NFL 2011–Week 11 Recap

Veterans Day was 11-11-11. This week brings us NFL Week 11 of 2011.

Ok, enough numerology. This column is about football. Time for the NFL 2011 Week 11 Recap.

New York Jets @ Denver Broncos was the Thursday night game. Tim Tebow manages to win games while throwing for almost 0 yards. The kid has intangibles, but at some point he may have to throw the ball to win. As for the Jets, Rex Ryan again saw his team lose to New England and end talk about the changing of the guard.

After a touchback Tebow went straight to the air and found Thomas for a 28 yard gain. Tebow led Denver to a 4th and 1 at the Jets 21, and Jon Fox decided to go for it. Willis McGahee got stopped by Gang Green as the Jets took over. The Jets went 3 and out, but a shanked punt went only 13 yards. The Broncos took over at the Jets 34. Matt Prater would hit a 37 yard field goal to put the Broncos up 3-0.

At the end of the first quarter Denver was at their own 47. McGahee fumbled, and the Jets took over at the Broncos 35. Mark Sanchez led the Jets to a 4th and 2 at the Denver 3. Rex Ryan took a timeout but decided not to go for it. Nik FOlk hit the 21 yarder to tie the game 3-3. Denver returned the ensuing kickoff 67 yards to the Jets 39, but 3 plays netted only 1 yard. Jon Fox decided against the 56 yard field goal. Denver got it back again with a short field at the Jets 48, but 3 plays later another punt was the result. Potential excitement came on the last play of the half when Folk tried a 61 yard field goal. He missed, but not by much. That was what passed for highlights in a terrible 3-3 halftime game.

The Jets got going in the third quarter as the Jets took over after a touchback. Sanchez immediately hit Plaxico Burress for 30 yards. McKnight gained 7 and 3. Illegal contact added 5 more and Sanchez hit Burress again for 9. and 13 and then found McKnight for 12 down to the one. Powell got the carry, fumbled the ball, and avoided being a goat when offensive lineman Slauson became the hero by falling it in the end zone for the touchdown. It was hideous, but the Jets led 10-3. Denver had no offense whatsoever but the defense stepped up. With 4 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter the Jets faced 3rd and 6 at their own 25. Sanchez was intercepted by Goodman, who returned it 26 yards for the score to tie the game 10-10.

Things got worse for the Jets when they fumbled the ensuing kickoff, again giving Denver a short field at the Jets 42. Again Denver went 3 and out and punted. The defenses settled in as the Jets began the fourth quarter at their own 31. McKnight ran for 11 and 8. On 3rd and 2 from midfield, Sanchez hit Turner for 4. On 3rd and 9 from the Denver 45, Sanchez found McKnight for 14. Folk came in for a 45 yard field goal try and started outside but barely made it inside. This ugly game had the Jets up 13-10 with 9 1/2 minutes left in regulation.

Denver went 3 and out and the Jets got the ball midway through the fourth quarter at the Denver 47 with a chance to do some damage. The only damage they did was to themselves, but a well placed punt had Denver at their own 5 with 6 minutes left to play. Rex Ryan had to see if his defense could back up his boasts.

They could not. A swing pass to Royal almost became a safety, but Royal slipped a tackle for an 8 yard gain. Tebow then ran for 15. Tebow threw to Thomas for 9 and on 3rd and 1 Tebow gained 7, 9 more, and another 3. Tebow then found Rosario for 18 yards to the Jets 26. with 2 1/2 minutes to play. With just over one minute left the Broncos faced 3rd and 4 at the 20. Tebow ran around the end all the way for the score as the 95 yard drive took 5 minutes and had the Broncos up by 4.

The Jets last hope got off to a bad start when the ensuing kickoff was taken 9 yards deep in the end zone and only returned to the 14. With 34 seconds left the Jets faced 4th and 19 at their own 18. Sanchez hit Turner for 25 yards as the Jets took their last timeout. Sanchez found McKnight for 13 more but he did not get out of bounds as Sanchez spiked the ball with 7 seconds left. The Hail Mary did not even reach the end zone as it fell incomplete. Both of these teams are 5-5 as the Jets have lost 2 straight and Denver got within 1/2 a game of 1st place in the AFC West. Tebow still looks awful throwing the ball. Yet even when teams know he will run, he still succeeds and wins. 17-13 Broncos

Cincinnati Bengals @ Baltimore Ravens–Cincy was without wide receiver Green while the Ravens were without Ray Lewis. Despite starting 6-2 most fans saw the Bengals as pretenders. Their loss at home last week to Pittsburgh didn’t help. As for the Ravens, they are considered contenders but the loss at Seattle last week was inexcusable.

After an exchange of punts the Bengals took over at their own 18. Andy Dalton went deep and hit Simpson for a 47 yard gain. On 3rd and 5 Dalton went to Hawkins for 17 yards down to the 13. Cedric Benson would run it in from 7 yards out to have the Bengals up 7-0. After that the defenses would stiffen up.

Early in the second quarter the Ravens received a break when a shanked Bengals punt went only 15 yards, giving Baltimore the ball at their own 45. On 3rd and 4, Joe Flacco hit Dickson for 14 and Anquon Boldin for the 35 yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7. The Ravens got the ball back at their own 34. Flacco hit Torrey Smith for 13 and then went deep to Smith for a 49 yard gain to the 4 yard line. On 3rd and goal at the 1, Ray Rice took it in to have the Ravens up 14-7. Both Flacco and Andy Dalton would trade interceptions late in the half as the Ravens led 14-7 at halftime.

The Ravens began the third quarter at their own 20 and on 3rd and 10 Flacco found Smith for 15. On the next play Rice broke free for a 59 yard gain. On 3rd and goal from the 2, Flacco was sacked as the Ravens settled for a 22 yard Billy Cundiff field goal to lead 17-7. After a touchback, the Bengals soon faced 3rd and 3 at their own 27. Andy Dalton went deep to Leonards for 37 yards and to Gresham for 24 more. Cedric Benson ran for 5 and then the 3 yard touchdown to get the Bengals within 17-14.

Late in the third quarter Dalton was intercepted by Smith at the Cincy 32. Smith returned it to the 16 and then fumbled it. It was eventually recovered by Ayanbadejo for Baltimore at the 2 yard line. One play later Rice scored as the Ravens led 24-14 after three quarters. The fourth quarter began exactly as the third quarter ended, with Dalton getting intercepted again. Baltimore took over at the Cincy 38 and Flacco needed one play to go to deep to Smith for the touchdown. The Ravens led comfortably 31-14, but Dalton would lead a furious comeback.

On 1st and 15 from the 25, Dalton hit Simpson for 22. On 3rd and 6 from the Baltimore 49, Dalton went for the bomb to Andre Caldwell, as the Ravens got within 31-21 with 11 minutes left in regulation. Baltimore went 3 and out when Rice was stopped cold on 3rd and 2. The Bengals took over at their own 20 with 9 minutes left.

On 3rd and 7, Dalton fired incomplete, but defensive pass interference meant 1st and 10 at the Cincy 47. Dalton then hit Gresham for 15 and scrambled himself for 11 and 10. With 6 minutes left the Bengals faced 3rd and 2 at the 9. Dalton fired to Gresham for the touchdown, but the referees reviewed the catch as they do with every scoring play in the NFL this year. On further review the play was ruled incomplete. On 4th and 2 at the 9, needing 2 scores, Marvin Lewis decided not to go for it. The 27 yard Mike Nugent field goal with 5 1/2 minutes left had the Bengals within 7.

After a touchback, a key play came with 3 minutes left on the clock as the Ravens faced 3rd and 1 at their own 46. Rice again got stopped short and on 4th and 1, Harbaugh did what every coach not named Mike Smith would do. He punted. The Bengals got it back at their own 14 with 2 1/2 minutes left and 2 timeouts.

Dalton ran for 9 and hit Hawkins for 19 at the 2 minute warning. Dalton hit Simpson for 8 to midfield with 1:35 to play. Dalton then went deep to Simpson and he came down with it for a spectacular 43 yard catch. The Bengals faced 1st and goal at the 7 with 50 seconds left as Ray Lewis could only watch from the sidelines in street clothes while pumping up his teammates to make one stand.

After one incompletion, Dalton was chased and threw another incompletion. Yet that one was costly as Dalton was flagged for intentional grounding. Terrell Suggs was all over him and now it was 3rd and goal from the 17. Dalton threw incomplete again and everything came down to 4th and goal at the 17 with 33 seconds left. Yet the comeback would fall short as Dalton was sacked.

Armchair quarterbacks could say that had Marvin Lewis gone for it earlier and the Bengals made it, they would have only needed a field goal late. That is why they are armchair quarterbacks. Lewis made the right call. Dalton finished 24 of 45 for 373 yards and one touchdown, but also 3 costly interceptions. Flacco was 17 of 27 for 270 and a pair of touchdowns with one interception. The Ravens maintained the battle for first place with Pittsburgh, while Cincinnati fell behind them both to 6-4. Those referring to the Bengals as pretenders now are howling loudly. Cincinnati is an improved team, but simply not an elite team. 31-24 Ravens
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Cleveland Browns–The Jaguars are a bad team that is able to beat the even worse teams. The Browns lost 13-12 last week when they fumbled a snap that led to a missed 22 yard field goal. Mike Holmgren was not a happy Walrus.

With 6 minutes left in the opening period the Jaguars took over at their own 8 yard line. On 3rd and 1 Maurice Jones-Drew gained 3. On 3rd and 6 from the 24, Blaine Gabbert hit Hill for 13. On 3rd and 4 from the Jaguars 48, Gabbert got just enough. On 3rd and 8 from the Cleveland 36, Gabbert hit Mercedes Lewis for 9. From the 6 yard line, Jones-Drew would take it in to cap off a staggering 18 play, 92 yard drive that consumed 10 minutes to put the Jaguars up 7-0 with 11 minutes left in the half.

After an exchange of punts, the Browns took over at their own 13. Colt McCoy hit Little for 22. On 3rd and 6 from the 42, McCoy went for the home run ball and got it to set up 1st and goal at the 7. Defensive pass interference moved it to the one and Ogbonnaya took it in to have the teams deadlocked 7-7 at halftime. It may have been the first ever score by a player named Ogbonnaya.

The Browns have played some of the most hideous games in the NFL this year, winning one 6-3 and losing 13-12 last week. This was another game that never should have been played. Late in the third quarter the Browns took over at their own 15. Ogbannaya ran for 12, McCoy hit Joshua Cribbs for 13, and McCoy scrambled for 15 more. OgBannaya gained another 9 and the fourth quarter began with the Browns facing 2nd and 6 at the Jaguars 30. McCoy hit Little and Marecic for 11 yard gains. On 3rd and goal from the 3, McCoy hit Cribbs for the score as the Browns led 14-7 with 12 minutes left in regulation. The 12 play, 85 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive would soon be followed by Jacksonville going 56 yards in 13 plays in 6 1/2 minutes. Yet their would be a difference.

Jacksonville took over at their own 20, and soon faced 3rd and 7 at their own 35. Gabbert hit Hill for 28 yards and Mercedes Lewis for 11 more. With 6 minutes left the Jaguars faced 3rd and 8 from the 9. With the tying touchdown one throw away, instead Gabbert was sacked for a 15 yard loss. Josh Scobee hit the 42 yard field goal as Jack Del Rio decided not to go for it on 4th and 23 from the 24. The Jaguars were within 4 points, but Del Rio trusted his defense to get the ball back.

From the 20, McCoy hit Little for 6 and the greatest Ogboyanna in the history of the NFL ran for 40 yards.  With 3 minutes left the Browns faced 2nd and 7 at the Jaguars 16. Putting the game away was within reach. Yet these are the Browns. McCoy was sacked for a 7 yard loss. Phil Dawson came in for the 38 yard field goal. Despite missing a 22 yarder las week, it was time for redemption. Except, these are the Browns. The kick was no good, and Jacksonville took over at their own 29 with 2:49 left and one timeout. It would come down to who wanted it least.

Gabbert hit Thomas for 9 and Lewis ran for 7 at the 2 minute warning. Gabbert hit Lewis for 12 and with 1:24 left the Jaguars faced 4th and 1 at the Browns 34. With the game on the line, the Browns jumped offsides. These are the Browns. On 3rd and 10 from the 29, Gabbert threw incomplete. Yet defensive pass interference meant an automatic first down at the 14. These are the Browns. Gabbert hit West for 9 and with 41 seconds left the Jaguars faced 3rd and 1 at the 5. Jones-Drew ran for 3 and with 13 seconds left Jones-Drew got one more yard. Gabbert then threw incomplete, and the entire game came down to 3rd and goal at the 1 with 3 seconds to play.

Fritz Shurmur, Jack Del Rio, and Mike Holmgren’s mustache could only watch. Gabbert fired to the end zone, but in a game like this asking either team to catch it would be too much. That was good enough for Cleveland as it fell incomplete with no flags on the field. Winning ugly is just as terrible as winning beautifully for television viewers, but the Dawg Pound will take it. Holmgren was a happy Walrus as the Browns got the win. 14-10 Browns

Carolina Panthers @ Detroit Lions–The Panthers are 2-7 and on the road against the 6-3 Lions. Yet before one can scream about a mismatch, Detroit is 1-3 since their 5-0 start. Early on Matthew Stafford was intercepted deep in his own territory, but Cam Newton threw it right back to Detroit. Stafford moved Detroit to the Carolina 26, but was then intercepted again.

Carolina took over at their own 18 and Deangelo Williams ran for 29 and Newton hit Brad LaFell for 21 more. On 3rd and 11 from the Detroit 33, Newton hit Stewart for 21. Newton would throw incomplete on 3rd and 7 from the 9 and the Panthers would settle for a 27 yard Olindo Mare field goal as Carolina led 3-0. Detroit took over and faced 3rd and 1 at their own 29. Detroit would fumble it away and Carolina took over at the same spot. On 2nd and 15 Newton hit Stewart for 19 and then Steve Smith for the 15 yard touchdown to have the Panthers up 10-0 after the first quarter.

The Lions began the second quarter at their own 29, when Smith ran for 43 and then caught a 28 yard touchdown pass from Stafford to quickly get within 10-7. Yet just as quickly the Panthers had a 17-7 lead when Pilares returned the ensuing kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown.

A Detroit punt had the Panthers with a short field at the Lions 48. On 4th and 4 Ron Rivera called a punt. The Panthers punted, but illegal use of hands before the kick instead gave the Panthers 1st and 10 at the Detroit 37. Jim Schwartz could only watch as Williams ran for 26 and Newton took it the final 11. With 9 1/2 minutes left in the half the Panthers led 24-7. Yet this game was far from over.  The Lions overcame a 27-3 deficit a few weeks ago to Dallas, so they were not going to panic in this situation. Also, they were playing a 2-7 team not used to prosperity.

After a touchback, Stafford found Calvin Johnson for 17. On 3rd and 12 from the 35 Stafford hit Nate Burleson for 15 to midfield. On 3rd and 5 from the Carolina 45, Stafford found Tony Scheffler for 7, Davis for 15, Smith for 9, Morris for 8, and Young for a 3 yard touchdown as 5 different receivers completed the 12 play, 8- yard, 6 1/2 minute drive to have the Lions within 24-14.

Carolina took over at their own 14 with only 3 minutes left in the half, and at the 2 minute warning they faced 3rd and 5. Newton threw incomplete, but illegal contact meant an automatic first down at the 24. Newton hit Greg Olsen for 8 and Stewart for 11. With 49 seconds left in the half Carolina faced 3rd and 1 at the Detroit 45. Stewart got 2 and Newton found Smith for 20. With 15 seconds left in the half a 3rd and 7 completion came up one yard short. With only 5 seconds to work with the call was an easy one as Olindo Mare hit a 31 yard field goal to have the Panthers up 27-14 at halftime.

I the third quarter Carolina punted, and a 16 yard return with a horse collar tackle tacked on had the Lions beginning at the Carolina 30. Stafford hit Young for 11, Burleson for 3, and back to Burleson for the 16 yard score to quickly have the Lions within 27-21. Carolina punted again and the Lions took over at their own 34. Smith gained 9 and Stafford hit Johnson for 26 more. Morris ran for 16 and on 3rd and 12 from the 17, Stafford found Tony Scheffler for the touchdown. With 6 minutes left in the third quarter the Lions had the 28-27 lead, but Stafford was barely warming up.

With 12 1/2 minutes left in regulation Detroit took over at their own 31. On 2nd and 5 Smith ran for 19 and Stafford hit Heller for 12 and Johnson for 8. Then the ground came took over as Smith ran for 10, Morris banged out 9 and 2, and Smith capped off the drive from 4 yards out. With 8 minutes left in regulation, the Lions led 35-27 after the 25 point swing.

Yet Cam Newton was not done either. After a touchback, on 2nd and 7, Newton hit Stewart for 26 and then ran for 8. On 3rd and 3 from the Detroit 44, Newton found Williams for 32, with a horsecollar tackle moving the ball to the 6. Newton ran it in himself, and then hit Steve Smith for the 2 point conversion as this pinball maching game was tied 35-35 with 5 minutes left.

Now after a touchback it was Stafford’s turn. He hit Johnson for a 30 yard gain and then went to Brandon Pettigrew for 16 more. Smith gained 12 with unnecessary roughness tacking on 10 more. On 3rd and goal from the 7, Stafford found Pettigrew or the touchdown. Now the Lions were back on top 42-35. With 2 1/2 minutes remaining, Carolina took over at their own 17 trying to tie it again.

Yet one play resulted in Newton being intercepted. With 2:27 to play Detroit took over at the Carolina 23. Carolina used their timeouts, and with 2:06 to play Detroit faced 3rd and 6 at the 19. If Carolina could get the stop and somehow hope for a missed field goal, they would have life. Yet there would be no life as Smith broke free for the 19 yard touchdown to ice the game.

Ron Rivera and Cam Newton do not want to hear that they have the most exciting 2-8 team in football or that rebuilding takes time, especially with rookies at coach and quarterback. Yet it is true. Jim Schwarz took over an 0-16 team, saw them get to 2-14, start last year 2-10 before finishing 4-0, and are now sitting at 7-3 and in the thick of the playoff hunt. The key is Matthew Stafford being healthy. He shook off his 2 early interceptions to finish a solid 28 of 36 for 335 yards and 5 touchdown passes. Newton was 22 of 38 for 280 yards and one touchdown, but also 4 killer interceptions. That was what saw a 17 point lead become a 14 point loss. 49-35 Lions

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Green Bay Packers–The undefeated Packers keep rolling although the defense has been giving up big yards and points. Yet the Buccaneers to not have the firepower to keep up on offense and their once vaunted defense has regressed as well.

After a Tampa Bay punt, the Packers took over at their own 12. Green Bay is known as a quick strike offense, but Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers know how to play ball control as well, since the West Coast offense is all about dinking and dunking. Yet even the Cheeseheads could not have expected this drive. The Packers were set up to punt on 4th and 1 from their own 21. Mike McCarthy is not crazy Mike Smith. There were no fakes here. Yet the punter fumbled the snap, recovered it himself, and ran for 9 yards and a first down at the 27. McCarthy will take it.

On 3rd and 5 Aaron Rodgers went deep to Jordy Nelson for 34 yards. On 3rd and 1 from the 25 Rodgers found Nelson again for 6 yards. On 3rd and 3 from the 12, Rodgers ran for 6. and 5 more. Ball ran it in from 1 yard out as the Packers led 7-0 after the staggering 15 play, 88 yard, 8 1/2 minute drive.

The second quarter began with the Packers facing 3rd and 9 at the Tampa Bay 48. Rodgers went to Nelson for 26, Starks for 17, Crabtree for the 5 yard touchdown as the Packers led 14-0. Yet the Bucs did not fold, striking back quickly from their own 18. Freeman went deep to Benn for 28 yards. On the next play Blount broke several awful attempts at tackling en route to a 54 yard touchdown to get the Bucs within 14-7.

Tampa Bay would get the ball back at their own 20 with 11 minutes left in regulation. On 3rd and 8 Josh Freeman hit Kellen Winslow for 13. Freeman would lead them all the way to the Green Bay 5 yard line where they would settle for a 23 yard Connor Barth field goal. 12 plays, 75 yards, and 7 minutes had the Bucs within 14-10. Yet they left the Packers 4 minutes to work with.

Helping matters for the Packers was returning the kickoff all the way to the Bucs 38. On 1st and 20 Rodgers calmly went to Finley for 30 yards and to Randall Cobb for 11 more. Rodgers hit Nelson for the 5 yard score at the 2 minute warning as the Packers led 21-10 going into the locker rooms.

A quiet first quarter was followed by an action packed second quarter. The second half saw a similar pattern as the third quarter was fairly quiet. Josh Freeman would lead a 12 play, 7 minute drive from the Tampa 29 to a 3rd and 3 at the Green Bay 4.  He threw a touchdown pass to Winslow, but Winslow was called for offensive interference. The Bucs settled for a 32 yard field goal to get within 21-13.

Tampa Bay got it back at their own 9. Freeman found Williams for 18 and Winslow for 37 more. On the first play of the fourth quarter from the Packers 30, Freeman hit Winslow for 15 and Benn for 6. On 3rd and 4 from the 9, Freeman found Williams for the score with 13 minutes left to play in the game. Raheem Morris decided to go for the 2 point conversion to tie it. Usually the 2 pointer should wait until absolutely necessary, but this one could go either way. The conversion failed and the Bucs trailed 21-19.

Green Bay took over at their own 15. On 3rd and 4, Rodgers fired incomplete but defensive holding kept the drive going. Rodgers took advantage by hitting Starks for 12 and Donald Driver for 13. After an illegal contact penalty, Rodgers hit Starks for 11. Starks then ran for 6 and 20 more. From 2 yards out, John Kuhn took it in to have the Packers up 28-19. The earlier 2 point decision began to loom large as 9 points meant breathing room.

Tamp Bay would go 3 and out, but Green Bay runs the West Coast offense. This means throwing the ball late rather than grinding down clock. Rodgers was quickly intercepted, giving the Bucs the ball at midfield with 6 minutes left.  On 3rd and 5 Freeman hit Winslow for 6 and then went deep to Benn for a 37 yard gain down to the 2. Freeman found Briscoe for the score to have the Buccaneers within 28-26 with 4 1/2 minutes left. With Rodgers being unstoppable at times despite the previous turnover, Raheem Morris went with the onsides kick despite time on the clock. It failed.

The Bucs now needed a stop to give Barth a chance to win it, as the Packers took over at the Bucs 46. On 3rd and 4 Rodgers went deep to Nelson for the touchdown. The extra point was good to keep things a 2 score game as the earlier 2 point try appeared lethal. It all became a non-issue when Freeman was intercepted on the next play. Mason Crosby would doink a 29 yard field goal off the upright, but it didn’t matter. Tampa Bay fell to 4-6 while Green Bay continued its trend of explosive offense and just enough defense to get to 10-0 with the win. 35-26 Packers

Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins–The Bill started hot for Chan Gailey but have stumbled a bit despite being 5-4. Miami meanwhile began 0-7, and Tony Sparano held the team together as the team recorded consecutive wins after that. Buffalo began with Ryan Fitzpatrick moving the Bills from their own 18 to a 3rd and 2 at the Miami 12. Fitzpatrick threw incomplete as the Bills settled for a 30 yard Dave Raynor field goal to lead 3-0. Yet one week after getting blown out on the road 44-7, another blowout loss appeared in the making.

Miami took over at their own 13. Matt Moore hit Clay for 10, Reggie Bush for 19, and Bess for 21. On 3rd and 12 from the Buffalo 31, Moore found Hartline for 19. Hartline ran for 9 and Moore hit Anthony Fasano for a one yard touchdown to put the Dolphins up 7-3. Buffalo went 3 and out and Miami took over at their own 41. Moore went deep to Clay for 46 yards, and Reggie Bush ran for 6 and then 5 for the score as the Dolphins led 14-3.

The second quarter began with the Bills facing 3rd and 8 at their own 13. Fitzpatrick was intercepted, setting the Dolphins up at the Buffalo 23. On 3rd and 1 Hilliard gained 2, and Moore hit Clay for the 12 yard touchdown to have the Dolphins rolling 21-3. With 3 minutes left in the half Buffalo took over at their own 18 and on 3rd and 10 Fitzpatrick was intercepted by Nelson. Miami took over at the Buffalo 4, and on 3rd and goal Moore hit Bess for the score to have Miami up 28-3. Miami did get soft at the end of the half as Buffalo took over at their own 23 with 1:23 left. Dave Rayner would drill a 56 yard field goal at the gun. Yet the Bills still trailed 28-6.

Despite earlier flashes of brilliance this season , Fitzpatrick would not be channeling Jim Kelly or Frank Reich in the second half. A quiet second half saw Miami just coast. Buffalo would punt from their own 28, and Miami would block it for a touchdown as Clemons got the block and Sanborn fell on it. Miami led 35-6, and the defense clamped down in the second half. Buffalo would reach the Miami 19 but fumble on 4th and 4 when Fitzpatrick was sacked. Early in the fourth they had 3 cracks from the 1 and could not get in when Fitzpatrick threw incomplete on 4th and goal. Buffalo would get a safety, but they have been outscored 79-15 the past 2 weeks to fall to 5-5. As for Miami, give Tony Sparano some credit. He kept the team fighting hard when they were 0-7, and they have now won 3 straight in convincing fashion. 35-8 Dolphins

Oakland Raiders @ Minnesota Vikings–For more on the game of the day, go to

The Silver and Black showed a ton of character last week as they got a road victory over San Diego after consecutive home losses. They faced adversity with guts, and now have another road game. Minnesota has a bad record but they do have talent with Christian Ponder, Adrian Peterson, and Jared Allen playing at a high level. The Raiders were still without injured Darren McFadden and Jacoby Ford, and on defense Richard Seymour was out. This meant Hue Jackson again would have to keep the playbook very vanilla. Sebastian Janikowski would play but with his injured hamstring the long field goals were not happening. Before this game is over both teams would suffer more devastating injuries.

Minnesota came up a yard short to start and punted. The Raiders took over at their own 14. On 3rd and 4 Palmer found Kevin Boss for 7 and 9. Yet on 3rd and 2 from the 35 Palmer was sacked to kill the drive. The Vikings took over at their own 23.

On 3rd and 1, Ponder hit D’Imperio for 6. On 3rd and 7 from the Vikings 41, Ponder was sacked by Tommy Kelly for an 8 yard loss. Yet Kelly was called for a very questionable roughing the passer penalty, giving the Vikings 1st and 10 at their own 48. On the next play Tommy Kelly was called for unnecessary roughness, moving the ball to the Oakland 35. Percy Harvin took an end around all the way for the touchdown, but offensive holding at the 17 nullified the score. On 3rd and 8 from the 33, Ponder found Harvin for 9. A third defensive personal foul was a facemask on Tyvon Branch, moving the ball to the 12. 40 yards in penalties led to a 12 yard touchdown run by Adrian Peterson to have the Vikings up 7-0.

With Ford out, it was up to Taiwan Jones to return kicks, and he brought the ensuing kickoff to the Oakland 45. With McFadden out, Michael Bush had to step up. On 3rd and 8 Carson Palmer found Bush for 10 and Bush ran for 9. Marcel Reece ran for 20. The drive would stall, but even an ailing Seabass can kick a 29 yarder as the Raiders trailed 7-3 after the first quarter.

After a touchback Ponder got sacked and fumbled. The Vikings were lucky to retain possession. On 2nd and 20 from the 10, Peterson ran for 12. Yet at the end of the play Michael Huff rolled onto his leg and Peterson was down for the count. He was taken off the field on a cart. He did not return the rest of the game although he appeared ok for future games. His loss was a blow for the Vikings. On 3rd and 8 Ponder scrambled for 22 as the second quarter began with Minnesota at midfield. Ponder hit Harvin for 24 yards. Yet on 3rd and 5 from the 21, Ponder went to the end zone and was intercepted at the 5 by Matt Giordano. Giordano returned it all the way to the Oakland 47. It was one of several big plays by a defense that bent all game but did not completely break.

On 2nd and 21 from the Oakland 36, Palmer calmly went to Brandon Myers for the exact amount needed at the sticks. A pair of defensive offsides penalties sandwiched around a 6 yard Michael Bush run set up 3rd and 8 at the 11. Palmer fired to Chaz Schilens inbetween double coverage and Schilens made the catch as the Raiders led 10-7 with 9 minutes left in the half.

Seabass could not boom his kicks out of the end zone and into the stands with his injury, but at least he played. Another short kick was takena t the 10 by Sherels and returned 35 yards to the Minnesota 45. On 3rd and 8 Ponder scrambled for 17. On 3rd and 3 from the 29, Harvin lost 2 yards. A 49 yard field goal attempt to tie the game never got going as Tyvon Branch came crashing through. It would have been blocked, so the kicker simply did not kick it. Punter Kluwe was the holder, and he ended up losing 12 yards. With 5 minutes left in the half, the Raiders took over at their own 43.

Bush gained 3, and on the next carry picked up 28 yards. On 3rd and 8 from the 24, Palmer hit Darrius Heyward-Bey for 9. Palmer hit Reece for 12, and Bush ran it in from 2 yards out as the Raiders led 17-7 with only 1:20 left in the half. More good fortune for the Raiders came went the Vikings fumbled the ensuing kickoff The Raiders recovered at the Minnesota 16. Bush ran for 4 and Palmer hit Boss for 11 down to the one. With 22 seconds left, Palmer tried to run it in but got stopped. The Raiders took their last timeout with 12 seconds left in the half. It was only 2nd and goal at the one, giving Palmer time for 3 passes. Yet a failed run would end the half. Yet Hue Jackson is fearless, and he called another sneak. Palmer did get in, as the second quarter explosion had the Raiders up 24-7 at halftime.

The Raiders had all the momentum, and the main question would be if this team could finally finish and play a complete game. They never make things easy, and today was another test. Neither team could move in the third quarter, and with 4 1/2 minutes left in the period the Vikings took over after a touchback. Ponder was quickly intercepted by Tommy Kelly, giving the Raiders a golden chance to wrap up the game from the Minnesota 24. On 3rd and 1 from the 15 Bush gained 3. Yet on 3rd and 6 from the 8 Palmer fired incomplete. Seabass hit from 26. The Raiders led 27-7 after three quarters. Could they finally finish a game?

No. The last play of the third quarter had the Vikings facing 3rd and 6 at their own 32. Ponder went deep to Aromashodu for 42 yards. On the first  play of the fourth quarter, Ponder went deep to Harvin for a 26 yard touchdown as the Vikings were down 27-14. The Raiders do not finish games.

A good kickoff return by McCann had the Raiders at their own 36. Palmer hit Heyward-Bey for 10 and then again for 20 more. On 3rd and 12 from the Vikings 35 after a sack of Palmer, a short pass to Heyward-Bey gained only 4 yards. Yet 4th and 8 from the 31 was not the main concern. Heyward-Bey took an accidental knee to the helmet, rolled over, and collapsed. He was down for awhile and the stretcher came out. He raised his fist while being wheeled off, but his condition was serious. Add him to the list of injured Raiders. Then the injured kicker came on. Seabass kicks low normally because he kicks for distance, and his 49 yarder was blocked with 11 1/2 minutes left in regulation. The Raiders do not finish games.

Minnesota took over at their own 40, and were forced to go for it on 4th and 2. Ponder threw incomplete but defensive pass interference kept things moving. The Raiders do not finish games. On 1st and 15 from midfield, Ponder ran for 17 with illegal contact adding 5 more. On 2nd and 10 from the 28 Toby Gerhart lost 2 yards, but another questionable unnecessary roughness call on the Raiders meant 1st and 10 at the 15. On the next play Ponder was sacked for 0, but defensive holding meant 1st and goal at the 10. The Raiders do not finish games. On 3rd and goal at the 5, with a touchdown inevitable, Ponder fired to the end zone and was intercepted by Stanford Routt.

The Raiders had the ball at their own 20 with 8 minutes left. They led by 13 and only needed to grind out the clock. Again, it was about finishing a game. Michael Bush ran for 3, then 8, and then 13. With 6 minutes left the Raiders were at their own 44. Yet Bush got a fourth straight carry and this time he was hit and fumbled. The Vikings took over at the Oakland 38. The Raiders do not finish games. Ponder immediately went deep to Vincente Shiancoe for 37 yards down to the one. Ponder then hit Rudolph for the score. The Vikings were only down 6. The Raiders do not finish games.

With 5 minutes left the Raiders were backed up to their own 9. They could not afford to go 3 and out and give Minnesota a short field. They could not fall behind 28-27 and beg injured Seabass to bail them out. They had to stop the bleeding. Reece ran for 13 to give them breathing room. Now it was the Vikings who engaged in self-destructive penalties. Defensive holding and illegal contact offset 2 failed offensive plays as the Raiders had 1st and 10 at their own 33. Minnesota took a pair of timeouts as the Raiders faced a critical 3rd and 4 at their own 39. A first down would really cripple the Vikings. Palmer was sacked for a 9 yard loss. The Raiders do not finish games.

With 3 minutes left the Vikings took over at their own 29. Ponder hit Jenkins for 15, but on 3rd and 8 Ponder was taken down by Tommy Kelly. At the 2 minute warning,  on 4th and 8 from the Minnesota 46, Ponder threw incomplete. The Raiders celebrated, but Minnesota still had one timeout.

Minnesota used their last timeout as Bush gained 4, -1, and 3. The Raiders would have to punt on 4th and 4. They let the clock run all the way down to 13 seconds and took an intentional delay of game. They were too far away to take an intentional safety. Going for it was not an option. A field goal was not going to happen with one already blocked. A punt return for a score would kill the Raiders. Lechler booms touchbacks, but the Raider Nation held their breath as a 34 yard punt was fielded by Sherels at the 11. Sherels did get to the outside but was run out of bounds after a 12 yard return.

With 2 seconds left, the Vikings were at their own 23. The Hail Mary was out of reach, yet the hook and laterals never got going as an 8 yard gain and a fumble ended the game. Leslie Frazier saw his team fight hard but lose another game to stay in the cellar. As for the Raiders, 2 straight home losses have been followed by 2 straight road wins. At 6-4, the Raiders are in 1st place this late in the season for the first time since the 2002 Super Bowl team. The Silver and Black are one game up on Denver, 1 1/2 on Kansas City, and 2 up on San Diego. The Raiders still do not know how to finish games, but as the late Al Davis kept saying, “Just Win Baby.” Again, they did. 27-21 Raiders

Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Redskins–Dallas is rolling while Washington is reeling, having lost 5 straight. Mike Shanahan has gone back to Rex Grossman. Tony Romo moved Dallas to a 4th and 7 at the Washington 35, but Jason Garrett decided to punt. Washington needed only 3 plays to fumble the ball as the Cowboys took over at the Washington 24. On 3rd and 8 Romo went deep to Dez Bryant for a 22 yard touchdown to have Dallas up 7-0. In the second quarter Dallas took over at their own 48. On 3rd and 12 Romo Holley for 17. A 37 yard Dan Carpenter field goal meant a 10-0 Cowboys lead.

With Tony Romo and Rex Grossman, one never knows what one is going to get. Bad Rex turned into Good Rex in the second quarter with some help from a shanked 23 yard punt that had the Redskins starting at the Dallas 32. On 3rd and 7 Grossman hit Anderson for 23. On 3rd and goal at the 4 Grossman took it in himself to get the Redskins within 10-7.

Another Dallas punt followed by a 32 yard return meant another short field for Washington at the Dallas 43. Defensive holding tacked on 5 more yards. Grossman hit Davis for 8 and Helu ran for 10. On 3rd and goal from the 16 Grossman found Jabar Gaffney for the touchdown with only 20 seconds left in the half as the Redskins led 14-10 at the break. The Redskins began the third quarter at their own 23. On 2nd and 11 Grossman hit Gaffney for 28 to midfield. Grossman ran for 6 and then found Davis for 24. Graham Gano would hit a 40 yard field goal to have the Redskins up 17-10.

Despite being under the microscope, both Romo and Grossman played fairly well in this game, compiling comparable numbers. Romo was 23 of 37 for 292 and 3 touchdowns with 0 interceptions. Grossman was 25 of 38 for 289 with 2 touchdowns and one interception. Yet this game would come down to the kickers. Already leading by 7, Washington had a golden opportunity to create space witha  55 yard punt return to the Dallas 34. Yet Graham Gano missed a 49 yard field goal. To quote announcer Paul Maguire “I hate kickers. They should be paid $50 a game.”

Dallas took over at their own 39. Runs and short passes set up 3rd and 1 at the Dallas 40. Murray got stopped cold, but on 4th and 1 Jason Garrett decided to go for it. Murray this time gained 7 yards. Romo hit Jason Witten for 15, and on 3rd and 6 from the 14 Romo hit Murray for 7 as the third quarter ended. The fourth quarter quickly saw 3rd and goal at the 7, and Romo hit Robinson for the touchdown to tie the game 17-17.

Washington would punt, and Dallas took over at their own 12 with 11 minutes left to play. On 3rd and 8 Romo hit Ogletree for 12 and Bennett for 13. On 3rd and 8 from the Dallas 41, Romo went deep to Witten for a 59 yard touchdown in front of a silent home crowd. With 9 minutes left the Cowboys led 24-17. Grossman would then be immediately intercepted, his only real mistake of the game. Yet it was on a long bomb that just served as a punt. Dallas failed to capitalize. Washington took over at their own 11 with 5 1/2 minutes left.

Grossman went straight to Dante Stallworth for 20 and Young for 27. At the 2 minute warning the Redksins had 2nd and 11 at the Dallas 30. Grossman hit Stallworth for 9. On 3rd and 2 Grossman threw incomplete, but defensive holding instead meant 1st and 10 at the 16 with 1:16 left. It also stopped the clock.  On 3rd and 5 from the 11, Grossma hit Davis for 9 as the Redskins took their first timeout with 34 seconds left in the game. Tashard Choice was traded from Dallas to Washington, and he wanted revenge with the game on the line. He got the carry and lost 2 yards as the Redskins took their second timeout. Then Grossma threw incomplete to set up 3rd and goal at the 4 with 22 seconds left. Grossman hit Stallworth for the touchdown as the game went into overtime tied 24-24.

The Redskins got the ball to start overtime at their own 20, and 5 1/2 minutes later they faced 3rd and 7 at the Dallas 33. Grossman then got sacked, but only lost one yard. Gano was brought in to win it from 52 yards out. Again, Gano missed. To paraphrase Maguire again, “Forget $50. Pay kickers 25 cents.” Then again, Maguire would say that it would not matter since Gano would not be a Redskin next year anyway.

From the Dallas 42, Romo found Bennett for 14. On 3rd and 15 just past midfield, Romo went deep to Dez Bryant for 26 yards. With 6 minutes left in overtime, Dallas faced 3rd and 8 at the Washington 21. Jason Garrett took no chances, bringing in Dan Bailey for a 39 yarder on 3rd down. Gano could only watch in horror as Bailey hit his much shorter kick to end the game and silence the crowd. Dallas has won 3 straight to get to 6-4 while Mike Shanahan has seen his Redskins lose 6 straight games for the first time in years. 27-24 Cowboys OT

Arizona Cardinals @ San Francisco 49ers–The John “Red” Skelton era continues in Arizona, which means the 49ers under Jim Harbaugh should roll to an easy victory in the NFC Worst. Yet while the game was the expected mismatch, it was also a terribly played football game, especially in the red zone. The 49ers dominated statistically in the first half but had to settle for 6…yes 6…David Akers field goal tries. Akers got off to a terrible start, with a 46 yarder blocked and a 49 yarder no good. He would hit from 22 and 43. In the second quarter he had another one blocked from 30 but hit from 29. His 3 for 6 performance had the 49ers up 9-0 in this terrible game.

The 49ers would put the game away in the third quarter as Alex Smith led a 13 play, 8 minute drive that covered 84 yards. A 29 yard toss to Michael Crabtreewould lead to 4th and 1 from the Arizona 27. Despite Frank Gore getting stopped on 3rd and 1, Jim Harbaugh trusted Gore more than Akers at this point. Gore got 2 yards, and on 3rd and 6 from the 21 Smith gained 11. Smith hit Williams for an 8 yard touchdown to have the 49ers up 16-0.

Arizona spent most of the day turning the ball over, with fumbles leading to field goals. An interception of Skelton set up Frisco at the Arizona 37. Smith hit Williams for 11 and Gore ran for 8. On 3rd and 2 from the 18 Smith hit Vernon Davis for the score to make it 23-0.

Skelton would get intercepted again, the 49ers would punt, the Cardinals would fumble the punt, and Smith would be intercepted in the end zone for a touchback. This game was that ugly. Ken Whisenhunt brought in Bartel to replace Skelton at quarterback to start the fourth quarter. Bartel would throw a 23 yard touchdown to Larry Fitzgerald to complete an 84 yard drive, but that was it. He led Arizona to the Frisco 16 before turning it over on downs.

The only question at this point is if  the 9-1 49ers are for real or are the fraudulent team from 1997 who began 11-1 by beating up pasties in the NFC Worst. They are beating good teams such as Detroit and the Giants, but plenty of bad teams, and playing badly in them but still winning. That 1997 team hosted the NFC Title Game but was throttled by Green Bay. This Frisco team most likely would also get throttled by Green Bay, but at 9-1 they will take it. 23-7 49ers

Seattle Seahawks @ St. Louis Rams–Somebody, somewhere cares about this game. Seattle had a big upset win at home over Baltimore last week, while the Rams shocked New Orleans a few weeks ago. That would be nice if it were not for all of the losses most of the time. Last year Seattle went into St. Louis and beat them 16-6 as both teams finished 7-9. That was enough for Seattle to be the 2010 NFC Worst Champions. This game was just as awful, anti-climactic, and meaningless.

Tarvaris Jackson began the game from the Seattle 15 by going deep to Williams for a 55 yard gain. Yet on the next play Jackson was intercepted. The Rams would punt, and on the next series facing 3rd and 3 from their own 27, Jackson was intercepted again. 2 plays later, Sam Bradfor went deep to Brandon Lloyd for a 30 yard touchdown. The Rams led led 7-0, but that concluded their lone highlight of the day. The Rams would partially block a punt but get nothing out of it. Seattle ended the first quarter with 2nd and 8 at the Rams 39 but began the second quarter punting on 4th and 33 from their own 36. The Rams responded with 3rd and 26 at their own 6 before punting. This game was that awful.

Seattle would take over after a 25 yard Leon Washington punt return at the Rams 40. Jackson found Sidney Rice for 12 and Marshawn Lynch gained 10. Jackson would hit Rice for a 14 yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7 with 8 1/2 minutes left in the half. The Rams would punt on 4th and 16 from their own 14. Seattle would reach 1st and 10 at the Rams 27 before punting on 4th and 32 from the Rams 49. This game was that awful.

The Rams punted on 4th and 13 from their own 19 and Seattle took over at their own 30 with 2 1/2 minutes left in the half. On 3rd and 2 Jackson went deep to Baldwin for 35 yards. On 3rd and 10 from the Rams 27, Lynch gained 12. With 38 seconds left in the half, Seattle took their second timeout with 2nd and 9 at the 14. Jackson was sacked for a 12 yard loss. For some reason the Seahawks felt their 3rd timeout would be better used if taken to the locker room. So on 3rd and 21 from the 26 with only 8 seconds left, Jackson threw incomplete. Yet defensive pass interference in the end zone put the ball on the one yard line with 3 seconds left. Pete Carroll made this game the inspiring beauty it was by opting for the field goal. Stephen Hauschka made the 19 yarder as the Seahawks led 10-7 at halftime. This game was that awful.

In the third quarter Bradford led the Rams from their 20 to a 4th and 9 at the Seattle 38. Steve Spagnuolo inspired everybody by punting. The Rams got it back and soon faced 2nd and 10 at their own 38. Bradford was sacked and fumbled, giving the Seahawks the ball at the Rams 25. Jackson ran for 8 and hit Rice for 9. On 3rd and 1 from the 3, Lynch took it in as the Seahawks led 17-7.

With 6 minutes left in the game, the Rams took over at their own 23. Bradford was sacked for a 9 yard loss. On the next play Bradford was intercepted, giving Seattle the ball at the Rams 21. On 3rd and 11, Forsett ran all the way for the 22 yard touchdown to end the lack of suspense. Seattle has won consecutive games which means something to somebody somewhere. The Rams are still much worse. 24-7 Seahawks

Tennessee Titans @ Atlanta Falcons–Tennessee is struggling while Atlanta lost a shocker in overtime last week when Mike Smith gambled and lost on 4th and 1 from his own 29. He may be an average non-descript white guy, but his players rallied around him.

San Diego Chargers @ Chicago Bears–The Chargers began 4-1 but have lost 4 straight under Norvelous Norv Turner. The Bears at 6-3 beat Detroit soundly last week and some are saying that Lovie Smith’s team is for real. Let’s hold off. While there is no natural rivalry between the Chargers and Bears, quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Philip Rovers despise each other due to feuds when Cutler was in Denver. One game had Rivers screaming at Cutler and trash talking, which made little sense given that San Diego swept the series that year by over 30 points in each game. That year San Diego began 4-8 while Denver was 8-5. In the last game 7-8 San Diego destroyed 8-7 Denver 44-6 to give San Diego the division and end the Mike Shanahan era in Denver. Cutler was traded in the offseason, but the enmity remained.

A slow first quarter saw Nick Novak kick a 28 yard field goal for the Chargers and Robbie Gould respond with a 42 yarder for the Bears to take a 3-3 game into the second quarter. San Diego missed an opportunity at the end of the first quarter from the Bears 33 when a penalty pushed them out of field goal range.

With 6 1/2 minutes left in the half Norv Turner apparently did not give his punter Mike Scifres the memo. Scifres is one of the best punters of all time. Yet Devon Hester is perhaps the greatest punt returners of all time. Hester returned the punt 42 yards to the Chargers 11. A penalty moved it back to the Chargers 41, but that only delayed things temporarily. Jay Cutler found Earl Bennett for 26 and Marion Barber ran for 10, 4, and the last yard to have the Bears up 10-3 with 4 minutes left in the half.

From the San Diego 22, Rivers hit Jackson for 32 and then on 3rd and 11 Rivers went back to Jackson for 39 more. On 3rd and goal at the 8 Rivers hit Antonio Gates for the score to tie the game 10-10. At the 2 minute warning, it was Johnny Knox returning the kickoff instead of Devon Hester. Yet the special teams that killed the Chargers last year still ached in this game, and Knox returned the kick 53 yard to the Chargers 44. Cutler hit Bennett for 34. On 3rd and goal at the 4 with 26 seconds left in the half, Cutler hit Davis for the touchdown to have the Bears up 17-10. Yet when Goodman returned the kickoff 44 yards to the Chargers 37, they had a chance. Rivers hit Gates for 26 yards, setting up Novak for a 55 yard try at the gun with Hester back to try and return a miss. With Hester jumping to try and field it, the kick hit the crossbar and bounced back no good.

The Chargers began the second quarter at their own 24. Rivers then went deep to Vincent Jackson for 47 yards. Defensive pass interference moved the ball another 21 yards. On 3rd and 4 from the 5, Rivers hit Jackson for the score to tie the game 17-17. Chicago took over at their own 17. On 3rd and 4 Cutler went to Williams 3 straight times for 11, 12, and 11. Cutler then went deep to Knox for 42 yards down to the one. Cutler took it in to have the Bears up 24-17 with 6 minutes left in the third quarter.

From the San Diego 28, the Chargers needed one play to fumble the ball away. The Bears needed 2 plays from the San Diego 37 as Cutler hit Williams for 13 and Knox for the 24 yard touchdown to have the Bears up 31-17 after three quarters. On the first play of the fourth quarter the Chargers faced 4th and 4 at the Bears 29. Norv Turner opted for the field goal and Novak hit from 48 to have the Chargers down 11.

Cutler led the Bears from 13 to the Chargers 30. Yet Cutler was then intercepted by Cason, who returned it 64 yards to the Bears 16. On 3rd and 10 Rivers went to the end zone and gave it right back with an interception. Needing 2 scores, the Chargers got nothing. With 9 1/2 minutes left from their own 10, Cutler took 7 1/2 minutes off the clock. Although the Bears got no further than the Chargers 45, the damage was done. Lovie Smith, in a very bizarre move on 4th and 8 up by 11, called for a fake punt. It made little sense except that it did no harm. Punter Podlesh actually had an open receiver and threw a decent pass, but it was dropped. Yet one play later Rivers was intercepted again to end things.

The Chargers have now lost 5 straight. At 4-6 they have fallen 2 games behind division leader Oakland, while the Bears have won 5 straight to get to 7-3. Yet the subplots are deeper. In San Diego, Norvelous Norv Turner somehow cannot get fired. Yet a second straight season of missing the playoffs might finally do him in. Of course, San Diego could run the table again and all is forgiven. Lovie Smith never gets his respect in Chicago, but even at 7-3 the Bears got terrible news. Cutler broke his hand in the fourth quarter after trying to make a tackle on an interception. He will be out 6-8 week. Last year in the NFC Title Game he was injured. He and the Bears are not getting the breaks. 31-20 Bears

Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants is the Sunday night game. For those who remember Miracles at the Meadowlands I and II, the tables have turned as the 6-3 Giants under Captain Grumpy Tom Coughlin could knock Walrus Lite Andy Reid and his Eagles out of the playoff chase altogether. At 3-6 the Eagles are a mess and are without Michael Vick and Jeremy Maclin for this game. Vince Young called the Eagles the Dream Team, and his only pass of the season was an interception. Now he gets to start on the road against the Giants, where he will have the chance to throw more of them.

Yet one person who eyes were focused on was Desean Jackson. Last year the Giants were cruising toward the playoffs when a 31-10 lead over Philly at home evaporated in a hellacious fourth quarter. Tied 31-31 on the last play of the game, a punt that should have been kicked out of bounds was fielded by Jackson and returned all the way for a score. Miracle at the Meadowlands II shocked the Giants and put the Eagles in the playoffs while knocking the Giants out. Last week Andy Reid benched Jackson for missing a team meeting. Yet Jackson could have shot people and stuffed the bodies in the trunk of a car, and he would not be missing the Giants game. All Tom COughlin asked was for this time kicks to him go out of bounds.

Much of the first half was a defensive bonelock. After an exchange of punts, the Eagles took over at their own 11. Vince Young went deep and naturally was intercepted by Prince Amukamara. Since it went 52 yards it could be called a punt. From the Giants 37, Eli Manning needed 3 plays to throw an interception right back Chaney. Yet from the Giants 44, the Eagles could only move 6 yards. On 4th and 4 from the 38 Andy Reid decided to punt. After a scoreless opening quarter, the Eagles began the second quarter at their own 30.

On 3rd and 10 Young went deep to Jackson for 32 yards. Jackson was injured on the play, but he would return. Hall then ran for 7 and McCoy added 13 more. The drive stalled, but Henery nailed a 33 yard field goal to have the Eagles up 3-0. The Giants went 3 and out when Brandon Jacobs got stopped on 3rd and 1. Vince Young was then intercepted again, giving the Giants the ball at the Philly 44. The Giants went backward and punted.

The Eagles took over at their own 2 and a bizarre set of circumstances occurred. Young went deep to Jackson for a 50 yard gain to the Giants 48. After the catch Jackson flipped the ball at one of the Giants coaches and was called for taunting. Apparently his benching last week did not sink in. Yet the 15 yard penalty should have been called from the spot of the foul, since it occurred after the play was over. That would have given the Eagles the ball at their own 37 for a 35 yard gain. There was also a defensive penalty for illegal use of hands. Yet the officials for some reason declared offsetting penalties, and instead the Eagles were back to their own 2 yard line again. Further explanation will be needed since it seemed to be an official error. on the next play Young was intercepted again, but on further review it was ruled incomplete. After all of that the Eagles punted.

With 90 seconds left in the half, the Giants had to punt and naturally there was no way they would kick to Jackson. This had to go out of bounds.  Tom Coughlin would soon have his head explode and fire shoot out of his eyes as every fan in Giants history saw Weatherford kick it to Jackson again. Jackson returned it 51 yards. It looked like he scored again, but he was barely pushed just enough to have a foot step out of bounds at the 14. Young needed one play to hit Steve Smith for the score. Smith was signed by the Eagles when the Giants refused to pay him. A tight game now had the Eagles up 10-0.

After a touchback with 1:22 to go, Eli Manning hit Victor Cruz for 21. On 3rd and 6 Manning hit Cruz for 8. On 3rd and 3 from the Eagles 40 with 15 seconds left in the half, Manning hit Ware for 10. Lawrence Tynes would hit a 48 yard field goal as the Giants trailed 10-3 at halftime.

The third quarter was just as ugly as the first quarter as Vince Young threw his third interception. With 13 minutes left in regulation the Giants took over at their own 27. On 3rd and 8 Manning went deep to Hakeem Nicks for 47 yards and then to Cruz for the 24 yard touchdown. With 11 1/2 minutes left in the game the teams were deadlocked 10-10.

After a touchback Young showed what he can truly be when he calms down and actually plays football. He is a head case, but he has talent. He can win games, and has won a bunch of them in his career. This time he had a chance to go from goat to hero. On 3rd and 3 Brown gained 6. On 3rd and 10 from the 33 Young found Riley Cooper for 18 just past midfield. On 3rd and 3 from the Giants 42, Young hit Harbor for 6. On 3rd and 1 from the 27, Young got the yard. On 3rd and 4 from the 20, Young hit Jackson for 10. On 3rd and goal from the 8, Young hit Cooper for the touchdown. Young has deserved every ounce of criticism he has gotten, so let’s give credit this time. With the game on the line, he led a staggering 18 play, 9 minute drive, that covered 80 yards and included 6 3rd down conversions.

Down by 7, the Giants took over with 2 1/2 minutes left at their own 9 yard line. Eli Manning has led major drives before, and he was 91 yards from a tie. Manning hit Jacobs for 3 and Ballard for 13 at the 2 minute warning. On 2nd and 20 from the 15, Manning found Nicks for 17. On 3rd and 3 from the 32, Manning went deep to Cruz for 47 yards. Time was no longer a factor as the Giants had 1:25 and were already at the Philly 21. Yet on the next play Manning was sacked and fumbled on a  blindside hit.

The Eagles took over at their own 31 but the Giants still had 2 timeouts as 1:17 remained. The Giants took their 2nd timeout after McCoy gained 7. Desperately needing a stop, instead the Giants saw McCoy slice through the defense for a 60 yard gain down to the 2. The Giants were now helpless to stop the clock, and a very classy Andy Reid did not try to score, kneeling down instead.

Tom Coughlin after the game pointed out that the Eagles were a desperate team and they played like it, and that they deserved to win. The Giants fell to 6-4 while Philly is 4-6. Last year Jackson ruined it for the Giants. This year Jackson prevented the Giants from delivering payback as Big Blue continues to have nightmares about him. When asked about what a frustrating player the temperamental Jackson can be, Reid smiled and said that on those long punt returns, he found Jackson quite “appealing.” 17-10 Eagles

Kansas City Chiefs @ New England Patriots is the Monday night game. Matt Cssel gets to face off against his former team, but the real storyline is that the Patriots made a statement last week against the Jets. Champions do not go down without a fight, and Evil Hoodie Bill Bellichick, despite his team having deficiencies, still has too much firepower for the Chiefs. To make things worse for Todd Haley, Cassel did not even get the nod as injury forced Tyler Palko to make his very first start.

Todd Haley refused to go conservative, as Palko came out throwing. Yet most of the first half was a defensive slog as neither offense could get much going. Palko would lead the Chiefs to a 3rd and 1 at the Patriots 36, but Battle got stopped and after failing to draw New England offsides, a delay of game meant another punt. A 25 yard punt return had the Chiefs beginning their next drive at the Chiefs 47. On 3rd and 2 McClusker gained 8. From the 31, Thomas Jones ran for 26. The drive stalled, but a 27 yard Ryan Succop field goal had the Chiefs up 3-0.

Midway through the second quarter the Patriots took over at their own 15. From the 18, Brady finally got going, hitting Hernandez for 13 and 9, setting up a 2nd and 7 at the New England 48. Brady then found a wide open Rob Gronkowski, who broke one tackle and raced for a 52 yard touchdown. Despite being totally outplayed, the Patriots led 7-3 with 4 1/2 minutes left in the half.

Just before the 2 minute warning Palko got drilled just as he threw the ball. It still should have been caught, but bounced off the receiver’s fingertips. The receiver also got belted in midair. The deflection was intercepted and returned to the New England 46. Brady piled up yards in bunches, hitting Danny Woodhead for 16 and Gronkowski for 18 more. Woodhead gained 12. With 18 seconds left in the half the Patriots faced 3rd and goal at the 3. Brady fired a strike to Woodhead, but at the last seconds it was ripped out of his hands for an incompletion. Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 21 yarder to have the Patriots up 10-3 at halftime.

Palko would move the Chiefs on their next series to the Patriots 41, but a pass over the middle was deflected and intercepted by Arrington, who returned it 16 yards to just shy of midfield. Brady hit Woodhead and Deion Branch for a pair of 12 yard gains inbetween runs by Green-Ellis of 5, 8, and 10. Green-Ellis got a couple more short carries to set up 3rd and goal at the 1. Brady fired incomplete, and on 4th and goal at the 1, Bill Bellichick tacked on the points and ordered the field goal. On the last play of the third quarter Gostkowski made it 27-3.

Yet the Patriots, outside of Boston, keep showing why they are not likable even though they win games. With 4 minutes left in the game and up by 24, the Patriots faced 4th and 1 at the 30. Bellichick decided to go for it and Brady got 2. Then on 3rd and goal at the 1 with 1:14 left, Bellichick called a pass play. It was caught for a score but an illegal shift negated it. On 4th and goal at the 4 Bellichick went for it, although he did call a run. Shane Vereen took it in to complete the scoring. New England won big to continue leading their division while the Chiefs fell 2 games back in theirs. Yet finishes like these are why teams gleefully like seeing New England blow up in the playoffs like they did last year. 34-3 Patriots


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