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NFL Play of the Year? Ray Rice tops five best from 2012

As I kid, I remember waiting for ESPN's "Plays of the Year" countdown like it was the Super Bowl (nothing topped Randall Cunningham's 95-yard touchdown to Fred Barnett. Go to 3:30 right here).

Now we're all spoiled. Thankfully. The Play of the Year is one of the awards at the year-end NFL Honors and the top 20 candidates are all lined up fancy-like for you to watch and vote on right here. No one asked me, but my top five plays are below.

(Incidentally, video junkies also should check out our "best of" series for the NFL's top players. One of the coolest things we do all year.)

Honorable mention

Classifying the play below as an honorable mention seems silly because it would be my top pick for play of the year if it was an option. I'll remember New Orleans Saints safety Malcom Jenkins running down Vincent Jackson from behind on a 95-yard run for as long as I watch football. The ensuing goal-line stand just made it sweeter.

Somehow, the committee didn't select this as one of its top 20 plays. To paraphrase Chris Russo, "that's a tawible job!"

5. Robert Griffin III's clinching score against the Vikings

This was one of those "Oh my" moments where RG3's turbo boosters were activated. The play gets bonus points for being part of the craziest 11 seconds of the year.

4. Vick Ballard's game winner

You'll notice I give extra credit to plays that really mean something. This thrilling, twisting effort from Ballard capped a sensational comeback by the Indianapolis Colts.

3. Nate Washington's circus catch against the Lions

This was one of those plays where I immediately thought: That might be one of the best plays we see all year. Like all great art, it's held up well with time.

2. Joseph Morgan goes WWE

While I gave extra credit to meaningful plays, there was room here for moments that were just insane. Combined with the Jenkins play above, a random Bucs-Saints game in Week 7 provided two of the most-indelible moments of the year. You just never know.

Morgan had to come back to an underthrown ball, duck under one defender, and then flip over another. I have absolutely no problem with anyone that votes this No. 1.

1. Ray Rice. Fourth-and-29.

This is probably the favorite to win. It's the easiest pick because it's the right one. It essentially ended the San Diego Chargers' season. It was a fantastic individual effort with the game on the line.

For years, when teams are facing fourth-and-forever, this play will be mentioned alongside Freddie Mitchell's moment. Fourth-and-29 will live on.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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