Pivotal Plays happen in sports on a daily basis both in team and individual competition. Recently, the nation’s eye has been on the NFL as the road to the Super Bowl has been as highly contested as ever. We would like to take a moment to recognize game-changing plays along the way, as well as reflect on a solid effort from one of tennis’ most accomplished individuals.
As always, we’d love to hear your take on recent Pivotal Plays in sports. Give us a shout and let us know!
Nadal Ousts Federer, Advances to 15th Grand Slam Final
One of the most storied rivalries in men’s tennis added yet another epic chapter in the 2012 Australian Open semifinal this week. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are the only pair of men to have finished six consecutive calendar years as the top two ranked players on the ATP Tour (2005-2010). Each time they face off, both players are pushed to their limits—over time, Nadal’s limits have proven a tad greater than Federer’s. Understanding the challenge and preparing adequately has been the key to this familiar rivalry.
“He [Nadal] has a clear plan and he follows that one very well,” said Federer.
The 27th meeting between the pair proved to be another classic clash of Federer’s mesmerizing finesse against Nadal’s overpowering brute force. Nadal stepped up and won a pivotal service break in the ninth game of the fourth set, hitting a powerful cross-court forehand winner from behind the baseline, causing Federer return it wide, and give Nadal a 5-4 lead.
The 25 year old Spaniard went on to win the match in the next game, and moves on to face Novak Djokovic in the final today as he vies for his 11th grand slam title.
Defense Wins Championships: Patriots CB Makes Timely Play in AFC Title Game
Much had been made this NFL season of the high powered passing offenses around the league. Brees, Rodgers, Brady and E. Manning all led offensive attacks that at times, looked unstoppable. This past weekend however, with the AFC title game on the line, the oldest adage in sports held true: defense wins championships.
Following the game, fans, analysts, and pundits alike wanted to place the blame on Baltimore kicker Billy Cundiff for missing a short field goal that would have sent the game into overtime. However, the biggest play came two plays earlier from an unlikely source.
Before Cundiff missed, the Ravens had a chance to go ahead, but backup Patriots cornerback, Sterling Moore, knocked what looked like the game-winning touchdown out of veteran wide receiver Lee Evans’ hands. The savvy play was a demonstration of Moores’ unwavering focus and determination as he was able to overcome adversity after being beat for a touchdown that gave the Ravens a 17-16 lead. The Patriots went on to win the game 23-20, and face the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI Sunday, February 5th, 2012.
As the week comes to a close, we have taken some time to reflect on the latest game-changing moves in sports. Below are highlights of our top three Pivotal Plays from the past week (or so). Did you see other significant plays that led to victory or changed the game this week? Let us know!
On the first play of overtime against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the NFL playoffs, Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow threw an 80 yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas. The play lasted eleven seconds and made for the quickest overtime in NFL history. Tebow, as he has done all season, came through for the Broncos when the stakes were high, and changed the game with one big play.
“I think it’s just a mentality, being aggressive,” Tebow said. “Whether it’s in the pocket, when I was stepping up and I start to scramble … or whether it’s when I’m stepping up and giving a receiver an opportunity on a deep ball.”
Listen to the Pivotal Play of the Game recap from the Sports Junkies on 106.7 FM The Fan.
Everyone thought that the BCS Championship game between LSU and Alabama would be one for the ages. But during Monday night’s game it was total domination by Alabama that won them their second BCS title in three years. With no clear pivotal play of the game, some say it was boring but we say the game was a memorable one, due to key players that helped Alabama walk over LSU to victory – Marquis Maze, Jeremy Shelley, and C.J. Mosely among others.
With their 24-16 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals last weekend, the Baltimore Ravens won their first AFC North Division title since 2006.
With the Ravens clinging to a 17-13 lead and less than eight minutes left in the game, the Bengals offense had the ball in Raven’s territory. On second down, Bengal tight end, Jermaine Gresham, caught a short pass. Gresham was then stripped by Ravens’ outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, and Baltimore recovered the fumble. The turnover came during a pivotal moment in the game as the Bengals were driving to take the lead. Three plays later, Baltimore running back, Ray Rice, capitalized on the turnover with a 51- yard touchdown run stretching the lead to 24-13—wrapping up the Ravens win.
The forced fumble was Suggs’ seventh of the season – a new Raven’s record. It is thought around the league that the play gave Suggs the edge to win the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year.