Close Calls - Week 5
October 9, 2013
By Joe Nelson
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NFL games often go down to the wire, especially relative to the spread. Here are close calls from Week 5 of the NFL season, recapping the spread-changing plays from the fourth quarters around the league. Each week there are several key plays late in games that can change the result or create a misleading final score, get the details in this weekly column.
Cleveland Browns (-4) 37, Buffalo Bills 24: In a sloppy but entertaining Thursday night game the Bills and Browns were tied 24-24 heading into the fourth quarter but both starting quarterbacks were out of the game with injuries. Cleveland added a short field goal early in the final frame and then went past the spread with a field goal with just over two minutes to go after the teams traded punts with little production. A touchdown and extra point would win the game for the Bills but undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel struggled and with less than two minutes to go an interception was returned 44 yards for a game sealing touchdown, though Buffalo had more yards in the game.
Kansas City Chiefs (-3) 26, Tennessee Titans 17: The charmed season for the Chiefs continues but a 13-0 halftime lead with the help of a defensive touchdown vanished with the Titans taking a 17-13 lead early in the fourth quarter. After a long drive aided by penalties the Chiefs were able to punch in the go-ahead touchdown with just over six minutes to go. On first down of Tennessee’s next possession Ryan Fitzpatrick was intercepted which set up a Chiefs field goal and a six-point lead, past the road favorite spread. Fitzpatrick was intercepted again on the next possession and the Chiefs were able post another three points on the board, leading by nine with just over two minutes to go. A backdoor cover was in play for the Titans however as they were deep in Kansas City territory in the final seconds. After burning valuable time as the drive stalled on the edge of field goal range the Titans converted a 4th down play down to the Kansas City 14 but there were few seconds left. The Titans seemingly would have one play to try to put in a meaningless touchdown that would have flipped the spread result but they instead opted for a meaningless 32-yard field goal attempt, which Rob Bironas missed.
Baltimore Ravens (+2½) 26, Miami Dolphins 23: Miami led by seven at halftime but the Ravens took a 16-13 lead heading into the fourth quarter and pushed that lead to 23-13 early in the fourth quarter to emerge in a commanding position as an underdog. Miami hit a long field goal to get back within the game and then the Dolphins got the break they needed with a tipped pass intercepted and returned for a touchdown. Both teams were forced to punt in their next opportunities and with less than two minutes to go the Ravens were able to line up a field goal to take the lead back. Miami moved into Baltimore territory but a sack was costly, moving the Dolphins back for a long shot 57-yard field goal attempt to force overtime that was missed.
St. Louis Rams (-11) 34, Jacksonville Jaguars 20: Neither of these teams had covered in a game heading into the ugly Week 5 matchup and the Rams appeared to take control after a hot start from the Jaguars, leading 24-10 at the break. Jacksonville did the only scoring in the 3rd quarter with a field goal to put the margin right at 11 and even with the common spread. An early fourth quarter field goal for the Rams wiped that away but the Jaguars drove for a touchdown behind Chad Henne to get within seven with 10 minutes to go. St. Louis would answer, going 80 yards in eight plays and that would be enough to hold on for the cover from an unlikely double-digit favorite.
Cincinnati Bengals (+2½) 13, New England Patriots 6: The Bengals led 6-3 entering the fourth and 13-3 well into the final quarter as a slight home underdog. Down to the one-yard line New England oddly opted for a field goal with just over six minutes to go in the game, basically indicating they were playing for a chance at overtime. The Patriots would get the ball back twice but the final drive that entered Cincinnati territory was battling a heavy rain storm and Tom Brady completed just one of eight passes on the drive, eventually intercepted to seal a big win for the Bengals.
Indianapolis Colts (+3) 34, Seattle Seahawks 28: The Seahawks stormed out to a 12-0 lead in Indianapolis a lead that could have been 17 as a blocked punt recovered in the end zone was ruled a safety and not a touchdown on a play that could have been called either way. After opting not to go for it on 4th and short at midfield the Seahawks gave the Colts some life and the big plays started swinging the other way with a 73-yard touchdown pass and a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown. By halftime Seattle led just 19-17. Seattle moved the ball well in the third quarter but settled for three field goals against one Colts touchdown as the Seahawks were past the road favorite spread up 28-23 entering the fourth. Indianapolis finished off a long drive with a touchdown with the help of a key 3rd down challenge and eventually found the end zone and delivered a successful two-point conversion to lead by three. Indianapolis shut down Seattle on its final two possessions, adding a field goal in between for the upset win.
Philadelphia Eagles (-1) 36, New York Giants 21: The Eagles led 19-7 at the half but two Rueben Randle touchdowns put the Giants up 21-19 late in the third quarter seeking their first win of the season. Philadelphia hit a field goal to go back up by one before the fourth quarter and taking advantage of more Eli Manning turnovers Philadelphia added two more touchdowns behind Nick Foles to put the game away.
Denver Broncos (-9) 51, Dallas Cowboys 48: The Broncos were only briefly past the spread in the second half of this game, leading 38-27 after a field goal with three minutes to go in the third quarter but with the ease of scoring in the game, no one on either side was getting too comfortable. The Cowboys took a 41-38 lead early in the fourth and then held Denver to a field goal on the next possession to keep a Denver cover two scores away with less than 10 minutes to go. The teams traded touchdowns to keep the score tied 48-48 before the Tony Romo interception that allowed Denver to take its time and wait for a last second kick. The Broncos delivered the win to move to 5-0 but a perfect ATS start to the season ended.
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