On Oct. 27, the St. Louis Cardinals won one of the most entertaining games in World Series history. After twice being down to their last strike before being eliminated, the Cardinals rallied to fight back against the Rangers. The evening was capped by David Freese, who belted an 11th-inning walk-off home run to give the Cards the 10-9 victory. The Cards went on to claim the World Championship, beating the deflated Rangers 6-2, behind a stellar start from Chris Carpenter. Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols made history Oct. 22 in Game 3 of the World Series, hitting three home runs and joining Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson as just the third player ever to do so in a Fall Classic game.
Hear him roar
Novak Djokovic, 24, silenced critics with an astonishing 43-match win streak to start the season. He claimed 10 titles, including three majors — the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open. Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal in all six meetings en route to claiming the world No. 1 ranking. Fatigue and injury caught up to the Serbian star late in the year — but not enough to detract from all he accomplished.
VCU makes Smart moves in tourney
Not many experts gave Virginia Commonwealth and head coach Shaka Smart much of a chance in the NCAA tournament. In fact, it was considered a toss-up as to whether the Rams could beat USC in a "First Four" game to even make the field of 64. But upset wins over Georgetown, Purdue, Florida State and — most significantly — Kansas put VCU into the Final Four for the first time in school history. The Rams fell to fellow mid-major Butler in the national semifinal, but Smart had made his mark.
Race for it!
NASCAR wanted to tighten up the Chase for the Sprint Cup, so it introduced a new points system that separated positions in one-point increments this season. Then it watched as superstars Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart duked it out in an epic Chase. Stewart won four of the first nine Chase races. Edwards was consistently among the best, with only a worst finish of 11th in that stretch. Edwards led Stewart by a mere three points entering the season finale. Then Stewart took over. He made daring passes. He gambled on pit strategy. He knew he had to win the season finale to win the title — and he did just that. With Edwards on his tail. Edwards finished second and tied with Stewart (pictured) in points, but the tiebreaker (wins) went to Stewart. NASCAR had not only its most exciting Chase ever, but also a new three-time champion to tout.
Aaron Rodgers wins Super Bowl
The Packers went 11-5 in 2010 and heated up at the right time, winning their last six games. Rodgers, who has been with Green Bay since 2005, won the Super Bowl MVP and had one of his most memorable performances against the Steelers. Since then, Green Bay continued to roll in a 19-game winning streak until being derailed by the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 15 of the 2011 season.
The comeback kid
About two months removed from his epic collapse in the final round of the Masters, Rory McIlroy celebrated an eight-stroke victory in the US Open at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md. It was the first major championship for the 22-year-old from Northern Ireland, and it came in grand style. His four-round total of 268 was a US Open record.
We know drama
The U.S. women’s soccer team made a spirited run toward the World Cup title, falling just shy in the championship match to the emotionally charged team from Japan. The U.S. first had to overcome long-time foe Brazil, achieving a miracle tie late in extra time before winning the game on penalty kicks. The country was riveted and players like Hope Solo and Abby Wambach became household names throughout the tournament. In the final against Japan, the U.S. women found themselves battling to a tie once more, but this time it was Japan that would take edge – and the title.
Dirk, Dallas win it all
If the Heat played the role of NBA villains all season, the Mavericks were the league's ultimate feel-good story. Dirk Nowitzki (far right) was the knight in shining armor, leading Dallas on a sensational playoff run that included a sweep of the defending champion Lakers. Nowitzki and another future Hall of Famer, Jason Kidd (far left), earned their first titles by knocking off the Heat.
The finale of the regular season on Sept. 28 was one of the most electrifying nights in the history of baseball — a drama spanning five hours, two ballparks and one profound collapse. The Rays and Red Sox entered the night in a tie for the AL wild card. The Yankees took a 7-0 lead over the Rays. Meanwhile, 1,000 miles away, the Red Sox were up 3-2 on the lowly Orioles. After a rain delay, the Rays mounted a furious comeback. The O's were busy with a comeback of their own, using a ninth-inning rally to beat the Red Sox 4-3. The Sox's only hope was a Yank win. Rays 3B Evan Longoria wouldn't have it. He smashed the game winner in the 12th inning. Over in the NL, the Braves also completed an epic September collapse, losing to the Phillies in 13 innings and handing the Cardinals the NL wild card.
Tebow! Tebow! Tebow!
Kyle Orton started the Broncos’ first five games and led them to a 1-4 record. John Fox injected Tim Tebow into the offense and the season was forever changed. Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy shaped the offense to fit Tebow’s “unique skillset” and has Denver primed to win its first AFC West championship since 2005.