The 32 things we learned from Week 7 of the 2021 NFL season:
1. Another valiant effort by the Detroit Lions, who hung tough against the Los Angeles Rams and ex-Lions QB Matthew Stafford before succumbing 28-19. Detroit took the lead after three quarters. They successfully executed a pair of fake kicks and recovered an onside-kick. But it was all for naught, Stafford (334 yards, 3 TDs passing) continuing to resemble an MVP in his new threads, while former Rams QB Jared Goff threw a killer interception to former teammate Jalen Ramsey in the end.
2. Goff (2 INTs, sacked twice Sunday) still hasn’t won a game when not wearing a Rams uniform – he’s also winless in his past 10 starts – nor without Sean McVay as his head coach.
2. Since 2010, the Lions have not won without Stafford.
3. Detroit, the first team to go 0-16 – a 2008 “effort” that led to the drafting of Stafford No. 1 overall in 2009 – is 0-7 for the fourth time in franchise history and the only team still in danger of going 0-17 this season.
4. The league’s only undefeated team remains the Arizona Cardinals, now 7-0 for the second time in franchise history – the other instance occurring in 1974, when the franchise was based in St. Louis. In the NFL’s first ever 31-5 game, the Cards defeated the Houston Texans.
5. There was also another reunion, with ex-Texans star J.J. Watt & DeAndre Hicks sticking to the franchise for their first time since leaving.
6. If the NFL playoffs started tomorrow – they don’t – the Cincinnati Bengals, who are 5-2 for the first time since 2013, would be the AFC’s No. No. 1. 1 seed.
6a. Cincinnati started the 5-2 game six times in 1990. The other five games ended with a playoff appearance.
7. More reasonable to have foreseen Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase as a potential offensive rookie of the year, despite his brutal preseason. Chase caught eight passes for 201 yards – most by an AFC player this year – in Sunday’s shocking 41-17 blowout of the Baltimore Ravens, who fell out of first place in the AFC North. Chase became the first NFL player to have at least 50 reception yards during his seven first NFL games since 1970’s merger of AFL and NFL. His 754 yards are the most ever by a rookie through seven games.
7a. Chase has a pace of 1,831 yards receiving this season. This would overtake the Super Bowl era record (1,400) set by Justin Jefferson last year… who was previously the No. Chase was the No. 2 receiver at LSU.
8. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was defeated by the Bengals (previously, 5-0), and as a starter for October (9-0).
9. Baltimore has permitted more than 500 yards twice over the course of three weeks.
10. Atlanta Falcons rookie Kyle Pitts (7 catches for 163 yards) and Cincinnati’s C.J. Uzomah was the star of “National Tight End Day” with three catches for 91 yards and 2 touchdowns. Also, Shoutout to Zach Ertz who was a solid performer in his Cardinals debut (3 catches, 66 yards, and a TD).
11. Bummer that you didn’t get to meet the San Francisco 49ers’ George Kittle, calf on a “holiday”, he invented.
TB12.In “Tompa Bay”, Tom Brady was the first NFL quarterback to pass 600 TD passes during regular season. He did this in a 38-3 win over the Chicago Bears. No big deal.
ME13 Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans spotted Brady’s historic TD strike and tossed it to the stands. Bucs equipment staff managed to recover the precious pigskin.
14. However Brady’s most important completion Sunday occurred when he gifted a Bucs hat to a young fan in the stands who had a sign signaling the quarterback helped him beat brain cancer. You are a GOAT. That’s quite cool.
15. A great day was had by the Tampa Bay defense which managed five takeaways, four tackles and gave up just three points to Chicago. This deserves to be celebrated.
16. A total of four losses have occurred among the five top NFC teams: Cardinals, Bucs Packers, Cowboys Cowboys Rams and Packers. It’s going to be quite a fight for the No. The No.1 seed for the playoffs.
17. Derek Carr completed 31 out of 34 passes Sunday (3323 yards, 2 touchdowns, and INT), which was a record for QB Derek Carr. This is a career high of 91.2%. Drew Brees (96.7%) has been the only quarterback to connect at such a high rate in games where he threw more than 30 passes.
18. Even more impressive is the fact that Carr’s Las Vegas Raiders now sit at 2-0 after Gruden and alone at 5-2 on top of AFC West.
18a. Rich Bisaccia, interim boss of the Raiders, is now the Raiders’ first coach to go 2-0 since Bill Callahan in 2002. Callahan’s Raiders won Super Bowl 37.
COVID-19 Coach Kliff Kingsbury returned to the Cardinals after the virus sidelined him in Week 6, but Arizona was still without defenders Zach Allen, Chandler Jones and Corey Peters.
20. The Kansas City Chiefs went 3-4 in Super Bowl 9. They didn’t recover to reach postseason in any of the other instances and hard to see how this edition overcomes a defense that’s allowed at least 27 points in six of seven games this season.
21.Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs’ quarterback, must be confused about which direction is up after getting beaten out by the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. The 2018 MVP has now thrown an interception in six straight games for the first time in his career and also experienced his first 27-point deficit in the NFL.
21a. Mahomes was a Week 7 starter with an NFL record 18 TD passes. He was also shut out via the air for the first time in 32 regular-season games.
22. Meanwhile, the Titans look legit, proving they can win convincingly even when MVP candidate Derrick Henry (86 rushing yards) has a relatively quiet day – though King Henry did throw his first NFL TD pass Sunday.
23. Finally, the Green Bay Packers have a legit alternate/throwback uniform.
24. Second-year Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa now has seven INTs in his last five starts – he had two in his first nine NFL appearances – including two Sunday as his team continued its death spiral to 1-6. Tagovailoa was able to throw four touchdown passes Sunday, his best performance in history. However, you can’t count on those Deshaun Wilson rumors to disappear until the November 2 trade deadline.
25. The latest fun fact regarding Atlanta RB/WR/KR Cordarrelle Patterson? Since the merger, he’s the only one to have double-digit rushing stats. He also received TDs. Kickoffs are another five. He is truly a special player, and has been a key reason Atlanta quietly recovered to.500 and NFC wild card relevance.
26. Congrats to former Orlando Apollos “star” D’Ernest Johnson. Despite not being on Cleveland’s depth chart as RB4, his debut NFL game was an experience he won’t forget. Johnson racked 168 yards and a touchdown in Johnson’s win with the Browns (17-14) over the Denver Broncos. Despite injuries to Cleveland QB Baker Mayfield and top RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, the Browns’ loaded roster is still perfectly capable of keeping them afloat until reinforcements arrive.
26a. Cleveland is the only team this season that has had three different running backs exceed 100 yards from scrimmage in a game.
27. The New York Jets should have retained QB Sam Darnold who was benched by the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. The NYJ should have drafted Zach Wilson (predictably hurt Sunday in the New England Patriots’ game). Yes and no. Gang Green should obviously be running Navy’s triple option – ThisI would rather stick it to Bill Belichick.
28. After their bye week, the Jets lost six consecutive games. Remarkable.
29. Meanwhile, the Pats have defeated the NYJ 12 in a row – the longest such streak in a series that dates to 1960. Now, the Jets are down 11 times in a row at Gillette Stadium.
29a. These two teams are the first to end their inter-divisional marriage this season: The Jets and Patriots.
31. It shouldn’t surprise that Darnold failed again at MetLife Stadium. This is his home of horrors… although there are no reports that Darnold saw ghosts Sunday. It’s amazing to see how fast the Panthers (3-2), even with injured RB Christian McCaffrey have turned a 3-0 record into last place in the NFC South. Watson also whispers from Charlotte.
31. Half empty glass? Washington Football Team is now at 2-5. Half full? Washington allowed Green Bay 24 points, the lowest score defense in Washington since Los Angeles Chargers’ opening-day 20.
32. Overall, uncharacteristically putrid weekend of NFL football – blowouts abounding, and the first this season without an overtime game. They can’t be all prom queens. Week 8 will provide a chaser, with the Packers hosting the Cardinals Thursday night.
Follow USA TODAY’s Nate Davis via Twitter @ByNateDavis
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