Pinnacle Moments of the 2010 NFL Season
Players from the Saints and Vikings raised one index finger high into the air before the NFL's kickoff game Sept. 9 in New Orleans. Going into the final year of the NFL's Collective Bargaining Agreement, the players used the gesture as a symbol of union solidarity in their negotiations with ownership.
Trailing the Bears 19-14 with 31 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Detroit Lions quarterback Shaun Hill lofted a deep pass to a streaking Calvin Johnson in the back of the end zone. Johnson leapt, snagged the ball and tapped both feet inbounds before falling to the turf. As Johnson rejoiced, officials waived off his touchdown because he didn't maintain possession throughout the entirety of the catch, palming the ball to the ground in his right arm.
Tony Romo's completion with Roy Williams in the front of the end zone seemed to cement a dramatic Dallas victory over the Redskins on Sept. 12. The Cowboys' celebration was held up by tackle Alex Barron though, whose chokehold grip on Washington's Brian Orakpo cost Dallas the touchdown, and the game, in Week 1.
After earning the nickname "Revis Island" for his brilliant play throughout the 2009 season, Darrelle Revis held out for 36 days before the Jets 2010 campaign because of contract disputes. His highly-anticipated return against the Baltimore Ravens couldn't save New York, though, as they fell to the Ravens 10-9 in Week 1.
Down by 17 midway through the third quarter, the Texans scrapped their way to within a touchdown of the Redskins with a little over two minutes to go. On 4th-and-10, Houston completed its comeback as Andre Johnson ripped down a Matt Schaub 34-yard touchdown heave to tie the game. The Texans would go on to clip the Redskins 30-27 in overtime.
Donovan McNabb's controversial trade to the Redskins last offseason seemed to knight Kevin Kolb as Philadelphia's next franchise quarterback. After sustaining a Week 1 concussion, Kolb watched as Michael Vick dazzled -- passing for 459 yards, rushing for 140 over the team's next six quarters - and claimed the role as the Eagles starter.
Making his first start since 2007 on the heels of the suspension Ben Roethlisberger and injuries to Byron Leftwich and Dennis Dixon, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch found the fountain of youth Sept. 26 in Tampa Bay. He dissected the Buccaneers' defense for three passing touchdowns on 12-of-17 passing en route to a 38-13 Steelers' victory.
It wasn't pretty, but Donovan McNabb's return to Philadelphia in a Redskins uniform had everything the veteran quarterback could've asked for. After being greeted with a standing ovation, McNabb helped guide his Redskins to 17 first-half points, including a missile of a touchdown pass to tight end Chris Cooley late in the first quarter. The Eagles shutout the Washington offense for the last 30 minutes, but it didn't matter -- the Redskins triumphed 17-12 in McNabb's highly-anticipated homecoming.
Coming off a Week 2 loss at the Jets and a shaky Week 3 victory against the Bills, the Patriots were determined to right the ship heading into their Week 4 showdown in Miami. It wasn't the usual suspects who led the charge, though, as Patrick Chung, Rob Ninkovich and Brandon Tate spearheaded inspired defensive and special teams units that led the Pats' to a convincing 41-14 win.
Six years after his last stint in Minnesota, Randy Moss was traded to the Vikings following the Patriots' Week 4 triumph over Miami. He was acquired for a third-round draft pick, part of a last-ditch effort by the Vikings to revive their dwindling playoff chances. He hauled in four passes for 81 yards and a touchdown in his debut.
Big Ben's four-game suspension ended Oct. 17 against Cleveland, when the veteran quarterback guided the Steelers to a 28-10 victory. He showed some rust, throwing an early interception, but rebounded to rack up 257 yards passing and three touchdowns. Roethlisberger was greeted by a chorus of cheers as he trotted onto Heinz Field for the game, something that must've come as a huge relief after an offseason fraught with criticism.
Furious hits were all the rage in Week 6, the week that the danger of playing in the NFL came to a head. Brandon Meriweather, James Harrison and Dunta Robinson were all fined at least $50,000 -- $75,000 in Harrison's case -- as part of the league's crackdown on helmet-to-helmet collisions. Commissioner Roger Goodell offered to the Boston Herald, "We're not talking about changing the rules. We're going to increase the discipline."
Dallas' downward spiral plunged to new depths in Week 7 as Tony Romo suffered a broken clavicle after being sacked by a streaking Michael Boley. Jon Kitna, who hadn't started an NFL game in two years, took over, coming up just short in the Cowboys' 41-35 defeat. Wade Phillips' squad fell to 1-5 following the loss, and after falling to 1-7 following a humiliating 45-7 defeat in Green Bay Week 9, Phillips was fired and replaced by offensive coordinator Jason Garrett.
The Vikings had become nearly a reality show in the past few weeks, attracting hoards of attention after the Brad Childress press conference debacle following a loss at Green Bay, when the nearly unthinkable happened: Randy Moss was cut from the team. The decision to waive the volatile superstar occurred after a questionable "interview" of his own, when he professed his love for his former New England teammates. Moss was placed on waivers just two days later and claimed by the Tennessee Titans.
Brett Favre's return to the Vikings hasn't been as storybook as last season. Playing without favorite target Sidney Rice, Minnesota lost its first two games, then a report surfaced that Favre may have acted inappropriately with Jets employee Jen Sterger while both were with the team in 2008. Making matters worse, Favre suffered fractures in his surgically repaired ankle in a loss at Green Bay and had to leave the following week's game against the Patriots to receive stiches after being hit by lineman Myron Pryor. Amid all that, Randy Moss joined and left the Vikings, who reached Week 9 with a 3-5 record.