8. Brandon LaFell's Sacrifice
The situation is 4th and 3 from the Detroit 26 yard line. The Lions just used a time out. If the Patriots kick a field goal, it'd be a 44 yarder, which is totally reasonable. However, if they convert a first down, they can drain the lock and probably seal the entire game.
Enter Brandon LaFell, making a catch on one of the coolest camera angles of the year.
This is actually the play where LaFell hurt his shoulder and was nicked up for the rest of the season. It picked up 16 yards, putting the ball on the 10 yard line. Three runs later, the Patriots tried to kick a field goal, but a cheap shot from a Lions player gave New England a free first down. LeGarrette Blount ran it right in.
LaFell is the exact player that Bill Belichick hopes to acquire in free agency. He'll do anything for the team and he'll buy in completely. What a pick-up and what a catch.
9. Devin McCourty Breaks the Route
This is the play that took down January Joe. Or February Flacco. Whatever, Joe Flacco's playoff alter-ego was destroyed with this Devin McCourty interception. The Patriots couldn't score off of this turnover, but it changed the landscape of the game and inspired the following gushing of praise from Bill Belichick:
"One of the things you love about Devin McCourty is not making the same mistake twice, or recognizing the play the second time around," Belichick notes after highlighting that his interception came on the same playcall as one from the Ravens opening drive. "Great job of recognition, anticipation, seeing the play, and making it."
This was actually a gorgeous throw by Flacco, apart from, you know, the interception.
Pay. The. Man.