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15 Most Memorable Moments of the 2011-12 NFL Season

With the 2011-12 NFL regular season in the books, we can finally look back at the season that almost wasn't yet ended up one of the most memorable years in a while. From unbelievable plays to Madden-like stats to coaches throwing down, here are the 15 most memorable moments and plays from the NFL reason:

 

15. Lockout – The 2011-12 NFL season will always be remembered as the season that almost wasn't. After players and owners squared off for five months over whether Miller Lite is better than Bud Light, the NFL finally returned with a shortened training camp, a flurry of transactions, and even some new rules. Best of all, however, Terrell Owens still remains locked out.

 

14. Randall Cobb 108-Yard Return TD in Season Opener – After a whole lot of talk about the new kickoff rules, Randall Cobb shuts up every cranky old sportswriter on SportsCenter by returning a kickoff for a touchdown from eight-yards back in his own end zone. Unfortunately, his later attempt to return a Sebastian Janikowski kickoff from the parking lot was stopped before he could reach the concession stands.

 

13. Harbaugh-Schwartz Handshake Fail – While players are always going at each other, this season kicked off with a rare coaching scuffle. The near-brawl started when Lions coach Jim Schwartz was unhappy with 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh's “too hard handshake” and ran down the field after him. Actually, the handshake wasn't hard so much as Harbaugh was holding an electric hand buzzer.

 

12. Joe McKnight Punt Block Miracle Comeback – There were few finishes wilder than the Jets-Cowboys on the very first football Sunday of the year. Down 24-10 in the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Jets' Joe McKnight blocks a punt on the Dallas 18-yard line that is returned for a touchdown. Divine intervention then caused the Cowboys to fumble twice and get intercepted by Jets' Darelle Revis. Jets won 27-24, but none of it matters because both teams are playing golf today instead of preparing for the playoffs.

 

11. Victor Cruz – No one broke onto the scene in a bigger way than Giants' #3 receiver Victor Cruz. In his very first year playing in the NFL, Cruz replaced Steve Smith and thensome by coming up with 82 receptions for over 1,500 yards and 9 TDs. Best of all though, the Victor Cruz touchdown dance: http://youtu.be/2CnlLoOCC3o

 

10. Jason Garrett Ices Own Kicker – Coaches often try to throw the opposing kicker off with a late timeout before a field goal attempt. The Cowboys might be the first team to do it to their own kicker, though, as Jason Garrett iced Dan Bailey and cost himself a win against the Cardinals.

 

9. Suh-Tomped - After denying he's a dirty player, Ndamakong Suh then proceeds to slam a Green Bay Packers' head into the ground before standing up and stomping him. As you can imagine, this violated the league's...stomping policy though Suh had a perfectly good explanation for all of this: http://youtu.be/QbQX7FHqqxQ

 

8. Cam Newton Answers His Doubters - No one answered more questions than rookie QB Cam Newton who immediately went to work with back-to-back 400+ yard games in his first two NFL starts. Newton finished the season with the most passing yards ever by a rookie quarterback and the most rushing touchdowns ever by any quarterback yet still didn't break the top five most impressive quarterbacks of the year.

 

7. Rob Gronkowski For The Score - Forget Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham, and Calvin Johnson. There is no better endzone threat in the NFL than Pats tight end Rob Gronkoski who set NFL TE records with 92 receptions for 1,300+ yards and a ridiculous 17 touchdowns. In two seasons in the NFL, Gronkowski has 27 touchdowns.

 

6. Jerome Simpson Leap - In the “most athletic thing I've seen anyone do in years” category, Jerome Simpson gets his Jet Li on in a play that can't be described, only seen: http://youtu.be/V2ZITfPhnwE

 

5. Peyton Manning - No one proved their worth more than Peyton Manning - and he didn't even take a single snap all year. The Colts won just two games without their perennial MVP and it took them four months to do even that. Welcome to Indianapolis, Andrew Luck.

 

4. The Dream Team - While the Colts at least have an excuse, the team dubbed the Dream Team by Vince Young goes just 8-8 and misses the playoffs. Turns out, ya can't invest $100 million in Mike Vick and nothing into the offensive line that protects him – that's like buying really expensive and rare dogs and then keeping them at Michael Vick's house.

 

3. Devin Hester, Hall of Famer? - While rookie Patrick Peterson tied Hester's single-season punt return mark with 4 TDs, it was Hester's 18th record-breaking career return TD of his career that started a real conversation – will Hester be the first returner and worst wide receiver in the Hall of Fame?

 

2. Brees and Rodgers Duke It Out – It is ridiculous to fathom that a quarterback who set NFL records with the most passing yards in a season, most completions in a season, highest completion percentage in a season, and 13 wins does not win the MVP but that is exactly the fate being suffered by Drew Brees. So who's better than the guy who just destroyed Dan Marino's records? Aaron Rodgers, who put up numbers only seen in Madden with his 122.5 QB rating and 45 touchdowns (to just 6 INTs).

 

1. Tebowed - In a year dominated by prolific passers like Rodgers, Brees, and Brady, it was a 2nd year quarterback with a 46% completion percentage, 1,700 passing yards, and more turnovers than passing touchdowns who stole the show this year with seven straight seemingly impossible come from behind wins and a playoff run. Most importantly, though, the world discover The Tebow: http://youtu.be/OLPkzvEtTts