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Best of 2013: TSN.ca looks back at the year in NFL

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TSN.ca Staff
12/24/2013 11:53:01 AM
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As 2013 winds to a close, TSN.ca looks back at the stories and moments that made the year memorable. TSN.ca's writing staff reflects on the best nfl moments from the past 12 months including the Chiefs' turnaround, Megatron going off, records falling and more!

The Chiefs go from worst to first... in a hurry

By: Mike Hetherington

The Kansas City Chiefs finished the 2012 season with an NFL-worst two wins. The team fired head coach Romeo Crennel and declined to re-sign quarterbacks Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn, who each started eight games the previous season.

In the off-season the Chiefs hired Andy Reid and traded for quarterback Alex Smith, with the first pick in the draft the team selected tackle Eric Fisher.

Overall the rest of the roster remained similar to the team that took the field in 2012. However, the results were almost completely opposite.

The Chiefs started their season with nine straight wins before finally losing to the Denver Broncos.

They went from being one of the NFL's worst teams to one of its best almost overnight with the additions of Smith and Reid. The offence went from ranked dead last in 2012 to inside the top ten this season. The defence soared from a meager 25th ranked unit to a vaunted top five group.

In the final 10 games of the 2012 season, the Chiefs won just won game. In the first 10 games of 2013, the Chiefs lost just one game. That's what you call a turnaround.

Calvin Johnson goes off

By: Isaac Owusu

They call him 'Megatron' for a reason.

The Week 8 matchup between Detroit and Dallas was memorable for a number of reasons. There were the two occurrences of apparent Dez Bryant sideline explosions which were proven to not be what they seemed; there was also Matthew Stafford calling his own number to win the game for the Lions with only 50 seconds left, but there was one number that stood over everything else: 329.

Johnson posted a career high 14 catches for 329 to lead the Lions to the 31-30 victory. Only eight yards away from breaking Flipper Anderson's record set in 1989 of 336 yards. Johnson beat the Cloyce Box's former Lions' franchise record of 302 yards set in 1950.

Johnson's catches ranged from two yards to 87, with seven going for 20 or more.

To take further context of Johnson's dominance, the entire Dallas Cowboys team finished with 268 total net yards, still 61 less than Johnson alone.

The game's second highest receiver to him in terms of yardage was Bryant who only tallied 72 yards on three grabs and on the Lions, Kris Durham had four catches for 54 yards.

Records of four, we have two more

By: Mike Hetherington

Peyton Manning was the runner-up for the 2012 NFL MVP, in 2013 he came out of the gate in a hurry looking to lock up the trophy early in the season.

He set an NFL record with 15 touchdowns in the first four games of a season, including tying the NFL record for touchdowns in a game with seven in Week 1 against the Baltimore Ravens.

Though Manning was a preseason favourite to set an NFL record this year, Josh Gordon was not. Coming off an 805-yard 2012 season with the Cleveland Browns, Gordon was suspended for the first two games of this season for violating NFL's substance abuse policy.

By October's trade deadline, it seemed Gordon was sure to be traded with rumours about him swirling around several teams but, in the end, the Browns kept him.

The decision paid off.

Gordon set an NFL record with 774 receiving yards in just four games from Week 10 to Week 14, he also took the lead in NFL receiving yards. Gordon also became the first player in NFL history to have back-to-back 200-yard receiving games with 237 against the Pittsburgh Steelers and 261 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Even more impressive for Gordon, the quarterbacks who threw him passes in that stretch were Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden.

Best Sunday Ever?

By: Mike Hetherington

Four games wielded unforgettable moments for fans to remember for years in Week 14.

First, the Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions kicked off in white-out conditions. Playing with six inches of snow on the field and more falling, the Lions fumbled the ball seven times. LeSean McCoy ran through the snow (and the Lions) with ease setting an Eagles' franchise record with 217 rushing yards in a 34-20 win that saw a 14-point third quarter deficit erased.

Baltimore and Pittsburgh were also hit with less severe snow storms. In Baltimore, the Ravens and Vikings both had trouble scoring until the final two minutes. The two teams combined for 36 points in the final 2:05 with the Ravens winning by scoring a nine-yard touchdown with four seconds left.

The Steelers, down six points to the Miami Dolphins with one second left, attempted a hook and ladder play. After five laterals, including one to offensive tackle Max Starks, the Steelers found receiver Antonio Brown in space. He ran 64 yards for a touchdown… it appeared. As it turned out Brown's foot went out of bounds at the 12-yard line, the Dolphins were awarded the win and the Steelers' playoff hopes disappeared.

The New England Patriots followed that up scoring 14 points in 30 seconds with a recovered onside kick in between the scores in sub-zero conditions in Foxborough. The Patriots jumped from down 26-14 with 1:01 remaining in the game to beating the Browns 27-26 after a Browns 58-yard field goal, with one second left, fell short of the goal posts.

These finishes on frozen grass led to an epic and unforgettable weekend in the NFL on that left fans asking "best Sunday ever?" It's certainly in the conversation.

Tom Brady loses his weapons

By: Isaac Owusu

Take a look at the box score January 20's AFC Championship Game between of the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens, now look at the Patriots' latest box score.

The glaring differences are both hilarious and amazing.

Tom Brady's passing number this season have taken a dip, and it would most certainly appear that he misses those receiving options that he had at the top of the year.

In that AFC Championship match, Brady had connected on passes to Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Lloyd, Shane Vereen, Deion Branch and Danny Woodhead.

Of those names only one is still on the Patriots roster, Vereen who missed eight games due to a broken wrist. Welker departed to play with Brady's rival Peyton Manning in Denver. Hernandez was released from the team after being charged with first degree murder and multiple gun charges. Lloyd was released in June and remains a free agent, and Woodhead joined the San Diego Chargers in the off-season.

Currently on pace to win the AFC East and compete for the number one seed , Patriots replacements include not-so household names like Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Austin Collie, Michael Hoomanawanui and rookies Aaron Dobson, Kembrell Thompkins, Josh Boyce.

Quite the difference that less than a year makes.

The Baltimore Ravens: Football's most patient team

By: Mike Hetherington

A 34-minute delay due to a power-outage almost cost the Baltimore Ravens their Super Bowl victory when the San Francisco 49ers mounted a comeback that fell just short after the delay.

Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis believed the NFL was involved in creating the blackout to stop the game from being a blowout. However in the 2013 season, the Ravens would twice more be delayed - not by electricity or the NFL - but by Mother Nature.

The Ravens had their season-opening game delayed 34 minutes, the exact same amount as the Super Bowl, by lightning at Mile High Stadium against the Denver Broncos.

Then, 10 weeks later, the Ravens had to sit through an almost two-hour delay against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field due to severe weather before the first quarter could resume.

Only three NFL games in 2013 were delayed for any reason, all three involved the Ravens. In the two games the Ravens could find no one to blame following the Super Bowl, they were winless, including a 49-27 blowout loss to the Broncos.

Best of 2013: NFL (Photo: TSN.ca)

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(Photo: TSN.ca)
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