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Close Calls - Week 4

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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 of the Week 4 NFL games. 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.

New England (-4½) 52, Buffalo 28 (48.5): Early in the 3rd quarter Buffalo led 21-7 in this AFC East clash but the Patriots rallied to tie the game on Tom Brady touchdown scramble that surprisingly withstood review. New England poured it on in the 4th, scoring three touchdowns in the first five minutes of the final quarter to pull away and create the blowout final margin.

Atlanta (-7) 30, Carolina 28 (48):
The Falcons led by 10 late in the 3rd quarter but Cam Newton ran in for a late 3rd quarter touchdown that put the Panthers within three and covering the underdog spread. Carolina actually took the lead about halfway through the 4th quarter but the Falcons chipped away, getting a field goal with five minutes to go get within one. Newton and the Panthers needed just one more first down to run out the clock but the quarterback fumbled as he passed the marker and the Panthers were forced to punt the ball back. With less than a minute to go and backed up deep the Falcons hit a miracle bomb to Roddy White to get near midfield and then got into field goal range for the win. The Panthers seemed to have the cover in hand most of the way but Atlanta would have gone for two had they hit the end zone on the final drive so a push was possible.

Arizona (-4) 24, Miami 21 (39½): This line came crashing down all week from an opening number of seven and the Dolphins proved that move smart with a 13-0 lead on the undefeated Cardinals at halftime, a lead that probably could have been greater. By the middle of the 4th quarter the Cardinals had taken a 14-13 lead however, after hitting a 46-yard pass play. Miami answered as Brian Hartline had an 80-yard play as part of his huge receiving day and the Dolphins nailed the two-point conversion to go up by seven, seemingly sealing the dog cover with seven minutes to go. On its final drive Arizona connected on 4th down with just 22 seconds to go to force overtime. Arizona’s first drive in overtime went backwards but Ryan Tannehill was intercepted to set the Cardinals up in good field position. A touchdown would steal a miracle cover for the favorite, a field goal would leave the cash with the Dolphins backers and Arizona eventually settled for the winning kick. The late scoring also pushed the total just slightly ‘over’ in a game where the ‘under’ looked like the right play all game.

Washington (+2) 24, Tampa Bay 22 (45): The Redskins led 21-3 at one point but Josh Freeman led the Buccaneers back into the game after a very rough first half. Aided by three missed field goals by Washington kicker Billy Cundiff, Tampa Bay took a 22-21 lead with less than two minutes to go in the game, though they were still short of the spread. Washington hit a couple of big plays down the middle to give Cundiff another shot as ‘under’ players prayed for another miss. The kick sailed through however, giving Washington the win and the first ATS loss for Tampa Bay on the season.

Philadelphia (-2) 19, NY Giants 17 (46½): This spread bounced around from -1 to -2½ on so timing proved critical as the Eagles and Giants played a tight low-scoring game Sunday night. Philadelphia led by three entering the 4th quarter and then by 16-10 after another field goal. The Giants took the lead with less than seven minutes to go with a touchdown drive however. Then for the fourth consecutive drive Philadelphia got another Alex Henery field goal to take the two-point lead, failing to cash in from close range and leaving the margin right on the number for many. It felt like too much time to leave Eli Manning and after pass interference calls helped the Giants get into field goal range a huge offensive pass interference call on Ramses Barden pushed the Giants back into difficult field goal range. In the typical final kick charade Andy Reid got a timeout off to negate a Lawrence Tynes miss but on the retry Tynes missed again, falling just short on a 54-yard attempt.

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