Around The NFL breaks down what you need to know from all of Sunday's action in Week 7 of the 2022 NFL season. Catch up on each game's biggest takeaways using the links below:
Grant Gordon's takeaways:
- Dolphins defense stands tall. Granted, the Steelers offense has struggled this season, but the Dolphins made sure that continued. In a game absent of big plays for the majority of it, Jevon Holland made a great interception on a bad Kenny Pickett decision late in the fourth quarter before Noah Igbinoghene hauled in a beautiful pick on the ensuing drive to clinch the victory. Heading into the game, Miami had just one interception (via Holland) on the season, but came up with two huge takeaways late for the win and three interceptions total in the game. It capped an impressive evening for Miami, which entered the game as the 27th-ranked scoring defense, but stood tall in holding off the Steelers' 30th-ranked scoring offense. Though the Miami offense started hot, it went ice cold after the first quarter and it was on the Dolphins D to wrap up a win and stop a three-game skid. It was never more evident than when Holland's INT looked to clinch the victory, but was followed by a three-and-out that killed all of 26 seconds after a questionable third-down pass call. Xavien Howard, who was targeted just thrice, keyed a clutch defensive performance and fended off a defeat that would've just been wrong on a night in which the franchise celebrated its undefeated 1972 squad.
- Dear Mr. Tagovailoa, please slide. Playing for the first time since he was concussed in a Week 4 loss to the Bengals, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa led a blistering Miami start that saw it sprint to the game's first 13 points. Thereafter, the offense went silent other than a field goal just before the half. And it could've been much worse considering the Pittsburgh defense dropped FOUR interceptions. However, the most worrisome play from Tagovailoa wasn't on any throw, but it was on more than one run when the easy-to-root-for Tua lowered his shoulder and barreled into defenders. This is football. It's physical. And that's one of the prevailing reasons we love it. But quarterbacks need to slide in 2022, all the more so when you're a young player with a long list of injuries. This is quickly becoming Tagovailoa's team, and he needs to do what he can to preserve himself.
- Pittsburgh offense remains offensive. This was a pretty valiant defensive effort for the Steelers defense and another dismal one for the offense. Sure, much can be made of the four dropped INTs by the defense, but Matt Canada's offense continues to disappoint. The offensive line continues to be a problem. Najee Harris has yet to top 100 scrimmage yards this year. A wealth of talented receivers is being held in check. And you can't help but wonder what this does for the confidence of the rookie Pickett, who continues to flash potential even with bad throws intermixed. This was the fourth time this season Pittsburgh has scored fewer than 20 points in a game, and it's 0-4 in such instances. For a squad seemingly rife with talent at the skill positions, the scheme and offensive line are glaring problems -- just as they were a season ago.
Next Gen stat of the game: Tua Tagovailoa was pressured on a career-low 8.6 percent of dropbacks by the Steelers on Sunday night. Pittsburgh's defense currently ranks last in the NFL in QB pressure percentage (19.7%) this season.
NFL Research: Kenny Pickett has now thrown seven interceptions in his first four career games. The only other rookie quarterback to throw five-plus picks in his first four career games for the Steelers was Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw, who went on to win four Super Bowls with the franchise.
Eric Edholm's takeaways:
- Chiefs offense turns in an absolute beauty. When the Chiefs are humming on offense, there aren't too many prettier teams out there. That was the case for them on Sunday, doing it against one of the better defenses in football in an opposing stadium. After Patrick Mahomes threw an interception (a heck of a play by Talanoa Hufanga, too) on the opening drive, here's how the Chiefs' next seven possessions went, turning a 3-0 deficit into a 21-point lead: Touchdown. Touchdown. Missed field goal. Touchdown. Touchdown. Touchdown. Touchdown. Sure, the 49ers were a bit banged up defensively, but this was an absolute showcase performance by Mahomes and some surprise contributors. No shock that JuJu Smith-Schuster and Travis Kelce did their thing. But getting three TDs from Mecole Hardman (two rushing), 111 receiving yards from Marquez Valdes-Scantling (after a goose egg last week) and a strong backfield showing despite a personnel shakeup there shows just how deep the Chiefs are and how difficult they are to defend when at their best. This is one of their best offensive performances in recent memory. Wait -- this team lost to the Colts?!
- The 49ers have been outscored in every third quarter this season. In a few of their games, such as in their three wins, the 49ers have not let poor quarters affect the final result. But some of that is contingent on them getting a lead and maintaining it; this is not yet an offense that's built to come back consistently, although the addition of Christian McCaffrey (62 yards on 10 touches ) offered a ray of hope. Still, it's baffling that this team isn't better coming out of halftime. On Sunday, the Chiefs outscored them in the third quarter, 14-3, and really put them behind the proverbial 8-ball. The 49ers cut it to 28-23 early in the fourth, but a quick TD drive by the Chiefs and a Jimmy Garoppolo safety turned into a 30-point second half for Kansas City. The problems were in all three phases Sunday. The 49ers are suddenly 3-4 now and in need of a big showing next week against the Rams.
- Chiefs' backfield shakeup ends up having interesting effect. In classic Andy Reid form, the Chiefs opted to make a switch at running back, starting Isiah Pacheco over Clyde Edwards-Helaire ... and then barely played Pacheco. He received nine offensive snaps and carried the ball eight times for 43 yards, although a few of those came late in a game that was already academic. Edwards-Helaire, meanwhile, had an efficient game with a 16-yard TD (set up by a brilliant Pacheco kick return) and 32 yards on his six carries, playing a team-high 27 offensive snaps among the backs. Right behind him was Jerick McKinnon, who had a bit of a revenge game, with 25 snaps. He ended the game with only four touches but made the most of them, including a back-breaking 34-yard screen (on third-and-20!) to set up Justin Watson's third-quarter score. The Chiefs received contributions from all three backs Sunday, as Reid's latest offensive tweak provided a big boost to a group that needed it.
Next Gen stat of the game: The 49ers' Samson Ebukam (three pressures) was the only San Francisco defender with more than one QB pressure against the Chiefs.
NFL Research: Mecole Hardman is the first wide receiver in the Super Bowl era with two or more rushing TDs and one or more receiving TD in a single game.
Kevin Patra's takeaways:
- Kenneth Walker III powers first-place Seahawks. The rookie running back earned the first 100-yard game of his young career. Walker owns a tantalizing combination of power and speed. The rookie blasts through arm tackles like a stampeding horse. He capped the day off by displaying blazing speed, getting to the edge and zooming for a 74-yard touchdown. Walker finished with 168 yards on 23 carries and two scores as the Seahawks handled the Chargers on the road. It was a complete win for Seattle, from Walker to Geno Smith tossing lasers to Marquise Goodwin snagging two TDs to the defense flying all over the field. The vibes are good for the 4-3 Seahawks, who leap back into the NFC West lead.
- Is the Seahawks' defense coming into its own? A week after slowing the Cardinals, Pete Carroll's defense made life hard on Justin Herbert and the Chargers offense. Seattle forced a turnover on downs on the opening drive, followed by an interception and fumble recovery to earn a 17-0 first-quarter lead. The Chargers pulled to within 17-14, but Seattle repeatedly slammed the door in the second half. Seattle gave up just five first downs on L.A.'s first four drives of the second half before a garbage-time possession led to a score. Herbert struggled much of the day to find a rhythm and lacked big plays until the game was out of reach. Seattle's D held L.A. to just two rushes of 10-plus yards and sacked Herbert three times.
- Brutal day for injuries. Both the Seahawks and Chargers suffered injuries to key players. Receiver DK Metcalf was carted off in the first half and quickly ruled out with a knee injury. Cameras showed Metcalf saying he was "OK" as he was carted off, but the quick rule-out after being checked by the medical staff isn't usually a good sign (head coach Pete Carroll said X-rays were negative, but an MRI awaits). Later in the first half, Chargers big-money corner J.C. Jackson was carted off with an air cast on his leg after suffering a non-contact injury (NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported it was a dislocated knee cap). Late in the contest, L.A. star receiver Mike Williams got his leg twisted under a defender on a catch. The wideout needed help limping off the field with an ankle injury. The Chargers got Keenan Allen (hamstring) back Sunday, but the receiver didn't play in the second half, per Next Gen Stats.
NFL Research: Austin Ekeler recorded his ninth career game with a rushing TD and a receiving TD in Week 7. Ekeler is now tied for the most such games in a player's first six seasons in the Super Bowl era.
Next Gen stat of the game: Kenneth Walker reached 22.09 mph on his 74-yard TD run, the fastest speed by a ball carrier in the NFL this season. Walker earned +87 rushing yards over expected on 23 rushes, the fourth-most RYOE in a single game this season.
- It's not always pretty, but the Jets keep getting it done. For a second straight week, the Jets struggled to move the ball through the air with Zach Wilson under center. And for a second consecutive game, it didn't matter all that much. Breece Hall scored the Jets' only touchdown of the game on a 62-yard gallop around the left end, and from there, it was all about Greg Zuerlein's leg and the Jets defense shutting down the Broncos. Wilson finished with a passing line of 16-of-26 for 121 yards (the team had 105 net passing yards) and a 72.8 passer rating, which won't lead anyone to nominate him for an award at this point, but importantly, he avoided costly turnovers in a passing attack that saw him attempt just five passes of 10-plus air yards (he finished 0 for 5). A shortened offense is working for the Jets, although they will need to adjust with Hall now out for the season.
- Even with a quarterback swap, the results were the same for Denver. The Broncos continue to struggle mightily on offense, and Sunday was no different. Brett Rypien replaced an injured Russell Wilson in the starting lineup, making his first start since Week 4 of the 2020 season, which coincidentally also came against these Jets. Unlike that night in East Rutherford, N.J., Rypien won't have much to celebrate. The backup completed 24 of 46 passes for 225 yards and an ugly interception that the Jets eventually converted into a field goal, and despite another stellar defensive performance from Denver's defense, Rypien and the Broncos weren't able to close the gap. Oddly enough, even with a downgrade at quarterback, the offense largely looked like the same underwhelming unit. Take that as you will. Regardless, the Broncos remain incredibly troubled offensively.
- Sauce keeps getting spicier. Sauce Gardner is looking every bit like the premier prospect on which the Jets rightfully spent a top pick, and Sunday was just the latest example of why he has a good chance of winning AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Rypien targeted Gardner nine times on the day -- a surprisingly high total, when considering Gardner's already-stellar reputation -- and the corner allowed three receptions for a grand total of 8 yards. Rypien's passer rating when targeting Gardner finished at a lowly 42.4, only after he continued to go after the rookie all the way to the very end, including two must-have fourth-down attempts that both ended up as incompletions. Gardner's final completion percentage allowed over expectation: -17.5, a stellar mark for any defender, let alone a rookie.
Next Gen stat of the game: Fifty-eight of Breece Hall's 62 yards gained on his touchdown run were over expected, the most RYOE by a Jets rusher since Week 5 of 2018. Hall reached a max speed of 21.87 mph on the touchdown scamper, the second-fastest ball-carrier speed in the NFL this season.
NFL Research: The Jets are the first team since the 2011 Tim Tebow-led Broncos to win consecutive games with 105 or less net passing yards.
Christian Gonzales' takeaways:
- Josh Jacobs makes statement to the league. After he didn't get his fifth-year option picked up this offseason, the Raiders running back has been a freight train against opposing defenses. The 2020 Pro Bowler rushed 20 times for 143 yards and three touchdowns (7.15 yards per carry) for a Raiders offense that ran through the Texans defense in Sunday's victory. For the third time this season, Jacobs surpassed the 100-yard rushing mark, and it couldn't have come at a more perfect time for a Las Vegas team desperately in need of a win.
- Dameon Pierce continues Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign. The Texans rookie running back put on a show. Pierce tallied 92 rushing yards on 20 carries. He also caught all four of his targets for 25 yards. Pierce's explosiveness and unwillingness to go down against multiple Raider defenders was astonishing for a first-year back in his sixth NFL game. Quarterback Davis Mills also showed composure on the road against a Maxx Crosby-led-defense. Mills completed 28 of 41 passes for 302 yards and two touchdowns. The second-year QB was slinging and dealing to eight different Texans pass catchers. Mills looked solid -- at least until late in the fourth quarter when Mills attempted to squeeze in a pass to Brevin Jordan, leading to a game-clinching pick-six for the Raiders.
- Raiders offense remains firing on all cylinders. Quarterback Derek Carr had an efficient game, completing 21 of 27 passes for 241 yards and a touchdown, but it was fueled by Jacobs. As the game went on in the second half, head coach Josh McDaniels leaned on Jacobs to carry the load (scoring three touchdowns in the second half). With Darren Waller (hamstring) inactive, backup tight end Foster Moreau played a key role in the red zone, coming up with a crucial catch that led to Jacobs' first score in the third quarter. Carr continued to look at wide receiver Davante Adams (eight catches for 95 yards) consistently and having Hunter Renfrow (three catches for 55 yards) back in action was a boon for the Silver and Black. Las Vegas will hope to continue its high-scoring output in New Orleans next week.
Next Gen stat of the game: Derek Carr was 7-of-8 for 109 yards on play-action passes (14 of 19 for 132 yards, TD without play action).
NFL Research: Josh Jacobs joined Hall of Famer Marcus Allen (1982 vs. Rams) as the only players with three-plus rushing touchdowns in the second half of a game in Raiders history.
Kevin Patra's takeaways:
- Dak Prescott's return gets Cowboys back in the win column. Prescott and the offense got off to a slow start, going three-and-out on back-to-back drives to open the game, but Dallas leaned on the ground game to outlast the Lions. Prescott missed a few throws, which isn't surprising after missing five games due to a thumb injury. But the quarterback didn't seem to struggle gripping the ball and ripped a few dimes into coverage. He got a cherry-on-top TD late, his first passing touchdown of the season. Prescott finished 19-of-25 passing for 207 yards and the aforementioned score. You'd have liked to see a few more explosive plays against a Lions defense ranked the worst in the NFL coming in, but it was a positive return for Dak. The Cowboys repeatedly mashed the ball on the ground in the second half, earning 139 yards and two Ezekiel Elliott short TDs. Tony Pollard led Dallas with 83 yards on 12 carries.
- Dallas D once again dominates. Dan Quinn's defense consistently swarmed the ball and made big, game-changing plays. The Cowboys generated five second-half turnovers, including four straight drives to close the game. Trevon Diggs earned a diving interception on a deep shot. Dallas forced a Jamaal Williams fumble inside the 1-yard-line. Jourdan Lewis made an excellent diving INT. Sam Williams stripped Jared Goff on the penultimate Lions drive. Then Micah Parsons got in on the action with a game-ending forced fumble. With the game close in the second half, the Dallas D suffocated the Lions.
- Lions offense goes silent. The script was flipped Sunday, with the Detroit defense playing decently well for once. But Goff and the offense didn't score a touchdown for the second straight week. Goff had his worst game of the season, missing throws and being loose with the ball in the pocket. The QB's first INT was a woefully underthrown ball. He then fumbled twice late with the score close to allow the Cowboys to run away with the game. Already a limited passer, Goff is brutal when turning it over. The Lions lacked explosive plays, particularly in the passing game, with just two catches of 20-plus yards. Amon-Ra St. Brown exiting early with a concussion hurt, but it's now back-to-back weeks that Ben Johnson's offense has been slowed after a hot start to the season.
Next Gen stat of the game: Dak Prescott averaged 10.7 air yards per attempt. The QB attempted four deep passes on the day, none in the second half.
NFL Research: Trevon Diggs has 17 career interceptions, tied for most in the NFL since 2020. Diggs has played 35 NFL games. The only player with more interceptions in his first 35 games in the Super Bowl era was former Cowboys CB Everson Walls.
Kevin Patra's takeaways:
- Titans defense forces three turnovers, suffocates Colts. Andrew Adams stepped in front of a Matt Ryan pass in the second quarter and dashed 76 yards for a touchdown. It was the only time the Titans reached pay dirt. Turnovers told the story. Tennessee scored 10 points off Colts turnovers to sprint to a 13-0 lead at halftime. With Indy driving late, trying to stay in the contest, cornerback Terrance Mitchell made an excellent play to strip Michael Pittman, helping secure the victory. Tennessee's defensive line swarmed Ryan, sacking the QB three times, forcing a ton of poor throws and holding Jonathan Taylor to 58 yards on 10 carries. Bud Dupree earned eight QB pressures, six QB hits and a sack. It's the type of performance the Titans paid Dupree big money for in 2021.
- Matt Ryan's miscues sink Indy again. Taylor returned to action, but the Colts offense didn't look much different than in previous weeks. Ryan threw the ball 44 times, completing 33 for just 243 yards (5.5 yards per attempt) with a TD and two brutal interceptions. Both picks came with Ryan seeing pressure and forcing the ball into coverage. Parris Campbell (10 receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown) coming to life the past two weeks has been a positive sign, but the rest of Indy's offense is a malaise. Ryan played poorly under pressure Sunday and was often hit behind a struggling offensive line. The Colts offense lacks big plays, netting just one catch of 20-plus yards on the day. Outside of one 12-play TD drive, Indy's offense couldn't keep the chains moving. When the Colts did start to move the ball, they turned it over. It's a bad combo, especially on the road.
- Tennessee saddles up Derrick Henry. Ryan Tannehill and the passing game struggled to gain traction before the quarterback injured his ankle in the second half. Tannehill would stay in the game, but the Titans leaned on Henry to seal the victory. The bruising back rushed for 128 yards on 30 attempts. He generated three 10-plus-yard runs, and a 21-yard gallop sealed the win. Henry leads the NFL with 18 games with 100-plus rushing yards since 2020. The Titans are 15-3 in those games. Sunday marked Henry's third straight game with 100-plus rushing yards, tied for the longest streak of the season. The Colts tried to load up to stop Henry. It didn't work. The running back earned 126 yards on 29 carries versus seven-plus defenders in the box, per Next Gen Stats.
Next Gen stat of the week: Jonathan Taylor earned 23 yards on four rushes outside the box and had 47 yards on nine rushes versus light boxes.
NFL Research: Ryan Tannehill is 6-1 against the Colts as the Titans' starting QB with 12 passing touchdowns, four interceptions and a 102.9 passer rating over the seven games.
Michael Baca's takeaways:
- Bucs' offense is broken. It all started with Mike Evans outright dropping a would-be 64-yard touchdown pass on the game's opening drive. It was that type of poor execution that doomed a Bucs team that scored just three points without turning the ball over, and did so against a one-win team led by an interim head coach. There were several more drops to be had from the Bucs receivers, but the Tom Brady-led offense was disconnected from the jump thanks to bad timing on pass plays, poor overall blocking and a lack of a running attack. It all amounted to suspect play-calling for an offense that converted just 2 of 12 third downs and 1 of 3 fourth downs and settled for a field goal in its lone red-zone possession. Brady somehow accumulated 290 yards passing (32 of 49 attempts) on the day, but Tampa continuously lost steam once crossing midfield and was faced with a damning third-and-long on virtually every drive. Brady's frustrations were evident and so were his mistakes with a handful of inaccurate throws in key situations. The 45-year-old's final pass of the day was also dropped, but this time by a Panthers defender on fourth down that essentially ended the game. The Panthers went on to keep the ball for six of the final seven minutes as the Bucs' normally stout defense was ultimately failed by its offense.
- No McCaffrey, no problem. Carolina's first game after trading star running back Christian McCaffrey went exactly how you'd want it to go with the Panthers gaining a season-high 173 rushing yards. D'Onta Foreman led the way with 118 yards (7.9 yards per carry) for another team-high mark this season and broke the back of the Bucs defense with a 60-yard scamper late in the third quarter to set up a Panthers 14-0 lead going into the final frame. Chuba Hubbard also had one touchdown and added 63 yards (7.0 yards per carry) for a Panthers offense that bullied a tired Bucs defense as the game progressed. Backup quarterback P.J. Walker orchestrated it all and benefited from the run game, completing 16 of 22 passes for 177 yards and two touchdown passes.
- Panthers stars prove their worth. Pass rusher Brian Burns and wideout DJ Moore have been the subject of trade rumors for a franchise that's seemingly headed toward a rebuild. They not only proved but raised their value on Sunday against the Bucs -- should Carolina even want to go that direction. Burns found the team's only sack of Brady while adding a QB hit and two tackles for loss. He also came up with a big tackle on a crucial fourth-and-1 in the third quarter with Tampa nearing the red zone. Moore led all Panthers receivers with seven receptions for 69 yards and impressively caught the game's first TD in toe-dragging fashion in the back of the end zone. The 25-year-old has gotten off to a slow start as he aims for a fourth consecutive 1,100-plus-yard season, but produced perhaps a timely reminder as to why he's been one of the most underrated pass catchers in the league.
Next Gen stat of the day: Mike Evans had 10.9 yards of separation on a would-be TD drop in the first quarter, which is the most separation on a drop this season.
NFL Research: Tom Brady was held to three points or fewer for only the fifth time in his career. Brady had two such games in his first 20 seasons (all with the Patriots) and now has three such games in three seasons with the Buccaneers.
Eric Edholm's takeaways:
- Taylor Heinicke overcomes a rough start to deliver a gutsy win. Replacing an injured Carson Wentz, Heinicke made his season debut Sunday -- and it looked rough for a while. He started the game 2-of-9 passing for 21 yards, with a 63-yard pick-six that was clearly a risky throw to the perimeter. Earlier, when the Commanders were backed way up, Heinecke got away with a dangerous throw from his own end zone into double coverage. (He also was lucky that his own fumble returned for a score was called back via a soft penalty.) It wasn't looking pretty for Heinicke, who is one of Washington's 11 different starting quarterbacks since 2018 in its seemingly eternal search to get that position right. Well, he eventually found some rhythm. Heinicke completed 13 of 16 passes after halftime for 162 yards and a touchdown and helped turn a deficit into his team's second straight win. He led scoring drives of 74, 72 and 61 yards and made several clutch throws to Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel and others. It's one start, but it was very encouraging -- especially after how things looked early on.
- What's up with Aaron Rodgers? The Packers are now 3-4 -- outscored by 18 points this season -- and the problems largely reside on the offensive side of the ball. There are legitimate reasons to fault the offensive line, the receivers and even the scheme -- especially if you ask Rodgers. But ... what about Rodgers? Early in the game, he looked tentative and conservative, unwilling to take anything resembling a risk downfield. His receivers let him down a few times, but many throws were over their heads or at their feet. Despite finishing the game with 35 pass attempts, he was under 100 yards passing until well into the fourth quarter. The Packers' first third-down conversion came with just under six minutes remaining in the game, thanks to a Washington penalty. Rodgers hit Aaron Jones on a gorgeous TD throw to give Green Bay a chance, but their late rally fell short. This was a tough game for the entire offense, but Rodgers must be held accountable for his role in it.
- The Packers blow another lead to fall below .500. After leading 14-3 (with the offense doing almost nothing), the Packers let the backup-QB-led Commanders take control of the game and win. It wasn't too different than the Giants' loss in London when they led 17-3 only to unravel late. The Packers didn't blow a lead against the Jets, but they played passively and watched a 3-3 game at halftime turn into a three-score laugher for New York. The Packers did play well late in the overtime win over the Patriots, but that came against a third-string QB making his first NFL appearance. But for at least three games now (all losses) Green Bay looks incapable of making a game-changing play while its opponents dictate play. The defense not living up to its billing is a part we can't overlook. But is the overarching issue with coaching? A lack of heart? Right now, this is not a good team, and we can't figure out exactly what the issue is. Likely because there are many.
Next Gen stat of the game: Taylor Heinicke and Terry McLaurin connected for a 37-yard touchdown, a play that had a 19.8% chance of success. It was McLaurin's 11th career reception with a completion probability under 25%, which is tied for the most in the NFL since 2019 with the Chargers' Mike Williams.
NFL Research: Aaron Rodgers had only 47 passing yards (on 15 attempts) in the first half. Packers linebacker De'Vondre Campbell had more yards on his pick-six of Taylor Heinicke (63) than all of the Packers receivers combined in the opening half.
Eric Edholm's takeaways:
- Danny Dimes is stating his case for a long-term extension. When the Giants declined Daniel Jones' fifth-year option this past offseason, it came with a caveat from team owner John Mara, who said: "We've done everything possible to screw this kid up since he's been here." It was a meaty quote, and Jones' (and the team's success) this season are the real marrow of it. He's been at his best this season by maximizing his running ability (a career-high 49.4 rush yards per game, including 110 and a rushing score Sunday), cutting down on turnovers (only four in seven games) and thriving when the game matters most (five game-winning drives). Doing so with a shorthanded offense -- including losing two offensive linemen against the Jags -- makes it all the more impressive, even if a smart offensive scheme clearly has been designed to take advantage of those traits. With the way things have gone so far this season, we easily could see this relationship continue in 2023 and beyond.
- The Jaguars defense needs an intervention. Between the back-breaking penalties to wipe out big plays (or give the Giants new life) and its trouble adjusting throughout the course of a game, the Jaguars defense is officially in a slump. The penalties were killers, namely a fumble recovery and an interception that were called back, as well as three straight defensive penalties on the Giants' go-ahead touchdown drive late in the game. After back-to-back three-takeaway performances to open the season, the Jaguars now have gone three straight games without forcing one. Tackling and attention to detail are big concerns, no doubt; a quiet pass rush also didn't help. But there's also a coaching element, we believe, as the Jaguars once again failed to adjust to their opponents' tendencies. Last week they were getting peppered by crossers and in-cuts; this week it was not preventing Jones from doing damage outside the pocket, which is his bread and butter.
- Saquon Barkley becomes a great closer. Entering Sunday, Barkley had done his most damage as a runner in the second and third quarters. But in this game, when the Giants trailed 17-13 and needed an offensive spark, Barkley delivered. Through the first three quarter, he ran 14 times for 38 yards, as the Jaguars ganged up on him. But in the fourth quarter, Barkley came alive with 10 carries for 72 yards, helping the team hang on despite a late rush from the Jaguars. He also added four catches in the game for 25 yards. Barkley was guilty of not staying in bounds late in the game, which helped open the door for Jacksonville to have a shot to win it. But when the Giants absolutely needed yards late, they called on Jones and Barkley to carry the ball to freedom and a shocking 6-1 record.
Next Gen stat of the game: Daniel Jones was 10-of-14 passing for 105 yards and a TD on play-action passes (which came on 45.2% of his dropbacks Sunday).
NFL Research: Jones joins Lamar Jackson as the only players in 2022 with 200-plus pass yards, 100-plus rush yards, as well as rushing and passing TDs in a game. Only Jackson, Kyler Murray, Josh Allen and Jones have done this in a game since 2016.
Nick Shook's takeaways:
- The explosive Bengals are back! Cincinnati has shifted its offensive identity from one that mixed formations with the goal of keeping defenses off-balance to committing to the shotgun and letting it fly, and it's paying off nicely. Thanks to a 344-yard first half, Joe Burrow had the football world on watch as he flirted with the all-time single-game passing yards record (554, Norm Van Brocklin in 1951). He finished with a healthy 481 yards and three touchdowns (and added another score on the ground), powering a Bengals offense that racked up 537 yards of total offense and converted 7 of 11 third downs. It seems as if whatever the Bengals unlocked in the second half last week in New Orleans was also a revelation for Zac Taylor, who threw caution to the wind and directed his quarterback to air it out. They reaped the rewards Sunday.
- Falcons still searching for consistency. Week 7 brought us another game in which the Falcons showed glimpses of figuring things out offensively, but ultimately fell short of putting it together for four quarters. Sunday was another case of the Falcons attempting to maximize chances provided by an offense that isn't putting up big numbers and, for a moment, it appeared as if their approach might give them a decent opportunity to compete. Atlanta found some success in the middle portion of the game on the ground, but finished with just 107 yards. Marcus Mariota produced the exact same total through the air, and 75 of those yards came on one pass to Damiere Byrd for a touchdown. And because the Falcons couldn't stop the Bengals through the air, their lower-caliber offense didn't have much of a chance to make up the deficit.
- Cincinnati's defense is starting to come together. After holding the Saints to six points in the second half in Week 6 (despite allowing New Orleans to rush for 228 yards in the game), the Bengals carried over their positive momentum into Week 7, locking down on the defensive side and limiting Atlanta to 214 total yards of offense. Atlanta has found ways to score, thanks to some timely defensive and special teams play -- on Sunday, a long punt return by Avery Williams helped the Falcons tack on three once-unlikely points just before halftime -- but Cincinnati served as a brick wall in the second half. Add in the three sacks recorded by three Bengals (Joseph Ossai, Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard), and the Bengals received a quality afternoon of play from their defense, even without recording a turnover.
Next Gen stat of the game: Joe Burrow finished with 335 passing yards gained on passes of 10-plus air yards, the fourth-most on such passes in a game since the start of the Next Gen Stats era (2016).
NFL Research: Joe Burrow tied Matthew Stafford for the fourth-fastest quarterback to reach 9,000 passing yards, doing so in 33 career games.
Nick Shook's takeaways:
- Ravens finally close one out. Baltimore's 2022 season has largely been defined by fourth-quarter collapses, and at the three-minute mark Sunday, it appeared as if another was imminent. Clinging to a three-point lead, Baltimore was steadily draining clock when Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah punched the ball out of Justice Hill's grasp, giving the Browns the ball with plenty of time. Jacoby Brissett's 37-yard completion to Donovan Peoples-Jones only heightened the general sense of dread inside M&T Bank Stadium. But for just the second time this season, the Ravens responded when it mattered most. Baltimore received a gift when Amari Cooper was flagged for offensive pass interference on a touchdown pass, and another when a false start was called on a Browns field goal team that didn't see anyone move prematurely. Then, when Cade York kicked a 60-yard field goal attempt, Malik Harrison made the biggest play of the day, blocking the kick to preserve the Ravens' lead. Baltimore was able to take more than 90 seconds off the clock before punting back to the Browns, and Cleveland's last-ditch attempt came up short in its own territory. It wasn't pretty, but the Ravens finally held onto a close game and came out victorious.
- Browns waste another chance at victory. The pair of penalties called on Cleveland's last significant drive were questionable at best and deserve scrutiny. But once again, the Browns didn't do themselves any favors with their decisions throughout this game. For the second straight week, head coach Kevin Stefanski's affinity for the pass hurt his team. When the Browns got a much-needed stop early in the second half in a three-point game, they called three straight passes, leading to a strip-sack of Brissett, turnover and eventual Ravens touchdown. Stefanski seemed to recognize the error of his ways quicker this time around, shifting back to the run on later possessions to help the Browns trim Baltimore's lead to three. But his worst offense came in crunch time after Cleveland allowed Baltimore to burn close to six minutes off the clock in a three-point game before forcing a turnover. After driving into range for a York field goal, Stefanski dialed up a deep shot to Cooper down the sideline on third-and-2, which Brissett completed for a touchdown that was nullified by a questionable OPI. The penalty pushed the Browns back near the edge of York's range, and a phantom false start that deserves examination then backed them up even farther. York's attempt was blocked, once again giving the Browns a loss in a game that was very much winnable (similar to how things went in Weeks 2, 4 and 5). Cleveland has a right to be upset about the penalties in that moment, but the insistence on going away from the NFL's leading rusher, Nick Chubb, in key moments continues to hurt.
- Baltimore turns back the clock to squeeze out a win. For the third time in the last four weeks, the Ravens fell short of the 350-yard mark offensively. Lamar Jackson completed just 9 of 16 passes for 120 yards, and Devin Duvernay and Rashod Bateman tied atop their receiving statistics with only 42 yards each. In most games, that lack of production would lead to a loss, but even without J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore was able to channel its 2019 and 2020 form on the ground late in this game. The Ravens regained possession with nine minutes left and a three-point lead, and proceeded to take 5:48 off the clock by consistently rushing for positive gains. Eleven of Baltimore's 12 plays of the possession were runs and its march seemed destined to end in points before Hill's fumble. It didn't end up mattering, but it was notable to see the Ravens running with authority in a close game and largely finding success, rushing 44 times while only attempting 16 passes, and finishing with 160 rushing yards as a team (Gus Edwards led the way with 66 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries). Without that fourth-quarter drive, it's fair to wonder whether Baltimore would've won Sunday.
Next Gen Stat of the game: Baltimore gained 9.1% in win probability with Calais Campbell's strip-sack of Jacoby Brissett in the third quarter, which eventually led to a Ravens touchdown.
NFL Research: Sunday was Lamar Jackson's second career win as a starter with fewer than 10 completions.