Dallas Cowboys Win, David Garrard's Toss & 10 Biggest Surprises From NFL Week 10
They say that the NFL is a constant game of cat and mouse. If that mouse's name is "unpredictability," then I guess this is a very fair statement.
Week 10, what can I say? The sand shaker is beginning to run out like some strange game of Pictionary, and while many teams resort to the drawing board heading into Week 11, several franchises are still reeling off of impressive performances on Sunday.
But when it came to predicting the events witnessed this past weekend, not even Ed McMahon could have placed his famous head to the bottom of an envelope, and announced these scorelines.
The Bills over the Lions? The Broncos over the Chiefs? It's uncanny to many, but it's still the reality we all faced.
Without further ado, here's a look at The Top 10 Surprises from Week 10, and if you thought the Cowboys' win in New York was big, you'd better hold onto your seat whilst reading this.
10. The Oakland Raiders Sit Atop the AFC West
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Somehow lost in all of this weekend's hullabaloo, was the simple and genuine fact that the Oakland Raiders now sit atop the AFC West 10 weeks into the year, after doing absolutely nothing during Week 10.
Most Raiders fans thought the day would never come when they would find themselves thanking the Denver Broncos, but after Kyle Orton's big-time performance at home on Sunday afternoon, Kansas City's loss was ultimately Oakland's gain.
Before we get ahead of ourselves though, it is important to realize that the Raiders are still tied for first. Kansas City is far from "out of the hunt" just yet, and with both teams sitting at 5-4 on the year, anything can happen in the next seven weeks.
While we're on the topic of not jumping the gun, make sure that you all keep a firm eye on the San Diego Chargers, who like Oakland, took the week off this past weekend, and now look to leapfrog both Kansas City and Oakland with a 4-5 record.
As for the Raiders, lets give credit where credit is due. Nowadays, the old school thought of hard work goes a little unnoticed, and at the end of the day, the Raiders have simply made the right moves to get where they are today.
Yes, there is an abundance of time remaining, but gee, the Raiders have to be loving the taste of first place right now.
9. Randy Moss Catches One Pass in Titans 29-17 Loss to Miami
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Sometimes debuts go well; other times they go poorly. In Randy Moss' case, Sunday's match up against the Miami Dolphins is more than likely a game he wishes to forget.
For those of you who predicted Moss to produce nothing but fizzle and pop on Sunday afternoon, give yourselves a pat on the back and a gold star, you're one of the few smart people left watching the game.
And what drives to me to make such a statement?
Quite frankly, following on from Randy Moss' unimpressive stint as a Minnesota Vikings, it is probably no big shock to hear that No. 84 caught only one pass in his first game as a Titan, resulting for 26 yards and nothing more.
Before you state that I'm on Randy Moss' case, I assure you I am not. However, when a receiver is being paid top dollar for his acquaintances, Jeff Fisher would be the first person to tell you that he expected better out of Moss this past weekend.
Just like the Oakland Raiders, there is plenty of time for Moss to redeem himself, and 339 yards and 5 touchdowns on the year aren't half-bad stats.
When it goes down in the history books, though, Randy Moss' Tennessee Titans debut was nothing but one big disappointment, and until he breaks out against a worthy opponent in the near future, this will be a lingering thought for many football fans regardless as to whether or not the Titans make the playoffs.
8. The New York Jets Nearly Fall to Persistent Cleveland Browns
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Week 9 nearly spelled overtime disaster for the New York Jets, and in Week 10 the same storyline unfolded in Cleveland against Eric Mangini's Browns.
For a team that was cracked up to be the next best thing since chocolate milk, Rex Ryan's bubbling offensive team has struggled to maintain even the slightest bit of composure and stability in the past four weeks.
Rewinding just for a second, everything seemed to come undone for the Jets following their 9-0 shutout loss to the Green Bay Packers in Week 9. The Jets offense was as flat as a New York style pizza, and from here on out, Mark Sanchez and his crew have struggled to provide points on a consistent basis.
Therefore, it's probably no surprise to anybody that the Jets are now ranked 20th in offensive pass yards following this disastrous play, and chances are if this continues, New York may weave themselves out of playoff contention if they aren't lucky.
But if it hasn't been one thing for Rex Ryan, it's been another. New York's defense continues to struggle, and on the weekend against the Cleveland Browns, the Jets once again needed an overtime period to beat a considerably weaker team on the road.
Fortunately for all loyal Jets supporters, Gang Green has at least pulled out the victories. Week 9 provided a scare with the Lions, and now that the Browns have sent every AFC team a message, the Jets must resort to the drawing board quickly.
Week 11 sees Rex Ryan take his team back home to face the Houston Texans. The sight of Meadowlands Stadium should be a treat for the Jets, after two consecutive road games.
Still, the Texans pack a lot of star power, and with no offense, the Jets may struggle again. We'll wait and see if this unfolds, but Week 10 certainly highlighted the kinks in New York's once-dominant team.
7. Jay Cutler Boosts the Chicago Bears to 6-3 Record on the Year
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Will the real Jay Cutler please stand up? Sorry, it appears No. 6 already has.
In a tough game against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday afternoon, the Chicago Bears knew their immediate season was on the line heading in, much of which is a compliment of the very outcome several hours later.
With a 27-13 victory now in hand, the Bears are tied with the Green Bay Packers atop the NFC North division. However, before we get into the importance of this duel, Jay Cutler's efforts must be recognized first and foremost.
Following on from the usual Brett Favre counter questions after the game, Jay Cutler's stats stood at 237 yards and three touchdowns. Unfortunately Cutler couldn't help but throw to the opposing defense on two occasions, but the fact that Jay did hand the Bears a win, cancels out this factor.
So now, we can talk about the relevance of this win going forward. Yes, being tied with the Green Bay Packers is a luxury, but at the same time the Bears head into a game against Miami next week, with a bundle of new found confidence and motivation to try and reach the playoffs.
Aside from Jay Cutler's heroics, Devin Hester's big-time plays also helped the Bears immensely. Trusty ol' Robbie Gould was good for a few points, and three Brett Favre interceptions later, Lovie Smith saw his record jump to 6-3 on the year.
Bear down? More like Bear up. The Windy City is standing still for once, and now the Bears pose a real threat in the NFC North yet again.
6. The Denver Broncos Blast The Kansas City Chiefs 49-29 In Mile High
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If Jay Cutler resembled Superman in Chicago, then Kyle Orton resembled Batman in Denver on Sunday, after a highly commendable performance against the Kansas City Chiefs.
To think that two years ago we were all criticizing these two quarterbacks for a lack of talent, almost seems unfathomable at this point in time. Both passers have developed into potential stars, and even though they do have their critics, 2010 has certainly been a big shining point.
Straying away from Jay Cutler for a moment though, Kyle Orton deserves some face time. With 296 yards and four touchdowns in the game against Kansas City, the Broncos 49-29 win on Sunday has highlighted the promise left in Josh McDaniel's franchise.
As if Kyle Orton's heroics weren't enough though, Brandon Lloyd also acted as his usual sidekick. Catching for 90 yards and 2 touchdowns on the day, the duo of Orton and Lloyd is almost worthy of an Oscar, after these two have risen from the ranks in such struggling times.
A 3-6 record isn't anything to be proud of for the Broncos, but at least they can sit back and relish in the fact that they knocked off one of their biggest division rivals in blowout fashion.
If only the Broncos could get their run game and defense sorted, this team would be a real threat in 2011.
5. The Buffalo Bills Notch Their First Win Of the Year Over the Detroit Lions
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Waiting for the Buffalo Bills to win in 2010 has been like waiting for a bus: extremely slow and boring. Finally though, Chan Gailey's team saw their win record tick over to "1" on Sunday, as the Bills took advantage of an injury-depleted Detroit Lions team.
Fans out there who were expecting a big-time scoreline on the day, you're most likely disappointed. Both the Lions and Bills only managed to accumulate a total of 26 points, and after Buffalo stole a 14-12 victory, all of the Bills hard work had finally paid off.
Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had 146 yards and 1 touchdown. While it could be said that Shaun Hill was much more impressive, the Bills playmakers in Fred Jackson and Lee Evans gave Buffalo enough firepower to jump over the line.
Next week, Buffalo take on the Bengals in Cincinnati; meanwhile, the Lions take a trip to Dallas to take on the struggling Cowboys.
Two big games to focus on, and both have an upset quality about them.
4. The New England Patriots Defense Steps Up Against Tough-Willed Steelers
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Tom Brady's four touchdown passes against Pittsburgh on Sunday Night may have seemed impressive, but when you take a look at the Patriots defensive highlights, chances are you'll be blown away by Bill Belichick's pinpoint thinking.
As we all know, the Pittsburgh Steelers are no easy task. Al Michaels plainly stated that grounding Ben Roethlisberger is like trying to bring an apartment complex to the ground, and when you throw Hines Ward and Rashard Mendenhall into the mix, it becomes even tougher.
However, the Patriots managed to avoid the Steelers star power. After a helmet-to-helmet collision with wide receiver Hines Ward saw Pittsburgh's offensive threat gone, New England began the hunt for Big Ben, recording five big-time sacks over the Steelers main man.
In all honesty, this was the factor that won the game for New England. When the Steelers faced the New Orleans Saints several weeks ago, Sean Payton managed to limit Rashard Mendenhall's carries, and the Patriots have obviously watched that tape.
Sacking Big Ben is no easy task, and when the Steelers receivers offered No. 7 no chemistry at all, the game was obviously in the bag behind Brady's four touchdowns, two of which came from tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Pittsburgh takes on the Raiders next week at home, while the Patriots take on yet another AFC heavyweight in the Indianapolis Colts. Will it be back-to-back victories for New England?
We'll wait and see, but the Cleveland Browns loss may have been the kick start that Bill Belichick's team really needed.
3. Miami Dolphins Lose Chad Pennington and Chad Henne To Injury
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Who would have thought that such a big-time win could come at such a big-time cost for the Miami Dolphins?
Yes, finally Miami have won a game at home. The Tennessee Titans were never going to be a cakewalk, but 29-17 victory over Jeff Fisher's talented team leaves the Dolphins reeling with confidence, even though two of their key players were sidelined.
If you haven't heard the news already, starting quarterback Chad Pennington played on two snaps before going out with his usual pesky shoulder injury.
What happened following that?
As planned, Chad Henne stepped in, but midway through the third quarter, he too was rocked by the Titans on an incomplete pass, and was escorted by doctors off the field, and was later discovered to have injured his knee.
Regarding Chad Pennington's injury, it looks to be season-ending. Pennington's shoulder injury has plagued the veteran quarterback for the past few years, while at the same time Chad Henne's status is still unclear right now.
Luckily, during all of this the Dolphins haven't hit the snooze button. A game this Thursday against the Chicago Bears awaits, and the Dolphins must decide on either Tyler Thigpen, JaMarcus Russell, or the thought of bringing in Jeff Garcia, Daunte Culpepper, Todd Bouman (plus many other candidates) to the team.
Tough times for Miami, but a win during a crucial November period. Let's hope head coach Tony Sparano makes the right call, which looks to be Tyler Thigpen at this point in time.
2. The Dallas Cowboys Win On The Road Against the New York Giants
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The Dallas Cowboys lost in unimpressive fashion against the Green Bay Packers in Week 9. Week 10 however, has opened a different can of worms entirely.
The scoreline seen in New York on Sunday afternoon was 33-20. The Dallas Cowboys emerged victorious under new head coach Jason Garrett, and even though the Cowboys' season is done, Dallas at least managed to form some kind of self respect with seven weeks remaining.
What popped up as more of a surprise than the Cowboys' win though, was the fact that this was the exact same team a week ago, just under a different coach.
Was there some off field controversy going on between Wade Phillips and the team? Were the Cowboys being plain lazy? Or did the Giants give this game away to Dallas way too easily?
I guess a little bit of each has come into play. If one thing is for sure, the Giants turnovers hurt them dearly. New York's yardage on the day was high, but at the same time Eli Manning struggled to post points, thus the Giants measly two touchdowns on the day.
Big D is far from back, and everything could easily collapse in Week 11. But for Dallas to march into New York and stop one of the league's most promising teams simply can't go unmentioned, and neither can Jon Kitna's 327 yards and three touchdowns on the day.
1. David Garrard Throws Up a Hail Mary To Topple The Texans
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In high school football we see them work, but in the NFL, rarely do we see a Hail Mary pass actually prevail on any given Sunday.
If David Garrard was ever a man of miracles though, he certainly came through for the Jacksonville Jaguars on the weekend, lobbing up a last-second toss, only to see it bobbled and picked up by Mike Thomas and into the end zone for the win.
Unluckily for the Houston Texans, they now sit as bottom dwellers in the AFC South. 4-5 on the year, Houston's struggles continue going forward, while the Jacksonville Jaguars bump up to 5-4 all thanks to some last-minute heroics.
During the game, both teams played their hearts out. David Garrard threw for 342 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Matt Schaub also maintained stability passing for 314 yards and 2 overall scores.
What was most promising for the Jaguars though, was Maurice Jones-Drew. So far this season the star rusher has been quiet, however, Drew's 100 yard, two-touchdown performance on the weekend has made up for any inconsistencies.
Last but not least, the Jaguars are still in prime position to take the crown in the AFC South, and even though the Colts are surging, one slip up against the Patriots next week could mean all the difference for Jim Caldwell's team.
A surprise? Try a major one. A Hail Mary pass rarely works, and judging by David Garrard's expression seconds later, it certainly rocked the Jaguars locker room later on.