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SI's 100 Best Photos of 2016
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SI's 100 Best Photos of 2016
The SI Staff
Wednesday December 14th, 2016

It’s an annual tradition here at SPORTS ILLUSTRATED—ranking the most memorable sports moments of the year. From the kicking net to Kobe, we’ve got it all (we think):

For the last three years, we have watched veteran starter/rotund engine of joy Bartolo Colon step to the plate as a member of the Mets and swing for the fences despite the fact that the 43-year-old is, objectively, one of the worst hitters in major league history. In at-bat after at-bat, Colon has repeatedly come up embarrassingly empty. But on May 7, he finally did it. Against the Padres’ James Shields, he connected for the first home run of his big league career, making him the oldest player in MLB history to collect No. 1. The homer—a two-run shot, no less—prompted the Mets’ TV booth to lose its mind for about two straight minutes and featured the ecstatic New York dugout giving Colon the silent treatment before erupting in celebration. All in all, it’s hard to imagine a funnier moment from this season, even if a Bartolo Colon home run is probably one of the signs of the apocalypse. — Jon Tayler

Dressage is one of the stranger Olympic events, but it’s performances like this that make it must-see TV. Somehow, Spain’s Severo Jesus Jurado Lopez and his horse, Lorenzo, did not medal in the event. — Ben Eagle

Agony turned to … something, after the finals of the bronze-medal match in 65kg freestyle wrestling in Rio. When a late penalty point gave Uzbekistan's Ikhtiyor Navruzov the bronze, the coaches for Mongolian wrestler Ganzorig Mandakhnaran went ballistic, running onto the mat and screaming about the decision. What happened next—the coaches stripping down to their underwear in protest—will go down as one of the most bizarre moments in Olympic history. — Ben Eagle

Forget the College Football Playoff. The best action is in the FCS playoffs. Trailing 38-34 with seconds remaining in the semifinals, Youngstown State tight end Kevin Rader somehow pinned a catch on the back of a defender to secure the game-winning touchdown. Who knew we’d have to wait 351 days for the catch of the year? — Ben Eagle

It took most of 2016 for Woods to declare himself ready to play again after two back surgeries last fall, but in the end, the 466-day layoff appeared to do him some good. At the Hero World Challenge, a tournament that benefits his foundation, Woods played four rounds and led the field in birdies, ultimately finishing 15th out of 18 participants. As Woods himself often says: “It’s a process.” — Jeff Ritter

The Broncos beat the Saints in Week 10 in dramatic fashion when, in the final minutes, they blocked an extra point and returned it for a defensive two-point conversion. The run-back turned a potential 24-23 Saints’ lead into a 25-23 Broncos’ win. — Ben Eagle

The first can’t-miss contest of conference play in 2016 pitted player of the year candidates in Kansas senior forward Perry Ellis and Oklahoma senior guard Buddy Hield against each other. Ultimately, Hield’s 46 points weren’t enough to get his Sooners the 109-106 win, but they were enough to make “Buddy Love” the star of the season. — David Gardner

MLS Cup wasn't the most memorable match of the year; in fact, Seattle's triumph over Toronto in PKs was largely forgettable. That said, it produced one of the greatest moments in league history. In extra time of a scoreless game in Toronto, Jozy Altidore sent a looping header earmarked for the upper right-hand corner–that is, until an acrobatic, outstretched Stefan Frei pawed it to safety. The 108th-minute moment of brilliance saved Seattle and cemented match MVP honors for Frei. — Avi Creditor

When the NHL revived the World Cup of Hockey for the summer of 2016, there was a twist: the six world puck superpowers would be joined by two franken-teams—Team Europe and the 23-and-under Team North America. The youngsters provided plenty of speed and thrills while the U.S. entry went down in flames. Team Europe, however, made it all the way to the finals, where it ran into the Team Canada buzzsaw. The heavy favorite didn’t disappoint, going undefeated through five games en route to gold. — Michael Blinn

The tumultuous ESPN tenure of Curt Schilling—he had been an MLB analyst at the network since 2010—ended in April when he was fired after sharing an anti-transgender rights meme on his Facebook page. (Schilling had previously been suspended by ESPN for sharing a post that compared Muslim extremists to Nazis.) After his firing, the former Cy Young Award winner joined the Breitbart News Network and now hosts a daily online radio show (“Whatever It Takes”) featuring political commentary and calls from listeners. — Richard Deitsch

The Falcons’ otherworldly wideout was in rare form in Week 4 against the Panthers, catching 12 passes en route to becoming just the sixth player ever to tally 300 receiving yards in one game. Jones caught passes over the middle, over his shoulder, deep downfield—there was no end to the variety of ways he humbled the once-vaunted Carolina secondary with the help of quarterback Matt Ryan. Jones’s final reception of the afternoon, a 75-yard catch-and-run touchdown to secure Atlanta’s 48–33 win, may literally have ended the career of the player tasked with marking him: Panthers cornerback Bene’ Benwikere was cut the following week and hasn't seen the field for an NFL team since. — Eric Single

William Woods caught a 24-yard touchdown pass with 39 seconds remaining, and the John Carroll defense held on close out a 31-28 win against Mount Union that snapped the Purple Raiders’ 112-game regular-season win streak. On the same day the teams ranked No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 in the College Football Playoff standings lost, this Division III game in Alliance, Ohio was the most improbable upset. “To have the opportunity to deliver that kind of moment for our school was something I’ll cherish forever,” John Carroll coach (and alumnus) Tom Arth said of his team’s first win against Mount Union since 1989. — Andy Staples

By any measure, the 2016 Ryder Cup was a moment of redemption for the U.S. which thumped Europe 17-11 at Hazeltine outside Minneapolis. You can forgive the Americans for feeling a little smug in the aftermath, when the players and wives posed for this photo, and Rickie Fowler, who attended the Cup without a date, had fun with the moment. Despite appearances in Minnesota, something tells us Fowler’s social life is just fine. — Jeff Ritter

It turns out Rams owner Stan Kroenke has a threshold for mediocrity. In Jeff Fisher's four seasons as Rams head coach, the team’s best record was 7-9. Still, the Rams decided to make Fisher the nucleus of the franchise during relocation and even awarded him a contract extension after the Rams hit the 4-8 mark this season. One week later he was fired. — Melissa Jacobs

Taekwondo fighter Pita Taufatofua blew up the internet as Tonga's coconut-oil covered flag-bearer during the opening ceremonies. He made history as his country’s first taekwondo athlete to compete at the Olympics but was eliminated after losing his first fight. He now has his sights set on making the 2018 Winter Olympics in skiing. — Chris Chavez

No one actually blows a 31-point lead, right? Uh, yes, as it turns out, they do. Hampered by injuries to their starting quarterback and center, and forced to plug considerably less talented second stringers into those spots, the Oregon Ducks suffered a stunning collapse in the Alamo Bowl, falling 47-41 to TCU. The Horned Frogs, playing without two All-Americas (one lost to injury, one suspended for his arrest the day before the game), scored on all nine of their second-half possessions, then hung on in triple overtime to complete the biggest comeback in college football bowl history. TCU quarterback Bram Kohlhausen, who filled in for suspended star Trevone Boykin, passed for 351 yards and accounted for four total touchdowns, including the game winner, a rushing score in the third overtime. Was this the beginning of the end for the Ducks' coach? Mark Helfrich finished with a 4-8 record the following season before being kicked to the curb. — Lindsay Schnell

MORE MOMENTS: 116 - 101 | 100 - 81 | 80 - 61 | 60 - 41 | 40 -21 | 20 - 1

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