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Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are the games that went down in the opening weekend of the NFL. Each week there are several teams that cover despite not necessarily deserving it, as well as other teams that played much better than the final score shows, get the details in this weekly column.
Minnesota Vikings (-3½) 26, Jacksonville Jaguars 23 (38)
Minnesota led 14-12 entering the 4th quarter, sitting just short of the spread. The Vikings added a field goal early in the final frame to get past the number but Jacksonville answered back with a 47-yard field goal to get back within two. Minnesota would add another field goal to get back up to a five-point lead with just over five minutes to go, setting up a wild finish. On its final possession, Blaine Gabbert delivered his best drive of the day, going for 76-yards in six plays to seemingly lock up the win, connecting to Cecil Shorts on the sideline for a 39-yard score with 20 seconds to go in the game. Jacksonville got the 2-point conversion to go up three but Christian Ponder made two nice plays for the Vikings to set up a long field goal and rookie kicker Blair Walsh nailed the 55-yarder with ease. Walsh would add a field goal in overtime as the new OT rules went into effect, Jacksonville would get a possession but was stopped to seal the win for Minnesota but the Jaguars held on for a narrow cover. Those playing the total also sweated out the back-and-forth 4th quarter after just 26 points through three quarters as the ‘over’ cashed in the late scoring flurry.
Arizona Cardinals (+3) 20, Seattle Seahawks 16 (41)
These NFC West rivals were locked in a 13-13 game entering the 4th quarter as Arizona surrendered a 10-point lead. Seattle took the lead with a field goal following up a long return but Kevin Kolb, in place of injured John Skelton, delivered a touchdown drive with five minutes to go to put Arizona up by four. There was a lot of drama on the final drive as rookie quarterback Russell Wilson was able to put the Seahawks in position to win and a touchdown would have turned the game into a push for most, as well as switched the over/under result. On a 4th-and-six play, Arizona was called for pass interference and then later on a 3rd down play pass interference gave the Seahawks 1st-and-goal from the six. Seattle would be granted an extra timeout in a bizarre sequence in the final minute but the Seahawks failed to complete the drive as Arizona held on.
Denver Broncos (-2½) 31, Pittsburgh Steelers 19 (45½)
Denver led 14-13 entering the 4th quarter, leaving the underdog Steelers covering. Early in the 4th quarter Pittsburgh took a 19-14 lead after a Mike Wallace touchdown, failing on the 2-point conversion. Denver would answer and get the conversion to go up by three, just past the closing spread. The Broncos were stopped on another late possession and had to settle for a field goal, leaving an opportunity for the Steelers to steal the game back but an interception return gave the game and the cover to the Broncos Sunday night in a successful debut for Peyton Manning.