NFL Debrief: Andre Johnson saves the Texans, and backup QBs go winless

Thomas B. Shea

Andre Johnson saved the Texans from a huge upset, the backup quarterbacks are winless (so far) and you can't blame Rob Gronkowski's injury on Bill Belichick.

There were eight 1 p.m. games on Sunday and by a little after 4 p.m., when most of the games were ending, three games moved into overtime. The Jaguars, 15-point 'dogs in Week 11, took the Texans to overtime but couldn't finish. The Browns jubilation turned to sorrow when they couldn't complete their upset in Dallas, and the Bucs stayed hot and survived the Panthers in overtime.

Trying to watch Tom Brady's Patriots beat Andrew Luck's Colts in the late games while also seeing Matt Schaub finding Andre Johnson for a 48-yard touchdown pass to beat the Jaguars is what makes the NFL so great.

The Jaguars-Texans game, by the way, was the first one in which the NFL's new overtime rules were put to test with the Jaguars and Texans exchanging field goals in the extra period before Johnson's touchdown ended it.

In our review of Week 11, we start with that game winner in Houston.

More: NFL scores Week 11 | Injury report | Playoff picture

Andre Johnson saves the Texans

Seriously, what would it be like if the Jaguars beat the Texans? The ultimate sign of parity in the NFL if that's the case, the whole "any given Sunday" dynamic. The Texans are our top ranked team, No. 1 in the league. The Jaguars are our 32nd ranked team, dead last. What happens when those two meet?

Well, they go to overtime of course!

Houston and Jacksonville exchanged field goals in overtime and the Jaguars at one point had the ball nearing midfield with a shot to win the game. But Houston's defense is one of the best in the league for a reason. They shut the Jaguars down on four straight plays and Matt Schaub ended the game with a beautiful 48-yard touchdown to Andre Johnson.

Johnson will get all the praise on this one -- that tends to happen when you have 273 yards receiving -- but the real credit goes to the blockers and the play call. Check out where he is as he catches the ball -- basically a receiver screen.


Look at all those blockers. The Falcons do these receiver screens a lot with Julio Jones and the Bengals do the same with A.J. Green. If you have a playmaker, you do what you can to put the ball in his hands.


One more screen grab to show that the right guard, Ben Jones, is 20-plus yards down the field blocking. That's why the Texans are so good.

Don't blame Belichick for Gronk's injury

Rob Gronkowski has a broken forearm and will miss multiple games as a result of it. He was hurt on the Patriots final extra point in Sunday's game against the Colts where they put up a franchise record 59 points. People are going to blame Belichick because he left some starters, including Gronk and Tom Brady, on the field despite the Pats' big lead.

But Gronk's injury came on an extra point. He wasn't in on the previous offensive series that led to the touchdown. Even if you're up 30-plus points like the Patriots were, your field goal unit usually doesn't change. If you're blaming him then you're probably a Patriots fan who is just mad that Gronk is probably gonna miss the rest of the regular season. It's OK to be upset but this isn't Belichick's fault. This could happen anytime, anywhere.

Byron Leftwich had at least one good play

Byron Leftwich looked like a statue at times, inaccurate at others and turnover prone in one costly interception. The Steelers quarterback, replacing Ben Roethlisberger, did have at least one good play in the 13-10 loss to the Ravens on Sunday night.

On the Steelers' first possession of the game, their third play from scrimmage, Leftwich somehow, someway ran for a 31-yard touchdown. How the Ravens let this happen is beyond me.


Leftwich took the snap and after finding no one, scrambled to the right side of the field. Look at the screen grab above -- two Ravens defenders are 20 yards down the field with an angle on Leftwich. There's no reason this should be more than a gain of a few yards.


That's just past the line of scrimmage. Again, two Ravens players are right there. Surely they'll tackle him, right?


Wrong. Leftwich slips through the two defenders en route to the touchdown. As he escaped those two defenders he seemed to slow down, as if he was in disbelief that he was actually going to score.

At least one backup QB will win this week

When the NFL schedule makers put the 49ers and Bears on Monday night in Week 11, they did not expect us to be talking about Jason Campbell and Colin Kaepernick. Just like last year at this time, playoff contending teams are dealing with injuries to their starting quarterbacks. Campbell will replace Jay Cutler and Kaepernick will replace Alex Smith, who has been ruled out on Monday night.

We saw the Steelers lose with Leftwich, the Eagles lose with Nick Foles, and the Jaguars lose with Chad Henne replacing an injured Blaine Gabbert.

With the other backup quarterbacks losing on Sunday, we'll see at least one win on Monday night.

Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE

There is no best team in the NFL

Seriously, who is the best?

The Falcons, who barely edged the Cardinals on Sunday?

The Texans, who needed overtime to beat one of the worst teams in the league?

The Patriots, who just lost their (second) best offensive player?

The Ravens, who lost by 30 points to the Texans?

Don't get me wrong, these are all great teams. But two months into the season and I can't tell you who the best team in the NFL is.

And that's exactly why the NFL is so great.

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