Handing Out Game Balls for Every Game in NFL Week 9
The decisions are at hand. The ballots are about to be cast. A nation holds its breath in anticipation.
Whose hard work will be rewarded in this first week of November? Whose fans and followers will jump for joy, and whose will hang their head in disappointment? Whose millions of dollars have been well spent, and whose time and money have been spent in vain?
The polls are in. The die is cast. Now, we find out whose performance earned them a game ball for NFL Week 9.
Mark your ballot for "Next" to read the returns.
Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers
"Nine out of Ten Ain't Bad" Game Ball: Philip Rivers, Chargers quarterback
Rivers completed 18-of-20 passes for 220 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. That's just the sixth time in NFL history a quarterback has completed 90 percent of his passes.
His sudden burst of precision couldn't have come at a better time for the embattled Chargers—and at a worse time for the embattled Chiefs.
Denver Broncos at Cincinnati Bengals
"Death Takes a Holliday" Game Ball: Trindon Holliday, Broncos returner
The Broncos went into the second half with a slim 10-3 lead. Holliday gave them some breathing room with a franchise-record 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns
"Art Modell Bowl MVP" Game Ball: Torrey Smith, Ravens wide receiver
In what is always a brutal, physical game between teams with extra motivation, the Ravens were dying a death of a thousand cuts. Browns kicker Phil Dawson kept chipping away at their lead, three points at a time.
Then, Smith put the game out of reach with a spin move that corkscrewed cornerback Joe Haden into the ground. The Browns didn't score again, and the Ravens won their 10th straight over Cleveland.
Arizona Cardinals at Green Bay Packers
"MacGyver Atom Bomb with a Paper Clip" Game Ball: Aaron Rodgers, Packers quarterback
When most quarterbacks have to play without their top two receivers, they don't throw four touchdown passes. But most quarterbacks aren't Aaron Rodgers, and he did.
His four scores led the Packers over the Cardinals, whose Super Bowl run seems like it was at least seven years ago.
Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans
"Ghost in the Machine" Game Ball: Arian Foster, Texans running back
When the Texans' offense is hitting on all cylinders, it's tough to pick out one player who's better than any of the others.
Quarterback Matt Schaub, wide receiver Andre Johnson and tight end Owen Daniels all have a case, but Foster's effective 24-carry day for 111 yards and a touchdown gives him the nod.
Miami Dolphins at Indianapolis Colts
"Chuckstrong" Game Ball: Andrew Luck, Colts quarterback
There was no doubt about who earned this game's Game Ball: Either Andrew Luck, whose record-breaking 433-yard game got the Colts yet another big win, or head coach Chuck Pagano, whose appearance at Lucas Oil Stadium while recovering from leukemia was nothing short of inspirational.
Detroit Lions at Jacksonville Jaguars
"The Commodores Once, Twice, Three Times a Victory" Game Ball: Mikel Leshoure, Lions running back
The Lions, a historically poor road team with little rushing game and a long streak of slow starts, finally found their groove. Leshoure ran for three touchdowns in the first half, a feat no Lion has accomplished since Hall of Famer Dutch Clark in 1931, per Anwar Richardson of MLive.com.
Thanks to Leshoure, Detroit jumped out to a 21-0 lead and cruised to a 31-14 victory.
Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans
"That's 'Mister Peanut' to You" Game Ball: Charles "Peanut" Tillman, Bears cornerback
On a day when everything was working for the Bears, and almost everyone on the team had big days and big plays, Peanut stood out.
Tillman forced an absolutely incredible four fumbles, along with nine solo tackles. National Football Post columnist (and former NFL safety) Matt Bowen noted on Twitter that he had forced four fumbles in his entire seven-year career!
The Bears also had a pick-six and returned a blocked punt for a touchdown. Did I mention the offense also scored four touchdowns?
Carolina Panthers at Washington Redskins
"Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" Game Ball: Steve Smith, Panthers wide receiver
In a battle of young, elite two-dimensional quarterbacks, a second-quarter touchdown from Cam Newton to 33-year-old Smith was more than Robert Griffin III and the Redskins could match.
Newton also helped himself out with a goal-line TD plunge late in the game, but the contest was already a no contest at that point.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Oakland Raiders
"The Dreadnought Sails Home" Game Ball: Doug Martin, Buccaneers running back
Martin, stout and powerful like both the Martin Dreadnought guitar and the famous Dreadnought battleship, returned to his hometown of Oakland and gutted the Raiders.
Martin racked up 251 yards and four touchdowns, leading the Bucs to a 42-32 victory.
Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks
"Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jog" Game Ball: Russell Wilson, Seahawks quarterback
With the famous "12th Man" Seahawks crowd again at his back, Wilson completed 16-of-24 passes for 174 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Seahawks to a critical win over the flagging Vikings. Running back Marshawn Lynch lost the individual duel with a spectacular Adrian Peterson, but the Seahawks defense nullified every other Vikings offensive threat.
Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Giants
"Home is Where Your Rump Rests" Game Ball: Isaac Redman, Steelers running back
The Giants were playing in their home region, ravaged by Superstorm Sandy. Some fans attended the game with no home left to speak of. The Steelers flew in from Pittsburgh on game day because there weren't enough hotel rooms to accommodate them.
The Steelers showed up and, with the help of some strange breaks and eyebrow-raising officiating decisions, got the victory. Isaac Redman's 26 carries for 147 yards and a score led the way.
Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons
"If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It" Game Ball: Michael Turner, Falcons running back
During this season, whispers that Michael "The Burner" Turner couldn't burn anybody anymore had grown into roars. But in the fourth quarter of a huge Sunday Night Football game against the Cowboys, Turner broke free for a crucial 43-yard run and the game's first touchdown.
The Falcons escaped Jerryworld with their eight-game unbeaten run intact.