Before every Week 3 NFL game, each team’s stadium aired a tribute to the recently passed Steve Sabol. But nothing was more fitting of a tribute for the NFL Films legend than the slew of insanity that engulfed the first set of NFL games this week, featuring three overtime games.
Here’s how nuts things were on Sunday: Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck embarked on simultaneous, would-be game-winning drives (though they both failed), the Vikings beat the 49ers (no, really!) and Greg Schiano sent his goons after Tony Romo’s kneel-down … and none of these things were top-five when it came to NFL drama. In fact, the 4 o’clock games were an awkward afterthought as three games stormed into overtime on the heels of some insane NFL action.
That’s not to say those first group of games weren’t great or anything. They were. Blaine Gabbert threw a game-winning touchdown pass to Cecil Shorts, except this time Blair Walsh didn’t bomb it into oblivion with 50-yard field goals.
That pass came five game seconds and one play after Luck did march the Colts down the field, setting up Adam Vinatieri for a field goal that would tie the game. Overtime was not to be, however.
But elsewhere in the NFL, there was PLENTY of overtime action to be had: with the Chiefs/Saints and Jets/Dolphins both hit overtime at the same time. But neither was as b-a-n-a-n-a-s as the Titans/Lions game, which featured 46 points scored in the fourth quarter, multiple comebacks for Detroit, and an impossible Hail Mary touchdown pass from Shaun Hill to Titus Young as regulation expired. Mike Munchak, a Hall of Fame NFL player who’s a lifer in the league, says this game is the craziest one he’s seen in 30 years around the game.
Hill was playing because Matthew Stafford suffered a right leg injury, and he ended up having a better day, finishing with two touchdowns. Of course, he came up a bit short on the final play of the game, when Jim Schwartz decided to sneak Hill on a fourth-and-one instead of kicking a field goal and didn’t get it. This game also featured Nate Washington making what might very well end up becoming the best catch of the entire season.
And, yet, it wasn’t really the craziest catch of that game, since Young’s last-second grab really wins the nod there. And as I sit here, I’m not even sure the Lions loss is more nuts than the Saints, who are now 0-3, giving up an 18-point, second-half lead to the Chiefs, who had a negative 34 point differential into the season.
At 3:03 p.m. ET, I chatted a buddy who I’m in a survivor pool with. We both had the Saints. We both concurred they were locked, since they were beating KC 24-6. Then Jamaal Charles decided to remind everyone that he has not lost a step and ripped off a beautiful 91-yard touchdown run that featured him cutting to the sidelines and putting on his afterburners. Then, 25 real-life minutes later, I was chatting my friend again, this time terrified because Justin Houston sacked Drew Brees in the end zone to bring Kansas City within three.
Is it possible that Sean Payton deserves a raise from the $7 million New Orleans pays him annually? It might be: Brees and the Saints are closers. They finish teams off because if they have a lead, their offense is too good to stop. Or at least it used to be. Instead, Ryan Succop popped four field goals from the fourth quarter on, New Orleans was shut out in the final quarter and the Saints now have the worst record in the NFL. They’re tied with Cleveland as the only 0-3 team in football (Oakland could also join them), which is basically what everyone expected, except the total opposite.
Oh yeah and while all of this was going on, the Jets and Dolphins were not moving up and down the field and no one was noticing. Then Ryan Tannehill decided to hit Brian Hartline deep down the sideline after Hartline beat Antonio Cromartie (who was covering him because Darrelle Revis suffered an injury), setting up Dan Carpenter for a game-winning field goal. Carpenter, because he’s more Big Lebowski than Jesus, honked the field goal. If you think you know what happened next, you’re wrong, because Tim Tebow wasn’t involved.
Mark Sanchez was, though, and he moved the ball down the field, got Nick Folk in range for a game-winning field goal, and the Dolphins blocked it! But it didn’t count because Joe Philbin squeezed a timeout first, giving the Jets a do-over that wasn’t ever going to anywhere but through the uprights.
But the true beauty of all this chaos was the way it unfolded. The Tennessee/Detroit game was a flurry of fireworks, the Saints were an awkward, slow meltdown, and the Jets/Dolphins were two neighbors seeing whose dumpster can burn the brightest. But they all got to the same place, at the same time, right as even more insanity was exploding across NFL scoreboards around the country. And then they fell like a set of dominos, with the three overtime games affording the world an opportunity to watch the heartbreak, glory, decision-making and drama unfold before our eyes.
It was just a early-season Week in the NFL, but the drama condensed into that insane hour or so was a script that even Sabol himself couldn’t have written. And it’s hard to imagine he isn’t looking down and smiling at just how much better life is when football’s included.