What is the Most Memorable Play in AFL History?

In our Tales from the American Football League community, we have a number of readers who either played in the AFL, or grew up watching games.  At 39 years old, I have done neither, and my “memories” of the league are based on video, my interactions with former players and coaches, and the many books and articles that I have read.

I was thinking the other day, wondering what might be considered the most memorable play in league history.  Was it Lance Alworth’s famous catch in the 1963 AFL championship game, which was caught on film by Chargers photographer, Charles Aqua Viva?  Was it Tommy Brooker kicking the winning field goal after five+ quarters of play in the 1962 championship game?  Or could it have been Matt Snell’s four-yard rushing touchdown to open the scoring in Super Bowl III?  Maybe it was the famed 65 Toss Power Trap that the Kansas City Chiefs used to such success in Super Bowl IV?

Often times, the play that most sticks in our minds is not necessarily the most notable of a particular game, season, or league.  Sometimes a play is made significant in our minds because of our surroundings at the time, or because it was made by our favorite player.

The one play that sticks out the most in my mind is Mike Stratton’s hit on Keith Lincoln in the 1964 league championship.  The hit devastated the Chargers, and turned the game around for the Bills.  It came to be called “The Hit Heard ‘Round the World,” and many AFL fans talk about to this day.  Take a look at the video above, and you will understand why it is so memorable.

I am curious as to YOUR most memorable AFL play .  Is it one of those listed above?  Was it significant for your team, or just something that sticks in your mind?  If you played in the AFL, what play do you recall the most?  Why does it hold such importance to you?

I hope that many of our readers comment on this.  I would be very interested to see the input.


Todd Tobias (790 Posts)

Todd Tobias's interest in the American Football League began in 1998, when he wrote my master's thesis about Sid Gillman. He created this site to educate and entertain football fans with the stories of the American Football League, 1960-1969. You can follow Todd and get more AFL history on Twitter @TalesfromtheAFL.

7 Responses to What is the Most Memorable Play in AFL History?

  1. Tom Flynn says:

    To me, it will always be Otis Taylor’s touchdown in Super Bowl 4. Not only was it a remarkably athletic play, it put the perfect ending to the AFL itself.

  2. Jeffery Payne says:

    I think the most memorable play in AFL history was the winning score that half the country didn’t see: the 43 year TD pass from Lamonica to Charlie Smith at the end of the infamous ‘Heidi Game’. NBC’s handling of the end of this game that allowed the movie Heidi to start before the ending of this key nationally televised Raiders / Jets game subsequently modified how all NFL TV contracts are written and also demonstrated to the networks how incredibly powerful the demand for pro football was becoming. In addition, the Jets credit this crushing loss to the Raiders as their motivation for gaining revenge on them in the AFL Championship game and subsequently defeating the Colts in Super Bowl III.


  3. Howard says:

    I agree with the Stratton play as a signature moment. I saw that game as a 12 year old. The fact that it turned around the momentum and led to the Bills being the best AFL team for a 2 or 3 year period should not be understated.
    Also, the Jets and Chiefs were going to win their games regardless of the plays mentioned. The Colts played horribly all day. The Chiefs were a better team than the Vikings that day, and played a great all around game.

  4. I agree with the Statton Hit, the play turned the Bills into the best team for 2 years and unfortunately Keith Lincoln was never quite the same afterwards. He was an all-star in 1967 but never the dynamic player he was earlier in the decade. The Otis Taylor TD was another big play and probably a bigger play historically.

  5. Paul Seaton says:

    As a Kansas City fan, there are so many to choose from,,, just from the 1969 season alone there are:
    Otis Taylor for his catch in the 1969 AFL championship game when the Chiefs were backed up against their’ goal line and his TD catch/run in Super Bowl IV, Emmit Thomas’ interception & return that set up Jan Stenerud’s clinching field goal in the before mentioned AFL championship game, and Stenerud’s 48 yard FG in Super Bowl IV that stunned Minnesota.

  6. Jeff Bos says:

    Booker Edgerson of the Bills chasing down the Chargers Lance Alworth from behind in the ’65 championship game to prevent a touchdown.

  7. Kevin Carroll says:

    The Stratton hit on Lincoln was reminiscent of an earlier violent hit in the 1961 AFL Championship game between the Oilers and Chargers. Late in the game Oiler guard Hogan Wharton (6′ 1″, 235) felled Ernie Ladd (6′ 9″, 317) with a devastating cross body block as Ladd was closing in on Charley Tolar who had caught a swing pass from Blanda. Before the days of instant replay, the announcers mistakenly identified the blocker as Billy Cannon. It wasn’t until they checked with the Oilers bench that they learned it was Wharton. Ladd, who was helped off the field, suffered torn ligaments on the play. Interestingly enough, both Ladd and Wharton hailed from Orange, Texas.

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