It’s rare for the Dallas Cowboys to see a comeback against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. With a 29-10 record in the first half, the Cowboys scored 30 points in the second half, reaching 40-39. In the process, they posted a deficit of 39-24 in the middle of the fourth quarter, hitting a 39-30 at 4:57, with only one time-out left.
The rally would not have been complete without the recovered onside kick with 1:48 left, as Falcons did not fall on the ball inexplicably. In the last match, Greg Zuerlein’s 46-yard field goal won.
How unusual was it? ESPN’s odds model only identifies 10 other games where the winner has a low odds out of the game over the past 20 seasons. In fact, in the second half of the second quarter, the Cowboys had a 0.1% win rate.
Let’s take a quick look at the previous instances in the order of the lowest probability of winning. Randomly, both games involve a lot of place kicker Matt Prater. This model includes all games since the start of the 2001 season.
when: Week 9 season of 2016
Related deficit: Vikings have 23 seconds left.
How it happened: Without a timeout, the Lions completed two passes and earned a total of 35 yards. Quarterback Matthew Stafford had two seconds left, and Matt Prater tied for a 58-yard field goal. The Lions won overtime with a first come, first served touchdown.
when: Week 14 season of 2018
Related deficit: The Patriots took the lead 33-28 with 16 seconds left
How it happened: Of course a Miami miracle. The Dolphins won one game on the 31 yard line. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw a 14-yard pass to wide receiver Kenny Stills. He moved DeVante Parker to wide out. He ran out of Kenya Drake, and he ran 52 yards for the winning touchdown.
when: Week 14 season of 2011
Related deficit: The Bears held a 10-0 lead in their first match in the fourth quarter and held the lead up to the five-minute mark in the match.
How it happened: The Broncos quarterback Tim Te Bow went on to hit 7 at-bats in Denver’s next possession, and finally threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver De Marius Thomas. The Bears lost three straight, and Tebow led the second scoring drive, with eight seconds remaining on Matt Prater’s 59-yard field goal. Broncos won overtime with Prater’s 51-yard field goal.
when: 2001 Week 4 Season
Related deficit: The Eagles took the lead 20-14 with 1:13 remaining.
How it happened: Cardinals quarterback Jake Plummer put his team on the Eagles’ 35-yard line, but with 17 seconds left. Plummer threw the jumpball at wide receiver Marty Jenkins. Marty Jenkins put Eagles corner bag Troy Vincent on the 2-yard line. Jenkins grabs the ball and runs around Vincent, jumping into the end zone for victory.
when: 2017 Division Playoff Round
Related deficit: Saints have 25 seconds left and they took the lead 24-23
How it happened: Of course the miracle of Minneapolis. Case Keenum, who finished third and 10th in the Vikings’ 39-yard line quarterback, spotted wide-out Stefon Diggs on the right sideline. Saints safety Marcus Williams missed the tackle and Diggs sprinted into the end zone for a walk-off touchdown.
when: Week 1 season of 2015
Related deficit: The Giants took the lead 26-20, with 1:34 left.
How it happened: Without a timeout, the Cowboys traveled 72 yards in 6 matches to score victory points. 13 seconds left on the Giants’ 11 yard line. Central Travis Frederick sent a low snap to quarterback Tony Romo. However, Romo caught the ball off the ground and threw a triumphant touchdown pass at Jason Witten.
when: The 13th parking season of 2009
Related deficit: Washington took the lead 30-20 at home with 12:51.
How it happened: Saints scored 10 points in the last 6:52, including a 53-yard touchdown pass from Drew Brees to Robert Meachem (1:19 left). The Saints had a chance to win the regulation after stopping Washington quarterback Jason Campbell, but place kicker Garrett Hartley missed a 58-yard field goal attempt. However, Hartley won the match with an 18-yard field goal in extra time.
when: 2009 Week 1 Season
Related deficit: Bengals have 38 seconds left.
How it happened: With Broncos heading second on his 13-yard line, quarterback Kyle Orton aimed for wide-out Brandon Marshall near the sideline near midfielder. The pass got a tip, but Broncos’ wide receiver Brandon Stokley grabbed it in the air and sprinted into the end zone for a win score.
when: 13th parking season of 2015
Related deficit: The Lions scored 23-14 with 7:06 left (23-21 with 6 seconds of the match).
How it happened: With 6 seconds left, the Packers hit 3,10 at the 21 yard line. They tried to play multiplayer, and Lions defensive end Devin Taylor finished the match against quarterback Aaron Rogers at the 24 yard line. Or everyone thought. Officials grabbed the Rodgers face mask to Taylor and gave Packers another play, as well as moving the ball 15 yards up for Hail Mary and into Rodgers’ range. Rodgers won the game with a 61 yard throw to Richard Rodgers.
when: 2005 parking season 15
Related deficit: The Saints took the lead 12-10 with 1:52 remaining.
How it happened: Lions took over the 19-yard line without time limit. The big play was quarterback Joey Harrington with a 40-yard pass to wide receiver Roy Williams, placing 4th and 17th on the 24-yard line. A 15-yard pass to Williams in a 3-10 match allowed Jason Hanson to score a 39-yard victory field goal.