Looking back at the 2009 NFL season, you realize just how great of a season it was.
My job was to present to you the 10 best games from the 2009 season, and I must say that with the litany of great games we were blessed with this season, it was a tough task to complete.
But, I got through it, did some research, dipped into my memory bank, and came up with the 10 best games and how I remember them.
I must say that I'm a fan of offense and great endings. So, the 10-6 Chicago-San Francisco game of Week 10 will definitely not be on this list.
To the games that I had to leave off this list, I apologize. And, yes, that includes you Super Bowl XLIV. Sorry.
For just about 60 minutes this was the most boring introduction to an NFL season that I could remember in my almost 30 years on this planet.
Yes, this was the first game that I watched for the 2009 season. As a Chicago Bears fan, and a Kyle Orton psuedo hater, I wanted to see the Broncos suffer with their new quarterback.
For the entire game, I laughed at the thoughts of all my friends who happen to be Broncos fans for talking themselves into the Kyle Orton era.
Then, with a little over 20 seconds to go in the game, IT happened.
First, let me set the stage with what transpired before IT.
The Broncos held a 6-0 lead into the last minute of the game. The Bengals were driving, and with 38 seconds to go, Cedric Benson (another Bears failure turned good pro) ran in a one-yard touchdown to give Cincinnati the 7-6 lead.
On the ensuing drive, Kyle Orton almost got picked off on his first pass. Then, stupidly, he throws into blanket-tight coverage trying to hit Brandon Marshall, only the defender stepped in front of the ball and tipped it into the air. Brandon Stokley just happened to be in the right place at the right time and had the ball land in his arms.
He scampered off 87 yards for the game-winning touchdown. It was the longest game-winning play from scrimmage in the last minute of the fourth quarter in NFL history.
Breaking NFL records in Week 1...that gets you in the top 10 list of best games played.
Like I said, I'm a fan of offense, so this might be the only top 10 list you see that includes the likes of the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns.
But, any diehard fan of the NFL knows that at any given time, any given teams can put on a show.
And, in Week 11, the Lions and Browns did just that.
The game had everything you could ask for.
A rookie quarterback showing his pedigree (Stafford). A "bust" quarterback showing he may actually have some talent (Brady Quinn). A Pro Bowl wide receiver making big plays (Calvin Johnson). A game-winning play at the end of the game made by two rookies (Stafford to Brandon Pettigrew as time ran out).
Matthew Stafford and Brady Quinn totaled over 725 passing yards in this game (Stafford 422 to Quinn's 304).
They threw nine touchdowns at the end of it all (Stafford five to Quinn's four).
This was one of those battle royales that you would normally expect from the likes of a Peyton Manning/Tom Brady duel.
Then again, they did do it against the Lions and Browns defenses, respectively.
Still, though, a great game nonetheless.
Just like the Lions/Browns shootout, but better.
This game had playoff implications surrounding it and both teams' offenses came to play.
The defenses decided to take the week off.
This game had no turnovers in it, almost 900 passing yards, each quarterback throwing three touchdowns, each team tacking on rushing touchdowns, and a game-winning drive that took only two minutes to complete.
Big Ben threw for 503 yards and three touchdowns in the game, including the game winning touchdown pass to Mike Wallace as time winded down to 0.
Aaron Rodgers was no slouch, going for 383 yards of his own, three touchdowns, and also ran one for good measure. He, seemingly, led his team back to victory by hitting James Jones for a touchdown with just over two minutes remaining. He also converted the two point conversion that gave them the six point lead.
But, Big Ben led Pittsburgh down the field and found Mike Wallace in the end zone for the game winner.
Lots of offense. Check.
Great ending. Check.
Great game. Triple check.
This game had a lot of hype leading up to it. It was the return of Brett Favre to Lambeau Field, in the hated purple and gold of the Minnesota Vikings.
With the Vikings coming off of their first loss of the season the week before, and the Packers clawing their way into relevancy, critics were talking themselves into a Green Bay upset, with the home crowd turning on their beloved, laughing as he faltered under the pressure.
Both Favre and Rodgers played well. Neither were tremendous, although Favre did throw for four touchdowns and Rodgers for three. But, it wasn't like it was Montana/Marino-esque.
In the end, Favre just got more help, with AP running for 97 yards and a TD, and the defense sacking Rodgers at will (Jared Allen had three of his own, with Ray Edwards adding two).
The Packers kept the score close even though it always seemed as if the Vikings were in control, despite giving up two fumbles and trying to hand the Packers the win.
In the end, though, the hype of the game added to the mystique of it all. It wasn't the most well fought game of the year, but the fact that the greatest Packer of all time and the man who is beloved by all of Wisconsin returned to Lambeau Field in a hated jersery made this game greater than it might have should have been (and, yes, I know what I just wrote).
Everyone loves a great rivalry game. And, Eagles/Giants are just about as good as a rivalry as you'll get.
This game had everything.
Big plays. Long touchdowns. Defensive scores. Special teams scores. Back-and-forth scoring. And Michael Vick.
It was all the big plays that made this game so fantastic to watch.
Desean Jackson scored on a 60 yard pass play. He also ran back a 72 yard punt for a touchdown.
Not to be outdone, Domenix Hixon scored on a 61 yard pass play. He was one-upped by teammate Hakeem Nicks, who scored on a 68 yard pass play.
There was also a 60 yard fumble return for a touchdown by Sheldon Brown of the Eagles.
All in all, it was just one big play after the other. And, if it wasn't a long touchdown being scored, it was a big third down conversion or a big stop on defense taking place.
Even though it was a high scoring game, with lots of big plays, the defenses still seemed to come out playing hard (albeit not well, though).
If either of these teams were considered contenders in 2009, this game would have ranked higher, but with the Giants having an off year and the Eagles being wishy-washy and suffering from injuries all year long, this was just one of those "mirage games" as I like to call them.
Still, it does not take away from how great of a game it was to watch. Nothing but fun and that's exactly what the NFL should be.
This recap is simple.
Brett being Brett. Or is it better if I said Favre being Favre. Hmm.
The Gunslinger showed that he still had it. With it being early in the season, fans and media alike were still questioning whether or not Brett had it in him to carry a team when they need him to.
He answered that question within three games.
With the Vikings down by four and 1:29 left on the clock, the Vikings got the ball back at their own 20. Eighty yards to go in only 89 seconds. Could Favre pull it off?
Twelve yard pass to Shiancoe. First down. Nine yard pass to Rice. Incomplete pass. Third and one and Favre hits Harvin for a five yard gain. First down. Exactly one minute to go.
Two straight incompletions. Favre has lost it. Forty seconds left, third and 10 at their own 46 yard line. Wham, Favre hits Harvin down the middle for a 15-yard gain. First down. Thirty-three seconds to go.
Incomplete pass and then a seven yarder to Berrian. Sixteen seconds left at the SF 39 yard line.
TOUCHDOWN. Favre finds Greg Lewis (of all people) in the end zone with two seconds remaining on the clock. Vikings win.
And, Favre is determined to still have it.
Wait, what? I'm crazy, right?
The Cleveland Browns took part in two of the 10 best games of the NFL season?!? I am out of my mind.
And, their two opponents in those games were the Detroit Lions and the Kansas City Chiefs.
I don't blame you if you think I'm crazy and stop reading this, but at least hear me out.
This game was INSANELY AWESOME to watch. I'm not even joking. Not a hint of sarcasm in my writing at all.
First off, it was a meaningless game. But, that didn't stop the Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs from popping off and giving us one of the best games of the year.
Jerome Harrison became Jerome Harrison (picture his name in italics here) during this game.
286 yards and three TDs? From Jerome Harrison? Are you kidding me?
And, not only did he pop off, but his teammate Joshua Cribbs put the stamp on him being the best return man, maybe, ever. The kid took back two kickoffs for touchdowns. One was 100 yards. The other, eh, just 103 yards.
And, I haven't even mentioned Jamaal Charles yet. He rushed for 154 yards of his own.
Let's not forget that this game came down to the closing seconds, as well. So, not only did we have all the intrigue of the running back duel, but the game had a photo finish to boot.
And, who scored the winning touchdown. It was Harrison. One of his three on the day.
Matt Cassel threw for over 330 yards and made Chris Chambers look like a Pro Bowler.
Oh, and all that talk about how Brady Quinn might be ok. Eh, I don't think so, buddy.
His line: 10-for-17, 66 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs, a 27.7 rating.
Not good. I know he didn't have to be, but still, I could throw for a 27.7 rating without pads on...
It couldn't be a top 10 list without the game's most electrifying player, right?
He pulled off all the stops this season to end up over 2,000 rushing yards.
In plain English, this kid is disgustingly sick.
In Week 8, he was just that. And more. He rushed for 228 yards, breaking the Tennessee record and cementing himself as the best running back in the game.
He ran for touchdowns of 89 and 52 yards, and did so making it look effortless. He would take the handoff, come out of the hole, and just be gone. It was as if the defense had no linebackers or safeties in the game. He was at the line and in the end zone in under two seconds, it seemed.
Maurice Jones-Drew did his best to compete with Johnson, but even with his 177 yards, 80 and 79 yard touchdowns, his day still seemed mediocre, at best. That's how good Chris Johnson looked in the game.
And not to mention, this was Vince Young's first game back starting, and Tennessee's first win. It was the start of something special for the Titans, who went from 0-6 to almost in the playoffs. Not an easy thing to do.
With hindsight allowed, this game became more special than what it seemed at the time. And, that is why it gets a No. 3 ranking from me.
Plus, it was one hell of a game for fantasy purposes (at least for some people I know).
4th and 2.
If you were paying attention, you heard me say how much I liked offense.
I wasn't lying.
How could the highest scoring postseason game in NFL history not be the best game of the year?
I mean, 51-45, OT, in the playoffs? You couldn't ask for anything more, right?
Maybe it's because I'm a Bears fan and loved the ending with Karlos Dansby running back the Aaron Rodgers fumble and ending their run in the playoffs. Maybe.
But, I still like to think I did this list objectively and that many people will agree with me that this game had it all.
Over 1,000 yards of offense. Some great defensive plays. Big stars stepping up when their teams needed them. A fantastic ending. The fact that is was a playoff game. And just about every other reason you could come up with.
If I was asked what a perfect game of NFL football would be, I would say that I would want a shootout between two good teams with Pro Bowl quality players, two gunslinger-like quarterbacks, high scoring, breakneck pace, in the playoffs, and a short overtime period capped off by a jawdropping play to end it.
Check, check, check, check, check, and check.
Greatest game of 2009-2010.