Facing a third-and-11 from his own 24-yard line on the first possession of overtime, Brock Osweiler had the chance to be a hero for the Miami Dolphins. He scrambled to the right and sent the ball more than 20 yards downfield, where it bounced off safety Adrian Amos and into the arms of Kenny Stills for a first down.
Osweiler out here skipping rocks pic.twitter.com/UW0OR3PKL1— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) October 14, 2018
No play better summarizes Miami’s 31-28 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday than that pass. With some absurdity and some luck, Brock Osweiler (!?) was the hero—and the Bears never saw it coming. Osweiler shredded the most efficient defense in football for a career day on Sunday, completing 28 of 44 passes (63.6 percent) for 380 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions (94.9 passer rating) while taking no sacks against Chicago’s fearsome pass rush, reminding NFL fans everywhere that Any Given Sunday isn’t just a movie.
You could be forgiven if you forgot Osweiler existed. After serving as a footnote to the tail end of Peyton Manning’s run in Denver, he signed a four-year, $72 million contract with the quarterback-starved Houston Texans in 2016, prompting The Ringer’s Mike Lombardi to dub him “The Heist.” In his lone season in Houston, Osweiler threw 15 touchdowns, 16 interceptions, and 2,957 yards in 15 games and turned in a three-interception performance against the Patriots to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the AFC divisional round. A year to the day after Houston signed Osweiler, the Texans traded Osweiler, a second-rounder, and another pick to the Browns for a fourth-rounder just to erase him from their history, and he was so bad in training camp the Browns released him while paying his salary before he ever played a regular-season game. He returned to the Broncos for a brief stint, where his one highlight was making Cris Collinsworth look silly on Sunday Night Football.
The Dolphins signed Osweiler to be Ryan Tannehill’s backup in March, which many football fans learned when the Dolphins ruled Tannehill out with a shoulder injury just 90 minutes before kickoff on Sunday against the Bears, who had the second-most sacks entering Sunday and were no. 1 in Football Outsiders’ DVOA. The odds were against Osweiler. (Even Dwyane Wade was against Osweiler.) The lone evidence in the Dolphins’ favor was that Miami players “have complimented Brock Osweiler for his snap-count etiquette and huddle etiquette since his arrival,” according to ESPN’s Joe Schad.
On Miami’s first six drives, Osweiler looked much like the Osweiler we’d seen in Houston—a very tall interception machine.
Here's the 2nd Brock Osweiler INTpic.twitter.com/OSLaC6bvC9— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) October 14, 2018
But once the Bears took a 14-7 lead by scoring a touchdown one play after that interception, Osweiler channeled his inner Peyton Manning (the incredibly fortunate, noodle-armed version). He led two field goal drives that kept the Dolphins within one possession and then tossed a 43-yard touchdown pass to Albert Wilson.
Albert Wilson is fun Part 1 pic.twitter.com/1PwCjb81dg— Chris Wittyngham (@ChrisWittyngham) October 14, 2018
OK, he threw the ball 1 yard behind the line of scrimmage and Wilson ran 42 yards, but Brock Osweiler was leading a comeback victory in 2018. When the Bears retook a seven-point lead on the next drive, Osweiler needed just one play for a 75-yard touchdown to tie the game again.
OK, fine, Wilson caught the ball 4 yards past the line of scrimmage and went 71 yards for the score. BUT BROCK OSWEILER WAS LEADING A COMEBACK IN 2018!
The Dolphins went three-and-out on their last drive of the fourth quarter and got the ball first in overtime. On that possession, we were blessed with the Stills reception bouncing off of the defender’s helmet, but that wasn’t even the most inexplicable moment of the drive. After a trio of Frank Gore runs took the Dolphins to the Bears’ 1-yard line, the Dolphins handed the ball to running back Kenyan Drake on third-and-goal from the 1—and he fumbled.
On the ensuing drive, the Bears missed their 53-yard field goal attempt, giving Osweiler another chance to be a hero with less than two minutes left in overtime. Remarkably, the Dolphins gave the ball back to Drake. He gained 22 yards on two runs and an Osweiler pass to start the drive—call Osweiler and Drake Brocktober’s Very Own—before Osweiler completed another short pass and spiked the ball at Chicago’s 29-yard line to set up Jason Sanders’s game-winning field goal as time expired.
For his career, Osweiler is now 3-0 against the Bears with seven touchdowns and three interceptions, and 11-12 with 28 touchdowns and 26 interceptions against everyone else. Osweiler threw for a career-high yardage total and broke 300 passing yards in a game for just the second time in his career, and he did it by bouncing throws off of helmets while Miami’s no. 2 receiver had more than 100 yards after the catch. Osweiler won’t approach 400 yards again this season—probably. Like that Stills catch, the magic of football is the things we don’t see coming.