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Close Calls - Week 7

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NFL games often go down to the wire, especially relative to the spread. Here are close calls from Week 7 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.

Seattle Seahawks (-4 ½) 34, Arizona Cardinals 22: Seattle led 17-13 into the third quarter, but the Seahawks pulled away with back-to-back touchdown scores thanks to an interception returned to the one-yard line, leading 31-13 entering the fourth quarter. Arizona gave underdog backers hope, however, with a touchdown with less than five minutes to go to trim the lead to just 12 points, though the two-point conversion miss was costly for those chances. On their final drive, the Cardinals were to the Seattle 26, but they came up short on fourth down to end the threat. Had Arizona found the end zone, the margin would have been five points with the extra-point, giving many on the Cardinals the win as the line opened at -6 ½ before falling throughout the week.

New York Jets (+3) 30, New England Patriots 27: The Patriots led 21-10 at the half, but an interception early in the third quarter changed everything as the Jets were within four. New York would take a 27-21 lead into the fourth quarter before the Patriots cut the margin to three with a field goal early in the final frame. The Jets moved to midfield two separate times, but the New England defense held and starting on its own eight just before the two-minute warning, Tom Brady and company still had a shot. Those on the underdog Jets were in a precarious position as a touchdown and extra point would flip the spread result as well. New England moved with relative ease down the field, but eventually stalled at the New York 26, failing with three straight incomplete passes before settling for overtime. New England won the toss, but only picked up one first down and the Jets were able to move to the edge of field goal range, opting to try the long 56-yard field goal attempt. The kick was missed, but for the second time this season, the Jets were bailed out with a late penalty and the retry from 15 yards closer was true.

Kansas City Chiefs (-6 ½) 17, Houston Texans 16:
There was no scoring in the fourth quarter of this game as the Chiefs moved to 7-0, but the Texans held on to take the cover in this game despite a couple of near touchdowns for Kansas City. Early in the fourth quarter, the Chiefs failed going for it on fourth and one at the Houston one-yard line and then midway through the fourth quarter, the Chiefs had a rare turnover in Houston territory. Late in the game, Chiefs' backers nearly got a miracle cover as Case Keenum was sacked at the four-yard line with less than two minutes to go, the fumble was picked up by Derrick Johnson and he rolled into the end zone, but contact had brought him down at the one and the Chiefs kneeled to burn the rest of the clock.

Cincinnati Bengals (+2 ½) 27, Detroit Lions 24: The home favorite Lions never led in the second half of this game, but they tied the game early in the fourth quarter. Getting the ball back, the Lions stalled near midfield after a pass completion into field goal territory was brought back by penalty and overturned. Cincinnati also saw a drive stalled with a key penalty as well. The Lions were forced to punt with 30 seconds left and a marginal punt left the Bengals near midfield with 26 seconds to go. Cincinnati got 15 yards in two plays and Mike Nugent hit a 54-yard kick to seal the game without overtime.

Washington Redskins (+1) 45, Chicago Bears 41: The Redskins led by seven entering the fourth quarter, but the Bears put up quite a fight even without Jay Cutler. After trading touchdowns, the Bears had to settle for a field goal to cut the lead to four. At that point, the Bears attempted a somewhat surprise onside kick and recovered, but offsides wiped it out. They did force Washington to punt and in just four plays, the Bears found the end zone, but that score was negated with an illegal formation. Two plays later with the help of a personal foul penalty, the Bears took the lead by three with about four minutes to go. RGIII led an excellent drive and the Redskins scored with under a minute to go to take a four-point lead. The Bears got past midfield with the remaining time but needing a touchdown, the game ended with a sack.

Atlanta Falcons (-6) 31, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23: +8 or +8 ½ was available on Tampa Bay very early in the week, but this line fell to just +6 by Sunday. The Buccaneers had a yardage edge in the game and were within seven entering the fourth quarter, but Atlanta would find the end zone with the help of a key penalty early in the final frame to push the margin to 14. After an 18-play drive, Tampa Bay had to settle for a field goal after they were left with fourth and 23 after multiple penalties. Down 11, a touchdown would be enough to flip the spread result, but Tampa Bay was again forced to kick a field goal with the limited time remaining and needing two scores as there were stopped despite a first down at the Atlanta 21 on the next drive. Atlanta held on the onside kick attempt and the Falcons escaped with a narrow win and cover.

Green Bay Packers (-8 ½) 31, Cleveland Browns 13: While this line fell from opening numbers as a high as 11, the Browns did have opportunities late in this game to make a much closer final. Early in the fourth quarter with the Browns down just 17-6, the Browns curiously went for it on fourth and 15 at the Green Bay 31, failing and leaving with no points when a field goal could have made it a one-score game. On the next drive, the Packers were able to score in just five plays to push the margin to 18 points. Cleveland answered with a touchdown and twice got the onside kick, but both times it was ruled illegal. Down 11 with six minutes to go, the Cleveland defense failed again as Green Bay scored in just four plays. Cleveland's next drive went down to the Green Bay seven, but the Browns did not get in and a penalty on the final punt for the Packers left the Browns without another possession. Those on the 'under' had to greatly sweat out the wild fourth quarter after the game was on pace to play well 'under' most of the way.

Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) 19, Baltimore Ravens 16: Many on the Steelers were likely able to play the game at -2 ½ and the Steelers led by seven entering the fourth quarter. Baltimore added another field goal early in the final quarter and attempted an onside kick but failed. In great field position, Pittsburgh did enough to push the lead back to seven with a 38-yard kick. With 10 minutes to go, Baltimore put together a 16-play drive elapsing over eight minutes, finding the end zone to tie the game. Pittsburgh got the ball back in good field position after Emmanuel Sanders had a nice return and the Steelers moved the ball well enough with careful clock management to get into range with the game-winning field goal sailing through as time expired.

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