All hail the NFL’s fourth quarter.
Regardless of how the first 45 minutes of a game shape up, the final act will always be king. It’s when wins become losses and losses become wins. When the unexpected must be expected. And with a number of fantastic finishes and near comebacks, Week 2’s early slate of games was a reminder of exactly that.
Here’s how each close contest came to an end.
A snooze-fest for more than three quarters, this AFC South matchup between the Texans and Jaguars quickly became a must-watch thanks to some Gardner Minshew magic.
Houston, leading for the majority of the contest, took a 13–3 lead with 11:41 left in the fourth quarter with a two-yard touchdown run from Deshaun Watson on fourth down. The Jaguars responded with a field goal on the following drive, marching 61 yards down the field to make it a 13–6 score and putting themselves within one scoring possession of a tie with 5:34 remaining.
And then the crazy started.
After keeping Texans at bay on Houston’s ensuing drive, the Jaguars converted a fourth-and-one at their own 41-yard line just before the two-minute warning. Bill O’Brien challenged the spot and failed, after which Minshew connected with his receivers on 12-yard and 14-yard darts to move the Jaguars into Texans territory.
Three incomplete passes forced the Jaguars to attempt another fourth-down conversion, and this time, Minshew decided to run it himself for a big 18-yard gain. Two plays later, D.J. Chark pounded it in from four yards out. The Jaguars, once trailing by ten, were now one point away from tying it at 13.
Doug Marrone, high on momentum and looking to make a statement, decided to be bold and go for two—but that’s when the magic ended. The Jaguars, despite the fourth-quarter rally, fell inches short, and the Texans (barely) secured their first win of the season, 13–12.
After committing no turnovers in their season opener against the Chargers last week, the Colts gave the ball away twice in Week 2. An ugly interception from Jacoby Brissett in the second quarter and an awkward fumble from the first-year starter in the third put Indianapolis in a 17–13 deficit for a majority of the second half.
Enter the Colts defense.
With the Titans on the move looking to extend the lead, reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year Darius Leonard made his mark, sacking Marcus Mariota for a seven-yard loss. Titans kicker Cairo Santos missed a 45-yard attempt wide left on the following play, and the Colts were back in business.
With 5:25 left to play, running back Jordan Wilkins erupted for a 55-yard gain to set Indianapolis up at the Titans’ four-yard line. Brissett found T.Y. Hilton for a four-yard touchdown on the next play to take a 19–17 lead.
The Colts’ defense forced a quick Titans three-and-out before Frank Reich decided to go for it on fourth-and-one to use up the two-minute warning and force Tennessee to use all three of its timeouts. It worked, and after another strong stand from the Colts’ defense, Indianapolis secured its first win of the 2019 season.
Leave it to Russell Wilson to save the day for the Seahawks.
During what became a back-and-forth contest even without Ben Roethlisberger under center for the Steelers, Wilson led two straight scoring drives in the third quarter to give Seattle a 21–13 lead.
Mason Rudolph wasn’t deterred. On Pittsburgh’s ensuing drive, the Steelers backup quarterback marched the offense 75 yards down the field to make it 21–19.
Wilson answered with a six-play, 75 touchdown drive that ended with a 28-yard strike to DK Metcalf to put the Seahawks up 28–19 before Chris Carson threatened Seattle’s control, fumbling the ball for the second time of the day to give the Steelers a first down at the three-yard line. One play later, Rudolph had the Steelers within two, trailing 28–26.
With 5:54 remaining, it was up to Wilson to protect the win. He did. Wilson completed passes for gains of 11, four and seven while running twice for gains of 10, nine and 15 yards, milking the clock.
Carson re-entered the game on a fourth-and-one play at the Steelers 33 with under two minutes remaining. This time, he did the job, plowing through the middle for a first down that ended the game.
Not even a missed field-goal attempt, a botched extra point, eight penalties and two turnovers were enough to stop the Lions on Sunday.
Down 10–6 for the entire third quarter, Detroit looked almost certainly on their way to a loss. Their play was sloppy and undisciplined. Every yard they took forward, they took two back. With 11 minutes left and the Chargers within striking distance, the Lions’ chances looked slim.
And then Ty Long missed the field goal, opening the door for Detroit.
Matthew Stafford, who had been picked off twice in the second half, went 5-for-5 on the Lions’ ensuing drive, leading his team 69 yards down the field and capped it off with an electric 31-yard strike to Kenny Golladay with 7:28 remaining in the game.
When Philip Rivers tried to retake the lead, Darius Slay made sure he didn’t, intercepting the veteran quarterback in the endzone with just over a minute left to play.
The Lions, after failing to close out a victory against the Cardinals last week, finally got their first win of the season.
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