It wasn’t such a good day for backup quarterbacks in the NFL. (See: Cousins, Kirk and Hasselbeck, Matt.)
Backup coaches, on the other hand, had the best day ever.
Both teams who played without their head coaches on Sunday won, an event that may be a first in league history. While it’s inevitable that a pair of interim coaches have won on the same day, it’s most likely happened at the end of a season where the original guy in charge has been fired. Such is not the case for either the Indianapolis Colts or New Orleans Saints, which were both inspired to win for their missing leader Sunday.
The Colts’ stunning 30-27 win over the Packers was more from the “we make feel-good movies about this sort of thing” script.
Head coach Chuck Pagano checked into the hospital this week to receive treatment for leukemia, leaving Bruce Arians in charge of the ship for the foreseeable future.
Despite a 21-3 halftime deficit against a team that finished the regular season 15-1 a year ago compared to Indy’s 2-14, rookie Andrew Luck and veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne teamed up to rally the Colts to the win. Wayne, who wore orange gloves to acknowledge the color for leukemia awareness, had the best day of his illustrious career with 13 catches for 212 yards. It is second to only a 1957 game by Raymond Berry for best in franchise history.
Oddly enough, it was also Green Bay’s biggest blown halftime lead since 1957.
Serving a season-long suspension for his role in misleading league investigators about the Saints’ bounty program, Sean Payton received a special waiver to watch the team in person as Drew Brees looked to break Johnny Unitas’ 52-year-old record for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass. Granted, Payton wasn’t exactly “with” the team — he had to sit in a luxury box sans communication.
Brees threw four scores as the Saints put up 17 unanswered points for a 31-24 win over Norv Turner’s Chargers. It was the first win for New Orleans under third-string head coach Aaron Kromer, who will remain in charge for one more game before second-string coach Joe Vitt returns from his own suspension.
After this week’s successes, fans in Kansas City and Cleveland might strongly suggest giving the backup coach thing a try.