If there’s a lesson to be learned from Week 2 of this NFL season, it might be the more you smack a quarterback around and the deeper a hole you put him in, the more danger you’re in.
Take the cases of Tony Romo, Matt Ryan and Josh Freeman. All three were battered, Romo to the point at which he had to leave the game with a fractured rib. Freeman was bleeding from his mouth and Ryan was flailing on the turf of the Georgia Dome at one point.
Yet, all three were part of what was a great week for quarterback comebacks. In all, there were five fourth-quarter comebacks in Week 2. Buffalo’s Ryan Fitzpatrick and Washington’s Rex Grossman also led their teams to victory after being down in the fourth quarter.
This is nothing new for Ryan. In defeating former Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles, Ryan notched his 10th fourth-quarter comeback since the start of the 2009 season. No other quarterback has had more fourth-quarter comebacks in that time. Peyton Manning and David Garrard are tied for second with nine.
Ryan, who took a lot of hits in the game, was rocking back and forth briefly after taking a hit early in the fourth quarter with the Eagles leading, 31-21. Soon after Ryan got up, he seemed to get into rhythm. He promptly led two touchdown drives to give the Falcons a 35-31 victory.
“I thought our quarterback really showed his toughness,” coach Mike Smith said. “He took a number of shots and he kept going. When you’ve got guys like that, you’ve got a chance to be successful.’’
It was kind of a similar scene in Minnesota, where Tampa Bay fell behind 17-0 in the first half. Freeman was getting knocked around pretty good, but he never lost his composure and led the Bucs back into the game and on to victory.
"He looked me right in the face, 'We got this; we're OK,'" coach Raheem Morris said. "I'm looking at my quarterback's mouth bleeding. It's kind of a situation you don't want to look at too often. He got things rolling for us and able to come back in the fourth quarter. It's becoming a signature move for him."
In the same time span as Ryan’s 10 comebacks, Freeman is tied with Drew Brees and Jay Cutler with eight fourth-quarter comebacks. There’s a bit of a catch here. Freeman didn’t get to play until halfway through his rookie season. Freeman has had 27 career starts and his eight comebacks are the most ever for a quarterback in such a span.
A Kitna interception helped the 49ers take the lead, and that’s when Romo came back into the game. He promptly threw a touchdown pass to Miles Austin, then drove the Cowboys for a field goal to send the game to overtime.
Romo ended the game by hitting Jesse Holley for a 77-yard gain to set up the winning field goal.