Colt McCoy highlighted the importance of the backup, or even the third-stringer in his case, on Monday night when he engineered the Washington Redskins to a 20-17 overtime win over the favored Cowboys in Texas.
The Redskins entered the game starting McCoy, their third-string quarterback at the beginning of the season, and with a 2-5 record. The Cowboys entered Monday night on a roll and tied for the best record in the NFC with at 6-1. But McCoy was strong when it mattered most.
McCoy finished the game completing 25 of 30 passes for 299 yards and an interception, but he scored on a 7-yard quarterback draw on third down early in the fourth quarter to give Washington a 17-10 lead. On the first drive of overtime, he picked up first downs with passes of 23, 5 and 16 yards to set up the eventual game-winning field goal.
McCoy has now led two game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime, and no other player in NFL history has completed 80 percent of his passes and averaged 10 yards or more per pass in his first two games with a team (minimum of 25 passes), according to the Elias Sports Bureau. But McCoy is far from alone when it comes to being a well-used backup.
Through eight weeks this season, 44 quarterbacks have thrown 40 or more passes. That includes three for Washington (McCoy, Kirk Cousins and Robert Griffin III), the Minnesota Vikings (Matt Cassel, Teddy Bridgewater and Christian Ponder) and the Tennessee Titans (Jake Locker, Charlie Whitehurst and Zach Mettenberger).
One of the backups to start the season and now firmly entrenched as the starter is Kyle Orton. He completed 10 of 17 passes for 238 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions for a 142.8 passer rating in the Buffalo Bills’ 43-23 win at the New York Jets. He has started four games since supplanting E.J. Manuel and has compiled a 3-1 record and 104.0 passer rating.
Of course, the established starters and stars of the league are still dominating the headlines.
In Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger completed a franchise-record 40 passes for 522 yards and six touchdowns on Sunday, becoming the first player in NFL history with two 500-yard passing games.
In New England, Tom Brady completed 30 of 35 passes for 354 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions to improve his winning percentage at home to .870, the highest of any starting quarterback with a minimum of 50 home starts in the Super Bowl era. He is also the only player in NFL history with at least 350 passing yards, a completion percentage above 85 percent, five or more touchdowns and no interceptions in a game (he did that in 2009, too).
In Detroit, Matthew Stafford is the comeback king, joining Tom Brady and Drew Bledsoe as the only quarterbacks to have three comebacks of 21 points or more for a win.
Other nuggets after Week 8 in the NFL: