Originally posted on Optimum Scouting  |  Last updated 11/22/11
For the first time in awhile, the talk surrounding the Philadelphia Eagles isn’t negative, as an almost forgotten quarterback saved their season (at least for a week) with a game winning drive that left the New York Giants stunned.

Meanwhile, the talk in the NFC North is focused on whether of not the Green Bay Packers will go undefeated. They’ll put their spotless record on the line in Detroit on Thanksgiving Day in what should be a great game. But before we dig into to turkey and a great slate of football action, let’s recap what happened in week eleven.
Vince Young Provides More Heroics in the 4th
The year is 2006. The New York Giants lead by 21 points in the fourth quarter, and are seemingly cruising to a road win against the Tennessee Titans. The Titans are sitting at 3-7, and any chance Tennessee has at the play offs were quickly slipping away.

Enter Vince Young, the Titans’ rookie quarterback. He leads on not one, but three touchdown drives in the fourth quarter, as well as a drive to set up the game winning field goal that would wrap up a 24 point fourth quarter comeback with eight seconds remaining in the game.

For Young, it was the first of many late game comebacks that would grace the early part of his career. For the Giants, it was a crushing blow that haunted them for the rest of the season, and they ended the season losing four of their last six games.

Five tumultuous seasons later, Vince Young found himself as the backup to Michael Vick for the Philadelphia Eagles. Even early in the season, Young’s hold on the back up spot was routinely called into question, as rumors swirled that the Eagles’ coaching staff preferred Mike Kafka over Young.

Nevertheless, it was Young that was the starter on Sunday night, filling in for Vick who was sidelined with broken ribs. It was a crucial game for Philadelphia, who needed a win to keep their slim hopes for the playoffs alive. They couldn’t afford a loss against anyone, and the fact that they were playing division rival New York made it doubly important. With Young’s recent track record, it was understandable that Eagles’ fans would be more than a little pessimistic about their chances Sunday night.

For three quarters, the fears of the Philadelphia faithful were justified. Young was putting on the performance that had become expected of him, throwing inaccurate passes and three interceptions, putting even more pressure on an Eagles defense that was carried most of the blame for their awful start. For the most part, the Philadelphia held. But mid way through the fourth quarter the Giants scored a game tying touchdown, and all the momentum appeared to be in New York’s favor. If the Eagle’s season wasn’t doomed already, it was perilously close to it now.

In spite of his early struggles, these are the scenarios where Vince Young shines. The Giants experienced it first hand in 2006, and no one knew that better than Mathias Kiwanuka. It was Kiwanuka who couldn’t bring Young down on the final touchdown drive back in Tennessee. It was a play that would have ended the game, the Titans season, and it likely would have been the spark the Giants needed to propel them through the last part of the season.

And here they were again. For the Giants, it was déjà vu. Young led the Eagle down the field with poise and precision that he hadn’t shown all game. It was clear Young was in his element. On third down and goal, with just minutes left in the game, commentator Chris Collinsworth speculated the Eagles would try a hand off or shovel pass to reduce the risk of Young throwing the game away. Instead, the Eagles put the game in Young’s hands. Young responded by throwing his second touchdown pass of the game, this time a game winning strike to Riley Cooper.

Execution late in games has been what has cost the Eagles so far this year. They had been outscored by 47 points over the final period, and late games snafus had fans questioning Philadelphia’s abilities to win in clutch situations. But the fourth quarter is exactly where Young is at his best. His record as a starter now stands at 31-17. 13 of those wins (42%) were products of a game winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime.

Young is never going to be a quarterback that puts up great numbers. But he is one of the best in the stat that matters most: wins and losses. That’s what he showed again Sunday night. So in the coming offseason, when teams across the league are looking for a quarterback, don’t forget about Vince Young. The Giants sure won’t.


Surprise of the Week
A month ago, it seemed pretty easy to preview how this week’s match up between the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins would go. One was team that was on an upswing, led by a quarterback that no one would have predicted would have such success. They were winning games with great offensive production and seemed at times to be unstoppable.

The other team, however, was quite the opposite story. A struggling defense was only matched by the offense’s inability to move the ball, and they were expected to “compete” for the first pick in the upcoming draft.

In a way, that prediction would have been correct. There was a team coming into Sunday’s game on a hot streak, but it wasn’t Buffalo. It was the resurgent Miami Dolphins, led by a red hot Matt Moore.

No one would have predicted the run that Moore has been on. Over the last three games, his quarterback rating has been an astounding 118.6, a rating that’s near the top of the league over that stretch. The passing game has opened things up for Reggie Bush, who had previously been heralded as one of the worst free agent signings of the offseason. Bush now has scored a touchdown in three straight games, and is finally showing some of the play making ability Miami was looking for when they picked him up.

The defense has stepped up during the Dolphin’s three game win streak as well. After struggling to create turnovers during the first half of the season, Miami’s defense has finally been able to create big plays. They victimized the Bills’ Ryan Fitzpatrick twice with two interceptions, and the Dolphins converted both of those turnovers into touchdowns.

The driving force during Miami’s winning streak has been their ability to keep the opposition out of the red zone. They haven’t allowed a touchdown in the past three weeks. That’s led to the Dolphins winning those three games by a combined score of 86-20.  Not bad for a team that started 0-7.



Rookie Watch
Tim Tebow was the all the media could talk about following the Denver Bronco’s win over the New York Jets, and in the midst of all that the real driving force of Denver’s win was lost. Tebow’s late game heroics went a long way, but it was rookie linebacker Von Miller who should have garnered most of the attention Thursday night.

Missing out on the spot light is nothing new for Miller. His outstanding rookie season has been overshadowed by the likes of Cam Newton and A.J. Green, who have been dominating highlight reels by lighting up scoreboards.

But Miller has been playing like a man amongst boys all season long. Already he’s racked up 9.5 sacks and 48 tackles. On Thursday night alone he racked up ten tackles (three for a loss), four hits on Mark Sanchez, and 1.5 sacks. Almost singlehandedly it was Miller that shut down the Jets offense, allowing a Tebow led offense to struggle without the results being too costly for the Broncos.

There’s now question that guys like Newton and Green have had great rookie campaigns. But Miller’s season is outplaying them, and all other rookies in the league. Where guys like Newton are among the best of the rookies in the league, Miller has already cemented his place as the best player on his team and one of the premier pass rushers in the league.

Miller should be a lock for the Pro Bowl, a huge accomplishment for any rookie. And he only has time to continue to get better. If he continues to improve like he has so far, he’ll soon be a perennial All Pro linebacker for years to come.




Fantasy Notes
As the season rolls on, the injuries begin to pile up. This week it was fantasy stud Adrian Peterson that went down with a high ankle sprain. It is yet to be seen how long Peterson is going to be out, but high ankle sprains aren’t typically an injury one can play on just a week after getting hurt. It’s tough to imagine that Peterson will be able to play in week twelve.

If you have Peterson on your roster, you should have already have Toby Gerhart on your roster. If you don’t, make sure you pick him up this week. The most likely scenario in Minnesota would have Peterson missing at least one week, and you don’t want to be left without insurance.

Although he’s being touted as a viable fantasy option for those looking for a running back, Chris Ogbonnaya isn’t going to help you any. He’s had two good match ups in a row, and he took advantage of those. But from here on out, there’s not much upside in the Cleveland running back. If you’re desperate for help, the Packers’ Ryan Grant could provide you with a stop gap. James Starks may miss Thursday’s game, and Grant has shown the ability to have a good game every so often. He’s not going to win you any matchups single handedly, but I’d expect him to be a decent flex play in week twelve.
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