NFL Week 11 Recap and Highlights: What Taysom Hill’s performance means

After another exciting slate of games, NFL Recap Week 11 is here to break down Sunday’s biggest news, notes, and highlights. We begin by taking an aerial view of the NFL landscape after Week 11 before moving into our Studs ‘n’ Duds. Following that, we look at the New Orleans Saints and their decisive win over the Atlanta Falcons with Taysom Hill under center. Then, we take a look at Brian Flores’ decision to bench Tua Tagovailoa during their game against the Denver Broncos.  Finally, we travel to Tennessee to take a look at what AJ Brown can do when he ignites his Beast Mode.

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[su_note note_color=”#f1f0f0″ text_color=”#000000″ radius=”3″ class=”” id=””]NFL Week 11 Recap & Highlights: Self-destructive Packers, soggy Browns shake up the NFL playoff chase[/su_note]

NFL Week 11 Recap and Highlights: What Taysom Hill's performance means

The Green Bay Packers experienced death by 100 paper cuts. The Cleveland Browns proved that they are NFL’s toughest mudders. The Pittsburgh Steelers positioned themselves to go 16-0, whether you believe in them or not. And the Philadelphia Eagles are in deep denial about their quarterback crisis. Week 11 brought a tiny bit of clarity to the playoff picture, and NFL Recap is here to break down what we have learned.  

The Green Bay Packers are a playoff disaster waiting to happen

The Packers took a 28-14 halftime lead over the Indianapolis Colts and became downright self-destructive for the rest of Sunday’s 34-31 overtime loss. The second half was like a greatest hits album of Packers’ shortcomings: leaky run defense, out-of-sync offensive series, a critical special teams mistake, bad fourth-down execution on both sides of the ball, a mind-boggling sequence where their defense jumped offsides and had 12 men on the field on back-to-back plays, and finally Marquez Valdez-Scantling’s overtime fumble to set up the Colts’ game-winning field goal. All of this came one week after the Packers did everything they could to nearly hand the Jacksonville Jaguars an upset.

NFL Highlight | Colts force a fumble to set up winning field goal

The Packers are too good to not reach the playoffs but are begging to get clobbered once they get there. Some problems, like coordinator Mike Pettine’s run defense, might be unsolvable this season. But there’s a “here we go again” feeling every time Aaron Rodgers scowls at a receiver for running the wrong route or edge rusher Preston Smith is caught in downfield man coverage. If LaFleur cannot stop mistakes from snowballing, this will be just another one of those frustrating Packers seasons.

The Pittsburgh Steelers could go undefeated

The 10-0 Steelers have two gimmies on their late-season schedule — the Cincinnati Bengals without Joe Burrow and the Washington Football Team — as well as four opponents with winning records. On the surface, that does not look like the recipe for a 16-0 season. But the Steelers beat the Cleveland Browns 38-7 earlier in the season, so scratch them off as a threat (unless it’s raining; see below).

The Bills look like true middleweights who aren’t quite ready for meaningful December showdowns against stiff competition. And the Steelers overcame a slow start to win their Week 8 meeting with the Baltimore Ravens thanks to turnovers and penalties; the Ravens play a lot of games like that these days.

NFL Highlight | Chase Claypool hauls in his 10th touchdown catch

That leaves the Indianapolis Colts as the Steelers’ toughest out, and the Colts have been finding ways to okie-doke quality opponents like the Tennessee Titans and Packers into beating themselves lately. But even if the Steelers trip over the Colts or another opponent, a 15-1 or 14-2 finish almost inevitable, and that should be enough to secure a first-round playoff bye. 

It’s important to not discount the Steelers wins over the Dallas Cowboys, Cincinnati Bengals, and Jacksonville Jaguars with their Garrett Gilbert/Jake Luton caliber quarterbacks. Blowouts in gimmie games are often the mark of a Super Bowl team. And despite their tendency to sputter offensively in the first quarter and Ben Roethlisberger’s recent knack for chucking end zone interceptions, the Steelers look like a truly great team right now.

The jury is still out on the New Orleans Saints Taysom Hill experiment

For more, check out Recap’s detailed segment below about Hill and the Saints.

Carson Wentz is broken

A pick-6 that looked like the ball was poked in the air by a trained seal at an amusement park. A safety in which he forgot he was standing in the end zone and began contemplating the meaning of life in a collapsing pocket. A near-interception into the end zone with an open receiver streaking along the left sideline. A late-game interception thrown somewhere in the same election canvassing district as a blanketed Alshon Jeffery. 

Wentz is an absolute wreck. What’s worse, Doug Pederson appears to be in deep denial about it. The worse Wentz plays, the less we see rookie Jalen Hurts’ Wildcat package as if Pederson would rather lose games than deal with controversy if Hurts makes some big plays.

NFL Highlight | Browns sack Wentz in the end zone for a safety

Pederson stressed that the Philadelphia Eagles were in first place several times during his press conferences entering Week 11. Well, the Eagles are still in first place at 3-6-1, but Pederson is living in a fantasy realm if he thinks that will last or that Eagles fans are happy with how this season is playing out. 

At this point, Wentz is regressing by the week. Pederson needs to figure out how to fix his franchise quarterback while there’s still something left to fix.

The Tennessee Titans’ victory over the Baltimore Ravens upended the balance of power in the AFC playoff chase

For more, check out Recap’s detailed segment below about the Titans and Ravens.

The Browns are laughing and singing in the rain

Give the Browns credit for winning back-to-back games in miserable conditions: it rained heavily throughout Sunday’s 22-17 victory over the Eagles, and heavy winds impacted the 22-17 Week 10 victory over the Houston Texans. The Browns lost to the Las Vegas Raiders 16-6 on yet another miserable day before their bye, but manufacturing a pair of wins in adverse conditions can be a sign that a team is developing cohesiveness and character. Can you imagine last year’s Browns playing well enough to win in the rain? Heck, Freddie Kitchens might have melted.

The Browns can guarantee their first non-losing season since 2007 next week when they visit the Jacksonville Jaguars. With their luck, Hurricane Omega will appear off the coast of Florida on Thursday. 

The Miami Dolphins must make sure they don’t stir up a Tua Tagovailoa/Ryan Fitzpatrick controversy

For more, check out Recap’s detailed segment below on Tagovailoa’s benching and the shadow it could cast over Brian Flores’ reputation.

[su_note note_color=”#f1f0f0″ text_color=”#000000″ radius=”3″ class=”” id=””]NFL Week 11 Recap & Highlights: Don’t be fooled by Taysom Hill’s smoke-and-mirrors victory[/su_note]

NFL Recap Week 11: Highlights from AJ Brown and Taysom Hill

New Orleans Saints QB Taysom Hill looked great on the stat sheet — and pretty darned good at times on the field — while leading the team to a 24-9 victory over the Atlanta Falcons and upping the team’s record to 8-2 in Week 11. That performance vindicates Sean Payton’s decision to start Hill over Jameis Winston while Drew Brees is on injured reserve, and it also proves that Hill really is a potential franchise quarterback, right?

NFL Recap knows a one-game (or maybe two or three-game) wonder when we see one, and it sure looks to us like Payton and the Saints are playing a very dangerous game of smoke and mirrors while trying to manufacture a few victories behind the polarizing Hill.

NFL Week 11 Recap & Highlights | Falcons vs Saints 

Saints QB Taysom Hill sputtered in his first four possessions, but the Saints defense held the Falcons (playing without Julio Jones for much of the afternoon after he left the game early with a groin injury) to three field goals and a 9-3 lead. A 45-yard Hill completion to Emmanuel Sanders that looked like a video game glitch — the ball was so underthrown that it appeared to have caromed off the Superdome roof, and Sanders fielded it like a punt — set up a three-yard Alvin Kamara touchdown run to give the Saints a 10-9 lead before halftime. 

Falcons vs. Saints NFL Week 11 Highlight | Taysom Hill launches an underthrown bomb to Emmanuel Sanders

The Saints then took control of the game as the second half fell into a pattern: Their defense forced a Falcons three-and-out, and Hill punctuated ball-control drives with rushing touchdowns. Even when Taysom Hill fumbled at the end of a long run to give the Falcons a chance to claw their way back into the game (and Julio limped onto the field for a clutch fourth-down conversion, then limped off), Janoris Jenkins intercepted a Ryan pass to squash a rally before it could really start.

Hill finished 18-of-23 passing for 233 yards, with 10 rushes for 51 yards and two touchdowns, while Michael Thomas caught nine passes on 12 targets for 104 yards. The Saints defense held the Falcons to 248 yards of offense and sacked Ryan eight times. 

NFL Week 11 Recap | What Saints QB Taysom Hill’s performance means

Hill, a 30-year old, fourth-year Wildcat/Slash type who is an undiscovered Lamar Jackson upgrade to some and a methadone version of Tim Tebow to others, certainly looked like a “real quarterback” on Sunday. He looked better than Carson Wentz, for example, though a drunk who found a football in a dumpster after an all-day tailgate party could look better than Wentz right now.

Taysom Hill was accurate when targeting Thomas in the 15-20 yard range and even had a touchdown bomb to Thomas nullified by a penalty. His running ability forced Falcons linebackers to stay at home when Hill was in the pocket, setting up some easy throws over the middle. Ironically, Hill’s worst pass was his longest pass: That fluky Sanders catch looked like the sort of thing that fooled Tebow’s fans into thinking biblical forces were at play, but it doesn’t really reflect how Hill played for most of the afternoon.

That said, the Saints QB was executing an obviously scaled-back game plan. Time and again, Payton sent a sixth lineman on the field and called some variation on a play-action pass to Thomas, working the middle of the field. If Thomas wasn’t open, Hill either just kept looking for Thomas, took off running (often for a minimal gain), or took a sack.

Falcons vs. Saints NFL Week 11 Highlight | Hill completes a 23-yard pass to Thomas

Mix in some end-arounds, direct snaps to Alvin Kamara, swing passes to Latavius Murray that turned into long gains and pass interference penalties to extend drives, and Hill befitted greatly from facing one of the NFL’s weaker defenses on a day when his own defense clamped down on a shorthanded opponent. If Hill was required to find a second read regularly or needed to keep pace in a shootout, Sunday’s result would have been very different. 

Was Payton right to start Hill instead of Winston? Probably. Payton likely wagered that a stripped-down game plan and the threat of some options would be all he needed to beat the Falcons, so it wasn’t worth the risk of one of Winston’s legendary multi-turnover meltdowns.

Does this mean Taysom Hill is a future franchise quarterback and all of his hecklers are wrong? Quite the opposite. When a 30-year old who has been in the NFL for four years needs the kind of game plan a coach might bust out for P.J. Walker or Jake Luton to score 24 points against a second-tier opponent, it’s a pretty good sign that he’s not a future franchise quarterback, but the sort of change-up backup who can get you through a couple of starts.

Related | Did the New Orleans Saints make a mistake with the Taysom Hill contract?

That’s all the Saints QB needs to be in 2020. The questions now become whether he’s better at reading defenses and making decisions than he looked on Sunday now that opponents have more film on him and whether Payton is just fooling his opponents with his clever game-planning or fooling himself in a way that could impact the Saints’ post-Brees future as well.

What’s next for Taysom Hill and the Saints?

A three-game road trip to visit the Denver Broncos, Atlanta Falcons, and Philadelphia Eagles could result in three more wins built on sacks, turnovers, three-and-outs, and a keep-it-simple approach on offense. By then, Taysom Mania could be a thing. NFL Week 11 Recap cautions you not to get sucked into it.  

The Saints host the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 15, but perhaps they will get a healthy Brees in time for Christmas.


[su_note note_color=”#f1f0f0″ text_color=”#000000″ radius=”3″ class=”” id=””]NFL Week 11 Recap & Highlights: Andy Dalton, Carson Wentz highlight Week 11’s Studs ‘n’ Duds[/su_note]

NFL Recap Week 11: Highlights from AJ Brown, Taysom Hill, & more

Andy Dalton overcame the odds to lead the Dallas Cowboys to victory. Joe Burrow suffered an injury that will have Cincinnati Bengals fans trying to sim forward to the 2021 season. (You can’t sim through 2020, folks. NFL Recap keeps tryin’). And Carson Wentz delivered a blooper for the ages. All that, plus weird touchbacks and wacky ways to run out the clock in the Week 11 edition of NFL Recap’s Studs ‘n’ Duds.

Stud: Andy Dalton, QB, Dallas Cowboys

Yes, NFC East football is somewhere between a quirky comedy and an insomnia cure. Yes, we’ve all been watching Dalton for a decade, and he’s never been particularly thrilling. And no, beating the Minnesota Vikings is not much of an accomplishment.

NFL Week 11 Highlight | CeeDee Lamb with a Catch of the Year candidate

But Dalton battled back from a severe concussion AND a positive case so bad that he still has not regained his senses of taste and smell to throw three touchdown passes and lead a comeback that gave the Cowboys a 28-24 win and kept them within half a game of the (ugh) Philadelphia Eagles in the race for the tinfoil NFC East crown. This is 2020, folks: toughness and perseverance in the face of adversity are what it’s all about.

Dud: Matt Patricia, HC, Detroit Lions

The Lions were shut out 24-0 by a Carolina Panthers team starting P.J. Walker, best known for being the MVP of a minor league run by pro wrestling folks, which only played one-third of a season. Frankly, the score could have been at least 38-0 if Walker (who played relatively well overall) didn’t gift wrap a pair of end zone interceptions. The Lions spent most of the game getting blown back into the end zone on goal-line rushes and wired onto blocks during end-arounds on defense while looking listless and clueless on offense. 

Patricia’s job is safe on Monday because the Lions play on Thursday. But if they lose to the Houston Texans in the Thanksgiving Fake Patriots Futility Bowl, Patricia should have plenty of time over the next five months to try to purchase a PS5 like the rest of us.

Thud: Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals

Burrow suffered an ACL tear on a brutal third quarter hit in the 20-9 Bengals loss to the Washington Football Team.

Burrow was second to Tom Brady in the NFL with 370 pass attempts entering Week 11, even though Brady (and most of the other league leaders) had played 10 games to Burrow’s nine. It was a remarkable workload for a rookie which illustrated: a) how advanced Burrow’s knowledge of the game and preparation has been this year; and b) how over-reliant the Bengals were on Burrow standing in the pocket behind a rickety line and firing pass after pass to holdovers from the Andy Dalton era.

Let’s hope that the next time we see Burrow, it’s behind a vastly upgraded offensive line.

And now for an expanded edition of the NFL Recap Week 11 Awards.

Defender of the Week: Cameron Jordan, New Orleans Saints

Jordan recorded three sacks, leading a Saints defense that finished with eight sacks and applied constant pressure on Matt Ryan in a 24-9 victory over the Atlanta Falcons, which will probably be attributed almost completely to the brilliance of Taysom Hill.

Offensive Line of the Week: Denver Broncos

Garett Bolles, Dalton Risner, Lloyd Cushenberry, Graham Glasgow, and Demar Dotson held the surging Miami Dolphins without a sack while helping Melvin Gordon, Phillip Lindsay, and Drew Lock combine for 189 yards and 5.7 yards per carry.

Special Teamer of the Week: Henry Anderson, New York Jets

Anderson eluded rookie RB (and blocker on this play) Joshua Kelley with a deft swim move to knife inside and block a Ty Long punt in the first quarter of the Jets 34-28 loss to the Chargers. Quinnen Williams recovered the block to set up an early Jets touchdown. Anderson also blocked a pair of field goals and an extra point in 2018 and a field goal in 2017. If he becomes any more of a clutch player on special teams, Anderson will force Adam Gase to make up a reason to get rid of him.

Special Teams Sacrifice of the Week: Ty Long, Punter, Los Angeles Chargers

Long was tasked with running out the final seven seconds of the Chargers victory by taking a punt snap and jogging slowly backward through the back of the end zone. Long did so — and took a gratuitous shot by someone named Frankie Luvu in the process — for a 28-yard loss.

Because of that play, the Chargers officially only rushed for 29 net yards. Gase and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will both try to take credit for their run defense’s awesome performance. They’ll also probably give more snaps to Luvu. 

Hair Pull of the Week: Christian Blake, WR, Atlanta Falcons

Saints cornerback Janoris Jenkins jumped a short slant just before halftime for what looked like an easy interception. But intended receiver Christian Blake yanked Jenkins’ hair, which was enough to break the defender’s concentration, so he dropped the football. It’s the same operating principle behind a Pez dispenser, only much sadder because the Falcons are involved.

Overcomplicated Situation of the Week: The Washington Touchdown-Safety-Touchback

Before getting injured, Joe Burrow rolled right near the goal line early in the second quarter and was about to score a touchdown when Washington defender Chase Young gave him a licking, which knocked the ball loose. Kamren Curl recovered the ball in the end zone and started to return the fumble, only to fumble back into the end zone. Ronald Darby then gobbled up the ball but was immediately tackled.

NFL Week 11 Highlight | Burrow takes a massive hit from Chase Young

The officials initially huddled for approximately six hours and determined that the play was a safety. A Bengals lineman was flagged for holding, however, so Ron Rivera accepted the penalty to move the Bengals 10-yards back for a field goal attempt.

Then, the replay official intervened. After another six-hour conference, it was ruled that Darby did not try to advance the second fumble, so the result of the play was Washington possession and a touchback. Rivera then declined the penalty.

The whole affair played out like one of those old “You Make The Call” videos that used to run during commercials about whether or not it’s a penalty if a giraffe runs onto the field and blocks a field goal with his neck. The moral of the story: football rules are confusing, and the Bengals and Washington are not very good. 

Best Supporting Actor in Someone Else’s Highlight

(Note: all the Baltimore Ravens that AJ Brown juked and stiff-armed into oblivion were immortalized in a separate Recap segment.)

You might think Carson Wentz deserves this award for floating what appeared to be an air-ball three-pointer from the wing toward running back Miles Sanders in the flat, allowing Sione Takitaki to grab the “rebound” in stride for the easiest pick-6 of the season. But no, the award goes to Jalen Reagor for getting wide open on an angle route from the slot up the left sideline, directly in Wentz’s field of vision.

NFL Week 11 Highlight | Another Carson Wentz interception

Watch Takitaki’s touchdown, and you can see Wentz pump fake to the open receiver but think no, that is not a tight end or one of the guys we found on LinkedIn, so I simply dare not throw to him. Reagor helped Wentz look so flummoxed that Baker Mayfield looked like the ultimate game manager by comparison. That takes some serious character acting.

Impressively Meaningless Play of the Week (Year? Millennium?)

All Drew Lock had to do while protecting a 20-13 lead on fourth down with four seconds left was heave a bomb far enough downfield for the final seconds to tick away while it was in the air. So Lock launched a moonball that would make Josh Allen proud. Not only did time expire while the ball hung in the air, but Tim Patrick chased the orbital satellite down for a 61-yard reception that accounted for 22 percent of Lock’s passing production for the afternoon and helped Patrick finish with 119 receiving yards.

The way he has been playing lately, if Wentz was asked to throw a deep ball just to kill the clock, he would check down into the flat for a pick-6. 

[su_note note_color=”#f1f0f0″ text_color=”#000000″ radius=”3″ class=”” id=””]NFL Week 11 Recap & Highlights: Benching Tagovailoa made Brian Flores look like just another Fake Belichick[/su_note]

Miami Dolphins: Benching Tagovailoa made Brian Flores look like just another Fake Belichick

Brian Flores made the biggest mistake of his head coaching career. His decision to bench Tua Tagovailoa in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick in Sunday’s 20-13 Miami Dolphins loss to the Denver Broncos could backfire in a variety of ways. It’s also the type of mistake that cost Flores’ famous mentor his first head coaching job. NFL Recap isn’t going to pull any punches: Flores just made the worst of a great situation in Week 11, and what he does next could determine whether he turns the Dolphins franchise around or instead turns into another flailing Bill Belichick wannabe.

Broncos vs. Dolphins Recap

Playing the Broncos is like bathing a sheepdog that just went swimming in a swamp: you’ll probably get the job done in the end, but it’s gonna be messy. 

Tagovailoa turned a Drew Lock interception into a short touchdown drive in the first quarter, but Vic Fangio’s defense shut Tua and the Dolphins offense down completely on the next four series while the two-headed Melvin Gordon/Phillip Lindsay controlled the clock and helped the Broncos slowly climb out to a 20-10 lead. 

NFL Week 11 Highlight | Broncos defense sacks Tua for the sixth time

Tagovailoa landed awkwardly after a sack and was replaced by Ryan Fitzpatrick on the next series early in the fourth quarter. Fitzpatrick moved the ball better than Tua could; meanwhile, the Broncos coughed up an opportunity to ice the game when Gordon fumbled before crossing the goal line for what appeared to be a touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter. Fitzpatrick’s attempt to conjure late-game Fitzmagic and force overtime ended with an interception by Justin Simmons in the end zone with 1:03 to play.

Flores clarified after the game that Tagovailoa was benched for performance, not because of injury. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Flores also stated that Tua will be the starter next week when the Dolphins face the New York Jets.

What the Tagovailoa benching means for the Dolphins

If you looked carefully, you could see the twinkle in Fitzpatrick’s eye as he fired that final pass into the end zone. He was dreaming about an “Aw, shucks” press conference in which he would graciously give credit to his teammates and say nice things about Tagovailoa while reminding everyone how beneficial it would be to have a veteran quarterback with a Harvard education at the helm in the heat of the playoff race. 

NFL Week 11 Highlight | Justin Simmons intercepts Fitzpatrick in the end zone

Had Fitzpatrick thrown a touchdown pass instead of an interception, the Dolphins would now be facing a Category Five quarterback controversy. As it stands, Flores still risks damaging the trust and communication among Tagovailoa and his coaches, wrecking Tua’s confidence (if you want to make a young quarterback timid and ineffective, then threaten his job every time he makes a mistake), and creating the type of factions in the locker room and organization Flores replaced Fitzpatrick with Tua one month ago.

Benching a rookie quarterback at the very first sign of adversity is a classic Gruff Old Defensive Coach mistake. In fact, for Flores’ coaching family, it’s the Original Sin. 

Bill Belichick and the Cleveland Browns

Bill Belichick’s head coaching career began with the Cleveland Browns in 1992. Bernie Kosar was the Browns quarterback but was already fading before his 30th birthday. Belichick switched back and forth between Kosar and Vinny Testaverde in 1993 until he got irked by Kosar’s tendency to audible and flat-out waived the local legend while Testaverde was injured.

Belichick handed the starting job to third-stringer Todd Philcox, who lost three games, knocking the Browns out of the playoff picture. Belichick earned a reputation as someone who couldn’t bother communicating with his quarterbacks, and that eventually cost him his job.

Belichick learned his lesson in New England or at least learned how to give Tom Brady and his offensive assistants plenty of well-earned space to operate. But it’s easy to see shadows of Belichick’s first big mistake among his disciples: Bill O’Brien cycled through lots of quarterbacks before finding Deshaun Watson (and O’Brien would never be classified as a “great communicator”); Matt Patricia is a human porcupine who is about to be available for beers with O’Brien on Sundays; and Joe Judge is reportedly eager to tell anyone who will listen in the New York Giants organization that Tom Brady would be nothing special without the guidance of his brilliant coaches (particularly, you know, the special teams guy).

Flores appeared to be more patient, level-headed, and resourceful than any of his coaching cousins right up until the moment he benched Tagovailoa. Now, it’s up to him to put Sunday behind both of them and to keep both eyes on the long-term goal of turning the Dolphins into true Super Bowl contenders instead of making short-sided decisions to scratch out wins this year.

Flores can do it if he continues to communicate clear intentions and expectations. But he’ll be in real trouble if he starts yanking his quarterback of the future into and out of the lineup regularly.

What’s next for the Dolphins?

The Jets: a sweet, sweet cure for just about anything that ails a young quarterback or team at a crossroads.


[su_note note_color=”#f1f0f0″ text_color=”#000000″ radius=”3″ class=”” id=””]NFL Week 11 Recap & Highlights: AJ Brown Steps Up. Lamar Jackson Doesn’t.[/su_note]

Tennessee Titans vs. Baltimore Ravens: AJ Brown Steps Up. Lamar Jackson Doesn't.

Sunday’s 30-24 Tennessee Titans overtime victory against the Baltimore Ravens is likely to go in the books as a pivotal moment in the 2020 season for both teams. It will be remembered as a game in which wide receiver AJ Brown went Beast Mode when the Titans needed him and Lamar Jackson delivered yet another flat performance in what has become a flop of an MVP sequel.

But there was more to the Titans victory — and the Ravens loss — in Week 11 than can fit in a headline or a highlight reel. NFL Week 11 Recap is here to break down what Sunday’s game means for two Super Bowl hopefuls now heading in different directions.

NFL Week 11 Recap & Highlights | Titans and Ravens 

Despite a slow start by Jackson (4-of-11 passing in the first half), the Ravens appeared to be in control of the game when they took a 21-10 lead midway through the third quarter on a pinpoint Jackson touchdown bomb to tight end Mark Andrews. The Ravens running game was clicking, while their defense was shutting down Derrick Henry and pressuring Ryan Tannehill into mistakes.

With Titans starting center Ben Jones in and out of the game with injuries, even shotgun snaps became an adventure, and a botched snap on a Henry Wildcat play near the goal line forced the Titans to settle for a third-quarter field goal. 

NFL Highlight | AJ Brown goes ‘Beast Mode’

An air-mailed Jackson interception allowed the Titans to further chip away at the Ravens’ lead early in the fourth quarter. And then AJ Brown went ham. First, he caught a quick out and eluded/stiff-armed defenders Marlon Humphrey, Chris Board, and DeShon Elliott for a 25-yard gain. Three plays later (and after another botched snap), Brown caught a short slant and rumbled through arm tackles by Chuck Clark, Marcus Peters, and Humphrey before steamrolling Patrick Queen for the final few yards into the end zone.

NFL Highlight | Derrick Henry calls game in overtime

Jackson led a two-minute drill that stalled at the 10-yard line, allowing Justin Tucker to tie the game at 24-24 with a short field goal. But Jackson took a sack that led to a three-and-out in the first possession of overtime. The Titans then marched down the field against what looked like a weary Ravens offense. Henry, perhaps a little irked that AJ Brown was having all of the stiff-arming fun, waltzed into the end zone from 29-yards away to win the game.

What the Titans’ victory over the Ravens means

The Titans lost three of their last four games entering Week 11 for a variety of reasons: sluggish starts against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals, a sampler platter of special teams disasters against the Indianapolis Colts, defensive lapses, and inconsistent offense when playing from behind against all three teams.

The Titans once again started slowly on Sunday. But Stephen Gostkowski was 3-of-3 on field goals, and a crafty fake punt helped extend one of their drives. More importantly, their defense improved as the game went on and was able to both pressure and contain Jackson, while the offense overcame enough mistakes in the second half to mount a comeback. 

NFL Week 11 Recap & Highlight | Titans pull off a crafty fake punt

Most importantly, AJ Brown asserted himself after dropped passes and weak performances in the Colts and Bengals losses. An all-Henry diet with some spread-the-wealth passing sprinkled on top just isn’t enough to beat quality opponents; Tannehill needs Brown to be a legitimate go-to receiver every week.

As for the Ravens: Jackson isn’t playing well, and everyone else is making too many mistakes while trying to compensate. Pass interference and roughing the passer fouls extended Titans’ drives. Marquise Brown dropped a catchable pass, and Dez Bryant was largely irrelevant in his first meaningful action since 2017.

Related | Lamar Jackson needs to be more consistent in key games

As mentioned before, the defense (playing without top linemen Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams) looked gassed late in the game, and their poor tackling may have been a case of defenders going for the strip or knockout instead of wrapping because they felt the need to force a big play. 

Even the Titans’ fake punt was a sign of a team-wide confidence crisis: Since when does a John Harbaugh-coached team fail to notice that a backup quarterback (Logan Woodside, in this case) has snuck onto the field as the punter’s personal protector? And punishing center Matt Skura for last week’s botched snaps by turning him into a part-time sixth lineman looks like a case of a coaching staff missing the point to prove a point. 

The Ravens should be deep and balanced enough to battle through an extended Jackson slump. So far in November, that has not been the case. The Ravens are now on the ropes, and the Titans are the team amassing enough quality wins, thanks to balance and steady coaching, to keep themselves on the inside track for a high playoff seeding.

NFL Recap Week 11 | What’s next for AJ Brown and the Titans?

The Titans have a rematch with the Colts next Sunday, followed by a visit from the Cleveland Browns. Those two games will go a long way toward determining their playoff fate. But even if they stumble in one or both of those games, December matchups with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions should keep them in the playoff picture.

What’s next for the Ravens?

Thanksgiving night, 8:20 PM Eastern, Ravens at the Pittsburgh Steelers with their season on the line. ‘Nuff said. 

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