Now that the NFL playoffs are completely over, we can take a look at some of the very best plays of all the games. There were only good teams in the playoffs with good players, so there was no shortage of great plays to choose from. Here are the top 10 plays of the NFL playoffs, along with some honorable mentions (apologies for some videos with bad quality, I tried to find the best videos of the plays possible):
13. Tom Brady vs. Ravens
12. Lawrence Tynes vs. 49ers
11. Chase Blackburn vs. Patriots
10. JJ Watt vs. Bengals
A huge turning point in this game, JJ Watt’s super-quick-reflex interception return set the tone for the rest of the game. The Bengals didn’t score again, probably because Andy Dalton was so dumbfounded after such a crazy pick.
9. Hakeem Nicks vs. Falcons
Just one game after Victor Cruz had two breakaway TD interceptions (vs. Jets, Cowboys) Hakeem Nicks shows off one of his own. Everyone raves about his hands, but Nicks shows how fast he can run as well, leaving four Atlanta defenders in his rear-view mirror.
8. Lee Evans vs. Texans
I didn’t actually see this play live like the others, but boy do I wish I had. Lee Evans didn’t have a great season, to say the least, but this catch showed that he still has some greatness left in him. Unbelievable concentration. Too bad he would make up for it later…
7. Alex Smith vs. Saints
The game is on the line and you need a score quick against a bad pass defense, so you call a…. QB bootleg? I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Smith score. It just goes to show that with good blocking, anything is possible.
6. Jimmy Graham vs. 49ers
Jimmy Graham’s dominance this season was astonishing. Once a forward in basketball, Graham found his calling as a tight end and proved it with a clutch catch and run. He made it look easy.
5. Rob Gronkowski vs. Broncos
I wasn’t so sure this was a catch at first glance and I still am not so sure. But it was called a TD by the refs and what the refs say goes. Not only can Gronk catch footballs up top, but he can lay out and tip them to himself! Impressive.
4. Vernon Davis vs. Saints
Nicknamed “The Catch III,” this play was a thing of beauty. A perfect throw and catch at the goal line to knock off the mighty Saints will go down as one of the most clutch plays in playoff history.
3. Hakeem Nicks vs. Packers
The Giants showed they could keep up with the Packers back in the regular season and then they embarrassed them in the playoffs. And I can’t help but think it had something to do with a this stunning hail mary grab to end the half. The odds of this play ending in a TD were crazy-low. Instead of 13-10 at halftime, it was 20-10. It’s hard to stop a team going into the half with that kind of momentum.
2. Tim Tebow vs. Steelers
“He can’t do this, he can’t do that.” The future may still be a bit hazy for Tim Tebow, but the expectations he shattered this season cannot be ignored. Not only did he send a 1-4 team to the playoffs, but he knocked off an AFC Championship-favorite Pittsburgh Steelers when all odds were against him. And the play he did it on will be forever etched in NFL playoff lore.
1. Mario Manningham vs. Patriots
I thought the Tim Tebow play was a shoo-in for #1, but then I watched a little game we call the Super Bowl. This play combines all the great elements of the plays before it; the concentration of Gronkowski and Evans, the great hands of Nicks, the game-changing value of JJ Watt, and the “clutchness” of Davis and Tebow. It was in the big game! It was synonymous to David Tyree’s miracle catch in 2007, and any catch compared to Tyree’s has to be great. Correction: amazing. No second thoughts about this one.