The NFC continued its dominance in NFL Week 10, but there were highlights all around. Here are this week’s highs and lows from across the league, headlined by Adrian Clayborn dominating the Cowboys and the Giants completely falling apart:
3. Adrian Clayborn shines
Once upon a time, Adrian Clayborn dominated Big Ten offensive lines, including an 11.5 sack season in 2009. Upon entering the NFL, Clayborn exhibited flashes of that same dominance with Tampa Bay, but he suffered two season-ending injuries in four years. Clayborn eventually made an impact with the Falcons, but he didn’t show what he could do until Sunday’s 27-7 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
Clayborn registered six sacks on Cowboys’ quarterback Dak Prescott to break the team’s single-game sack record. Dallas gave little resistance to Clayborn and the rest of the Atlanta defensive line throughout the day, with backup left tackle Chaz Green regularly getting beat off the edge. The Cowboys had no answers for every move Clayborn made in the trenches. In the end, he finished just one sack short of tying the NFL record.
Clayborn is living proof of what it means to never give up. He never let injuries break him, and now he will likely sit atop the Falcons’ single-game record book for a long time to come.
2. Case Keenum proves his worth
The Minnesota Vikings probably thought they were bringing in a short-term backup when they signed former Los Angeles Rams quarterback Case Keenum. Instead, he replaced the injured Sam Bradford and has prospered as the Vikings’ starting quarterback. Keenum completed 21 of 29 passes for 304 yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions in Minnesota’s wild 38-30 victory over the Washington Redskins.
Keenum never impressed in the Rams’ offense, but then again, no one did under the “middle school” offense former head coach Jeff Fisher ran. He has turned his career around with Minnesota. Through eight games, including seven starts, Keenum has completed 170 of 262 passes for 1,914 yards, 11 touchdowns, and five interceptions. His numbers are impressive, but it’s his leadership that has made the difference in the Vikings’ 7-2 record. He’ll face his biggest test yet in Week 11 against his former team, the Rams, in a battle of first-place teams.
1. New Orleans Saints defense is for real
It wasn’t too long ago that the New Orleans Saints defense was regarded as one of the worst in the NFL. Now, the unit continues to prove that it is one the top defenses in the NFL. The Saints held the Buffalo Bills to only 198 total yards, including 129 passing yards in their 47-10 victory on Sunday.
It helps that the offense held the ball for 41 minutes, but the overall story paints a bigger picture. The New Orleans defense ranks eighth overall. The Saints allow only 312.3 yards and 18.3 points per game. They are ranked in the top 10 in sacks and passes defended. New Orleans is for real – as in a Super Bowl contender.
3. The Seattle Seahawks concussion conundrum
The movie “Concussion” raised several questions about how the NFL treats traumatic brain injury. As more information about TBI and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) came out, the NFL responded by updating its concussion protocol. However, after the Seattle Seahawks reportedly violated the NFL’s protocol last week, I wonder if the NFL is really taking the issue seriously.
The Seahawks apparently allowed Wilson to return to the field without going to the locker room and being cleared by a doctor. This is a problem. How can the Seahawks let their star quarterback, or any player, to go back out there without being cleared? What kind of message does that send? If the NFL is serious about caring for the health of its players, then it needs to punish the Seahawks as guilty for not adhering to the protocol.
2. The Giants hit rock bottom
The New York Giants suffered a 31-21 defeat to the previously winless San Francisco 49ers to put them in direct competition for the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. New York entered this season as a playoff contender. Now, the Giants can only hope that the pieces come together for a quick return next season. Unfortunately, the issues run far too deep on this team. Quarterback Eli Manning looks shell-shocked in an offense struggling to do anything. Ben McAdoo is basically a lame duck head coach at this point. He’s lost this team.
1. Only in Cleveland…
I can’t even go there. At some point, the Browns will pull the plug on the trainwreck taking place with this team. The most recent example of ineptitude is the Browns’ final possession in the second quarter of their 38-24 loss to Detroit. With 32 seconds on the clock and no timeouts, the Browns had the ball on the Lions’ 2-yard line. Three plays later, the Browns entered halftime with no points after they ran up the middle with 15 seconds left and time expired.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) November 12, 2017
The ineptitude of the final sequence is embarrassing. The Browns have talent on the roster and are in great position for the 2018 NFL Draft. However, their problems run deeper than the roster. The Browns own a losing culture that needs to be fixed.