Every season, the NFL offers five months’ worth of action, from the regular season all the way through to the Super Bowl. That is a total of 268 games full of highlight-reel plays, impressive displays of athleticism and bone-crunching hits.
Each season also is good for a fair amount of “wow” or “what just happened” moments. Focusing on the latter, here is a look back at the strangest things that occurred on the field during the 2015 season.
Sept. 10 Steelers coaches can’t communicate through their headsets because all they hear is the Patriots radio broadcast, purportedly because of a “stadium power infrastructure issue.”
Sept. 13 In the first-ever quarterback matchup of the top two picks in the draft, No. 2 Marcus Mariota becomes the initial QB ever to fire four TD passes in his first professional half, while No. 1 Jameis Winston is the first in 24 years to chuck a pick-six on his first pass.
Sept. 13 Buffalo QB Tyrod Taylor’s first NFL start begins with him lining up at wide receiver and Matt Cassel handing off to LeSean McCoy for a 6-yard loss.
Sept. 13 Peyton Manning’s TD-less streak, including the playoffs, extends to 21 possessions.
Sept. 13 Two rushers — Ameer Abdullah and Karlos Williams — score from at least 20 yards out on their first NFL carries.
Sept. 13 Cleveland’s Travis Coons nails a 48-yard PAT lengthened by two penalties, as well as the new rule that places the ball on an extra point at the 15-yard line.
Sept. 20 The Jaguars and Raiders, each losers of 17 of their previous 20 games, pull out victories in the last 40 seconds.
Sept. 27 The 0-3 Ravens lose their distinction as the only current franchise never to have been defeated in each of its first three games of any season.
Sept. 27 After throwing a Dolphins-record 160 passes without being picked off, Ryan Tannehill is intercepted twice by the same player (Buffalo’s Preston Brown) in a span of five passes.
Sept. 27 Thirty-eight-year-old Charles Woodson becomes the fourth-oldest player ever to intercept a pass, and Steve Smith amasses the second-most receiving yards (186) by a player age 36 or older.
Sept. 27 Brandon Weeden completes his first 16 passes of the season — the most by a QB in 32 years.
Sept. 27 Multi-zillionaire Warren Buffett patrols the sidelines of a Dolphins game wearing a Ndamukong Suh jersey — with shoulder pads.
Sept. 28 Alex Smith’s stretch of TD passes to non-wide receivers finally ends at 27.
Oct. 4 Alex Smith’s 386 aerial yards are the third-most in NFL history for a team that did not reach the end zone (offensively).
Oct. 11 All six teams whose nicknames begin with “B” are victorious.
Oct. 11 Ten of the 12 games on the slate are decided by comebacks.
Oct. 11 Seattle blows a 24-7 lead against Cincinnati, ending a string of 427 consecutive NFL games won by teams that are leading by at least 17 points during the fourth quarter.
Oct. 18 The Broncos move to 6–0 despite having gone through a stretch of 26 consecutive drives without scoring a touchdown.
Oct. 18 Tight ends from opposing teams (Carolina’s Greg Olsen and Seattle’s Jimmy Graham) both amass more than 130 receiving yards for the first time in a half-century.
Oct. 24 During a break in a radio show he co-hosts, former punter Steve Weatherford gets a call from the Jets asking if he’s interested in playing for them. (He accepts but is released four days later.)
Oct. 25 Elias Sports Bureau points out that, for the first time since 1987 (when it was done by a replacement player in a strike year), a player records his initial NFL sack in a game his team is trailing by more than 40 points — only this time it is a former No. 1 overall draft pick, Jadeveon Clowney.
Oct. 25 Kirk Cousins — he of four victories in 15 career starts coming in — becomes the sole active quarterback to throw a game-winning TD within the last 30 seconds of a game twice in a calendar month.
Oct. 25 The Vikings, after 25 straight losses in which they trailed at the half on the road, come back (from two down) to beat Detroit.
Oct. 25 The Patriots dress only six o-linemen, get one net yard rushing from their running backs and drop nine passes — yet score 30 points to defeat the one-loss Jets.
Oct. 25 Of the 167 yards covered on Ryan Tannehill’s four TD throws, the football is airborne for only 22 of them.
Oct. 26 In an annual rite of passage, Washington’s defensive rookies buy dinner for the veterans. The $22,159.04 tab includes Shirley Temples for Kyshoen Jarrett and Preston Smith.
Nov. 1 For the first time in history, opposing starting QBs — Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers — are averaging more than two scoring passes per game in their careers. Then, of course, neither throws one.
Nov. 1 Philip Rivers, for the fourth straight week, tops 300 yards in a defeat.
Nov. 1 The six-loss Chargers are vanquished on the final play of the game for the second time.
Nov. 8 Kirk Cousins flips his 10th TD pass of the season — none of them longer than seven yards.
Nov. 15 An apparently injured Peyton Manning (of all people) is the first QB in 43 years to complete no more than 25 percent of his passes, throw for 35 or fewer yards and be intercepted at least four times.
Nov. 15 The Lions win for the first time in 21 regular-season tries at Lambeau Field — an NFL record at any road venue. It is Aaron Rodgers’ first home defeat to a sub-.500 team in 23 starts.
Nov. 15 Jay Cutler throws two TD passes that total 170 yards, but his “bombs” travel only a combined negative two yards from scrimmage before being caught.
Nov. 15 St. Louis’ Nick Foles attempts 12 aerials at least 10 yards downfield against Chicago, fails to connect on any of them — and loses his job.
Nov. 16 Visiting teams finish the week with 11 wins in 14 contests.
Nov. 19 SI’s Peter King counts 37 TV commercials in the first 62 minutes of real time in the Titans-Jaguars game.
Nov. 22 An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by Cincinnati’s Domata Peko for yelling bogus signals as Arizona was getting set to spike the ball at 0:02 reduces the potential game-winning field goal distance from 47 to 32 yards, which the Cardinals convert.
Nov. 22 Doug Martin rushes for 235 yards (including a franchise-record 84 on one dash) but fails to score a TD.
Nov. 23 Tom Brady screams “Rex Ryan! Rex Ryan!” in an audible during a defeat of the Bills.
Nov. 26 After allowing their opponents to throw for five TDs just twice in their previous 666 contests, the Eagles surrender a quintet for the second game in a row.
Nov. 29 The Dolphins end a three-game, 0-for-21 drought on third downs in games played against the Jets.
Nov. 30 Travis Coons’ first field-goal miss of the season for Cleveland is blocked and returned for a game-winning TD by Baltimore with three seconds to go — just the second such “walk-off” play in NFL history.
Dec. 3 Granted another snap with 0:00 on the clock following a facemask penalty, Aaron Rodgers beats the Lions with a 61-yard touchdown heave to Richard Rodgers Jr. — the longest game-winning Hail Mary since at least 1975, when the term entered the NFL lexicon.
Dec. 6 In the 20 seconds between their two interceptions of Matt Schaub tipped passes, the Dolphins score all of their points in a 15–13 defeat of Baltimore.
Dec. 6 Dallas’ Chris Jones is the first player in eight years to recover a fumble of his own punt.
Dec. 13 Cincinnati’s Reggie Nelson picks off Ben Roethlisberger for the sixth time in their last seven meetings.
Dec. 13 QB Jimmy Clausen loses to Seattle while not generating a touchdown for the second time this season — first as a Bear, then as a Raven.
Dec. 13 Two team-record streaks of consecutive passes without an interception come to an end — Alex Smith’s 312 for Kansas City and Tyrod Taylor’s 222 for Buffalo.
Dec. 13 The Jaguars score more points (42) in a 30-minute span against the Colts than they had in 326 of the 333 full games in their history.
Dec. 20 AJ McCarron is the first former Alabama QB to start and win an NFL game since Jeff Rutledge in 1987.
Dec. 20 The Chiefs allow no fourth- quarter points for the fifth game in a row.
Dec. 20 San Diego scores its 24th consecutive TD without any of them being via the rush.
Dec. 24 Oakland punter Marquette King punts six times in the second half for a net average of 50.1 with all six boots landing inside the 20.
Dec. 27 In a loss to the Lions, the 49ers are flagged for six offside or neutral-zone penalties in the first half.
Dec. 27 Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer wears a hula dancing outfit for a portion of pregame because he’d lost a bet during the Cardinals’ weekly throwing accuracy competition.
Jan. 3 Ryan Tannehill finishes the season having lost 100 more yards in sacks than any other QB.
Jan. 3 The Bengals top the Ravens, 24–16, despite not converting a third-down play during the game.
Jan. 3 Jacksonville drops its 22nd consecutive road game to a team with a winning record.
Jan. 10 Minnesota’s Blair Walsh makes playoff history as both the first kicker to boot three field goals in a game played in sub-20-degree weather, and the first to miss a potential game-winner inside two minutes from a distance as short as 27 yards.
Jan. 16 Tom Brady hands off the ball on only eight of 56 snaps in New England’s divisional playoff triumph over Kansas City.
Jan. 31 The Pro Bowl limps on despite a record 47 players declining or unable to accept an invitation to participate.
This story and more is available in the 2016 Athlon Sports Pro Football Preview Magazine, available online and on newsstands everywhere.