RECORDS & AWARDS
October 17, 2012Richmond High School
The first six weeks of the NFL season have been filled with exciting games and last-second heroics. Game-winning scores that turn a defeat into a victory highlight the unpredictability of the National Football League.
“A lot of real close, competitive games come down to the last possession, the last play or one key play right at the end of the game,” says New England Patriots head coach BILL BELICHICK. “The league is very competitive all the way across the board.”
This season, there have been 24 games in which the winning points were scored in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime.
That is the most through Week 6 in any season since the 1970 merger.
Of those 24 games, seven have been decided in overtime and 10 have seen the winning points scored in the final 10 seconds of the fourth quarter.
“The game’s played for 60 minutes and you have to be able to play all 60,” says Detroit Lions head coach JIM SCHWARTZ. “The attitude is to just play your best for four quarters. This is the NFL. You’re never going to have every single play go right for you.”
The Atlanta Falcons, who have the NFL’s best record at 6-0, have won two games this season with game-winning scores in the final five seconds of regulation (Weeks 4 and 6). Quarterback MATT RYAN has led Atlanta to 19 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime, the most by a quarterback in his first five seasons in the Super Bowl era.
“You’ve got to have a sense of calm,” says Ryan. “Obviously you don’t want to be in those situations and you want to play better in the first three or four quarters, but that’s the nature of the NFL. There are going to be a lot of games that will come down to what you do on the last drive. We’ve been in those situations many times before. So everybody is comfortable, confident and, in a certain way, settled. We know what we need to do and we just go out there and try and do it. Having the experience that we’ve had in the past helps us in those situations.”
In each of the first six weeks, there have been at least two games in which the winning points were scored in the final two minutes or overtime. There were seven such games in Week 3 and five more in Week 6. In fact, Week 3 was only the second week in NFL history (Week 6, 1995) in which seven games had the winning points scored in the final minute of the fourth quarter or overtime.
“That’s a typical NFL finish,” said Jacksonville head coach MIKE MULARKEY after the Jaguars scored on an 80-yard touchdown pass with 45 seconds remaining to defeat Indianapolis in Week 3. “Great throw, great catch, great call by (offensive coordinator) BOB BRATKOWSKI.”
Jacksonville’s victory – highlighted by BLAINE GABBERT’s 80-yard touchdown to CECIL SHORTS in the final minute of play – is one of eight this season in which the winning points were scored via touchdown in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter. And five of those eight game-winning touchdowns came in the final 45 seconds of regulation.
Rookie quarterback RUSSELL WILSON of the Seattle Seahawks has thrown two of those touchdown passes and is the first rookie to throw two game-winning TD passes in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime since at least 1970.
“The biggest thing is staying in the now and just playing one play at a time,” says Wilson. “Just trust your offensive scheme and make the plays when you get the opportunity. The key is to continue to stay focused on what we can control.”
Six weeks into the season, the NFL has shown that anything is possible.
“The league’s really wacky this year,” says Bills safety JAIRUS BYRD, whose interception set up the game-winning field goal in Buffalo’s 19-16 overtime win at Arizona last week. “Anything can happen.”