Close Calls – Week 7

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NCAAFB - 4th Quarter Covers - Week 8

Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread in the fourth quarter last week in Week 7 of the NFL regular season.

Los Angeles Chargers (-7) 20, Tennessee Titans 19 (45½): The Chargers led 17-6 early in the third quarter but Tennessee took control of the flow of the game from there, eventually out-gaining the Chargers, 390-344. Down by seven, the Titans missed a field goal with just over eight minutes remaining but got another chance getting the ball back with about five minutes to go. Marcus Mariota appeared set to deliver more late game heroics down to 1st-and-goal at the 2-yard-line with plenty of time to work with. A 3rd-and-goal scramble initially ruled a touchdown was reversed as lot was riding on the 4th-and-inches play with the spread -6½ most of the week. Mariota hit Luke Stocker for the touchdown, but Mike Vrabel boldly opted to go for two to the chagrin of ‘over’ players on the London game. Mariota threw quite high on the attempt as the Chargers escaped with the win and overtime wasn’t needed with the Titans covering as an underdog.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3½) 26, Cleveland Browns 23 (52½): This game opened with a safety and the Buccaneers wound up with a 23-9 lead through three quarters in a game in which they committed four turnovers. The spread on this game climbed from -3 to -3½ by kickoff while the total soared from 49½ to 52½. All results were still in play as the Browns had 4th-and-goal at the 1-yard-line with five minutes to go. Baker Mayfield didn’t get in, but pinned deep the Buccaneers punted and Cleveland got a great return from Jabrill Peppers down to the 16-yard-line. Cleveland tied the game on the next play with just over two minutes remaining. Jameis Winston led the Buccaneers into field goal range in the final seconds but Chandler Catanzaro missed from 40 yards as the Browns entered overtime for the fourth time in seven games. Winston threw what looked like a devastating interception in overtime putting the Browns at the Tampa Bay 45 but Cleveland didn’t gain yards and opted to punt. Tampa Bay had to do the same but Peppers attempted to make another big return and fumbled, giving the Buccaneers the ball back in Cleveland territory. On a much more difficult kick from 59 yards, Catanzaro delivered for a three-point win for the Buccaneers while the total stayed just ‘under’ without an overtime touchdown.

Carolina Panthers (+5) 21, Philadelphia Eagles 17 (45½): The Eagles dominated the early part of this game but missed an early field goal to lead just 10-0 at the half. A 94-yard touchdown drive put Philadelphia up by 17 at the end of the third quarter. With only 106 yards of offense to that point, the Panthers stayed in the game with an 80-yard touchdown drive but Graham Gano missed the extra point. The Panthers forced a punt and scored another touchdown in just seven plays and with a two-point conversion, Carolina had shifted the momentum trailing by just three. Philadelphia had a 3-and-out as Carolina got the ball back with more than two minutes to play and needed less than a minute to take the lead, all but ensuring an underdog cover with a four-point lead. Philadelphia was a serious threat to get the outright win back however, getting into Carolina territory with a 48-yard pass interference call. On the next play, Wentz was intercepted but the call was overturned on review. Facing 4th-and-2 from the 14-yard-line, Wentz did have a turnover, fumbling on a sack as the Panthers sealed the comeback.

Minnesota Vikings (-3) 37, New York Jets 17 (44½): The Vikings missed a 42-yard field goal just before halftime to lead just 10-7 and entering the fourth quarter the lead was 20-10. Two early fourth quarter touchdowns changed the over/under trajectory quickly and the Jets had the ball back down 10 near midfield before a Sam Darnold interception at the Minnesota 37-yard-line. The Vikings capitalized and eventually added 10 more points with a 24-point fourth quarter to hit the ‘over’.

New Orleans Saints (+3) 24, Baltimore Ravens 23 (49): The Saints fumbled at the Baltimore 2-yard-line on its opening drive to set the tone in this game and the ‘under’ pace was strong with the game scoreless until a Ravens field goal nearly 24 minutes into the game. Both teams scored touchdowns in the final two minutes of the first half and Baltimore would take control in the third quarter leading 17-7. The Saints answered however to climb within three, even with the closing spread though +2½ was the common number most of the week. Baltimore went backwards and punted as the Saints had the ball back with still more than 11 minutes remaining. A 1st down sack didn’t offer great promise but New Orleans turned in a methodical 12-play drive that featured the Saints going for it on 4th-and-1 rather than trying going for a tying field goal. New Orleans eventually would score with about five minutes to play to lead by four.

Baltimore faced a 4th down decision of its own opting to go for it on 4th-and-7 from the 50, rather than trying to pin the Saints deep with still plenty of time and all three timeouts. The Ravens were bailed out with a pass interference call but didn’t get the same fortune going for it again on 4th-and-6 a few plays later from the New Orleans 36-yard-line. New Orleans was aggressive up by four, not looking to run out the clock and hitting a 25-yard pass on 1st down. Eventually New Orleans got a field goal to lead by seven ahead of the two-minute warning. Baltimore got a facemask penalty for a big early gain and quickly went down the field, scoring a touchdown with 24 seconds to go. John Harbaugh didn’t use Mike Vrabel’s thought process to the relief of ‘over’ backers even with the Saints going right down the field on three consecutive possessions, but stunningly Justin Tucker missed the tying point after attempt, his first PAT miss in now 223 career attempts as the Saints and ‘under’ held.

Washington Redskins (+1½) 20, Dallas Cowboys 17 (40): The slight favorite spread on this NFC East battle flipped by game day and while Washington was in control much of the game the game, settling for field goals kept Dallas in the mix. The Cowboys got the ball back down three with six minutes to go, but Dallas was pinned deep with a holding call. On the next play, Dak Prescott had a disastrous fumble trying to elude a sack with the ball instantly picked up for a Redskins touchdown. Now down 10, Dallas responded with a 12-play touchdown drive that included a 4th-and-13 conversion. Washington wasn’t able to run out the clock and punted back to Dallas with just over a minute remaining. The Cowboys were called for a controversial snap infraction penalty on a tying field goal attempt with three seconds to go and moved back to 52 yards, Brett Maher hit the upright as Washington and those on the ‘under’ escaped.

Los Angeles Rams (-9) 39, San Francisco 49ers 10 (51½): There was little drama regarding the spread result as the 49ers had another turnover-filled contest falling behind 32-10 through three quarters. That pace suggested the ‘over’ was in good shape and the Rams added a touchdown on a drive of just 13 yards after a strong punt return, putting the scoring at 49 with more than 11 minutes remaining. A pair of punts followed however and San Francisco got a piece of the Rams kick for a two-yard result, getting great field position at the 37-yard line of Los Angeles. San Francisco would reach the 15-yard-line but couldn’t add points as the ‘under’ wound up 9-3 in the Sunday games.

Atlanta Falcons (-4) 23, New York Giants 20 (52): The Falcons led by four through three quarters to sit right on the spread though the line opened at -3½ and hit as high as -6 before settling on -4. A 50-yard field goal and a 30-yard touchdown run put Atlanta ahead at 20-6 midway through the final frame. The Giants would answer going 78 yards in three minutes and opted to go for two down by eight. The attempt failed and Atlanta was able to add a 56-yard field goal to lead by 11 just after the two-minute-warning. With just five seconds on the clock, the Giants connected to Odell Beckham Jr. for a touchdown and Saquon Barkley ran in for the conversion for the backdoor cover for the underdog.

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