NFL Nation: 2010 Week 11 Wrap Ups

Wrap-up: Cowboys 35, Lions 19

November, 21, 2010
11/21/10
8:28
PM ET
A few thoughts on the Detroit Lions' latest road defeat:

What it means: The Lions lost their 26th consecutive road game, falling to 2-8 on the season and 4-22 during the Martin Mayhew-Jim Schwartz regime.

Today's bizarro moment: If you look at the box score, you see that the Dallas Cowboys took the lead for good with nine minutes, 16 seconds remaining in the third quarter on Bryan McCann's 97-yard punt return. What you won't see, of course, is that McCann had decided to let the ball bounce -- he hoped -- into the end zone for a touchback. Lions gunner John Wendling made a nice play to tip the ball away from the goal line. But in a play that can only happen to the Lions, McCann grabbed the ball on an unusually high bounce and raced up the left sideline for the score. The play put the Cowboys up 14-12. What will they come up with next?

Hair-pulling: Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was called for a horse-collar tackle of Cowboys tailback Marion Barber on a key second-down play early in the fourth quarter. In fact, Suh tackled Barber by his hair -- a completely legal play that was confirmed on the FOX broadcast by former NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira. The Cowboys should have faced a third down from their 10-yard line but instead got a new set of downs from the 5, culminating in Miles Austin's 5-yard touchdown reception to extend the Cowboys lead to 28-19. Schwartz's livid reaction was completely justified.

What's next: The Lions have a short week to prepare for their annual Thanksgiving Day game. This year, they're matched up against the 8-2 New England Patriots.

Wrap-up: Bills 49, Bengals 31

November, 21, 2010
11/21/10
8:02
PM ET
Here are some thoughts on the Buffalo Bills' come-from-behind victory over the Cincinnati Bengals:

What it means: It means the Bengals' embarrassing 2010 season has reached a new low as they blew a 21-point lead and lost by 18 points. Receiver Terrell Owens, via the Cincinnati Enquirer, put it succinctly: "We're terrible." The Bengals (2-8) have lost an NFL-high seven straight games. If Cincinnati can lose to Buffalo at home, it's not out of the realm of possibility that the Bengals could drop the rest of the games on their schedule.

What I liked: The Bengals started really fast. Everything was clicking on both sides of the ball as the Bengals took a 28-7 lead in the second quarter. Cincinnati also led 31-14 at halftime. Bengals starting cornerback Johnathan Joseph also had a good game with two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, before getting injured.

What I didn't like: In what's been a season-long trend, the Bengals failed to put together four quarters. Cincinnati came out the locker room not ready to play and was outscored an amazing 35-0 in the third and fourth quarters. Injuries to players like Joseph and safety Chris Crocker had something to do with it, but that's not nearly a big enough excuse to blow a game this bad at home to the woeful Bills.

What's next: Cincinnati's season couldn't end soon enough. But the team has six more games to play, starting on Thanksgiving night against the New York Jets (8-2). It will be a matchup of one of the NFL's hottest teams (New York) against the NFL's coldest (Cincinnati).

Wrap-up: Jaguars 24, Browns 20

November, 21, 2010
11/21/10
7:40
PM ET
Here are some thoughts on the Jacksonville Jaguars' 24-20 come-from-behind win against the Cleveland Browns:

What it means: The Browns once again fail to handle expectations after getting a lot of press for playing tough against the NFL's elite. Cleveland generated some buzz with big wins over New Orleans and New England. But to truly take the next step, the Browns have to beat teams like Jacksonville. In the end, the Browns are just 3-7 and chances look slim to finish at .500 this season.

What I liked: I liked that the Browns forced six turnovers to give their offense a chance to score points. Cleveland's defense faltered down the stretch and will get some blame for the late collapse. But overall the Browns did their job defensively most of the game. Cleveland running back Peyton Hills also did a good job of catching the ball out of the backfield with a team-high 95-yards and a touchdown.

What I didn't like: The Browns' offense only got into the end zone once and their running game surprisingly was non-existent. It was a major reason why Cleveland couldn't hold the lead. Jacksonville kept turning over the football but it also held Hillis to 48 rushing yards on 23 carries (2.3 yards per attempt) to get more chances. A few extra plays by the Browns offensively would have sealed this one. But it's a good lesson for a young team trying to learn how to win consistently.

What's next: This loss kills a lot of momentum for the Browns, but they have a chance to get back on the winning track against the lowly Carolina Panthers (1-9). Cleveland, which has a two-game losing streak, has its easy portion of the schedule coming up and needs to collect as many victories as possible.

Wrap-up: Saints 34, Seahawks 19

November, 21, 2010
11/21/10
7:37
PM ET
Time for a quick look at New Orleans’ 39-19 victory against Seattle.

What it means: Coming out of their bye week, the Saints had an impressive offensive showing as Drew Brees threw four touchdowns and Chris Ivory ran the ball consistently well. That’s a very positive sign for an offense that hadn’t been nearly as explosive as it was last year or earlier in the season. It could mark a turning point and it could be happening at just the right time. The win puts the Saints at 7-3 and very much in contention in the NFC South. Tampa Bay (7-3) and Atlanta (8-2) also won Sunday.

What I liked: Marques Colston caught two touchdown passes against the Seahawks. Although he’s the No. 1 receiver in this offense, Colston went without a touchdown catch through the first six games. He now has four touchdowns in the past four games. The Saints need Colston to remain a big part of the offense down the stretch.

What I didn’t like: The Saints allowed Matt Hasselbeck to throw for 366 yards. That’s too much for any opponent. The defensive backfield was without Malcolm Jenkins, Patrick Robinson and Darren Sharper and that helps explain the big total. But the Saints, who played the run very well, can’t afford many more games in which their pass defense struggles.

What’s next: The Saints face a very quick turnaround, playing a Thanksgiving game at Dallas on Thursday. The Cowboys have won two straight since Jason Garrett took over as head coach. The Saints may have a little grudge because Dallas ended their 13-game winning streak last season. Although the logistics may be challenging, the Saints have experience in that area. Since Sean Payton’s been coaching the Saints, they’ve had to play a game in London and evacuated ahead of hurricanes several times.

Wrap-up: Ravens 37, Panthers 13

November, 21, 2010
11/21/10
7:15
PM ET
Here are some thoughts on the Baltimore Ravens' 37-13 win over the Carolina Panthers:

What it means: Baltimore took care of business and pounced on a struggling Panthers team to improve to 7-3. The Ravens remain in first place in the AFC North via a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3). The teams are heading for a major showdown on Dec. 5 in Baltimore.

What I liked: I like how the Ravens got Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice involved in the both the running and passing game. Rice rushed for 65 yards and a touchdown and also had six catches for an additional 66 yards. Baltimore's offense seems to be at its best when Rice has it going. The Ravens' defense also recorded three sacks and reached the end zone twice. Safety Dawan Landry and linebacker Ray Lewis both had interception returns for touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

What I didn't like: Baltimore's run defense was gashed by Carolina backup running back Mike Goodson, who rushed for 120 yards. I also didn't like how the Ravens waited until late in the fourth quarter to pull away against an inferior team. The Ravens led 20-3 in the second half and had a chance to put the Panthers away much earlier, but allowed back-to-back touchdowns before re-establishing their dominance in the fourth quarter.

What's next: The Ravens have back-to-back home games against playoff contenders, starting next week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Baltimore has to make sure it focuses on the Bucs this week and does not look ahead to a big rematch against the Steelers, which is setting up to be the biggest division game of the 2010 season.

Wrap-up: Falcons 34, Rams 17

November, 21, 2010
11/21/10
7:15
PM ET
A quick review of the Atlanta Falcons' 34-17 victory against the St. Louis Rams.

What it means: The Falcons are 8-2 and no team in the league has more wins. The meeting with St. Louis had the markings of a “trap’’ game, but the Falcons didn’t fall for it. With Tampa Bay and New Orleans both winning to get to 7-3, the Falcons still have sole possession of first place in the NFC South.

What I liked: Atlanta’s offense has hit a point where it’s really clicking. There’s a solid balance between the running game and passing game. Michael Turner rushed for 131 yards, including a late 39-yard touchdown and Matt Ryan threw for 253 yards and two touchdowns. The Falcons dominated time of possession and that’s almost always a good thing.

What I didn’t like: The run defense did a nice job, but the pass defense gave up two touchdown passes to rookie Sam Bradford. With Aaron Rodgers coming to town with the Packers, the pass defense has to be better. It would be a big help if the Falcons get defensive end John Abraham, who sat out with a groin injury against St. Louis, back on the field.

History lesson: Atlanta’s Roddy White went over the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the fourth straight season. He set the team record last year. He also set a team record by reaching 1,000 receiving yards in 10 games.

What’s next: There might be a chance to definitively claim the title as the NFC’s best team next Sunday when the Falcons host the Green Bay Packers (7-3) at the Georgia Dome.

Wrap-up: Falcons 34, Rams 17

November, 21, 2010
11/21/10
7:14
PM ET
Thoughts on the St. Louis Rams' loss to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 11:

What it means: The Rams have improved, but they are struggling to take the next step. They remain alone in second place despite squandering an opportunity to beat a good team at home. The Rams play their next three games on the road. They'll probably need to win one of them to keep pace with the Seattle Seahawks over the next month.

What I liked: Quarterback Sam Bradford continued to protect the football, setting an NFL rookie record for most passes in a row without an interception, according to Elias Sports Bureau. The Falcons did intercept him late in the game. The Rams' offense lacked punch, but Bradford tossed multiple touchdown passes. He completed 27 of 42 passes for 233 yards and a 84.7 rating. Brandon Gibson and Mike Hoomanawanui caught scoring passes.

What I didn't like: The Rams had serious issues on third down. They never really got Steven Jackson going on the ground. Their pass-rush couldn't get to Matt Ryan. The Rams entered the game leading the NFL in sacks, but they had none against the Falcons.

What's next: The Rams visit the Denver Broncos in Week 12.

Wrap-up: Bucs 21, 49ers 0

November, 21, 2010
11/21/10
7:08
PM ET
Thoughts on the San Francisco 49ers' 21-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 11:

What it means: The 49ers severely damaged their NFC West hopes by falling to 3-7 heading into a stretch featuring four road games in five weeks. Their big-play offense wasn't nearly as exciting without the big plays. The 49ers appeared more conservative. The Bucs had something to do with taking away the downfield passes that had made Troy Smith successful in his first two starts as the 49ers' quarterback. Was this one bad game, or has Smith become easier to solve after opponents had a chance to size up his game over a longer period?

What I liked: Inside linebacker Patrick Willis continued to step up his game. He had two sacks and reached double figures in tackles. The 49ers also dramatically reduced their penalty count from last week.

What I didn't like: The 49ers could get nothing going on offense. Last week, a big-play offense overshadowed inefficient play on third down. The team continued to struggle on third down, converting only three times in 12 chances. Frank Gore managed only 23 yards on 12 carries. Smith tossed an interception for the first time this season.

Tomorrow's Talker: Should the 49ers consider going back to Alex Smith at quarterback? Will it matter? Can Mike Singletary salvage his job? This is desperation time for San Francisco. Singletary did not commit to Troy Smith for the remainder of the season. he left open his options. Constantly changing quarterbacks generally is not a good idea, but Troy Smith was not effective Sunday. The continuing third-down issues raise questions about overall offensive health.

What's next: The 49ers visit Arizona for a "Monday Night Football" game at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Wrap-up: Buccaneers 21, 49ers 0

November, 21, 2010
11/21/10
7:06
PM ET
Time to wrap up Tampa Bay’s 21-0 victory against San Francisco.

What it means: The Bucs are 7-3. This victory wasn’t as dominant as the score might indicate, but who cares? When you go across the country and win, it shows you’re a good football team. We’ll keep in mind it came against a bad San Francisco team with Troy Smith as the quarterback. But a shutout in the NFL is still hard to come by. This isn’t the dominating Tampa Bay defense of old but this kind of game builds confidence. The Bucs generated a steady pass rush for the first time all year and the run defense also had perhaps its best showing.

What I liked: Undrafted rookie running back LeGarrette Blount continues to impress and he ran with plenty of power against San Francisco. But the best news of all with Blount is that he still has plenty of room for improvement. At the moment, he’s just getting by with power and athleticism. He can take his game to another level if he can learn to hit the right hole and make better decisions.

What I didn’t like: The Bucs used Josh Johnson in the Wildcat formation as the quarterback a couple times and had success. They also used the backup quarterback as a receiver on a couple of plays, but that didn’t result in anything. There’s no doubt Johnson is a good athlete. Maybe I’m old school but I believe you only use gimmicks like the Wildcat formation when you don’t have a real quarterback. With Josh Freeman, the Bucs have a very real quarterback and it doesn’t make sense to take the ball out of his hands.

The rise continues: Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, the third overall pick in the draft, got off to a slow start. But he’s come on strong the past couple games. That continued against the 49ers as McCoy had a sack and put pressure on the quarterback several times while turning in a solid game against the run.

Earning his salary: The Bucs gave left tackle Donald Penn a huge contract in the preseason. Penn’s responded by having a very solid year as a blocker. But he elevated his game to a new level Sunday. On a tackle-eligible play, Penn caught a touchdown pass from Freeman in the fourth quarter.

What’s next: The Buccaneers travel to Baltimore to play the Ravens on Sunday. Initially scheduled for a 1 p.m. start, this game already has been “flexed’’ to 4:15 p.m. ET.

Wrap-up: Jets 30, Texans 27

November, 21, 2010
11/21/10
5:58
PM ET
Some thoughts on the Houston Texans' 30-27 loss to the New York Jets.

What it means: The Texans fell to 4-6 with another terrible loss and are in last place in the AFC South.

What I didn’t like: Shockingly, the Texans gave up big pass plays at crucial moments, with a big gainer to Braylon Edwards and a last-second touchdown to Santonio Holmes. It’s hard to match the devastation that came with last week’s Hail Mary loss in Jacksonville, but Houston actually managed to do it. Mark Sanchez seemed able to complete slant passes at will, and the Texans struggling pass defense never seemed to find an answer for it.

What I liked: A 20-point fourth-quarter that brought them back from a big deficit and put them in front. But see “What I didn’t like” for what became of that. Arian Foster had a bad fumble, but his 28 touches turned into 143 yards and two touchdowns. Joel Dreessen did well with a 43-yard catch and run in wide open spaces that got the Texans within six midway through the fourth quarter.

Hot topic: What sort of resolve and mental toughness do this team have and how does Gary Kubiak factor in to it? We’ve had that discussion time and time again. It’s not losing any of its volume with this loss compounding last week’s.

What’s next: The Texans host the Titans for the first of the two meetings between the division rivals.

Wrap-up: Steelers 35, Raiders 3

November, 21, 2010
11/21/10
5:33
PM ET
Wrapping up the Oakland Raiders' 35-3 loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

What it means: After an eight-year wait, the Raiders’ visit to first place in the AFC West didn’t last long. Oakland is now 5-5 and trails Kansas City, 6-4, by a game in the AFC West race after this rough day. Oakland has lost eight straight times after its bye. This was a chance for Oakland, which had won three straight games, to put the AFC on notice. But the Steelers showed the Raiders they have a ways to go before being considered an AFC contender. Pittsburgh battered Oakland and seemed to enjoy it.

Tomorrow’s talker: Oakland coach Tom Cable didn’t waste time pulling out quarterback controversy talk. He said Jason Campbell will start next week against Miami. Bruce Gradkowski replaced a struggling Campbell in the third quarter. Neither player was effective. Campbell was 7 of 19 for 70 yards with an interception, Gradkowski was 13 of 24 for 98 yards. I’m surprised Cable made the decision to go back to Campbell so soon after a poor performance. I get the feeling this storyline isn’t over for the season.

Trending: The Steelers stuffed Oakland’s run game. Oakland entered the game with the No. 2 ranked run offense in the NFL. Pittsburgh had the No. 1 run defense in the league. It was no contest. Oakland had 61 yards on 16 carries. Oakland running back Darren McFadden, who entered the game leading the NFL in per-game rushing yardage, had 14 yards on 10 carries. After improving of late, Oakland’s offensive line took a step back and was toyed with by Pittsburgh’s defensive front, hurting the run game.

Bad decision: It will be interesting to see how the league handles Oakland defensive lineman Richard Seymour after he was ejected for popping Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the face after Roethlisberger accidently bumped into Seymour while celebrating a touchdown. Seymour should expect a hefty fine, at least.

What’s next: Oakland has a winnable home game Sunday against struggling Miami. The Raiders need to win this game and get to 6-5 if they want to stay in the race.

Wrap-up: Redskins 19, Titans 16 OT

November, 21, 2010
11/21/10
5:20
PM ET
Some quick thoughts on the Washington Redskins' clutch 19-16 win over the Tennessee Titans.

What it means: This is an enormous win for a team that was thoroughly embarrassed by the Philadelphia Eagles Monday. The Redskins faced a lot of adversity in this game with at least eight players having to leave for some time due to injury. And it's not like Washington was at full strength at the beginning. Quarterback Donovan McNabb showed excellent poise in leading a two-minute drill at the end of regulation and then he again put the Skins in position to win the game in overtime. McNabb finished the game 30-of-50 for 376 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Playing behind a patchwork offensive line, McNabb used his feet to extend plays and deliver strikes downfield. He had the one bad interception in the first half, but I still think this was his best performance of the season.

McNabb's play of the game: With the Redskins starting from their own 13-yard line in overtime, McNabb avoided a sack and launched the ball to tight end Chris Cooley for a 26-yard gain on first down. The Redskins certainly had help on the game-winning drive with two 15-yard penalties on the Titans, but McNabb's throw to Cooley got things off to a good start. If Cooley was able to keep on his feet on the play, he had a chance at a touchdown.

Injuries everywhere: The Redskins can't even get running backs through pregame warmups without getting injured. The Skins were down to two running backs because Chad Simpson injured himself before the game. Clinton Portis got off to a quick start with 32 yards on five carries, but then he re-injured his groin and had to leave the game.You have to hand it to Keiland Williams, who ran the ball 23 times for 68 yards and also caught six passes.

The Redskins' defense continued to get the job done despite losing players to injuries. The Titans moved the ball with Chris Johnson on the ground, but they never punched the ball in the end zone against the Skins. Tennessee's only touchdown came on a punt return. Washington had 17 more first downs than the Titans and nearly 100 more total yards on offense. But the Titans win games like these, as the Giants, Eagles and Cowboys will attest. Of course, knocking Titans quarterback Vince Young out of the game in the third quarter didn't hurt the Skins' cause. Third-stringer Rusty Smith had one long completion to set up a field goal, but he threw a crucial interception to Phillip Buchanon and then struggled in overtime. I'll never understand why the Titans didn't simply keep feeding the ball to Johnson in overtime. Putting the game in Smith's hands after Johnson had opened with a 15-yard run was a baffling call by the Titans.

What's next: It's hard to believe, but the Skins (5-5) could hop right back into the playoff picture with a win at home over the struggling Vikings next Sunday. And then it's off to New Meadowlands Stadium to face the New York Giants. That's suddenly looking like a pretty good game Dec. 5.

Wrap-up: Chiefs 31, Cardinals 13

November, 21, 2010
11/21/10
5:00
PM ET
A look at a big day in Kansas City where the Chiefs beat Arizona 31-13.

What it means: The Chiefs are back in first place by themselves. Kansas City is 6-4 and is in good shape with six games to go. Oakland was hammered, 35-3, in Pittsburgh, so the Chiefs have a one-game lead over the Raiders. Kansas City fell into a tie (Oakland owned the tiebreaker) with an embarrassing 49-29 loss at Denver last week. The Chiefs came into the Arizona game, in which Kansas City coach Todd Haley beat his former team, with two straight losses. Kansas City is 5-0 at New Arrowhead Stadium.

Tomorrow’s talker: The Kansas City run game, ranked No. 1 in the NFL, had a bounce-back game after two subpar performances. Kansas City used the run game the way it wanted to -- with both Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones hammering the ball. Charles had 88 yards on 12 carries and Jones had 71 yards on 15 carries. Kansas City finished with 159 yards rushing. Quarterback Matt Cassel added 193 yards and two touchdowns. Cassel had a passer’s rating of 115.5 as the run as the run allowed Cassel to manage the game efficiently. This is how the Chiefs win games.

Trending: Dwayne Bowe is playing well. After a 13-catch, 186-yard performance in Denver, Bowe had six catches for 109 yards Sunday. He is Cassel’s favorite target again and set a team record Sunday by catching a touchdown pass in his sixth straight game.

What’s next: Kansas City has a winnable game at Seattle on Sunday. If the Chiefs can end its four-game road losing streak, they will be in fine shape in the AFC West.

Wrap-up: Redskins 19, Titans 16 OT

November, 21, 2010
11/21/10
4:59
PM ET
Thoughts on the Titans’ 19-16 loss against the Redskins at LP Field.

What it means: The Titans fell to 5-5, a game behind Jacksonville and a game or two behind Indianapolis depending on the Colts-Patriots result.

What I didn’t like: Three penalties on the Redskins' last possession, by Jason Babin, Will Witherspoon and Alterraun Verner, helped set up Graham Gano’s game-winning 48-yard field goal.

What I didn’t like, Part II: Santana Moss had way too much room way too often in the Tennessee secondary. The tackling was poor, particularly against the running backs who found room around the edges and on a play like Fred Davis’ 23-yard catch and run. And against a terrible third-down team, Tennessee allowed the Redskins to convert 50 percent. The Titans couldn’t find an offensive touchdown all day.

What I liked: Marc Mariani showed great feel on his 87-yard punt return for a touchdown, which did a lot to make up for a lack of offense. Rob Bironas was automatic on three field-goal attempts.

Injury concerns: Vince Young lost a fumble early on and too often held the ball when defenders were closing in on him in a way that begs to be stripped. He banged the thumb on his throwing hand and yielded to rookie Rusty Smith. Jason Jones left the game early with a knee injury and didn’t return.

Up and down: Smith settled in and hit Nate Washington with a big 52-yard pass that positioned the Titns for a go-ahead field goal with just under 9 minutes left in regulation. But he threw a bad interception to Phillip Buchanan while aiming for Washington not long after, and finished just 3 of 9 for 62 yards.

What’s next: The Titans head for Houston to play just their second AFC South game of the season. The loser will fall under .500 and set up a super difficult route to a playoff berth.

Wrap-up: Bills 49, Bengals 31

November, 21, 2010
11/21/10
4:45
PM ET
A few thoughts on Buffalo's win over Cincinnati:

What it means: The Bills are on a winning streak. A week after their first victory of the season, the Bills seemed on the verge of getting annihilated at Paul Brown Stadium. They trailed 28-7 in the second quarter, but surged in the second half to crush the Bengals.

How they did it: The Bills scored 35 unanswered points after the intermission to flip a blowout loss into a blowout victory. The Bills entered the game with two interceptions all year, but in the second half intercepted Carson Palmer twice and recovered a Cedric Benson fumble. Drayton Florence returned the fumble 27 yards for a touchdown.

The villain as a hero: Steve Johnson scrawled "Why so serious?" on his undershirt in homage to The Joker, a role Johnson wanted to play against the self-proclaimed Batman and Robin, Bengals receivers Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco. Johnson finished with eight catches for 137 yards and three touchdowns. Batman and Robin combined for six receptions, 91 yards and two touchdowns.

Unhappy returns: Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick played poorly for much of his first game back in Cincinnati, where he spent two seasons and started a dozen games. Fitzpatrick threw two first-half interceptions to Johnathan Joseph, who returned one of them 21 yards for a touchdown to put Cincinnati up 28-7.

Happy returns: Fitzpatrick rebounded in the second half to complete seven of 10 throws for 139 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions. In two seasons with Buffalo, he already has 27 touchdown passes, two more than Trent Edwards had in his three-plus seasons.

High-profile inactives: The Bills scratched four first-round draft choices: running back C.J. Spiller (injured), defensive lineman John McCargo (healthy) and outside linebackers Aaron Maybin (healthy) and Shawne Merriman (injured).

What's next: The Bills welcome the Pittsburgh Steelers to Ralph Wilson Stadium in Week 12.

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