Published December 13, 2012
There's been a whole lot of flipping, flopping and flying in football recently, from the Carolinas to the frozen tundra and, appropriately, just off Broadway.
Receivers, runners, quarterbacks and big ol' linemen have been pulling off some dazzling feats — a few without a hitch, others with funny flaws, and one almost too astonishing to believe.
So let's return to Sunday's NFL games for a Pick 6 of scoring celebrations — well a Pick 5 really, with a surprise addition to round out the package.
David Wilson, RB, New York Giants
Not once, not twice, but three times the rookie produced near-perfect backflips after scoring touchdowns in a 52-27 win over the Saints. Turns out, the 5-foot-9 Wilson has been practicing since he was 4, and there's even a YouTube video of him performing 21 consecutive backflips during his college days at Virginia Tech.
"Now that it's on tape, we're going to expect that from him every game," defensive end Justin Tuck kidded after Wilson set a club record with 327 all-purpose yards, including a 97-yard kickoff return for a score followed by the first of his impressive end zone backflips.
Backflip celebrations are not new for Wilson, it just took him awhile to get his game going with the Giants. An early season fumble put him on the bench, and he's just made his way back into the lineup.
Some teammates call him the best athlete on the team. Salsa-dancing Victor Cruz is among them.
"If you blink once or twice, you might miss him," Cruz said, presumably referring to his speed, not his backflips.
Lee Smith, TE, Buffalo
The 6-6, 266-pound second-year player was coaxed by a teammate into his poorly-executed flop into the stands at Ralph Wilson Stadium after his first TD at home. After the catch, Scott Chandler convinced Smith to follow in his and Stevie Johnson's jumping shoes and celebrate with the fans.
He obliged, but when he leaped up the barrier, back first, he slid off the ledge and into the stands. He later said he was wedged between the barrier and metal bleacher where fans sit. He was drenched in beer and ketchup before untangling himself from the mess.
"I'm definitely not the most experienced guy about jumping into the stands, so I might have gone in a little too hard on those fans," Smith said. "I might have scared them a little bit, but either way, it's a fun time."
The Bills ended up losing to the Rams 15-12 to fall to 5-8.
"It's not fun losing football games, and if that's the one thing that everybody can kind of sit in their meetings and smile about and think about, and if this is the one thing from the game that makes everybody laugh, then it was worth it for me," he added.
Worth it for us, too.
Mike Daniels, DE, Green Bay
The Lambeau Leap never looked so ... silly? After the 6-0, 294-pound rookie scooped up a fumble and rumbled 43 yards for a TD that helped the Packers beat the Lions, he went for a flying leap into the stands. He managed to get only halfway up the wall, hung there for a few seconds, and dropped down to earth.
"I was too tired," Daniels said.
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina
The Panthers second-year quarterback had his best game of the season, but the highlight occurred as he was crossing the goal line to complete a 72-yard scoring run. He somersaulted into the end zone, and as his legs were in the air, he was nudged slightly by a Falcons defensive back. However, Newton rolled with the flow, landed smoothly on his back, and sprung to his feet. Of course, his "Superman" pose followed, and the Panther went on to upset the Falcons.
Newton thought he had clear sailing for a perfect somersault, but said he saw defenders closing in on him quickly as he approached the end zone and had to improvise.
Even before the start of the Falcons-Panthers game in Charlotte, N.C., players and fans were flipping out after Carolina won its first coin flip of the season. Coming in, the Panthers were 0 for 13 on flips, including one in overtime.
Team captain Jordan Gross exalted at midfield, thrusting both arms into the air, at the result.
"I've never seen people cheering so loud for a coin toss," Gross said, laughing.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, striker, Sweden
One of the great football scores in history. OK. So it was the other football (soccer), and it took place in Sweden about a month ago. Trust us.
In the first match at the country's new national stadium in Stockholm, Zlatan Ibrahimovic produced a spectacular 30-yard overhead kick for a goal in an exhibition against England. YouTube replays were everywhere, showing the goal, followed by the 6-5, pony-tailed striker whipping off his shirt, thrusting a fist in the air, and running around the pitch as coaches, players and fans looked on dumbfounded.
The shot was remarkable: The English goalie moved out of the penalty area and headed the ball into the air. But as the ball was coming down, Ibrahimovic turned his back on the goalie, went airborne, and with his right foot slammed a shot that landed inside the near post. Gooooooal!
Pretty good kicker, eh?
Follow Richard Rosenblatt on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/rosenblattap
Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL