NFL Close Calls – Week 6
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 6 of the NFL regular season.
Philadelphia Eagles (+3) 28, Carolina Panthers 23 (43½): The Panthers and Eagles were knotted up at 10-10 at halftime and out of the break the Eagles took advantage of an interception, actually going up by eight with a two point conversion. Field goals were traded the next two possessions and a second Panthers field goal in the third quarter made it a five-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter. Touchdowns on both sides kept the margin at five in the fourth quarter before two late Panthers drives threatened into Eagles territory. A push on the closing spread of -3 was possible as the Panthers would have gone for two up by one if they found the end zone but the Eagles got an interception just outside the end zone with about three minutes remaining and then on Carolina’s final possession a 4th-and-short pass fell just incomplete past the two-minute warning as Philadelphia’s defense secured the outright underdog win.
Houston Texans (-7½) 33, Cleveland Browns 17 (46): The Texans took command with a 24-3 halftime lead and Houston led by 30 through three quarters. An interception return touchdown for the Browns early in the fourth quarter didn’t make much of a dent in Cleveland’s prospect of covering but the total was one score short of matching or surpassing the closing number. Five consecutive drives ended in punts but with Houston pinned deep the Browns got the ball back at midfield right after the two-minute warning. A pass interference call got the Browns more than half of the yardage and Kevin Hogan delivered a touchdown pass with a minute to go to deliver the ‘over’.
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New England Patriots (-9) 24, New York Jets 17 (48½): The Jets took a 14-0 lead in the second quarter looking like a lock to cover as a heavy underdog in this AFC East clash. By halftime New England had tied the game including getting a Rob Gronkowski touchdown with nine seconds before the break. Gronkowski scored again in the third quarter and an early fourth quarter field goal put New England just past the road favorite spread with a 10-point edge. The Jets appeared to get a touchdown with just over eight minutes remaining but on review it was surprisingly but perhaps correctly ruled a fumble out the end zone for a touchback in a controversial call, keeping the margin at 10 and greatly decreasing the chances for an upset. New York forced a quick punt on defense however and led a field goal drive inside of four minutes to trail by just seven and actually had the ball back in New England territory in the final seconds before the Patriots held on for the win but fell short of the spread. Those on the ‘over’ left disappointed as the Jets couldn’t force overtime as the ‘under’ held.
New Orleans Saints (-5) 52, Detroit Lions 38 (50): The Saints had nearly eclipsed the total themselves with a 45-10 edge a few minutes into the third quarter but the Lions didn’t quit and made things interesting late in an incredibly long game than featured five non-offensive touchdowns. Detroit still trailed 45-24 after back-to-back touchdown drives late in the third quarter and then in the fourth Detroit got a 74-yard punt return touchdown from Jamal Agnew. A first down loss had the Saints in passing mode despite the two-touchdown edge in the fourth quarter and pinned deep Drew Brees was intercepted for a touchdown to suddenly make it a seven-point game. New Orleans was held to a 3-and-out but this time it was the Lions in the shadow of their own end zone and Matthew Stafford fell victim to another pick-six as the Saints went back up by 14. Stafford was intercepted again on the next possession before three more punts were needed to finally burn out the entire remaining clock with the Saints surviving the comeback bid for the win and cover.
Chicago Bears (+5) 27, Baltimore Ravens 24 (39½): The Bears scored with six minutes to go in the third quarter to lead 17-3 with a strong ‘under’ pace but the kickoff was returned for a touchdown to put the Ravens back in the game. Baltimore added a field goal on a short field with about 11 minutes to go to trail 17-13 and a Chicago fumble set the Ravens up in great field position. Things turned sharply back the other direction however as a Joe Flacco interception was returned 90 yards for a Bears touchdown. Baltimore made the ‘over’ a winner with a long field goal inside of three minutes and the Ravens got a miracle with a 77-yard punt return touchdown past the two minute warning. Baltimore tied the game with a successful two-point-conversion throw and overtime was needed in stunning fashion, keeping both side outcomes in play. Both teams had to punt on their first possessions leaving a field goal likely to win it and Mitchell Trubisky led a game-winning drive with Connor Barth connecting for a 40-yard field goal with just over two minutes remaining in overtime.
Washington Redskins (-11) 26, San Francisco 49ers 24 (46): Washington led 17-0 in this game but San Francisco managed to sneak into the end zone just before halftime. The 49ers kept the momentum in the second half tying the game through three quarters with the help of a Washington fumble. Washington hit a field goal and delivered an 84-yard touchdown drive as the favorite cover was back in play in the fourth quarter but Washington missed the extra-point to only lead by nine, a critical play for some with the line opening as low as -9½. C.J. Beathard put hopes of a front door cover to rest however delivering a long 49ers touchdown pass just past the two-minute warning. Down just two the 49ers got the ball back and reached the Washington 40-yard-line before a costly offensive pass interference call made the downs and distance too difficult to reach with the late scoring also sending the game just ‘over’.
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Los Angeles Rams (+1) 27, Jacksonville Jaguars 17 (42): The ‘over’ pace left little doubt with two touchdowns in the first 25 seconds of the game. With a pair of special team scores the Rams had a 24-14 advantage at halftime with Jacksonville missing a field goal just before the break. The Rams fumbled with a scoring opportunity early in the third quarter leading to a field goal for the Jaguars to put the total score at 41, just shy of the over/under number. Jacksonville looked like a threat to score early in the fourth quarter but Blake Bortles was intercepted. A pair of punts followed and the improbable ‘under’ had some life. The Rams picked up a pair of big third downs and hit a field goal at 2:32 to hit 44 while securing the underdog win in a game with more points in the first 15 seconds than the entire second half.
Tennessee Titans (-6½) 36, Indianapolis Colts 22 (46½): The Monday night line was very late to release with the question of Marcus Mariota’s health. The Tennessee quarterback wound up playing even though the line and total both fell from an opening release of -8 and an opening total of 49. The Colts led by 10 early in the third quarter after an interception return touchdown but the Titans chipped away to trail 19-15 heading into the final frame with all spread and total results still in play. Tennessee took the lead back with a 15-play, 87-yard touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter but the Colts delivered a big kickoff return and tied the game with a 52-yard field goal. Mariota completed a 53-yard pass for a touchdown with just over five minutes remaining to seal the ‘over’ and put the Titans up by seven, in between the opening and closing spreads. Indianapolis was poised to answer reaching the Tennessee 13-yard-line, but failing going for it on 4th-and-short. Looking to run out the clock with Indianapolis exhausting its timeouts 2nd year running back Derrick Henry broke loose for a 72-yard touchdown run in the final minute to score a fortunate cover for those on the Titans.
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