Week 11 is in the books and it's just another reminder that no one has any idea who's going to win on a regular basis. The Jaguars are tied with the Colts for the lead in the AFC South. The Bills and Cowboys have won back-to-back games for the first time all season. And a team like the Redskins can look horrible one week and solid the next. About the only thing we can know for sure is that Brett Favre will retire at the end of the season only to unretire again next year and the NFC West really is just a train wreck of a division.
Before the start of the season Brett Favre said this would be his last. One reporter asked Favre, who'd retired and unretired twice, if people should believe him. "Probably not," Favre said. "I do believe it now. I've got to fall apart sometime." Looks like that time is now. His first year with the Vikings was his best season ever. This time around it's been his worst. The man who lobbied so hard to bring him here, Brad Childress, is gone and it seems like Favre should be next. However, when interim head coach Leslie Frazier was aked who was going to start next week he replied, "Brett Favre. No hesitation." But maybe he should have some hesitation. Wouldn't the Vikings be better served by finding out what they have in Tavaris Jackson over the final 6 weeks? Then again, maybe they already know full well what they have with Jackson which is why they're sticking with Favre. Either way, this looks like it will be Favre's last season. That is until he decides it isn't.
Colts 28, Patriots 31
With just over 10 minutes left in the game, the Patriots had a commanding 31-14 lead. Then Peyton Manning started to work his magic. He found Blair (I'm not a witch) White for 5 and 18 yard touchdown passes and cut the Patriots lead to 3. After the Colts defense did their job and got the ball back in Manning's hands, he drove all the way down to the Patriots 24. Everyone knew what would happen. Sure the Colts were in range for the tying field goal, but this is Peyton Manning. On first down with 36 seconds remaining, Manning found James Sanders on the Patriots 6 yard line for the game ending interception. Wait. What? It was Mannings 3rd interception of the game. "For a minute, I was thinking deja vu," Sanders said. "As a defense, we knew if we didn't make a play, we were going to lose the game." It also helped that Manning horribly under threw Pierre Garcon in the endzone so Sanders could "make a play".
The rest of week 11 after the jump.
For a while this looked like it would be another Eagles blowout. But two dropped touchdown passes and a blocked field goal allowed the Giants to stay within two scores, trailing 16-3 instead of 27-3. But the biggest moment in the game came late in the 4th with the Eagles leading 24-17. On 4th and 6, the Giants decided to go for it rather than punt. Eli Manning dropped back but couldn't find an open receiver. That's when Manning decided to do what he almost never does. He decided to do his best Michael Vick impersonation and run. After getting the first down and more, and with the Eagles defenders closing in, all he had to do was slide. But he didn't slide. Instead he fell down face first and fumbled the ball without anyone touching him. The Eagles recovered and drove down for the final field goal to put the game out of reach. So why didn't Manning slide? "You just go down the fastest way you know how," Manning said. Falling on your face is the fastest way you know how to go down? There has to be some sort of analogy in there somewhere.
The Falcons Matt Ryan threw for 253 yards and 2 touchdowns. Their RB Michael Turner rushed for 131 yards and 1 touchdown. About the only thing that went wrong for the Falcons offense was that they had to settle for too many chip shot field goals. "We'd like to score more touchdowns," Ryan said. The Rams were still in it for most of the game until William Moore intercepted Sam Bradford's shovel pass on the Falcons 2 yard line with 3:24 left in the game. The interception broke Bradford's NFL rookie record of 169 consecutive passes without a pick. The win improves the Falcons record to 8-2 and keeps them in sole possession of first place in the NFC South. As for the Rams, the loss drops their record to 4-6 which means in the anemic NFC West they're still only 1 game out.
All you need to know about this game can be summed up in one stat. Except for the rushing yards by starting QB Tyler Thigpen, the Dolphins ran the ball 7 times for only 12 yards. Ugly. Thigpen also got sacked 6 times, including 3 by Julius Peppers, and threw an interception. Of course, the Bears weren't that much better. Jay Cutler only threw for 156 yards and tossed an interception of his own. He summed it up best when he said, "The way the defense is playing, we didn't have to do much." Now at 7-3 the Bears find themselves fighting for the #1 seed in the NFC, which is strange considering the Bears just don't seem like a very good team, of which they're reminded about it all the time. "We're winning games," LB Brian Urlacher said in response to the criticism. "That's all that matters to me." And let's be honest. Would you rather be a "bad" 7-3 team or a "good" 3-7 team? Me too.
Bills 49, Bengals 31
ESPN wannabe, Versus, now has a new sports show called The T.Ocho Show. Seriously, I'm not making that up. I'm pretty sure Versus had higher hopes when they first came up with the idea for this jewel of a program than having their two hosts being star players on a miserable 2-8 team. And after allowing the Bills to pull off their biggest come from behind victory in 13 years, the Bengals season has sunk to a new low. Down 31-14, Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick caught fire, passing for 313 yards and 4 touchdowns, to turn a rout into a rout, if that make sense. "Terrible. I have no answersfor you," T.O. said, with an edge to his voice. "It's my fault. Maybe I'm bad luck." Oh, sweet sweet karma.
Lions 19, Cowboys 35
Things were looking grim for the Cowboys early on in this game. Trailing 12-7 and with the Lions punting the ball, the Lions John Wendling made a perfect special teams play by tapping the ball away from the goal line. It looked Dallas was going to be backed up inside their 5 yard line for the 4th time in the game. That's when last weeks hero, Bryan McCann who returned an interception 101 yards for a touchdown against the Giants, became this weeks hero. McCann grabbed the batted ball and returned it 97 yards for a touchdown and a huge swing in momentum. "I was tired of seeing the offense start out at the 5 all day, so really I just wanted to make something happen," McCann said. And now for the "You got to be kidding me" stats of the week. Jon Kitna, who threw 3 touchdowns in the game, now has more wins on the season than Tony Romo, and this was the Cowboys first home win of the year. I guess it helps to play a team that's lost an NFL record 26 straight road games.
Redskins 19, Titans 16
As Graham Gano's 48 yard game winning OT field goal sailed through the uprights, Vince Young's shoulder pads went sailing into the stands. Young, who had to leave the game in the 3rd quarter after injuring his throwing hand, dressed quickly after the game and brushed past reporters. I'm putting the over/under for the fine he'll have to pay at $25,000. Moss also had a big game with 106 yards receiving and 1 touchdown. Too bad for Titans fans it was Santana Moss that had that game, not Randy Moss who finished with 0 catches. The fans were so frustrated by the offensive game plan, they started booing and chanting "Randy! Randy!" Oddly, the ones chanting "Randy" the loudest were the ones over by the cheerleaders.
Once again the Chiefs dynamic RB duo of Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones had a huge day, smashing through the Cardinals defense for a combined 159 yards and 2 touchdowns. Matt Cassel also threw a pair of touchdown passes to Dwayne Bowe as the Chiefs easily handled the spiraling Cardinals. The win keeps the Chiefs perfect at home, while it was the 5th straight loss for the Cardinals, their longest in 4 years. "We are not really a confident team right now," Cardinals coach Ken Whesenhunt said. Imagine that. After losing a Hall of Fame QB and several all-star players, the Cardianls are struggling. Wonders never cease to amaze me.
After watching the SF Giants win the World Series, the Jets must have figured that was the way to win a championship. They needed to have a lot of close nail biters and come from behind victories that go down to the last minute. They can keep doing it that way if they want to just as long as I don't start seeing any "Jets football: Torture" signs. The Jets squandered a 23-7 4th quarter lead only to watch Mark Sanchez find Santonio Holmes in the endzone for the go ahead touchdown with only 10 seconds remaining. "I want to apologize to all the Jets fans for affecting the heart a little bit," Jets coach Rex Ryan said. Now he just needs to apologize to his own heart for eating all those chilly cheese dogs.
After a Steelers touchdown in the second quarter, Raiders DE Richard Seymour turned around and punched Ben Roethlisburger in the face, but for most of the game it was the Steelers doing the punching (like my juxtaposition?). Raiders QBs Jason Campbell and Bruce Gradkowski took turns running from the Steelers defense and Roethlisberger carved up the Raiders secondary for 275 yards and 3 touchdowns. Even 163 yards in penalties couldn't slow the Steelers down. As for the punch, Seymour said he heard Big Ben running up behind him. "I'm not sure why he ran up on me," he said. "I just turned around and it was a natural reaction." I hear you Rich. I was walking on a trail by my house one day and I heard some guy running up behind me so I just turned around and clocked him. He said he was just jogging past me but what did he expect me to do?
The game was actually a lot closer than the score would indicate, which is what passes for a moral victory for the down trodden Panthers these days. Panthers QB Brian St. Pierre, who wasn't even on an NFL roster a few weeks ago, threw an 88 yard touchdown pass to David Gettis early in the 4th to cut the lead to 20-13, which is extra impressive when you consider he only had 12 yards passing for his entire career before this game. That's when the wheels came off. In each of their next two possessions, St. Pierre threw an interception that was returned the other way for a touchdown. Throw in a fieldgoal and a 20-13 battle becomes a 37-13 laugher. I wonder if it's too early for the Panthersto start planing who they want with the #1 overall pick.
Browns 20, Jaguars 24
The Jaguars lost the turnover battle 6-1 on Sunday but still managed to find a way to win over the Browns. Seriously! They turned it over 6 times and still won. At one point the Jaguars turned the ball over on 5 straight drives. Lucky for them, stout defense and 2 missed Browns field goals bailed them out. Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew, who sliced up the Browns defense for 133 yards and 1 touchdown, said of the win, "I don't feel like we stole the game. We earned it." Ready for even more shocking news? Don't look now but the Jaguars are tied with the Colts for first place in the AFC South. I don't even want to try and figure out how that happened.
Seahwaks 19, Saints 34
Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck had a great game. He threw for 366 yards and a touchdown. The problem he had was that Drew Brees was just a little better, with 382 yards passing and 4 touchdowns. "It's really tough when you are playing against a great player like Drew Brees," Hasselbeck said. "It's really hard to win." And what did Brees have to say? "Today we played at times as well as we've played all season. That gets you excited because you feel like, man, we're knocking at the door." Umm...not to bust your bubble Brees, but you were playing against the Seahawks and their 28th ranked pass defense. I'd be worried if you didn't put up huge numbers against them.
Bucaneers 21, 49ers 0
Typing that "0" really hurt. I wish I could say the 49ers still have a chance since, in spite of everything, they're still only 2 games out with 6 to play. But let's be honest. Unless they figure out what's so horribly wrong with their offense, this season is over.