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What is the best single game performance in last 10 years?

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Jamie Bell, TSN.ca Staff
11/16/2010 7:22:55 PM
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More than a few fantasy football team owners awoke Tuesday morning to a very pleasant surprise, because chances are Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick single-handedly won their pool for the week.

Vick's performance in the Monday Nighter against the Washington Redskins was nothing short of breathtaking. 

He opened the night with an 88-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson to give the Eagles a quick lead. Unfortunately for the Redskins, Vick was just getting warmed up.

When the smoke cleared, the former Virginia Tech Hokie had passed for 333 yards and four touchdowns.  If that wasn't enough, he also rushed for two more TD's and picked up 80 yards on the ground in a 59-28 mauling of the 'Skins.

Vick's play was so impressive that even outspoken Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett (@ddockett) sent out the following message on his personal verified Twitter account: "Vick doing so good, he got dogs cheering for him."

While no canines were available for comment, football insiders had no problem praising Vick for the show he put on.  Both former NFL quarterback Ron Jaworski and former NFL head coach John Gruden, who were working the game from the Monday Night booth, described his performance as "video-game like" and "a man playing against boys."

There is little doubt that with his actions, Vick has claimed the title of best single-game performance by an athlete in 2010 on his own, but how does his game against the Redskins rate in terms of the last ten years?

In an apples to apples comparison, Vick's performance compares very favourably to the best days of a pair of future football Hall of Famers.

On October 21, 2007, Tom Brady led the New England Patriots to a 49-28 victory in Miami over their division rival Dolphins. In that contest, Mr. Giselle Bundchen went 21-for-25 for 354 yards passing and six touchdowns to continue the Pats' perfect start to the season.

Similarly, on September 28, 2003, Brady's foil Peyton Manning enjoyed the best day of his career as he too, threw for six touchdowns on 20-for-25 passing and 314-yards as the Indianapolis Colts thumped the Saints 55-21 in Manning's hometown of New Orleans.

What may set Vick's performance apart is what he was able to do with his legs as Brady did not attempt a single rush during his star turn while Manning picked up only one yard on a single rushing attempt. Vick, meanwhile, tore the Redskins apart with not only his speed, but also the threat of his speed which left Washington's defensive backs guessing all night.

Staying with the NFL, Terrell Owens opened the decade with a ridiculous display of speed, skill and power in a December 17, 2000 game against the Chicago Bears. 

While T.O. has been outspoken in his criticism of former quarterback Jeff Garcia, the two were obviously on the same page that day as Owens hauled in a record breaking 20 receptions for 283 yards and a touchdown in a 17-0 shutout.

Not to be outdone, Brandon Marshall broke Owens record for receptions in a game with 21 to go along with 200 yards and a pair of scores in a December 13, 2009 Broncos loss to the Colts.

In terms of rushing, no one this decade has had a performance to match Minnesota Vikings' running back Adrian Peterson's destruction of the San Diego Chargers. 'All Day AP' rumbled for an NFL record 296-yards on 30 carries, (surpassing Jamal Lewis' mark of 295-yards in 2003) and three touchdowns.  What made the display even more phenomenal was the fact that Peterson did so as a rookie in just his eighth game as a professional.

Although the NFL had more than their fair share of stellar performances in the past 10 years, there are certainly others that deserve consideration.

Fans of the Toronto Raptors look back at January 22, 2006 as a day of infamy. On that day in Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant torched them for 81 points, the most ever by an NBA player not named Wilt Chamberlain.

Bryant was simply unstoppable in a 124-102 Lakers victory.  Despite double and ofter triple teams, Kobe went 28-of-46 from the floor, including 7-of-13 from three-point range and 18-of-20 from the foul line as he willed Los Angeles back from an 18-point deficit in the third quarter to a comfortable 22-point win.

To put it in perspective, Michael Jordan's career high was 69 points, while just four other players in NBA history had ever surpassed 70 points in a game - Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, David Thompson and David Robinson.

And seeing as Hockey Lives Here at TSN, we would be remiss if we did not mention some of the top performances on ice. 

Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo made a week's worth of saves in one night on April 11, 2007, stopping 72 of 76 shots in a 5-4 playoff victory over the Dallas Stars. The game went to four overtime periods before Henrik Sedin gave his netminder the rest of the night off by beating Marty Turco. Luongo established the mark for the most shots faced by a goaltender in a Stanley Cup playoff game and broke the record for most shots faced by a goalie in his first playoff debut, which was set by J.S. Giguere of the Anaheim Ducks in a 64-save spectacle to lead the Ducks past the Red Wings on April 10th, 2003.

In terms of offence, Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson shares the record for most points in a single game this decade with Jaromir Jagr, then of the Washington Capitals.  Both players scored a hat trick to go along with four assists. 'Alfie' accomplished the feat against the Tampa Bay Lightning on January 24, 2008, while Jagr pulled it off January 11, 2003 as the Caps thumped the Florida Panthers 12-2.

Only one player this decade has hit the magical five goals in a game mark. That would be Minnesota's Marian Gaborik who hammered his future employers - the New York Rangers - for a five-spot to go along with one assist in a 6-3 Wild win.

Finally, we move on to the diamond where players have launched four home runs in a single game on three separate occasions this decade.

The first such occurrence took place on May 2, 2002 as Seattle slugger Mike Cameron went deep four times in a 15-4 whupping of the Chicago White Sox. Cameron just narrowly missed setting the record for dingers in a game as he lined out to the right-field warning track in his fifth and final at bat of the night in the ninth inning. The irony of the situation was all four of his bombs were solo shots as he finished the day with 'just' four RBI.

As spectacular as Cameron's achievement was, he was bested just 21 days later as Los Angeles Dodgers right-fielder Shawn Green destroyed the Milwaukee Brewers' pitching staff.  The one-time Toronto Blue Jay went six-for-six with four home runs and seven RBI as the Dodgers crushed the Brew Crew 16-3. 

Green's old running mate, Carlos Delgado enjoyed his best day as a pro, and perhaps the best individual performance ever by a Blue Jays hitter on September 25, 2003. On that day, Delgado lit up the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, going four-for-four with all of his base knocks being of the round trip variety.  He also drove in six runs as the Jays outlasted the Rays 10-8 in a game that could not be considered a pitching duel.

Speaking of pitching, 2010 was considered as 'the Year of the Pitcher' in baseball circles, and with good reason. 

No fewer than five-different hurlers threw no-hitters this season, with newly minted Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay accomplishing the feat twice.  Both Halladay and Oakland A's southpaw Dallas Braden achieved perfection.  Braden blanked the Rays in a 4-0 victory on May 9th while 'Doc' baffled the Florida Marlins in a 1-0 gem on May 29th.

Despite the abundance of 'no-nos', the best pitching performance of the season may well have been turned in by the San Francisco Giants' Tim Lincecum during the post-season.  In a nearly flawless performance, 'the Freak' mowed down 14 Braves hitters, walking one and giving up two hits in a complete game shutout.  It was one of the most impressive big-game pitching performances in recent memory as the Giants would carry that momentum to their first World Series title in nearly 50 years.

Fans of the Toronto Blue Jays could certainly make a case for flame-thrower Brandon Morrow, who on August 8th of this year struck out 17 Rays while tossing a one-hit complete game shutout.  According to 'Game Score', a baseball metric developed by Bill James, the founder of Baseball Abstract and forefather to Sabermetrics, Morrow's game was tied for the fourth best single game performance by a pitcher since 1920.

Which of the above performances should be considered the decade's best?  Is 81 points more dominant than 296 yards rushing?  Do four home runs trump five goals?  Let your opinions be known in our 'Your Call' feature below. 

Great Performances (Photo: Getty Images)

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(Photo: Getty Images)
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