A Pick Six of NFL game-changing plays
Talk about close calls.
The NFL season is all of a month old, and there already have
been a whole bunch of games that came down to the final moments.
Quite a few of them have been determined by a single play that led
to the winning points – or not – be it a 46-yard field goal by Matt
Bryant with 2 seconds left that lifted the Falcons over the 49ers
on Sunday, or Calvin Johnson’s touchdown-catch-that-wasn’t in the
final minute of the Lions’ season-opening loss to the Bears.
STATS LLC reports that more than half the games played (33 of
62) so far have been decided by 7 points or less, a higher total
than in any of the past 10 years.
With that in mind, here’s our Pick Six of plays that have some
teams wondering why they’re still winless and others feeling simply
wonderful to have won a game that was very losable.
– Roddy White, wr, Falcons, forces fumble (Falcons 16, 49ers 14,
Oct. 3): With the 49ers leading 14-13 and on the verge of their
first win of the season, Nate Clements picks off a pass by Falcons’
quarterback Matt Ryan at the Atlanta 49 with less than 90 seconds
remaining. Fall to the ground and run out the clock, right? Wrong.
Clements returns the ball to the Falcons’ 10, White pops the ball
loose, Atlanta recovers at its 7 and, 12 plays and 68 yards later,
Bryant kicks his 43-yard, game-winning field goal. Result: Falcons
3-1; 49ers 0-4.
– Calvin Johnson, wr, Lions, makes non-touchdown catch (Bears
19, Lions 14, Sept. 12): Johnson makes a leaping grab in the end
zone for what appears to be a 25-yard TD catch that puts the Lions
in the lead with 31 seconds left. But when he completes rolling
over, he leaves the ball on the ground and begins celebrating. The
official ruling is the player has to ”maintain possession of the
ball throughout the entire process of the catch.” Result: Lions
0-1 (now 0-4); Bears 1-0 (now 3-1).
– Garrett Hartley, pk, Saints, misses field goal (Falcons 27,
Saints 24 OT, Sept. 26): The Saints are headed for a 3-0 start, but
playoff hero Hartley is wide left on a chip-shot 29-yard field goal
attempt in OT, and the Falcons come back minutes later to win on
Matt Bryant’s 46-yarder with 1:55 left. The result carries over to
the next week: The Saints bring back 46-year-old John Carney, who
boots three field goals to help New Orleans beat Carolina 16-14 and
keep the Panthers winless. Result: Saints 2-1 (now 3-1); Falcons
2-1 (now 3-1).
– Ahmad Bradshaw, rb, Giants, commits end zone chop block
(Titans 29, Giants 10, Sept. 26): With the Giants and Titans tied
10-all early in the third quarter, Eli Manning connects with Mario
Manningham for 44 yards on third-and-10 from the New York 1.
Bradshaw, though, is flagged for a chop block in the end zone,
giving Tennessee a safety and a 12-10 lead. Six plays after the
ensuing free kick, Vince Young throws a 13-yard TD pass. To add
insult to penalty, Bradshaw fumbles away any Giants’ hope at the
Titans 7 on the next possession. Result: Giants 1-2 (now 2-2);
Titans 2-1 (now 2-2).
– Peyton Manning, qb, Colts, throws an interception (Jaguars 31,
Colts 28, Oct. 3): Instead of going ahead 21-14, the Colts fall
behind by that score when Manning’s pass near the goal line is
dropped by Brody Eldridge, picked off by Anthony Smith, returned
near midfield and becomes a Jaguars TD a few plays later on David
Garrard’s 15-yard TD pass. On the next drive, Reggie Wayne catches
a pass from Manning but fumbles inside the 10. Jacksonville’s Josh
Scobee drills a 59-yard field goal on the game’s final play for a
31-28 Jaguars win. Result: Colts 2-2, Jaguars 2-2.
– Leon Washington, kr/pr, Seahawks, returns kickoffs for TDs
(Seahawks 27, Chargers 20, Sept. 26): After Leon Washington returns
the second-half kickoff 101 yards to put the Seahawks ahead, the
Chargers pull even at 20-20. But they kick off again to Washington,
and he promptly races 99 yards for what turns out to be the winning
score. Result: Seattle 2-1 (now 2-2); San Diego 2-1 (now 2-2).