What We Learned: NFL Week Seven
By Ryan of The Sportmeisters
One undefeated falls, one team is winless on two continents, and other tales from Week Seven:
“Steel” Curtains for the Vikings
When the Minnesota Vikings rolled into Pittsburgh for their matchup against the Steelers, it was hard not to pick them for the victory. After all, they were undefeated, led by Brett Favre’s magical resurgence and a stifling defense. The Steelers, even at 4-2, were a shell of their former self, with their defense showing cracks in losses to Cincinnati and Chicago, and even in a few wins.
Well, Pittsburgh found themselves behind LaMarr Woodley’s 77-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown and Keyaron Fox’s 82-yard interception return for a touchdown. Despite allowing Favre to throw for a season high 334 yards, the Steelers managed to keep him out of the end zone for the first time all year.
It wasn’t all bad for the Purple People Eaters, as Percy Harvin had another kickoff returned for a touchdown, but their mistakes did them in, as they now prepare for the hoopla of a visit to Green Bay next week.
The Same Old New England
The NFL's reach to our overseas neighbors in London had their latest matchup, pinning the New England Patriots, fresh off a blowout of Tennessee, against the winless Tampa Bay.
If this was the United States, I doubt all 84,000 that showed up at Wembley Stadium would have been present, but the fans got a treat in watching Tom Brady and company handily demolish the Buccaneers 35-7.
Brady once again threw for 300 yards, with Wes Welker having another 100-yard receiving performance, and Brandon Meriweather returned a 39-yard interception for a touchdown. The Patriots are finding their stride at the right time, winning their last two games by a combined score of 94-7, and maintaining control in the AFC East.
Tampa Bay has now lost 11 in a row, their longest losing streak since they went 0-26 in their first two seasons. Now would be the right time to throw rookie Josh Freeman in at QB, because let’s face it, they have nothing else to lose.
Miles Ahead of the Competition
Finding an undrafted gem is a rare accomplishment for a team. Finding two, well that’s just near impossible.
But the Dallas Cowboys, after raking in gold with QB Tony Romo, might have found the next big thing in WR Miles Austin.
In his fourth season, and only his second start, he met the high expectations following his first start with six catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns. Over the past two games, Austin has 16 catches for 421 yards and four touchdowns.
For comparison’s sake, Dallas’ acquisition of Roy Williams, in which they gave up their 2009 first round pick, and signed Williams to a $45 million extension, has a mere 12 catches for 230 yards and a touchdown for the season.
Contenders and Pretenders
As midseason approaches, which team is meeting (or exceeding) those expectations?
A week after crushing the New York Giants, the New Orleans Saints needed a half of perfect football to come back and defeat the Miami Dolphins. The Saints are still on an offensive tear, and their 6-0 record is proof.
The Cincinnati Bengals kept control of the AFC North, riding the revenge game performance of Cedric Benson (189 yards and a touchdown) against the Chicago Bears.
We can all say Jim Caldwell deserves to be the fifth coach since 1970 to start 6-0, but with Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne in your offense, have you really done anything? Nevertheless, Indianapolis rides to another victory, keeping their perfect season intact.
Pretenders come in all shapes and sizes:
The New York Giants started out hot, but have quickly fizzled, losing two in a row, the latest one a mistake-filled performance against the Arizona Cardinals. The Giants are still in control of the NFC East, but at the rate they are going, they won’t stay up there for long.
The Carolina Panthers sold the farm in next year’s draft for this season, but maybe they should be looking for a way back in. Right now, they might need a new quarterback because Jake Delhomme is not getting it done. Delhomme threw three more interceptions, giving him 13 for the year, in a 20-9 loss to Buffalo.
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