The Ringer’s 52 Favorite Sports Moments of 2022
2022 has been a year of long-awaited triumphs: Lionel Messi. Matthew Stafford. Georgian football. It’s been a farewell year: Serena Williams. Roger Federer. Coach K. And it’s been a year of highlights: Aaron Judge. Ja Morant. Ass.
The calendar has moved to 2023, Bell ringer recalls the most iconic sporting moments of the past 12 months. Here, in no particular order, are the 52 most prominent:
Lionel Messi kissing the World Cup trophy before he actually received the World Cup trophy
Brian Phillips: The audacity of this. Clear mischief. My God, courage this. Lionel Messi, 35 years old, mature adult, father, sometimes without enthusiasm a taxpayer, a man with responsibilities, a businessman, a role model, wins his first world championship, and what does he do? He is waiting? Is he following the carefully choreographed ceremony that was planned months before the trophy was presented?
had the maximum impact on the FIFA and Qatar brand had proper authority? Does he say to himself, “This is a serious moment. Historical moment. As the greatest football player who ever lived, I must treat this moment with due respect.”
With all my might he does. I’m sorry, Emily Post, but patience, respect, and careful choreography are needed for those who Not only banish the shadow of Diego Maradona after years (and years and years) of trying. What Messi does instead is he climbs up what appears to be a laser podium, a winding neon platform, to accept the Ballon d’Or award he won as the tournament’s best player – a very chill moment, nbd. And the World Cup trophy is sitting there, unattended, in front of the laser platform. And he notices it. And he can’t resist.
Carlos Alberto, captain of the 1970 Brazilian team, considered by many to be the greatest football team of all time, started the tradition of kissing the trophy because he said it looked too pretty not to. There is a slight twinkle in Messi’s eyes, an expression that usually means a defender or six are about to lose their health insurance. But now, when he hands over the trophy, he goes up to him and pecks. He kisses him. He caresses him. He looks down at him with a look of pure, radiant love. If you were adopting a new puppy, you would look at that puppy the same way the day you came to take it home.
And look, it’s only a moment. It didn’t add much to the drama of what was, sorry, the most dramatic sporting event I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t even the most disrespectful act on the laser platform. (Hello to Emiliano Martinez for polishing his Golden Glove award against his crotch as if he was… well, let’s just say it was the first time Martinez seemed to have even one fuck to give in Qatar.)
But Messi’s stolen kiss was so good. It was so free. It was imbued with the lightness of impossible expectations, absolutely satisfied. And it made you feel for a second that this complicated, compromised tournament didn’t really belong to the FIFA leadership and the Qatari oligarchs. At that moment it belonged to Messi. He belonged to us.
Pick-Six Keli Ringo gives the Dawgs their day
Jordan Conn: I spent the day of January 10, 2022 the same way I spent many days leading up to the Georgia vs. Alabama football games: with a familiar and comfortable sense of dread. I am a Bulldogs fan, married to a family of Crimson Tide fans, and I have long understood that fear is the only adequate reaction to the upcoming match between the teams. I used to indulge in hopeful play; each time this hope was justly punished.
In 2008, there was the infamous Blackout game in which the Georgia team, which included Matthew Stafford, A.J. Green and Novshon Moreno, was buried at halftime. (“They’re wearing black because they’re on their way to their fucking funeral,” then-Alabama strength coach Scott Cochran told Tide that week. Prophet.) In 2012, the SEC championship game was played; I watched it from the stands at the Georgia Dome, and after the final run of the Bulldogs failed, my Tide teetotaler offered to buy me a sympathetic beer. (Looks like he almost wanted Georgia to win that night, because that’s what being a Bama fan is all about: having so many championships that you sometimes feel like giving one of them away as a treat.) In 2018, there was a national title game. in which Georgia led 13–0 at halftime; Tua Tagovailoa stepped off the bench to provoke a furious comeback and my wife later found me sitting upright in bed mumbling: Why? Why? Why? again and again. The next morning, I didn’t remember it.
The tide was inevitable. Sometimes they lost, but always to someone else. So, at the end of the fourth quarter of the January national championship game, when Bryce Young lifted the pass balloon into the air in Indianapolis, of course, somehow, the Tide receiver would have picked it up. And when the ball got into the hands of Keli Ringo, a five-star defenseman from Georgia who was 4 years old when the Dougs last beat Alabama, he would have dropped the pick, of course. And as Ringo ran, head coach Kirby Smart yelled at him, “Get down!” surely he would have groped for something or found some previously unknown way to give up the ball and the game.
But then Ringo ran with his blockers all the way to the end zone, and there were no flags, and the game was blocked. My fear was replaced by the most unfamiliar feeling: dizzying and boundless joy.
Thirteen Seconds That Changed Everything
Danny Heifetz: The Bills-Chiefs division playoff game redefined what it means to leave too much time on the clock.
After two of the most explosive attacks in the league, Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Buffalo’s Josh Allen scored 31 points in total. after a two minute warning fourth quarter.
With one minute and 54 seconds left in the game, Allen hit Gabe Davis for a 27-yard touchdown to give Buffalo a three-point lead.
Just 52 seconds later, Mahomes returned a 64-yard touchdown to Tyreke Hill, restoring the lead to the Chiefs. Then Allen hit Davis again for a 19-yard touchdown, again giving the Bills a three-point lead. But this time, the Bills only left the Chiefs 13 seconds to equalize. The dejected defenders of the Chiefs sat on the bench, distraught and in disbelief. Billy finally killed the dragon.
The Chiefs won the overtime coin toss and drove to score a touchdown, winning the game without the Bills touching the ball. A couple of months later, the league changed the overtime rules for the playoffs to allow both teams to touch the ball at least once. While none of these teams made the Super Bowl, this game literally changed the sport and raised the bar for defensemen.
Matthew Stafford’s reckless pass propels the Rams to glory
Stephen Ruiz: Matthew Stafford may not be a historically great quarterback, but he is historically great. He is able to throw the ball almost anywhere on the field. He can shoot from any angle of his arm and doesn’t even have to look at his intended receiver to get the ball to the target. This combination of skills has its drawbacks and Stafford hasn’t achieved many wins throughout his career. But it is interesting to look at it objectively. And for at least one night, Stafford’s out-of-the-box creativity was exactly what his team needed.
I’m talking, of course, about Super Bowl LVI. The Rams won largely thanks to a throw by Stafford without a look at fourth-quarter runner-up Cooper Kupp, expanding what should have been a championship run.
This angle makes Stafford’s lack of gaze all the more impressive. (by using @RamsNFL)pic.twitter.com/5eaiwZPBxv
— NFL (@NFL) February 14, 2022
This is not the first no-look pass we’ve ever seen. Other quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers and even Ryan Fitzpatrick have this tool in their bags. But Stafford had enough self-confidence to trust the bizarre technique of THE BIGGEST GAME OF HIS CAREER. It was a bold move and I’m glad it paid off. Not because I wanted the Rams to win the Super Bowl—I didn’t care about the outcome—but because it prevented football coaches who hate fun from pointing it out as proof that quarterbacks should just stick to their basics. rather than trying cool shit. Stafford chose the coolest option and it helped him win the biggest football game of the year.
St. Peter’s Basilica and March Madness for Ages
J. Kyle Mann: Hope you are all happy. I revised this fucking game today and as a Kentucky fan all along I’ve been thinking about soaking my clothes in chicken broth and falling off the rails into a polar bear exhibit at our local zoo. “Saint Peter? Never heard of him,” I said in all-consuming, all-consuming denial as the bear started sniffing my face. If I could, I would get George Lucas out and destroy all traces of this tape, preferably in some grandiose way using a sledgehammer. Not in the last seconds. Peacox 15-seeded 85-79 win over second-seeded Kentucky, I screamed like that crooked cop from Season 1 True detective, the one who was forced to watch this horrible VHS on a boat. Look, I’m not equating records, I’m just trying to paint a picture of trauma. Okay, to be honest, I had to think for a second if I wanted to equate the tapes.
Did it make me feel better when head coach Shaheen Holloway’s team also beat Murray State and Perdue to advance in the bracket? A little, but not quite. The reality is that I, like any other fan of Kentucky, Murray State or Purdue,had be a sad character in this glorious story. We were…