10 Plays That Changed the Course of the NFL in Week 2

Marc Lillibridge@NFL_BridgeContributor ISeptember 18, 2012

10 Plays That Changed the Course of the NFL in Week 2

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    Though the NFL season is only two weeks old, some fans are ecstatic with their teams' performance and others are already throwing in the towel.

    This slideshow really could be 10 bad calls by the replacement refs that changed the course of the NFL in Week 2 but that can be saved for another writer.

    These plays all had significant purpose in each game and swung the game for good or bad in one teams' favor.

1. Green Bay’s Tight End Tom Crabtree Scores on Fake Field Goal

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    With the Green Bay Packers leading the Chicago Bears 3-0 with 1:56 left until halftime, kicker Mason Crosby lined up for a 45-yard field goal attempt. 

    Up to this point in the game, both teams had struggled on the offensive side of the ball.  Backup tight Tom Crabtree took his normal position of left wing on the field goal team. 

    Long snapper Brett Goode made a great snap back to holder and punter Tim Masthay.  But instead of setting the ball down on the ground for Crosby to kick, Masthay flipped the ball to Crabtree as he ran horizontal to the line of scrimmage behind Goode.

    With backup offensive linemen Evan Dietrich-Smith and Don Barclay leading the convoy, Crabtree ran unscathed into the end zone.  This score gave the Packers all the momentum the club would need to beat the Bears.

2. Panthers Linebacker Jon Beason’s Interception

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    The New Orleans Saints, playing on the road in Charlotte, were down to the Panthers with 33 seconds to play in the game.  But the Saints had quarterback Drew Brees and his Saints were only down by eight points, 35-27.  

    The Saints had the football on their own 29-yard line.  The momentum seemed to have shifted to the Saints after their defense had just held Cam Newton and the Panthers offense.

    Brees, who took a nasty shot earlier in the game from defensive end Greg Hardy, had time in the pocket and tried to hit tight end Jimmy Graham across the middle of the field.  Linebacker Jon Beason dropped into coverage and went high up to catch the football. 

    It was second down and all Brees needed was one yard for a first down.  With zero timeouts, a veteran quarterback like Brees should have been looking to the sideline.  Beason secured the game and a huge win for the Panthers in the NFC South.

3. New England Patriots Kicker Stephen Gostkowski Misses Game Winner

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    The New England Patriots, who were many pundits’ favorites to not only win this game, but to win convincingly, were out-played a majority of the game by the Arizona Cardinals. 

    A late fourth-quarter fumble by Cardinals’ running back Ryan Williams gave the ball back to quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots offense.

    A case could be made the biggest turning point was the holding call on the Patriots last drive on tight end Rob Gronkowski.  Running back Danny Woodhead scored the game-winner on a 30-yard run, but the penalty on the play nullified the touchdown.

    Still, the Patriots had a chance to win with the normally reliable Gostkowski lining up for a 42-yard kick.  Down by two, 20-18, Gostkowski who had already made four field goals in the game, simply pushed the football to the left and the Patriots lost to the now 2-0 Cardinals.

4. Baltimore Ravens Wide Receiver Jacoby Jones Called for Pass Interference

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    The Baltimore Ravens had seen a dominant first-half lead more or less disappear to a resurgent Michael Vick-led Eagles offense.  But the Ravens led 20-17 late in the fourth quarter and were driving for another touchdown.

    With the football on the Eagles’ 25-yard line on a third-and-12, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco dropped a beautiful pass into the waiting arms of Jones in the back corner of the end zone to the right side of the field.  But Jones was flagged for pushing off on cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, and the touchdown was nullified. 

    The Ravens had to settle for a field goal and instead of being up 27-17, only had a 23-17 lead which they would lose to Vick later in the fourth quarter.

5. Washington Redskins Wide Receiver Josh Morgan Lost His Head

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    The St. Louis Rams were up at home 31-28 in a dogfight of a game in the fourth quarter of Week 2.  But the Redskins had the ball deep in Rams territory with 1:27 to play in the game.  The Redskins were out of timeouts and needed to pick up eight yards on third down.

    Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III took the shotgun snap and hit Morgan on a six-yard curl just outside the right side numbers.  Morgan was hit almost immediately by cornerback Bradley Fletcher but shook him off as he fought for the first down.  Morgan was tripped up by safety Quintin Mikell just short of the line to gain.

    While Morgan was on the ground, Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan shoved Morgan.  The receiver stood up and threw the ball at the Rams player, drawing a 15-yard penalty.  So instead of Redskins kicker Billy Cundiff trying a 46-yard field goal for the tie, Cundiff was asked to hit a 62-yarder, which he missed.

6. Indianapolis Colts Quarterback Andrew Luck Answers Under Pressure

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    With the game tied 20-20 with :24 left on the game clock, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck had the football in his hands and was trying to lead his young Colts team to victory.  The Colts had the ball first-and-10 at their own 40 yard line and just needed to get into field goal range.

    Luck, from the shotgun, stayed strong in the pocket and with a heavy Vikings pass rush, threw the football on the money to wide receiver Reggie Wayne near the right hash marks for a huge 20-yard gain to the Vikings 40-yard line. 

    Kicker Adam Vinatieri hit a 53-yard field goal to give the Colts and Luck their first win of 2012.

7. San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Alex Smith Connects with Vernon Davis for TD

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    In what was billed as a heavyweight bout leading up to the game, the 49ers led the Lions 20-12 with 3:11 left in the game.  Smith had showed poise all game and this drive may have been the best of his career.

    After driving the 49ers into Lions territory, Smith scrambled to his right and though sliding, took a hit to the head from Lions safety John Wendling.  Smith got up woozy and bleeding from the bridge of his nose.

    On second-and-3 from the Lions 23-yard line, Smith hit Davis on a short pass to the right side of the field.  Davis made a move in the open field after catching the football at the 17-yard line and strolled in for the score and the nail in the Lions’ coffin.

8. Seattle Seahawks Safety Jeron Johnson Scores on Blocked Punt

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    The game started with a Cowboys fumble on the opening kickoff which led to a field goal by the Seahawks.  But the game-changing play came in the first quarter as well.  Seattle was leading Dallas 3-0 and the Seahawks defense was playing tough.

    Cowboys punter Chris Jones was punting deep out of his own territory with 10:28 to go in the first quarter.  Jones was attempting to directionally kick the ball to his left.  As Jones turned his body in that direction, backup linebacker for the Seahawks, Malcolm Smith, fought through his blocker and smacked the football.

    Johnson was in the right spot at the right time as the football bounced into his arms and he ran into the end zone for the score.  The Cowboys never recovered and lost in Seattle.

9. Atlanta Falcons Safety William Moore on the Sack

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    Atlanta was leading the Denver Broncos 27-14 with 8:06 in the fourth quarter but the Broncos and quarterback Peyton Manning had shown signs of life and were on the trail of a comeback.  The Broncos had the ball third-and-6 on Atlanta’s 42-yard line when Manning, in the shotgun, took the snap.

    Moore, blitzing from Manning’s right, shot after the football unblocked and chased Manning from the pocket.  Moore was able to tackle Manning around his ankles and not only come up with a huge sack, but Moore’s play forced Denver out of a possible field-goal attempt.

10. New York Giants Quarterback Eli Manning to Tight End Martellus Bennett

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    With 4:08 left in the game, the Giants had rallied to tie the Buccaneers 27-27.  Manning had struggled up to this point in the game throwing three interceptions.  But the Giants had fought back and now had a chance to take the lead.

    Manning took the shotgun snap from the Buccaneers’ 33-yard line.  Bennett, an athletic tight end, was lined up in the slot to the right.  Bennett ran an out-and-up route and after the coverage switched, was matched up with backup cornerback Brandon McDonald. 

    Manning threw the football high in the air and allowed the taller tight end to go up and make the catch.  Though the Buccaneers would come back and score to tie the game back up, Manning to Bennett seemed to drain the Buccaneers defense and was the turning point of the game.