Deshaun Watson inspires the Houston Texans, while Taysom Hill secures first win as New Orleans Saints starter



A look back at the action and talking points from Week 11 of the NFL season.

Deshaun Watson led by example to inspire the Houston Texans to victory, Taysom Hill picked up his first win as starter, PJ Walker fulfilled a dream and Nick Chubb ran all over the Philadelphia Eagles; here’s a look at what we learned in Week 11.

Miami Dolphins 13-20 Denver Broncos

It should also be remembered that a defense missing Von Miller, Jurrell Casey and Shelby Harris registered six sacks and nine quarterback hits as they bullied the Dolphins’ offensive line, and rookie left tackle Austin Jackson in particular, to the extent rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was pulled out of the game for protection. Vic Fangio deserves a lot of credit.

For the Dolphins, a collapsing pocket and their failure to get things going on the ground made for an ugly leaving curve to snap their five-game win streak. Cameron Hogwood

Up Next – Dolphins @ Jets (Sunday, 6pm), Broncos v Saints (Sunday, 6pm)

Dallas Cowboys 31-28 Minnesota Vikings

0:24 Adam Thielen collects an amazing one-handed catch to score for the Minnesota Vikings

We will start this wrap-up with an interesting titbit: Andy Dalton’s two-yard pass to Dalton Schultz was the first touchdown pass in NFL history in which the passer’s last name is an exact match with the receiver’s first name.

It was a wild one in Minnesota as all of the Vikings’ explosive offensive weapons burned the Cowboys. But the story here was the Cowboys’ ability to stay in the game, thanks, in big part, to Ezekiel Elliot’s first 100-yard rush performance in 10 games. The performance was necessary to help combat an eight reception, 123-yard, two-touchdown night for Adam Thielen. He was supported by what is starting to feel like the customary 100 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown for Dalvin Cook.

The win for the Cowboys has moved them to within half a game of the Philadelphia Eagles in a messy NFC East. Anything goes in that division, as the New York Giants and Washington both sit at 3-7. Sonny Cohen

Up Next – Cowboys v Washington (Thursday, 9.30pm), Vikings v Panthers (Sunday, 6pm)

Atlanta Falcons 9-24 New Orleans Saints

With that in mind, and with Drew Brees seemingly winding down, it’s interesting to note that over the last two years the Saints have won all six games that Brees has missed – five starts for Teddy Bridgewater last year and one so far for Hill.

With Payton at the helm you feel the Saints will be there or thereabouts this season and beyond, if only they could avoid getting caught up in monumental playoff drama again.

In contrast, questions remain for the Falcons, who will be embarking on a search for a new head coach and general manager to replace Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff. Their usually potent offense was stifled by a Saints defense warming to their task this year after a slow start. A slow finish looks on the cards for the Falcons. Paul Prenderville

Up Next – Falcons v Raiders (Sunday, 6pm), Saints @ Broncos (Sunday, 9.05pm)

New England Patriots 20-27 Houston Texans

Watson’s dazzling display helped the Texans to a 40-4 record when leading at half-time, a run that stretches back to 2014. The game became a laundry list of accomplishments for Watson. He became the fourth quarterback in NFL history with at least 250 rush yards and 15 passing touchdowns in each of their first four career seasons. He also became the eighth quarterback with 19 passing touchdowns in the same time span.

For the Patriots it has been a difficult season on both sides of the ball. Damiere Byrd’s touchdown catch marks just the second receiving touchdown by a New England wide receiver this season. On the defensive side of the ball, they have allowed 20 or more points seven times this season. They had only allowed that many points or more four times last season. Sonny Cohen

Up Next – Patriots v Cardinals (Sunday, 6pm), Texans @ Lions (Thursday, 5.30pm)

Philadelphia Eagles 17-22 Cleveland Browns

0:47 Kareem Hunt launches himself over the Philadelphia Eagles defense to score for Cleveland Browns

Another home Cleveland game, another day of horrendous weather to make football tough in Ohio but, to their credit, it’s a third win in the wind, rain and sleet for the Browns

It suits this Cleveland team, particularly with Nick Chubb back, to run the ball through Chubb and Hunt – and it has taken them above .500 after 11 games for the first time since 2007 (per NFL research), the last time the team ended with a winning record.

Somehow the Eagles still sit atop the NFC East. That they do so is courtesy of their tied game with the Bengals earlier this year but it’s now three defeats in a row and a legitimate case that they might actually be the worst team in the division.

Washington, Dallas and the New York Giants have all registered wins more recently that the Eagles and the grumbles grow louder and louder around Carson Wentz and perhaps even coach Doug Pederson. Paul Prenderville

Up Next – Eagles v Seahawks (Tuesday, 1.15am), Browns @ Jaguars (Sunday, 6pm)

Cincinnati Bengals 9-20 Washington Football Team

0:46 Joe Burrow is carted off after suffering a leg injury for the Cincinnati Bengals against Washington

The big story here was the injury to Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow. He tweeted shortly after that the league would see him next year, after suffering what looked like a serious, potentially season-ending, knee injury. It has brought an abrupt end to a Rookie of the Year-calibre season for Burrow.

For Washington, two young players did the damage. Terry McLaurin has quietly put together a great season. He continued that against the Bengals racking up his seventh straight game with 80 yards or more. He also added a touchdown. Rookie running back Antonio Gibson may have flown under the radar somewhat but his touchdown made it nine games in a row with at least 50 scrimmage yards and a score. Sonny Cohen

Up Next – Bengals v Giants (Sunday, 6pm), Washington @ Cowboys (Thursday, 9.30pm)

New York Jets 28-34 Los Angeles Chargers

0:37 Justin Herbert fires a bullet pass to Hunter Henry for the LA Chargers touchdown against the New York Jets

It won’t be lost on the Jets that on the day they became the first team officially eliminated from the playoff race they showed a few more signs of life against a team that have their quarterback – rookie Justin Herbert – in place and dazzling.

However, while it’s Joe Flacco leading the Jets’ offense, the organisation – not known for their ability to make a successful important decision over the last few years – are faced with perhaps the biggest in many a moon. Stick or twist with Sam Darnold?

Darnold has shown more than the occasional glimpse of his talent but there’s no denying he is in a bad situation. There is also no denying there are more questions marks than the Jets would have liked when they picked him third overall three years ago.

Trevor Lawrence is by most measures one of the most talented quarterbacks to emerge in college football. Can the Jets be trusted to build around him if they pick him? And what awaits Darnold if they do. The Jets will be pondering that for the months ahead. Paul Prenderville

Up Next – Jets v Dolphins (Sunday, 6pm), Chargers @ Bills (Sunday, 6pm)

Detroit Lions 0-20 Carolina Panthers

While they have not exactly been the NFL’s form team coming into this contest, winning just four of their last seven – needing overtime to beat Washington, benefitting from a Todd Gurley goal-line mishap to overcome Atlanta, and with one of the other wins a standard Jaguars walkover – they were at least in the playoff conversation if not in position just yet.

Those faint hopes are now virtually non-existent after being shut out by the Panthers. The PJ Walker Panthers! Even by the Lions’ standards, this one stings. David Currie

Up Next – Lions v Texans (Thursday, 5.30pm), Panthers @ Vikings (Sunday, 6pm)

Pittsburgh Steelers 27-3 Jacksonville Jaguars

0:56 Diontae Johnson misses the initial catch but juggles it to haul it in at the second attempt

Do the Steelers even have a WR1 these days? I’m not so sure. They continue to hand the lead role to a new man every week, and it’s paying off.

On Sunday it was the turn of Diontae Johnson as he made 12 catches for 111 yards, while Ben Roethlisberger also found Eric Ebron, Chase Claypool, Ray-Ray McCloud and JuJu Smith-Schuster for four catches apiece. Running back James Conner caught all three of his targets and James Washington made just one reception.

As they do on defense, this Steelers offense has so many ways to hurt you. Big Ben can dump it off for yards after the catch, or bypass defensive backs with a deep-ball that has seemingly been impacted in no way by the shoulder injury that troubled him last year.

For the Jags, who are admittedly playing hard for Doug Marrone, they were reminded of their turmoil as Jake Luton finished 16-of-37 for 151 yards and four interceptions. Ugly. Cameron Hogwood

Up Next – Steelers v Ravens (Friday, 1.20am), Jaguars v Browns (Sunday, 6pm)

Kansas City Chiefs 35-31 Las Vegas Raiders

3:53 Re-live some of Patrick Mahomes’ best plays for Kansas City as the defending champions beat Las Vegas

The Raiders came oh so close to sweeping the Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs. And, yet, they really didn’t.

Las Vegas took a 31-28 lead with only a minute and 43 seconds remaining in the contest after the hugely-impressive Derek Carr threw his third touchdown pass of the night…

But, that is more than enough time for Mahomes to weave some magic, and there was such ease and inevitability about the way he did so – leading his team swiftly down the field before finding a wide-open Travis Kelce for the game-winner – that it’s almost not impressive anymore.

It’s just Mahomes. It’s the norm. David Currie

Up Next – Chiefs @ Buccaneers (Sunday, 9.25pm), Raiders @ Falcons (Sunday, 6pm)

Green Bay Packers 31-34 Indianapolis Colts (OT)

0:36 Rodrigo Blankenship gets the winning 39 yard field goal for the Indianapolis Colts against the Green Bay Packers

This Colts defense has everything. Power, speed, athleticism and developing football IQ. Whether it be Bobby Okereke following Davante Adams in the flat to force an overthrow from Aaron Rodgers on fourth-and-one with three minutes to play, DeForest Buckner chasing Rodgers down and clipping his ankle to prevent a first down run, or Rock Ya-Sin out-witting the Packers to pass off Adams underneath and instead produce a stunning recovery to intercept Rodgers’ intended pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling. This unit is scary athletic.

The three tight end packages meanwhile worked a treat against a struggling Packers defense and proved reminiscent of Frank Reich’s early success with Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle back in 2018. And on a day when Nyheim Hines was poised to carry the workload out of the backfield, rookie Jonathan Taylor led the team with 90 yards from 22 carries with the bullish response the Colts were after. Cameron Hogwood

Up Next – Packers v Bears (Monday, 1.20am), Colts v Titans (Sunday, 6pm)

Tennessee Titans 30-24 Baltimore Ravens (OT)

1:26 Henry powers through for a 29-yard touchdown run to win the game for the Tennessee Titans over the Baltimore Ravens

Thursday’s Thanksgiving prime-time tussle between AFC North rivals Baltimore and Pittsburgh looked at one stage this season like it might determine the division, perhaps even be a bout for supremacy in the conference… not anymore.

Thursday is still a massive game, but with the Ravens desperately needing victory just to stay in the playoff hunt in a loaded AFC after dropping this one in overtime to the Titans – a third defeat in four.

The offense once again flattered to deceive, with the exception of a decent display from rookie running back JK Dobbins (15 carries, 70 yards, one TD) and a couple of decent deep balls thrown by Lamar Jackson, including a 31-yard scoring strike to Mark Andrews that, at one stage, had Baltimore up by 11 in the third quarter.

But, just like the playoff loss in January that arguably began the Ravens’ demise, they were ultimately bullied out of the game by Derrick Henry and company down the stretch. David Currie

Up Next – Titans @ Colts (Sunday, 6pm), Ravens @ Steelers (Friday, 1.20am)

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