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NFL Close Calls – Week 2

NFL Close Calls – Week 2

09/18/2018

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 2 of the NFL regular season.

Atlanta Falcons (-5) 31, Carolina Panthers 24 (43½): The Panthers led 10-3 until the final five minutes of the first half as Atlanta scored two late touchdowns to lead by seven at the break, going 85 yards in 73 seconds for the second score. The second half started with a Matt Ryan interception but the Falcons went up by 14 on the next possession. Carolina trimmed the margin back to seven points early in the fourth quarter but Atlanta answered and got an interception in the red zone to maintain a 14-point edge. Carolina’s defense got a 3-and-out and down 14 Carolina went 96 yards in under two minutes to get back within seven. Atlanta again had to punt with only 32 seconds running off as the Panthers had enough time to work with for a chance to force overtime. The Panthers reached the Atlanta 26-yard-line with five seconds remaining but a final attempt fell incomplete.

Green Bay Packers (+1½) 29, Minnesota Vikings 29 (45): This game was off the board much of the week with the Packers initially offered as a slight favorite but Minnesota ultimately favored by as many as three points before closing at -1½. What price you had wound up mattering a great deal in the end despite Green Bay in control most of the game. The Packers led 20-7 through three quarters and still had a cushion with a 23-14 edge halfway through the fourth quarter after settling for a short field goal. A 75-yard pass to Stefon Diggs shifted the momentum as the Vikings were within two with still more than seven minutes remaining. Green Bay couldn’t put the game away and hit another Mason Crosby field goal just ahead of the two-minute-warning. Kirk Cousins threw an interception on the next Minnesota possession and the Packers added a fourth field goal in the game with 1:45 to go to lead by eight. Cousins appeared to be intercepted again on the very next throw but Clay Matthews was flagged for a controversial roughing the passer call. A few plays later Cousins hit Adam Thielen for a touchdown and the Vikings converted for two and the tie with 31 seconds remaining. Green Bay managed to go 41 yards in the remaining time but Crosby was iced and missed from 52 yards. In overtime the Vikings reached Green Bay territory quickly but had to try a 49-yard field goal with Daniel Carlson missing right. The Packers were close to field goal range reaching 2nd-and-1 at the Minnesota 37 but Aaron Rodgers fumbled while scrambling to lose yardage and then was sacked on the next play to force a punt. The Vikings again quickly moved into Green Bay territory and had a new set of downs at the 30 with more than a minute remaining but opted to settle for the kick even after gaining nine yards on a 1st down run. Carlson missed from 35 yards in his final attempt as a Viking to confirm the stalemate.

Los Angeles Chargers (-7) 31, Buffalo Bills 20 (42): The Chargers led 14-0 in the first quarter and never looked back. With 34 points at halftime the ‘over’ pace was clear on a total that opened as high as 44½ before dropping all week. Only the Bills scored in the third quarter to put the total scoring at 41. Halfway through the final frame the Chargers looked poised to add points reaching the Buffalo 33-yard-line but opted to punt. Pinned deep the Bills had a false start and then Josh Allen was intercepted. Getting the ball at the 16-yard-line the Chargers seemed certain to score and push the total ‘over’ but on 2nd-and-goal from the 1-yard-line there was a close call with a fumble that was recovered for a loss of five yards. The Chargers settled for a field goal to reach 44 points, enough for most on the ‘over’ but the Bills made sure the ‘over’ was confirmed with a touchdown in the final minute.

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Tennessee Titans (+3) 20, Houston Texans 17 (41): The Titans stormed out to a 14-0 lead but Houston was in front early in the fourth quarter after a 39-yard touchdown pass for a 17-14 advantage. Tennessee managed to tie the game with a 42-yard field goal just after the 10-minute mark and a promising Houston drive stalled just outside of field goal range. The Texans couldn’t down the punt successfully to pin Blaine Gabbert and the Titans deep and Tennessee managed to again climb into field goal range for the go-ahead kick. Houston still had a minute remaining on the clock though without any timeouts and the Texans hit one successful pass to reach midfield but ultimately ran out of time.

San Francisco 49ers (-6) 30, Detroit Lions 27 (49): The halftime margin matched the final margin but San Francisco pulled away thanks to a 66-yard Matt Breida run late in the third quarter. A field goal was added in the fourth as San Francisco led 30-13. As he has been known to do, Matthew Stafford delivered big numbers in the fourth quarter, delivering a pair of touchdown drives, sealing the ‘over’ and giving the Lions the cover with just over three minutes to go. Detroit did get the ball back with a shot to tie or win but the drive stalled before crossing midfield with an incomplete pass held up on review and the Lions failing to convert 3rd-and-2, and 4th-and-2 plays.

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Jacksonville Jaguars (+1½) 31, New England Patriots 20 (44½): The Jaguars led 24-3 late in the third quarter but after blowing a big late lead in the AFC Championship in this matchup last year there were some nerves on display as New England added 10 quick points. Jacksonville hit for a 61-yard touchdown pass to lead 31-13 halfway through the fourth quarter with the ‘under’ barely holding on. New England didn’t take long to push the game ‘over’ with a 75-yard scoring drive in about four minutes but the Jaguars ran out the clock from there for a big early win in the AFC picture.