Ranking 13 Biggest Tackles in NFL History

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NFL is famous for two things: amazing offensive performance and tackles. Moreover, people are drawn into NFL to see grown men taking down each other.

Over its rich history, NFL has long lists of game-changing tackles. However, some have impacted NFL like no other. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tackles Travis Kelce in 2021 Super Bowl
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tackles Travis Kelce in the 2021 Super Bowl.

In the article, we have presented the 13 biggest tackles in NFL history. Let’s look at which tackles make the top of our list.  

13 Biggest Tackles in NFL History

Let’s begin with the top 13 to make it more interesting and continue scrolling down to reach the top 1st.

13. Sean Taylor

The Pro Bowl (NFL All-Star game) is not typically looked at as a legitimate event. So, it’s rare to see the biggest hits or tackles in NFL Pro Bowl. 

However, in the 2006 Pro Bowl, NFC Sean Taylor hit one of the most memorable tackles the NFL has ever seen. 

The AFL coach Bill Belichick and punter Brian Moorman discussed running a fake punt.

Later, Taylor asked Boorman, ‘Do you want to run it?’, and he responded  ‘Yeah, absolutely,’”.

The Boorman choice made him regret it later. While running towards the sideline, Taylor slammed him down brutally. 

The way Taylor destroyed Boorman is something that will never be matched in Pro Bowl history. 

Although the tackle happened long before Twitter or Instagram, it is still gaining lots of attention. 

Also Read: 12 Best Last-minute Goals in Football

12. Dunta Robinson

Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson hit on Eagles wide receiver De Sean Jackson is quite different.

Moreover, it was like the result of two fast and talented players colliding at high speed.

Both players clashed in-game between the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles, leaving both players on the field.

Dunta Robinson knocking down De Sean Jackson
Dunta Robinson knocking down De Sean Jackson.

Jackson was a tough player himself and never backing down against defenders. However, after being laid out by Robinson, he looked like a dummy.

Later, the NFL fined Robinson’s tackles for lowering his helmet to launch the contact on a defenseless receiver. 

11. Leonard Marshall

Joe Montana wearing a Chiefs jersey after his trade in April 1993 remains one of the strangest moments in the league history.

However, he would not have worn Cheifs if the career-threatening injury wouldn’t have occurred on 20th Jan 1991.

During the fourth quarter of the NFL Championship match, NY Giants’ defensive end Leonard Marshall hit Montana so hard that he suffered a serious injury.

With Montana injured, 49ers hanged to 13-12 lead, but kicker Matt Bahr converted a field goal at the last second. 

The Giants stopped the 49ers from becoming the first team in NFL history to achieve a three-peat. Later, they went to win the Super Bowl too. 

Montana’s injuries included cracked ribs, broken hands, bruised sternum, and stomach. Moreover, injuries forced him to miss two consecutive seasons. 

Later, Steve Young replaced him and embarked on his own Hall of Fame career, including the 1995 Super Bowl triumph. 

The Leonard hit sent Montana to Kansas City and allowed Young to retire at 49ers. 

10. Ben Watson

Ben Watson’s chase-down tackle to Champ Bailey is probably the best chase-down in the NFL postseason.

In addition, the game also saw Tom Brady‘s 10 wins playoff winning streak coming to an end. 

During the third quarter of the 2006 divisional playoffs, Broncos led 10-6 against the Patriots. 

Also Read: NFL: 15 Greatest football teams of all time

Later, Brady miss passed the ball in the end zone, leaving Bailey to open field ahead of him. 

However, Patriots tight end Ben sprinted 100 yards and tackle down Bailey just one yard ahead of the end zone coming out of nowhere.

Although they lost the game, Ben’s tackle remains one of the legendary plays in NFL history. 

9. Sheldon Brown

New Orleans Saints Wide receiver Reggie Bush was one the most hyped prospect in the NFL history, thanks to his unearthly agility to shake up the defenders.

But on NFC divisional playoffs game against Philadelphia Eagles, he fell victim to one of the brutal hits in NFL history.

Moreover, he was too fast and shifty in his high school and college got drilled by cornerback Sheldon Brown like never before in his career. 

Sheldon Brown tackling down Reggie Bush
Sheldon Brown takes down Reggie Bush.

As soon as Saints QBs Drew Brees passed the ball to Bush, Brown hit his body with his shoulder. 

One of the great things regarding this hit is it was a 100% legal hit. Another thing is when Bush tries to stand up; he fell right back to the ground. 

8. Jack Tatum’s

During the preseason game between New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders, Darryl Stingley got paralyzed on 12th August 1978. 

Raiders hard-hitting safety Jack Tatum slammed Patriots wide receiver, Stingley with his helmet when he was running a pattern.

Later, that blow resulted in Stingley injuring his fourth and fifth vertebrates. He got paralyzed below the neck.

However, NFL didn’t penalize or suspend Tatum for his tackle. But, it definitely tightens the rules and regulations regarding violent hits.

After the collision incident, Tatum tried to visit Stingley, but Stingley’s family members turned away. As a result, both of them never met after the incident. 

7. Chuck Bednarik

Chuck Bednarik is often regarded as the last two-way player in the NFL.

However, while playing for Philadelphia Eagles as a linebacker, he delivered a violent hit on the Giants receiver Gifford on 20th November 1960. 

Both teams were fighting for top place in Eastern Division, and in the fourth quarter, the Eagles were by leading by 7 points. 

Also Read: NFL: Top 10 Best Quarterback Ever

Later, when Gifford got the ball, he ran towards the sideline, anticipating stopping the clock.

But, Gifford could not make it as Chuck Bednarik takedown Gifford. Nicknamed “Concrete Charlie,” Bednarik’s hit caused Gifford to be hospitalized due to a concussion.

Sadly, Gifford could not play for another 2 seasons due to a life-threatening injury.  

The takedown might have helped the Eagles to win NFL Championship. However, Bednarik also delivered another important hit in the championship match against Green Bay Packers. 

During the game’s final play, he tackled running back Jim Taylor at Eagles 10 yards line securing 17-13 victory. 

Bednarik’s hit remains a memory in the NFL folklore named the “The Hit.” The Hit made people aware of concussion effects and protective gears of football.

6. Von Miller

In Super Bowl 50 Denver Broncos came to the championship game against the Carolina Panthers as underdogs. 

However, Broncos linebacker Von Miller changed the whole perspective of the finale with a dramatic first-half sack. 

Von Miller sacks Cam Newton
Von Miller tackles Cam Newton.

When Newton dropped into the pocket, Miller rushed towards the edge and sacked him.

Later, Malik Jackson recovered the ball in the end zone after it pooped free and gave the Broncos a 10-0 lead. After that, Carolina never recovered.

Likewise, Miller successfully stripped the ball from Newton in the last 4 minutes of regulation time, leading to a possible game-winning rally.

Denver won the Super Bowl defeating Carolina 24-10. Similarly, Miller earned the NFL Super Bowl MVP award, recording six tackles, two and a half sacks, and a forced fumble. 

5. Lawrance Taylor 

New York Giants and Washington Redskins legendary rivalry dates back to 1932. 

On 18th November 1985, they were playing against each other, and the player of Redskins, Joe Theismann, was starting quarterback who led them to a consecutive Super Bowl. 

Coming into the second-quarter game, he was tied at 7-7. Later while Theismann attempted a flea-flicker pass, Lawrance Taylor pulled him down from QB’s blindside. 

In addition, that tackle also cemented Taylor’s legacy as one of the best past-rusher in NFL history. 

Although Taylor hit on Theismann is not the biggest in terms of initial contact between the two, it is definitely one of the most impactful hits in NFL history. 

After that play, NFL teams put more emphasis on safeguarding quarterbacks’ blind side. 

Especially in right-handed QBs, the NFL teams became ready to put money and high draft picks on left tackles.

Even though it has not eliminated QBs from being hit from the blindside, it has definitely reduced the hits number since that incident. 

4. Mo Lewis

On 23rd September 2001, during the fourth quarter of the game between New York Jets and New England Patriots, Mo Lewis hit Bledsoe in the chest nearby the sideline.

Later, that tackle changed the dynamic of NFL history, which no one had any clue about. 

Also Read: Who is the father of Russell Wilson? Children & Career

Bledsoe suffered from a life-threatening injury. In addition, he had a concussion and internal bleeding issues.

Later, on his way hospital, he fell unconscious on his way. He found himself with a tube in his chest when he gains consciousness.

However, Bledsoe played the next game but found out he had a concussion in the closing stage of the game.

Then Tom Brady entered the field with 2:16 remaining in the fourth quarter. He completed three first downs but couldn’t throw beyond the goal line.

This was the game Brady took the place of Bledsoe as starting quarterback. Later, Brady helped the team finish the season with an 11-3 record.

As starting quarterback in the Super Bowl finals, Brady led Patriots victory over the Rams. The rest is history.

3. Dont’a Hightower

Super Bowl LI saw the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history when New England Patriots made 25 points comeback to clinch the title.

Moreover, without Hightowers’s strip-sack to Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, it would not be possible. 

In the fourth quarter, with only 8:35 minutes remaining, Hightower provided the spark that Patriots needed to overturn the huge point gap. 

Donta Hightower sack Matt Ryan
Donta Hightower tackles Matt Ryan.

When the Patriots were losing 28-12, Hightower attacked from the left side and blew past the Falcons, running back Devonta Freeman to take down Matt Ryan

Later, Alan Branch successfully recovered the ball, and the Patriots scored it the possession. 

Moreover, the momentum shifts and Hightower helped the Patriots to score 31 continuous unanswered points.

Patriots clinched the most coveted prize with a 34-28 overtime win. All thanks to strip-sack by Hightower to Matt Ryan. 

Likewise, the Falcons became the first team in the NFL postseason to overturn 17 points or more lead coming into the fourth quarter.

2. Ben Roethlisberger

On 15th Jan 2006, with 1:05 minutes only remaining, Pittsburgh Steelers led 21-18 against Indianapolis Colts.

Roethlisberger passed the ball to running back Jerome Bettis, believing he would provide them an insurance touchdown.

However, he got tackled, the ball popped out, and Harper got the ball. Harper was going for the easy game-winning touchdown.

In addition, it would be devastating as the Steelers were leading by 18 points at one point.  

But, their quarterback Roethlisberger had a different idea in his mind. So, when Harper picked the ball, he ran towards the Steelers goal line.

As Blockers surrounded Harper, Roethlisberger was the only person who could tackle him.

Then Roethlisberger grabbed around Harper’s ankles with his massive and bulky body. When he tackled him down, he reached 40. But the Colts missed the game-tying kick later.

One can say how big Roethlisberger’s tackle was? Later, the Steelers eventually won the Super Bowl thanks to his crucial tackle on Harper. 

1. Mike Jones

During  Super Bowl XXXVI, St Louis Rams faced Tennesse Titans on 30th January 2000. The game was close to the end.

Later, with 2 minutes remaining, Kurt Warner threw a ball to wide receiver Issac Bruce for 73 yards touchdown. 

Likewise, Titans quarterback Steve McNair took the responsibility to bring his team back to the game. 

He was left with do-or-die play after leading them to the opposition 10-yard line and only six seconds remaining. 

Later, he found wide receiver Kevin Dyson on the final play heading straight towards the ends zone. 

Mike Jones tackles Kevin Dyson just one yards ahead of end line
Mike Jones tackles Kevin Dyson just one yard ahead of the end line.

At that moment, it looked like its an easy touchdown for the Rams but Rams linebacker Mike Jones pulled out a game-saving tackle with just one yard from the end line.

Mike Jones’s tackle is regarded as the greatest tackle in the NFL Super Bowl history. Moreover, it is dubbed as “The Tackle.”

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Sanjib Sah
Sanjib Sah
Sanjib Sah is an engineer and content writer passionate about sports and athletics. With a background in engineering and a love for all things active, Sanjib brings a unique perspective to the world of sports writing. Whether he is covering the latest trends in sports technology or sharing tips on improving your game, Sanjib's words are always rooted in a deep appreciation for players' hard work and dedication everywhere. In his free time, you can find him hitting the courts or hitting the trails, always looking for new ways to challenge himself and improve his skills.

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