'We're going to win this game,'" offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo said.
Luck wasn't worried about the double-digit deficit. He proved six prior times in his young career that he could lead the Colts back from a double-digit deficit.
Luck -- pun intended -- was on the Colts' side. Trailing 41-31 early in the fourth quarter, Colts running back Donald Brown fumbled a handoff and the ball bounced off of center Samson Satele's helmet. But Luck picked up the ball and ran in from 5 yards out to cut Kansas City's lead to 41-38.
Indianapolis completed the improbable comeback when Luck stepped up in the pocket and found receiver T.Y. Hilton streaking downfield for a 64-yard touchdown with less than five minutes left in the game.
The 28-point comeback was the second-largest in NFL playoff history. Long snapper Matt Overton called it an, “Instant ESPN Classic,” after the game.
“[Luck's] not giving you a bunch of bulls--- when he says that stuff,” Castonzo said. “At no point does he not believe we're not going to win. He's led us on a lot of comebacks for a reason. The guy does not freak out.”
This is one of three nominations for the most memorable play in Houston Texans history. In the next two days, we’ll feature the "Rosencopter" and Billy Miller's touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys in 2002 -- the franchise's first touchdown, which led to the franchise's first win. Please vote for your choice as the Texans' most memorable play.
Score: Texans 31, Bengals 10
Date: Jan. 7, 2012 Site: Reliant Stadium
J.J. Watt and just call it "The Play."
With less than a minute remaining in the second quarter of the Texans' wild-card playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton dropped back and released the ball. Watt jumped in the air, intercepted the pass and ran it back for a touchdown to break a 10-10 tie. It was a watershed moment for that game, the franchise and the burgeoning career of their 2011 first-round pick.
The Texans shut out the Bengals in the second half and went on to notch their first playoff win in franchise history.
The momentum from that season carried into the 2012 season, which the Texans began 11-1. They fizzled late in 2012, though Watt remained a force.
The play was the start of something special for Watt. He played even better in the Texans' next game during the 2011 postseason despite the loss, sacking Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco 2.5 times. During the offseason that followed, Watt's then-defensive coordinator, Wade Phillips, said he thought Watt would one day wind up in the Hall of Fame. The 2012 season marked one of the finest seasons any defensive end has ever had. It was doubly impressive considering Watt did it as an interior defensive lineman. Watt had 20.5 sacks (which lead the league), 23 tackles for loss and 16 batted passes.