The 21st century of pro football started with a bang. On the final play of the first Super Bowl in the new millennium, Titans quarterback Steve McNair, with his team trailing by a touchdown, completed a slant pass to Kevin Dyson. As Dyson caught the pass, it appeared for an instant that fans were about to witness the first overtime in the 34-year history of the Super Bowl

The Rams-Titans Super Bowl XXXIV clash is part of our list of the top 10 NFL games that have been played during the 21st century. This list could change quickly, however, as there are several promising games on the 2021 schedule. One of those games is the Buccaneers‘ Week 4 matchup in New England, as Tom Brady will face Bill Belichick and his former team for the first time. 

Honorable mention: Favre vs. Brees

Jan. 24, 2010: Saints 31, Vikings 28, OT (NFC Championship Game)

The Saints‘ epic overtime win over the Vikings didn’t make the cut, but that doesn’t take away from its place as one of the greatest games played over the last 20-plus years. In a classic duel between quarterbacks Brett Favre and Drew Brees, it was an interception by Favre late in regulation that opened the door for the Saints’ 31-28 victory. New Orleans then went on to defeat Peyton Manning and the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV. 

10. Hollywood shootout

Nov. 19, 2018: Rams 54, Chiefs 51 (“Monday Night Football”)

Patrick Mahomes‘ breakout season included being part of the highest-scoring game in “Monday Night Football” history. In Week 11 of the 2018 season, Mahomes threw for 478 and six touchdowns (while also tossing three interceptions) in leading the Chiefs to 51 points. Unfortunately for Mahomes, then-Rams quarterback Jared Goff led the Rams to 54 points while throwing for 413 yards and four touchdowns with zero interceptions. 

Ahead 40-30 at the start of the fourth quarter, the Rams withstood three Kansas City touchdowns that included Mahomes’ 73-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill. Los Angeles countered with two touchdown passes from Goff to tight end Gerald Everett, with their second connection giving the Rams the lead for good with 1:49 left. Along with their combined 105 points, the Rams and Chiefs also combined to tally 56 first downs and 1,001 total yards. The Rams went on that season to advance to Super Bowl LIII, while Mahomes captured league MVP honors. 

9. The ‘Tuck Rule’ game

Jan. 19, 2002: Patriots 16, Raiders 13, OT (AFC Divisional playoff)

This classic game isn’t solely remembered for the controversial call that aided the Patriots’ first Super Bowl run. With his team trailing 13-10 with 1:50 left, Brady appeared to fumble after getting blindsided by Charles Woodson, his former college teammate at Michigan. But upon further review, the official ruled that Brady’s arm had extended far enough to warrant a passing motion, thus the initial call on the field was overturned. Given new life, Brady moved he Patriots into field-goal range, where Adam Vinatieri forced overtime on a 45-yarder. 

In a game that was played in blizzard-like conditions, the Patriots patiently drove from their own 34 to the Raiders 5-yard line on the first possession of overtime. From there, Vinatieri made his fourth field goal of the game — this one a 23-yarder — to win the last game ever played at Foxboro Stadium, 16-13. It was the final game on the Raiders sideline for Jon Gruden until his return in 2018. 

8. GOAT beats (baby) GOAT 

Jan. 20, 2019: Patriots 37, Chiefs 31 (AFC Championship Game)

While it took a while to get going, the first-ever showdown between Mahomes and Brady lived up to the hype. After being held to just one score through three quarters of the 2018 AFC Championship Game, Mahomes led Kansas City on four fourth-quarter scoring drives. The Chiefs appeared to sew up a 28-24 win after Charvarius Ward picked off Brady with 1:01 left. But after an offsides penalty wiped out the pick, Brady hit Rob Gronkowski for 25 yards to set up Rex Burkhead’s go-ahead score with 39 seconds left. 

Despite Mahomes’ late magic to force overtime, everyone seemed to know what was coming. The Patriots won the toss, and Brady methodically dissected Kansas City’s defense before hitting Gronkowski for 15 yards on a crucial third-and-10. Burkhead then finished off the Chiefs with a game-wining, 2-yard TD that put the Patriots in their third consecutive Super Bowl. The Patriots would go on to win their sixth and final Super Bowl of the Brady-Belichick era. Mahomes and the Chiefs would get their own ring one year later in Super Bowl LIV. 

7. Peyton’s revenge 

Jan. 21, 2007: Colts 38, Patriots 34 (AFC Championship Game)

For all his greatness, Peyton Manning was dangerously close to entering “greatest quarterback to never win a Super Bowl” territory as he entered his eighth season in Indianapolis. And after losing the two previous playoff games to the Patriots, Manning found himself down 21-3 to New England in the ’06 AFC Championship Game following Asante Samuel’s pick-six. The Colts didn’t panic, however, as Manning led Indy on three consecutive scoring drives that included his touchdown pass to former Patriots defensive tackle Dan Klecko. 

Trailing 34-31 with just over three minutes left, Manning led the Colts on an 80-yard drive that was capped off by rookie Joseph Addai’s 3-yard score. And while Manning completed several big passes on the drive, his biggest was a 32-yard completion to seldom-used tight end Bryan Fletcher, who pleaded with Manning to look his way several times before their big connection. 

With Manning (literally) praying on the Colts sideline, the Indianapolis defense answered his prayers when Marlin Jackson picked off Brady with 24 seconds left securing the 38-34 win. The Colts did something no other AFC team had been able to do to that point: beat a Brady-led team in a championship game. Indianapolis followed up its epic win by defeating the Bears in Super Bowl XLI. 

6. Beast Mode?

Feb. 1, 2015: Patriots 28, Seahawks 24 (Super Bowl XLIX)

There are mixed feelings about the Patriots‘ 28-24 win over the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. Some argue that a truly great game doesn’t end on a bonehead play-call that costs a team a championship. Others don’t subscribe to that logic, including CBS Sports Senior Writer and Pick Six podcast host Will Brinson, who has this game atop his list of Super Bow classics. 

Seattle, the defending champion, had the Patriots on the ropes entering the fourth quarter. But Brady, as he has done countless times over his career, led his team from the jaws of defeat to the thrill of victory. Down by 10 points, a pair of Brady touchdown passes gave the Patriots a four-point lead with 2:02 left. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson responded with a jaw-dropping, 33-yard completion to Jermaine Kearse that saw Kearse deflect the ball in the air before he pulled it in just yards away from the end zone. But to the shock of everyone, Pete Carroll called for a pass on second-and-goal from the Patriots’ 1. Instead of handing the ball to Marshawn Lynch, who rushed for 102 yards and a score on 24 carries, Wilson’s pass attempt for Ricardo Lockette was picked off by Malcolm Butler, sealing the Patriots’ fourth Super Bowl win during the Brady-Belichick era. 

5. Silence of the Rams 

Feb. 3, 2002: Patriots 20, Rams 17 (Super Bowl XXXVI)

Despite boasting the NFL‘s “Greatest Show on Turf,” the Rams’ impending dynasty never materialized. Dick Vermeil’s abrupt retirement was one reason why, but the main reason why the Rams didn’t become a dynasty was because of an up-and-coming dynasty that resided in Foxborough.

While no one knew it at the time, Super Bowl XXXVI was the start of the longest sustained run of excellence by an NFL franchise. A 14-point underdog, the Patriots took a shocking 14-3 lead into halftime following a pick-six by Ty Law and Brady’s first-ever Super Bowl touchdown. The lead swelled to 17-3 before Kurt Warner and the Rams offense finally broke through, scoring two late touchdowns to tie the score with 1:30 left. 

Instead of playing for overtime, the Patriots went for the win. After three short completions, Brady’s 23-yard completion to Troy Brown on a crossing route got the Patriots deep inside Rams territory. Another short completion set the stage for Vinatieri, who drilled his 48-yard field-goal attempt as time expired for a 20-17 victory.

4. One yard short

Jan. 30, 2000: Rams 23, Titans 16 (Super Bowl XXXIV)

We alluded to this classic game in our intro, and it comes in at No. 4 on our list. Throughout the ’99 season, the two dominant narratives were the Rams’ meteoric rise with former arena league quarterback Warner and (to a significantly lesser degree) the Titans’ quick rise up the AFC food chain behind McNair, running back Eddie George and rookie pass rusher Jevon “The Freak” Kearse. 

It seemed fitting that those two teams would face each other in Super Bowl XXXIV. But as is often the case with championship games, it took a while for this game to get going. The Rams led 9-0 at halftime, and extended their lead to 16-0 on a Warner touchdown pass to rookie Torry Holt. With the game threatening to get out of hand, the Titans turned to McNair and George, who spearheaded Tennessee’s comeback. After two George touchdown runs, kicker Al Del Greco’s 43-yard field goal tied the score with 2:12 left. 

The score remained tied for 18 seconds. One the first play of their ensuing possession, the Rams took the lead when Warner, despite heavy pressure from Kearse, lofted a deep pass that was pulled in by Isaac Bruce, who then raced past the Titans secondary for a 73-yard score. McNair, who set a still-standing Super Bowl record for rushing yards by a quarterback (64 on just eight carries), willed the Titans to the Rams’ 10-yard line with five seconds left. On the final play of regulation, McNair hit Dyson on a crossing route…



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