Analysis: Walkoff field goals and tight games highlight competitive Sunday

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Walkoff field goals. Comebacks. Close games.

Sunday was filled with competitive action across the NFL. Just the way the league wants it.

Five games ended on game-winning field goals in regulation, the most in one day in NFL history. Two teams overcame deficits on their final drive. Eight games were decided by four points or less.

“I’m so proud of our team and excited for them to be in a tight football game versus a playoff football team and come up with a win,” Texans coach DeMeco Ryans said following Houston’s 30-27 win at Cincinnati. “That’s where we’re headed as a team. We’re showing that we’re a good team, and we’re showing that we can win tight games, so I’m really proud of the way our guys battled.”

With one game remaining in Week 10, 10 of 13 games (76.9%) have been within one score in the fourth quarter and 10 games were decided by one score. This season, 69.8% of all games (104 of 149 games) were within one score in the fourth quarter.

The Texans, Cardinals, Browns, Seahawks and Lions each won on a field goal as time expired. The previous high in a single day was three. Cleveland and Arizona were trailing before their kickers won it. Seattle, Houston and Detroit were tied before their decisive field goals.

The Browns rallied from a 31-17 deficit in the fourth quarter against the AFC North-leading Ravens. Deshaun Watson threw a touchdown pass to Elijah Moore and Greg Newsome II returned an interception 34 yards for a TD less than a minute later but Dustin Hopkins missed the extra point. He got another chance and nailed a 40-yard field goal to give Cleveland a 33-31 win.

“Wins like that define you,” Browns pass rusher Myles Garrett said. “They set the tone for the season and the team going forward. There’s no game that we’re out of. So, you’ve just got to do what’s gotten us here to this point in the season and continue to play the brand of football that we know we can play.”

Kyler Murray, playing his first game since returning from ACL surgery, led the Cardinals to a 25-23 comeback win over Atlanta. He scrambled 13 yards on a third-and-10 and threw a 33-yard pass to set up Matt Prater’s 23-yard winning kick.

“There’s no quit, no quit, no quit in that group and I think we showed that today,” Murray said.

The Lions-Chargers game was the most entertaining matchup of the day, a wild, back-and-forth shootout that ended with Riley Patterson hitting a 41-yard field goal to lift Detroit to a 41-38 victory.

The teams combined to go 7 for 8 on fourth down with six of those conversions resulting in touchdowns, three for each team.

The one conversion that didn’t result in a score took the most guts. Lions coach Dan Campbell bypassed a go-ahead field goal on fourth-and-2 from the Chargers 26 with 1:47 left. Instead, Jared Goff tossed a 6-yard pass to Sam LaPorta and Detroit ran down the clock to set up the winning kick as time expired.

“I wanted to finish with the ball,” Campbell said. “I trusted our guys and trust Goff. Going into that situation, there can be a lot of time left if you kick a field goal. So, I just wanted to finish with the ball in our hands. I liked where we’re at, offensively. We’re playing good, Goff was in a good spot, I felt like that was the right thing to do.”

It wasn’t all fun and excitement on Sunday.

There also was an abundance of penalty flags, poor tackling, sloppy mistakes and terrible quarterback play in a few of the games.

Mac Jones got benched by Bill Belichick after throwing an interception from the Colts 15 with under five minutes left. Mike Gesicki was wide open in the end zone but Jones underthrew him and was picked at the 1.

Bailey Zappe came off the bench for New England’s final drive and he also threw a pick to seal a 10-6 loss in Germany.

Zach Wilson again couldn’t lead the Jets into the end zone in a 16-12 loss at Las Vegas. He threw an interception at the Raiders 15 with 1:14 left.

San Francisco made the biggest statement, snapping a three-game losing streak with a dominant 34-3 win against the Jaguars that ended Jacksonville’s five-game winning streak.

Dallas dominated the lowly Giants. Joshua Dobbs played hero for the Vikings again. C.J. Stroud had another impressive game leading Houston.

And when five games came down to kickers, they were perfect. Doesn’t happen too often.



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