So far in this countdown, we've seen mostly big plays on offense with a couple defensive plays sprinkled in. However, our fourth-best play of the year falls under neither category, and it stars an unlikely hero:
4. Jeremy Ross scores two special teams touchdowns in a blizzard
After coming off a huge win over the Green Bay Packers on Thanksgiving, the Detroit Lions headed to Philadelphia for a big game against the Eagles. As fans, we were warned that the weather may affect the game, but no one was prepared for what happened. Reportedly, 8 inches of snow fell during the game, causing the first half to resemble a blooper reel more than a football game.
But through impossible conditions emerged the Lions' new, secret threat. Signed from the practice squad less than two months prior, Jeremy Ross wasn't thought to be much of an addition. But on a day in which everyone seemed frozen in place, Ross was a snow leopard, trudging through mounds of snow with ease.
His first touchdown came on a punt return, with the Lions already up 7-0. Ross zoomed by the two gunners, juked another Eagle hard and sped his way into the end zone. The score gave the Lions a 14-0 lead, which seemed insurmountable given the conditions.
But the Eagles offense got their footing in the third quarter, and before you could say The Abominable Megatron, the Eagles had pulled the game to an even tie at 14-14. That's when Ross struck again.
This was a display of excellent vision and patience. There doesn't appear to be much open to Ross when he reaches the initial set of players, but he waits and finds a small crease. After that, there's no chance of catching him. The kicker makes about as good of an effort as you can expect out of a kicker in 8 inches of snow, and Ross easily glides by him. Ross' second touchdown of the game gave the Lions a big fourth quarter lead, which I'm going to assume they held on to, because I strangely have absolutely no memory of that game beyond that play, nor do I have any desire to fact-check that.
3. Reggie Bush's crazy-athletic 37-yard touchdown run vs. Bears
As Lions fans, I think we all have a special appreciation for pretty running plays. I watch Barry Sanders highlights (ready that mute button) on a weekly basis, and I will never get sick of them. However, since the days of Barry, we've had a drought of impressive running plays. We had a short-lived feast of highlights from Jahvid Best, but that was soon taken from us. Enter: Reggie Bush.
Bush showed up earlier in our countdown, taking a screen 77 yards for a touchdown, but it was his incredibly athletic rush that really turned my head.
That video does a great job highlighting Larry Warford and how he made the play entirely possible. But my focus here is on Bush. The best way to appreciate just how awesome he is on this play is to watch the television angle... or just watch this GIF on loop until... whoops, it's 3 a.m. and I'm still at my work desk.
First, he makes a nice, sharp cut to the hole in the backfield. Then, he shrugs off a tackle with ease, while simultaneously preparing to jump over another tackle. From there, he shows incredible speed to outrun the safety, who takes a decent angle on the play.
I don't know why this play is so special to me. It wasn't a particularly important score (the Lions were already up 13), and a 37-yard run isn't really all that rare in football. But, the play is just so darn photogenic. It's so GIF-able. And it's hypnotizing. Maybe Barry conditioned my brain to release a load of endorphins any time I see a play like this. Maybe I've got the same sick fetish that Jim Schwartz has. Either way, I can't get enough of this play.
Spoiler: Ndamukong Suh will not make this list. I don't think that's particularly fair, but there wasn't one play of his that warranted a top spot, despite him having another extremely impressive year. However, he does get an honorable mention for his play on Thanksgiving.
In a game in which the defense was absolutely dominant, Suh capped the day off with an easy-looking safety. Suh embarrasses Marshall Newhouse in such great fashion that it doesn't seem like the two should be playing in the same league. Matt Flynn has no chance to get the ball out, and Suh gently lays him -- and the Matt Flynn Curse -- to rest.