Talk about close calls.
The NFL season is all of a month old, and there already have been a whole bunch of games that came down to the final moments. Quite a few of them have been determined by a single play that led to the winning points — or not — be it a 46-yard field goal by Matt Bryant with 2 seconds left that lifted the Falcons over the 49ers on Sunday, or Calvin Johnson's touchdown-catch-that-wasn't in the final minute of the Lions' season-opening loss to the Bears.
STATS LLC reports that more than half the games played (33 of 62) so far have been decided by 7 points or less, a higher total than in any of the past 10 years.
With that in mind, here's our Pick Six of plays that have some teams wondering why they're still winless and others feeling simply wonderful to have won a game that was very losable.
— Roddy White, wr, Falcons, forces fumble (Falcons 16, 49ers 14, Oct. 3): With the 49ers leading 14-13 and on the verge of their first win of the season, Nate Clements picks off a pass by Falcons' quarterback Matt Ryan at the Atlanta 49 with less than 90 seconds remaining. Fall to the ground and run out the clock, right? Wrong. Clements returns the ball to the Falcons' 10, White pops the ball loose, Atlanta recovers at its 7 and, 12 plays and 68 yards later, Bryant kicks his 43-yard, game-winning field goal. Result: Falcons 3-1; 49ers 0-4.
— Calvin Johnson, wr, Lions, makes non-touchdown catch (Bears 19, Lions 14, Sept. 12): Johnson makes a leaping grab in the end zone for what appears to be a 25-yard TD catch that puts the Lions in the lead with 31 seconds left. But when he completes rolling over, he leaves the ball on the ground and begins celebrating. The official ruling is the player has to "maintain possession of the ball throughout the entire process of the catch." Result: Lions 0-1 (now 0-4); Bears 1-0 (now 3-1).
— Garrett Hartley, pk, Saints, misses field goal (Falcons 27, Saints 24 OT, Sept. 26): The Saints are headed for a 3-0 start, but playoff hero Hartley is wide left on a chip-shot 29-yard field goal attempt in OT, and the Falcons come back minutes later to win on Matt Bryant's 46-yarder with 1:55 left. The result carries over to the next week: The Saints bring back 46-year-old John Carney, who boots three field goals to help New Orleans beat Carolina 16-14 and keep the Panthers winless. Result: Saints 2-1 (now 3-1); Falcons 2-1 (now 3-1).
— Ahmad Bradshaw, rb, Giants, commits end zone chop block (Titans 29, Giants 10, Sept. 26): With the Giants and Titans tied 10-all early in the third quarter, Eli Manning connects with Mario Manningham for 44 yards on third-and-10 from the New York 1. Bradshaw, though, is flagged for a chop block in the end zone, giving Tennessee a safety and a 12-10 lead. Six plays after the ensuing free kick, Vince Young throws a 13-yard TD pass. To add insult to penalty, Bradshaw fumbles away any Giants' hope at the Titans 7 on the next possession. Result: Giants 1-2 (now 2-2); Titans 2-1 (now 2-2).
— Peyton Manning, qb, Colts, throws an interception (Jaguars 31, Colts 28, Oct. 3): Instead of going ahead 21-14, the Colts fall behind by that score when Manning's pass near the goal line is dropped by Brody Eldridge, picked off by Anthony Smith, returned near midfield and becomes a Jaguars TD a few plays later on David Garrard's 15-yard TD pass. On the next drive, Reggie Wayne catches a pass from Manning but fumbles inside the 10. Jacksonville's Josh Scobee drills a 59-yard field goal on the game's final play for a 31-28 Jaguars win. Result: Colts 2-2, Jaguars 2-2.
— Leon Washington, kr/pr, Seahawks, returns kickoffs for TDs (Seahawks 27, Chargers 20, Sept. 26): After Leon Washington returns the second-half kickoff 101 yards to put the Seahawks ahead, the Chargers pull even at 20-20. But they kick off again to Washington, and he promptly races 99 yards for what turns out to be the winning score. Result: Seattle 2-1 (now 2-2); San Diego 2-1 (now 2-2).
(This version CORRECTS to one interception for Manning, Titans-Giants score)