NFL Week 11 Wrap Up

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NFL Week 11 Week In Review

Vikings 29, Raiders 22
The Minnesota offensive line, led by C Matt Birk and G Steve Hutchinson, controlled the line of scrimmage. RB Chester Taylor had a big cushion all game, gaining yards before he had to make a cut and filling in nicely for the injured Adrian Peterson. The Vikings also made good use of the quarterback draw, with the offensive linemen creating space by simply taking the Oakland linemen where they were already headed and widening the running lane for Tarvaris Jackson.
— Marwan Maalouf

Eagles 17, Dolphins 7
Miami could not contain Eagles RB Brian Westbrook, and that failure led to Philadelphia controlling time of possession and limiting the chances the Dolphins’ chances on offense. Westbrook excelled in the zone running game with excellent cutbacks and good yards after contact. He was able to bounce the ball to the outside after drawing Miami’s edge players close to the blocks of the Eagles’ tackles and tight ends, who then did a great job of keeping their hands inside and sustaining blocks that allowed Westbrook to turn the corner and make big gains.
— Marwan Maalouf

Jaguars 24, Chargers 17
If this is an indication of what is come to during the second half of the season, the Jacksonville Jaguars are going to be dangerous down the stretch. David Garrard is back under center, and the Jaguars can now make plays through the air in addition to relying on their impressive running game. Garrard completed 15 passes to seven different receivers and looked very comfortable in the offense, throwing the ball precisely and on time and fitting passes into some tight windows. Jacksonville does not have explosive playmakers on the outside in the passing game, but having Garrard back makes the receivers better than they would otherwise be. This added offensive balance bodes well for the Jaguars’ postseason chances.
— Jeremy Green

Browns 33, Ravens 30
The first half was extremely sloppy, with Cleveland committing numerous penalties, Baltimore committing penalties and lots of extra-curricular activity after the play. Neither team found flow or rhythm, but QB Kyle Boller and the Baltimore offense were reborn at halftime. They put up 23 points in the second half, and the Browns scored 17, thanks to the extremely hard running of RBs Willis McGahee and Jamal Lewis. Both got downhill quickly and with conviction between the tackles, dragged tacklers with them and wore down the opposing defense. Lewis got the better of the battle, though, after the bizarre end to regulation gave the Browns the opportunity to win the game in overtime.
— Matt Williamson

Texans 23, Saints 10
The return of WR Andre Johnson to the lineup allowed Houston QB Matt Schaub to take full advantage of New Orleans’ struggling pass defense. The Saints failed to get consistent pressure on Schaub and he was able to exploit marginal zone coverage. The Texans played bend-but-don’t-break defense with a good mix of zone and man coverages that were able to limit Sean Payton’s innovative offense to just one touchdown. They also forced Saints QB Drew Brees into two interceptions that prevented New Orleans from capitalizing on scoring opportunities.
— Ken Moll

Buccaneers 31, Falcons 7
How can you not be impressed with the Buccaneers’ defense? Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin relied on his four-man rush to attack immobile Atlanta QB Byron Leftwich in the pocket, while dropping seven defenders on the back end in coverage. Tampa Bay is a very physical team in its Tampa-2 system, and that disrupted the rhythm of the Falcons’ passing attack. The Buccaneers also did a great job of attacking upfield gaps with a lot of interior stunts that left Falcons RB Warrick Dunn with little room to run. Tampa simply dominated the game and coach Bobby Petrino’s decision to start Leftwich over Joey Harrington backfired; Leftwich committed several game-changing mistakes.
— Keith Kidd

Cardinals 35, Bengals 27
Arizona took advantage of Cincinnati’s mistakes to win. One miscue stands out. With the Bengals trailing by 15 in the third quarter and threatening in the red zone, WR Chad Johnson caught a spot pass from QB Carson Palmer and juked the Arizona cornerback but failed to properly secure the ball. Johnson did not cover the tips of the ball or tuck it high and tight to his chest and fumbled without being touched by a Cardinals’ defender. Cincinnati lost a chance to close within one score and lost valuable time on the play, which symbolized the kind of mistakes that cost the Bengals the game.
— Marwan Maalouf

Giants 16, Lions 10
A week after Detroit was criticized for running the ball just eight times in a loss to Arizona, offensive coordinator Mike Martz called just 11 running plays in this week’s home loss to New York. Martz ran the ball on the first four plays and the Lions gained 19 yards behind an offensive line that was firing off the ball and sustaining its blocks against the weak spots in the Giant’s front seven. Detroit quickly reverted to a pass-first philosophy, though, and the offensive line lost its aggressiveness and started blocking from its heels. That allowed New York’s defense to take control of the line of scrimmage and the game as a whole.
— Doug Kretz

Packers 31, Panthers 17
Packers QB Brett Favre was patient against Carolina’s zone defense and used excellent field vision to spread the ball around to six different receivers. Green Bay also got another solid outing from RB Ryan Grant in its zone running game, and balance continues to be a big key for the Packers. The Panthers were hurt by the absence of No. 1 WR Steve Smith, and the Packers’ 4-3 pressure schemes kept aging QB Vinny Testaverde and the rest of the undermanned Carolina offense off-balance most of the game.
— Ken Moll

Colts 13, Chiefs 10
The Indianapolis defense was outstanding in restricting the running space for Kansas City RBs Priest Holmes and Kolby Smith and not allowing explosive downfield plays to QB Brodie Croyle. Even though defensive coordinator Ron Meeks has one of the lightest defenses in the NFL, the Colts are definitely one of the fastest units and they swarm the ball carrier in the Tampa 2 system. On the other side of the ball, it is clear that injuries are significantly affecting what the Colts can do to attack opposing defenses.
— Keith Kidd

Jets 19, Steelers 16
It was obvious after they successfully executed a flea-flicker on the second play of the game that the Jets would leave nothing on the field in this game. With nothing to lose, New York ran option plays with WR Brad Smith at quarterback, called trick plays and came after Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger with heavy blitzes the Steelers simply could not pick up. The Jets’ extra preparation during last week’s bye was apparent, but the Steelers came out flat after three straight divisional wins. Pittsburgh’s defense committed crucial penalties and tackled poorly, and the offense stalled in the red zone too often after impressive, balanced drives. The Jets played a solid football game and used all the tricks in their bag, and the late-game execution and poise of young QB Kellen Clemens could be a sign of good things to come.
— Matt Williamson

Rams 13, 49ers 9
St. Louis used an effective ground game behind RB Steven Jackson and a controlled passing game to beat San Francisco. The 49ers’ cornerbacks played primarily man-to-man coverage, and the Rams countered with short-to-medium crossing patterns that enabled receivers to screen off defenders to get open. These routes also allowed QB Marc Bulger to throw from a three-step drop and get the ball out before the San Francisco front seven was able to mount much of a pass rush. The combination of that passing attack and a solid ground game allowed St. Louis to control the clock and the game.
— Doug Kretz

Seahawks 30, Bears 23
Two weeks ago, Seattle coach Mike Holmgren said he wanted to get a 60-40 split between the pass and run because of his team’s inconsistency in the running game, and it has become obvious that he meant what he said. The Seahawks are spending more time working on their passing game, and QB Matt Hasselbeck has been almost unstoppable in recent weeks, though he has not done it alone. One of the biggest factors in the improvement is the fact that WR D.J. Hackett is finally 100 percent healthy, which has helped Holmgren spread the field with the three- and four-receiver sets that kept the Bears’ defense off balance this week. The presence of Hackett as a tall vertical threat opened up the underneath passing game for fellow wideouts Bobby Engram and Deion Branch, and Chicago had no answers.
— Jeremy Green

Cowboys 28, Redskins 23
Dallas offensive coordinator Jason Garrett used a good mix of the power running game and the vertical passing attack to overcome a Washington defense that played well for most of the game. Cowboys QB Tony Romo exploited the Redskins’ two-deep zone coverage when defenders failed to jam receivers off the line of scrimmage and funnel them inside to help the deep safeties on downfield routes, failures that led directly to four touchdown catches for Terrell Owens. The Redskins stayed in the game until the end, but their inability to stop Romo and Owens was the difference.
— Ken Moll

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.

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