Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Top 50 Plays of the Detroit Lions 2011 Season: 30-21

For 50-41, click here.
For 40-31, click here.

30. Lions open Chargers game with a bomb to Calvin Johnson.
This is what is known as sending a message. On their first offensive play, the Lions decided to throw a jump ball to Megatron, covered or not. Of course, many argue there's no such thing as a covered Calvin Johnson. If you subscribe to this theory, then this is your exhibit A. Calvin grabs this ball through two defenders and makes a big play early (jump to 0:20 in the video).

29. Alphonso Smith leaps for his first pick of the day against Vikings.
This is just another great example of Smith getting a perfect jump on the ball. Smith is a big risk-taker, which means when the ball is coming his way, either something great or something terrible is about to happen. In this case, against a rookie quarterback, Smith got the better end of the deal. He reads the play perfectly, and makes a very athletic play on the ball. (play at the 0:25 mark). More from Smith, this game, and Smith in this game later. 

28. Matthew Stafford hits Titus Young in stride to capitalize on Smith's interception.
Flash forward three plays after the Smith pick: the Lions are third and 14. Time to find Megatron past the sticks, right? Nooope. Stafford brilliantly lays a ball to Young in stride for the easy touchdown and the rout is on?  (Play at the 3:50 mark, mute if you don't like Eminem)

27. Calvin pulls in a 56-yard touchdown with relative ease.
This is the part of the countdown where all of the "ordinary" bombs resulting in touchdowns land. This play gets the edge over the Young touchdown for a couple reasons. One, it's a great example of Stafford playing smart. He sees the Broncos jump offside and takes a shot deep. Also, Stafford makes the pass fading away and places it with impressive accuracy. (Play at 2:35 mark, mute if you don't like awesomely epic music)

26. Scheffler tips the ball to himself to make an acrobatic catch against former team.
I don't know what to say to justify this play's place on the countdown, so I'll let the video speak for itself. (mute to avoid NSFW language)

25. Kyle Vanden Bosch sacks, strips and recovers all in one motion.
When you have a special player like Vanden Bosch on your team, you expect something amazing every now and then, and this is a great example of that. KVB beats his man around the corner and is somehow able to both strip Alex Smith of the ball and recover it in the same motion. Just a phenomenal play from a valuable player. WATCH

24. Kevin Smith hammers the nail in the Carolina coffin.
On a day that was all about Smith, it was only appropriate that he would deliver the final kill shot of the game. On this impressive run, Smith displays all of his great qualities: his agility, his ability to break tackles and his knack for the endzone. And the move he puts on the safety....oh man. WATCH

23. Willie Young goes into beast mode and seals Cowboy comeback.
What Willie Young does to the right tackle on this play is so good it should be illegal (and the way NFL rules are going, I wouldn't be surprised if it is next year). If I were Neil at Armchair Linebacker, this is the part where I'd explain how Young devoured Romo's heart, saving the universe from endless torture of a heathenish Cowboy reign, but I can't do it with the savage elegance that he can. Just watch the clip and it's brilliant violence (at 3:40 mark)

22. Calvin hints at what's to come with a 51-yard touchdown against Raiders.
It looked like the Lions may struggle to put up points against the Raiders early. The Oakland defense served as a worthy opponent, until Megatron finally broke free. This was just an example of pure speed from Calvin as he burns both the corner and safety with ease. This play gets bonus points because you can see my friends and I in the background. (play at 1:48, me at 2:02)

21. Calvin makes a leaping catch to start the comeback at Minnesota.
I probably could have made a list this long for just Calvin Johnson plays. The fact that the play couldn't crack the top 20 proves just how magical of a season Megatron had. As far as CJ catches go, this is probably pretty pedestrian. He goes up and catches it at his highest point, meaning the cornerback has no chance whatsoever. The thing that blows my mind about Johnson is his ability to make plays like these look simple. (skip to 1:28)

I break into the top 20 tomorrow. See you then. 

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