USA TODAY US Edition
Vikings drop anchor near top of NFL
The 32 things we learned from NFL Week 10:
1. Super Bowl 57 preview? The regular season is barely half complete, and the playoffs are a long way off. But whether or not the Minnesota Vikings and Buffalo Bills meet again in February, they may have provided the signature game – to date – of the 2022 season. The Vikes’ 33-30 overtime triumph had a little bit of everything.
2. Each team parlayed 13 possessions into more than 480 yards of total offense. Both quarterbacks threw one touchdown pass but had a pair of picks. Each club was penalized seven times for 64 yards.
3. Playing against his former team for the first time, Bills WR Stefon Diggs snagged 12 receptions for 128 yards.
4. But the man who effectively replaced Diggs in Minnesota, Justin Jefferson, renewed his argument as the league’s premier wideout. He consistently creased one of the league’s elite defenses – finishing with 10 grabs for 193 yards and a TD – and making one of the more miraculous onehanded stabs you’ll ever see.
5. Jefferson became the first receiver ever with 20 100-yard games in his first three seasons ... and just 2 1⁄2 in his case.
6. Of course this contest was defined by its final 10 minutes, which spanned the end of the fourth quarter and overtime – the Vikes’ failure to convert on fourth-and-goal for the late lead; Minnesota shockingly going ahead on the next play when Bills QB Josh Allen lost the snap and LB Eric Kendricks pounced on the loose ball for the go-ahead score; Allen engineering a tying field goal at the end of regulation – with the benefit of a catch by WR Gabe Davis that should have been disallowed – Minnesota responding with a 12-play, 60yard drive for a FG to start OT ... and the Bills’ last-gasp ending with Allen picked off in the end zone by CB Patrick Peterson.
7. The fact Allen even played was no small surprise, Sunday his first action since injuring his elbow at the end of Week 9’s loss to the New York Jets. Tough to say how much that UCL was bothering Allen, who had three turnovers, but there’s no question his MVP chances have taken a major hit amid Buffalo’s two-game slide.
8. The Bills’ hopes of remaining in Western New York for the AFC playoffs have also been significantly damaged. Buffalo began Sunday as the conference’s projected No. 1 seed, which means home-field advantage and a first-round bye. By day’s end, the Bills had fallen to third place in the AFC East and sixth in the conference standings.
9. Meanwhile, Minnesota has won seven straight. At 8-1, the Vikings have the league’s second-best record, their only defeat coming to the still-unbeaten Philadelphia Eagles.
10. Oh, and there’s this: Vikings RB Dalvin Cook > Bills RB James Cook. The Minnesota Pro Bowler had 146 yards from scrimmage, including an 81yard TD run, in victory; his rookie little bro rushed for 22 yards for Buffalo.
11. Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown > Bears WR Equanimeous St. Brown. As you’d probably expect the budding Detroit star outshone his older brother, gaining 121 yards from scrimmage to Equanimeous’ 9 in the Lions’ 31-30 come-from-behind win.
12. Dolphins OLB Bradley Chubb > Browns RB Nick Chubb. In an on-field matchup of cousins, Miami’s new pass rusher had a half-sack and three QB hits as his team trampled Cleveland 39-17. Nick Chubb managed 81 total yards
and a TD but also fumbled.
13. Some serious Buckeye on Buckeye crime in that Bears-Lions game. Chicago QB Justin Fields responded to a 20-yard pick-six by Detroit CB Jeff Okudah with a 67-yard TD sprint, blazing past his former Ohio State teammate for the score.
14. The Bears became the first team in the league’s 103season history to rush for at least 225 yards in five consecutive games. They’ve won one of them. Fields has run for at least 60 in each, including 147 against Detroit.
15. What a Sunday for Jeff Saturday. His hiring as the Indianapolis Colts interim head coach engendered shock, ridicule, outrage and anger, among other emotions, across the country and NFL itself. But the man who simply accepted a job offer and handled a fraught situation with his signature class ends the week 1-0.
16. And, if nothing else, the Colts may be better off with Saturday than already embattled first-year Silver and Black coach Josh McDaniels, who backed out on the Indianapolis HC job after it was offered four years ago.
17. Remember when the AFC West was lauded as the league’s mega-division after an offseason influx of star power? If the season ended today – it doesn’t – only the Kansas City Chiefs would be playoff bound.
Collectively, the division is 17-19 – K.C. (7-2) carrying it.
18. The Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys needed overtime for the first time in their 38-game series. The Pack prevailed in not-so-sudden death 31-28 after Dallas failed to convert on fourth down after getting the first possession of the extra period.
19. TBD if this is the spark Aaron Rodgers and Co. need to salvage their season, but it certainly appears rookie WR Christian Watson is finally ready to add some jet fuel to an offense that desperately needs it. Three of his four catches Sunday went for six while covering an average of 35 yards.
20. Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes took full advantage of Buffalo’s misfortune. He added 331 yards and four TDs to his league-leading passing totals – perhaps vaulting ahead of Allen in the MVP race – as K.C. vanquished the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-17.
21. The NFL’s first regularseason foray into Germany appeared to be an unqualified success. The attendance at Munich’s Allianz Arena – the 17year-old stadium’s first-ever non-soccer sporting event – was 69,811, seemingly all of those fans still at their seats well after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 21-16 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in the league’s first international matchup of first-place clubs.
22. The Bucs’ Tom Brady (258 yards passing, 2 TDs, INT) became the first NFL quarterback to notch wins in four countries (USA, United Kingdom, Mexico, Germany), his others coming as a member of the New England Patriots.
23. The victory was Tampa Bay’s first abroad. The Buccaneers had lost their first three international dates, all in London.
24. The Seahawks lost for the first time with sensational rookie RB Kenneth Walker III (10 rushes for 17 yards Sunday) in the lineup but still go into Week 11 atop the NFC West.
25. The Steelers’ 28-10 mauling of the New Orleans Saints means longtime coach Mike Tomlin now has victories over every NFL team ... except Pittsburgh, of course.
26. Nick Westbrook-Ikhine > Jalen Virgil. No relation, and decent chance you’ve never heard of either wide receiver. But the first two-TD day of Westbrook-Ikhine’s three-year career topped Virgil’s first NFL catch – a 66-yard TD reception from Russell Wilson – as the AFC South-leading Tennessee Titans outlasted the Denver Broncos 17-10.
27. Cardinals QB2 > Rams QB2. Condolences to those who paid their hard-earned money to watch Arizona QB Colt McCoy lock horns with Los Angeles backup John Wolford on a day when Matthew Stafford (concussion) and Kyler Murray (hamstring) were scratched. McCoy won the “battle” of understudies 27-17.
28. It was only the second time Rams coach Sean McVay lost to Arizona in 13 meetings.
29. Facing the Houston Texans’ league-worst run defense, probably little surprise the New York Giants fed RB Saquon Barkley a career-high 35 times (for 152 yards and a TD).
30. With Thursday night’s 25-15 win over the Atlanta Falcons, the Carolina Panthers moved to 2-3 under interim coach Steve Wilks. With one more victory, he’ll match his total from 2018, his lone year as HC of the Arizona Cardinals.
31. Since trading RB Christian McCaffrey, Carolina is averaging 69 more rushing yards and nearly twice as many TDs on the ground per game.
32. On their last meaningful drive, the Falcons lost 15 yards on four plays, QB Marcus Mariota sacked twice. Oof.