There was 5:19 left in the third quarter of the Kansas City Chiefs’ Week 4 game against the New York Jets. The score was tied 20-20. The Jets had just forced Kansas City to punt on two consecutive drives in which the team had gained a total of 14 yards on seven plays.
Starting their next drive at their own 15-yard line, New York quarterback Zach Wilson pitched the ball to running back Breece Hall, who slipped in behind a pair of blockers on the right side and headed downfield. After Hall shook off an attempted tackle by the Chiefs’ MIKE linebacker Drue Tranquill, it looked bad. Hall was well midfield — and only Kansas City’s second-year safety Bryan Cook stood between him and a 27-20 lead.
Cook got one hand on him — then another — and somehow brought Hall down after a 42-yard gain. Four plays later, the Chiefs’ defense forced their second-straight punt of the Jets.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, veteran safety Mike Edwards wanted to explain just how hard it was for Cook to make that play.
“I mean, it might go down like, ‘Oh, he just tackled them’” noted Edwards, “But no! [Hall] has a whole field — and a blocker — in front of him and everything. That’s real tough — especially with a running back like Breece Hall, [who] is a great runner.”
Edwards said that right in the moment, he recognized that Cook had made a game-saving play.
“I heard a lot of people [came] up to him after the game told them how big of a play that was,” he revealed. “But I told him right after the play. I said, ‘Dude, that’s a big play. I mean, it definitely doesn’t go unnoticed [that] you saved the game.’ I told him, ‘Look at the score! Like, the score wouldn’t be what it is right now if it wasn’t for you.’”
Had Cook missed the tackle, it’s always possible that Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes could have taken his team’s last offensive play into the end zone — rather than down himself at the 2-yard line — so that the Chiefs could have won 30-27 instead of 23-20. But that’s assuming that if the Jets had taken the lead on Hall’s run, everything else would have played out exactly the same way — and there’s no way to know if that’s true.
But we know at least one thing that’s true: NFL games are won by players who make plays. On Sunday, Bryan Cook was one of them.