The struggle within


Photo by TNS

Philadelphia Eagles strong safety Malcolm Jenkins (27) intercepts a pass in the end zone as tight end Jason Witten (82) comes in to make the stop on November 19, 2017, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Max Faulkner/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS)

Story by TJ Wall, staff writer

Week 11 in the NFL was full of blowouts and heart-breakers. Here’s a recap of what went down.

Dallas’ struggles continue:

The Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles faced off Sunday night in a division rivalry. However, the Eagles soared past the competition without any struggle by defeating Dallas 37-9.

The Eagles, who are now 9-1, have been on a roll lately. According to their record, they are currently the best team in the NFL. The Cowboys, on the other hand, are struggling with a 5-5 record and do not appear to be the team they were last year.

Despite Dallas’ struggles, they are arguably still a top five team in the league. While this may seem like an absurd statement, it’s not as far-fetched as it may sound.

The Cowboys are currently playing without three of their starting players: linebacker Sean Lee, left tackle Tyron Smith and running back Ezekiel Elliott.

With the absence of Sean Lee, Dallas’ defense is in shambles. Lee is basically the “quarterback of the defense”; he is the centerpiece and without him, they fall apart. With a defense that is already weak, missing Sean Lee makes it twice as bad.

Consequently, if you don’t have a defense, you can’t prevent the other team from scoring. If you can’t prevent the other team from scoring then you have to rely on your offense to score more than the opposing offense; that’s where the other injuries come into play.

The offensive line of the Cowboys is definitely not what it was last year. With the loss of Doug Free due to retirement, Ronald Leary due to free agency and Tyron Smith due to injury, their line is not providing the high quality blocking that they once did. With a hurting offensive line, Dak Prescott doesn’t have near as much time to throw the ball and Alfred Morris, the replacement for Ezekiel Elliott while he is serving his suspension, doesn’t have as big of gaps to run through which results in an inefficient offense.

Will the Cowboys return to their former self with the return of their injured stars? I believe they will. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Steelin’ the show:

Just as I predicted one of my previous article’s, “There’s always a tomorrow”, the Pittsburgh Steelers are a threat in the AFC this year and they proved it once again by dominating the Tennessee Titans 40-17.

The Titans’ loss mainly stemmed from a struggling performance by their quarterback Marcus Mariota who threw four interceptions. Even though the Steelers are a top-tier team, this game would have been a lot closer if it wasn’t for the multiple Tennessee turnovers.

Antonio Brown, the star receiver for the Steelers, had a monster performance. He caught 10 passes for 144 yards and three touchdowns. Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers quarterback, had a nice outing as well. He completed about 67 percent of his passes for 299 yards and four touchdowns.

If the Steelers continue to have performances like this, there’s no doubt in my mind that they will be the team that poses the biggest threat to the New England Patriots in the playoffs.

Last Second Heart-breaker:

The Atlanta Falcons barely made it past the Seattle Seahawks on a last-second field goal attempt in a battle of the birds.

With three minutes and 49 seconds left in the game, the Seahawks were down 34-23. With three minutes left, Russell Wilson threw a deep touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin down the middle of the field, making the score 34-31 after a successful two-point conversion.

On the next drive, Atlanta’s goal was to waste the rest of the time on the clock and not to allow the Seahawks another chance to score. However, Seattle’s defense held up and got the ball back with one minute and six seconds left in the game with no timeouts.

The Seahawks then march down the field and spike the ball on the 35-yard line with just seven seconds left in the game. With all the pressure on Seattle’s kicker, Blair Walsh, to make a 52-yard field goal and send the game into overtime, Walsh kicks the ball right down the middle of the goalposts; however the kick came up just a few yards short which ended the game with final score of 34-31 giving the Falcons the win.

Both teams are likely to meet up once again in the playoffs. However, if this matchup does occur again, I’d put my money on the Seahawks.