Tuesday, November 29, 2022

‘For Real’ Cowboys headline the 10 biggest NFL takeaways of week 11

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The Dallas Cowboys penned a reputation-validating punch against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 11, cementing their status as legitimate contenders.

Dallas dominated all stages in Minnesota, giving the Vikings only their second loss of the season, 40-3 systematic dismantling.

Help could also be on the way for the Cowboys in a wide-open NFC race.

NFL Network reported Sunday morning, Nov. 20, that All-Pro wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. will visit the Cowboys and New York Giants after Thanksgiving, potentially close to a decision on his next destination.

“There is no doubt that the Cowboys are real,” an AFC South scouting director told Heavy after Sunday’s game. “You have some pieces. Adding Odell Beckham Jr. will only help.”

On Sunday afternoon, led by Micah Parsons, Jayron Kearse and Trevon Diggs, Dan Quinn’s relentless and swarming defense completely neutralized Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins.

The Cowboys held a Vikings offense that came into Week 11, averaging 355.8 yards per game for fewer yards (183) than Tony Pollard’s pre-scrimmage yards (189).

Parsons cemented his Defensive Player of the Year status with a first half to last; Fired Cousins ​​twice and forced a fumble.

Quinn used Parsons as he was always meant to be, as a Swiss Army knife, bringing the former Penn State star off the edge and blitzing him down the middle. Had Parsons realized that Cousins ​​hadn’t already thrown the ball away in the second quarter, he would have increased his season total to 11.0 sacks. By the looks of it, Parsons has already reached double-digit sacks with seven games remaining.

“Micah is Elite because he has unmatched speed, strength and the ability to bend,” an NFC Human Resources executive told Heavy.

On Sunday, however, Parsons — dominant as he was — was only part of the Cowboys’ defensive equation. Quinn let Cousins ​​see ghosts – particularly late on when the venerable defensive coordinator brought Kearse to a flash off the edge when it looked like security was going to run for cover.

This was an absolute statement of the Cowboys’ defense against a Vikings team that invaded Buffalo and heralded their arrival with an overtime win over the Bills.

However, Dallas’ defensive dominance only tells part of the story.

Quarterback Dak Prescott and the Cowboys’ offensive performance was not just classic Dallas, but the kind of blueprint for continued success well into the postseason.

Running backs Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott combined for 231 yards from scrimmage and 4 touchdowns. Prescott, who was only asked to get the ball airborne 25 times, threw just 3 incompletions en route for 276 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Perhaps most encouraging for the Cowboys was that Minnesota could barely breathe for Prescott all afternoon.

The NFL is more of a weekly league than ever, but the Cowboys are firing on all cylinders. Dallas started Sunday as the No. 4 team in the NFL by Football Outsiders’ DVOA and the outlet’s No. 2 defense.

If Dallas can continue to dictate teams defensively at the level they did with the Vikings on Sunday and relentlessly hit the game in progress to take pressure off Prescott, this is a team capable of to go for a run. With or without Beckham.

Here are 10 more reactions from Sunday’s week 11 promotion.

Trailing 16-10, Jalen Hurts was in danger of losing for the second straight week after losing his first game of the season in Week 10 to the Washington Commanders. Jalen Hurts put the Philadelphia Eagles on their backs.

With 1:24 left, the Eagles’ offensive line parted the Indianapolis Colts’ defense like the Red Sea, and Hurts darted into the end zone for a 7-yard touchdown to lead Philadelphia to a crucial 17-16 lead.

Sunday was a continuation of trends for the Eagles and Hurts, which have been near perfect in the late games for the past few weeks. Hurts has now rushed for 7 touchdowns inside the red zone and has thrown 9 touchdown passes inside the 20 yard line.

In addition to his rushing touchdown, Hurts also hit wide receiver Quez Watkins for a 22-yard score to draw the Eagles 13-10, with 13:37 remaining in the game. Hurt’s consistency in the fourth quarter was instrumental in the Eagles’ comeback win, the fourth comeback of his career in the fourth quarter and second of the season.

“This guy just has insane belief in himself,” an NFC offensive coach told Heavy, who is most impressive about Hurts’ late-game success. “He never thinks he’s out of a game.”

The Indianapolis Colts continued to expose some cracks in the Eagles’ armor; Jonathan Taylor ran for 84 yards, including 49 and a touchdown in the first quarter. The Eagles’ run defense might be Philadelphia’s greatest weakness. Likewise, Zaire Franklin forced a fumble from AJ Brown, which the Colts turned into a field goal. Generating sales and limiting giveaways was the Eagles’ trademark during an 8-0 start, but they’ve turned it around six times in the past two weeks now.

But Hurts made the biggest games in the biggest moments of a game that has the potential to forge championship character for the Eagles.

The Atlanta Falcons desperately needed a spark, and Cordarrelle Patterson responded by making NFL history.

With the Falcons trailing the Chicago Bears 17-7 in the first half and 4:31 remaining, Patterson used an opener from Cairo in the Atlanta end zone before slicing into the middle of the field and through the heavy traffic of the Bears coverage unit sprinted 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

Brian Mitchell, who returned 9 punts for touchdowns during his career with Washington, the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants, knows a thing or two about what it takes to be one of the most prolific returners of a generation.

“He’s fearless,” Mitchell told Heavy of Patterson. “He has really great vision and he can run. But what sets him apart is that he builds blocks great too.”

Patterson’s kickoff return for a touchdown was the ninth NFL record of his career, surpassing Leon Washington and Josh Cribbs and was a crucial game in Atlanta’s 27-24 win over the Bears.

Games like Sunday’s in New England are not only a missed opportunity for the New York Jets, but a barometer of how far Zach Wilson is from being a competent NFL quarterback.

Perhaps most encouraging for the Cowboys was that Minnesota could barely breathe for Prescott all afternoon.

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