In April, three rounds after they made Robert Griffin III the second pick in the draft, the Washington Redskins selected Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins.
A lot of people scratched their heads at that. Why would a team with plenty of holes to fill use another pick on a quarterback?
Sunday, that move looked brilliant.
With Griffin sidelined by a stomach-turning right knee injury, Cousins came off the bench to erase an eight-point deficit in the final minute, setting up a 31-28 overtime victory over the Baltimore Ravens that was clinched by Kai Forbath's 34-yard field goal.
On a Sunday when all four teams in the up-for-grabs NFC East won — with Philadelphia being the only non-factor — the surging Redskins picked up their fourth victory in a row.
But how long can they keep rolling with their rookie superstar hobbled? The status of Griffin is uncertain after his knee whipsawed violently as he was being tackled at the end of a 13-yard scramble.
Griffin sat out one snap, returned for four passes but was limping badly, came out, and wanted to return a second time.
"I still felt like I could go out and help the team win," he said.
Griffin had an MRI exam that the Redskins said showed a sprained right knee and that ruled out a season-ending torn ligament. The team said an update would be provided by Coach Mike Shanahan on Monday.
Griffin's injury aside, the Redskins celebrated a dramatic victory. Cousins threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon with 29 seconds left, then forged a 28-28 tie by running in the two-point conversion on a quarterback draw.
In East Rutherford, N.J., the Giants maintained their one-game division lead over the Redskins and Cowboys with a 52-27 thrashing of New Orleans. It was the first time New York has surpassed 50 points in 26 years.
There's no coasting for the Giants at this point. They finish at Atlanta, at Baltimore, and home against Philadelphia.
While the Redskins won by three points, the Eagles and Cowboys escaped with even narrower victories.
Philadelphia won at Tampa Bay, 23-21, ending an eight-game losing streak. It was the third consecutive loss for the Buccaneers, who earlier had clawed their way back to relevance by winning four games in a row.
And the heavy-hearted Cowboys won at Cincinnati, 20-19. A day earlier, Jerry Brown, a linebacker on the Dallas practice squad, was killed in a car accident as a passenger of teammate Josh Brent, who has been charged with intoxication manslaughter.
That tragedy dampened any excitement by the Cowboys in the wake of their victory, clinched by Dan Bailey's 40-yard field goal as time ran out.
"It's a hard situation we're in," quarterback Tony Romo said. "There's no playbook for this sort of thing in life."
In the visitors' locker room in Cincinnati, the Cowboys saved a locker in memory of Brown, turning the stool in front of it upside down. They also had his jersey on the sideline, with defensive tackle Jason Hatcher holding it above his head after the winning kick.
"I don't remember crying this much other than maybe the day I was born," defensive lineman Marcus Spears said. "With Josh's situation and Jerry being gone, you felt it."
While there's a wide-open race to the finish in the NFC East, there's corresponding drama on the West Coast, where San Francisco and Seattle are scorching.
The 49ers held on to their narrow division lead with a win over Miami, but Seattle is surging, as evidenced by the Seahawks' 58-0 obliteration of Arizona.
San Francisco plays at Seattle in two weeks, but not before traveling to New England for a tough game at Gillette Stadium. The 49ers finish with Arizona at home.
Seattle, which is undefeated at home, plays at Buffalo before playing host to the 49ers and St. Louis.
One wild card is the status of Seattle's Richard Sherman, who is facing the same penalty levied against fellow Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner — a four-game suspension for the use of Adderall, a performance-enhancing drug.
While Browner accepted the punishment and won't be available until the playoffs, Sherman is appealing and has a hearing scheduled for Friday. However, according to an ESPN report, he is considering filing motions that could further delay a decision.
It's the Pitts
Too late to save their season, but the San Diego Chargers finally showed up for a game. They beat the Steelers, 34-24, winning a regular-season game in Pittsburgh for the first time in 15 tries and spoiling the return of Ben Roethlisberger.
The Steelers have fallen into the troubling pattern of winning games they're supposed to lose, and losing games they're supposed to win. A week after winning at Baltimore with Charlie Batch at quarterback, Pittsburgh lost to a team that had dropped seven of eight.
Asked the reason for the inconsistency, Roethlisberger said: "I have no clue. If I knew I don't think we'd do it anymore. I thought we'd play better."
Stroke of Luck