NFL Game Recaps: Week 11, 2015

Lions 45, Eagles 14

  • One team had everything to play for, trailing its divisional leader by just one game. The other, well out of the playoff race, was taking part in a meaningless contest. By the way these teams performed, you'd think the Lions were the former, but that was not the case. Detroit absolutely dominated this game, from start to finish. It was better on both sides of the ball, while Jim Caldwell and his staff coached circles around Chip Kelly, who will undoubtedly call his real-estate agent this weekend and ask for available homes in either Southern California or Louisiana.

    There were reports heading into this contest that Kelly lost the locker room, and the Eagles certainly played as if that were the case. They looked completely lost on defense, blowing tons of coverages and missing countless tackles. The defensive scheme was horrible as well. Coordinator Billy Davis had his cornerbacks play well off the Detroit receivers, and he also made the mistake of having rookie Eric Rowe, who was on the field in place of an injured Nolan Carroll, cover Calvin Johnson one-on-one with no safety help. Rowe, consequently, was beaten like a drum, yet Davis made no adjustments.

    Kelly's offense, meanwhile, continued to be a mess. His decision to bring back Mark Sanchez this past offseason was a head-scratcher at the time, especially when he traded for the injury-prone Sam Bradford. It was obvious that Sanchez would start a handful of games this season, and based on what Kelly saw at the end of the 2014 season, I don't know why he would let that happen. Sanchez is even worse than he was last year, thanks to a depleted arsenal. Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy and some of the offensive linemen are no longer around. Thus, it shouldn't be a surprise that Sanchez is barely having any success behind a poor offensive line while throwing to bums like Riley Cooper, Josh Huff and Miles Austin. It's astonishing that Austin is even on an NFL roster; let alone serving as a prominent player in an offense. That's how bad Kelly's mismanagement has been.

  • Sanchez's final numbers don't look too bad - 19-of-27, 199 yards, two touchdowns and a lost fumble - but most of his yardage and one of his scores came late in the game when the Lions stopped trying. For a better barometer of how Sanchez performed, take a look at his first-half numbers, when he was 8-of-14 for 106 yards and a touchdown.

    It's hard to just blame Sanchez for this, however. He wasn't terrible, but he just wasn't good enough to compensate for the ineptitude of the other players. It didn't help that stud left tackle Jason Peters was helped off the field during the opening drive. His absence was felt instantly, as Lane Johnson was flagged for a face mask, forcing a long field goal that doinked off the upright. Johnson also allowed a blind-side sack and fumble in the third quarter.

  • Sanchez's leading receiver was Jordan Matthews, who caught three passes for 60 yards and a touchdown. However, the score came very late in garbage time. Matthews dropped a pass in the third quarter, but that was a result of a brutal, but legal hit.

  • Excluding Matthews and someone named Trey Burton (2-49), no other Eagle had more than 21 receiving yards. Cooper (2-16) was barely a factor, while disappointing rookie Nelson Agholor (2-15) was flagged at one point for taking off his helmet following a first-down conversion.

  • It wasn't surprising to see DeMarco Murray struggle again. Murray was awful, managing just 30 yards on 14 carries. Murray, who tripped on the turf a couple of times, can't really blame the blocking for this. The Eagles, quite simply, are using him incorrectly. Kelly continues to utilize Murray as an East-West runner, which is not the proper way to use him. This has been painfully obvious to everyone, save for Kelly, it seems. McCoy was such a better fit for this offense. Ryan Mathews is the better option as well, but he couldn't play because he has yet to pass concussion protocol.

  • As for the Lions, they actually began very dubiously, despite what the final score may say. Their first offensive snap was a penalty for not being aligned properly. Matthew Stafford then threw behind Calvin Johnson, and that was followed by an Ameer Abdullah drop. It appeared as though this was going to be yet another long Thanksgiving afternoon for the Lions, but the team completely turned things around after that. In fact, Stafford led six consecutive scoring drives that featured five touchdowns and a field goal.

    Stafford was on fire, putting together one of the best games of his career. He went 27-of-38 for 337 yards and five touchdowns despite seeing his targets drop four passes. Stafford was battling a defense that didn't seem to have any sort of sensible game plan, but he was still amazing.

  • I still can't believe that the Eagles allowed a second-round rookie to cover Johnson without safety help. Megatron responded with eight catches for 93 yards and three touchdowns. He also should've drawn pass interference in the end zone on one occasion, but the flag wasn't thrown for some reason.

  • Stafford's other two touchdowns went to Golden Tate (7-50) and Theo Riddick (5-62). The latter was constantly open in the middle of the field, as it seemed as though Philadelphia had no idea that he could catch passes. Tate, meanwhile, dropped a pass, but was terrific otherwise.

  • No Detroit runner posted great numbers, but the Lions ran the ball very well, ripping off at least four yards on most of their carries, which constantly set up Stafford in second-and-short situations. Abdullah, who dropped a ball, managed to gain 63 yards on 16 carries. Joique Bell (7-25) bulldozed into the end zone on one occasion. He also dropped one pass.

    Panthers 33, Cowboys 14

  • The Panthers told the media that they were disrespected by the fact that they were underdogs against a 3-7 opponent. It seemed like they were genuinely more excited to play on Thanksgiving heading into this game, and that was definitely the case. It seemed like they needed this victory more than Dallas did, despite the fact that the Cowboys have to win most of their remaining games to claim the weak NFC East.

    Carolina's defense was completely dominant. Tony Romo was supposed to be the savior to lead the Cowboys to victory, but the Panthers picked him off thrice. The first occasion occurred on the opening drive, less than a minute into the game. Romo was pick-sixed by Kurt Coleman on a telegraphed pass to Jason Witten. Romo threw another interception returned for a touchdown - this time, Luke Kuechly snatched the obvious ball. Romo's third pick was an underthrown heave to Witten.

    The Panthers limited Romo to 11-of-21, 106 yards and the three picks. Making matters worse for the Cowboys, Romo appeared to re-injure his collarbone on a crushing hit. Matt Cassel entered the contest and was effective - 13-of-19, 93 yards, one touchdown - albeit in garbage time. The truth of the matter is, if Romo is out again, the Cowboys are completely finished, even if the Giants lose to the Redskins on Sunday. On the other hand, if New York prevails, Dallas should be done regardless. Three back with five games to go is just too daunting to overcome.

  • As for Carolina's offense, Cam Newton didn't have to do very much because Romo was turning the ball over the entire evening. Newton's numbers don't look great - 16-of-27, 183 yards; 12 carries, 45 rush yards, one touchdown - but he played much better than his stats indicate. He made a number of important third-down conversions. He began with a strike to Greg Olsen on a third-and-10 through a tight window. He later hit Jerricho Cotchery with a dart to move the sticks on a third-and-17. On the same drive, which culminated in a touchdown, thanks to a Dallas unsportsmanlike penalty on a made field goal, Newton found Cotchery again on a third-and-10. Cotchery avoided a tackle to pick up the first down. Newton plunged into the end zone a couple of plays later.

  • Only two Panthers accumulated at least 70 receiving yards. Those were Cotchery (5-73) and Olsen (5-70). The latter could've had a better fantasy outing, but he dropped a touchdown.

  • Jonathan Stewart had a disappointing performance from a fantasy perspective, gaining 68 yards on 21 carries. Newton vultured a rushing score in the third quarter.

  • Moving back to the Cowboys, I already posted Romo's horrific stat line. Romo simply couldn't connect with Dez Bryant. He targeted Bryant four times in the opening half, but the dynamic wideout couldn't come up with a single reception until after intermission, thanks to an overthrow to Bryant for a potential big gain. Bryant ultimately finished with two grabs for 26 yards.

  • Cole Beasley was the only Cowboy receiver who didn't disappoint; he logged six receptions for 44 yards and a garbage-time touchdown. Terrance Williams (4-39) and Witten (4-36) were ineffective.

  • Darren McFadden struggled to find running room against Carolina's elite ground defense. McFadden was limited to just 11 yards on 10 carries, but he at least helped his PPR owners with four catches for a team-leading 45 receiving yards.

    Bears 17, Packers 13

  • The NFL officially makes no sense. Two weeks ago, the Packers lost to the Lions at home for the first time since 1991. This was their third-consecutive defeat, and all hope appeared to be lost. Then, proving that they still were Super Bowl contenders, they went on the road and dismantled the Vikings. Oh, so they were back, but it just took them a week later to regroup, right? That's what I thought - but then Green Bay lost straight up at home to the Bears, marking only the second time Jay Cutler has ever beaten the Packers as Chicago's quarterback.

    So, what happened? Is the NFL just completely random, or is there any sort of good reason the Packers couldn't beat the Bears on short rest - a situation that tends to benefit the superior team? Well, considering how many picks are going, it might just be completely random, but Green Bay did shoot itself in the foot repeatedly in this contest. Here's a rundown of the prominent mistakes:

    - Davante Adams dropped a potential touchdown in the first quarter.

    - Eddie Lacy lost a fumble in his own territory in the second quarter. The Bears, who had gone three-and-out on four of their first five drives, used the turnover to get momentum, scoring their first touchdown of the night.

    - An offensive pass interference call ruined a chance for the Packers to score a touchdown right before halftime. The officials called James Jones for a pick.

    - Adams dropped a pass to move the chains in the third quarter. Adams then dropped another ball on the same possession, and this was followed by a botched snap that ruined field goal position.

    - Rodgers threw an interception because Adams was bumped off the route.

    - Adams - you guessed it - dropped another pass in the fourth quarter.

    - On the final drive, James Starts was guilty of letting the ball fall through his hands, and then Jones dropped the game-winning touchdown. The final drive stalled.

    As you can see, the Packers absolutely wrecked themselves with mental errors. They managed to outgain the Bears, 365-290, but no team could've overcame all of those horrible mistakes.

    So, what can the Packers do to improve this? I'm not sure there are any clear answers besides removing Adams from the lineup. He is absolute trash. He saw a team-high 11 targets, but caught only TWO passes for 14 yards. That's ridiculous! He might just be the least-efficient receiver in the NFL, taking that distinction from Mike Wallace.

    Meanwhile, the other receivers aren't helping Rodgers. Cobb (6-74) continues to underwhelm, while Jones, who couldn't reel in any of his six targets, looks like he's running in slow motion. I didn't think Green Bay would miss Jordy Nelson when he went down in the preseason, given that Rodgers has gotten the most out of pedestrian talents before, but I think most Packer fans would kill to have him back in the lineup right now.

  • Getting to the numbers, Rodgers went 22-of-43 for only 202 yards, one touchdown and the pick to go along with 33 rushing yards on four scrambles. I counted at least half-a-dozen drops, two of which could've been scores, so Rodgers should've had a much bigger game. Then again, Rodgers nearly threw an interception, but the defender dropped the ball in the end zone in the second quarter. There was also a scary moment where Rodgers appeared to hurt his hand while recovering a botched snap. However, he didn't miss any time. Cris Collinsworth speculated that Rodgers simply banged his funny bone.

  • The Packers ran very well on the Bears. Lacy gained 105 yards on 17 carries, but was benched for a few drives because of his early fumble. Lacy, however, was given seven carries following intermission. James Starks (7-39) also looked good, especially as a receiver out of the backfield; he snatched four passes for 41 receiving yards.

  • Adding injury to insult, Bryan Bulaga left the game with an ankle injury. He was listed as questionable to return, so perhaps it's not very serious.

  • My apologies to you Chicago fans, given that I've been ranting about the Packers this entire time. Green Bay is still alive in the playoff chase, however, so I wanted to spend more time on them. However, I do want to mention that the Bears once again were surprisingly impressive. They've had some unexpected wins this year, and this one has been the best one of all.

    Cutler, who normally folds against the Packers, was fantastic. It looked like he was going to struggle early - as mentioned, the Bears went three-and-out on four of their first five drives - but Cutler caught fire after that. He was 10-of-14 for 122 yards after intermission.

    Cutler went 19-of-31 for 200 yards and a touchdown overall, which is very impressive considering that he was A) taking the field in cold, rainy conditions, and B) playing without his talented tight end, Martellus Bennett.

  • It helped Cutler that he had Alshon Jeffery on the field again. Jeffery was great, catching seven passes for 90 yards. No other Bear had more than 45 receiving yards, with Marquess Wilson (4-44) being next on the list behind Jeffery.

  • Matt Forte also returned in this contest. He and Jeremy Langford split touches almost evenly, with the latter being more productive. Forte gained 44 yards on 15 carries, while Langford tallied 48 yards and a touchdown on 12 tries. Langford's only blemish was dropping a pass that would've went for a first down in the early stages. Both Forte and Langford caught exactly one pass.

    Texans XX, Saints XX

  • Falcons XX, Vikings XX

  • Bengals XX, Rams XX

  • Colts XX, Buccaneers XX

  • Giants XX, Redskins XX

  • Raiders XX, Titans XX

  • Chiefs XX, Bills XX

  • Jets XX, Dolphins XX

  • Jaguars XX, Chargers XX

  • Cardinals XX, 49ers XX

  • Seahawks XX, Steelers XX

  • Patriots XX, Broncos XX

  • Browns XX, Ravens XX

  • For more thoughts, check out my updated NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.



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  • Comments - Viewing Page 1

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    Jake (Anonymous Poster)
    3 day(s) 7 hour(s) ago - hide
    The Patriots weren't robbed of a 70-yard TD. Darby was in prime position to make that tackle, but gave up on the play when the whistle blew. Isn't that what players are supposed to do? There is no question about it. I've seen the play 20 times. The Patriots actually benefited from that "inadvertent" whistle when you consider the 15-yard penalty that wound up being tacked on the end.

    Darby is the forerunner to make Defensive Rookie of the Year, and can easily make that tackle in that situation. He was closing in on Amendola before the ball ever got to him...not even a yard from him, and the ball had not yet arrived. Amendola had to pull a 180 before even turning upfield too, as he was facing toward his own end zone. The tackle was pretty much a done-deal, or as close as you can get to that. Tirico and Gruden were acting like Darby was a non-entity or something. Perhaps they were confused.

    I don't remember seeing anything quite like this before, but that shouldn't have even been ruled a catch, even though it was. 

    Or maybe the real question is how anybody can inadvertently blow a whistle. I'd be willing to make a bet that, if somebody gave me a whistle, I would never blow it accidentally. 

    Time for full-time refs. Don't think these guys knew what they were doing throughout that fiasco of a play. Just made it up as they went along. I think it was the Bills that were robbed of points when they called back a Brady INT on the Pats' first possession on a horrendous dense naive holding call. That was huge.
    3    0 Reply
    Time and time again... (Anonymous Poster)
    3 day(s) 8 hour(s) ago - hide

    Walt, in your Pats/Bills recap you wrote about the Bills' struggles in the 4th quarter: "The Bills wasted 20 seconds after the first play because their headsets weren't working for some strange reason."

    ...was that sarcasm, Walt? You're tricky...

    0    0 Reply
    ieboob (Anonymous Poster)
    3 day(s) 16 hour(s) ago - hide
    "Anquan Boldin paced the Cardinals....." 

    0    0 Reply
    Prof Owl (Anonymous Poster)
    3 day(s) 21 hour(s) ago - hide

    re: the 49ers

    "so of course they both lost and failed to cover."

    Then why did you bet on them? Your summary before the game was all about how you expect the Seahawks to win, but you can't expect them to cover a wide spread with the troubles they've been having. Your summary after the fact, is all about how it was obvious they were going to do well, so we can't learn anything because they only did what they were expected to do. Which is it? Was the Seahawks' performance a question or not?

    0    0 Reply
    insider zero (Anonymous Poster)
    3 day(s) 22 hour(s) ago - hide

    Rex finally has the talent to beat NE. The first game between them -- Buf lost because of penalties and mistakes. Before they losing all hope they played a competitive game. 

    They will play hard all 4 quarters and will take advantage of an injured NE offense. Note: Brady was out sick for 2 practices this week and could not get in sync with his new wrs.

    My POM Buff +7 (9 units)

    Gl to all! Winners circle.

    0    1 Reply
    D0uches g0n D0uche (Anonymous Poster)
    9 day(s) 2 hour(s) ago - hide
    1    0 Reply
    IssacH (Anonymous Poster)
    9 day(s) 2 hour(s) ago - hide

    @D0uches g0n D0uche

    The Broncos and Bengals are actually really good teams and probably a lot better than your favorite team.

    0    2 Reply
    NFL32 (Anonymous Poster)
    4 day(s) 5 hour(s) ago - hide
    @IssacH He didn't say they were bad teams.
    0    0 Reply
    Wesley C (Anonymous Poster)
    7 day(s) 4 hour(s) ago - hide
    Walt, you should follow @philsimmsquotes on Twitter. He points out all of Simms's stupidity and has a drinking game where you drink every time Phil says "talked about"
    1    0 Reply
    Wesley C (Anonymous Poster)
    7 day(s) 4 hour(s) ago - hide
    Walt, you should follow @philsimmsquotes on Twitter. He points out all of Simms's stupidity and has a drinking game where you drink every time Phil says "talked about"
    0    0 Reply
    D0uches g0n D0uche (Anonymous Poster)
    8 day(s) 19 hour(s) ago - hide
    @IssacH LOL No body has figured it out but my favorite team is the broncos I just hate peyton manning
    0    0 Reply
    Not Exactly (Anonymous Poster)
    10 day(s) 23 hour(s) ago - hide


    You neglect to mention they were tipped because he threw them either too high or behind his receiver so yes they were his fault

    0    0 Reply
    daw (Anonymous Poster)
    11 day(s) 4 hour(s) ago - hide
    Stafford didnt see Clinton-Dix? It was a clear miscommunication. He was expecting Moore to run in and he ran upfield. 
    0    0 Reply
    Wilson3GOAT 0 Posts (2 )
    11 day(s) 13 hour(s) ago - hide
    Both Jameis Winston's picks were tipped balls that were not his fault
    3    1 Reply
    DoYouEvenWatch? (Anonymous Poster)
    14 day(s) 7 hour(s) ago - hide

    Did you even watch the game last night Walt, or did you just watch the highlights on SportsCenter?

    First - Fitz's two touchdowns were in garbage time? Who knew that throwing a touchdown with 7+ minutes to go, to go down by 5 points was garbage time...

    Second - You say the Jets "never retained (sic) possesion" after Fitz overthrew the TE in the end zone. Not true. They forced a punt with 30+ seconds in the game left.

    Third - Rex Ryan was yelling F*** Yeah after a first down run to ice the game? Wrong. The Jets had possession, and Fitz threw an interception. That led to Rex's reaction.

    You're writing blatantly wrong information. Information that would've been quite obvious if you had actually seen the game.

    5    1 Reply
    R-T-D (Anonymous Poster)
    14 day(s) 1 hour(s) ago - hide
    @DoYouEvenWatch? I agree that his review was horribly inaccurate, but can you really blame him for turning the game off early?  It was terrible.
    1    2 Reply
    TimmerGfromBC 1 Posts (0)
    14 day(s) 17 hour(s) ago - hide
    I don't know what was the worst part of this game.  The horrendous offensive play-calling on both the Jets and the Bills,  Tyrod Taylor's time-outs, Ryan Fitzpatrick staring down receivers or the Bills' punter's weird lower body.  Bring on the drink.......
    0    0 Reply
    Dinner (Anonymous Poster)
    17 day(s) 8 hour(s) ago - hide

    Most injured teams this season:

    1: 49ers

    2: Chargers

    3: Steelers

    0    3 Reply
    Hmm (Anonymous Poster)
    17 day(s) 14 hour(s) ago - hide

    Don't think you watched the Rams v Vikings game much, if at all.

    Especially if you thought Foles had a decent game.

    0    0 Reply
    bob57210 (Anonymous Poster)
    17 day(s) 14 hour(s) ago - hide
    ...leader of the crips.....  Hahahaha!!!  
    0    0 Reply
    sdmcc (Anonymous Poster)
    18 day(s) 2 hour(s) ago - hide
    There's a few game recaps missing there!
    0    0 Reply
    Mike (Anonymous Poster)
    18 day(s) 6 hour(s) ago - hide

    You absolutely have something wrong with you if you thought Dallas outplayed Philly and that they deserved the win. Philly had the bad luck in this one- Dallas had two phantom PI calls on Maxwell plus the Dez catch.

    0    2 Reply
    Rad Brad (Anonymous Poster)
    21 day(s) 5 hour(s) ago - hide
    I get it, Manziel wasn't perfect, but honestly......there were more than just a couple drops.  The note that he slowed Barnidge down is also a little much as Barnidge dropped a few passes as well.  Switching QB's on a short week in a game against one of the smartest defenses in the league right now shouldn't really count against you, especially considering this match-up last year for Manziel.  At some point, some team is going to give him a shot, but until then there can't be a really decent analysis when he isn't consistently playing week in and week out.  Cleveland being a team that spent a first rounder on the guy, should be playing to see if he is franchise worthy.
    1    3 Reply
    Joe (Anonymous Poster)
    22 day(s) 4 hour(s) ago - hide

    WAKE UP, WALT!!!

    You're missing out  Detoilet Lions' housecleaning!

    The only other move that would merit an A+++ rating from that decrepit organization is a public notice that they're folding their tent and forfeiting all remaining 2015 games!


    0    2 Reply
    Skip Wayless (Anonymous Poster)
    23 day(s) 14 hour(s) ago - hide
    Look at Walt making excuses for Luck just like everyone else smh......
    2    1 Reply
    Matt (Anonymous Poster)
    28 day(s) 8 hour(s) ago - hide
    Walt, please stop betting against the Patriots. I hate them as much as the next guy, but they are not a team you bet against.  Not as long as Belichick and Brady are there.
    1    1 Reply
    KDog (Anonymous Poster)
    28 day(s) 8 hour(s) ago - hide
    @Matt @Walt Please keep betting against Brady, I enjoy taking your money and bathing in your tears.
    5    0 Reply
    coords 73 Posts (14 )
    24 day(s) 8 hour(s) ago - hide


    He's just convinced they aren't as good as people think they's a rough trap to get out of.  And with the Pats a lot of times teams choke...fall apart in the face of Brady and that just feeds if your a hater you are thinking...if a team just isn't afraid and can play their game.  And you lose track of the fact that part of what the Patriots due is make you make mistakes.

    The worst/best thing that can happen now is the Patriots lose some game to a decent game and then Walt will be convinced they aren't that good.  

    0    0 Reply
    bob564543 (Anonymous Poster)
    24 day(s) 15 hour(s) ago - hide

       No kidding, everyone knows they're going to cheat, never bet against the Pats.
    0    1 Reply
    Highon (Anonymous Poster)
    24 day(s) 18 hour(s) ago - hide
    The 49ers have benched Collin Kaepernick for Blaine Gabbert!!! Please give us your reaction Walt. I am dumbfounded, how could an athletic QB with a big arm who lead a team to a Super Bowl be benched for Blaine freaking Gabbert?
    1    1 Reply
    Hmmm? (Anonymous Poster)
    24 day(s) 17 hour(s) ago - hide


    One would guess this is a decision to pack it in on the assumption that the coach has talked to the Owner or at least the GM and they have promised him he won't be out next season with the worst record in football, but the talent level on this team took such a nose dive (across the board on offense and the D-line as well) that even a high first round pick for QB is not going to turn things around anytime soon. 

    Instead it seems like this is a decision to attempt to light a fire under Kap's rear and see if he is capable of putting some wins on the board latter this season to give the 49er's a glimmer of hope for next season at the position while still promising a bad enough record for a decent pick. 

    Still this looks like an organization that has lost all sense of identity, purpose or drive. it looks like the early Ought 9ers are back to stay. 

    0    0 Reply
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