NFL Nation: 2010 Week 7 Decisive Moment AFC

AFC North Week 7 decisive moment

October, 26, 2010
10/26/10
1:07
PM ET
NFC Decisive Moments: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

For the first time in a long time, Cleveland Browns linebacker David Bowens was an afterthought on his team. There were rumors of the 12-year veteran being released after training camp, and although that didn't take place, Bowens was inactive or received little playing time in Cleveland's first six games.

But Bowens showed great professionalism by not complaining and staying ready. His number was called Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, and the veteran had two interceptions for touchdowns off Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees. Those plays proved to be the difference in Cleveland's 30-17 upset of the reigning Super Bowl champions.

Bowens, a backup, surprisingly scored more touchdowns (two) Sunday than the Browns' offense (one). His interception returns of 30 yards and 64 yards came in the second and fourth quarters, respectively. Bowens doubled his career total for interceptions, and it couldn't have come at a better time for Cleveland, which improved to 2-5 heading into its bye week.

The NFL is full of unpredictability, and Bowens proved that fortunes can change quickly by staying prepared. He set a good example for plenty of young players in Cleveland's locker room last week.

AFC East Week 7 decisive moment

October, 26, 2010
10/26/10
1:06
PM ET
NFC Decisive Moments: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


For the second straight weekend, the AFC East consisted of nothing but razor-close contests. In any of those games, we can find several instances where a single play would've altered the outcome.

Sunday's decisive moment, however, wasn't a play. It was a ruling.

Referee Gene Steratore and his crew denied the Miami Dolphins a miracle victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Sun Life Stadium because video replay couldn't absolutely confirm what the crowd thought it saw.

We've all watched the replays and summations, but just in case: On third-and-goal from the 2 and with Miami up by two points and 2:37 to play, Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger scrambled for the end zone; Miami safety Chris Clemons forced a fumble at the goal line; a touchdown was signaled; a video challenge showed the fumble, but not who recovered it, although Miami linebacker Ikaika Alama-Francis emerged with the ball.

That play isn't the reason why the Dolphins lost. Head coach Tony Sparano lamented a lack of red zone production, his two-minute offense, missed tackles and kickoff coverage.

But Sparano explained why his team has the right to feel robbed.

"From my end I feel like all the proper steps were taken in that scenario at the end of game," Sparano said. "One being, you ask your player to make a play, and our player goes in and puts his facemask right on the football just like you coach it -- legal hit, all the things that we talk about.

"It's not relevant how it got [to the 2-yard line] there or any of those things. That was the play in that situation. ... At the end of the day, you don't control the situation, just the proper steps were took. The [red challenge] flag was thrown. We reviewed the play. We win the challenge. I mean, it was a fumble."

One snap later, Jeff Reed kicked an 18-yard field goal. The Steelers won 23-22.

AFC West Week 7 decisive moment

October, 26, 2010
10/26/10
1:01
PM ET
NFC Decisive Moments: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

After dominating on defense for three quarters, but undermining themselves with turnovers and special-teams gaffes, the San Diego Chargers caught fire in the fourth quarter Sunday against visiting New England.

The Chargers outscored the Patriots 17-3 in the first 10:59 of the quarter to cut the New England lead to 23-20. San Diego was, indeed, charging.

Then it gave itself real life when it stopped New England on its 47 with 1:55 remaining when the Patriots went for it on fourth-and-1 from their 49. The Chargers had everything going for themselves. They quickly got a first down at the 35, but two incompletions suddenly put the Chargers in a third-and-10 situation with 1:14 to go. Quarterback Philip Rivers hit tight end Antonio Gates --playing at about 65 percent with a toe injury that kept him out of practice all week -- for an 8-yard gain to make it fourth-and-2 from the 27.

It was time to kick a field goal. The Chargers felt good that new kicker Kris Brown -- who was playing for the injured Nate Kaeding -- was about to attempt a manageable 45-yarder to tie the score.

But it’s never that easy for San Diego, especially when it comes to special teams. Guard Louis Vasquez was called for a false start, adding to the Chargers’ maddening litany of special-teams issues.

Now, it was a 50-yarder. Tough; very tough.

And it was no good, as the ball bounced off the goal post, adding to the Chargers’ season-long misery. The Chargers did so much right in the sequence, but they made enough silly miscues to undo themselves again.

AFC South Week 7 decisive moment

October, 26, 2010
10/26/10
1:01
PM ET
NFC Decisive Moments: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Poised to boost their lead to 23-7 or at least 19-7 with just under six minutes left in the third quarter Sunday, the Eagles had a first-and-goal from the Tennessee 3-yard line.

But Tennessee right defensive tackle Jason Jones knifed through center Mike McGlynn and right guard Max Jean-Gilles barely touched and got to quarterback Kevin Kolb, disrupting his attempt to hand off to LeSean McCoy.

Cornerback Alterraun Verner pounced on the loose ball to gain possession, continuing the Titans' excellent red zone defense. Tennessee drove 74 yards to a field goal that cut the lead to 16-10 and the flow of the game changed.

Tennessee went on to win 37-19, a score that looked like a rout.

As much as Chris Johnson and Vince Young, Jones and Verner are the kind of players who are making the Titans work and work very well right now.

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