Last month, nfl.com solicited votes from fans on the top plays in the history of some of the league’s oldest stadiums.
Lambeau Field, of course, made the list and the online voting produced the following top five. Here’s a little more background on the plays, presented here in chronological order, along with links to videos of each play.
“Ice Bowl” sneak – Dec. 31, 1967
This isn’t just one of the top plays at Lambeau, but one of the most famous in the history of the NFL.
Quarterback Bart Starr came to the sideline to talk to Vince Lombardi about calling his own number. Sneak it, not hand it off to Chuck Mercein.
Lombardi’s memorable response of course was, “Run it and let’s get the hell out of here.”
Instant replay game – Nov. 5, 1989
The Packers had lost eight straight games to the Bears. Their last win over Chicago had come in 1984, when third-string quarterback Rich Campbell completed a “Hail Mary” pass to Phillip Epps in the final minute at Soldier Field.
This play was nearly as big a prayer, with an added dose of controversy. The Packers faced fourth-and-goal from the 14-yard line, trailing 13-7, with less than a minute left. Quarterback Don Majkowski scrambled to his right and, on the run, threw back across the field to Sterling Sharpe, who caught the ball between five or six Chicago defenders.
Initially, Majkowski was flagged for being across the line of scrimmage when he threw, negating the touchdown. After a lengthy replay review, however, the touchdown stood and the Packers kicked the extra point for a 14-13 victory.
For years afterward, the Bears put an asterisk next to this score in their media guide, forever labeling it the “instant replay game.”
First “Lambeau Leap” – Dec. 26, 1993
The Packers clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 1982 on this day after Christmas, but one moment from the game has lived on far longer than that postseason berth.
Oakland quarterback Vince Evans dumped the ball off to running back Randy Jordan, who was immediately hit by LeRoy Butler, forcing a fumble. Reggie White scooped up the fumble and, just before getting dragged out of bounds, lateraled back to Butler, who took it the final 25 yards to the end zone.
Butler spontaneously jumped into the south end zone stands, initiating the “Lambeau Leap,” which was further popularized by receiver Robert Brooks in the mid-1990s and continues today.
Monday night miracle – Nov. 6, 2000
With the Packers and Vikings tied at 20 in overtime on a rainy Monday night, this game ended in the most improbable of fashions.
Quarterback Brett Favre lofted a pass down the right side to Antonio Freeman, who fell to the ground after leaping to try to make the catch. The pass appeared incomplete, only the ball deflected off Minnesota defender Cris Dishman and hit Freeman’s shoulder as he slid on the sloppy turf. Freeman instinctively rolled to his back, snagged the ball before it hit the ground, got up and waltzed into the end zone for a 43-yard touchdown.
What’s often forgotten is a gaffe by Minnesota punter Mitch Berger that allowed the miracle to take place.
With 7 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Vikings were lining up for a 33-yard field goal to win the game. Berger, however, fumbled the snap and began scrambling to his right. His desperation pass was intercepted by the Packers, and the game went to overtime.
Had Berger remembered it was only first down, he could have quickly thrown the ball out of bounds and given kicker Gary Anderson another try at the game-winner on second down. The history books thank him for his momentary lapse.
Al Harris’ pick-six – Jan. 4, 2004
As historic as it was, the finish to the 2003 NFC wild-card game has been slightly distorted through the years.
When the Seahawks and Packers went to midfield for the overtime coin flip, Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck pronounced upon winning the toss, “We want the ball and we’re gonna score.” Referee Bernie Kukar’s microphone was on, so Hasselbeck’s proclamation was heard by everyone in the stadium and those watching on TV.
Legend has it that Hasselbeck then promptly threw the pass that Harris intercepted and returned 52 yards for a touchdown, the first postseason overtime game in league history decided by a defensive score.
Not exactly true. The interception actually occurred on the third possession of overtime. Seattle receiver Alex Bannister fumbled on the drive right after the coin flip, the Packers went three-and-out, and the Seahawks had driven to midfield before the fateful pick.
But that’s OK if a few details get lost. The story is better the way everyone believes it happened.