Week 5 of the 2011 NFL season brought many great stories — the Packers and Lions advancing to 5-0, the Buffalo Bills continuing to prove that they're for real, Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Bruce Arians calling a brilliant game to take the Steelers over the Titans' high-caliber defense, and the Seahawks' improbable win over the Giants at MetLife Stadium. It was a week of excitement and surprises.
Unfortunately, it was also a week of incessant flopping to a degree I can't remember seeing before in one concentrated timeframe. We've already brought you video of New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham going down like he'd been shot at the end of the first half of the Saints' win over the Carolina Panthers, and Atlanta center Joe Hawley's pathetic futbol flop in the fourth quarter of the Falcons' Monday night loss to the Packers (somehow, flops always seem worse when a big guy's doing them).
New England Patriots receiver Deion Branch also drew an illegal contact penalty from the Jets' Darrelle Revis with 2:24 left in the first half of the Pats' Sunday win by executing a quick dive as he and Revis were handfighting within the initial 5-yard barrier. The flag negated a sack on Tom Brady, and looked even more suspect on replay.
Still, for pure Academy Award-level floppage, it's going to be hard to top our fourth Week 5 contestant, Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. I'm not here to question Cutler's toughness — he did take a lot of hits from the Detroit Lions on Monday night behind the worst offensive line I've ever seen at the NFL level — but this particular play in the first quarter of Chicago's 24-13 loss to the Lions put a bow on an enormously annoying period of play-acting.
Bonus points to Cutler for the "OOH! My HEAD!" gesture after Kyle Vanden Bosch gives him a baby shove.
The refs seem to understand at least some of the time that these flops should not be rewarded with specific penalties (as the Graham and Cutler flops weren't; the flag on the Cutler play was a neutral zone infraction on Lions end Cliff Avril), but the NFL needs to go further with this before everyone in the NFL becomes a padded and helmeted version of Manu Ginobli or Bryan Carrasco. Actually, I wouldn't mind seeing one of the NFL's serial floppers give himself a good whack to the head with an opponent's arm as Carrasco does in this video:
But if we ever get to the point where the NFL has a flop like this Ginobli-Raja Bell "classic," I want people ejected from games for the offense. It's not too far from a series of dives like we just saw this football weekend to ridiculousness like this:
Come on, NFL. Establish stern penalties for obvious flops before it gets out of hand. I fear we're on the precipice!