What is it about a touchdown that causes overgrown defensive ends to breakout in theatrical dance moves and suburban alpha males to openly embrace their equally-uncomfortable-with-physical-contact friends? Is it the thrill of victory? The impossibility of the conquest? The adrenaline of the moment? In truth, it’s all of these things and the 10 touchdowns on this list exemplify these qualities better than any plays in NFL history.
10. Denver Broncos vs. Cleveland Browns — January 11, 1987
The touchdown itself was probably not worthy of a highlight reel — Broncos QB John Elway simply tossed a five-yard pass to Mark Jackson. It’s the drive itself that earns this play a spot on this list. Trailing by seven with a little over five minutes left on the clock, the unflappable Elway led his team downfield over the course of 15 plays. Hammering the Browns defense, the hall of fame quarterback and his Broncos refused to go to a fourth down even once on what is now known as “The Drive” before triumphantly ending up in the Browns' endzone. The game did not end on this play, but Denver did take the victory in overtime.
9. New Orleans Saints vs. Jacksonville Jaguars — December 21, 2003
As is the case with many of the great plays on this list, the New Orleans Saints were in need of a miracle. Losing by seven with six seconds on the clock, the squad was on their own 25-yard line with few options left. Hoping for something to happen, QB Aaron Brooks tossed the ball 40-yards downfield to Donte Stallworth who then threw a lateral to Michael Lewis who when tossed it to Deuce McAllister who then flicked it to Jerome Pathon who ran 21 yards for an unbelievable touchdown. Still, in spite of all the ensuing theatrics, the Saints actually lost the game after a botched extra point kick.
8. Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets — November 17, 1994
Dan Marino was a confident quarterback and a strong team leader, but that didn’t stop the Miami Dolphin from being cunning. Down 24-21 to the New York Jets in November of 1994, Marino was at the Jets’ 8-yard line with 22 seconds on the clock and no timeouts left. With the pressure on, the QB shouted “Clock! Clock!” from behind his offensive line and made a motion as though he was about to spike the ball — a move which would’ve stopped the clock and set the Dolphins up for a possible field goal. The Jets defense, thinking Marino was going to abandon the play, fell out of position. Instead, the hall of famer dropped back and threw a beautiful pass to Mark Ingram for the touchdown and the win.
7. Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Giants — November 19, 1978
The interesting thing about a list of “great” touchdowns is that to some fans these plays represent their team’s worst moments. Such is the case with this 1978 debacle. Ahead of the Eagles 17-12 with possession of the ball and only seconds to go in the game, the Giants could have easily run out the clock and secured the victory. Instead — in what many fans have dubbed the worst coaching decision of all time — they ran a handoff play, which fullback Larry Csonka botched. With the ball loose, Eagles cornerback Herman Edwards snatched it and ran it in for a shocking game winning touchdown. To many, the moment became known as “The Miracle at the Meadowlands,” but to Giants fans it’s simply “The Fumble.”