NFL 100: 10 games that made the NFL

There have been a lot, a lot of NFL games played.

It made narrowing 100 years of pro football to the top 10, in terms of significance, a lot, a lot of work. There are iconic games, and moments, that come to mind when you think of the best — or most embarrassing — through the league's 100 years.

There's a mix of old and more recent games to take you back and maybe even have you relive some painful memories.

10 games that made the NFL

Super Bowl 49

What would you do on the 1-yard line with Marshawn Lynch in the backfield? The Seahawks opted for a pass play, and the Patriots intercepted the ball in the end zone for one of the most head-scratching plays in history. New England went on to win 28-24 and spoiled Seattle's opportunity for back-to-back Super Bowl victories.

Tom Brady led the Patriots on two late touchdown drives for a lead late in the fourth quarter. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was trying to do the same. Wilson and company reached the 1-yard line with just under 30 seconds to play. Instead of handing the ball to Lynch, he opted to pass. Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner, who ironically used to play for the Seahawks as an original member of the "Legion of Boom," picked off Wilson to secure New England's fourth of six championships.

It left Lynch's teammates scratching their heads.

"How do you throw the ball when you got Marshawn Lynch?" Seahawks cornerback Tharold Simon asked at the time.

Richard Sherman said: "I'm a little surprised. It was an unfortunate play. Their guy made a heck of a play and that's all you can ask for."

The 1981 AFC Divisional Playoff Game

The nickname for this game between the Dolphins and Chargers says it all: "The Epic in Miami." It was truly one of the most epic contests the NFL has seen. The game, won by the San Diego Chargers in overtime, 41–38, saw a slew of records broken and a number of other monikers including "The Miracle That Died" and "The Game No One Should Have Lost."

The Dolphins and Chargers set playoff records for the most points scored by both teams (79), most total yards by both teams (1,036), and most passing yards by both teams (809). This doesn't even include the individual records set by quarterbacks Don Strock and Dan Fouts.

And who could forget an exhausted Kellen Winslow being helped from the field?

The 1958 NFL Championship Game

Or "The Greatest Game Ever Played."

This was a decade before the Super Bowl era began and it was the first playoff game to go into sudden-death overtime. The Baltimore Colts faced the New York Giants at Yankee Stadium and eventually won, 23-17.

The televised game catapulted the NFL into popularity and had record-breaking performances to boot. Baltimore receiver Raymond Berry finished with 12 receptions for 178 yards and a touchdown. The 12 catches set a championship record that stood for 55 years.

Not many may remember that. Alan Ameche's winning 1-yard touchdown dive is what is etched in NFL lore and TV history. A made-for-television sport was born.

The Thanksgiving Day 2012 primetime game

What's more Thanksgiving than turkey? Football. Unfortunately for the Jets, this game goes down as one of the lowest points in their history (and there've been a few) and houses one of the most embarrassing moments in NFL history.

New York took on New England in front of a home crowd at MetLife Stadium and a primetime audience on TV. The  Jets lost 49-19 en route to a 6-10 season, but what most people will remember from that game is the butt fumble. 

"You always teach a quarterback, 'Don't make a bad play worse.' Well, we made it worse," Rex Ryan, the Jets coach at the time, said when revisiting the event five years later. "I don't know what [New York QB Mark Sanchez] was doing, man. It was just a disaster. When everybody's blocking it a certain way and you go the other way, that's a bad combination."

Sanchez collided with the butt of teammate Brandon Moore and fumbled the ball. It was picked up by the Patriots and returned for a touchdown. The play happened during a disastrous second quarter in which New York lost three fumbles and, in turn, New England scored three touchdowns — one on offense, defense and special teams — in the span of under a minute.

The 1972 AFC Divisional playoff

If this particular game pitting the Steelers and Raiders against one another doesn't ring a bell, maybe the term "Immaculate Reception" will. It's one of the most famous plays in NFL history to help push Pittsburgh past Oakland, 13-7. We're still not sure how it exactly happened. Did the ball from Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw bounce off the helmet of Raiders safety Jack Tatum or off the hands of John "Frenchy" Fuqua, the intended target? What we do know, and can revisit, is the ball falling into the hands of Steelers back Franco Harris who ran it in for a winning touchdown in the final 30 seconds of the game. Immaculate.

The 2012 AFC Divisional playoff

This game is called the "Mile High Miracle" after the Ravens engineered a double-overtime comeback against the Broncos in Denver. Joe Flacco threw a tying 70-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jacoby Jones with less than a minute to play in regulation. The two teams entered the first overtime tied at 35 and then, during the second overtime period, Baltimore sent a 47-yard field goal through the uprights.

But it wasn't just Flacco, even though this was dubbed his breakout performance. The Peyton Manning-led Broncos put together a great offensive performance as well. In the freezing temperatures in January in the Mile High City, 28 points scored in the first 11 minutes of the game. There were also three return touchdowns and five lead changes in the contest. It was certainly one for the record books and made our top-10 list. 

Super Bowl 5

This was the first Super Bowl played after the completion of the American Football League and National Football League merger. It's known to some as "The Blunder Bowl," precisely for all of the miscues that happened during the contest. But you've got to start somewhere, right? Despite the poor play, missed PATs, penalties and turnovers, the victorious Colts — who won 16-13 over the Co

wboys — truly began a new era.

Super Bowl 52

When the Patriots make it all the way to a Super Bowl, more often than not they win. In New England's 11 championship appearances, the team has put together six wins. This time, however, was one of five Super Bowls they would lose.

The Eagles went on to defeat the defending champion Patriots, 41–33, to win their first Super Bowl, and first NFL title, since 1960. It was a long time coming for Philadelphia and it was led by backup quarterback Nick Foles.

The high-scoring affair turned into yet another record-setting performance. The two teams combined for the most yards gained in an NFL game (1,151), fewest punts from both teams in a Super Bowl (one), and Tom Brady helped set a record for the most points scored by a Super Bowl losing team.

Like most great games on this list, there was one play in particular that stands out: "the Philly Special." It can rightfully be dubbed as one of, if not the, boldest trick play in league history.

Super Bowl 3

Everyone loves an underdog, but not many believed the Jets could topple the Colts in what would be the first to championship game to officially hold the trademark name "Super Bowl." It made New York's eventual 16-7 victory 50 years ago that much sweeter — and that much more memorable. 

The Jets entered the game as 18-point underdogs and pulled off one of the greatest upsets not only in American football history but in the history of all sports.

It also marked the first time the AFL champion was victorious after the Packers won Super Bowls 1 and 2 and came at a time when many doubted if the younger league ever would compete with its older sibling.

It set the stage for future matchups and many more notable Super Bowl comebacks (for example, Super Bowl 51).​

The 1967 NFL Championship Game

You might know this by another name: "The Ice Bowl." The sub-zero temperatures at Lambeau Field gave this iconic game its nickname.

When the Tom Landry-led Cowboys took on Vince Lombardi and the Packers, temps reached a low of minus-15 degrees Fahrenheit and the wind chill was minus-48.

This rematch of the previous season's NFL title game, played in Dallas and won by the Packers. In the 1967 championship game, Green Bay again came away with a win, but this time by a narrower margin, 21-17. With 16 seconds to play, Green Bay quarterback Bart Starr took the snap and scored behind "The Block" by guard Jerry Kramer and center Kent Bowman.

Temperature on the field at the time of the deciding fourth-quarter score: minus-20.