DREW BLEDSOE V. MO LEWIS
This entry (which foreshadows the top play on this list) isn’t the first time a Drew Bledsoe injury opened the door for a young emerging quarterback. In Week 2 of the 2001 season, Bledsoe rolled out to the right, and caught a stiff right shoulder from Jets linebacker Mo Lewis. The hit may not have looked that bad, but managed to cause a sheared blood vessel in Bledsoe’s chest, which almost became a fatal injury. Everyone knows what happened next (Brady leads Pats to three Super Bowls), however, Bledsoe did come back to sub in for an injured Brady in New England’s AFC Championship game victory.
REGGIE BUSH V. SHELDON BROWN
Reggie Bush thrives in the open field, and as a result, leaves himself vulnerable to some vicious hits. None were as brutal as this screen pass gone horribly wrong from his rookie season with the Saints, during a NFC divisional playoff game against the Eagles. After catching the ball, Bush was spear-tackled in the backfield by Eagles cornerback Sheldon Brown, causing the ball to pop out, and Bush to go down like a sack of potatoes. While Bush did stumble on the ground to regain his basic motor skills, he miraculously stayed in the game, a Saints victory.
DESEAN JACKSON V. DUNTA ROBINSON
The NFL has taken a strict stance against players “launching” (leaving their feet for a tackle) against “defenseless receivers,” but for some reason, Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson has yet to get the memo on the rule change. In Week 6 of last season, Robinson charged, helmet-first, into DeSean Jackson’s left shoulder, causing the undersized Eagles receiver to snap backwards onto the field. Jackson sustained a severe concussion, and missed two weeks of action. Robinson was fined for an illegal hit on a defenseless player, and the incident further raised the debate on the guidelines for physical play in the league.
TOM BRADY V. BERNARD POLLARD
While it may lack the visual horror of other hits on this list, there is no question how terrified Patriots fans were while watching their franchise quarterback go down in a heap, following this low blow from Week 1 of the 2008 season. In the infamous clip, Brady’s left leg is literally clipped by Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard, resulting in a tear of the ACL and MCL of the quarterback’s left knee. Brady was knocked out for the season, after only a half quarter of action. Despite the devastating injury, Brady had successful reconstructive knee surgery, and has since looked as good as ever, winning his second MVP award last season.