Leading 13-10 in the fourth quarter, the Falcons would have been more than satisfied if Kroy Biermann had just tipped Jake Delhomme's poor, third-and-seven screen pass. But Biermann, who sniffed out the screen from the moment the ball was snapped, wasn't satisfied with merely breaking the play up. He deflected the ball, tracked it in the air and dove to make the interception. As if this was not impressive enough from a 6-foot-3, 255-pound defensive lineman, Biermann then scrambled to his feet and ran 41 yards for a touchdown.
2 of 10AP
Candlestick Park has been very kind to the Philadelphia Eagles defense. In their past three games at the Bay Area stadium, the Eagles have produced defensive touchdowns. Mike Patterson returned a fumble 98 yards for a touchdown in 2006; Juqua Parker had a 55-yard interception return in 2008; and Quintin Mikell, in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter versus the San Francisco 49ers, returned an Alex Smith fumble 52 yards for the latest spectacular Eagles touchdown. Mikell was on the roster for the other touchdowns, but this was his first taste of the end zone.
3 of 10Geoff Burke/Getty Images
In his return to Carolina, after signing a lucrative contract with the Chicago Bears in the offseason, Julius Peppers didn't record a sack. But it's hard to record a sack when a team is doing everything in its power to prevent you from the satisfaction of flattening its quarterback. Stymied by offensive linemen, Peppers did something altogether more impressive: He tipped a pass to himself, fell to his knees and somehow still managed to secure the ball for an interception. After the play, Peppers put a finger over his mouth to hush the home crowd, not that they were saying much after that play.
4 of 10Simon Bruty/SI
In the matchup of the first two selections of the 2010 NFL draft, Ndamukong Suh showed he might be the better pick by getting an interception. Following the lead of fellow defensive lineman this week, Suh tipped a Sam Bradford pass, caught it and ran 20 yards to set up a field goal. While both players have looked fantastic in their rookie years, Suh is really looking like a special player.
5 of 10Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
It took a lot for the Raiders to end their 13-game losing streak to the San Diego Chargers. No play however, was more vital to the Raiders' victory than Branch's fumble recovery for a TD. Leading 28-27 with less than a minute left in the game, the Raiders' lead seemed in peril as Philip Rivers marched the Chargers down the field. But on second-and-20, Rivers dropped back and was sacked by Michael Huff. Branch picked up the loose ball, and rather than falling on it he scampered 68 yards for a TD, sealing the victory.
6 of 10Icon SMI
Depending on how you look at it, Max Hall's scramble to the goal line in the first half of the Arizona Cardinals- New Orleans Saints game was either the dumbest or smartest play of his weekend. It was dumb because Hall fumbled the ball and is fortunate he's not on the IR after taking a crushing hit to the helmet. It was smart because Cardinals OT Levi Brown (pictured) recovered the fumble in the end zone for a touchdown, and Hall's gutsy run inspired the Cardinals, who now find themselves atop the NFC West standings.
7 of 10Rich Gabrielson/Icon SMI
Wisdom is often thought to be derived through experience, but as the young Josh Freeman and Mike Williams showed on Sunday, the two are not mutually exclusive. After watching cornerback Johnathan Joseph sit inside on Williams throughout the first half, Freeman directed Williams to run a go route to burn the cheating cornerback. With 1:26 left in the fourth quarter, Williams exploited Joseph by running deep, and Freeman found him all alone in the end zone for six points and an eventual victory over the Bengals.
8 of 10Geoff Burke/Getty Images
Leading 17-6 and facing a fourth-and-six with less than four minutes left, Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith was faced with the type of decision that makes or breaks a coach. He could punt the ball and force a stagnant Panthers offense to march down the field, or he could trust his kicker Robbie Gould to kick a 53-yard field goal and risk ceding great field position to the Panthers if Gould missed. Smith gambled and went with the latter. Gould nailed it, cementing the victory for the Bears and giving himself a boost of confidence that might come in handy down the road.
9 of 10Simon Bruty/SI
The opening kickoff is often an afterthought; a mere formality that acts as a prelude to the well-manicured game plan that follows. But in the Detroit-St. Louis matchup, said kickoff may have been the biggest play of the game. Having not given up a score in the first quarter all year, the Rams tested fate by attempting an onside kick on the opening play. The Detroit Lions were unfazed, however, and cornerback Amari Spievey secured the tumbling ball shortly after it traveled 10 yards.
10 of 10SportsAge/Icon SMI
The Washington Redskins transition to a 3-4 defense has not gone smoothly for everyone. After starting 12 games for the Redskins last year, Albert Haynesworth has found himself watching from the sidelines more often than not. Even Pro Bowler Brian Orakpo has seen his statistics dip as he transitions to outside linebacker. But one player who has thrived is safety LaRon Landry, who shifted from free safety to strong safety within the 3-4. This rejuvenated Landry was on full display in OT of the Washington Redskins-Green Bay Packers game when he picked off Aaron Rodgers to set up the Redskins' game-winning field goal. Not coincidentally, an invigorated Landry has led the Redskins to first place in the NFC East.
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