Captain Comeback Week 16: Steelers’ Meltdown Complete

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Dec 24, 2012



By Scott Kacsmar

Cold Hard Football Facts’ Comeback King (@CaptainComeback)

If you were hoping for your team to deliver the gift of a fourth-quarter comeback win for Christmas, then you are surely disappointed this holiday season. Doubly disappointed if you are a fan of the Steelers, Giants, 49ers, Cowboys or Texans.

After last week’s lone comeback by Dallas, Week 16 featured zero as the season of marquee blowouts continued. There were seven games with a comeback opportunity, and three road teams did deliver game-winning drives, but we were comeback-less again like Week 10. It is the first time since 2008 (weeks 7 and 12) that a season had no comeback wins in multiple weeks.

The Cowboys did nearly pull off another shocker, while Ben Roethlisberger just did something shockingly awful for the second straight week. Andrew Luck broke more records, while another rookie came up short on his final drive.

Season Report
Fourth quarter comebacks: 65
Game-winning drives: 78
Games with 4QC opportunity: 132/240 (55.0 percent)
10+ point comebacks wins (any point in the game): 37

 

DRIVE OF THE WEEK

Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers

Winner: Cincinnati (13-10)
Type: GWD
Quarterback: Andy Dalton (5-9 at 4QC, 7-9 overall 4Q/OT record - table)

This was a do-or-die playoff game for the Steelers, and it went about as bad as some past home playoff games have gone for them.

It was time for the Cincinnati Bengals to stop being the “Bungles” and take care of a reeling Pittsburgh team. Early on, things looked good as the Bengals used a pick six of Ben Roethlisberger to take a 7-0 lead, then after the Steelers botched a 24-yard field goal, the Bengals went up 10-0.

But the Steelers have been down by 10 points in eight different games this season, so it was nothing new for them. They responded quickly in the no-huddle with a 60-yard touchdown to Antonio Brown, who ate up Pacman Jones on the double move.

The defense intercepted Andy Dalton on the first play of the second half, but as a common theme of the day, the offense could do nothing with it, going three and out. For a defense that only has 16 takeaways, you have to take advantage of them, especially when you get three.

It was an all-around bad mix for Todd Haley’s offense. Too many runs that did not work, poor pass protection, and poor throws and decisions by Roethlisberger. The offense was just 2/14 on third down.

Cincinnati had their own struggles as they rushed 16 times for 14 yards while Dalton was sacked six times. Dalton almost came up with a big throw to A.J. Green on 4th and 22 (that really did happen), which was part of the wild coaching decisions this one had in it.

Pittsburgh gained some momentum with the stop, but three negative plays led to a 40-yard field goal that tied the game. Cincinnati was driving as the fourth quarter began, but Green fumbled at the PIT 30; the first lost fumble of his career.

But the Steelers went three and out again, and David DeCastro allowed another sack in his second career start. On 3rd and 17, Dalton’s pass was tipped to stay in bounds and intercepted by Cortez Allen. It was basically a punt.

Another Pittsburgh drive stalled after a few dangerous, contested passes from Roethlisberger. The Bengals drove and chewed up clock, but eventually Marvin Lewis settled for a 56-yard field goal attempt. Now Lewis has been to Heinz Field many times and should be well aware of the difficulty of making a 50+ yard field goal.

Josh Brown was short, giving the Steelers great field position at their own 46. Some runs moved the ball into shaky field goal territory, but Rashard Mendenhall lost two yards, setting up a big 3rd and 8 at the CIN 40 with 2:00 left. To make matters worse, Heath Miller injured his knee and had to leave the game before this play.

This is at least the fifth time this year the Steelers have been in this situation, where one completion could be the difference in a game-winning field goal (Eagles/Ravens) and not winning (Titans/Cowboys).

But Haley’s play-call was awful with the top two receivers (Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown) not even running routes for a first down, and getting zero separation. Roethlisberger scrambled, but looked slow and only gained four yards.

Mike Tomlin also apparently forgot about Heinz Field, and Shaun Suisham attempted a 53-yard field goal. As CBS pointed out, kickers are just 5/22 (22.7 percent) on field goals of 50+ yards in the regular season and postseason at Heinz Field.

Suisham’s kick was straight enough, but too short. The Bengals took over with 1:47 to play. Dalton threw a bad bomb on 3rd and 1, and they went three and out. Just more bad play-calling.

The Steelers had 0:44 left at their own 11 with two timeouts in their pocket. Since each coach now remembers the field-goal range, this was going to be a tough situation. You are probably looking at gaining at least 59 yards to give yourself a 47-yard attempt.

From our one-minute drills, just one team (1987 Patriots over Raiders) went 59+ yards in the last 0:50 to kick a field goal since 1981. Even that drive included a 40-yard pass play to start it, and the Patriots blew the field goal before getting another shot (Raiders were offsides). These just do not happen, which is why you get overtime.

But that’s where the Steelers blew it last week in Dallas after Roethlisberger’s interception down the right sideline. This time he threw a 13-yard dump pass to Isaac Redman, and the clock was stopped for a delay of game penalty on the Bengals. Roethlisberger then had a pass tipped at the line which dangerously hung in the air for a bit. At this point you had to get nervous, and only 0:24 remained.

Then the dagger came.

Trying to make a play on a scramble to his right like he’s been doing since 2004, Roethlisberger overthrew Wallace and Reggie Nelson was there for the interception. Nelson returned it to the PIT 46.

With a timeout left, one good completion from Dalton should do it. He delivered, and Green got out of bounds for 21 yards at the PIT 25. Brown, Seattle’s kicker from Super Bowl XL, came out and calmly drilled the 43-yard field goal, knocking the Steelers out of the playoffs for some revenge.

Pittsburgh got the ball back with just three seconds left, and Redman had a fitting last play: at midfield he pitched the ball right to a Bengal for another giveaway to end the game.

To end the season for that matter. Once again the Steelers fail to three-peat in the postseason (missed in 2003, 2006 and 2009).

What caused it this time? A lot of the same problems in those past years: bad coaching and player mistakes from top to bottom. The Steelers’ 2012 season was almost an entire series of one-score games that could have easily turned on one big play. But far too often the big play went the other team’s way (4-7 at fourth quarter/overtime wins this year).

The late-season losses will fall back on Roethlisberger’s shoulders with three critical interceptions in the last two weeks; two coming to basically end the game. That is very uncharacteristic of him.

Ben Roethlisberger's Clutch-Situation Interceptions (Losses)

No.

Date

Opp.

Result

Down

Time

LOS

Down-Distance

1

12/4/2005

CIN

L 38-31

31-24

9:08

PIT 42

1st-10

2

9/18/2006

at JAX

L 9-0

6-0

5:02

PIT 40

1st-10

3

9/24/2006

CIN

L 28-20

28-20

0:22

CIN 16

3rd-10

4

10/8/2006

at SD

L 23-13

20-13

6:06

PIT 46

2nd-6

5

10/29/2006

at RAI

L 20-13

13-6

15:00

RAI 36

4th-1

6

9:49

RAI 7

3rd-7 (Pick 6)

7

9/30/2007

at CRD

L 21-14

21-14

0:19

PIT 32

3rd-18

8

10/26/2008

NYG

L 21-14

21-14

1:31

PIT 5

4th-15

9

11/9/2008

IND

L 24-20

24-20

0:01

IND 27

4th-5 (Hail Mary)

10

10/2/2011

at HOU

L 17-10

17-10

0:19

PIT 40

2nd-10 (Hail Mary)

11

9/9/2012

at DEN

L 31-19

25-19

2:10

PIT 39

2nd-10 (Pick 6)

12

12/16/2012

at DAL

L 27-24 OT

24-24

14:29 (OT)

PIT 27

2nd-3

13

12/23/2012

CIN

L 13-10

10-10

0:24

PIT 29

2nd-5

Make that 13 career interceptions in clutch situations (fourth quarter/overtime, tied or down 1-8 points) for Roethlisberger in losses. Five of them came in that troubled 2006 season. But there are three this season, which is more than the two he had that weren’t Hail Mary’s in the previous four seasons combined (2007-11).

Sunday’s may have been the worst yet given the situation. Some of these past interceptions were not in severe moments of desperation that required a Hail Mary. Sunday’s situation should not have been desperate at all in a tied game with such little time left.

You expect your future Hall of Fame quarterback to win a critical game when the team allows 13 points. Seven of those points are all on him for the pick six, while the last three are also heavily on his mistake.

Before Sunday, the Steelers were 55-3 (.948) when allowing 13 points or less since 2004. One of those losses was to Baltimore without Roethlisberger this year. 

At home, Roethlisberger was a perfect 40-0 when the Steelers allowed 17 points or less in his career.

That record is 45-2 at home when the Steelers allow 20 points or less. Both losses are to the Bengals, including a critical 18-12 loss in 2009 on what was another off day by Roethlisberger.

He has won this team a lot of games, but the tough wins just have not come as often since Super Bowl XLIII. But it would be fitting for the Steelers to throw their season away, a season in which they lost to Oakland, Tennessee, Cleveland and San Diego.

The Bengals are not a very threatening team, but the defense has been legit, and they are in the playoffs for the second straight year. They finally took down one of the big boys in the AFC North.

 

THE OTHER PATHS TO VICTORY

New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys

Winner: New Orleans (34-31 OT)
Type: GWD
Quarterback: Drew Brees (20-37 at 4QC, 31-43 overall 4Q/OT record - table)

Not a must-win game, but still an important one for Dallas as they look to win the NFC East or at least earn a Wild Card spot. But while the Saints were eliminated, Drew Brees has been on fire lately, and we would enjoy one of the finer passing clinics in NFL history between him and Tony Romo.

Think of this as the anti-Steelers/Browns. Both quarterbacks passed for at least 416 yards, seven combined touchdowns, and no interceptions in a 65-point display of offense.

It was all New Orleans early, but a missed 36-yard field goal kept the door open for Dallas to tie it with a 58-yard touchdown to Dez Bryant. Back and forth the teams went before DeMarco Murray fumbled late in the third quarter, setting up Brees at the DAL 5. He of course finished the drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Thomas.

The Saints were driving again in the fourth quarter, and that’s when Marques Colston made a 60-yard gain on 3rd and 8. One play later Brees had his third touchdown pass of the day to complete a 98-yard touchdown drive. The Saints led 31-17.

Romo was playing well, but would need a lot of help to make this comeback. It did not help when Miles Austin and Murray dropped passes to start the drive. But Bryant was good again for 26 yards on 3rd and 10. Austin again had issues with his hands and Romo was sacked on a blitz.

The Saints did a decent job on the clock, but Romo would get it back with 4:45 left, and needing to go 80 yards. Bryant was open on a deep ball for 41 yards. Three plays later it was a 16-yard touchdown to Dwayne Harris on the back-shoulder throw with 3:35 to play.

New Orleans gained one first down, but came up a yard short. Rather than go for it on 4th and 1 at their own 35, they punted. Romo had 1:29 to go 64 yards without a touchdown. These drives are tough to come by, but Dallas has been on a roll in crunch time.

Murray was left alone, made two tacklers miss and gained 22 yards. After a 4-yard gain to Bryant, Romo went to his favorite target, Jason Witten, for 19 yards. After a spike just 0:32 remained at the NO 19. Under pressure, Romo’s pass went out of bounds. He overthrew Witten in double coverage in the end zone.

Coming down to a 4th and 10, Romo remained patient in the pocket, pumped, and found Austin open and going down to his knees in the right side of the end zone for the touchdown with 0:15 left. The Cowboys erased a 14-point deficit in the final 4:45.

But not all was finished. Brees took a knee and the Cowboys would win the overtime coin toss. The fans cheered, but the Captain groaned, because you knew what to expect.

For as great as Brees was, as great as the Cowboys had been on the last two drives, is it not easier to go 40-50 yards and kick a field goal than to go 80 for another touchdown?

Like clockwork, Dallas got the ball at their own 20, and Witten had a catch for 11 yards. He would then break Tony Gonzalez’s record for most catches by a tight end in a season. Witten has 103 receptions now.

That’s all fine and dandy, but it was 3rd and 5 and Romo’s slant to Bryant was incomplete. Dallas had to punt after gaining 16 yards. Brees started at his own 26, and it only took one play for Jimmy Graham to gain 26 yards into Dallas territory.

Three plays later it was Graham for seven more yards to convert a 3rd and 3. Two plays later, Brees threw to Colston, who fumbled, and with the ball loose, it was eventually recovered by Graham at the DAL 2. It took replay a while to sort things out, but it appeared they got everything right.

With the ball at the DAL 2, the decision was simple. Garrett Hartley came out and drilled the 20-yard field goal to end it. Saints win 34-31.

It was a great comeback attempt by Dallas again this season, but not one they were able to finish. The overtime was over quickly, and it just doesn’t look like the right move to receive anymore. Years of sudden-death overtime has drilled it into coaches’ brains to receive, but you almost have to look at it more like the college game where you go on defense and see what you need.

You cannot be afraid to get Tebow’d. Dallas was rolling along at the time, but asking for a third consecutive long touchdown drive is asking for a lot, even against a defense like New Orleans.

 

Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs

Winner: Indianapolis (20-13)
Type: GWD
Quarterback: Andrew Luck (4-2 at 4QC, 7-2 overall 4Q/OT record - table)

It has been a season of improbable victories for the now 10-5, playoff-bound Indianapolis Colts, but Sunday in Kansas City was something to behold. Andrew Luck’s record-tying seventh game-winning drive in one regular season came after some unusual circumstances.

Despite 352 rushing yards, the Kansas City Chiefs managed to lose the game 20-13. That is the most rushing yards in NFL history for a losing team, breaking the mark of 320 yards by the 1944 Cleveland Rams against the Washington Redskins.

Since 1940 only eight teams have rushed for over 300 yards and lost. We are talking a record of 122-6 (.953) for teams with 300+ yards rushing since 1950. You just do not lose with that kind of ground production.

Maybe even more impressive is that the Colts were outrushed by 262 yards, which also breaks the record for the 1944 Redskins (258 yards) for highest rushing margin overcome in a win.

The Colts are just the sixth team since 1940 to be outrushed by over 200 yards and win the game. It takes something really special to lose this game, and a duo like Brady Quinn and Romeo Crennel leading the 2-13 Kansas City Chiefs were up to the task.

Kansas City had three giveaways, including a pick six by Quinn on the Chiefs’ opening drive.  He later had a red zone interception, and Jamaal Charles had a red zone fumble. It was a rare blemish in Charles’ 226-yard day. Ryan Succop missed a 43-yard field goal as well.

Meanwhile the Colts had zero giveaways, and held the Chiefs to 2/10 on third down. Once again, the Colts made the plays when they had to.

Tied 13-13 in the fourth quarter, Kansas City was looking for their first lead. Peyton Hillis, who also rushed for 101 yards, got the carry on 3rd and 1 at the IND 27, but was stopped for no gain. The Chiefs went for it on 4th and 1.

But rather than Charles or Hillis, Quinn got the call on the usually deadly quarterback sneak. Even with trying the quick snap, the Colts defended it well, and Robert Mathis got the drive-ending tackle, stopping Quinn short.

With Luck on his coldest of cold streaks this season, completing 1-of-13 passes at one point, it was go time. He converted a 3rd and 4 to T.Y. Hilton for 11 yards, and that got things moving. Luck would hit his final six passes on the drive on a day in which he broke Cam Newton’s rookie record for passing yards.

After a trick play failed miserably in the red zone, the Colts called time out to set up 3rd and goal. A key play, Luck found Reggie Wayne wide open in the back of the end zone for the 7-yard touchdown with 4:08 to play.

Down 20-13, the Chiefs went ultra conservative with runs on both second and third down in long situations. Hillis lost two yards on a 3rd-and-8 run, and the Chiefs punted. With 2:30 left, it was four-minute offense time for the Colts, and Vick Ballard ran twice for no net gain to set up 3rd and 10.

With the Chiefs expecting pass, Ballard got the carry out of the shotgun and gained 13 yards to ice it. Luck took three knees, and the Colts are in the playoffs.

That is Luck’s seventh game-winning drive, which not only completely sets the rookie record (regular season and playoffs combined), but it ties the NFL record for the regular season. When you include the playoffs, Eli Manning (2011) and Jake Delhomme (2003) still hold the record with eight game-winning drives.

Most Game-Winning Drives, Single-Season (Playoffs Included)

Rk

QB

Team

Season

GWD

Result

1T

Eli Manning

NY Giants

2011

8

Won Super Bowl

1T

Jake Delhomme

Carolina

2003

8

Lost Super Bowl

3T

Dan Pastorini

Houston

1978

7

Lost AFC-C

3T

Brian Sipe

Cleveland

1979

7

No Playoffs

3T

Bernie Kosar

Cleveland

1986

7

Lost AFC-C

3T

Don Majkowski

Green Bay

1989

7

No Playoffs

3T

Jake Plummer

Arizona

1998

7

Lost NFC-D

3T

Peyton Manning

Indianapolis

1999

7

Lost AFC-D

3T

Tom Brady

New England

2003

7

Won Super Bowl

3T

Peyton Manning

Indianapolis

2009

7

Lost Super Bowl

3T

Andrew Luck

Indianapolis

2012

7

TBD

It is only the seventh time someone has had at least seven game-winning drives in just the regular season. For the Colts, this has been the story of their season as they improve to 9-1 in games decided by 1-7 points.

Best Records in Games Decided by 1-7 Points (Min. 8 Games)

Rk

Team

Year

Games

Record

Pct.

Result

1

Chicago Bears

2001

8

8-0

1.000

Lost NFC-D

2

Indianapolis Colts

2012

10

9-1

0.900

TBD

3T

Indianapolis Colts

2008

9

8-1

0.889

Lost AFC-WC

3T

San Francisco 49ers

1990

9

8-1

0.889

Lost NFC-C

5T

Atlanta Falcons

2012

8

7-1

0.875

TBD

5T

Cleveland Browns

1986

8

7-1

0.875

Lost AFC-C

5T

Kansas City Chiefs

1995

8

7-1

0.875

Lost AFC-D

5T

New England Patriots

2003

8

7-1

0.875

Won SB

5T

Tennessee Titans

1999

8

7-1

0.875

Lost SB

10

New York Giants

1986

11

9-2

0.818

Won SB

11

Houston Oilers

1967

8

6-1-1

0.813

Lost AFL-C

12T

St. Louis Cardinals

1976

10

8-2

0.800

No Playoffs

12T

Jacksonville Jaguars

2005

10

8-2

0.800

Lost AFC-WC

12T

Los Angeles Raiders

1990

10

8-2

0.800

Lost AFC-C

 

COMEBACK FAILURES OF THE WEEK

This week the Redskins were able to hang on for a sixth straight win. Atlanta clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC by disposing of Detroit on Calvin Johnson’s record-setting night. The Raiders resurrected Matt Leinart from the dead. Finally, Jacksonville almost came up with the upset of the year against New England.

 

From follies to Foles, it’s always funny in Philadelphia

Philadelphia has been a comedy of errors for over two seasons now, but they came out hot with a 76-yard touchdown drive that featured two 4th-and-1 conversions by rookie Nick Foles. Washington failed on their fourth-down attempt, but the game would soon turn on – what else? – a turnover by the Eagles.

Later, an interception by London Fletcher brought boos and soon after a Washington lead that they would never give up. Washington led 27-13 in the fourth quarter, but it took a tipped ball for a rare interception for both the Eagles and Robert Griffin III this season. Now the Eagles at least had some life.

Foles completed three passes in a row before Dion Lewis scored on a 17-yard touchdown run with 8:55 left. Washington did gain two first downs, but eventually they had to punt. Foles had his chance for another big comeback with 4:15 to play at his own 15.

Working out of the no huddle, Foles used short passes and runs from the returning LeSean McCoy to work the ball into Washington territory at the two-minute warning. Four more short passes were completed before Foles scrambled for a 5-yard gain on 3rd and 4.

Foles converted a 4th and 2 with McCoy making 12 yards on the play and getting out of bounds. Now down to 0:11 and the ball at the WAS 5, this was very doable. But Evan Moore dropped the slant at the goal line, which likely would have been a touchdown.

Now with Foles looking around for a receiver, he was pressured and just flung the ball forward incomplete with 0:01 left. After a delay, Ed Hochuli crushed the ending with a flag and length explanation of an illegal forward pass (intentional grounding maybe?). That is a 10-second runoff, and that is the ballgame.

Like some other teams, the Eagles fail to convert a lot of offense (411 yards) into more points because of all the mistakes they make on a weekly basis. Washington has managed six straight wins and will play for the NFC East title in Week 17.

One has to wonder how long it will be until the Eagles are back in that position in the division they once owned in the Andy Reid era.

 

Calvin Johnson’s hollow night

The Falcons were looking for a win and the No. 1 seed, while the Detroit Lions basically had records in mind for Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford. That’s why it was no surprise when the Falcons opened up a 21-3 lead despite Johnson’s big night.

But the Lions have played everyone but Arizona tough this year, and did mount a comeback. It was 21-13 as the Lions had a long drive that extended into the fourth quarter. But with 1st and goal at the ATL 6, Stafford threw a ball away, the Lions gained two yards on the ground, then Stafford’s quarterback draw was stopped at the ATL 2.

Detroit kicked the 20-yard field goal with 13:26 to play. Now it’s not the worst decision as they still needed to score twice to win the game, but the Atlanta offense is so good in these situations. Matt Ryan was having a great night again with four touchdowns.

Detroit had their chances, but Ryan made two plays he rarely makes. On a 3rd and 4, Ryan threw off his back foot under pressure and got the ball to Roddy White for 15 yards. Ryan later had a 16-yard scramble. You don’t expect these plays, nor do you expect Michael Palmer to catch a 1-yard touchdown. Atlanta led 28-16 with 7:12 to play.

Stafford needed one more completion for Johnson to break Jerry Rice’s record of 1,848 receiving yards, and he forced a terrible pass to do it. Asante Samuel made the interception, and Atlanta tacked on a field goal for the 31-16 final.

Stafford did find Johnson for 26 yards and the record, and Johnson also set new marks for 100-yard receiving games: the most in a season (11; tied with 1995 Michael Irvin) and the most consecutive (8). Johnson finished with 11 catches for 225 yards.

But the drive ended with three straight incompletions at the ATL 2. Michael Turner was tackled for a safety, which led to Detroit’s Stefan Logan giving himself up on the kick return at the DET 4. What a Lion.

Just more meaningless yards to eat up, which the Lions did down to the ATL 33 as time expired. The Lions had 522 yards of offense, but just 16 points to show for it.

Stafford finished with 443 yards and no passing touchdowns, which is the highest yardage total ever for a quarterback without a touchdown pass. You are finally off the hook, Joe Montana. Stafford now has 685 pass attempts this season (record is 691 by Drew Bledsoe in 1994).

Yep, a night full of records for Detroit. Also adds on to a seven-game losing streak as the Lions have just a 4-11 record.  

 

Matt Leinart: Better than you think (Ghost of Christmas Past Edition)

Not a whole lot going on here in a meaningless game between Oakland and Carolina. Carson Palmer was injured and replaced by Matt Leinart, who has seen little action in recent years.

Oakland trailed 14-3 to start the fourth quarter, but an interception off Cam Newton gave them great field position. Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 31-yard field goal to make it 14-6. Carolina punted after one first down, and Leinart had a chance.

Now Leinart has a 2-5 record at comebacks/game-winning drives in his career. The two wins were both against Seattle many moons ago (2006-07). But if you look at the five losses, it is actually very easy to be a Leinart apologist.

10/8/2006 vs. Kansas City: In Leinart’s first career start, the Cardinals blew a 20-10 lead. Down 23-20, he drives them into range, but Neil Rackers misses a 51-yard field goal with 0:02 left.

10/16/2006 vs. Chicago: A week later we have the infamous “Crown them!” game on Monday Night Football. A 20-0 lead turns into a 24-23 deficit, then after Leinart leads the team down the field again, Rackers misses the 40-yard field goal with 0:47 left.

11/26/2006 at Minnesota: Down 31-13 in the fourth quarter, Leinart leads Arizona back into a 31-26 deficit. They recover a late onside kick, and he has 0:38 left at his own 44. His Hail Mary is intercepted to end the game, for which he passed for a then-rookie record 405 yards.

9/10/2007 at San Francisco: Down 13-10, Leinart throws a 5-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin, but the 49ers later come back and get the game-winning score. With only 0:16 left to answer, Leinart is picked off.

11/29/2009 at Tennessee: Starting in place of Kurt Warner, Leinart leads a go-ahead touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter. But like in college, Vince Young outdoes him with a 99-yard drive for the winning touchdown with 0:00 left.

In just five games, that is four blown leads in the fourth quarter, two lost comebacks, and two field goal chokes. Hard for any quarterback to suffer that in five starts. Consider the two Hail Mary interceptions, and that should make you look a bit differently at Leinart’s 8-10 record as a starter, or his 15 TD, 21 INT ratio.

But that was the past. In his most recent chance, Leinart did make two big completions for 30 yards. But on 3rd and 4 at the CAR 24, Rod Streater was unable to hang onto a ball after taking a hit. Leinart had a lot of time on fourth down, but his pass was batted at the line and fell incomplete.

Carolina stayed aggressive with Newton in the shotgun, and they moved it 43 yards to set up Graham Gano for a big 51-yard field goal. That made it 17-6 with 2:46 left. Oakland went four and out, and the Panthers killed the clock with three knees.

You can say with solid foundation this was Leinart’s worst comeback attempt (2-6 now), but maybe the bigger story is we are still actually talking about Leinart in December 2012.

 

Jaguars are who we thought they were, but what are the Patriots?

It was an emotional game for the Patriots last week against San Francisco. With all the energy spent in coming back, only to fall behind again and lose, that had to take a lot out of them as they realize they may have lost a first-round bye.

But low enough to fall to the lowly 2-12 Jacksonville Jaguars in what would clearly be the upset of the year? Surely you jest.

Like they did against Houston, the Jaguars came to play behind Chad Henne, scoring an opening-drive touchdown. After two uncharacteristic interceptions by Tom Brady, Jacksonville led 13-3.

But after that point, the Jaguars showed us why they are 2-12, and now 2-13. They did not step on the throat. They punted on a 4th and 1 at midfield despite their early success at moving the ball.

New England tied the game just before halftime, took a 16-13 lead early in the third quarter, and never relinquished it. Still, Jacksonville had opportunities, even after falling behind 23-13 in the fourth quarter.

Josh Scobee kicked a 42-yard field goal with 8:42 to play to make it 23-16. The Patriots went three and out after Brady skipped a third-down pass. The Jaguars were 66 yards away from the tie, and Henne was working the no-huddle offense.

Five straight completions moved the ball inside the 10-yard line, but this is where the Jaguars would stall badly. Between a false start and a sack, it was 4th and 10 at the NE 10. Henne was hit as he threw and the pass fluttered to Patrick Chung for a big interception.

The Patriots gained one first down, Jacksonville used their final timeout, but with a chance to end it Brady was sacked on third down. Henne got the ball back with 0:54 left at his own 38, out of timeouts. Jacksonville pulled off the spectacular one-minute (one play to Cecil Shorts) drive this year against the Colts, but it would be much harder this week.

Chung was flagged for 15 yards after lighting up Shorts, who was injured on the play. Four plays later it was 4th and 10, Henne was hit again as he threw, but the pass found a diving Toney Clemons for 17 yards to keep the drive alive. Henne spiked it, then found Jordan Shipley for 18 yards down to the NE 12. Another spike, and there were 0:08 left.

Henne overthrew Clemons, bringing the game to one last play. You had to figure this was a spot for rookie Justin Blackmon, and he was indeed the target. Actually, Henne was hung one up into the back of the end zone and it was Chung making yet another interception to end the game.

Henne threw for 348 yards, but he had to put it up 51 times and had the three costly interceptions. This is why he is just 3-15 (.167) at comeback opportunities.

For a while there the Jaguars gave New England all they could handle, but in the end, the predicted outcome came true. It just did not come with the ease or shine the Patriots were expecting after a tough loss last week.

What does this say about the 2012 AFC when two of the most hyped teams, Houston and New England, struggled this much against the Jaguars?

 

Next week

Damn, is it already Week 17? That sure went fast. We only need three quarterbacks to be credited with some type of fourth quarter/overtime win to match 2011’s regular season total of 86 entries. Andrew Luck needs a game-winning drive against Houston to tie the single-season record (8). All eyes will be on Green Bay/Minnesota and Dallas/Washington, but if this season has taught us anything, it’s not to expect greatness from the big matchups.

We will begin next week with our regular-season review for all 32 teams.

 

Scott Kacsmar is a football writer/researcher who has contributed large quantities of data to Pro-Football-Reference.com, including the only standardized database of fourth quarter comebacks and game-winning drives. You can visit his blog for a complete writing archive. Please send any questions or comments to Scott at smk_42@yahoo.com, or you can follow him on Twitter at @CaptainComeback.


From our partners




Team Pages
AFC East NFC
South
North
West

Connect With Us
Sign up for our newsletter to recieve all the latest news and updates...
Privacy guaranteed. We'll never share your info.




The Football Nation Network

© Copyright 2014 Football Nation LLC. Privacy Policy & Terms of Use
Some images property of Getty Images or Icon/SMI