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November 19, 2012
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Week 11 in the NFL: ‘No Great Teams’

Scott Taylor
Senior Writer, Fantrax

Aaron Rodgers, Matt Schaub and Matt Ryan were all lucky to win. On a Sunday when the Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons escaped the agony of defeat against inferior opponents, National Football League insiders concluded that there are no great teams in the league.

“Aaron (Rodgers) pulled us all up together,” Packers center Jeff Saturday told PackerNews.com after Green Bay's 24-20 win over Detroit. “He said, ‘Look, it hasn’t been a great day for any of us.’ We hadn’t done a whole lot, but now’s the time. We just all united and had a heck of a drive at the end.”

It didn’t hurt that Lions quarterback Matt Stafford was absolutely dreadful and turnovers cost Detroit another football game, but what the heck? Rodgers did put up 10 points late in the game to come back from a 20-14 fourth-quarter deficit to win on the road.

In the meantime, Atlanta overcame Matt Ryan’s five interceptions and snuck past Arizona 23-19.

“We had all those turnovers, but we’re still right here,” said Ryan at a news conference after the Falcons win. “As a quarterback, you never want to have those kinds of games, but we won. It happens. It says a lot about our football team that I made the mistakes that I did but I’m surrounded by 52 other guys on the active roster who made plays.”

Yes, indeed, it’s a team game and the Falcons bailed out their quarterback for a change. It also didn’t hurt that they played Arizona, a team that had lost five in a row before Sunday and was now down to its third quarterback.

It was not an easy week for the team’s good teams, but for the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots, it was a lot of fun. I have to admit, I called Denver and Green Bay in the 47th Super Bowl and after what happened this weekend, I’ll stick to that call. But, hey, it’s still just Week 11. No telling what might happen.

Let’s take a close look at what did happen on Sunday:

SUNDAY AFTERNOON:

Denver 30 San Diego 23

The Broncos Peyton Manning went 25-for-42 for 270 yards, three touchdowns and one interception as the Broncos scored 30-points or more for the fifth straight game. The Broncos are now 7-3 and still first in the AFC West. Philip Rivers went 24-for-40 for 258 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Danario Alexander caught seven passes for 96 yards and two TDs. The Chargers are now 4-6 and Norv Turner must not have long for this job. San Diego has lost five of their last six games.

New England 59 Indianapolis 24

The Pats’ Tom Brady completed 24-of-35 passes for 331 yards and three touchdowns. The big story might have been Julian Edelman who carried once for 47 yards; caught five passes for 58 yards and a touchdown and returned two punts for 116 yards and another touchdown for 221 all-purpose yards. The Colts Andrew Luck went 27-for-50 for 334 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. Two of the INTs were returned for touchdowns. The Colts are now 6-4 while the Pats are 7-3. Pats TE Rob Gronkowski broke his arm and is out indefinitely.

Green Bay 24 Detroit 20

The Packers have won five straight as Detroit’s Matt Stafford was absolutely vomit-inducingly bad. He went 17-for-39 for 266 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions and threw away a 20-14 lead late in the game. The over-rated Lions defense wasn’t a whole lot better. Aaron Rodgers went 19-for-27 for 236 yards, two touchdowns and one interception as Green Bay improved to 7-3 and could move into a tie for first if Bears lose to San Francisco on Monday night. The Lions are 4-6 and are probably the most inconsistent and over-rated team in the NFL although Calvin Johnson caught five passes for 143 yards and a touchdown.

Houston 43 Jacksonville 37 (OT)

Andre Johnson took a flare pass from Matt Schaub 48 yards for the winning touchdown in overtime. Houston came back from a 14-point deficit. Schaub went 43-for-55 for 527 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions. Houston is now 9-1 while Jacksonville falls to 1-9 and head coach Mike Mularkey has to be in trouble. Meanwhile, Johnson caught 14 passes for 273 yards and the game-winning TD. Jags backup quarterback Chad Henne went 16-for-33 for 354 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.

Washington 31 Philadelphia 6

Andy Reid just about has to be done in Philly. He has no offensive line and, as a result, no offence. Meanwhile, Robert Griffin III was magnificent for Washington. He went 14-for-15 for 200 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions and carried 11 times for 85 yards. He threw a TD pass in each quarter. Rookie Nick Foles, replacing the concussed Michael Vick, went 21-for46 for 204 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. Horrendous. Philly is now 3-7 and have lost six straight.

Dallas 23 Cleveland 20 (OT)

Cleveland tried to snap an 11-game road losing streak, but Dallas got so many penalty calls in their favour – nine calls saved first downs -- that even though the Browns had a 20-17 lead in the final minute, there was no way they could hold on – even with seven sacks on Tony Romo. And with the CBS announcers – Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf -- cheerleading for the Cowboys (it was sickening), it was almost impossible to listen to, let alone watch. In fact, this one really looked like the fix was in for Dallas at home (especially after the Miles Austin fumble in overtime). The outcome was a blight on the NFL’s credibility. Dan Bailey kicked a 38-yard field goal to win it. Dallas is 5-5, Cleveland is 2-8.

New Orleans 38 Oakland 17

Drew Brees went 20-for-27 for 219 yards and three touchdowns as the Saints got to 5-5. The Raiders lost their third straight game despite the fact Carson Palmer went 22-for-40 for 312 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Lance Moore caught two of Brees’ touchdown passes as the Saints won for the fifth time in six games.

Tampa Bay 27 Carolina 21 (OT)

Josh Freeman hit Dallas Clark with the winning touchdown in overtime as Tampa came back from 21-13 late in the game to tie it and win on the road in OT. Freeman went 25-for-46 for 248 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Carolina head coach Ron Rivera has to be out of lives.

Atlanta 23 Arizona 19

Boy, was Atlanta lucky: Six turnovers and they still won. This might have been the worst game in Matt Ryan’s career – 28-for-46, for 301 yards, no touchdowns and FIVE interceptions. Roddy White did catch eight passes for 123 yards, but if it wasn’t for the fact Arizona lost No. 2 quarterback John Skelton to injury and had to go with No. 3 Ryan Lindley (nine-for-20 for 64 yards), Arizona might have won this one. As it is, the Falcons go to 9-1 and the Cardinals fall to 4-6 with their sixth straight loss.

Cincinnati 28 Kansas City 6

The Bengals Andy Dalton finished 18-for-29 for 230 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Benjarvus Green-Ellis carried 25 times for 101 yards and another TD. A.J. Green caught six passes for 91 yards and a TD. The ninth straight game in which Green has caught a TD pass. 5-5 Cincinnati now plays its next four games against teams with losing records. Romeo Crennel’s Chiefs have lost seven straight are now 1-9 as Matt Cassel went eight-for-16 for 93 yards. What a sad football team.

NY Jets 27 St. Louis 13

Mark Sanchez protected the football and saved a lot of jobs. Sanchez went 15-for-20 for 178 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions as the Jets improved to 4-6 after a turnover-free game. Bilal Powell ran for the first two touchdowns of his career. Rams QB Sam Bradford went 23-of-44 for 170 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. St. Louis loses at home and falls to 3-6-1.

SUNDAY NIGHT:

Baltimore 13 Pittsburgh 10

This was a pretty pedestrian game. Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones returned a punt for a touchdown for the Ravens only TD as Baltimore improved to 8-2 and moved four points ahead of 6-4, second-place Pittsburgh. Steelers’ backup quarterback Byron Leftwich, replacing the injured Ben Roethlisberger, went 18-for-39 for 201 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. Joe Flacco went 20-for-32 for 164 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions as Baltimore won for the third straight time at Heinz Field. 

 

Scott is an author, broadcaster and journalist who travels extensively for Fantrax.

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