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The List: Best sports moment nickname
From the Page 2 mailbag

Poll Results

On Tuesday, Page 2 came up with its top 10 best all-time nicknames for sports moments. We asked for your take, and you filled our mailbag with plenty of opinions.

After going through more than 300 letters, below is a complete rundown of the Top 10 vote-getters, along with some of the best letters about each nickname. And be sure to vote in the poll at left to crown the all-time best sports moment nickname.

1. "The Immaculate Reception" (44 letters)
Franco Harris
Franco Harris came out of nowhere to make the "Immaculate Reception."
That incredible moment in history that accompanies one of the most played sound bytes ever: "It's caught out of the air! By Franco Harris!"

It'll send a chill down any Pittsburgher's black-and-gold spine.
Matt Lynch
Uniontown, Pa.

All of the stars aligned for the Steelers that day. Did it hit Frenchy or the defender first? Where did Franco come from with that shoestring grab?! And he ran it the whole way back for the touchdown!

If not for that play, the greatness of the Steelers of the 1970s may have been muddled with other solid squads of the day.

I was born in Pittsburgh and grew up watching the perennially pathetic Steelers with my dad every Sunday. When Franco got the TD I swear seismographs somewhere had to pick up the collective shockwaves of everyone in the 'Burgh jumping up and down in their living rooms.
Mike Sanders
Mobile, Ala.

Here's how the Page 2 staff ranked the best sports moment nicknames of all-time:

1. "The Immaculate Reception"(Steelers' 1972 AFC divisional playoff victory)
2. "The Thrilla in Manila" (Ali-Frazier classic bout)
3. "The Miracle on Ice" (1980 US Hockey Olympic victory)
4. "The Catch" (Dwight Clark's grab in the 1982 NFC Championship Game)
5. "Hail Mary" (Roger Staubach's pass that led the Cowboys to a 17-14 win in the 1975 NFC playoff game)
6. "The Shot Heard 'Round the World" (Bobby Thomson home run of the 1951 NL playoff)
7. "Wide Right" (Scott Norwood's miss or Florida State's field goal follies)
8. "The Long Count" (Tunney vs. Dempsey 1926 heavyweight bout )
9. "The Ice Bowl" (Packers' 'chilling' victory over the Cowboys in the 1967 NFL Championship)
10. "The Drive" (John Elway leads his Broncs past Cleveland in the 1987 AFC Championship)

Honorable Mention: "The Play" (Cal stuns Stanford on multiple-lateral kickoff return in 1982), "The Music City Miracle" (Titans stun Bills on kickoff return in 2000 NFL playoffs), "The Fumble" (Earnest Byner drops ball as Cleveland loses at Denver in AFC Championship in 1988), "Fumblerooski" (Nebraska's trickery vs. Miami in 1984 Orange Bowl), "The Holy Roller" (Raiders stun Chargers by pushing fumble into the end zone), "The Ghost to the Post" (Raiders beat Colts on Dave Casper's TD in second overtime of 1977 AFC playoff), "The Shot" (Duke beats Kentucky on Christian Laettner's turnaround shot in 1992 NCAA East Regional finals), "The Phantom Spike" (Dan Marino fools Jets by pretending to kill the clock), "The Phantom Punch" (Ali beats Liston for heavyweight title), "The Called Shot" (Babe Ruth predicts homer), "The Fog Bowl" (Bears beat Eagles in 1988 NFC divisional playoff), "Merkle's Boner" (Fred Merkle costs Giants pennant in 1908 by failing to touch second base on what should have been a game-winning hit), "The Game of the Century" (Nebraska beats Oklahoma in 1972), "Catholics vs. Convicts" (Notre Dame-Miami series in late 1980s).

2. "The Miracle on Ice" (35 letters)
"You've got 10 seconds, the countdown's going on right now. Morrow, up to Silk, five you believe in miracles, yes?!"

Al Michaels had never broadcast hockey before that Olympics, but he captured the moment when America, feeling its collective nadir, realized that the sun perhaps had not yet set on the American century, and that a new era was dawning.

More than just a hockey game, it was a socio-political moment in the Cold War that reminded much of America that the greatness of triumph in any field and the belief that freedom and choice are things worth fighting for and worth believing in were not dying breeds. These amateurs, these kids, went to a metaphorical war against a finely tuned, precisely drilled team of professionals, and through sheer will and the possible intervention of a higher authority, raised that flag up on high once again and proclaimed it open to anyone who would rally behind it.
Craig D. Barker
Livonia, Mich.

Al Michaels guaranteed himself his moment of greatness by asking us if we believe!
Matt Klugman
Myrtle Beach, S.C.

The name is a simple, yet perfect, description of one of the most thrilling moments in American history. Al Michaels calling, "Do you believe in miracles? Yes!" the crowd chanting, "USA! USA!" the players streaming on the ice in pure jubilation, Jim Craig searching for his father ... Just hearing the nickname, "Miracle on Ice" provokes one to think of all those moments and how happy America was for a day.
Shawn LaRoche
Barre, Mass.

3. "The Drive" (21 letters)
In football, you cannot get a drive much longer than the 98½ yards Elway led in this game. The sheer fact it was the end of the game, on the road, heading into the heart of the Dog Pound to determine who goes to the Super Bowl makes it one of the most clutch moments in the history of sports, and The Drive sums it all up!
Ron Colaizzi
Oswego, Ill.

Elway doing what he did best ... last-minute heroics to win a game. And don't forget what he got it started with in the huddle: "We've got 'em right where we want 'em!"
Chuck Miller
Columbus, Ohio

Every time I see highlights of the game, I remember those mullet wearing, Zubaz-clad Browns fans crying their eyes out in that Ohio bowling alley.
Mark McCarrell

4. "Miracle in the Meadowlands" (19 letters)
The 1978 game between the Giants and the Eagles, when all the Giants had to do was sit on the ball with the lead and less than a minute to go in the game. Instead they call a running play to Larry Csonka and fumble when attempting the hand off from Joe Pisarcik. Herman Edwards picks up the fumble for the Birds and runs it in for a score to win the game.
Eric Gailing
Edgewater, N.J.

One of the greatest moments in Eagles history, as the Giants swipe defeat from the jaws of victory.
Dale Plummer
Palmyra, Pa.

5. "The Shot" (17 letters)
Many readers had their own version of "the shot," here are a few...
John Elway
"The Drive" made John Elway a legendary comeback artist.
"The Shot" by Christian Laettner in the 92 regional finals against Kentucky will forever be the greatest moment in collegiate athletics. With less than 3 seconds on the clock and more than 70 feet away from the basket, Grant Hill threw the perfect pass, and Laettner knew he had the time to fake one way, roll the other, and drop the winning shot from 15 feet.
Henry Richmond
Orlando, Fla.

Although Duke's win over Kentucky in the '92 tournament was impressive, any Bulls fan will tell you that the only play worthy of being called "The Shot" was Jordan's jumper over Craig Ehlo to knock the Cavs out of the playoffs. Yet it was conspicuously absent from the list.

It even had sequels! Over Gerald Wilkins against Cleveland again, and the greatest exit in the history of sports (unless he comes back) against the Jazz in '98.
Bloomington, Ind.

Michael Jordan burns Craig Ehlo and the Cavaliers on May 7, 1989. Anyone who has been a Cleveland sports fan will tell you how much that shot going in hurt. The Bulls announcers summed it up as one of the greatest series they had ever seen. Of course, Cleveland fans would have thought it better if the rock had clanked off the front of the rim ...
Ryan Isley
Akron, Ohio

I notice that in your honorable mention category, you credited "The Shot" to Laettner and the Dookies. However, any real basketball fan knows that "The Shot" will be ever associated with Keith Smart and the 1987 Hoosiers beating Syracuse for the NCAA title. A huge clutch performance in the biggest game of the season.
Morgan Anderson

6. "Music City Miracle" (14 letters)
Here in middle Tennessee we don't have a great number of sports moments to celebrate, but Titans fan or not, the Music City Miracle, or Home-Run Throwback as the play was called, was one of the most exciting moments I've ever witnessed. Just like the Immaculate Reception, there was controversy (lateral or not) and great timing.

It may not make the list of great nicknames, but 25 years from now, it will still be talked about.
Jon Newbill
Smyrna, Tenn.

It had it all, controversy, excitement, two good teams -- one great play. It also solidified the fact (for everyone outside of Buffalo) that the Bills will always be bride's maids, never the bride.
Mark Eriole
Albany, N.Y.

7. "The Catch" (13 letters)
Dwight Clark
"The Catch" lifted Dwight Clark and the Niners to the first of their five Super Bowls.
Joe Montana and Dwight Clark connecting for "The Catch." It marked the beginning of the 49ers dynasty, was an incredibly exciting play and has been re-enacted in the street outside my house numerous times.
Brian Smith
Buffalo, N.Y.

When you are 13 years old, and your hero throws a miraculous pass to finally defeat the dreaded Cowboys to go to their first of five Super Bowl championships. You're never quite the same.
Steve Damozonio
San Jose, Calif.

Your top 10 were great. The Montana-Clark "Catch" was incredible, but don't forget about another catch involving another San Francisco sports legend. Of course I'm talking about the Say Hey Kid's catch in the World Series (OK, I know the Giants weren't in SF then.) Both "Catches" were equally spectacular and equally clutch, and are both deserving of a spot in your top 10 list.
Sonoma, Calif.

8. "The Shot Heard 'Round the World" (12 letters)
Used to describe Bobby Thomson's home run off Ralph Branca in 1951. It shows just how important that National League New York City rivalry was in those days. Watching the footage and listening to Russ Hodges' radio call can make everybody appreciate it as one of the great moments in sports history.
Dan Neumann
Hopewell Junction, N.Y.

The "Shot Heard 'Round the World" is the best nickname. It suggests that absolutely everyone was able to feel the importance of that singular moment in sports history.
Las Vegas

9. "The Hand of God" -- (11 letters)
Fifty-first minute of the 1986 World Cup quarterfinal between Argentina and England and the nil-nil deadlock is broken when Diego Maradona rises between two English defenders and punches the ball into the goal.

Of the hundreds of millions worldwide watching, the referee seems the only one who doesn't notice the deliberate handball and allows the goal. Four minutes later Maradona dribbles through nearly the entire English team to score one of the most amazing goals in soccer history and Argentina hold on for a 2-1 victory.

Argentina goes on to win the '86 World Cup, their second. Asked about the controversy later, Maradona claims the goal was scored by "The Hand of God."

A play that might be the biggest missed call of all-time.
Brett Endy
Reading, Pa.

10. "The Heidi Game" -- (10 letters)
With 1:05 to play and the Jets leading their hated rival the Raiders 32-29, NBC threw the switch on the game on the East Coast to show the movie "Heidi." What they missed was a 14-point explosion by the Raiders; at least they got to see the movie.
Aryan Kushan
Silver Spring, Md.

Although I liked all the names on your list, one was conspicuously absent -- "the Heidi Game," when network television found out "it isn't over til its over."

"The Heidi Game" perfectly symbolizes so many things -- the "never-say-die spirit" that allowed the comeback, the importance of sport to fans, the impact of TV on sport, and more.
Nils McConnell
Lincoln, Neb.

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