SAM FARMER / ON THE NFL

Dire straits and narrow victories are the norm in NFL Week 11

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has had an excellent rookie season so far, but Sunday's performance at New England was one he'd rather forget.

In a rematch of the best rivalry of the last decade — now a Manning-less affair — the Patriots dominated with a 59-24 thrashing. New England tied its single-game scoring record.

Luck was picked off three times, with two of those returned for touchdowns.

Tom Brady threw for three touchdowns, and the Patriots extended their lead in the AFC East to three games. Seems like yesterday the four teams in that division were tied at 3-3.

Good choice

Last spring, Peyton Manning had narrowed his team choices to San Francisco, Tennessee and Denver.

From the look of things, he made the right decision. Not only are the first-place Broncos rolling, but also their division is pillow-soft. Just look at the AFC West scores Sunday. Denver beat San Diego, 30-23. Oakland was blown out at home by New Orleans, 38-17. Kansas City was torched at home by Cincinnati, 28-6.

The Broncos lead the second-place Chargers by three games. Manning's path to the playoffs in the NFC West or AFC South wouldn't have been anywhere close to that smooth.

What about Bob?

Washington rookie Robert Griffin III said last week that the playoffs were still a realistic goal for the Redskins, although that's a long way from their record, now 4-6. Still, they looked like a playoff contender Sunday in rolling over Philadelphia, 31-6.

Griffin was spectacular, completing 14 of 15 passes with four touchdowns and running for 84 yards.

Even if the Redskins don't wind up making the playoffs, it would be a huge morale boost if Griffin can play that way Thursday when Washington plays at Dallas. For the Redskins, beating the Cowboys is the next-best thing to making the playoffs.

Teammates are running out of ways to describe Griffin.

"I'm tired of talking about Robert," Washington receiver Santana Moss said. "Nothing's going to change; Robert's going to go out there and be special. That's the gift that he has, he's a special guy. He brings that kind of 'specialness.' I don't know if that's a word, but he brings it to our offense."

Pink slippers

Locked in a downward spiral to the bottom are coaches Andy Reid of Philadelphia, Norv Turner of San Diego and Romeo Crennel of Kansas City. All lost Sunday and took another step toward their inevitable exits.

Pack is back

After losing three of its first five games, Green Bay has regained its equilibrium and Sunday moved to within a half-game of Chicago in the NFC North. The Bears play at San Francisco on Monday night.

"Early on, we were trying to find the identity we had last year that no one could stop us coming off our Super Bowl," Packers receiver Donald Driver said after a 24-20 win at Detroit. "Now, we've got our groove back and we're ready to roll."

The Packers don't have a breezy finish to the season, but they are in good position to make a division run. Four of their final six games are NFC North matchups.

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