NFL 2012: Looking Back at the Most Incredible Highlights of the 2012 NFL Season

Alex Peterman@Alex_PetermanCorrespondent IIIFebruary 5, 2013

INDIANAOPLIS, IN - DECEMBER 30: Coby Fleener #80 of the Indianapolis Colts spikes the ball after scoring against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 30, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts defeated the Texans 28-16.(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Week by week, here are the most memorable highlights of the 2012 NFL season. Some are stories of devastating star injuries, while others note incredible comebacks. Amazing plays were made, and long-standing records were broken.


Week 1

First, Adrian Peterson makes his return to the NFL after recovering from both ACL and MCL surgery on his knee.

Then, after overcoming four neck surgeries in the offseason, quarterback Peyton Manning throws three touchdown passes in his debut with the Denver Broncos. He helped the Broncos reach the playoffs as the AFC’s No. 1 seed. 


Week 2

Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck led a fourth-quarter comeback against the Minnesota Vikings. It was his first of several as he led Indianapolis to a playoff berth upon ending the season with an 11-5 record.


Week 3

Mid-play, Darrelle Revis suffered a season-ending injury as he tore his ACL. Losing their star cornerback definitely didn’t bode well for the Jets' defense.



In the matchup between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks, the game ended with a Hail Mary pass by Russell Wilson. The football fell into the hands of a Green Bay defender, but was ruled a catch by Golden Tate. It was the most-known mistake of the replacement referees this season.


Week 4 

On Thursday Night Football, the original referees returned from their lockout to a standing ovation.

Trailing against the Carolina Panthers, quarterback Matt Ryan led the Falcons' offense on a 99-yard drive to preserve an undefeated record coming out of Week 4.


Week 5

Tom Brady vs. Peyton manning once more, with Brady coming away with the win. The Broncos rally fell short, as the Patriots won 31-21.

Saints signal-caller Drew Brees broke the 52 year-old record for consecutive touchdown passes in a game. The famous mark was held by Johnny Unitas. Suspended Sean Payton watched from the stands. 




Week 6

Any hopes of a Minnesota comeback were quickly dashed by Robert Griffin III, more popularly known as RGIII. The famous play featured the star quarterback on a magical 76-yard run down the sideline to seal the win.

Then, Russell Wilson led the Seahawks on a fourth quarter comeback win over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Seattle had a downright scary record at home this season.

Down 24 points at half time, Peyton Manning led the Broncos to a 35-point comeback, while the Broncos' defense shut out San Diego in the second half. It marked the beginning of Denver’s insane win streak to finish the season.


Week 7

Cam Newton famously put out the idea of a “Suggestion Box” following a narrow loss to the Dallas Cowboys.



Week 8


Colts rookie running back Vick Ballard led Indianapolis to an overtime win against Tennessee by running through, around, and even over Titans defenders.

Then, Tony Romo almost led the Cowboys to a stunning comeback against the New York Giants. Almost. The game-winning touchdown was taken away when receiver Dez Bryant’s fingertips were out of the back of the end zone when he fell to the turf with the catch.


Week 9

Coach Chuck Pagano returned to the Colts to give a moving post-game speech as he recovered from leukemia.


Week 10

Adrian Peterson ran for 171 yards and a touchdown against the Detroit Lions. It was the start to a brilliant finish to his season down the stretch.

Following that, the San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams recorded the first tie in the NFL since 2008.



Week 11


Colin Kaepernick replaces the injured Alex Smith and plays remarkably well in his first NFL start against the Chicago Bears.


Week 12

RGIII rips apart the Cowboys' defense and adds to the Redskins' win-streak on their way to a division crown.

Mark Sanchez. “Butt fumble.”

Ray Rice catches a short pass from Joe Flacco and outruns San Diego defenders to complete a jaw-dropping 4th-and-29 conversion, leading to the tying field goal. Baltimore then won in overtime, 16-13. 

Two Colts cheerleaders shave their heads in order to raise public fund-raising support for Chuck Pagano, and for leukemia research.


Week 13

Following the tragedy of Javon Belcher’s suicide, the Kansas City Chiefs rallied around each other and pulled away from Week 13 with a win for their lost player and friend.




Russell Wilson continued to surprise critics as he led the Seahawks on two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter and overtime. It helped them secure an unlikely comeback win on the road against a tough Bears' defense.

Andrew Luck finished his next fourth quarter comeback with a miraculous final play. It was a touchdown pass as time expired in regulation against the Lions.


Week 14

The Cowboys answered the death of Jerry Brown with an emotional 20-19 win against the Bengals as time expired.


Week 15

Games throughout the NFL each held a moving moment of silence to honor the lives of the children and teachers killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy.


Week 16


Calvin “Megatron” Johnson passed Jerry Rice’s receiving record against the Atlanta Falcons. He set the new bar at 1,964 yards in a single season.



Week 17

The Colts' win "meant the world" to head coach Chuck Pagano, who returned to his team.

Adrian Peterson leads the Vikings into the playoffs, but falls just nine yards shy of Eric Dickerson’s all-time yards rushing record in a season.


Week 18

Ray Lewis made his final appearance at M&T Bank Stadium, as the Ravens gave the home crowd a reason to cheer in a Baltimore 24-9 win.

RGIII tears both his ACL and his LCL in the fourth quarter of the Wild Card game against the Seattle Seahawks.


Week 19

Joe Flacco completed a 70-yard bomb to Jacoby Jones to send the Ravens into an overtime triumph over the Peyton-led Denver Broncos.


Colin Kaepernick sets the all-time playoff game rushing record for a quarterback against the Packers. He compiled four total touchdowns in the offensive shootout.



Week 20

The 49ers stunned the Falcons by coming back from 17 points down. They shut the Falcons out in the second half. The win also sent San Francisco into the Super Bowl.

Ray Lewis gets one last chance at glory as the Ravens beat the Patriots in New England to advance to the Super Bowl.


Week 21

Jacoby Jones tied an NFL record by taking the second-half opening kickoff to the house on a 108-yard return. It was the longest return in postseason history.

Joe Flacco was awarded the MVP and Ray Lewis went out to cheers in his final NFL game as the Ravens defeated the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII.


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