NFC East: 2011 Week 10 coverage

Rapid Reaction: 49ers 27, Giants 20

November, 13, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO –- Eli Manning and the New York Giants ran out of their fourth-quarter comeback magic as the 49ers made a defensive stand at their own 10-yard line in the final minute to come away with a 27-20 win.

What it means: After playing perhaps the best football of his career, Manning threw two interceptions -- both to Carlos Rogers. It was Manning’s first multi-interception game since he threw three picks in a loss to Seattle on Oct. 9.

The second pick, which was thrown in the middle of the field with Mario Manningham way off to the right, gave the Niners the ball at the Giants’ 17-yard line. On the next play, Kendall Hunter scored untouched on a run to put the Niners up 27-13 with 12:21 left.

The Giants led 13-12 going into the fourth quarter only to see the Niners score 14 unanswered in the span of 61 seconds. Manning responded with a 32-yard touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks with 8:37 to go when San Francisco blitzed safety Dashon Goldson, who started the play over the top of Nicks.

The Giants were on the move again with Manning hitting Manningham for an 18-yard gain on a fourth-and-6 that put the Giants at the Niners' 42. Manningham nearly scored a touchdown but had a would-be 42-yard touchdown pass go off his fingertips as Manning led him just a tad too much. Manning converted another fourth down with a 10-yard pass to Victor Cruz and later had the Giants at the Niners' 10. But later on a fourth-and-2, Manning had a short pass batted down to send the Giants to a loss.

Killer Akers: David Akers stuck it to his old division rival yet again. The former Eagles kicker was a one-man gang in the first half, drilling three field goals -- including a 52-yarder -- and converted a surprise onside kick in the second quarter. That allowed Akers to convert a 39-yard field goal that gave the Niners a 9-6 lead just before the end of the half.

Boley hurt: Linebacker Michael Boley went down with a hamstring injury just toward the end of the first half and did not return. Boley has been a big part of the Giants' defense this season, responsible for relaying calls into the huddle. He also is the Giants’ lone every-down linebacker.

With Boley out, rookie middle linebacker Greg Jones relayed the calls when he was in on running situations. He and rookie Spencer Paysinger took turns playing in place of Boley depending on whether it was a running or passing play.

Niners TE Vernon Davis took advantage of Boley’s absence, scoring on an uncovered 31-yard run-and-catch touchdown with 13:22 left to put the Niners up 20-13.

Cornerback Aaron Ross also left the game with a bruised quad injury in the third quarter.

Gore hurt: Frank Gore had six carries for no yards. The team said he had a knee injury. He returned briefly but wasn’t a factor after coming into the game with five straight 100-yard rushing games.

No Prince: Despite traveling with the team for a second straight week, rookie Prince Amukamara was inactive. The Giants clearly want to hold out their first-round pick until he is absolutely ready to make his debut. Amukamara has been out since breaking his foot in his second practice of training camp.

What’s next: The Giants get the reeling Eagles and a chance to bury Philly and win a critical divisional game.

Wrap-up: Dolphins 20, Redskins 9

November, 13, 2011

A few thoughts on the Washington Redskins' fifth loss in a row, this one Sunday afternoon to the Dolphins in Miami:

What it means: The Redskins may be out of ideas on offense, and if they couldn't win this game against a team that hadn't won all year until last week, it's getting hard to look at the schedule and pick out the remaining games you think they even can win. The switch back from John Beck to Rex Grossman succeeded in opening up the offense, and we got a little bit of a look at rookie wide receiver Leonard Hankerson. But the problem with Grossman is the interceptions, and he threw two that were very costly. The Redskins' answer at quarterback is not currently on their roster.

Bright spot. Sort of: Hankerson caught eight passes for 106 yards and looked like a second-half breakout candidate with Grossman able to get the ball downfield to him as Beck couldn't. But since this is the Redskins, there's bad news on that, too. The young man left the game with a hip injury and his status for next week is unknown.

Running back roulette: A week after rookie running back Roy Helu caught 14 passes for 105 yards, the Redskins named Ryan Torain the starting running back for this game. Washington's coaching staff believes Torain is its best runner but likes Helu better in the passing game and probably leaned on him more last week because they knew Beck would be looking to check down. Torain got 20 yards on 11 carries Sunday while Helu got 41 yards on six carries and caught three passes for 13 yards. Helu looks like the better back and should get the ball a lot going forward as the Redskins evaluate what they have for next year.

Kerrigan disrupts: Rookie linebacker Ryan Kerrigan came up with two sacks and forced two fumbles as the Redskins' defense put on another admirable effort while the offense could do nothing to help.

What's next: The Redskins have a home game Sunday against the division-rival Cowboys, who clobbered the Buffalo Bills on Sunday for their second win in a row and are looking to get on a roll and challenge the Giants for the division title. Washington lost in Dallas 18-16 in Week 3 when things were still going well for them.

Rapid Reaction: Cowboys 44, Bills 7

November, 13, 2011
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Some thoughts from the Dallas Cowboys' very impressive victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday:

What it means: The Cowboys now have a chance to get on a roll. Their next three matchups -- at Washington, home against Miami and at Arizona -- all look winnable. Getting this victory over a strong AFC contender -- and getting it as convincingly as they did -- sets up the Cowboys to rattle off a winning streak. If they can take advantage of this soft portion of their schedule, they have a chance to take an 8-4 record into their first meeting with the first-place Giants on Dec. 11.

Miles who? With wide receiver Miles Austin out with a hamstring injury, the Cowboys' passing game didn't miss a step. Quarterback Tony Romo was a dazzling 18-of-19 for 237 yards and three touchdowns in the first half as Dallas built a 28-7 lead. Two of the touchdown passes went to Laurent Robinson, who was already making a contribution before the Austin injury and looks to be a more-than-adequate replacement while Austin sits out. The other was to Dez Bryant, who muscled the ball away from a Buffalo defender in the end zone. Romo was sharp, accurate and did whatever he wanted to do in the pass game, and then in the second half …

They ran it! Dallas blew a 27-3 lead earlier this season to the Detroit Lions when Romo had two interceptions returned for touchdowns in the second half. But the emergence of rookie running back DeMarco Murray has given the offense a different dimension, and in this second half the Cowboys were able to grind out the clock by running the ball and methodically picking up first downs. Murray had 71 rush yards in the first half, 64 in the second and has 601 over his past four games since Felix Jones was injured. He makes the Dallas offense multidimensional.

Game ball for Rob Ryan: The Cowboys' defense coordinator designed an excellent game plan that kept Buffalo running back Fred Jackson in check in the run game and the screen game, which few teams this year have been able to do. By the second half, the Bills had to take chances throwing the ball, and Terence Newman was right there to take advantage with a pair of interceptions that turned the fourth quarter into a victory lap.

What's next: The Cowboys travel to Washington on Sunday for a game against the division-rival Redskins. Dallas won the first meeting in Week 3 by the score of 18-16 when it failed to score a touchdown, but Dan Bailey kicked six field goals. Washington has fallen on hard times since that game and lost five straight since its 3-1 start.