The first double-digit week has passed us by in the NFL season and what a week it was. For my money (which isn’t much) this week was the best week thus far in the 2016 season. There were a lot of high-quality games, with two great ones coming back-to-back to end Sunday. Now, on to what caught my eye in Week 10.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Ezekiel Elliott continues to shine. Oh, what’s that, you stopped me? Well, that is because Elliott has been nothing short of spectacular this season for the Dallas Cowboys. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Zeke rushed for 114 yards – eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark in the process – and two late touchdowns, with the second being the game-winning score. That second touchdown run came after Big Ben Roethlisberger used a fake spike play to find Antonio Brown for the then go-ahead score. Zeke also took a screen pass from fellow rookie Dak Prescott 83-yards to pay dirt. Speaking of Mr. Prescott, he overcame an opening drive fumble (which resulted in a Pittsburgh touchdown) to throw for 319 yards and two touchdowns. You can make a case for either one of these young, dynamic players to be MVP, but give me Elliott by a hair.
Sign me up for a Seahawks/Patriots Super Bowl
If the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots clash again this season, it will be in Super Bowl LI and I think I speak for all football fans when I say, sign me up for that. Two of the elite teams in the NFL today once again provided high-quality entertainment with the Seahawks edging the Pats 31-24. This game, much like the ending of Super Bowl XLIX, was decided by a goal line play. This time, it was New England who could not score from the one-yard line. Tom Brady’s fourth-and-goal pass fell incomplete as there was a lot of contact between Rob Gronkowski and Kam Chancellor. No penalty was called, Seattle took over and thus ran out the clock. Brady finished with 319 yards, no touchdowns and his first interception of the season. LeGarrette Blount led the Patriots offense with three rushing touchdowns, but was stuffed at the goal line trying to tie the game. Russell Wilson torched the New England defense all night to the tune of 348 yards and three touchdowns, all three to Doug Baldwin. Gronkowski got lit up on a clean, vicious hit by Earl Thomas that could sideline the All-Pro tight end for at least a week. There were a ton of lead changes and plenty of drama. If this is the matchup come February, sign me all the way up.
Wild ending in the N.O.
Drew Brees is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, especially with time on the clock and timeouts to utilize. He proved that yet again this past Sunday against the Denver Broncos. After Denver took a late lead, Bree marched the Saints down the field before finding Brandin Cooks in double-coverage in the end zone to tie the game at 23. Then the dramatics kicked in. The ensuing PAT attempt from Saints kicker Wil Lutz was blocked by Denver’s Justin Simmons and was scooped up and returned 84-yards by Will Parks for the rare defensive two-point conversion. Denver won by that two-point margin, but there was some controversy. On Parks’ return, he appeared to step on the white sideline. After review, there was no indisputable evidence that he stepped on the white line, mainly due to his cleat being the same color as the paint. Denver escaped with the win, silencing the New Orleans crowd.
Super Mariota torches dysfunctional Packers
Marcus Mariota continued to impress this season, this time torching the Green Bay Packers. Mariota threw for 295 yards and four touchdowns in the Titans 47-25 victory. He completed 19-26 passes and nine of those passes and 124 yards went to tight end Delanie Walker. DeMarco Murray got things going for the Titans on the first play from scrimmage, taking the handoff 75-yards to the house. The flood gates opened then. Murray finished with 123 yards on the ground and even threw for a touchdown. The Packers are hurting defensively and cannot stop a soul. Aaron Rodgers threw for 371 yards and a pair of scores, while also rushing one in. However, it was not enough for the Packers, who have dropped four of the last five, including three straight. After the game, Rodgers was pointing fingers, which could cause more problems for the Pack. They need to come together as a team or they will be sitting at home come playoff time. Meanwhile, the Titans improved to 5-5 and are in the thick of things in the AFC South.
For years, the NFC East was nicknamed the “NFC lEast” as only the division winner would qualify for the playoffs. However, in 2016, that is simply not the case. The Cowboys won their league-best eighth straight game, improving to 8-1. The New York Giants won their fourth in a row by knocking off the Cincinnati Bengals 21-20 on Monday Night Football to improve to 6-3. The Washington Redskins are 5-0-1 since starting the season 0-2 and got a win over the Minnesota Vikings 26-20 on Sunday. Minnesota has lost five straight after starting 5-0. Washington is now 5-3-1. The Philadelphia Eagles recorded a quality win over the Atlanta Falcons 24-15 to improve to 5-4. It is highly likely that the NFC East could send three teams to the postseason.
Chiefs pull out improbable win for fifth straight
The Kansas City Chiefs trailed 17-0, did not score an offensive touchdown, yet somehow came away with a 20-17 win over the Carolina Panthers. Cairo Santos booted the game-winning, 37-yard field goal as time expired after Marcus Peters stripped Kelvin Benjamin. Eric Berry picked off Cam Newton and returned it 42-yards to the house. Santos booted four field goals on the day. That was an impressive come-from-behind win for Kansas City, but a bad loss of the reigning MVP Cam Newton and the reigning NFC champion Panthers.
Shout out to the Miami Dolphins for winning four in a row to improve to 5-4. Ace Ventura would be proud.