Saints safety Marcus Williams ducked his head, lowered his right shoulder and ended up on the wrong side of a miracle.
“Life happens,” he told the Bleacher Report months after his missed tackle made Stefon Diggs an everlasting hero and the Vikings a 29-24 walk-off winner in last year’s NFC divisional playoff game.
Life’s not always a beach, either.
In perfect position and needing to make only a routine play to prevent the “Minneapolis Miracle,” Williams whiffed and wound up on this man’s list of 10 of the more infamous unforced errors on what should have been relatively easy plays to execute in the closing seconds of a postseason game.
Here are the other nine, in the order they occurred:
Red Right 88, Jan. 4, 1981: Known as the “Kardiac Kids” that year, the Browns were trailing 14-12 at Oakland’s 13-yard line with less than a minute left in a divisional game played in windy, 4-degree weather at Cleveland Stadium. Coach Sam Rutigliano gave QB Brian Sipe the play — forever known as Red Right 88 — with the stipulation to “throw it into Lake Erie” if the play wasn’t open for tight end Ozzie Newsome. It was second down and a 30-yard field goal attempt was the backup plan. Instead, Sipe, the league MVP that year, threw a wobbler into double coverage that was intercepted by Mike Davis.
Darrin Nelson’s drop, Jan. 17, 1988: Some will argue that this wasn’t an unforced error. That Redskins cornerback Darrell Green played a role in jarring the ball from the Vikings running back at the goal line. The Vikings trailed 17-10 on the road in the NFC title game. They faced fourth-and-goal from the 6 with 56 seconds left. Wade Wilson threw a nice pass. The ball slipped through Nelson’s hands and hit his shoulder pads. Before he had time to gather it, Green made contact. The Redskins went on to rout Denver 42-10 in the Super Bowl.
Harmon wide open, Jan. 6, 1990: Another divisional game at Cleveland Stadium saw Jim Kelly and the Bills driving toward a winning touchdown in the closing seconds. Running back Ronnie Harmon was uncovered in the corner of the end zone but dropped the pass. One play later, Clay Matthews made a game-ending interception in a 34-30 win. The Bills would reach the next four Super Bowls.
Junkin’s bad snap, Jan. 5, 2003: Poor Trey Junkin. The long-snapper played 19 seasons but will be remembered for his one and only game with the Giants. Lured out of retirement after a year away from the game, Junkin made an errant snap that prevented a 41-yard field goal attempt with six seconds left in this wild-card game. The Giants had led 38-14 but lost 39-38.
Nedney’s double mulligan, Jan. 11, 2003: Titans kicker Joe Nedney got three cracks at a game-winning chip shot to beat the Steelers 34-31 in overtime of this divisional game. He missed twice before winning the game. The Steelers called a timeout right before the first miss from 31 yards. Then Dewayne Washington ran into the kicker on the second miss, giving Nedney the win from 26 yards.
Kasay’s dynasty assist, Feb. 1, 2004: The Panthers tied up Super Bowl XXXVIII with 1:08 left. Then veteran kicker John Kasay yanked the kickoff out of bounds, giving Tom Brady and Adam Vinatieri the ball at the 40. Patriots win 32-29.
Romo’s slip, Jan. 6, 2007: The Cowboys trailed 21-20 in this wild-card game at Seattle. They lined up for a 19-yard field goal in the closing minute. But Tony Romo dropped the snap and was tackled trying to run.
Moore was less, Jan. 12, 2013: The Ravens trailed the Broncos 35-28 with 41 seconds left and were 70 yards from the goal line. With eight Broncos in coverage, defensive back Rahim Moore’s only job was to not get beat deep. He got way out of position and got beat deep for a 70-yard score. The Ravens won 38-35 in double overtime.
Wild, wide Walsh, Jan. 10, 2016: The day Vikings kicker Blair Walsh duck-hooked a 27-yarder with 22 seconds left in a 10-9 home wild-card loss to Seattle.
Mark Craig is an NFL and Vikings Insider. Twitter: @markcraigNFL E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org