*Here is what we learned from Sunday's Week 11 games: *
- In a word? Yuck. There was little to like aesthetically about Sunday night's clash between two offensive minds struggling to come up with new tricks and two quarterbacks struggling to live up to their draft billing (aside from the uni matchup, that is). Two of last season's most innovative offenses combined for 550 yards. Jared Goff completed just 11 passes, and Los Angeles had more punts (6) than third-down conversions (3). Chicago averaged just 3.6 yards per play and, despite reaching Los Angeles' 40-yard line on five drives, scored just seven points. Even the Bears kicker, the one area in which the team had improved in the offseason, failed to show up in prime time; Eddy Pineiro missed two field goals in Chicago's first three drives, wasting what were successful drives by the Bears' standards. The difference between these two NFC has-beens and wannabes? L.A. cashed in on Chicago takeaways, turning Mitchell Trubisky's second-quarter interception into seven points, didn't throw away drives on special-teams gaffes and employed a quarterback capable of making downfield throws. Speaking of...
- You have to think after Trubisky's Sunday night clunker, at the end of which he was "sidelined by a hip injury" and replaced by Chase Daniel, that the 2017 No. 2 overall pick is not long for this job. The Bears signal-caller threw for 190 yards on 43 attempts, averaging a paltry 3.9 yards per play, and was unable to carry Chicago past a hamstrung Rams side. As has become commonplace in recent weeks, Trubisky too often skipped or skied simple passes to open receivers. After opening the second half with a 12-play dink-and-dunk drive, punctuated by an improbable back-shoulder TD toss to Tarik Cohen, Trubisky failed to lead Chicago on a lead-changing march, the Bears' next four possessions lasting just 14 plays combined for 35 net yards. With 3:31 remaining in the game, Daniel trotted out in place of Trubisky. Hip injury or not, it wouldn't be a surprise, given Trubisky's run of play, that Daniel takes his place for Chicago's Week 12 game against the Giants. The Bears (4-6) are running out of time to stay relevant in the NFC playoff hunt, and Trubisky is running out of chances to prove he's a franchise QB.
- Welcome back to the fold, Todd Gurley. After seeing his touches per game drop this year to 14.9 as a consequence of load management, Gurley was unleashed on Sunday night. With Los Angeles short receiving weapons -- Brandin Cooks is still out with concussion symptoms and Robert Woods was a surprise inactive due to personal reasons -- Gurley shouldered the load early on and finished with 28 touches and 133 scrimmage yards, both season highs and his most since Week 13 of last season. It's unclear whether Gurley's production is back to normal or if Sunday night was an aberration and a symptom of one-night-only deficiencies elsewhere on the offense. But in bursting into the second level and extending drives, the back reminded the viewing public in spurts what made him special during his last two seasons in L.A. and perhaps reminded the Rams (6-4) of what they have to work with down the stretch.
-- Jeremy Bergman
- Chants of "MVP, MVP, MVP" rained down from a giddy M&T Bank Stadium crowd as Lamar Jackson bedeviled the Texans' defense time and time again. The QB began the game with a sleepy start, going 1-of-6 passing in a scoreless first quarter. Jackson then woke up, and the Texans D with no pass rush had zero answers for the MVP candidate. The second-year passer completed 13 straight passes with three TDs during a stretch that ran from the opening of the second quarter through three minutes left in the third. After several early deep shots were off the mark, the Ravens rode a diverse ground game and a gaggle of Jackson short shots to dice up an injury-riddled Texans defense. Jackson once again fired precision BBs between the numbers to a bevy of targets -- nine different Ravens players caught passes. The deep splash shots were absent today, but Baltimore didn't need them. The QB got through his reads with aplomb, letting his targets do the work in space. Jackson added another highlight-reel run looking like a Mike Vick redux, dashing through and around Texans defenders for a 39-yard scamper that put a stamp on the blowout. The MVP candidate generated 308 total yards (222 passing with four TD tosses; 86 rushing), before sitting out the final 7:05. Once more, Jackson and the Ravens' offense showed they're a bewildering force that stupefies defenses.
- The Ravens defense smothered, walloped and discombobulated Deshaun Watson all game. The quarterback rarely dropped back to throw without getting hit, sacked, or having a defender in his grill. A first-possession fumble in which Watson was trying to spin wizardry made a loud statement from the Baltimore D: There will be no magic today. And there wasn't. For the day the Houston offense earned a brutal 4.1 yards per play. Watson was sacked six times and completed just 18-of-29 for 169 yards, zero scores and an INT. He looked as unsettled as he has all season, leading to a bevy of missed throws low. Mercifully, Watson was given the final four minutes of the blowout off. For the first time in 31 starts in his NFC career, a Watson-led team was shut out in the first half. Also for the first time in Watson's career, his team lost by two scores in the regular season. In a game billed as Watson vs. Jackson, the latter won the bout with flying colors. While the seven total sacks stand out for Baltimore, credit the Ravens secondary for suffocating everything downfield. Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, Brandon Carr and Jimmy Smith gave Watson zero openings, latching onto Texans targets like caterpillars to leaves. The lock-down secondary allowed DC Don Martindale to bring a bevy of rushes into Watson's lap play after play. Martindale's unit is only getting better as we press toward the postseason.
- The rout pushes Baltimore's record to 8-2, giving it a death-grip on the AFC North, with a three-game advantage in the loss column in the division. Sunday's blowout was the latest stomping of an AFC division leader. Even with tough tilts against the Rams and 49ers on tap the next two weeks, John Harbaugh's team is in prime positioning to get a week off in January. The Texans' loss, coupled with an Indianapolis win, underscores a brutal day for Houston (6-4) as they now fall behind the Colts in the division race. With a rematch with Indy on tap next week for supremacy in the AFC South, Watson & Co. will have to shake off the loss quickly.
*-- Kevin Patra *
- The Colts on Sunday more than any other day this season realized where their strength lies: up front. Frank Reich's offense trusted that reality and rode it to a victory, pounding the ball relentlessly and racking up 264 yards on the ground. Marlon Mack gained 109 yards and scored an incredible, tackling-breaking touchdown before exiting with an injury in the second half, and Jonathan Williams picked up the slack, gaining 116 yards on 13 carries in his best outing of his career, helping the Colts chew clock with a comfortable lead late.
That running game was Jacoby Brissett's best friend in his first game back since injuring his knee in Week 9, helping power an offense that wasn't forced to rely too much on Brissett. And when he needed to make a play, he made them, completing an athletic touchdown pass on fourth and goal and running one in himself to salt away the win with almost an entire quarter to play.
It's no surprise that the Colts are better with Brissett on the field. But they're pretty darn good when they ride their mauling offensive line to a big day on the ground, too.
- Sunday afforded us the first opportunity to see Nick Foles in a full game's worth of action, and after a strong start, well, there wasn't much else to write home about. Foles is operating without the benefit of half of a season of working with his targets, who are still new to him, seeing as he only arrived in Jacksonville in the offseason. That produced a performance in which Foles too often looked directly to D.J. Chark, which gave him an early touchdown pass but not much else.
Foles targeted Chark 15 times, twice as many as the next closest pass-catching option until the two-minute warning (Chris Conley was targeted an eighth time with 1:55 remaining and the game out of hand). Chark caught eight of them for 104 yards, but often was tasked with attempting to catch passes from Foles while double-covered. It was only right, then, that Foles found Chark for a garbage-time touchdown, but had his two-point conversion pass attempt intercepted.
Jacksonville is likely happy to have Foles back, but getting him back in Week 11 guarantees growing pains at an inopportune time in the season.
- Sunday's game was just one game, and one loss, but Jacksonville had the look of a team that's more likely to finish 7-9 and look competitive for most of it than finish 9-7 and rise out of the morass that is the AFC South. It's not something Jags fans want to hear, of course, and it could be wrong, but on Sunday, Indianapolis (6-4) was the superior team.
The Colts won up front, stood tall in key situations defensively and made the most of their trips to opposing territory, especially in the second half, with Brissett scoring twice from inside Jacksonville's 5 in game-swaying situations. They still have their own kinks to work out -- the first two quarters, especially the second's final few minutes, were a mess -- but Sunday gave us our first illustration of legitimate separation in the division between the two teams. The Jaguars (4-6) will have to work doubly as hard to attempt to close that gap in their final six games.
-- Nick Shook
- In a defensive slugfest, receiver Julian Edelman hit the biggest throw of the game. The former college QB took a backward pass from Tom Brady and found a wide-open Phillip Dorsett in the end zone for a strike to give New England a 17-10 lead on the first possession of the second half. From there a punt-palooza ensued -- 11 combined punts in the second half -- and the Patriots defense quashed every Eagles possession to secure the victory. New England's offense remains a lackluster operation, with no run game to speak of, a still-struggling offensive line, and questions at receiver. Throwing into a swirling wind, Brady was off the mark often Sunday, completing just 26 of 47 passes for 216 yards (4.6 yards per attempt). Brady's 14 incompletions in the first half were the most in his career in a half. The Pats gained just 298 yards, converted just 5-of-16 on third down and settled for three short field goals in the first half. Credit a beleaguered Eagles secondary for playing better than they have all year. But as we've seen this season, New England leaned on a monster defense and did just enough on offense to get the road W.
- Philly's offense was off-kilter all game, save one drive. Carson Wentz led a 16-play, 95-yard march (90 yards of offense) that culminated with a Dallas Goedert TD reception to give the Eagles a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter. Outside of that drive, the Eagles offense put up 165 total yards of offense on 12 possessions, including seven that gained 10 yards or fewer. Credit Bill Belichick's smothering defense for keeping Wentz stymied. The Pats sacked the QB five times, forced a fumble, and was in Wentz's face all game. With no run game sans Jordan Howard and an injury-riddled receiving corps, the Eagles had little chance to generate yards consistently. The Eagles once again lacked explosive plays, and the Patriots defense is not one to allow offenses to move the ball with dink-and-dunk plays reliably. Wentz missed a bevy of throws all game, including several on a potential game-tying drive late that culminated with Nelson Agholor unable to come down with an arching throw in the end zone. With the Philly D doing a stellar job of slowing Brady, the lack of playmaking from the offense ultimately clipped the Eagles' chances.
- Right tackle Lane Johnson leaving early with a head injury led to the Eagles' struggles on offense, unleashing the Pats' pass rush and crippling the ground attack. That injury could loom as the 5-5 Eagles face the Seahawks and Jadeveon Clowney next week. The loss puts Philly back behind Dallas in the race for the NFC East title and makes a wild-card berth a veritable pipe dream. The Patriots' win moves Belichick's crew to 9-1 and keeps their one-game lead over the streaking Baltimore Ravens for the top spot in AFC. With tilts versus the Cowboys, Texans and Chiefs on tap the next three weeks, Sunday's road win was big for the Pats in their effort to remain ahead of Lamar Jackson's squad.
-- Kevin Patra
- A standard and predictable Cowboys lambasting of an overmatched opponent went off script thanks to a valiant effort via a depleted Lions contingent. Inevitably, though, Dallas delivered its prognosticated result as Dak Prescott dialed up his third 400-yard game of the season for a 35-27 win on the road against the Lions, who, pesky as they were, dropped their third in a row and sixth of the last seven. The Cowboys (6-4), who are now 5-1 against squads with losing records, struggled from the onset against the Lions (3-6-1), who took an early lead and threatened late before Prescott's 23-yard completion to Blake Jarwin allowed the visitors to kneel away the game. It was Prescott's final pass in a sterling effort that saw him throw for 444 yards, three touchdowns (to separate receiver) with no turnovers and a 116.6 rating. Detroit offered up the 30th-ranked defense coming in and in that regard, Prescott's phenomenal afternoon was foreshadowed, even if the close result perhaps was not. Nonetheless, the Cowboys are leading the NFC East and Prescott is leading the way, at least on this Sunday.
- Who saw that start coming? On the second play of the game, Ezekiel Elliott fumbled away possession on the Cowboys 28-yard-line. Then, the vaunted Jeff Driskel (three total touchdowns) and Bo Scarbrough-led Lions marched for six on the Cowboys. Just a day earlier, Scarbrough was promoted from the practice squad and he promptly shined in his first-ever NFL action against the team that drafted him in the seventh round in 2018. Just a week earlier, Driskel, a fourth-year quarterback, made his first start in a Lions uniform. The early 7-0 Lions lead was short-lived, but their fight was not as they led again 14-10 in the second quarter and a pair of Marvin Jones TD grabs made this a game for 60 minutes. Detroit battled back and forth with a first-place squad as it fell further into last in the NFC North. Driskel led the Lions in their efforts to put up a good fight, but on the day in which it was reported that Matthew Stafford could miss another six weeks, there's hardly a pleasant forecast for Detroit, tenacious as its effort was upon this Sunday.
- Thanks no doubt to the due diligence of Darius Slay, Amari Cooper had an ordinary afternoon of three catches for 38 yards. It simply opened up Michael Gallup (nine catches for 148 yards) and Randall Cobb (four catches for 115 yards and a score) for huge outings. Cobb looked like the Cobb of his prime days in Green Bay. Gallup, having already surpassed his numbers in receptions, yards and touchdowns from his rookie season, continues to round into prime form, as he caught a career-best nine balls and tallied his third 100-yard game of the season.
"It was a collective effort," Prescott told Pam Oliver after the game. "Our guys beat man coverage. That's what they had to do and that's what they did."
-- Grant Gordon
- Maybe it's been the divisional bragging rights or the desire to save face in the midst of a poor season. Whatever the case may be, the Falcons defense has looked a lot less weak and a lot more wiry as of late, and Week 11 was more of the same. For the first time this season, the Falcons shut out their opponent in the first half, this coming a week after keeping the high-powered Saints offense out of the end zone in a 26-9 victory. The tone was set out of the gate on Carolina's third play of the game when Takk McKinley registered a QB hit on Kyle Allen, forcing him to make an ill-advised pass that turned into a De'Vondre Campbell fingertip interception. Defensive end Vic Beasley ended Carolina's second drive on third down with a sack for a loss of 13 yards while McKinley stalled the next drive with a sack of his own. All six of Carolina's first-half drives ended in either a punt or a pick; cornerback Desmond Trufant -- in his first appearance since Week 5 -- snagged one of those INTs on a pass intended for D.J. Moore in the back of the end zone early in the second. Safety Ricardo Allen (six combined tackles, INT, three pass deflections) and CB Isaiah Oliver (two PDs) also provided solid coverage all day and limited Carolina's vertical game, a good sign for new secondary coach Raheem Morris, who was recently reassigned from overseeing the receivers. The job the D-line did on Christian McCaffrey (14 carries, 70 yards) and Allen (five sacks, four INTs, 11 QB hits) only further cemented what amounted to another impressive day for the better-late-than-never Falcons (3-7).
- In his first five career starts, all Kyle Allen did was win, win, win, no matter what. After today's 29-3 loss to the Falcons, those days are now starting to feel like nothing but a distant memory with Carolina (5-5) being on the losing end of three of its last four and the 23-year-old QB struggling mightily under center (3-9 TD-INT ratio in that span). Against a resurging Falcons defense, Allen completed 31 of his 50 attempts for 325 yards (47.5 passer rating) and finished with zero TDs (for the third time in 2019) and four picks, his second multi-INT game in four weeks. As he's done on numerous occasions, McCaffrey led the team in receiving yards (11/121) but a good portion of those came either when the game was out of reach or on short Allen dump-offs when the Panthers were already far behind the sticks. McCaffrey did make history in the defeat, moving into first all-time for most receptions by a RB in his first three seasons, per NFL Research, but the effort was poor all-around for the slumping Panthers.
- Playing well in all three phases is a weekly talking point for every coach; the Falcons completely lived up to that expectation in today's win. A 38-yard Younghoe Koo field goal closed an eight-play, 55-yard opening drive; Koo went 3-of-4 on the day. Running back Kenjon Barner, who played for the Panthers three separate times -- including a 2018 stint -- in his seven-year career, earned a measure of payback against his former team with a career-best 78-yard punt return to the house to close the first quarter. Matt Ryan (21-of-31, 311 yards, TD) did his part, connecting with Calvin Ridley eight times for a game-high 143 yards and his lone TD. Julio Jones chipped in a solid 91 yards on six catches, and RB Qadree Ollison chipped in a rushing TD to put Atlanta up 20-0 to end the first half. Not having Austin Hooper or Devonta Freeman could have proved troublesome but the load was carried well by Ryan, his wideouts, a committee of RBs and an on-point outing on special teams.
-- Jelani Scott
- Strong arm, fleet feet, a one-man adventure poised for the unpredictable, Josh Allen put forth what is likely his finest NFL performance yet. With one on the ground and three through the air, Allen had four touchdowns as the Bills did what they were supposed to do and won their AFC East tilt against the host Dolphins, 37-20. Allen had no turnovers, adding a season-high 56 yards rushing to an all-together efficient line of 21-for-33 for 256 yards and a 117.7 rating. The former first-round pick played as such on this Sunday. Sure, it was against the Dolphins (2-8), but the Bills (7-3) and their young gunslinger took care of business as they should have and kept pace with the division-leading Patriots and more importantly stayed in line for a postseason bid. It's hard to predict a day when Allen won't offer up an uncertain afternoon, but on this day he was efficient and still exciting. As the franchise aims for a playoff return, its supposed franchise quarterback is taking steps into the right direction to become just that.
- It matters not what your record is, it matters not what the score is. If you've got Ryan Fitzpatrick, it's going to be a roller coaster and you're going to keep on coming. Down 16-0, the Dolphins found pay dirt when Fitzpatrick threw for 65 yards on a drive to set up a Kalen Ballage touchdown. The Dolphins followed that up with a surprise onside kick that kicker Jason Sanders recovered himself. The ensuing drive went awry with an Allen Hurns fumble, but Miami just kept coming. Jakeem Grant had a 101-yard kick return for a touchdown and added a rushing score. Against a bruising Bills defense, Fitzpatrick was sacked seven times, but the marvelous bearded wonder of a QB kept on getting up. This will be a forgotten Dolphins season in the hopes of leading to memorable ones down the line, but every once in a while a tip of the cap is warranted for effort, even at this, the highest of levels. Fitzpatrick and those he's leading keep on keeping on. Here's that tip of the cap.
- Just as Allen had his best outing to date, Bills wideout John Brown had his best game this season and continued to put together a campaign that demands notice, whether he's tucked away in Buffalo or not. Brown posted season-highs of nine catches for 137 yards and, for just the second time in his career, had two touchdowns. Brown's 14 targets were more than double any other Bill. He and Allen clearly have chemistry, and the Bills are seeing clearer now that they have a bona fide No. 1 wide receiver.
-- Grant Gordon
- It was a tale of two halves in Minneapolis on Sunday. The Vikings offense stalled out in the first half and was plagued with miscues. Five of Minnesota's seven first-half drives ended in punts and Kirk Cousins and Co. couldn't get rolling against a feisty Broncos defense. In the first half, the Vikings totaled an embarrassing 47 total yards of offense as Dalvin Cook was stifled at the line. Heading into the half, the chances of a Vikings comeback seemed bleak and the team was met by hordes of boos from its home crowd displeased with a mediocre showing. But the Vikings magically came alive in the second half and overcame a 20-0 deficit, scoring on each of their four drives in the second half. Cousins was 29-of-35 for 319 yards on the day, spreading the ball around as the team became more desperate, connecting with Stefon Diggs (five receptions, 121 yards), Kyle Rudolph (five receptions, 67 yards) and Irv Smith (three receptions, 20 yards) on TDs. The signal-caller was once again without Adam Thielen today, who was inactive due to a hamstring injury. Minnesota's comeback is certainly impressive after its first-half pummeling. But the Vikings (8-3) seem to still struggle balancing the run and passing game.
- Broncos quarterback Brandon Allen had a solid showing in the first half, pushing Denver to a 20-0 lead at the half. Courtland Sutton had five receptions for 113 receiving yards and tossed a 38-yard bomb to Tim Patrick late in the second quarter. Patrick, who amassed 77 receiving yards in the tilt, exited with a shoulder injury before returning in the second half. Allen also lost another target in his offense when Andy Janovich left with what looked to be a serious elbow injury. I'm not sure what happened at halftime, but the Broncos' play-calling went into the upside down. With the Vikings driving down and scoring on each drive, the Broncos had their backs against the wall. When it came down to it, the Broncos' offense couldn't get it done. Incomplete passes and poor clock management plagued Denver once again on Sunday. Mike Zimmer even bailed out Denver by calling a timeout with seconds left in the game as the Broncos scrambled to get to the line after a short pass. Prior to the tilt, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported that Phillip Lindsay was slated to receive the bulk of the carries going forward. Lindsay finished the day with 67 rushing yards on 16 carries along with 8 receiving yards on two catches. As the Broncos (3-7) proceed with Allen (or possibly Drew Lock), it will be interesting to see how Lindsay is used going forward.
- After giving up a 20-point lead, Von Miller's latest milestone was lost in the shuffle. Miller sacked Kirk Cousins in the first quarter, marking the 50th quarterback Miller has sacked in his NFL career. It was also Miller's fifth sack on the season. Elsewhere in notable stats, Dalvin Cook became the eighth player in Vikings history to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season and the first to do so since Adrian Peterson in 2015.
-- Andie Hagemann
- It was a see-saw affair but, in the end, the 49ers (9-1) edged out a thrilling 30-26 win over the resilient Cardinals (3-7-1). On their first three drives, the 49ers' typically free-flowing offense recorded two measly yards, averaged 0.2 yards per play and scored zero points en route to an early 16-0 hole. And then, just when it seemed like the team was succumbing to the first-loss hangover, the Niners shook it off and activated comeback mode. A pair of Jimmy Garoppolo completions for a combined 70 yards brought the Niners to the door step, setting up a 4-yard TD pass to Ross Dwelley, who again started in place of the injured George Kittle. From there, the 49ers added one more scoring drive and headed into the break down 16-10, their largest halftime deficit of the season. A third consecutive 49ers scoring drive (six plays, 84 yards) gave them their first lead, as well as drastically improved numbers from their first three-drive stretch (201 yards, 9.1 yds/play and 17 points). Hijinks ensued from then on, courtesy of three lead changes and two Garoppolo INTs that could've sunk the 49ers' comeback but a clutch defensive stop after the second pick gave the Niners one more chance to steal a win. The heat was on Jimmy G to step up and, thanks to a well-orchestrated two-minute offense, he found RB Jeff Wilson on a 25-yard strike for his only catch of the day to take the lead. Rookie Deebo Samuel (8/134) was sensational and FB Kyle Juszczyk (7/63) provided a steady target in light of Kittle's injury and a non-existent 49ers run game (18 carries, 27 yards) that was without Matt Breida. But the only way the 49ers were going to win this shootout was if Garoppolo (34-of-45, 424 yards, four TDs, two INTs) delivered on a Sunday, and that's exactly what he did.
- When these teams met in Week 9 in Arizona, Kyler Murray had 241 passing yards (17-of-24) and two TDs to go with five carries for 34 yards against the then-undefeated 49ers in a three-point loss. Week 11 may not have been as flashy statistically but the same poise and high IQ he showed in the first meeting was on full display throughout the near-upset. Murray's 24 completions on 33 attempts for 150 yards and two TDs (0 INT) showed how precise albeit underwhelming his arm was but the way he altered the game with his feet made the NFL's best D look more normal than they have in weeks. We knew Murray was fast but he was fast fast in this one, notching the same amount of rushing yards as RB Kenyan Drake (16/67) on half the carries (!) and a timely 22-yard TD run late in the fourth that nearly secured the victory. It's been quite a year for the 2019 No. 1 overall pick and, given his exceptional play against this tenacious D, every opposing scouting report on the Cardinals offense should be reduced to three words: Kyler. Freakin'. Murray.
- The short week could partially be to blame for the 49ers defense not manhandling Murray but it got stops when it needed. Seems like a DeForest Buckner sack on Arizona's first series of the second half was all the 49ers needed to bounce back from giving up 16 to an average offense because the momentum rolled from there. The Cards registered 18 yards in the third and, although the Cards stayed in it on the Murray TD run, the defense put together two signature stops to lead to the win. After Jimmy G's second TO, Arik Armstead brought Murray down for a loss of 11, forcing a three-and-out and punt with 3:05 to go. The Wilson TD gave Murray the ball back with 31 seconds left but a forced fumble by DE Damontre Moore snuffed out any hope of a comeback drive. The cherry-on-top defensive TD that followed Arizona's failed lateral drill in the closing seconds was a nice way to celebrate but it may not be enough to sweeten the bitter loss of Dee Ford should the injury he suffered in the first half that knocked him out of the game prove to be more serious.
-- Jelani Scott
- It wasn't pretty in terms of final score, but the Raiders got the job done in a game that would have been a much uglier loss than it was an attractive win. Derek Carr completed 25 of 29 passes for 292 yards, one touchdown, one interception and a 105.7 passer rating, and Josh Jacobs churned up 112 yards on 23 carries. The Raiders offense converted nearly 50 percent of its third-down attempts (7-15), but stalled often once entering Cincinnati territory. Even the Raiders' final possession, which looked at one point to have enough momentum to end the game without giving the ball back to the Bengals, stopped at Cincinnati's 33.
The late stall proved to be meaningless, thanks more to Oakland's defense standing tall and Cincinnati's offense lacking the ability to gain chunks when needed. A win is a win, even if an ugly one, and Oakland is now 6-4 and in prime position to battle all the way to the end for the AFC West crown.
- The troubling statistic for the Raiders this week: red-zone efficiency. Oakland was just 2-for-4 in the red zone against the Bengals, fumbling once early and failing again to find the end zone despite earning a fresh set of downs from Cincinnati's 1. Oakland ended up kicking a field goal to push its lead to 17-10, which proved to be enough, but a touchdown would have sealed the win instead of prolonging the tension until the final minute.
The Raiders too often struggled to pick up necessary yards when in the money-making area of the field, which is worrisome when looking ahead. Oakland must convert such opportunities against better opponents if they want to seriously contend for a playoff spot and more.
- Credit is due to Cincinnati's defense, which played with tremendous effort from start to finish, getting the ball back while preserving just a seven-point deficit late. Sure, the Bengals offense ultimately failed -- no surprise there -- but if Cincinnati is looking for moral victories in a season devoid of actual wins, it got one Sunday. Sam Hubbard was a menace up front, Nick Vigil was constantly involved, the Bengals' secondary helped keep Carr from the end zone on at least two red-zone trips, and the unit collectively kept the Bengals in the game until the very end. An 0-10 record is tough to look at, but there have been much worse 0-10 teams than this Bengals squad. Perhaps they'll eventually find enough offensively to pull out a win carried by their defense. It just didn't happen Sunday.
-- Nick Shook
- Last week's surprising loss to the Falcons was just a speed bump for the Saints (8-2). After being limited in his first game back from injury, running back Alvin Kamara (122 total yards) resumed his role as the focal point of the offense, teaming up with wideout Michael Thomas (8/114/1) to carry the unit. Thomas became the first player in NFL history to record 90-plus receptions in his team's first 10 games of a season, per NFL Research. All season long, New Orleans' offense needed a third player to step up and tight end Jared Cook showed signs of promise again, making a great catch in the end zone between two defenders. The Saints offense is back on track heading into next week's game against the reeling Panthers.
- When you turn the ball over four times, it's hard to win games. Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston now leads the NFL with 18 interceptions this season. The QB was under pressure and getting hit the entire game, even having to throw the ball left-handed a few times to complete a pass. He scrambled for 23 yards which was the longest run by the Bucs today. He suffered a left ankle injury toward the end but stayed in the game. He finished 30-of-51 for 313 yards, two TDs and two sacks.
- The Saints were able to hold Mike Evans to zero catches on three targets the entire game in their first meeting this season. After being held to just one catch for six yards in the first half, the wideout finally showed up in the second half. He had an easy drop on third-and-6 that ended the drive with a field goal but he later redeemed himself. He finished with four receptions for 69 yards. It wasn't his best game, but at least he wasn't shut out like last time.
-- Lakisha Wesseling
- Sam Darnold's confidence should be soaring after turning in a career-best performance in Week 11. While the Redskins' on-field product hasn't resembled football for much of this season, Darnold did what he needed, throwing his first four-TD game and finishing with 293 yards on an efficient 63.3 completion rate (19-of-30). He made use of his legs and extended a number of plays after the pocket collapsed around him; his first score actually came after he was flushed to his left and threw a calm 20-yarder to tight end Daniel Brown for the Jets' fourth consecutive opening-drive TD. Aside from a bad INT and nearly turning the ball over on a strip-sack from Ryan Kerrigan (two sacks, four tackles) in the first quarter, Darnold stayed relatively clean in this one, taking just four total hits. Tight end Ryan Griffin had his best game of the season (5/109/1), and wideout Jamison Crowder pitched in five catches for 76 yards and a score against his former team. Robby Anderson had a quiet one-catch day but, considering that it was for an early TD that was followed with a Lambeau Leap-style celebration, you have to at least respect his energy. The Jets now have three wins under the belt, all of which have come against NFC East opponents.
- Dwayne Haskins' rookie season has been ... something and, unfortunately for the Ohio State product, Week 11 was yet another bitter afternoon. Making his second start of the season, Haskins tallied a 79.9 passer rating and went 19-of-35 for 214 yards, two TDs and an INT against a swarming pass rush from New York (3-7). A near Haskins highlight on a miracle of a pass to standout rookie receiver and former OSU teammate Terry McLaurin for 67 yards early in the second was negated by a Brandon Scherff holding call. An unsportsmanlike conduct flag on Scherff pushed them even further back from the WAS 21 to the WAS 6, a scene made worse thanks to a clearly frustrated Donald Penn shouting who knows what at the refs. A Haskins sack and eventual Washington punt ended the dreadful sequence. A 34-3 deficit with about 12 minutes to go seemingly wrung out every last bit of intrigue but then something fun happened. Per NFL Research, the Redskins (1-9) had gone 16 quarters without a TD -- the longest stretch since the 2000 Ravens -- and that streak was snapped by a 45-yard catch-and-run score from Derrius Guice in his first game back from injury. After posting an OSU TD record in only two years, Haskins finally earned his first NFL score on a play that also gave Guice (7 rushes, 24 yards) his, a feel-good moment for all involved.
- Jamal Adams feasted against the Redskins' O-line, using his elite skill to blow by linemen and record three of the Jets' six sacks. Keep in mind, Adams had recorded 3.5 sacks coming into the game so, yeah, that's pretty good. As a whole, the Jets D make Haskins' life miserable, providing solid coverage, rushing Haskins consistently and holding Washington to 54 rushing yards. In the first half, the Redskins accumulated 60 net yards and went 0-for-6 on third downs; they would finish the game with 225 yards and six third-down conversions on 16 attempts. Needless to say, it was an overall dominant day for defensive coordinator Gregg Williams in his D.C. homecoming.
-- Jelani Scott