NFC West: 2013 Week 11 Rapid Reaction
November, 17, 2013
By Bill Williamson | ESPN.com
NEW ORLEANS -- A few thoughts on the San Francisco 49ers' 23-20 loss against the New Orleans Saints:
What it means: The 49ers lost their second straight heartbreaking game. Last week, they lost at home to Carolina by one point. The two losses come after the 49ers had a five-game win streak. San Francisco is now 6-4 and in a second-place tie with Arizona in the NFC West. Seattle is 10-1. The division race is over. The 49ers are still in the playoff hunt, but these losses will sting. Like last week, this is a game the 49ers easily could have won. San Francisco played at a high level in a defeat.
Controversial call: The 49ers appeared to get the ball after a turnover with about three minutes to go. But linebacker Ahmad Brooks was called for a personal foul that gave the Saints new life. It was a questionable call because it appeared that Brooks hit Drew Brees’ shoulder. The Saints ended the drive with a game-tying field goal with 2:06 to go.
Stock watch: 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin had his best game since Week 1 against Green Bay when he had 13 catches. Boldin finished with six catches for 56 yards Sunday. He converted on third downs three times on one second-half drive. It was a reminder of how important Boldin is to this offense and how much quarterback Colin Kaepernick needs help.
More injuries: The 49ers have been dealing with injuries all season and that trend didn’t change Sunday. Cornerback Tarell Brown (rib) and guard Mike Iupati (knee) were both carted off the field and were unable to return. No further information was immediately available. However, it appears Iupati’s injury could be more serious than Brown’s. He is a key part of the offensive line. He was replaced by Adam Snyder, who is capable. But Iupati’s loss would be felt it he misses extended time.
What’s next: The 49ers have another long road trip on tap. They play at Washington on Monday night. The Redskins are struggling at 3-7.
November, 17, 2013
By Terry Blount | ESPN.com
SEATTLE -- A few thoughts on the Seattle Seahawks 41-20 victory against the Minnesota Vikings Sunday at CenturyLink Field:
What it means: The Seahawks head to the bye week at 10-1, in control of their own destiny and are the team to beat as far as home-field advantage goes for the playoffs in the NFC. With receiver Percy Harvin finally on the field and the offensive line healthy again, this game showed just how good the Seahawks can be and what a dangerous team they are when they have all their weapons. Seattle now has won a franchise record 13 consecutive home games.
Stock watch: Running back Marshawn Lynch scored three touchdowns, two rushing and one receiving. Receiver Doug Baldwin came up big again with an outstretched catch in the corner of the end zone for a 19-yard TD.
Hot Harvin: Everyone quickly learned why receiver Percy Harvin might be worth the $67 million contract the Seahawks paid to get him. In his first game as a Seahawk, Harvin had a 58-yard kickoff return to set up one touchdown, and a spectacular diving 17-yard catch to keep another TD drive alive. He also lined up in the backfield on one play in the third quarter.
Defensive dominance: The only TD for Minnesota came on a rare blown coverage by Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman in the first quarter, but the defense was superb otherwise until a meaningless late TD for Minnesota against Seattle backups long after the outcome was decided. Cornerback Walter Thurmond had a 29-yard pick-six, defensive end Cliff Avril had a sack/forced fumble on Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder, and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner also had an interception. And who would have guessed defensive tackle Clinton McDonald would come up with an interception, thanks to a defection by defensive end Chris Clemons.
Jermaine Kearse suffers possible concussion: That’s the reason Harvin got a chance to return kicks. In what might be the strangest “tackle” of the season, Kearse was running full speed on a first-quarter kickoff when he slammed into Seattle’s J.R. Sweezy like he was hitting a brick wall. Kearse was helped off the field and did not return to the game because of concussion symptoms.
What's next: The Seahawks finally get their bye week and have 15 days before the big Monday night game against the New Orleans Saints at the CLink.
November, 17, 2013
By Josh Weinfuss | ESPN.com
A few thoughts on the Arizona Cardinals' 27-14 victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
What it means: The Cardinals will hear it all week: Sure they won handily, but they beat the Jaguars. It doesn’t matter who Arizona played, what mattered was the Cards didn’t play down to their opponent's level. They started out sluggish, which has become the status quo, but both the offense and defense found a rhythm. Carson Palmer topped 400 yards passing for the first time since Nov. 4, 2012. After allowing the Jags to score their first two touchdowns of the season at home, the Cards' defense held the Jags to just 32 yards on the ground. Sunday’s win was more of a mental boost than anything. It showed that Arizona could win when it needed to, despite a few hiccups. And the offense proved it’s truly coming along to complement a stout defense.
Stock Watch: Michael Floyd was questionable heading into Sunday’s game, and all he did was set a career high with 193 receiving yards, including a 91-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter. His previous high was 166 yards last season against San Francisco, but this is the game Floyd needed. He’s played well, but hasn’t shown that breakout ability that comes with being a first-round pick. The Cards needed Floyd to show he’s capable of being a first option, because too many teams are doubling or bracketing receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
Injured gunners: While their offense was clicking, the Cardinals’ special teams took a major blow when both their gunners went down with injuries. In the first half, Justin Bethel left the game with a concussion and didn’t return. Then in the third quarter, Teddy Williams went down with an Achilles injury and was carted off the field. The Cards’ punt coverage suffered when Bethel went down, then it was rendered almost obsolete without Williams. That could be a turning point for the Cards, who have relied on Bethel to get to punt returners quickly.
Another option: The play calling early in the first quarter was telling for how far the offense has come. Palmer looked for his tight ends early and often, and it helped stretch the Jaguars’ defense. Rob Housler had a season-high 70 yards, Jake Ballard had one catch for 29 yards, and Jim Dray add 18 yards on two catches.
What's next: The Cardinals host Indianapolis next Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium.