When the Minnesota Vikings trailed 33-0 early on Saturday, there wasn’t a sign that we were in for one of the wildest sports weekends ever.
By the time it was over, we had multiple walk-off touchdowns, the greatest comeback in NFL history, officiating controversies, a zany game-ending play by the New England Patriots that will go down as one of the most memorable ever and … something else … oh right, a World Cup final that is on a short list of greatest soccer matches ever and possibly greatest sporting events ever.
And it all started so innocuously in Minnesota.
Vikings comeback kicks it off
The funny thing about the Vikings and the greatest comeback in NFL history is that Minnesota started with a three-and-out after halftime. That drive lost eight yards.
After that, Kirk Cousins and the Vikings exploded. They scored touchdowns on four of their next five possessions. There were even officiating fiascos in which Vikings cornerback Chandon Sullivan had two fumble return touchdowns nullified. The second one was egregiously bad, as officials ruled a play dead when Colts running back Deon Jackson wasn’t close to being down. It didn’t matter. The Vikings got a great game-tying touchdown on a screen pass to Dalvin Cook and then won in overtime.
This is the 103rd season of NFL football and no other team has come back from trailing by 33 points or more to win. We’ll remember that game.
Bills win as time expires
The Baltimore Ravens-Cleveland Browns game in the middle of Saturday was a dud, but hopefully you switched over to see North Carolina tie Ohio State at the buzzer and win in overtime instead. It really was a great sports weekend.
The late NFL game Saturday saw another walk-off win. Josh Allen carried the Buffalo Bills to a fourth-quarter comeback in a snowstorm, and the Bills won it 32-29 on a field goal as time expired.
Hopefully you got some sleep before France versus Argentina.
An all-time sporting event
It’s hard to judge the greatest game or match in all sports history, but the 2022 World Cup final wouldn’t be a bad choice. Kylian Mbappé scored three times, each with France trailing and including one late in extra time to tie the match 3-3. Lionel Messi scored twice. When Argentina won on penalty kicks, Messi had cemented his legacy as one of the greatest players ever. Mbappé had made his case for the greatest player right now. That match had it all.
And then our NFL day started.
Tense NFL games to start the day
In the early games we had two overtime touchdowns, one from the Kansas City Chiefs and another from the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars’ pick-six beat the Dallas Cowboys, capping a big comeback and an amazing breakout performance from Jags quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The Chiefs’ walk-off winner was for the AFC West title. Also, the Detroit Lions beat the New York Jets with a 51-yard catch by tight end Brock Wright on fourth-and-inches just after the two-minute warning. The Jets missed a field goal to tie it on the final play. That win might end up getting the Lions back in the playoffs for the first time in six years.
We had witnessed all of that, and the craziest single play of the NFL season (or any season?) was still to come.
A Raiders miracle win
In the late games, the Tennessee Titans tied the Los Angeles Chargers in the final minute, only to have the Chargers quickly drive down for a game-winning field goal with four seconds left. We also had the Cincinnati Bengals rally from a 17-0 deficit — “What’s so special about that?” the Vikings ask — to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tom Brady was 89-0 in home games when he led by 17 or more, until Sunday. It was a weekend for comebacks.
And then it got really weird. We remember Jim Marshall running the wrong way, Leon Lett’s Thanksgiving gaffe in the snow, Dwayne Rudd taking his helmet off to cost the Browns a win, and we will forever remember the Patriots inexplicably lateraling it back to Raiders defensive end Chandler Jones, who stiff-armed Patriots quarterback Mac Jones into oblivion and returned the gift for one of the weirdest walk-off touchdowns ever.
Just in case you needed more, there was a New York Giants win over the Washington Commanders on Sunday night that included two controversial calls in the final few plays, including a missed pass interference on fourth down.
Poor Nikola Jokic. On Sunday night the Denver Nuggets center had 40 points, 27 rebounds and 10 assists, becoming the first NBA player to post a 40-25-10 line since Wilt Chamberlain in 1968. On any other weekend, we would have noticed.
Craziest sports weekend ever?
It would be hard to quantify the wildest or greatest sports weekend ever, but it would be tough to top Dec. 17-18, 2022.
There were crazy comebacks and five walk-off winners in the NFL (and that doesn’t count the Chargers winning with four seconds left). We had a historic number of close games.
There were two global soccer superstars combining for five goals in a World Cup final that was an all-time classic. We had some good college hoops, college football bowl games, and a back-to-back NBA MVP putting up a stat line we haven’t seen in 54 years.
If you’re a serious sports fan, you might have needed to call in sick on Monday, just to recover from it all.