NFL Game-Changers: Plays You Won't See on the Highlight Reel, But Should Have

Momentum is huge in football, and often effects the outcome of games. There are key plays that change momentum that are very subtle and may not make the highlight package on your favorite sports show. Sure, these shows do a great job of showing incredible catches, hits, and runs, or of showing you the scoring plays in a game, but do they really tell the whole story?

While a drive might end in a 5-yard TD pass or a 10-yard TD run, is that really the key play in a 7, 8, 9 or 10 play drive? Would the scoring play even be possible without the key completion on third and long earlier in the drive? Or that receiver who made a key block freeing up the running back to get to the outside to pick up a first down?

The purpose of this column is to highlight some key plays that greatly effected the outcome of their games, yet they might not have made highlight reels. This isn’t to take away from the importance of a big scoring play or turnover, but without these plays the highlight reel play would not have happened.

#5 Buffalo at Cleveland

The Fitzpatrick-led Bills stormed out in Cleveland, scoring on its first possession.  Fitz marched the Bills down the field with the utmost efficiency, spreading the ball around, and to the relief of Bills fans, with great accuracy.  After padding the lead to a comfortable 14-0  advantage, what COULD have been a dramatic swift in momentum ensued.

After the Browns brought the game to within seven, with 2:05 left it had the Bills deep in their own territory.  Fitzpatrick through a horrendous pass, an easy pick for the Browns’ Patterson.  But, fortunately for the Bills, he dropped the ball, which he certainly could have tip-toed in for a major.  This would have had the home team in the locker room back to level with momentum on their side.

But two plays later, on a third and long, they looked poised to get the ball back in good field position, except for one bone-head play.  The Bills were stopped well short of first down, and the receiver stepped out of bounds, leading to a whistle.  The problem is that one Browns defender must have lost control of his senses as he popped the Bill right on the chin out of bounds and well after the whistle.  First and 10 Bills.  They didn’t add to the lead, but it could have, and should have been, a tie going into halftime.

#4 Philadelphia at Arizona

Michael Vick looked like a deer in headlights from very early in the game.  The Eagles were not crisp at all yesterday, but things didn’t need to get quite so out of hand.  In fact, there was one particular play that I thought had the potential to reverse their fortunes, but fate stepped in and it was all for not.

The Eagles were down 17-0.  Yes, that’s a big hole, but they were marching.  Vick completed a pass to DeSean Jackson, who looked good for paydirt.  A TD saving (and potential game-saving) tackle by Kerry Rhodes at the one-yard line set up a first and goal. Two plays later, Vick was sacked, and stripped of the ball in the process.  Kerry Rhodes, making a great Superman impersonation on the drive, recovered and scampered 99 yards on the last play of the half.  Instead of 17-7 and a manageable deficit, ‘Zona was up 24-0 – an insurmountable lead.

Turnovers, turnover, turnovers – they’ll getcha every time.

#3  Kansas City at New Orleans

The New Orleans certainly do not have Lady Luck on their side.  They have had a horrendous start to the season.  Of course any team at 0-3 can be said to have had a horrendous start, but the Saints should not be amongst that group.  Their talent far surpasses their record.  That said, they seem be doing everything in their power to screw up at every given opportunity.  But the play that spelled their end was not so much something they did wrong, but something KC did right.

Dustin Colquitt, the Chiefs’ punter, quite simply laid the perfect punt, at the perfect time. The punt pinned the Saints deep, which is always tough to climb out of.  The punt set up the Chiefs D to keep Brees to a three-and-out, which gave them excellent field position near mid-field. The rest, as they say, is history.  Chiefs win, and they have Colquitt to hold up high on their shoulders.

#2  New York at Carolina

The problem for Carolina occurred well before the fourth quarter or even the second half.  It was before they went into the locker room, and well before they gave up their first hundred yards of offense.  The problem was two-fold.

First, the very fact that Carolina showed up for the coin toss was a huge mistake.  The coin toss was completely unfair, and the fault lie with the replacement officials.  I mean, do these guys even know how to flip a coin?  The referee stood there, and so nonchalantly and haphazardly tossed the coin in the air, barely getting any rotation on the flip.  Where did the league find these guys?  He had no wrist movement, and his back-spin was worse than my three-year old son’s.  Sheesh…some officials these days.

Sources close to LWOS have cited that there was some bad Wheaties going around the Panthers breakfast service.  Despite their best efforts, team officials did not catch the bad Wheaties in time.  Doctors close to us have told us some of the very disturbing side effects:

Warning: Consuming bad Wheaties may cause drowsiness, fatigue, an inability to tackle anyone at any time in any given situation.  If consumed, stay at home and get a lot of rest.  Avoid coin tosses at all costs.

Apparently the Panthers didn’t get the memo.

#1  Jacksonville at Indianapolis

Late in the game the Colts were down by one.  It was 3rd and 8 at Jacksonville’s 26 with 1:15 to play.  Instead of going for a first down, the Colts ran the ball with Brown up the gut to set up a FG.  That left far too much time on the clock and Blaine Gabbert had time to make the 80 yard pass to Shorts 3.  Had they made the first down they would have ran out the clock and had a relatively easy kick.

There you have five plays that had an impact on the their respective games.  I’ll be back next Monday and give you five more plays that you can expect not to see on a highlight package, but probably should.


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