Year in review: The best games of 2021

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2021 was filled with unforgettable, classic sporting events. These 20 games stand out above the rest as the best of the year.

 

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Jan 1: Georgia beats Cincinnati in Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

Jan 1: Georgia beats Cincinnati in Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

Kareem Elgazzar / USA Today Sports Images

The Bulldogs had a big fourth-quarter comeback with a touchdown, two field goals, and a safety to beat Cincinnati 24-21. Jack Podlesny’s 53-yard field goal with 1:25 left ultimately decided the game.

 

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Jan 17: Chiefs hang on with Chad Henne vs. Browns

Jan 17: Chiefs hang on with Chad Henne vs. Browns

Jay Biggerstaff / USA Today Sports Images

Patrick Mahomes suffered a concussion in the Divisional Round against the Browns, but it was Chad Henne to the rescue. The veteran backup quarterback made two clutch plays to close out the game with a 13-yard third-down scramble, followed by a fourth-down throw to Tyreek Hill to seal a 22-17 win.

 

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Jan 24: Bucs beat the Packers in NFC Championship

Jan 24: Bucs beat the Packers in NFC Championship

Mark Hoffman / USA Today Sports Images

The NFC Championship between Tampa Bay and Green Bay came down to the wire. The Buccaneers held a 21-10 lead at halftime, and the defense came up big late in the game with big stops. Tom Brady got an invite to his 10th Super Bowl and first with the Bucs.

 

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Mar 19: Oral Roberts stuns Ohio State

Mar 19: Oral Roberts stuns Ohio State

Mike Dinovo / USA Today Sports Images

After the 2020 NCAA Tournament was canceled due to COVID-19, the 2021 NCAA Tournament started with a bang. Oral Roberts shocked Ohio State with a 75-72 overtime win, as Kevin Obanor and Max Abmas combined to score 59 points.

 

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Apr 3: Jalen Suggs beats UCLA on buzzer beater

Apr 3: Jalen Suggs beats UCLA on buzzer beater

Robert Deutsch / USA Today Sports Images

Gonzaga got all they could handle from the surprising UCLA Bruins in the Final Four semifinal, with a game that went back and forth into overtime. Zags star Jalen Suggs ended the game with an incredible three-point buzzer-beater to win 93-90, eventually setting up a Baylor-Gonzaga final.

 

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Jun 4: Golden Knights stun Avs in Game 3

Jun 4: Golden Knights stun Avs in Game 3

Stephen R. Sylvanie / USA Today Sports Images

Vegas has had plenty of playoff heroics in its brief history, and that continued in 2021. The team scored two goals in the final 5:18 of the third period to beat Colorado 3-2 in Game 3 of the second round of the playoffs.

 

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Jul 26: Bucks win title behind Giannis

Jul 26: Bucks win title behind Giannis

Jeff Hanisch / USA Today Sports Images

Milwaukee put an exclamation point on their playoff run, defeating Phoenix 105-98 with an incredible game from Giannis Antetokounmpo. The superstar scored 50 points with 14 rebounds, as the Bucks overcame a cold second quarter to dominate in the second half.

 

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Oct 16: Ole Miss hangs on at Tennessee

Oct 16: Ole Miss hangs on at Tennessee

Brianna Paciorka / USA Today Sports Images

There was bad blood in Knoxville with Lane Kiffin’s return as head coach of Ole Miss. A controversial late call by the officials created a stoppage late in the game as fans pelted the field with objects, including golf balls and condiment bottles. Matt Corral had a big game through the air and on the ground as the Rebels hung on to a 31-26 win.

 

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Oct 30: Michigan State comes back to beat Michigan

Oct 30: Michigan State comes back to beat Michigan

Junfu Han / USA Today Sports Images

Jim Harbaugh’s struggles in big games at Michigan continued, as the Wolverines squandered a 30-14 third-quarter lead. Spartans running back Kenneth Walker took over the game with five touchdowns, and Michigan State won 37-33.

 

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Sep 18: Alabama hangs on at Florida

Sep 18: Alabama hangs on at Florida

Kim Klement / USA Today Sports Images

The Crimson Tide held a 21-9 halftime lead, but it was barely enough against the Gators. Florida trailed by eight before scoring a touchdown with 3:10 left. The two-point conversion failed, and Alabama was able to nearly run out the clock.

 

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Sep 26: Justin Tucker helps Ravens escape Lions

Sep 26: Justin Tucker helps Ravens escape Lions

Raj Mehta / USA Today Sports Images

The ending of Baltimore’s Week 3 win is likely to be the most memorable of the 2021 season. The Lions scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, including a field goal with 1:04 remaining to take a 17-16 lead. The Ravens were able to get the ball to the Lions’ 48 yard line with three seconds left, giving Tucker the opportunity to kick a record-breaking 66-yard field goal. He delivered off the crossbar, giving the Ravens a 19-17 win.

 

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Oct 6: Chris Taylor walks off in Wild Card win

Oct 6: Chris Taylor walks off in Wild Card win

Robert Hanashiro / USA Today Sports Images

Veteran starting pitchers Adam Wainwright and Max Scherzer went toe-to-toe in an outstanding pitcher’s duel in the NL Wild Card Game. The game was tied 1-1 in the ninth inning until Taylor hit a game-winning two-run home run off of Alex Reyes to win 3-1.

 

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Oct 9: Sooners pull off incredible Red River Showdown comeback

Oct 9: Sooners pull off incredible Red River Showdown comeback

Kevin Jairaj / USA Today Sports Images

Oklahoma wasn’t having its best day early in the Red River Showdown, trailing 38-20 to Texas at halftime. The teams went back and forth late in the fourth quarter, but Kennedy Brooks had a 33-yard touchdown run with 1:20 left to break the tie, as Oklahoma eventually won 55-48.

 

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Oct 14: Dodgers take down Giants in Game 5

Oct 14: Dodgers take down Giants in Game 5

Neville E. Guard / USA Today Sports Images

San Francisco claimed the NL West, but the Dodgers got the last laugh in an epic NLDS. The deciding Game 5 was tied 1-1 until the ninth inning when Cody Bellinger hit an RBI singer to break the tie. Max Scherzer came in to close out the game and send the Dodgers to the NLCS with a 2-1 victory.

 

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Oct 18: Titans beat Bills with goal line stand

Oct 18: Titans beat Bills with goal line stand

Steve Roberts / USA Today Sports Images

Derrick Henry ran through Buffalo’s defense with 143 yards and three touchdowns, and the Titans’ defense came up big with an incredible goal-line stand to halt a 79-yard drive at the end of the game and win 34-31.

 

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Nov 25: Derek Carr beats the Cowboys on Thanksgiving

Nov 25: Derek Carr beats the Cowboys on Thanksgiving

Tim Heitman / USA Today Sports Images

The Raiders shocked Dallas on a short week, ruining the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving. Carr threw for 373 yards and one touchdown, hanging tough despite losing star tight end Darren Waller to injury. Las Vegas won 36-33 in overtime.

 

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Nov 27: Bryce Young orchestrates comeback in Iron Bowl

Nov 27: Bryce Young orchestrates comeback in Iron Bowl

Gary Cosby Jr. / USA Today Sports Images

Young strengthened his Heisman case with an incredible comeback late in regulation, along with a touchdown pass and two two-point conversions in overtime to keep Alabama’s National Championship hopes alive in a 24-22 thriller. He finished the game throwing for 317 yards and two touchdowns.

 

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Dec 5: Steelers escape with win over Ravens

Dec 5: Steelers escape with win over Ravens

Philip G. Pavely / USA Today Sports Images

Ben Roethlisberger showed he had some magic left, throwing two fourth-quarter touchdowns to give the Steelers a 20-13 lead. Baltimore scored a touchdown with 12 seconds remaining and opted to go for two to take the lead. An errant throw from Lamar Jackson allowed the Steelers to win.

 

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Dec 9: Ron Harper Jr. leads Rutgers to upset win over No. 1 Purdue

Dec 9: Ron Harper Jr. leads Rutgers to upset win over No. 1 Purdue

Catalina Fragoso / USA Today Sports Images

The Boilermakers ascended to No. 1 in the men’s college basketball rankings, but it wasn’t for long. Ron Harper Jr. took over the game with 30 points and 10 rebounds, including a three-pointer at the buzzer to knock off Purdue 70-68.

 

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Dec 12: Bills nearly complete epic comeback at Tampa Bay

Dec 12: Bills nearly complete epic comeback at Tampa Bay

Nathan Ray Seebeck / USA Today Sports Images

The Bucs dominated Buffalo 24-3 in the first half of a Week 14 showdown, but Josh Allen carried his team to a fourth-quarter comeback. Buffalo scored 17 unanswered points to send the game to overtime before Tom Brady connected on a 58-yard pass to Breshad Perriman in overtime to win 33-27.

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