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Published: Nov. 5, 2012 at 06:06 p.m.
Updated: Nov. 6, 2012 at 10:57 a.m.

Best moments from first half of season

Nine weeks isn’t long in real life, but feels like an eternity in the NFL. The replacement official era ended just over a month ago but feels like prehistoric times. (Or a terrible nightmare.) We are only two months removed from the concept of the Kansas City Chiefs as Super Bowl contender. Before diving into the second half, let’s take a look back at the 16 defining moments of this NFL season so far.

16 Photos Total

  • 1. Week 3: Golden Tate's touchdown. 16

    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    1. Week 3: Golden Tate's touchdown.

    Call it the Fail Mary of the Inaccurate Reception. Call it the moment that ended the referee standoff. Call it the most indelible moment of the 2012 season. After the Seattle Seahawks beat the Green Bay Packers with Tate's controversial grab, I wrote it would live in infamy for as long as the NFL played games. Five weeks of hindsight haven't changed anything. This one will be tough to top.

  • 2. Week 5: Indianapolis Colts win one for Chuck 15

    Thomas J. Russo/US Presswire

    2. Week 5: Indianapolis Colts win one for Chuck

    Andrew Luck and Reggie Wayne (212 yards) put on a show to come back from a 21-3 halftime deficit against the Green Bay Packers in the best game -- and perhaps biggest upset -- of the season. That it happened one week after the Colts learned of head coach Chuck Pagano's leukemia diagnosis made it one of the most special wins in the Colts' proud history.

  • 3. Week 8: The hand of Dez 14

    Sharon Ellman/Associated Press

    3. Week 8: The hand of Dez

    Big hands are usually viewed as a good thing for a wide receiver. Not, apparently, in the final seconds of a close matchup with the New York Giants. The size of Dez Bryant's mitts was the latest candidate in the Dallas Cowboys' season-long quest to find the most excruciating way possible to lose a football game.

  • 4. Week 6: Peyton's comeback 13

    Ric Tapia/NFL

    4. Week 6: Peyton's comeback

    The strangest part of the Peyton Manning-led 35-point second half explosion that helped the Denver Broncos overcome a 24-0 halftime deficit and beat the San Diego Chargers? Not the scoring outburst, but the fact that a division was won in Week 6.

  • 5. Week 7: Eli-to-Cruz beats Robert Griffin III 12

    Andrew Mills/US Presswire

    5. Week 7: Eli-to-Cruz beats Robert Griffin III

    RG3 made Jason Pierre-Paul miss on a wild fourth-down completion, then lofted a beautiful touch pass to Santana Moss to give the Washington Redskins the lead against the New York Giants with less than two minutes to go in the Meadowlands. And then Eli Manning and Victor Cruz topped him, with the help of the leaky Redskins defense.

  • 6. Week 6: Craziest 11 seconds of the year 11

    Associated/US Presswire

    6. Week 6: Craziest 11 seconds of the year

    At No. 6, we actually have three plays in one: Russell Wilson's bomb to help the Seahawks beat the New England Patriots; Arizona Cardinals kicker Jay Feely's missed field goal, which blew a win against the Buffalo Bills; and Robert Griffin III's 76-yard touchdown sprint to help the Redskins bury the Minnesota Vikings.

  • 7. Week 3: Torrey Smith shows his heart 10

    Patrick Semansky/AssociatedPress

    7. Week 3: Torrey Smith shows his heart

    Smith learned of the death of his younger brother on the morning of Sept. 23. That night, he led the Baltimore Ravens with six receptions for 127 yards and two touchdowns in a comeback win over the New England Patriots. Shaky moments from the replacement refs also raised tensions that would explode the following night in Seattle.

  • 8. Week 4: Atlanta Falcons drive from the 1-yard line vs. Carolina Panthers 9

    Kevin Liles/US Presswire

    8. Week 4: Atlanta Falcons drive from the 1-yard line vs. Carolina Panthers

    When Matt Ryan got the ball on his own 1-yard line, the Atlanta Falcons were down a point and had no timeouts with 59 seconds left. One play later, he was on the Carolina Panthers' 40-yard line. Four plays after that, the game was over. Ryan's late-game heroics have helped define the first half for the undefeated Falcons.

  • 9. Week 5: Drew Brees breaks Johnny Unitas' TD record 8

    Bill Feig/Associated Press

    9. Week 5: Drew Brees breaks Johnny Unitas' TD record

    This should have felt like a bigger deal, Brees breaking Unitas' mark for consecutive games with a touchdown pass, but it didn't, because the Saints were 0-4 and Brees had just set another big record to end last season. (And because Tom Brady will likely also "break" both records.) The best part about the game: Brees pulled off a huge comeback against his former team, the San Diego Chargers.

  • 10. Week 9: Andrew Luck breaks the rookie quarterback yardage record 7

    Thomas J. Russo/US Presswire

    10. Week 9: Andrew Luck breaks the rookie quarterback yardage record

    Luck made more ridiculous throws against the Miami Dolphins than some quarterbacks have made all season, and finished with 433 passing yards, the most ever for a rookie in a single game. It's the type of win that earns Offensive Rookie of the Year votes.

  • 11. Week 7: New Orleans Saints hang tough 6

    Scott A. Miller/Associated Press

    11. Week 7: New Orleans Saints hang tough

    New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins' sprint to catch Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Vincent Jackson from behind was one of the all-time NFL hustle plays, reminiscent of Ben Watson's sprint-and-strip of Champ Bailey in the 2006 playoffs. New Orleans' ensuing goal-line stand was the difference in a win in Tampa.

  • 12. Week 4: Chicago Bears pick off Tony Romo five times 5

    LM Otero/AssociatedPress

    12. Week 4: Chicago Bears pick off Tony Romo five times

    The Chicago Bears' insanely prolific touchdown-scoring defense had to be represented on this list, and their Monday night massacre of the Cowboys was a better choice than the Bears sending Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams into a blind rage in Week 9.

  • 13. Week 4: Arizona Cardinals over Miami Dolphins in OT 4

    Kevin Terrell/Associated Press

    13. Week 4: Arizona Cardinals over Miami Dolphins in OT

    A strange choice, perhaps, but this was one of my favorite games of the year. Clutch Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb hit a fourth-and-long touchdown to force overtime. Ryan Tannehill looked like the franchise quarterback Miami Dolphins fans have been waiting for. Dolphins receiver Brian Hartline went bananas. Plus, it's fun to remember the days when the Cardinals were 4-0.

  • 14. Week 6: Aaron Rodgers goes off on Houston Texans 3

    Aaron M. Sprecher/Associated Press

    14. Week 6: Aaron Rodgers goes off on Houston Texans

    Just when the vultures had started circling around the 2-3 Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers put together the single best quarterback performance of the year on the road, tossing six touchdown passes to turn around Green Bay's season.

  • 15. Week 2: Atlanta Falcons pick off Peyton Manning three times in first half 2

    Kevin Terrell/Associated Press

    15. Week 2: Atlanta Falcons pick off Peyton Manning three times in first half

    Admit it: You thought Peyton Manning was done as an elite NFL quarterback before halftime of Week 2. We're including this here just to remind everyone how long the NFL season (or half a season) can be.

  • 16. Week 1: RG3's debut vs. the New Orleans Saints 1

    Bill Haber/Associated Press

    16. Week 1: RG3's debut vs. the New Orleans Saints

    You thought you knew about Robert Griffin III, but you didn't know for sure until the Washington Redskins' season opener. After roughly one quarter, you knew.

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