It was the week of the home team in Week 11, as visiting teams won just four of 14 games. In a strange season, some things got even strangers: the Packers got beaten handily for the second straight week, kickers couldn’t find uprights with a map and a spotlight and, um...oh yeah, there are laser pointers in here somewhere, too.
Let’s take a look at what we learned.
- Brock Osweiler and “laser precision” don’t normally go together. When you hear Brock Osweiler, “spot-on” isn’t exactly the first thing that leaps to mind. But Monday night against the Raiders, Os was certainly seeing spots. Seeing red, too, and in more ways than one. That;s because someone in the stadium — a fan, maybe, but let’s not rule out someone on Oakland’s sideline. But here’s my conspiracy theory: it was Tom Savage or Brandon Weeden, trying to get back the starting job. The bad part is that I’m not sure the three of them aren’t just carbon copies of one another, so it wouldn’t matter anyway.
- Let’s just keep this accomplishment on the down-low, okay? The new record for the most missed extra points in a week is now 11, thanks to some awful kicking by guys not named Bair Walsh. In fact, Mike Nugent of the Cincinnati Bengais is the new Blair Walsh, as he not only missed two extra points in one game, but he did it with flair: both of his misses hit the upright. D’oh!
- Dallas completes the sweep...of the AFC North. The last few among us who refused to believe learned last week that Dallas is for real this year. This week, they celebrated by rubbing the Ravens’ noses in it, and completed a clean sweep of a division to which they do not belong. After beating the Bengals (because that’s in style this year) and the Browns (because, really, who doesn’t?), they barely squeaked by the Steelers a week ago. This week, they were in control for the final three quarters against the Ravens, which actually had the interesting effect of completely nullifying their win over the Steelers, at least where the AFC North is concerned.
- Eventually the bleeding will clot. The Steelers had been tied with the Vikings and the Jaguars for the third-longest losing streak in the league, at four. They were all well behind the 49ers, who entered the week at eight games, and the Browns, who might have last won some time during the Iran Contra, but I could be off by a decade in either direction. The Steelers and VIkings, though, put an end to their awfulness, picking up victories in week eleven. The Steelers had the added privilege of extending the Browns’ streak, which may finally have reached numbers higher than what a pocket calculator can count.
- The Weekly Bellyflop Award goes to...Bengals kicker Mike Nugent! We already talked about his two misses, but here is why they were so devastating: Cincinnati ended the game with an unsuccessful Hail Mary attempt from the Buffalo 27, as they trailed by four in the final seconds. Had Nugent hit one of those two missed kicks, the Bengals could have at least tried a field goal, which would have been around 44 yards, in order to tie it up and force overtime (yes, that alone would have been tragic, because both of these teams are terrible). Had he made both, they could have been kicking for the win.
- College Football Bonus! Not quite as awful this week! Yay! A week after three of the top four teams — among a host of others in the top 25 — lost to lower or unranked teams, only three managed the same feat this week, and two of those were to other ranked teams. However, no. 5 Louisville did managed to lose to unranked Houston, dropping them all the way to 11 in the AP Poll.
- And, finally...That’s (almost) the Steelers we remember. We need a grain of salt, here: this was against the Browns. I’m not sure when the official deed to the team will change hands, but Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is already the de facto owner of the team, with a 21-2 record against the them. The score isn’t at all indicative of how dominant the Steelers were, particularly in the first half, because the Steelers settled for field goals on three trips to the red zone. No matter, though, as the Steelers looked mostly in sync throughout. They sacked the Browns’ quarterbacks eight times, which is especially impressive considering they entered the game with just 13 for the entire season. Rookie cornerback Artie Burns also got his second interception of the season, and nearly had at least two more. The best way to sum up the game than this: there is no better elixir for an ailing team than playing the Cleveland Browns. It truly cures all ills.