NFL

Lamar Jackson stars again as Ravens thrash Texans, Vikings rally to down Broncos

By Sports Desk November 17, 2019

Lamar Jackson overshadowed fellow quarterback Deshaun Watson as the Baltimore Ravens crushed the Houston Texans in Week 11 of the NFL season.

Jackson had four touchdown passes as the in-form Ravens recorded a sixth straight victory – their longest winning streak since 2000 – with a resounding 41-7 result at home in what was the headline act in the early schedule on Sunday.

The Dallas Cowboys had to work far harder to see off a Detroit Lions team once again without Matthew Stafford, while the Minnesota Vikings rallied from a 20-0 half-time deficit to beat the Denver Broncos 27-23.

Kyle Allen endured a rough outing as the Carolina Panthers surprisingly fell to the Atlanta Falcons, a result that puts the New Orleans Saints – 34-17 winners over the Tamp Bay Buccaneers – in the driving seat in the NFC South.

The Buffalo Bills moved to 7-3 with a 37-20 result against the Miami Dolphins and there was an excellent outing for Sam Darnold, his four touchdown passes helping the New York Jets to a 34-17 victory over a Washington Redskins franchise who now own a sorry 1-9 record.

 

RAVENS CONTINUE TO BE LEMAR-VELLOUS

It was billed as the battle between the former first-round picks and college rivals. Instead, the clash between dynamic duo Jackson – who threw four touchdown passes and also ran for 86 yards – and Watson turned into a lopsided contest.

Mark Ingram caught a pair of touchdowns while Gus Edwards galloped in on the ground for a 63-yard score against a Houston team who struggled badly, meaning they slip to 6-4 for the season.

They did at least avoid a shut-out loss on their travels, Carlos Hyde rumbling in from 41 yards out midway through the fourth quarter. It was a tough outing for Watson, though, as he managed just 169 yards passing while also throwing an interception.

With the Texans beaten, the Indianapolis Colts now top the AFC South after quarterback Jacoby Brissett led them to a 33-13 victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars on his return from a knee injury.

 

VIKINGS BUCK TREND TO BEAT BRONCOS

A first home loss of the season appeared on the cards for Minnesota when they mustered just 47 yards of offense in the first half.

However, Kirk Cousins engineered a stunning turnaround after the interval, the quarterback throwing for 319 yards and three scores, including a stunning 59-yard effort to Stefon Diggs.

They still had to survive a dramatic finish to prevail, though, as Denver failed to cap off a late fourth-quarter drive with a touchdown, throwing three incomplete passes after they had moved the ball to the four-yard line in the closing seconds.

 

NO DOUBTING THOMAS AS PANTHERS SLIP UP

After a stunning home loss to Atlanta in Week 10, New Orleans relied on Michael Thomas to help them returning to winning ways at the expense of Tampa Bay.

Wide receiver Thomas finished with eight catches for 114 yards and a touchdown, in the process becoming the first player in NFL history to record 90 or more receptions in the first 10 games of a season.

The Saints' 8-2 record gives them a comfortable cushion at the top of their division after nearest rivals Carolina fell to the Falcons, who picked off Panthers quarterback Allen four times in a dominant 29-3 road win.

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    The Denver Broncos postponed a planned practice on Friday as a precaution after a player tested positive for COVID-19.

    As they prepare for Sunday's home game against the Los Angeles Chargers, the Broncos will hold virtual meetings while operating under the league's coronavirus protocols amid the health pandemic.

    Denver also confirmed that the individual who tested positive is now in self-isolation, as are two other players deemed to have been close contacts.

    "We were informed early this morning that a Broncos player has tested positive for COVID-19," a statement from the team read.

    "The player is at home in self-isolation along with two other players who were determined to be close contacts. Our organisation, which has been operating under the league's intensive protocols, is in consultation with the NFL and taking guidance from medical experts.

    "As a precaution, we have made the decision to postpone today's practice and conduct virtual meetings in preparation for Sunday's game against the Chargers. The team is scheduled to return to UCHealth Training Center for practice tomorrow.

    "The health and safety of the players, coaches and staff will continue to be of the highest priority."

    According to an ESPN report citing an unnamed source, a player from the Minnesota Vikings roster has also returned a positive test result for the virus. 

    The Vikings travel to face divisional rivals Green Bay in Week 8 of the regular season.

  • Stats Perform's NFL Friday Facts: Franchise history awaits unbeaten Steelers Stats Perform's NFL Friday Facts: Franchise history awaits unbeaten Steelers

    The Pittsburgh Steelers are the last remaining unbeaten team in the NFL, but the Baltimore Ravens will hope to stop them earning a slice of history.

    For just the second time, the Steelers are 6-0 and victory at M&T Bank Stadium would see them match the franchise-best seven-game undefeated start set in 1978.

    Games between these NFC North rivals are typically tight affairs, though. Since 2008, 14 of their 24 regular-season meetings have been decided by three points or fewer – the most of any matchup in that time frame – and the Ravens have won eight of those 14 nail-biters.

    The Minnesota Vikings have the unenviable task of trying to stop an in-form Aaron Rodgers when they return from their bye week, while a significant milestone is in the offing for Travis Kelce.

    We use Stats Perform data to preview the standout matchups on the Week 8 slate.
     

    FEATURED GAME

    Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens – Sunday 1pm (all times Eastern)

    - Lamar Jackson has been held under 200 passing yards in four consecutive starts, though the Ravens won three of those games. Jackson has completed less than 60 per cent of his attempts in three of his last four contests, dropping his season completion percentage to 63 – 26th among 32 qualifiers.

    - Since 2000, the Steelers (226) and Ravens (210) rank second and fifth respectively in total victories (regular season and playoffs). The teams have combined to win 14 of 18 AFC North titles all-time, and, in 19 of the past 20 seasons, at least one of the two teams reached the postseason.

    - After throwing one interception in the first five games of 2020, Ben Roethlisberger was picked off three times in last Sunday's victory at the Tennessee Titans. Including the postseason, Roethlisberger is 15-10 in his career against the Ravens – but only 4-6 on the road. However, he was triumphant on his past two visits to Baltimore (2017, 2018).

    OTHER KEY GAMES

    Las Vegas Raiders at Cleveland Browns – Sunday, 1pm

    - The Browns' last-minute 37-34 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals last week moved them to 5-2, giving them their best seven-game start to a season since re-joining the NFL in 1999. It is the fourth time since the merger that Cleveland has five or more wins through seven games (1977, 1993, 1994).

    Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers – Sunday, 1pm

    - Rodgers had four touchdown passes and no interceptions in a 35-20 win against the Houston Texans last time out. His 17 TD passes this year matches a career high through six games of a season, along with his 2011 MVP campaign

    New York Jets at Kansas City Chiefs – Sunday, 1pm

    - Kelce has 6,966 receiving yards in 103 career games. If he gets to 7,000 on Sunday, he would be the second-fastest tight end in NFL history to reach that mark, behind only Rob Gronkowski (100).

    New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears – Sunday, 4.25pm

    - The Saints beat the Carolina Panthers 27-24 at home last week. Each of their past three games has resulted in a win by six points or fewer, just the third time they have ever had such a streak (three games across the 1990 and 1991 seasons; four games in 1988).

    San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks – Sunday, 4.25pm

    - The Niners are averaging 7.0 yards per carry when rushing to the right (483 yards on 69 attempts), more than any team in any direction this season. They have a combined 479 yards on 122 carries to the left and up the middle

    ELSEWHERE…

    Los Angeles Rams at Miami Dolphins – Sunday, 1pm

    - Tua Tagovailoa will be making his first career start on Sunday. The fifth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, he is the second highest-picked Alabama quarterback of all time (Harry Gilmer went first overall in 1948), and the second-highest QB ever selected by the Dolphins (Bob Griese went fourth overall in 1967).

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Giants – Monday, 8.15pm

    - With a 45-20 win over the Raiders last week, Tampa Bay have now had back-to-back wins of at least 25 points for the first time in franchise history (defeated Green Bay by 28 in Week 6). The Bucs had just two such wins over the previous seven seasons combined.

  • Ryan praises Julio Jones for 'clutch plays' after Falcons hold off Panthers Ryan praises Julio Jones for 'clutch plays' after Falcons hold off Panthers

    Matt Ryan praised Julio Jones for coming up with "clutch plays" during the Atlanta Falcons' win over the Carolina Panthers.

    Jones had 137 yards on seven receptions as the Falcons claimed their second win of the NFL season by beating the Panthers 25-17 on Thursday.

    The wide receiver had his 35th game with at least 125 receiving yards, tying Randy Moss and moving behind only Jerry Rice (49).

    Ryan, who rushed for a touchdown during the win over the Panthers, lauded Jones.

    "Just to start the game the way we did, to let them know it was going to be that kind of night and then his just clutch plays throughout the game, keep chains moving, I thought he played extremely well," the Falcons quarterback told reporters.

    "It's no surprise he's on a list with Randy Moss, he's one of the best to ever do it and he played really well for us."

    The Falcons (2-6) are bottom of the NFC South, behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-2), New Orleans Saints (4-2) and Panthers (3-5).

    Atlanta have suffered four losses by single digits this season, having squandered multiple leads during the campaign.

    But Ryan believes the Falcons can produce a strong run to finish the season.

    "We've been in every game we've played this year," he said.

    "We've had some crazy losses just to be frank and I really believe that we've got the calibre of team to go be in every game that we're going to play the rest of the season and why can't we win them all? That's the mindset I have."

    Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater paid tribute to the Falcons for their performance.

    "Tough loss. We've just got to find ways to finish these games, that can't be the common thing around here – coming up short," he said.

    "We get this weekend off, we're at the mid-point of the season I think, still got time for us to just reflect, see some of the things we've done well in the first half of the season, see what we need to improve on.

    "A game like today you know that you're going to get a team's best, they know us well, we know them well, we just came up short. They played a good game today, obviously we like to finish with points, but hats off to those guys."

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