NFL Nation: 2011 Week 10 Wrap-ups

Wrap-up: Titans 30, Panthers 3

November, 13, 2011
Thoughts on Carolina’s 30-3 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday at Bank of America Stadium:

What it means: A few weeks ago, when the Panthers defeated the Washington Redskins, it looked like this young team had a great opportunity to turn the corner. Home games with the Vikings and Titans were coming up and they looked winnable. Instead, the Panthers lost them both. They’re 2-7 and the early hope that rookie quarterback Cam Newton brought is fading a bit. Earlier in the season, it looked like the Carolina offense could score against anyone. The Panthers couldn’t even get into the end zone against the Titans.

Slump busters: There will be a lot of stories about how Tennessee running back Chris Johnson snapped out of a season-long funk as he rushed for 130 yards and a touchdown. I wouldn’t go declaring that Johnson’s slump is over. I’d make the case that he was simply going up a defense that can’t stop the run.

Nobody’s coming to the rescue: Perhaps the most discouraging thing about the rest of the Carolina’s season is that it’s highly unlikely the defense is going to show any signs of improvement. Season-ending injuries to linebackers Jon Beason and Thomas Davis and defensive tackle Ron Edwards were beyond devastating. The Panthers simply didn’t have much depth behind him. The defensive problems can’t be fixed until next year, when some of the injured players return and the Panthers have a full offseason to reload their defense.

This is never a good sign: Legedu Naanee led the Panthers with eight catches for 75 yards. Naanee’s not a threat. Steve Smith, who is a huge threat, was held to five catches for 33 yards. He’s been outstanding all season, but Smith didn’t have a catch go for more than 15 yards on Sunday.

What’s next: The Panthers travel to Detroit next Sunday to play the Lions at Ford Field.

Wrap-up: Texans 37, Buccaneers 9

November, 13, 2011
Thoughts on Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 37-9 loss to the Houston Texas on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium:

What it means: The Buccaneers have been searching for an identity all season. Looks like they finally found it. They are a mediocre team with problems in a lot of places on offense and defense. They’re 4-5 and have to face the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers next. Coach Raheem Morris has been saying all year that his team’s goal is to win the NFC South. That’s probably not going to happen, unless the Bucs suddenly get dramatically better and the Saints stumble.

Same old story: Tampa Bay’s offense started off the way it has pretty much all season -- very slowly. The Bucs didn’t score their first points until Connor Barth hit a field goal just before halftime. They didn’t score their touchdown until the fourth quarter. Maybe the Bucs should take a lesson from former coach Sam Wyche. Back in the mid-1990s, the Bucs were starting poorly after halftime. So Wyche actually had his team practice its halftime routine. Maybe the current Tampa Bay offense should practice starting a game.

Albert’s Army: The Bucs picked up defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth during the week because injuries had left them thin in the middle of the defensive line. Haynesworth was fairly active, making four tackles. But the problems on Tampa Bay’s defense go way deeper than the middle of the defensive line. Matt Schaub only had to attempt 15 passes, but he threw for 242 yards and two touchdowns and the Texans had no problem running the ball.

Insult to injury: Derrick Ward, the same guy who was a free-agent bust with the Bucs, ran for a touchdown against his former team.

What’s next: The Bucs travel to Green Bay to play the Packers next Sunday.

Wrap-up: Seahawks 22, Ravens 17

November, 13, 2011
Thoughts on the Seattle Seahawks' 22-17 home victory against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 10:

What it means: The Seahawks beat a good team for the second time this season, improving to 3-6 heading into a favorable four-game stretch of the schedule. Win or lose, Seattle needed to build upon its recent success on the ground. That happened early in the game against a stout Ravens run defense, and again late in the game as Marshawn Lynch ground out 100-plus yards on the ground. The team lost rookie left guard John Moffitt to a knee injury, however, throwing off their plan for the line. The Seahawks also lost their most promising rookie, receiver Doug Baldwin, and their best receiver, Sidney Rice, to head injuries. But with the schedule lightening up, Seattle has a shot at threatening its seven-win total from last season.

What I liked: The Seahawks' defense took the game to Baltimore and prevented the Ravens from getting going on the ground or through the air. This was exactly the type of performance the Seahawks needed from their defense against a team that had scored at least 23 points in six of its eight games this season. Seattle scored its third-highest total of the season in part because the defense and special teams forced turnovers. Seattle built a 22-10 lead through three quarters thanks to four field-goal drives beginning at the Baltimore 19-, 42-, 18- and 4-yard lines. Lynch found running room early, helping the Seahawks jump to a 10-0 lead, gaining confidence. Lynch carried 32 times for 109 yards overall. David Hawthorne's interception was another big play for the Seahawks.

What I didn't like: The injuries were potentially costly. Strong safety Kam Chancellor, one of the best young players in the division, was also hurt. The Seahawks kept having to settle for field goals despite taking over in Ravens territory.

Divisional, uh, dominance: The NFC West went 4-0 during Week 10. That means no "silver linings" files for Monday.

What's next: The Seahawks visit the St. Louis Rams in Week 11.

Wrap-up: Titans 30, Panthers 3

November, 13, 2011
Thoughts on the Tennessee Titans’ 30-3 win against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium:

What it means: The Titans got back over .500, improving to 5-4 with a trouncing of the Panthers. Tennessee looked a lot more like the team that raised expectations in big performances against the Ravens and Browns this season. The Titans will have a chance to pull within a game and a tiebreaker of the Texans in the AFC South next week.

What I liked, offense: Chris Johnson had his biggest effort of the season, with 27 carries for 130 rushing yards and a touchdown to go with four catches for 44 yards. Matt Hasselbeck found connections with Damian Williams, who looked like a dependable, dangerous threat in the passing game with five catches for 107 yards including a 43-yard touchdown.

What I liked, defense: A team that’s struggled to get consistent pressure on the quarterback found five sacks of Cam Newton to go with a Chris Hope interception. The Titans didn’t allow a pass play longer than 19 yards.

What I didn’t like: The Titans were just 3-for-13 on third down, a rate that won’t cut it against a higher-caliber team going forward. Nine penalties for 92 yards are too many for too much.

What’s next: The Titans head for Atlanta for a second consecutive game against an NFC South foe. If they can improve to 6-4, they’ll be only a game and a head-to-head loss off the pace of idle Houston in the division.

Wrap-up: Jaguars 17, Colts 3

November, 13, 2011

Thoughts on the Jacksonville Jaguars 17-3 win over the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium:

What it means: The Colts remain winless, dropping to 0-10 after failing to find the end zone against the Jaguars. Jacksonville, meanwhile, climbed to 3-6 with the win, showing the gap between third and fourth place in the AFC South.

What I liked, Jaguars: The defense continued to show it can be the core of this team, with five sacks, two interceptions and a fumble recovery. Jeremy Mincey accounted for 2.5 of the sacks. On offense, Maurice Jones-Drew made sure he helped control the game with 114 rushing yards and a score on 25 carries. Jacksonville won time of possession 35:21 to 24:39.

What I didn’t like, Colts: We’ve heard about how Curtis Painter is getting better in practice, but his play got him pulled in favor of Dan Orlovsky in the fourth quarter for the second week in a row. Three sacks, two picks and a fumbled snap he managed to recover didn’t amount to pieces of an effort that was close to good enough to win with.

Good enough: There aren’t too many games rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert will win with his stat line. But against the Colts, 14-of-21 for 118 yards with a touchdown pass, an interception and two sacks was enough.

Emerging, again: Tight end Jacob Tamme shined in 2010 after Dallas Clark was hurt. With Clark and Brody Eldridge out with injuries, Tamme was central for the Colts again and pulled in a game-high six catches for 75 yards, including the game’s long play of 29 yards.

Red zone revealing: The Jaguars were two-for-three in the red zone, finding the two touchdowns that were the difference. The Colts failed to find the end zone in two trips inside the 10.

What’s next: The Jaguars travel to Cleveland with a chance to put together a two-game winning streak. The Colts have a week off before hosting Carolina.

Wrap-up: Rams 13, Browns 12

November, 13, 2011
Thoughts on the Cleveland Browns' 13-12 loss to the visiting St. Louis Rams:

What it means: The Rams (2-7) didn't win this game. The Browns lost it. The Browns fell for the fifth time in six games, including three straight. Cleveland dropped to 3-6 as St. Louis ended a six-game losing streak on the road. With no touchdowns against third-worst scoring defense, the Browns have just two touchdowns in their past four games. The fans' discontent reached a season high as boos could be heard throughout Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Thumbs down: Browns' execution, or lack thereof. Cleveland only had to make a 22-yard field goal to take the lead with two minutes left in the game, but the snap hit the leg of Browns lineman Alex Mack which threw off the timing of Dawson's kick (which sailed left). This was one of many errors in another embarrassing loss.

Trying to do too much: Josh Cribbs, who scored the only two touchdowns the past four weeks, fumbled on a punt return. It gave the ball to the Rams at the Browns' 30-yard line and led to the eventual winning field goal midway through the fourth quarter. But when an offense is struggling this much, sometimes players press to make plays when they should play it safe.

Run over again: The Browns allowed 100 yards rushing to the seventh running back in nine games when Steven Jackson ran for 128 yards. He averaged 4.7 yards per carry.

What's next: The Browns remain home against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are coming off a road win at Indianapolis.

Wrap-up: Broncos 17, Chiefs 10

November, 13, 2011

A look a game with major AFC West implications:

What it means: The Oakland Raiders control the AFC West. Oakland, which beat San Diego on Thursday, is 5-4. The other three teams in the AFC West are 4-5. With the victory, Denver stayed in the division race.

Tomorrow’s talker: It’s all about Tim Tebow. The Broncos won despite Tebow completing just two passes. He was 2 of 8 for 69 yards. According to ESPN Stats & Information, it was the first time in Denver history that they won a game completing two or fewer passes. The only other team in the last 25 years to win a game with two or fewer pass completions and have only one quarterback attempt a pass was the Browns in Week 5 of 2009 at the Bills. The quarterback was Derek Anderson, who went 2-for-17. Denver is 3-1 with Tebow as their quarterback this season.

Broncos’ running backs are banged up: Denver lost both Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno to injuries. Yet, Denver ran for 244 yards. Lance Ball had 96 yards on 30 carries. Tebow added 43 yards on nine rushes. Denver has led the NFL in rushing the past five weeks.

Chiefs are inept: After winning four straight games to go 4-3, the Chiefs have reverted to the poor play of the early season. The Chiefs were particularly out of sorts on offense. If Kansas City doesn’t quickly regroup, it could fall out of the division race again.

Back-to-back bliss: The Broncos have won two straight games for the first time in 29 games. It breaks the NFL’s current longest streak with back-to-back wins.

Cassel sinking: Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel has not been good the past four games. He has completed 67 of 129 pass attempts for 768 yards, two touchdowns and five interceptions. He threw for just 93 yards Sunday. He left the game late with an apparent injury to his non-throwing arm.

What’s next: Denver has a quick turnaround as it hosts the New York Jets on Thursday. The Chiefs begin a brutal five-week stretch at New England on "Monday Night Football" on Nov. 21.

Wrap-up: Cardinals 21, Eagles 17

November, 13, 2011

Thoughts on the Arizona Cardinals' 21-17 victory at Philadelphia in Week 10:

What it means: The Cardinals improved to 3-6 with their second harrowing victory in a row. They ended a streak of 11 consecutive road defeats. Backup quarterback John Skelton improved to 4-2 as the Cardinals' starter, fueling questions about whether he should remain in the lineup ahead of injured starter Kevin Kolb. Skelton was up-and-down in this game, throwing a pair of costly interceptions deep in Cardinals territory, one returned for a touchdown. But he made key plays in the clutch, throwing the tying fourth-quarter touchdown pass for the second week in a row. This time, Skelton also threw the winning touchdown pass. Kolb, meanwhile, has a 1-6 starting record. Kolb has to be the starter when healthy given what the Cardinals have invested in him, but with the team winning two in a row with Skelton, the pressure on Kolb is growing.

What I liked: The Cardinals' defensive plan appeared sound. Arizona pressured and shadowed Michael Vick without giving up too much in the secondary. The matchups became easier for Philadelphia once the Eagles made receiver DeSean Jackson a surprise inactive. Rookie cornerback Patrick Peterson fared well against Jeremy Maclin, who suffered a shoulder injury and left the game. The defensive stop Arizona made on an early fourth-and-2 gave the Cardinals momentum early. Adrian Wilson's interception in the end zone, though nullified by penalty, was an impressive play. Calais Campbell's interception in the red zone continued a run of big plays from the defensive end and free agent-to-be. The offensive staff did a good job getting Andre Roberts involved, a trend since Skelton took over for Kolb. Roberts' gain on a rushing play set up Larry Fitzgerald's first touchdown reception of the game. The fourth-quarter scoring pass Fitzgerald caught came on a tipped pass, giving him 70 career touchdown receptions and moving him past Roy Green for the franchise career record. Skelton has now thrown the tying fourth-quarter touchdown pass in consecutive games. Skelton threw the winning touchdown pass to Early Doucet. Cornerback A.J. Jefferson clinched the victory with a late interception.

What I didn't like: Skelton's pick-six interception from deep in Cardinals territory was costly. Skelton appeared to telegraph his intentions on the play. This was a close, low-scoring game. Skelton's error and two missed field goals from Jay Feely forced the Cardinals to play catchup unnecessarily. Their margin for error appears too slim to tolerate those types of issues -- most Sundays, anyway.

What's next: The Cardinals visit the San Francisco 49ers in Week 11.

Wrap-up: Cowboys 44, Bills 7

November, 13, 2011

Here are some thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys' 44-7 blowout victory over the Buffalo Bills:

What it means: Buffalo continues its slide down the standings in ugly fashion. The Bills are 2-4 since their 3-0 start. The last two weeks Buffalo was drilled by Dallas and the New York Jets by a combined score of 71-18. Expect plenty of doubters to start writing off the Bills as a true contender to win the AFC East. They certainly didn't look the part on Sunday. Dallas dominated the game from the beginning, taking a 28-7 halftime lead, and Buffalo never had a chance. It was a disappointing start for the Bills in their pivotal, three-game road trip.

What I didn't like: Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo had a field day against Buffalo's inconsistent pass defense. Romo started the game by completing 18 of his first 19 passes and threw three touchdowns in the first half. The Bills did a poor job of pressuring Romo and covering the Cowboys' receivers, who were without starter Miles Austin. Buffalo's spread offense also didn't produce. The Bills and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick registered just 98 total yards in the first half. By the start of the second half Buffalo was down three touchdowns and never got back into it. Fitzpatrick, who has a reputation for being streaky, continued his downward spiral. He threw for 146 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Fitzpatrick took several big hits in the game and looked very rushed and shaken by the pressure by the second half.

What I liked: There wasn't much to like from Buffalo's perspective. But tailback Fred Jackson had a productive homecoming. Jackson, who grew up in Arlington, Texas, rushed for 114 yards. Dallas native and Bills receiver David Nelson also caught four receptions for 31 yards and a touchdown in the second quarter. After the score, Nelson gave the football to his girlfriend, who is a Cowboys cheerleader. But those were the few highlights for Buffalo.

Big injury: The Bills lost starting center Eric Wood to a right leg injury in the third quarter. Wood needed help coming off the field and didn't return. Buffalo has been hurt on the offensive line all season. Losing Wood for any amount of time would be a huge blow.

What's next: Buffalo's next two games against a pair of division opponents could determine its season. The Bills will continue their three-game road swing next week against the Miami Dolphins. The Bills also have a rematch against the New York Jets at the Meadowlands on Nov. 27.

Wrap-up: Rams 13, Browns 12

November, 13, 2011

Thoughts on the St. Louis Rams' 13-12 road victory over the Cleveland Browns in Week 10:

What it means: The Rams improved to 2-7 and made it impossible for the San Francisco 49ers to clinch the NFC West title with victories in Week 10-11. Their second victory of the season put them two games ahead of still-winless Indianapolis for those charting whether the Rams could finish with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft. The Rams' special teams earned some redemption after a rough game last week. The Browns' inability to execute a clean snap for the go-ahead field goal proved costly.

What I liked: Brandon Lloyd continued to provide the Rams with the top-shelf receiving threat they've been lacking in recent years. The one-handed grab he made along the sideline comes to mind. The Rams lead the NFL in dropped passes this season and haven't been able to make the spectacular play. Lloyd is changing those dynamics. His touchdown reception helped the Rams take a 10-9 lead into halftime. Steven Jackson continued running with authority, plowing over defenders and even teammates when necessary. He topped 100 yards rushing for the third game in a row. Newly signed linebacker David Nixon forced Josh Cribbs to fumble during a fourth-quarter punt return, setting up the Rams inside the Cleveland 30-yard line.

What I didn't like: Bradford struggled with tipped passes and had one of them picked off by Scott Fujita. With Jackson and Lloyd performing at a high level, Bradford should be more productive even at less than full strength. This was his 12th game in a row with fewer than two touchdown passes. Injuries were also a downer for the Rams in this game. Left tackle Rodger Saffold did not return after suffering a blow to the head. Bradford, playing with a bad left ankle, left the game for one play. Safety Darian Stewart, one of the team's top young defenders, suffered a neck injury in the second half and left the game. Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui left with a knee injury.

What's next: The Rams are home against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 11.

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.

Wrap-up: Dolphins 20, Redskins 9

November, 13, 2011

Here are some thoughts on the Miami Dolphins' 20-9 victory against the Washington Redskins:

What it means: After an awful 0-7 start, the Dolphins have won two straight. The victory against the Redskins also was Miami's first home win at Sun Life Stadium this season. The Dolphins are playing hard in the second half of the season under embattled head coach Tony Sparano, who continues to audition for his job beyond this season.

What I liked: Miami running back Reggie Bush continues to have his best stretch of the season. Bush didn't register a lot of yards. But he scored both of Miami's touchdowns on the ground, including a fourth-quarter score with 6:17 remaining to seal the game. The Dolphins' defense also took advantage of Washington's rotating door at quarterback. Former Dolphins quarterback John Beck didn't play in his return to Miami. He was benched Sunday in favor of Rex Grossman, who struggled and threw two costly interceptions for Washington.

What I didn't like: There's not much to complain about with Miami's performance. But if I had to nitpick, Miami starting quarterback Matt Moore didn't play as well as last week. He had two key turnovers in the first half (one interception, one fumble) that kept Washington in the game until the fourth quarter. Moore finished with 209 yards and two turnovers. He needs to be more consistent in taking care of the football.

What's next: The Dolphins (2-7) will host the Buffalo Bills (5-4) in their first of two meetings this season. With Buffalo struggling and Miami playing its best football of the season, it could be anyone's game next week at Sun Life Stadium.


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