Having a big lead over your competitor is supposed to be a positive thing. Typically, that cushion is the product of hard work and preparation, which ultimately results in a true showing of dominance. While this may be the case, a sizable margin can do more damage than good. For several NFL teams in 2015, having a huge lead has been a detriment to their success.
This season alone, many games have seen exciting comebacks after the team with the lead got too comfortable in the second half, leading to painful defeats. While these comebacks are tough for the fans of the team blowing the big lead, the excitement created by the team making the comeback is unparalleled. So, which big comebacks have been the most memorable and unbelievable in the 2015 NFL season so far? We’ve ranked the top five through 15 weeks of play.
5. Chargers vs. Lions (Week 1)
It’s been a tough season for the San Diego Chargers. Talks of the team moving to Los Angeles have contributed to a last-place team with a terrible record. However, the Chargers’ season started off optimistically following an impressive comeback against the Lions in the opening week. Down 21-3 in the second quarter, Philip Rivers and company found the end zone before halftime to get the score within 11 points.
When the teams took the field again, San Diego really asserted their dominance over Detroit. Rivers tossed two touchdowns in the second half and the Chargers won going away, 33-28. Unfortunately, that was probably the high point of the season for San Diego. Just as unfortunately, the Lions’ inability to close out games reared its ugly head again later in the season. Read on for more.
4. Packers vs. Lions (Week 13)
When it comes to the best Hail Marys in NFL history, Aaron Rodgers’ throw to Richard Rodgers in their Week 13 game against the Lions comes pretty close to the top. In terms of amazing comebacks in the league this season, Green Bay’s rally was impressive enough without the historical touchdown toss.
Down 17-0 going into the locker room, the Packers got the game within 2 points with about three minutes remaining. The Lions managed to run the clock down on their next drive, punting the ball back to the Packers with about :30 seconds left. Then came the crazy lateral that led to an ill-advised facemask by Detroit, which led to the Hail Mary. The win was huge for Green Bay, who secured a playoff berth this past weekend. Meanwhile, the Lions are trying to avoid a double-digit-loss season once again.
3. Giants vs. Panthers (Week 15)
Ignoring the battle (in the most literal sense of the word) between Josh Norman of the Panthers and Odell Beckham Jr. of the Giants, this game should be remembered for the epic comeback by New York that, inevitably, led to yet another clutch victory by the 14-0 Panthers. For about three quarters, Carolina cruised on the road in this one, seemingly well on their way to an 18th consecutive regular season victory.
Down 35-7 with their season in the balance, the Giants responded with a touchdown pass from Eli Manning at the end of the third quarter to mark the beginning of a serious rally. New York scored three more touchdowns in the fourth to tie the game with about 1:45 left. Had the game gone to overtime, it’s likely the Giants would have secured one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history. Cam Newton made sure they didn’t get that chance, however, leading the Panthers down the field for the game-winning field goal as time expired.
2. Steelers vs. Broncos (Week 15)
We often hear that an NFL game is a tale of two halves. In Week 15’s game between the Broncos and the Steelers, that statement has never been more true. Brock Osweiler led Denver to a 27-point first half on the road, taking a 14-point lead (that was as large as 17 points) into the locker room during the game, which was pivotal for both teams. It seemed like Pittsburgh was lifeless, but they woke up quickly in the second half.
Ben Roethlisberger and his superb group of receivers (led by Antonio Brown) scored 3 touchdowns after halftime and held the Broncos scoreless, leading to a shocking 34-27 win that put the Steelers in great shape to make the playoffs. The loss was not only the second straight overall for the Broncos, but it was also their second straight loss after taking a double-digit lead going into halftime. Clearly, they have been the main victim of the comfort that comes with a big lead.
1. Bengals vs. Seahawks (Week 5)
When the Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Seattle Seahawks back in Week 5, it became a defining moment of this NFL season. When you consider the stunning way that the Bengals took care of business in that game, this sentiment becomes even more apparent. Through three quarters, Seattle ran all over Cincinnati, looking like they would cruise to an impressive road victory. Down 24-7 entering the fourth, after giving up 2 touchdowns in the third, the Bengals didn’t seem up to the task of taking down the mighty Seahawks.
However, Andy Dalton and company proved their status as a legit contender with a crazy 17-point, fourth-quarter comeback. Dalton was responsible for both touchdowns (one through the air, one on the ground) in the quarter, before leading the Bengals to a game-tying field goal as time expired in the fourth. In overtime, the Bengals secured the win and what is the most impressive comeback of the 2015 NFL season so far.
Statistics courtesy of ESPN.com.