32 things we learned from Week 11 of the 2018 NFL season
The 32 things we learned from Week 11 of the 2018 NFL season:
1. My very best wishes to Alex Smith. The Washington quarterback, who suffered a gruesome broken leg Sunday that required emergency surgery, is about as nice a guy as you'd want to meet — based on the opportunities I've had to interview him.
2. Just an unbelievable NFL coincidence that Smith's misfortune would occur 33 years to the day after Lawrence Taylor ended former Redskins QB Joe Theismann's career after inflicting a similar injury.
3. Go ahead and put the Eagles on injured reserve, too. The "defending" champs lost by 41 in New Orleans, the biggest blowout ever suffered by a team that won the Super Bowl the previous season. Get Nick Foles off the bench. Trade Carson Wentz (3 INTs Sunday) to the Giants. Whatever you gotta do, Howie, we just can't take this anymore.
4. Remember that golf bet New Orleans coach Sean Payton lost to Philadelphia's Doug Pederson in the offseason — the one that ultimately allowed the Eagles to wear their home green jerseys in the Superdome on Sunday? We'd say Payton got even. Maybe even threw the golf outing.
5. In the course of clipping Philly, the Saints became the first team in the Super Bowl era to score at least 40 points six times in its first 10 games.
6. Did you miss the AFC East? Neither did we. Take next week off, too, fellas.
7. Did you miss Baker Mayfield? So did we. Hope you wake up "feeling dangerous" in your first trip to Cincinnati next weekend, Bake.
8. It was going so well for the Chargers' latest kicker, rookie Mike Badgley, who had converted his first 17 professional kicks (7 FGs, 10 PATs). But you knew what was coming — Badgley misfired on a third-quarter extra point with the Bolts leading the Broncos by 12. We're not saying he cost them this game, but the Chargers lost 23-22.
9. Quiet 2018 debut for Chargers DE Joey Bosa, who registered one tackle and one quarterback hit after finally returning from a lingering foot injury.
10. The Bolts faltered after winning six straight, but three teams — Saints (9), Texans (7) and Steelers (6) — are currently surfing win streaks of at least a half-dozen games.
10a. Houston is the first team since 1970 to win seven in a row following an 0-3 start.
11. Bizarre stat of the week: The Redskins experienced their first lead change all season in their setback against Houston. Ironically, no team since the 1954 Redskins had played its first nine contests without a lead change.
12. Please tell us Jon Gruden was mic'd up Sunday, because his exchanges with Raiders QB Derek Carr — in a winning effort, no less — appeared priceless to the lip-reading crowd.
13. With Lamar Jackson's maiden start for Baltimore on Sunday, this became the first NFL season to witness five first-round quarterbacks start as rookies. Jackson and the Jets' Sam Darnold were the only ones in the bunch to win that initial start.
14. Jackson's 27 rushes (for 117 yards) were the most by a quarterback since the 1970 merger, five more than Tim Tebow's previous mark. Jackson's Vick-esque line included 13 completions on 19 throws for 150 yards and a pick. Suffice it to say, he's an outlier in a pass-happy league, though that might make him successful — at least in the short run. But running 27 times sure doesn't sound like a sustained model for success — just ask Tebow — or well being.
15. Bad news: The Bengals lost to Jackson's Ravens, Cincinnati's fourth loss in five outings — dropping them to 5-5 (and outside the AFC playoff field) after a 4-1 start.
16. Good news: With head coach Marvin Lewis stepping in as defensive coordinator, the Bengals held the opposition to fewer than 500 yards for the first time since Oct. 14.
17. Bad news: With Jackson leading the way, Baltimore churned out 265 rushing yards — the most Cincinnati has allowed in Lewis' 16 seasons on the job.
18. Good news: If the playoffs started tomorrow (they don't), the Ravens would own the AFC's final wild card despite a 5-5 record.
19. Bad news: If the playoffs started tomorrow (they don't), the Bengals would be out in the cold — along with the Colts, Dolphins and Titans — even though their 5-5 record appears just as average as Baltimore's.
20. This was the fourth week of the season when J.J. Watt and T.J. Watt combined to record at least three sacks. The brothers now have 10 apiece this year.
21. You'll recall Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey assessed Ben Roethlisberger thusly to GQ this summer: "Big Ben, I think he's decent at best… It's not Big Ben, it's (Antonio Brown). Big Ben slings the ball a lot of the time. He just slings it, and his receivers go get it. He has a strong arm, but he ain't all that. I played him twice last year, and he really disappointed me." Ramsey picked off two Roethlisberger passes Sunday.
22. However Big Ben got the final word, literally. Even though Roethlisberger has thrown eight INTs in his last two regular-season starts against Jacksonville (including three Sunday), he led Pittsburgh back from a 16-0 third-quarter deficit, throwing two TDs and scoring on a 1-yard plunge with 5 seconds to go as the Steelers won 20-16. "They like to talk a lot — before the game, during the game," Big Ben said of the Jags defense. "But I'm carrying the game ball home."
23. Riverboat Ron has some big brass ones. But if the Panthers coach's (failed) decision to go for two and the win in a 20-19 loss at Detroit ultimately also costs his club a playoff spot, every armchair Carolina fan will cite this as the turning point since the team obviously would have won by playing for the tie and overtime.
24. In his 226th NFL game, Eli Manning established a new career high by completing 94.4 percent of his passes (17-for-18, 231 yards, 2 TDs) against the Bucs and former teammate Jason Pierre-Paul, who did sack the two-time Super Bowl MVP 1½ times in a losing effort. Manning's accuracy rate tied for third best in league history for a quarterback with at least 15 attempts.
25. The Buccaneers' top-ranked offense has surpassed 500 yards in five games. Tampa Bay is 1-4 in those contests, losing four in a row after falling to the Giants on Sunday (despite amassing 510 yards).
26. Bucs QBs Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston have combined for 23 INTs. Per ESPN Stats & Info, they're the first teammates with 10-plus picks since Mark Sanchez and Nick Foles did it with the 2014 Eagles.
27. How did former first-round wideouts from Alabama do in Atlanta on Sunday? The Falcons' Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley and Cowboys' Amari Cooper combined for 12 receptions, 186 yards and one TD. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, Jones (6-118-1) did most of the damage.
28. Since he entered the league in 2012, Seattle's Russell Wilson has never lost three consecutive starts in the same season.
29. Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers has lost seven straight regular-season starts on the road for the first time in his 14-year career.
30. Feast Mode? Seattle owns the league's top-ranked rushing attack with Chris Carson (580 yards), Mike Davis (372) and Rashaad Penny (300) all reaching the 300-yard plateau. The Seahawks have averaged 184.6 yards over their last seven games with at least 150 in each.
31. Hey, @BortlesFacts, your hero has gone four consecutive games without an interception, a new personal best!
32. Dearest mother — Andrew Luck should be deemed comeback captain of the current campaign without further ado.
32a. @CaptAndrewLuck has now led his unit to victory in four consecutive battles after vanquishing the "Ten Sea Titans" on Sunday.
32b. @CaptAndrewLuck is now 10-0 when facing the "Ten Sea Titans" on the field of battle. Including playoffs, Gen. John Elway was 11-0 against men claiming to be Patriots.
32c. The men ensured @CaptAndrewLuck was unsullied for a fifth consecutive skirmish (read: Luck not sacked … for his past 214 dropbacks).
32d. @CaptAndrewLuck's sidearm continues to fire true with sublime consistency — he was on target for at least three bullseyes (read: touchdown passes) for the seventh week in a row — the third-best such run in league annals.
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