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NFL Preseason: The Top 10 Plays From Week 1

Ryan CookFeatured ColumnistAugust 17, 2010

NFL Preseason: The Top 10 Plays From Week 1

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    Eli Manning

    It may not be football at it's greatest, but it's great to see America's No. 1 game back in full flight.

    In the past week, we've seen just about everything we imagined: Hard hits, great touchdown passes, and an array of story lines that have kept writers occupied nationwide, as they try and depict both controversy and excitement at the present time.

    However, even though it is only the preseason, and there is three weeks until the "real deal" kicks off, I think you'll agree that there have been a number of eye-dazzling plays from the seemingly irrelevant NFL week so far.

    So which plays made the Top 10? 

    Some are pretty to watch, while others are quite gruesome.  Here's a look at The Top 10 plays from Week One of the preseason, along with a little description toward how great they really were.

10. Brandon Banks Cashes In a Redskins Kick Return Touchdown

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    Brandon BanksJeff Gross/Getty Images

    We all knew that Brandon Banks was an extremely speedy player, so it was no surprise to see the Redskins wide receiver burst down the field and set up the Redskins with a prolific kick return touchdown that was performed in style.

    At the time, it seemed almost inevitable that Banks would score.  The blocks were solidly in place, and when he took off from deep in Redskins territory, most of the crowd knew that the newly drafted rookie would score his first NFL touchdown.

    It may not have been the most exciting play we saw in the past week, but it sure got Redskin faithfuls pumped at the time. 

    Let's hope this young man develops into a Devin Hester-like kick returner, God knows the league could do with a few more.

9. Reggie Smith's Pick Six Against the Colts

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    Reggie SmithScott Boehm/Getty Images

    It's rare to see a pick six thrown by Indianapolis, but truth be told, Peyton Manning wasn't the one passing the football at the time.

    No, this unfortunate time it was Curtis Painter, the man made famous toward the end of the regular season in 2009, during the Colts' "throw in the towel" decision against the Buffalo Bills.

    But aside from Curtis' once again poor play, to his credit, the ball did take a deflection.  However, it was Reggie Smith that caught the muffed ball, and made a spectacular dash toward the end zone to see the San Francisco 49ers up six due to a very impressive touchdown.

    For those that are unfamiliar with Reggie Smith, he is the San Francisco 49ers defensive end.  Given, that he does only have three years experience to his name, he did make a highlight this week, and may have on the coaches over due to his on field presence.

    Luckily for San Francisco the 49ers went on to win the game 37-17.  A few great plays and a "W" under their belts makes San Francisco all that much more impressive heading toward September.

8. Joe Flacco's Deep Pass to Mark Clayton

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    Joe FlaccoJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    To be quite frank, the Baltimore Ravens match up with the Carolina Panthers was quite a one-sided affair.

    Carolina's quarterback's notably struggled, but on the other side of the ball, Joe Flacco seemed to answer any questions directed toward his leadership, as he played a stellar game, and went on to lead the Ravens to a close but solid 17-12 win.

    So what plays rocked the field?

    Realistically, several did. And when tackle Joe Reitz tried to dunk the ball over the crossbar, well let's just say, LeBron James would have been laughing his South Beach butt off at his poor attempt at a glass breaker.

    However, as for the exciting plays, arguably one of the best was Joe Flacco's deep pass to wide receiver Mark Clayton.

    Not only was this a tough pass to make, it was also a tough catch, as Clayton was guarded quite heavily throughout the entire play.

    Credit the Ravens, they looked good on Thursday night.  More importantly though, credit Joe Flacco for sharing the ball and stepping up to the plate.  Hopefully we see more passes like this one in the future.

7. Aaron Rodgers's Touchdown Throw to Greg Jennings

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    Greg JenningsJeff Gross/Getty Images

    Lets face it, Aaron Rodgers to Greg Jennings is a combination that we will likely see a lot of in the coming season.

    In Week One of the preseason, the Packers were heavily criticized.  Some say they failed to get out of the blocks, and even though Aaron Rodgers continued where he left off last season, Ryan Grant's concussion certainly wasn't the site Packer Nation wanted to see against the Cleveland Browns.

    Still, the game was close, and the Browns did only scrape by with a field goal to win the game.

    Less importantly though, the Packers delivered their first Lambeau Leap of the year.  When quarterback Aaron Rodgers went deep to Greg Jennings for a 25 yard touchdown pass, most fans could have bet their house that No. 85 was going to reel the pass in.

    That very scenario played out, and the Rogers-Jennings combination once again is featured in a top highlights list.

    These two are like the modern day Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, yet they are only still developing.  It is scary to think of what they two will muster up this season, and barring a devastating injury, both should endure a pass-happy relationship this season.

6. Michael Vick Scrambles In With a Bang

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    Michael VickNick Laham/Getty Images

    Finally, the Michael Vick of old is back.

    Okay, so Michael Vick didn't exactly have a great game, and when he was laughed at on the sidelines by DeSean Jackson, you got the feeling that Michael Vick wasn't too happy with his performance, even though it was only a preseason game.

    But away from Vick's inconsistent woes, we all saw a significant flash of brilliance from No. 7, as memories began to flood back from his days with the Atlanta Falcons.

    Any of you unfortunate fans that didn't get to witness Michael Vick in Atlanta, you missed a treat.  He was quick on his feet, and a great out-of-pocket scrambler when it came to turning the jets on.

    In Week One of the preseason, we saw just that from Michael Vick, as he rushed in for a touchdown to try and help the Eagles post up a win.

    Unfortunately, Vick's desired outcome was never reached, but it was great to see him running fluently and speedily for a touchdown in the green and white.

5. Cleveland's Game Winning Field Goal

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    Phil DawsonTom Dahlin/Getty Images

    As mentioned earlier, the Cleveland vs. Green Bay game was an extremely tight affair.  Both teams rallied, and in the end, Cleveland's Phil Dawson slotted the game-winner as time expired in Lambeau Field.

    Of course, as always, Packer fans were stunned.  But funnily enough, so were Browns fans, as something actually went their way for once, even though the game was more or less meaningless.

    At the end of the day, though, we all love a last-minute field goal, and if it's the Saints kicking their way to the Super Bowl or the Bills ultimately losing the Super Bowl some 10-plus years ago, field goal kicks are certainly a great way to end a fantastic contest.

    Yes, the game was meaningless, but it was all about confidence for Cleveland.  They may not have taken a lot away from this match up, but I assure Phil Dawson has a memory for his collection to tell his grand kids in 10 years time.

4. Tim Tebow Marks His Denver Debut With a Touchdown

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    Tim TebowJoe Robbins/Getty Images

    Like him or not, Tim Tebow was definitely the best rookie quarterback to suit up and perform this past week.

    What we didn't expect though from God's boy was a tough and rugged touchdown, as Tim pounded his way into the end zone for his first touchdown in NFL football.

    I think Tim Tebow's story may have been overshadowed a little due to Brady Quinn's woeful ways.  But who would have though such an injury-riddled team would perform so well, and have two good-looking quarterbacks right now in the season?

    I know I didn't.

    Credit Tim though; he got the job done.  He was booed by Cincinnati faithfuls, but remained calm and passed well.  Some may criticize his accuracy; however, this was no denying that he made an impressive debut for the Denver Broncos.

    Whatever your opinion is of Tim, put it aside.  Right now, he is on the right path to success.

3. Matt Schaub Hooks Up With Andre Johnson For Six

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    Matt SchaubChristian Petersen/Getty Images

    Similar to Aaron Rodgers and Greg Jennings, a Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson combination both go hand in hand when it comes to points put on the board.

    When the Texans met Arizona in the desert, all eyes were of course on newly drafted running back Ben Tate, along with new Arizona Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart.

    Although the Texans did go on to suffer a 16-19 point loss, one of the highlights of the game was Matt Schaub's link-up with Andre Johnson for a very deep touchdown.

    For those that have been following these two closely, we all know that they will excel this season.  The Texans are a team on the verge of playoff success, and as long as these two remain healthy, they can make an ideal push into postseason play this year.

    It's only early days yet, but it's great to see these two on the same page, fresh, and ready for some real regular season action.

2. Eli Manning Gets Rocked at The Meadowlands

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    Eli ManningNick Laham/Getty Images

    For those blood junkies out there that love to see a bit of gore in the game, unfortunately, the NFL doesn't cater to your needs.  These days, it is rare to see players split open, but on the occasion that it does happen, it is always a must-see event.

    Last night against the New York Jets, Eli Manning felt the force of not only Brandon Jacobs, but Bart Scott, as his helmet resembled a tennis ball once it left his head and Eli Manning hit the turf.

    What many fans didn't expect to see, though, was a severe cut on Eli's left temple, as blood continued to stream down his face for a solid three to five minutes.

    Some fans may argue that this isn't a top play, but it sure was a big hit, and as an NFL fan, that's something that we all can't get enough of.

    As for Eli, well he may have to take a handful of painkillers in the morning, but it will surely make him more aware of the Jets' defensive presence, which is continuing to leave a mark on opposing quarterbacks this season.

1. Victor Cruz's 46-Yard One-Handed Catch

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    Victor Cruz

    One-handed catches are always a delight.  If it isn't on Madden, watching a player reel the ball in with five digits is always an event worth celebrating each and every week.

    In Week One, the Giants' young rookie wide receiver Victor Cruz was the lucky man who caught a 46-yard touchdown pass, one handed.

    This play pretty much had everyone excited, including announcers, and therefore it ranks at No. 1 on the Week One preseason highlights.

    Victor Cruz may not be Dez Bryant, but he certainly showed some on-field brilliance last night against the Jets.  Perhaps he is a hidden gem this season, we'll have to wait and see.  Let's just bask in the glory of his one handed catch for the time being though, shall we?

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