There is a fairly simple contest happening inside any football game. Three linebackers should stop one running back, and five pass rushers should handle a quarterback. Thanks to Adrian Peterson and Cam Newton the game was broken, and both made our plays of the week list.
I WILL NOT BE DENIED
First contact is made at the 5-yard line. This is where the run should have ended, but this is Adrian Peterson we're talking about. Special credit to seven-year veteran Justin Durant (No. 52) his defensive tactic in this play is to throw his entire body at Peterson and try to bear hug him to the ground, only to slip off and watch him saunter into the end zone.
This isn't even a bad run defense, it's the 16th-ranked unit in the NFL. There's no shame in letting the best running back in the league make you look silly, except you Justin Durant -- you made yourself look silly with no assistance.
All your defenders belong to Cam
Let's set the scene. It's early in Sunday's game, the Atlanta Falcons are still within striking distance and they're on the verge of an important defensive stop. Cam Newton takes the snap, the protection breaks down everywhere and there are five defenders poised to make a play.
Describe it to someone and they'll draw the conclusion this was an easy sack. Nothing is easy when it comes to Cam Newton.
It's impossible to find another quarterback with this combination of size, speed and athleticism that allows him to avoid tacklers and still find a way to keep his head up. This is also an excellent example of how he's developed as a quarterback. In the past Newton would run, maybe picking up 8 yards but falling short. This time, he kept his composure and found Steve Smith for the first down.
Pat McAfee, rugby superstar
Pat McAfee is no stranger to the hallowed halls of "plays of the week" and this week he returns as a rugby superstar.
There are about a hundred ways this could have gone way worse. Muffing the snap was bad, but props to McAfee for keeping his head and rugby punting this for an impressively long distance -- heck, he even kept it in bounds and got the sideline bounce.
The franchise punter for the Indianapolis Colts is now the best two-sport star since Bo Jackson. Football and rugby are both sports, deal with it.
Davone Bess and the quest for new ankles
A simple question made complex by three stutter steps: "left or right."
There's no good way for a defender to approach Bess on this play, and ultimately all he can do is collapse in a heap, hopefully throwing out his leg in an attempt to maybe garner a tripping penalty rather than a surrender a touchdown.
Not the play of the week: Hungry, Hungry Hippos
The Atlanta Falcons' day was summed up by this one play. They finally forced a fumble and derailed a drive, but Robert Alford batted the ball back in the only direction where Brandon LaFell could recover and keep the drive alive.
Carolina scored a touchdown a few plays later, so yeah -- they probably should have recovered the ball with one of their four defenders.