What a wild week 7 we just witnessed. Let’s try to recap the week that was and try to make sense of everything with the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Matt Ryan – No Julio Jones, no Roddy White, and no Steven Jackson is apparently no problem for Ryan, even against a quality Tampa Bay defense. Ryan was able to lean on Harry Douglas and Jacquizz Rodgers, and ended up completing 20 of 26 passes, including three touchdowns. The Falcons really needed Ryan to step up and lead the team, and he did just that, keeping Atlanta’s season alive, at least for now.
Robert Griffin III – He looks a little better every week and seems to be working his way back to the form he had last year. RG3 threw for nearly 300 yards and ran for another 84 on the ground. He got a lot of help from Alfred Morris and Jordan Reed, but he helped lead Washington’s offense to five touchdowns, including the game winner with less than a minute to play, in a game the Redskins had to win.
Kansas City’s Defense – The Chiefs continue to roll, as they move to 7-0 on the season because of the continued domination of their defense. Yes, they were going up against an undrafted rookie at quarterback and Arian Foster only had four carries before being knocked out with an injury, but Kansas City’s defense did well to hold onto a slim lead in the 4th quarter, ultimately forcing a turnover that sealed the game.
Andrew Luck – All the talk in Indianapolis this week was about Peyton Manning, but Luck stole the show for much of the night. His numbers weren’t as gaudy as Manning’s but he threw three touchdowns without turning the ball over, while also making some plays with his feet. Luck’s team ended up winning, in part because he was the better quarterback for much of the night.
Defensive touchdowns – Tampa Bay, Miami, New England, St. Louis, Chicago, and the Jets all allowed their opponents to score a defensive touchdown, most coming early in the game, giving them a hole to climb out of. Not so coincidentally, all of those teams lost, except the Jets, who benefited from the Patriots also giving away points with a turnover. Most of those points scored by the defenses could have been avoided, and most ended up being the difference between winning and losing.
New England’s ball control – The Patriots did all of their damage early, but sputtered in the second half, which includes allowing the Jets to possess the ball twice as long as they did. Including overtime, New England had the ball for just 23 minutes, while the Jets had it for 46 minutes. The Jets didn’t break out too many big plays in the running game, but they pounded the Patriots on the ground and kept the ball away from Tom Brady, allowing them to hold New England to just six points in the second half and pull out the win in overtime.
Cleveland’s offense – Things have gone downhill for the Browns since Brian Hoyer went down with an injury, as Brandon Weeden has regained his starting spot, but he’s continued to struggle the way he did the first few weeks of the season. Weeden only managed to complete 17 of his 42 passes for a mere 149 yards in Sunday’s loss to the Packers. Cleveland won three in a row after trading Trent Richardson, but now their running game isn’t looking so good and it’s becoming obvious that the Browns are missing the player who was their best offensive playmaker. Gaining just 216 total yards, which is all they managed against Green Bay, isn’t going to cut it against anybody.
Penalty on New England’s Chris Jones – If you’ve never seen that rule before, you’re probably not along, but Jones did commit a penalty, and it ended up costing the Patriots the game. Instead of a short field for Tom Brady, the Jets got a first down within range to kick an easy field goal. It’s not what you expect to lose a game, but the devil is in the details, and Bill Belichick should know that as well as anyone.
Denver’s first three quarters – There’s no shame in losing to a good team on the road, but there is shame, as well as a little concern, in playing the way Denver did for much of the game. Careless turnovers and far too many penalties are what doomed the Broncos and put them in a hole they couldn’t quite crawl out of, and that’s not the way they wanted to lose, especially with a meager pass rush and problematic pass protection also becoming issues for them.
Arizona’s running game – The Cardinals rushed for all of 30 yards Thursday night against Seattle, which is beyond unacceptable. The running back position is a huge issue for them, as it puts all the pressure on Carson Palmer to move the ball. But the offensive line is also to blame, as they couldn’t get a push up front to help the running game, and they also allowed Palmer to get sacked seven times, which made it impossible for them to stay competitive with the Seahawks.
Philadelphia’s offense – Apparently, the Eagles do need Michael Vick, because even against the Cowboy’s suspect defense they couldn’t do anything without him. LeSean McCoy couldn’t get it going on the ground, Nick Foles threw for just 80 yards on 29 pass attempts before leaving with an injury, and rookie Matt Barkley was in way over his head, throwing three interceptions. For the first time in his career as a head coach, Chip Kelly’s team was shutout in a half, and it couldn’t have happened at a worse time, as Philadelphia had a chance at home to move into first place in the NFC East if they could have beat Dallas, but their offense was nowhere to be found, even though the Eagle defense held the Cowboys to just 17 points.
Ryan Tannehill’s turnovers – Turnovers always hurt, but Tannehill couldn’t have chosen a worse time to commit his against the Bills. First, he spotted Buffalo seven points with a pick-six on the game’s opening drive. Later in the 1st quarter, he threw another interception in the red zone. Finally, he fumbled the ball late in the 4th quarter when the Dolphins had the lead and were trying to close out the game, putting Buffalo in position to kick the go-ahead field goal with little time left on the clock. Tannehill has done a lot of good this season, but his turnovers came at the worst possible time on Sunday, causing Miami to lose its third consecutive game.