Mental toughness was the order of the day in Week 10. In a losing effort, Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton was the thorn in Pittsburgh’s side for most of the day before finally catching a late fourth-quarter interception bug. Matthew Stafford and Ryan Fitzpatrick both fell into early ruts and never recovered, blowing huge games for their respective teams. The early-season surprise stories are finally getting put back into place of expected mediocrity.
The one exception to this is the San Francisco 49ers. As a unit their mental resiliency and calm composure won their game for them. Eli Manning was fresh off of leading a dramatic comeback win against New England last week, and was poised to spoil another opponent’s victory parade once again. However, every time he tried to put the Giants in a game-stealing position, the Niner defense bent, but never broke and their offense consistently answered, keeping the game just out of the G-Men’s reach. Even on the day’s final drive, Patrick Willis and company forced Eli to overcome two fourth downs before Justin Smith emphatically batted his pass down to seal the deal on fourth down number three. Other than Willis, San Francisco’s defensive unit doesn’t have any huge names, but their seamless chemistry more than compensates for that.
And as a sidenote, the Niners can be the first team to clinch a playoff spot in just two more weeks, if the math plays out right. There’s no question they’re by far the strongest NFC West team, but wrapping up the division by Week 12 is a feat that will be talked about well into the future, if it happens, of course.
It was a wonderful day to be a running back for Houston, as their ground game completely tore apart Tampa Bay’s defense and soul. The trifecta of Arian Foster, Ben Tate, and Derrick Ward each ran to pay dirt, and Schaub tossed up two more strikes for good measure. In their short history, this is far and away the best Texans squad the NFL has ever seen and partially thanks to the Mules up in Indy, all signs are pointing to that elusive first playoff berth come January.
But on the other side, Tampa’s lack of basically everything should be raising more than a couple eyebrows. Josh Freeman’s three picks and inability to deliver in big plays did plenty to shoot his team in the foot and newly acquired doorstop Albert Haynesworth had his best game of the season with four tackles. Aquib Talib also tried his very hardest to show how overrated he is, by getting beaten repeatedly and letting wide receiver Jacoby Jones score on a beautiful 80-yard catch and run.
— Tim Tebow won a game in which he only completed two passes and the Broncos ran the ball 55 times. Those are more like Pop Warner numbers, but it’s proof he Lord is at work in Denver.
— The Eagles downward spiral continues with a loss to the Kevin Kolb-less Cardinals. At this point, even Philly faithful have lost nearly all hope in the team so many picked to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Pending they don’t reel off seven in a row, where do these Eagles rank on the all time most disappointing teams? And how good can Larry Fitzgerald be if he ever gets a decent quarterback?
— The battle for NFC South supremacy between the Saints and Falcons came down to one quizzical call from Atlanta coach Mike Smith. He decided to go for it on 4th and inches at his own 30 yard line in overtime. The failed attempt led to an easy field goal from the Saints, who now hold sole possession of first place. This also resulted in a win for David D. over TSS extended family Playboy Tre who, thanks to the loss by his beloved birds, had to put the Saints in his Twitter avatar due to a preseason bet. Unfortunately, the cunning Tre found a loophole in the agreement.
— The Ravens are one of the most confusing teams in the NFL. One week they’ll march into Pittsburgh and leave with a convincing W. The next week they’ll lose to the Seahawks without any warning. And this juke move by Marshawn Lynch? Good lord. That may be the best crossover we see all year. Ray Lewis hasn’t been this defenseless since, well, never mind.
— Rex Ryan and the Jets still can’t get New England’s number. The Patriots supposed “worst defense” looked pretty damn good last night.
— NFC East update: Dallas looked like the team so many predicted them to be. Meanwhile, things go from bad to worse in Washington as they dropped their fifth straight game to the Dolphins which featured TWO Reggie Bush RUSHING touchdowns.
— The Bills may have lost the game but wide receiver David Nelson, who’s dating Dallas Cowboys cheerleader Kelsi Reich, won. Smooth move, Nelson. Unfortunately for the Bills, the score was the only TD they scored.