Looking at the most controversial plays in NFL history

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From time to time on PFT Live, the control room torments me with one specific highlight from December 28, 1975, the day the Cowboys ended Minnesota’s season with the NFL’s first-ever Hail Mary play.

The play had a controversial ending, given that Vikings cornerback Nate Wright went flying forward, the victim of an apparent Drew Pearson push. And since Pearson was a guest on Friday’s show (he admitted to the push, but he called it inadvertent), Charean Williams and I did a draft of the most controversial plays in league history.

The selections appear in the attached video. Check it out, and then add your thoughts in the comments.

And remember: Starting Monday, August 24, the live edition of PFT Live moves to Peacock (7:00 a.m. ET), with a re-air on NBCSN at 9:00 a.m. ET. If you have any questions about how to get or use the Peacock service, send them to florio@profootballtalk.com, and I’ll do my best to get an answer.

22 responses to “Looking at the most controversial plays in NFL history

  1. 1980 – Atlanta Falcons vs Chicago Bears. A “fumble” by Walter Payton when in fact he did not fumble ,causing the Bears the game. Controversial and a terrible call!

  2. Oh that “inadvertent” shove only cost the Vikings a potential Super Bowl championship, no biggie.

  3. Vinnie Testeverde’s top of helmet crosses goaline last play against Seahawks, called a Touchdown when the ball was 2 ft short of the line costing Seattle a playoff spot.

  4. TOs catch against the Packers should have never happened.HOF Jerry Rice fumbled a couple of plays earlier and Pack recovered.Wasn’t called and that was the year that Instant Replay was not used.Made TOs career and was big reason Holmgren left.

  5. The only thing making the “tuck rule” controversial was widespread ignorance of the rule! It was called correctly, and while many people didn’t like it, it was actually well written in terms of defining when a pass attempt stopped BEING a pass attempt. It was a lot clearer than the definition of a reception!

  6. The holy roller fake fumble advanced by the Raiders about 30 yards to win and knock the Chargers out of the playoffs.

  7. The ENTIRE 49ers vs Seahawks NFC Championship game (when Sherman went crazy after the game) so many bad calls, Non calls and clock management by the refs..49ers were robbed of a Superbowl Birth.

  8. Nfc championship game 2010 vikes vs saints. Sloppiest officiating I’ve ever seen at the end of that one.

  9. 1976 NE-OAK. Phony roughing the passer flag thrown by Ben Drieth on SugarBear Hamilton on 3rd and forever. Al Davis should only have 2 SB wins and Pats should have 7.

  10. Dez caught the ball but it wasn’t a catch, by rule, at the time. As soon as he rolled over and bobbled the ball, ever so briefly, I said “that’s going to be ruled incomplete.”

    It was another proper enforcement of a terrible rule.

  11. The Vikings absolutely got screwed on that non-call. That was their best team during their 70s run.

  12. thetomahawk says:
    August 21, 2020 at 1:36 pm

    TOs catch against the Packers should have never happened.HOF Jerry Rice fumbled a couple of plays earlier and Pack recovered.Wasn’t called and that was the year that Instant Replay was not used.Made TOs career and was big reason Holmgren left.
    _____________

    Beat me to it. That single game brought back instant replay the following season. I am surprised you got down votes, but some folks vote without actually seeing and understanding the importance of that game in NFL history. That blown call cost the Packers an opportunity for another Super Bowl, but it changed the rules for the better to this day. Bittersweet.

  13. flosnake says:
    August 21, 2020 at 5:27 pm

    Nfc championship game 2010 vikes vs saints. Sloppiest officiating I’ve ever seen at the end of that one.
    ______________________

    The refs could count to 12 and the Vikings couldn’t. Then the refs observed the Favre game-ending interception. We all saw it, there was no controversy to either of those actions.

  14. otistaylor89 says:
    August 21, 2020 at 5:45 pm
    1976 NE-OAK. Phony roughing the passer flag thrown by Ben Drieth on SugarBear Hamilton on 3rd and forever. Al Davis should only have 2 SB wins and Pats should have 7.

    ****************************************
    No matter how you slice it hitting the QB on the head is a Penalty.

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