NFL Close Calls – Week 8
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 8 of the NFL regular season to close October. Almost every game made the list in an exciting Week 8 with the spread or total results still in question late across the league.
Houston Texas (-7) 42, Miami Dolphins 23 (45½): Houston led by four at the half and extended the lead to 11 points in the third quarter. Miami hit a field goal in the final minute of the third to get within eight with a spread that was at -7 or -7½ for most. Miami tried an on-side kick and it didn’t work out, handing Houston great field position and two plays later Deshaun Watson connected with DeAndre Hopkins for a 49-yard score. Miami answered but only with a field goal and Houston added another fourth quarter touchdown to pull away and seal a five-game winning streak.
Philadelphia Eagles (-3) 24, Jacksonville Jaguars 18 (44½): In London the Eagles delivered a 95-yard touchdown drive early in the third quarter to lead by 11 but Jacksonville closed to within five points late in the third quarter, opting to go for two and coming up short in a critical play relative to the spread that briefly hit -3½ before settling back at -3. A Josh Lambo field goal early in the fourth made the margin just two points, enough for the underdog Jaguars to cover. Philadelphia responded with a six-play touchdown drive to lead by nine with about 10 minutes remaining. Everyone involved on the spread or total watched with great interest as Jacksonville reached 1st-and-goal with about seven minutes remaining. The Jaguars didn’t get much closer however and settled for a 24-yard field goal that kept the Eagles past the favorite spread and left the total ‘under’. Jacksonville nearly got the big break it needed with an apparent fumble but on review Josh Adams was ruled down before the ball popped out. The Eagles still had to punt a few plays later but after converting one 4th-and-short play, the Jaguars fell incomplete on a 4th-and-2 throw near midfield as the Eagles and the ‘under’ held on.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-8) 33, Cleveland Browns 18 (47½): The Steelers led just 16-12 late in the third quarter as underdog and ‘under’ tickets were in a promising spot. James Conner added a late third quarter touchdown run to put the Steelers up by 11 and the Browns punted on its next three possessions, netting +1 yard over 10 plays while the Steelers added 10 more points. The total scoring was at 45 just ahead of the two-minute warning as Cleveland got the ball back. The Browns reached the Pittsburgh 24-yard-line with very little time left and on 4th down Baker Mayfield hit Seth DeValve for a touchdown at the six second mark to push the total ‘over’, in what turned out to be the final offensive series for coaches Hue Jackson and Todd Haley.
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Kansas City Chiefs (-8) 30, Denver Broncos 23 (53½): The Chiefs led by just two at halftime 16-14 with a missed extra point in the second quarter on one of two touchdowns these teams had in the final minute before halftime to greatly change the total scoring pace. In the third Kansas City took control with two scores to go up 30-14 but Denver would score on the first play of the fourth quarter to trail by 10. The Broncos opted to go for two but failed to leave the margin right on the common number of +10, though the favorite spread fell Sunday morning. The Chiefs threw an interception a few plays later to give Denver a serious comeback shot but the Broncos had turnovers on their next two possessions. Getting the ball back with four minutes to go Denver added a field goal to ensure the underdog cover, though it wasn’t quite enough to clear the total.
Chicago Bears (-8) 24, New York Jets 10 (42): The Bears led just 7-3 at the half as the ‘under’ was the clear play in autumn conditions in Chicago. Halfway through the third quarter Chicago went up 14-3 and then early in the fourth added a field goal after a marginal punt left the Bears at midfield. The underdog Jets answered with their best drive of the day and suddenly were within the spread trailing 17-10. The Bears didn’t face a 3rd down on an 8-play, 79-yard touchdown drive to get back in front with seven minutes to go and a final threat for the Jets ended at midfield.
Seattle Seahawks (+3) 28, Detroit Lions 14 (48): Seattle had a big second quarter to lead 21-7 for a hot scoring pace but neither team added points in the third quarter to put the ‘under’ back in good shape. After getting stuffed at the goal line in the third quarter, Seattle ensured the underdog win with an early fourth quarter touchdown to put the scoring at 35 in a game that wound up with no field goals. Detroit gave itself a shot getting back within 14 and the ‘over’ was just one touchdown short of hitting with still 10 minutes to play. The Lions crossed midfield halfway through the final frame but Matthew Stafford fumbled on a sack. Detroit would reach the 4-yard-line with a new set of downs on its next possession but Stafford was picked off in the end zone to save the ‘under’.
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Cincinnati Bengals (-3½) 37, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34 (55): The Bengals led 27-6 in this game just before halftime but the Buccaneers hit a long field goal right before the half and then added an early third quarter touchdown to climb within 11. A pick-6 that got Jameis Winston out of the game put the Bengals up 34-16 with the ‘over’ needing just five more points in the final frame. That total was decided quickly with the Buccaneers adding 10 points in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter, sitting within a single score. Both teams punted with the game now tight and Cincinnati opted to punt on its next possession after a sack put the Bengals out of reasonable field goal range. Ryan Fitzpatrick led the Buccaneers down the field but faced 4th-and-3 at the 18-yard-line with a stop able to seal the win for the Bengals. Fitzpatrick hit O.J. Howard for the touchdown and then the Buccaneers also converted for two and the tie. Andy Dalton still had a minute remaining and the Bengals converted a big third down and A.J. Green did the heavy lifting to get the Bengals in place for a 44-yard field goal that won the game, but left those on the Bengals just shy of the spread.
Indianapolis Colts (-3½) 42, Oakland Raiders 28 (51): The Raiders led 28-21 into the fourth quarter as they have done several times this season despite only one win. Indianapolis tied the game with about 11 minutes remaining and forced a punt on defense. It took the Colts only six plays to score again, going in front 35-28 and the Raiders fumbled on first down after getting the ball back. Indianapolis added a short-field score to build the misleading 42-28 final margin.
Arizona Cardinals (+3) 18, San Francisco 49ers 15 (40): This battle of one-win division rivals saw San Francisco go in front 5-3 at halftime and then 12-3 through three quarters. Early in the fourth the 49ers had a chance to go up by 16 but wound up settling for a 20-yard field goal to lead by 12. Despite limited production from the offense all day Josh Rosen led a touchdown drive in six plays to get the Cardinals back in the game, down by five. Arizona forced a punt and had the ball back with seven minutes to go but wound up fumbling near midfield. San Francisco couldn’t put the game away, needing to punt and Rosen led a very effective two-minute drill, going 73 yards in 12 plays to put the Cardinals in front, succeeding on the two-point conversion for a three-point lead. Overtime would have put the ‘over’ back in play but the 49ers ran out of time just across midfield and never got a tying field goal attempt off.
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Los Angeles Rams (-7½) 29, Green Bay Packers 27 (57): This highly anticipated NFC clash lived up to the billing with the Packers giving the undefeated Rams all they could handle early. A 10-0 lead slipped to just 10-8 as the Rams got a safety and a touchdown in the final three minutes before halftime. Los Angeles took over in the second half with consecutive touchdowns to lead 23-13 but Green Bay got back within three in the final seconds of the third quarter. The Rams settled for an early fourth quarter field goal which allowed the Packers to go in front 27-26 after a 40-yard touchdown pass. Both teams punted on the next possessions but a weak 25-yard effort set the Rams up in great field position with about five minutes to go. A red zone holding penalty forced Los Angeles to settle for the field goal just after the two-minute warning, leading by two with the scoring at 56, right even with the early week total that eventually climbed to 57. Ty Montgomery opted to take the kickoff out of the end zone and disaster struck for the Packers with a fumble as Aaron Rodgers didn’t get back on the field with a chance to win the game. Facing 3rd-and-10 the Rams would have had to kick a field goal if they were stopped with just over a minute on the clock but Todd Gurley found the corner and had a clear path to the end zone. In a play that will be remembered for a long time, he wisely stayed in bounds and kneeled at the 4-yard-line to effectively end the game, as a spread and total result flipping touchdown was kept off the board.
New England Patriots (-13½) 25, Buffalo Bills 6 (44): The first three quarters of the Monday night game featured both teams moving the ball effectively but a combined six field goals kept the scoring low with New England well short of the heavy road favorite spread with a 12-6 edge. Getting the ball early in the fourth the Patriots finally completed a drive with a 12-play, 85-yard scoring drive to lead 18-6, with Brady’s two-point conversion throw intercepted. Derek Anderson almost had a touchdown throw but Jason Croom was ruled on out of bounds on review and then two plays later Devin McCourty took an interception 84 yards for a Patriots touchdown at the six-minute mark, putting New England past the heavy favorite spread. A touchdown would have still earned the cover for the Bills but Buffalo stalled on the New England 32-yard-line with about three minutes remaining and then in the final minute with Nathan Peterman in the game for an injured Anderson, the Bills were stopped on downs around the 34-yard-line.