NFL Football: Power Ranking the Most Amazing Performances of the First Half

Scott PolacekFeatured ColumnistNovember 5, 2012

NFL Football: Power Ranking the Most Amazing Performances of the First Half

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    Somehow the NFL season is approximately half way over already.

    It seems like just yesterday that we were analyzing how the Saints would perform in the aftermath of their bounty scandal (spoiler alert: not well), how Peyton Manning would play in a Broncos uniform and who to take with the first pick in our fantasy drafts.

    Maybe you even remember talk about some type of replacement refs.

    Now that we have reached the midpoint, read on to see the 15 most amazing individual performances of the first half.

No. 15: A.J. Green Week 3

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    The Bengals may not be any good, but their leading receiver sure is.

    A.J. Green, who has ranked among the NFL leaders in receiving yards all year, tallied 183 yards and a touchdown through the air in Cincinnati’s 38-31 win over Washington.

    It was a shootout all afternoon, but it ultimately came down to the fact that Andy Dalton had A.J. Green lined up outside and Robert Griffin III didn't.

No. 14: Rob Gronkowski Week 8

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    Only Rob Gronkowski could overshadow his own video game type numbers from the tight end position with a touchdown celebration.

    In the Patriots Week 8 45-7 beat down of the Rams, Gronk racked up 146 yards receiving and two touchdowns.

    But it was his celebration that paid homage to the host city of London that left fans talking after the game. Even Patriots haters had to enjoy it somewhat.

No. 13: Shonn Greene Week 6

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    There were a number of fantasy owners that were hoping Shonn Greene's Week 6 performance was a harbinger of things to come and not a blip on what has become a disappointing radar screen.

    The Jets running back totaled 161 yards rushing and three touchdowns to spur New York to a 35-9 victory over Andrew Luck and the Colts. Considering where Indianapolis sits now, Greene’s day looks even more impressive in retrospect.

    What's more, we even got to hear about someone else on the Jets besides a certain backup quarterback for an afternoon.

No. 12: Peyton Manning Week 6

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    It was only a matter of time before Peyton Manning put together a vintage performance for the Broncos.

    Fortunately for the football-loving public, it happened on Monday night's national stage.

    Denver overcame a 24-point deficit in San Diego to beat the Chargers 35-24. Manning put on a clinic in the second half and ended up with better than 300 yards and three touchdowns when the dust settled.

    While there have been better stat lines this year, Manning’s comeback was one of the most impressive performances of the season.

No. 11: Robert Griffin III Week 1

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    Robert Griffin III will have plenty of memorable performances throughout his career, but the fact that he was so good in his first one caught the eye of football fans everywhere.

    The Heisman winner tallied 320 yards passing and 42 yards rushing to go along with his two touchdowns.

    He even inspired the brief fad of Griffining, a la the popular Tebowing from last year.

    Not many rookie quarterbacks can say that they out-dueled Drew Brees in their first career game.

    Then again, not many quarterbacks period can say that they can do the things Griffin does on the field.

No. 10: Matt Ryan Week 4

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    Matt Ryan may not garner the headlines that Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers does, but he is quietly leading the undefeated Falcons to a memorable season.

    In Week 4, “Matty Ice” and Atlanta narrowly escaped the Panthers 30-28 behind his 369 yards and three touchdowns.

    He also led a number of critical second-half drives with his typical calm demeanor.

    If the Falcons keep winning and Ryan keeps performing, he may even win an MVP.

No. 9: Drew Brees Week 7

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    It hasn’t exactly been a banner year for the Saints thus far, but Drew Brees provided a bright spot in Week 7.

    The New Orleans signal caller led his team to a thrilling 35-28 victory over Tampa Bay by tossing for 377 yards and four touchdowns.

    Perhaps the most amazing thing about Brees’ day was the fact that he threw for 313 yards and all four touchdowns in the first half.

    Just imagine if he had kept up that pace all game.

No. 8: Charles Tillman Week 9

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    Brian Urlacher may be the face of the Bears dominating defense, but Charles Tillman has asserted himself as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.

    Tillman recorded nine tackles and a pass deflection in Chicago’s 51-20 domination of the Titans, but it was his four forced fumbles that turned heads.

    There are some entire teams that would be happy with four forced fumbles in the first half of the season.

    Tillman may have made headlines Sunday, but this is nothing new in Chicago.

    He leads NFL defensive backs with 36 strips since he entered the league in 2003.

No. 7: Jamaal Charles Week 3

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    Jamaal Charles seems to be either hit or miss every week statistically for the Chiefs (and frustrated fantasy owners).

    Well, he was more of a home run than a hit in the Chiefs Week 3 27-24 overtime win over the Saints.

    The former Longhorn scampered for 233 yards on the ground and one touchdown. He also tacked on 55 receiving yards.

    It took overtime and Charles’ massive day for the Chiefs to register their lone win of the season.

No. 6: Brian Hartline Week 4

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    Not many people outside of Ohio State fans and fantasy football gurus knew who Brian Hartline was going into the Dolphins’ Week 4 showdown with the Cardinals.

    Well, that certainly wasn’t the case afterwards.

    Miami lost the game 24-21 in overtime, but Hartline tallied an incredible 253 yards and one touchdown on the day.

    The few fantasy owners who had the wherewithal to play Hartline that day were rejoicing.

No. 5: Eli Manning Week 2

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    Whenever arguments come up about who is an elite quarterback in the league, all Eli Manning supporters have to do is point to his two Super Bowl rings.

    Well, if he put up numbers like he did in New York’s 41-34 Week 2 victory over Tampa Bay every game, there wouldn’t even be a discussion.

    Manning threw for 510 yards and three touchdowns to spur the Giants back from a 24-13 halftime deficit.

    Sure, it was against the Bucs' defense, but throwing for half-thousand yards would be impressive against a middle school team.

No. 4: Aaron Rodgers Week 6

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    Aaron Rodgers used Week 6 to personally silence anyone who doubted his ability or that of his Green Bay Packers.

    The leading cheese head sliced apart the undefeated Texans’ secondary to the tune of 338 yards and six touchdowns.

    The Packers, who were struggling thanks in part to a certain controversial play in Seattle, trounced Houston 42-24 in a game that wasn’t even as close as that score.

No. 3: Reggie Wayne Week 5

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    The Chuck Pagano storyline in Indianapolis has made the Colts a feel-good story for all NFL fans, regardless of rooting interests.

    Indianapolis 30-27 win over Green Bay in Week 5 was perhaps the most inspirational moment of the entire saga.

    The Colts overcame a sizeable second-half deficit thanks in large part to the incredible efforts of Reggie Wayne and Andrew Luck.

    Wayne tallied 212 receiving yards and a touchdown and seemed to make a crucial play every time it was needed.

    The emotional Colts awarded Pagano with the game ball afterwards.

No. 2: Doug Martin Week 9

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    It’s safe to say Doug Martin won a few people their fantasy games Sunday.

    Tampa Bay beat Oakland 42-32 behind the former Boise State Bronco's 251 yards rushing and four touchdowns. He even averaged better than 10 yards a carry.

    While NFL analysts everywhere are busy debating between Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III for Rookie of the Year, Martin has quietly accumulated the third most rushing yards in the league.

No. 1: Andrew Luck Week 9

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    All Andrew Luck did in Indianapolis 23-20 victory over Miami Sunday was break the all-time NFL rookie record for passing yards in a game with 433.

    He also tossed in two touchdowns for good measure and made a number of instrumental plays in crucial fourth quarter drives.

    Need more proof that Luck has been more than Colts fans ever could have dreamed for so far? Per sports-reference.com, he is tied with Matt Ryan for the most game-winning drives in the NFL with four.

    Since we are only going 15 slides here, I’m going to have to cut off Week 9 at three players even though Carson Palmer and Adrian Peterson are also deserving of recognition.