NFL Week 7 Recaps
New Orleans Saints @ Chicago Bears
Teddy Bridgewater and the 5-1 New Orleans Saints traveled to face the 3-2 Chicago Bears in hopes of adding to what has been one of the best backup quarterback situations in recent memory. Don’t let the final score of 36-25 fool you. Mitchell Trubisky returned after missing time with a dislocated shoulder but it wouldn’t matter as the Saints held the edge in all phases of the game, continuing their winning streak to move to 6-1 while the Bears fall to 3-3 with no answers.
Bridgewater’s Confidence Grows, Saints Offense Rolling
In what might be his last game this season as a starter with Drew Brees seeking to return next week, Bridgewater had one of his best games of the season against a strong Chicago defense. It was a slow start early on with two straight punts but turnovers by the Bears led to great field position to score the first touchdown. The switch was flicked in the second half as Bridgewater led the team to three touchdowns and two field goal attempts, one of which would be missed, and no punts. He was sharp and decisive with his reads and ended the day 23 of 38 for 281 yards and two touchdowns. Six of his completions were thrown 15 air yards or further. Despite missing star running back Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray filled in with 119 yards on 27 carries for two touchdowns.
Bears Offense Doesn’t Even Deserve Participation Trophies
The Bears went into halftime with 10 points, losing by two. The Bears came into the last four minutes of the game with those same 10 points in the bank, did not press go, did not collect interest, and were now losing by 26. Take away Cordarelle Patterson’s 102-yard kickoff return touchdown, and the Bears only succeeded in getting 39 yards for a field goal that was 46 yards. Kicker Eddy Pineiro kicked a field goal further than the Bears offense could move the football. Running back Mike Davis, who head coach Matt Nagy swore the Bears had use for, didn’t touch the football. David Montgomery had two carries for six yards and two receptions for 13. Tarik Cohen had 12 touches on offense and got all of 29 yards. Meanwhile, Jordan Howard, who the Bears traded away in the offseason, has 347 yards this season, just about 100 yards fewer than the Bears’ total of 420, despite him sharing carries with Miles Sanders in Philadelphia. Take away the 132 yards from those two garbage-time touchdowns in the last four minutes of the game and the Bears only had 120 yards out of almost 56 minutes of football. Mitchell Trubisky’s return from a dislocated shoulder may have ended with two touchdowns but he was miserable throughout the rest of the game, missing countless passes downfield, overthrown or simply thrown in terrible locations. Nearly all of his completions were either behind the line of scrimmage or within five yards of it.
This is a Bears offense that has struggled since the start of the season and this game looked exactly like the first game against Green Bay, where the Bears ran a grand total of 15 times, more than double of this week’s seven total carries. Despite a bye week of tinkering, the Bears still have no identity despite being a team many saw in the offseason as one of this year’s most explosive on offense. Trubisky still misses a frustrating number of wide-open throws. The offensive problems boil down to three core issues: Matt Nagy is still deathly afraid to commit to the run game because he sees it as too traditional for his imaginative passing offense, the offense continues to lose momentum turning the ball over, and, to quote legendary coach John Madden, Trubisky couldn’t hit the water if he fell out of the boat.
Minnesota Vikings @ Detroit Lions
Less than a week after a devastating loss to the Green Bay Packers on Monday night, the 2-2-1 Detroit Lions hosted their 4-2 NFC North rival Minnesota Vikings. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford became the fastest QB in NFL history to reach 40,000 career passing yards and receiver Marvin Jones Jr. notched his second career game with four touchdowns, but they would be overshadowed by a win fueled by a dominant offensive showing by the Vikings. The Lions remain at the bottom of the NFC North at 2-3-1 while the Vikings continue chasing the Packers for the top spot at 5-2.
Vikings Put Up Season-High 503 Yards on Offense
The Vikings came into this game 11th overall in the league in offense, third in rushing, and 25th in passing. Kirk Cousins had a four-touchdown performance against the Eagles last week and he had another great day, even with receiver Adam Thielen leaving the game with a hamstring injury in the first quarter. He ended 24 of 34, 337 yards, four touchdowns, and would throw for 9.3 average completed air yards, second-highest among QBs in Week 7. The run game was the focal point of the Vikings offense, as it has been in nearly every game this season, as Dalvin Cook carried the team on his back with 142 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. It was the threat of the run game that created opportunities for the Vikings, who capitalized by calling a heaping of play-action passes with great protection for Cousins, who was pressured only once in his 34 pass attempts and resulting in a league-highest average 3.38 seconds to throw. The Vikings are clicking on all sides of the ball as they are fielding a solid offense with a strong defense.
Lions Offense Clicking, Defense Confused By Play-Action
On a night when Matthew Stafford became the fastest QB to read 40,000 career passing yards and threw for four touchdowns, all to receiver Marvin Jones Jr., the Lions defense let them down by putting virtually no pressure on the Vikings run and pass games. Injuries were a problem all day as starters RB Kerryon Johnson, DT Damon Harrison, and CB Darius Slay all spent time on the sidelines with various ailments. As has been the case throughout the season, the running game just wasn’t working for the Lions and it didn’t help that Kerryon Johnson left early with his injury, even if he hasn’t been quite as good as he was predicted to be this season. On the other side of the ball, the Lions defense couldn’t get to Kirk Cousins or stop the running game as they allowed the Vikings to have their way on offense as play-action kept the defense guessing. The Lions kept the game close, only down 24-28 late in the third quarter, but simply ran out of gas in the fourth quarter as they take another tough loss.
Houston Texans @ Indianapolis Colts
In a battle for the AFC South lead, the 4-2 Houston Texans faced off against the 4-1 Indianapolis Colts. Both teams were coming off wins against the Kansas City Chiefs, with the Texans defeating them last week while the Colts had their bye, and the Colts beating the Chiefs a week earlier. The Colts would come away with the 30-23 win after QB Jacoby Brissett’s big day and capture the AFC South division lead at 4-2, while the Texans drop to 4-3.
Jacoby Brissett Carries Colts On His Back
The Texans had no answer for Jacoby Brissett or the pass protection of his offensive line as he went 26 of 39 for 326 yards and four touchdowns. While the running game struggled with 62 total rushing yards, Brissett stayed cool in the pocket and took over the game himself. He continues to excel in the red zone, scoring on all four trips in this game. In previous weeks, Brissett was more of a game manager, allowing his receivers to make plays after short passes, but he connected this week on nine passes 10 air yards or further while also maintaining a consistent and accurate short passing game. It was questioned whether or not the Colts would be able to succeed with franchise quarterback Andrew Luck retiring in the offseason, but Brissett has the Colts in first place in the AFC South. The offensive line was rebuilt specifically for Luck, but Brissett has been able to reap the rewards and we’re seeing the results now.
Texans Slow Start, Turnovers Define Loss
The Texans started slow in the first half, only scoring three field goals compared to the two touchdowns by the Colts. This is even with a recovered fumble from the Colts giving the Texans the ball practically on the doorstep of the endzone. Many fans believe DeShaun Watson’s touchdown should not have been called a sack as he was still standing, but the NFL has emphasized player safety in recent years and you can’t blame them for blowing the whistle when he was already wrapped up on the ankles and another defender was moments away from laying him out. You would certainly rather he get to play a full career than for it to end on a play like that. It was this lethargic performance in the first half that would give way to some remarkable offense in the second half, along with terrible mistakes that would cost them in the end. On the fourth touchdown drive by the Colts, the defense committed two penalties that resulted in automatic first downs that otherwise would have resulted in fourth downs. Watson’s two interceptions would seal the game as a win for the Colts, having thrown for 23 completions on 34 attempts for 308 yards and a touchdown.
Baltimore Ravens @ Seattle Seahawks
The 4-2 Baltimore Ravens came into Seattle to face off against a hot 5-1 Seattle Seahawks team coming off wins against the Los Angeles Rams and Cleveland Browns. The Ravens took QB Russell Wilson’s first interception of the season back for a touchdown as their defense held the Seahawks offense to just one touchdown. Both teams moved to 5-2, still at the top of their divisions as the Ravens came away with a 30-16 win.
Two Strong Defenses Clash
In his first game since being traded by the Los Angeles Rams, cornerback Marcus Peters brought Russell Wilson’s first interception of the season back for a 67 yard touchdown. After rushing for over 100 yards in his last few games, Seahawks running back Chris Carson could find no room against a physical Ravens defense, only accumulating 65 yards on 21 carries. Besides the lone interception of Wilson, the Ravens secondary kept the Seahawk receivers from finding any separation while the power rushers pressured Wilson constantly, racking up eight hits and one sack on the elusive quarterback. They would ice the game with an 18 yard fumble return touchdown by cornerback Marlon Humphrey.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks defense held Lamar Jackson to only nine completions for 143 yards and running backs Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards combined for 81 yards on 20 carries. However, they were unable to create any turnovers and found themselves tiring on the field as the punts and turnovers by their offense gradually wore them down.
Two Elusive Quarterbacks Duel
Lamar Jackson and Russell Wilson are two of the hardest quarterbacks to catch in the NFL. Both took only one sack each in this game, but it certainly wasn’t due to lack of trying by either defense; the sack by the Ravens took 7.2 seconds while the sack by the Seahawks took 6 seconds. Seeing how the average time to throw for a quarterback is anywhere from two or three seconds, that’s an eternity trying to sack a quarterback and you could have taken a quick nap and still woken up in time to see the defenders begging for the play to end.
Still, it was clear to see the difference in quarterback play. Jackson is still fresh as a passer. Nine completions on 20 attempts, with three of those completions happening behind the line of scrimmage is unheard of in today’s pass-happy league. On the other hand, his 116 yards rushing on 14 carries and a clutch touchdown on a fourth down has shades of Michael Vick. On the other hand, Russell Wilson has outgrown his early days of heavy scrambling and matured more as a passer, with 20 completions on 41 attempts for 241 yards and a touchdown. While the end score implies differently, this was a game that could have gone either way up until the fumble with less than four minutes left.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys
It’s been a season of ups and downs for the 3-3 Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys with both teams coming off heartbreaking losses. Both teams have shown flashes of good offense and defense this year but it would be the Cowboys who pulled through with an impressive showing as they beat the Eagles 37-10. The Cowboys move to first place in the NFC East while the Eagles dropped to second place. They will face off again on December 22nd.
Eagles Ball Security Issues End Comeback Hopes
It was a rough start to begin as the Eagles offense fumbled on their first two drives of the game, with one by tight end Dallas Goedert and the other by Carson Wentz. Each resulted in a touchdown for the Cowboys that put them down 14-0 not even halfway through the first quarter. Their struggles in the first half would not end there as they would end with three straight punts going into halftime down 27-7. In the second half, their first drive would end promisingly with a field goal but a subsequent interception and then another fumble by Wentz would leave the Eagles in stunned disbelief and feeling as though they barely played any offense at all. Wentz finished 16 of 26 for 191 yards and a touchdown while turning the ball over three times.
Cowboys Offense and Defense Put It Together
The Cowboys defense made it a long game for Carson Wentz, pressuring him on more than 50% of his dropbacks. They sacked him three times, recorded five hits, and were instrumental in forcing his three turnovers. Meanwhile, the offense followed the lead of Ezekiel Elliott on his 111 yards on 22 carries and one touchdown. With the benefit of a strong run game, Dak Prescott found success in the short, intermediate, and deep passing game with 21 completions on 27 attempts for 239 yards and one touchdown. As a result, his average completed air yards of 7 was only one yard below his average intended air yards of 8.1. When the Cowboys offense and defense put together performances like this together, they are tough to beat for any team.