Given the times we live in, it takes a lot to get the entire country to gasp in unison, but that is exactly what happened at the 2017 Oscars. It’s one thing for there to be a stunning upset, but for a movie that was a 10 to 1 betting favorite to win the award to get through a couple of producers’ acceptance speeches and then to lose it with Grandpa Warren Beatty trying to save face in the middle of the debacle was just astonishing. So in honor of that, let’s take a look at the greatest “I can’t believe what I’m witnessing” moments in sports over the past 25 years.
Before you scroll down to the end wondering where New England over the Falcons or The Land over Golden State went, neither of those finishes left you wondering whether this was real life. Sorry also to Aaron Boone, but everybody knew the Red Sox were blowing that game. Were those games amazing? Sure. Unlikely? Absolutely. But did they make you sit there agape wondering if your television was playing a mean trick on you like the Sopranos fade to black ending? No.
These did, though…
No 7: 2012 Seattle Seahawks def. Green Bay Packers via Touchception
The play that ended the 2012 referee lockout. This was also the last time that Democrats and Republicans agreed on anything. We’re not kidding. Watch the clip. Paul Ryan and President Obama were in unison. That’s how crazy the ending to this game was. Cuba Gooding Jr. in Rat Race was a better referee.
No 6: Floyd Mayweather Jr. KO4 Victor Ortiz
If you watched this fight on PPV, as round four was coming to an end, you likely thought that you had just wasted another $60 to watch Floyd put on another defensive clinic. But then, Ortiz got Floyd into a corner, whiffed on a few wild punches, got frustrated, and landed a jumping head butt. Ortiz, apparently realizing that you’re not supposed to try jumping head butts, walked over to Floyd and kissed him. We’re still not to the “what just happened?” part. Referee Joe Cortez called timeout and took a point away from Ortiz. After Cortez called the fight back into action, Ortiz walked over to Floyd, seemingly to apologize again.
Floyd looked like he was acknowledging the apology, then threw a quick left that landed. Ortiz looked over to referee Cortez, confused about why he was hit, then Floyd landed a crushing right before anyone in the arena, including Ortiz, knew what had happened. People were gasping, including the late Emanuel Steward. Others were booing and looking around wondering what on earth had just happened. “Protect yourself at all times,” as uttered shortly thereafter by Jim Lampley, was the best way to sum it up.
No 5: 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals – Game 1 – Reggie Miller def. The New York Knicks
This one sequence basically spawned a 30 for 30. You haven’t seen anything like this since. More importantly, it led to one of the greatest quotes of all time from John Starks . . . “did this dude just did this?” In retrospect, we should have titled this column “Did This Dude Just Did This?”
No 4: 1999 British Open – Jean van de Velde def. Himself on 18
The ’99 British Open at Carnoustie culminated with Jean van de Velde teeing off on 18, up by three with his two closest competitors in the clubhouse. In other words, he needed a double bogey to win The Open. The 18th was a tough par four at 487 yards. Everyone in the world knew that you tee off with an iron in that scenario. Not van de Velde. But he lucked out and found safety.
The second shot began the “what are we watching?” portion of the program. Rather than lay up with a wedge, van de Velde decided to play for the green. He fanned one that ricocheted off the grandstands into the thick stuff. He could still have punched out and been fine, but why do that when you can go for Tin Cup glory? Into the creek and then it was rain and socks off time. “Van de Velde dropped into more trouble” described the scene perfectly. He eventually canned a putt for a triple bogey to get into the three-hole playoff, which he lost. Collapse complete, shocked crowd, playing partner, and all.
No 3: 2013 NBA Finals Game 6 – Miami Heat def. San Antonio Spurs 103-100 (OT)
The Spurs were up 3-2 in the series and up 94-89 in the fourth quarter of game six with 28.2 seconds left in Miami. They were already roping off the floor for the Spurs’ ceremony. Granted that this was in Miami so it’s not like we’re talking about diehard fans, but what seemed like half the stadium flooded the exits. You know what happened next. LeBron hit a 3. Kawhi went one for two from the line to put SAS up three and then Miami tied it up in miraculous style before going on to win in OT. Again, I know it’s Miami, but you know you have a “what just happened?” ending when the home team fans are trying to get back into the stadium they just voluntarily vacated in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
No 2: 2002 – LSU def. Kentucky 33-30
Underdog home team storms back to take the lead against defending national champion? Check.
Premature Gatorade shower for coach? Check.
Eight seconds left with the ball inside your own ten down by three? Check.
Premature fireworks? Check.
Premature fans storming the field? Check.
Hail Mary tip drill taking the air out of an entire football stadium? Check.
No 1: Patriots Beat the Seahawks on a Goal Line INT by Malcolm Butler
Brady and Co. had just taken the lead, coming back from down 10 in the fourth quarter. They left 2:02 on the clock and Seattle marched down the field. After an insane Jermaine Kearse catch left everyone feeling like this was the New York Giants and David Tyree 2.0, Marshawn Lynch had an effortless four-yard run down to the one. With 20 seconds left, it seemed like a Lynch 1-yard TD run was inevitable. The Pats couldn’t stop Marshawn Lynch. But this is Pete Carroll we’re talking about, and running it in from the one would be too simple. Malcolm Butler’s interception led to the destruction of more televisions than the ’94 Northridge earthquake and the GIF that just won’t die from Richard Sherman.