We had a pair of fourth quarter thrillers on our hands last night, as two surprising unbeaten teams in the NBA and NFL tried to keep their winning streaks alive. The Bulls mounted a late comeback against the Knicks, which would be a largely meaningless phrase if both teams hadn’t shocked their long-suffering fan bases with great starts to this season (to the extent that we are reminiscing about the nineties). Simultaneously, Thursday Night Football presented one of its best matchups in recent memory, as Kyler Murray’s undefeated Cardinals took on Aaron Rodgers’ 6-1 Packers in Phoenix.
After a couple unfortunate backfield turnovers from the Cardinals that gave Green Bay a 10-point lead in the third, Arizona pulled within three after forcing a turnover on downs at the Packers’ 1-yard line, and mounted a quick 95-yard drive downfield. With under a minute left, on second-and-goal, Murray tried to connect with AJ Green in the end zone on a fade.
AJ Green didn’t turn around.
On what could have been a game-winning pass that all but hit the receiver in the back of the head, Green wasn’t looking for the ball — but his defender was. Packers cornerback Rasul Douglas intercepted Murray’s pass in the end zone, definitively finishing off an awe-inspiring comeback attempt and dashing even the hope of a field goal to go to overtime. Green was left standing in the end zone turning in circles, hands held up in the air in confusion, as the Cardinals’ undefeated streak came to an end.
That one wasn’t great, but the Bulls gave us an even more anticlimactic (less climactic?) ending to their faceoff against the Knicks in the United Center. It didn’t seem like the Bulls were realistically in it, as the Knicks kept a convincing lead throughout most of the second half. They held a 13-point edge with three to play. But after key misses from Julius Randle, Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker on New York’s end of the court, Zach Lavine put the Bulls within one on a huge dunk with nine seconds left.
The fans are on the edge of their seats. The Bulls foul Randle downcourt — and he misses both free throws! Chicago calls a timeout — five seconds left, and all they need is two. Lavine inbounds it to DeMar DeRozan, who pulls up, pump fakes, takes a shot for the lead, and…airballs it.
Game over. The Bulls’ undefeated start is no more.
Sure, comebacks don’t always work. Maybe you run out of time, or the momentum shift can’t make up for the point differential. But to come so close only to end like that — as a sucker for a good comeback, those two big (and seemingly avoidable) game-ending misses for two as-of-yesterday undefeated were just brutal to watch.