The New York Jets and Tennessee Titans will conclude the 2012 Monday Night Football schedule tonight in Nashville (8:30 p.m. ET), making this a prime opportunity to reflect on the best Monday night games from this season.
Yes, this list may be a bit premature, as an epic Chris Johnson performance or some Rex Ryan antics may alter our perceptions come tomorrow. That said, I'm not exactly counting on the 6-7 Jets and 4-9 Titans to provide anything too special tonight.
So, with that tentative disclaimer out of the way, let's get to it.
3. Week 13: Washington Redskins 17 - New York Giants 16
The legend of Robert Griffin III grew in Week 13, as the rookie quarterback made several dazzling plays to lead the Redskins past their NFC East rival.
RG3 broke Cam Newton's record for single-season quarterback rushing yards, scrambling for 72 yards on the day. He also threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon in the fourth quarter, and proved that even his fumbles are a thing of beauty.
It was the third victory of Washington's current five-game winning streak, and it helped the Redskins (now 8-6) surge into playoff contention.
The Redskins control their destiny the rest of the way. If they make it to the postseason, their performance on MNF will go down as one of the most pivotal moments of their season.
2. Week 6: Denver Broncos 35 - San Diego Chargers 24
Peyton Manning's MVP campaign officially got rolling in Week 6, when he and the Broncos rattled off 35 unanswered points in the second half to defeat the Chargers.
The Broncos were miserable in the first half, as Manning threw an 80-yard pick-six and the special teams unit fumbled twice. But after the break, Manning unleashed a vintage performance, reminding everyone why he is one of the five best quarterbacks of all time.
Manning was surgical in the second half, completing 13 of 14 passes for 167 yards and three touchdowns. He started the comeback with a 29-yard strike to Demaryius Thomas, then gave Denver the lead with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Stokley.
Manning also got plenty of help from his defense, which forced Phillip Rivers into four interceptions and two fumbles. Chris Harris sealed the victory for Denver late in the fourth quarter, returning a Rivers interception 46 yards for the final score.
The game brought both teams' records to 3-3 and foreshadowed how the rest of their seasons would play out. The Broncos shone, winning nine straight games to clinch the AFC West. Meanwhile, the Chargers plummeted, losing six of the following eight games, putting them at 5-9 for the season.
1. Week 3: Seattle Seahawks 14 - Green Bay Packers 12
When the play above went down, Seahawks fans cheered euphorically. Packers fans screamed in rage. And me? I just laughed hysterically.
Not only was it an incredibly bizarre play, but since it happened as time expired under the bright lights of Monday Night Football—and under the watch of the much-maligned replacement refs—it immediately created one of the most memorable moments in recent football history.
The play also forced the NFL to bring back the real refs, led to one of the best nicknames in sports (the Fail Mary), and since the Packers clinched the NFC North, even those cheeseheads in Wisconsin should be able to chuckle about it now.
Of course, the 9-5 Seahawks now have a one-game edge over five other playoff contenders, so this play will likely have major impacts on the final postseason picture.
We'll have to wait a few weeks to see what long-term implications the Fail Mary will actually have. Until then, just be glad that you witnessed one of the strangest moments in MNF history.
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