Andy King, File, Associated Press
Any better way to describe what happened last weekend in the NFL?
There were punt returns of historic and record-setting proportions, mind-blowing kickoff returns sparking teams to victory, one mad dash to the end zone on a broken play, and the usual collection of remarkable touchdowns.
So many games, so many positively phenomenal plays. Some predictable, most improbable.
There's too many to fit into our weekly Pick Six plan (honorable mentions to Saints wide receiver Lance Moore and Jets all-purpose guy Brad Smith), so we've narrowed 'em down to these singular sensations:
— DeSean Jackson, wr/pr, Eagles: With overtime looming, Giants rookie Matt Dodge hit a line-drive punt directly to Jackson (NOT out of bounds as ordered). The elusive return man fumbled, picked up the football, zipped past a wave of tacklers and dashed 65 yards on the final play of the game, dancing along the 1-yard line to make sure time expired before stepping into the end zone: Eagles 38, Giants 31. It's the NFL's first game-winning punt return on the final play from scrimmage. It's been dubbed the "Miracle at the New Meadowlands."
The original "Miracle at the Meadowlands," of course, occurred in 1978, when Joe Pisarcik fumbled on a botched handoff attempt in the final seconds. Herm Edwards returned it for a touchdown to give the Eagles a victory.
— Dan Connolly, g, Patriots: Anyone not rooting for the 313-pounder to make it to the end zone during his 71-yard kickoff journey? The big fella was tripped up 4 yards short, but the Pats scored three players later, pulled within 17-14 of the Packers at the half, and went on to win 31-27. The run is believed to be the NFL's longest return by an offensive lineman.
With a laugh, Pats QB Tom Brady said: "I've never seen anything happen so slow in my life. They won't be kicking to him anymore, I'll tell you that."
— Tim Tebow, qb, Broncos: In a game filled with big plays, the rookie stood out with his first-quarter improv — a looking-scared 40-yard dash for a TD on a draw play that was supposed to be a handoff on third-and-24. A few minutes later, he threw a 30-yard TD pass to Brandon Lloyd (caught in the end zone between two defenders while falling down and staying inbounds).
Tebow joins Kordell Stewart and Michael Vick as the only quarterbacks to run for a 40-yard score and throw for a 30-yard TD in the same game.
— Michael Vick, qb, Eagles: It's impossible to leave off the NFL's most electrifying player, although it's tough to single out just one of his long fourth-quarter runs. We're going with the 33-yard scramble on third-and-10 from the Philly 12 with 2:50 left on the tying drive, which culminated in a TD pass to Jeremy Maclin.
— Tyjuan Hagler, lb,Colts: The Jaguars had closed to 27-24 with under 2 minutes left, with hopes of recovering an onside kick. No chance. The kick traveled only 6 yards before Hagler grabbed it on the run and raced 41 yards for the game-sealing TD.
— Devin Hester, wr/pr, Bears: A perfect end to this big-play weekend, with the returner extraordinaire finally breaking the NFL mark for TD returns. After coming oh-so-close to the record when his 79-yard kickoff return to open the second half was stopped at the Vikings 6, he zipped 64 yards untouched on a punt return the next time he got his hands on the ball. Game, record set, match in the Bears' 40-14 win. His 14th kick return TD topped the mark he shared with Brian Mitchell. "Don't dwell on this," Hester said. "It's the record-breaker, but there's going to be a lot more. I guarantee you that."
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