The first quarter of the 2011 NFL season was pretty incredible -- the Lions and Bills looking like championship-caliber teams, rookie quarterbacks Cam Newton, Andy Dalton and Blaine Gabbert are impressing and of course Megatron, Calvin Johnson, played so well that I got bored writing about him.
How could the second quarter of the season possibly top that? I don't know if it will or not but Week 5 was a good start.
Here's the top-five best and worst plays from the fifth week of the 2011 NFL season.
We'll start with the best.
|No. 5: A Kicker Makes the List|
Just one day after Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis died at the age of 82, the Raiders took the field in Houston to play the Texans. The Texans offense struck first, scoring a touchdown in the form of a short pass from Matt Schaub to Kevin Walter. The Raiders offense was struggling to move the ball in the beginning of the game and things weren't looking too good for the Raiders.
Enter Sebastian Janikowski.
The 33-year-old kicker kicked a 54-yard field goal in the first quarter and then turned around and kicked a 55-yard field goal right away in the second quarter. Those six points allowed the Raiders to stay in the game and kept them close until the offense started clicking. The Raiders won by five.
|No. 4: Brees Finds Thomas|
Just when it seemed that Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers may upset their division rivals, the New Orleans Saints, Drew Brees found running back Pierre Thomas for the winning touchdown with less than a minute left in the game.
Brees' winning touchdown pass gave the Saints a 4-1 record and the Panthers a 1-4 record, though the Panthers, led by Cam Newton, are better than their record.
|No. 3: Michael Huff Gives Raiders an Emotional Win|
With just seconds left on the clock in the fourth quarter, the Houston Texans were threatening from the five-yard line. They were only down by five points. Schaub took the snap in shotgun and scrambled around in the backfield looking for an open receiver in the end zone. Wide receiver Jacoby Jones cut back and forth trying to shake safety Michael Huff, and for an instance, he was open. Schaub threw the ball to Jones and this happened:
This interception sealed the Raiders win and gave Raiders Nation a reason to celebrate in the wake of Davis' death.
|No.2: Victor Cruz Gives Giants the Lead|
In the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Giants were trailing the Seattle Seahawks by five points. On a third-and-13 play from the Giants' 32-yard line, Eli Manning dropped back to pass, found Victor Cruz streaking down the right sideline and threw the ball. Who cared that Cruz was in double coverage? Manning sure didn't and he still doesn't, because this happened:
Cruz showed amazing control and concentration on that grab and gave the Giants the lead. Too bad they couldn't hold onto it.
There's no way a catch could top that.
|No. 1: Dwayne Bowe Topped That|
The Kansas City Chiefs were mounting a comeback. With seconds left in the third quarter, the Chiefs had the ball on the Colts' five-yard line. It was first-and-goal. The Chiefs didn't need a second down because when quarterback Matt Cassel throws the ball in the general vicinity of wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, good things happen.
This is what good things look like:
That was Bowe's second touchdown catch on the day and put the Chiefs within three points of the Colts. The Chiefs scored a touchdown two drives later for the win.
And the worst plays...
|No. 5: Refs Save the Eagles|
At one point during the Eagles loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, Andy Reid decided his team should attempt a surprise onside kick. We've all seen it work before. The one that really comes to mind is New Orleans' onside kick that opened the second half of Super Bowl XLIV. If it worked for the Saints it can work for the Eagles, right?
No. No it can't.
Not only did the Bills recover the kick, but the play didn't even count. The Eagles forgot that they needed to wait for the officials to signal that play has started.
I don't know what is worse: giving the Bills great field position or the embarrassment of forgetting to wait for the whistle?
|No. 4: Jaguars Can't Get in the End Zone|
On two separate occasions, the Jacksonville Jaguars had the ball within five yards of the end zone on first-and-goal. Regardless of the defense (the Bengals have the top-ranked defense in the NFL) a majority of offenses will find a way to punch the ball into the end zone at least once.
Not the Jaguars, though.
Both times the Bengals held to Jaguars to field goals instead of touchdowns, which is one of the major reasons the Bengals won the game by 10 points.
Of course the Bengals had the No. 1 ranked defense for a reason and the Jaguars were being led by a rookie quarterback but a team has to figure out a way to score in that situation, especially when that team has Maurice Jones-Drew in the backfield.
|No. 3: Eli Manning Gives Seahawks the Game|
After being the hero of Week 4, throwing a game-winning touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals, Eli Manning turned around and threw three interceptions and fumbled twice, losing one, against the visiting Seattle Seahawks.
One of those three interceptions came at the very end of the game when Manning could have been a hero for the second week in a row. He was targeting Victor Cruz and threw him a bad pass in traffic. Cruz could only get one hand on the ball but was unable to pull it in. Instead, the ball ended up in Brandon Browner's hands. Browner returned the interception 94 yards for the touchdown and sealed the victory for the Seahawks.
|No. 2: The Eagles|
Not a play or a single player's performance here. Just the Eagles. They're bad.
Just watch the awfulness:
It's not just one player. It's everybody. Four interceptions from Michael Vick, a costly fumble from Jason Avant and a bone-headed play in which the defensive linemen jumped offsides on a fourth-and-one play.
By far the most surprising and disappointing team in the NFL.
|No. 1: Roman Harper Cheap Shots Steve Smith|
Near the end of the first quarter, Cam Newton found Steve Smith deep for the team's first score of the game. They were down 10-0 at the time. Smith was obviously going to walk into the end zone completely unopposed. The closest player was Roman Harper, who had no shot at stopping Smith from scoring. That didn't stop Harper from dealing a cheap shot to Smith after the play was over though.
After a short celebration, Smith decided to show Harper what he thought about the cheap shot and a short brawl, which Newton even joined in on, ensued.
There was no need for Harper to lay Smith out like that and the fact that the Saints were winning at the time and would go on to win the game make Harper look even worse. I hope he has his checkbook ready because he's going to be fined soon.