Making Sense of the NFL: Week 7

Adam Settle

Last week’s NFL action was certainly not short on drama, surprises, breakout perfor-mances and injury troubles. Here is a quick review of the good, the bad and the ugly in case you missed the action.

New York Giants 27 Washington Redskins 23

Eli Manning added to his growing legend when it comes to fourth-quarter comebacks with a game-winning, 77-yard touchdown toss to Victor Cruz, who at this point is nothing less than a top-five receiver in the league. Manning and the Giants pulled it off despite a lackluster effort from the running game and a few missed opportunities earlier in the game. In his first NFC East test on the road, Robert Griffin III tallied nearly 500 yards on offense, posting an-other methodical 71.4 completion percentage for 258 yards, two touchdowns and one pick while compiling 89 more yards on the ground. Griffin masterfully converted on fourth-and-ten while running around what seemed like eight defensive linemen and throwing across the field falling down. His throw to Santana Moss to cap off the go-ahead scoring drive was Manning-esque. The Redskins injury bug just continues to plague a team that is full of hope, as well as painkillers. Fred Davis’ Achilles injury suf-fered in the first half seems to have sidelined Griffin’s favorite target for the rest of the sea-son, prompting the Redskins to have to start two converted wide receivers at the tight end position for the rest of the game. Neverland’s London Fletcher, who had been a rock in the middle of a struggling defense, also went down during the game with a hamstring injury to join Brian Orakpo, Adam Caracter, Bran-don Meriweather and Pierre Gar?con on the injury list.

San Francisco 49ers 13 Seattle Seahawks 6

Preventing East Coast as well as temporal bias, last Thursday’s NFC West tilt between two bruising defenses and power-running teams was certainly not pretty to watch, but plenty entertaining. Down 6-3 at the half, the 49ers, led by Frank Gore’s 131 yards rushing and 51 yards receiving, were able to come from behind and hold on at home against Pete Carroll’s Seahawks. As expected, neither Seattle’s Rus-sell Wilson nor San Francisco’s Alex Smith were particularly effective against these two defenses, both ranked in the top five in points and yards allowed per game. Seat-tle’s defense in the red zone was certainly no joke, allowing only one touchdown on four San Francisco trips after holding the Pa-triots to one score in six trips a week ago. However, Smith’s 12-yard toss to Delanie Walker put the Niners ahead for good in the third quarter. The win put San Francisco at 5-2 on the season and back in control in the division following losses by St. Louis and Arizona.

Houston Texans 43 Baltimore Ravens 13

Although this game was lacking in the dra-ma department compared to the one in Fox-boro, the battle between the only AFC teams with winning records and the brutal destruc-tion suffered by the AFC North’s leader super-sedes a poorly played game between two 3-3 teams. After being embarrassed on national television at home by Aaron Rodgers and the Packers the week before, the Texans pounded the Ravens on both sides of the ball early and often. Outgaining the increasingly impotent Ravens offense 420 yards to 176 yards, the Texans “Big 3” of Matt Schaub, Arian Foster and Andre Johnson methodically took it to a defense that looks to be in serious trouble af-ter injuries last week to defensive keystones Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb. Terrell Suggs, returning from his Achilles injury, picked up a sack in his return but could not stabilize a defense that struggled last week as well. More troubling for the Ravens was the futil-ity of quarterback Joe Flacco against a relent-less Texans defense that racked up four sacks, two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, and a safety. Flacco’s Total QBR (measured from 0-100) came out to be a 0.3. In comparison, New York’s Mark San-chez’s disastrous performance against the 49ers scored a 2.8. Add another pass deflection or three from J.J. Watt and a breakout game for the struggling Connor Barwin, and the Tex-ans fans could not have been much happier about their team’s chances as the leaders of a suddenly wide-open AFC.

Contact Adam Settle at [email protected].