Honestly, I am not sure if someone else already compiles a list like this each week. Please tell me if you do. While reviewing games it occurred to me some of you might find something like this amusing. There is no real rhyme or reason to the ranking, just what I find most entertaining. Sometimes for its beauty, sometimes for the chaos, and sometimes for the maniacal portion of my soul. Feel free to reach out and direct me to the plays I missed.
10. The Shanahan Shovel
I love this play so much. Kyle Shanahan currently stands as the most creative play caller in the NFL, and this is another feather in his cap. I could call attention to five or so moments from the destruction of the Panthers, but this one has flown under the radar. The timing of the underhand pitch as Matt Breida executes his hesitation block… as two linemen get to the second level to lock up Luke Kuechly and company. Just beautiful.
I had one friend reach out and ask if this is a single-use play. I doubt that, as pass rushers surely won’t hesitate when seeing running backs line up to block them. It’s like any other play that leaves a defensive lineman unblocked and consumed by natural aggression - it usually ends in confusion. A Shanahan special.
9. Gardner Minshew to Chris Conley for 70-yards
Gardner Minshew finds comfort in chaos. He practically invites it here, as he hops to the outside of Leonard Fournette, who is actually in good position if Minshew stays inside the pocket. Instead, Minshew prefers to work eight yards deep, outside of his tackle box and somehow is able to completely escape the contact of Jamal Adams, one of the best blitzing safeties in the league. With his eyes up, Minshew finds Chris Conley in the soft spot of the defense in stride for the long touchdown.
8. Russell Wilson and Tyler Lockett Are One
Some nominations feature chaos. Others make this list due to play design. In this case, pinpoint accuracy is the winning factor. Tyler Lockett creates zero separation, yet Russell Wilson does not care. The perfect placement over the 31.5-inch arm of cornerback Kendall Sheffield right into the bucket of Tyler Lockett’s arms.
7. Rams Double Reverse TD Pass
Follow the ball. From Cooper Kupp to Robert Woods to Jared Goff to Kupp to endzone. The embarrassment factor plays a part in these choices, and B.W. Webb writhing on the ground, wrestling the turf monster, while Kupp prances along the sideline adds to the entertainment. Credit to Tyler Higbee for blocking all the way downfield, securing the touchdown.
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6. Saquon Barkley Is Not Mortal
Not all 17-yard gains are created equal. To compare this to mortal activities, Barkley takes a spin around a dizzy bat, then immediately slams a two-hundred-pound heavy bag to the ground. This moment has it all: Agility, balance, power, flexibility, acceleration. Yet it seems directly in Saquon Barkley’s weekly repertoire. I fall for these kinds of individual efforts.
5. Andy Reid's Wizardy Leads to a TD
This was sensational from Andy Reid. In the backfield alone there are four Chiefs moving after the snap: two receivers in one direction, the quarterback and the running back in an option string headed the other way. Travis Kelce ultimately catches the touchdown, yet he starts fully engaged with an edge rusher, then slips into vacant space. Expecting the ball to his inside shoulder, Kelce then has to adjust outside with the ball in flight. Matt Moore deserves credit, as the Chiefs did not lose due to quarterback play.
4. Brett Kern Speared On Fake FG Attempt
The Titans wanted no part of this 46-yard field goal with double doink Cody Parkey, so instead they send punter Brett Kern to the octagon. “Oh awesome call” the color announcer claims as Kern hustles to the edge. I agree! But for very different reasons. Rookie Devin White moves at warp speed and spears Kern to the October grass. The moment I love most is Kern channeling LeSean McCoy, totally palming the ball in the open field.
To add to the chaos, the ball was clearly fumbled and returned for a touchdown. A possible game-winning score for the Bucs. Instead, the Bucs turn the ball over on the following drive on a failed fourth-down run.
3. Deshaun Watson's One-Eyed TD Throw
Deshaun Watson gives his team a chance to win every Sunday. He’s produced so many highlights in his short career that some sterling moments have already been forgotten, stuck in the bottom of a growing pile of delight. Sunday’s was magic. Down in the fourth quarter, Watson evades immediate pressure from his backside allowed by his backup tackle. During the spin, Watson takes a sweet chin music to the left eye, checks his face with an off-hand, then delivers a touchdown strike to his 33-year old journeyman tight end… while both ankles are tied by another defensive lineman.
Miraculous, and ultimately for the game-winning score.
2. Aaron Rodgers Fall Away TD Throw
You’ve all seen this play by now, but watch it again. There are zero wide receivers on the field. Instead, the Packers elect to go with two tight ends and three running backs. I assume the goal was to confuse the Chiefs into putting a disadvantageous personnel grouping out. It worked, with a defensive lineman forced to cover the slot, but that was not the reason for the play’s success. That solely rests in Aaron Rodgers’ sorcery.
This is a throwaway for practically everyone else in the league. Five pass rushers against five blockers, and just as two wrap the quarterback, he lofts a pass directly at the far right pylon. Rodgers, known for said throwaways, said he saw Jamaal Williams out of the corner of his eye. Rodgers could not have placed it better if he stopped time and walked it over. That would almost be more believable.
1. Jacoby Brissett Starts the Colts Winning Drive
Situation: Down one point, less than two minutes remaining, walled on your own 11-yard line. Now add a free rushing Von Miller in your face. That’s a nightmare, yet Jacoby Brissett turned it into the start of a game-winning drive and a 35-yard gain. Think about that, the game is over if Brissett goes down on first contact. The game is over if Derek Wolfe sacks Brissett. Game of inches, updated.
On August 24, Andrew Luck retired from football. The Colts are 5-2 on the season, and Jacoby Brissett is a big reason why.