The Minnesota Vikings and Buffalo Bills played the most compelling game of the NFL season, at least so far.
Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the first-ever regular season game in Germany.
Jeff Saturday pulled a pregame surprise as he readied to make his coaching debut for the Indianapolis Colts in Las Vegas.
It was an eventful Sunday indeed in Week 10 of the NFL season.
The Vikings outlasted the Bills in overtime in an insanely captivating game in Orchard Park, N.Y. They prevailed, 33-30, when cornerback Patrick Peterson made an end-zone interception of a pass by Bills quarterback Josh Allen with a little over a minute remaining in the 10-minute extra session.
This one was highly competitive and wildly entertaining. Allen was in the Bills’ lineup despite missing practices Wednesday and Thursday because of an elbow injury. He may have aggravated that injury while attempting to knock the ball from Peterson’s grasp on a tackle after Peterson’s return of an end-zone interception during regulation. Allen remained down on the turf, then got up made his way off the field and stayed in the game.
The Vikings rallied from a 27-10 deficit. They missed an extra point and trailed, 27-23, when wide receiver Justin Jefferson made an otherworldly one-handed catch for a 32-yard gain on a fourth-and-18 play. That led to quarterback Kirk Cousins throwing an apparent go-ahead touchdown pass to Jefferson. But Jefferson, on an instant replay review, was ruled down by contact about a half-yard shy of the goal line. An offside penalty on the Bills moved the ball even closer to the end zone, and the Vikings attempted a fourth-and-inches quarterback sneak. But Cousins was stopped shy of the goal line, and the Bills took possession.
Remarkably, Buffalo botched the snap as Allen tried a quarterback sneak to move the ball away from the goal line. Some questioned whether the Bills should have taken an intentional safety. But that would have meant punting the ball to the Vikings with only a two-point lead.
The Vikings recovered the loose ball for a touchdown. They converted the extra point and led, 30-27, with 41 seconds left in regulation. But the Bills hurried down the field, aided by a catch by wide receiver Gabe Davis along the sideline that probably was not a catch. The ball appeared to hit the turf, and former NFL officiating czar Dean Blandino said on Fox, “That’s an incomplete pass.”
But officials did not review the play, and the Bills kicked a tying field goal to force overtime. The Vikings drove to the Buffalo 2-yard line with the opening possession of overtime but were pushed backward and settled for a field goal. The Bills reached the Minnesota 20-yard line, but Allen threw his second interception to Peterson.
The Vikings upped their record to 8-1. There is no debating it any longer: They are a legitimate Super Bowl contender. The Bills suddenly have a two-game losing skid and, at 6-3, are tied with the New York Jets for second place in the AFC East, a half-game behind the Miami Dolphins. They remain a Super Bowl contender. But they cannot be considered the clear-cut favorite any longer.
The Bucs prevailed in Munich. The Buccaneers overcame a rare interception thrown by Brady, an ill-advised attempt to use their 45-year-old quarterback as a receiver and a comeback bid by the Seattle Seahawks to win the NFL’s first regular season game in Germany. The Bucs beat the Seahawks, 21-16, at Allianz Arena, the home of FC Bayern Munich.
“It was a great atmosphere,” Brady told the NFL Network afterward. “It felt like a really hyped-up game when we came out for warm-ups. So it was pretty electric. And I hope the German fans got what they wanted. A great win by our team. We needed it.”
Brady has now won games in the United States, England, Mexico and Germany. He threw his first interception in 399 passing attempts. He also was the target on a gadget play gone awry on which tailback Leonard Fournette threw an interception while Brady tumbled to the turf and then was called for a tripping penalty on the tackle.
“I slipped,” Brady said. “I wouldn’t have caught it anyway. But I would have tried to tackle him, at least prevent it from being an interception.”
The Buccaneers ran the final 3:58 off the clock after the Seahawks pulled to within five points, winning their second straight game to even their record at 5-5. They’re the NFC South’s only .500 team.
“It feels good,” Brady said. “But we’ve got a long way to go. We’re just 5-5. So trying to figure it out, keep grinding, trying to get better.”
Don’t look now, but the Detroit Lions have a two-game winning streak. They won, 31-30, in Chicago, despite another superb performance by Bears quarterback Justin Fields.
Fields threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more, one on a 67-yard dash and the other on a one-yard scramble on which he actually covered 34.2 yards, according to Next Gen Stats, while crisscrossing the field. He ran for 147 yards in all. The Bears amassed 258 rushing yards, giving them five straight games in which they’ve run for more than 235 yards. But even that wasn’t enough to defeat the suddenly competent Lions.
The Dolphins are undefeated in games in which quarterback Tua Tagovailoa starts and finishes. Tagovailoa threw three touchdown passes as the Dolphins beat the Cleveland Browns, 39-17, in Miami Gardens, Fla.
The Dolphins lost a game in Cincinnati in late September after Tagovailoa suffered a concussion and exited, being taken from the field on a stretcher and transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital. They lost the next two games with Tagovailoa sidelined. They’re 7-0 otherwise. And now they - and not the erstwhile mighty Bills - are the AFC East leaders.
Saturday made an unconventional quarterback switch. After Colts owner Jim Irsay hired the former All-Pro center and ESPN analyst Monday as the team’s interim head coach, Saturday said Sam Ehlinger would remain the starter at quarterback.
Reich had benched the injured Matt Ryan in favor of Ehlinger, and the coach said he planned for Ehlinger to remain the starter for the remainder of the season. Saturday seemed poised to stick with that plan. But as the Colts went through pregame warm-ups Sunday in Las Vegas, it was Ryan taking snaps with the starters. And then the Colts announced he would start the game.
Saturday certainly was an unconventional choice as interim head coach, given that he never had coached a game above the high school level. His tenure begins with an appropriately unconventional quarterback switch.