“Everything perfect of its kind must transcend its kind: it must become something other, something incomparable.”
“Certain shortcomings are essential for the individual’s existence.”
–Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Elective Affinities
It was a thrilling moment on Sunday, when those underdog Indianapolis Colts were able to hang on and defeat the NFL’s decade-long behemoth, the Kansas City Chiefs, to finally end yet another run at perfection.
The Colts did beat the Chiefs, but that’s about the only aspect of that sentence that’s accurate — unless you find field-goal kicking especially thrilling. And now, just five weeks into the NFL season, there are no unbeaten teams left.
Kinda sad, right? A potential season-long storyline gone, right? A chance at historical transcendence done with, right?
Well, sort of wrong.
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Opposite the NBA and MLB, the NFL had an amazing decade. Whereas those sports combined to produce three Game 7s in 20 championship series, the NFL saw five Super Bowls come down to the final two minutes. It avoided major scandals while providing us with a likable upstart turned detestable villain, one of the best rivalries the sport has ever seen, featuring two historically transcendent players at the game’s most important position. Oh, and it cleaned up its logo.
It might even be the Golden Age of the NFL.
As for my list, you’ll notice that the common theme uniting all 10 games is fourth-quarter drama. And not like, one-team-drives-for-one-late-TD-to-win drama, but back-and-forth-for-all-15-minutes-with-multiple-scores drama. And even having that high standard and far fewer games to choose from than in the other sports, I had to make some tough cuts. The final ones included the Steelers’ comeback win over the Browns on Wild Card Weekend in 2002 (the same day as a game that made our countdown), the Steelers’ upset of the Colts in the 2005 Divisional Playoffs, and the Colts’ incredible fourth-quarter comeback on Monday Night against the Buccaneers in 2003.
On the other end of the spectrum, the worst game of the decade was Super Bowl XXXVII, the Buccaneers’ 48-21 romp over the Raiders. If you don’t know why, you’re a Bucs’ fan.
10. 2000 Regular Season: New York Jets 40, Miami Dolphins 37 (OT)
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