Entering the final race of the season, five drivers were within 82 points of leader Kurt Busch in the championship standings. Despite having a wheel come off, Busch held on to beat Jimmie Johnson by eight points in the final tally -- the closest finish in Chase history.
2 of 20AP
Jets 40, Dolphins 37 (OT)
Every Jets fan will claim to have been in attendance for this Monday-night miracle after quarterback Vinny Testaverde erased a 23-point fourth-quarter deficit by completing 18-of-26 passes for 235 yards and four scores in the final 15 minutes of regulation. His three-yard toss to Jumbo Elliott on a tackle-eligible play with 42 seconds to go tied the game at 37-37, and John Hall's 40-yard field goal in OT won it. What made the outcome most memorable was that it came before a virtually empty stadium, as many in the crowd headed for the exits after Miami took a 30-7 lead.
3 of 20AP
Diego Corrales vs. Jose Luis Castillo I
For nine rounds, the action never flagged, the momentum swung back and forth and each man took tremendous punishment. Then came the 10th, and things got really amazing. Thirty seconds in, Castillo dropped Corrales with a crushing left hook. Amazingly, "Chico" beat the count, gaining a few extra seconds to recover when his mouthpiece came out. Castillo jumped on him immediately and, 30 seconds later, Corrales was down again, badly hurt. But again, the mouthpiece came out and this time referee Tony Weeks deducted a point. It seemed academic as Castillo moved in for the finish, but Corrales, both eyes nearly swollen shut, fired back with a furious flurry, leaving Castillo hanging helpless on the ropes and forcing Weeks to end the fight with 54 seconds left in the round.
4 of 20Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images
Bulls 128, Celtics 127 (3 OT)
This was the game that accelerated talk that this opening-round series ranked among the best ever. The third consecutive overtime game of the series (and fourth overall) lasted 63 minutes and featured 51 points from Ray Allen, 35 points from John Salmons and an electrifying three-point play from Joakim Noah in the third extra period. Derrick Rose made the last big play of the night, blocking Rajon Rondo's potential go-ahead shot in the closing seconds. ''It's crazy,'' Rose said, ''but you got to love it."
5 of 20Porter Binks/SI
The 2007 Belmont Stakes
The filly Rags to Riches hung on to beat future two-time Horse of the Year Curlin in a stirring duel down the long homestretch. She became the first filly in more than 100 years to win the Belmont, but Curlin distinguished himself even in defeat, flashing the toughness and stamina that marked his career.
6 of 20John Biever/SI
Kansas 75, Memphis 68 (OT)
The first Final Four to feature all four No. 1 seeds was a dud on semifinal Saturday, but championship Monday more than made up for it. Sparked by freshman Derek Rose, Memphis led by nine with just over two minutes left, but Kansas made a furious rally and tied the game on a fading three-pointer by Mario Chalmers with 2.1 seconds left. That shot set up the first overtime title game in 11 years and only the third since 1964. The Jayhawks controlled the extra period and salted away the game by doing the one thing the Tigers could not do in regulation -- make free throws in the final seconds.
7 of 20Ezra Shaw/Getty Images, AP
Flyers 2, Penguins 1 (5 OT)
This one took seven hours from the time the first puck dropped until Flyers forward Keith Primeau ended the titanic five-overtime match between intrastate rivals. With the players almost in a trance-like state from exhaustion, Primeau drove down the right wing, went backhand to forehand to beat a defender and fired a shot over the shoulder of goalie Ron Tugnutt to end the match after 92:01 of extra play -- more than an additional game and a half.
8 of 20Chuck Solomon/SI
Yankees 6, Red Sox 5 (11 innings)
The rivals have combined for six AL pennants and four world championships in the '00s, and their first postseason confrontation of the decade lived up to the hype. Upstaging Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez got the Red Sox within five outs of the pennant, but Boston manager Grady Little was too slow with his hook and the Yankees, buoyed by a pair of Jason Giambi homers and three scoreless innings of relief from Mike Mussina, rallied to tie it in the eighth. Mariano Rivera pitched three scoreless innings of his own before Aaron Boone finally won the pennant with a walk-off home run off Tim Wakefield on the first pitch of the bottom of the 11th.
9 of 20Al Tielemans/SI
Colts 38, Patriots 34
Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning finally answered their critics by earning their first trip to the Super Bowl. The fact that it came against their archnemesis -- and featured the largest comeback in championship game history -- made it all the sweeter. The game had many strange occurrences: two scores by offensive linemen off fumble recoveries, a touchdown catch by a defensive tackle, an interception return for a score and a kickoff return for a touchdown. Manning, who threw for 349 yards and a TD, marched the Colts 80 yards in the final two-plus minutes for the decisive score.
10 of 20Clive Brunskill/Getty Images, Jean Marie Hervio/Flash Press/Icon SMI
Liverpool beats AC Milan
It seemed like an insurmountable advantage when Milan took a 3-0 lead that night in Istanbul. But soccer is an unpredictable game, and Liverpool proceeded to make history, scoring three unanswered goals before prevailing on penalties. Easily one of the greatest games in the history of the sport.
11 of 20Andrew D. Bernstein /NBAE/Getty Images
Lakers 112, Kings 106 (OT)
Because these were the league's two best teams, this was viewed as a winner-take-all game for the championship (the Lakers went on to sweep the Nets in the Finals). The Lakers trailed in the last minute of regulation and the final two minutes of overtime before finishing off an all-time great series. Shaquille O'Neal (35 points and 13 rebounds) and Kobe Bryant (30 and 10) combined to play 102 minutes. The Lakers joined the 1976 Suns (at Golden State) as the only road teams to win a Game 7 in the West finals. The Kings missed 14 of 30 free throws and came up small in crunch time with the exception of Mike Bibby, who scored 14 of their last 18 points.
12 of 20Bob Rosato, Damian Strohmeyer/SI
Giants 17, Patriots 14
The 2008 Super Bowl was a defensive struggle through three quarters, with the teams combining for only 10 points. But the drama began to build in the fourth quarter when it was apparent that New York might actually deny New England a place in history. The Patriots were seeking to become the first 19-0 team, but a New York pass rush sacked Tom Brady five times and harassed him countless others. David Tyree's 32-yard reception with a minute to play -- after an improbable third-down escape of a sack by Eli Manning -- set up Manning's winning 13-yard score to Plaxico Burress with 35 seconds to play. Tyree's helmet catch is arguably the most memorable play in Super Bowl history.
13 of 20Robert Beck/SI
2008 U.S. Open Golf Championship
The '08 Open at Torrey Pines may prove to be Tiger's signature championship, and that's saying a lot. First, he limped through 72 holes on a bad leg -- he had microfractures from playing on a blown ACL and needed season-ending surgery soon afterward. Then he turned Saturday into one big highlight show with a pair of dramatic eagles, and Sunday sank a clutch putt on the 72nd hole to force a playoff. His blue-collar, every-man opponent, Rocco Mediate, enjoyed his own underdog following and surprisingly took Woods to a 91st hole -- and was actually ahead late in the round -- before finally losing. It was a mesmerizing, captivating week.
14 of 20AP
Syracuse 127, UConn 117 (6 OT)
The Orange and the Huskies thrilled a late-night crowd at Madison Square Garden with a 3-hour, 46-minute game for the ages in the tournament quarterfinals. It nearly ended in regulation on a three-pointer by Syracuse's Eric Devendorf, but officials correctly ruled the ball was still in his hands when the clock expired. The Orange didn't grab their first lead of any extra session until the sixth and final overtime, when they finally pulled away to win the longest game in conference history. Before the final buzzer at 1:22 a.m., eight players had fouled out and six had recorded double-doubles.
15 of 20Heinz Kluetmeier/SI
100-meter men's butterfly
Every Michael Phelps swim in Beijing was impressive, but this one was a stunning sleight-of-hands trick. Several meters from the finish, Cavic, who'd dominated the race, was still ahead. But with one last, fast, half-stroke, Phelps touched the wall first by .01 of a second, equaled Mark Spitz's total of seven golds in one Games and all but guaranteed that he would win a record eighth (as he did in a relay the next day). With its Phelpsian brilliance, high-tech suits and upstart challenger (Cavic, swimming for Serbia, symbolized a new wave of medalists from smaller countries), the race conjoined three of the biggest Olympic stories of the era.
16 of 20Robert Beck, John Biever/SI
Texas 41, USC 38
Before this game, no one wondered if Texas would win. All the pregame talk centered on where USC would fall in the pantheon of all-time great teams after its inevitable victory. Apparently, no one told Longhorns quarterback Vince Young, who dueled Heisman Trophy winners Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush for most of the night. With Texas trailing by five late, the Longhorns faced fourth-and-five from the USC eight. Young noticed USC defensive end Frostee Rucker had crashed inside, so Young raced right. He crossed the goal line with 19 seconds remaining, and added the two-point conversion to complete the best individual performance of the BCS era.
17 of 20AP
Boise State 43, Oklahoma 42
Boise State led Big 12 champ Oklahoma by 18 in the third quarter, and the Broncos seemed ready to cruise to a historically significant but relatively unexciting win. But Oklahoma roared back, taking a 35-28 lead on Marcus Walker's interception return for a touchdown with 1:02 left. Then came the Circus. That's the name of the play Boise ran on fourth-and-18 from the 50, when Jared Zabransky hit Drisan James at the 35, and James pitched to Jerad Rabb, who crossed the goal line with seven seconds to go. After Adrian Peterson scored to give Oklahoma the lead in overtime, the Broncos answered on a halfback pass. Not content to play a second OT, Boise State coach Chris Peterson called Statue, the Broncos' version of the ultimate backyard play, the Statue of Liberty. Ian Johnson scored the two-point conversion to shock the Sooners and then ran down the sideline, where he proposed to his girlfriend, cheerleader Chrissy Popadics. She said yes.
18 of 20Mike Nelson/AFP/Getty Images, Al Tielemans/SI
Diamondbacks 3, Yankees 2
World Series Game 7 had it all. It had Derek Jeter winking at Curt Schilling to start off the game. It had Schilling and his hero Roger Clemens each pitching six shutout innings. It had the Diamondbacks taking the lead, the Yankees tying and then taking a lead of their own on Alfonso Soriano's home run. And finally, it had the Diamondbacks coming back against the seemingly invincible Mariano Rivera in the bottom of the ninth. This isn't just the best baseball game of the decade; it's one of the best games ever played.
19 of 20Al Tielemans, John Biever, Walter Iooss Jr./SI
Steelers 27, Cardinals 23
The 2009 Super Bowl had great players, great plays and so much drama that you thought twice before running to the bathroom. Steelers linebacker James Harrison punctuated his Defensive Player of the Year season by returning an interception 100 yards for a TD to end the first half, and Cardinals wideout Larry Fitzgerald scored twice in the fourth quarter to establish receiving records for catches (30), yards (546) and touchdowns (seven) in a single postseason. His 64-yard catch-and-run with 2:37 to play gave the Cardinals their first lead at 23-20, but Steelers wideout Santonio Holmes stole the MVP award by snaring a 6-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger with 35 seconds to play.
20 of 20Simon Bruty/SI
Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer
The match had it all: context, gravitas, swings in momentum, injury, recovery, sportsmanship, acts of God. And some of the highest quality tennis ever played. In the end, it was a five-hour infomercial for everything right and virtuous about the sport. Nadal ended up prevailing 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-7 (8), 9-7, but those prone to cliché had it right: Tennis was the real winner that day.
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