As we release our Year in Focus e-book highlighting the best photography from 2014, we ask our editors to select some of their favorite pictures of the year.

Getty Images Sport’s Maxx Wolfson presents ten incredible images that tell the biggest American sports stories of 2014:


 

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There are few things better in the world of sports than a “Game 7” – the deciding game in a winner-take-all playoff series. For both the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals, there was a lot on the line in Game Seven of the 2014 World Series. The Giants were trying to win their third title in five years, while the Royals were searching for their first championship in 20 years. Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner came out of the bullpen and put on one of the most dominant and historic performances in World Series history. The Giants won the series and Bumgarner was named MVP. At first glance, with Bumgarner out of focus, this picture looks like a throwaway. But a closer  look reveals its brilliance. This one frame manages to tell the entire story of the final out of an incredible World Series. It shows the bench players celebrating with Pablo Sandoval and the distraught Royals fans in the foreground – all tied together by the celebratory moment between Bumgarner and catcher Buster Posey.


 

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After a rough summer at Wimbledon, no one knew what Serena Williams had left in the tank going into the U.S. Open in New York. She quickly silenced her doubters, dominating the field in vintage form. Williams defeated Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets to win her sixth U.S. Open championship and the 18th grand slam title of her incredible career. She now sits just four grand slam women’s singles titles away from tying the legendary Steffi Graf. This photo, taken during the trophy presentation, shows Williams unable to contain her emotions – perfectly capturing the unbridled joy of the moment.


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Shabazz Napier #13 of the Connecticut Huskies celebrates on the court after defeating the Kentucky Wildcats 60-54 in the NCAA Men’s Final Four Championship at AT&T Stadium on April 7, 2014 in Arlington, Texas.

This wasn’t supposed to be the year for UConn. An inconsistent season had the Huskies as a No. 7 seed going into the 2014 NCAA Tournament, a spot from which no team has ever won. Shabazz Napier changed all that. The senior guard finished out his college career in dramatic fashion, carrying UConn to the national championship and winning Most Outstanding Player in the tournament. After helping his team end Florida’s 30 game win streak in the previous round, Napier scored 22 points in the Huskies’ 60-54 win over Kentucky in the final game. Napier was the man for UConn all season and this picture captures the emotion and elation of his “shining moment.”

 


 

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Disaster and humiliation pretty much sum up Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium for Bronco’s quarterback Peyton Manning. From the bobbled snap on the first play of the game resulting in a safety to the two interceptions and a fumble, Manning had a game to forget. Arguably the best quarterback of all-time, Manning struggled to get the Broncos offense in rhythm against the Seahawks resulting in a 43-8 loss. The look on Manning’s face says it all.


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Cornerback Richard Sherman #25 of the Seattle Seahawks tips the ball up in the air as outside linebacker Malcolm Smith #53 catches it to clinch the victory for the Seahawks against the San Francisco 49ers during the 2014 NFC Championship at CenturyLink Field on January 19, 2014 in Seattle, Washington.

Not many moments in sports get immortalized with a statue, but that’s exactly what Seahawks fans want in order to commemorate “The Tip” – the incredible defensive play made by cornerback Richard Sherman in the final seconds of the NFC Championship game. This picture perfectly captures how Sherman, at the peak of his jump and arm outstretched, was able to tip the ball away from 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree and into the hands of Seahawks teammate Malcolm Smith. The dramatic moment sealed the win for the Seahawks, sending them to Super Bowl XLVIII. The play, along with the ensuing chaos after the game, turned Sherman into an instant star.


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Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 23, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Between tornado-like weather and six hours plus of delays, NASCAR’s most popular driver wins NASCAR’s biggest race. Earnhardt Jr. returned to victory lane ten years after his last win at Daytona, the same track where his father was killed on the last lap in 2001. The year could not have started out any better for Earnhardt Jr. and NASCAR. With confetti pouring down, this picture shows the weight taken off Jr’s. shoulders.


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LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat recats to winning Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets at American Airlines Arena on May 14, 2014 in Miami, Florida.

After scoring 29 points and eliminating the Nets from the playoffs, LeBron James jumps on the scorer’s table to the delight of the Miami Heat crowd. I love this picture because it shows how the entire arena is collectively focused on the world’s best player. Dressed in their customary all-white attire, you can feel the energy of the crowd. Ironically enough, it would be one of the last times that Miami fans would have the chance to cheer for James before he decided to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers.


 

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The most exciting golf major of the year just happened to be the final major of the year – the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club. What many forget is that Rory McIlroy was three shots back before the final nine holes. With four golfers in the hunt and daylight fading due to a two-hour rain delay, McIlroy made clutch shots on the back nine to take the lead. He capped off a dramatic comeback with this final putt on the 18th hole in near darkness to win his fourth career major and second PGA Championship. This picture perfectly captures McIlroy’s pure emotion after his amazing win.


 

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Derek Jeter bid farewell to Yankee Stadium as he did so often during his legendary career – in dramatic fashion. “Captain Clutch” saved the best for last, hitting a walk-off single in his final at-bat to give the Yankees a 6-5 victory. For the future hall-of-famer, it was a fitting final chapter in what has been a storybook career. This picture says it all as an emotional Jeter jumps in the air to put an exclamation on 18 unforgettable years in pinstripes.


 

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It’s week one, and everyone is excited for the NFL to be back and boy did this moment not disappoint. On a kick return in the second quarter Steelers return man, Antonio Brown is heading for a touchdown with only one player to beat – Browns punter Spencer Lanning. As Brown tries to leap over Lanning, he instead kicks him straight in the facemask. This became the social media moment of the NFL season so far and it was only the first weekend. Twitter went ablaze with re-creations of the kick.


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