NFC East: 2011 Week 6 Rapid Reaction
October, 16, 2011
By Calvin Watkins | ESPN.com
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Rob Ryan's defense couldn't make a play when it counted, and Tom Brady sliced up the Cowboys with a game-winning drive in a dramatic 20-16 victory at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.
It was a difficult loss for the Cowboys considering how well they played on defense. Despite losing starting running back Felix Jones, they were able to stay in the game until the end. Coach Jason Garrett decided to play it safe inside the red zone, and it might have cost his team.
What it means: The Cowboys have lost two consecutive games, as they fell two weeks ago versus Detroit. The Cowboys missed a wonderful chance to gain some ground in the sloppy NFC East. The Cowboys are now in the bottom half of the division at 2-3, a half-game ahead of the Eagles, whom they will play in two weeks.
No Felix Jones: Jones suffered a left ankle injury in the second quarter and didn't return. Jones finished with eight carries for 14 yards. Rookie DeMarco Murray and Tashard Choice took over for Jones, who was playing with a dislocated shoulder. Murray finished with 10 carries for 32 yards.
Red zone issues: The Cowboys went 1-for-3 in the red zone on Sunday afternoon, and they're 6-of-18 on the season. One of the interesting play calls in the red zone came with about six minutes to play when on a third-and-5 from the 5, Garrett called for a shuffle pass to Choice. It seemed that Garrett was not trusting Romo or wanted to play conservatively and let Rob Ryan's defense win the game for him.
Special-teams penalties: The Cowboys were called for four special-teams penalties. Anthony Spencer, Barry Church, Keith Brooking and Phillip Tanner were flagged. The Cowboys can't have these things in close games. Spencer's penalty, running into the punter, extended a Patriots drive in the third quarter.
Injuries: The Cowboys lost two starters. Jones suffered an ankle injury and didn't play in the second half, and guard Bill Nagy also injured an ankle in the fourth quarter and didn't return. Kevin Kowalski replaced Nagy at left guard.
What's next? Cowboys will host the winless St. Louis Rams at Cowboys Stadium next week. This is almost a must-win game for the Cowboys considering where they are right now.
October, 16, 2011
By Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPN.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It took six weeks but Ahmad Bradshaw finally got going and the New York Giants edged the Buffalo Bills for a much-needed win.
What it means: The Giants surrendered a fourth-quarter lead again for the second straight game, but this time Corey Webster made a big interception to stop a Buffalo go-ahead drive and Eli Manning and Bradshaw marched the Giants 76 yards with the help of two pass interference calls against the Bills. That game-winning drive ended with a Lawrence Tynes 23-yard field goal with 1:32 left.
The Giants were coming off a dismal home loss to Seattle and needed to go into the bye week with a victory. Their schedule becomes increasingly difficult in November, so this win is huge. The Giants still have plenty of work to do on defense, but they hope to get some injured players back after the bye.
Action Jackson: Fred Jackson came into the game ranked third in the NFL in rushing and he showed why early in the game when he busted an 80-yard touchdown run with five minutes to go in the first quarter.
Kenny Phillips missed a diving tackle at the line of scrimmage from behind and then Deon Grant took a poor angle and Jackson sprinted by untouched. Aaron Ross then tried to chase Jackson down from behind but Jackson made a slight move to his left and lost Ross.
The Giants have been gashed by LeSean McCoy, Beanie Wells, Marshawn Lynch and now Jackson in consecutive weeks. Jackson had 107 yards by halftime.
Big problems: The Giants' defense has tried to contain big plays this season. But Jackson’s 80-yard run wasn’t the only big play surrendered in the first quarter. Fitzpatrick hit Naaman Roosevelt for a 60-yard touchdown on the next possession after the Jackson run. The Giants' defense again had a breakdown in coverage and took poor angles to let Roosevelt catch a short pass and run it all the way in.
Ahmad for three: The Giants wanted to try to run the ball against a Buffalo defense that came into the game allowing an average of 138 rushing yards a game. Bradshaw scored three 1-yard touchdowns and registered his first 100-yard rushing game of the season with 104 yards.
Injury report: The Giants played without DE Justin Tuck (neck/groin), G Chris Snee (concussion) and RB Brandon Jacobs (knee).
Webster steps up: Webster battled with Stevie Johnson all day. He gave up one touchdown to Johnson in the fourth quarter but intercepted Fitzpatrick twice on passes intended for Johnson. The second interception came as Buffalo was driving deep into Giants territory. Webster picked off the pass at the Giants’ 4-yard line with 4:10 remaining.
What’s next: The Giants have a much-needed bye to get many of their injured players healthy. They face the Miami Dolphins at home on Oct. 30.
October, 16, 2011
By Dan Graziano | ESPN.com
LANDOVER, Md. -- A few thoughts from the Philadelphia Eagles' season-saving victory over the Washington Redskins:
What it means: That the Eagles are still alive. A loss would have dropped them to 1-5 and all but out of the 2011 playoff picture. Instead, they move up and the first-place Redskins move back in an increasingly tight (and somewhat uninspiring) NFC East race. This win also showed that the Eagles can play a little defense, as they were able to limit the Redskins' run game and intercept Rex Grossman four times. For the Redskins, the loss means doubt. A victory could have given them something akin to control of the division race, and although they still appear to be a factor, their weaknesses were on display in this one, their very solid offensive line absorbed some key injuries and their quarterback may have lost his job. The Redskins head into Week 7 with more questions than answers.
Accountability: Eagles safety Jarrad Page wasn't the sole reason they lost last week in Buffalo, but his performance was abysmal and got him benched. Page was listed as inactive for the game, and Kurt Coleman started in his place and intercepted Grossman three times on his own. A week ago, I wrote that the blame for the Eagles' struggles lay at the feet of coach Andy Reid, and part of the reason was I felt the Eagles' players didn't play with any urgency or fear of consequence. But benching Page was a way for Reid to make it clear that there are consequences for not getting the job done, and whether the message was sent or not, the move paid off thanks to Coleman's big game.
QB controversy in D.C.: They were chanting for John Beck before Grossman's third interception, but he didn't come in until after the fourth. Once he did, he led the Redskins on a long touchdown drive that cut the Eagles' lead to 20-13 with 2:44 left in the game. Beck didn't look like Joe Montana or anything like that, but Grossman was stone-cold awful, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see Beck get the start next week in Carolina. Regardless, this game showed that if the Redskins need to rely on their quarterback to win them a game, they're in trouble. The Eagles somehow took Washington's run game away early and built a big lead. And even after the Redskins' defense tightened up in the second half, the team didn't have enough to make the comeback.
McCoy is a major weapon: The Eagles' offense wasn't as dominant in the second half as it was in the first, but what they were able to do was run the ball with LeSean McCoy to eat up clock and ice their lead. McCoy so far this year has simply been one of the best running backs in the league. He runs like a jigsaw, and the Eagles' offense works best when it's balanced between him and their big-play pass game. Michael Vick managed the game much better this week than he did last week in Buffalo, and the 28 run plays the Eagles called for McCoy were a big help.
Redskins' depth is a problem: One of the main reasons the Redskins have started hot and ran the ball so well in their first four games was the surprisingly strong play of the offensive line. But when left guard Kory Lichtensteiger and left tackle Trent Williams left the game with injuries, it was clear the run game took a major hit. The Redskins don't have much at offensive line behind the starters, and if those injuries are serious, their offense will suffer for it.
Protecting Vick is vital: Vince Young is now 0-for-1 with an interception for the season, having thrown that one awful pass while Vick was on the sideline after taking a big hit. It was only one throw, sure, but it underscored the idea that the Eagles will go as far as Vick takes them.
What's next: The Eagles head into their bye week, take next weekend off and return to action Sunday night, Oct. 30, with a home game against the Dallas Cowboys. The Redskins travel to Carolina on Sunday to take on Cam Newton and the Panthers.