The Sports Moments That Defined the Decade

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Jack Behar

Sports Editor

 

Below is a list of sporting moments that define the decade and mark moments in sports history. These are the moments that created legends and cemented the legacies of all time greats. Years from now, the sports world will look back at these moments as times of greatness and triumph.

 

Photo by John Iacono/Sports Illustrated

Patriots make a last-second goal line interception against the Seahawks to win Super Bowl XLIX in 2015

This is an event that helped cement Tom Brady, Bill Belichik, and the New England Patriots as a dynasty. The battle between the 12-4 Patriots and the 12-4 Seahawks was extremely close the whole game with neither team gaining a significant lead. At halftime the score was tied at 14, but in the fourth quarter the Patriots took at 28-24 lead with a Brady touchdown pass to Julian Edelman. The Seahawks were given the ball with two minutes left, and down by 4, but with some heroics from Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch, they drove down the field all the way to New England’s goal line. This was because of a remarkable catch by Jermaine Kearse where the ball was tipped around but ultimately found its way to his hands on the ground. Seattle was on the one-yard line, running the clock down, and the obvious decision would be to give the ball to your Pro Bowl running back, Marshawn Lynch, who is unstoppable near the end zone, but for some reason, Coach Pete Carroll decided to throw the ball. He would forever regret this as the ball was picked off by rookie cornerback, Malcolm Butler. This last minute victory gave Brady his fourth Super Bowl and put him in the conversation as the GOAT.

 

Photo by Richard Callis

US Women’s Soccer Team Wins 2015 and 2019 World Cups

I know these are two events, but they truly exhibit the dominance of the US Women’s National Team in this decade, so I chose to display both victories. Coming off a finals loss in 2011 against Japan, the Americans shredded the Japanese with a 5-2 victory in the 2015 finals. This victory came from a hat trick by Carli Lloyd in only 16 minutes. The national team continued the soccer dominance in France at the 2019 World Cup. The women easily made it through the group stage with 3 victories but faced 2 tough challengers in England and Spain, coming away with narrow victories. Ultimately, they defeated the host country, France in the final to win their second consecutive World Cup. The US was truly the team of the decade led by Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, and Carli Lloyd who were the faces of the team.

 

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

 

Lebron brings a promised championship to Cleveland as they overcome a 3-1 lead by the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 Finals

After 4 years in Miami, Lebron decided it was time to head home and he delivered this with a heartfelt letter promising a title. His promise seemed likely to happen as he was teaming up with all-stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. Anything less than a title was a failure, and this team had a chance to complete their goal as they reached the finals, but ran into a tough Golden State Warriors team. Cleveland lost to the Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson-led team, partially because of injuries, but still Lebron had not delivered his promise. Heading into the next season the mentality of a championship was the same, and they found themselves in a similar situation against the Warriors in the Finals. The Cavs fell to a 3-1 series deficit, which is almost always a guaranteed loss, but this team made history as they battled back with historic performances from Lebron and Irving. The series went to a game 7 which was back and forth the entire game. It came down to the final moments where Lebron recorded a career-defining block and Irving hit a clutch go ahead 3 at the last minute. Cleveland had won the title with a historic comeback, and completed Lebron’s promise while ending the city’s title drought.

 

Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos/Getty Images

Cubs win the 2016 World Series to end a 108-year title drought

For years, the Chicago Cubs were an extremely disappointing franchise, known for choking in the playoffs. The Curse of the Billy Goat (curse put on the Cubs by women in the 1940’s) seemed to be becoming a reality as random circumstances doomed them year after year. Cubs fans remember the tragic loss they suffered in the early 2000’s, when their team had high expectations. Steve Bartman, a Cubs fan, interfered with a foul ball that would have been an out, and after this moment the team gave up multiple runs to lose the lead and ultimately the series. 2016 was different as they were the favorites to win, but the Cubs still had doubts. They finished the season top of the division and easily walked through the playoffs to the World Series. They battled against the Cleveland Indians, leading to a Game 7. Behind the heroics of sluggers and Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant, the Cubs were victorious in extra innings, and broke the 106-year title drought.

 

Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

Deshaun Watson and Clemson beat Alabama on a last second touchdown to win the 2017 National Championship

The 2017 season culminated with the National Championship of the dynasty Alabama Crimson Tide vs. the Clemson Tigers. After these teams defeated their opponents in the playoffs, they entered the game extremely even, and the outcome showed this. The whole game they fought back and forth exchanging leads. It was a chess match between superstar quarterbacks, Deshaun Watson and Jalen Hurts. After Clemson took the lead late in the 4th quarter, Alabama responded with a long run by Jalen Hurts resulting in a touchdown. This put them up by 3 with two minutes to go. Watson and the Tigers took over and drove the ball down to the Alabama goal line with 6 seconds left. The conservative choice would be to kick the field goal and go to over time, but coach, Dabo Swinney decided on running one more play. He wanted to get a quick pass off that would leave time for the field goal if it failed, so he rolled out quarterback, Deshaun Watson to the right, where star receiver Hunter Renfrow was. Watson tossed it to the corner and completed a game-winning touchdown to Renfrow with 1 second left. This was the most exciting championship of the last 10 years, and cemented Watson as one of the all-time greats.

 

Photos by Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports

Tiger Woods wins the 2019 Masters

In the early 2000’s there was no athlete as dominant as Tiger Woods. He was the face of golf and transformed the sport. He won a record amount of majors in a short period of time, but his greatness came tumbling down. After an affair scandal and multiple injuries, Tiger was no longer the face of golf and was frowned upon by the entire world. Years after his scandal, it seemed like Tiger had reached forgiveness, as he became the elder underdog that people rooted. From 2009, which was his last major win, Tiger had a span of disappointing outings where he was never in the hunt for victory. Entering the 2019 Masters, Tiger Woods was 43, out of his prime, and not even close to a favorite. At this tournament he shocked the world, overcoming a 2-stroke deficit, to separate himself from the rest of the field, and win by 1 stroke. This was such an improbable victory, but an end to a long story of redemption.

 

Photo by Greg Wood/Getty Images

Serena Williams Wins the 2017 Australian Open while 8-weeks pregnant

For the last 2 decades, Serena Williams has been the most dominant figure in Women’s Tennis. She has won a record amount of tournaments and is arguably the best to ever do it. In 2017, Williams maintained her status at the top, but she had her true test in the Australian Open. Williams was 8-weeks pregnant while competing in this tournament which is a hard task for any women. Remarkably, she dominated her opponents while carrying a child. She easily won every match and faced her sister, Venus, in the finals. Venus, like Serena, is a very talented tennis player with a long history of greatness in the sport. Venus put up a good fight, but she could not handle Serena’s power and skill. Serena won the match and the entire Australian Open, which was her 23rd Grand Slam title, making her the all-time leader.

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