NFL Week 7 Recap: Jets/Pats a close one, Steelers crash
By Roger Sinclair
Seahawks 20 49ers 3
In a matchup that would have excited football fans in 2013, the Seahawks gained an ugly win against the 49ers on Thursday night football. Russell Wilson struggled, throwing two interceptions. However, Marshawn Lynch came back from injury looking like the Beast Mode of old. Lynch ran for 122 yards and added a touchdown to his night, demonstrating his ability to be the catalyst for Seattle’s anemic offense. Rookie wideout Tyler Lockett also caught his first career touchdown pass, proving to be a pest for San Francisco’s secondary. The Legion of Boom, albeit a shell of its former self, dominated San Francisco’s offense and held them to 142 total yards and a mere 8 first downs. Colin Kaepernick continues his surprising decline, struggling to complete passes all night. The 49ers sit at 2-5. Their season is rapidly turning into a disaster, and they may possibly be switching to Blaine Gabbert at quarterback. Desperate times in the Bay Area.
Jets 23 Patriots 30
Though this was arguably New England’s closest game, the Patriots still stay perfect 7-0 on the season with their win over the Jets. Props to New York for holding a 20-16 lead early in the 4th quarter, but Tom Brady crushed their dreams and finished the game 14-17 passing with two touchdown passes. Brady also finished the game as the Patriots’ leading rusher (15 yards) which tells you all you need to know about New England’s ineffective rushing attack. The Jets failed to capitalize on New England’s first half struggles – there were eight drops from NE receivers! –and trailed 10-13 heading into halftime. The unsung hero for New England was recently signed Jets’ punter Steve Weatherford, who struggled punting all day and gave New England beneficial field position on many of their drives. The Jets kept up with the Pats and demonstrated that they can be in close games with some of the best teams in the NFL. Unfortunately, New England simply outplayed the Jets. The Patriots are on a short week, taking on the upstart Dolphins on Thursday night. The Jets head west and take on the Raiders Sunday afternoon.
Bills 31 Jaguars 34
The Jaguars found a way to hold onto a lead for once, beating the Bills in London on Sunday morning. A 27 point 2nd quarter gave Jacksonville a dominating 27-3 lead. Unfortunately, Jacksonville continued to show their inability to close out games, and allowed Buffalo to score 28 straight points and appear to win the game on a 44-yard pick-six thrown by Blake Bortles. Bortles proceeded to lead Jacksonville down the field and hit Allen Hurns for the game-winning touchdown. Buffalo loses its second straight contest, hoping that their bye week will allow players like Tyrod Taylor, Sammy Watkins and Karlos Williams to return from injury and jumpstart their offense.
Falcons 10 Titans 7
Matty Ice and the rest of the Dirty Birds improve to 6-1 with a win against Zach Mettenberger and the hapless Titans. Tennessee effectively stopped the Falcons most of the afternoon, aside from a Julio Jones touchdown reception, though Devonta Freeman ran over 100 yards for the 3rd straight game, a feat that no other Falcon has achieved since 2009. Rookie Marcus Mariota missed this game with an MCL sprain, and the team dearly missed him. The Titans appeared to make the correct choice at quarterback by making Mariota the #1, with Zach Mettenberger throwing two interceptions on the afternoon and was unable to take advantage on a poor offensive showing by Atlanta. Tennessee hopes that Mariota comes back soon, as the team is currently 1-5 and looking to salvage a season and possibly Ken Whisenhunt’s job.
Vikings 28 Lions 19
The Lions jumped out to a 14-6 lead and appeared to be turning their season around early in this game, but Teddy Bridgewater simply looked unstoppable in the second half. Bridgewater and the Vikings put up arguably their best all around offensive game, after struggling to get much of a passing game going so far this season. Detroit struggled mightily, Matt Stafford was sacked seven times, and he appeared to have a hand injury towards the end of this game. While Stafford hasn’t played up to his potential this season, a lack of a running game or an offensive line hold back the offense from any productivity. The Lions responded by firing offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi on Monday, and at 1-6 it’s tough to believe this team recovers this season. Minnesota improves to 4-2 on the season and seem to be a popular dark horse in the NFC North with Detroit and Chicago effectively out of the picture.
Steelers 13 Chiefs 23
The Steelers came crashing back to Earth Sunday, looking like the team many people expected them to be without Ben Roethlisberger. Getting surprising wins against the Chargers and Cardinals with Michael Vick and Landry Jones at QB, Pittsburgh looked to continue their winning streak against the lowly 1-5 Chiefs. Andy Reid’s team played very well offensively and defensively, not seeming to skip a beat with the absence of Jamaal Charles. Charcandrick West finished the game with 110 yards on the ground and a touchdown, picking up the slack for their star running back. Alex Smith had a nice game. More importantly, the Chiefs didn’t turn the ball over. Pittsburgh hopes that Ben Roethlisberger can return next week against the Bengals in a very tough AFC North matchup. Pittsburgh sits at 4-3 on the year and Kansas City improves to 2-5.
Texans 26 Dolphins 44
Dan Campbell for Coach of the Year! Well, maybe. The Dolphins win their second straight game after parting ways with Joe Philbin and new head coach Dan Campbell has a Miami team once considered a joke looking like a contender. Ryan Tannehill set an NFL record for completing 25 straight passes (dating back to last week against Tennessee as well), and Miami was up 41-0 before halftime. The Texans continue to look atrocious offensively and defensively, as Brian Hoyer struggled heavily. As we can see from the score, the defense isn’t too hot either. Even worse for Houston was the news that Arian Foster ruptured his Achilles tendon and will miss the rest of the season. Bill O’Brien overachieved last year with this team, and it is becoming more and more apparent that there is indeed a problem in Houston. Miami now sits at 3-3 on the year, and while wins against the Titans and Texans are nice, Dan Campbell’s first test will be Thursday in Foxborough against the undefeated Patriots (oh, and they’re the defending Super Bowl Champs, too). Still calling Dan Campbell for Coach of the Year though.
Buccaneers 30 Washington 31
Yes Kirk, I did “like that” win on Sunday. Down 24-0 half way through the 2nd quarter, there was little belief that Washington could turn this one around. The running game wasn’t working, star linebacker Ryan Kerrigan left with an injury, and the nation’s capital felt heartbreak at seeing their team struggle again. Kirk Cousins proceeded to go into beast mode (sorry, Marshawn) and score all four of Washington’s touchdowns (three passing, one rushing). Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, this loss comes with Jameis Winston’s most complete game in the NFL so far, finishing 21-29 with 297 yards and two touchdown passes. Doug Martin also ran for 139 yards and the Bucs have to have felt this win was stolen from them. Kirk Cousins’ game winning drive of the season improves Washington to 3-4 and a game out of 1st place in the NFC East. Many people felt that Washington was the odd man out in this division, but they are looking like contenders right now thanks to Kirk Cousins (Kirk for MVP).
Saints 27 Colts 21
Indianapolis continues its implosion, losing at home to New Orleans. The Saints’ 32nd ranked pass defense held Indy scoreless in the first half and made Andrew Luck look like a rookie. Drew Brees had an easy afternoon handing off to Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson; the Saints finished the game with 183 total rushing yards and three touchdowns. A fake field goal in the first half also lead to a Saints touchdown (maybe Chuck Pagano should take some notes on the special team’s trick plays). Andrew Luck looked horrid most of the game, and picked up some classic garbage time points to pump his stats. Luck has 10 turnovers in five starts and does not look 100% healthy. Crazily enough, the Colts may be better off with Matt Hasselbeck at the helm right now. It doesn’t get any easier for Indy, as their next two games are against the 7-0 Carolina Panthers and 6-0 Denver Broncos. New Orleans hosts the Giants and Tennessee the next two weeks, and could turn their season around with more play like we saw on Sunday.
Browns 6 Rams 24
Jeff Fisher’s vision may finally be coming to fruition. The Rams dominated Cleveland with tough defense, a power running game, and smart play from the QB. Rookie Todd Gurley scored his first two career rushing touchdowns, on top of an already dominating 128 yards. Nick Foles was serviceable, but most importantly didn’t make many mistakes and moved the offense efficiently. St Louis’s defense scored a touchdown, held Cleveland to 6 points, and forced four fumbles. The Rams sit at 3-3, but play San Francisco next week. If the Rams are a legitmate contender ready to take the next step, they should handle this game easily. The Browns fall to 2-5 and there are plenty of questions to answer about their offensive production. Cleveland hosts the Cardinals next week in what could become an ugly game.
Raiders 37 Chargers 29
The score says this was an 8 –point game, but it really was complete domination by Oakland. Heading into the 4th quarter, Oakland led San Diego by a score of 37-6 at Qualcomm Stadium in a completely embarrassing showing by the Chargers. Derek Carr continues to make strides in his sophomore season, shredding the Chargers secondary for 289 yards and three touchdowns. Amari Cooper looks like the next big thing at WR, gaining 133 yards and a score. This young, driven Oakland team led by a veteran coach in Jack Del Rio is beginning to gain momentum in the AFC West and officially appear to be the second best team in that division. After two tough losses to Pittsburgh and Green Bay, San Diego simply needed this game. The seemed to be no urgency in their play, and while they racked up some points towards the end, the Chargers seem to be playing with little purpose. With paperwork being filed to move the team to Los Angeles, off the field distractions are causing this team and fan base massive heart ache. Maybe an easy game against the Ravens next week can change their fortunes.
Giants 27 Cowboys 20
The Giants didn’t playe perfectly, but they capitalized on the Cowboys’ mistakes. The Giants only scored one offensive touchdown (an Orleans Darkwa rush) but added an interception return for a touchdown and kickoff return to secure the win. In retrospect, the Giants should have dominated the Cowboys, but a win is a win. Dallas loses their fourth straight game after losing Tony Romo, and even a change to Matt Cassel couldn’t propel the team to a win. Cassel had three bad interceptions, one which was returned for a touchdown and another that was on the goal-line, and his mistakes killed a few of Dallas’s drives. The only bright spot was Darren McFadden’s 152 yards rushing, easily his best performance as a Cowboy and of the last few years. Their schedule only gets harder, hosting the Seahawks and Eagles the next two weeks. Dallas needs Tony Romo, and everyone is realizing how important he truly was to the team.
Eagles 16 Panthers 27
It became incredibly evident this week that Philly’s defense is can’t win them games. With three interceptions on Cam Newton, they still couldn’t prevent the signal caller from leading his offense quite effectively all night. It became even more apparent that the Eagles offense is in complete disarray. Sam Bradford threw another interception, his 10th of the season and 14 overall, and continues to hold back the team. It may be play calling, it may be a bad offensive line, but most concerningly, it could be a bad quarterback. Demarco Murray also is getting the bulk of the carries, despite Ryan Mathews looking like the much better tailback. Chip called out running back coach Duce Staley on Monday, saying he controls who gets the ball at running back. At 3-4, the Eagles still don’t have any identity and ought to use the bye week for some serious soul searching. Carolina continues to impress, improving to 7-0. They head into a winnable game against the Colts. The Panthers are a dominant running team with a great defense and Cam Newton continues to improve. This team could be very scary by the end of the season.
Ravens 18 Cardinals 26
The disaster that is the 2015 Baltimore Ravens only gets worse, as the team drops to 1-6. Joe Flacco threw an interception in the end zone with :04 left in the 4th quarter and the Ravens lost another tough contest. It’s hard to say if the Ravens are as bad as their record indicates, but there is no doubt that this season is all but lost. Baltimore joins fellow 1-6 squad Detroit as playoff teams from last year that have been massive disappointments. Arizona recovered from its loss against Pittsburgh last week with a much needed home victory. Journeymen like Chris Johnson, Carson Palmer, and Jermaine Gresham are having late career revivals, helping the Cardinals attain a 5-2 record they undoubtedly deserve. While everyone hopes (maybe even prays) that Carson Palmer stays healthy, he is looking like the leader that the Bengals always wanted him to be. Arizona heads to Cleveland next week and could increase their lead in the NFC West to 3 games heading into their bye week.