The top plays of 2016, ranked

Thursday December 15th, 2016

What was the best play of 2016? It's hard to narrow it down to 30, but we did that. It's even harder to rank those 30, but we ranked them anyway.

The bar was somewhat high, the selection process highly unofficial and the list, hopefully, no less enjoyable to relive. You can watch all 30 of our top plays below. 

Farewell, 2016. Here's to an even more epic 2017. 

30. Simone Biles wins gold in floor routine

Okay, not technically a play. But we had to get it on here.

29. Bartolo Colon’s first career home run

At age 43, Bartolo finally hit the jackpot.

28. South African keeper saves game with...a bicycle kick

I’ve never even done this successfully in FIFA stoppage time.

27. How would you describe this table tennis shot?

I dunno, either.

26. Alana Beard wins Game 1 of the WNBA Finals for the Sparks

Pure.

25. Alabama recovers onside kick, swings national title game

After tying the game on a field goal, the Tide pulled some trickery, took the lead soon after, and never relinquished it.

24. Katie Ledecky dominates the 800 meters

Sorry this video is long and makes you click away from this site, but you totally don’t need to watch the first seven minutes of the race to figure out what happened.

23. Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed duel at the Ryder Cup

If you aren't a golf fan, you might have missed this. It was a cool moment. 

22. Xherdan Shaqiri bikes one in at Euro

Who says Switzerland is always neutral?

21. A.J. Green’s miracle catch

Not really sure what happened here, but it was a touchdown catch.

20. Jalen Adams forces a fourth (!) overtime from three-quarter court

#https://vine.co/v/iHFHH2XTq1I

​Why is it always UConn in these multiple overtime games? Paging Jonny Flynn.

19. Lamar Jackson jumps over someone

There were so many ridiculous Lamar Jackson plays, it’s probably best to just pick one, on behalf of the body of work.

18. Alex Ovechkin, coast to coast for the win

This looked way easier than it probably was. This one gets a bump for the excellent save from Braden Holtby to start the play. 

17. Houston’s 109-yard kick-six against Oklahoma

Yeah, that’s about as far as anyone can run on a given football play.

16. Wayne Selden dunks on Baylor

Selden’s excited uncle is a legend in his own right.

15. This Billy Hamilton catch

MLB says Hamilton ran 22 miles per hour at top speed, which is pretty fast.

14. Ohio State’s Noah Brown makes catch with help from defender’s back

This is...difficult.

13. Von Miller’s Super Bowl strip-sack of Cam Newton leads to Malik Jackson’s TD

[youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7Njb8E0L4k]

This set the tone pretty well for how this game went, I’d say.

12. Tennessee beats Georgia on Hail Mary as time expires

How did that guy get that open on a play everyone knew was coming?

11. Usain Bolt wins the 100 meters, again

[youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCsgOc_Gwns&t=19s]

He is still fast.

10. Miguel Montero’s go-ahead grand slam

There were plenty of huge moments during the Cubs’ title run, but this one sticks out for the high drama.

9. Steph Curry’s half-court winner against the Thunder

Lost in the 73 wins, the playoffs, the blown 3–1 lead and the Kevin Durant saga was this piece of brilliance to cap a regular-season classic.

8. Northern Iowa upsets Texas on a prayer

Paul Jesperson will never buy another beer in Cedar Falls, Iowa again, and not just because there’s most likely only one bar in Cedar Falls.

7. Kyrie Irving’s go-ahead Game 7 three

Any other year, this eventual game winner probably would have been higher on the list.

6. Packers tie Cardinals on stupid Hail Mary

Football. The Packers lost this game.

5. Cubs clinch World Series title on Indians groundout

No explanation needed. The routine nature of the play keeps it slightly behind some others, but the significance is far from lost.

4. Messi’s ridiculous free-kick goal against the U.S.

Conceding this swerving, shocking, screaming dagger of a goal seems representative of the year 2016 for both the U.S. men's national team and the United States.

3. Dee Gordon’s leadoff home run in first game after Jose Fernandez’s death

Wearing Fernandez’s jersey, the light-hitting Gordon led off the first game since the pitcher’s death with a rare home run. Maybe the most emotional, devastating and beautiful sports moment I’ve ever seen.

2. LeBron’s block

[youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpvBhIUqNcM]

This could very well be LeBron’s Jordan-over-Russell moment.

1. Villanova wins national championship on Kris Jenkins’s three

Exactly how they drew it up.

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