OTR’s Top 10 Hidden Sports Plays of 2010
So much so, that things can get hidden. Sure, everyone saw the big touchdown pass or penalty shot or ill-timed bathroom break, but did you see what set those up? Did you see the hidden plays within the game? Probably not, so OTR here is to unveil the Top 10 Hidden Plays of 2010 (in no particular order, because then certain plays would stand out and no longer be hidden).
-Kyle Korver’s three against Portland: With 11:42 left in the first quarter, Kyle Korver drained a three in his only start of the season. The lead changed hands 19 times during the whole game. Korver ended the game 1-for-9 with three points, but Utah managed to squeak out a 109-106 victory. After the game, Deron Williams was asked what the biggest play of the game was, which he answered “That first three we hit.”
Photo Caption: Korver explains to Michele Tafoya exactly what was going through his head when he launched the first three.
-Placido Polanco’s ground out to 1st on April 23rd (5th inning): Placido was looking for a curveball, and he got it. With a swing of the bat he forced the ball to the 1st baseman, moving Shane Victorino to 3rd. Victorino didn’t score, however, because it was the 3rd out anyway. But, Chase Utley led off the next inning with a HR rallying the Phillies to win 89 of their last 148 games.
-The seven-yard swing pass to Michael Bush: Oakland Raiders QB Jason Campbell dropped back to pass and found Michael Bush open in the left flat for a gain of seven yards that set up a 3rd and 2. What he didn’t see was Darrius Heyward-Bey sprinting wide open up the right sideline for a sure touchdown pass that would have given Oakland a 7-3 lead over the 49ers in the middle of the second quarter. However, Darren McFadden picked up the first down on 3rd and 2 to put the Raiders in business at their own 40-yard line. They didn’t win the game, but the pass to Bush set up a manageable third down and gave the Raiders the sense that, “Hey, maybe we can get this thing going.”
-The Redskins release Hunter Smith: Sometimes, the best plays are the ones made during the week and not during an actual game. That was the case after the Washington Redskins dropped a heartbreaker to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a last-second extra point. The snap went right through the hands of punter Hunter Smith and the game was over. Smith was subsequently given his walking papers the following week, because Mike Shanahan places a heavy emphasis on his punters being able to hold kicks. The team – playing with heavy hearts after losing Smith – rallied together and went out and fought the Dallas Cowboys tooth and nail. They didn’t win the game, but it was all about gamesmanship that day.
-Doug Collins’ decision not to tell his team to finish the game strong: In sports, what you don’t do, is many times more important than what you actually do. The Sixers had a home tilt with the Boston Celtics. With about three minutes to go in the second quarter, All-NBA forward Andre Iguodala tried forcing an errant pass into Elton Brand who was double teamed, leaving a wide open Jodi Meeks in the corner. Iguodala, in a sheer act of athleticism, vision and excellence, guided the ball directly off the defending Kevin Garnett’s shin. Sixer’s ball.
On the ensuing inbounds play, Iguodala heaved a desperation three-pointer with eight seconds on the shot clock, hitting the backboard and eventually landing in Boston’s hands. The genius in all of this? Coach Doug Collins on the sideline directing his squad. Pacing up and down the court, you clearly heard Collins instructing his team on how to handle these intimidating Celtics. And I quote, “C’mon guys…finish the half strong!”
Designing plays and coaching strategies pale in comparison to this cutting edge style. And it worked as the Sixer’s built a seemingly insurmountable two-point halftime lead.
On the final play of the game, Garnett was guarded by Jrue Holliday. Garnett laid in the winning bucket with 1.7 seconds to go in the game. Noticeably absent was Collins telling his team to “finish the half strong” as he did earlier in the game. Had he done that, the Sixers may be one game closer to still missing the playoffs.
-Djokovic double faults in U.S. Open Final: Novak Djokovic made a monumental error early in the U.S. Open finals against Rafael Nadal. Serving with the advantage in the third game of the first set, Djokovic mysteriously – and to the surprise of everyone watching – double faulted! That made it deuce and several more points were played before Djokovic finally wins the game. In a five set match, extra points can kill you. And it did. Djokovic seemed tired at the end of the match and was unable to muster the necessary energy to win. Nadal won the entire tournament because of a single double fault.
-Kane takes mindless penalty against the Blues: It was right in the middle of a hotly contested battle between the Chicago Blackhawks and the St. Louis Blues. With Chicago leading 2-1 in the early minutes of the second period, Patrick Kane gets called for what is now known as “The Hooking Penalty.” The Blues failed to score on the power play, but Chicago was clearly shaken to their core. It was all they could do to keep it together before finally scoring a third goal later in the period. The third period was scoreless and the Blackhawks went on to win the game and eventually the Stanley Cup. But, if the Blues had managed a power play goal there, it’s no telling what could have happened to the Blackhawks season. Hence, the catchy nickname for the now-infamous penalty.
-Jeff Gordon’s two-car pass: With 177 laps left in the Pepsi 500, Jeff Gordon took an inside position to not only pass Tony Stewart, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. as well. The move catapulted him to 17th place with his speed reaching 194mph during the pass. Gordon eventually crashed into the wall with 50 laps left. Stewart eventually won the race. But the pass clearly effected Earnhardt’s psyche for the rest of the race, as he finished 32nd.
-Jimmer Fredette’s pre-game left-handed lay-up drill: Hosted by the Lobos of New Mexico in front of a hostile crowd in Alburqueque, BYU Cougar Jimmer Fredette decided to start pre-game warm ups exactly one hour before tip. Noah Hartsock grabbed a ball and started a line on the right while James Anderson started a line on the left. Without hesitation, Fredette yelled for Hartsock to throw the ball to Anderson, “Let’s practice left-handed lay-ups.” And boy did it pay off. The Cougars went on to shoot 10-for-13 from the left side (all lay-ups). Amazingly, Fredette shot 4-for-4, a number that hasn’t been matched since.
-The lack of an early onside kick in the Meadowlands: It is now well documented by the United States media that the Philadelphia Eagles performed a stunning upset against the New York Giants on a last-second punt return by DeSean Jackson.
One of the highlights of the comeback was a David Akers onside kick that went uncontested by the Giants. But it was the onside kick they didn’t make, that is the real hero for Philadelphia.
Down by two touchdowns in the second quarter, the Eagles could have gone for a surprise onside kick in order to get the ball back. However, they didn’t!
Why? We’ll never know. But if they had tried an onside kick early on, the Giants would have known to look for it at another point in the game and most certainly would have seen it coming, which would have halted the Eagles comeback attempt.
It’s now famously known (or not known) as “The Phantom Onside Kick.”