NFL Close Calls – Week 13
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 and total in the fourth quarter in Week 13 of the NFL regular season.
Miami Dolphins (-3½) 21, Buffalo Bills 17 (40): The Dolphins led 14-6 at the half and 14-9 through three quarters on a spread that fell from -6 to just -3½. After both teams had interceptions late in the third quarter Josh Allen led a touchdown drive to put Buffalo in front at the 12-minute mark, with the two-point conversion making it a 17-14 edge. With the help of two penalties for 36 yards Miami answered with a touchdown drive in only six plays to go in front 21-17, past the favorite spread while inching closer to the total that closed at 40. The Bills missed a 55-yard field goal on their next drive with back-to-back sacks making that kick much more difficult. Miami only burned a minute of clock as the Bills got the ball back with more than two minutes remaining. Buffalo reached the Miami 25-yard line but a field goal wouldn’t be enough. A third down completion to the Miami 6-yard-line was overturned on replay review and on 4th-and-11 the Miami defense held to secure the narrow win while the ‘under’ also held on.
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New York Giants (+3½) 30, Chicago Bears 27 (43½): After the Bears had a comeback win last week and the Giants had a late collapse the same storyline looked to be unfolding in this matchup. The Giants led by 10 entering the fourth quarter and held Chicago to a field goal on an early drive to keep a seven-point edge. Chicago would get the ball back with more than two minutes remaining but fumbled immediately. With great field position New York had to settle for a field goal while only trimming 30 seconds off the clock. Still it was a 10-point game when the Bears got the ball back after the two-minute warning. Chase Daniel led the Bears to a field goal in just 36 seconds. Chicago got the onside kick and Daniel delivered a few big plays to tie the game as time expired. In overtime New York went first and got a 44-yard field goal. Daniel couldn’t deliver again, struggling to hold on to the ball and eventually failing on 4th-and-8 near midfield as the underdog Giants held on this week.
Los Angeles Rams (-10) 30, Detroit Lions 16 (53½): Detroit wound up holding the Rams to just 344 yards and trailed by only three points well into the fourth quarter as a heavy home underdog. Matthew Stafford would have another big late game turnover, fumbling on a sack near midfield to give the Rams great field position. Three plays later the Rams went up by 10 with fewer than seven minutes remaining in the game to match the spread. Detroit had a costly red zone holding penalty and settled for a field goal past the three-minute mark to get back within one score. The onside kick try was not recovered and the Rams nearly could have taken a knee with Detroit exhausting its timeouts. Instead Todd Gurley ran into the end zone after the two-minute warning to suddenly give the Rams a 14-point edge. The Lions were a threat to get back within the number late reaching the Los Angeles 14-yard-line in the final seconds before Stafford threw an interception in the end zone to end a loss for a second straight week.
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Arizona Cardinals (+13½) 20, Green Bay Packers 17 (41): In what turned out to be Mike McCarthy’s final game for the Packers, Green Bay never approached the heavy-favorite spread. A three-point edge at halftime was erased as Arizona scored 10 points in four minutes late in the third quarter to lead by seven. The Packers tied the game at 17-17 with five minutes to go but Arizona managed a late field goal after the two-minute warning. Those on the ‘over’ liked their chances with a late Green Bay score either clearing the number or forcing overtime. The Packers didn’t make the task easy with Aaron Rodgers unable to move further than the Arizona 31-yard-line and in windy, wet conditions Mason Crosby missed from 49 yards.
Kansas City Chiefs (-14) 40, Oakland Raiders 33 (54): The Chiefs led 33-16 entering the fourth quarter to sit past a spread that climbed as high as -15½ before settling right on 14. Derek Carr led two fourth quarter touchdown drives to suddenly put the Raiders within three with nearly seven minutes remaining. A big offside call converted a key 3rd down for Kansas City and the Chiefs wound up in the end zone just after the two-minute warning to seal the win up by 10. Oakland would wind up with a late field goal but only 28 seconds were on the clock when the Raiders failed on an onside kick attempt.
Los Angeles Chargers (+3) 33, Pittsburgh Steelers 30 (53½): With 10 points in the final three minutes before halftime, Pittsburgh had a commanding 23-7 edge in the Sunday night game. That margin held until the final two minutes of the third quarter with the Chargers completing a 13-play, 88-yard touchdown drive and also adding the two-point conversion. Pittsburgh still led by eight but a sack and a holding call had the Steelers facing 4th-and-24 and they punted back to the Chargers who delivered a 73-yard punt return touchdown. Another successful two-point conversion tied the game at 23-23. Pittsburgh went three-and-out on offense and the Chargers turned in another touchdown drive to suddenly lead by seven at the eight-minute mark. Pittsburgh regrouped for a 12-play touchdown drive that included a 4th down conversion but more than four minutes remained on the clock. The Chargers methodically used up the remaining clock to line up a game-winning field goal from just 39 yards. The kick was missed but offsides was called. On the second attempt the Steelers got the block but again offsides was called. It was called again on the third attempt but Mike Badgley was good from 29 yards as the Chargers were able to steal a huge road win in the AFC picture, with theses teams now having a good chance of meeting again in the wild card round of the AFC playoffs.
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Philadelphia Eagles (-5½) 28, Washington Redskins 13 (45): The Eagles led 7-3 in the second quarter Monday night when Washington had to turn to third-string quarterback Mark Sanchez after losing Colt McCoy to a broken leg a few weeks after losing Alex Smith to a broken leg. Adrian Peterson broke a long run to give Washington the lead and the Redskins then stepped up on defense with a goal line stand. Washington wasn’t able to take a lead into halftime however as the Eagles found the end zone after the two-minute warning to lead by four facing a favorite spread that slipped from -7 to -5½. Washington managed a field goal just before halftime to trail just 14-13. Josh Norman came up with an interception to keep Philadelphia points off the board in the third quarter as the underdog was still in position to cover despite Sanchez providing little for the Washington offense. Early in the fourth quarter the Eagles finally completed a touchdown drive and went for two successfully to lead by nine. Sanchez was picked off a few plays later near midfield and Philadelphia added a field goal despite picking up only seven yards. Down 12 Washington was still a touchdown away from covering but had negative yards on its final two possessions and the Eagles added a late field goal to complete a big NFC East win. The total also stayed just barely ‘under’ with several missed scoring chances in the game.