As the research analyst for NFL Network's NFL RedZone, Elliot Harrison watched all 267 games in the 2010 season. We asked him to rank the 20 most memorable.
When I was asked to rank the top 20 games of 2010 by my editor, Andy Fenelon, the conversation went something like this:
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Me: "You want me to rank the 20 best games I saw, right?"
Andy: "Yes, the 20 best games of the season."
Me: "Ok, but Colts at Jags might have been the coolest game I saw all season."
Andy: "Then that should be number one."
Me: "But I'll get killed by our readers for that choice."
Andy: "Yeah, we'll get killed."
This fight for positioning in the AFC South was about as good of a game as you can get, with all the ingredients of what makes pro football so fun. It featured a great late-game drive complete with a fourth-and-10 conversion, an underdog taking down the big dog, nine lead changes or ties, and a kicker who declared war on the best team in his division.
Affecting my view of this game was the fact that only bad news seemed to surround the Jaguars at that point in 2010. Empty seats, rumors of moving to Los Angeles and back-to-back 25-point losses made this franchise desperate for something good to happen.
If you took a poll of the one team that the man on the street would be the least sad to see move, it's the Jaguars. Yet, the people who work, coach and play for the organization seem to have much in the way of pride. I'm not from Jacksonville, nor have I even been there, but I respect the hell out of that. And here the Jags were, punching the gorilla in the mouth.
Trailing 28-21 late in the fourth quarter, that gorilla slugged back. Peyton Manning hit Reggie Wayne -- who went off in this game -- for 42 yards on a great catch-and-throw. Prior to that big-time play, Manning and Dallas Clark hooked up to convert on a fourth-and-10. The Colts' signature frantic offense did what it seemingly always does: get in the end zone.
On stage, I said, "look how far the goal post is from this angle." I didn't really care if Hanson's mike was open and all of you Red Zone viewers probably accidentally heard my comment. For that moment, we were all just fans. When the ball split the uprights 59 yards later, we still were.
Play of the game
How about the eighth-longest field goal in NFL history, to win the game no less? Oh, and it came against the bully of their division.
Same ol' situation
Manning-to-anyone is generally the most effective passing combo on the field at any given time. Or, at least it seems that way. But then you remember just how good of a ballplayer Wayne is.
Much like No. 14 in our Top 20 Games of 2010, Wayne carved up the back four of the defense, hauling in 15 catches for a ridiculous 196 yards. On the 42-yard play to the right, Jags corner David Jones got caught looking into the backfield a little too long.
To quote Dick Enberg, "Oh my."
Why is this game No. 2 of 2010?
Like any top-whatever list, this particular series is imperfect. Yet, when I reflected on the season, my thoughts often drifted back to this game. Maybe it's because so many fans consider any contest that doesn't include the Patriots, Cowboys, Jets, Steelers, or Packers to be routine. Or, maybe the Jaguars getting a clutch win at home doesn't exactly wet the football pallet.
So consider this a vote for the ultimate underdog, who won a big game as the underdog. If the way this game ended -- with an impossibly long and clutch kick -- stuck with me months after the fact, then it probably belongs right where it sits.