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Most memorable moments from NFL’s first half

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Performances that seem otherworldly…

Scott Clause/The Advertiser via USA TODAY NETWORK

Every weekend the players who make this game so entertaining wow the masses with performances that seem otherworldly.

The first half of the 2018 NFL season has been full of highlight-reel moments, along with some pretty stunning failures. We’re taking a look at the most memorable of the bunch.

In no particular order, these are the plays that we won’t forget.

 

McCarthy goes bananas after yet another yellow flag on Clay

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL seemed to have it out for Clay Matthews early this season as it attempted to establish some semblance of control regarding potentially damaging hits on its most valuable commodity — quarterbacks.

Matthews was hit with some absurd penalty calls, which not only were unfair to him personally but which also cost Green Bay at least one game.

On Sept. 23, head coach Mike McCarthy finally lost it after Matthews was victimized by the refs once again. His sideline eruption was quite the spectacle, though it’s hard to blame him.

 

Tyreek torches Pats, gets doused with beer

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The Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots engaged in an epic shootout in Week 6. The game by itself was one of the best of the first half, and the burgeoning Chiefs nearly pulled off an upset.

As Kansas City rallied late in the fourth quarter, Tyreek Hill torched the Patriots on a 75-yard touchdown to tie the game. While he celebrated the incredible moment, a Patriots fan flipped him the bird and doused him with beer.

Thankfully, that fan was identified, prosecuted and banned from all future events at Gillette Stadium.

 

Why, Ty? Why?

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This one is still very fresh. The Packers were on the road facing the best team in the NFL, down by two points with roughly two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter — Aaron Rodgers time, for the uninitiated.

Ty Montgomery had been told to take a knee on a kickoff return after the Rams went ahead. Instead, he took it upon himself to run out of the end zone. As you likely remember, he ended up not even getting to the 25-yard line (hardly a shocker) before fumbling away his team’s chance to pull off the comeback.

His teammates were livid. Since then, Montgomery has attempted to defend himself while expressing outrage at his teammates. Then he was traded to the Baltimore Ravens for a ham sandwich.

 

Josh Allen shows track and field skills

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Buffalo’s rookie quarterback hasn’t had a wonderful time of it in 2018. He’s struggled mightily as a passer and is currently out of commission with an elbow injury.

However, the young player has demonstrated a few times why the Bills (and others) were so high on him coming out of Wyoming. In addition to his rocket arm, Allen is really athletic. That’s something the Minnesota Vikings found out first-hand in their shocking loss back in Week 3.

Allen put Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr on a poster with a ridiculous hurdle move early — a microcosm of how the entire game went for both teams.

 

Drew passes Peyton, who congratulates him as only he can

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Drew Brees has already had quite a season. He is now the NFL’s all-time leading passer, and he also joined the exclusive 500 club this season when he threw his 500th career touchdown pass.

During a primetime game against Washington, Brees passed Peyton Manning to move into first place on the all-time passing yards list. He did it in style, hitting rookie Tre’Quan Smith on a 62-yard touchdown pass right before halftime.

Manning couldn’t attend the game, but he had pre-recorded a congratulatory message, knowing Brees was probably going to break his mark. The message was classic Manning, complete with his personal brand of humor, and was well-received by all.

 

Long. Distance. Fat. Man. Touchdown.

Linval Joseph signed a massive extension with the Vikings.

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It’s always fun when an offensive or defensive lineman rumbles in for a score. Fat man touchdowns are pretty rare, and when they happen everyone but the team it happens against goes bonkers.

On the first Sunday in October, Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman Linval Joseph not only scored, but he did it in style. Carson Wentz coughed up the ball on a sack, and Joseph was there for the return — a 63-yard return that showed off his sprinter’s speed and necessitated a heavy dose of oxygen on the sideline.

 

Tom Terrific reaches epic milestone

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Brees isn’t the only quarterback to join the 500 club this year. During New England’s Thursday night battle against the Indianapolis Colts in the first game of October, Brady found Josh Gordon on a 34-yard strike.

It was Brady’s third touchdown of that game, and with it, he joined Peyton Manning and Brett Favre as the only quarterbacks to hit 500 career passes. A few weekends later, Brees joined this exclusive club.

 

Cheap shot leads to ejection

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Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has taken some vicious shots over the course of his career, and oftentimes players have gotten away without being penalized for them.

During Carolina’s second game of the season and its first against NFC South rival Atlanta, Newton took yet another brutal hit to the head. Falcons safety Damontae Kazee went at Newton with a helmet-to-helmet hit that sure seemed intentional.

He was then ejected for the game, and honestly nobody felt sorry for him in the least.

 

Saquon turns short run into a masterpiece

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Running back Saquon Barkley is doing things we haven’t seen since Barry Sanders was victimizing NFL defenders on a regular basis. The New York Giants rookie is one of the league’s most electric players, and he proves that on a weekly basis.

Among his exploits, one particular play stands out. Though, if you were scoreboard scouting you’d never even know it existed.

Check out this nine-yard run Barkley engineered against the Philadelphia Eagles. The artistry at play here was awe-inspiring, and it highlights what a special player he really is.

 

Tricked you!

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The Tennessee Titans have since fallen into a massive hole we’re not sure they’ll get out of. But early in the season they were winning games in shocking fashion. One such game occurred in Week 2 against the Houston Texans.

During the first quarter of that game, head coach Mike Vrabel showed some serious guts, calling for a fake punt on fourth-and-seven from his own 34-yard line. If it hadn’t worked, Houston was going to get the ball in scoring range.

No guts, no glory. And in this case, glory followed. Kevin Byard received the snap, then fired a perfect pass to Dane Cruikshank, who romped 66 yards for the touchdown.

 

Earl sends not-so-subtle message to Seahawks

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Earl Thomas has been upset with the Seattle Seahawks going back to before the 2017 season due to a contract dispute that never got resolved. After he held out of training camp, Thomas was playing an incredible brand of football with a huge chip on his shoulder early in the season.

Then in the final weekend of September, disaster struck. Thomas was defending a pass against the Arizona Cardinals when he broke his leg and was lost for the season.

As Thomas was carted off the field on his way into the locker room, cameras caught him flipping off Seattle’s sideline in disgust at the way things ended.

 

Vance with the stiff-arm heard round the world

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Chris Conte will forever be featured as an Internet meme, thanks to Vance McDonald.

During Pittsburgh’s game against Tampa Bay, McDonald caught a pass near the left sideline from Ben Roethlisberger. He then proceeded to toss Conte to the turf as if he weighed nothing more than a toddler with the most memorable stiff-arm we’ve seen in years en route to a 75-yard touchdown.

Conte ended up not only leaving that game but landing on IR after that play due to a knee injury. Since then he’s been a good sport over the whole thing, but nobody will soon forget the destruction he endured.

 

Gano with the epic walk-off

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The New York Giants appeared to be in line for their second win of the season in Week 5 against the Carolina Panthers. Up by one point with 68 seconds to go, New York’s defense did a good job to keep Cam Newton and Co. from getting into field goal range.

Or so they thought.

Then kicker Graham Gano stepped onto the field with the ball at New York’s 45-yard line. He proceeded to blast the sucker through the uprights for an incredible game-winning 63-yard field goal, which was nine yards longer than his previous career high.

Game over.

 

Kareem does NOT play fair

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Kareem Hunt, not to mention the entire Kansas City Chiefs offense, is on another level this year. The running back often takes a back seat in terms of national exposure to his star quarterback, Patrick Mahomes.

However, there have been a couple of plays made by Hunt that will live on in highlight reels for years to come. Both involve hurdles.

The first occurred on the third Sunday in October. Hunt appeared to be tackled behind the line of scrimmage. Not only did he escape, but he then proceeded to hurdle a would-be tackler, then drag a handful of Bengals defenders on a jaw-dropping play.

One weekend later, he outdid himself with yet another hurdling highlight against the Denver Broncos, this time for a score.

 

Rivers trolls entire Raiders defense…during the game

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The Oakland Raiders are the biggest laughingstock in the NFL right now. On a related note, the Cleveland Browns are extremely grateful.

We’ve seen countless examples of Oakland’s incompetence this year. But one moment stands out as particularly painful. During the game, while he was under center calling out an audible against the Oakland defense, Philip Rivers trolled that sad unit by literally telling the defense what was coming.

And, of course, Rivers and Co. didn’t have any trouble executing the play anyway.

 

Kittle goes OBJ 

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Odell Beckham Jr. has made one-handed catches all the rage. On Thursday night as the San Francisco 49ers took on the Raiders, we saw a tight end take this trend to another level.

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George Kittle was breaking free across the middle. Third-string quarterback Nick Mullen, who got the start, threw a bit out in front of Kittle, and the ball was humming through a ton of traffic, no less.

None of that stopped Kittle from putting his big left paw out there and somehow coming up with the ball. Seventy-one yards later, Oakland finally brought him down. But the damage had already been done.

 

Mason Crosby consoled by Rodgers after awful game

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Green Bay has certainly been through a lot this year already. Back in the first weekend of October, they lost a heart-breaker to the Detroit Lions. A huge reason why they lost is that kicker Mason Crosby had the worst game of his career.

During the 31-23 loss, Crosby missed four field-goal attempts and an extra point.

After he missed his fourth field goal, the kicker was obviously dejected on the sideline, knowing he had cost his team a chance to win. Then came a moment that showed what kind of leader Aaron Rodgers is. He came up to his teammate, put his arm around him and consoled him.

One week later, Crosby kicked a game-winner on “Monday Night Football.”

 

Mahomes goes lefty

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There doesn’t seem to be a cap on what Patrick Mahomes can do on the gridiron. An exceptionally gifted athlete, he makes the most difficult throws look casual, and he currently leads the most potent offense in the league.

During Week 4 in an AFC West rivalry game against Denver, Mahomes proved he can make something happen even if his strong right arm is unavailable. He was about to get sacked by Von Miller, who was approaching his throwing arm. He then switched hands and threw a left-handed pass to Tyreek Hill, who caught it for a first down.

Mahomes went on to lead Kansas City to a narrow four-point win over Denver in this game.

 

Brady, the NFL’s worst fullback

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Tom Brady is arguably the GOAT. There’s not a heck of a lot he can’t do on a football field when he puts his mind to it.

It just so happens that leading a run play isn’t his forte.

During New England’s Week 8 game against the Buffalo Bills, Brady got out in front of a Julian Edelman run to help create some space. And while ultimately he did help a little bit on that front, the end result was that Brady got blasted into next week, courtesy of Lorenzo Alexander, who also sacked Brady twice in that game.