2022 NFL season, Week 11: What We Learned from Sunday's games

Around The NFL breaks down what you need to know from all of Sunday's action in Week 11 of the 2022 NFL season. Catch up on each game's biggest takeaways using the links below:

SUNDAY NIGHT

LATE GAMES

EARLY GAMES

Kansas City Chiefs
2022 · 8-2-0

Grant Gordon's takeaways:

  1. Patrick Mahomes, a.k.a. Captain Comeback, cannot be denied. After 10 games this season, Patrick Mahomes has emerged as a favorite for his second AP NFL Most Valuable Player award, but perhaps Comeback Player of the Year might be more fitting. Well known for surgically removing the hearts of opposing fans, Mahomes was at his dramatic best once more on Sunday evening, much to the chagrin of the Chargers faithful. Down 27-23 with 1:46 and 75 yards to go, Mahomes was 3 for 4 for 47 yards, ran for 6 yards and hit Travis Kelce for a game-winning 16 yard-touchdown. He did it all in 69 seconds, and with a smile. For much of the game, the Chargers defense played solid ball, but Mahomes is Mahomes and more often than not, he won't be denied. After another victorious rally, Mahomes is 13-7 in his career when trailing at halftime. No other quarterback since the 1970 merger has a record over .500 when trailing at halftime (minimum 10 such games), per the wonderful folks at NFL Research. The coolest of cats, Mahomes has once again made the amazing the norm.
  2. Not so wild after all. Mahomes was scintillating. Kelce's three-touchdown performance was stellar. Isiah Pacheco, despite some pass pro concerns, has emerged as a weapon in the running game. And the Chris Jones-led defense made some big plays. This was a close win for the Chiefs, but an emphatic triumph overall as Kansas City flexed its might as the best in the AFC West by taking an overwhelming three-game lead over the second-place Chargers. Barring some calamitous team-wide slip on a banana peel, the Chiefs are on track to run away with their seventh straight division title. This year is all the more impressive considering the rest of the AFC West reloaded, each foe bringing in all-stars ready to take down Big Red and his squad in what was supposed to be a very wild AFC West. Ten games in, the Chiefs are holding court and it's business as usual in their division.
  3. Return and reminder for Chargers WR corps. Though Sunday night marked the returns of wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams (at least temporarily), Josh Palmer did well to remind everyone he's been here all along. Palmer's done his best to fill in for the injured Williams and Allen and along the way has established himself as a burgeoning presence in a struggling offense. Palmer finished with his best day as a pro, hauling in eight catches for 106 yards and two touchdowns. As for Allen and Williams, well, it wasn't quite as positive. Williams didn't make it out of the first half due to an ankle injury. Allen, though, delivered a reminder of what a talent he is, grabbing five balls for 94 yards. He had a bad fumble late, but atoned for himself on a great 46-yard grab to set up Palmer's second TD. Justin Herbert looked as good as he has in a while, and some of that must be attributed to the emergence of Palmer and the return of Allen.

Next Gen stat of the game: Chargers wide receiver Joshua Palmer had two receptions for 56 yards and two touchdowns on two targets when aligned tight.

NFL Research: The Chiefs are 4-0 this season when trailing at halftime.

Dallas Cowboys
2022 · 7-3-0
Minnesota Vikings
2022 · 8-2-0

Eric Edholm's takeaways:

  1. Tony Pollard is a game changer. It's pretty clear who the Cowboys' best running back is now -- and maybe has been for a while. One play after an 18-yard run in the first quarter, Pollard followed it up with a 20-yard run, turning nothing into something and helping fuel a touchdown drive in a 3-3 game. But he was just getting warmed up. Late in the second quarter, Pollard took a simple dump-off and burst 30 yards untouched to give Dallas a 20-3 lead. That was not, however, the main course. Pollard's show stopper was his 68-yard TD catch early in the second half. He whipped Vikings linebacker Jordan Hicks on a wheel route and, with an assist from Dalton Schultz' great block, waltzed into the end zone without a paw on him. That was the longest play of Pollard's career, and he's now threatening to smash his career high for yards from scrimmage (1,056) he set last season, perhaps passing that mark in the next game or two. Over the past five games, Pollard has seized the lead role in the Dallas backfield and shouldn't look back, even with some stamina questions the staff has raised. He's just far more dangerous than Ezekiel Elliott, who fills a role for the Cowboys but can't tilt games the way Pollard does.
  2. Vikings fall with a thud on a massive stage. Coming off their biggest statement victory of the season, the Vikings -- who hadn't lost in 63 days -- were absolutely mollywhopped at home by a team that had lost two straight on the road. The Cowboys scored on their first seven possessions and converted 11 of 15 third downs with Dak Prescott in the game. It was the first time the Vikings defense didn't force a turnover this season. That unit has allowed some hefty yardage totals in certain games, but this was an undressing. But it wasn't just the defense; the offense was equally as putrid, with the tone being set after the first-drive fumble and T.J. Hockenson dropping back-to-back passes in the end zone on their second drive. On his first 23 dropbacks, Kirk Cousins was sacked six times and knocked down nine times. He was sacked seven times total, the most in his career. The Vikings just had a brutal game plan in terms of pass protection and dealing with Dallas' big-play artists. Somehow, the Vikings now have a negative point differential this season, despite being 8-2, which feels impossible. Did this game expose Minnesota?
  3. Cowboys defense turns in a dominant performance, but ... did Micah need to stay in? The Cowboys allowed the Vikings to drive 69 yards on their second drive of the game, and it should have ended in a touchdown. But that's about the only negative thing one could say about Dallas' defense on Sunday. After blowing a 14-point lead in last week's loss, this group was fantastic Sunday. Micah Parsons led the way for a swarming group that had seven sacks and allowed 3.4 yards per play. Parsons dominated from nearly his first snap of the game. On the Vikings' third play from scrimmage, Parsons sacked Kirk Cousins and stripped the ball loose. Parsons would finish with four tackles, two sacks, one forced fumble and five QB hits. When he went down with a knee injury late in the third quarter, the Cowboys were up 34 points. He went under the medical tent, and you figured that was that. But believe it or not, Parsons would actually return to the game, even though, typically, in five-score games and such, the team that's leading will pull some of its more important players.

Next Gen stat of the game: On Dak Prescott's 27-yard completion to CeeDee Lamb, Lamb's shoulders were 1.1 yards out of bounds when the ball arrived, the farthest out of bounds on a catch over the past three NFL seasons. The pass had a completion probability of 7.4%, which made it the second-most improbable catch of the 2022 season.

NFL Research: After their 37-point loss to the Cowboys, the Vikings have a minus-2 point differential in 2022, the lowest in NFL history by any team to start a season 8-2 or better through 10 games. The previous low was by the 1987 Chargers (plus-6) who missed the playoffs that season.

Las Vegas Raiders
2022 · 3-7-0
Denver Broncos
2022 · 3-7-0

Kevin Patra's takeaways:

  1. Davante Adams dominates No. 1 pass D as Raiders storm back. The best route-runner in the NFL burned the Broncos defense for a wide-open TD to hoist Vegas to a victory on the first possession in overtime. It was an apropos ending for the Raiders after Adams churned out chunk gains against a good Denver defense, skating out to 94 yards and a touchdown in the first half. He was silenced much of the second half, but come overtime, Adams made the play of the game. The Pro Bowler earned 11.9 yards of separation from cornerback Patrick Surtain on the game-winning score, just the third deep reception Surtain has allowed in his career, per Next Gen Stats. The wideout generated 141 of the Raiders' 307 passing yards and both TDs. Derek Carr and the offense couldn't get on track much of the third and fourth quarters but surged down the stretch. Getting the ball down three points with 1:27 to play, Carr dropped dimes to get the Raiders quickly in scoring range to force OT. The QB only needed three plays in OT to go 67 yards for the game-winner. In a game that felt like most of the Raiders' other failures for much of the contest, Vegas finally came through in crunch time to earn a much-needed victory.
  2. Russell Wilson will want the final series back. Facing a third-and-10 out of the two-minute warning, a first down could have iced the game. Wilson dropped back, scrambled away from pressure, and turfed the ball between two receivers. The decision saved the Raiders at least 35 seconds they'd need to tie the contest. It's fine to put the ball in the highly paid QB's hands to try to end the game. But Wilson has to know to take the sack if a wideout isn't wide open. We saw Taylor Heinicke, with much less pedigree than Wilson, do such Monday night. The poor choice marred Wilson's most efficient game in Denver, completing 77% of 31 attempts for 247 yards after the Broncos changed play-callers to QBs coach Klink Kubiak. New play-caller, same mental issues in Denver.
  3. Maxx Crosby shines for Raiders D. The edge rusher wrecked the Broncos' offensive line all game. Late in the first half, Crosby punched the ball away from Melvin Gordon for a forced fumble. On the next play, Crosby blocked the short field goal to keep the score 10-7 at halftime. The high-motor rusher gobbled up two sacks, two tackles for loss, three QB hits and six tackles. When Crosby dominates in the backfield like he was Sunday, it boosts the entire defense and covers weaknesses.

Next Gen stat of the game: Russell Wilson went 11-of-12 for 160 yards versus the blitz (blitzed on 41.9% of dropbacks).

NFL Research: Derek Carr is 8-2 in his career in overtime, the best winning percentage (.800) by any QB with 10-plus OT games in NFL history -- second-best is Tom Brady: 10-4 W-L (.714). Carr has led a game-winning drive in 19 of the Raiders' 32 wins over the last five seasons -- 19 game-winning drives are most in the NFL since 2018.

Cincinnati Bengals
2022 · 6-4-0
Pittsburgh Steelers
2022 · 3-7-0

Nick Shook's takeaways:

  1. Joe Burrow bounces back. The first half of Sunday's rematch between the Bengals and Steelers looked a lot like their first meeting this season. Burrow threw a handful of passes into traffic (including one tipped and intercepted), and T.J. Watt somehow snagged his second pick off Burrow this season. The combined efforts even saw the Steelers reach halftime with a 20-17 lead. But then, Burrow and the Bengals dug deep and trusted their strengths, continuing to air it out on a chilly evening in Pittsburgh until it paid off. Burrow tossed four touchdown passes on the afternoon, going to running back Samaje Perine for three of them, and connecting with unknown target Trenton Irwin for his first career score. The Stanford product's touchdown put the Bengals in front in a back-and-forth affair that would remain in Cincinnati's control from that point on. Burrow led scoring drives of four, seven, eight and nine plays, with two ending in touchdowns and two more in Evan McPherson field goals. The Bengals had plenty of reasons to fold -- frigid temperatures, the loss of running back Joe Mixon, an unrelenting Steelers home crowd -- and yet, they didn't. They displayed the same resiliency that powered them to an AFC title last season. This time around, it was worth just one win, but it was important for Burrow, who overcame some early struggles to throw for over 350 yards and lead his team to a win.
  2. T.J. Watt is a monster, but wasn't frightening enough to beat the Bengals. Watt's production isn't obliterating the stat column, but since his return, he's found ways to impact the game. Watt finished with a half-sack Sunday to go along with six tackles, but his most impressive play is one that will likely resonate in the minds of football fans for quite some time. Watt was being blocked into the interior of the defensive line by Bengals right tackle La'el Collins when he saw Burrow release a pass, at which point Watt threw his arms up to attempt to deflect it, and instead snagged the ball for an interception. His play injected life into a stadium that already wasn't short on it, and although the Steelers only got three points out of it -- this was a pretty big problem with their offense overall Sunday -- the play stood as an example of how much Watt means to this team. His absence hurt, and his return is likely too late for a club in transition, but his importance cannot be denied.
  3. Bengals finally get a division win. Cincinnati entered Sunday with a 5-4 record, but an 0-3 mark in the division. That's simply not going to be good enough to catch up with the Ravens, of course, and the Bengals acted accordingly, overcoming a halftime deficit and early moments of adversity to secure a much-needed win to push them to 6-4. There have been moments this season (Week 8 in Cleveland, for example) in which it's been fair to wonder whether Cincinnati was just a one-year wonder, but this is just about the point in the season at which the Bengals morphed into a surprise contender last year. Perhaps the white Bengal uniforms signify more than just style -- maybe these snow-colored tigers are at their best in the winter. Wins like Sunday, while not remarkable on the surface, tend to serve as launching pads for late-season runs. Cincinnati will hope this proves to be true when it travels back to the site of its AFC Divisional Round upset win -- Nashville -- next week.

Next Gen Stat of the game: Joe Burrow attempted three passes with targets located behind the line of scrimmage on Sunday. All three passes produced touchdowns, the most such passing touchdowns in a game in the Next Gen Stats era.

NFL Research: T.J. Watt is the first player since the Vikings' Mike Merriweather (versus Detroit, 1989) to have two games with 0.5 or more sacks and one interception against a single opponent in the same season. The only other players to do so in the history of recorded sacks are Lawrence Taylor (1987) and Todd Bell (1984). Watt is also the only player since 2000 to have multiple games with 0.5 or more sacks and one interception in his first three games played in a season.

Atlanta Falcons
2022 · 5-6-0
Chicago Bears
2022 · 3-8-0

Eric Edholm's takeaways:

  1. Justin Fields' homecoming game starts well, ends poorly. There were moments in the Bears' loss to the Falcons when Fields looked just as brilliant and difficult to contain as he's been in recent games. But his late interception sunk the Bears, extending their losing streak to four, with seven losses in eight games. Although it was a catchable pass to David Montgomery, Fields threw a bullet that was high, making it tougher than it needed to be. This was Fields' homecoming, as he's a Georgia-born kid who has played in that stadium before, and there was some serious chatter about whether the Falcons might draft him to groom behind Matt Ryan. (They ended up taking Kyle Pitts, which will make for an interesting debate for the next few years, and you can easily picture Fields operating well with a prolific Falcons run game on that turf.) Fields made some brilliant throws outside of structure -- such as a 32-yard pass to Montgomery -- but still has been sub-par at times inside the pocket. This will be the area of focus for the Bears this offseason: to make him a more complete QB. The tools are all there.
  2. Cordarrelle Patterson making a Hall of Fame case. There aren't too many true returners in the Pro Football Hall of Fame who didn't do something else at a fairly high level, but Patterson has a pretty strong case. On Sunday, he reached an all-time NFL mark when he returned his ninth career kickoff for a touchdown, a 103-yarder with several good blocks. More than Devin Hester, Josh Cribbs, Mel Gray -- all of them. In fact, it was his seventh career TD of 100-plus yards, per NFL Research. No other NFL player has more than three ever. That's pretty incredible. Plus, Patterson gave the Falcons 52 yards rushing (including a run late where he broke a tackle to prevent a big loss) and had two catches. Some might argue he is their most valuable player. Not bad for a player who is on his fifth NFL team and was considered a semi-bust at one point in his career
  3. All eyes on the Kyle Pitts injury. Pitts left the game early in the third quarter after coming down awkwardly after an 18-yard catch. The Bears' Eddie Jackson went low on Pitts, hyperextending his knee backward. Pitts was able to walk off the field but would not return to the game. Whether it was a dirty play is up for debate. But it's clear that the Falcons are a different offense without him. From that point on, they only threw for 25 yards. Some of that is by design for this run-heavy team. But 25 passing yards against this Bears defense? It has been a frustrating season for Pitts, who had only two games entering today with more than 28 receiving yards. He appeared to be on track for a strong outing in Week 11 before getting hurt. If they lose him for an extended period, it will be a tough blow for the 5-6 Falcons as they cling to their playoff lives, albeit with a fairly soft schedule ahead.

Next Gen stat of the game: The Falcons defense pressured Justin Fields on 40.0% of his dropbacks. Atlanta had a 22.2 QB pressure percentage in Weeks 1-10, the fourth-lowest rate in the NFL.

NFL Research: Justin Fields recorded his fifth straight game with at least one passing touchdown and one rush TD, tying Kyler Murray for the longest such streak since 1950.

Philadelphia Eagles
2022 · 9-1-0
Indianapolis Colts
2022 · 4-6-1

Kevin Patra's takeaways:

  1. Eagles survive. Jalen Hurts scampered untouched for a 7-yard touchdown run, completing a Philly comeback on an afternoon in which the offense struggled to find rhythm. The Eagles turned the ball over twice and generated just three drives with more than two first downs. The ground game was stymied by the Colts' front outside of a few Hurts runs. The passing game suffered stops and starts, with few big plays splashed in. Credit Hurts for making every big play in the fourth quarter. The QB dropped a 22-yard dime for a TD to Quez Watkins that cut into a 10-point deficit and gave the Eagles a chance to pull off the comeback. It wasn't pretty, with penalties and unforced errors killing the Eagles seemingly every drive, but when Philly needed to make a play late, Hurts stepped up and converted.
  2. Philly's run defense plays well down the stretch. The Eagles spent the week buffering the defensive line after getting gashed in recent weeks, signing Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph. On the opening drive, it looked like more of the same as Jonathan Taylor gashed Philly for 49 yards and a TD. From there, the Eagles slowed the star running back, and defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon called some timely run blitzes. Taylor gained just 35 yards on 15 carries on the final 10 drives. Philly's D, put in some rough spots by the offense, played well in the red zone down the stretch, holding Indy to field goals. A week after a bad roughing penalty late wiped out an Eagles comeback bid, Brandon Graham crushed Matt Ryan on third down to squash any chance for the Colts on the final drive. That's what we'd call a redemption play.
  3. Can't blame the Colts D for loss. As it's been most of the season, the Indy D played well, forcing turnovers, controlling the line of scrimmage and earning several timely sacks. Yannick Ngakoue had his best game in a Colts jersey, earning 1.5 sacks and several big tackles. Yet, as usual, the offense couldn't finish. After the opening script, Indy generated just one drive over 32 yards. Ryan made some nice throws but took a bad sack in the red zone late -- coupled with a missed facemask call -- that forced a field goal, giving the Eagles a chance to win by one point. Jeff Saturday's crew played physically, but too many offensive line errors and missed opportunities for TDs continued to be the Colts' bugaboo.

Next Gen stat of the game: Stephon Gilmore lined up across from A.J. Brown on 19 of Brown's 25 routes (76%). Brown caught two of four targets for 35 yards versus Gilmore.

NFL Research: Jalen Hurts broke a tie with Kyler Murray for the third-most rushing touchdowns (21) by a QB in his first three seasons in NFL history. Only Cam Newton (28 from 2011-13) and Josh Allen (25 from 2018-20) had more.

Detroit Lions
2022 · 4-6-0
New York Giants
2022 · 7-3-0

Eric Edholm's takeaways:

  1. The Giants just blew a golden opportunity. Are the Giants starting to fade? That's now three straight games where they've looked pretty ordinary -- and on Sunday, it was well below that. Three turnovers (to zero for the Lions) tells a pretty big part of the story, as Daniel Jones was guilty of two of them. His first pick led to a Lions touchdown and his second interception was a clear overthrow and an unnecessary gift to the Lions, who were up 24-6 at that point. The Giants' maligned run defense reared its ugly head again, as Detroit ran for four TDs and 160 yards. But really, the entire defense can be put to task, as Jared Goff was hit only three times and not sacked. The Lions merely grinded their way down the field five times on scoring drives.
  2. Aidan Hutchinson shows up in a big way again. There was a little consternation, at the nadir of the Lions' defensive struggles this season, that perhaps Hutchinson wasn't doing enough for the second overall pick in the draft. That was farcical then and even sillier now. Hutchinson snagged his second interception in the past three games, dropping effortlessly in coverage and reading Jones' eyes perfectly. Hutchinson also corralled a fumble recovery midway through the fourth quarter that helped put the Giants away. He's still rightfully listed among the AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year candidates, even if Sauce Gardner and Tariq Woolen might be ahead on the list. But the Lions have to be happy with Hutchinson, who is proving he can impact games in myriad ways, not just as a pass rusher.
  3. Giants' offensive identity starting to erode. Injuries certainly have been a factor, but the Giants offense has hit the skids recently. New York ran the ball effectively in a one-score win over the Texans, but everyone runs the ball against the Texans. The Giants simply have not been sharp of late offensively. There were some encouraging signs Sunday, as Wan'Dale Robinson broke out for his first big game of his rookie season. But even that was negated by a late-game knee injury. We won't speculate on the severity of the injury, but it's never good when a player is ruled out of a game quickly after suffering it. (Update: Robinson suffered a torn ACL and is out for the rest of the season.) The biggest question: Whither Saquon Barkley? He ran the ball 15 times for 22 yards (with a long run of 4 versus a Detroit run defense that ranked second-worst coming into the game) and caught two more passes for 7 yards. At certain points, the Giants eschewed him for Matt Breida. That was after Brian Daboll said this week he'd give Barkley 50 carries if he thought it would help the team win. That didn't happen, and the Giants suddenly are 7-3 after the 6-1 start.

Next Gen stat of the game: Jared Goff was blitzed 16 times and took zero sacks in Week 11. It's the third time in 2022 the Giants have blitzed 15-plus times and collected zero sacks, the most such games in NFL. It was also the second time in 2022 Goff was blitzed more than 50.0% of his dropbacks and taken zero sacks (also in Week 9 vs. Green Bay).

NFL Research: Jamaal Williams is the first player to score multiple rushing touchdowns in at least five of his team's first 10 games since Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006, when he set the single-season TD record with 31.

New York Jets
2022 · 6-4-0

Kevin Patra's takeaways:

  1. Marcus Jones turns on the jets for game-winning punt return TD. With both offenses scuffling, overtime appeared inevitable. Jones had other plans. With 26 seconds remaining, the rookie fielded a punt and took off down the sideline, weaving through some poor tackling efforts and scampered for an 84-yard score to give the Pats a much-needed victory. The return TD was the second-longest go-ahead fourth-quarter TD in Patriots history -- Ron Burton on a 91-yard field goal return TD in Week 10, 1962, at Denver was the longest, per NFL Research. On a day when the Pats controlled much of the contest, but Nick Folk missed two field goals, it was apropos that Bill Belichick's squad would win a struggle-fest with a big punt return. All three phases matter.
  2. Defenses dominate at Foxboro. Both Ds controlled the line of scrimmage, taking advantage of banged-up offensive lines. Matt Judon continued his dominant season, racking up 1.5 sacks, two QB hits and a tackle for loss. Can we get this man more hype for AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year? Kyle Dugger made several big plays helping shut down the Jets' offense to a measly 2.1 yards per play and 3 of 14 on third downs. Gang Green also played well, sacking Mac Jones six times (the Jets also sacked the Pats QB six times in Week 8). Quinnen Williams and Co. dominated the line, allowing few holes in the run game. Whenever the Pats did march into field goal range, the Jets netted a big sack to salvage the situation. It was a dominant performance from both defenses despite zero forced turnovers.
  3. Zach Wilson struggles again versus Pats D. There was no redemption from the Jets' young QB. After spending the week defending his play against the Pats in Week 8, Wilson played similarly poorly. Wilson was 9-of-22 passing for 77 yards for a 50.8 QB rating and took four sacks. Woof. At least he didn't throw any picks! Wilson missed a host of throws in the wind, either sailing simple sideline swings or throwing dirt balls at the feet of his wideouts. The QB did a good job early, avoiding sacks, throwing the ball away and using his legs a few times. As the game wore on, Wilson grew jittery in the pocket and was late on a host of reads. In a winnable game against a division rival, Gang Green needed Wilson to make a few plays. He couldn't.

Next Gen stat of the game: Marcus Jones' 84-yard punt return touchdown increased the Patriots' chances of winning by 47.8 percentage points (from 51.0% to 98.8%), the most win probability added on a punt return in the NGS era (since 2016).

NFL Research: Matthew Judon has set a new career high and leads the NFL with 13.5 sacks. Only one player in Patriots franchise history has had more sacks in a season: Hall of Famer Andre Tippett, who had 18.5 in 1984 and 16.5 in 1985.

Houston Texans
2022 · 1-8-1

Coral Smith's takeaways:

  1. Washington gets over .500 with solid offensive effort. The Commanders haven't been a team to flash big numbers on offense at any point this season, but in the last five games with Taylor Heinicke at quarterback, in which they've now gone 4-1, the offense has done what needs to be done to get the win and give the team its first winning record since Week 1. Washington's run game was crucial in last week's upset win over the Eagles, where a grind-it-out mentality led to small yardage that slowly broke down the defense. And against the Texans' NFL-worst defensive unit, the Commanders were able to continue to effectively utilize the run game and get more big plays, with Antonio Gibson and Brian Robinson effectively splitting the duties to finish with 72 and 57 rushing yards, respectively. Heinicke also had another solid showing in his first game with the knowledge that he's the starter going forward, going 15-of-27 for 191 yards and spreading out his passes to numerous targets. Tight end Logan Thomas led all pass catchers with five receptions for 65 yards, with wide receiver Terry McLaurin close behind with four for 55. While 20 of the 23 points were scored in the first half, it was again enough to win, and that's what matters.
  2. The Texans have historically bad first half. There was very little good to say about Houston's offense on Sunday, even in the context of its struggles throughout the season. The first half was especially bad, as the Texans were shut out and had only a single first down. A big reason for the struggles was the missing production of rookie Dameon Pierce, who had averaged 85.8 rushing yards per game coming into this matchup. But against the Commanders' defensive line, Pierce couldn't get anything going, repeatedly being stopped either at or before the line of scrimmage. For much of the first half he had rushing totals in the negatives, and by the end of the game he had only collected 8 yards on 10 carries. With that aspect of the game not available, quarterback Davis Mills was forced to throw, and his struggles with consistency were on full display. At the half, Mills was 6 for 9 for 22 yards and an interception, and he had a measly 30.6 passer rating. All this came together for 5 net yards in the first half, the lowest first-half yardage any team has had all season. The second half was a bit of a step up as Houston put together a couple scoring drives, but the Texans could never get the running game going and Mills played himself out of some scoring chances with mistakes, including an interception off of Brandin Cooks' helmet at the 3-yard line. The final line for Houston: 148 total yards, 21 rushing yards, and a 46.1 passer rating for Mills -- all season lows.
  3. Washington D comes up big. You can't deny the impact that the Commanders defense had on the Texans' inability to get any significant yardage. Houston's first drive of the game was cut short by an interception by Kendall Fuller, who jogged 37 yards to the end zone for the easy pick-six to give Washington an early lead. A promising drive in the fourth quarter ended without points after Darrick Forrest snagged another INT off of the Cooks' helmet deflection. And throughout the game, the defensive line held strong, limiting yardage on run plays and getting consistent pressure on Mills when he stepped back to pass. Washington had five sacks on the night -- one from Daron Payne, and two apiece to Jonathan Allen and Montez Sweat. With those takedowns, all three of those players now have six-plus sacks, making Washington one of only three teams to have three players with at least six sacks (Dallas and Tennessee are the others). Over the first five weeks of the season, the Commanders defense was surrendering 25.6 points and 345.6 yards per game and had only one takeaway, but since Week 6 those numbers have gone down to 15.8 points and 276.7 yards with 12 takeaways, showing the improvement in the unit.

NFL Research: With his performance Sunday, Curtis Samuel is now one of four WRs in the Super Bowl era with 600-plus rush yards, six-plus rush TDs, 2,500-plus receiving yards and 15-plus receiving TDs in a career. The other players are Jerry Rice, Tyreek Hill and Eric Metcalf.

Next Gen stat of the game: Jonathan Allen had seven QB pressures and two sacks on 32 pass rushes (21.9 pressure percent).

New Orleans Saints
2022 · 4-7-0
Los Angeles Rams
2022 · 3-7-0

Nick Shook's takeaways:

  1. Saints rediscover offensive mojo. Dennis Allen's decision to continue rolling with Andy Dalton seemed to be nearing a breaking point with those who follow the Saints, so it was only right Dalton chose Sunday to put on a show. The veteran completed 21 of 25 passes for 260 yards and three touchdowns, using the full capabilities of his receiving corps by tossing touchdowns to Juwan Johnson (who has scored a touchdown in five straight games), rookie Chris Olave (who toasted Jalen Ramsey) and Jarvis Landry. Alvin Kamara and Taysom Hill combined to rush for 94 yards on 21 carries, which was just enough to help the offense stay relatively balanced. In a game against another struggling team, it wasn't going to take an offensive explosion to win -- just competence. For the first time in a month, the Saints were more than competent offensively.
  2. Rams hit rock bottom. Los Angeles hasn't been here since the Rams were playing at the L.A. Coliseum, HBO and NFL Films cameras were following them around and Jeff Fisher was their coach. The Rams have dug themselves a deep hole in the standings at 3-7 and don't appear to have a visible way out. Cooper Kupp is on injured reserve, and Matthew Stafford's return from concussion protocol didn't last a full game due to another exit to be examined for a potential concussion. That left the Rams with their usual running backs operating behind a piecemeal offensive line, and third-stringer Bryce Perkins at the controls in a game that was close prior to Stafford's departure. Instead of delivering a counter to the Saints' latest blow as they'd done in the first half, the Rams wilted, falling behind 17-14 early in the third quarter and mustering just six more points off two field goals in the second half. Sunday marked the first time in the Sean McVay era that the Rams lost four straight games, and with Kansas City on deck next weekend and Stafford's availability uncertain, it's not looking good.
  3. Juwan Johnson is on a roll. I wanted to spend this point on Chris Olave's 102-yard game, his third 100-plus-yard game of his incredibly promising career, but it's impossible to overlook Johnson's contributions in the last month. While faces have changed at a variety of positions, Johnson has remained the constant, serving as Dalton's trusty target in good times and bad. It was only fitting Johnson scored New Orleans' first touchdown of the game, which came after he snagged a 24-yard reception to set up the Saints for their first points of the day (a 46-yard field goal from Wil Lutz). When times are tough, it always helps to have a reliable tight end in the offensive attack, and Johnson has certainly filled that role. His five-touchdown streak in as many games stands as a testament to his development and his importance in this offense, and if the Saints are going to turn around their season, he figures to continue to be a key part of their plans going forward.

Next Gen stat of the game: Andy Dalton completed 11 of 13 passes for 131 yards and three touchdowns on attempts down the seams.

NFL Research: At 3-7, the Rams are just two more losses from securing a losing season after winning Super Bowl LVI. The last reigning champion to finish with a losing record in the following season was the 2003 Buccaneers.

Baltimore Ravens
2022 · 7-3-0
Carolina Panthers
2022 · 3-8-0

Michael Baca's takeaways:

  1. Ravens force three turnovers in fourth quarter to survive stumble. Baltimore's second-ranked rushing offense plodded through three quarters of play before scoring 10 points in the final frame. Credit the Ravens' veteran defense for a somewhat comfortable win. After the Ravens broke a 3-3 tie with a field goal midway through the fourth quarter, Marcus Peters started a late rally by forcing a fumble that set up the Ravens' only touchdown of the game two plays later. Jason Pierre-Paul's fourth-down sack quickly ended the following drive before Marlon Humphrey picked off Baker Mayfield on the next one to put the game away. For good measure, the Ravens ended the Panthers' longest drive of the day (55 yards) in the final two minutes with another turnover as Pierre-Paul corralled a tipped pass for an INT. The late defensive rally had M&T Bank Stadium rocking, which was a far different disposition from the first three quarters, but forcing the ball out of the Panthers' hands in the final four possessions of the game was the dominant end necessary to erase Baltimore's uncharacteristic afternoon.
  2. Demarcus Robinson plays MVP for a day. Though up against an underrated defense, the Lamar Jackson-led Ravens offense should cause some worry following this outing. But the veteran Robinson was a bright spot for a wide receiving corps in need of a boost after losing Rashod Bateman for the season. Robinson caught a career-high nine balls (nine targets) for 128 yards, and was really the only reliable presence on offense for Baltimore. According to NFL Research, Robinson posted the highest total Ravens receiving yards in a game since Marquise Brown posted 147 yards in Week 1, 2019. Jackson's passing numbers have declined since Bateman's absence, but the rapport with Robinson figures to be a key component going forward. The Ravens do have ample time to get right with the easiest remaining strength of schedule in the NFL, and their next four games are all against teams with losing records.
  3. Panthers' young defense should give Carolina some hope. Mayfield's return to the starting lineup offered little excitement, but Carolina can reserve hope for the immediate future in its talented young defense. Interim defensive coordinator Al Holcolmb's unit rendered a normally dangerous Ravens offense unremarkable thanks to its speedy, sure-handed tackling, a stout defensive line and a mistake-free secondary. Brian Burns (one sack, two tackles for loss) led Carolina's defense with a constant threat off the edge while the return of Jeremy Chinn (10 tackles) codified a back end that allowed just 209 passing yards. Bravvion Roy found his first-career INT with an impressive play while trying to bat down a ball at the line, and Frankie Luvu (one sack, 10 tackles) continued his breakout season. Holcolmb, a first-time play-caller since Carolina's coaching staff was rearranged, selected schemes good enough to keep Jackson in check, and it may be ideal film to review for future Ravens opponents.

Next Gen stat of the day: Lamar Jackson was blitzed on 50% of dropbacks, going 11-of-16 passing for 59 yards and one interception versus the blitz.

NFL Research: The Ravens have at least one defensive takeaway in 12 straight games, marking the longest active streak in the NFL.

Buffalo Bills
2022 · 7-3-0
Cleveland Browns
2022 · 3-7-0

Nick Shook's takeaways:

  1. Buffalo inches closer toward regaining offensive identity. The Bills' performance for much of the first half was abysmal. Josh Allen continued his streak of inaccuracy, causing concern to those viewing the game across the country, yet by halftime, Buffalo held a 13-10 advantage. Why? Well, the Bills woke up in time to remember who they were as an offense. A touchdown drive in the final minutes of the first half was the jolt the Bills needed, and the second half belonged to Buffalo. The Bills gained 223 of their 357 net yards in the final two quarters, producing points on every second-half possession but the last and slamming the door on the Browns in the process. A refreshing turn toward the run -- something Buffalo has actively avoided in weeks past -- helped pace their offensive attack, with Devin Singletary and James Cook each rushing for 86 yards. Because of this, Allen didn't need to throw it all over the yard at Ford Field, and the Browns defense failed to answer. Perhaps the Bills will view this game as a suggestion to run the ball more than they usually do; it certainly paid off Sunday.
  2. Browns continue to fail to capitalize. As they have often done in 2022, the Browns began the game with a well-scripted and well-executed opening drive, covering 75 yards in nine plays and finishing it with a touchdown pass to Amari Cooper. Unfortunately for the Browns, that was the highlight of their afternoon in Detroit. Cleveland's next four possessions ended in a punt, field goal, fumble and punt. The second half followed the same narrative, ending in a turnover on downs, a missed field goal and a punt before two late touchdowns made the final score respectable. Cleveland's defense did an excellent job of harassing and limiting Allen in the first two quarters, but each time the Browns regained possession, they found ways to waste it. When Buffalo scored just before the half, it was clear the Browns had already missed their chance to take a commanding lead and hang on for a win. The second half was nothing more than a Sisyphean climb to nowhere, which has become all too familiar for the 3-7 Browns.
  3. Tip your cap to the Bills defense. After trudging through feet of snow just to get to Detroit, Buffalo sure looked like a team that had dealt with a lot leading up to Sunday. Luckily for the Bills, their defense showed up before their offense. Buffalo stood tall in the face of early adversity, preventing the Browns from taking advantage of scoring opportunities in the first half, and when the second half arrived, it was time for the Bills to finish the job. Buffalo stuffed Cleveland's rushing attack, holding Nick Chubb to 19 yards on 14 carries, and pressuring Jacoby Brissett in the most important moments, preventing the Browns from responding. With each stop came a Bills response, and by the time the Browns finally found the end zone in the fourth quarter, the game was already decided. Matt Milano played a key role in his second game back from injury, recovering a fumble and recording Buffalo's lone sack of the day. Jordan Poyer's return also hindered Cleveland's attempts to move the ball with targets intended for David Njoku. All in all, the Bills defense deserves the game ball for this one. It'll need to keep this up in order to regain the AFC East lead.

Next Gen stat of the game: Bills running back James Cook finished with plus-32 rushing yards over expected Sunday, the highest total for a Bills player who isn't a quarterback this season.

NFL Research: After recording 15 total yards and scoring three points in the first quarter, the Bills scored 28 points and gained 342 yards in the final three quarters.

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