Football is such an exciting game, most of the time, and we all have those plays that we love. When I’m saying the top five plays in football, I don’t mean like Dwight Clark’s catch in the back of the end zone. Rather, a general play call like a read option, an onside kick, or something nifty like an interception return or what have you. Granted, some of the plays have resulted in memorable moments that I might just pass along the way.
Coming in at number five is the hail mary pass. It’s a play we see more often than we think, maybe a couple of times per week, and always results in a standstill from everyone in the crowd. It’s a fairly simple play to run and defend. All the wide receivers run to the end zone, most of the defensive players are already near the end zone. Depending on the part of the field the offense is on, the ball may have to travel up to 70 yards in the air to go that far.
Overshot hail mary plays do occur, but when that ball heads for the end zone and drops down between a handful of offensive and defensive players, time seems to stop. Fans wait and wait for the ball to get caught, get intercepted or hit the ground. Of course, in 2012, the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks may have had the most memorable hail mary in history simply known as the “Fail Mary.”
Then Seahawk wide receiver Golden Tate and Packer defensive back M.D. Jennings went up for the ball with both players coming down with it, the tie resulting for the offensive player in this case. However, the controversy arose with a missed offensive pass interference call on Tate which enabled him to be apart of the infamous play. Easily one of the most memorable hail mary plays in history, and I’ve probably upset all the Packers fans now.
Number four on my list is the read option, which I’ve mentioned before. Now, I’m not a football expert by any means, nor have I ever been an offensive coordinator on any level, but I’ve played enough of the old NCAA Football video games to have a good understanding of the read option. It’s another simple play that can result in something big time. The quarterback reads a defensive end, linebacker or a DB on the play. If his read reacts to the running back, the quarterback keeps the ball and takes off.
Should the defender stay at home, the quarterback gives the ball to his running back. It’s a split second decision that makes it thrilling. It’s a question of your signal caller reading the play on the field that makes it exciting. When you couple it with a dynamic athlete like Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, the play becomes more dangers. If a team’s quarterback is an athlete like that, the signal caller can take off for a touchdown in a blink of an eye.
The play is almost common place for a majority of college football offenses and some high schools anymore. Just a fun one.
In third place is the onside kick. It’s fairly simple. The ball has to travel 10 yards before the kicking team can touch it to recover. Everyone’s probably seen it when a team is trying to come back in the fourth quarter to add extra possessions to the game. It takes a good kicker and good special teams for the play to execute perfectly.
I think the biggest one that stands out to me as an example was is from the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts Super Bowl game from about eight years ago, I think. The Saints used a surprise onside to shock the Colts to open the second half and use it to propel themselves to a Super Bowl victory.
Getting the silver medal is the interception return. I love this play when it happens. Some of the most exciting plays in football come off an interception return. The defense suddenly turns to offense and has to remember how to block without getting a flag thrown on them. The player who picked off the pass attempts to take it to the house. Just a great play.
And, as a natural rule of football, the big defensive tackle interception return is the best kind of interception return, more so if they return it for a touchdown. I’m a big guy so seeing that big 345 DT pick off a pass and take off to the end zone gets me on my feet and hollering at him to take it all the way.
We’ve now come to this. My favorite play in football is very rare. It might happen once or twice in a season, if that, but always results in some excitement. My favorite play to see is the field goal return. Sometimes kickers or coaches misjudge how far they can kick, and the defense will sometimes send someone back to catch the field goal if it comes up short in the field of play. Then, you have that guy with a lot of room and blocks set up to return the ball.
The most famous example of recent memory I could think of is the Auburn/Alabama game a few years back when Auburn returned the field goal with no time left. That one play helped to get them to the National Championship game that season. I also remember the one in the NFL where the player went 109 yards off of the field goal return.
Such an amazing play. All of these plays are just heart stoppers, I think. Anything can happen on any play but with these five, the unpredictable is the best.