It was a good day to be an average-to-below-average starting quarterback in the NFL. That’s nearly never the case, but it sure was on the first Sunday of the NFL season.
Here’s the list of quarterbacks who led game-winning drives in final five minutes of 4th quarter or in overtime on Sunday: Jacoby Brissett, Carson Wentz, Mitch Trubisky, Jameis Winston, and Daniel Jones.
Not exactly a list of world-beaters, but for one day they did stand on top of the world. Let’s go through each one of their heroics.
Jacoby Brissett Spoils Baker Mayfield’s Revenge Game
Baker Mayfield had a lot to prove on Sunday, beginning his Carolina Panthers career and doing it against the NFL team that cast him aside for a guy who allegedly assaulted over 20 different massage therapists.
And, for the most part, he did. As OutKick’s Armando Salguero noted, Mayfield recovered from a poor first half and put his team in a position to win. But, he didn’t count on Brissett coming in and playing spoiler.
Following an Eddie Pineiro 33-yard field goal with just 1:13 left on the clock, the Panthers held a one-point lead. But everyone should have know that was WAY too much time to leave with Brissett under center.
Admittedly, the Browns benefitted from a roughing the passer call, but Brissett also completed a pair of passes on the final drive to set up the game-winner.
New Nickname, New Signal-Caller, New Results
It’s been a rough go for the Washington Redskins/Football Team/Commanders over the past 15 NFL seasons. They’ve reached the playoffs just three times and are 0-3 in those Wild Card games.
But that was then and this is now! Carson Wentz, who has already been cast aside by two other NFL franchises, is the new QB in town. Week 1 brought a home matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the NFL’s worst team last season.
Last time Wentz faced the Jaguars, it went extremely poorly. He was the Colts QB, it was Week 18 and a spot in the playoffs was on the line. Wentz promptly laid an egg and it got him run out of Indianapolis.
He wasn’t about to let that happen again. Washington trailed 22-14 in the fourth quarter but Wentz led a 78-yard touchdown drive to get them within two. However, they missed the conversion and still trailed. Not to fear! Wentz had another fourth-quarter touchdown drive in him.
Wentz drove the team down the field in commanding fashion (see what I did there?), leading a 13-play, 90 yard drive that ultimately ended with this throw:
The Commanders defense picked off last year’s #1 overall NFL Draft pick, Trevor Lawrence, on the ensuing drive and that was all she wrote.
Mitch Trubisky Debuts For Steelers, Beats Joe Burrow
Boy, if you asked me before the game which one of these QBs was going to turn the ball over five times…
I don’t have to answer that rhetorical, do I? But, yes, it was Joe Burrow who threw four picks and lost a fumble. Despite that, the Bengals had every opportunity to win the game. And, thanks to a blocked extra point by the Steelers special team, the game headed to OT.
Trubisky put his team in position to win the game not once, but twice. Following a Pittsburgh punt and a Bengals missed field goal, Trubisky put his team in position for the winner. And with a veteran kicker like Chris Boswell, that seemed to be enough. But it wasn’t.
Did you think one doink off the left upright was going to deter Mitch? Hell no! Thanks to a really poor coaching decision by Bengals head coach Zac Taylor, Trubisky got the ball on his own 20-yard line with 56 seconds remaining. That’s an ETERNITY for Mitch — formerly Mitchell — Trubisky.
Trubisky completed a pair of passes to tight end Pat Freiermuth to get the team in position and Boswell wasn’t about to miss again.
Jameis Winston Doing Jameis Winston Things
Things did not look good for the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. With just over 12-and-a-half minutes left in the game, they trailed 26-10 to the Atlanta Falcons. The offense looked anemic. But that’s when Jameis Winston CAME ALIVE.
First, it was a four-play drive in which Winston went 4-4 for 75 yards and a touchdown. It was the first regular season touchdown for Michael Thomas since the 2019-20 NFL season. They got the two-point conversion and trailed by 8.
Following a Falcons punt, Winston led an eight-play, 86-yard drive, punctuating it with another score to Michael Thomas. Boy, that Winston-Thomas connection could be LETHAL!
But a missed two-point conversion left them still trailing. NO MATTER! Winston was not done. Following another Atlanta punt, the Saints had the ball on their own 20 with just 48 seconds left. That’s all day in Jameis Winston time.
He immediately connected on a 40-yard throw to Jarvis Landry before taking an intentional grounding on a very pooly executed attempt on a spike. Yeah, that can happen apparently. But it doesn’t matter, it’s almost as if Winston was just toying with Atlanta.
“Go ahead, back me up 10 yards. I’m still gonna win this thing,” Jameis Winston, probably.
After a 17-yard completion, Winston nearly failed to spike the ball properly a second time, but the refs gave him a break. And you don’t give guys like Jameis Winston a break and get away with it.
Well, truthfully that made it 4th down and really the break went to kicker Will Lutz. And you don’t give guys like Will Lutz a break and get away with it!
Danny Dimes Is Good At Giving The Ball To Saquon Barkley
Yeah, so this one was a little more about Saquon Barkley than Daniel Jones, but hey, mediocre QBs need help to win games.
Trailing 20-13 in the fourth quarter, Jones made a horrific decision to try to force the ball to Saquon Barkley, who carried the team all afternoon. Trying to hit his RB in the left corner of the endzone, Jones appeared to be completely blind to anyone wearing a Titans uniform.
Not good. And his new head coach, Brian Daboll, was not happy.
I mean, really it had little do with Jones. The game-winning drive included three passes from Jones, all thrown within five yards of the line of scrimmage. They tried to throw one deep ball on the drive … and that honor was given to wide receiver Kadarius Toney. Toney, unlike Jones, did not try to force the ball into coverage and took off and ran. Eventually, the Giants got into the endzone to tie the game. Or so it seemed.
Rather than kick the extra point, Daboll elected to go for two. Some might see this as confidence in his signal-caller. However, it seemed far more likely he was terrified to let Jones have the ball in overtime. Instead, he ran a shovel pass to, who else, Barkley. Barkley plunged in and the Giants took the lead.
Slightly-less-mediocre Titans QB Ryan Tannehill actually did his part and got the Titans into range to win the game. But, the power that be felt that Daniel Jones deserved the win after that tongue lashing from Daboll.
Sometimes It Pays To Be Just OK
It’s not always going to go this way for these guys. More often than not, it will be the opposite. But let’s take a moment and congratulate them; they’re all undefeated in 2022-23. It’s not going to last, of course, but for one day they all get to be kings. And for that I say, enjoy it gentlemen.