LOS ANGELES, November 11, 2014 — As Americans in stadiums across the United States waved flags and celebrated true heroes in honor Veterans’ Day, gridiron heroes took the field. The second half of the 2014 NFL season is now upon us, and storylines are still being written and rewritten. The Browns are for real. The 49ers and Seahawks are resilient. Rex Ryan press conferences are fun no matter what the Jets record is. If Wembley Stadium has to host the Jaguars one more time, they may burn down their stadium and then attack America like it was 1814. Even Brock Osweiler, Matt Flynn and Jimmy Clausen got to play professional football this week. Welcome to the NFL 2014 Week 10 lessons learned and not learned.
Cleveland Browns 24, Cincinnati Bengals 3 — The Thursday night game featured teams who met with winning records after November 1 for the first time since 1988. Bryan Hoyer had game manager type numbers, going 15 for 23 for 198 yards without a touchdown or interception. Hoyer leads a 6-3 football team that runs hard and plays tenacious defense. Three rushing touchdowns from less than five yards out provided the difference. Johnny Clipboard will have to wait. As for Red Rifle Andy Dalton, he finished a miserable 10 of 33 for 86 yards, zero touchdowns and three interceptions. His first interception 90 seconds into the game set up the first Cleveland touchdown. The Dawg Pound staked the Browns to a 17-3 halftime lead and pounded Dalton the rest of the way.
San Francisco 49ers 27, New Orleans Saints 24, OT — One week after blowing a game by not giving it to their best player, the 49ers returned to Jim Harbaugh attitude football. With the Saints leading 24-21 late, this game became a tail of two Hail Mary’s. With 1:22 left the 49ers faced fourth and 10 at their own 22. Colin Kaepernick scrambled around and threw a prayer to a wide open Michael Crabtree for a 51-yard gain. With four seconds left from the San Francisco 47 in a tie game, Drew Brees threw a Hail Mary of his own. The Saints thought they had the miracle touchdown, but Graham was called for offensive pass interference. With 5 1/2 minutes left in overtime from the Saints’ 15, Brees was sacked and fumbled. Harbaugh immediately sent in Phil Dawson on first down. Dawson nailed the kick.
Dallas Cowboys 31, Jacksonville Jaguars 7 in London — Memories of North Dallas 40 resurfaced as 20 Cowboys missed Friday night curfew in London. Dallas thought they were “only” playing the Jaguars, so discipline did not matter. Tony Romo was 16 for 21 for 225 yards passing, three touchdowns and zero interceptions at halftime. Touchdown bombs of 35 and 68 yards to Dez Bryant staked the Cowboys to a 24-7 halftime advantage. Despite the lead, Jerry Jones instructed Jason Garrett to discipline the players who missed curfew. No, not really.
Kansas City Chiefs 17, Buffalo Bills 13 — Twice the Bills reached beyond the Chiefs 10 yard line and both times the Bills settled for field goals. Buffalo led 13-3 in the fourth quarter but failed to put the game away. Up 13-10, the Bills fumbled a punt, setting up the Chiefs at the Buffalo 26. Alex Smith ran for an eight-yard touchdown to put the Chiefs in front. With 4 1/2 minutes left, the Chiefs appeared to be in deep trouble when Leodis McKelvin returned a punt 23 yards to the Chiefs 25. On first and 10 from the 15, Kyle Orton threw incomplete 4 straight times as the Chiefs got the tough road win. For Buffalo, the red zone was the dead zone.
New York Jets 20, Pittsburgh Steelers 13 — Ben Roethlisberger was the hottest quarterback in the league playing against the ice cold Jets, losers of eight straight. Naturally, the Jets took a 17-0 first quarter lead. Pittsburgh had four turnovers. Although the Jets tried to self-destruct late, they ran out of time. The Jets have never lost nine straight games in the same season, preventing Rex Ryan from being lumped in with Rich Kotite.
Baltimore Ravens 21, Tennessee Titans 7 — When Eddie George, Steve McNair and Ray Lewis played, this game was a thriller. They don’t, and this game wasn’t. After spotting Tennessee the opening touchdown, a pair of Justin Forsett touchdowns had the Ravens clinging to a 14-7 fourth quarter lead. Baltimore finally locked up the game when Joe Flacco found Tory Smith for a 32-yard touchdown pass.
Detroit Lions 20, Miami Dolphins 16 — A 13-13 tie in the fourth quarter was decided when both quarterbacks both faced critical third down conversions. With 4 1/2 minutes to play, Ryan Tannehill threw incomplete on third and goal at the two. The field goal put the Dolphins ahead, but it was not enough. With 36 seconds to play and the Lions facing third and four from the Miami 11, Matthew Stafford threw the winning touchdown. Jim Caldwell was so pleased at the Lions being in first place at 7-2 that he almost made a facial expression.
Atlanta Falcons 27, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17 —Atlanta overcame a 17-16 fourth quarter deficit to lead by 11, but the Stupor Bowl could only be decided by mistakes. On first and goal from the four just past the two minute warning, Josh McCown was intercepted. The Buccaneers got it back again and McCown was intercepted again.
Arizona Cardinals 31, St. Louis Rams 14 — With 11 1/2 minutes left in regulation the Cardinals trailed 14-10 and faced 3rd and 7 at the Rams 28. Disaster then struck as Carson Palmer went down without being touched. The same ACL injury that hobbled him nine years ago means the top team in the league no longer has their leader. Drew Stanton came in at quarterback and went deep for a 48-yard touchdown to give the Cardinals the lead. Rams quarterback Austin Davis then melted down with three late turnovers resulting in Arizona defensive touchdowns. The Cardinals are 8-1, but Palmer being done for the year clouded the win.
Seattle Seahawks 38, New York Giants 17 — A 17-17 tie in the fourth quarter was broken wide open as Marshawn Lynch ran wild. Beast Mode scored four touchdowns on the day on 21 carries for 140 yards. In the rain the Seahawks gashed the Giants for 350 yards rushing. Russell Wilson only completed ten of 17 passes for 172 yards, but Wilson also ran for 107 yards on 14 carries.
Oakland Raiders 41, Denver Broncos 17 — After 26 minutes of football, the Raiders led 10-6. David Carr had one touchdown pass while Peyton Manning had two interceptions. Then Carr threw an interception followed by the play of the game. On 3rd and 8 just shy of midfield, Manning threw a short pass that was caught nowhere near the first down marker. Instead of a punt, several bad tackles meant a 51-yard touchdown pass and a 13-10 Broncos lead. The Raiders self-destructed. In a 19-minute span, Carr was intercepted twice and Manning threw five touchdown passes as the Broncos led 41-10 after three quarters. Last year in Oakland Manning needed only one half of football to build a 31-point lead and give way to Brock Osweiler. This time Osweiler only got to mop up a quarter as the Raiders remained the only winless team.
Green Bay Packers 55, Chicago Bears 14 — The Sunday night game saw Aaron Rodgers threw six touchdown passes and zero interceptions, and that was only the first half. The last player to accomplish that feat was Darryl “Mad Bomber” Lamonica. With Rodgers and Jay Cutler both completing passes to players on the Packers, the Packers led 42-0 at halftime. Matt Flynn and Jimmy Clausen finished a game that could spell the end of the Marc Trestman experiment in Chicago.
Philadelphia Eagles 45, Carolina Panthers 14 — The Monday night game question would be whether Mark Sanchez was truly ready for prime time. The answer was that he did not have to be. Carolina fumbled twice on their first three plays to gift the Eagles 10 points. Darren Sproles returned a punt for a 17-7 Eagles lead. Bradley Fletcher returned an interception of Cam Newton 31 yards for another touchdown and a 31-7 Eagles lead at the half. Sanchez finished with three touchdown passes while Newton threw three interceptions.
The Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, San Diego Chargers and Washington had their bye week.