When Ryan McDaniel made a dramatic circus catch on a 28-yard scoring pass from Cole Kelley, it looked like Memphis Showboats had pulled off an incredible come-from-behind victory. It also appeared to be the latest in a long line of late-game collapses by the Houston Gamblers.
The touchdown, which came with 1:54 remaining, gave Memphis a 26-23 lead after having trailed 23-10 entering the fourth quarter. And it was nothing new for the Gamblers, who since the start of last season had blown four leads with 2 minutes remaining.
But this time, quarterback Kenji Bahar and his teammates changed the narrative.
Bahar, in his second season in the USFL, led Houston on an 8-play, 66-yard drive. He completed four of his five pass attempts on the drive and also had a 3-yard scramble to get the Gamblers near midfield.
The key play came with just 28 seconds left and the Gamblers sitting on the Showboats' 42-yard line.
"We need about seven yards," Houston offensive coordinator Eric Price told Bahar over the radio, in reference to a potential game-tying field goal.
But Bahar did better than that, lofting a deep pass over the middle to tight end Josh Pederson — son of Jacksonville Jaguars coach Doug Pederson — who reeled it in before being dragged down at the 6-yard line.
Bahar then spiked the ball to stop the clock, and two plays later, he hit Justin Hall for the game-winning touchdown pass as the Gamblers earned their first win of the season, 30-26.
To see how it all went down, here's this week's installment of "Inside the Drive," a highlight video featuring mic'd up coaches and players.