Buzzer-beater vs. UM finalist for 'Best Play' at ESPYS

The Detroit News

It’s a play Michigan would like to forget.

With 1.7 seconds left in a tie game at Northwestern, Nathan Taphorn heaved a full-court pass to Derek Pardon, who made an over-the-shoulder grab and drained a buzzer-beater layup to lift the Wildcats to a 67-65 win on March 1.

Northwestern center Dererk Pardon, left, looks to the basket for the game winning-shot against Michigan guard Derrick Walton Jr.

The wild finish, which triggered a court-storming celebration at Welsh-Ryan Arena and secured Northwestern’s first NCAA Tournament appearance in program history, was up for an ESPY for “Best Play” at Wednesday’s awards show.

While Michigan was on the wrong end of the most unbelievable plays in sports this year, the Wolverines can take solace in the fact that Northwestern fell short in the fan voting.

The award went to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ 35-yard pass to tight end Jared Cook in the fourth quarter of Green Bay’s 34-31 divisional-round win over the Cowboys.

Cook’s catch came on a third-and-20 with three seconds left in the game and set up Mason Crosby’s winning 51-yard field goal.

It was the second straight “Best Play” ESPY for Rodgers, who won it last year for his 61-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass to tight end Richard Rodgers that stunned the Lions in a 27-23 victory on Dec. 3, 2015.

Northwestern’s last-second layup and Rodgers’ heave were two of 16 initial nominees that were voted on in a bracket-style tournament.

The other two finalists were Patriots receiver Julian Edelman’s fingertip catch against the Falcons in Super Bowl LI and Mississippi State guard Morgan William’s buzzer-beater in overtime that snapped UConn’s 111-game win streak.