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Friday the 13th: The 13 unluckiest plays of 2013

  • By Alex Gelhar NFL.com
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It's Friday the 13th, that magical day where friends gather together to watch classic horror movies, and superstitious folk do everything in their power to avoid black cats, ladders, cracks in the road and any number of other things.  I thought it'd be fitting to honor this traditionally unlucky day by compiling a list of 13 of the unluckiest plays so far in 2013. Of course, 13 is far too small of a number to include all of the misfortune to befall our 32 franchises, so send your favorite unlucky plays to @AlexGelhar to keep the discussion going. I promise to not put a curse on you if you if you disagree with my very official list.

Antonio Brown's almost miracle

Perhaps it was sideline karma for another play on this list, but the expression "football is a game of inches" was painfully true for the unlucky Steelers fans who had to watch their season-saving, miracle touchdown be called back because Antonio Brown's pinky toe hit the sideline. As you can see in the video above, it's particularly unlucky because Brown has all kinds of space around him, and if he makes that run down the sideline 100 times, he probably only steps out once or twice.

Vernon Davis suffering the unluckiest tackle in the NFL

Every man in America cringed simultaneously while watching 49ers tight end Vernon Davis get pulled down to the ground by his, well, just watch the video to the right. If you dare. Davis has received countless big hits over the course of his career, but I'm guessing this one stung a little longer than most of the others.

Mike Tomlin's Thanksgiving sideline tackle attempt

At this point, I'm sure you've seen this play 6,342,557 times, but if not, check it out here. This play was not only unlucky for Tomlin's bank account, but it could potentially end up costing the Steelers a draft pick. If he did actually just lose track of where he was on the field, that's pretty unlucky. And if not, well, I doubt he foresaw that as the punishment, so it's still pretty unlucky.

The Falcons kick a pick six against the Packers

Even though this play didn't ultimately sway the final decision in the game, it was a freak occurence and super unlucky for the Packers, who were moving the ball well and should have at least had a field goal attempt to end the half. Instead, Matt Flynn's pass was tipped, and then kicked, into the hands of Sean Weatherspoon, who took it 71 yards to the house.

Donte Whitner's tip drill interception

This play was particularly unlucky for Sam Bradford and the Rams. Early on in their Week 4 game against the 49ers, the Rams were down 7-3 and moving the ball when Bradford took a deep shot for his tight end Jared Cook. The pass was tipped by Tramaine Brock ... right into the hands of Donte Whitner. After the interception, the 49ers took control of the game and never let up. Had the Rams been able to score and keep momentum, who knows what could have happened to their season.

Wrong place, wrong time for Tony Carter

Most NFL fans hadn't heard of Tony Carter prior to the overtime thriller between the Broncos and Patriots. Well, after Carter's gaffe set the Patriots up for the game-winning field goal, the whole world knew who he was. It's really unfortunate for Carter, because Welker admitted he needed to make his call sooner to ward off Carter and the rest of his teammates.

Brandon Weeden throws the ugliest interception of 2013

I wanted to include this play, because it points out how unlucky Browns fans are that a) Brian Hoyer was injured in Week 5 and b) Brandon Weeden is their backup. Our Around the League writer Dan Hanzus said it best: "It's an interception with the rare ability to appear worse with each subsequent viewing. Impressive."

Matt Schaub sets the record for consecutive games throwing a "Matt Schaub"

Earlier in the season, Matt Schaub had a knack for throwing game-destroying pick sixes (also known as "Matt Schaubs") for the Texans. He threw one in three straight games prior to this beauty against the 49ers. This fourth pick six in four games was not only an NFL record for poor quarterbacking, but it was the end of Schaub as the starting quarterback of the Texans. Talk about a series of unfortunate events.

Patriots get burned on goofy new rule

Unless you're a bitter Patriots fan, you've likely forgotten this play that allowed the Jets to get a do-over on their overtime field goal attempt. The Patriots committed an unnecessary roughness penalty that left players scratching their heads on the sideline. Basically, it's a new rule for player safety that prevents defensive players from pushing their teammates into the line of scrimmage on field goal attempts. Unfortunately for the Pats it cost them the game. Speaking of game-changing penalties ...

Baffling pass interference call saves Patriots against Browns

Last week's game between the Browns and Patriots had the makings of an epic upset. The Patriots have only lost eight times in December since 2000, and yet there they were, at home, losing by two scores to the Browns. Even with Tom Brady under center, the Pats needed a miracle. And they got it. Late in the fourth quarter, Brady heaved up a pass for Josh Boyce who was covered well by Leon McFadden. So well-covered, in fact, that the refs threw a flag for pass interference. Unlucky day for the Browns, as the Patriots scored twice in the final 61 seconds after that penalty to get the comeback win. But, hey, at least the Browns can get a higher draft pick now, right?

Will Blackmon strips away the Jaguars chance for the No. 1 pick

The winless Jaguars were clinging to a 22-20 lead over the Titans, when Will Blackmon stripped the ball from Ryan Fitzpatrick and returned it for a touchdown, sealing the Jaguars first win of the season. It was a great moment for the team and their fans ... except that it helped spur the team on a streak where it won three of its next four games, including two over the hapless Texans, effectively spoiling any chance of the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. That's an unlucky turn of events for a franchise in need of more talent. It was also unlucky for the Titans, who were still in the mix of the AFC playoff race  before suffering an embarrassing loss the Jags.

Trent Richardson is traded to the Colts

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OK, so maybe this wasn't a play on the field, but it certainly was an unlucky move by the Colts. They traded away a first round pick in 2014 for Richardson, who has been a non-factor for them this season. He's averaged 2.86 yards per carry as a Colt and has scored just two touchdowns. The team surely thought they were getting a more immediate return on their investment, otherwise they wouldn't have sacrificed a first round pick. For that, the Richardson trade makes my list of the unluckiest plays of 2013. Michael Lombardi and the Browns' front office will be laughing all the way until the first round commences in Radio City Music Hall next May.

Scott Chandler fumbles away the Bills' playoff hopes

Coming out of their bye week, the Bills were 4-7 with an outside chance at ending their 13-year playoff drought. First, they needed to beat the struggling Falcons in Toronto. Things seemed to be going the Bills' way, as they won the toss and received the opening kickoff in overtime. Scott Chandler reeled in a 22-yard pass from EJ Manuel ... only to promptly fumble the ball and turn it over to the Falcons. Since the Bills already had a possession, the Falcons were able to kick a game-winning field goal rather than try for the endzone. The Bills bad luck continued as they fell to 4-8 and virtually out of contention for the last spot in the AFC plyoffs. They'll have to wait until next year to try and end their now 14-year playoff drought, the longest active streak in the NFL.

Honorable mentions: A.J. Green's hail mary versus the Ravens, the first down mix up for the Redskins against the Giants, Patriots-Panthers non-pass intereference call in the endzone.

- Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar

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