Top 25 Most Outstanding Special Teams Plays of 2011 NFL Season

Kyle BrownCorrespondent IIIDecember 19, 2011

Top 25 Most Outstanding Special Teams Plays of 2011 NFL Season

0 of 25

    What are the best special teams plays of the 2011 NFL season thus far?

    Many thought that the rule change to move kickoffs up to the 35-yard line would decrease the number of kick returns for touchdowns.

    However, quite the opposite has happened.

    In fact, there have been many kick returns for touchdowns this year.

    But it isn't just the flashy kick returns that made the list for best special teams plays. Yes, even kickers and punters made the list.

    Here's the 25 most outstanding special teams plays of 2011.

25. Devin Hester & Johnny Knox

1 of 25

    It was the best special teams play that never was.

    If it wasn't for a holding penalty that happened away from the ball, Johnny Knox would've put the Bears in the position to possibly beat the undefeated Green Bay Packers.

    It would've taken a successful onside kick though, but I digress.

24. Doug Baldwin

2 of 25

    It was a great individual effort by Doug Baldwin to block this punt.

    But honestly, how cool would it have been if he caught the ball in the process?

    It almost happened.

23. Brian Orakpo

3 of 25

    Lawrence Tynes just got Orakpoed.

22. Scotty McGee

4 of 25

    Yes, it was only a five-yard punt return, but it was the coolest five-yard punt I've ever seen.

    He reversed field and broke five tackles in the process.

21. Randall Cobb

5 of 25

    The Green Bay Packers selected Randall Cobb in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft.

    The reason?

    To do exactly this.

20. Matt Prater

6 of 25

    Everyone was talking about how Tim Tebow lead the Denver Broncos to victory over the Chicago Bears Week 14, but the Broncos don't win this game without Matt Prater.

    His 59-yard field goal to force overtime was the definition of "clutch."

19. Jason Pierre-Paul

7 of 25

    If Jason Pierre-Paul doesn't get a hand on the ball, the Cowboys tie the game and force overtime.

    Too bad the Cowboys chocked just one week later and put their playoff hopes in doubt anyways.

18. LarDarius Webb

8 of 25

    LarDarius Webb's dive into the end zone is one of the best I've seen in a while.

    Oh yeah, and his punt return wasn't that bad either.

17. Tommie Campbell

9 of 25

    I love the part at the 0:10 mark when the entire Tampa Bay Buccaneers' team comes into the scene.

    Literally, the entire coverage team is out of position while trying to chase down Tommie Campbell.

16. Shane Lechler

10 of 25

    If a punter makes this kind of list, he must've done something truly remarkable.

    I would say that an 80-yard boot warrants some sort of recognition.

15. Devin Hester

11 of 25

    This is the first time that Devin Hester has been mentioned on this list, but it certainly won't be the last.

    Every time Hester gets the ball on a return, it looks like his route to the end zone was already predetermined and he's just following the directions in his head as he runs.

    I mean, seriously, it just looks too easy for him.

14. Eddie Royal

12 of 25

    Eddie Royal's punt return for a touchdown ended up being the game-winner.

13. Patrick Peterson

13 of 25

    Patrick Peterson has the rare combination of power and speed and he uses that to his advantage in his return game.

    Three Panthers players had a chance at tackling Peterson, but he ran right through them with ease.

    And trust me, you'll be seeing Peterson again on this list later on.

12. Shane Lechler & Kevin Boss

14 of 25

    Hey, what do you know. A punter made it onto this list twice!

    If any punter could do it, it's Shane Lechler, who is arguably the best punter in the business.

    Not only can be kick the ball 80 yards, but he can throw a perfect pass as well.

11. Devin Hester... Again

15 of 25

    The punt forced Hester to run backwards for 15 yards before he caught the ball and dropped it on the ground. However, Hester is one of the only people in the world who has the wherewithal to return a kick like that.

    He truly is the best to ever do it.

10. Jacoby Jones

16 of 25

    You thought for a second that No. 57 of the Indianapolis Colts had an angle on Jacoby Jones, but it turned out that Jones is just too fast.

9. Anthony Spencer

17 of 25

    It was almost an illegal play by Anthony Spencer, but he didn't use anyone else to propel himself over the Seahawks' lineman.

    That is truly an athletic play.

8. Jacoby Ford

18 of 25

    Jacoby Ford is so quick that his kick return for a touchdown landed him a spot on sports science.

    Not many players can continue to outrun his opponents while trying to regain his balance.

7. Percy Harvin

19 of 25

    It was the first play of the season for the Minnesota Vikings.

    That's why it was so high on this list.

6. Tedd Ginn Jr. (Twice)

20 of 25

    Tedd Ginn Jr. hasn't yet blossomed into the wide receiver that the Miami Dolphins thought he would be when they took him with the ninth-overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft, but he has become an excellent return man for the San Francisco 49ers.

5. Sebastian Janikowski

21 of 25

    Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 63-yard field goal to end the half in Denver, and it ended up tying the record for the longest field goal in NFL history.

    'Nuff said.

4. Joe McKnight

22 of 25

    Joe McKnight hasn't lived up to the hype yet, but he does have the breakaway speed to make these types of plays in the NFL.

    It looked like he only needed to make three cuts to take it to the house.

3. Devin Hester... One More Time

23 of 25

    This one was the record-breaker. With his 11th career punt return, he broke Eric Metcalf's for career punt returns.

    The somersaults didn't look too bad either. 

2. Randall Cobb... Again

24 of 25

    This was Randall Cobb's very first game in the NFL.

    Looks like it didn't take him too long to get acquainted with the level of play in the NFL.

1. Patrick Peterson... Again

25 of 25

    This is why the Arizona Cardinals took Patrick Peterson with the fifth-overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft.

    You don't see too many walk-off touchdowns in the NFL, but Peterson's 99-yard punt return in overtime against the Rams was the best one we've seen in a while.