ASN’s NFL Top 10: He’s back in the saddle again


The Baltimore Ravens finally won their third game of the season, but they’d probably trade that victory for what they lost on Sunday. Quarterback Joe Flacco (Delaware) tore both the MCL and ACL in his left knee and will miss the remainder of the season.

Despite the injury, which came in the waning seconds, Flacco stayed in the game — “I wanted to win the game,” he told the media — and guided Baltimore to a last-second, game-winning field goal.

Prior to the injury, Flacco had started 122 consecutive regular-season games. On Sunday, Flacco completed 27 of 44 passing attempts for a touchdown. He also threw two interceptions in the Ravens’ 16-13 victory against the Rams.

The Ravens predict Flacco will be back for the start of the 2016 season.

“It’s been a great blessing,” Baltimore coach John Harbaugh told the Baltimore Sun of Flacco’s durability. “I don’t know how many coaches have had that kind of run with a quarterback. He’s been an iron man.”

Just as the Ravens bid farewell to Flacco, the Cowboys welcomed back Tony Romo (Eastern Illinois), who led Dallas to its first victory since injuring his collarbone Week 2.

For his performance, Romo is ASN’s No. 1 most notable performer for Week 11.

1. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys

No Romo turned out to mean no wins for the Cowboys, so even though the veteran quarterback threw two picks in his return Sunday, his presence and performance were enough for the Cowboys to snap a seven-game losing streak. Romo completed 18 of 28 attempts for 227 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in the Cowboys’ 24-14 victory at Miami. Romo threw touchdown passes of 31 and 16 yards. After his return, Romo told the media he was “inspired” by how his teammates played in his absence. “Our football team never let up,” Romo said. “The tough part is when that doesn’t produce results.”

2. Thomas Rawls, Seattle Seahawks

Seattle may have found Marshawn Lynch’s replacement. Rawls (Central Michigan) was the difference maker in the Seahawks’ 29-13 victory against San Francisco. Rawls’ breakout game began on Seattle’s first possession when he caught a pass in the flat and headed upfield, choosing to bulldoze a 49ers cornerback rather than step out of bounds. For the game, Rawls carried the ball 30 times for a team-leading 209 yards and caught three receptions for 46 yards. He scored two touchdowns — one receiving and one rushing — along the way. Prior to Sunday, Rawls had scored one touchdown.

3. Ahmad Bradshaw, Indianapolis Colts

Bradshaw (Marshall) was instrumental in the Colts’ 24-21 victory against the Atlanta Falcons, scoring a season-high two touchdowns. Bradshaw caught a 7-yard TD pass in the second quarter and a 2-yard scoring pass in the third quarter. He also hit season highs in receiving yards (four passes for 20 yards) and rushing yards (nine carries for 32 yards). Bradshaw re-joined the Colts as a free agent on Oct. 14 and is behind Frank Gore on the depth chart, but he has scored three times in the last two games.

4. Neville Hewitt, Miami Dolphins

The rookie linebacker from Marshall had the first interception of his career in the Dolphins’ 24-14 loss to Dallas. Neville, who played in place of injured starter Jelani Jenkins, picked off a Tony Romo pass at the Miami 42 on 2-and-14, thwarting a Cowboys’ scoring drive. Romo overthrew his intended receiver and Hewitt was wide open to make the interception.

5.  Mike Tolbert, Carolina Panthers

Tolbert (Coastal Carolina) scored his third touchdown of the season and it was a pretty one – a 3-yard catch on the right side to give the Panthers a 14-7 lead late in the first quarter. Tolbert got only two touches in the game for five yards. He also returned a kickoff eight yards. The Panthers extended their win streak to 10 and remain unbeaten after drubbing the Washington Redskins, 44-16, to improve to 10-0. Tolbert has caught two touchdown receptions this season and scored his only rushing touchdown in Week 7 against the Philadelphia Eagles.

6.  J.J. Nelson, Arizona Cardinals

Quick in college, Nelson showed his speed Sunday, snagging a 64-yard touchdown pass and bolting down the field to score for the first time in his rookie season. Nelson (UAB) caught four passes for 142 yards and likely the most critical wasn’t the TD catch — it was a 19-yard reception late in the game that set up the Cardinals’ game-winning drive against the Cincinnati Bengals. Nelson has been active for only five games this season, and he’s had only one other memorable game — in Week 8, he caught three passes for 70 yards.

7.  Paul Worrilow, Atlanta Falcons

On the Colts’ second play of the game against Atlanta, Worrilow (Delaware) picked off a Matt Hasselbeck pass and returned it to the Colts 34. But the Falcons were unable to convert. The interception was Worrilow’s second of the season. Worrilow also recovered a fumble, but the Falcons lost, 24-21. Worrilow was credited with six tackles (four solos, two assists).

8. Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A tight end from Harvard, Brate scored his second touchdown of the season Sunday, when he caught an 8-yard pass that capped a 15-play, 80-yard scoring drive and opened a 35-14 Bucs lead.  Brate’s first career touchdown was in Week 8 against the Falcons. Tampa Bay defeated Philadelphia on Sunday, 45-17.

9. Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets

Back a week after thumb surgery, Fitzpatrick (Harvard) was clearly not at his best Sunday, throwing two interceptions in the fourth quarter in the Jets’ loss to the Houston Texans. Fitzpatrick, who injured ligaments in his left thumb earlier this season, completed only 19 of 39 passes for 216 yards and one touchdown. The game marked the third time this season that Fitzpatrick has thrown two or more interceptions in a game.

10. Vance McDonald, San Francisco 49ers

The tight end from Rice scored the first touchdown his career – a 19-yard reception in the second quarter – in the 49ers loss to Seattle. McDonald had a career day all around, catching four passes for 65 yards, the most he’s ever had in three seasons as a pro.

Honorable mention

Tennessee Titans running back Antonio Andrews (Western Kentucky) carried the ball 15 times for 78 yards and had two receptions for 16 yards in Tennessee’s loss to Jacksonville on Thursday. … Marshall LB Albert McClellan recovered a fumble in the Ravens’ win against the St. Louis Rams. … S Josh Norman (Coastal Carolina) forced a fumble and recorded four tackles in the Panthers victory against Washington. … Oakland Raiders Khalil Mack (Buffalo) and T.J. Carrie (Ohio) led the team in tackles with eight each in a loss to the Detroit Lions. … Western Michigan grad E.J. Biggers batted down a pass and was credited with eight tackles for the Eagles in their loss to Tampa Bay. … Minnesota Vikings S Andrew Sendejo (Rice) took part in 11 tackles in a 30-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers. … Rookie Jaquiski Tartt (Samford) was credited with 12 tackles (eight solos, four assists) in the 49ers’ loss to Seattle. … Buffalo Bills WR Chris Hogan (Monmouth) caught six passes for 95 yards in a Monday Night Football loss to the New England Patriots.

Above: Tony Romo looks over the defense before a play against the Miami Dolphins during the Dallas Cowboys’ 24-14 victory Sunday at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Jill R. Dorson

Jill R. Dorson is a freelance writer based in San Diego.