The top plays of 2016, ranked
- What was the best play of 2016? We ranked the top 30.
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
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
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
13. Von Miller’s Super Bowl strip-sack of Cam Newton leads to Malik Jackson’s TD
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
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
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.