Call it a Comeback Sunday the NFL hasn’t seen in years.
The Dolphins and Cardinals made history by overcoming 20-point halftime deficits to win on the same day while the Jets rallied from a 13-point deficit in the final two minutes.
Two other teams almost joined the club.
The Falcons fought back from a 28-3 third-quarter deficit – that score sounds familiar in Atlanta – only to fall short against the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams when Jalen Ramsey picked off Marcus Mariota’s pass intended for Bryan Edwards in the end zone, sealing a 31-27 victory.
Joe Burrow helped the Cincinnati Bengals erase a 17-3 halftime deficit in Dallas but Brett Maher kicked a 50-yard field goal as time expired to give the Cowboys a 20-17 win that dropped the reigning AFC champions to 0-2.
Two weeks into the season, close games and wacky finishes are a common theme. It’s great news for the league, giving viewers who have no fantasy football or gambling interest reason to stick around until the end.
There have been 12 games decided by three points or fewer already, the most through the first two weeks of a season in NFL history.
Eight teams have overcome a deficit of at least 10 points to win or tie, the second-most through Week 2, trailing only the 1987 season when nine teams did it.
Tua Tagovailoa’s performance was most impressive. He tossed six touchdown passes to lead Miami to a 42-38 win at Baltimore after trailing Lamar Jackson and the Ravens 35-14 going into the fourth quarter.
“We basically had to play perfect complementary football to come back from a deficit like that, and this is a really good team so I couldn’t be happier with him, and his teammates know,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said of Tagovailoa. “His teammates learned a lot about him, and I think he learned something about himself.”
Tagovailoa improved to 8-1 vs Super Bowl-winning head coaches, the highest win percentage in league history with a minimum six starts.
His critics should be silent for at least another week.
“Mike told us in our team meeting that this is going to be a great opportunity for us that if we do ever get down against these guys, we know that you’re not looking to put your head down,” Tagovailoa said. “We’re always going to be in the game and just play one play at a time. And Mike is always going to say this. This is kind of like the mindset for our team, that adversity is opportunity. And, that’s how we played.”
Kyler Murray put on a spectacular display of his own to help Arizona overcome a 20-0 halftime deficit in Las Vegas. Murray ran in from the three on the final play of regulation and made a perfect throw into a tight window through traffic for the two-point conversion to send the game into overtime.
Then, Byron Murphy Jr. returned Hunter Renfrow’s fumble 59 yards for a touchdown to give the Cardinals a 29-23 win over the Raiders.
“There were so many do-or-die plays, I lost count, where we had to have this stop, had to have this two-point conversion, had to score, had to have this fourth down, and guys just kept fighting,” Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “Nobody blinked. At halftime, it was ‘Hey, we have to settle in and do what we do.’ We played about as bad as you could in the first half, didn’t play great the second half, but the effort was incredible.”
Multiple teams had not rallied from 20-point halftime deficits to win on the same day in NFL history until the Dolphins and Cardinals both did it Sunday. It was the first time that two teams overcame a deficit of at least 20 points at any point in a game to win in the same week since Week 4 of the 2011 season.
Of the three teams who blew big leads, the Browns should be most bitter. They would’ve won if Nick Chubb had stayed in bounds instead of run into the end zone for his third touchdown with 1:55 left. That score gave Cleveland a 30-17 lead but the extra-point was missed.
Joe Flacco tossed two TD passes in a 60-second span sandwiched around a recovered onside kick as the Jets pulled off an improbable victory. Teams had won 2,229 consecutive games when leading by at least 13 points in the final two minutes before the Browns blew it.
“I have won on a Hail Mary. I have lost on a Hail Mary. I have won in a last-second game,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said. “At this point in my life, I’ve experienced all of it, so I’m never surprised at what the league has to offer, but that roller coaster never changes.”
The three comebacks by the Dolphins, Cardinals and Jets – all on the road, too – marked the second time in league history three teams overcame a fourth-quarter deficit of at least 13 points to win on the same day.
The way this season has started, expect to see plenty more comebacks.