In case you missed our coverage from the 11th Sunday of the 2011 NFL season, scroll down or click here. And now, 25 thoughts that either didn’t make the original cut or didn’t occur to me until it was too late. We start with a strange Sunday nighter…
1. I sooo wanted to laugh at Vince Young in this column, but I was impressed by Young’s performance after a shaky start. The three picks and a slew of terrible passes put a damper on his final stat line, but you get the bad with the good with Young. It’s crazy, because he’s been berated so often, but the guy is now 31-17 as a starting quarterback in the NFL. Is he a winner or does he just play for teams that happen to win more often than they lose?
2. I can’t believe I’m about to say this again, but the Eagles aren’t done yet. I don’t believe they can pull it off, but they only trail New York and Dallas by two games. It’s a tough schedule from here on out, though, and that starts with the Patriots on Sunday.
3. The Giants don’t look like a playoff team. But neither do the Eagles. Or the Cowboys or Redskins. Tough year for the NFC East.
4. The other loser on Sunday night? Titans fans, who had to watch Young lead the Philly offense to success while Jason Babin made the game-clinching play on defense. Big night for 2010 Titans-turned-2011 Eagles.
5. Not that anyone cares (except maybe a few bettors and maybe a few of their “fans”) but the Jaguars badly botched what should have been an easy finish against Cleveland. Down four with 37 seconds on the clock and a first-and-goal from the two-yard line, the Jags inexplicably let 24 seconds tick off the clock before running their next play. Maurice Jones-Drew gained one yard and then they used their final timeout, forcing them to throw the rest of the way and removing Jones-Drew, their best player, from the equation. Two Blaine Gabbert incomplete passes later, the game was over. They didn’t even get to run a fourth-down play because they ran out of time. Inexcusable, Jack Del Rio.
6. Should the Bears call Brett Favre? The only relevant question: Is he an upgrade over Caleb Hanie? If so, they should.
7. The Jay Cutler injury wasn’t the only big one in the NFC North. Ankle sprain for Adrian Peterson, but we’ll learn more on Monday. Without Peterson, can the Vikings beat anyone in this league? I’m not sure they can.
8. Tough breaks for the Bengals. Controversial overturn on a Jermaine Gresham touchdown and a missed horse collar on that final, unsuccessful drive (Andy Dalton was called for intentional grounding on the play). If those plays go the other way, they at least end up in overtime.
9. Andrew Whitworth must be hurt, because one of the league’s best left tackles was atrocious against Baltimore, especially on that final series.
10. Kevin Smith strikes back. From unemployed in early November to an offensive player of the week nominee in late November. Dude had 201 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns against Carolina. And Jahvid Best can take his time with that post-concussion syndrome.
11. What is Rob Chudzinski thinking? The Carolina offensive coordinator doesn’t give enough work to his running backs. On Sunday, DeAngelo Williams had only 10 carries despite the fact the Panthers led 10-0 after one quarter and 27-14 at halftime. It’s just not smart football, and it’s putting too much on Cam Newton, who threw 38 passes and was intercepted a career-high four times in Carolina’s collapse in Detroit.
12. The run of the day took place in Green Bay, and it exhibited why the Packers can be had by an aggressive offense between now and Feb. 5. LeGarrette Blount broke about eight tackles on one of the most extraordinary plays of Week 11, shedding some light on an aggressive yet soft Packers defense. Oh, and a cold Josh Freeman had his best game of the year at Lambeau, completing 28 of 38 passes for 342 yards. Keep an eye on that unit.
13. Is Jordy Nelson becoming Aaron Rodgers’ favorite target? Nelson has 16 catches, 291 yards and five touchdowns in his last three games. In that same span, Greg Jennings has just 11 catches, 84 yards and two touchdowns.
14. Matt Moore might have to be the answer in Miami. Because the Dolphins suddenly look superb, which likely means they won’t have a chance to draft a franchise quarterback in April. Moore’s 3-3 as a starter. Over his last three games — all wins — he’s completed over 70 percent of his passes for 613 yards, six touchdowns and only one interception. Let’s just hope this doesn’t save Tony Sparano’s job.
15. Told ya so! Or at least that’s what Alen Dumonjic should be saying regarding Charles Clay, who had a breakout performance Sunday. But Alen’s too polite to rub it in, so I’ll do it for him.
16. Remember how mighty that Buffalo offense was early on? Hard to believe what has happened to them. Crazy: they failed to convert a single third down on Sunday. Zero-for-12.
17. Still waiting to find out how bad Darrius Heyward-Bey’s injury is, but if he misses time, the Raiders will feel it. Carson Palmer is running out of receivers. Fortunately for Oakland, its next opponent, Chicago, is running out of quarterbacks.
18. But the Raiders should be more concerned about all those penalties. This is just getting ridiculous. Not only is Oakland leading the league in penalties for the second year in a row, but they’re on pace to break the single-season record in that category. Thus far, they’ve survived — they have yet to lose a game as a result of penalties. But it’ll eventually bite them in the ass.
19. Time for more Jake Locker. He looked great in his first extended run of playing time in relief of an injured Matt Hasselbeck Sunday, but the Titans insist that Hasselbeck will remain the starter, if healthy. Kind of a shame when you consider how poised Locker was — he had three completions of 20 yards or more in one half of action. But they’re paying Hasselbeck too handsomely to sit him on the bench with a 5-5 record.
20. The Seahawks are looking like they could dominate the 2010 NFC West.
21. The Niners win so peacefully. That’s the only way I can describe it. They take care of business in methodical, efficient fashion and win without fireworks. If I had the ability to pick the team I had to lose to, I’d take San Francisco.
22. Congratulations, Kevin Kolb. You might not have played on Sunday, and your team might have been blown out. But you were a real winner. Thank John Skelton, who had one of the most dreadful performances we’ve seen a quarterback have all year.
23. Prince Amukamara with a pick and five tackles in his debut. I know it’s early, but find me a bust in the 2011 draft class. The closest thing thus far: Blaine Gabbert, but that wouldn’t be fair to Gabbert at this point in his career.
24. Your Week 11 inanimate MVP “NBCee It”: Great job catching that the ball hit the chalk on the field on an alleged Corey Webster interception. Super-duper NBC replays also appeared to reveal that DeSean Jackson might have stayed in bounds on a big punt return, but the play was never reviewed by the replay official.