2020 was one of the most chaotic years in recent history and sports was no exception. From Mar. 14 to May 15, sporting events were canceled as fans struggled to find other means of entertainment as COVID-19 forced many to quarantine across the world. We lost the 2020 NCAA Tournament and other sports had to shorten their seasons or put their teams in bubbles. Despite this, sports provided many special moments, reminding us all of why many enjoy watching sports in the first place. Here are the top 10 best sports moments of 2020. Links to watch each moment are embedded in each headline below.
On Dec. 14, NFL fans were treated to the game of the year as the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns, two playoff contenders, engaged in an epic shootout. In the fourth quarter, Lamar Jackson headed to the locker to “get treated for cramps.” The Browns led 35-34 and Ravens’ backup quarterback Trace McSorely went down with an injury with two minutes to go as the Ravens faced fourth down. On cue, Jackson comes back into the game and throws a go-ahead 44-yard touchdown pass to Marquise Brown. After a Browns’ touchdown, Justin Tucker kicked a game-winning 55-yard field to give the Ravens a crucial win in the AFC Playoff race. This was a thrilling game between two division rivals with huge playoff implications and Jackson coming back in to throw the touchdown pass was something not even Hollywood could have scripted. This Monday Night Football epic was a treat for all NFL fans.
As a fan of Minnesota United, this match was painful; I have to admit, however, that this was one of the most insane moments of 2020. The Seattle Sounders, the defending MLS Cup champions, were trailing Minnesota in the Western Conference Finals 2-0 in the 75th minute. The Sounders would come alive, scoring three goals in the next 20 minutes to win the match 3-2 to head to the MLS Cup Final. It was an incredible comeback, providing American soccer fans a moment they will never forget as the league attempts to build popularity.
While the Ravens/Browns epic was the game of the year, there is no doubt “The Hail Murray” was the moment of the year in the 2020 season (barring something topping it in Week 17). The Arizona Cardinals trailed the Buffalo Bills 30-26 when Cardinals’ QB Kyler Murray heaved a prayer toward main offseason acquisition, DeAndre Hopkins, in the endzone. Despite being surrounded by three Bills’ defenders, Hopkins came down with the miracle catch, giving the Cardinals a huge 32-30 win. Hopkins showed his insane talent, humiliating the Houston Texans in the process and giving NFL fans a moment everyone will remember where they were when they saw it happen.
In their franchise history, the Denver Nuggets had only reached two Western Conference Finals. Last year, the Nuggets blew their chance for a third as they fell in Game 7 of their second-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers at home after leading by 17 points. This season, it looked like the Nuggets would fall to the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round. However, with magic from Jamal Murray and superstar production from Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets rallied from 3-1 deficits in their first-round series against the Utah Jazz and the next round against the Clippers to advance to their third appearance in the conference finals. It was pure elation for Nuggets fans as they won six consecutive elimination games to advance, overcoming last year’s failure. It was the highlight of the Orlando bubble, showing it could still provide great basketball and memorable moments despite the absence of fans.
During the Premier League’s “Project Restart,” Chelsea took on Manchester City in a match that had the Premier League title on the line. If Man City dropped any points, Liverpool wins the league title for the first time in 30 years. The match was thrilling with American-phenom Christian Pulisic scoring on a counterattack in the first half. After a free kick from Kevin de Bruyne in the second half, Chelsea took the lead back on a Willian penalty kick. Both clubs missed great chances to score in a pulse-pounding event that saw Chelsea win 2-1. Liverpool erupted in celebration as their long title drought was over. It was a historic moment for Liverpool that was elevated by the thrilling match to clinch the title for them.
5. Tom Brady leaves the Patriots for the Buccaneers
For the one moment that took place away from the action, Tom Brady leaving the New England Patriots was a watershed moment in sports history. On Mar. 17, Brady announced he would not resign with the Patriots, ending the 19-year Brady/Belichick dynasty that saw them win six Super Bowls among many other insane accomplishments. He signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers three days later. This moment marked the official end of one of sport’s best dynasties and would lead to the Bucs breaking their 13-year playoff drought. While not on the field, this was the biggest moment for the NFL in 2020.
While my motorsports coverage goes on The Rich Report, I have to include two moments from motorsports on this list. First is the Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway on June 22. Before the race in the pre-race ceremonies, drivers supported and stood by Bubba Wallace as a noose was found in his garage. NASCAR has had a stereotype of exclusion among fans, but this moment shows diversity is welcomed in the sport, a truly groundbreaking moment for NASCAR. The race itself was amazing with clean and action-packed team racing. In overtime, Ryan Blaney held off Ricky Stenhouse Jr. by milliseconds to pick up his lone win in 2020. It was a watershed day with NASCAR with not only a thrilling finish, but also supporting Wallace. As other popular sports were on hold, NASCAR got the chance to shine in the spotlight and it more than delivered.
The Tampa Bay Lightning in 2019 were the brunt of all jokes as they were swept in the first-round by the Columbus Blue Jackets despite having the best regular season record that season. To make matters worse, the Lightning blew a 3-0 lead in Game 1 and lost to a team that had never won a playoff series beforehand. In 2020, the Lightning got a chance at redemption as they faced the Blue Jackets in the first round once again. In Game 1, they won a game for the ages, beating the Blue Jackets 3-2 in FIVE overtimes. This was the moment they needed as they went on to get revenge on the Blue Jackets. They went on to beat the Boston Bruins, New York Islanders and Dallas Stars to win the Stanley Cup. Like the 2019 Virginia Cavaliers in college basketball, the Lightning won the championship a year after a humiliating loss. It was a sweet journey for their fans and the five overtime classic provided one of 2020’s most thrilling games.
The Los Angeles Dodgers broke their 32-year World Series title drought by defeating the Tampa Bays in six games in the World Series. This was after rallying from a 3-1 deficit in the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves. While there was no true signature moment in this run aside from great fielding plays from Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts, what makes this so great is how rough 2020 started for the team. The Dodgers, along with the rest of the sports world, learned that the Houston Astros cheated in 2017, the season they beat the Dodgers in the World Series. The Dodgers felt cheated, but instead of folding and complaining, they went out and seized a long awaited World Series title. It was special for Dodger fans as it provided a feel-good story in a rough 2020.
Speaking of feel-good sports moments in 2020, none was as special as Pierre Gasly winning the Italian Grand Prix. In 2019, Gasly was replaced by Alexander Albon at Red Bull Racing in the middle of the season as Gasly was forced to drive once again for Toro Rosso. After a podium in the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix, Gasly entered 2020 with the rebranded AlphaTauri looking to get his career back on track to eventually earn back that Red Bull seat. On Sep.6, Gasly vaulted himself to the front in the Italian Grand Prix after multiple racing incidents and Sir Lewis Hamilton suffered a 10-second penalty for pitting when pit lane was closed. Gasly took the lead in the final 25 laps and held off a charging Carlos Sainz on the final lap to win the Italian GP, his first career race win. Seeing Gasly cry on top of the podium brought tears to the eyes of many Formula 1 fans, providing the best in sports in 2020.
What were your favorite sports moments in 2020? Comment down below what they are! Let’s all have a great 2021!