2018 is behind us but it was a remarkable year in sports. We got to see events that only happen every four years, cities in great joy from championships, inspirational stories, and moments that won’t be forgotten. Let’s take a look back at some of the best stories and moments of 2018 on and off the field.
The Minnesota Miracle
The Saints had a 24-23 lead in the divisional round of the playoffs but the Vikings still had some hope of winning with 10 seconds left and at their own 39-yard line. QB Case Keenum fired a pass to receiver Stefon Diggs who leaped and caught the ball at the Saints 34-yard line. Saints safety Marcus Williams missed a tackle and Diggs sprinted in the open field into the end zone as time expired. Vikings won 29-24 and moved on to the NFC championship game in dramatic fashion.
Nick Foles is the real-life Rocky
Nick Foles was a pro bowler in 2013 and the Eagles franchise quarterback. Well at least Eagles fans thought he was. Chip Kelly had other plans and traded Foles to the Rams. Foles struggled in St. Louis and eventually requested and was granted a release. He considered retirement but decided to sign with the Chiefs and play for the head coach who drafted him, Andy Reid. Foles found his love for the game again and returned to the Eagles to backup 2nd overall pick Carson Wentz. Wentz was the MVP favorite until he got injured late in the season and the Eagles super bowl hopes looked lost. Foles however became a Philly legend as he led the underdog Eagles to a Super Bowl championship over the Patriots Dynasty. Foles was named Super Bowl LII MVP after throwing for 373 yards, 3 touchdowns, and of course a receiving touchdown on 4th and 1 at the 1-yard line.
2018 Winter Olympics
The 2018 Winter Olympics were held in Pyeongchang, South Korea and the memorable moments just kept pouring in. North and South Korea walked out together at the opening ceremony as the two nations put their differences aside and showcased a moment of unity and peace on the international stage. Nigeria sent their first three athletes to the winter games as they represented their nation in women’s bobsledding. 17-year old Chloe Kim won gold for the women’s halfpipe event becoming the youngest woman to win the halfpipe event. For most people, curling is a joke but the USA curling team won gold for the first time. The women’s ice hockey team won gold after they beat Canada in a shootout. In her final Olympic games, Lindsey Vonn took home a bronze and near one of the downhill courses, Vonn scattered some of the ashes of her grandfather who was a veteran of the Korean War. Just like every Olympiad, the 2018 games had no shortage of unforgettable events.
UMBC upsets Virginia
This very well could be the biggest upset in NCAA tournament history. When the Retrievers of UMBC beat the Virginia Cavaliers 74-54, they became the first 16 seed to beat the 1 seed in NCAA history. According to ESPN, only 3.3% of the 17.3 million brackets picked UMBC to win the game and there were no perfect brackets after this game.
Ibrahimović introduces himself to LA
The L.A. Galaxy landed soccer legend Zlatan Ibrahimović as the 37-year old will be looking to finish his career in the U.S. He made his debut on March 31st when he entered as a substitute with the Galaxy down 3-1. Five minutes after he entered, he scored a goal from the 40-yard range. Then with the score tied, Zlatan scored a goal in stoppage time to win the game for his new team.
Sister Jean’s Prayers take Loyola Chicago to Final Four
The Loyola Chicago Ramblers hadn’t made the NCAA tournament since 1985 and were the #11 seed in South division of the bracket. There were not too many expectations for the Ramblers but the nation hopped on their Cinderella story that included Sister Jean Dolares-Schmidt who led pre-game prayers at the age of 98. The Ramblers made it all the way to the final four and tied for the highest seed to ever make the Final Four.
Arike Ogunbowale comes up clutch…twice
Notre Dame and UConn faced off in the final four of the NCAA women’s tournament and the game was tied in overtime at 89. Arike Ogunbowale made a deep two-point jumper to win the game and took the Fighting Irish to the championship game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The game was tied at 58 with 3 seconds left and once again, Ogunbowale came through as she made an off balance three pointer in the corner as time expired. Notre Dame had won the NCAA championship and Ogunbowale will forever be a hero in Northern Indiana.
Donte DiVincenzo leads Wildcats to Championship
The Villanova Wildcats won the men’s basketball NCAA championship and it was mostly from the hot hand of redshirt sophomore Donte DiVincenzo. He had 31 points on a 10-15 (5-7 from three) shooting night to go along with 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks off the bench to beat Michigan 79-62. DiVincenzo was drafted 17th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Man City dominates Premier League
Manchester City simply left the Premier League speechless after their season. They broke 11 season records including most points, most goals, most wins, most consecutive wins, best goal difference, and most passes on their way to winning the Premier League title.
5 QBs drafted in the first round
If your team needed a franchise quarterback, the 2018 NFL draft was the place to get one. Heisman winner Baker Mayfield was drafted first overall by the Browns. The Jets traded up to draft Sam Darnold with the 3rd pick. Josh Allen went to the Bills with the 7th pick and Josh Rosen to the Cardinals with the 10th pick. Then with last pick in the first round the Ravens made a trade with the Eagles and drafted Lamar Jackson. This tied the 1999 NFL draft for second most QB’s drafted in the first round behind the Elway-Marino draft of 1983.
The inspiration of Shaquem Griffin
Shaquem Griffin was born with an underdeveloped left hand and eventually had his hand amputated but that did not stop him from playing football. He went to UCF and was named the 2016 AAC DPOY along with being named to the first team All-AAC in 2016 and 2017. Griffin was a late invite to the NFL Combine and made sure it was not a mistake. He had 20 reps on the bench press while using a prosthetic hand and then ran a 4.38 40-yard dash which is the fastest 40 time for a linebacker ever recorded. Griffin was drafted in the 5th round of the NFL draft to play with his twin brother, Shaquill, on the Seahawks.
Phillip Lindsay’s path to the Pro Bowl
Phillip Lindsay was born and raised in Denver and football was going well for him until he tore ACL in his senior season of high school. The University of Colorado didn’t take their offer off the table and Lindsay went there for his collegiate career. Lindsay broke the team record for most yards from scrimmage and all-purpose yards but that wasn’t enough to get an invite to the NFL combine. Lindsay went undrafted but then his hometown team came calling. The Denver Broncos signed him and Lindsay made sure they didn’t regret it as he was named to the Pro Bowl.
Mo Salah had a 2018 season that will never be forgotten. The biggest accomplishment was that he set a record for most goals scored in a 38-game Premier League Season as he had 32. This included 25 goals off his left foot which was record for most left-footed goals in a Premier League season. And he became the first Egyptian to score a hat trick in a premier league game. Salah had an overall amazing season and was named Premier League Player of the Season along with the Premier League Golden Boot.
Capitals bring D.C. a championship
Washington D.C. hadn’t won a major sports championship since the 1991 NFL season where the Redskins won Super Bowl XXVI. So, when the Capitals won the Stanley Cup over the Golden Knights in their first season, the residents in D.C. went crazy. And for Alexander Ovechkin, he finally won a Stanley Cup to solidify his place among the NHL legends.
LeBron James signing with the Lakers was a rumor that was circulated even before the 2017-18 NBA season. Teams tried to show lure LeBron to their franchise with billboards and other strategies and when LeBron opted out of his contract in the summer, the pursuit to land the man they call The King was officially on. But, it didn’t take much to make his decision. He met with Lakers President of basketball operations, Magic Johnson, as soon as the free agent market opened and James signed with the Lakers on a 4-year and $153.3 million contract.
France wins World Cup behind teenage speed
The 2018 World Cup, held in Russia, saw France win the World Cup after they beat Croatia 4-2 in the final match. A major story in the World Cup was the emergence of the 19-year old Kylian Mbappé. In the Round of 16, Mbappé scored twice to help knockout Messi and the rest of the Argentina team and Mbappé became the second teenager to score twice in a World Cup match. The other was Pelé all the way back in 1958. Mbappé won the FIFA World Cup Best Young Player Award and was named the winner of the KOPA trophy which is given to the best soccer player in the world under 21.
Italy screams Síííííííí
Cristiano Ronaldo has dominated England, Spain, and now looks to do the same in Italy. Juventus sent £88.3 million to Real Madrid and then signed Ronaldo to a 4-year £100 million contract to complete the transfer. This marked the largest transfer for a 33-year old and the most expensive transfer in Serie A ever.
Harper’s moonshots to the White House
The 89th MLB All-Star Game was held in Washington D.C. of course along with the annual Home Run Derby. Washington Nationals superstar Bryce Harper was in his final year of his contract and was set to compete in the derby and did not disappoint his home crowd. Harper hit 19 homeruns in the final round to win the Derby and although it was in the middle of the season, Nationals fans knew how significant the moment was.
The Kawhi Saga
Kawhi Leonard is no doubt a superstar in the NBA and looked like the face of the franchise for the San Antonio Spurs. Leonard injured his quadriceps and in January, and he elected to not play so he could get back to 100%. However that time never came. He was cleared to play by the San Antonio medical staff but Leonard continued sit out as he still had pain. Reports continued to come in that Leonard would soon make his return and he did not which led to a players’ only meeting so that the team could get a clear answer. The Spurs made the playoffs but Kawhi didn’t even show up to the post season games. In the summer, Kawhi requested a trade and was dealt to the Toronto Raptors. The only person who knows what was going on in this situation is Kawhi himself and some questions might never be answered.
Sister Survivors stand together
The monster that is Larry Nassar was sent to prison to serve a 40-125-year prison sentence after sexually abusing hundreds of women/girls as a Michigan State assistant professor and USA women’s team doctor. The victims, known as “sister survivors” showed a tremendous amount of courage as they spoke at hearings and at the 2018 ESPY awards, 140+ sister survivors stood together and accepted the Arthur Ashe Courage Award in an incredible moment.
Serena supports Osaka
In the final match of the US Open, Naomi Osaka went up against her childhood role model Serena Williams. Williams got into a heated argument with the chair umpire, Carlos Ramos, after a violation of coaching. Williams was also penalized for throwing her racket to the ground along with verbal abuse which awarded Osaka a couple points and then eventually Osaka won the match to capture the U.S. Open championship. Fans booed Osaka at the trophy podium and Osaka began to cry. Williams then put her arm around Osaka to comfort her, took the mic, and asked fans to stop booing in a moment of true sportsmanship and professionalism.
Canelo vs GGG II
After a draw in their first fight, the two middleweight warriors clashed again in rematch that did not disappoint. This fight was originally scheduled for May but after Canelo Álvarez tested positive for clenbuterol, a steroid like substance, the fight would have to wait until September. When the fight came finally did come around, it went the distance again but this time Álvarez won by decision to hand Gennady Golovkin the first loss of his pro career.
Tiger is back
The dominance of Tiger Woods seemed to be a thing of the past after multiple back injuries and off the course issues. But 5 years, 1 month, and 20 days after his WGC-Bridgestone Invitational win back in 2013, Woods finally won an event on the PGA Tour when he won the 2018 Tour Championship. It was quite a scene to see Tiger back to his fist pumping self and fans are hoping there is more championships on the way from the Tiger.
After a year, 10 months, and 24 days, Conor McGregor made his highly anticipated return to the octagon as he faced Khabib Nurmagomedov for the UFC lightweight championship. McGregor lost by submission in the 4th round. But what happened after the fight is what makes this fight so memorable. Khabib leaped over the cage and attacked one of McGregor’s coaches. Then three of Khabib’s trainers attacked McGregor inside the cage. UFC President Dana White refused to give Khabib the belt inside the cage to prevent angry fans from throwing stuff into the cage. Overall just a messy situation that leaves fans wanting a rematch.
Game 3 of the World Series
Even though the Red Sox won the World Series, the best moment from the fall classic was game three. The game between the Dodgers and Red Sox in LA went to extra innings tied at 1. The Red Sox scored in the top of the 13th but the Dodgers tied it up in the bottom half of the inning after Ian Kinsler threw the ball into the dirt and led his first baseman off the base. The game went all the way to the bottom of the 18th making it the longest game in World Series history. Max Muncy led off the bottom of the 18th for the Dodgers and sent a 3-2 pitch into the left field bleachers for the walk-off homerun and sent the game into the history books.
Nothing can stop Simone Biles…including kidney stones
Easily the best gymnast in the world, Simone Biles was huge a big question mark to compete in the World Gymnastics Championship after she went to the hospital the night before the qualifying round. She had a large kidney stone and it was too big to pass so Biles decided to compete with it. And it didn’t even matter as Biles won six medals, including 4 golds.
Monday Night Football Extravaganza
Rams vs Chiefs. Rams trio of Goff-Gurley-Cooks vs Chiefs trio of Mahomes-Hunt-Hill. It was easily the highest anticipated game on the 2018 NFL regular season schedule. The two teams combined for 105 points and 1,001 total yards in the Rams 54-51 win. Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes II threw for 476 yards and 6 touchdowns as the Chiefs became the first team to score 50+ points and lose. This was 3rd highest scoring game in NFL history and fans would be so fortunate to see a rematch in Super Bowl LIII.
Two golf legends, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, squared off on Black Friday for a 1v1 match with the winner earning $9 million (both planned on donating portions of the winnings). The match was tied after the 18th hole and it went all the way to 4 playoff holes. Mickelson finally edged Tiger on the 22nd hole and won the match.
Fury returns to the ring
Tyson “The Gypsy King” Fury was in the prime of his career and a heavyweight champion back in 2015. But after drug and alcohol problems, he was stripped of his titles and his boxing license. Fury entered depression and weighed as much as 400 lbs. Fury eventually got himself together, cut down on his weight and got his boxing license back. After two tune-up fights, Fury faced heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. There weren’t any expectations for Fury as most thought Wilder would knock him out in the early rounds. However, Fury gave a good fight, got up twice from knockdowns, and went the distance. The end result was a split-draw and may have a rematch on the way.
Modric wins Ballon d’Or
For the last decade, the award for the best soccer player in the world was given to either Ronaldo or Messi. However, the Ballon d’Or was awarded to someone different this year as midfielder Luka Modrić took home the trophy this year. Modrić was the captain of the Croatian national team that made it to the final match of the World Cup and was a big part of Real Madrid team that won the Champions League.
Drew and Tom continue to break records
Drew Brees passed Brett Favre to become the all-time leader in completions in NFL history. Then two weeks later on Monday Night Football, Brees passed Peyton Manning and became the all-time leader in passing yards. Well Tom Brady had to make sure Brees didn’t have all the fun. Brady threw to Julian Edelman for a touchdown and became the leader for most touchdown passes in NFL history. Brees and Brady are already first ballot hall of famers and continue to add to their legacy.
Colts vs Titans; Win or go home
The last game of the 2018 NFL regular season came with the most pressure. The Colts went up against the Titans in the week 17 Sunday Night Football matchup. The winner of the game secured a spot in the playoffs while the losers would be watching the playoffs from home. The Colts ended up winning the game 33-17 behind 119 rushing yards from Marlon Mack and 285 passing yards with three touchdowns from Andrew Luck.