Sunday, November 14, 2010

Play of the year: Jags win on a repelled, last-second Hail Mary

The NFL has its play of the year.

With two seconds left and the score tied in its game with the Houston Texans, the hometown Jacksonville Jaguars tried a last-ditch prayer. Quarterback David Garrard(notes) dropped back in the pocket, shunned the rush, stepped up and heaved the ball 50 yards into the end zone.

Defensive players are trained to knock the ball down on any long pass into the end zone, the theory being that the quicker the football gets to the ground, the lesser chance the receiving team comes up with it. Texans cynical back Glover Quin(notes) seemed to have that in mind when he swatted the ball, except instead of sending it straight to the ground like he was supposed to, he pushed it directly into the waiting hands of Jacksonville's Mike Thomas(notes).

Gus Johnson of CBS was the play-by-play guy during the game and he's exactly the guy you want in the booth for a repelled, last-second, game-winning Hail Mary. On a play like that, it's impossible to repeat the euphoria going on inside the stadium across television airwaves.

Johnson comes as close to doing so as anyone though. His excitement was flagrant. (My favorite part of his call was his "ha-HA!" at the 29-second mark. One second later, you can hear a small sound that sounds a lot like a single clap. In my head, that sound is Gus Johnson eagerly high-fiving his partner, Steve Tasker.)

It was the most unlikely ending on a day filled with fantastic finishes. It will likely clutch up as the greatest play during a memorable NFL season.