The 2021 football season has been a breath of fresh air after the heavily pandemic-impacted campaign in 2020, and it’s time to celebrate that by looking at some of the best plays from this year.
We’re about a month out from the end of 2021, and there’s still plenty of football left to be played – the NFL regular season still has to end, and college football still has its conference championships and bowl games to figure out. But we still have 11 months of 2021 to review (granted, most of those aren’t during football season), and we’re too eager to wait.
Full disclosure: this probably won’t be the 21 best football plays of the year, because I’m sure some things slipped under the radar. But this is a collection of 21 of the best football plays from 2021, in no particular order. If you know of plays that didn’t make the cut here, please send them our way.
21 Great Football Plays From 2021
1: Christian Kirk Throws a Bomb
Wide receiver Christian Kirk received a flip and threw a beauty down the field that connected with Antoine Wesley that brought the Cardinals close to the goal line.
2: Jonathan Garibay From 62
Kicker Jonathan Garibay drilled a 62-yard field goal with three seconds to go to give Texas Tech the 41-38 victory over Iowa State.
3: Brady Cunningham Kick Off Return TD
Early in the high school season, Brady Cunningham of North Jackson High School (Alabama) took this kick off to the house.
4: Devin White INT Against the Saints
With Tampa Bay leading 23-20 midway through the fourth quarter in the NFL Divisional Round, Devin White intercepted Drew Brees, and then returned it for about 20 more yards to bring the game closer to the Bucs’ grasp.
5: Alabama Ties the Iron Bowl with 29 Seconds to Go
After an already-ridiculous series of plays before this one, Alabama scored the game-tying touchdown in the Iron Bowl’s final minute to set up an eventual OT victory that kept the Crimson Tide’s playoff hopes alive.
6: Kennedy Brooks Wins the Red River Rivalry
Oklahoma running back Kennedy Brooks ran 33 yards in the final seconds of the 2021 Red River Rivalry to break the deadlock and give the Sooners the 55-48 W over hated rival Texas.
7: Texans Flea Flicker
The Texans ran an excellent flea flicker against the Patriots that ended in a touchdown and an extension of the lead for the home team.
8: Taysom Hill Runs Through the Giants
Taysom Hill carried a caravan of Giants to the end zone as he scored a go-ahead touchdown for the Saints.
9: Spencer Witter Catches Tipped Pass on 3rd & 11
A broken play went the way of Boston College when Spencer Witter caught a tipped pass on 3rd & 11 to keep the drive alive.
10: 80-Yard TD Run to Start the Game
The first play from scrimmage of a high school showdown between Mohawk and Calvert (Ohio) became an 80-yard touchdown run for Zaiden Fry.
11: Raiders Win in Overtime
Zay Jones caught a wide-open pass for a 31-yard touchdown to give the Raiders the overtime victory over the Ravens, 33-27.
12: Jaxon Smith-Njigba Breaks It 75 Yards for the Score
An short pass that should have gone for 15 yards instead went for 75 and a score when Jaxon Smith-Njigba racked up the YAC yards by outmaneuvering and outpacing the Cornhuskers.
13: Ricky Seals-Jones Climbs the Ladder
Ricky Seals-Jones of the Washington Football Team climbed the ladder to haul in a 19-yard touchdown to give his team the lead over the hated Giants late in the contest.
14: Malik Cunningham Embarrasses Duke
There’s nothing to say to this except, wow.
15: Mike Sainristil One-Handed Touchdown Grab
Michigan wide receiver Mike Sainristil added to the Wolverines’ lead against Maryland with this electrifying one-handed touchdown grab.
16: Christopher Smith’s 75-Yard Pick Six
We didn’t know it at the time, but this 75-yard pick six by Georgia’s Christopher Smith has been instrumental in the Bulldogs currently holding an undefeated record.
17: Jaguars Kick Six
It hasn’t been a great season for the Jags, but you can’t deny the greatness of a kick six, no matter the context.
18: Wild Memphis Punt Return (That Probably Shouldn’t Have Counted)
I’ve never seen anything like this before and hopefully won’t again, but you have to include it on a list of the year’s top football plays.
19: 53-Yarder Wins the Peach Bowl
Jake Podlesny connected on a 53-yard field goal to give Georgia a one-point lead in the final seconds of the 2021 Peach Bowl, ruining Cincinnati’s perfect season and bringing a New Year’s Six victory to Athens.
20: Bills Win First Playoff Game in 25 Years
The play that secured the win for the Bills wasn’t especially incredible, but what it meant puts it on this list.
21: Justin Tucker Sets NFL Record & Beats the Lions
Justin Tucker is one of the most prolific kickers of all time, and he continued to solidify that standing with this 66-yard field goal that bounced off the crossbar and landed on the right side to set an NFL record and lift the Ravens over the Lions.