The Play Named No. 3 Most Iconic Sports Moment of 1980s by ESPN.com

July 6, 2009

BERKELEY - The Play, Cal's improbable five-lateral return for a touchdown to with the 1982 Big Game vs. Stanford, has been named the No. 3 most memorable sports moment of the 1980s by ESPN.com Page 2 writer David Schoenfield.

In his list of the top 80 iconic moments from the decade, the USA hockey team's win over the Soviet Union at the 1980 Olympics was No. 1, followed by the ground ball going through Bill Buckner's legs in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series at No. 2 and The Play at No. 3. Kirk Gibson's home run off Dennis Eckersley in the 1988 World Series came in at No. 4. Lorenzo Charles' dunk that won the 1983 NCAA men's basketball title for North Carolina State rounded out the top 5.

The 1982 Big Game was played on Nov. 20 in Memorial Stadium and featured the 6-4 Bears against a 5-5 Stanford team.

With his Stanford squad trailing, 19-17, with 1:27 left, Cardinal quarterback John Elway engineered a comeback drive that included a 29-yard pass on fourth-and-17 deep in Stanford territory. Finally, with the ball on the Cal 18, Stanford called timeout with eight seconds left. When placekicker Mark Harmon booted a 25-yard field goal, Stanford led, 20-17, with four seconds on the clock.

On the ensuing kickoff, Harmon squibbed the ball up the middle of the field. Kevin Moen received the ball on the Cal 44 and lateralled to Richard Rodgers at the Cal 48. Rodgers then gained one yard before pitching the ball to Dwight Garner.

Garner was stopped momentarily before tossing the ball back to Rodgers, who pitched it to Mariet Ford. Ford streaked 20 yards to the Stanford 25 when he threw it back to Moen. Moen proceeded to weave through the Stanford Band and bowled over trombonist Gary Tyrell in the end zone.

After a long delay, the officials ruled the play good and Cal won, 25-20.

Schoenfield's complete look at 1980s moments can be found here and a video of The Play can be found here.

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