NFL Week 11

NFL Week 11: Good, bad and ugly

Jenna Watson, Indy Star

Week 11 in the NFL is in the books. We saw great performances, even better celebrations, and perhaps some of the worst calls from officials. Here's how I saw it play out:

The Good

-The Colts' offensive lineman Quenton Nelson thought he scored on a fullback dive and what ensued was a celebration that should be top 5 this season: they simulated a keg stand and used a fellow lineman as the human keg! Was it choreographed? Of course. But these guys get style point nonetheless because it's something we haven't seen before. He didn't get in after review, but the celebration was still awesome.
-Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott had himself a game against the Lions. The Cowboys needed all 444 of his passing yards and three touchdowns to beat the hapless Lions who were playing with backup quarterback Jeff Driskel. This was one of those games in which his contract demands went up like a good day at the Stock Market. But just like the market, it can fall quickly.
-The Patriots defense is for real. Despite their one hiccup against potential league MVP Lamar Jackson and the Ravens, they've been lights out. They beat the Eagles 17-10 and held the Eagles to only 255 total yards, sacked Carson Wentz five times, and held them to 3.9 yards per pass and the same per run. The aforementioned Prescott and Cowboys come to Foxboro next week and should present another test.

The Bad

-The Falcons have won their last two games by a combined score of 55-12. Not only did they dominate, but they beat the top two teams in their division. Why would I say this is bad? Because they're only 3-7 after those two wins! This team is way too talented to have that bad of a record after 10 games. Their Super Bowl hangover has lasted two seasons now!

-The 3-6 Broncos were up 23-7 over the Vikings heading into the 4th quarter in Minnesota. They ended the day 3-7 after giving up 20 unanswered points. They only committed one turnover which was a first half interception that the Vikings failed to do anything with. They simply stopped being able to move the ball or stop the Vikings from scoring. Remember when they decided to stand pat at the trade deadline? Wondering if Broncos general manager John Elway is regretting that decision now?

-Here's a reminder that the Bears moved up from #3 to #2 unnecessarily to draft Mitchell Trubisky and passed on Pat Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Trubisky went 24/43 for 190 yards with a touchdown and an interception, as well as getting sacked once. Not only do they have kicker issues, but the guy pulling the trigger for them sucks. Guess having the TVs off at Halas Hall to drown out the noise didn't help.

The Ugly

-Broncos fullback Andy Janovich suffered a gruesome injury Sunday. The injury occurred when he caught a short pass and tried to brace himself for the tackle, but ended up dislocating his elbow. It was so bad, CBS refused to show any replays of the play. Think of the Alex Smith leg injury, but at the elbow.

-Browns defensive end Myles Garrett and Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph were at the center of a melee Thursday night. It started with Rudolph being a jackass and trying to rip Garrett's helmet off after he got hit. Garrett, in turn, ripped Rudolph's helmet off and managed to hit him with it which sparked an all out brawl between the two teams. A number of guys were suspended and/or fined, but Garrett received an indefinite suspension. Sure it's not wise to hit a guy with a helmet after ripping it off, but an indefinite suspension is a bit much NFL.

-Pass interference is the new catch rule. Remember a few years ago when the league tried to define waht was and wasn't a catch, only they never really did and we're still all not sure? Pass interference is now the same thing. In the 49ers vs Cardinals game, Cardinals linebacker Joe Walker was flagged for PI after 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk tackled him! Texans' wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was interferred with at least twice on one play, no flag was thrown and the ruling on the field was upheld upon challenge. Seriously, something needs to be done because the refs simply aren't doing their jobs when it comes to the calls and challenges.

By opening Pandora's Box on being able to review pass interference, I don't think the league and competition committee really took into consideration human nature. How likely is a ref to admit he or one of his crew messed something up? On the other hand, it's been great seeing the celebrations the last couple years. For as much as we bitch and complain about things in the league, it's pretty healthy. Games are good, young players are stepping up as new stars, but there's still much left to be desired. We'll all keep coming back for more because the product is so enjoyable and popular. It's like that one restaurant you go to time and again despite the service not being up to par, but the food is so good, you don't mind paying the prices they charge.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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