Taylor McCloud — Pats Militia
(Check out the best plays from the first half of the season here.)
I didn’t think putting together a list of the ten best plays from the second half of the season would hurt so bad, but let me tell you, it did
“Why’d it hurt, Taylor? You got to re-live all of these great moments from the season!”
Sure, but this list means that football season is over and that makes me sad. This weekend will be the first weekend I haven’t watched football since August and honestly, I’m not looking forward to it. It’s gotten so bad that I randomly signed up for some six hour bus trip to Pittsburgh because I don’t have anything better do to. But that’s enough about my plans and feelings. Neither of those things matter and you came here for plays.
(Disclaimer: I made this list. I, me, Taylor made the list. Not anyone else. These are the the plays I think were the best from the season. Honestly, the season didn’t have many of those “huge” plays. There weren’t a ton of Vine-worthy moments. The Patriots were a tough, fundamentally sound team and beat other teams doing exactly what they needed to do. If you have other ideas, tweet them to me @tdmcld)
10) Week 10: Martellus Bennett Stiff Arms Earl Thomas Straight To The Earth’s Core
We’re gonna start this off with an underrated play.
The good majority of you probably don’t remember this play and honestly, I didn’t either. But, a couple of weeks ago, I got in a Twitter fight with some Falcons fan and was running through old highlights looking for joke material and found this:
The Patriots lost this game, and that sucked, but Marty took Earl Thomas by his chest and spiked him like Gronk would a football. I don’t know about you, but stuff like this gets me JACKED UP. Seriously, I love it so much.
9) Week 16: Tom Brady Scrambles Against The Jets
I wrote yesterday about how Tom Brady is still climbing the mountain. I said he’s playing better than he ever has and there’s a chance he gets better. However, another thing I said is that Brady has reached his peak agility-wise, and that’s absolutely true. This year, more than any other, TB was able to move inside, and outside of the pocket. He started evading pressure more, he started extending plays, he started making plays with his feet. Is he now a scrambling quarterback? No, that’s a preposterous thought, even though this play could have made me think otherwise.
This is beautiful.
— NFL (@NFL) December 24, 2016
Tom "Sweet Feet" Brady doing Tom Brady things. He's 39, folks. pic.twitter.com/cSHwel6dLo
— Tom Freakin' Brady (@NEPatsFanInCA) December 24, 2016
I never thought I’d see Tom Brady pulling off some Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M-esque plays, but hey, there’s a first time for everything, and this first time was fucking awesome.
8) Week 14: Chris Hogan 79YD TD vs. Baltimore
I’ll be honest, with the exception of the first half of Super Bowl LI, the lowest point of the season was one sequence in the middle of the Ravens game. Cyrus Jones dropped a punt, the Ravens scored. Matt Slater fumbled a kick off, the Ravens scored. Then, the Ravens scored again and nearly erased a huge New England lead. Admittedly, I didn’t feel great about that. Luckily though, my man Tommy Brady knew exactly what I needed and came through big time.
— FanDuel (@FanDuel) December 13, 2016
And that prompted this GIF, which, I’ll admit is probably the only reason this play landed on this list.
7) Week 11: Tom Brady Threads The Needle To Malcolm Mitchell For His First Career TD
In the Divisional Round of the playoffs, Aaron Rodgers made that sideline throw to Jared Cook and the internet exploded. When Tom Brady made this throw in Week 11, my brain did the same.
— NFL Canada (@NFLCanada) November 21, 2016
You can’t see how nasty the throw is from that angle, but if you look juuuust a little bit closer, you’ll be able to. Here, let me help —
— Cloud Nine Sports (@cloudninesports) February 10, 2017
TB climbed the pocked, located Mitchell and threw the ball so hard the defensive back didn’t even know the ball was there. Crazy, crazy play. Probably lost in the mix for most of you, but definitely crazy.
6) AFC Championship Game: Chris Hogan Flea Flicker
TRICK PLAY ALERT!
— Chat Sports (@ChatSports) January 23, 2017
If the AFC Title game had been a better, closer game, this play would have been ranked much higher. However, it wasn’t; the Patriots strangled the Steelers from the opening kickoff to the final whistle and as a result, this flea flicker touchdown to Chris Hogan lands at #6 on the list.
5) AFC Divisional Game: Dion Lewis Kick Return TD
James White, my youngest son, had an incredible Super Bowl. He caught fourteen balls, had 11o receiving yards, and scored three touchdowns. But, just three weeks before he did it, Dion Lewis had a three touchdown game of his own, and this score right here was the best.
DION LEWIS ALL THE WAY pic.twitter.com/sRVXg5fGlP
— Patriots Junkies (@PatriotsJunkies) January 15, 2017
Ole number fifty-two from Houston thought he had Dion tracked down, but he was not right and in fact wrong.
4) Super Bowl LI: Dont’a Hightower Strip Sack
Dont'a Hightower is a mf beast!! pic.twitter.com/nHMUN2FA80
— #PayZEUS (@fearthe_beard11) February 7, 2017
“TAYLOR YOU HAD THE HIGHTOWER STRIP SACK AT NUMBER FOUR?!”
Yeah, I did.
This is about the best plays from the season, not the most impactful. If this was a ‘most impactful plays of the season’ list, then this Hightower strip sack would have been number one.
That being said, it’s already at number four and that’s pretty good. Hightower, coming off the edge, dispatched Devonta Freeman like Taylor Swift does boyfriends, smacked Matt Ryan and knocked the ball lose. It was a real thing of beauty, just like that Rihanna gif up there.
3) Week 17: Julian Edelman 77 YD TD
Based on the highlight title, you’d think this play was just a long touchdown catch. And, on the surface, it was.
But we all know that wasn’t the best thing that happened in this play because the best thing that happened in this play was a murder.
To me, this was one of the only Vine-worthy moments of the season. That hit was so damn hard and I watched this video just about a million times. Michael Floyd killed Tony Lippett and it was incredible. You might not agree with it being ranked number three, but if you think back to how you reacted when it happened, you’ll find that this is exactly where it should be.
2) Super Bowl LI: Julian Edelman Catch
If you were pissed at me for putting the Hightower sack at number four, you’re going to be REALLY pissed at me for putting the Edelman catch at number two.
Actually, I’m kind of mad at myself for doing this.
— BigSport (@BigSportGB) February 6, 2017
— Cloud Nine Sports (@cloudninesports) February 10, 2017
I cannot comprehend how this ball, the one just inches above the ground, was caught by Julian Edelman. I’ve thought long and hard about this and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s the greatest catch I’ve ever seen. But, I still didn’t think it was the best play of the season. Though, I don’t think you’re going to be too mad at what I put at number one.
1) Super Bowl LI: James White Game Winning Touchdown
Just minutes ago, I wrote that this wasn’t a ‘most impactful play’ list. However, in that short time, I’ve realized in choosing my number one play, I weighed impact far more heavily than I intended to. But, you know what? I told you in the beginning that this is my list and that I made the decisions. If I wanted to put the Super Bowl winning play at number one, that’s what I was going to do. And, if I wanted to put it at number one partially because of my deep, deep love for James White, that’s what I was going to do, too. That’s just how it was, how it is, and how it’s going to be. So, without further ado, here’s the best play of the Patriots season.
MVP! MVP! MVP!
— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) February 6, 2017
Here's what the crowd sounded like after James White's game-winning touchdown. pic.twitter.com/ENr8aKJhfz
— Henry McKenna (@McKennAnalysis) February 6, 2017
James White, at the end of the best performance of his career, took a toss from Tom Brady, cut upfield, broke a tackle, and powered through another defender en route to the endzone. He stretched the ball across the goal line, scored a touchdown, and won the Super Bowl. It doesn’t, and probably can’t, get much better than that.