So with the NFL regular season well and truly over, with the Championship Games coming up on Sunday night, I thought it’d be a good idea to give out some awards for certain things that happened over the season. With much talk over who’s going to be the league MVP & rookie of the year, among others, here’s a look at other moments which have made us laugh, cry and gasp over this crazy season.
Funniest Moment - Mark Sanchez’s butt fumble vs Patriots
Without doubt the funniest moment for me in the regular season, and as a Giants fan I found it even funnier. With the Jets already down by 14-0 at home to the Patriots, Sanchez whilst trying to make a play runs straight into guard Brandon Moore and fumbles the ball, gifting the Patriots yet another touchdown, in what was a complete blowout on Thanksgiving. This season was yet another forgetful one for Sanchez, who continues to disappoint after such a promising start to his NFL career in the first 2 seasons, reaching 2 consecutive AFC Championship Games. But the butt fumble will undoubtedly go down as the funniest moment of the season for me.
Coach Breakdown - Norv Turner after loss to the Buccaneers
This was a moment that shocked everyone, and I think confirmed that Norv Turner was losing it in San Diego, and he was well and truly on his way to losing his job. The Chargers collapsed to lose 34-24 after an awful interception for Philip Rivers confirmed the defeat, and in the post-match press conference, things heated up. Norv was asked whether it mattered if his team kept losing, if they showed toughness every week. In fairness, it was a pretty stupid question, but Turner’s reaction shocked everyone, as he snapped at the journalist and went off on a rant which almost silenced the room. Chargers reporters said that it was the most visibly upset that they’d seen Turner after a loss. It will be remembered as the rant which maybe sparked the end for Norv Turner in San Diego.
Comeback of the Season - Packers 27-30 Colts
This one was a tough call for me. It was between the Colts win against the Packers & the Broncos win over the Chargers, coming down from 24-0 at half-time. In the end I’ve gone for the Colts’ win over the Packers, down to the fact that the opposition was a lot stronger for the Colts, and it was their 1st game since their coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia. The Colts were down by 21-3 at half-time, and rookie QB Andrew Luck managed to inspire them to win the game with just 30 seconds left, 30-27. Granted, Mason Crosby did miss a field goal to take the game to overtime, but on that day it was all about this young Colts side, inspired to play for their ill coach. The Broncos win over the Chargers was very impressive also, but after all it IS the Chargers, who were so poor this season, and of course the Broncos did have Peyton Manning as their QB, which does help.
Biggest Surprise - Vikings making the playoffs
The Minnesota Vikings were one of 3 sides who qualified for the post-season after finishing bottom of their division in the 2011 season (Redskins & Colts were the other two), but for me this one was the biggest surprise. The Vikings were a shock package this season, and this was mainly down to their running back, Adrian Peterson. The MVP candidate carried his side so much this season to the play-offs, where they really had no right to get there after the season they had in 2011. Christian Ponder showed at times that he could be a decent QB, but this season was all about Peterson, who missed out on the running yards record by just 9 yards after having knee surgery in December. Remarkable achievement, and many will wonder whether Peterson will be able to break that record next season after getting a full pre-season under his belt. We’ll have to see about that, but for the Vikings to make the play-offs, they were the biggest surprise for me this season.
Most heartwarming moment - Colts cheerleaders shaving their head
This was a really touching moment for me, and I’m sure it was the same for everyone who saw it. Two Colts cheerleaders, Crystal Ann & Megan M, shaved their hair off after raising $22,000 to leukemia research, in support of the Colts coach Chuck Pagano. In a society where apparently looks after everything, for these two beautiful ladies to shave off all of their hair for a great cause such as leukemia research, was a really heartwarming moment. Everything about the Colts 2012 season was surreal, but that was a moment that any football fan will admire.
Biggest fail - Golden Tate’s ‘TD’ vs Packers
A moment that will forever been known as ‘the inaccurate reception’, this was the decision which cost a team a football match, and essentially meant that Roger Goodell had to get his referees back. The replacement refs weren’t popular from the start, making bad calls in games that you wouldn’t expect normal referees to make, but the decision to award a touchdown after a Hail Mary by Russell Wilson in MNF between the Seahawks & Packers, was the final straw. It was so clear from replays that the pass had been intercepted by M.D. Jennings, and yet the call stood and the Seahawks won the game. That decision ended up costing the Packers home field advantage in the play-offs, so it’ll always be remembered by football fans for all the wrong reasons. A few days later we got our proper referees back, but by this time the damage had been done for the Packers.
Best play - Ray Rice on 4th & 29
This is another game where I have to bring up the San Diego Chargers. The Ravens are 4th & 29 at their own 37 yard line, with 2 minutes to go. Ok, you’d expect the Hail Mary from Flacco, so you’d have deep coverage. But then Flacco throws the ball to Ray Rice at the line of scrimmage, and he runs almost untouched, dodging 8 Chargers players to get a 1st down and the Ravens end up winning 16-10. As a coach, Norv Turner must have been pulling his hair out, but as a spectator you just have to sit back and admire that play. 4th and long is always going to be tough, but 4th & 29 is just unheard of, and just shows why Ray Rice is considered one of the best running backs in the league.
Emotional moment - Chuck Pagano’s speech after Dolphins win
Again, I have to bring up the fairytale of the Indianapolis Colts. If you are a Ravens fan, you probably hate this article, but once again you can’t help but feel touched by this moment. The Colts had just beaten the Dolphins to go 5-3, when coach Chuck Pagano comes into the locker room and goes to speak to his players, who had no idea that he was going to turn up. Throughout the whole speech you could see that every player was taking what he had to say seriously, and you can also see that they care about their coach, even though he hasn’t been there very long. When he said he wanted to dance at his daughter’s wedding & win Super Bowls with this young side, it was a really touching moment. This Colts side have shown so much magic this season, playing for their sick coach and going 11-5 to reach the play-offs. In the future, maybe Pagano will get his wish to win a Championship with this team, in what really would be a fairytale ending.
So those are my picks, from what’s been a great season once again, that’s been memorable for so many reasons. With just 3 games left of the season, we await to see what other magic occurs in the play-offs after divisional weekend, and I’m sure we’ll all be looking forward to September with great optimism.
If you have other moments which you think are more deserving than the ones chosen, please comment below or contact me at @WSTalbs on twitter.