What We Learned in N.F.L. Week 11: Eagles are Scary Good


Some breaks are going the Lions’ way. Detroit got off to a 3-4 start this season, but the losses came with head-scratching moments of terrible luck and agonizingly narrow scoring margins. In the Lions’ third consecutive win, they got a go-ahead field goal with 1 minute 35 seconds left, then escaped when Connor Barth missed a 46-yard field-goal attempt for Chicago. Detroit has a huge division game against N.F.C.-North-leading Minnesota on Thursday.

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Eagles running back Corey Clement celebrated a touchdown in the first half against the Cowboys.

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Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

Eagles make a statement against Cowboys.

After a first half to forget, the Philadelphia Eagles offense woke up in the second half and clobbered the Dallas Cowboys in a 37-9 blowout on Sunday night.

The Eagles offense scored on three consecutive possessions in the second half, and the defense added a touchdown after a strip sack. Forced to play without a kicker for the majority of the game, the Eagles repeatedly went for 2-point conversions, and the outrageous scoring spree resulted in Philadelphia scoring 30 consecutive points.

The turnaround in the game was extreme, as the Eagles had gone into halftime trailing the Cowboys, 9-7. Carson Wentz had completed just 7 of 18 passes, the team’s running backs had combined for 35 yards. If not for a herculean effort by the team’s defense, they would have trailed by more.

After his rough first half, Wentz ended up completing 14 of 27 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns, while Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount and Corey Clement were the key pieces of a running game that produced 215 yards and two touchdowns.

In an on-field interview after the game, Wentz credited his team’s offensive line with the surge in scoring.

“The big boys up front kinda came out angry,” Wentz said. “We ran the ball in the second half really effectively and it was fun to be out there tonight.”

Dallas, on the other hand, was playing without its stalwart left tackle, Tyron Smith, or the team’s top offensive player, Ezekiel Elliott, and their absence was obvious. Quarterback Dak Prescott was repeatedly under pressure and rushed into bad throws, leading to three interceptions. Adding in the fumble, Prescott had four turnovers overall, while completing 18 of 31 passes for 145 yards.

Alfred Morris, who was filling in for Elliott, did a decent job in terms of production, with 17 carries for 91 yards, but he could not replicate the fear that Elliott instills in opposing defenses, letting the Eagles’ fantastic front-seven target Prescott all game.

It was not all good news for the Eagles, however, as the team lost its kicker, Jake Elliott, to a head injury sustained when he made a tackle on the opening kickoff of the game. His status for next week’s home game against the Chicago Bears is unknown, but with Philadelphia having improved to an N.F.L.-best 9-1, they have plenty to be happy about while monitoring the Elliott situation.

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The Patriots’ Danny Amendola (80) celebrated a touchdown with Rob Gronkowski in the first half.

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Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Patriots feel right at home in Mexico.

The New England Patriots remained undefeated outside of the United States, beating the Oakland Raiders by a score of 33-8 in a game in which they were never challenged.

The game was a laugher from the start, as Tom Brady added Mexico to the list of countries where he’s thrown a touchdown pass, and then added two more for good measure. The Patriots built a 17-0 lead over the Oakland Raiders at halftime and then tacked on another 21 in the second half at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.

Brady, who had already thrown touchdown passes in the United States and England, was at his best, completing his first 12 passes, and 30 of 37 overall, while throwing for 339 yards. Highlights included a pair of 50-plus-yard passes to Brandin Cooks, including a 64-yard touchdown, to go with shorter touchdowns to Dion Lewis and Danny Amendola. Cooks finished the day with six receptions for 149 yards.

Brady was his typical reserved self during a postgame news conference, but he acknowledged that Mexico City’s elevation made it easy to loft long passes to his receivers down the field, which Cooks took full advantage of. “Cookie got by them a few times deep,” Brady said. “Any time you make big plays you can skip 10 plays and hit one big one and that’s really important.”

New England got plenty of help from their defense, which looked nothing like the struggling unit that had been the team’s weak link all season. They allowed 344 total yards, but snuffed out any promising drives until the game was well out of hand. The score was 30-0 before the Patriots took their collective feet off the gas.

Perhaps the defense’s best moment came on a head’s up play from Duran Harmon, a safety, who was sprinting over to help in coverage against Johnny Holton and ended up with an interception when Holton tipped the ball into the air. Later in the first half, they got a huge turnover on a fumble, when Seth Roberts of the Raiders caught a pass near New England’s goal line, but was spun around and had the ball punched out by Trey Flowers.

Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski made a 62-yard field goal in the first half.

The Patriots, who trained at altitude all week to deal with the 7,200-foot elevation of Estadio Azteca, improved to 8-2 and will host the Miami Dolphins in New England next week.

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The Bills’ quarterback switch backfires … badly.

The Buffalo Bills made the unusual choice this week to switch quarterbacks in the middle of the season despite being in line for a playoff spot. It didn’t work out.

The first game of the Nathan Peterman Era did not go well, as the rookie picked in the fifth round of this year’s draft threw five interceptions and was down 40-7 against the Los Angeles Chargers when he was taken out for Tyrod Taylor, the quarterback he had replaced in the starting lineup. The Chargers went on to steamroll the Bills, 54-24.

In his first career start, Peterman completed 6 of 14 passes for 66 yards, with Buffalo’s only touchdown of the game was on a run by LeSean McCoy.

The switch to Peterman shocked many considering Buffalo’s recent cold streak had largely been caused by the team’s defense struggling to stop the run, rather than any issues with Taylor, who has been a solid, though unspectacular, starting quarterback for the last three seasons.

Last week the Bills allowed 298 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns against New Orleans, and toward the end of the game the Bills put Peterman in to see if he would have any better luck moving the ball. He completed 7 of 10 passes. After Sean McDermott, the Bills coach, expressed confidence in Taylor on Monday, the team announced on Wednesday that Peterman would start against San Diego.

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The Saints’ Alvin Kamara scored one of his two touchdowns in the second half.

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Rusty Costanza/Associated Press

Saints survive a late push by Redskins to win in overtime.

After a dramatic 15-point comeback by the New Orleans Saints in the game’s final five minutes of regulation, the team finished the job in overtime when Will Lutz hit a 28-yard field goal that sealed a 34-31 victory over the Washington Redskins.

The win was New Orleans’ eighth in a row and may have been their most impressive game in the long streak considering how well they responded to the adversity of being outgunned by Kirk Cousins and the Redskins for three-and-a-half quarters.

In an on-field interview after the game, a fired-up Mark Ingram praised the entire team, while setting a fairly high goal for the team going forward.

“Offense was confident in the defense, defense was confident in the offense, everybody was confident in the special teams,” Ingram said, “and we did it. That’s what championship teams do.”

The Redskins came out of the gate playing aggressively on both sides of the ball, and they took a 31-16 win with just under six minutes remaining when Cousins hit Jeremy Sprinkle for a 7-yard touchdown pass, which was Cousins’s third touchdown pass of the game.

But Brees, who had ceded much of the team’s offense to his running backs in recent weeks, and started the game with an interception on the opening drive — one of two he threw in the game — took over when things mattered the most. He completed 29 of 41 passes for 385 yards, with two fourth quarter touchdown passes, the second of which went to Alvin Kamara, which along with Kamara’s 2-point conversion erased Washington’s lead.

In overtime, the Redskins got the ball first but were forced to punt. Brees handed the ball off to Ingram twice, and the power back rumbled for a combined 51 yards, setting up Lutz’s game-winning kick.

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Vikings receiver Adam Thielen outran the Rams’ secondary on his way to a 65-yard touchdown.

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Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Vikings stake their claim as N.F.C.’s best.

In a battle between two surprising N.F.C. teams, the Minnesota Vikings took care of business at home, beating the Los Angeles Rams, 24-7.

Much of the talk coming into the game had focused on the offenses of the two teams, but in the first half it was defense vs. defense, with the scored tied 7-7 at halftime, thanks to a key turnover by Los Angeles that prevented a score late in the second quarter.

It was a different game in the second half when Minnesota found enough cracks in the Los Angeles defense to come away with the team’s sixth consecutive win.

Case Keenum, who is still essentially playing for his job on a week-to-week basis thanks to the presence of Teddy Bridgewater, completed 27 of 38 passes for 280 yards. His biggest pass of the game came on a 65-yard catch-and-run to Adam Thielen early in the fourth quarter that opened up a 14-point lead, and he was aided greatly by the absence of Rams cornerback Kayvon Webster, who left with a concussion. With Webster out, Thielen had a mismatch against Dominique Hatfield, and was off to the races.

The rest of Minnesota’s scoring was taken care of by Latavius Murray, who carried the ball 15 times for 95 yards and two touchdowns, and Kai Forbath who went one for three on field goal attempts.

Los Angeles, which came into the game as the highest scoring offense in the N.F.L., scored on their opening drive, but managed just 254 total yards for the game thanks to a so-so effort from Jared Goff and a disappearing act by Todd Gurley. Gurley carried the ball 15 times for 37 yards, and on a key drive in the fourth quarter he was given the ball on both 2nd-and-1 and 3rd-and-1 and failed to keep his team’s drive alive, getting knocked for a loss on second run by the ageless Terence Newman, who is still making plays for Minnesota in his 15th season.

But the key play in the game, in terms of momentum, came late in the second quarter when Goff found Cooper Kupp for a 10-yard reception that got the rookie wide receiver all the way to the Minnesota 1-yard line. At the tail end of the play, the Vikings’ Anthony Harris reached in and stripped the ball out of Kupp’s hands and then recovered it for the game’s only turnover. The Rams never got close to scoring after that failure to punch the ball in.

The loss by the Rams snapped a four-game winning streak.

Giants snap three-game losing streak in ugly win over Chiefs.

Roger Lewis Jr. made a spectacular catch to set up the winning 23-yard yard goal by Aldrick Rosas in overtime and the New York Giants responded from weeks of adversity to beat the A.F.C. West-leading Kansas City Chiefs 12-9 on a blustery, cold Sunday.

The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Giants (2-8) and sent the Chiefs (6-4) to their fourth loss in five games.

The winning kick came two plays after Lewis was yanked to the ground on a deep pass from Eli Manning, but still caught the ball while flat on his back for a 34-yard completion on a fourth-down heave. Had he not caught it, flags flew for pass interference.

It was an unexpected was for a team that came into the game in turmoil, with questions about the future of coach Ben McAdoo and many wondering whether the Giants had quit in one-sided losses to the Rams and then the winless 49ers in the past two weeks. — Associated Press

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Ravens wide receiver Mike Wallace jumped into the stands at Lambeau Field after scoring against the Packers.

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Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press

Ravens shut out Rodgers-less Packers at Lambeau.

The Baltimore Ravens forced five turnovers in their third shutout of the season, blanking the Green Bay Packers 23-0 Sunday.

Baltimore last accomplished the feat when the Ray Lewis-led defense had four shutouts for the Super Bowl-winning team in 2000; the last N.F.L. team to have three was New England in 2003. Jimmy Smith, Eric Weddle and Marlon Humphrey each picked off passes for Baltimore (5-5), which led the N.F.L. in interceptions entering the weekend.

But a problematic offense couldn’t generate a touchdown drive until Joe Flacco’s perfect deep ball to Mike Wallace over two defenders for a 13-point lead nearly two minutes into the third quarter. Flacco threw for 183 yards, going 22 of 28 with an interception.

His lone touchdown pass was still enough of a cushion against a Packers team struggling without two-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers, out with a broken collarbone. The Packers were last shut out on Nov. 19, 2006, when then-starter Brett Favre left with an elbow injury in the first half of a 35-0 loss to New England. Rodgers, then in his second year in the league, finished off that loss in relief.

Another comeback for Stafford and the Lions.

Matthew Stafford threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns, Matt Prater kicked a 52-yard field goal with 1:35 remaining and the Detroit Lions held on to beat the Chicago Bears 27-24 on Sunday. Detroit (6-4) took the lead after Tarik Cohen had tied it for Chicago (3-7) with a 15-yard touchdown run.

Prater booted the winner after Stafford led a 42-yard drive to the 34. The Bears had a good chance to tie the game in the closing seconds, but Connor Barth was wide right on a 46-yarder.

Stafford completed 21 of 31 passes. Marvin Jones Jr. had four receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown. D.J. Hayden ran back a fumbled snap for a touchdown to give Detroit seven return TDs this season, tying a team record. And the Lions beat the Bears for the eighth time in nine games. — Associated Press

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