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Close Calls - Week 7

Close Calls - Week 7

Close Calls - Week 7
By Joe Nelson

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 the Week 7 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.

San Francisco 49ers (-7½) 13, Seattle Seahawks 6 (37½): San Francisco led 10-6 late in the third quarter after the only touchdown in the game, but the 49ers would push the lead to seven with just over five minutes to go. The spread bounced around from seven to nine throughout the week with the majority likely right at the touchdown spot, making the final minutes even more interesting. The Seahawks got the ball back at the 11-yard line with just 1:36 to go, as on second down Russell Wilson was sacked, pinning the Seahawks even deeper. A false start worsened things, then on 4th and 17, Russell Wilson completed a pass to Ben Obomanu that ended up just short of the first down. On the play, a chop block penalty was called and the infraction was in the end zone resulting in a safety to the delight of those on the popular 49ers. Seattle did not get the first down however, so the ball went to San Francisco on downs anyway with only 43 seconds left and Seattle with no timeouts. Coach Harbaugh elected to decline the penalty, effectively ending the game, rather than taking the points and leaving the slimmest of shots for the Seahawks with a kickoff after a safety. The final margin stayed at seven in one of the most memorable and controversial NFL finishes relative to the spread ever.

Tennessee Titans (+4½) 35, Buffalo Bills 35 (46½): Neither defense proved overly effective in this AFC clash as a 21-20 halftime lead for the Titans pushed to 28-20 in the third quarter. The Bills answered quickly and with two effective drives led by Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Bills were in business, leading 34-28 entering the fourth quarter. Both offenses would stall, but late in the game and as the Bills attempted to get another first down with just over three minutes to go Fitzpatrick was intercepted, giving the Titans a great chance near midfield. Tennessee needed seven so a field goal was not in the picture as it took a fourth down play for the Titans to connect as Nate Washington snagged a pass in the end zone with just over a minute to go. Buffalo appeared deflated and did not pose a serious threat on its final possession.

Minnesota Vikings (-7) 21, Arizona Cardinals 14 (39): The Vikings took command of this NFC battle in the third quarter after a 31-yard interception return touchdown put them up 21-7 despite very limited yardage production in the game. Arizona got stuck at midfield a few times in the fourth quarter, but with just over a minute to go, the Cardinals struck the end zone to get the margin at seven and leave a push for many on the game, although early week lines were lower than seven. Minnesota had the ball on the Arizona 38 to start its final possession after the failed onside kick and the Vikings were certainly in field goal range late, but the Cardinals ran out of timeouts and Minnesota was ultimately able to run out the clock after rushing for eight yards on fourth and five on the final play instead of attempting a kick.

Dallas Cowboys (-2½) 19, Carolina Panthers 14 (45):
The Cowboys had a hard time pulling away from Carolina as Dallas took just a 13-7 lead into the fourth quarter and Carolina took the lead early in the final frame with a touchdown run. After an exchange of punts, Dallas had a productive drive and got back on top with a field goal with just over three minutes to go, but still sat short of the road favorite spread. Carolina only went 20 yards on the next drive and Dallas took the ball in great field position as Dan Bailey pushed the margin to five points with less than a minute to go in the game. The Panthers got 34 yards in the final drive, but could not convert for the upset.

Pittsburgh Steelers (-1) 24, Cincinnati Bengals 17 (47): The Steelers and Bengals were locked at 17-17 entering the fourth quarter in a game where the line bounced right around even or one either way. Pittsburgh dominated the yardage in the game and the Steelers punched in a touchdown very early in the final quarter to go up by seven. Cincinnati had the ball three times in the fourth quarter, but they produced just one first down and after Pittsburgh got the ball back with about four minutes to go, they did not need to give it back. The game ended with the Steelers on the Cincinnati eight-yard line and the game stayed just 'under'.

Chicago Bears (-6½) 13, Detroit Lions 7 (45): The Lions wound up outgaining the Bears in this sloppy Monday night game, but Chicago held a 13-0 shutout most of the way. Detroit had a fumble near the goal line in the third quarter as well as an 85-yard drive that ended in an interception in the fourth quarter, but they did finally find the end zone with 30 seconds to go in a spread-changing play with the Bears favored by 6½ at most outlets late in the week for a great backdoor cover.

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