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HomesportWhat we learned in NFL Week 11: Cowboys rush, Lions stretch, Chargers...

What we learned in NFL Week 11: Cowboys rush, Lions stretch, Chargers still stuck, and more

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The two men behind the Dallas Cowboys dynasty in the 1990s squashed a decades-long beef on Sunday, with team owner Jerry Jones finally… finally – A decision was made to appoint former coach Jimmie Johnson to the team’s Ring of Honor.

It only took 30 years.

“I really thought it was time and I wanted to do it this year,” Jones said Sunday as the Cowboys began their game against the Panthers.

And that was about the most interesting thing to happen in Charlotte, as Dallas moved to 7-3 after a convincing 33-10 win over the worst team in the league. It’s the Cowboys’ sixth win of the season by 20 or more points, tied again with a strong day from Dak Prescott (two touchdowns, no interceptions) and a defense that forced two turnovers. Keep an eye on cornerback Darron Bland over the final seven games of the regular season: He had six more picks on Sunday, giving him four this year. Another one and owns the league’s all-time record.

In Buffalo, five days after coach Sean McDermott fired offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey and four days after quarterback Josh Allen admitted that “our backs are against the wall, and the clock is ticking,” the Bills defeated the Jets, 29-6. It’s Buffalo’s first win in three weeks, though it’s still unclear how important a win over this version of the Jets will be. New York finally benched Zach Wilson in the fourth quarter, and Robert Saleh said after the game he wasn’t sure who would start Friday against the Dolphins. For the Bills, a tougher test awaits them next week in Philadelphia.

In Miami, the Dolphins beat a rejuvenated Raiders team, 20-13, as wideout Tyreek Hill stayed on track for his first 2,000-yard receiving season in league history.

In Washington, the struggling Giants earned their third win of the season behind two Saquon Barkley catches and six shutouts from defense.

In Los Angeles, the Rams scored the final 10 points of the game, then survived a 55-yard attempt from Seahawks’ Jason Myers that Just He missed the escape with a 17-16 win. It was Myers’ first loss since Week 4 and the Rams’ first win in a month.

In San Francisco, Brock Purdy and the 49ers continued to pick up where they left off a week ago in Jacksonville, beating the Bucs 27-14. After three midseason losses, San Francisco has reeled off two convincing victories, and Purdy has been excellent, going 40-for-47 for 629 yards, six touchdowns and no picks since returning from the bye. (He had a perfect 158.3 passer rating on Sunday.) An NFC Championship rematch with the Eagles looms in two weeks.

Here’s what stood out from Week 11:

Don’t sleep in Denver…

Maybe Russell Wilson is back.

Maybe the Broncos are too.

For the second week in a row, a beautiful, high-arc throw from Wilson to Courtland Sutton was the difference in Denver’s win.

Denver trailed the Vikings by five with 3:17 remaining when Wilson began a 10-play, 75-yard drive. It culminated in a 15-yard touchdown to Sutton in the corner of the end zone with 1:09 left, the deciding play in the 21-20 comeback win. It was the Broncos’ first touchdown all night after the offense repeatedly stalled in the red zone, settling for five field goals. Denver has won four straight, the last three coming against the Chiefs, Bills and now the Vikings, all teams above .500 at that point. Wilson has driven in four game-winning runs already this season.

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The Broncos (5-5) remain a top contender in the AFC playoff picture. That start from 1 to 4 feels like a lifetime ago.

It was Joshua Dobbs’ first loss in three games with the Vikings since he was traded from Arizona last month — he technically didn’t start his first game for Minnesota but he threw two touchdowns in the win. He has compiled seven total touchdowns during that span, wins over Atlanta, New Orleans and a loss to Denver, but he did throw an interception on Sunday night — and nearly threw a few more. Any chance to win the game was quickly shut down in the face of Denver’s relentless pass rush, and the Vikings turned the ball over on downs.

charger charger (again)

With rare exceptions over the past decade — and perhaps going back even further — the Chargers have been the exact same team. Capable midfielder. List of talented people. Disappointing results.

Now, the Brandon Staley era appears to have reached a critical juncture, and it’s not a stretch to think that the next seven games will determine whether he returns as the team’s head coach in 2024. One of the best quarterbacks in football is Justin Herbert and a defense that ranks third in total salary ($97 million against the cap). There was hype before the season started – and there usually is with this team – but 10 games in, the results haven’t been there.

Los Angeles now goes 4-6, third from the bottom in the AFC. Since Staley took over in 2020, defenses have ranked 29th, 21st and 24th in points allowed.

Sunday’s 23-20 loss to a bad Packers team spoke volumes about it. The defense allowed Green Bay quarterback Jordan Love the first 300-yard passing day of his career without forcing a single turnover. Herbert threw for 260 yards and two touchdowns despite three drops from his receivers, including one from Keenan Allen at the goal line. Austin Ekeler fumbled inside the 5. Asante Samuel Jr. committed a foul pass interference penalty on third-and-20 that gifted the Packers a first down.

Even though Justin Herbert accounted for over 330 yards, Rashan Gary (center) and the Packers found a way to frustrate the Chargers. (Turk Mason/USA Today)

By the end of the game, the Chargers once again found a way to lose a one-score game. So far, five of the Chargers’ six losses this season have come by a field goal or less. They have yet to defeat a team with a winning record.

“I have complete confidence in the way we play, complete confidence in myself as a (defensive) player, in the way we teach and the way we plan, complete confidence in that,” Staley said. Press conference after the match. “We have to get this group together and do it consistently.”

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An ankle injury to Joey Bosa — the star defensive end who left the game in the first quarter and was emotional as he was carted off the field in a stroller — won’t help. For a team that hasn’t won a division title since 2009 and has three singles appearances in the playoffs since 2010, including last year’s 27-0 lead in the Wild Card round in Jacksonville, this season feels like more than that. Same story.

But this time, even with all the talent on this roster, it looks like there won’t even be a playoff berth.

You have to wonder how much longer ownership can continue to watch the same scenario unfold.

Best black team since the Barry Sanders era? Or longer?

It was a magical season in the Motor City, as Dan Campbell’s Lions became one of the NFL’s best stories. Sunday was the final act, and one of the most improbable: His team, hampered by three Jared Goff interceptions and four total turnovers, trailed the lowly Bears by two scores with four minutes left in the fourth quarter.

This was looking like an ugly loss with a nationally televised Thanksgiving Day game against the Packers coming up in four short days.

Detroit then scored the final 17 points of the game and sealed the win on a safety pick by Aidan Hutchinson.

“The pressure went up, and the heart rate stabilized,” Campbell said.

The Campbell Lions are now 8-2, the franchise’s best record since the Kennedy administration. He is among the front-runners for Coach of the Year. Sunday’s 31-26 win over Chicago spoiled a mostly encouraging return for Bears quarterback Justin Fields, who played his first game in a month and finished with 169 yards and a touchdown to DJ Moore.

The sixth-ranked Lions’ offense has scored 25 or more points six times this season. Goff has been key — the Rams’ departure revived his career in Detroit, and he talked about it Sunday: Despite the cost of the three interceptions, Goff was surgical late in the game, leading 75- and 73-yard touchdown drives to steal the win in the quarter the last one. The integrity of Hutchinson’s strip bags provided the exclamation point.

Despite Stroud’s objections, the Texans remain highly motivated

The Houston Texans won all seven games in the 2021 and 2022 seasons, featuring five quarterbacks and two head coaches – David Culley and Lovie Smith – in the process.

Then DeMeco Ryans came home, and everything was different. Just days before Thanksgiving, Ryan’s Texas team is among the best teams in football, having won three straight titles and six of the last eight.

Houston (6-4) won its third straight in the final seconds on Sunday, overcoming a late charge from Kyler Murray and the Cardinals to clinch a 21-16 win that has the Texans currently in the sixth seed in the AFC playoff picture. CJ Stroud, the front-runner for the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year award, struggled through the first day with three interceptions of his career — one of which came on a tipped pass — but still managed to pass for 336 yards and two touchdowns, his fifth 300-yard game. Already this season.

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Ten games into his career, he has the fourth-most assists of all time.

Most passing yards, first 10 games

QB a team year Passing yards

Heads

2018

3,185

Chargers

2020

3,015

Colts

2012

2,965

Texas

2023

2,962

Panthers

2011

2,885

Bengals

2020

2,688

“Steph Curry never stops shooting,” Stroud said after the win when asked about his objections. “I’ll keep letting her ride.”

Browns win on a last-second field goal (again)

Even as they continued to win, it was difficult to imagine the Steelers’ formula succeeding over the course of an entire season, as Mike Tomlin’s team powered its way to an AFC North title, or even a playoff spot, despite having one of the most inconsistent — and, often times, — rules. Infractions are unproductive in the league.

Nine games into the year, Pittsburgh was somehow 6-3 despite being outscored in total yards in every contest. Entering Sunday they ranked 26th in points and 28th in yards. Was it sustainable? No, not likely, at least. But there was something to be said for a Tomlin team that, as ugly as it often was, found ways to win.

Criticism of offensive coordinator Matt Canada seemed to subside, if only slightly, as Pittsburgh posted four wins in five games.

Then came Sunday’s 13-10 loss to a Browns team without a starting quarterback, marking the fourth time this season that Pittsburgh has scored 10 or fewer points in a game (all losses). Days after losing Deshaun Watson for the season, Cleveland beat the Steelers on a last-second field goal from Dustin Hopkins. Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Watson’s replacement, led an eight-play 48-yard scoring drive late in the fourth quarter to seal Hopkins’ second straight win. So far, the Browns have won four games this season on last-second kicks.

Cleveland’s punishing defense led the way again, yielding just 106 yards to Kenny Pickett, who did not throw a touchdown (and had just 34 in the first half). Pittsburgh didn’t score until running back Jaylen Warren erupted for a 74-yard touchdown run on two plays in the second half. The Steelers are now 6-4, and hold the seventh and final spot in the AFC playoffs.

In a crowded AFC North race, the Browns (7-3) stayed in the hunt with the win. How far can this high-level defense take them? Their schedule isn’t as grueling the rest of the way; They will face only two teams that currently have winning records (the Jaguars and the Texans).

But it remains the Baltimore division that loses. After Thursday night’s win over the Bengals, who lost Joe Burrow for the season, the next day, the Ravens won 8-3.

North Asia ranking

a team Total to divide

8-3

3-2

7-3

3-2

6-4

2-1

5-5

0-3

* Missing starting QB for the rest of the season

(Top Image: Kara Durrett/Getty Images)


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