2013 was a great year in Boston sports. The Red Sox brought home another World Series title, the Bruins went to the Stanley Cup Finals for the second time in three years, the Patriots were one bad half away from their second straight Super Bowl appearance, and the Celtics made the playoffs for the sixth straight year. In all of the great seasons, there were countless single contests that captured our attention. Here are 10 of the best games of 2013 from across the Boston sports world, listed chronologically.
May 13: Bruins defeat Maple Leafs in Game 7 to win Eastern Conference quarterfinals
It was all over for the Bruins on May 13. Down 4-1 to the Maple Leafs with less than 11 minutes to play in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season was going to end on a sour note, as the Bruins were about to blow a 3-1 series lead and be humiliated on their home ice by the Maple Leafs. Even Nathan Horton’s goal with 10:42 to play still left the B’s down two goals, and as the clock clicked past two minutes to play, the Bruins were forced to pull goalie Tuukka Rask for their last desperate chance.
But something happened in those final two minutes that will live on in Bruins and Boston sports lore forever. Milan Lucic jammed in a goal to cut the deficit to one with 1:22 to play. The Bruins still needed one more, and they won the ensuing faceoff, pulled Rask again, then charged into the attacking zone with the clock down to less than a minute left. Patrice Bergeron took a feed from David Krejci and wristed it toward the net, beating James Reimer to tie the game in remarkable fashion.
The Bruins would complete the epic comeback just over six minutes into overtime, when Bergeron wristed a rebound past Reimer to send the TD Garden into delirium and send the Bruins to the second round of the playoffs, after an early exit was all but guaranteed.
June 5: Bruins beat Penguins 2-1 in double OT to take 3-0 lead in Eastern Conference Finals
The Bruins were in prime position: Against one of the best offenses in the NHL, the Bruins went into Pittsburgh for the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals and thoroughly handled the Penguins by scores of 3-0 and 6-1 to grab a 2-0 series lead heading home. In Game 3, the Bruins jumped out to a 1-0 lead when David Krejci scored just 1:42 in and held that lead into the first intermission. Pittsburgh came back though to tie it 1-1 when Chris Kunitz beat Tuukka Rask halfway through the second period. Both teams traded chances late and the game went into overtime, with the winner gaining all momentum in the series.
Nathan Horton had two chances in the first overtime period, but he had a breakaway saved by Tomas Vokoun and rang another shot off the post. No one could knock one home, however, and the game went to a second overtime. With the second overtime period three-quarters over, it looked like this game may reach a third when Jaromir Jagr got the puck taken away from him in the neutral zone by Evgeni Malkin.
The 43-year-old Jagr would not be denied, as he fought back and took the puck away from Malkin, feeding a streaking Marchand ahead who threw the puck to Patrice Bergeron in the middle, redirecting the pass up and over Vokoun for the game winner that put the Bruins one win away from a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Aug. 1: Red Sox come back down 7-1 in the eighth, score six runs in ninth to beat Mariners
Perhaps the most exciting 24 hours of the Red Sox season took place over July 31 and August 1, as one night after winning a 15-inning contest against the Mariners, the Red Sox pulled off their most improbable win of the season. Trailing Seattle 7-1 entering the eighth inning, Shane Victorino hit a solo home run to make it 7-2, but the Sox could not muster any more offense and went into the ninth still down 7-2.
Daniel Nava led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk, then scored on a double by Brock Holt to make it 7-3. Victorino singled home Ryan Lavarnway and Holt to make it 7-5, while Dustin Pedroia singled to score Jacoby Ellsbury and make it 7-6. After David Ortiz struck out, Jonny Gomes came up and added to his ever-growing Red Sox legend, singling in Victorino to tie a game that the Sox had been trailing by five runs at the beginning of the inning.
Daniel Nava came up for the second time in the inning and finished what he had started, hitting a game-winning single to deep center that scored Pedroia and sent Fenway Park into further pandemonium; a seemingly impossible comeback that summed up entirely how the Red Sox had played the first four months of 2013 and how they would keep on playing for the final two months.
Sept. 3: Lester, Red Sox edge out Scherzer, Tigers in ALCS preview
The Red Sox got their toughest test of the month early, with the Detroit Tigers coming to town for three games that many speculated might be – and ended up actually being – an ALCS preview. After a hard 3-0 loss on Sept. 2, things didn’t get easier as 19-1 Max Scherzer got the start for Detroit in the second game of the series opposite Jon Lester. Scherzer was as advertised early on, striking out the side in the first inning and allowing just one Boston hit over the first four innings. The Tigers took the lead in the second inning on a RBI double to center by old friend Jose Iglesias, but the Sox were able to limit the damage when Stephen Drew threw out Brayan Pena trying to score on the double to keep the score 1-0.
The Sox would finally get to Scherzer in the fifth, when Jonny Gomes hit a one-out single and advanced to third on a ground-rule double by Drew. David Ross struck out for the second out, but Will Middlebrooks put the Sox ahead with a two-run single up the middle that scored Gomes and Drew. That proved to be all the scoring that would happen on the day, as Lester had perhaps his finest outing of the season, allowing just one run on eight hits, getting out of a bases-loaded jam with Miguel Cabrera at the plate in the fifth, as well as with two runners on and only one out in the sixth. The Sox southpaw recorded nine strikeouts while allowing no walks over seven innings.
The bullpen team of Brandon Workman, Craig Breslow, and Junichi Tazawa worked around a Victor Martinez single in the eighth to keep the score 2-1, and Koji Uehara shut down the Tigers in the ninth, including strikeouts of Pena and Iglesias, to continue his incredible run since becoming the full time closer in June, extending his stretch of 25 scoreless innings.
Oct. 13: Patriots beat Saints on last-second touchdown
The Patriots’ Oct. 13 matchup against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints was a back-and-forth game from start to finish. After falling behind 7-3 after the first quarter, the Patriots used two Stevan Ridley touchdowns to take a 17-7 lead into halftime. New Orleans came back with a field goal to start the third quarter and a touchdown later to tie the score, but Stephen Gostkowski hit a field goal to put the Patriots back up at the end of the third quarter. Gostkowski hit another field goal to make it 23-17 Patriots in the fourth quarter, but Drew Brees marched the Saints down the field and hit Kenny Stills to take the lead with 3:29 to play.
The Patriots gave the ball away on their next possession, which Brees turned into three more points, seemingly putting the game away. Brady threw an interception on his first pass that, again, seemed to put the game away, but the Pats defense forced the Saints to punt and got the ball back on their own 30 yard line with 1:13 to play.
Needing a touchdown to win the game, Brady threw a 23 yard pass to Julian Edelman, a 15 yard pass to Austin Collie, and a six yard pass to Aaron Dobson to get to the New Orleans 26, but threw two deep incompletions to Edelman to set up a fourth and 4. Brady hit Collie with a 9-yard pass to get the first down on the Saints’ 17, then ran forward to spike the ball and stop the clock with time for one more play. He sent his receivers deep and found Kenbrell Thompkins, who made a leaping catch with five seconds to play to steal the win and send Gillette Stadium into an uproar.
Oct. 13: Red Sox steal ALCS Game 2
After losing a frustrating Game 1 of the ALCS to the Tigers, 1-0, the Red Sox were hoping to bounce back and tie the series. The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the second inning and later increased that lead to 5-0 in the sixth after home runs by Miguel Cabrera and Alex Avila. Trailing 5-1 heading into the bottom of the eighth, it looked like the Sox were going to lose both games at home and head to Detroit with a 2-0 series deficit.
Stephen Drew grounded out to start the bottom of the inning, but Will Middlebrooks doubled to get a runner in scoring position. Jacoby Ellsbury walked to get another runner on, but Shane Victorino struck out for the second out of the inning. Dustin Pedroia then singled to load the bases and the Tigers decided to bring in closer Joaquin Benoit to face David Ortiz. Ortiz swung at the first pitch he saw and hit a long drive toward the bullpens. Torii Hunter raced back and made a leaping attempt that resulted in him plunging over the wall, but could he not pull the ball in and it fell into the Red Sox bullpen for a game-tying grand slam. The picture of Hunter’s legs in the air and bullpen officer Steve Horgan’s arms raised became one of the most memorable images of the 2013 season.
In the bottom of the ninth, tied 5-5, Jonny Gomes led off with a single and then advanced to second on a throwing error by Jose Iglesias. Jarrod Saltalamacchia popped a foul that looked to be caught by Prince Fielder, but he got tangled with fans in the stands and was unable to come up with the ball. Gomes then advanced to third on a wild pitch, and Saltalamacchia completed the epic comeback with a base hit into left field to score Gomes and tie the ALCS 1-1.
Oct. 19: Shane Victorino’s grand slam sends Sox to World Series
Despite heading into Game 6 of the 2013 ALCS with a 3-2 series lead, the Red Sox knew they had a tough task at hand, because to reach the World Series, they would have to go through eventual AL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, and if they couldn’t beat him, 2011 AL MVP Justin Verlander in Game 7. The Red Sox struggled for offense most of the series against Detroit, and Game 6 was no different, with both teams putting up goose eggs for the first 4.5 innings of the game.
The Red managed to squeak across a run in the bottom of the fifth, but the Tigers came back with two of their own in the top of the sixth to take a 2-1 lead. The Tigers held that lead going into the bottom of the seventh, when Jonny Gomes led off with a double and Xander Bogaerts walked to get two runners on with one out. Jacoby Ellsbury then hit a ground ball that Jose Iglesias botched to load the bases for Shane Victorino.
Victorino, who had been having a terrible ALCS at the plate, came through with an epic grand slam in the Green Monster seats, turning a 2-1 Tigers lead into a 5-2 Red Sox lead. Craig Breslow and Koji Uehara shut the Tigers down in the eighth and ninth to send the Red Sox back to the World Series for the third time in 10 seasons.
Oct. 30: Red Sox win World Series at home for first time in 95 years
After winning the World Series on the road in 2004 and 2007, the Red Sox came back to Boston for Game 6 of the 2013 World Series with a 3-2 series lead, with the chance to win the World Series at Fenway Park for the first time since 1918. Former Public Enemy No. 1 John Lackey got the start for the Red Sox, hoping to exorcise his own demons after three forgettable years in Boston after signing a huge contract prior to 2010.
The Red Sox drew first blood in the third inning when Shane Victorino cleared the bases with a three-run double to give the Red Sox a 3-0 lead. Stephen Drew homered to lead off the fourth inning, while Mike Napoli and Victorino added RBI singles later in the inning to pad the Red Sox lead. St. Louis scored its lone run in the seventh, but a strong outing by lackey, followed by bullpen work of Junichi Tazawa and Brandon Workman set up the ninth inning for Koji Uehara.
Uehara shut down the Cardinals in order, striking out Matt Carpenter for the final out that sealed the improbable championship for a Red Sox team that won just 69 games in 2012.
Nov. 24: Patriots trail Broncos 24-0 at halftime, come back to win
Billed as one of the premier matchups of the 2013 NFL season, the Nov. 24 game between the Patriots and Broncos looked to be a landslide in the early goings. The Patriots could not get out of their own way, fumbling the ball away to the Broncos three times in the first quarter, falling behind 17-0 after the first quarter and 24-0 at the half. The Patriots knew they would need to claw themselves out of a hole fast, and they did so by starting the second half marching down the field and got on the scoreboard when Tom Brady hit Julian Edelman to make it 24-7. The Patriots finally got a turnover of their own when Monte Ball fumbled on his own 32 yard line, and the Patriots quickly turned it into a Brandon Bolden touchdown run to make it 24-14.
The Patriots kept the defensive pressure on Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, forcing Manning to fumble on a sack that, once again, put the Patriots deep in Denver territory. Brady took just 1:42 to move the ball to the 6 before he connected with Rob Gronkowski to make the Patriots’ deficit just three with 19 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The turnovers kept coming for the Patriots as Logan Ryan intercepted Manning 28 seconds into the fourth quarter. Brady orchestrated another touchdown drive that put the Patriots up 28-24. They added a field goal to make it 31-24.
The Broncos tied the game late to send it into overtime, and both teams traded failed drives in OT, with the Patriots being forced to punt with just over three minutes to play. A botched call by the Broncos’ Wes Welker on the punt, however, led to a Patriots recovery in the Denver red zone, and Stephen Gostkowski split the uprights to cap the unbelievable Patriots comeback.
Dec. 8: Patriots score 13 in final 61 seconds to beat Browns
Patriots fans had circled the team’s Dec. 8 game against the Browns and checked it off on their calendars as automatic. There was no chance in the world that the 4-8 Cleveland Browns were actually going to come in to Foxborough and defeat the Patriots, who had just two weeks prior come back after being down 24-0 to the Broncos and won.
The Patriots thought things couldn’t get any worse when they entered halftime down 6-0, but shortly into the third quarter things did. After catching a 21-yard pass from Tom Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski took a vicious low hit from Browns safety T.J. Ward, tearing his ACL and knocking the Patriots’ best offensive weapon out for the season. Things looked bleak from then on, with Cleveland taking a 26-14 lead with 2:39 to play as the Patriots defense could not stop Jason Campbell and the Browns from marching down the field time and time again. Brady was able to rally the troops though, hitting Julian Edelman with a two-yard touchdown pass to make it 26-21 with 1:01 to play.
The Patriots now had to convert an onside kick, something they hadn’t done successfully in almost 20 years. Stephen Gostkowski came through, however, hitting the ball just barely 10 yards before it was scooped up by Kyle Arrington. A pass interference call on the Browns put the Patriots on the Browns’ 1-yard line with just over 30 seconds to play, and Brady hit Danny Amendola for the go-ahead touchdown. After missing the two-point conversion, the Patriots still had to stop the Browns from attempting a game-winning field goal, and the Browns got a chance with one second to play, but Billy Cundiff’s 58-yard attempt fell short of the goalposts and the Patriots held on to win.
April 20: After honoring Boston Marathon bombing victims before the game, Red Sox score three runs in the eighth inning to come back and beat the Royals 4-3.
May 26: Red Sox defeat Indians 6-5 after trailing by three with two outs in bottom of the ninth.
June 7: Adam McQuaid scores his only goal of the playoffs as the Bruins beat the Penguins 1-0 to sweep the Eastern Conference Finals.
June 10: Red Sox take 6-0 lead in first inning, Rays come back to tie the game, but Sox win in 14 innings.
June 15: Bruins win 2-1 in OT in Game 2 of Stanley Cup Finals against the Blackhawks, three days after their triple-overtime loss in Chicago.
July 31: Red Sox defeat Mariners in 14 innings after trading runs throughout the game.
Sept. 4: Red Sox destroy Tigers 20-4 just one day after 2-1 nail biter, hitting eight home runs.
Sept. 5: Red Sox take 7-2 lead into seventh, Yankees come back to take the lead, Red Sox tie game off Mariano Rivera, end up winning in 10 innings.
Oct. 27: Red Sox take Game 4 of the World Series on a game-winning pickoff, the first time in postseason history that has ended a game.
Nov. 9: Jeff Green hits a buzzer-beating three pointer as the Celtics stun the Heat and win in Miami.
Dec. 8: Celtics crush Knicks 114-73 for most lopsided victory at that point in 2013-14 NBA season.