The night before Super Bowl XLVIII, the NFL will salute its best players and plays from the 2013 season with "NFL Honors," a star-studded football and entertainment event hosted by Alec Baldwin at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Here's the coverage information:» Saturday, Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. ET on NFL Network: NFL Honors Red Carpet Special
» Saturday, Feb. 1 at 8 p.m. ET on FOX: 3rd Annual NFL Honors
One of the awards that will be presented on Saturday night is the 2013 Play of the Year. There are 20 nominees, all of which you can view by clicking here. Which play gets your vote?
Aaron Rodgers' division-clinching strike felt too Hollywood to be realThis is easy: Aaron Rodgers' TD pass against the Bears. It's fourth-and-8 with under a minute remaining and you're trailing your archrival by a point in the last game of the regular season with a division title on the line. And oh yeah, it's your first game back from injury AND you're playing in a hostile environment. Talk about dramatic circumstances!
Rodgers evaded the rush and found Randall Cobb deep on a broken coverage for the score. Broken hearts in Chicago. Elation (and a division title) in Green Bay. This is not a game-winning play, it's a movie!
Did anyone provide more Play of the Year nominations than Alshon Jeffery?Let's go with Alshon Jeffery's circus catch in Minnesota. Consider this an aggregate award, though. How many jaw-dropping catches did we see this guy make, showcasing his unreal concentration? There was one against the Cowboys, another against the Browns, and he actually had two in that game at Minnesota (remember: that was the 12-catch, 249-yard tour de force). Not to mention at least three dozen more in traffic over the course of a highly prolific season.
Yet, that touchdown catch on the left sideline against the Vikes was truly spectacular. I literally uttered "Wow!" out loud when I saw him jump, meet the ball and then maintain possession through contact with the defender. It's hard not to have the same reaction upon watching it again ... and again ... and again.
Rodgers' wing-and-a-prayer TD pass was staggeringly awesomeHe'd missed almost two months with a broken collarbone and his team was about to miss the playoffs, trailing its archrival with 46 seconds remaining in a win-or-go-home regular-season finale and facing a fourth-and-8. And then Aaron Rodgers managed to evade a lunging Julius Peppers, scoot to his left and -- with his body still moving to the left -- heave the ball downfield to Randall Cobb for a 48-yard, wing-and-a-prayer touchdown.
For what it meant, for how it unfolded, for the difficulty of execution, it was the play of the year.
Forget about the circumstances: Tavon Austin's punt return was pure entertainmentTavon Austin's 98-yard punt return didn't send the Rams to the playoffs, and it was far from the most consequential play of the season. But for me, it's the most fun to watch. (Trust me, I've watched it about 20 times.)
All season, we were waiting for the electric Austin to catch fire and show why he was the player St. Louis traded up to select. And in a few quick seconds, there it was. From his nifty grab of the bouncing punt, to the tiptoeing along the sideline, to how he simply ran by the entire Bills team as if they were standing still, it was brilliant. A lot more to come from Austin.
Adrian Peterson's first carry made your imagination run wildWell, I was really hoping Jay Cutler sticking that Steelers defender would be on the list, because that was pretty cool. But I have to go with Adrian Peterson's first carry of the season.
The moment he took off through the line, you thought to yourself, this guy actually might run for 2,500 yards this season. He obviously didn't make it, but in that moment, you thought it truly could happen.
Peterson's season-opening score was great, but his TD at Dallas was otherworldlyThere are good plays, and then there's Adrian Peterson's touchdown run at Dallas. We've seen powerful runs by him before, but the fact that he gets stacked up at the 5-yard line ... lifted off his feet by two defenders ... and still scores a touchdown? That's special in a way that other NFL superstars can only dream about.
When you're off your feet, the play is over. I don't care who you are -- you're getting piledriven to the ground. Not only does he not get tackled as he comes down so hard it actually hurts my knees just to watch it, but he bulls his way through two more tacklers and into the end zone (albeit with a push by some teammates, but hey, I'm pretty sure God had a tiny bit of help when he created the world in seven days, too).
Rodgers-to-Cobb fittingly summed up these resilient PackersAaron Rodgers' touchdown pass to Randall Cobb in Week 17 was the most pulsating moment of the regular season. It won a de facto conference title game, after all.
Rodgers and Cobb were both in their first game back from injury. Many times during the year -- many times during this actual game -- it looked like the season was over for Green Bay. This perfect throw perfectly punctuated the Packers' unreal season of perseverance.