It’s flashback week on 101 ESPN, and all week long we’re looking back at the five most recent decades. I have favorite moments from each, and today we’re “tackling” the 2000s.
“The Tackle”: On January 20 of 2000, at Super Bowl XXXIV in Atlanta, Warner hit Bruce for a 73-yard touchdown with 1:56 left in the fourth quarter, breaking a 16-16 tie with Tennessee. But the Titans drove 78 yards in ten plays, into position for the tying touchdown in the closing seconds. From the 10-yard line, Steve McNair hit Kevin Dyson for nine yards. Rams linebacker Mike Jones was in position for “The Tackle” at the one-yard line, and he made it, allowing the Rams to win their and St. Louis’ only Super Bowl, in regulation.
The 2006 World Series’ final out: An 83-win Cardinal team stumbled in September and woke up in October, eliminating the Padres and the Mets. Against Detroit, the Cardinals had a chance to win their first World Series since 1982 in game five. Newly minted closer Adam Wainwright had a 4-2 lead and runners at 1st and 3rd with two out when he struck out Brandon Inge to spark the celebration for the club’s tenth World Championship.
Wainwright K’s Beltran: In one of the great game sevens in baseball history, the Cardinals advanced to the World Series with a dramatic win over the Mets. In a tie game in the top of the ninth, Yadier Molina hit a breathtaking two run homer, and Wainwright took over the bottom of the inning. New York loaded the bases with two out and Cardinal nemesis Carlos Beltran at the plate. Wainwright got him in an 0-2 hole, and then froze Beltran with one of history’s best curveballs to secure the Cardinals second trip to the series in three years.
Edmonds’ homer vs. Houston: With the Cardinals trailing Houston 3-2 in the 2004 NLCS, the Astros forced extra innings in game six with a run in the ninth inning that tied the game at four. It went to the 12th inning, and Pujols drew a walk before Scott Rolen popped out. In another amazingly dramatic swing, Jim Edmonds rifled an 0-1 pitch over the wall in right center for a game winning home run to force game seven. The next night, Edmonds prevented Houston from increasing their 1-0 lead with an incredible catch on a Brad Ausmus line drive, and the Cardinals advanced to the 2004 World Series with a Game 7 win.
I know there are championships and pennants and tons of excitement on this list. But the moment that took my breath away…the singular moment…was…
2005 Pujols home run vs. Houston: Even though the Cardinals didn’t go to the World Series in 2005, my favorite moment of the decade happened in a game from a series the Cardinals lost. Down 4-2 in game 5 of the NLCS in Houston, the Cardinals started the ninth inning against Brad Lidge with back to back strikeouts. Then David Eckstein, with Houston a strike away from the World Series, singled on a 1-2 pitch. Jim Edmonds walked, and Albert Pujols came up. On an 0-1 pitch, Albert rocketed the ball to the train tracks at the top of Minute Maid Park. It was as breathtaking a moment as sports can give us.
Houston won the series in game 6, but that blast was my favorite moment of the decade.