NFL Week 11: The Cincinnati Bengals, Eli Manning and the 10 Biggest Blunders
Hard hits, interceptions, or missed field goals. It was a constant theme in Week 11, that has been built up in the past ten weeks, into one big explosion of ugly delights.
If your just now recovering from Sunday Night Football between the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants, I totally understand, that game packed more punch than a Monster Energy drink mixed with a Manny Pacquiao right hand.
The Eagles now continue to assert themselves in the NFC bragging rights discussion, while the New York Giants head back down the New Jersey Turnpike, to try and highlight where they have gone wrong in the past two weeks.
But as per usual, it's time to take a look back at all of Sunday's action, and this time around, take a quick glimpse at the negative side of this weekend's events, that left many teams sweating, frustrated and quite possibly crying, at the very sight of these football follies.
No more stalling around, it's time to check out The Top 10 Biggest Blunders of Week 11, and find out who may regret suiting up this past Sunday.
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Ryan Cook is an Australian Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also an NFL columnist for Real Sports Net and a Green Bay Packers writer for Fan Huddle and PackerChatters. Ryan is also a contributing writer for Detroit Lions Talk, Gack Sports and Generation Y Sports.
Honorable Mention: The Minnesota Vikings Spellcheck
LaMarr Woodley found it funny on Twitter, and so did the rest of the nation, as it appeared the Minnesota Vikings crushing loss to the Green Bay Packers on the weekend wasn't the only thing that head coach Brad Childress managed to muddle up.
As you can see from the picture, defensive tackle Kevin Williams' jersey had been mispelt during the week, due to a small factor that NFL announcers called "The Vikings have too many Williams' to keep track of on the team".
Maybe it's just me, but this blunder was one of several from the Minnesota Vikings in Week 11. Don't worry though, there is plenty more to come from the Purple People Eaters later on.
10. Graham Gano Misses a Game Winning Field Goal
Before you get ready to burn Graham Gano at the stake and label him a moron, relax, the Washington Redskins kicker did manage to earn his team a solid victory on Sunday over the Tennessee Titans at LP Field.
Prior to Gano's game winner though, he had a previous shot to notch it all up for the Washington Redskins, who were fresh off one of the teams most embarrassing losses last Monday Night against the Philadelphia Eagles.
On the fair side, Graham Gano wasn't all that prepared for this game. With two unofficial weeks off since his last kicking opportunity in the regular season, normally Gano is one of the more clutch kickers in the NFL, even though it didn't appear that way this weekend.
In the first half, Graham Gano missed a 51 yarder, much to the disappointment of the few Redskin fans who made the trip to Tennessee. As if that wasn't enough, Gano then missed a second opportunity in the dying stages of the game, this time at 47 yards, which ended up falling short.
All's well that ends well for Graham Gano though, and the Redskins pick up a crucial win away at Tennessee. If things had gone differently however, lets just say Gano's job may be a strong talking point during the upcoming week throughout the NFL.
9. Brett Favre Throws a Crucial Interception Against The Green Bay Packers
From a happy ending to a very dull and questionable tale, Brett Favre's typical interception effort is once again a talking point on the back end of Sunday, as the old timer managed to throw at least one interception this week against division rivals Green Bay.
If you're a Packer fan, chances are you're laughing your socks off at this statistic. At the same time though, if you support the Minnesota Vikings, the time has come to seriously evaluate the turnover prone quarterback, and begin to consider replacement Tavaris Jackson.
So what was so crucial about yet another of Favre's interceptions?
Not to say that all of his 17 picks this year haven't been just as disappointing, but with the season on the line and the game still in hand, Favre managed to throw the ball away on a mediocre slant route late in the first half, to Packers star cornerback Tramon Williams.
Now, the Vikings return to the drawing board, and after being shut out by their biggest opponent, head coach Brad Childress faces the hot seat, while the rest of the team sits back and questions where their future is headed.
As for Brett Favre, his time is certainly up at the end of this season, but with six games still to go, could he crack that unfortunate 25+ interception mark?
It sure is looking likely now. While we wait and see though, Favre's interception against the Packers on Sunday looks to mathematically eliminate the Vikings from any playoff contention this season.
8. Troy Smith Fails To Post Any Points On the Board Against Tampa Bay
It may not have been a huge blunder over the weekend, but anytime a team is shutout 21-0 at home, chances are a storyline or two is going to simmer and rise to the surface very, very quickly.
For those fans out there that considered Troy Smith to be the real deal in San Francisco, don't be mislead, there is still plenty of time for No.1 to produce the goods over the next six weeks. As for those doubters out there that questioned Smith's ability, this past weekend looks more and more in your favor.
Statistically speaking, Troy Smith fared as poorly as the 49ers did on the scoresheet on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.. With only 148 yards and 1 interception on the day, Smith failed to post any points on the board for San Francisco, and more importantly ended his 2 game win streak at the helm of the 49ers offense.
It was a day of record breakers and milestones for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Raheem Morris' team hasn't won in San Francisco since 1980, and just to add some spice to the situation, the 49ers haven't been shut out at home since 1977.
Can we blame Troy Smith for this big time loss?
Definitely not, but much of the blame sits on his shoulders. Head coach Mike Singletary now returns to the drawing board (for the 100th time this season), and is reportedly taking a look at Alex Smith again, who was the teams preferred starter entering into the season.
Troy Smith has been great in the past month - this weekend, not so much. If by some chance he does get to start next week against the Arizona Cardinals, expect to see a much more focused player out on the field.
7. Garrett Hartley Misses Yet Another Field Goal
A comedy of errors is normally the New York Mets job, but the defending Super Bowl champs? No one saw that coming.
Just like Graham Gano, Garrett Hartley had a case of the wobbles this week. Unfortunately for the once reliable new Orleans kicker though, Hartley has been feeling the effects of an imaginary wind, for most of the 2010 season.
With the game dead and buried, one would have to be quite selfish to shoot Garrett Hartley a ton of criticism over this miss. Still the fact remains the same, what happens if Garrett Hartley misses a crucial kick down the line? Say, like one to send the Saints to the Super Bowl again?
In head coach Sean Payton's case, that's a bridge he'll cross when he comes to it.
As for this past weekend though, Hartley missed a fairly straight forward 27 yard field goal attempt, that clunked off of the left upright, and left the Saints special team game in some despair, even though a comfortable win was to follow.
We'll wait and see how this story progresses, but if you'll recall, Hartley had these same struggles earlier in the year. Given that the kicking game has been no easy task this season, Hartley's tendency to shank field goals isn't all that promising.
From 27 yards to tiny chip shots?
Lets hope it doesn't get that far.
6. The Houston Texans Defense
Plain and simple, the Houston Texans defense is awful right now.
On the weekend against the New York Jets, the Texans headed into a crucial affair against one the AFC's top dogs, knowing full well that the season at hand was well and truly on the line away at the Meadowlands.
As quickly as the Texans grew hopeful they could pinch a victory against the Jets though, the brilliance of Mark Sanchez and Santonio Holmes quickly put an end to that though, scoring a last minute touchdown to send up a classic "J-e-t-s, Jets! Jets! Jets!" chant throughout the new stadium.
The main cause for this absolute devastating loss, was Houston's lack of defense. By taking a quick look at the Texans offense on the day, quarterback Matt Schaub had a decent outing, passing for 254 yards and 1 touchdown, accompanied by Arian Foster's rushing/receiving skills.
But at the end of the day, Houston's 32nd ranked pass defense came back to bite them in the rear end. Santonio Holmes clinched a game winner in overtime last week against the Cleveland Browns, so it is a mystery as to how head coach Gary Kubiak ignored the talented receiver.
Now, a 4-6 record and a serious hole at the bottom of the AFC South. To think this team was one of the most talented on paper heading into the season, is now overshadowed by a complete blunder past six weeks.
5. Randy Moss Catches For Zero Passes Against the Washington Redskins
Randy Moss geared up for his second start as a Tennessee Titan this weekend, when he took the turf at LP Field, and attempted to rid everybody's thoughts of his poor Week 10 performance.
That attempt was shortlived though.
Looking back, Randy Moss' 0 catches and 0 yards on the day is more than just atrocious. Yes, Vince Young went out injured, but for a wide receiver of Moss' caliber to underperform so badly, raises serious questions in relation to this contract move.
And where does this rank amongst the top blunders of the week?
Randy Moss currently only has 339 yards and 5 touchdowns on the season, and more or less has taken an extended bye week for the latter part of the past two weeks.
When will Moss turn his jets on?
Your guess is as good as mine. With the Titans currently sitting third in the AFC South though, there's no time like the present for No.84 to get on his bike and provide Kerry Collins with some much needed relief in the passing game, that he so desperately needs.
Tennessee take on the Texans on Sunday afternoon, in a game that should continue to shape the AFC South division. A loss is one thing, but if Moss goes for a hat trick of poor performances, the "old school" discipline may begin to show from head coach Jeff Fisher.
4. Sam Bradford Throws a Late 4th Quarter Interception To End the Rams Chances
The Atlanta Falcons are no easy task for even the best NFL teams (just ask the Baltimore Ravens). But when a rookie quarterback has to face an NFC powerhouse at home in front of a big time crowd, the pressure begins to mount even more for a former Oklahoma Sooner.
With Rookie of the Year talk flaring up, look no further than Sam Bradford. Sure Ndamukong Suh, Jahvid Best and Dez Bryant all put up very competitive fights, but the Rams leading man has been successful in several things this season - one of which includes turning the Rams franchise around from such a dull past.
So in Week 11 against the Atlanta Falcons, Sam the Ram had a task on his hands, that was a lot bigger than just green eggs and ham. He had to knock off one of the leagues top NFC powerhouses.
Playoff hopes on the line, Sam Bradford knew how vital this game was his team. Unfortunately though, Sam Bradford experienced the "close but no cigar" feeling on Sunday, as he threw a last minute interception on the Falcons goal line, to hand an 8-2 record to Mike Smith's team.
What's unfortunate about this occurrence, is the fact that Sam Bradford was having a phenomenal day up until this point. Sitting at 233 yards and 2 touchdowns, Sam Bradford had a serious chance to outplay Matt Ryan, a storyline that doesn't always pop up for rookie players.
As a result St. Louis fall to 4-6, even though so much promises sits beneath the layers of Steve Spagnuolo's team. Maybe if wide receiver Mark Clayton was in it would have been a different story, but nonetheless, Sam Bradford's heartbreaking interception was a blunder he'd like to forget.
3. The Cincinnati Bengals
No catchy headline is needed here, because this is a situation that doesn't warrant any creativity at this point in the season.
The bottom line is, the Cincinnati Bengals let a major lead slip to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, to see their season fall to a dismal and demoralizing 2-8 on the year. Just like the Houston Texans, the defense cops much of the blame here, but there are also other factors at play.
Firstly, this team isn't right mentally. It may seem like an absurd statement, but confidence is bone dry throughout Cincinnati, and witty "Bungle supporter" paper bag signs don't help the cause for the Bengals players, especially during a home game.
Secondly, the Bengals offense is deplorable. Carson Palmer seemed to likely to guide Cincinnati to a win over Buffalo, but looking back, his 230 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 crucial interceptions were perhaps never good enough to earn a victory.
Next in line on offense, is of course Chad Ochocinco. Credit to Terrell Owens, he has been playing his tail off, but when a rookie wide receiver like Jordan Shipley outplays a veteran like Ochocinco against a very lowbrow Bills side, serious issues need to be sorted.
Thirdly and lastly, defense. They say it wins championships, and anyone who doubts that needs to take a look at the Bengals, and realize what a mess they have become this season. Ranked 18th in pass yards and 23rd in rush, not even Johnathan Joseph's pick six could secure a win for such a wobbly defensive structure.
Tough times for Cincinnati, and Chad Ochocinco has bigger problems than his video game. A picture tells a thousand words, and the one to left, pretty much sums up this blunder of a weekend for Marvin Lewis and his team.
2. Peyton Manning Throws The Game Away On a Rare Last Minute Interception
Peyton Manning has become the king of rallying late comebacks against the New England Patriots. Sunday afternoon however, was certainly an affair that The Sheriff would like to forget leaving Foxborough right now.
For much of the game, the New England Patriots were in control. Serious MVP candidate Tom Brady was throwing lick after lick of big time passes, and with running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis proving to be the best thing since sliced bread in New England, Bill Belichick had no reason to fret.
In typical Colts fashion though, Indianapolis rallied. Late minute touchdowns brought the lead back to within 3, and with a major defensive stand in the 4th quarter, the game was once again in Peyton Manning's hands to secure.
Perhaps with 396 yards and 4 touchdowns on the game, if you were to exclude Peyton Manning's 2 interceptions at the time, you would certainly back him. With two turnovers in hand though, the scenario wasn't as easy as it had been in years past.
So what was the end result?
A Peyton Manning interception right to the waiting hands of James Sanders, who iced the game with 31 seconds remaining.
From then on out, Peyton Manning hung his head on the sideline, expressed a classic Eli Manning "Aww shucks" look, and saw his team move out of first place, and slip to 6-4 on the season.
No doubt Peyton Manning will be back, and with Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers visiting next Sunday Night, Manning will look to redeem himself of two consecutive poor performances, against a top rank defense in the league.
Week 11, a game to forget, and a performance to forget for Manning. With 3 interceptions on the day, it's a rare sight to see, so savior it while you can.
1. Eli Manning Experiences a Dejavu Fumble Against The Philadelphia Eagles
The Manning brothers had a bad Week 11. First Peyton Manning throws three interceptions, then Eli Manning decides to go one up on his brother, by losing to the Philadelphia Eagles, and causing serious turnovers.
Rewind to a season and ago, and you'll see a similar image to the one at your left. Against the Philadelphia Eagles, Eli Manning attempted an unusual scramble for a first down, only to take an even more uncanny head first dive and lose the football.
Come back to 2010, and you'll arrive at the very same scenario this past Sunday. With the game still in reach, Eli Manning gained an impressive Michael Vick like rushing first down, only to hit the turf head first, lose the football, and ultimately throw the game away.
If you thought Peyton Manning's "Aww shucks" expression was rare, Eli Manning resorted to his old self following these events. Then, to add salt to the wound, Eagles running back LeSean McCoy decided to break off a big rush, and take the game for the green and white.
A turnover filled week for the Manning brothers, and Eli also sees his team drop to 6-4 on the season. More frightening though, is the fact that the Philadelphia Eagles sit in first place amongst the NFC East, and with Michael Vick red hot, who knows when that freight train is going to stop.
A blunder from Peyton, a blunder from Eli - who would have guessed? It's all history now though, and Eli Manning must work to turn his team around, if the Giants are to stand any chance at a serious postseason spot this year.