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The Cardinals had a winning record with backup quarterbacks last year thanks in large part to their high-profile edge rusher who terrorized opposing offenses. We look at defeat leaders for every position, as well as overall leaders over the past few seasons.

29 Sep 2015

Clutch Encounters: Week 3

by Scott Kacsmar

For the second week in a row, the NFL only had three games scheduled for the late afternoon slate. These games were so terrible I actually fell asleep while sitting up. It sure wasn't a comeback attempt from Jimmy flippin' Clausen hosting John Fox's punt-fest in Seattle that woke me up -- it was the heat of my laptop. Fortunately we only cover the close games here, so here are the week's eight comeback opportunities. The Falcons created some more history, but we start with a team accustomed to pulling wins out of "part of the receiver's body."

Game of the Week

Indianapolis Colts 35 at Tennessee Titans 33

Type: 4QC/GWD
Largest Fourth-Quarter Deficit: 13 (27-14)
Head Coach: Chuck Pagano (6-7 at 4QC and 7-8 overall 4QC/GWD record)
Quarterback: Andrew Luck (10-8 at 4QC and 13-9 overall 4QC/GWD record)

For about a dozen years now, the Colts have led the league in improbable wins -- victories where things looked so bad that it was not clear how they could win. To state it more objectively, since 2003 the Colts have won 19 games after trailing by at least 12 points. Seattle (11) is the only other team in double figures in that span. Sunday was the ninth time the Colts have done it with Andrew Luck at quarterback. So just three games into Luck's fourth season, the Colts have done something only one other team has done more often in the last 13 seasons.

We are used to seeing the Luck/Pagano Colts beat up on AFC South competition. The Colts had won 13 straight division games coming into this one, but not all was right through two weeks. Rarely do you see a team turn a 14-point lead into a 13-point deficit, but the Colts found themselves in a 27-14 hole with the season possibly fading away.

Every comeback has a good starting point, and this one was sparked by the defense. On a third-and-9 at the Indianapolis 34, Marcus Mariota was sacked by Jerrell Freeman. Instead of adding points, the Titans had to punt. Luck still had 12:20 left, but first needed to drive 98 yards for a touchdown. Little had gone right for him through 11 quarters in 2015, and to this point his only real positive play in the game was a 48-yard bomb on which T.Y. Hilton made a great adjustment to convert a third-and-20. With on him pressure again and having already thrown two more interceptions, it felt like Luck was all out of magic and the Colts were well on their way to another bad loss to start 0-3.

After all, "win close or lose big" has been this team's modus operandi under Luck. Since 2012, the Colts are 21-4 in games decided by one score, and 16-16 in games decided by 9-plus points. The latter number is rarely in the 9- to 15-point range, as the Colts are just 2-6 in such games. This is a point where you expect Luck to turn the ball over, watch the Titans go up 20, and the Colts go on to lose 34-14. However, this game was still in reach despite the 27-0 scoring run by the Titans.

Then CBS showed Dick LeBeau on the Tennessee sideline. His official title is Assistant Head Coach/Defense, as Ray Horton is the defensive coordinator. Still, LeBeau's style of defense has a long history of failing to hold the lead and an inability to stop great quarterbacks. Luck has not played great since last year, but he has the ability to get hot. This defensive scheme has always been vulnerable to offenses that attack with tempo to slow down the "exotic" trickery and use a quick passing game to beat the blitz. From the 2-yard line, that's how Luck started to operate, and his crisp throws moved the ball down the field against little resistance.

When Luck tried to throw deep he ran into trouble, especially after getting sacked by Jurrell Casey to set up a third-and-20. But for the second time in the game he was able to convert in that situation with a deep throw to Phillip Dorsett for a 35-yard touchdown, the first of the rookie's career. The leaping grab was made after Dorsett flew past Marqueston Huff, who never located the ball.

The Titans were still OK, but that's when Mariota made his biggest mistake of the day by forcing a pass for Dwight Lowery's second interception. Just 11 yards away from the lead, Luck threw a good pass to Donte Moncrief for the go-ahead touchdown with 5:53 left. Moncrief beat Perrish Cox, who was often in this column last year with the 49ers.

Now Tennessee looked shell-shocked and Mariota threw three incompletions a row, two defensed by Vontae Davis. The Colts continued to roll offensively and Frank Gore was in the end zone for another touchdown. With just 2:51 left in the game, this is where the Colts should have considered going for a two-point conversion to take a 36-27 lead. Coincidentally, it was a 2013 game between these teams where I first argued the Colts should have gone for two to go up nine with 1:51 left. The math is just a hair more favorable now that the extra point is less of a sure thing. Either way, your defense still plays with the goal of not allowing a touchdown. Either way, the opponent is going to try an onside kick, whether they score down nine or if they fail on the two-point conversion. I still believe the nine-point lead instills doubt into the opponent, knowing it will need two scores in a very short period of time. A pass-happy offense with a mobile quarterback like the Colts should be better than average at two-point conversion attempts too.

Alas, the Colts kicked the extra point again to keep it a 35-27 game. Since 2007, the Colts have only allowed seven fourth-quarter comebacks in the regular season, compared to four in the playoffs. Things started well when Robert Mathis sacked Mariota. The rookie collected himself and was impressive in driving down the field to set up the Titans at the 2-yard line. However, the Titans wasted a good amount of time to bring in personnel for the goal line. Mariota's completion to Dorial Green-Beckham was over at 1:35. The Titans did not run another play until there were 59 seconds left, or a waste of at least 20 seconds. That's probably why the best argument for being up eight versus nine is that the team down eight always seems to play too slowly instead of hurrying up to make sure they have enough time to answer should the two-point conversion fail. That's on Ken Whisenhunt and his coaching staff.

Eventually Jalston Fowler scored on a 1-yard dive. The Colts were penalized for pass interference, moving the two-point conversion to the 1-yard line. Tennessee ran the exact same play they used to score the touchdown, but this time Fowler was stuffed in the backfield. He tried to break tackles, but kept losing ground, never bothered to lateral to the faster Mariota, and eventually crumbled after an ankle injury at the 16-yard line. That was brutal in every way.

With 47 seconds left, Tennessee's onside kick went out of bounds and the Colts completed another comeback win. It is the tenth fourth-quarter comeback for Luck, and is actually the largest fourth-quarter deficit (13 points) overcome by the Colts since the 17-point comeback in the fourth-and-2 game in 2009. Luck shook off a sloppy 11 quarters to go 11-of-13 for 144 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. There are still serious problems here, but maybe now the offense will get on track.

Clutch Encounters of the Winning Kind

Cincinnati Bengals 28 at Baltimore Ravens 24

Type: 4QC/GWD
Largest Fourth-Quarter Deficit: 3 (24-21)
Head Coach: Marvin Lewis (26-58-1 at 4QC and 37-58-2 overall 4QC/GWD record)
Quarterback: Andy Dalton (9-16-1 at 4QC and 14-16-1overall 4QC/GWD record)

Was this a statement game between the Bengals (now 3-0) and Ravens (0-3)?

Cincinnati's statement was akin to saying "we still switch to cable in January, but we have DIRECTV in the regular season." This win was a lot harder than it needed to be after the Bengals jumped out to a 14-0 lead. Red zone mistakes cost the Bengals a potential 24-0 or 28-0 lead before Baltimore's comeback. Andy Dalton's first turnovers of the season brought back bad memories, but nothing was worse than giving up a strip-sack to Elvis Dumervil and watching C.J. Mosley return the fumble for a go-ahead touchdown with 6:49 left. To his credit, Dalton finished strong (a career-high 383 passing yards) in Cincinnati's fourth-straight win over the Ravens.

That is because Baltimore's statement was "it's 2015 and we still have no clue how to cover A.J. Green in this building." In 2013 Green caught a tipped Hail Mary for a 51-yard touchdown to force overtime. In Week 1 of 2014, Green again caught a tipped pass for a 77-yard game-winning touchdown. Now with the Bengals down 17-14, Dalton went right to Green down the seam for an 80-yard touchdown. Safety Kendrick Lewis, new to the rivalry, watched Green blow right past him before breaking two more tackles on his way to the end zone.

Not to be outdone, Steve Smith had himself a fantastic day with 13 catches for 186 yards. His second touchdown beat Dre Kirkpatrick in the end zone for a go-ahead touchdown with 3:56 left. Dalton has actually led a game-winning touchdown drive in four straight games against the Ravens, and this was another 80-yard march. Like we saw last week in Oakland, the Ravens were not getting much pressure or covering the receivers tightly. Marvin Jones made a great 31-yard catch over Kyle Arrington to move into the red zone. Too often in this situation teams settle for the tying field goal, but on second down Dalton went to Green in the end zone and he beat Jimmy Smith with ease for the touchdown with 2:10 left. When a guy has 227 yards, maybe you should double-team him in the end zone. Baltimore's basic coverage never had a chance.

The best chance for the Ravens might have been Joe Flacco having the ball in a 28-24 game with 2:10 left. We looked at do-or-die touchdown drives in this situation last week, and Flacco had the best rate (35.7 percent) of getting a touchdown among the primary active quarterbacks. This week he ended up with a four-and-out. Smith looked to have caught a fourth-down conversion, but it was wiped away by a facemask penalty on Kelechi Osemele. On fourth-and-17, Flacco's deep shot for Maxx Williams fell incomplete.

You need about 1:25 left on the clock to just kneel three times against a team with one timeout left, so the Bengals had to burn a little clock with 1:35 to go. Giovani Bernard ended up converting anyway with a 5-yard run on fourth-and-5. The Ravens are 0-3 for the first time in franchise history, which only goes back to 1996.

The Ravens have a defensive reputation, but this was the second week in a row they blew a fourth-quarter lead given to them late by the offense. That's what I refer to as a lost comeback, explained here last year. Flacco now has nine lost comebacks in his career, which ties him with Eli Manning for the second-most among active players. Drew Brees has the all-time record at 15 lost comebacks. Flacco would be perfect to break that record, throwing a wrench into his peculiar "clutch/elite" debate by making people look at some of his losses in a positive light. The margin between 3-0 and 0-3 for the 2015 Ravens is one of the tiniest we've seen.

Atlanta Falcons 39 at Dallas Cowboys 28

Type: 4QC/GWD
Largest Fourth-Quarter Deficit: 3 (28-25)
Head Coach: Dan Quinn (3-0 at 4QC and 3-0 overall 4QC/GWD record)
Quarterback: Matt Ryan (23-27 at 4QC and 30-27 overall 4QC/GWD record)

I knew we picked the Falcons before the season to win the NFC South due in large part to an easy schedule. But I was blown away when I looked at the schedule on Friday and how soft it appears right now. Getting this game in Dallas without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant was certainly a huge advantage, but the Cowboys still made the Falcons work for the win. Dallas had leads of 14-0, 21-7, and 28-14, but a huge breakout day from Devonta Freeman (141 rushing yards and three scores) helped balance the dominance of Matt Ryan-to-Julio Jones.

Brandon Weeden is 29-of-33 (87.9 percent) this season, but his average throw is a league-low 4.8 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Interestingly enough, the quarterback ahead of him is Tony Romo at 5.4 yards, so Dallas has been relying heavily on short throws to running backs this year, with Lance Dunbar catching all 10 of his targets on Sunday. It is odd to pick on a quarterback with four incompletions, but Weeden had a horrible interception, and as Atlanta was scoring the game's final 25 points, Weeden's success rate was only 2-of-9.

Ryan looked spryer than usual, even juking out Barry Church on an 18-yard scramble to end the third quarter with Atlanta trailing 28-25. Freeman finished that drive with a touchdown and Atlanta led 32-28. Vic Beasley was able to get around Tyron Smith and get just enough of Weeden's feet for a third-down sack to force a three-and-out. Atlanta held the ball for more than six minutes thanks to three third-down conversions, including a nifty play design to get Jones coming across the formation so he was wide open for a touchdown. Church couldn't get there in time to take away the pass and Atlanta led 39-28 with only 3:04 left. Terrance Williams ended the game for Dallas with a pretty ugly drop on fourth-and-4. That play wasn't Weeden's fault. Now the play before it where Weeden slid to take a sack instead of throwing the ball away? That's his fault, and that's the kind of incompetence the Cowboys are going to have to deal with until Romo can return.

It would be an understatement to say the Falcons are a fortunate 3-0, but after going 4-13 on their 4QC/GWD opportunities in 2013-14, it's about time this team got back to finishing games. With Ryan at the helm, they had been historic in that regard since 2008.

Fewest Games to Reach 30 Game-Winning Drives (Includes Playoffs)
Rk Quarterback Total GWD Date of 30th GWD Age Season Game No.
1 Matt Ryan 30 9/27/2015 30-133 8th 118
2 Johnny Unitas 40 12/4/1966 33-211 11th 140
3 Jake Plummer 30 11/12/2006 31-328 10th 142
4 Dan Marino 51 9/27/1992 31-012 10th 146
5 Ben Roethlisberger 35 10/20/2013 31-232 10th 147
6 Tom Brady 46 10/17/2010 33-075 11th 152
7 Eli Manning 31 12/22/2013 32-353 10th 163
8 Peyton Manning 52 11/18/2007 31-239 10th 167
9 Drew Brees 36 10/7/2012 33-266 12th 168
10 John Elway 46 12/12/1993 33-167 11th 170
11 Warren Moon 37 11/5/1995 38-352 12th 175
12 Drew Bledsoe 31 12/11/2005 33-300 13th 192
13 Kerry Collins 30 10/24/2010 37-298 16th 195
14 Joe Montana 33 1/8/1994 37-211 15th 198
15 Vinny Testaverde 33 11/25/2004 41-012 18th 218
16 Brett Favre 45 11/14/2004 35-035 14th 221
17 Fran Tarkenton 34 11/21/1976 36-292 16th 225

It comes as no surprise that the 2015 Falcons are the first team in NFL history to start 3-0 with three fourth-quarter comebacks. Ryan has just had that kind of career. He is the fastest (118 games) and youngest quarterback in NFL history to reach 30 game-winning drives. No other quarterback had reached 30 game-winning drives before their 10th season in the NFL, but Ryan has done it three games into his eighth season. This list could include 12 future Hall of Famers, and Ryan has not established himself in that class yet, but he has been walking along that path with the last two years serving as a minor detour. If the Falcons continue to close games with sound execution, he will get the credit he deserves.

Clutch Encounters of the Losing Kind

Broncos at Lions: Risky Business

This game essentially came down to a few risky decisions. Peyton Manning made his pay off while Matthew Stafford had a few bad turnovers. Neither offense could run the ball -- Denver's 18 carries produced 42 yards while Detroit's 18 carries produced 29 yards. Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas, two of Georgia Tech's finest and two of the highest paid receivers in the business, made some plays, but it was Thomas' 45-yard touchdown catch on a fourth-and-1 bomb from Manning before halftime that turned the game around.

The 24-12 final is misleading. This was a one-score game for the first 57 minutes. Detroit only trailed 14-12 in the fourth quarter, but Stafford held the ball too long and was hit as he threw, causing a fumble. The Tuck Rule is gone, but these plays still get called as inconsistently as before, so it's hard for me to say if a fumble was technically the right call even if I feel that's how such plays should be viewed. Denver turned that into a field goal, but only after Detroit lined up in an illegal formation, giving Brandon McManus another shot to make the kick from 48 yards away after missing from 53.

Still, Detroit looked to be in business at the Denver 46 with 5:00 left. That's when the Denver defense stepped up, as it so often has in these moments. David Bruton undercut a Stafford pass with one hand and showed great concentration to haul in an interception. Manning finally hit a deep ball to Emmanuel Sanders in 2015, but even this 34-yard gain had to be wrestled away from Darius Slay, who was also burned on the touchdown before halftime. Maybe Manning can sign that ball for the cornerback.

Detroit used its final timeout with 2:32 left and the Broncos faced a third-and-6 at the Detroit 11. A first down would have ended the game, but Manning lobbed a pass to the end zone where only Owen Daniels could catch it for the clinching touchdown. Stafford treated us to a brutally long drive of short passes until finally turning the ball over on downs in the red zone. A week after the debate of whether or not Gary Kubiak should keep Peyton Manning under center, the Broncos had Manning in the shotgun or pistol on all 44 of his dropbacks against the Lions. That worked, though this offense is still a work in progress.

At this point of his career, Manning can only carry an offense with the support of the league's best defense. He's not winning 35-31 games with this current setup. The "preserve Manning's arm with a strong running game" strategy has been a complete bust so far. Denver is 3-0 thanks to the defense holding each offense to 17 or fewer points.

The 2015 Broncos are only the seventh team in NFL history to win three games in a season with at least 40 pass attempts and under 70 rushing yards. No team has ever won four such games in a season, so this formula is unsustainable. It has worked so far thanks to the defense and Manning getting the offense to deliver in the fourth quarter. However, the running game will have to improve or the passing game will have to get more chunk plays for this to continue being a success.

Buccaneers at Texans: Involves Wide Right and Florida State

Each season there are usually a couple of games where the kickers were largely the deciding factor in the outcome. Last season one such game was Buffalo at Detroit. This contest looks like a strong candidate for 2015. That is not to discredit Alfred Blue's 139-yard rushing effort, the fact that Houston's Randy Bullock also missed a makeable field goal and extra point, or that the Texans held Tampa Bay to 1-of-12 on third downs. But when your kicker tells the coach he has range from 70 yards and drills a field goal from 58 yards away into the back of the net, then you start to put some high expectations on that player.

That kicker is Kyle Brindza, an undrafted rookie from Notre Dame whom Tampa Bay acquired in a trade with Detroit for Tim Wright in August. After crushing his first kick, Brindza proceeded to screw up the Buccaneers' win probability. First he missed an extra point by hitting the right upright. Then he was wide right on a 41-yard field goal in the third quarter that would have put the Buccaneers ahead. Jameis Winston drove the offense to the Houston 15 in the fourth quarter, but failed to connect with Mike Evans, who only caught 7-of-17 targets on a drop-heavy day. Brindza had a pretty easy 33-yard field goal, but he was again wide right with 10:56 left in a 10-9 game. Do you think Winston ever saw any footage of wide-right kicks while he was at Florida State? Oh, cursed Florida and its bad kicking history. These were seven pretty easy points Brindza left on the field for Tampa Bay.

Winston's aim was off a bit on Sunday and the Texans stacked scoring drives to take a 19-9 lead. The big play was a pass interference penalty on Alterraun Verner, who didn't think he could keep up with DeAndre Hopkins on a third-and-10 slant. Down ten points with 1:12 to go, it is hard to say any NFL team has perfected a strategy for when you should kick a field goal to set up an onside kick and Hail Mary. Tampa Bay chose a first down at the Houston 39 with 24 seconds left. Of course, Brindza missed the 57-yard field goal, and that ended any chance for a great ending. Those damn kickers.

Saints at Panthers: Get Well Soon, Drew Brees

Don't get me wrong; Luke McCown played about as well as he could for a quarterback making his 10th start in 12 years. But the Saints have been Drew Brees' offense since 2006, and what will go down as one of the most underappreciated ironman streaks in NFL history came to an end on Sunday due to a strained rotator cuff. It was the first time Brees ever missed a start due to injury. He was benched for five games in 2003 for poor play in San Diego. He sat out twice in Week 17 (2004 and 2009) for playoff rest. Otherwise Brees started in 214 games including playoffs without an injury incident.

The streak is over, and so may be another New Orleans season after a 0-3 start. The chances were there again with an early 10-0 lead, and the special teams chipped in with a 74-yard punt return touchdown by Marcus Murphy (the Saints missed the ensuing extra point when McCown botched the hold). Even when Carolina pushed the lead to 27-16 with 9:32 left on Cam Newton's touchdown run, McCown drove the offense 80 yards for a touchdown. Again the botched extra point came back to haunt the Saints, forcing them to go for two. McCown's pass floated to no one in particular and the Saints trailed 27-22 with 4:50 left.

The defense forced a quick three-and-out to get McCown the ball back with 3:50 remaining. McCown was 31-of-38 in the game, and that was even with three drops on this drive alone. They overcame these mistakes to get the ball to the Carolina 23, but that was where McCown got a bit greedy on third-and-6. You'll take the score whenever you can get it, but clock management should still be a priority. McCown had the running back open in the flat, but he had tunnel vision for Brandin Cooks in single coverage with Josh Norman to his right the whole way. Marques Colston kind of jogged his route to the middle of the field, which should have been a route designed to stop at the necessary yards needed for the first down. That would have been an easy throw, and Carolina got away with soft coverage on Colston. Instead McCown forced one to Cooks in the end zone and Norman came down with a great interception -- Kelvin Benjamin would appreciate the extension here -- with 1:09 left.

Carolina wisely just ran the ball three times and punted, though the punt was a poor one at 34 yards. Worse, the clock did not even start on the punt and the Saints only lost four seconds. I timed the play from snap to whistle at about 5.9 seconds. Regardless, McCown had 10 seconds left from his own 45. Cooks went out of bounds on a short catch for 10 yards to set up the shorter Hail Mary from 45 yards away. That never happened. McCown, under pressure, flipped a pass to Mark Ingram at the Carolina 42, and Ingram finished off the 23-yard gain without even a thought of doing a lateral or anything conducive to making this work.

Raiders at Browns: At the Late Night, Double Feature, McCown Show

We have more McCown than you can handle this week as Josh regained his starting job for no good reason in Cleveland. While Raiders vs. Browns can bring back memories of Charlie Frye and Andrew Walter, this one actually had at least one quarterback playing solid football. Derek Carr paced the Raiders to a 27-10 lead with 14:30 left to play in an ideal game for the young offense. Carr passed for 314 yards without a sack or giveaway, rookie Amari Cooper had 134 receiving yards and Latavius Murray rushed for 139 yards and a score. That is how the 2015 Raiders would draw it up, and the Browns were letting them have their way in some rare east coast domination for Oakland in the early-afternoon slot.

On the other side of the ball, Khalil Mack pitched in two sacks to hold the Browns to a field goal. Cooper was then stripped to set up Cleveland in good field position for a 44-yard drive that ended with Travis Benjamin scoring another touchdown in 2015. This was only of the 4-yard variety, but Cleveland trailed 27-20 with 6:28 left.

Benjamin muffed a punt, but Oakland failed to capitalize. After a punt, McCown had to drive the Browns 98 yards with 2:26 left for the game-tying touchdown. You may say the ending was predictable, but it was not sudden. McCown drove the Browns to the Oakland 29, but a sack after he tried to scramble really bogged things down with 43 seconds left. Like his brother Luke down in Carolina, McCown thought he had a shot down the right sideline to his favorite receiver, but Charles Woodson came over to make another timeless play with the game-ending interception.

Between Josh (4-24) and Luke (1-7), the McCown brothers are 5-31 (.139) at 4QC/GWD opportunities, but they will always have Nate Poole.

Steelers at Rams: A Big Break for Big Ben

The return of Le'veon Bell was just another weapon added to Ben Roethlisberger's arsenal in what was shaping up to be a career year. Instead things took a scary turn in the third quarter when Roethlisberger suffered a low sack and immediately grabbed for his leg. He had not been pressured much at all during the game, but he had just taken his second straight sack. It's not uncommon, something we have seen hundreds of times before in his career, but this was not a hit he easily absorbed. It does appear Roethlisberger has caught a major break with no ACL damage and he will be out for four to six weeks with a MCL sprain. He has missed 10 starts in his career due to six different injuries, but has always managed to avoid the real significant injury. He appears to have dodged another big one here.

The game was hard to watch after that point with backup Michael Vick nearly committing a few turnovers in limited action. The Rams certainly had their chances to win, trailing 9-3 in the fourth quarter. They settled for a field goal to make it 9-6, then Nick Foles made a terrible decision to force a deep ball with 3:02 left. Will Allen came down with the first interception of the season for the Steelers, which led to a field goal. That was another case of taking a 6-point lead in the final two minutes or going for it on fourth-and-2 to end the game with a first down. If Roethlisberger had been in the game, I think the Steelers should have gone for it. Kicker Josh Scobee has been very shaky and a 41-yard field goal is no guarantee for him. With Vick in and Foles not really impressing, the call for the kick was safer.

Down 12-6 with 1:51 left, Foles had a chance to be the hero, but Kenny Britt was unable to come down with a catch on fourth down. He was initially ruled to have the conversion, but one replay angle clearly showed the ball bounced off the ground after he landed. The Pyrrhic victory was complete, but the day could have been much worse for Pittsburgh. Last year the Steelers offense had the fewest adjusted games lost due to injury (4.1), but this year the injuries to Maurkice Pouncey and Roethlisberger alone should exceed that.

Season Summary

Fourth-quarter comeback wins: 12
Game-winning drives: 11 (plus two non-offensive game-winning scores)
Games with 4QC opportunity: 27/48 (56.3 percent)
10+ point comeback wins (any point in the game): 8

Historic data on fourth-quarter comebacks and game-winning drives can be found at Pro-Football-Reference. Screen caps come from NFL Game Pass.

Posted by: Scott Kacsmar on 29 Sep 2015

3 comments, Last at 30 Sep 2015, 9:00pm by alan frankel


by nottom :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 9:30am

"That's probably why the best argument for being up eight versus nine is that the team down eight always seems to play too slowly instead of hurrying up to make sure they have enough time to answer should the two-point conversion fail. That's on Ken Whisenhunt and his coaching staff."

Of course if they score quickly and convert, then everyone is on them for leaving the Colts too much time to drive for a winning FG. Ideally you set yourself up to score with 20 sec or so remaining, where getting into FG range after recovering the onside kick isn't too difficult but driving after a regular kickoff would be, but of course you can't always get exactly what you want.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 3:11pm

That reminds me, I need to finish the onside kick study. It's such a hard play to recover. So far teams are 0-for-14 in 2015.

by alan frankel :: Wed, 09/30/2015 - 9:00pm

Andy dalton looks he's having one of the Matt hasselbeck/Jake Dellhome Super Bowl years where a guy who hasn't always played his best in big spots finally puts it togather. I thought the Ravens had the game won after the 2nd Steve Smith score and Dalton just tore their hearts out. I know they usually play Baltimore tough but I think were seeing a different dalton this year