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Shutdown Corner

The nine best games of the first half of the NFL season

Chris Chase
Shutdown Corner

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At the midway point of the 2011 NFL season, Shutdown Corner picks the nine best games through Week 9.

9. Oakland Raiders 25, Houston Texans 20 -- Week 5

One day after owner Al Davis died, Oakland went to Houston and pulled off a last-second victory to honor the team patriarch. On the last-second interception that clinched the game, the Raiders only had 10 men on the field.

8. San Francisco 49ers 24, Philadelphia Eagles 23 -- Week 4

Philly hardly played like a dream team in the first half of the season, but if rookie kicker Alex Henery hadn't missed two chip-shot field goals and Ronnie Brown hadn't thrown an ill-advised goal-line pass, the Eagles would have been a salvageable 2-2 rather than a disastrous 1-3. The man who hit the game-winning extra point in this one was the man Henery replaced in Philly, David Akers.

7. Denver Broncos 18, Miami Dolphins 15 -- Week 7

Never before has a game involving teams with a combined 1-9 record drawn more attention. For the first 55 minutes of the Week 7 matchup in Denver, it looked every bit like a pairing of two of the NFL's worst. Heck, it mostly looked like that way for the last five minutes and overtime, too. But this comeback involved Tim Tebow, who threw two touchdown passes and ran for a 2-point conversion in a furious 15-point comeback. For the next week, all people were talking about was Tebow, whether they wanted to or not.

6. Buffalo Bills 38, Oakland Raiders 35 -- Week 2

A Ryan Fitzpatrick touchdown pass with 14 seconds left capped an 18-point rally by the Bills. The teams traded leads five times in the final quarter.

[Related: NFL's Week 9 Most Valuable Players | Least Valuable]

5. Detroit Lions 34, Dallas Cowboys 30 -- Week 4

In the year of the comeback, none was as improbable as the Lions making up a 24-point deficit in Big D. Eleven months earlier, Detroit lost its 26th consecutive road game in Dallas. The victory over the Cowboys this season was the team's fifth straight on the road and eighth overall. The Lions were helped by two Tony Romo pick-6s. How good was the game? So good that Joe Buck didn't want it to end know it was over.{YSP:more}

4. Buffalo Bills 34, New England Patriots 31 -- Week 3

New England had won 15 straight against the Bills, 20 of the last 21 meetings and were up 21-0. Let's just say the odds were stacked against them. But one week after storming back from 18 points down against Oakland (see game No. 6), Buffalo picked off Tom Brady four times and withstood a mini-Pats comeback to win the game on a last-second field goal and put the league on notice that there was more to the AFC East than just the Patriots and Jets.

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3. Baltimore Ravens 23, Pittsburgh Steelers 20 -- Week 9

Torrey Smith dropped an easy touchdown pass that would have given Baltimore a lead with 35 seconds left in the game. Nineteen seconds later he got a second chance and redeemed himself, clinching a Ravens sweep over their bitter rivals.

2. New York Giants 24, New England Patriots 20 -- Week 9

The rematch of Super Bowl XLI featured a last-minute Giants touchdown in the corner of the end zone that wouldn't have been possible without a stellar, drive-extending third-down catch from a guy wearing No. 85.

1. Green Bay Packers 42, New Orleans Saints 34 -- Week 1

Remember when there was concern that the lockout would disrupt the timing of passing offenses? Those fears were quickly put to rest on the opening night of the 2011 season, when Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees combined for 731 passing yards and six touchdowns. It took a last-second, goal-line stand by the defending Super Bowl champs to hold off the Saints. The Packers have barely been challenged since.

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