NFL week ten round-up
Week 10 of the NFL saw some teams get back into the playoff hunt with big wins and certain games brought us unexpected upsets. In this review, we look at three divisional matchups from the NFC South, NFC East and the AFC East as well as Sunday night’s big game between two 7-1 teams who were looking to stamp their authority on their respective conferences.
Atlanta Falcons (8-1-0) 27-31 New Orleans Saints (4-5-0)
Despite being 8-0 going into this game, the Atlanta Falcons had come under criticism from many. They’ve been branded as over-achieving and losing a big divisional game did little to silence those doubters..
Luckily for the Falcons, this loss did little in harming their season as they still look comfortable at the top of the NFC South, but the win for the Saints gives them hope of making the post-season despite a difficult schedule ahead for Drew Brees and co.
It is Atlanta’s schedule that fuelled the fire for criticism around the league as the Denver Broncos were the only team that they’ve played and beaten who have a winning record this season. Despite that, this is the NFL and as we know on any given Sunday anything can happen so this Falcons team is due credit.
Although saying that, this Sunday presented them with an opportunity to quieten the smack talk but it turned out that two stops by the New Orleans defense in the final few minutes of Sunday’s game would give the Saints the 31-27 win and shock the previously unbeaten Falcons.
Down by 4, Matt Ryan led Atlanta down the field and on to the New Orleans 1 yard line with two minutes to play. However, over the next four plays the Saints managed to stay clutch on defense and hold out, which enabled them to run the rest of the clock out and savour a sweet win in front of their home fans at the Superdome.
The game was an exciting one as well as tense with Saints quarterback Drew Brees completing 21 of 32 passing attempts for 298 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. New Orleans have now won two in a row as they moved to 4-5 ahead of a week 11 game on the road against the Raiders as they look to tie their record up at 5 wins and 5 losses.
A win for the Saints next week would get them back in the playoff hunt, especially as the Falcons face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next week in another NFC South divisional battle. Drew Brees has carried this team in what has been a difficult season for all those involved with the franchise but there could be light at the end of the tunnel with a shot at the playoffs now a slight possibility.
As for the Falcons, well they go back to the drawing board after their hopes of a perfect season were ended at the halfway stage. Matty ice was still efficient at quarterback on Sunday night as he threw for 411 yards by completing 34/52 attempts which included three passing touchdowns and an interception.
The Falcons will go back to the drawing board and look to clear up the few mistakes they made in this loss as they know they are going to the playoffs. The one thorn in their side is the fact that they haven’t won a playoff game in so long, but with so much time to focus on the post-season head coach Mike Smith will make the most of this opportunity and look to prove the Falcons’ doubters wrong.
Houston Texans (8-1-0) 13-6 Chicago Bears (7-2-0)
The most eagerly anticipated game from week 10 saw two of the best sides from either conference lock horns at Soldier Field in Chicago with the home town’s Bears facing off against the Houston Texans.
With both teams possessing talented defences, this game turned out to be one massive defensive slugfest in which Texan’s quarterback Matt Schaub threw the game’s lone touchdown to Arian Foster which helped Houston prevail 13-6.
Running back Foster had 102 yard rushing yards on 29 carries and added 15 yards on five receptions, including his score. With the win it was the Texans who moved on to 8-1 on the season and they tied a franchise record by winning their fourth consecutive road game.
Chicago was not helped by the fact that quarterback Jay Cutler left the game at halftime after suffering a concussion which meant backup Jason Campbell stepped in but didn’t step up to the challenge.
When he stepped in to the game, the Bears were down 10-3 at the half and a late third quarter field goal by Robbie Gould took Chicago to within 4 points going into the fourth, but it wasn’t to be for Chicago.
They will now look to bounce back from this defeat when they take on the 49ers in a huge NFC clash in what looks set to be the battle of the backup quarterbacks as San Francisco’s Alex Smith also suffered an injury this week.
With Shayne Graham’s 42 yard field goal with just under 5 minutes left in this, on going through the posts the Texans went on to post the 7 point victory as they look to push on and try to claim the number one seed in the AFC for the playoffs.
It’ll be tough for Houston as the Colts are still sniffing around behind them in their division and they also have to take on AFC rivals the New England Patriots, but after regaining some of their early season momentum following a defeat to the Green Bay Packers the Texans will be hopeful of ending the regular season on a high note.
Buffalo Bills (3-6-0) 31-37 New England Patriots (6-3-0)
Tom Brady moved to 20-2 against the Bills in his career and helped the Patriots go 6-3 on the season, but Buffalo almost pulled off an upset in what turned out to be a very close encounter at Gillette Stadium.
It was Devin McCourty’s interception of Bills’ quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in the end zone which prevented a late New England collapse as the Patriots held on to win 37-31.
Tom Brady was efficient on the day as he completed 23/38 passing attempts for 237 yards and two touchdowns. Running backs Steven Ridley and Danny Woodhead chipped in with a score each and along with Shane Vereen the three combined for 118 rushing yards on the day.
The Patriots were explosive at times and were playing along to their normal tune as they led the Bills by 7 at halftime. They appeared to be heading in to the break with a two possession lead following Brady’s 2 yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski but Buffalo hit back when Fitzpatrick threw a touchdown to Scott Chandler with 31 seconds left keeping it tight.
A short four play drive saw Brady find Danny Woodhead on an 18 yard touchdown pass midway through the third. At that point you thought the Patriots would break away but Fred Jackson ran in to the end zone just before the end of the quarter to again cut it to a seven point gap.
Then a Gostkowski field goal gave New England a 10 point lead early in the fourth but when Donald Jones hauled in a Fitzpatrick pass for a touchdown only a field goal separated the teams. With the Patriots failing to get a touchdown they had to settle for another field goal with 2.06 left in the game which put them up by 6.
This gave the Bills the opportunity they craved but after head coach Chan Gailey saying all week that his team could finish the game it turned out that the moment was too much for the Bills as they just came up short following the late pick by the Patriots defense.
Buffalo’s season is pretty much over in regards to a wildcard spot in the playoffs but they have another AFC East rival to play in week 11 when they take on the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night football.
As for New England well they are now two games clear at the top of the AFC East as Bill Belichick’s men prepare for another home game with this one being against Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts are also at 6-3 and in the playoff hunt; they offer the Patriots a different challenge so this week 11 match up will be interesting. Indianapolis have had improved fortunes in 2012 thanks to their rookie quarterback and with the rivalry between the two teams moving on to a different chapter it is something to look forward to as Tom Brady takes on a new opponent in what is being anticipated as a possible classic with New England taking on one of their fiercest AFC rivals.
Dallas Cowboys (4-5-0) 38-23 Philadelphia Eagles (3-6-0)
Both teams have had “must win” games for weeks now but this was really a must win game for both as two under fire quarterbacks looked to try and save their teams’ season.
With the Giants losing earlier in the day it gave both the added incentive, if that was needed, to go out and get the win which would put them firmly back in the hunt to try to dethrone their NFC East rivals at the top of the division.
Well Eagles quarterback Michael Vick left the game in the second quarter with a concussion so any hopes of him turning in to a messiah of sorts in front of the team’s home fans went down the drain. Instead Nick Foles stepped in at quarterback and did his best as the rookie completed 22 of 32 passing attempts for 219 yards and a touchdown.
Foles performance proved that anyone calling for him to start in week’s gone bye may have been right as he looked good but unfortunately he lost a fumble that was recovered by the Cowboys in the end zone which ultimately proved costly.
It turned out that Tony Romo and co have now appeared to have saved their season. Romo was an efficient 19 of 26 through the air for 209 and two scores while Felix Jones amassed 93 yards from scrimmage and caught a touchdown pass in the victory.
Dallas was effective all over the field, especially in the fourth quarter where they racked up 21 points to give them the win. Going in to the final quarter the teams were tied at 17 but a 78 yard touchdown punt return by Dwayne Harris early on put them up 24-17.
Brandon Carr then returned an interception in to the end zone for 47 yards and the previously mentioned fumble in the end zone was the final score which gave them the convincing road victory.
The Cowboys will take go back to Texas to host the 2-7 Cleveland Browns in what on paper looks like a game that they should win. Following that they will play then play the Redskins on thanksgiving in week 12 and if they win both of these games to move to 6-5 it will put pressure on the Giants who host Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers that week with defeat for them leaving them and Dallas tied at the top of the NFC East with five games to go.
As for the Eagles well they have now lost five straight games for the first time in Andy Reid’s 14 year tenure as head coach which puts him under extreme pressure. They are tied for last in the division and will take on rivals the Washington Redskins in week 11 at FedEx Field.
Round-up of other week 10 games:
Indianapolis Colts (6-3-0) 27-10 Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8-0) – The Colts got their revenge for an early season defeat to the Jags by winning this one by 17 and continue this fairy-tale story by giving them a genuine shot at the playoffs.
Oakland Raiders (3-6-0) 20-55 Baltimore Ravens (7-2-0) – In a game which saw these teams rack up 75 points between them it was Baltimore who won it in a blowout by 35 to keep them above the Steelers in the AFC North ahead of the two teams’ match up in week 11.
Denver Broncos (6-3-0) 36-14 Carolina Panthers (2-7-0) – Experience prevailed in this one as Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos put in an efficient second half performance to get this win on the road.
New York Giants (6-4-0) 13-31 Cincinnati Bengals (4-5-0) – In what was the shock of the week the Bengals completely outplayed the Giants and beat them by 18. New York has suffered a mini collapse with two defeats in a row ahead of a big game against the Packers.
Tennessee Titans (4-6-0) 37-3 Miami Dolphins (4-5-0) – Ryan Tannehill threw 3 picks as the Dolphins looked to try and bounce back in search of a shot at a AFC wildcard spot but it wasn’t to be as the Titans seemed to take out their 2012 frustrations on Miami in this one.
Detroit Lions (4-5-0) 24-34 Minnesota Vikings (6-4-0) – This 2012 Lions team has the talent but you just don’t know what side is going to show up this week and unfortunately for them it wasn’t the good one this week as they fell to the Vikings in a 10 point defeat leaving them bottom of the NFC North.
San Diego Chargers (4-5-0) 24-34 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-4-0) – This win for Tampa Bay keeps them within a realistic shot of the NFC wildcard spot if they can keep up this form meanwhile the Chargers need to beat the Broncos in week 11 or their season is all but over.
New York Jets (3-6-0) 7-28 Seattle Seahawks (6-4-0) – The headache going around the Jets franchise has mutated in to a migraine following another defeat leaving them tied for last in the AFC East but for Seattle it was another good home win and another good overall football performance by them.
St. Louis Rams (3-5-1) 24-24 San Francisco (6-2-1) – The NFL got its first tie since November 2008 this week as nothing could separate the two NFC South rivals with it ending in a stalemate.
Kansas City Chiefs (1-8-0) 13-16 Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3-0) – Despite the Steelers coming out with the win in overtime and moving to 6-3 Big Ben went down with a shoulder injury and will miss the teams big week 11 AFC North divisional game against the Ravens.
Skye Pank, NFL correspondent