NFL

Cowboys take top-scoring offense to Arrowhead, Newton reunited with Rivera

By Sports Desk November 19, 2021

Will the NFL return to some form of normality this week? Maybe... or maybe not.

Even in this season of shock results without any clear Super Bowl favourite, Week 10 stood out for its sheer number of upsets.

The defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers were stunned by the Washington Football Team, the Miami Dolphins overturned the Baltimore Ravens and the short-handed league-leading Arizona Cardinals lost to the Carolina Panthers.

When the San Francisco 49ers then beat NFC West rivals the Los Angeles Rams in Monday Night Football, it became the first week in NFL history in which four teams had won by double-digits having entered the week at least four wins behind their opponents.

Week 11 looks no easier to call, and there are plenty of intriguing matchups before even considering the potential for further setbacks for some favourites.

Dallas Cowboys (7-2) @ Kansas City Chiefs (6-4)

With Patrick Mahomes back on form, two of the best teams in the NFL should be set for a titanic tussle at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.

Mahomes, setting aside his shaky displays to that point, threw for 406 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions against the Las Vegas Raiders last week, becoming the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era to have two games of 400-plus passing yards, five-plus TD passes and no picks in his career.

The 41-14 win represented the league-leading 10th time the Chiefs have scored 40 points in a game since the start of the 2018 season, yet they were topped by the Cowboys, whose 43-3 defeat of the Atlanta Falcons was their biggest since a 48-7 victory over Arizona in 2000.

The Cowboys have gone 5-2-1 all-time previously in games following a win of at least 40 points (including playoffs), but this was an unprecedented success. The team's 29 points in the second quarter in Week 10 were their most in a single quarter of any game in their history.

Indianapolis Colts (5-5) @ Buffalo Bills (6-3)

Neither the Chiefs nor the Cowboys can match the Bills' average winning margin of 26.3 points this year. That is the highest mark in the NFL, having been boosted by last week's 45-17 victory over the New York Jets, their NFL-leading sixth win by 15 or more points.

The Cowboys are ahead of the Bills in points per game, but Buffalo have given up the fewest points per game. The last team to lead on both offense and defense in this regard were the 2005 Colts.

The achievements of this year's Colts team have been rather more modest. Their five wins have come against teams with a combined record of 13-34 (.261).

Still, Jonathan Taylor has excelled, scoring a rushing touchdown in seven straight games – the last NFL player to reach eight was DeAngelo Williams in 2008. In fact, there is rushing talent on both sides of the ball, with the Bills last week having four different players score rushing TDs for the first time in team history.

Arizona Cardinals (8-2) @ Seattle Seahawks (3-6)

Another week, another big NFC West game. The Cardinals' form has tailed away a little since Kyler Murray's injury, but they are still unbeaten on the road and looking to start 6-0 away from home for only the second time in franchise history.

Meanwhile, the Seahawks have their starting QB back, but Russell Wilson did little to help their offense against the Green Bay Packers. He was shut out for the first time in his NFL career in his 166th start (including playoffs).

Seattle's problems on that side of the ball did not end there, though. They were held to under 100 rushing yards for a third consecutive game for the first time since the end of the 2016 season, while only twice in the 21st century have they seen such a streak extended to four games.

Whether or not the Seahawks recover this week, history suggests they are likely to be able to stick with the Cardinals. Six of the past 10 meetings between the teams have been decided by three points or fewer.

Elsewhere...

Cam Newton's Panthers face Ron Rivera's Washington, their first meeting since both left Carolina (Newton returned last week). This is the third time since 2010 a former MVP QB has faced the coach he won his award with, following Peyton Manning versus Jim Caldwell in 2015 and Tom Brady against Bill Belichick earlier this season.

The 49ers are now 4-1 when Jimmy Garoppolo's passer rating is above 100.0 this year (141.7 vs. the Rams) and 0-3 when it is not. He was helped last week by a season-high 156 rushing yards, keeping San Francisco's offense on the ball for just over 39 minutes. They should expect more of the same against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have failed to force a turnover in six games this season.

The Cincinnati Bengals need both of their former LSU stars to rediscover some form at the Raiders. Joe Burrow has thrown an interception in five straight games, the longest active streak in the NFL, while Ja'Marr Chase – surely not helped by his QB's struggles – has fallen short of 50 receiving yards in consecutive games after making that mark in his first seven appearances.

The Detroit Lions will hope to learn from next opponents the Cleveland Browns, who have returned to contention since in 2018 becoming the first team in the Super Bowl era to end a losing streak of 10-plus games with a tie. Last week, against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Lions became the second.

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  • Mahomes 'the reality of our situation', says Bills coach McDermott after devastating defeat Mahomes 'the reality of our situation', says Bills coach McDermott after devastating defeat

    The Buffalo Bills face an offseason where they must continue to work to find a way to beat Patrick Mahomes after being left sick to their stomach by his incredible late heroics in the NFL Divisional Round.

    Buffalo appeared destined to knock off the AFC's dominant power in Kansas City, striking what looked to be the decisive blow when Josh Allen found Gabriel Davis, who reeled in his fourth touchdown catch of the game to set a postseason record, to give the Bills a 36-33 lead with just 13 seconds left as an incredible weekend of playoff matchups saved its most remarkable for last.

    Yet 13 seconds proved more than enough time for Mahomes to thwart the Bills again, driving the Chiefs down to the Buffalo 31-yard line to set Harrison Butker up for a 49-yard field goal to force overtime.

    And Mahomes then ensured the Bills will be stewing over their inability to close the game out until the start of the 2022 campaign as the Chiefs won the overtime coin toss and sealed victory with an eight-play drive capped by his eight-yard touchdown throw to Travis Kelce, whose superb catch sealed a 42-36 triumph that will go down in NFL folklore.

    While Bills fans will understandably want to extinguish the memory of a painful defeat, McDermott, having seen his team defeated by Mahomes and Co. in last year's AFC Championship Game, must now reflect on an astonishing late turnaround and determine how they can stop the quarterback who continues to haunt them.

    McDermott said of Mahomes in his post-game media conference: "That's the reality of our situation, and we’ve got to continue to work to beat him.

    "Give him the credit. He made a couple plays down the stretch. That’s what great players do. They make big plays in big moments in big games.

    "The game came down to, pretty much, 13 seconds. I think they all feel the same way I do; we're all sick to [our] stomach and it hurts. We worked really hard to get here.

    "I know the fans are disappointed. I wish I could take that off of them, take it off the team. But we can't."

    Asked about the bizarre decision to send the kick-off after Davis' fourth touchdown out of the endzone for a touchback rather than taking time off the clock by kicking it in play, McDermott replied: "We talk about a lot of things. I'm just going to leave it at execution and it starts with me."

    Allen, meanwhile, echoed McDermott's sentiments after once again being left to take in the agony of another loss to Mahomes, whose game-winning connection with Kelce marked the fifth and final lead change following the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter.

    "It was tough to be in that moment," Allen said. "I have a lot of respect for Pat. He throws a winning touchdown, and he comes straight over and finds me.

    "To be in that situation and to do that, that was pretty cool of him. Obviously, it just sucks the way it happened. We wanted to win that game and had our opportunities.

    "I was taking it all in and holding on to that feeling and making sure that we don't feel like this again. Back-to-back years in the same spot, it's tough to take in, but it's part of the game; it's part of the learning process.

    "We've got to use this and figure out how to be better and how to accomplish what we want to accomplish."

  • 'Grim reaper' Mahomes puts Chiefs' overtime win 'right up there' 'Grim reaper' Mahomes puts Chiefs' overtime win 'right up there'

    Patrick Mahomes put Sunday's incredible win for the Kansas City Chiefs among his career highlights as he propelled his team to within one victory of a third straight Super Bowl appearance.

    A thrilling contest between the Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills was settled in Kansas City's favour when Mahomes found Travis Kelce for a game-winning touchdown in overtime.

    The Chiefs have now reached the AFC Championship for the fourth straight season, as they look to go on and replicate their Super Bowl success from two years ago.

    Buffalo seemed to have the game tied up in regulation time when Josh Allen picked out Gabriel Davis for a record-breaking fourth touchdown with just 13 seconds left on the clock, making it 36-33 to the Bills.

    Yet Mahomes got the Chiefs within field-goal range and Harrison Butker did the rest to send the roller coaster encounter into overtime.

    Mahomes – who completed 33 of 44 attempts for 378 yards with three touchdowns as well as getting into the endzone himself for the Chief's first TD – then kept his composure to find Kelce in the corner four minutes and 15 seconds into overtime after Kansas City had won the coin flip.

    "To be in this moment in this game against that team, to make a play to walk off a game at Arrowhead, I'll remember this game for the rest of my life.

    "It was definitely special to win a game like this at Arrowhead. Obviously the Super Bowl was probably number one for me but this one is right up there.

    “To be able to come back a couple of times, get points when we needed to get points, score touchdowns, get in field goal range, I'll remember it forever."

    Asked what words of wisdom he offered to the Chief's talisman before overtime, head coach Andy Reid replied: "When it's grim, be the Grim Reaper and go get it.

    "He did that. He made everyone around him better, which he's great at, and he just does it effortlessly. When it gets tough, he's going to be there battling."

    "This is definitely another step for him into the Hall of Fame," Mahomes' team-mate Tyreek Hill added of the QB.

    "He had the chance to prove once again he's at the top of when it comes to quarterbacks in this league.

    "He definitely doesn't flinch, especially in moments like that."

    Across 17 regular-season appearances in 2021, Mahomes threw for 37 touchdowns, tied for fourth in the NFL alongside Dak Prescott and Aaron Rodgers.

    Only Matthew Stafford (4,886), Justin Herbert (5,014) and the league-leading Tom Brady (5,316) had a higher yardage than Mahomes' 4,839 in the regular season, with just Herbert and Brady completing more passes in total.

    Mahomes has already accumulated eight touchdowns this postseason, doubling his tally from last year and is just two shy of his previous postseason best of 10, set in the Chief's triumphant 2019 campaign.

    Kansas City will face Cincinnati in the AFC Championship game, with the Bengals having won 34-31 in the most recent meeting between the teams on January 2, a defeat that snapped an eight-game winning streak for the Chiefs.

  • 'Grim reaper' Mahomes puts Chief's overtime win 'right up there' 'Grim reaper' Mahomes puts Chief's overtime win 'right up there'

    Patrick Mahomes put Sunday's incredible win for the Kansas City Chiefs among his career highlights as he propelled his team to within one victory of a third straight Super Bowl appearance.

    A thrilling contest between the Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills was settled in Kansas City's favour when Mahomes found Travis Kelce for a game-winning touchdown in overtime.

    The Chiefs have now reached the AFC Championship for the fourth straight season, as they look to go on and replicate their Super Bowl success from two years ago.

    Buffalo seemed to have the game tied up in regulation time when Josh Allen picked out Gabriel Davis for a record-breaking fourth touchdown with just 13 seconds left on the clock, making it 36-33 to the Bills.

    Yet Mahomes got the Chiefs within field-goal range and Harrison Butker did the rest to send the roller coaster encounter into overtime.

    Mahomes – who completed 33 of 44 attempts for 378 yards with three touchdowns as well as getting into the endzone himself for the Chief's first TD – then kept his composure to find Kelce in the corner four minutes and 15 seconds into overtime after Kansas City had won the coin flip.

    "To be in this moment in this game against that team, to make a play to walk off a game at Arrowhead, I'll remember this game for the rest of my life.

    "It was definitely special to win a game like this at Arrowhead. Obviously the Super Bowl was probably number one for me but this one is right up there.

    “To be able to come back a couple of times, get points when we needed to get points, score touchdowns, get in field goal range, I'll remember it forever."

    Asked what words of wisdom he offered to the Chief's talisman before overtime, head coach Andy Reid replied: "When it's grim, be the Grim Reaper and go get it.

    "He did that. He made everyone around him better, which he's great at, and he just does it effortlessly. When it gets tough, he's going to be there battling."

    "This is definitely another step for him into the Hall of Fame," Mahomes' team-mate Tyreek Hill added of the QB.

    "He had the chance to prove once again he's at the top of when it comes to quarterbacks in this league.

    "He definitely doesn't flinch, especially in moments like that."

    Across 17 regular-season appearances in 2021, Mahomes threw for 37 touchdowns, tied for fourth in the NFL alongside Dak Prescott and Aaron Rodgers.

    Only Matthew Stafford (4,886), Justin Herbert (5,014) and the league-leading Tom Brady (5,316) had a higher yardage than Mahomes' 4,839 in the regular season, with just Herbert and Brady completing more passes in total.

    Mahomes has already accumulated eight touchdowns this postseason, doubling his tally from last year and is just two shy of his previous postseason best of 10, set in the Chief's triumphant 2019 campaign.

    Kansas City will face Cincinnati in the AFC Championship game, with the Bengals having won 34-31 in the most recent meeting between the teams on January 2, a defeat that snapped an eight-game winning streak for the Chiefs.

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