Best of 2010: Power Ranking the NFL's Top 25 Plays of The Year
The best of 2010 is rolling out, so we're taking a look at the NFL and the best plays of 2010. We have two weeks left in the regular season and we're breaking down the plays that made our jaws drop throughout the year.
There are plenty of plays that are eligible for this award, so there's a ton of room for debate on this one. Feel free to nominate any plays that you think might have been underrated, overrated or neglected completely. Any other thoughts or comments? Make sure to leave them at the bottom.
No. 25: Strip Keeps The Saints Alive
If you were watching this one over Thanksgiving dinner, you might have dropped your fork on the plate.
It looked like the Dallas Cowboys were going to seal the deal against the New Orleans Saints, only for Roy Williams to have the ball ripped right out of his hands, giving the Saints the ball. New Orleans went down the field, took the lead and won the game.
That was a microcosm of Dallas' entire season.
No. 24: Tim Tebow Runs 40 For a TD
It's Tim Tebow's first start and what does he do? Run 40 yards right through the heart of the Oakland defense.
Also, note the down and distance. It's third and forever on this play and Tebow hits paydirt. What a run by the former Florida Gator. Tebow played well enough to earn the starting gig for the rest of the season and you can't fault the Broncos for doing so.
It's not like they have anything to play for at this point.
No. 23: Dexter McCluster's Punt Return Touchdown
This was on the first Monday night of the season and it showed the world that the Chiefs were back.
The Chargers have had issues on special teams all year long and this was the start of those troubles. At the time people thought it was a fluke, but now we know better. The best part of the video is the crowd. There aren't many fans better than the group in Kansas City.
Arrowhead will be rocking if the Chiefs make the playoffs.
No. 22: Maurice Jones-Drew Saves Jacksonville
Maurice Jones-Drew is one of the backs that not a lot of people talk about unless you're a fantasy football owner.
Jones-Drew isn't a big guy but he packs a punch and the Browns found that out the hard way, as he ripped their hearts out and took it all the way down to the goal line before punching it in later in the drive. Just look at the way he toys with the defense. It almost isn't fair.
He's one of the reasons the Jags have been so good this year.
No. 21: Joe Flacco Comes Up Clutch
Sure, there was no Ben Roethlisberger, but that Steelers defense is nothing to scoff at.
Joe Flacco went down the field in Week 4 against the Pittsburgh Steelers and ripped their hearts out with a big touchdown pass to seal the deal and give the Ravens a big win. The second time around, Pittsburgh ripped out Baltimore's hearts, but that's another story.
Also, has anyone seen Housh since that touchdown grab? Just asking.
No. 20: Josh Wilson Finishes Off Houston
Only the Houston Texans could lose this way.
What you don't see in this highlight is Houston rallying all the way back from a huge deficit to force overtime with an Andre Johnson touchdown grab and then a two-point conversion. All that work, only to get the ball and promptly throw it right to Baltimore for the win.
It was a huge play for the Ravens, which were spent on defense.
No. 19: Jay Feely Runs For A Touchdown
In the NFL, kickers aren't exactly the most valued members on a team.
You love them when they do well and you hate them when they fail and Jay Feely got a hero's welcome in Arizona. He took the pitch on a fake field goal and scampered right into the end zone for a touchdown, something that never happens in the NFL.
Sure, the leap stunk, but it was a heck of an effort.
No. 18: Leon Washington Does It Again
What you don't see here is Leon Washington's first return for a touchdown against San Diego.
The Chargers kicked to him anyway and he made them pay dearly as he ran right through the San Diego special teams for a huge touchdown. It helped the Seahawks upset the Chargers early in the season. It was good to see for a player coming off of a nasty leg injury.
Seattle is sure glad to have him in the return game.
No. 17: Sanchez to Holmes For The Win
Again, only the Texans.
If you're a fan of the Houston Texans, you may need to go through a 12-step program the way this year has unfolded. Houston had the game in its hands and looked to be finishing off the Jets, only to keep New York in it long enough to have the Jets pull off the win.
It was a clutch grab after Braylon Edwards got behind the defense earlier in the drive.
No. 16: Andre Johnson Comes Up Clutch
OK, since I've been picking on Houston a little bit so far, here's something to smile about.
The Texans were locked in a big-time battle against Washington early in the season when Andre Johnson rolled his ankle pretty badly. That would take down most normal men, but not Johnson, who came back into the game to beat his man to the ball for this clutch touchdown grab.
Andre Johnson isn't human. I'm convinced of that.
No. 15: Dez Bryant Return Touchdown
Dez Bryant was one of the most electric rookies in all of football this year. Too bad he was on the Cowboys.
Early in the season against Chicago, Bryant took a punt and scampered right through the defense for a return touchdown and it was the start of a good rookie season for Bryant, who was a big-time playmaker for the Cowboys.
He hurt his ankle and is out for the year, but expect big things from him going forward.
No. 14: Josh Scobee's Game Winner
A lot of people wondered if Jacksonville could hang with the big boys this year.
Josh Scobee proved that Jacksonville could as he drilled a 59-yard field goal at the buzzer to beat Peyton Manning and the Colts. Scobee has a monster leg and he needed all of it to get that one, but the second time around the Colts got their revenge and have control of the AFC South.
However, this is one game Jags fans won't forget for a long time.
No. 13: Troy Polamalu's Pick Six
Troy Polamalu is one of the biggest defensive playmakers of all-time and he shows why here.
When you're facing a crappy quarterback like Carson Palmer, it's easy to get turnovers. To do what Polamalu did after he got the pick is another story. The safety sprints down the field and makes an amazing leap into the end zone for a big touchdown.
Palmer has to be used to seeing defenses do that to him by now.
No. 12: Eric Weems Takes It To The House
Most people don't know who Eric Weems is, but the Buccaneers found out the hard way a couple of weeks ago.
Weems took the kickoff after Tampa Bay looked like it had asserted itself in the game and might upset the Falcons. He quickly turned the momentum of the game as he weaved in and out of the Bucs' special teams for a 102-yard touchdown.
It sucked the air out of the Bucs and turned the game in Atlanta's favor. What a play.
No. 11: Sidney Rice Over Buffalo
This play was originally ruled an incomplete pass, but not so fast.
Sidney Rice goes up here and just takes the ball from the Buffalo defender and lands in the end zone as they're fighting for the ball. It's a great effort by the wideout who missed most of the season as he recovered from an injury.
Too bad Minnesota couldn't get more of those plays this year.
No. 10: Tony Moeaki's One-Handed Leap
There were a lot of great catches this season, but this is up there with the best of them.
Tony Moeaki just goes up and snatches this ball with one hand and it freezes there as he falls into the end zone for a huge touchdown against San Francisco. It's a breathtaking play as he soars through the air and fully extends for the ball.
He's a good young player and could become a great talent in Kansas City.
No. 9: Donald Driver's Extra Effort
Donald Driver hasn't had a year that we're used to from him, but this play shows why he's always a threat.
San Francisco did a horrid job of trying to tackle him, but don't let that take away from his extra effort. Driver kept pushing and fighting, got away from the defense and into the end zone for a touchdown. That's why you never, ever give up on a play.
It's that extra effort that can turn whole games around.
No. 8: Dan Connelly Has Breakaway Speed
Dan Connelly may have never been mentioned in the entire course of his career, but thanks to last Sunday night's game, he'll live in history.
Connelly has the longest kick return by an offensive lineman in the history of the NFL, as you can see by this graceful scamper against the Green Bay Packers. The best part is how he keeps looking for someone to tackle him but no one ever shows up until it's too late.
The best part is that he stayed in for the offensive series. Who needs an oxygen tank?
No. 7: DeSean Jackson Burns Dallas
DeSean Jackson is a playmaker in every sense of the word.
Take a look at this play in which all he has to do is make one man miss and then he's off to the races for a 91-yard touchdown grab. The one thing you won't see in this video is that he did this with a foot injury that had slowed him down.
This won't be the last time you see Jackson on this list.
No. 6: Randy Moss Flashes The Glove
Randy Moss has been a non-factor for most of the season, but in Week 2 against the Jets, he showed why he's one of the best to ever play.
Moss goes out on a route and calls for the ball. Brady puts the ball in the air and Moss just flashes his glove and snags it one-handed and cruises for a touchdown. He burned Darrelle Revis on the play as the whole Jets defense was confused by the hurry-up offense.
That's about the extent of Moss' highlights this year.
No. 5: Lance Moore Works The Sideline
This was from last week and another example of how extra effort can turn bad plays into good ones.
Drew Brees makes a throw that he probably shouldn't make, only the ball takes a good bounce and Lance Moore is there to snag the ball and tiptoe in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. It was a lucky play, but I'd rather be lucky than good.
What an effort by Moore to make that play.
No. 4: Jacoby Ford Bails Out Oakland
The Oakland Raiders have been a laughingstock for the past couple of years, but now it's time to take the Raiders seriously.
The Chiefs found out the hard way as Jacoby Ford came up with two huge plays to help down them earlier in the season, but it was the second catch that was the most impressive. Ford takes the ball away from the Kansas City defender and sets up the win for Oakland.
That play put Ford on the map and he's been making big plays for the Raiders all year.
No. 3: David Garrard's Hail Mary
Sometimes you just throw it up and hope you get lucky.
Again, only the Texans would find a way to lose on a Hail Mary on which a player does something right. Houston bats the ball down, only the rest of his teammates are watching him and not doing their jobs and it lands right in Mike Thomas' hands for the win.
Houston could have been a playoff team if it knew how to finish football games.
No. 2: Roddy White's Hustle Play
Roddy White has done this before.
So the next time someone picks off Matt Ryan and is running back, watch over your shoulder for Roddy White. White comes flying in and strips the ball as San Francisco is about to ice the game and upset the Falcons.
That's a great hustle play. Not only that, but Atlanta took the ball and went down the field for the win and it's all because White put the effort in.
No. 1: DeSean Jackson Beats The Giants At The Buzzer
You know it had to be this play. It was the only choice.
DeSean Jackson takes a punt late in the fourth quarter against the rival New York Giants after coming all the way back to tie the game. He muffs it, so you think he's dead in the water. Only the Giants just break down and Jackson picks the ball up and runs it in at the buzzer to give the Eagles the win.
That might be the most crushing defeat I've seen in a long, long time. If I were a Giants fan, I'd have just gone on a long, long walk and wouldn't return until the sun went down.