NFL Nation: 2013 Week 11 Rapid Reaction

Rapid Reaction: Carolina Panthers

November, 18, 2013

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A few thoughts on the Carolina Panthers' 24-20 victory over the New England Patriots:

What it means: That the Panthers (7-3) are a legitimate threat this season not only to make the playoffs, but contend for the NFC title. They have knocked off one of the top teams in the NFC (San Francisco) and AFC (New England) in back-to-back weeks. They have won six straight games and seven of their past eight to stay within one game of NFC South-leading New Orleans. Nobody can say they've piled up wins against patsy teams now.

Stock watch: Quarterback Cam Newton made one of his most impressive runs of the season in the third quarter. According to ESPN Stats & Information, he eluded six defenders and covered 75.8 yards on the ground for a 14-yard gain to keep Carolina's second touchdown drive alive. Newton kept Carolina in this one with his legs. He won it with his arm, completing a 25-yard touchdown pass to Ted Ginn Jr. with 59 seconds left to cap a drive for the biggest win of his career.

Key injury: The Panthers lost their sack leader, Charles Johnson, to a knee injury on the first series of the second half. New England went straight down the field and pulled even at 10-10 on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to tight end Rob Gronkowski. Johnson's absence was obvious.

Smith vs. Talib: This battle was worth the price of admission. New England shutdown corner Aqib Talib versus Carolina wide receiver Steve Smith was like two heavyweights. Smith got the better of the battle, particularly in the mind-games category. Talib was flagged for a personal-foul penalty after a play to keep Carolina's first touchdown drive alive and for a hold that kept a field-goal drive alive. Smith beat him for a 16-yard catch to set up Carolina's second touchdown.

Missed tackles: No exact count, but the sure-tackling Panthers missed more tackles than normal to turn short plays into big ones.

What's next? The Panthers travel to Miami to face the Dolphins. They are 0-4 against Miami, losing 24-17 in their last meeting, in 2009.

Rapid Reaction: New England Patriots

November, 18, 2013

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A few thoughts on the New England Patriots' 24-20 loss to the Carolina Panthers:

What it means: Great game as Cam Newton outdueled Tom Brady. Brady brought his "A" game but this was Newton's night. He had some dazzling runs against a defense that couldn't make the stop at the critical time. The Patriots fall to 7-3, and they will look back at some lost opportunities as this game was there for the taking. This was a limited-possession game -- the Patriots had just seven offensive drives -- which magnified mistakes on both sides. The Patriots had more of them early and trailed 10-3 at the half before the teams combined to play an exciting second half. A third-and-1 incomplete pass through the back of the end zone forced the Patriots to settle for a field goal to go up 20-17, which set up the Panthers' game-winning touchdown drive. The Patriots fought to the finish, but their final drive fell short with the clock also working against them. Should a penalty have been called on the final play? Fair question.

Aqib Talib vs. Steve Smith: This was the matchup within the matchup and the win goes to Smith, the Panthers' veteran receiver. The two were jawing from the get-go and had to be separated several times after plays. Talib appeared to lose his cool early. Smith beat Talib for a 42-yard gain down the left side in the first quarter, which was a tone-setter of sorts for a one-on-one battle that was especially fun to watch. Talib ultimately left the game in the fourth quarter with a hip injury and didn't return.

Stock watch: Patriots running back Stevan Ridley's ball-security issues resurfaced. He fumbled on the team's second drive and was kept on the sideline for 18 snaps before the coaches went back to him. Ridley runs hard, but if he continues to struggle holding on to the ball, it will likely lead to a drop in his playing time.

Injuries to monitor: Patriots No. 2 tight end Michael Hoomanawanui left the game in the second quarter with a knee injury and did not return. In his absence, five-year veteran Matthew Mulligan bumped up the depth chart and fullback James Develin was utilized a bit more. Also, as noted above, Talib left with a hip injury in the fourth quarter.

Leg whip by Cannon draws scrutiny: Patriots tight tackle Marcus Cannon's leg whip on Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson, which knocked Johnson out of the game with a knee injury, wasn't penalized. But Cannon will likely hear from the NFL in terms of a fine.

Turnover streak snapped: The Patriots had forced a turnover in 36 straight games entering the night, which was the longest active streak in the NFL, but that came to an end.

What's next: The Patriots return home to host the Denver Broncos on Sunday night. Another Brady versus Peyton Manning matchup will be a top storyline, along with receiver Wes Welker's return to town. Welker sustained a concussion in the Broncos' win over the Chiefs on Sunday and his status will be monitored closely.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Broncos

November, 18, 2013

DENVER -- A few thoughts on the Denver Broncos' 27-17 win over the Kansas City Chiefs:

What it means: The Broncos are back on top in the race for the AFC West title. The Chiefs had been able to get one game’s worth of separation with the Broncos’ loss in Indianapolis last month, but Denver erased that Sunday night. Both teams are 9-1, but the Broncos now have a win in hand with six games to play. They meet the Chiefs again Dec. 1 at Arrowhead Stadium.

Stock watch: Folks kept wondering when a Broncos defense that finished at or near the top of every major defensive category last season would make an appearance. The defense kept Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles in check for much of the night and the Chiefs could not find a Plan B.

Wall it off: Peyton Manning was wearing a heavy brace on his much-publicized injured right ankle, which limited his mobility. But a combination of Manning’s quick throws and a high-quality effort from the Broncos’ offensive line kept Manning from being sacked by a defense that came in leading the league in sacks. In fact, the Broncos had things under control enough to empty out the backfield for a red-zone play in the third quarter.

Bounce-back effort: Broncos rookie running back Montee Ball fumbled on his second carry of the game, deep in Denver's territory with just under six minutes remaining in the first quarter. He was then given a fumble-induced cooling down period on the sideline that routinely comes with that misstep. But he re-entered the game in the second quarter and finished with two touchdowns, his second and third of the season.

What’s next: The Broncos head to New England, where they will play their second consecutive Sunday prime-time game. The Patriots' defensive backs figure to get physical with the Broncos' receivers, a Bill Belichick staple against high-powered offenses, and the Denver wideouts are going to have to be ready to win the hand-fighting to play the ball.

Rapid Reaction: Kansas City Chiefs

November, 18, 2013

DENVER -- A few thoughts on the Kansas City Chiefs' 27-17 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday:

What it means: The 9-1 Chiefs lost for the first time this season but more importantly they relinquished sole possession of first place in the AFC West. They are now tied with the Broncos for first place in the division. After stepping away to face different opponents next week, the teams will face one another again on Dec. 1, this time in Kansas City.

Stock Watch: Rookie cornerback Marcus Cooper had his worst game of the season. He was beaten by Demaryius Thomas for a 70-yard gain. The Chiefs’ pass rush had its third straight sub-par game. Kansas City couldn’t get much pressure on Denver quarterback Peyton Manning, even when Manning was holding on to the ball for longer periods. The red zone offense was again ineffective. The Chiefs scored two touchdowns in their four trips inside the Denver 20. But they came away with no points on one such trip when fullback Anthony Sherman lost a fumble. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, one week after being arrested for possession of marijuana, had one of his better games of the season. Bowe caught four passes for 57 yards and Kansas City’s only touchdown.

Double-digit deficit: The Chiefs fell behind by 10 points at two different junctures in the first half. That’s the first time this season they have trailed by more than a touchdown. Predictably, things didn’t go well after that for the Chiefs, who were never able to catch up. Entering the game the Chiefs had not scored a touchdown on offense in six quarters. They managed two touchdowns against the Broncos, one coming with less than five minutes remaining in the game.

What’s next: The Chiefs have another game against a divisional opponent on Sunday when they play against the 4-6 San Diego Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium.

Rapid Reaction: New Orleans Saints

November, 17, 2013

NEW ORLEANS -- A few thoughts on the New Orleans Saints’ 23-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers, which moved the Saints to 8-2 on the season.

What it means: It wasn't always pretty, but it was a huge win for the Saints. They rallied from a six-point deficit in the final minutes to finally get past a team that has caused them fits for three straight years. And it was a confidence-booster for a New Orleans team that is going to have to gut out some more wins like this down the stretch, with physical opponents such as the Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers (twice) remaining on the schedule.

The Saints made things a lot harder on themselves with three inexcusable turnovers early. But every unit contributed in the rally, including embattled kicker Garrett Hartley, who nailed two clutch field goals in the final minutes. Quarterback Drew Brees and the Saints' defense were just as clutch.

Stock watch: What a turnaround for Hartley. He had missed four of his past six field goal attempts coming into the game, and the Saints even tried out a group of kickers during the week to update their “emergency list.” But true to Hartley’s history, he was clutch when it mattered most. He was 3-for-3 on the night, including a 42-yarder with 2:06 remaining and a 31-yarder as time expired.

Creative, effective "D": The Saints’ defense certainly did its part in the victory, holding San Francisco to a total of 196 yards and 81 rushing yards, with three sacks and a three-and-out in the final minutes. The Saints knew they had to stop the run -- and this time they did. Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was as creative as ever, starting in a 3-5 formation, among several other quirks.

Up next: For the second year in a row, the Saints have to follow up a physical battle with the 49ers by playing four days later on a Thursday night at Atlanta. The good news this year is the Falcons are having a horrible season (now 2-8 and on a four-game losing streak). Still, the Saints can’t afford to play as sloppy as they did in last year’s Thursday night dud.

Rapid Reaction: San Francisco 49ers

November, 17, 2013

NEW ORLEANS -- A few thoughts on the San Francisco 49ers' 23-20 loss against the New Orleans Saints:

What it means: The 49ers lost their second straight heartbreaking game. Last week, they lost at home to Carolina by one point. The two losses come after the 49ers had a five-game win streak. San Francisco is now 6-4 and in a second-place tie with Arizona in the NFC West. Seattle is 10-1. The division race is over. The 49ers are still in the playoff hunt, but these losses will sting. Like last week, this is a game the 49ers easily could have won. San Francisco played at a high level in a defeat.

Controversial call: The 49ers appeared to get the ball after a turnover with about three minutes to go. But linebacker Ahmad Brooks was called for a personal foul that gave the Saints new life. It was a questionable call because it appeared that Brooks hit Drew Brees’ shoulder. The Saints ended the drive with a game-tying field goal with 2:06 to go.

Stock watch: 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin had his best game since Week 1 against Green Bay when he had 13 catches. Boldin finished with six catches for 56 yards Sunday. He converted on third downs three times on one second-half drive. It was a reminder of how important Boldin is to this offense and how much quarterback Colin Kaepernick needs help.

More injuries: The 49ers have been dealing with injuries all season and that trend didn’t change Sunday. Cornerback Tarell Brown (rib) and guard Mike Iupati (knee) were both carted off the field and were unable to return. No further information was immediately available. However, it appears Iupati’s injury could be more serious than Brown’s. He is a key part of the offensive line. He was replaced by Adam Snyder, who is capable. But Iupati’s loss would be felt it he misses extended time.

What’s next: The 49ers have another long road trip on tap. They play at Washington on Monday night. The Redskins are struggling at 3-7.

Rapid Reaction: Seattle Seahawks

November, 17, 2013

SEATTLE -- A few thoughts on the Seattle Seahawks 41-20 victory against the Minnesota Vikings Sunday at CenturyLink Field:

What it means: The Seahawks head to the bye week at 10-1, in control of their own destiny and are the team to beat as far as home-field advantage goes for the playoffs in the NFC. With receiver Percy Harvin finally on the field and the offensive line healthy again, this game showed just how good the Seahawks can be and what a dangerous team they are when they have all their weapons. Seattle now has won a franchise record 13 consecutive home games.

Stock watch: Running back Marshawn Lynch scored three touchdowns, two rushing and one receiving. Receiver Doug Baldwin came up big again with an outstretched catch in the corner of the end zone for a 19-yard TD.

Hot Harvin: Everyone quickly learned why receiver Percy Harvin might be worth the $67 million contract the Seahawks paid to get him. In his first game as a Seahawk, Harvin had a 58-yard kickoff return to set up one touchdown, and a spectacular diving 17-yard catch to keep another TD drive alive. He also lined up in the backfield on one play in the third quarter.

Defensive dominance: The only TD for Minnesota came on a rare blown coverage by Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman in the first quarter, but the defense was superb otherwise until a meaningless late TD for Minnesota against Seattle backups long after the outcome was decided. Cornerback Walter Thurmond had a 29-yard pick-six, defensive end Cliff Avril had a sack/forced fumble on Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder, and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner also had an interception. And who would have guessed defensive tackle Clinton McDonald would come up with an interception, thanks to a defection by defensive end Chris Clemons.

Jermaine Kearse suffers possible concussion: That’s the reason Harvin got a chance to return kicks. In what might be the strangest “tackle” of the season, Kearse was running full speed on a first-quarter kickoff when he slammed into Seattle’s J.R. Sweezy like he was hitting a brick wall. Kearse was helped off the field and did not return to the game because of concussion symptoms.

What's next: The Seahawks finally get their bye week and have 15 days before the big Monday night game against the New Orleans Saints at the CLink.

Rapid Reaction: Minnesota Vikings

November, 17, 2013

SEATTLE -- A few thoughts on the Minnesota Vikings' 41-20 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday:

What it means: The Vikings are now 2-8, tied for the worst mark in the NFC. Their loss to the Seahawks on Sunday was their most lopsided road defeat of the season, and it extinguished whatever minuscule hopes they had of ending the 2013 season with a winning record. The Vikings will go to Green Bay next week to face a reeling Packers team, and after Christian Ponder followed a sharp first half with two interceptions -- one that set up a touchdown and another that was returned for a score -- Minnesota might decide now is the time to put Josh Freeman back in action.

Stock watch: Falling: Ponder. The quarterback's second half was among the ugliest he's had in 2 1/2 professional seasons; he hit just four of nine passes for 15 yards and threw two interceptions. He had another pass that could have been intercepted for a touchdown. Ponder hit seven of seven throws in the second quarter, and finished the first half 9-of-13 for 114 yards and a touchdown, though he did fumble deep in Vikings territory. But as he's done so many times in Minnesota, he proved unable to put two consistent halves together, and was pulled for Matt Cassel with just more than 12 minutes left in the game. Coach Leslie Frazier could take most of the week, once again, to decide on a starting quarterback, but if the Vikings aren't going to use Freeman now, it's worth asking if they ever will.

Big plays kill Vikings: Seattle put up 24 points in the first half despite holding the ball for just more than 11 minutes, as quarterback Russell Wilson burned the Vikings for a number of big plays. On Seattle's first-quarter touchdown drive, Wilson connected with Doug Baldwin for 44 yards after Xavier Rhodes fell down, and found Ricardo Lockette in the middle of the Vikings' defense for 27 yards on the next play. The second-year quarterback finished the day with 230 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns, despite attempting just 18 passes.

Sullivan injured: Center John Sullivan left the game in the fourth quarter with a head injury and did not return. A press box announcement did not specify if Sullivan had a concussion, but if he does, he could be challenged to return for next week's game in Green Bay.

What's next: The Vikings head to Lambeau Field next Sunday to face the Packers.

Rapid Reaction: San Diego Chargers

November, 17, 2013

MIAMI -- A few thoughts on the San Diego Chargers' 20-16 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

What it means: The Chargers lost their third game in a row to a very beatable opponent. At 4-6, San Diego faces an uphill climb to reach the postseason for the first time since 2009. According to ESPN Stats & Info, under the current playoff format, which began in 1990, only seven percent of teams to start 4-6 went on to make the playoffs.

More tackling practice needed: The Chargers missed at least eight open-field tackles defensively, including four on one play when Miami tight end Charles Clay took a route in the flat to the end zone for a 39-yard score. San Diego gave up a 74-yard touchdown reception to Denver tight end Julius Thomas last week on a similar pattern.

Penalties prove costly: Heading into the game against Miami, the Dolphins averaged six penalties a game. The Chargers finished with a season-high 10 penalties for 76 yards against Miami. Costly penalties by San Diego included Corey Liuget's roughing the passer penalty that erased a fumble recovery by cornerback Shareece Wright. Dolphins running back Daniel Thomas scored two plays later from a yard out. Philip Rivers also was called for an illegal forward pass while crossing the line of scrimmage in delivering a 5-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Gates. The Chargers had to settle for a Nick Novak 27-yard field goal.

Mathews tops 100 yards: For the third time this season, running back Ryan Mathews eclipsed 100 yards rushing, finishing with 127 yards on 19 carries. Mathews’ total included a career-high 51-yard run.

Red-zone woes continue: Once again, the Chargers settled for field goals instead of scoring touchdowns in the red zone. San Diego finished 1-for-3 inside the 20-yard line, twice settling for Novak field goals, from 29 and 27 yards out. On the final play of the game, Rivers failed to connect with receiver Seyi Ajirotutu from 25 yards on a go route in the end zone.

What’s next: The Chargers hit the road for a second straight week, looking for the team’s first AFC West division win, at Kansas City, next Sunday.

Rapid Reaction: Green Bay Packers

November, 17, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts on the Green Bay Packers' 27-13 loss to the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.

What it means: The Packers' once promising season is quickly crumbling -- and all injured superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers can do is watch. Green Bay (5-5) lost its third straight game and fell a game behind Detroit (6-4) and Chicago (6-4) in the NFC North standings. The Packers had not lost three in a row since 2008.

Tolzien time: With Rodgers and Seneca Wallace hurt, third-string quarterback Scott Tolzien made his first career start. The undrafted free-agent signee out of Wisconsin finished 24-of-34 passing for 339 yards, but threw three interceptions -- two of them extremely ill-advised attempts.

On the team’s opening drive of the second half, Tolzien was trying to hit wideout James Jones with a slant route, but he never saw Giants linebacker Jon Beason, who picked off the pass.

Then, with 10:55 remaining in the fourth quarter, Tolzien was trying to hit wideout Andrew Quarless, but he never saw Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who snagged the pass at the line and waltzed in for a 24-yard touchdown.

The final pick was overthrown and snagged by Giants safety Antrel Rolle in center field. Overall, Tolzien was quite effective when he had time. He just made two really bad rookie mistakes.

Locking down Lacy: Eddie Lacy, the NFL’s leading rusher the past five weeks of the season, was held to just 27 yards on 14 carries. New York’s defensive line was stout, and limited Lacy from getting into the second level. Lacy did score on a 4-yard touchdown run with 12:52 left in the fourth quarter.

Gashed: Other than a diving interception by cornerback Tramon Williams at the end of the second quarter -- the team’s first interception since Week 7 in Cleveland -- and back-to-back sacks by Brad Jones and Clay Matthews early in the fourth quarter, the Giants pretty much manhandled the Packers' defense. New York rolled up 334 yards of total offense, while Victor Cruz had a field day from the slot, finishing with eight receptions for 110 yards.

Almost doesn’t count: Facing a fourth-and-7 from the Giants’ 43 with 6:32 remaining in the third quarter, the Packers went with a fake punt. The ball was snapped to the up-back, M.D. Jennings, but he was tackled a yard shy of the first-down marker. And on its ensuing possession, New York capped off a 10-play, 63-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run by Brandon Jacobs, making it 20-6.

Injury report: The Packers were without cornerbacks Sam Shields and Casey Hayward due to hamstring injuries. They were also missing starting right tackle Don Barclay and left outside linebacker Nick Perry. The team announced at halftime that defensive tackle Johnny Jolly would not return due to a groin injury. Later, cornerback James Nixon left the game due to a knee injury and did not return.

What’s next: The Packers will host the Minnesota Vikings next Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.

Rapid Reaction: New York Giants

November, 17, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts on the New York Giants' 27-13 victory over the Green Bay Packers:

What it means: The Giants are now on a four-game winning streak after starting the season 0-6. They sit a game and a half behind the NFC East-leading Eagles, who they don't play again, and one game behind the second-place Cowboys, who come to town next week. Whatever you think of the level of competition they have faced during the streak, or how shaky Eli Manning still looks, the math puts them in a position to make a run for the postseason if they can play better than they have so far.

Stock watch: Jason Pierre-Paul, UP. After Pierre-Paul suffered a shoulder injury in last Sunday's game and missed two days of practice, there was some doubt as to whether he'd play in this game. Play he did, about two-thirds of the Giants' defensive snaps, and it was his leaping interception and return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter that put the Giants ahead by two touchdowns and finally put the game away after the Packers had cut down the lead.

Points: Wide receiver Victor Cruz was the offensive star of the game with eight catches (including some acrobatic ones) for 110 yards, though Rueben Randle caught the touchdown pass to raise his team-leading total to six for the season. Andre Brown looked good running the ball, especially in the first half, but Brandon Jacobs stole the rushing touchdown from him. Jacobs also picked up two short fourth-down conversions. All in all, the offense looks better. And though Pierre-Paul provided some of his own, the Giants' 27 points represented their highest single-game total since Week 1.

What's next: The Giants host the 5-5 Cowboys next Sunday at MetLife Stadium. The Cowboys had a bye this week and are hoping to be healthier on defense when they return from it, but star middle linebacker Sean Lee is likely to miss the game due to his hamstring injury. The Cowboys beat the Giants 36-31 in the regular-season opener in Dallas.

Rapid Reaction: Miami Dolphins

November, 17, 2013

MIAMI -- A few thoughts on the Miami Dolphins' 20-16 win against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

What it means: Despite all their issues on and off the field, the Dolphins (5-5) are back in the thick of the AFC playoff race after a big win. Miami is tied with the division-rival New York Jets (5-5) for the sixth seed in the conference. The Dolphins still play the Jets twice in the month of December, and both games are shaping up to be important.

Stock watch: Someone who improved their stock was Miami tight end Charles Clay. He had a big day with six receptions, 90 yards and a 39-yard touchdown catch where he ran through three would-be tacklers. Miami’s running game also improved, but had a low bar to work with. The Dolphins rushed for 104 yards against the Chargers after gaining a franchise-low 2 yards last week in a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

As far as stock down, Miami’s pass protection was an issue again. Without starting center Mike Pouncey, the Dolphins’ offensive line allowed four more sacks, which upped the total to 41 this season. The Dolphins’ run defense also allowed 154 rushing yards, and has underachieved in that area most of this season.

Focus a premium: The Dolphins will have some trouble staying focused during the upcoming practice week. NFL investigators are expected to visit the practice facility to talk to multiple players, coaches and executives about Jonathan Martin's claims of bullying and harassment. Martin met with NFL lead investigator Ted Wells for seven hours last week, which should provide plenty of questions for Dolphins personnel once Wells arrives. Miami still has a game to prepare for, and must handle this distraction.

What’s next: The games do not get any easier for the Dolphins. They will host the streaking Carolina Panthers, who have won five straight. Miami will get a chance to scout Carolina on Monday. The Panthers will be coming off a short week, and have a big game against the New England Patriots on ESPN’s "Monday Night Football."

Rapid Reaction: Baltimore Ravens

November, 17, 2013

CHICAGO -- A few thoughts on the Baltimore Ravens' 23-20 loss to the Chicago Bears.

What it means: In a long and crazy afternoon, the Ravens' hopes of winning the AFC North took a decisive hit. The Ravens (4-6) fell 2 1/2 games behind the division-leading Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) with six games remaining. Baltimore lost on a 38-yard field goal by Robbie Gould in overtime. The key play was Lardarius Webb giving up a 43-yard pass to the bigger Martellus Bennett. The Ravens still trail the New York Jets by one game for the final playoff spot in the AFC.

Stock watch: Rising: Ray Rice. For the first time this season, Ravens running back Ray Rice looked like Ray Rice. He took advantage of the NFL's second-worst run defense with his first 100-yard performance of the season. He also broke a 47-yard run, his longest run of the season. This was a bright spot in what has been his roughest season in the NFL.

Bad tackling: The Ravens gave the Bears their first lead of the game with 10:33 left, when Daryl Smith and Corey Graham missed tackles on Matt Forte's 14-yard touchdown. Forte dragged a helmetless James Ihedigbo into the end zone to go up 20-17.

Give and take: Joe Flacco had an interception returned 24 yards for a touchdown, which tied the game at 10 midway through the second quarter. On the next drive, Flacco marched the Ravens down the field, completing all five passes for 47 yards. He capped the series by threading a 5-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith between two Bears defenders.

Another delay: The game was stopped in the first quarter because of severe weather and was delayed 1 hour, 53 minutes. The Ravens, who led 10-0 before the stoppage, gave up 10 straight points after play resumed. Keeping momentum after delays has been a problem for the Ravens, who couldn't hold on to a lead after a power outage caused a delay in the Super Bowl.

What's next: The Ravens host the Jets (5-5) in a game where playoff ramifications are more important than another reunion with safety Ed Reed.

Rapid Reaction: Chicago Bears

November, 17, 2013

CHICAGO -- A few thoughts on the Chicago Bears' 23-20 overtime win over the Baltimore Ravens at Soldier Field:

What it means: Only the tiebreaker from Detroit sweeping Chicago keeps the Bears from leading the division. So Chicago's win over the Ravens coupled with Detroit's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers puts the Bears back in serious contention for a legitimate shot at winning the NFC North.

Second-guessing Marc Trestman: With possession at the Baltimore 2-yard line thanks to a defensive holding penalty on Jimmy Smith in the second quarter, Chicago called three consecutive passes that fell incomplete, leading to the Bears settling for a 20-yard field goal that made the score 10-3 in favor of the visitors. The calls seemed a little questionable given where the Bears were on the field. After throwing incomplete to Brandon Marshall and Tony Fiammetta on first and second down, Josh McCown tossed another incompletion to Marshall. On the play, it appeared McCown could have taken advantage of a mismatch on the outside with tight end Martellus Bennett lined up against a Baltimore cornerback.

In the fourth quarter, the Bears elected to punt instead of trying to convert a fourth-and-1 at the Baltimore 44 that would've allowed them to run more time off the clock to preserve a win in regulation. With a little more than a minute to play and the Ravens in the red zone, Trestman also elected not to burn any of his timeouts. Had he called a couple, the Bears may have had time to mount a potentially game-winning drive after Justin Tucker's tying 21-yard field goal.

Bass bailout: Despite the squandered opportunity from the 2 in the second quarter, Bears reserve defensive end David Bass bailed out the offense on the first play of Baltimore's ensuing possession just 12 seconds later. Midway through his rush, Bass tipped a Joe Flacco pass intended for Vonta Leach back into his own hands and romped 24 yards for the touchdown to tie the score at 10.

Coming into the game, the Bears held a 24-2 record since 2005 when they've scored a defensive touchdown, including 10 consecutive wins under those circumstances. Now they're 25-2 with 11 in a row.

Defensive letdown: Even after Bass' potentially game-defining play, the defense slumped on Baltimore's next possession, allowing Flacco to go 5-for-5 for 47 yards on a drive capped by a touchdown pass to Torrey Smith. Defensive end Julius Peppers added to the letdown with a 15-yard penalty for hitting Flacco as the quarterback attempted to slide on a play during the drive. Peppers appeared to slip on the play, which led to the contact.

Season high in a half: The Bears committed seven penalties for 61 yards in the first half alone, which was enough to set a season high for penalties and penalty yardage. The most the Bears had been penalized before Sunday was six times for 43 yards in an Oct. 6 loss to New Orleans.

The Bears only topped that by finishing with 13 penalties for 111 yards. Normally, that gets you beat.

What's next: The Bears review film of Sunday's game on Monday before taking the day off Tuesday and beginning preparations Wednesday for the first of back-to-back road games starting with the St. Louis Rams.

Rapid Reaction: Oakland Raiders

November, 17, 2013

HOUSTON -- A few thoughts on the Oakland Raiders' 28-23 victory against the Houston Texans:

What it means: Despite a beat-up offensive line, a dearth of third-down conversions and blowing a 14-0 lead, the Raiders' defense came up with just enough to win their first road game since October 2012, ending an eight-game road losing streak. A solid performance from undrafted rookie quarterback Matt McGloin sparked the Raiders early and, just like two years ago, the day after Al Davis' death, Oakland had to withstand a final play in the end zone to hold on. Usama Young, meet Michael Huff.

Stock watch: Rising -- McGloin. His first pass as a starting NFL quarterback went for a touchdown. And he showed tremendous grit throughout, even if, early on, Raiders receivers seemed to have trouble with the velocity on his passes. He finished 18-of-32 for 197 yards -- he was seven-for-his-first-11 with three drops. McGloin, the first undrafted rookie quarterback to start a game for the Raiders since Larry Lawrence in 1975, became the first undrafted rookie quarterback to throw three touchdowns since Erik Kramer in 1987. McGloin, the 17th different Raiders starting quarterback since 2003, joined Bruce Gradkowski and Daunte Culpepper as Oakland quarterbacks to win their first start. What happens if/when Terrelle Pryor is healthy?

Jennings to the house: Who said Rashad Jennings was not a home run threat like the perpetually injured Darren McFadden? For one play, at least, he was. Jennings put on a show with his 80-yard touchdown burst out of the Wildcat formation, faking the handoff to Jacoby Ford before running over Texans safety D.J. Swearinger en route to his career-long run. A week after rushing for 88 yards on 20 carries, Jennings had a career-high 150 yards on 22 attempts.

Another costly miss: With longtime running mate Shane Lechler watching from the other sideline, Sebastian Janikowski missed a 54-yard field goal in the third quarter, the ball hitting the left upright. It was his fifth miss of the season, with all five coming from the left hashmark.

What's next: The Raiders (4-6) host the Tennessee Titans (4-6) in Oakland’s lone home game in a five-week stretch. The Raiders have not beaten the Titans since 2005, Tennessee winning in 2007 and 2010. It will be the Titans’ first visit to Oakland since 2004, when the Raiders won 40-35.