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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
More Photo Essays:
- Prospects matched to pros based on measurements
- NFL Scouting Combine: Prospects with plenty to prove
- Mind-blowing stats for 2015 NFL Scouting Combine
- 11 current NFL players who weren’t invited to the combine
- Who pulled the fire alarm?
- Ranking the Super Bowls
- Top 10 fantasy Super Bowl performances
- Mind-blowing stats for Patriots vs.Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX
- Mind-blowing stats for Super Bowl XLIX