September 26, 2017
By: Steve Degler
Basketball has buzzer beaters. Baseball has game-winning hits. Hockey has sudden death overtime goals. It's not unusual to see games end on the final play. Football is different. Outside of the rare overtime touchdown or field goal, not many games on the gridiron are decided on the final play. Except for last weekend.
If you are a Penn State AND Philadelphia Eagles fan, I hope your blood pressure has returned to normal by now. Quite a bit happened in the 21 hours from kickoff in Iowa City Saturday night to the end of the game in South Philly Sunday afternoon. Both games came down to the final second of play. Both had miraculous endings.
The Nittany Lions, ranked fourth in the nation, statistically dominated the Hawkeyes the entire game. With less than two minutes remaining, however, Iowa managed to take the lead. Kinnick Stadium has become known as a place where top-five teams go to lose. Not on this night. Trace McSorley hit Juwan Johnson on a fourth-down play as time expired to give PSU a 21-19 victory. Whitehall's Saquon Barkley showed he is the clear Heisman Trophy favorite at the one-third mark of the season. The former Zephyr set a Penn State record with 358 all purpose yards. The amount of breathtaking runs he had in the game was incredible. And he had a key block on the final play that gave McSorley enough time to find Johnson.
The Eagles tried to match the Nittany Lions in the drama department. After blowing a 14-0 lead, the Birds needed a Jake Elliott 46-yard field goal to tie the game at 24 with less than a minute remaining in the fourth quarter. Then the Eagles caught some major breaks. The Giants, in a span of 32 seconds, gained nine yards on three plays and committed two penalties. Still, all that was needed was a decent punt and the game goes to overtime. But Brad Wing shanked a 28-yarder and the Eagles had a chance, albeit a slim one. A "Dumb and Dumber" chance to win the game in regulation. And somehow it happened. The rookie Elliott, in his second game, booted a franchise record 61-yard field goal as the clock hit 0:00 for a 27-24 win. And this miracle didn't happen in the Meadowlands.
Will these improbable wins propel both teams onto historic runs? Too early to tell although Penn State certainly has the better chance of it. They both found a way to win somehow. That's usually a sign of a good team. But it never hurts to have a little luck with you.