Football fans are spoiled with exciting and jaw-dropping touchdowns every single week of the regular season, but most of those touchdowns won’t even begin to compare to some of the unimaginable, unbelievable touchdowns we’ve witnessed throughout the history of the NFL.
You know what we mean by unbelievable touchdowns – those touchdowns that make you second guess what just happened. They make you rethink what’s possible and they’re a true testament to just how skilled, talented, adept, and well-trained football players really are.
Some people are lucky enough to witness unbelievable touchdowns in-person at the stadium, while others see them happen live at home or on their phone – in fact, most people will catch the unbelievable touchdowns on SportsCenter or social media. Either way, they’ll get you hype!
Unbelievable Touchdowns Worth a Second Look
A touchdown is much more than just a celebration and six points on the board – it’s a moment. A moment that will be etched into history forever and a moment that the player will remember for the rest of his life, no matter how many touchdowns he scores in his short or long NFL career.
Of course, some moments are more special than others. And every so often, we get to witness something so spectacular, so impeccable, and so head-scratching that we can’t believe what we just saw. That’s the lasting effect unbelievable touchdowns have on the game of football.
When we say the term ‘unbelievable touchdowns,’ there are likely some plays that immediately come to your mind – don’t worry, I can say the same and we’re probably thinking of the same, crazy, unbelievable touchdowns that everyone else is playing back in their mind right now.
20. The Minneapolis Miracle
This touchdown occurred at the end of the 2017 NFC Divisional Playoff game between the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings. The Saints had a 24-23 lead with 25 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, but Stefon Diggs and Case Keenum had other plans with this touchdown.
There were 10 seconds left and they only needed a field goal, but Keenum found Diggs as the Saints’ defender fell down – giving Diggs a wide open lane to the endzone. Diggs finished with six catches for 137 yards and one touchdown. The play was dubbed ‘The Minneapolis Miracle.’
19. Aaron Rodgers Hail Mary vs. Lions
This touchdown occurred during a 2015 Week 13 matchup between the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers. The Lions had beaten the Packers three weeks earlier, but Green Bay wasn’t about to lose to Detroit twice in the same season. Thanks to this hail mary, the Packers didn’t.
The Packers were actually down 14-23 halfway through the fourth quarter, but Aaron Rodgers scored a rushing touchdown with three minutes left in the game. Then with time expired, he heaved up a hail mary, which Richard Rogers caught for a 61-yard game-winning touchdown.
18. Josh Cribbs Goes the Distance Off the Kick
This touchdown occurred during a 2007 Week 10 matchup between the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers had just taken a 24-21 lead with a 30-yard rushing touchdown by Ben Roethlisberger and a successful two-point conversion early on in the fourth quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Josh Cribbs overplayed the bouncing kickoff as it went over his head. He quickly recovered it, but the Steelers were closing in on him. With a few jukes and a tip-toe frenzy at the sideline, Cribbs was on his way to a 100-yard touchdown to give his team the lead.
17. At Least the Browns Tried to Stop Adrian Peterson
This touchdown occurred during a 2009 Week 1 matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and Cleveland Browns. The game was rather close at halftime with the Browns up 13-10, but the second half belonged to the Vikings – more specifically, their running back Adrian Peterson.
He opened the third quarter with a one-yard touchdown, which sparked 14 unanswered points in the quarter for Minnesota. They opened the fourth quarter with 10 more unanswered points, which included this vicious 64-yard rushing touchdown by Peterson. It was his third of the game.
16. Billy Johnson With the Improbable Hail Mary Catch
This touchdown occurred during a 1983 Week 12 matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons. The 49ers had a 17-14 lead at the start of the fourth quarter, but Atlanta scored a touchdown to take a 21-17 lead. The 49ers quickly answered, making it 24-21.
With two seconds remaining in the game, the Falcons were too far away to attempt a field goal. Forced to go for the touchdown, Steve Bartkowski throws it up and while it gets batted down at first, the ball ends up in the hands of Billy ‘White Shoes’ Johnson, who runs it in for a TD.
15. Plaxico Burress With a Super Bowl Game-Winner
This touchdown occurred during Super Bowl XLII in 2008 between the New York Giants and New England Patriots. Tom Brady and the Patriots were looking to finish their perfect season, entering the Super Bowl at 18-0 on the year. The Giants, however, had a much different idea.
The Patriots were up 14-10 with just under three minutes to play. The Giants were driving down the field – this is when the infamous David Tyree catch happened – and eventually got the ball down to the 13-yard line. Eli Manning and Plaxico Burress ended the Patriots’ perfect season.
14. Vernon Davis Hurdles His Way Into a Touchdown
This touchdown occurred during a 2019 Week 1 matchup between the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles. Redskins’ tight end Vernon Davis was entering what would be his final year in the league and he wasted absolutely no time in kicking off the season on the right foot.
Just four minutes into the Week 1 matchup, Case Keenum (who was the QB behind ‘The Minneapolis Miracle’) connected with Davis on a 48-yard touchdown that saw the 35-year old tight end hurdle over an Eagles’ defender before staying on his feet and running it in for six.
13. Brandon Stokley Wins the Game
Speaking of Week 1 matchups, this touchdown occurred during a 2009 Week 1 matchup between the Denver Broncos and Cincinnati Bengals. The Broncos had a 6-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but the Bengals scored a touchdown with 41 seconds left to take the 7-6 lead.
Just 10 seconds after the Bengals’ hit their extra point, Kyle Orton dropped back to pass and while he missed his first target, Brandon Stokley was waiting for the deflection – which he caught and ran in for an 87-yard touchdown. The Broncos went on to win the game 12-7.
12. James Harrison Goes the Distance in the Super Bowl
This touchdown occurred halfway through Super Bowl XLIII in 2009 between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals. It has gone down as one of the greatest Super Bowl games of all-time and this play is one of the reasons why (we’ll get into another reason why below).
The Steelers got off to a 10-0 start, but the Cardinals scored a touchdown halfway through the second quarter. With 18 seconds left in the first half, Kurt Warner dropped back to pass, but was intercepted by James Harrison – who infamously ran it back 100 yards for a touchdown.
11. Santonio Holmes With the Super Bowl Game-Winner
We said we would get into another reason why Super Bowl XLIII in 2009 was so special and this play is it. The Steelers widened their lead to 20-7 late in the third quarter, but the Cardinals scored 16 unanswered points in the fourth to take a 23-20 lead with just over two minutes left.
Over the next two minutes, the Steelers drove the ball thanks to Ben Roethlisberger finding his target time and again. He hit Santonio Holmes for a 40-yard reception with just one minute left, but then hit Holmes for this unbelievable, game-winning touchdown with just 42 seconds left.
10. Woody Dantzler Returns the Kick for a TD
This touchdown occurred on December 8, 2002 during a Week 14 matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers. The Cowboys were down 17-13 early in the fourth quarter when Woody Dantzler returned this kickoff for an 84-yard touchdown to give his team the lead.
Just two weeks prior to this game, Dantzler was promoted from the practice squad to return kickoffs. He was signed to the team as an undrafted free agent just a few months before this game. It was his first career touchdown and what would be his only kickoff return touchdown.
9. Miracle at the New Meadowlands
This touchdown occurred during a 2010 Week 15 matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants – a game with playoff implications between two divisional rivals. The Eagles were down 31-10 halfway through the fourth quarter, but that’s when things started to go right.
Three touchdowns from Michael Vick – two passing and one rushing – tied the game up at 31-31 with just over one minute left in the game. After stopping the Giants and forcing them to punt with 14 seconds left, DeSean Jackson returned the punt for a touchdown as time expired.
8. Steve Smith Turns Nothing Into Something
This touchdown occurred during a 2007 Week 2 matchup between the Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans. It was a showdown between two of the best wide receivers in the game – Steve Smith Sr. and Andre Johnson – who combined for 273 yards and five touchdowns.
The Panthers were down 34-14 with just over four minutes left in the game when Smith Sr. scored this touchdown. It was his third of the game, but it wasn’t enough to mount a comeback. It did, however, showcase the work ethic, passion, and relentlessness that Smith Sr. embodied.
7. Antonio Freeman’s Monday Night Miracle
This touchdown occurred on November 6, 2000 during a Week 10 Monday Night Football matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings. Both teams entered the fourth quarter tied 20-20 and despite good effort, neither team managed to score in the fourth.
Overtime was something special. Not even four minutes into the overtime period, Brett Favre dropped back to pass and threw one up for Antonio Freeman. At first, it looked like he dropped the pass, but he caught it and wasn’t touched on the way down, so he got up and ran it in.
6. OBJ Makes a Fool of the Cowboys
This touchdown occurred on November 23, 2014 during a Week 12 matchup between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys. Odell Beckham Jr. opened up the scoring with a three-yard touchdown catch from Eli Manning. The Giants went into the second quarter with a 7-3 lead.
The first play of the second quarter with this gem of a touchdown. It goes down as one of the greatest catches in NFL history. The Cowboys were about to be called for a penalty, but it was negated by Beckham Jr.’s incredible catch. He finished the game with 146 yards and two TDs.
5. The Music City Miracle
There’s nothing better than unbelievable touchdowns in the playoffs. This one occurred during a Wild Card matchup between the Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills on January 8, 2000. The Titans hit a field goal with 1:48 left in the game, but the Bills responded with just 16 seconds left.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Titans attempted to lateral their way into the endzone and it worked – though the initial lateral might’ve been a forward pass. Nonetheless, the Titans scored with three seconds left and won 22-16 in what would spark a 17-year playoff drought for the Buffalo Bills.
4. Dante Hall With the Juke
This touchdown occurred on December 15, 2002 during a Week 15 matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos. It was a game that saw the Chiefs’ Dante Hall and the Broncos’ Clinton Portis combine for 348 yards and six touchdowns – which is incredible.
The Chiefs were down 31-14 in the fourth quarter, but decided to try and mount a comeback. With eight minutes left, Trent Green connects with Dante Hall for his second touchdown of the game – this one a 49-yarder that featured one of the best jukes in NFL history by Hall.
3. The Immaculate Reception
This touchdown occurred on December 23, 1972 during a Divisional Playoff matchup between the Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers. A 30-yard rush by Raiders’ quarterback Ken Stabler put the team up 7-6 in the fourth quarter of a low-scoring game – but it didn’t last.
With one final shot at a victory, Terry Bradshaw dropped back to pass after escaping the initial pass rush. It wasn’t a good pass as the Raiders’ defender batted it down, but he batted it right into the hands of Franco Harris, who ran it in for a game-winning 60-yard touchdown.
2. Beast Quake by Marshawn Lynch
This touchdown occurred on January 8, 2011 during a Wild Card matchup between the New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks. Despite the Seahawks’ 8-9 record (compared to the Saints’ 11-6 record), Seattle found themselves up 34-30 with nine minutes left in the final quarter.
That’s when the man known as ‘Beast Mode’ went nuclear on the Saints’ defense in what became known as the ‘Beast Quake.’ Marshawn Lynch displayed his strength, power, and ability to make defenders miss in this incredible 67-yard rush through the entire Saints’ defense.
1. The Ending to the Bills-Chiefs 2022 Playoff Game
Alright, so this isn’t one touchdown in particular, but rather a series of touchdowns that occurred on January 23, 2022 during a Wild Card matchup between Patrick Mahomes’ Kansas City Chiefs and Josh Allen’s Buffalo Bills. It was one of the craziest endings to a playoff game in NFL history, which is saying a lot.
The Bills scored a touchdown to put them up 29-26 with 1:54 left, then the Chiefs responded with a TD of their own to make it 33-29 with one minute left. The Bills responded with another TD with 13 seconds left to take a 36-33 lead before the Chiefs made a field goal with three seconds left.
The game went to overtime and the Chiefs scored a game-winning touchdown on the first possession – since the Chiefs won the coin flip, Buffalo wasn’t given a shot. The sequence led to the NFL changing the playoff overtime rules to allow both teams at least one possession.
We’ll See More Unbelievable Touchdowns Soon
In just a couple of months, NFL teams will hit the field for the start of the 2022-23 NFL regular season and fans will be blessed with plenty more unbelievable touchdowns as the season goes on. In fact, we might not have to wait very long to see some of those unbelievable touchdowns.
That’s because the season starts with two of the most explosive offenses when the defending champion Los Angeles Rams host the Buffalo Bills on September 8, 2022 in the NFL Kickoff Game. And that’s just one of the many high-caliber matchups we’ll be blessed with this season.
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The regular season will run through January 8, 2023 with each team getting 17 games to prove they’re worthy of a playoff spot. The playoffs start on January 14, 2023 and the Super Bowl will be played on February 12, 2023 in Glendale, Arizona. Cheers to more unbelievable touchdowns!
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