NFL's 6 Yards of Separation Week 7: Nick Folk to Andrew Luck
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The Manning brothers are vehemently opposed to winning in the same week.
As Peyton experienced his and the Broncos’ first loss of the season in Indianapolis on Sunday night, Eli decided it was time for the Giants to win their first game of the season in the ugliest Monday Night game in the history of Mondays.
To repair your retinas from the atrocity that was Monday Night Football featuring the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings, let's highlight key games and players from Sunday's slate.
Nick Folk, Kicker, New York Jets
The New York Jets are 4-3 on the season. Three of those wins are thanks to a game-winning field goal by kicker Nick Folk, including a 42-yarder to edge the Jets over the New England Patriots, 30-27, in overtime on Sunday.
The Jets did need overtime to beat the Patriots, but the takeaway from this game is that they shouldn't have. The Jets were the superior team in this entire game save one hideous interception thrown by Geno Smith.
Another game-winning field goal happened in the AFC in Week 7.
Mike Nugent, Kicker, Cincinnati Bengals
In a game featuring Calvin Johnson and A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals kicker Mike Nugent was the hero.
Nugent's 54-yard field goal as time expired gave the Bengals a 27-24 win over the Detroit Lions, propelling them to 5-2 and first place in the AFC North. The Lions fell to 4-3.
Perhaps the mainstay of this game, though, was the fact that Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton outperformed opposing quarterback Matthew Stafford. With 372 yards on 24-of-34 passing for three touchdowns and no interceptions, Dalton temporarily suspended inquiries that he's regressing.
At least for the next week. Okay, at least for an hour after the game. (Fine, he's regressing, but his team won, so can I cut him some slack?)
Nugent contributed nine points to the Bengals 27-point total on Sunday. Nine was a key number to a player the Bengals beat, though.
Calvin Johnson, Wide Receiver, Detroit Lions
Calvin Johnson was back in Megatron form on Sunday with nine receptions for 155 yards and two touchdowns, yet the Lions still lost.
Johnson returned from a nagging knee injury against the Bengals that had sidelined him for the previous two weeks. It was the rest of the Lions offensive weapons that seemed to take the week off in comparison to Johnson, though.
Reggie Bush contributed 50 yards rushing on the ground, which has more to do with the stout Bengals defense than anything else. Nonetheless, it has become evident that the key to the Lions' successes is Bush, not Johnson.
Another one of the league's prominent receiving stars shined on the same field as Johnson.
AJ Green, Wide Receiver, Cincinnati Bengals
The only thing stopping AJ Green is Andy Dalton's ability to get him the football, which wasn't an issue in the Bengals win on Sunday.
Green accumulated 155 yards and one touchdown on six receptions, giving him a touchdown in four of the Bengals’ seven games this season. For the second consecutive week, Cincinnati won a game by the score of 27-24 on the road.
Another AFC player carrying the weight of his offense on his shoulders has a knack for finding the end zone this season.
Jamaal Charles, Running Back, Kansas City Chiefs
Jamaal Charles plays running back for the Kansas City Chiefs, but his importance expands far beyond that role as Charles has scored a touchdown in each of the Chiefs' first seven games.
To put that into context, outside of quarterback Alex Smith and Charles, Chiefs offensive players—Donnie Avery, Dwayne Bowe, Junior Hemingway and Sean McGrath—have combined to score five touchdowns this season.
With an ugly 17-16 win over the Houston Texans at Arrowhead on Sunday, the Chiefs find themselves as the first team in NFL history to pose a 7-0 record in the season after being the worst team in the league.
Key sacks by the Chiefs, including defensive end Tamba Hali's strip-sack on Case Keenum to seal the game, and injuries to Texans both played major parts. Houston running back Arian Foster (hamstring) left the game in the first quarter, and linebacker Brian Cushing (fractured fibula and torn LCL) left midway through the third quarter.
But the biggest reasons the Chiefs are undefeated is Charles’ productivity, their league-best defense and the coaching genius of Andy Reid. The charisma in Kansas City can be summed up in this locker room celebration after Week 7.
Kansas City also had some help from one quarterback in Indianapolis.
Andrew Luck, Quarterback, Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck stole Peyton Manning's Homecoming crown on Sunday night as Indianapolis shoved the Broncos their first loss of the season, 39-33.
It wasn't as close as the score may indicate.
A microcosm of this game and the Colts as a whole came in a Luck scramble to convert a 3rd-and-11 in the second quarter. Luck was tough, slipping Broncos defensive linemen and banging past linebackers trying to tackle him to ensure he made the first-down marker.
Luck wasn't going to slide. Sliding is something Peyton Manning would do—if he ever ran.
The Colts are tough too. Owners of the most impressive resume thus far in the NFL with wins over San Francisco, Seattle and Denver, the Colts pose a serious threat. The only thing threatening their contention is the loss of wide receiver Reggie Wayne to an ACL tear.
However, with Luck at the helm, the Colts have proven that they aren't afraid of anyone. But Indianapolis should be feared.
The story goes that every person on Earth is just six steps away from meeting somebody else, as told by the old six degrees of separation paradox. Every week, Six Yards of Separation compiles the NFL action on Sunday and connects one player to another unsuspected player through four other players by way of statistics, facts and idiosyncrasies.
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