Sunday Night Football. It’s the perfect end to your day of hanging out with friends, eating, and watching football. Usually involving two teams with big expectations, the prime-time matchup is often filled with huge plays and unforgettable moments.
Even though Sunday Night Football has been around since well before 2006, that is the year NBC took over the event. Since that season, we have seen some of the greatest games of the past decade. These games have featured classic rivalries and serious playoff implications.
Let’s reminiscence about some of the classic games that Sunday Night Football has provided since 2006.
5. Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants: November 23, 2014
OK, the New York Giants versus Dallas Cowboys is a common fixture of the Sunday Night Football scene. In fact, the two teams have met seven times in the prime time game since 2006, the most of any other matchup. While you may get tired of seeing these two on the national stage, they have provided some unforgettable games over the years, with last season’s Sunday night contest sticking out particularly.
This game could simply be renamed “The Catch.” Of course, this is hinting at the unbelievable play that Odell Beckham Jr. made, propelling him to national stardom. Lost in that amazing display of athleticism and skill was the fact that the Cowboys actually won this game, as Tony Romo led Dallas to a second half comeback in a 4-touchdown effort. The win was huge for Dallas, as the team went on to win the NFC East and a playoff game in 2014. As for the Giants, they stumbled to a losing record but learned that they had one of the most dangerous weapons in the league.
4. New England Patriots vs. Baltimore Ravens: September 23, 2012
In a game between the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots, you have plenty of names to focus on. With great quarterbacks in Joe Flacco and Tom Brady present, it is easy to lose sight of the other players on the field. In this classic Sunday night matchup, one player who was dealing with a heavy burden played one of the best games of his life.
Ravens’ wide receiver Torrey Smith (now with San Francisco) lost his brother the day before this game. The way he played was a true honor to his family. Smith caught 6 passes for 127 yards and 2 touchdowns as the Ravens outlasted the Patriots 31-30. He played with emotion and purpose in a game that the Ravens really needed. It was one of the best wins in Baltimore’s run to a Super Bowl victory in 2012.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens: December 5, 2010
Another common matchup on Sunday Night Football, the Baltimore Ravens-Pittsburgh Steelers rivalry is one of the best in the NFL, bar none. With typically great defenses on each side and an aura of physicality, these games portray football at its finest. Back in 2010, late in the season, it was another classic contest between the two teams with division championship implications present.
Both teams came into this game with records of 8-3 and were battling for first place in the AFC North. Defensive names like Terrell Suggs and Troy Polamalu stood out in a low scoring contest, but it came down to the clutch play of Ben Roethlisberger in the end. Big Ben led the Steelers to a late touchdown to win the game 13-10, propelling Pittsburgh to not only the division title, but all the way to a Super Bowl appearance. These games are always entertaining and the matchup will be featured on Sunday night once again later this season.
2. Indianapolis Colts vs. New England Patriots: November 5, 2006
Brady versus Manning; what more needs to be said? Whenever the two best quarterbacks of the past generation take the field, the implications of the game are big enough to warrant prime-time attention. Sunday Night Football has never ignored this fact, as it has featured the two QBs on several occasions. In the inaugural season of the NBC event, the two put on a show to remember.
Peyton Manning brought a 7-0 Colts team into Foxborough to take on Brady’s Patriots back in 2006. Brady had gotten the best of Manning so many times in the past, but with help from his defense in this game, Manning came out victorious. The Colts picked off Brady four times on the night, and Manning tossed 2 touchdowns to keep the Colts perfect.
This wasn’t event the most memorable matchup of that season between Brady and Manning, as the Colts and Patriots met in the AFC Championship Game later that year, where Manning infamously made his first Super Bowl appearance after taking down Brady. Of course, the Colts went on to win that Super Bowl for Manning’s only title as of now.
1. Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys: December 29, 2013
Week 17. Division title and a playoff spot on the line. That’s what was at stake between the Cowboys and Eagles back in 2013. With flex scheduling, the Sunday Night Football stage was all over this matchup. Despite serious injuries (namely one to Tony Romo), this game lived up to the national stage.
Kyle Orton came in and replaced Romo for the Cowboys in a contest that would decide the NFC East champion. Orton played pretty well for most of the night and had Dallas in position to win the game with a late field goal. With just 1:49 remaining though, Orton threw a pick that cost Dallas yet another chance at the postseason. The Eagles went on to win 24-22 and advanced to the playoffs, where they lost in the wild-card round. It’s another classic rivalry that has delivered countless memorable moments throughout history, and Sunday Night Football should continue to display it in the future.