NFL Week 10 Recap
Denver’s defense scored the game winning 2-point conversion, the Chargers fourth quarter woes reemerged, the Cowboys won in dramatic fashion, and more analysis
Defense Leading to Offense
Ever since Hall of Fame and chicken parm eating quarterback Peyton Manning began his steady decline in productivity, the Denver defense has become the calling card of the Broncos organization. Through the first 58 minutes of the game, the defense was surprisingly average. The defense did force three turnovers, but Saints QB Drew Brees was still able to throw for 303 yards and 3TDs with a completion percentage of over 72 percent. One of those TDs was a 32-yard bomb to WR Brandin Cooks with 1:22 left in the game that tied the score at 23.
Before the game tying TD, the Broncos appeared to be in control, despite a less than dominant effort from their defense. The Broncos led 10-0, before faltering slightly in the third quarter when they fell behind 17-10. After going down 7, Denver proceeded to score 13 unanswered points, in large part to kicker Brandon McManus’ accuracy along with being relatively inefficient within the red zone. New Orleans then received the ball one more time with the chance to go ahead for good. After Brees marched the Saints down the field for the tying TD, the Saints were given the opportunity to kick a PAT that would put the team ahead by one point. What happened next was to the dismay of every Saints fan.
The ball was snapped, the hold was perfect, but there was one small problem. Rookie Justin Simmons hurdled the long snapper, timing his jump perfectly, blocking the kick. The ball then bounced to Will Parks, who (allegedly) returned the ball for a safety, scoring two more points for the Broncos, giving them a 25-23 win. The result came as a surprise, especially because this was just the third time this season that an extra point had been returned for a safety by the other team.
The win notwithstanding, the Broncos offense once again sputtered at times. Despite starting the season on a strong note, Trevor Siemian has posted subpar efforts in several of the past weeks. The running game was not moving even when CJ Anderson was healthy, and ever since going down, Devontae Booker and Kapri Bibbs have not been much of an improvement. Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, both heralded as potential number one receivers, have struggled with drops and separation. Furthermore, the tight end play has been almost nonexistent this season, a factor that has been in effect since the departure of Julius Thomas two seasons ago.
Looking forward, the Denver Broncos (7-3) head back to Denver to take on the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football, while the New Orleans Saints (4-5) travel to Carolina to take on the Panthers on Thursday Night Football.
La Caida de Felipe Rios / The Downfall of Philip Rivers
When the front office of the San Diego Chargers decided to move past franchise QB Drew Brees in order to pursue their future with Philip Rivers, the expectations have been sky high. Rivers has delivered at times, while at others, he has greatly struggled. Sunday was an example of the latter.
With a line of 23/44 for 326 yards, 3TDs/4INTs, Rivers struggled to connect with his receivers all throughout the game. Despite his struggles, the Chargers still were locked in a competitive game going into the fourth quarter. Down 21-17, San Diego had many opportunities to win the game. The Chargers went up 24-21 late in the fourth quarter, but their defense faltered quickly, allowing a FG to Miami to tie with 2:57 left in the game, a mere 1:04 after they scored. With just under three minutes remaining, it was officially Philip Rivers time.
The ensuing possession, Rivers, while targeting leading receiver Tyrell Williams (7/125/1), threw the ball right into the hands of Kiko Alonso, who promptly returned the INT 60 yards for the game winning TD. This was a crippling blow to the chances of a Chargers victory, but the game was not over yet. The Chargers were given the ball with a chance to tie with 1:01 left. Rivers, again while leading the Chargers down the field, threw another INT to Byron Maxwell, his fourth of the game. This INT proved to be the final nail in the coffin. The win was the Dolphins fourth win in a row, while the Chargers remained in the cellar of their division with the loss.
The running game of each team is a large part of the offensive game plan of each team, as both the Chargers and Dolphins feature a young second year running back that is having a career year. In this game, however, both running backs ran into brick walls while trying to move past the front seven of the opposing defense. Jay Ajayi, he of the consecutive 200-yard performances, carried the ball 19 times for 79 yards, while Melvin Gordon, crowned as this year’s most improved running back, toted the rock 24 times for 70 yards. Gordon was able to contribute 5 catches for 62 yards, while Ajayi caught one reception for one yard.
Next week, the Miami Dolphins (5-4) face the Los Angeles Rams in LA, while the San Diego Chargers (4-6) will face Tampa Bay in San Diego next week.
Zeke Parting the Red Sea
Many attribute QB Dak Prescott to being the main reason why the Dallas Cowboys hold an NFL best 8-1 record through 10 games. Although Prescott has exceeded nearly every expectation that was laid out for him thus far, much of the success can be attributed to the great play of the Cowboys offensive line and star rookie RB Ezekiel Elliot. Elliot, who rushed 114 yards and 2 TDs while catching two catches for 95 yards and a TD, scored the game winning TD with 35 seconds left to knock off the Pittsburgh Steelers 35-30 at Heinz Field.
This game was one that seesawed back and forth throughout its entirety. Dallas led 23-18 going into the fourth quarter, and the leads would only continue to change. The game saw 7 different lead changes, with Dallas ultimately finishing on top. The final drive to score was not at all guaranteed however. The Steelers, down five points at the time, were given the ball with 1:55 left and a chance to win. Ben Roethlisberger (37/46, 408 yards, 3TDs) drove the Steelers down the field, capitalized by a fake spike TD pass to Antonio Brown with 44 seconds left to take what many believed would be the final score of the game. The Cowboys had other ideas, however.
Dak Prescott (22/32, 319 yards, 2 TDs) quickly drove the Cowboys down the field, moving into field goal range with a mere 20 seconds left in the game. Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett decided that, instead of kicking the field goal right off the bat, to continue handing the ball off to Ezekiel Elliot. The result was a TD with nine seconds left that sent Dallas to their eighth consecutive win, and sent the Steelers to their second consecutive loss.
Next week, the Dallas Cowboys (8-1) will head back home to take on the Baltimore Ravens, while the Pittsburgh Steelers (4-5) will head to Cleveland to take on the Browns.
Baltimore 28, Cleveland 7
Despite leading at one point 7-6, the Browns faltered and lost their tenth game in a row – but don’t fret, they aren’t out of the playoffs just yet
Kansas City 20, Carolina 17
Eric Berry led the Chiefs and helped score 20 unanswered points to overcome the Panthers
Los Angeles 9, NY Jets 6
A real thriller that saw the Rams barely defeat the Jets
Tennessee 47, Green Bay 25
DeMarco Murray did it all as the Titans rolled the Packers
Philadelphia 24, Atlanta 15
The Eagles overcome a few mental errors to limit the NFL’s number one offense to their lowest point total all year
Washington 26, Minnesota 20
Perhaps a new catchphrase from Kirk Cousins will start a winning streak in the nation’s capitol
Houston 24, Jacksonville 21
A late rally made by the Jags fell short as the Texans defense won another game to stay atop the division
Tampa Bay 36, Chicago 10
Arizona 23, San Francisco 20
Seattle 31, New England 24
The scrappy Seahawks held on at the goal line (this time) as the Patriots were handed their first loss at home
NY Giants 21, Cincinnati 20
Odell Beckham scored for the second consecutive week as the Giants held on to beat the Bengals
Week 11 Picks
Home team in CAPS (Lines as of 11/15)
CAROLINA (-4.5) over New Orleans
INDIANAPOLIS (-3.5) over Tennessee
DETROIT (-6.5) over Jacksonville
KANSAS CITY (-7.5) over Tampa Bay
NY GIANTS (-6) over Chicago
Arizona (Pick) over MINNESOTA
Buffalo (+4) over CINCINNATI
Baltimore (+7) over DALLAS
CLEVELAND (+8.5) over Pittsburgh
Miami (Pick) over LOS ANGELES
SAN FRANCISCO (+14) over New England
SEATTLE (-4.5) over Philadelphia
WASHINGTON (-3) over Green Bay
OAKLAND (-3.5) over Houston
Byes: Atlanta, Denver NY Jets, San Diego
Last Week: 7-7
All Time: 70-56-2
Week 9 Recap: http://wiux.org/2016/11/10/nfl-week-9-recap/
Luke Hallett is a sophomore at Indiana University, and his radio show Gerky Gerk and The Funky Bunch, is on WIUX 99.1 FM on Fridays from 6-7PM EST.