The memorable NFL plays from 2011
Cobb opens with a wild return
Green Bay's had plenty of memorable plays this year -- winning a Super Bowl and starting 13-0 will do that -- but Randall Cobb's 108-yard touchdown during the 2011 opener against the New Orleans Saints may have been the best, simply for its sheer madness (who runs back a kick eight yards into the end zone?) and timing. It helped kick start the Packers in their win.
Cardinals rookie Patrick Peterson quickly became one of those players you don't kick to. He's returned four punts for scores, tying an NFL record. His most amazing was a 99-yard return against the Rams where he evaded several tacklers and backed into the end zone.
It's tough to pick just one moment for Tim Tebow. The second-year quarterback led the Broncos to six straight wins, most of them off dramatic fourth-quarter rallies. The last one of the streak came against the Bears in overtime -- though it was helped by a few errors from running back Marion Barber.
Not every moment was a good one. When Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was helped off the field after being tackled by the Redskins' defense, it was because he tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee. Minnesota expects the All-Pro back to be ready in time for the 2012 season, though.
Yes, that's Sidney Rice making a pass. Yes, he plays receiver for Seattle. Maybe that's why this 55-yard score from Rice to Mike Williams against the Rams was so memorable.
This was a familiar sight to Patriots opponents and fantasy football owners. New England tight end Rob Gronkowski had a year like no NFL tight end ever, catching 15 touchdowns, a record for tight ends.
Shane Lechler's one of the league's best punters. Who knew he could throw, too? Lechler and kicker Sebastian Janikowski pulled off a fake field goal against the Browns as Lechler found tight end Kevin Boss for an easy 35-yard touchdown.
By the skin of his teeth
Redskins receiver Santana Moss was on the receiving end of a little trickeration against the Patriots. Washington receiver Brandon Banks took a pitch from running back Roy Helu on a reverse, then found Moss for a 49-yard score, but only after Moss managed to skip around the N.E. defense.
Peyton's place was on the sideline
This was a memorable moment for every game. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning hadn't missed a start in his NFL career (227 games, including playoffs) but lingering neck injuries forced him to miss the entire 2011 season. Indianapolis lost its first 13 games.
He does it all
One of the NFL's most complete backs, Ray Rice is second in yards from scrimmage. But this touchdown pass to Ed Dickson against the Seattle Seahawks showed the 5-foot-9 back really could do it all.
Titans defensive back Tommie Campbell took a handoff from kick-returner Mark Mariani at Tennessee's 16-yard line, then ran 84 yards for touchdown that helped the Titans beat the Bucs.
The fumblerooski (almost)
Richie Brockel's touchdown against the Texans appeared to be a play the NFL has banned for 50 years. But instead of being a true fumblerooski (where the quarterback hikes the ball, only to leave it in the center's hands), Panthers QB Cam Newton took the snap about a yard deep, then slid the ball into Brockel's hands. Newton rolled to the right, took the defense with him and gave Brockel room to run into the end zone.
It was a breeze
Once Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw a nine-yard touchdown to Darren Sproles in a Week 16 win against Atlanta, it set a record for most passing yards in a single season. Dolphins legend Dan Marino had set the old mark of 5,084 yards back in 1984.
OK, we're fudging a little. Marshawn Lynch's rambling, tackle-breaking 67-yard touchdown run against the Saints came in last season's playoffs, but was in January of 2011. So we're counting it. Besides, it doesn't get more memorable than breaking nine tackles to spur a massive upset.