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NFL Close Calls – Week 4

NFL Close Calls – Week 4

Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread in the fourth quarter last week in Week 4 of the NFL regular season.

Los Angeles Rams (+5) 35, Dallas Cowboys 30 (50½): After a 3-3 first quarter the ‘over’ pace came alive in a wild second quarter that eventually featured 32 points in this NFC showdown. Dallas led by 11 points at two instances in the second quarter but the Rams closed to within eight with a field goal before the break, sitting near an opening number that was as high as +8½ for the upstart Rams in Sean McVay’s first season but eventually closed at just +5. The Rams took over in the second half with a field goal and Todd Gurley breaking a short pass into a 53-yard touchdown as Los Angeles led 26-24 heading into the final quarter. The ‘over’ was sealed with a Greg Zuerlein field goal with about 12 minutes to go and following an interception the Rams added three more points to lead by eight. Dallas responded with a touchdown and then failed on the two-point conversion that needed to be played out three times due to penalties. The Rams added Zuerlein’s seventh field goal of the game just after the two-minute warning to seal the underdog cover and stopped Dallas on downs near midfield to confirm the upset.

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New York Jets (+4) 23, Jacksonville Jaguars 20 (38½): These AFC surprise teams were tied at 10-10 at halftime before the Elijah McGuire broke a 69-yard run to give the Jets the lead in the third quarter. An interception allowed the Jets to add three points for a 10-point advantage heading into the final frame and Jacksonville subsequently missed a field goal early in the fourth quarter on its next possession. New York was moving the ball effectively with the lead with the ‘under’ also looking promising before a bobbled backwards pass led to an 81-yard fumble return touchdown that changed the possible outcomes. Following a pair of punts the Jets still held a 20-17 lead with the ‘under’ clinging to a narrow victory but with just over three minutes remaining Josh McCown was intercepted to hand the Jaguars the ball at the New York 35-yard-line. A touchdown would have given most on the Jaguars a win with the line at -3 almost all week or at worst a push at -4 but New York’s defense held in the red zone with Jacksonville making the tying 22-yard field goal in the final minute. For most of overtime a tie looked very possible with four consecutive punts and just one first down. The punting game proved critical in the final outcome as Jets punter Lachlan Edwards delivered a 70-yard punt that was mishandled, with a penalty pinning Jacksonville at its own three-yard-line. On Jacksonville’s subsequent punt a taunting penalty effectively put the Jets in field goal range and two plays later Chandler Catanzaro delivered a 41-yard field goal to win with 28 seconds left, securing the outright dog win and the ‘over’.

Pittsburgh Steelers (-3½) 26, Baltimore Ravens 9 (42): The Steelers led 19-0 in the first half with the help of a fumble and a missed field goal from an inept Ravens offense. Baltimore changed the course in the second half as the Steelers started the third quarter with an interception and a missed field goal which Baltimore turned into nine points, failing going for two to get within one score with still over 21 minutes remaining in the game. Down 19-9 a touchdown would put the Ravens in position to cover the spread and the defense forced three consecutive Pittsburgh punts. On consecutive drives just past midfield Joe Flacco turned in interceptions and after the second of those turnovers the Steelers cashed in a touchdown to put the game away. The Ravens were a serious threat to spoil the ‘under’ on a total that dipped to 42 late in the week as a 71-yard drive to the Pittsburgh 4-yard-line stalled in the final seconds.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2½) 25, New York Giants 23 (46½): The Buccaneers led 13-0 in the first quarter, with Nick Folk missing an extra-point after a 58-yard O.J. Howard touchdown. The Giants climbed back in the game and trailed 16-10 at halftime. Out of the break Folk missed his second field goal try of the game and helped set-up a Giants touchdown to take the lead late in the third quarter. New York would miss a field goal on an early fourth quarter possession but the Buccaneers didn’t take advantage, opting to go for it on 4th-and-2 rather than attempting a long field goal try for the lead. They failed but on the next possession the Buccaneers went in front 22-17 on a four-play touchdown drive, failing on the two-point conversion try. Eli Manning led the Giants back in front with just over three minutes remaining with New York also unable to get the two-point-conversion, leading 23-22 and leaving all outcomes in play on the side and total in the final three minutes. The key play of Tampa Bay’s final drive was a 3rd-and-1 from the New York 39-yard-line and Jameis Winston surprisingly went deep for a 26-yard gain. In clear field goal position the Buccaneers simply burned out the clock and remaining timeouts and Folk delivered a game-winner as time expired, sealing a narrow win for the ‘over’ but not quite enough for those on the Buccaneers.

Seattle Seahawks (-12½) 46, Indianapolis Colts 18 (41½): Those backing the hefty underdog had to feel good about their chances with a 15-10 halftime lead, even with a Jacoby Brissett interception returned for a touchdown for the Seahawks. Seattle delivered a touchdown with a two-point conversion to take the lead a few minutes into the second half but the Colts were able to tie the game at 18-18 with only a few minutes remaining in the third quarter. Seattle answered with a quick touchdown drive and then disaster struck for Indianapolis with a fumble returned for another defensive score for the Seahawks for a 14-point advantage swinging in just 13 seconds of game clock. The Colts didn’t threaten in the fourth as Seattle added two more touchdowns for the final score rout in a game that was tight most of the way.

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Kansas City Chiefs (-6½) 29, Washington Redskins 20 (47½): A competitive defensive battle played out on Monday night with a 10-7 score at halftime and a 17-17 draw into the fourth quarter as the underdog and ‘under’ certainly seemed like winning results. The Chiefs put together an amazing fourth quarter drive that burned more than eight minutes of game time and recently-signed kicker Harrison Butker made up for an earlier miss with a 32-yard field goal to put Kansas City up 20-17 with fewer than five minutes remaining. Those on the underdog and ‘under’ were sitting in pretty good shape even if overtime came into play, which looked like the likely scenario after a pair of scrambles from Kirk Cousins put the Redskins in range for a tying kick in the final minute. Facing 3rd-and-2 Washington surprisingly called a timeout at the Kansas City 22-yard-line. Washington opted to pass for the win rather than the first down, nearly getting a leaping catch from Josh Doctson in the end zone. The resulting incompletion stopped the clock while leaving a fair amount of time left as the 40-yard kick from Dustin Hopkins tied the game with 47 seconds still to go. Alex Smith quickly connected for a 37-yard pass play that put the Chiefs in position to win and a few plays later Butker connected from 43 yards for a 23-20 edge that didn’t change the spread or total outcome. The Chiefs opted to kick it deep for a touchback leaving Washington with one offensive play. Cousins threw a quick pass to the sideline with the plan to have the receiver pass back to Cousins but the return throw fell short however, bounced around through several players, and eventually was picked up by Justin Houston who was set on scoring a touchdown. Those six points shifted the side and total results on the closing numbers though many on the ‘under’ still held on with 49½ common during the weekend and the Chiefs kneeling on the conversion attempt.