April 17, 2020
We will never ever run out of things to rank — no matter how long this sports "hiatus" lingers on.
And it is in that spirit that we are excited to add an addendum to our main PhillyRank list (breaking down the top 50 pro athletes currently in the city): a look at the best single-game performances from the last season.
Our thought process was pretty simple. It has to be an athlete who is still in the city (sorry Jordan Howard vs. the Packers), it has to be a game played in the last 12 months, or in the currently postponed season (which nixes Ben Simmons' in the 2019 NBA playoffs), and we also limited the list to one game per athlete, and one performance per game.
We scoured through hundreds of box scores and clips of games to come upon the following list of 10 games.
Before we dive in, though, here are the last four games that did NOT make the cut:
• Bryce Harper's walk-off grand slam (he went 1-4 with 2 Ks in that game
• Bryce Harper's 3-for-3, 2 HR game vs. the Cubs
• Kevin Hayes' two-goal, one-assist game (SH, PP goals) in February
• Carter Hart's 40 saves on 41 shots back in December
Now that you've seen the bar the following 10 games must clear, here are the top 10 individual performances:
The Sixers, overmatched and reeling out west with pretty much all of their stars out, somehow found themselves hanging on against the NBA title-contending (or favored, depending who you ask) Clippers during a grueling road trip last month. Out of nowhere, Shake Milton — a former G-leaguer who has slowly earned minutes from Brett Brown, made 7-of-9 shots from three-point range (14-20 overall) and scored a career high 39 points in L.A. Philly wound up running out of gas and losing, but for many "The Shake Milton Game" is among the biggest highlights of the 2019-20 season so far.
Jackson got a standing ovation upon his regular season return to Philadelphia (as an Eagle, wearing No. 10 again), and he did not disappoint, leading a comeback effort on opening day that included two 40+ yard touchdowns. The momentum wouldn't continue as Jackson pulled an ab muscle a week later that would eventually end his season. The firepower the offense had to start the season was never again realized — more on that later.
The Phillies made a marginal type trade midseason to bring Bruce to Philly, and shortly after joining the squad he turned into a fan favorite. The slugger, who will be on the squad as their fourth outfielder whenever the 2020 season begins, had his best (and the best offensive game of the season for any player) in early June, when he blasted a pair of homers and a double while driving in six to best San Diego.
Eflin was the lone Phillie to toss a shutout in 2019, and his incredible complete game effort last spring was the best pitching performance of the entire season. The talent he flashed in his career best output is part of the reason why the team — desperate for reliable starting pitching — is giving him a chance in the rotation this coming season.
Three of the next four individual games we highlight on our list came during the last three games of the 2019 regular season, all of which the Eagles needed to win to win the NFC East and make the playoffs after falling to 5-7 earlier in the fall. This game by Wentz may be his greatest ever. Why? Though his numbers are above average but not eye-popping, this win came against the Eagles' rival the Cowboys, and saw Wentz throwing to a top trio of wide receivers with such household names as JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Greg Ward and Robert Davis. The team was also missing key pieces of its defense and offensive line. And somehow, Wentz stood tall and led the Eagles to this improbable victory.
A week prior to the Eagles' win against Dallas, they faced another must-win without Jordan Howard or Corey Clement, or really anyone proven at running back. Rookie Miles Sanders picked a very good time for his breakout game, as he did a little of everything to keep the Birds' alive as he came on strong to finish the second half of the year (to lead all rookies in yards from scrimmage).
The Flyers have had a season for the ages (and hopefully one they can continue), but the 2019-20 version of this team is much more likely to have games with a multitude of players pitching in offensively than one big single-game performance. Their balanced approach and stout defense has fueled their success, but on one November night it was Giroux who stole the show. Against the Panthers, 'G' found the back of the net twice — including the eventual game-winner — while adding two assists.
"The Boston Scott Game." What an improbable way for the Eagles to finish their 2019 regular season. Needing to best the Giants to win the division, the thoroughly depleted offense turned its eyes to 5-foot-7 undrafted free agent Boston Scott. And of course he scored three touchdowns as the Birds made short work of the G-Men to turn their season around. No Eagles fan will ever forget the spin move heard round the world:
With Joel Embiid out due to injury, the Sixers took on sort of a new look as Simmons commanded the offense and defense in his absence. The climax of this stretch was in Brooklyn back in January, when the entire team put on a suffocating performance to pull off a comeback victory over the Nets. But there was no doubt who the star of the show was during this matinee performance. Simmons, known for putting together triple-doubles at an impressive rate, boasted the most impressive one of his career scoring nearly 40 points and snatching five steals.
There is nothing better in Philly sports than Joel Embiid just going off. And against the Hawks at the raucous Wells Fargo Center, Embiid did just that, finishing a point shy of 50 points. More impressive was his defense and his offensive efficiency, as he was able to give himself a series of good looks at the basket as well as 15 trips to the free throw line. It was an absolutely dominant performance. As Charles Barkley famously said a few months ago, "He should play like that every night..."
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