The 50 Greatest Moments of the 2011 NFL Regular Season
The 2011 NFL regular season far outpaced what many of us thought heading in. From the events of the 10th anniversary of 9/11 to the Matt Flynn/Matthew Stafford duel, the 2011 season gave us so much to be happy about as football fans.
Now that we head into the postseason, I think that it makes a great amount of sense to take a look at the 50 greatest moments of the 2011 regular season.
You will see videos and photos that are sure to give you chills and goosebumps. After all, this is why we love this game so.
50. Murray DeMarco's the Rams
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DeMarco Murray did something in his first NFL start that Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith did not do in 226 games with the Dallas Cowboys: run for over 250 yards.
Granted, it was against the St. Louis Rams, but no one could have expected what the rookie running back did back in October. He dashed, danced and ran past the Rams for 253 yards on 25 rushes, setting a Dallas Cowboys franchise record.
49. Aldon Steels the Man Card from Big Ben
I understand that Ben Roethlisberger was barely able to walk in this game, but Aldon Smith jumped on to the national stage in a big way. The rookie outside linebacker from Missouri sacked Big Ben 2.5 times officially, had another one called back due to penalty, hit him five times and helped lead the San Francisco 49ers to a huge 20-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
This game also marked the first time in Mike Tomlin's entire coaching career that I disagreed with a decision of his. He kept the ailing franchise quarterback in the game when the game was considerably out of hand.
48. Yates Leads the Texans to Stunning Win and into Playoffs
When Matt Schuab went down to a season-ending injury and Matt Leinart joined him on injured reserve the next week, you could hear a collective gasp of frustration from the Houston Metro Area. There was no way that the Texans would make it to the playoffs with T.J. Yates as the starting quarterback. Right?
Despite the huge division lead, Yates took over and orchestrated an amazing game winning drive against the Cincinnati Bengals. This clinched the Houston Texans' first playoff appearance and the AFC South crown.
While it is pretty obvious that the Texans are not going to go far in the playoffs, this performance marks one of the greatest moments in the history of the league's youngest franchise.
47. Bush Runs San Diego to Tijuana Border
Darren McFadden was out again for the Oakland Raiders, but Michael Bush wasn't having any of the talk that he couldn't be the man in the backfield. His 242-yard performance against the San Diego Chargers on national television was the single greatest running back performance from an Oakland Raider since Bo Jackson torched The Boz in 1987.
This also set into motion the idea that Michael Bush was going to get a huge contract this offseason and find a starting job in another city.
46. Skittles Burst in Pacific Northwest
First off, the fines the NFL is giving out for not being up to code with your uniform are getting pretty damn crazy. Marshawn Lynch was just recently fined $10,000 for wearing Skittles cleats.
Back to the story at hand. Lynch came out of nowhere against the Dallas Cowboys during a Week 8 performance in which he ran for 135 yards. In the seven games since, Lynch has run for 100 yards five different times while showing himself to be the hardest runner in the entire league.
45. Carson Palmer Lands in Oakland
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Al Davis had just passed away a couple weeks earlier, and not everything seemed business like usual for the “stepsisters” of the bay. They had just pulled off an emotional victory against the Texans in Houston and defeated the Cleveland Browns in the franchise's first home game without Big Al in nearly a half century.
The win against Cleveland didn't come without a major problem. Jason Campbell, who had led the Raiders to a great early season loss, broke his collarbone and would be out for the remainder of the season.
A couple days later, it was announced that the Raiders had traded their 2012 first round pick and what turns out to be a 2013 second-round selection to the Cincinnati Bengals for Carson Palmer. Was it crazy or plain brilliant?
While Palmer played pretty decently, the Raiders failed to make the playoffs for a ninth consecutive season and now don't own a pick in the first three rounds of April's draft. Still, you can expect big things from Palmer moving forward in Oakland next season. As it is, they gave up a bounty to acquire a quarterback that has not done a damn thing in the NFL in nearly five seasons.
44. Nick Novak Exposes Himself to Gatorade Container
I don't really need to say much about this.
Sure I have used nature to relieve myself, but I have never done it in front of 50,000 fans an a national audience. It wasn't that Novak used a Gatorade bucket as a urinal but that he really didn't hide it.
Oh, he went on to miss the game-winning field goal as well.
43. Sacks Are the Word of the Day
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Both Jared Allen and DeMarcus Ware came extremely close to Michael Strahan's single-season sack record, but they were not the only ones that racked up amazing sack numbers in 2011.
Seven players finished with 13 sacks or more this season.
Jared Allen: 22
DeMarcus Ware: 19.5
Jason Babin: 18
Jason Pierre-Paul: 16.5
Aldon Smith: 14
Terrell Suggs: 14
Chris Long: 13
Not sure if this is more about horrible offensive line play or the fact that defensive players have gotten more athletics. However, the above statistics are absolutely astonishing.
42. Stevie, Stevie, Stevie
Not only was Stevie Johnson's celebration here in bad taste, it outed him as nothing more than a diva receiver in a league that has gone away from such.
The fact that he made fun of Plaxico's disastrous self-inflicted gunshot wound isn't the point. He proceeded to drop two game-winning touchdown passes toward the end of the game, letting down the entire Buffalo Bills organization.
41. Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham, Enough Said
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Jimmy Graham held on to the single season receiving mark for tight ends a grand total of a couple hours before Rob Gronkowski later broke it.
The two tight ends combined for 189 receptions, 2,637 yards and a whopping 28 touchdowns. Lending credence to the idea that a tight end can be the best friend of his quarterback.
In all, Gronkowski broke the tight end yardage and touchdown record, while Graham caught nearly 100 passes for the Saints.
40. Collective Bargaining Agreement Salvages 2011 NFL Season
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A lot of football fans were preparing for a fall season with football. After all, the collective bargaining agreement had gotten ugly over the course of the summer, and many believed 2011 couldn't and wouldn't be salvaged.
Then in a last ditched effort, DeMaurice Smith and Roger Goodell came together in a big was as the NFL avoided catastrophe. In the end, only one preseason game was missed, and the league continued its upward movement as the most popular in the world.
39. Alex Smith Breaks Multiple San Francisco 49ers Passing Records
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If anyone would have told me that Alex Smith would lead the San Francisco 49ers to a 13-3 record and possess a quarterback rating of over 90 this season, I would have called their bluff.
If they would have told me that we would break or tie multiple 49ers single-season quarterback records, I would have cracked a rib laughing.
Well, not anymore.
San Francisco 49ers single season records that Alex Smith holds.
Fourth quarterback comebacks: Five (Tied with Joe Montana)
Touchdown-interception ratio: 3.4:1 (Tied with Steve Young)
Attempts per interception: 89.2
Attempts without an interception: 160 (Tied with Steve Young)
38. Ben Tate and Arian Foster Run Wild
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It was just a couple seasons ago that the Houston Texans were a pass-orientated football team. Well, not anymore.
Arian Foster and Ben Tate combined for nearly 3,000 total yards this season as the Texans ran rough shot against opposing defenses.
37. Philip Rivers Fumbles Away Would Be Division Title
I am not sure that most people realized this on Halloween night, but Philip Rivers' fumble with less than one minute remaining against the Kansas City Chiefs when the Chargers were in game-winning field goal position may have cost San Diego a playoff berth.
At that time, it was pretty apparent that San Diego wasn't going to the postseason, but as it played out towards the end of the regular season, this game did indeed cost the Chargers that postseason appearance.
36. Matt Flynn Fills in for Aaron Rodgers and Passes His Way to Huge Contract
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Flynn threw for a franchise record six touchdowns in his only start of the 2011 season and probably his last appearance as a member of the Green Bay Packers.
It was an amazing quarterback performance from a Packers team that has had hundreds of them in their storied history.
Flynn's final stat line
35. Chiefs End Packers Drive for Perfection
No one could have seen this coming. Romeo Crennel, making his appearance as the interim head coach of the fledgling Kansas City Chiefs, was set to host the undefeated Green Bay Packers. The road team had been setting records on a weekly basis led by the best quarterback in the NFL. The home team had just fired their head coach following a disappointing season that came on the heels of a division title.
There was no way that the Chiefs could hang on with Green Bay for more than a quarter. Right?
Wrong, they ran past and through the Green Bay Packers defense and secured that the 1973 Miami Dolphins would remain the only undefeated team in the heralded history of the league.
34. Playing Football by Candlelight at the Stick
It was supposed to be a matchup between two 10-3 football teams and a possible preview of the Super Bowl. Instead, the game itself wasn't worthy of the hype, as the San Francisco 49ers dropped Pittsburgh to the tune of a 20-3 score.
The bigger story was Candlestick Park and the 49ers franchise telling the NFL that they desperately need a new stadium. I think the league finally heard their cries following two lengthy blackout at the disaster by the bay.
33. Tom Brady at It Again
Seriously, how many times can Tom Brady amaze even the most skeptical football observer? His 2011 regular season may not have gotten that much play because of Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, but Tom was on top of his game once again.
These are Tom Brady's stats during the Patriots' eight-game winning streak that ended the regular season.
Completion percentage: .673
32. Tony Romo Proves Ribs Aren't Served by the Bay
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Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys were coming off a disastrous opening weekend loss to the New York Jets. They were down by two scores against the San Francisco 49ers, and Romo was knocked out of the game.
The season was ending right after it started for this recently struggling franchise.
Then, Romo came in after breaking his ribs and led the Dallas Cowboys on an amazing fourth-quarter comeback at Candlestick. His performance here showed grit and toughness, but it wasn't enough to endear himself the Cowboys faithful.
31. St. Louis Rams Stun New Orleans Saints
The St. Louis Rams were without a win, and the Saints had just dropped 62 against the Indianapolis Colts the week before.
Talk about the ultimate trap game.
What happened was something that none of us could have expected. The Rams captured one of their two wins on the season by shocking the Saints. They jumped out to a 24-0 lead and ended up winning the game by double digits.
This game even had more meaning for the Saints in the long run, as they fell a tiebreaker short of capturing the No. 2 seed in the NFC and a first-round bye. Instead, New Orleans may have to travel to Candlestick to face a rested San Francisco 49ers team if they are lucky enough to defeat the Falcons this week.
30. Dalton and Green Not so Much of a Country Swang
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The rookie quarterback threw for 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns as the rookie wide receiver gained over 1,000 yards receiving. Not too shabby for the Bengals first two picks of the 2011 NFL Draft.
Even more important, Cincinnati defied all odds by going 8-7 and making it to the playoffs for just the second time in six seasons and third time since 1990.
A franchise that went from irrelevance just four short months ago now has an extremely bright future, and these two young stars will anchor that moving forward.
29. The Eagles Get Smithed
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Whether it was Alex Smith or Justin Smith, this Week 3 matchup signified the beginning of the end for the “dream team” and the start of something special for the San Francisco 49ers.
With the Philadelphia Eagles in apparent control, 23-3, in the third quarter, something happened that shook the foundation of the NFL in 2011. Alex Smith completed all nine of his third quarter passes, two for touchdowns, as the 49ers pulled ahead, 24-23, late in the fourth quarter.
With Philadelphia seemingly ready to dash the hopes of an already downtrodden 49ers fanbase in an apparent late game-winning drive, Justin Smith hustled 25 yards down the field to strip Jeremy Maclin of the ball inside the 49ers' 40-yard line to preserve one of the best comebacks of a 2011 season full of them.
San Francisco went on to win eight consecutive games, while the Eagles never really recovered and missed the playoffs in a season that started with so many expectations.
28. Mark Herzlich Defies All Odds
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Sometimes it isn't all about tackles and statistics. Sometimes it isn't about performance on the field or recognition as a player. Instead, sometimes it is about determination and the strength of the human spirit.
In 2009, following an All-American season with the Boston College Eagles, Mark Herzlich announced he had Ewing Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. This type of cancer often causes the need to amputate a limb and can cause death. It is more common in male teenagers.
Following the diagnosis, Herzlich different treatments such as chemotherapy, and he was announced cancer free. However, this unfortunate health battle caused Herzlich's previous first-round draft status to drop, and he went undrafted in April.
The New York Giants signed him as a free agent in August, and Herzlich proceeded to make the team. He is currently rehabbing from an injury and expected to be back with the Giants for the postseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons this weekend.
This is a representation of life being more important than the game of football and an individual defying all odds with hard work and dedication.
27. Donovan McNabb Benched as Vikings Continue Second-Half Implosions
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It wasn't that Donovan McNabb got benched that surprised me; it was how it happened. Following a season debut that saw him throw for less than 100 yards against the San Diego Chargers, McNabb continued to play pedestrian football, but that wasn't the major issue for the Minnesota Vikings.
The fact that Minnesota blew three consecutive double digit second half leads and their offensive couldn't move the ball was what pretty much spelled the end of a great career.
After all, McNabb was supposed to be the savior in Minnesota one season removed from Brett Favre. His game dropped dramatically, and the Vikings regressed a great deal.
26. Battle of the Harbaugh's Is a NFL First
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While this Thanksgiving night matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens didn't live up to the hype, it was still one for the record books. It was the first time that two head-coaching brothers stood across from one another on a NFL sideline.
The big brother came out ahead as the Ravens took the game, 16-6.
25. The Big Easy Drops 62 on the Colts
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The stat line for this game was absolutely amazing, and for some, downright disgusting. I usually don't feel bad for teams that take the football field on Sunday because the players get paid millions to play a game, but it was hard not to feel for the Colts here. On a different note, it was fun to see the Saints run this one up.
Drew Brees completed 31-of-35 passes as the Saints scored on their first six possessions, not punting until late in the fourth quarter.
All today, New Orleans put up 62 points and completely destroyed a Colts team without Peyton Manning.
24. Sean Payton Takes a Slide
Rarely do you see head coaches get injured during a football game, it just doesn't happen. Even more rare is when it is at the hands of your own player.
Jimmy Graham, in the process of being tackled by a Tampa Bay Buccaneers defender, slid in underneath Payton and caused a major spill.
The results? A fractured tibia and months of rehab.
23. Andy Dalton and Cam Newton Have Success Like Few Before
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You are talking about two teams that won a combined six games last season. Dalton taking over a four win Cincinnati Bengals franchise that had just blown up their roster and were in the process of trading Carson Palmer. All he did was lead the Bengals to the playoffs, throw 20 touchdowns and build himself up to be their franchise quarterback.
On the other hand, Cam Newton didn't lead his Carolina Panthers team to the playoffs, but their season was a success nonetheless. The Panthers tripled their win total from last season, as Newton broke multiple rookie quarterback records, including: passing yards, rushing yards, total yards and rushing touchdowns.
These two are prime examples of how a franchise quarterback can turn around the prospects of an entire organization.
22. Eli Pulls a Peyton Against the Cowboys
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The New York Giants were close to becoming irrelevant when they took on the Dallas Cowboys two weeks before Christmas. A Cowboys win would have all but wrapped up the division, sent the Giants to their fifth consecutive loss and maybe even cost Tom Coughlin his job.
Down by 12 late in the fourth quarter, Eli Manning caught fire and passed the Giants to a must-needed win, giving them momentum to grab the division title just a couple weeks later.
He led the Giants on two touchdown drives in the final six minutes of the game, completing 9-of-12 passes and making the NFC East race much more interesting. Eventually, the Giants would wrap up the division crown in the final week of the season against Dallas in New York, but if it wasn't for this game, the season finale wouldn't have even mattered.
21. The Jims Show How Not to Lead by Example
It doesn't really matter who was to blame for this ugly post-game spat between Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz. The situation should have called for cooler heads to prevail, but they didn't.
San Francisco had just come back to hand the Detroit Lions their first loss of the season. As a Bay Area native, I understand fully the passion in which Jim Harbaugh coaches, but his reaction to a regular season win might have just been a little over the top. The reaction to his reaction may have even been worse. Jim Schwartz took exception to some words being said following the game and a “hard handshake” by Harbaugh.
Schwartz chased Harbaugh all the way into the tunnel, as it took players from both teams to break up his tirade. The rookie 49ers coach should have acted like he has been there before, and the Lions coach should have set a better example for his young squad.
20. Philadelphia Eagles Implode
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Whether it was a stupid offsides penalty at the least opportune time, an interception when the game was on the line and a mind-numbingly stupid fumble in the red zone, the Philadelphia Eagles imploded in a big way this season.
It was a combination of bad coaching, stupid mistakes and swagger that was never backed with play that caused this talented team to start the season so bad.
19. Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints Open Up Season with One for Books
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It was a matchup between the last two Super Bowl winners, and the stage couldn't have been larger. Just over a month after the NFL lockout ended, it was once again sitting atop the sports landscape.
Green Bay jumped out to a 21-7 first-quarter lead behind three Aaron Rodgers touchdown passes, a sign of things to come this season. New Orleans eventually came back and pulled the game to within one score in the fourth quarter, but the Packers held on.
The game consisted of a combined 10 touchdowns and 731 passing yards. None of us would fully comprehend the excellence that these two quarterbacks would show as the season continued to progress.
Now we know.
18. Mike Smith's Brilliantly Dumb Mistake
As it is, this boneheaded decision did not cost the Atlanta Falcons a playoff spot, but it was still pretty damn shocking nonetheless.
It was fourth down and short from inside their own 30-yard line in overtime against the division-leading New Orleans Saints. Smith made the decision to go for it and failed miserably, as the Saints ran a play and then kicked the game-winning field goal.
I understand not wanting to give the ball to Drew Brees with a chance to win the game in overtime, but at least give your defense an opportunity to stop him. Mike Smith didn't show confidence in his defense, and it cost him big time.
17. Tom Brady and Chad Henne Duel It out
Before Matt Flynn and Matthew Stafford combined for the most passing yards in a single game in NFL history, Chad Henne and Tom Brady did it just four months earlier.
Tom Brady threw for 516 yards and four touchdowns, but was nearly matched by the enigma that is Chad Henne (30-of-49, 416 yards and two touchdowns).
This game may have gone in the record books, but it also exposed the New England Patriots secondary as the worst in the NFL.
How do you give up over 400 yards passing to Chad Henne? Seriously!
16. Victor Cruz
I absolutely loved the way Victor Cruz played football at Massachusetts. OK, I am lying. I had never heard of the New York Giants receiver prior to the 2011 season.
Now we all know who he is.
He now holds the New York Giants single season receiving mark, nearly 200 yards ahead of Amani Toomer's 2002 performance. Some of the catches that Cruz has made this season represent what it means to be a stellar receiver and a better athlete.
I am still in awe over a few of these plays, such as the one embedded in this slide.
15. Playoff Droughts Come to a Crashing Halt
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The Houston Texans had never made the playoffs in their nine seasons of existence prior to 2011, the San Francisco 49ers had not made the playoffs since the Texans inaugural season and the Detroit Lions had gone 11 seasons without a playoff appearances.
These three droughts came to a crashing halt in 2011. Now we will get an opportunity to see what these three teams can do in the playoffs.
This was the moment in time that America realized that Tim Tebow had something about him. Call it an aura, maybe the beacon of heavens opening up in the Mile High City. Whatever it was, the term “Tebowed” was instilled into the collective imagination of this nation.
TMZ ran a segment called “Does God hate Marion Barber?” following his two crucial mistakes that enabled the Broncos and Tebow to pull off one of the most dramatic come from behind victories in NFL history.
Down by double digits with less than two minutes left, Tebow mutated into a combination of John Elway and Joe Montana, completing nearly 20 passes in just three drives. Meanwhile, Marion Barber runs out of bounds when staying in would have technically ended it and then fumbled in overtime with the Bears in field goal position.
At the end of the day, Denver was the shining hill atop a mountain, and the Bears were unquestioned in their thinking that God forgot Illinois on that Sunday.
13. San Francisco 49ers Defy All Previously Set Expectations
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Jim Harbaugh was taking over a 6-10 football team that had continually underachieved over the past three seasons. He was doing so in the midst of a lockout and without the ability to being able to instill his philosophy into the team. He was doing so with a former No. 1 pick that had already been labeled a bust.
Need I go on?
There was absolutely no way that the 49ers would be able to even contend in the weak NFC West division. For all intents and purposes, this looked like a five-win football team.
Well, look at them now. San Francisco finished the regular season with a 13-3 record and destroyed franchise marks in the process.
This is now a team that has a first-round bye, will be hosting a divisional playoff game in Candlestick and has a real possibility of bringing home their sixth Lombardi Trophy.
12. Drew Bress Sets NFL Passing Mark in Style
You can talk about the NFL being a passing league, about the fact that the new rules benefit the quarterbacks and adversely effect secondary play. You can talk about the spread systems and fast receivers and the zone defensive schemes.
Still, you cannot take way what Drew Brees did this season for the New Orleans Saints. Not only did he break Dan Marino's single season passing record, Brees led one of the most potent offenses in the history of the NFL in 2011.
Now, he will probably have a chance to do it against an equally historic San Francisco 49ers defense, this if the Saints get past the Lions this weekend.
Over/under on New Orleans putting up 50?
11. Al Davis Passes, Raiders Get Texas-Style Win
The death of Al Davis really effected many genuine observers of football. You didn't need to be a Oakland Raiders fan to understand what this man did for the league in his 50-year career.
You didn't have to be African-American, Latino or a female in order to understand the social impact that Davis had on the world of sports.
This is why his death probably hit home for Hue Jackson, who is showed here breaking down into sobs. The Raiders went in to Houston just a day after the death of Al Davis and pulled off a dramatic late-game victory.
10. Cam Newton Dazzles the Naysayers
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At the beginning of the season I said that Cam Newton was going to struggle a great deal as a rookie quarterback. In fact, I stated that he was going to be one of the most ineffective starters in the entire league.
My reasoning wasn't bad, I just underestimated the talent that Newton possesses.
I still find it hard to believe that Newton threw for over 800 yards in his first two NFL starts. Simply amazing.
9. America's Sport Celebrates the Greatness of a Nation
Sure, we were all glad to have football back on the second Sunday of September. After all, many of us had thought this season wouldn't start on time because of the lockout.
That said, football took a back seat to the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on Washington D.C., New York and Pennsylvania.
The NFL as a whole did an amazing job celebrating the heroes that fought and died for our nation while fully understanding it was a sole,n moment for millions of us.
From chants of U.S.A, U.S.A, to field-long American flags. From an amazing production of TAPS to a few dazzling national anthems, the NFL paid tribute to a nation that represents much more than a single sport alone. They also re-affirmed into out genetic makeup that football was indeed America's game, our pastime, and could act as a buffer from the harsh reality of the world around us.
Kudos to the NFL for that amazing opening weekend; they could not have done it better.
8. Suh Stomps His Way to Suspension
Earlier this season, I received a lot of grief for calling Ndamukong Suh the dirtiest player in the entire NFL. Well, this performance right here pretty much backed up my statement in full force.
The Detroit Lions were in the midst of a skid and had to take on the undefeated Green Bay Packers on Thanksgiving. They need their defense to step up big time. Instead, Suh thought it made sense to stop on an opposing player, get ejected from the game and find himself suspended for two more.
Oh, then he later denied doing it despite the fact that it was on television.
7. Megatron Stifled the Dallas Megaplex
In one of many amazing Detroit Lions comebacks this season, Calvin Johnson once again proved that he was indeed a man among boys.
With Detroit down 30-27 and just under a minute remaining, Calvin Johnson stepped between three Dallas Cowboys defenders for the game-winning touchdown, capping an amazing Detroit Lions comeback.
This proved to me and mostly every football observer that Johnson was indeed what we thought he was. A beast, Megatron, and a man among boys.
6. Running Backs Life Is Saved After Physical Finds Brain Tumor
It is times like this that even the most passionate football fan needs to take a step back and look at the larger picture. Football is just a game; it is not the end all be all.
Well, this was the case with Jerome Harrison in October. Shortly after finding out that he was traded from the Detroit Lions to the Philadelphia Eagles for Ronnie Brown, Harrison was scheduled for an exit physical, a commonality before a trade can be finalized in the NFL.
This physical found something that surely shook the foundation of Harrison's life. Philadelphia Eagles doctors found a large tumor in the running back's brain. While the tumor has since been treated and removed, reports are that the physical saved Harrison's life.
5. Detroit Brings Hockeytown to Football
Sorry, Ndamukong Suh; Detroit will always be a hockey town first. But the Lions' 2011 performance really did a lot to lift up the spirits of this down-trodden city.
This is a franchise that had not made the playoffs since the 1999 season. Over that span, they have won three games or less five consecutive times; talk about irrelevant.
This all changed in 2011. Jim Schwartz led a young but talented team to a strong start out of the game, and following a midseason let down, they closed the deal and clinched a playoff spot.
I am pretty sure that Detroit wont do much in the postseason, but they have already pulled that monkey off their back, kicked him in the face and threw him down the road.
4. Aaron Rodgers Just Made It Look so Damn Easy
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Over the course of the 2011 season, Aaron Rodgers captivated a football audience like no quarterback in the modern history of the league. He had 11 consecutive games with a quarterback rating over 110, threw for 300 yards eight separate times, won 13 consecutive games and threw just six interceptions in over 500 passing attempts.
He didn't put up the yards numbers that Brees, Stafford or Brady put up. Instead, Rodgers did it with a calm, cool and collective mentality.
In short, he just made it look so damn easy.
3. Jerome Simpson Pulls a Kerri Strug
If you have no idea what I am talking about in regards to Kerri Strug, check out this video. She was a 1996 Gold Medal Olympian for the United States.
What Simpson did was nothing short of amazing. Not only did he leap over the Arizona Cardinals defender, he used him as a catapult to the end zone and landed and banked a 10 landing. It had to be one of the single greatest plays that I have ever seen in my life.
It also represented where the Cincinnati Bengals are going heading into their first playoff appearance since 2005.
2. Manning Sits as Colts Lose, Lose, Lose
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Not only did the Indianapolis Colts lose 14 games this season, they did it in fashion, scoring 13 point or less seven different times. Thirteen points for Peyton Manning was like one quarter of football at times.
The reason Indianapolis fell on historically low times is that their future Hall of Fame signal caller sat out the entire 2011 season due to neck surgery. Following the season, Jim Irsay showed the Polians the door as the Colts look to rebuild.
Now, the Colts are at a crossroads. Manning is due nearly $30 million in March, they are going to have the first-overall pick and multiple veterans are free agents.
It could be said that 2011 was the season that the Colts' 10-year dynasty ended. It could also be a season that Manning proved he is the most valuable player without ever playing a snap.
1. Stafford, Brees and Brady Combine for 9 Miles in Passing Yards
Anyone who thinks that the NFL is not a passing league should go ahead and join the nuts hiding in caves and waiting for the world to end.
Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford and Tom Brady combined to pass for well over 15,000 yards, or 8.948 miles. Lets put this into perspective for a second. It would nearly take four of Joe Montana's best seasons to match the total yards that these three combined for.
To make things more interesting is the fact that Matthew Stafford attempted 663 passes this season, which equated to over 41 passes per game. Dan Marino and Dan Fouts, the two single-season passing yards record holders before Brees, never attempted 40 passes in a season.