The Luckiest Plays In Sports History

Roger Federer
Roger Federer

They say it’s better to be lucky than good, and this list pretty much confirms that. These are the luckiest plays in professional sports, and it’s no coincidence that many of them are among the most memorable moments in history.

Instead of ripping your hair out or getting upset over a lucky play, it should be embraced for what it is, knowing that it wasn’t necessarily skilled that broke your team’s back, but just a bad bounce or a small inch.

 

Here Are The Luckiest Plays In Sports History

 

10.Roger Federer’s through-the-legs shot

Roger Federer
Roger Federer

Roger Federer is one of the all-time greats of tennis, so when he calls a shot “the greatest [he] ever hit in his life,” we believe it. The Toronto Star reports that Federer pulled off the ultimate “tweener”—a between-the-legs, back-to-the-net, baseline cross-court winner —against Novak Djokovic at the 2009 U.S. Open semifinals.

The stunning shot set up match point, and what made it lucky was that Federer admitted he had practiced the shot a lot, but never pulled it off until then. He’s since successfully hit more “tweeners” in his career, but that first one was special.

 

9.The Jeffrey Maier home run

Jeffrey Maier
Jeffrey Maier

“The Evil Empire” always seems to get the lucky breaks. Case in point: Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS. MLB.com notes that in the eighth inning, Derek Jeter hit a deep fly ball to right field, and after Orioles outfielder,

Tony Tarasco got under it, 12-year-old Yankees fan Jeffrey Maier reached out over the wall and deflected the ball into the stands. The umpire called it a home run, despite replays that clearly showed fan interference, and New York went on to win the game, the series, and later the World Series. Would they have done it without help from the kid? We’ll never know.

 

8.The Hand of God

The Hand of God
The Hand of God

It’s perhaps a bit of an exaggeration to say that Diego Maradona’s place in sports history came because he got lucky, but it’s not entirely untrue. The Guardian reports that during the wild 1986 World Cup quarterfinal between England and Argentina,

Maradona used his left fist to knock the ball past England keeper Peter Shilton and into the net. Maradona quickly checked to see if the referee had noticed, and when the goal was confirmed, he celebrated, to the dismay of English fans and anyone who saw the replay.

 

7.NC State beats Houston on an airball-turned-dunk

NC State beats Houston
NC State beats Houston

It was an airball that turned into one of the greatest “passes” in college basketball history. As noted by the Houston Chronicle, North Carolina State’s Dereck Whittenburg heaved up a prayer against Houston in the dying seconds of the 1983 national championship game.

It was answered, but not in the way he thought: the shot from nearly 10 metres away (30-plus feet) fell short, but Lorenzo Charles was there for the dunk and the game-winner with two seconds left. Surely, 99 times out of 100 that play ends with a simple missed shot, but Charles was in the right place at the right time.

 

6.The Play (Cal vs. Stanford, 1982)

Cal vs. Stanford, 1982
Cal vs. Stanford, 1982

Everything about this college football play was straight out of a Hollywood movie. Quartz notes that the 85th meeting between rivals Stanford and the University of California Berkeley in 1982 ended on a wild kickoff return for a touchdown,

featuring five Cal laterals and the Stanford marching band stumbling onto the field before the game was over, culminating in Cal’s Kevin Moen spiking the ball on a trombone player’s head. Nothing about it made any sense, but it happened.

 

5.The Immaculate Reception

The Immaculate Reception
The Immaculate Reception

With a name like that, one has to believe divine intervention occurred during this play. CNN reports that Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris hauled in a deflected pass and ran for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter of the 1972 AFC divisional playoff game against the Raiders.

The debate around this play has lasted nearly 50 years: did another Steeler touch the ball on the pass? Was Harris the beneficiary of an illegal block? Did the ball touch the ground? Whatever you believe, there’s no denying that Harris got supremely lucky.

 

4.Mark Buehrle’s between-the-legs glove flip

Mark Buehrle’s
Mark Buehrle’s

Mark Buehrle was known for being a great fielding pitcher, but this play in 2010 was simply unbelievable. NPR reports that the White Sox southpaw knocked down a Lou Marson comebacker with his left leg, ran to retrieve the ball and somehow flipped it with his glove between his legs to first baseman Paul Konerko,

who caught it with his bare hand for the out. Buehrle’s remarkably lucky play occurred on Opening Day, which only added to the wackiness, and pretty much ensured he’d receive another Gold Glove after just one game.

 

3.David Tyree’s “helmet catch” in Super Bowl XLII

David Tyree’s
David Tyree’s

It’s quite possibly the most memorable catch in NFL history, and it’s certainly one of the luckiest. As noted by the New York Daily News, with about a minute left in Super Bowl XLII, Tyree caught a pass from Eli Manning by using one hand and pinning the ball against his helmet,

making a 32-yard catch on third down, the pivotal play in the Giants’ massive upset of the New England Patriots. What made it extra lucky was that Manning managed to avoid getting sacked before heaving the ball to Tyree. A few receivers have come close, but Tyree’s is helmet and shoulder pads above the rest.

 

2.Tim Howard’s improbable goal

Tim Howard’s
Tim Howard’s

When a goalkeeper scores a goal in soccer, and it wasn’t a penalty kick, you know luck played a big role in it.

That was the case for Everton keeper Tim Howard in 2012: BBC notes that his long clearance bounced and caught the wind, blowing past Bolton’s Adam Bogdan and into the net for an improbable goal. It was just the fourth time a goalkeeper had scored in the Premier League.

 

1.The Music City Miracle

Whenever laterals are involved in a football play, a lot has to go right, and the Tennessee Titans got every last bit of luck to make the Music City Miracle happen in the 2000 AFC Wild Card playoff game. ESPN reports that the “home run throwback” play call worked to perfection,

as fullback Lorenzo Neal fielded the Bills kick, lateralled back to tight end Frank Wycheck, who found the wide receiver, Kevin Dyson, across the field, and he got the blocks he needed to score the game-winning touchdown. Tennessee eventually made it all the way to the Super Bowl, but even if the Titans’ luck ran out in that game against the Rams, they’ll always have this play.

 

 

Source: | Espresso