By Matt Citak
2017 was a crazy year for sports. We witnessed the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, an insane, home run-filled World Series, and dynasties beginning to form in both the NBA and NHL. If 2018 is anything like these past 12 months, then we are in for another entertaining year in sports.
With that said, here are the top sports moments of 2017.
Patriots form biggest comeback in Super Bowl history
Heading into Super Bowl LI, no team had ever overcome more than a 10-point deficit to win a Super Bowl. Then Tom Brady happened. Down 28-3 in the third quarter, Brady orchestrated the greatest comeback in NFL history. The Patriots scored 25 unanswered points against the Atlanta Falcons to force the first-ever overtime in the Super Bowl’s 51-year existence. Once in the extra session, it seemed inevitable that Brady would lead New England down the field for the winning score. And that he did. It took under four minutes for the Patriots to get to the two-yard line, where James White would punch in the game-winning score to cap off the most improbable Super Bowl victory in the history of the sport. Brady set numerous Super Bowl records in this historic performance, including his NFL-record fourth career Super Bowl MVP award. If there was any question of which quarterback is the G.O.A.T., Brady put those discussions to rest with this victory.
Astros take home first World Series Championship
Just a few months after Hurricane Harvey devastated the city of Houston, the Astros managed to fight their way into a World Series matchup against the Los Angeles Dodgers. What came next can be described as nothing short of spectacular. The Astros and Dodgers battled it out in what had to be the most exciting World Series in MLB history. Games 2 and 5 instantly became all-time classics, with Houston coming back from down multiple runs late in the game to win in extra innings in both contests. After a season that saw more home runs hit than any year before, the World Series followed suit with a record 25 home runs hit by a record 14 players between the two clubs. World Series MVP George Springer tied another MLB record by smacking five home runs in the seven-game series, becoming just the third player in history to reach this milestone. This epic World Series challenged this year’s Super Bowl for the most exciting sports moment(s) of the year.
Round 3 of Warriors-Cavaliers goes to Golden State
On a similar note, the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers also made history this year, as they accomplished something that no other NBA rivalry has ever done. The 2017 NBA Finals represented the third consecutive meeting between these two franchises vying for a championship, marking the first time that two teams ever faced off in three straight NBA Finals. The teams split the first two championships, which meant this third one had (at least temporary) bragging rights up for grabs. LeBron James did what he does best, averaging an insane 33.6 points, 12.0 rebounds, and 10.0 assists per game, with an additional 1.0 blocks and 1.4 steals. But the stellar performance was not enough, as Golden State had a new weapon to deploy that was not a part of the first two Finals meetings. In his first season with the Warriors, Kevin Durant stepped up when they needed him most. Durant averaged 35.2 points on 55.6 percent shooting from the field and 47.4 percent shooting from long range, and brought home the Finals MVP award after helping lead Golden State to a rather easy 4-1 series victory.
Penguins win second consecutive Stanley Cup
As if 2017 wasn’t already crazy enough, the ending to the 2016-17 NHL season was also wildly entertaining. For the second consecutive season, the Pittsburgh Penguins were in the Stanley Cup Finals matched against a Western Conference team making its Finals debut. Pittsburgh was able to hold off the San Jose Sharks 4-2 last year, with Sidney Crosby taking home the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs. This year was more of the same for the Penguins. Pittsburgh battled with the Nashville Predators in an exciting, back-and-forth series that ended with the Penguins hoisting the Stanley Cup. Crosby took home the Conn Smythe Trophy for the second straight year, and the Penguins became the first back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions since the Detroit Red Wings won in 1997 and 1998. While they did not come out on top, the Predators and their fans impressed everyone watching this year’s Finals with their energy and genuine love and support for their team (not to mention the massive pregame parties that had half of downtown Nashville completely shutdown). The Penguins emerged victorious and seem to be well on their way to creating a dynasty, but the 2017 Stanley Cup Finals also gave birth to an exciting, new hockeytown in Nashville.
Clemson beats ‘Bama in rematch of College Football Playoff National Championship
Just like the Warriors and Cavaliers, Clemson and Alabama have been forming their own special rivalry over the last few years. We started 2016 off with a spectacular College Football National Championship between these two top programs. The Crimson Tide took over in the fourth quarter, and wound up beating the Tigers 45-40 in an exciting showdown. One year later, we were fortunate enough to get a rematch of this national championship game. In fact, this year’s battle between these two teams was college football’s first rematch between No. 1 and No. 2 in national championship game history. And boy did round 2 live up to the hype. Deshaun Watson set the record for most passing yards in a championship game at 420, with the final two yards coming on the game-winning touchdown pass that gave Clemson a 35-31 lead with one second left on the clock. Alabama and Clemson will meet in the CFP for the third consecutive year when they face off in the 2018 Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day, with a trip to the national championship game on the line. As if this rivalry needed to add any more fuel to the fire…
Matt Citak is a producer for CBS Local Sports and a proud Vanderbilt alum. Follow him on Twitter or send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.