Top 10 Sports Games of 2018
Fair warning: there’s a lot of football on this list.
But dear me, did 2018 give us some games to remember. From the Olympics to the World Cup, to the College and NFL playoffs and beyond, this year showcased the best that sports had to offer.
I also want to point out that all of these are very close. There is no drop off between one and two, nor is there a drop off between the actual list and the honorable mentions.
The games this year were spectacular. Let’s take a look at the top 10 games in sports in 2018.
September 8th- Clemson escapes College Station
Clemson Tigers 28, Texas A&M Aggies 26
Clemson should have put away Texas A&M much sooner and much more handily than they did. Fortunately, they made the play when they had to, and defeated the Aggies in a thrilling victory in week 2 of college football. Clemson led by as many as 15 points in the third quarter, as sophomore QB Kelly Bryant’s pass to Diondre Overton put the Tigers up 21-6. Clemson would add another later in the third, going up 28-13 entering the fourth. But Texas A&M would not go away quietly, as Aggie QB Kellen Mond led two touchdown drives within five minutes in the fourth, the second leaving the score at 28-26 with just a two point conversion pending. With the game in the balance, the Tigers defense stepped up, and forced an interception, with K’Von Wallace making the pick in the end zone, sealing a Tiger victory. Clemson is playing in the College Football Playoff, but they might not be here if not for some great defense early in the season.
September 29th- Penn State's questionable 4th down play calling
Ohio State Buckeyes 27, Penn State Nittany Lions 26
Ah, the ol’ Ohio State-Penn State rivalry. This edition took place at Beaver Stadium, and probably shouldn’t have ended the way it did. The Nittany Lions had Ohio State on the ropes. They had the home crowd behind them, and the offense was firing on all cylinders before everything changed. Penn State struck first twice on two field goals and then a 93-yard touchdown pass from Trace McSorley to KJ Hamler to put Penn State up 13-0. But Ohio State would not go away quietly, battling back in the third to take a 14-13 lead on a J.K. Dobbins run from 4 yards out. In the fourth, McSorley and the Nittany Lions came back with a vengeance, taking two drives down the field for scores in 6 minutes to go up 26-14, the second touchdown having a two-point try get stuffed at the goal line. Binjimen Victor made it a little closer for the Buckeyes, weaving his way down the field for a 47-yard touchdown to make it 26-20 with just over six minutes to go. And on the eighth play of a 96-yard drive, four minutes later, K.J. Hill’s 24-yard pass from Dwayne Haskins put the Buckeyes up 27-26 with just over two minutes to go. All Penn State needed to do was drive down and hit a game-winning field goal. They would get to the Ohio State 43 before a stop on 3rd down set up a 4th and five. Penn State called timeout. Ohio State called timeout. You would think that, after two timeouts, and on 4th and 5, Penn State would have something ready to get that first down. Instead, it was a questionable draw play that went for a loss of two, turning the ball over to Ohio State, who knelt on it for the 27-26 win. And just like that, the faces of the Penn State players and fan base went as white as the clothing in the crowd.
January 21st- Danny "Playoff" Amendola sinks the Jaguars
AFC Championship Game
New England Patriots 24, Jacksonville Jaguars 20
No one expected the Jacksonville Jaguars to be in the AFC Championship game against the Patriots. Still, with an underrated offense and one of the best defenses in football, they outlasted the Pittsburgh Steelers in a shootout, and traveled to Foxboro on a cold January afternoon, with the winner being crowned AFC Champion and getting to play in the Super Bowl. This was business as usual for the New England Patriots, on the other hand, who were playing in their 8th consecutive AFC Championship game, looking to return to the Super Bowl after winning it the year before. At the start, it was all Jaguars, who used Leonard Fournette on the ground to keep the Patriots off balance, and QB Blake Bortles picked apart the secondary, and quickly had Jacksonville up 14-3. On defense, the Patriots did not have an answer, as the Jaguars continually stopped the Patriots on third down to prevent New England from gaining momentum. But with less than two minutes to play in the half (albeit thanks to a few penalties), Tom Brady led a long drive culminating with a one-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 14-10 before halftime. After a long Josh Lambo field goal to put the Jags up by 7, the teams traded three-and-outs before Jacksonville went on yet another long drive, again finishing with a field goal to go up 20-10 at the start of the fourth. Even down by double digits, the Patriots could get nothing going, as a double pass from Brady to Danny Amendola to Dion Lewis was fumbled and recovered by the Jaguars. However, thanks to some great defense, the Patriots forced a three and out and got the ball back. The Patriots would convert their next drive into a score to make it 20-17, involving a crucial conversion on 3rd and 18 as Brady hit Amendola with a long strike. After another Jaguars punt, the Patriots only took five plays to go up 24-20, with Brady once again finding Amendola. On the Jaguars final possession, a Blake Bortles pass on fourth down was knocked down brilliantly by Stephon Gilmore, sealing a Patriots comeback, sending New England back to the Super Bowl.
March 31st- Los Angeles FC gets Zlatan'd
LA Galaxy 4, Los Angeles FC 3
This game was more the Zlatan Ibrahimovic “coming to America” party than anything else. Pulling a stunning comeback from down 3-0, Ibrahimovic equalized the score with a fantastic volley from just over the midline, then added a header to make it 4-3 LA Galaxy in stoppage time. The arrival of the Swedish superstar from Manchester United was anxiously awaited, and it is clear that Zlatan lived up to the billing.
March 24th- Jayhawks outlast Blue Devils in overtime
NCAA Tournament, Midwest Regional Final
Kansas Jayhawks 85, Duke Blue Devils 81 (OT)
In a tournament overshadowed by upsets, one of the more back and forth games of March Madness got lost in the shuffle of things- two college basketball giants battled it out in a contest of hardwood prowess, and the contest needed overtime to decide a winner. Kansas’ Malik Newman scored 13 points in the extra period (in fact, he was the only Jayhawk to score in overtime), and the #1 seeded Jayhawks defeated the #2 seeded Blue Devils to advance to the final four. This game featured 18 lead changes and 11 ties.
The Top 10:
10. July 2nd- Belgium comes from behind to stun Japan
FIFA World Cup, Round of 16
Belgium 3, Japan 2
As the only Asian team remaining in the 2018 World Cup, Japan was looking to keep itself in the tournament by upsetting the favored Belgian team in the round of 16 matchup. Belgium, a sleeper pick for most to win the tournament, came into the match having won their group with three decisive victories over Panama, Tunisia and England. Japan finished 1-1-1 in their group, having managed a tie with Senegal and an upset win over group winner Colombia. At the outset, though, this game was all Japan, as they scored twice early in the second half, the first by Ganki Haraguchi, and another four minutes later by Takashi Inui. The Belgians were in trouble. But in the 69th minute, Jan Bert Lieve Vertonghen managed to score on a high header, cutting the deficit in half, 2-1. In Marouane Fellaini-Bakkioui scored on a beautiful cross header to even it at 2-2 in the 74th minute, sucking the air out of the Japan team and giving Belgium some new life. Finally, in the fourth minute of stoppage time, Belgium flew down the pitch on one last fast break attack, and Nacer Chadli found the back of the net, icing the win for Belgium, and sending Japan home in heartbreaking fashion. Belgium would go on to upset Brazil in the quarter final, but lost to eventual champion France, 1-0 in the semifinals.
9. February 22nd- United States women's hockey is golden
2018 Winter Olympics: Women's Ice Hockey, Gold Medal Game
United States of America 3, Canada 2 (Shootout)
The United States women’s national team blew a 2-0 lead in the gold medal game four years ago in Sochi, and lost in overtime to the Canadians. This time, they were not about to let it get away in Pyeongchang. In this edition of the gold medal game, the Americans jumped on the Canadians in the first period, with a brilliant tip-in goal by Hilary Knight. The Canadians battled back, though, scoring two in the second period to take the lead back 2-1 on goals from Haley Irwin and Marie-Philip Poulin, the latter having scored in OT four years ago to win the gold medal for Canada. In the third, though, Monique Lamoureux whistled a shot past Canada goalie Shannon Szabados to even the score at 2 with only 6:21 remaining, where the score would eventually remain until overtime. In the extra period, the Americans managed to keep pace, even outlasting a Canadian power play for the last minute and change of overtime. With the score tied after OT, the gold medal would be decided in a shootout. Tied at two goals apiece in the 6th round, it was Jocelyn Lamoureux this time, who deked Szabados out of her skates and slid in the go-ahead goal for Team USA. All US goalie Maddie Rooney had to do was stop a shot from Meghan Agosta to seal the gold medal for Team USA. She did just that, and for the first time since 1998, the United States sat at the top of the podium, champions in women’s ice hockey. A truly golden moment at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
8. January 1st- Double overtime decides the Rose Bowl
College Football Playoff Semifinal- Rose Bowl
Georgia Bulldogs 54, Oklahoma Sooners 48 (2 OT)
I never knew there had never been a Rose Bowl that needed overtime to determine a winner. Finally, in 2018, we had one. This CFB semifinal featured two teams that both could have given Alabama fits in the National Championship. The first was Oklahoma, whose quarterback Baker Mayfield was the recent Heisman Trophy winner, determined to get an Oklahoma squad to the big time after falling short the last few years. The other was Georgia, a hard-nosed team that had quietly finished the season with a 12-1 record, defeating the likes of Notre Dame and Auburn along the way. It was all Oklahoma in the first half, with the score sitting at 31-17 by halftime. Georgia fought back in the third quarter, on a pair of touchdown runs by Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. The Bulldogs and Sooners traded pairs of touchdowns in the fourth, with Georgia tying the game on a Nick Chubb run with only 55 seconds to play. With neither team getting it done in the first overtime, the Georgia defense prevented Oklahoma from scoring on the first possession of double overtime, as Austin Seibert’s 27-yard field goal was blocked by Lorenzo Carter. On the second play of Georgia’s possession, Sony Michel ran for 27 yards into the endzone, and sent the Bulldogs to the title game to face off against SEC rival Alabama.
7. November 19th- The Monday night offensive spectacular
Los Angeles Rams 54, Kansas City Chiefs 51
This game showed me that there might be a new era of professional football on the horizon: one filled with offensive explosions and very little defense: whoever’s offense can shine the brightest will be the winner. And so, during a Monday night game moved from Mexico City back to Los Angeles, we may have gotten our Super Bowl preview, as two 9-1 teams met for a clash of the Titans. We saw two quarterbacks throw for a combined 10 touchdown passes. We saw 7 lead changes. We saw some of the worst defense I have ever seen, and perhaps some of the most underthrown footballs I have ever seen. But what we got was one heck of a football game that kept us on the edge of our seats. Just when all seemed lost for both the Chiefs and Rams, both pulled something out of the hat to swing the momentum in the other direction. I truthfully wouldn’t be mad if we saw a Super Bowl that featured these two teams.
6. January 8th- Who is Tua Tagovailoa, anyway?
College Football Playoff National Championship Game
Alabama Crimson Tide 26, Georgia Bulldogs 23 (OT)
Leave it to Alabama to surprise literally everyone and then surprise no one at the same time. Georgia had this game WON. They knocked Jalen Hurts out of the game. Who is Tua Tagovailoa, anyways? The Bulldogs, fresh of a double overtime win in the Rose Bowl the week prior, led 23-20 in overtime, and had just sacked the backup QB Tagovailoa on first down to push the Crimson Tide out of field goal range on second down. No problem. Tua unloaded a 41-yard touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith to win the game in overtime for the Tide. Typical Georgia sports teams, blowing leads all over the place. Georgia’s not allowed to play football again.
5. November 24th- LSU and Texas A&M go the distance
Texas A&M Aggies 74, LSU Tigers 72 (7 OT)
We had a 7-overtime game make the list in a prior year, but this one was far superior, based solely on the teams involved. It took Texas A&M seven overtimes to put away seventh-ranked LSU, who were fighting for a potential playoff spot. In the fourth quarter, with LSU up 31-24, A&M QB Kellen Mond threw what was thought to be a game-sealing interception. LSU poured the Gatorade on top of coach Ed Orgeron, before finding out that Mond’s knee had actually touched the ground, meaning the play should have been dead before the ball was thrown. With possession and no time left, Mond, on the very next play, threw a 19-yard strike to Quentin Davis to tie the game and send it to overtime. In the third overtime, with LSU leading 49-41, Mond hit Kendrick Rogers (who should have been this game’s MVP if he wasn’t already) for a 25-yard touchdown pass, which Rogers reeled in with one hand. The game remained tied in the fourth overtime, then the fifth, then the sixth. LSU scored in the 7th overtime on a 10-yard run from Joe Burrow to put the Tigers up 72-66. Their two-point conversion failed. On the Aggies’ possession, Mond hit Davis again for 19 yards to tie it at 72. The two-point conversion? Mond to Rogers, because of course. It took seven overtimes to decide a winner. LSU left virtually empty handed, and A&M left with their heads held high. Can you imagine if the NFL switched to a system like this? Games would be WAY more exciting.
4. February 4th- Philly Philly
Super Bowl LII
Philadelphia Eagles 41, New England Patriots 33
Some dude named Nick Foles was the MVP of this game. Tom Brady, playing in his second consecutive Super Bowl, torched the Eagles defense for 505 yards and still lost. Malcolm Butler didn’t play. The Philly Special was run. The Patriots actually led in this game and had two chances to drive down the field and take the lead in the fourth and could not. The Eagles won the goddamn Super Bowl. That’s all I have to say about that. You want my recap on the game? You can read it HERE. Get out of my face.
3. October 26th- Max Muncy ends it in the 18th
World Series, Game 3
Los Angeles Dodgers 4, Boston Red Sox 3 (18 innings)
My takeaways from this game are far and few between: a) This is both one of the best and worst games of baseball I have ever seen based on longevity and quality of play. b) Ian Kinsler should never be allowed to play baseball again. And c) The Red Sox should be paying Nathan Eovaldi all of the dollars. In game three of the World Series, with the Red Sox already ahead two games to none, they entered game three against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, starting Rick Porcello to try to take a commanding 3-0 series lead. The game was pretty tame, all things considered. Joc Pederson homered in the third, and Jackie Bradley Jr. homered to tie it in the eighth. But in extras, things got wacky. Eduardo Nunez, who is probably like the #7 hero of this entire World Series for the Red Sox, put his body on the line in the inning, taking a hit by pitch, diving into first, and then eventually scoring the go-ahead run. He would put his body on the line again in the bottom of the frame by diving into the seats to make a catch. But Ian Kinsler (who was awarded a Gold Glove at the end of the season) ruined what could have been a perfectly tame 13-inning victory. After nearly botching running the bases TWICE, he fielded a ground ball to second awkwardly with two outs and a man at third, and errantly threw it away from first base, allowing Max Muncy to score. Instead of a 3-2 Red Sox win, it was 3-3. And they played on. And on. And on. This is a good time to mention Nathan Eovaldi, who threw 97 pitches in 6 full innings of relief, after entering in the 12th inning. This is also a good time to mention that Eovaldi gave up the winning home run to Max Muncy in the bottom of the 18th, sending the Dodgers home with new life, bringing the series to 2-1.
Hint: The Dodgers would drop the next two games and the Red Sox would win their fourth World Series since 2004.
2. January 14th- The Minneapolis Miracle
NFC Divisional Playoff
Minnesota Vikings 29, New Orleans Saints 24
A comeback. Four lead changes in the last three minutes. A last-ditch prayer of a throw. A miracle finish. This playoff game between the Vikings and Saints had it all. The Saints rallied from down 17 with 1:16 to go in the third quarter, and took a 24-23 lead after a 43-second drive from quarterback Drew Brees led to a Will Lutz field goal. The Vikings were out of timeouts with only ten seconds to go, stuck at his own 39 yard line. Minnesota QB Case Keenum threw one up by the sidelines to Stefon Diggs, who managed to come down with the ball, avoid the defender, stay in bounds, and high step to the end zone to win it as time expired. “The Minneapolis Miracle,” as the radio broadcasters described it. The Vikings would lose to the Eagles in the NFC Championship, missing out on their chance to become a first-time Super Bowl host. But for a franchise experienced with postseason disappointment, this game served as much needed-relief for those still ailing from Blair Walsh’s missed field goal in the cold against Seattle, or Brett Favre’s unnecessary interception against the same Saints in 2010. This moment will probably live on forever in Minnesota Vikings and NFL lore.
1. October 17th- Red Sox vs. Astros- An instant classic
American League Championship Series, Game 4
Boston Red Sox 8, Houston Astros 6
These were the two best teams in baseball slugging it out in a pivotal game 4. The Astros were down 2-1, looking to even the series and get some much-needed momentum in game five, to be played in Houston. The Red Sox were looking to go up 3-1, an almost insurmountable deficit for any team in baseball, and move one win away from going back to the World Series. The Sox struck first in the opening frame, with Rafael Devers bringing in Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, putting Boston up 2-0 almost immediately.
Trouble brewed in the bottom of the frame, however, as Jose Altuve was called out on a spectator interference call, which, if Mookie Betts had not made the catch, would have either bounced off the wall, or gone over the fence, tying the game for the Astros. Crew chief Joe West made the call, and despite fans and Astros players taking issue with the call, spectator interference was upheld. Rick Porcello then got Yuli Gurriel to fly to right to end the inning.
After a Houston run in the 2nd, Xander Bogaerts doubled to score Andrew Benintendi, chasing Houston starter Charlie Morton from the game after 2.1 innings. But the Astros weren’t done. In the third, Porcello allowed a home run to George Springer and an RBI single to Josh Reddick. In the fourth, he allowed another home run, this time to Tony Kemp. Joe Kelly took over for Porcello, locking down the next inning.
Xander Bogaerts answered with an RBI single in the fifth, tying the game at 4, only to have the Astros answer right back, as Carlos Correa drove in Gurriel. 5-4 Houston after five. Jackie Bradley, Jr., who was defying expectations for the entire series, clobbered a two run home run in the sixth, driving in Christian Vazquez as well. A bases loaded walk in the seventh and a J.D. Martinez RBI in the eighth brought the score to 8-5.
And then there was Craig Kimbrel, who proceeded to give up a run in the eighth and then load the bases in the ninth.
Fortunately for Craig Kimbrel, there was Benny Biceps. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth and two outs, Alex Bregman, who to this point was Houston’s probable super star for years to come, lined a ball on his first pitch into shallow left center.
Benintendi dove and made a spectacular catch. There’s no telling what would have happened if he didn’t catch it, but he did, and the Red Sox took home a victory to go up 3-1 in the series. They would go on to win game five the next night, winning the ALCS and advancing to the World Series.
In this back-and-forth, gripping game, ultimately perseverance from the 108-win team shone through, and their performance (along with their competitor) earned this game the top spot for our Best Games of 2018.
Is there a game we missed? Let us know in the comments down below.
Be sure to check out the rest of According to Andrew’s Best of 2018 spread by clicking HERE.