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theScore's 50 favorite moments of 2023: Mahomes, miracles, and a fiery escape

Julian Catalfo / theScore

This year in sports was defined by inspiring stories, historic achievements, and surreal events that not even Hollywood could script. We loved them all. With 2023 drawing to a close, theScore is looking back on 50 moments that resonated most with us over the past 12 months. Our five-part series, which counts down every Friday in December, kicks off below with moments 50-41.

Dec. 1 Dec. 8 Dec. 15 Dec. 22 Dec. 29
50-41 40-31 30-21 20-11 10-1

50. Mahomes leads Chiefs to another Super Bowl 🏆

Patrick Mahomes led a late game-winning drive to win his second Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl LVII. The series opened with several methodical gains before Mahomes scrambled away from the Eagles' vaunted pass rush for a 26-yard gain to inside the red zone - on a sprained ankle suffered during the divisional round. After a short run and a pass for no gain, it looked like Philly might force Kansas City into kicking a field goal with just under two minutes remaining, but a holding penalty on James Bradberry let the Chiefs drain more clock and kick the game-winner with under 10 seconds left. - Andrew Dixon

49. Verstappen rewrites record books 🏎

Once Max Verstappen passed Ferrari's Carlos Sainz on the 15th lap of the Italian Grand Prix, there was no way the Dutchman would blow his shot at history with a 10th straight victory. Sebastian Vettel, who set the previous F1 record at nine consecutive wins, had already sent a quasi-congratulatory text to Verstappen before the festivities in Monza had even started. Verstappen decimated the competition, clinching a third consecutive drivers' championship with six races to spare and pulling off incredible maneuvers in the process. The 26-year-old took the checkered flag from ninth position in Miami and finished a whopping 22.3 seconds ahead of second-placed Sergio Perez in Spa, completing a stunning drive from sixth on the grid. - Anthony Lopopolo

48. The man who walked through fire 😳

Ryan Zunk, the tire changer for the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, caught fire while trying to change driver Sammy Smith's left rear tire during the NASCAR Xfinity Series finale. Zunk, who took just a few seconds to cool off before attempting to put the wheel back in place, suffered burns on his face and thighs but ultimately avoided major injury. His Herculean effort made a difference as Smith recuperated to finish in ninth place. - Lopopolo

47. Adesanya gets revenge on Pereira 👊

There were a lot of questions surrounding Israel Adesanya heading into 2023. He had just lost the UFC middleweight title in a dramatic, come-from-behind knockout loss to Alex Pereira. Did Adesanya ruin his potential for superstardom? In April, he answered all the questions and then some. "The Last Stylebender" finally got revenge against his boogeyman (Pereira had beaten him twice previously in kickboxing, too), flooring the Brazilian knockout artist with a right hand at UFC 287. It was one of the best knockouts of the year, and Adesanya's bow-and-arrow celebration will go down as one of the most memorable. - Nick Baldwin

46. Rahm captures Green Jacket ⛳️

Jon Rahm enjoyed a marvelous 2023 season on the PGA TOUR, racking up four wins. None were bigger than his triumph at Augusta National, as he earned his first career Masters victory and added a second major title after winning the U.S. Open in 2021. Rahm overcame a two-shot deficit in the final round, overtaking Brooks Koepka by firing a final-round 69 to finish 12-under. The 29-year-old's game was always a great fit for Augusta, accruing four top-10 finishes in his first five starts at the Masters. It often felt like a matter of time before a Green Jacket came his way, and Rahm made it a reality with an excellent week. - Josh Goldberg

45. Miraculous promotion for Wrexham 😍

In any other dimension, Wrexham beating Boreham Wood for promotion to the fourth tier of English soccer would've registered as a mere footnote in the world of sports. Add celebrity actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney into the mix, and it's easy to understand why millions of people had suddenly become invested in the success of this once little-known Welsh club. Sponsored by the likes of TikTok and Expedia, Wrexham made headlines the world over - far beyond the reaches of this industrial town of just 65,000 - when they clinched their return to the professional ranks for the first time in 15 years. After going down a goal, Wrexham's star striker, Paul Mullin, scored twice en route to a dramatic victory at the Racehorse Ground that spawned a trademark pitch invasion. - Lopopolo

44. Diar DeRozan takes down Raptors 🗣

It started with a shriek. Then another. And another. One more time. And again. It was around that point when everyone watching the play-in tournament game between the Raptors and Bulls wondered who the heck was screaming like a maniac on every Toronto free throw. Well, it was Diar DeRozan, the 9-year-old daughter of Bulls star and former Raptors great DeMar. Toronto missed a whopping 18 free throws amid those shrieks, and Chicago beat the Raptors in Toronto by four before Diar flew back home and returned to school with her new celebrity status. - Alex Chippin

43. Knight goes off in gold-medal game 🎩

The United States women's hockey team was in a bit of a slump against its bitter rival from Canada entering the 2023 world championship. The Canadian women had beaten the Americans in consecutive gold-medal games at the worlds while also defeating the U.S. to earn gold at the 2022 Beijing Games. American stalwart Hilary Knight took over in the third period of the gold-medal game, scoring a pair of goals, including the game-winner, as the Americans defeated Canada 6-3 to win their first world championship gold since 2019. - Goldberg

42. Erin Matson: Player. Coach. Winner. 🏑

The journey from player to successful head coach - if it materializes at all - is, ordinarily, long and winding. Erin Matson is anything but ordinary. After leading North Carolina to four national championships in women's field hockey and being named the best collegiate player in the country on three occasions, a 22-year-old Matson, just 75 days removed from her final game, took over as UNC's coach. She proceeded to keep the dynasty rolling right along, capturing another title in her first season behind the bench to become the NCAA's youngest Division I head coach to win a championship. Not bad, kid. - Gianluca Nesci

41. Acuña authors historic 40-70 season 🤯

Ronald Acuña Jr. made history when he slid under the outstretched glove of Dansby Swanson to steal his 70th base of 2023 during a Sept. 27 game between the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs. With the swipe, the NL MVP became the first player ever in Major League Baseball to hit 40 home runs and steal 70 bases in a single campaign. Acuña, who earlier in the year became the first 40-50 player, is just the second Braves player to ever steal 70 bags in a season, joining Otis Nixon in 1991 (72). - Bryan Mcwilliam

Let us know what your favorite sports moments were in the comments!

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