The San Francisco 49ers grinded out a win over the Arizona Cardinals. We also discuss whether the Bears can make the playoffs without Jay Cutler and look at the context of Vince Young leading the Eagles past the Giants.
Quarterbacks, as they have a habit of being, were once again the main theme in Week 11 of this NFL season. The Chicago Bears lost Jay Cutler and Vince Young led the Philadelphia Eagles to an impressive win over the New York Giants. Don't forget the Green Bay Packers moved to 10-0 with a close win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We will get into all of that in a little bit, but as always we start off with the Arizona Cardinals.
In any profession when your boss asks you to do the same thing repeatedly you get frustrated and annoyed, but in the end you don't have a choice, it has to be done. This is how it must have felt to be the Arizona Cardinals defense on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.
The Cardinals offense turned the ball over five times and could not put together any sort of sustained drive. Sometimes in a football game to be able to pull off a victory you need a special performance from one side of the ball. With John Skelton at the helm, it was obvious in the first quarter the Cards offense was going to struggle to put points on the board against an impressive 49ers defense.
The Cardinals defense put the offense on their back the last two weeks when they faced the Rams and Eagles; it did not happen a third straight game. They held their own in the first half, holding the 49ers to nine points and keeping them out of the end zone, but in the second half the 49ers were able to break through. San Francisco scored on their first two possessions of the third quarter and the game was over. The second of those two touchdowns coming on a short field set up by a Skelton interception.
The 49ers defense and special teams came up with game changing plays that created opportunities for their offense. Yes, the Cardinals blocked two field goals and had an interception, but none of those flipped the field. On the first blocked FG the Cards got the ball at their own 36 yard line, the second at their own 20, and the Daryl Washington interception gave them the ball at their own 20.
Peterson's Bad Day
Patrick Peterson was embarrassed by 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Peterson's performance conjured memories of the Minnesota Vikings game when Adrian Peterson used him as his personal rag doll. Peterson was to Crabtree what a bone is to a dog, he chewed him up and spit him out.
Let's take a look at the rest of the NFL with My Big Three
No other place to start, but with Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler going down for possibly the rest of the regular season with a broken thumb on his throwing hand. A tough break for the Bears and possibly a huge break for the Cowboys, Giants, Falcons, Lions, and Saints who are battling it out for the two Wild Card spots in the NFC.
After a 2-3 start the Bears have won five games in row and were playing the best football in the NFL besides the Packers, 49ers, and Texans. Everyone likes to talk about the Bears defense and Matt Forte, yes they are both playing great, but the Bears are where they are because of Jay Cutler. He's been a top five quarterback in the NFL this season; the stats do not give his play justice.
Now the question is can the Bears make the playoffs without him? My original thought was not a chance; Chicago is going to be finishing the regular season with Caleb Hanie or Nathan Enderle as their QB. When you dig a little deeper I don't think it is out of the question. The Bears next three games are against the rest of the AFC West -- @ Oakland, vs. Kansas City, and @ Denver. Then they get Seattle at home and Green Bay/Minnesota on the road. If the Bears rely on their defense and running game with that schedule I do not think it is out of the question they win 11 games and 10 games is realistic. I will take it a step further I still think Chicago gets in, even without Jay Cutler.
A lot of people were comparing Vince Young pulling out a late fourth quarter victory against the New York Giants to what Tim Tebow did Thursday against the New York Jets. I don't want to hear it. Vince Young was far from perfect Sunday night, but he completed an efficient 63% of his passes with 23 completions. Tebow has completed 21 passes in his last three games.
Young looked comfortable passing from the pocket and made some really nice intermediate throws on a rope. Where Young struggled was when he tried to put air under the ball, he did not have the touch to hit his wide receivers in stride. This led to two of his interceptions and cost Desean Jackson what would have been a 98 yard touchdown.
Green Bay Packers
Now it really starts getting difficult for the Green Bay Packers. Were at the point in the season, when it is a lock the Packers are going to make it to the playoffs. In Week 12 the Packers play at Detroit on Thanksgiving Day and Week 12 they head to New York to take on the Giants. These games have more meaning for the Lions and Giants who are fighting it out for a playoff spot than the Packers who have a bye week in the playoffs locked up.
It is human nature for a team that needs something more to come out with higher intensity. We saw this in 2007 when the Patriots struggled against the Eagles and Ravens in Week's 12 and 13. Those teams were average that year, but the game against the Patriots was their Super Bowl. We saw this starting with Green Bay Sunday when they struggled to beat a mediocre Tampa Bay team. It is up to Packers head coach Mike McCarthy to come up with creative ways to get his team fired up every week for the rest of the season.