I measured it by overall dominance, level of competition, and – to a lesser extent – importance of the game. Picks 20-11 are here.
10. RB Darren McFadden @ DEN: 16 carries, 165 yds, 3 TD; 2 catches, 31 yds, 1 TD. McFadden’s 4 TD performance was awesome but Denver’s defense was the worst in the NFL last year (and there were some really bad defenses – Arizona, Houston, Dallas, Seattle – last year).
9. SS Troy Polamalu @ TEN: 1 INT, 3 tackles. Polamalu had a huge highlight tackle, jumping over both lines and was a part of a defense that forced 7 turnovers, gave up just 11 points and held reigning 2000-yard runner Chris Johnson to just 34 yards on 16 carries. James Harrison had 2 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles in this game, too.
8. QB Tom Brady @ PIT: 30/43, 350 yds, 3 TD/0 INT; 1 rush, 3 yds, TD. A big bounce-back game for Brady with little help from his defense, one week after losing to the Browns.
7. CB Deangelo Hall vs. CHI: 4 INT. Some of these were gimmes and if the Cutler touchdown run hadn’t been ruled a fumble (or if Lovie had challenged said ruling), maybe Jay doesn’t throw so many. That said, Hall owed Cutler a gift from Hawai’i because this masterpiece of Hall’s is how he got to the Pro Bowl.
6. RB Arian Foster vs. IND: 33 carries, 231 yds, 3 TD; 1 catch, 7 yds; I don’t like to read much into week 1. Teams are just getting used to hitting again. This was a watershed game by Foster that I couldn’t push any further down the chart and that also catapulted him into stardom.
5. QB Michael Vick @ WAS: 20/28, 333 yds, 4 TD. 8 rushes, 80 yds, 2 TD; Vick came out guns blazing on Monday Night Football. This was a seismic beatdown of accuracy and athleticism.
4. Matt Hasselbeck vs. NO (Wild Card Round): 22/35, 272 yds, 4 TD/0 INT; 1 carry, -1yd; An absolutely sublime performance in a huge game for the upset of the year over the Super Bowl champs, yet Hasselbeck has had a lot of good games in his career and the Saints’ defense wasn’t nearly as good as last year, so this game wasn’t that surprising. It’s a solid, good game regardless of how bad Roman Harper played and his INT was tipped by his own receiver. What hurts it just a little bit was that the decisive play was a run by Marshawn Lynch.
3. RB Rashard Mendenhall vs. NYJ: 27 carries, 121 yds, 1 TD; 2 catches, 32 yds; Mendenhall’s early running won this game for them with bringing Pittsburgh down the field, into the end zone, and tearing down a lot of time off the clock. A man among boys. Mike Tomlin benched him not long ago and he is now one of the top 5 running backs in the league.
2. QB Aaron Rodgers vs. PIT (Super Bowl): 24/39, 304 yds, 3 TD/0 INT; 2 carries, -2 yds; This statline would have been historic if not for six dropped passes. Polamalu clearly wasn’t 100% but Rodgers looked stratospheric in the biggest game of his career.
1. QB Aaron Rodgers @ ATL (Div. Round): 31/36, 366 yds, 3 TD/0INT; 2 carries, 13 yds, 1 TD; It’s hard to do that against the Lions in a regular season game, let alone in the playoffs on the road. This is a no-brainer. Pin-point accuracy, instinctive escapability, great reads and no turnovers against a 13-3 team at their place after they came off of a bye.
What are your picks for the best performances of the 2010 football season?