An inexplicable botched lateral, a deflected pick-6 and a touchdown run provided one of the rarest days in NFL history.
For the second time ever Sunday, three NFL games ended with a winning touchdown on the final play on the same day.
Chandler Jones returned a fumble 48 yards for a TD to end regulation and lift Las Vegas over New England, Rayshawn Jenkins had a pick-6 in overtime to push Jacksonville past Dallas, and Jerick McKinnon scored on a 26-yard run in OT to give Kansas City a win over Houston.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only other day three games ended with a go-ahead touchdown came on Sept. 17, 1995, when Emmitt Smith (TD run in OT for Dallas vs. Minnesota), Rod Smith (TD catch to end regulation for Denver vs. Washington), and James Hasty (pick-6 in OT for Kansas City vs. Oakland) did it.
The most improbable one on Sunday might have been the win for Las Vegas. The Raiders nearly blew their record-setting fifth game after leading by 13 points before getting bailed out in a wild finish against New England.
Las Vegas tied the game with 32 seconds left and it appeared headed for overtime when the Patriots called a running play from their 45 with three seconds remaining.
But inexplicably, Rhamondre Stevenson lateraled the ball to Jakobi Meyers, who then tried to throw it back across the field to quarterback Mac Jones.
Chandler Jones caught the lateral and returned it for the game-winning score.
According to Elias, it was just the third fumble recovery touchdown on the final play of regulation in AFL-NFL history, with the Raiders and Patriots also involved in the other two.
In 1978, Raiders tight end Dave Casper recovered a fumble in the end zone to beat the Chargers on a play memorialized as the “Holy Roller” game.
The Patriots did it in 1960 against the New York Titans when Chuck Shonta returned a fumble 52 yards for the winning score in a 28-24 win.
Combined with Jenkins’ pick-6, it marked the first time since the merger that there were two game-winning defensive scores on the final play in a single week.
Leading an epic comeback is nothing new for Kirk Cousins, and being part of a team that blew a big lead is familiar territory for Matt Ryan.
So perhaps it was appropriate they were the two quarterbacks who took part in the NFL’s biggest comeback ever when Cousins and Minnesota rallied from 33 points down to beat Ryan and Indianapolis 39-36 in overtime Saturday.
No team had come back from at least 24 points down in a regular-season game since Cousins did it in Week 7 of the 2015 season with Washington against Tampa Bay. Teams had been 0-346 when trailing by 24 in between those two rallies.
Cousins engineered his seventh fourth-quarter comeback of the season, one shy of the record set by Matthew Stafford in 2016.
The Vikings became the third team to win at least 10 games in a season decided by eight points or fewer, joining the 2019 Seahawks and 1978 Oilers. Minnesota is 10-0 in those one-score games.
Ryan somehow finds himself on the wrong end of these epic comebacks, having been on the Atlanta team that blew a Super Bowl-record 28-3 lead against New England following the 2016 season.
Ryan is the only quarterback since at least 1950 to lose two starts after his team led by at least 25 points in the regular season or playoffs.
New Orleans’ Taysom Hill joined some select company with his 68-yard touchdown pass to Rashid Shaheed in a 21-18 win over Atlanta.
That gave the Saints’ versatile playmaker 10 TD passes in his career, including the playoffs, to go along with his 21 touchdown runs and 11 TD catches.
Hill become the third player in NFL history with at least 10 touchdowns running, passing and receiving, joining Frank Gifford (46 receiving, 34 rushing, 14 passing) and Charlie Trippi (24 rushing, 16 passing, 11 receiving).
TOM NOT TERRIFIC
Tom Brady is hitting several new lows in his 23rd season.
After the Bucs blew a 17-point lead to Cincinnati on Sunday, Brady has lost eight games as a starter for the first time in his career.
Brady’s four home losses are the most he’s ever had in a season, and he lost at home for the first time ever when leading by at least 17 points. Brady also had his first career game with multiple interceptions and lost fumbles.
Jalen Hurts and Justin Fields are running their way into the record book.
Hurts ran for three more touchdowns Sunday in a Philadelphia Eagles win over Fields and the Chicago Bears, giving him 13 on the season.
Hurts also threw for 315 yards, joining Dak Prescott (Sept. 20, 2020, vs. Atlanta) and Jack Kemp (Oct. 26, 1963, vs. the Patriots) as the only players to throw for at least 300 yards and run for three scores in the same game.
Hurts, who also ran for three TDs in a game against New Orleans in 2021, joined Daunte Culpepper, Johnny Lujack and Tobin Rote as the only QBs with at least two games with three or more rushing touchdowns.
Hurts’ 13 touchdown runs this season are one shy of Cam Newton’s record set in 2011.
Fields ran for 95 yards in the game to give him 1,000 on the season, joining Lamar Jackson (1,206 yards rushing in 2019 and 1,005 in 2020) and Michael Vick (1,039 in 2006) as the only QBs to reach 1,000 yards rushing in a season.
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