Published October 12, 2015
Wow, what a comeback. Make that comebacks.
You know, the ones in Cincinnati and Kansas City. In the Meadowlands and Music City. In Baltimore and the ATL.
Six teams either staged huge rallies to win on Sunday or executed timely drives to score the decisive points in a frantic Week 5. Two of the winners, the Bengals and Falcons, remained unbeaten thanks to their clutch work.
Two more, the Giants and Bills, gave themselves winning records - and well-earned pats on the shoulder pads - by displaying plenty of gumption despite being outplayed.
Meanwhile, the Browns and Bears, both already written off in NFL circles as much because of turmoil as lack of talent, fooled the critics with uplifting victories.
Sure, it's one win for each of those six clubs. But it really is more than that.
''I think for us, it's just a real clear demonstration of how hard the guys all want to play for one another,'' Atlanta's first year head coach, Dan Quinn, said after a 25-19 overtime decision against Washington.
''I think it shows a lot of the character, and the toughness of the men in the room. I know they want to keep battling for it.''
Ditto in Chicago after an 18-17 win at Kansas City during which the Bears drove 88 and 67 yards for fourth-quarter touchdowns as both their maligned offenses and defenses came through for the second straight week.
''Right now, that is our identity,'' Bears guard Matt Slauson said. ''We are a resilient team that's going to keep on fighting until the end.''
Naturally, that's what it takes to put together the kind of comebacks those teams did. For some, it might even be a one-off.
But that's never the way coaches and players approach such stirring victories.
Cleveland (2-3) has made a habit of losing the tight ones, regardless of which side was trying to rally. This time, down by 12 in the third quarter before twice blowing leads, the Browns survived 33-30 in overtime.
''You have wins that define things for you - that can define a season or be a turning point - and we hope that was this for us,'' coach Mike Pettine said.
The Giants, now 3-2 and on top of the mediocre NFC East after a last-minute drive and sensational TD catch by Larry Donnell vanquished San Francisco 30-27, have struggled mightily in the final period in four of their outings.
With a bit more composure and better decision-making, they might be undefeated, too. Instead, they were bitten by comebacks by Dallas and Atlanta in the first two weeks.
Yet after putting together their own sizzling return from the dead, they also looked at the win as a building tool. Which it will need to be with division matchups against Philadelphia and reeling Dallas upcoming.
''We've got a lot of fight. We've got a lot of guys that are willing to put in the effort, put in the time, put their bodies on the line for this team and it's great to see that. It's comforting and you can build off that,'' said running back Shane Vereen, who ought to know after winning a Super Bowl in New England.
Forget Super Bowls, they don't even make the postseason in Buffalo, where it's been 15 years since the Bills were in the playoffs. Rex Ryan brought a new kind of bravado to Western New York, and Sunday's rally to edge Tennessee 14-13 was all about guts for his undermanned team.
''We found a way to win, so struggle or not, we found a way to win with the guys that we knew we were going to play with,'' said quarterback Tyrod Taylor, the engineer of the late turnaround at Tennessee.
Most impressive were the Bengals - again. They haven't been 5-0 since 1988, when they won the AFC championship. They erased a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit against two-time defending NFC champ Seattle and sent it to overtime before Mike Nugent's field goal won it 27-24.
True, nothing the Bengals do in the regular season - not even 16-0 - will prove much if they falter for a fifth straight postseason. Still, to climb out of a 24-3 hole against the Seahawks shows plenty of mettle.
`'We overcame a lot of things in this game,'' cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick said. ''Down the line, this will be motivation for us that we'll be able to look back on. We've been in this situation, and we've overcome it.''
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