NFL Close Calls – Week 5
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 5 of the NFL regular season.
New England Patriots (-10) 38, Indianapolis Colts 24 (49½): The Patriots stormed out to a 24-3 halftime lead but didn’t score in the third quarter as the Colts would score touchdowns in the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter to trail by just seven with 10 minutes remaining in the game. Josh Gordon caught his first touchdown pass from Tom Brady near the nine-minute mark to put New England up by 14 and leaving very little room left for the ‘under’ despite only 34 points into the fourth quarter. Those hoping for the ‘under’ or an underdog rally met disaster as Andrew Luck was intercepted and on the next play Sonny Michel ran 34 yards to clear the total and put New England up 21, making a late Colts touchdown meaningless relative to the spread.
Cleveland Browns (+3½) 12, Baltimore Ravens 9 (44½): Cleveland led 9-6 through three quarters with a missed extra-point in the second quarter. The fourth quarter started with five consecutive punts before Baltimore got the ball back in decent field position and connected for a few solid gains, reaching the Cleveland 14-yard-line with just over a minute remaining. Ultimately the Ravens had to settle for the tying kick with 52 seconds remaining. Baker Mayfield had a chance to be the hero with two timeouts remaining and he worked the Browns down to the edge of field goal range but a 55-yard try came up short. The Browns had a 3-and-out to start overtime and Baltimore appeared to be a threat to win with a new set of downs just short of midfield. A questionable illegal block was called on 1st down however to push the Ravens backwards before they eventually punted. Starting at its own 14 yard-line Cleveland got a roughing the passer penalty after a 27-yard gain to sit across midfield. Rather than trying another long kick however the Browns went for it on 4th-and-5 and came up incomplete. With good field position Joe Flacco couldn’t break the tie with three straight incomplete passes and only 25 seconds coming off the clock as the Browns got one more shot. On 3rd-and-8 Derrick Willies took a short pass for 39 yards and Duke Johnson followed with a few nice gains on the ground. Greg Joseph hit a redemptive 37-yarder for the Cleveland win.
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Kansas City Chiefs (-3) 30, Jacksonville Jaguars 14 (48): A charmed season for the Chiefs continued with a 20-0 edge at the half, getting 10 points in the final two minutes of the second quarter thanks to Jacksonville blunders with a four-drive run of failing going for it on 4th-and-1 from the 3, 1st down fumble, 1st down pick-6, and interception in the end zone for a touchback. The missed scoring opportunities kept the ‘under’ in position to win but the scoring pace picked up in the third quarter with 17 points in succession to reach 37 points early in the fourth quarter. On 1st down with about 12 minutes to go Blake Bortles threw another interception at the one-yard-line but the Jaguars picked off Patrick Mahomes a few plays later and would actually score a touchdown with about six minutes remaining to put the total at 44. Jacksonville then failed on 4th down by a yard, reaching the Kansas City 2-yard-line when a touchdown could have cut the margin to just eight points. Getting the ball back at their own nine the Jaguars were a threat to add points in the final minute but predictably Bortles had his fifth turnover of the game with another interception in the end zone for a touchback as the ‘under’ held with the Jaguars getting only 14 points on 502 yards of offense.
Carolina Panthers (-6½) 33, New York Giants 31 (43½): A high scoring first half left the Panthers just past the spread with a 20-13 lead with the difference being an early second quarter fumble return touchdown. The ‘under’ came back in the picture with only three points in the third quarter but early in the fourth Christian McCaffrey scored on an 18-yard reception to put the Panthers ahead by 11 and the total at 43. Two interceptions each for Eli Manning and Cam Newton surrounded that touchdown and the Giants eventually landed in good field position and needed only two plays to find the end zone while also getting the two-point-conversion as the ‘over’ was complete and the underdog Giants were in position to cover. Carolina was in position to add points with about two minutes to go but settled for a field goal to lead by just six and in just four plays the Giants answered and took a one-point lead. Carolina still had more than a minute remaining but only gained 30 yards and opted for a long field goal. Graham Gano delivered from a record-tying 63 yards to give the Panthers the win.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-3½) 41, Atlanta Falcons 17 (57): The Steelers had a 3-point edge at the half but pulled away with a 27-10 edge through three quarters, still 20 points shy of the high total. Both teams scored touchdowns early in the fourth quarter to reach 51 but Atlanta failed in an opportunity just past midfield and the Steelers were conservative looking to run down the clock. The Falcons got the ball back at their own 2-yard-line but Matt Ryan was intercepted on a long pass to midfield, though on replay it was overturned. Those on the ‘over’ got the play they needed as Ryan was sacked two plays later and a fumble was returned for a touchdown with the Chris Boswell extra-point for 58.
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Cincinnati Bengals (-6) 27, Miami Dolphins 17 (48): The Dolphins led 14-0 at the half with the help of a punt return touchdown from Jakeem Grant and after halftime Miami still controlled the game moving to a 17-0 advantage. The Bengals finally got on the scoreboard with five minutes remaining in the third quarter with a long field goal as Miami took a 14-point lead into the final frame, sitting with a 20-point cushion as the underdog. Andy Dalton completed a pair of big third downs on the way to a touchdown early in the fourth quarter and Ryan Tannehill threw a pick-6 a few minutes later as suddenly the game was tied. Miami wound up punting from midfield and Cincinnati settled for a short field goal with just over three minutes remaining to keep the underdog Dolphins still in position to cover down 20-17. On 3rd-and-17 Tannehill was sacked with the ball popping out right into the hands of Sam Hubbard who returned the fumble for a second defensive score in the fourth quarter for the Bengals making it a 10-point lead. Those on the underdog and the ‘over’ hoped for one more Miami drive but after picking up 10 yards Tannehill was intercepted again.
Arizona Cardinals (+3) 28, San Francisco 49ers 18 (40½): The Cardinals led 14-6 through three quarters as those that took a shot with the ‘under’ on one of the lower totals of the season were in good shape. San Francisco missed a field goal early in the fourth to help the cause and Arizona punted from across midfield to pin San Francisco inside the 20. C.J Beathard led the 49ers on a 14-play, 83-yard touchdown drive with the score coming on 4th down. The 49ers had a chance to tie the game but the two-point conversion was incomplete, putting San Francisco within a score of the favorite cover while the total was still two touchdowns short with fewer than seven minutes on the clock. Getting the ball back just over a minute later Beathard was sacked with the fumble returned 23 yards for an Arizona touchdown and on San Francisco’s next possession Beathard had an interception to set up another Cardinals score with the total scoring reaching 40 with still three minutes remaining. San Francisco went 76 yards for a touchdown on the next possession to seal the ‘over’ with a 26-point fourth quarter.
Houston Texans (-3) 19, Dallas Cowboys 16 (45½): The underdog Cowboys led 6-0 in the first quarter but wound up short of the spread at halftime with a 10-6 deficit. Dallas tied the game through three quarters after Houston had to settle for a 21-yard field goal following a short field score for the Cowboys after a fumble. Approaching the halfway point of the final frame the Texans had 1st-and-goal at the 1-yard-line but couldn’t get in, again settling for a short field goal to lead by three. Dallas would need a kick from 48 yards to tie the game with about five minutes remaining. After trading punts the Texans reached midfield but overtime was needed after a deep shot was intercepted. Dallas went first in overtime and picked up a pair of 1st downs, eventually reaching the Houston 42-yard-line where they came up short on 3rd down. In decision that could be his downfall Jason Garrett opted to punt on 4th down, pinning the Texans at the 10-yard-line. In just eight snaps Deshaun Watson put the Texans into field goal range with Ka’imi Fairbairn hitting from 36 for the win, although a push was the common result and some early backers had the Cowboys +3½.
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