Lang on NFL: Patriots send a message

November 20, 2012, 2:06 AM

Every once in a while Bill Belichick likes to send some not so subtle reminders to the rest of the NFL about what his New England Patriots are capable of. A case in point was the 59-24 crushing of Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. Tom Brady threw for 331 yards and three touchdowns as the Patriots extended their winning streak to four games. The Patriots returned two of their three interceptions for touchdowns as they taught Luck a stiff lesson in what it means to play with the big boys in the league.

In their past four games, the Patriots have scored 170 points — more than four teams in the league have scored in 10 games. The injury to Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski (More on that later) will be tough to over-come, but everyone expects the Patriots to find a way.

Time now to take a look at what else happened in week 11.

Star of the week

In a game where both team’s defenses took the day off, Texans quarterback Matt Schaub wins this week’s award after his incredible performance in Houston’s 43-37 overtime win over the Jaguars. Down 34-20 in the fourth quarter, Schaub proceeded to toss three of his five touchdowns in the final quarter and overtime. Schaub’s 527 passing yards is the second best single-game mark in the history of the NFL; second only to Norm van Brocklin’s 554 yards in 1951.

Stiff of the week

The Eagles defence received a lot of votes after allowing Robert Griffin III to complete 14 of 15 passes and put up 31 points. While that was bad, the Raiders defense was worse. In fact the Raiders defense is now dead last in the entire NFL allowing an average of 32.2 points per game. After their loss to the Saints, the Raiders have allowed a staggering 135 points in their past three games. As the losses pile up, it is very clear that general manager Reggie McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen still have a ton of work to do to make the Raiders competitive in the AFC again.

Defensive player of the week

Before everyone anoints J.J. Watt the defensive player of the year, we should take a long look at what Von Miller is doing with the Broncos. Sunday against the Chargers, Miller was a one man wrecking crew in the Broncos 32-23 victory.

Miller abused Philip Rivers and the Chargers offensive line as he racked up three sacks and a quarterback hit. With his three sacks, Miller now leads the entire NFL with 13; one and a half more than Watt.

Rookie of the week

With apologies to Justin Blackmon after his amazing game in the Jaguars overtime loss to the Texans, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III wins this week’s award after a superb game against the Eagles. After three quarters, RG3 was 12 of 13 for 174 yards and three touchdowns. He finished with 14 of 15 for 200 yards, four touchdowns, zero interceptions and had a quarterback rating of 158.3. RG3 also ran the ball 12 times for a game-high 84 yards.

The Ronnie Lott Award
The Cowboys won’t win any style points for their 23-20 overtime win over the Browns. What did earn this week’s Ronnie Lott award was a textbook tackle by safety Gerald Sensabaugh. On a third down play in the fourth quarter, Sensabaugh came up and hammered Browns running back Trent Richardson to deny Cleveland a first down.

The Steve Largent Award
Santana Moss wins the award this week for his highlight reel catch during the Redskins’ 31-6 beat down of the Eagles.

Moss’s highlight reel grab is a big reason Robert Griffin III ended the game going an amazing 14 of 15 through the air.

The Unsung Hero Award
This week’s award goes to the Jets’ second string running back Bilal Powell. After another week of headlines and drama, the Jets walked into St. Louis and came away with a well earned 27-13 win over the Rams. Now in his second season in the NFL, Powell had never run for a touchdown in his career before Sunday. Against the Rams Powell ran for two touchdowns as the Jets snapped their three-game losing streak.

The Best Touchdown
The winner of the award goes out to Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson for this 48 yard walk-off touchdown at Reliant Stadium.

After the game Johnson described to reporters what exactly happened on his game-winning touchdown. “It’s just a wide receiver’s screen. I didn’t know what would happen but it was a perfect call. Everything just opened up. I just took off running.” Johnson’s final numbers were stupendous: 14 catches for 273 yards (a career high and franchise record) and one touchdown.

Honorable mention goes out to 10-year veteran tight end Dallas Clark. The 33-year-old Clark was a mainstay of the Colts offence is now helping Josh Freeman and the Buccaneers win games. Sunday in Carolina Clark caught this 15-yard touchdown in overtime as the Bucs won their fourth straight game.

With Clark, Josh Freeman, Vincent Jackson and Doug Martin, the Bucs are tied with the Saints for the highest scoring offence in the NFC, averaging 28.7 points per game. With games the next two weeks against the Falcons and on the road in Denver we are about to find out the true mettle of this exciting Bucs team.

Big Injuries of the week

There were some costly injuries this weekend. At the top of that list was Rob Gonkowski’s broken forearm. Gronk underwent surgery Monday and is expected to be out of action for at least three weeks. With 10 touchdowns in 10 games Gronk will be greatly missed in the Patriots offence; especially in the red zone. Elsewhere, Broncos running back Willie McGahee suffered a knee injury and Eagles running back LeSean McCoy suffered a concussion.

This and That

With so many key players on both team’s out of the lineup due to injury, (Ben Roethlisberger, Ray Lewis etc.) Sunday night’s showdown between the Steelers and the Ravens did not feature its usual star power. What it did feature was punishing hitting and hard-nosed football. In the end, a Jacoby Jones 63 yard punt return for a touchdown proved to be the difference in a game were offence was at a premium. The Ravens have now won three straight and hold a two-game lead over the Steelers in the AFC North.

Randall Cobb caught what turned out to be the game winning touchdown as the Packers beat the Lions 24-20 in a tight game at Ford Field. With Clay Matthews out with injury, the Packers survived a huge game from Lions receiver Calvin Johnson. Megatron caught five passes for 143 yards and a touchdown in a losing cause.

A.J. Green caught a touchdown in his ninth straight game as the Bengals beat the hapless Chiefs 28-6 in Kansas City. BenJarvus Green-Ellis had his first 100 yard game as a Bengal as he ran for 101 yards and one touchdown in the Bengals second straight win.

It is never easy with the Dallas Cowboys is it? The Cowboys needed a Dan Bailey 38-yard field goal in overtime to beat the Browns 23-20. Dwayne Harris gave the Cowboys good field position after reeling off a 20 yard punt return. Ugly or not the Cowboys got the win and are now 5-5.

It was closer than John Fox and the Broncos would have liked but they were able to hang on and beat the Chargers 30-23. Peyton Manning tossed three more touchdowns as the Broncos won their fifth straight and opened up a three game lead over the Chargers in the AFC West.

Drew Brees had a field day in Oakland as the Saints beat the Raiders 38-17 to improve to 5-5 on the season. Brees threw three touchdowns as the Saints have now won five of their last six games.

How come nobody in New York talks about Mark Sanchez when he does something right? Sanchez was an impressive 15 of 20 for 178 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions as the Jets beat the Rams 27-13 in St. Louis.

The Falcons were able to over-come a five interception game from Matt Ryan as they beat the Cardinals 23-19. Despite his five interceptions Ryan did manage to complete passes of 11, 26 and 18 yards to set up Michael Turner’s game winning touchdown.

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