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NFL Week 7 overreactions: Kyler Murray and Cardinals have arrived
SportsPulse: The Kliff and Klyer experiment got their first signature victory against Seattle in an instant classic. Mackenzie Salmon overreact to the biggest storylines from Week 7 in the NFL.
The Seattle Seahawks lost their game Sunday night against the Arizona Cardinals in overtime. But if not for one of the all-time effort plays that had the Internet buzzing, it arguably would’ve been much more challenging for Seattle to fend off the Cardinals.
After Arizona safety Budda Baker intercepted a Russell Wilson pass near the goal line and returned it 90 yards, Seattle receiver DK Metcalf tracked Baker down to spoil what would’ve been a sure pick-six.
According to the NFL, Metcalf traveled 114.8 yards and reached a max speed of 22.64 miles per hour in his pursuit.
More importantly, after the Seattle defense stuffed Arizona on the subsequent possession in a goal-line stand, the Metcalf effort play saved at least six points.
As remarkable as Metcalf’s play was, however, it wasn’t the most significant. Here’s a look at other notable all-time effort plays in NFL history.
Don Beebe chases down Leon Lett
No list is complete without this play, arguably the most iconic hustle play in the modern era. The stage it was on — Super Bowl XXVII — only adds to the mythic lore surrounding this play.
But consider this: It happened with 4:56 left to play in the game, on a 4th-and-5, when the Buffalo Bills were already losing to the Dallas Cowboys 52-17. The Cowboys had already scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The game was all but over.
Then Bills quarterback Frank Reich was sacked and fumbled. Cowboys defensive tackle Leon Lett recovered the ball and returned it 64 yards, before he started showboating on his way to the end zone. Bills receiver Don Beebe, even with the game decided, sprinted to catch Lett and force the fumble into the end zone, preventing a touchdown. In the video, Beebe first appears in the screen with almost 10 yards to make up.
That play is why, even though the Bills got pasted, Beebe is still a folk hero in Buffalo.
Big Ben saves the Steelers
In the 2006 divisional round, the Pittsburgh Steelers were two yards away from clinching a trip to the AFC Championship Game. They held a three-point lead against the Indianapolis Colts with 1:20 left to play in the game.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger handed the ball of to running back Jerome Bettis, an eventual Hall of Famer who hadn’t fumbled the ball all season long. Colts linebacker Gary Brackett lunged at Bettis and popped the ball out. Colts cornerback Nick Harper scooped it up and appeared set to take it the length of the field and into to the end zone. Given the time that was left in the game, it almost surely would’ve led to a Pittsburgh defeat.
But Roethlisberger, as soon as he saw the ball pop loose, started to run backwards to get in a position to halt Harper, who tried multiple times to turn Roethlisberger around. In the end, Roethlisberger managed to latch onto Harper’s leg and tripped him up at the Indianapolis 42-yard line.
Four plays later, the Colts marched into field goal range, where kicker Mike Vanderjagt missed what would’ve been the game-tying, 46-yard attempt.
The tackle not only helped preserve the Pittsburgh victory, it allowed the team to continue its march onto a victory in Super Bowl XL against the Seattle Seahawks.
Watson comes out of nowehere
This didn’t even save a touchdown from being scored. And interestingly, came in the same round of the playoffs, the day before Roethlisberger’s tackle.
But one play from a 27-13 loss in the divisional round of a 2006 playoff game against the Denver Broncos embodied the exact type of culture and hustle plays the New England Patriots had strived to implement.
Facing a 10-6 deficit late in the third quarter, quarterback Tom Brady rolled to the right and lofted a pass intended for receiver Troy Brown. Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey stepped in front of the route and easily plucked the pass out of the air, one yard into the end zone. Bailey had nothing but grass in front of him.
It didn’t matter that Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson was on the other side of the field when the interception happened. He slashed across the field in a diagonal and caught up to Bailey, forcing a fumble. It was ruled that the ball went out of bounds at the New England one-yard line. The Patriots challenged that call, but it was upheld and Broncos running back Mike Anderson ran the ball in for a one-yard score.
What makes this play so impressive is just the sheer amount of ground that Watson had to cover in order to make the tackle. And since the stakes were so high, in a tight game in the playoffs, Watson’s effort almost nearly changed the course of the game.
This list wouldn’t be complete with one of the most iconic rushes in NFL playoff history.
With 3:22 left in a wild card round game against the New Orleans Saints, the Seahawks held a four-point lead. Then, running back Marshawn Lynch went off and posted the signature rush of his career, rattling through several broken tackles on the way to a 67-yard touchdown.
It forever became known as the BeastQuake, helped clinch the victory and made him a fan favorite.
This play doesn’t get much recognition, but it also involves the Cowboys.
It came in Week 16 of the 1994 season, with Dallas hosting the Saints. And what makes it most remarkable is the sheer athleticism and speed showcased by someone you wouldn’t expect to have so much of it.
Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman had a pass tipped at the line of scrimmage that New Orleans linebacker Darion Conner intercepted. He raced down the left sideline, looking to score before offensive guard Larry Allen, a rookie who was listed at 6-foot-3 and 335 pounds, chased down Conner and brought him down.
Aikman was also in position where he could’ve made a tackle, but Allen was the one to bring Conner down at the Dallas 15-yard line.
The Saints eventually had to settle for a field goal, meaning that Allen’s tackle potentially saved at least three points. The Cowboys would go on to win the game, 24-16.
“They’ve got him in the end zone”
This came in the third quarter of what ended up being a blowout loss against the eventual AFC Champion New England Patriots. And it went for only two yards.
But at the time, the Cowboys faced a four-point deficit when quarterback Tony Romo handed the ball off to running back Marion Barber. Immediately, several Patriots sliced through the line of scrimmage, but Barber bounced off would-be tacklers and avoided a safety, eventually gaining two yards.
What makes this play stand out are some of the historic names Barber evaded. Rodney Harrison, Junior Seau, Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork, Asante Samuel all had their shot to bring Barber down.
In all, five different Patriot defenders got their hands on Barber while he was in Dallas’ own end zone.
” ‘Sup, boy?”
This is a personal favorite and didn’t really do much to alter the course of the game. In fact, it’s unclear exactly when this clip is from.
But it embodies exactly the energy and effort that Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed brought on every snap.
In the play, Reed, then playing for the Baltimore Ravens, lines up on the right side of the punt defense against the Indianapolis Colts. As he tries to penetrate to get the block, the mic’ed up Reed complains to the official that there was a facemask against him. Punter Hunter Smith gets the kick off and Reed takes a second to gather himself.
Then he races down the field in a full sprint, before delivering a crushing block against a Colt player. After the play is over, Reed walks to the sideline and simply says: ” ‘Sup, boy?”