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. Fake It Till You Make It
This league is getting more and more creative with their punts. The 49ers even got creative on an actual punt, putting a gunner at punter depth to allow him free space without facing a jam. I have no scientific data to back this up, but the frequency of fakes seems to be increasing, and the Cardinals are the latest example.
A snap to the upback, a pitch to the gunner on a reverse, a pitch back to the punter who lofts a rainbow to a tightly covered receiver for a 25 yard gain. The onions! The Cardinals are losing, but Kliff Kingsbury has grown as a head coach. Earlier in the season he elected for field goals in goal to go scenarios. Now? Fake punts on 4th & 10 on his own 36-yard line.
9. Rudolph The One Hand Touchdown
One-handed catches are cheat codes to land on this list. Watching this play, I’m not even certain who the designed intended receiver is. The fullback who is one on one with a linebacker? Ky Rudolph, who gets tripped up and slowed down at the line of scrimmage? Kirk Cousins’ awkwardness makes this play even more enjoyable, twisting and turning while lofting a ball three yards out of the back of the end zone.
Such a nice grab by Rudolph. The right hand moving in one direction, yards out of bounds, then fighting momentum in the opposite direction to fit both feet in the end zone.
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8. Griffin Extends For Breakup
I want to include more moments of defensive glory in this column as the weeks pass, and this is a good place to start.
There are so many layers to this play. Russell Wilson was intercepted just a few snaps before, halting a drive that likely would have ended the game. If completed, this play could have been a game-winner for the 49ers. Deebo Samuel has a step and just the deep safety to beat along the sideline. The pass destined for Samuel’s back shoulder...a fully extended Shaquill Griffin halts all of that. The timing of the leap had to be perfect, and it was. You know the rest, the Seahawks get the ball back after this third-down stop and ultimately win the game.
7. Old Dog, Same Tricks
In any other week, Kyler Murray might have four separate throws on this list. He was sensational on Sunday.
This is a ludicrous effort from Larry Fitzgerald. Both feet off the ground, right arm fully extended, tipped to himself, hauled in while going to ground to get a knee in. Stunning on 4th and 5. The throw played a factor too, with an undercutting cornerback the throw needed to be high enough for only Fitzgerald to have a chance.
Speaking of Kyler throws, a little extra credit ...
6. Jamal Adams Strip and Score
This play is ripe with emotion. A safety who was involved in trade discussions runs through a recent No. 2 overall selection at running back on the way to a quarterback who was the No. 6 overall pick, ripping the ball without resistance and high stepping in for a touchdown.
Jamal Adams makes it look easy.
One on ones across the board and every other Jet is mostly contained by the Giants blockers. Saquon Barkley even set up on the inside to form the pocket. Adams moves him out of the way and steals the moment by not settling for the sack. His eyes always seemed locked on the end zone.
5. Dak Makes Amazing Look Routine
Even in a loss, Sunday night’s game against the Vikings might have been the best performance of Dak Prescott’s career. This throw is a prime example.
Dak takes a deep drop in the pocket to allow his receivers to get downfield on 3rd and 12. On release, Prescott is swarmed by two pass rushers. Unphased. The pass is perfect, something that would even be difficult to replicate without defenders on the field. The football floats over a cornerback in man coverage and perfectly rests on the facemask of Amari Cooper, who simply has to halt it with both hands and fall out of bounds.
4. Teardrop In Dallas
Back to back Dak. While the last pass sizzled through the air, this one features a velvety touch. Prescott recognizes he has a free play due to the Vikings jumping offsides. Beyond that, Prescott also sees six Vikings pass rushers facing just five blockers, so the ball has to get out quickly.
The trajectory is perfect. Over the trailing corner in phase with his arm extended to disrupt the catch point. Doesn’t matter, as Randall Cobb still brings it in while falling to the ground and covers the ball while tumbling out of the end zone.
3. Josh Kalu Makes An Introduction
Blocked kicks rarely happen. Blocked kicks to win games NEVER happen. Harrison Butker, a career 89 percent kicker, already made four field goals in the game. Josh Kalu picked up on something. A tell, a tick. It’s as if Kalu was programmed to move in sync with the ball. If this happened in a video game you’d yell obscenities, conclude it was rigged and rage quit.
There’s no doubt Kalu has practiced this. Nearly getting parallel to the ground with perfect timing, fully extended.
2. Lamar Smashes "O"
There is only one player in the NFL who can make this play.
The design is to leave Carlos Dunlap unblocked and read him. Dunlap crashes down with Ingram so Jackson keeps. As designed, that leaves Jackson one on one with safety Jessie Bates. That’s as far as the play callers can take it, and it’s up to a special individual to do the rest.
You barely see Bates in frame, that’s how quickly Jackson moves past him. This play should be over with a linebacker and another safety closing on Jackson, yet a perfectly timed spin creates a wide-open field.
Lamar Jackson just wrapped his 16th regular season start. Just imagine where his game could go.
1. Jump Pass Patrick
This play should be shown on Patrick Mahomes’ career highlight.
Edge pressure immediately forces Mahomes to step up, but the way in which Mahomes moves is so under control. It’s by feel, not by coaching. Too large of a step puts him straight into his blockers’ back. In that same motion he elevates off his left leg (the right knee was the issue) to complete a pass others might not even attempt in a clean pocket. Mecole Hardman is perfectly set up to run after the catch, and does just that for a 63-yard score.