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NFL plays of the week: Adrian Peterson and Troy Polamalu shine in week 1

Their teams may have lost on Sunday, but Adrian Peterson and Troy Polamalu had two of the best plays in week one.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Adrian Peterson showed in 2012 that elite players can bounce back from seemingly impossible injuries and now Troy Polamalu is trying to do the same in 2013. Two of the NFL's wounded warriors turned back the clock and gave us two of the NFL's best plays on Sunday.

Adrian Peterson looks better than ever


This 78-yard touchdown was the majority of Peterson's success on Sunday. He scored twice more in short-yardage situations, but nothing matched this sprint to hit the second level and leave the Lions' defense in the dust.

Peterson's first cut is other-worldly. He's lined up almost directly behind the left guard and it's clear he thinking of bouncing outside or inside. He correctly cuts back in just as the fullback engages before breaking the ankles of the closing safety.

Troy Polamalu found a wormhole


A wormhole, The Twilight Zone, Rufus's phone booth -- Troy Polamalu tapped in for something in order to get this sack and we demand to know the truth.

Nobody even sees the flying safety as he breaks for the ball at the perfect second. It's a play that becomes more impressive the more you think about it. All it would have took was an audible or one more second in the snap count for Polamalu to be called offsides or penalized for hitting the quarterback prior to the snap. Instead he judges it perfectly, hitting Jake Locker and making the big play.

The Honey Badger just takes what he wants


On-field ability was never the question with Tyrann Mathieu and it showed this week against the St. Louis Rams. Keeping up with tight end Jared Cook isn't what makes this play so impressive, it's the diving, swinging attack at the ball reminiscent of someone trying to swim freestyle in the air.

Cook has the ball secured fairly well, but Mathieu knocks it loose despite giving up 8-inches and 60-pounds to the tight end. The rookie finished with seven tackles and this forced fumble. Teams around the league might be kicking themselves that they looked past him in the first round.



A nose tackle trying to catch a football is a lot like a person trying to catch a lawn dart. When it's in the air you know something amazing or horrifying is going to happen. Dan Williams brought the amazing on Sunday when he became the only 300-pound man to catch a touchdown this week.

It wasn't a great throw by Sam Bradford with a defender in his face, but he couldn't have expected Williams to spring from the shadows like a rotund ninja.

The deep two from downtown ...


It's not the best play of the week but easily one of the most memorable. Kick returner Darius Reynaud got flustered on the opening kickoff of the game as he received the ball in the field before taking a step back and taking a knee. On the surface it doesn't look bad, until you realize it put two points on the board for the Pittsburgh Steelers. It's pretty rare to see a safety to start the game, especially in this fashion.

This was the 87th kick return of Reynaud's career and one he won't likely forget.

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