The Immaculate Deflection

Graeme
By
Posted: February 12, 2017


The immaculate deflection is a play that occurred during the dying seconds of a season opening fixture between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Denver Broncos in 2009. The play resulted in the broncos overturning a 7-6 Bengals lead to eventually win the game 12-7. The Immaculate Deflection is one of the most famous plays in football history, not because of the importance of the game in which it occurred but for the pure dramatic fashion in which it unfolded.

How did the Immaculate Deflection Unfold?

With 38 seconds left in the game, the Bengals made a touchdown to take a 7-6 lead over the Broncos and looked to be headed for a sure win. After an inaccurate pass by Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton that wiped off 10 seconds from the clock, the Broncos found themselves backed up on 2nd-and-10 from their own 13-yard-line. From scrimmage, Orton stepped up in the pocket and jettisoned a speculative pass down the field towards Brandon Marshall who was in the company of three Bengals defenders, and with seemingly little chance of making a catch. One of the Bengals’ defenders, cornerback Leon Hall jumped and got a hand on the ball but inadvertently deflected into the hands of a grateful but stunned Brandon Stokley. The other two Bengals defenders collided into Marshall and fell, taking them all out of play and leave Stokley unguarded. Stokley immediately lunged forward towards the end zone with linebacker Dhani Jones giving a halfhearted chase that fizzled out and left Stokley with all the time to make the touchdown. Instead of running straight into the end zone, the then 11-year NFL veteran had the presence of mind to run parallel to the goal line, eating up some valuable seconds off the clock before crossing into the end zone.

The 87-yard touchdown entered the history books as the longest game-winning touchdown from scrimmage in the NFL. The Broncos went ahead 12-7 but failed to make their two point conversion. However there was just 11 seconds left for the Panthers to respond with a miraculous play of their own. A final desperation pass from Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer towards Andre Cadwell who had a game high six catches. However a seventh and possibly game changing catch was not forthcoming as Denver tight end intercepted the Hail Mary pass with 5 minutes left and the game ended in victory for the Broncos. A final desperation pass from Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer towards Andre Cadwell who had a game high six catches. However a seventh and possibly game changing catch was not forthcoming as Denver tight end intercepted the Hail Mary pass with 5 minutes left and the game ended in victory for the Broncos.

Aftermath of the Immaculate Deflection

The name “Immaculate Deflection” was given to the play by some fans, adapted from another famous play called the Immaculate Reception that had occurred in 1972 between the Pittsburg Steelers and the Oakland Raiders. After the Bengals game, the Broncos won a further 5 straight games to give them a 6-0 record giving them a distinct possibility of earning a playoff spot. However their form faded off for the remainder of the season, winning just 4 of their remaining 12 games. They finished the season second in the AFC West division with an 8-8 record, missing the playoffs narrowly. They became only the seventh team since 1970 to miss out on a playoff spot after a 6-0 start. In 2012, Stokley admitted having jitters afterwards about the play going wrong when trying to run down the clock, and said he would go straight for the touchdown if he ever got a chance like that again.

The name “Immaculate Deflection” was given to the play by some fans, adapted from another famous play called the Immaculate Reception that had occurred in 1972 between the Pittsburg Steelers and the Oakland Raiders. After the Bengals game, the Broncos won a further 5 straight games to give them a 6-0 record giving them a distinct possibility of earning a playoff spot. However their form faded off for the remainder of the season, winning just 4 of their remaining 12 games. They finished the season second in the AFC West division with an 8-8 record, missing the playoffs narrowly. They became only the seventh team since 1970 to miss out on a playoff spot after a 6-0 start. In 2012, Stokley admitted having jitters afterwards about the play going wrong when trying to run down the clock, and said he would go straight for the touchdown if he ever got a chance like that again.

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