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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

5 must-watch games on NFL Game Pass

Marshawn Lynch

The coronavirus pandemic has brought most of the world to a halt, and that includes the world of sports. Every major American sport has been paused, delayed or canceled for the year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your fill.

In an effort to offset the lack of sports, the NFL has decided to offer up Game Pass for free for several months, giving fans the opportunity to watch any game their heart desires from the 2009 season on.

Here are five games (and one bonus game) that are absolutely worth your time.

5. Seattle Seahawks vs. New Orleans Saints (January 8, 2011)

Of course this game was destined to make the list — how could it not? It was a miracle that the 7-9 Seahawks, who were in their first year under head coach Pete Carroll, made the playoffs at all. Then they topped it off by upsetting the heavily favored Saints in front of more than 66,000. The two teams battled back-and-forth for four quarters, and the game was neck-and-neck until under 4:00 remaining when Seattle put what amounted to a game-clinching touchdown on the board. The win sparked a revolution in Seattle and propelled the Seahawks into power for the next half-decade. Am I forgetting something? Oh, that’s right … that game-sealing touchdown came courtesy of Marshawn Lynch, who broke countless tackles on the way to the end zone, leaving the crowd in such chaos that is actually registered on sensitive earthquake-detection equipment. The run was aptly named the “Beast Quake.”

4. New York Giants vs. New Orleans Saints (November 1, 2015)

Louisiana native Eli Manning returned home to take on Drew Brees and the Saints early in the 2015 season, and no one could have foreseen what was coming. Manning and Brees put on a show for the ages, combining for over 850 yards and 13 touchdowns as their teams put up 100-plus points. It was an aerial display — the likes of which the NFL has rarely seen — with big plays coming with remarkable frequency. The two teams battled back-and-forth from the jump, and that persisted until the final seconds. With the game tied 49-49, the Saints sent in kicker Kai Forbath for his first and only field goal of the game, which he drilled down the center from 50 yards out as time expired, giving New Orleans a thrilling victory. If you’re into high-powered and nearly unstoppable offense, this is the game for you.

3. Kansas City Chiefs vs. Los Angeles Rams (November 19, 2018)

One of the most hyped games in recent memory, the high-powered Chiefs took on the equally high-powered Rams on Monday Night Football, which drew an average viewership of 16.7 million — one of ESPN’s most-viewed NFL games since 2016. And the contest certainly delivered, as both Kansas City and Los Angles got their licks in throughout the contest. In the end, the Rams and Chiefs became the first teams to score 50 points each in a game, while the game itself closed as the third-highest scoring contest in league history. Their 14 combined touchdowns were also the second-most ever. In the end, the Rams walked away victorious as Jared Goff hit Gerald Everett for a score with under 1:50 remaining. Of course, the Chiefs would eventually get the last laugh as they proved themselves more sustainable, winning the Super Bowl a year later.

2. Green Bay Packers vs. Arizona Cardinals (January 16, 2016)

A few weeks removed from the Cardinals absolutely dismantling the Packers — Aaron Rodgers’ worst loss ever — the two teams were back at it in the divisional round of the playoffs, and they delivered an instant classic. The game itself wasn’t exactly the sharpest football you’ll see, but that doesn’t make the game any less thrilling. Facing elimination late in the fourth quarter, Rodgers, who is known as a Hail Mary master, connected on two — the first coming on a fourth down, and the second coming as time expired. That pushed the game into overtime, but veteran receiver Larry Fitzgerald refused to be outdone, taking the first pass of overtime 75 yards down the field. Two plays later, Fitz took the shovel pass to the house, sending Arizona to the NFC Championship Game. It was arguably one of Fitzgerald’s grittiest and gutsiest performances, which overshadowed Rodgers’ late-game magic.

1. Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints (January 14, 2018)

You want wild and unexpected? It doesn’t get much more wild and unexpected than this. After falling behind the Vikings 17-0 in the divisional round of the playoffs, Drew Brees and the Saints slowly chipped away, clawing their way back into the game before eventually taking a 21-20 lead with just over 3:00 remaining in the fourth quarter. But that’s when things began to get a little crazy. Kai Forbath, playing against his former team, regained the lead for Minnesota after connecting on an impressive 53-yard field goal with just 1:29 remaining. But Brees & Co. struck back quickly, converting on a 4th-and-10 before connecting on a field goal of their own, giving them a 24-23 with just 25 seconds remaining. It would take a miracle for Minnesota to win, and the Minnesapolis Miracle is exactly what they got. With 10 seconds remaining from their own 39-yard line, quarterback Kirk Cousins aired it down the field for wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who went up for it and braced for impact. But that impact never came as the New Orleans defender whiffed, leaving Diggs nothing but room to run in for thew game-winning score, sending the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game as their hometown fans erupted and nearly brought down the stadium.

Bonus: New York Giants vs. Philadelphia Eagles (December 19, 2010)

I’m admittedly a fan of the Giants and cover them for a living, so there is some level of bias that goes into these lists, no matter how hard I try to remain neutral. However, when compiling the top 5 here, I couldn’t bring myself to list this game. I also couldn’t bring myself to leave it off the list entirely. Therefore, as a bonus suggestion, I present to you the Miracle in the Meadowlands II. All punter Matt Dodge had to do was boot a ball out of bounds and all would have been well. Instead, he sent it right to DeSean Jackson, who subsequently took it to the house with :00 on the clock, giving the Eagles a victory and essentially ending any remaining playoff hopes the Giants had. It was an amazing game for anyone who isn’t a Big Blue fan.

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