Breaking Down the Pivotal Moments of NFL Week 11
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After a fairly unexciting slate of games in Week 10, we were treated to multiple overtime thrillers and a close contest that kept us on the edge of our seats in Week 11.
Struggling teams like the Jaguars, Browns and Cardinals played great despite losing, while teams like the Patriots and Broncos continued to assert their dominance in big wins.
Every game has a pivotal moment that swings the momentum to one team’s side and propels it to victory.
Here is the breakdown of the most pivotal moments of Week 11.
Leodis McKelvin Makes a House Call
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The game between the Dolphins and Bills on Thursday Night Football was not exactly a barnburner, but Buffalo return man Leodis McKelvin provided us with some fireworks early on.
McKelvin fielded a long punt at the 19-yard line and exploded upfield right through the Miami defense for a 79-yard touchdown run.
It was the second punt McKelvin has taken all the way for a touchdown this season.
The Bills would not find the end zone again and would have to settle for four Rian Lindell field goals.
The punt return started the Bills out on the right foot, something that has not happened too often this season.
M.D. Jennings Makes Stafford Pay
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Matt Stafford had possibly one of his worst games of the season against the Green Bay Packers Sunday.
In the third quarter, second-year safety M.D. Jennings made Stafford and the Lions pay on a costly interception. Stafford fired a strike to tight end Tony Scheffler, but the ball bounced off Scheffler’s hands and right to Jennings. Jennings made his way down the sideline with an escort of blockers 72 yards for a touchdown.
The score gave the Packers their first lead of the game. Green Bay would hold on to win 24-20.
Falcons Bizarre Fumble Return TD
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The whole game between the Falcons and Cardinals was a little strange.
The first strange decision was when Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt decided to pull starter John Skelton for rookie Ryan Lindley despite being up 10-0. Skelton completed just two of his seven pass attempts for six yards.
Lindley did not do much better. The rookie quarterback completed just nine passes for 64 yards, but a crucial mistake in the second quarter flipped the momentum of the game.
Lindley was hit in the pocket before releasing the ball, and most of the players on the field assumed that the ball that was now lying on the turf was an incomplete pass. Veteran John Abraham knows to play till the whistle. Abraham alerted Jonathan Babineaux that there had not been a whistle and the ball was live. The Cardinals watched in awe as Babineaux returned the fumble 15 yards for a touchdown.
Despite playing well, the Cardinals continue to find a way to lose—the trademark of bad teams. Even a highlight-reel fumble recovery from Greg Toller in the third quarter could not save the Cards.
Vincent Jackson Plays in Traffic
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Things were not looking good for the Bucs as the Panthers went up 21-10 with six minutes left.
However, Josh Freeman and the resilient Buccaneers were not going down without a fight. The team’s playoff hopes were on the line.
The defense held pat, forcing Cam Newton and the Panthers offense off the field, and the game was now in Freeman’s hands.
Freeman and Vincent Jackson delivered.
Freeman stepped up in the pocket and hit Jackson in the end zone with a strike. The ball was perfectly placed for Jackson around three defenders, and he hung on to pull the Bucs within two.
Down by two, the Bucs were forced to go for the two-point conversion. On a beautiful play-action pass, Jackson would find Newton again to tie the game.
Tampa Bay would ride the momentum from its comeback into overtime and win 27-21 on a Dallas Clark touchdown catch.
Pass Interference Bails Out the Boys
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Not much has gone right for Cleveland this year, but Sunday against the Cowboys, the Browns were close to their first road win of the season.
The Browns held the lead for the majority of the game and kept Tony Romo and the Cowboys scoreless in the first half.
With just over a minute left and a three-point lead thanks to a Benjamin Watson touchdown grab, it looked like the Browns were going to walk out of Cowboy Stadium with a win.
However, a pass interference call on Browns cornerback Sheldon Brown put the Cowboys inside the red zone and well within field-goal range with under 20 seconds left.
Kicker Dan Bailey booted the short field goal and forced overtime. Bailey kicked another field goal in overtime to secure the victory for the Cowboys.
Andre Johnson Runs Away with the Win
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After weeks of futility, the Jacksonville Jaguars looked like a real NFL franchise against the Texans in Week 11.
Houston and its vaunted defense needed overtime to dispose of the basement-dwelling Jags.
Andre Johnson was once a SportsCenter regular and was being touted as the best receiver in the game. Recently, the 10-year veteran receiver has not been receiving as much attention, but is still playing at a Pro Bowl level. Johnson’s performance Sunday showed that he’s still got it.
A week after recording just four catches for 35 yards, Johnson exploded for 273 yards and the game-winning touchdown against the Jaguars.
The touchdown came on a huge individual effort from Johnson after catching a quick screen from Matt Schaub. Johnson simply outran every defender on the field and won propelled his team to victory.
A.J. Green Makes a Ridiculous Grab
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A.J. Green is making a strong push to take the best receiver in the league title away from Calvin Johnson.
The Bengals dominated the Chiefs from the opening kickoff, and it was a dazzling four-yard catch by Green in the first quarter put the Cincinnati on top.
Green navigated his way around double coverage and adjusted in the air to make a ridiculous one handed catch.
It now seems commonplace for the Georgia alum to be making highlight reel plays. Green has had a touchdown in every game but one this season.
RG3 Drops a Bomb on Philly—Twice
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Nick Foles and Robert Griffin III are both rookies, but both are at very different points in their careers.
Foles was forced into the starting after Michael Vick was sidelined with a concussion in Week 10 against the Cowboys. In his first start as a pro, Foles went 21-for-46 for 204 yards and two interceptions. Both picks came on the first two series of the game.
RG3 showed why he was the No. 2 overall pick in April’s draft with his performance Sunday. Griffin completed 14 of 15 passes for 200 yards and also ran 11 times for 85 yards, including a 49-yard bomb to Aldrick Robinson and a 61-yard missile to Santana Moss.
The Redskins went on to rout the Eagles 31-6.
Malcolm Jenkins Takes the Raiders Will Away
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When you are a bad team and things are not going right, a bad start is the last thing you need.
That is exactly what happened to the Raiders Sunday against the Saints.
After Drew Brees led a four-minute touchdown drive in the first quarter, Malcolm Jenkins took a Carson Palmer pass back 55 yards to put the Saints up 14-0.
The pick took the will of the Raiders away, and nothing seemed to go right for the silver and black after that.
The Saints are on the rise. After a 0-4 start, Brees and the Saints are a factor in the playoff picture.
Von Miller Campaigns for Defensive Player of the Year
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Von Miller is developing into the best pass-rusher in the NFL—his performance Sunday was a testament to that. Miller finished the game with three sacks, six tackles and two forced fumbles.
Miller’s most impactful sack came midway through the third quarter, as he slammed Philip Rivers to the ground, jarring the ball loose. The Broncos would recover well in Chargers territory. Peyton Manning and the offense would capitalize on the turnover and put the game out of reach for the struggling Chargers.
Miller now leads the NFL in sacks with 13, and we are sure to see more of those ridiculous sack dances as the season wears on.
Deadline Trade Paying off for Patriots Already
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There was some good and some bad in Aqib Talib’s Patriots debut, but a dazzling 59-yard interception return is what stands out.
Talib grabbed an errant Andrew Luck pass and weaved his way through the pursing Colts for a touchdown.
Talib is an explosive player—that is why the Bucs took him with the 20th overall pick in 2008. Talib never really caught on in Tampa Bay, and off-field troubles, including the four-game suspension for that pushed back his Patriots debut, led to him eventually being traded.
If Talib buys into the “Patriot way,” he could be a huge asset for Bill Belichick.
Ed Reed Brings Steelers Back to Earth
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Coming into the Steelers and Ravens' Week 11 matchup, all the talk was about how the Steelers would deal with the absence of injured Ben Roethlisberger.
After their first drive, it looked like the Steelers were dealing just fine.
Byron Leftwich and the offense got some help from a long penalty on a pass interference call and then the veteran quarterback galloped 31 yards for a touchdown.
The momentum would not last long though. The next series, Mike Wallace would fumble and Ed Reed returned the ball to the 14-yard line.
Baltimore managed only a field goal, but it seemed to bring the Steelers back to earth.