50 defining moments from the 2021 Michigan State football season: No. 10

Dec 30, 2021; Atlanta, GA, USA; Michigan State Spartans wide receiver Jayden Reed (1) catches a touchdown pass over Pittsburgh Panthers defensive back M.J. Devonshire (12) in the second half during the 2021 Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 30, 2021; Atlanta, GA, USA; Michigan State Spartans wide receiver Jayden Reed (1) catches a touchdown pass over Pittsburgh Panthers defensive back M.J. Devonshire (12) in the second half during the 2021 Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

Today marks the 10 most defining moments of the 2021 Michigan State football season. With K9 preparing for the draft, Jayden Reed shined in the Peach Bowl.

Welcome to the 41st article of this series highlighting the 2021 Michigan State football team and their defining moments from the season. Today’s moment starts the final 10 moments of this series.

In turn, that means there are only 10 more days until Spartan Stadium will see their next game. The play starting these final 10 moments was when Jayden Reed scored the final offensive touchdown of the season.

Before we begin, I would like to thank all of you who are reading for making it to the final 10 articles in this series. I have appreciated each social media like and comment, it has kept me writing through camping trips, late nights, quick 30-minute breaks, and so much more.

For those of you who missed yesterday’s article, please click here. If you would like to look at previous articles of this series, feel free to scroll through my writing profile.

No. 10: Jayden Reed’s 22-yard TD reception vs. Pitt

This was Reed’s second receiving touchdown of the game, for those who may be wondering.

Why No. 10?

The play starting the top 10 was one of the most clutch plays of the season. After a long drought following the Spartans’ fast start to the game, the offense came alive in the final quarter, putting up two touchdowns in the final 10 minutes of the game.

On this play, Payton Thorne drops back and looks to Reed, only to see him with a half step on his coverage. Thorne unloads the ball, angling it so that all the Pitt defensive back can do is attempt a breakup once the ball arrives. The front shoulder ball lets Reed elevate and catch the ball over the defensive back, with any attempt to break the ball up being for naught. After three or four attempts to rip the ball out, both tumble to the ground, where Reed “rocks the baby to sleep” over the still fallen defender.

This celebration was one of the better ones of the season for the Spartans, as it showed the attitude that Reed used to elevate his game. Reed knew he was one of the best talents in the country and used that (as well as his natural swagger) to intimidate his opponents, and welcomed their best efforts to stop him. This led to him elevating his game in crucial moments, such as the ones highlighted earlier in this series against the Wolverines or Miami Hurricanes.

As always, there are a few groups to credit on this play. The offensive line did a good job at holding their blocks and not letting any defenders run free. This play was not long-developing, all the Spartans needed to do was ensure Thorne could step back and not see six feet of white jersey. With the goal of “do not let a man run free,” they did excellently.

Thorne also deserves a shout-out here. He stepped back and saw Reed with a one-on-one opportunity and let his teammate make the play. This was an excellent assessment of a situation with no defenders able to get between Reed and the ball. Thorne did not hesitate to throw the pigskin, and this is part of the reasons your Spartans are the 2021 Peach Bowl Champions.

Reed deserves the largest portion of credit on this play, however. Reed had a perfectly placed ball to catch, but the catch was only half of the battle. After putting his hands on the ball, the receiver had to fall into the end zone with a defensive back doing whatever he could do to pry the ball free. On the fall to the ground alone, I saw the defender’s arms go up or down two or three times, just trying to prevent the touchdown. Additionally, the referee determined that this pass was defensive pass interference, meaning that Reed had to give the extra effort to catch this, with a defender breaking the rules of the game and all.

Could there have been a better way to score the last offensive touchdown of the season? I do not believe so. As I have stated before, Reed and Thorne will be a dynamic pairing to watch under the lights next Friday.

The question you may be wondering is: how is this only moment No. 10? The “wow” factor, dynamic features, and having the moment occur at a critical point are all present in this play. To that, there is a simple reply. What developed after this play meant that this was not a game-ending play. For that, you will have to wait a bit. Unfortunately, there are a few more plays that have just a bit more of one of these aforementioned factors or even more clutch timing. The only detracting factor from this play is that the penalty would give Michigan State football another few chances no matter what. That penalty does not even draw the play back much, as it makes the catch even more impressive.

Statistically, this was Thorne’s 27th and final touchdown pass of the year, furthering his own record set earlier in the game, during moment No. 20. For Reed, this was his 10th receiving touchdown of the year and 13th total on the season. Thorne’s passing mark led the Spartans, obviously, as well as all of Reed’s receiving totals leading the Spartans at the end of the season. Who would think that a QB1 and WR1 who have good chemistry will pair up at a clutch moment in the game? Crazy.

Tomorrow brings us to single digits and Jalen Nailor’s final moment in this series.

Next. 3 burning questions for MSU football's 2022 season. dark