NFL Top Ten Performances Through Week 6
The 2012 NFL season is entering Week 7 now and the first six weeks have left football fans with nothing to complain about. There have been some surreal performances so far this year coming from unlikely heroes as well as player we expect to perform at a top level day in and day out.
The NFL is a finicky thing. One week a guy can be an absolute dud and people are questioning whether or not he still has it in him while in another week he can suddenly thrust himself into the limelight and into Most Valuable Player talk.
It wasn’t easy narrowing down the top ten performances of the season so far. There are a lot of guys who didn’t make the cut for one reason or another and several who I never would have imagined would be on the list at all.
That is what makes the NFL great, any given week a guy nobody has ever heard of outside of his home city could become an instant national sensation with one stellar game.
Needless to say, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb did not make the list for getting sacked 17 times in five days in Weeks 4 and 5. Nor did Michael Vick’s Week 1 performance against the Cleveland Browns which saw him throw 4 interceptions and fumble twice.
Here are the Top Ten Performances in the NFL Through Week 6. Honorable mention goes out to Danny Amendola who caught 15 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown against the Washington Redskins in Week 2. If he didn’t make the Top Ten one can only imagine who did.
Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman Pick Twenty-Four
Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs became the first teammates in NFL history to return interceptions for touchdowns two weeks in a row. It began in the second quarter in Dallas against Tony Romo in Week 4 with Charles Tillman returning the first of 5 Romo interceptions for a 25-yard touchdown. Then, in the third quarter, Lance Briggs went 74 yards for a score. In Week 5, against Blaine Gabbert and the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tillman had a 36-yard jaunt after picking Gabbert off in the third quarter. Briggs followed suit in the fourth quarter by also going for 36 yards and a score.
C.J. Spiller Runs Wild
In Week 1 not much looked good for the Buffalo Bills as they were getting trounced by the New York Jets. Starting running back Fred Jackson had left the game with a knee injury and the Jets were up 21-0 when Spiller took a handoff and scampered 56 yards for a touchdown. The Jets would pile on the score, eventually going up 41-14 as the third quarter drew to a close. However, despite getting only 14 carries all day, Spiller launched himself into the national spotlight and became a must-have in fantasy football leagues around the country. He ended the day averaging 12.1 yards per carry and 169 yards rushing. He also added 2 catches for 25 yards for good measure.
Replacement Referees Blow the Call
The replacement referees thrust themselves into the national focus in Week 3. It wasn’t for their great performance but rather their performance being so putrid that they forced the NFL to get serious with the locked out referees and get a deal done in time for Week 4. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the first game winning interception touchdown ever thrown in NFL history by Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson that defeated the Green Bay Packers 14-12. Everyone knows what happened with Golden Tate pushing off and somehow being awarded the football after it was in M.D. Jennings’ hands. Fans threatened to walk away if the situation didn’t get resolved, players threatened strike and the long-term stability and credibility of the NFL was threatened. Because of this play, the replacement refs were replaced and football as we know it was returned.
Robert Griffin III NFL Debut
There are NFL debuts and then there is Robert Griffin III’s debut. He became the first rookie in NFL history to throw for more than 300 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions in his NFL debut. RGIII is also on pace to set a rookie record for best completion percentage in a season by a rookie quarterback. He currently owns a 70.2 completion percentage. So much for the rookie learning curve. Oh, and to top it off, in Week 6, RGIII had the longest scoring run, 76 yards, by a quarterback in 16 years. Not bad for his first game back from a concussion.
Brian Hartline Goes for 253 Yards
Most of America had never heard of Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline heading into Week 4. But afterwards, most of America knew who he was. Catching 12 passes for 253 yards and a touchdown will do that for a guy. Although the Dolphins fell to the Arizona Cardinals in overtime, 24-21, Hartline put forth an effort that will be remembered for years to come down in Miami.
Jamaal Charles Runs Over New Orleans Saints
In only his third game back from an ACL injury that ended his 2011 campaign, Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles had a welcome back party in excellent fashion. He proved to everyone he was back as he rushed for 233 yards on 33 carries, including a 91-yard TD run, and added 6 catches for 55 yards to help Kansas City come back from a 24-6 deficit in the third quarter to defeat the New Orleans Saints 27-24 in overtime.
Reggie Wayne Wins it For Coach Pagano
Reggie Wayne had 13 catches for 212 yards and a touchdown. Although statistically this performance might not seem like much, one has to take several factors into account. One, Wayne was going up against the Green Bay Packers who were coming off a tough loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Two, he had a rookie quarterback. Three, Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia and was spending Week 5 in a hospital room. It was an emotional day for the Colts and an emotional 30-27 win. After the game the players presented Coach Pagano with a game ball in his hospital room. None of that could have been possible without Wayne who caught the winning touchdown.
Peyton Manning and Denver Broncos Monday Night Comeback
I think it is safe to say that after Peyton Manning’s Week 6 performance on “Monday Night Football” against the San Diego Chargers that he is back. Not only did Manning lead the Denver Broncos back from 24-0, he set records doing it. It was the first time in NFL history that a team down 24-0 has come back to win by at least 10 points. It also tied the NFL record for largest comeback by a road team and was the fourth largest comeback in NFL history. It was the biggest comeback in the 667 games played on “Monday Night Football.” While it was a team effort, Manning led the way with 3 touchdown passes, completed 80 percent of his passes. In the second half alone, Manning completed 13 of 14 passes for 167 yards. Tony Carter added a 56-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown and Chris Harris had a 46-yard interception return for a touchdown. A great team effort.
Eli Manning, Hakeem Nicks, and Victor Cruz Trounce Tampa Bay Buccaneers
How do you overcome a first half that features your starting quarterback throw 3 interceptions, one for a touchdown, and the others leading to scores in the first half of a Week 2 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? Have Eli Manning as your quarterback. Faced with a 27-13 deficit in the third quarter, Eli Manning led the New York Giants on one of the most improbable comebacks in NFL history. He led the Giants back to a 41-34 win, tossing for 510 yards on 31-for-51 passing with three touchdowns. His 510 yards were the 8th highest in NFL history. In the fourth quarter alone, Manning threw for 243 yards and two of his three touchdowns during a 25-point fourth quarter. Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks were a huge part of the Giants offense, becoming the first receiving tandem in NFL history to each have at least 10 catches and 175 yards receiving. Nicks ended the day with 10 catches for 199 yards and a TD while Cruz caught 11 balls for 179 yards and a TD. Not a bad performance at all.
Aaron Rodgers Tosses 6 TDs
The Green Bay Packers entered their Week 6 matchup against the undefeated Houston Texans needing a win in the worst way. The Packers were 2-3 heading into “Sunday Night Football” but they didn’t seem panicked in the least. Why? Because Aaron Rodgers is their quarterback. He responded the way NFL MVPs are supposed to respond and then some. Not only did he throw for 338 yards, he threw in 6 touchdown passes for good measure. Three of those touchdown catches were made by Jordy Nelson while James Jones added two of his own. The six touchdown passes tied a franchise record, set by Matt Flynn last year in Week 17, and set a career high for Rodgers.