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Sunday November 13th, 2011

Let’s face it: While there’s nothing better than NFL Sundays, it can be a little intimidating keeping up with what’s going on in every game. You can analyze the box scores or scan Twitter, but we’ll make it even easier. Here you’ll find the most important points from every day game, so you’ll be prepared no matter what comes up at the water cooler Monday morning. We’ll be updating throughout the games, so keep checking back.

[2-7] Rams 13, [3-6] Browns 12 (box score | recap)

1. Cleveland had the upper hand in a sloppy game, with a 12-10 lead in the fourth quarter, until Joshua Cribbs coughed up a fumble on a punt return at his own 27. St. Louis turned that mistake into three points -- and those points wound up being enough to grab a 13-12 road win.

2. Without Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty, the Browns don't have much in the run game, so they're trying to get creative. In the second quarter Cleveland lined up Joshua Cribbs in the wildcat. Cribbs pitched to Seneca Wallace, who tossed it to Colt McCoy (who had been lined up wide), who threw it back to Wallace for a big gain. Cleveland wound up kicking a field goal a few plays later.

3. Brandon Lloyd had four catches for 48 yards, including a touchdown grab off a pass from Sam Bradford. Those two have developed a nice rapport rapidly, so you have to think St. Louis will start working to re-sign Lloyd, who will be a free agent once the season ends.

 [4-5] Broncos 17, [4-5] Chiefs 10 (box score | recap)

1. Amazingly, it took Tim Tebow until the third quarter to complete his first pass and until the mid-point of the fourth to hit pass No. 2. Even more amazingly, that second completion came on a 3rd-and-10 with Denver clinging to a 10-7 lead and went for a 56-yard touchdown to Eric Decker.

2. Denver lost Willis McGahee to a hamstring injury in the first quarter, then Knowshon Moreno injured his knee a few moments later. So, the Broncos turned things over to its No. 3 running back, Lance Ball, who is approaching 30 carries and 100 yards.

3. Where happened to Matt Cassel? Even with Tebow barely going to the air, the Denver QB has nearly matched Cassel. The Chiefs' signal-caller finished just 13 of 28 for 93 yards through the air. He did toss a 1-yard scoring strike to LeRon McClain, but the cumulative effort was beyond subpar against Denver's tough defense.

[3-6] Cardinals 21, [3-6] Eagles 17 (box score | recap)

1. DeSean Jackson was inactive for this game, reportedly after missing a team meeting Saturday. The Eagles had to be second-guessing that decision after losing Jeremy Maclin to an injury in the first quarter. Maclin took a huge hit while trying to haul in a Michael Vick pass -- he looked woozy after, but the Eagles said he had a right shoulder injury.

2. If not for a couple of John Skelton mistakes, Arizona might have run away from the bumbling Eagles. Skelton threw a pick-six to Asante Samuel in the first half, breaking a 0-0 tie. Then, with the game tied at 14 in the fourth quarter, Skelton threw another INT in his own territory, setting up a Philadelphia field goal.

3. Skelton absolutely redeemed himself after that FG put the Eagles up 17-14. Starting for a second straight game in place of the injured Kevin Kolb, whom was traded by Philadelphia this offseason, Skelton bounced back after his second INT to find Larry Fitzgerald on a deep pass to the Eagles' 1. He capped the drive by finding Early Doucet for a 5-yard score to put Arizona up 21-17.

[7-3] Steelers 24, [6-3] Bengals 17 (box score | recap)

1. An early Pittsburgh touchdown was Ben Roethlisberger at his best. On 3rd-and-10 from the Cincinnati 16, Roethlisberger avoided the pass rush and floated to his right, then, just as he was about to pass the line of scrimmage, drilled a TD pass in to Jerricho Cotchery.

2. A.J. Green got the Bengals on the board late in the first quarter, with an acrobatic, leaping grab over top of both Troy Polamalu and Andy Dalton. He came up hobbled after landing awkwardly on his right knee, but walked off the field under his own power.

3. In almost no time, Antonio Brown has turned into Roethlisberger's go-to target. He had 21 catches in Pittsburgh's last three games coming into Sunday, then added five grabs for a team-leading 86 yards against the Bengals.

[5-4] Titans 30, [2-7] Panthers 3 (box score | recap)

1. The Titans have been looking for more big plays, and they found a couple early Sunday: Marc Mariani got Tennessee on the board with a 79-yard punt return for a score, then Damian Williams made it 14-0 by taking a Matt Hasselbeck pass and streaking 43 yards for the score.

2. Carolina's shaky run defense was just the medicine Chris Johnson needed to fix what's been ailing him. Despite picking up just nine yards on six carries in the first quarter, Johnson finished with 130 yards and a TD on the ground, and added four receptions for 44 yards.

3. There haven't been too many occasions this year where Cam Newton has looked like a rookie, but this was one. His numbers were fine -- 23 of 40 for 212 yards passing and 55 yards rushing -- but he and the Panthers failed to sustain many drives. Their one early chance ended when Greg Olsen fumbled in the red zone.

[2-7] Dolphins 20, [3-6] Redskins 9 (box score | recap)

1. Now what for the Redskins? Mike Shanahan went back to Rex Grossman at quarterback and Ryan Torain at running back. Washington generated just nine points, with Grossman throwing two interceptions and Torain still being outrushed by Roy Helu.

2. Mike Shanahan, who had never been shut out in his NFL career until a loss a couple weeks back against Buffalo, has now lost five straight games for the first time. After starting 3-1, the Redskins are reeling at 3-6 and it doesn't look like the losing will end anytime soon.

3. Miami has made a much more concerted effort to get Reggie Bush the ball lately, and that was the plan again Sunday. Bush has been unusually ineffective catching passes -- four yards on four receptions -- but he has a pair of touchdowns, both coming in short yardage.

[7-3] Texans 37, [4-5] Buccaneers 9 (box score | recap)

1. Tampa Bay has been guilty of slow starts all year, but this was ridiculous. It took Houston all of one play to get on the scoreboard. Matt Schaub, off a play-action fake, found Jacoby Jones for an 80-yard touchdown on the game's first snap to put the Texans on top. They never let up, either, rolling to a 16-3 halftime lead and 30-3 edge after three quarters.

2. Albert Haynesworth, drawing a surprise start in his first game with the Bucs, quickly made his presence felt. After the Schaub-to-Jones TD, Haynesworth blocked the ensuing extra point, blowing through the Houston line.

3. Down 16-0 late in the first half, Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris took a gamble on 4th-and-goal from the Houston 2, deciding to go for the touchdown instead of taking three points. The move backfired -- Josh Freeman's fade pass attempt to Dezmon Briscoe in the corner of the end zone was broken up, keeping Tampa Bay off the scoreboard.

[7-3] Saints 26 [5-4] Falcons 23 (OT)  (box score | recap)

1. The Saints almost gave the game away. Up by 10 late in the fourth, they gave up a TD pass to Tony Gonzalez, then had to punt back to the Falcons with just under 2 minutes left, up by 3. At that point, the Saints' defense completely packed it in, letting the Falcons drive the length of the field with ease. Atlanta got all the way to the New Orleans' 9 before the Saints held them to a field goal, sending the game into overtime.

2. With all of the playmakers on both teams, it was little-known Harry Douglas and Jason Snelling who starred on the day. Douglas caught 8 passes for 133 yards, including two clutch big plays on the late drive the Falcons tied the game with. Snelling only had 1 carry for 0 yards, but reeled in a 21-yard touchdown grab that saw him break 7 Saints tackles before scoring.

3. It was an up and down day for Saints tight end Jimmy Graham. While the second-year star had 7 catches for 82 yards and a touchdown, he made some mistakes as well. Graham had two key drops early, including one on 3rd-and-8 deep in Saints territory when he was wide open. He also took a holding call on a fourth-quarter field goal that would have put the Saints up by 6. The penalty pushed the Saints out of field goal range, making them to punt, and the Falcons proceeded to embark on the aforementioned overtime-forcing drive.

[5-4] Cowboys 44, [5-4] Bills 7 (box score | recap)

1. What happened to the early-season Bills? If anyone thought last week's loss to the Jets was an abberation, they came out against Dallas with the same lack of intensity, and it caught up to them, with the Cowboys jumping out to a quick lead and never relenting. In total, the Cowboys outgained the Bills 433-271, and won the turnover battle 4-0.

2. Laurent Robinson's breakout year continues. The Cowboy wideout never posted more than 437 yards or two touchdowns in a season. He caught his third and fourth touchdowns of the year in the first half, simply running straight past the Bills' secondary for 58 yards on the second score. He finished with three catches for 73 yards and the two scores, and has been the Cowboys' most consistent playmaker on offense this year.

3. Despite being prone to the occasional bad decision and facing a Bills defense that was second in the league entering the week with 15 interceptions, Tony Romo had a magnificent game. The inconsistent quarterback was 23 of 26 with three touchdown passes. More remarkably, Romo averaged 10.4 yards per attempt. Not only was he efficient and accurate, he did it without sparing the deep ball. Six of the seven Cowboy receivers caught passes of 15+ yards.

[3-6] Jaguars 17, [0-10] Colts 3 (box score | recap)

1. The Colts, desperate to get in the win column, benched Curtis Painter down 10-3 late in favor of Dan Orlovsky. It didn't help. Orlovsky threw an interception on his first possession -- he was hit as he went to let the ball go -- and the Jaguars took advantage with a touchdown.

2. Maurice Jones-Drew has not had a ton of help from Blaine Gabbert and the passing game this season, but he just keeps racking up yards. Sunday, MJD went for 114 yards and a late TD, which helped seal the Jaguars' victory.

3. Jacksonville had a fourth-quarter interception of Painter overturned when a review revealed that the Jaguars had 12 men on the field on the play. But Painter threw another INT three plays later, ending an Indianapolis drive at the Jacksonville 31.

 [6-2] Ravens at [2-6] Seahawks (box score)

1. Five carries for Ray Rice in three quarters? Baltimore was in a hole early, but that's pretty hard to understand. Rice did have eight catches for 54 yards, but Joe Flacco threw 52 passes. There's just no way the Ravens can be as good as they should be offensively with that lack of offensive balance.

2. Baltimore has had issues getting up for lesser opponents after big wins. Coming off a dramatic victory at Pittsburgh, the Ravens had a chance to shake off that reputation Sunday, but gave up an early Seattle TD, then turned the ball over and fell behind 10-0. Baltimore never recovered.

3. While Rice was almost a non-factor Sunday, Marshawn Lynch had a monster game. Lynch put up 167 total yards (109 on the ground) and more or less willed the Seahawks to a win in the final moments, keeping the chains moving with Seattle clinging to a five-point lead.

[6-2] Giants at [7-1] 49ers (box score)

1. After a wild fourth quarter, the Giants had a chance to pull even late. Down 27-20 in the final minutes, New York got as close to the end zone as San Francisco's 10, but the 49ers' defense forced two incompletions and stuffed a D.J. Ware run to secure the victory.

2. Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham were game-time decisions for the Giants, and New York has to be happy both suited up. Manningham hauled in a pretty touchdown pass from Eli Manning in the third quarter, then Nicks made a terrific grab for a score in the fourth quarter.

3. New York and San Francisco were trading field goals in the first half, with each team connecting on its first two possessions. But the 49ers started turning the momentum with a surprise onside kick after their second FG. They recovered and marched for another three points, which gave them a 9-6 halftime lead.

[6-2] Lions at [5-3] Bears (box score)

1. Things got ugly in the fourth quarter, with the Bears ahead 37-6. After Matthew Stafford threw his third interception of the game, he grabbed Chicago's D.J. Moore by the facemask and threw him to the ground as Moore blocked downfield. Moore retaliated by decking Stafford, started a scuffle near Detroit's bench. Moore was given a 15-yard penalty and ejected.

2. It's still baffling to see teams punt to Devin Hester, but he just keeps making them pay. New Lions punter Robert Malone bombed one 60 yards in the second quarter, but Hester simply brought it back 82 yards for a TD and a 20-0 Chicago lead.

3. The Lions shot themselves in the foot from the very opening moments. Calvin Johnson fumbled on Detroit's first drive, leading to a Chicago TD. Nate Burleson made the same mistake on Detroit's next possession, and the Bears turned that into a field goal. Still, the Lions were within 20-6 and had the ball early in the third quarter, before Matthew Stafford threw back-to-back pick-sixes. - Tom Mantzouranis contributed to this post.

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