When the Miracle in Miami happened a few seasons ago it was an incredible revelation that many of us never thought we’d actually see. A multi-lateral hail mary final play that actually worked. The multi-lateral last-ditch miracle is the last bastion of hope that any of us can ever root for. We’ve all been there. Your team lost. They have almost the entire field to go with no timeouts or real chance. You are sad, depressed, and angry, and should probably have already switched to a new game. But you sit there, to the bitter end, knowing there is a .0000001 % chance that maybe, this time, it’ll work. Maybe the laterals will go right. For Miami that day, it did. It was glorious.

And I mean mult-lateral plays. Last play miracles are rare, but they exist. You can find examples of game-winning hail marys like the Minneapolis Miracle or even the Music City Miracle, which was a single lateral. This was explicitly the true last ditch desperation move, when no time exists and players are just trying to do literally anything and it usually just ends with the defense getting it or it bouncing out of bounds. It worked for Miami. But for those of us who are a bit older, this wasn’t the second time we’d seen it work.

Way back in 2003 the Saints were in a weak attempt to stay alive in the playoff race and were losing to a shitty Jacksonville team with no time left. They somehow then did the impossible. Brooks passed the ball deep to midfield, caught by Donte Stallworth. Stallworth does some heavy lifting and dodges some tackles and buys time running towards the opposite sideline. When he runs out of room, he dumps it to Michael Lewis, who gets maybe another 10 yards before running out of space and pitching it back to DEUCE (everybody loved Deuce McCallister), who managed 5 yards before the swarm hits him but as he goes down heaves a lob to Jerome Pathon. Pathon had an alley, and he was running full steam when the ball landed in his arms. Aaron Brooks, the QB who threw the pass, threw the last block. Pathon went in. The Saints were an extra point away from overtime.

It’s kind of sad that so much of what makes plays go down in history is winning the game. Countless outstanding plays have been made by the losing teams in games throughout history, and because they didn’t win, they get passed over in discussions. Relegated to the side. Remembered by fewer people. Everyone in the youthful crowd knows the Music City Miracle, but a large number of those same people might not even know about this play, because John Carney proceeded to shank the extra point and the game ended right there.

What’s ironic is that this play might have been the rarest possible result. Jon Bois did a great video on this a while back. Not only is the multi-lateral TD basically improbable beyond measure, to have it come at the end of a game and then have an automatic-level kicker (#5 in all time scoring) shank an extra point (the old extra point distance too, the short one) to render the TD meaningless…we are never going to see that again. It’s never going to happen again. Those of us who witnessed it should feel special to have seen it because we are going to die having witnessed possibly the most gutwrenchingly rare rollercoaster of a ending that may be possible. It is more likely we will witness another game-winning multi-lateral play than a game-losing multi-lateral TD followed by a shanked XP.

This is the reason you never turn a game off till that final whistle blows.