Secrets of the 2012 NFL Season (Pt. 2)
July 30, 2012 by Jeffrey Boswell • Print Story •
Also see: Secrets of the 2012 NFL Season (Pt. 1)
* The Redskins offense sputters as rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III struggles to learn the nuances of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's playbook. Griffin is forced to scramble often, and the Washington offense finishes last in total offense in the league. Hence, the "III Yards and a Cloud of Dust" offense is born.
The 'Skins finish 5-11, last in the NFC East.
* Ben Roethlisberger throws for 4,254 yards and 30 touchdowns while enjoying an injury-free year. The Steelers finish 11-5 and capture the AFC North title over the 10-6 Ravens.
Roethlisberger also finds success in his foray into the home fixtures market after his retro "Emergency Exit" signs for upscale bathrooms appear in Home and Garden magazine.
* Jonathan Vilma, in an effort to patch his rocky relationship with Roger Goodell, invites the commissioner for a late-summer swim at Vilma's New Orleans' residence. Vilma's Olympic-size "Bounty Pool" features 12-feet depths, a 10-meter platform, and no water. Goodell politely declines, replying to Vilma in what has become a common refrain to the suspended Saints linebacker: "maybe next year."
This time, Vilma graciously accepts Goodell's decision, and spends much of his free time in his pool-side Jacuzzi, remaining in "hot water."
* Rams' second-round pick Janoris Jenkins, who failed two drug tests and fathered four children while in college, celebrates his contract, which contains a sizable signing bonus, by tweeting "I'm Due!" on Twitter. Days later, two of his female acquaintances tweet the same message.
Jenkins proves his worth to the Rams, earning a staring cornerback spot and leading St. Louis with six interceptions, two of which are returned for touchdowns.
* Miami's unsettled quarterback situation is a nightmare for head coach Joe Philbin, but a blessing for Chad Johnson, who finally has someone other than himself to blame for his lack of production.
Johnson records only 18 catches for 147 yards and 1 touchdown, but finds comfort in the fact that his entire season can be summarized in a single tweet, with room to spare.
In January, Johnson changes his surname to "Mismo Viejo-Mismo Viejo," which loosely translates to "Same Old, Same Old."
* The Lions enjoy a much-needed respite from a shaky 2-2 start with a bye week in Week 5. Detroit head coach Jim Schwartz, for the first time in 2012, mentions "a rest" with a gleam in his eye. The well-rested Lions go 9-3 over their final 12 games, matching the Packers for the NFC North's best record.
In the playoffs, the Lions' version of "The Drive" becomes legendary, when, after Detroit downs the Cowboys at Ford Field in the divisional round, Cliff Avril gets hammered and drives 14 miles home on icy roads, finagling his way through a police checkpoint at one point.
* Minnesota wide receiver Jerome Simpson makes a grand entrance after serving his three-game suspension, arriving for the Viking's flight to Detroit in week 4 in a FedEx delivery truck.
Simpson scores a touchdown against the Lions, but his season is cut short when he is arrested in late October on drug trafficking charges. Simpson again makes news when he "flips," this time when he turns states evidence and testifies against his Canadian supplier.
The Vikes complete a dismal year with a 4-12 record.
* British filmmaker and unlikely Jets fan Christopher Nolan directs a short film on the remarkable life of Antonio Cromartie called "Conception," starring Cromartie and his 12 children.
Cromartie later inks a deal to endorse BOSS brand men's belts, and stars in an ad campaign made memorable by the tag line "When you need to keep your pants on."
* In the Broncos' Week 5 contest at New England, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady duel to a near standstill, throwing for a combined 824 yards in Denver's 41-38 overtime victory.
However, defense rules in the rematch, in Denver in the AFC Championship Game, in which the Broncos stifle the Patriots 20-12 in a blizzard. The outcome turns on a controversial play in the fourth quarter, when Denver backup linebacker Wesley Woodyard sacks Brady, forcing a fumble. After a lengthy review, referee Walt Coleman rules that the "Tuck Rule" does not apply, and is a stupid rule in the first place. The Broncos take possession and score the clinching touchdown.
* Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff politely declines an invitation from the Tosh.0 show for a web redemption to make another attempt at his missed 32-yarder from last year's AFC Championship game. Cundiff, however, offers up a teammate, and Tosh.0 airs its first "Ladarius Webb redemption."
Webb's 11 interceptions lead the AFC, earning him a spot on the All Pro team. Cundiff pulls a short field goal in the Ravens' wild card round playoff loss to the Jets, and is forced to leave town in a moving truck bearing the license plated "Y'D LEFT."
* After struggling with his throwing mechanics early in the season, Tim Tebow is benched for the Jets October 21st game at New England. In response, the Boston Globe posts a controversial, doctored photo of Tebow smooching with a provocatively-dressed nun, accompanied by the headline "Bad Habit!"
The Globe later issues an apology, which Tebow accepts.
* Andrew Luck and the Colts race to a 4-0 start to the season, but quickly find trouble when the regular season begins on September 9th. Indy loses its first six regular season games while Luck struggles. The rookie quarterback, frustrated and unable to find a rhythm, pulls a "Vince Young" and briefly disappears, leading to the headline "Luck Runs Out" in the Indianapolis Star.
A phone call from Peyton Manning brings Luck back, and the Colts win six of their remaining 10 games to finish 6-10 in the AFC South.
Manning, for his part, finally receives a proper "thank you" from Colts owner Jim Irsay.
* Michael Vick's autobiography, "Finally Free," lives up to its title when it hits the bargain bin at book retailers in early October, just one month after its release.
Vick and the Eagles finish 9-7, tied for second in the NFC East, to make the playoffs. However, their season ends abruptly in the wild card round, as Vick is injured early in Philly's eventual 27-16 loss to the 49ers.
On his flight back home, Vick runs into actress Joan Collins and KISS lead singer Paul Stanley in the Philadelphia airport, where Vick engages in a legitimate discussion of "Dynasty."
* Detroit's Calvin Johnson amasses 112 receptions for 1,789 yards and 20 touchdowns, and easily wins the NFL's Most Valuable Player award. Johnson later becomes the first player to appear on the cover of two consecutive versions of the Madden NFL video game, and finishes a magical season by being voted "Dos Equis Second-Most Interesting Man in the World" contest.
* Troy Polamalu, who admitted he has lied about the number of concussions he's suffered, drops another bombshell when he declares that at least three have been as a result of locker room horseplay with James Harrison.
The Polamalu concussion controversy becomes such that Head and Shoulders is forced to release a statement insisting that their product does not, in fact, make one more susceptible to concussions.
* Mark Sanchez drops the ceremonial first puck in the New Jersey Devils home opener against Boston on October 13th . For the honor, Sanchez dons a No. 15 Devils jersey adorned with the name "Tebow" on the back. The jersey, the first to feature the name "Tebow" and the sign of a "devil," earns the nickname "Neutral Ice" and quickly becomes a top-seller in the Devils pro shop.
The Jets earn a wild card berth, finishing second to the Patriots in the AFC East, and lose to Denver in the divisional round.
* Trent Richardson plows his way to 12 touchdowns for Cleveland, quickly endearing himself to the Browns faithful, who dub him the "Dawg Pounder."
Richardson rushes for 1,256 yards and wins the AFC's Offensive Rookie of the Year award.