The Best 10 Games Of The Decade

 

Here’s a list of the 10 Best Games regardless of sport college, or professional of the decade.  You’ll find everything from the World Series, to March Madness, to English Premiere League, to Hockey, to college football rivalries, and Super Bowl comebacks on this list!

 

  1. Sergio Aguero Scores in Extra Time to Secure Manchester City’s First League Title

Manchester rival United had won their game against Sunderland.  City had to win their game against QPR to win their very first league title.  This would prove to be difficult for desperate QPR side that was fighting relegation and needed to win.  City’s chances of winning seemed all but impossible since they were down 1-2 with only 5 minutes of extra time left in the game.  Hope flooded into the stadium following Dzeko header in the back of the net that tied the game. The stadium was buzzing with screams from 55,000 people.  The dream was alive. The excitement came to its apex when Aguero passed the ball to Balotelli into the box who delivered a soft pass back. Aguero blasted the ball through the back of the net with time expiring the send the place in a massive frenzy.  I get the chills every time I watch it. To score a goal in the last minute of the last game like that sounds like it could only come from a fairy tale. I know soccer is not the most important sport in the United States, but I encourage anyone who hasn’t seen it to take a look.  It encompasses the magic of sports and why it’s so exciting. I will never forget that moment.

 

  1. The Saints Upset the Colts and Deliver a Big Win for the City of New Orleans

In 2009, New Orleans was still recovering from the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina.  The storm caused an estimated 108 billion dollars in damage. The 50 levees that broke flooded a lot of the lower income families causing massive amounts of people to become homeless.  The city desperately needed something to keep their minds away from the troubling times. The Saints ended up being the perfect answer. They came out to a blazing 13-0 start garnishing the attention of everyone living in Louisiana.  The team became a symbol of hope that everything was going to be okay. Team leaders became active members of the community helping families in need during Thanksgiving and visiting children in hospitals. The Saints were able to easily defeat the Cardinals in the Divisional round but took overtime to defeat Brett Favre led Vikings.  The stage had been set for New Orleans to complete a magical run. That journey would not be easy as they were set to play against the 5 point favorite Colts. Peyton Manning was looking to grab his second Super Bowl ring and build upon his legacy of becoming the greatest of all time. The Colts took a respectable 14-10 lead going into half time and seemed to have control of the game.  Coach Sean Peyton called the infamous “Ambush” onside kick play that completely changed the momentum of the game. The Saints were able to dominate the second half and win 31-17. This game showed what the power of sports had to bring people together.

 

  1. 16 Seed UMBC Beats 1 Seed Virginia 

March madness started in 1939.  For 79 years the round of 16 was nothing more than a formality for anyone in possession of the number one seed.  Everything changed when UMBC faced Virginia on March 16th, 2018.  Going into the tournament, Virginia was tied with eventual winners Villanova with 5-1 odds as favorites.  Virginia’s roster bolstered eventual 4th overall pick De’Andre Hunter, second round pick Kyle Guy, and another second round pick in Devon Hall.  Although in retrospect, this was a very underwhelming roster. I did some research to see how many NBA players were on March Madness championship rosters.  The 2015 Duke Blue Devils had 8, the 2016 Villanova Wildcats had 6, the 2017 UNC Tar Heels had 4, and the 2018 Villanova Wildcats had 5. That 2018 Villanova roster included Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges, Donte DiVincenzo, and Eric Paschall. Still, Virginia’s “relatively lackluster roster” should have been plenty good enough to take care of UMBC who only had one 20-point scorer who ended up going to Germany to play professional basketball.  Virginia was a 20-point favorite going into the game. They did, however, lose De’Andre Hunter to a season ending injury just days before the matchup. The game itself wasn’t actually that exciting besides a tie going into half time. In the second half of the game, Virginia was blown out by 20 points and UMBC almost covered from the opposite side of the line. This game became more significant for me since Virginia went on to win the NCAA tournament the very next year securing it as one of the greatest comeback stories in college basketball history.

 

  1. The Golden Knights First Home in Franchise History

On October 11th, 2017 the newest expansion team in all major sports took home ice for the very first time.  The Golden Knights were entering their home on a bittersweet note. On October 1st, just 10 days prior, the city of Las Vegas suffered through the biggest mass shooting in United States history.  The city of Las Vegas had no central voice up until this point. The commuter city was searching for an answer to console for this tragedy.  Being that the central zeitgeist of the city lied in its casinos, the solution was not blatantly obvious. The Knights were predicted to be the worst team in NHL but shocked many after they won their first two games.  They positioned themselves to be the first expansion team to win their first three games in NHL history. No one was really sure how embracive the Knights would be with the mass shooting, but everyone flocked to the T-Mobile Arena to see what the buzz was all about.  They ended up having the players come out with first responders and telling the audience what their roles were during the emergency. After everyone left the ice the players came out and lined up for the national anthem. Just as the song started, the names of all the victims sprawled across the ice.  For that moment, a broken city felt connected. The people of Las Vegas had something to represent themselves. Besides helping heal the wounds of 1 October, it marked the beginning of a dominant run that saw the Knights go to the Stanley Cup in their inaugural season. They were so successful, it raised questions about the fairness of the expansion draft.  With the NHL, NBA, and MLB all looking to expand the league at some point in the next decade the Golden Knights are sure to be on their minds.

 

  1. The Mile High Miracle (Ravens beat the Broncos on the 2012 Playoffs) 

Let me set the scene.  Peyton had missed the 2011 season due to a neck injury and had decided to sign with the Denver Broncos going into 2012.  The hype surrounding him was insurmountable. No one knew whether he would be the same MVP quarterback we had seen for over a decade.  He surpassed all of our expectations with 4,659 yards and 37 touchdowns. It felt like some form of Manifest Destiny that Peyton would meet Tom Brady in the AFC Conference game.  The fourth seed Ravens had something to say about that. A team led by Joe Flacco’s mediocre 3,817 yards, 22 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions was heavily relying on its defense. They easily took care of a young Colts team led by Andrew Luck.  Things were not supposed to be so easy come next week when they were 10 point underdogs against the number 1 seed Broncos. The game did not go as scripted even for the Ravens when it turned into a shootout. 28 points were scored in the first quarter alone thanks to a touchdown from Torey Smith and a pick six from Corey Graham.  The fun seemed to end when the Ravens had the ball down 7 in the fourth quarter on their own 30 with only 42 seconds left on the clock. ESPN had the Broncos as 97.2 percent favorites to win the game at that point. We then saw one of the most miraculous hail marries in NFL history when Joe Flacco heaved the ball down field to Jacoby Jones for a 70 yard touchdown.  They went on to win the game with a field goal in overtime. They would then go on to beat the Patriots and 49ers to win a Super Bowl title marking it as one of the greatest playoffs runs in NFL history.

 

  1. Auburn scores on a shocking field goal return to beat Alabama in Iron Bowl 

Going into the 2013 Iron Bowl, the number 1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide were undefeated following two National Championships victories in the years prior.  Auburn’s first year head coach Gus Malzahn was taking on a Tigers team that was winless in SEC play just the year prior. They were 10-1 heading into this game but were still 9.5 point underdogs none the less.  Auburn’s roster had a handful of NFL talent including Nick Marshall who went on to be a cornerback in NFL for a couple years, Tre Mason who was famous for going ghost on the Rams during the 2016 offseason, Sammy Coats, C.J. Uzomah, Dee Ford, Cody Parker, among others.  Compared to Alabama’s roster that included Kenyan Drake, Derrick Henry, Amari Cooper, O.J Howard, C.J. Mosley, Landon Collins, and Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix it’s clear as to why they were so dominant. Alabama seemed poised for a third National Title run. After they took a 21-7 lead in the second quarter, everything seemed to be going as planned.  Auburn stayed confident in themselves and even tied up the game following a one yard touchdown run from Tre Mason and a 13 yard touchdown pass to C.J. Uzomah. Alabama seemed to deflate the Auburn comeback after a 99 yard bomb to Amari Cooper. The Tigers once again proved resilient when Sammy Coats caught a touchdown with 32 seconds to go that tied the game 28-28.  Alabama was awarded one second left following a pass that placed them at their own 42 yard line. They elected to go for a field goal. Kicker Adam Griffith had a career long 20 yard field goal and was one for two that season. Interestingly enough, Nick Saban elected to replace Cade Foster after he missed three straight field goals in the game. The kick ended up wide right and in the hands of Chris Davis in the back of the end zone.  He returned the full length of the football field for a touchdown that sent echoes throughout sports. The number 4 seed Auburn Tigers took down the all mighty Alabama Crimson Tide.

 

  1. The Thunder Blow Game 6 Against the Warriors in the 2016 Western Conference Finals 

The 2015 NBA champion Golden State Warriors were on the ropes.  The Kevin Durant led Oklahoma Thunder took a commanding 3-1 lead and were looking for revenge on Lebron James.  The proven Finals team in the Warriors were not ready to give up. They had a convicting victory at home beating the Thunder 120-111.  Game 6 would not be so easy. On the eve of a Finals birth, all they had to do was take a victory at home. The ensuing game would go down as the most disastrous for a team that was already feeling the hangover of not going into the luxury tax for James Harden.  The Warriors worked behind an inspired Klay Thompson who shot 11-18 from 3 point range and 41 points in the game. Thunder super stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 20-58 shooting. The meltdown carried over to game 7 and the Thunder run ended short.  The Warriors would end up losing in game 7 to the Cavaliers ruining their record breaking 73 win season. All of the stars aligned in this playoff run. Everything had to go exactly this way to change the league forever. Had the Thunder beat the Warriors Kevin Durant would have never thought of going to the Warriors.  Had the Warriors not lost in such a dramatic fashion, Draymond Green would have never frantically called Durant asking him to join the team. As we all know, the Kevin Durant led Warriors would be one of the most dominant teams all of all time for the next two years. The league was changed forever. Super teams were being assembled faster than nuclear missiles during the Cold War.  The culture of obtaining as many super stars as possible is still being seen today. Kawhi forced his now teammate Paul George to join him at the Clippers. The Lakers gave up their entire slew of assets to obtain Anthony Davis. Even Durant himself convinced Kyrie Irving with him to Brooklyn. The NBA will never be the same.

 

  1. Patriots Make the Improbable Comeback Against the Falcons 

The Patriots are no stranger to Super Bowl semantics.  They were subject to two huge Super Bowl upsets from none other than Eli Manning.  They finally had their luck shine through when the Seattle Seahawks famously decided to pass the ball from the shotgun formation on the one yard line that was picked off by Malcom Butler to seal the game.  The Patriots looked as they would have their first deciding Super Bowl loss when facing a 28-3 deficit in the third quarter. The 25 point comeback would be the biggest in Super Bowl in NFL history and would also be the first Super Bowl to be decided in over time.  The Falcons forgetting the run the football and taking that sack in the beginning of the 4th quarter left everyone in wonder.  Tom Brady’s legacy would be further cemented as the greatest of all time.  The Patriots would go on two more Super Bowls following that year and lose to the famous “Philly Special” play that hurt Eli Manning’s legacy more than Brady’s.  Is anyone sick of the Patriots yet?

 

  1. Lebron James Records the Greatest Block in Finals History and Kyrie Hits the Second Best Shot to Secure the very First Title for the Cleveland Cavaliers 

Lebron James was lined up for another Finals loss further separating himself from Michael Jordan’s legacy.  A 3-1 deficit against the dominant Warriors was all but over. Golden State had been absolutely dominant posting an average win differential of 19.66 points going into game 5.  The only glimpse of hope was the suspension of Draymond Green after he hit Lebron James in the nuts the game prior. Still, it did not seem possible that the tandem of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson could lose two straight playoff games.  Green’s absence proved to be a major factor considering two dominant performances from the Cavs that saw them eclipse 100 points. They had previously only won one game after doing such a feat. The stage for game 7 was set. Golden State would be getting center piece Draymond Green back and the game was in Oracle Arena.  No team in NBA Finals history had ever come back from a 3-1 deficit. Game 7 would become the second most watched basketball game ever. An incredible back and forth game came to its apex late in the fourth quarter. A scoreless drought from about the five to two minute mark looked like it was coming to an end with a Warriors fast break. Steph Curry delivered the final pass to Andre Iguodala for the easy layup.  Lebron James comes from seemingly nowhere to pin the basketball against the backboard. The Cavaliers then had the ball with one minute left. Kyrie Irving had the ball at the top of the third point arc when J.R. Smith ran in to force Steph Curry on Irving. With no time to switch back, Curry was forced to defend on the play. Kyrie swung the ball back and forth before a flat-footed Curry was not able to properly contest a step back three.  The incredible shot silenced 19,000 people in the crowd. Steph Curry even had a chance to win the game against Kevin Love who played excellent defense and secured the win for the Cavs. They completed the most improbable comeback in basketball history.

 

  1. The Cubs End a Century Long Drought 

Until the 2016 World Series, the Cubs had only won the World Series in 1907 and 1908.  The Cubs had actually been to eleven World Series total and it was the first appearance since 1945.  Cubs fans had gone their entire lives without seeing them win a World Series. Generations had come and gone.  It would appear another century was in the works when the Cubs saw themselves down 3-1 the Cleveland Indians. In some sort of strange spout of pure irony, the Cleveland Cavaliers found themselves on the opposite end of a such a lead in the 2016 Finals that was just discussed. Through the spirit of Cubs fans spanning 100 years, the team would not go down easily.  They were able to force a game 7 following a dominant 9-3 win in Chicago. The odds were not necessarily stacked against the Cubs considering there had been 5 such comebacks in World Series history. The Cubs would be the first since 1985 when the Royals did it against the Cardinals. Still, the Indians were at home and winning three straight World Series games would prove to be exceedingly difficult.  The Cubs were able to start things off with a homerun from Dexter Fowler in the top of the first inning. The game would not slow down from there. Runs would come from both sides until it looked like things had been settled. The Cubs took a resounding 6-4 lead going into the bottom of the 8th inning.  It appeared the curse was finally going to be lifted. That was until Rajai Davis hit a home run ball to the left field to tie the game up.  Dread and despair broke into every Cubs fan in the country. Momentum belonged to the home team desperate to not blow a 3-1 lead. The Cubs were able to keep the Indians at bay for the 9th inning.  The excitement was dampened for a moment through divine intervention in form of a rain delay.  The Indian pitchers were forced to sulk in rain for what seemed to be an eternity. The Cubs had an exciting 10th inning that ended with Almora Jr. at second after Anthony Rizzo had been walked. Ben Zobrist was up to the plate with one out.  The reliable hitter just needed to make solid contact to put the Cubs in great position. His hit into deep left field was the best scenario possible short of a home run.  The Cubs took an 8-6 going into the bottom of the 10th inning.  A heart attack in the form of a RBI double from Rajai Davis put the Indians within 1.  Everything would come to the end when Martinez hit a soft ball down the third base line that Khris Bryant was able to clean up and deliver the final out the Anthony Rizzo.  The Curse of the Billy Goat had finally been lifted. This win represents what sports is all about and earned my top spot as the best game of the decade.

 

Spencer Ostrovsky

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