By Anthony McClean, Editor-In-Chief Emeritus
To paraphrase Ms. Aretha Franklin, let’s call Week Seven exactly what it was — Blowout Sunday. 38-3. 41-17. 54-13. 31-5. 25-3.
If there was a clear trend it was that most of the winners were winning big. Only one game (Atlanta at Miami) was decided by a single score. Depending on your perspective this was either an offensive smorgasbord of epic proportions or a night for all defensive coordinators to update their resumes.
All the Field Generals were directly or indirectly affected by this as the records following Sunday’s outcomes will attest.
LAST WEEK: 2-7 (Overall: 36-33)
Teddy Bridgewater, Denver (Loss at Cleveland)
The Broncos (3-4) dropped their fourth straight game, and maybe as importantly, lost star linebacker, Von Miller, to a sprained ankle. The eight-time Pro Bowler missed all of 2020 with a dislodged ankle tendon. As for Bridgewater, he threw a pair of TD passes and gutted it out while playing with foot and quadriceps injuries. He finished 23 of 33 for 187 yards and one interception. The offense continues to struggle as they ran the ball six times in the first half, 14 times overall, in a game they trailed 10-0 at halftime and that was 10-7 after their first possession of the second half.
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (Loss at Tennessee)
The other shoe has finally dropped for the Chiefs on both sides of the line. The Chiefs (3-4) have lost two of three and dropped to 1-4 in the AFC this season. They also were held to their fewest points since a 38-3 loss to Denver on Dec. 30, 2012. This was the first time No. 15 had trailed by 27 at halftime and the third-largest halftime deficit for the Chiefs since 1991. It was the worst since the Chiefs trailed Pittsburgh 29-0 at the half on Oct. 2, 2016, and only the eighth time in franchise history that Kansas City had trailed by 27 or more at the half. He finished with 206 yards passing and 35 yards rushing. Mahomes has been intercepted in six straight games, the longest stretch of his career. He had 11 interceptions combined over 2019 and 2020 and has nine this season. His fumble with 1:46 left in the first half was his second this season, giving him 11 turnovers for the season.
Tua Tagovailoa, Miami (Loss vs. Atlanta)
The DeShaun Watson whispers got a little louder this week after this week’s loss to the Falcons. Tua threw for 291 yards and a career-high four touchdowns, the last of them going to Mack Hollins with 2:27 left for Miami, which has dropped six straight. Tagovailoa completed 32 of 40 passes and had two interceptions — both of which led to Atlanta scores. “He put us in a position to win the game, which at the end of the day is all you can ask for from the quarterback,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores said. Flores publicly backed Tagovailoa on Wednesday as well, and the Dolphins’ quarterback said he feels confident in his team’s faith in him.
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore (Loss vs. Cincinnati)
Not only did the Bengals cool off the Ravens, but they may also have served notice to the rest of the division with their win at Baltimore. As for Jackson, he threw for 257 yards and ran for 88, but he was sacked five times as the Ravens lost for the first time since their opener at Las Vegas. The Bengals snapped a five-game losing streak against the Ravens. Baltimore’s three most recent wins in the series were by a combined score of 114-19. The Ravens have started a season 5-1 four times, but never 6-1.
Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia (Loss at Las Vegas)
Much like in Miami, the natives are getting restless in Philly. The Raiders (5-2) outgained Philadelphia 443-358 in a dominating performance that saw Las Vegas score on five straight possessions after its first series ended with Derek Carr being intercepted inside the Eagles 5-yard line. The Eagles (2-5) lost their second straight and for the fifth time in six games. Hurts, who finished 18-of-34 for 236 yards with two touchdowns and an additional 61 yards rushing, insisted this team is not at a crossroads despite the loss. With the winless Lions up next on the schedule, the angst of the team and its fatalistic fanbase could reach the boiling point on Sunday.
Tyler Murray, Arizona (Win vs. Houston)
The song remains the same in the Valley of the Sun. The Cardinals scored 31 unanswered points to remain the NFL’s only undefeated team, improving to 7-0 for the first time since 1974. The Texans (1-6) — who looked totally overmatched for three quarters — have lost six straight games. Mr. Murray completed 20 of 28 passes for 261 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. The interception was his first since Week 3, but it was one of the rare bad moments in another solid day. Houston’s defense started well but wore down as the game progressed. Arizona had a 397-160 advantage in yards. Arizona fell into an early 5-0 hole after a slow offensive start but recovered to win easily. The Cardinals were a 20½-point favorite, , which is a massive spread for an NFL game.
Justin Fields, Chicago (Loss at Tampa Bay)
Just call it another day of learning for No. 1 as he fell to 2/3 as a starter. The first-round draft pick finished 22 of 32 for 184 yards and three interceptions. He also lost two fumbles and has now been sacked a league-leading 22 times. Chicago’s turnovers contributed to the Bucs scoring four of their five touchdowns on drives that started inside Bears territory. Tom Brady improved to 7-1 against Chicago, the lone setback a 20-19 loss in a game last October best remembered for ending with the seven-time Super Bowl champion losing track of downs with Tampa Bay trying to move into position to attempt a field goal.
Jameis Winston, New Orleans (Win at Seattle)
It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective and it put another crooked number in the win column for the Saints. “Famous Jameis” completed 19 of 35 passes for 222 yards with one TD and no turnovers, while also scrambling eight times for 40 yards. It was also another standout night for Alvin Kamara, who gained 179 of the team’s 304 yards on 30 touches and scored New Orleans’ only touchdown. In the process, Kamara also became the fastest player in NFL history to reach 3,000 career rushing yards and 3,000 career receiving yards in his 66th game. The previous record of 70 games was set by former running back Roger Craig.
Geno Smith, Seattle (Loss vs. New Orleans)
The Seahawks have lost three straight for the first time since 2011 when they finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs for one of two seasons in Pete Carroll’s tenure. The last time Seattle started a season with three straight losses at home: 1992. It’s now three straight weeks that’s Smith had an opportunity in the final seconds to give Seattle the chance at a tie or victory. He threw an interception late against the Rams after Russell Wilson was hurt. He fumbled in overtime last week to set up Pittsburgh’s game-winning field goal. And against the Saints, Smith took a pair of sacks that left Seattle in a desperation fourth-and-28 situation that came up empty. All those mistakes aren’t entirely on Smith, but it also reinforces how good Wilson’s been in those situations in the past.
Bye Week: Dak Prescott, Dallas
Anthony McClean can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.