On March 31, with Arsenal trailing Barcelona 2--1 late in its Champions League quarterfinal, Gunners midfielder Cesc Fàbregas calmly potted a penalty kick. Moments later he fell to the pitch with a broken right fibula, which he says he incurred during the tying boot. Fàbregas, who is lost to his native Spain for the World Cup, joins this illustrious band of athletes who, though injured on the play, displayed gallantry in performing their game-changing duty.
Reggie Jackson, 1972
In the fifth and deciding game of the ALCS against Detroit, the A's slugger stole home to score the tying run—and tore his left hamstring. Mr. October was on the bench for Oakland's World Series win over Cincinnati.
Bob Windsor, 1974
April 11, 2010
The Patriots' tight end caught a pass from Jim Plunkett and dragged several Vikings over the goal line for a final-play, game-winning TD but tore ligaments in his left knee, effectively halting his career.
Buck Martinez, 1985
On a single by the Mariners' Gorman Thomas, the Blue Jays' catcher tagged runner Phil Bradley out at the plate but in the collision broke his right leg and dislocated his ankle. Trying to nail Thomas at third, Martinez threw the ball into left; then, lying on the ground, he received the throw from the outfield and tagged Thomas coming in. (If you're scoring at home, that's 9-2-7-2.) The Jays won in 13.
Aaron Rowand, 2006
With the bases loaded and two outs in the first, the Phillies' centerfielder grabbed a Mets line drive, then plowed face-first into the outfield wall, breaking his nose and orbital bones but holding on to the ball. Philly won in a shutout.
Sara Tucholsky, 2008
The Western Oregon softball player poled a three-run homer (the eventual game-winner) but tore her right ACL rounding first base; to keep her from breaking rules about teammate assistance, Central Washington foes carried her around the bases (SI, June 29, 2009).