After reading Stanzo’s greatest games watched of his 20 years on Earth, I decided to think of a similar ranking. However, these apply only to my teams. As a Cowboys, Mets, Nets, and Rangers fan, I have never been fortunate enough to witness any of my teams win on the biggest stage. The Cowboys won their 3rd Super Bowl in 4 years just five months before I was born on July 9, 1996, and the Rangers won a Stanley Cup 2 years prior. Some (including myself) would say this curse is my fault, but hey, even the Cubs won eventually (it took them 108 years, I may not live until then, so that may not matter in my case). Most fans probably wouldn’t still have the passion to root after nearly 21 straight years of misery, but I’m a believer that the first title is going to be a special one and worth the wait (which is what I said when the Mets went down 3-1 to the Royals). However, I’ve still got years worth of incredible games and moments that I will always remember, even when I finally win (*knocks on wood*).
15. 2014 Week 12: Cowboys 31, Giants 28
Everyone and their mother remembers this game for the Odell Beckham Jr.’s ridiculous one-handed touchdown catch- except for Cowboys fans. In a crucial late season road game for the Cowboys, and a game in which the reeling Giants were playing for pride against their rivals, the Cowboys were able to overcome this catch and a 21-10 halftime deficit with Dez Bryant’s game winning touchdown with just 1:01 remaining.
14. 2015 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 4: Nets 120, Hawks 115 (OT)
In some ways, making the NBA Playoffs as a later seed can fun, even though you know your team virtually has no chance to win the title. Being that this is the case, there is a lot less stress as a fan, and as long as you’re not going up against the Cavs or Warriors, any team can force a 6 or 7 game series. Take the 8th seeded Nets in 2015 going up against the top-seeded Hawks. The series had been tightly contested through 3 games, with the home team winning each game. Game 4 was an absolute thriller, with Deron Williams, who’s best days as a Net (and NBA player in general) were well behind him, going absolutely unconscious, scoring 36 and leading the Nets to a huge victory in overtime. While I knew this team was never going to win the title, it was amazing watching them play in a tightly contested series with a great time. While NHL Playoff series may be better overall (especially this year), an epic, back and forth NBA Playoff game is still a greater playoff atmosphere than in the NHL.
13. September 21, 2001: Mets 3, Braves 2
While I can’t say I’m old enough to remember this game, I am old enough to remember 9/11, as well as the end of Mike Piazza’s tenure as a Met. In addition, it’s a huge moment in Mets history that took place in my lifetime. In the first sporting event to take place in New York City since the attacks, Mike Piazza’s 2-run home run in the bottom of the 8th is a script you can’t write, leading the Mets, and all of New Yorkers to an emotional 3-2 victory over Atlanta.
12. September 22, 2016: Mets 9, Phillies 8 (F\11)
15 years and one day after the Piazza homer, the Mets found themselves winning another incredible game on a late home run. In the heat of the Wild Card race, the Mets had just been swept at home by the lowly Braves, with the previous night’s game ending on Ender Inciarte’s robbing of what would have been a walkoff home run for Yoenis Cespedes. In this game, the Mets found themselves down 6-4 in the bottom of the 9th, when Jose Reyes hit a huge home run to tie the game. The Mets bullpen would then (shockingly) give up 2 runs in the top of the 11th. The Mets got 2 men on in the bottom of the inning, when Asdrubal Cabrera would swing, and release of the the best bat flips of the season to lead the Mets to their biggest victory of the season, 9-8. The losing pitcher, Edubray Ramos, would throw at Cabrera in the Mets and Phillies first meeting this season, and has since been the losing pitcher twice to the Mets this season. Sucks to suck, pussy.
11. 2014 Eastern Conference Finals Game 6: Rangers 1, Canadiens 0
This Rangers playoff run was a remarkable one, and the game that sent that them to their first Stanley Cup Final in 20 years was nothing short of a thriller. After being pulled in Game 5, Henrik Lundqvist put on an absolute vintage Playoff Hank performance, shutting out the Montreal Canadiens. Dominic Moore, a career journeyman who had sat out the previous season while tending to his sick wife, who ended up passing away from cancer, scored the game winning goal late in the second period and it was all the Rangers would need. This Rangers playoff run was emotional and gut-wrenching for this team, and despite the end result, will always be remembered for its high points.
10. 2015 Week 1: Cowboys 27, Giants 26
Despite the horrible memories I have of this Cowboys season (which did lead to a pretty good draft pick, I guess), this win was an all time classic. The Cowboys had high expectations coming into this season, and the majority of this game was some of the worst football I have ever watched. The Giants weren’t playing very good, but the Cowboys were playing sloppier and a few bounces were not going their way. After the Giants completely mismanaged the clock and situation (a recurring theme for their season), Tony Romo went on one of his all-time game-winning touchdown drives, leading the Cowboys down the field and hitting Jason Witten for the winner with 7 seconds to go. This would turn out to be Tony Romo’s last win in a Cowboys home game, and while I am obviously not disappointed with the Cowboys new QB situation, its sad to know there won’t be any more of these for number 9.
9. 2015 Eastern Conference Semifinals: Rangers 2, Capitals 1 (OT)
While number 11 one is undoubtedly a bigger moment in Rangers history, this game may be the most thrilling one they have played in the last 10 seasons. In addition, this team was better the previous years team, and as defending Eastern Conference Champions, there was business left unfinished. After looking dead in the water late in Game 5, the Rangers scored late and then won in overtime, and after winning game 6 in DC, we were here for Game 7. This was also a big game for Alex Ovechkin, who had never (and still has never) reached the Conference Finals. After a thrilling regulation ended in a 1-1 tie, Derek Stepan buried a rebound past Braden Holtby to win an absolute classic. While I did not attend any of the games on this list, this is the only one in which I have footage of my celebration.
8. 2012 Week 1: Cowboys 24, Giants 17
Why are Giants-Cowboys games so recurring on this list? Because they play more thrillers (and more primetime games) than any other matchup in the league. The Giants were coming into this game as defending champs, and this matchup was much anticipated for their Cowboys and their fans, as the Giants had beaten them in the previous season’s Week 17 do-or-die NFC East Championship Game, which jumpstarted another improbable Giants Super Bowl run. The Cowboys would make the Giants the first defending champ to lose in Week 1 since the NFL began its Opening Kickoff Game hosted by the defending champion. While this Cowboys season ended at a boring 8-8, this was a victory I will always remember because of the hype coming in.
7. 2014 Week 6: Cowboys 30, Seahawks 23
I will always remember this game as the game the NFL took notice that the 2014 Cowboys were for real. The Seahawks, defending champions, were 17-1 at home in the Russell Wilson era, and that one loss came in a late season game to the Cardinals that no one remembers. So this essentially felt like the first loss the Seahawks had suffered at home since they switched to their current uniform scheme. Excellent performances from Romo, Demarco Murray, Terrance Williams, and Rolando McClain (who would rather sip on purple drank these days than play football) led the Cowboys to a huge upset in Seattle.
6. 2015 NLDS Game 5: Mets 3, Dodgers 2
After 9 years of heartbreak, and just some plain old un-fun baseball, the Mets won their first postseason season since 2006 by winning the decisive game in LA. Jacob deGrom was very shaky early on, but despite constantly working with runners on, it is considered one of his best performances of his career due to his limiting of the damage despite not having his best stuff at all. He Who Must Not Be Named (hint: he now plays for a division rival) continued his postseason performance for the ages on the base paths by scoring the tying run, before delivering the home run that would be enough to get the win in the top of the 6th off of Zack Greinke.
5. 2014 Eastern Conference Finals Game 7: Nets 104, Raptors 103
The 2013-14 Nets are only remembered today because the trade that made them the team they were has backfired tremendously. As a Nets fan, it’s a shame it has to be that way, because this team was one of my favorite to watch in recent sports memory. By the end of the year, this team was definitely the East’s second best team behind only Lebron’s Miami Heat. However, it took an absolutely thrilling Game 7 in Toronto just to make it out of the first round. Leading by 10 late in the 4th after great performances from Joe Johnson, Kevin Garnett, and Marcus Thorton, the Nets choked and after a failed inbounds play, the Raptors had a chance to win the series at the buzzer. That is, until The Truth stepped in for one of the best series ending plays in recent NBA memory. While quite possibly the most lopsided trade in sports history only lead to one playoff series victory, it is one I won’t forget.
4. 2014 NFC Wild Card Playoffs: Cowboys 24, Lions 20
My emotions throughout this game were at the lowest of lows, but eventually the highest of highs. The Cowboys, who had had a remarkable regular season, but had to play in the Wild Card round due to a 3-way tiebreak with Seattle and Green Bay, were going up a against a good Lions team, but one that should not have been a problem to beat. This game could not have gone more wrong in the first half and early part of the second though, as the Cowboys trailed 20-7. However, a combination of a Cowboys comeback, a few questionable calls, and a Lions choke lead to a Terrance Williams TD to take the lead for good with 2:32 remaining. The Boys would seal the deal on rookie Demarcus Lawrence’s strip sack and fumble recovery of Matt Stafford.
3. July 31, 2015: Mets 3, Nationals 2 (F/12)
This week was by far the craziest week in Mets’ history. Two days earlier, Wilmer Flores cried because he thought he’d been traded. The day before, the Mets had their most painful regular season loss in years to the Padres. On July 31 one of the greatest seasons in Mets history was changed forever. They acquired Yoenis Cespedes from the Tigers, and then crybaby Wilmer Flores delivered a walkoff home run against the division rival Nationals. The Mets swept the series to tie Washington on top of the division, and didn’t lose that lead the rest of the way. This moment was by far the emotional turning point of the 2015 Mets season, and is one of the most incredible series of events you will ever see for a non-everyday utility player. You know it was special when people still talk about a regular season game 2 years later.
2. 2016 Week 10: Cowboys 35, Steelers 30
All that needs to be said about this one is, WOW. This game was a big coming out party for the rookie tandem of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, and espeically for Zeke. In a shootout in one of the NFL’s best AFC-NFC rivalries, the Steelers took the lead with 40 seconds to go, and it looked as though the Cowboys were going to fall in a classic for the first time since Week 1. However, the classic was just getting started. After a few passes, and a huge facemask penalty, Ezekiel Elliott took the ball, and almost everyone in the stadium expected he’d get a few yards to set up a field goal for the win. Everyone except Zeke, that is, as the rookie scored his 3rd touchdown of the day with 9 seconds to go to seal an unbelievable NFL contest, and lead the Cowboys to their 8th straight win. Number 1 on this list is a greater moment, but this is the greatest game I’ve watched any of my teams ever play.
1. 2015 NLCS Game 4: Mets 8, Cubs 3
Taking away the way this season ended, the 2015 New York Mets were undoubtedly one of the best teams to watch from late regular season and then in the postseason not just in recent MLB history, but in recent sports history. The Mets never looked back after Wilmer Flores’s walkoff home run, winning the NL East and defeating the Dodgers in 5 games to advance to play the Cubs in the NLCS. Many were predicting a 7 game series between these evenly matched teams. However, the Mets dominated from start to finish, winning in a sweep. He Who Still Must Not Be Named was by far the series MVP, putting on a performance no one could have ever predicted. While winning the title in the end is really what matters, advancing to the championship round feels like a great accomplishent as well, especially in a sport where the team and fans are as closely bonded as baseball. Maybe if the Mets can fix their bullpen, this memory will be one I won’t have to care about anymore after 2017.
I may soon come up with a 15 Worst Moments list, but that may not be for awhile, because there will be way too many options to choose from, and I don’t think I have enough tissues in my house for the amount of tears I would shed while writing.