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Bad Beats

   by Ben Burns - 10/14/2008

Louisville at Memphis

Louisville backers will probably feel that turnabout is fair play. That's because two games ago, on 9/26, the Cardinals outgained UConn by a 508-279 (total yards) margin but still managed to lose the game. The Cardinals had hoped to use that nationally televised game as validation that they were "legit," while also avenging a controversial UConn win last year.

Instead, they found another way to lose a winnable game. Louisville defensive end Maurice Mitchell had this to say: "I don't know how to explain it, we beat ourselves. We had some bad plays happen."

Fast forward to last Friday and we find the Cardinals laying -6.5 points at Memphis. This time, it was the Cardinals who were badly outgained statistically. Indeed, the Tigers held a 27-13 edge in first downs. Memphis converted seven of 15 third down opportunities while Louisville managed to convert only three of 13 third down tries. Memphis ran 86 plays for 481 yards while Louisville had just 55 for 299. However, the Cardinals blocked a field goal for a touchdown while also running back a kick 95 yards for another score. Despite those big plays, the Tigers were still tied entering the fourth quarter. Cue the dagger. Not satisfied with having already blocked the field goal, Louisville's Johnny Patrick returned a fumble 21 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. That brought the score to 35-28 and marked the final points of the game. Memphis did march down the field one more time though. However, instead of attempting a field goal with 6:30 left, they went for the touchdown on 4th down from the Louisville nine. While that was probably the proper decision to make, Memphis backers, myself included, certainly would have preferred to see the kick. Memphis coach Tommy West had this to ay: "Our special teams didn't show up and that cost us the game. There's no question about it and there's no way to sugarcoat it."

Philadelphia at San Francisco

Some may argue that this was not really a "bad beat" for San Francisco backers. After all, the Eagles had an edge in total yards and won by 14 points. However, those who had the underdog at +4.5 (or +5) will agree. This was a very tough loss. Indeed, the 49'ers entered the fourth quarter with a healthy nine point lead and the momentum squarely in their corner. That's when Philadelphia elevated its game though, taking charge of the final stanza. After a touchdown and a pair of David Akers field goals, the Eagles had the ball and a 4-point lead with just over two minutes remaining. At this point, if the Eagles could get just one first down, they would be able to run the clock out and the final score would have been 30-26, resulting in a San Francisco cover. It was not to be though. On third down, it appeared that the Eagles may have gotten the first. However, the officials spotted the ball about two inches short of the marker. At this point, all the Eagles had to do was run a quarterback sneak to pick up the first and seal the deal. Cue the dagger. Rather than risk going for it, Andy Reid elected to bring Akers back and extend the lead to seven points. While many coaches may have gone for it, the decision worked out for Reid, as the Eagles snuffed out the 49'ers ensuing drive and even returned an interception for a touchdown. The final score of 40-26 doesn't reflect what a competitive game it was and how close the 49'ers were to earning the cover.

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