Jan. 11 -- The catch that was ruled an incomplete pass
In the fourth quarter of an NFC Divisional playoff game at Lambeau Field, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant makes a spectactular catch on a go route down the left sideline to convert a critical fourth down as the Cowboys trail the Green Bay Packers 26-20. The Packers challenge that Bryant didn't hold on to the football long enough to complete the catch, and referee Gene Steratore overturns the call on the field. According to the NFL's rules, Steratore made the right call, but that doesn't calm a social-media perfect storm created by the combination of two of the NFL's most popular teams, the playoffs and a controversial call.
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January-September -- Deflategate
Fans get an unwelcome introduction to the term psi in reference to the inflation of a football when the Patriots are accused of tampering with balls used in the AFC Championship game. Following a lengthy investigation, the NFL announces that quarterback Tom Brady will be suspended for the first four games of the 2016 regular season. Patriots fans rally behind their quarterback, and on Sept. 3 Judge Richard M. Berman vacates the four-game suspension on appeal and Brady never misses a game.
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Feb. 1 -- The interception heard around the world
Based on the defensive personnel he sees and in an attempt to catch the Patriots by surprise, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll calls for Russell Wilson to throw a slant pass from New England's 1-yard line on first down with the game on the line. Little-known Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler jumps the route and intercepts a pass that will go down as one of the most memorable plays in Super Bowl history. Later, Carroll rationalizes his decision by explaining that he didn't want to run, get stopped and be forced to burn his final timeout. With one of the NFL's best short-yardage backs in Marshawn Lynch as another option, some football fans can't help but to call this the worst coaching decision in Super Bowl history.
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March 10 -- New league year means big names in new uniforms
With several teams over the NFL's salary cap and a 4 p.m. NFL year-end deadline approaching to get under it, a few teams solve their problems with unexpected trades. The Seahawks make the first big splash, acquiring star tight end Jimmy Graham and a fourth-round pick from the Saints for center Max Unger and a first-round pick. The Eagles acquire quarterback Sam Bradford and a fifth-round pick from the Rams for quarterback Nick Foles, a fourth-round pick and a 2016 second-rounder. And the Lions pick up Ravens nose tackle Haloti Ngata for a fourth- and fifth-round pick
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Sept. 13 -- Eric Berry beats cancer, returns for regular-season opener
Kansas City Chiefs Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry, diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in December 2014 after complaining of chest discomfort, beats cancer and returns for Kansas City's training camp. On Sept. 13, he suits up for the team's first regular-season game against the Texans. In Week 2, he is re-installed as a starting safety, and in December he earns his fourth Pro Bowl selection.
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September-December -- Adrian Peterson returns in dominant form
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was suspended for the final 15 games of the 2014 regular season and seemed to be on his way out of Minnesota, but he regains his on-field form quickly in 2015 and leads the NFL in rushing for most of the season. At age 30 -- old for a running back -- Peterson tops 100 rushing yards six times in the Vikings' first 12 games, maxing out at 203 against the Raiders in November.
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September-December -- Longer extra points take their toll
This NFL's offseason decision to move extra-point attempts from 19 to 32 yards has an immediate impact. NFL kickers miss 61 attempts in the first 15 weeks after missing only eight in the entire 2014 season. Patriots kicker Stephen Gotskowski (pictured) is one of just six kickers with more than 20 extra-point attempts without a miss. In 2014, 26 teams went without a miss. The NFL's ruling results in some whacky scores, some intriguing two-point conversion attempts and a lot less job security for kickers.
October-December -- Several coaches are fired early
NFL teams usually wait until the offseason -- or at least the final couple of weeks of the season -- before giving head coaches their walking papers. In 2015, that is not the case. The Miami Dolphins get things started early by firing Joe Philbin in the first week of October. A month later, the Titans dismiss Ken Whisenhunt. Top assistants are hit hard, too. Offensive coordinators Bill Lazor (Dolphins), Joe Lombardi (Lions), Frank Cignetti (Rams) and Pep Hamilton (Colts) are fired. Defensive coordinators Rob Ryan (Saints) and Kevin Coyle (Dolphins) join them.
In the same week, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning breaks the NFL's all-time career passing yards record (previously held by Brett Favre) and is benched midgame for his four-interception performance in a loss to the Chiefs. It's later revealed that Manning has a foot injury, and questions linger as to whether he's played his last game of a Hall of Fame career.
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December -- Panthers strive for perfection
After losing top receiver Kelvin Benjamin to a season-ending knee injury before the start of the regular season, many expect the Panthers to regress in 2015. Instead, they emerge as the favorites to win Super Bowl 50 after a 14-0 start. Quarterback Cam Newton is the frontrunner for the league MVP award, and the defense is anchored by a standout at every level: defensive tackle Kawann Short, linebacker Luke Kuechly and cornerback Josh Norman.