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Misleading Finals

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There was some great football drama last weekend with the kicking game playing a vital role for several teams. Many games also went down to the wire relative to the spread. Here are some of the wild fourth quarter finishes with the point-spread in mind from last week’s pro football.

New Orleans (-9) 27, Tampa Bay 16

The Saints were in control leading 24-6 entering the fourth quarter but Tampa Bay rarely goes down without a fight. The Buccaneers scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, cutting the deficit to just eight points with less than six minutes to go. With just over a minute left in the game the Saints, looking to run out the clock moved deep into Tampa Bay territory. On a third and one play Saints RB Chris Ivory was stopped short of the first down and with Tampa Bay with only one timeout left, just inches (as replay review confirmed) separated the Saints from being able to take a knee with a eight-point win, or kicking a field goal to go up by eleven and passing the spread in the process. The latter was the final result as John Kasay put the 34-yard attempt away and the Buccaneers did not make a serious threat to score in the final seconds.

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Dallas (-10.5) 23, Seattle 13

The Cowboys and Seahawks both moved the ball with relative ease but points were hard to come by. Dallas led by seven entering the fourth quarter but added 10 points in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter, leading by 17. Seattle’s next possession led to a 70-yard touchdown drive to trim the margin to 10 with just over six minutes to go. Dallas got to midfield before punting on its next drive, failing to add any more points and Seattle was very close adding even more points late in the game before an interception.

Cincinnati (+2.5) 24, Tennessee 17

Most people had the Bengals at +3 early in the week but the line did drop by Sunday and for a while it looked to be a critical half point. Tennessee led 17-7 at the half and 17-14 going into the fourth quarter. Cincinnati’s defense really stepped up in the second half however, forcing five consecutive punts. The Bengals put together a 13-play drive spanning the third and fourth quarters to deliver the go ahead touchdown and then benefited from a late fumble recovery to add a field goal as Tennessee was completely shutdown in the second half.

Arizona (-1) 19, St. Louis 13

After getting a safety in back-to-back Arizona possessions in the span of about four minutes St. Louis led 13-6 entering the fourth quarter as both teams settled for field goals early in the game. Arizona came up empty after a long drive to open the fourth quarter but finally struck with a touchdown with less than five minutes to go to tie the game. The Rams had good field position late in the game, getting stopped on downs just outside of field goal range on one possession and then missing the game winning kick on the final possession. The Rams were stopped on the first OT drive and the punt proved costly as rookie Patrick Peterson opted to return a kick from the 1-yard line, turning a rookie mistake into a game winning play with a 99-yard return.

Green Bay (-6) 45, San Diego 38

The Packers were just past the spread at 31-24 entering the fourth quarter but Green Bay posted two touchdowns early in the fourth in the span of less than three minutes. The game appeared out of hand but San Diego rallied, hitting a couple of big plays and also forcing some pass interference plays. The Chargers got back within seven points with plenty of time on the clock and the MVP level play of Aaron Rodgers disappeared as the Packers punted on back-to-back possessions, looking to burn clock but also with a few missed throws. San Diego was backed up with penalties on its first possession and had to punt but made a move on its final possession before the game fittingly ended with another Philip Rivers interception.

Baltimore (+3.5) 23, Pittsburgh 20

The Ravens seemed to be in control of this rivalry game most of the way, leading 16-6 entering the fourth quarter. Pittsburgh finally cashed in to get within three and then with less than five minutes to go the Steelers took the lead on a broken play as Mike Wallace caught a 25-yard pass in the end zone that was intended for another receiver. Baltimore went 3-and-out on its next possession and set the Steelers up in great field position to put the game away but ultimately the Steelers had to give the Ravens another chance, pinning them on the 8-yard line with a punt. Joe Flacco engineered an incredible final drive with seven completions capped by a Torrey Smith catch in the end zone, redemption for a drop in the end zone a few plays earlier. The score coming with eight seconds on the clock shifted the spread and total results.

  
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