In 2012, we saw our fair share of great sports moments, from Will Middlebrooks’ coming out party and Julian Edelman’s all-around game to Rajon Rondo’s Eastern Conference Game 2 outing and each gold medalist at the summer Olympics. We have so many to explore. Take a look at some of the top Boston sports performances in 2012.
A typical sterling Tom Brady performance may include 300-plus passing yards, three to four touchdown passes, and a a couple of unstoppable drives where he wills the Patriots to a dominating win.
On this occasion, he managed to come up with only one drive worthy of remembering. Down 20-16 against the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship, Brady orchestrated a 63-yard drive for the go-ahead touchdown that would lead the Patriots to Super Bowl XLVI.
In the fourth quarter, Brady appeared to punch in the game-winning touchdown on 2d-and-goal at the 1-yard line on a quarterback sneak, but the play was overturned after review. After a failed run by BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Brady put the game back on his back. With the stakes so high, on fourth down nonetheless, he took the dive you see here to put the Patriots up 23-20, the final score, with 11:33 left in the game.
Of course, we all remember the Ravens’ Billy Cundiff’s missed field goal as time expired. But we should never forget Brady’s performance to get the Patriots to their fifth Super Bowl since 2001.
Seguin comes of age
Sometimes a great performance is not defined by what outside observers may think so much as it is by those who participated. Take for instance Tyler Seguin’s Game 6 performance against the Washington Capitals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Capitals were up 3-2 on the Bruins in the series and were set on sending the Spoked-B’s packing. Seguin had struggled in the series, failing to score in the first five games, including two games that had gone to overtime.
In Game 6, Seguin twice put the Bruins back on track. A shot by Seguin ricocheted off goalie Braden Holtby and Andrew Ference cleaned it up to put the Bruins ahead with a little more than 8 minutes left in the third period.
But the game was destined for overtime. Four minutes later, the Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin made his presence felt and tied the score. It didn’t take long for Seguin to make another splash, though. Only 3:17 into overtime, he took a pass on a breakaway from Milan Lucic and put enough fear into Holtby for the goalie to make a move too soon for the speedy second-year player.
Tim Thomas said Seguin’s overtime goal was a marker of his career. “It was a coming-of-age goal there in overtime.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
Marathoners beat the heat
At the 2012 Boston Marathon in April, runners were faced with broiling conditions on Patriots Day. The temperatures hovered in the upper 80s and reached as high as 89 degrees as more than 2,100 runners sought medical treatment for dehydration and exhaustion.
And yet, more than 96 percent of runners finished the race. The last time it was as hot on a marathon Monday was during the 1976 race, affectionately termed the “Run for the Hoses.”
Wesley Korir and Sharon Cherop won the 2012 race, but all who braved the elements deserve a great performance nod, as well as those who decided not to run. That difficult decision, at the sport’s premier event, is something to cheer, not be ashamed of.
Let him play third
Will Middlebrooks wasn’t meant to stay in the Red Sox’ lineup for long, let alone be a fixture of the team’s infield for the 2012 season. But he found himself plunged into the gameday lineup in May after Kevin Youkilis was sidelined with an ailing back.
Against the Kansas City Royals, he had just had his first career grand slam in a 17-inning loss, so few thought there was going to be a peep out of the upstart again, and so soon.
Instead, he turned in a 3 for 5 performance with 2 home runs and five RBIs the very next day against the Royals as the Red Sox snapped a five-game winning streak.
Middlebrooks’ steady play going forward kept him at third base and greased the wheels for the Red Sox to trade Kevin Youkilis later in the season.
Hot like fire
Rajon Rondo found the hot hand against the Miami Heat. In Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Rondo went off for 44 points, 10 assists, and 8 rebounds, single-handedly keeping the Celtics in the game. The Heat ended up prevailing in overtime, 115-111, but no one will forget the performance Rondo put on that cemented his place as a Celtics legend.
A goal to remember
Nico Calabria, a varsity soccer player at Concord-Carlisle high school who has born with only one leg, lit the world on fire when he scored a goal in a match against Newton South this fall. A video capturing the play went viral almost instantaneously.
The junior, who happens to be standout wrestler as well, scored on a scissor kick, to the astonishment of everyone in attendance. What he did will surely be remembered for a long time.
Jason Repko goes all out
Pawtucket Red Sox outfielder Jason Repko made a tremendous grab this summer. The 31-year-old minor league journeyman, who has spent time with the Dodgers, Twins, and Red Sox, robbed Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s Kosuke Fukodome of a grand slam when he sprinted to the left field warning track and made a leaping catch over the outfield wall at McCoy Stadium.
It was easily the catch of the year for the minor league player. For his hard work, he was rewarded with some time with the big league club, and some major exposure on SportsCenter.
One for the road
Sheer awesomeness is a good measure of a great performance, too. Needham’s own Aly Raisman won a gold medal as part of the US’s gymanstics team, and then followed it up by winning gold in the individual floor exercise and bronze in the beam event.
The 18-year old was the captain of the US gymnastics team and was a big part of the feel-good story of the entire US Olympic team.
She’s returned to New England to much fanfare since, hailed for bringing the gold home in a sport the US hadn’t taken first place in since 1996.
Everybody loves … judo
Prior to Kayla Harrison, a Wakefield resident, no American — man or woman — had ever won a gold medal in judo. So when Harrison defeated Great Britain’s Gemma Gibbons in the gold medal match for the 78kg weight class, she made instant US history.
Like fellow Olympian Aly Raisman, Harrison has returned home to much fanfare since her amazing performance in London. She’s currently the No. 1 judo fighter in the world and won’t soon be forgotten.
And maybe, just maybe, she will inspire a new generation to love judo rather than kung fu fighting.
Keegan Bradley and partner Phil Mickelson electrified the first three rounds of the Ryder Cup, helping to spur Team USA to a 10-6 lead heading into the final day. Bradley and Mickelson won the first three paired matches of the tournament over European teams of Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy and Grame McDowell, and Donald and Lee Westwood.
Bradley, who was born in Vermont and played high school golf at Hopkinton High in Massachusetts, lost in the final head-to-head match to McIlroy, but you could say there was no person that was better to lose to since McIlroy is the world’s top-ranked player.
It was Bradley’s phenomenal comeback in the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational that earned him a spot on the Ryder Cup team. Bradley came back from a four-stroke deficit in the final round of the tournament before parring the final hole to take the win by a stroke. It was his only PGA tour win of the season.
One great dive
The Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski made one stellar catch to seal his spot on this list. The burly tight end laid out for a 17-yard touchdown grab against the New York Jets in October.
It was the first of his two touchdowns against the the Patriots’ AFC East rivals. The Patriots went on to beat the Jets 29-26 in overtime. Gronkowski’s all-out effort helped lead the way.
It seems like the Patriots play their best when they face the New York Jets. Steve Gregory showed us his best on Thanksgiving Day, compiling a highlight reel of his own.
Gregory forced a fumble and then returned it 32 yards for a touchdown, picked off Jets QB Mark Sanchez, recorded a pass defensed, and recovered another fumble.
It was the type of all-around day that helps boost the confidence of the Patriots’ secondary, and earned Gregory an appearance on the postgame turkey munch alongside Tom Brady and Vince Wilfork.
Julian Edelman is known to break loose every now and then and return a punt for a touchdown. He did just that on a cool November night at Gillette Stadium against the Indianapolis Colts, returning one for a 68-yard TD and another for 49 yards. But he didn’t stop there. He caught five passes for 58 yards and a touchdown and took a reverse 47 yards before finishing the day with 222 all-purpose yards.
The Patriots routed the Colts 59-24, and Edelman was the star of the show.