It is time to shell out some awards for Week 11 of the NFL season. Who were the MVPs for the week?
Who was the loser of the week? Is it possible that the best game of the week could involve the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns?
What are some of the poor coaching decisions and the injuries that will affect Week 12?
MVPs of the Week:
Sure, it was against the Cleveland Browns, but Detroit Lions rookie QB Matthew Stafford, who had been struggling in recent weeks, entered the game with just six touchdowns and 12 interceptions on the season and the Browns were just what the doctor ordered. He had 26 completions in 43 attempts for 422 yards, five touchdowns, two picks and a QB rating of 112.7. The Lions overcame a 24-3 deficit in the first quarter to win 38-37.
Miami Dolphins RB Ricky Williams played big in the Thursday Night game against the Carolina Panthers rushing 22 times for 119 yards and scoring three touchdowns in the Dolphins 24-17 win.
New England Patriots WR Wes Welker came up huge against the New York Jets with 15 catches for 192 yards. That mark set the Patriots’ record for most receptions in a non-OT game and was second only to WR Troy Brown who had 16 receptions against the Kansas City Chiefs back in 2002.
Loser of the Week:
The AFC North who went a combined 0-4 and lost those four games by a total of nine points. The Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3) and Cincinnati Bengals (7-2) lost to teams (Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs) that were a combined 4-14 entering the game. Those losses canceled each other out for the division race, but it let the New England Patriots and San Diego Chargers back into the hunt for the No. 2 seed and a first round bye. The Bengals, Patriots and Chargers are all 7-3 and leading their divisions. It also helps the Indianapolis Colts, who have a three-game lead for best record with just six games to play.
One of the most disappointing players this week was New York Jets rookie QB Mark Sanchez. With the season on the line the Jets rookie went 8-for-21 with just 136 yards passing, one touchdown, four picks, a lost fumble and a 37.1 QB rating. Those turnovers were key in the Jets 31-14 loss. Since starting September 3-0 with five touchdowns and two picks and the Rookie of the Month Award, he has just five touchdowns and 14 interceptions, which is one reason why the Jets are 1-5 with their only win at the 3-7 Oakland Raiders.
Game of the Week:
I have been very critical of some of the bad football teams in the NFL, but I give credit where credit is due. The (1-8) Detroit Lions who had allowed the most points in the NFL and the (1-8) Cleveland Browns who had scored the fewest points in the NFL played a thrilling 38-37 game with the quarterbacks combining for nine touchdown passes. The Browns had scored only 29 points in their previous five games, but managed to score 24 points in the first quarter alone.
The Lions stayed in the game and took a 31-27 lead, before they allowed eight more points to trail 37-31. Stafford led the team down the field and according to ESPN.com his fifth TD pass was the sixth time since 2003 a touchdown was scored with no time left and the scoring team trailing at the start of the play. The pass to rookie TE Brandon Pettigrew gave the Lions an exhilarating victory. It is probably the first time I have used the words Browns, Lions and exciting in the same sentence.
Bay of Pigs:
Dallas and Washington playing a 7-6 game with the Cowboys scoring the go-ahead touchdown with 2:42 left in the fourth quarter receives my vote. The Cowboys have to be concerned that they have only been able to manage two touchdowns in their last two games. Even though they currently sit at 7-3 and atop the NFC East, this is not a team that is playing their best football and is instead regressing to the same problems that plagued them the first month of the season. If they continue to play at their current level, they will be lucky to make the playoffs and will not go very far should they get there.
Mike Martz Award:
I have two awards this week and they both go to former New England Patriot assistant coaches. Cleveland Browns head coach Eric Mangini gets my first vote this week. You are playing against Stafford, a quarterback that has thrown for over 400 yards and four touchdowns. He is down at the shadow of your goal line down six points with a chance to win the game. Why do you call timeout to set your defense when the quarterback that has killed you all game is hurt on the sideline?
Mangini said the reason was to set his defense for the final play. The problem is that under the league’s injury rules, if a player is hurt he cannot re-enter the game for at least one play, unless a timeout is called. Mangini’s timeout allowed Stafford to re-enter the game to throw the winning touchdown. I would think that Mangini should have had enough time while Stafford was lying on the turf injured to huddle his team and get the defense set without having to use a timeout. I would feel better going against backup QB Daunte Culpepper, who has not played a down in recent weeks and would be ice-cold coming into that game over a guy that has torched the defense the entire day. It was a very costly timeout and put the Lions in a much better position to win the game. The call is a small illustration in a bigger picture of why the Browns have struggled so much this year. Mangini has done such a poor job preparing and coaching his team that he puts them in the worst possible position to win a game. Sunday was just the latest example of that.
The other confusing call this weekend came from Denver Broncos coach Josh McDaniels. He made the decision to start Chris Simms over starter Kyle Orton, presumably because Orton was too hurt to play. So why does Simms start the game, struggles and is replaced by Orton after just four pass plays?Why is Orton able to throw 29 passes and play the rest of the game?
This game was for control of the division in November and if your best quarterback can play, he should be on the field from the beginning. If he cannot, he should not be playing, period. The Broncos have a lot of other reasons to look at in their 32-3 defeat, but that was a stunning decision to me.
I have already talked about Stafford and his shoulder injury at the end of the Lions game. With the Lions playing on Thursday against the Green Bay Packers, it is doubtful he will be ready for the game.
The Pittsburgh Steelers not only lost 27-24 in OT to the Kansas City Chiefs, but QB Ben Roethlisberger took a knee to the helmet, which most likely resulted in a concussion. It is uncertain how severe that injury is going to be, but it is expected he will be able to play next week.
QB Kurt Warner also left the Arizona Cardinals 21-13 win over the St. Louis Rams with a possible concussion. His injury did not seem to be as serious as Roethlisberger’s.
The Green Bay Packers defense suffered two big losses with CB Al Harris and LB Aaron Kampman likely to miss two or three games with injuries suffered in the 30-24 win over the San Francisco 49ers. The early speculation is that both players may have suffered season-ending knee injuries. If that is the case, the Green Bay defense is going to have some big holes to fill.
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