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Close Calls - Week 3

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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 to the wire relative to the spread in the 4th quarter last week in a wild Week 3 in 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.

Chicago Bears (-7) 23, St. Louis Rams 6 (42): The Bears led just 10-6 entering the 4th quarter and the Rams appeared to be gaining some momentum despite very limited offensive production on the day. Chicago tacked on a field goal early in the final frame and then got the game-changing play it needed with a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown with nine minutes to go to put the game out of reach.

Dallas Cowboys (-7) 16, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10 (45½): Dallas nearly doubled Tampa Bay’s yardage for the game, but Dallas only led 10-7 after a scoreless third quarter filled with two Tony Romo fumbles, both that needed questionable overturns on challenges. Tampa Bay kept holding Dallas to field goals to stay in the game and Dallas took a 16-7 lead with less than three minutes to go in the game to get past the spread after a 22-yard field goal. Tampa Bay was backed up deep, but hit a huge pass play on a miracle 4th and long heave to keep the game alive and eventually setup a spread-stealing field goal with less than a minute to go.

Tennessee Titans (+4) 44, Detroit Lions 41 (47):
The Titans led by four entering the fourth quarter and the total was still well ‘under’ at that point before a remarkable finish ensued. Detroit got a field goal to get within one early in the fourth but then there was no scoring until less than seven minutes to go. The Lions found the end zone and hit the two-point conversion to push the lead to seven points. The Titans answered immediately with a 105-yard kickoff return touchdown. Tennessee got the ball back and Nate Washington made an amazing catch and broke away for 71 yards and a score to put the underdog Titans up by seven, then with just over a minute to go Tennessee got a 72-yard fumble return touchdown. Those on the underdog Titans were certainly feeling good with a 14-point lead. Even with Calvin Johnson scoring a touchdown with 18 seconds left, there was little worry, but the Lions got the onside kick and then incredibly hit a deflected Hail Mary pass for a touchdown and overtime. The Titans got the ball first and aided by a misapplied penalty got the go-ahead field goal. The Lions went right down the field, but then opted to go for it on 4th-and-one deep in Tennessee territory, eschewing the tying field goal. Backup QB Shaun Hill bobbled the snap on the sneak call and the game finally ended.

New York Jets (-2½) 23, Miami Dolphins 20 (40½): The Dolphins led 17-10 entering the 4th quarter and the ‘under’ also looked in good shape. New York eventually took a three-point lead with about three minutes to go, getting past or right at the spread for the first time in the game. Miami would rally for the tie with a late field goal, however to force overtime. The Jets got the ball first but eventually had to punt, leaving Miami the opportunity to win with just a field goal under the new OT rules. Miami was able to complete a few big plays and got to the New York 30-yard line, but Dan Carpenter missed his second field goal of the game. The Jets hit a big pass play down the sidelines to Santonio Holmes and the winning field goal was pushed through for New York, getting a win or at least a push for those on the slight road favorite, and also pushing the total just ‘over’.

Kansas City Chiefs (+8½) 27, New Orleans Saints 24 (51½): New Orleans led this game 24-6 late in the third quarter, but Jamaal Charles broke a 91-yard run to bring the margin to just 11 points and turning the tide in the game. Kansas City played an inspired fourth quarter, delivering three field goal drives and also getting a safety. The final field goal came with three seconds left to send the game to overtime. Kansas City moved into New Orleans territory, but had to punt on the opening possession, while New Orleans then went three-and-out. There was some drama on the next drive as the on-field ruling gave the Saints a fumble return touchdown, but the egregiously bad call was overturned in the replay system. On the next play, the Chiefs boldly went for it on fourth down near midfield and got it, and then marched deep into Saints territory, lining up the game-winning field goal and sending the Saints to 0-3.

Buffalo Bills (-3) 24, Cleveland Browns 14 (45): The Bills had a big early lead in this game, but Cleveland closed to three points late in the third quarter. Both teams threatened in the fourth, but the Bills struck with a nine-yard touchdown pass to go up by 10. The final two drives for the Browns ended in interceptions and the Bills opted to take a knee with a lot of time on the clock at the Cleveland one-yard line, enraging those that were on the ‘over’ in the game.

Oakland Raiders (+4) 34, Pittsburgh Steelers 31 (45): The Steelers led 31-21 entering the 4th quarter, but the Raiders cut that margin to three early in the fourth. Pittsburgh moved the ball nicely on the next drive, but an Antonio Brown fumble gave the Raiders new life. Oakland got the tying field goal with six minutes to go and then held on defense to get a shot at the win, setting up Sebastian Janikowski for the 43-yard game winner to get into the win column.

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