NFL Week 7
At some point, playing in the NFL won’t seem incredibly easy to Patrick Mahomes. Um, right?
That point did not come on Sunday — but plenty of Chiefs points did — as Mahomes once again romped against a supposedly NFL-level defense. The victim this time was Cincinnati, which couldn’t prevent Kansas City’s young quarterback from completing 28 of 39 passes for 358 yards, four touchdowns and, somehow, an interception, in a 45-10 Chiefs win.
With his sixth straight 300-yard passing performance, Mahomes extended the longest such streak by an NFL quarterback 23 years old or younger, as no one else had ever gone past four straight (per ESPN). The second-year player also broke Kurt Warner’s record of 21 touchdown passes over a quarterback’s first eight career starts, and Mahomes’s tally of 22 includes a debut in Week 17 of last season in which he had no touchdown passes at all.
However, that initial start, combined of course with what must have been extremely impressive practice performances, helped convince the Chiefs to trade away incumbent starter Alex Smith, who happened to be coming off the best season of his lengthy career. The move has paid off in spades, with Mahomes leading the league’s highest-scoring attack, one averaging over 37 points per game.
It certainly helps that Mahomes has been gifted with arguably the NFL’s most dangerous receiving corps, one in which a wide receiver as talented as Sammy Watkins tends to play fourth fiddle to fellow wide receiver Tyreek Hill, tight end Travis Kelce and running back Kareem Hunt. However, Mahomes is bringing his own prodigious gifts to the table, time and time again, leaving each opponent able to do little more than pull up a chair and watch the show.
Showing off his skill set: NBC’s Cris Collinsworth said that Kareem Hunt’s first-quarter jaunt “may be one of the best runs we’ve seen all season.” That’s may be one of the biggest understatements we’ve heard all season.
Hunt packed an awful lot of impressive football into a 21-yard run against the Bengals. The second-year back surprised Collinsworth and play-by-play man Al Michaels by spinning out of what appeared to be a sure tackle for a short gain, and that was before he hurdled another would-be tackler before showing his power by dragging several more Cincinnati players for extra yardage.
Hunt followed up that eye-opening effort by making a nice catch on the next play and taking the ball just inside the pylon for Kansas City’s first touchdown. And just like that, one of the the league’s most exciting offenses was off and running. And hurdling.
Shocking end to streak: The Ravens could not lose the way they did Sunday. That couldn’t happen. Yet it did. And no one was more stunned than Justin Tucker.
The look on his face said it all after the normally uber-reliable kicker — even from distances well beyond 50 yards — missed an extra point with under 30 seconds left, allowing the Saints to escape Baltimore with a 24-23 win. Tucker, the most accurate place-kicker in NFL history, had made all 222 extra points he’d attempted before that miss.
The stunning gaffe ruined an impressive rally by the Ravens, who saw quarterback Joe Flacco get the ball with just over two minutes left and march the team to what appeared to be a game-tying touchdown. But, as we learned for the umpteenth time, that’s why they play the games.
A “doink” dooms Dallas: Not long after Tucker’s miss heard ’round the NFL world, Cowboys kicker Brett Maher lined up a 52-yard field goal attempt. He came closer on the longer kick, but it hit a post and bounced harmlessly back onto the field, leaving his squad with a deflating, 20-17 loss to the Redskins. Maher initially lined up for the potential game-tying kick from 47 yards, but a snap infraction committed by the Cowboys cost them five yards, leading to the miss.
As with Flacco, Dak Prescott had some fine work undone by Maher’s miss. The Dallas quarterback capped a 12-play drive by rushing for a touchdown with 1:37 left in the game. After the Cowboys quickly forced a Washington punt, he moved them into position to possibly force overtime, albeit on what would have been a relatively long make.
Putting the “OT” in “Not again!”: For the seventh week this season (and we’re in the Week 7), there was an overtime game. And of course it involved the Browns, who played in their fourth. And, because it’s the Browns, Tampa Bay won 26-23 on a 59-yard field goal in OT by Chandler Catanzaro.
Making matters all the more frustrating for Cleveland supporters was that, before his lengthy, clutch effort, Catanzaro had looked very shaky. He missed an extra point early in the second quarter, then pushed a would-be game-winning field goal attempt wide right from just 40 yards out, as time expired in regulation.
One transplanted Ohioan is still rooting for the Browns and not for either of the teams in his new hometown. Meanwhile, the Browns’ prized rookie quarterback, Baker Mayfield, was becoming a meme, for all the wrong reasons.
How heartbreaking has this season been for the Browns? Well, here’s a small, sad snapshot:
Eagles fold late against Panthers after early dust-up: Malcolm Jenkins and Eric Reid, two of the players who most frequently demonstrated during the national anthem, got into a heated disagreement before the coin toss preceding the Eagles-Panthers game.
Reid, who signed with the Panthers late last month, has continued to demonstrate to raise awareness of social injustice and police brutality. However, he has been critical of the Players Coalition founded by the Eagles’ Jenkins, calling it an “NFL-funded subversion group” earlier this year. Whatever happened, several players had to move Reid off the field as he yelled in Jenkins’s direction.
Cam Newton looked off for much of the game, but caught fire in the fourth quarter, leading the Panthers back from a 17-0 deficit to a 21-17 victory.
No Gronk, Sony Michel hurt in Chicago: The Patriots were missing one of their biggest weapons, tight end Rob Gronkowski, against the Bears and lost another when running back Sony Michel suffered a knee injury in the second quarter. But the Bears’ rally fell short when Mitchell Trubisky sent a Hail Mary to Kevin White, who caught the ball at the 1 and was kept from the end zone by the Patriots in their 38-31 win.
Gronkowski, who is dealing with ankle and back injuries, did not make the trip with the team to Chicago, but is expected to be ready to play Oct. 29 against the Bills. The Bears are one of five teams that have never beaten Tom Brady, by the way.
Six shot near Jags’ stadium: Six people were wounded in a drive-by shooting about a half-mile away from the stadium in which the Texans and Jaguars were playing, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. Three were listed in critical condition and no suspect was in custody. The game was unaffected.
Bortles benched: Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles was struggling again and was benched in favor of Cody Kessler in the third quarter, but no matter as the Texans won 20-7. The wheels are falling off for the Jags, who could be heard yelling at one another inside the locker room after the game.
During the game, a security guard standing in front of the stands in Miami was bowled over by Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills, who was unable to stop his momentum as he scored a touchdown. Stills checked on the guard and offered the ball he had just caught.
A big win for L.A.: The Titans and Chargers took their game down to the wire, with the Titans narrowing the lead to 20-19 with just 31 seconds left. Coach Mike Vrabel elected to go for the win rather than the tie and two conversion attempts failed. Vrabel is taking quite a bit of heat for not playing for overtime, given the importance of the game for his team.
Elsewhere: The Lions rolled past the Dolphins 32-31; the Vikings beat the Jets 37-17; the Colts had little trouble with Derek Anderson and the Bills, winning 37-5.
No one can get enough offense: Look no further than last Sunday night’s game for a glimpse of what makes NFL owners and officials grin. The Chiefs and Patriots rang up 83 points, something that used to be a ridiculous anomaly. This year, there already have been three games in which both teams scored at least 40 points. Over the previous four years, there were only two. Is this the week that defenses adjust? Probably not, given that what’s happening is in large part helped by rules changes that protect quarterbacks and emphasize safety.
It just makes you wonder: What’s the limit?
A broadcasting oddity: For the first time since 1993, CBS will televise a Cowboys-Redskins game, with Jim Nantz and Tony Romo making the call from FedEx Field.“I can’t even contain my excitement,” Jim Nantz told The Post’s Ben Strauss. “It’ll be 9,065 days since the last time I did it.” (Read more)
Brees is at it again: Drew Brees will try to become just the third NFL player to have beaten all 32 teams when the Saints play the Ravens, against whom he is 0-4. (The other two QBs? Peyton Manning and Brett Favre.) And, with his next touchdown pass, Brees will join Manning, Favre and Tom Brady as the only players in NFL history to have thrown 500.
Top story lines
The kickoff lives: The last-ditch effort by the NFL to save the kickoff seems to be succeeding. (Read more)
Seahawks won’t be moving: NFL owners are certain the team will remain in Seattle even if it is sold following the death of owner Paul Allen. (Read more)
More playing, less talking: Giants owner John Mara sends a blunt message to Odell Beckham Jr. (Read more)
To the house. And fast: In the high-scoring NFL, sometimes the best strategy is letting the other team score quickly. (Read more)
Concussion update: Concussions were down 13 percent during preseason, the league says. (Read more)
It’s the Rams and everyone else: This week’s power rankings are L.A.-centric. (Read more)
Dorsey’s still trading: Browns General Manager John Dorsey shipped running back Carlos Hyde to the Jaguars in exchange for a 2019 fifth-round pick. The NFL’s trade deadline is Oct. 30.
This week’s byes: The Steelers, Seahawks, Raiders and Packers are off.
McCoy goes out: Bills running back LeSean McCoy headed for the locker room in the first half and was later ruled out with what the team said was a head injury, although it initially appeared as if he’d taken a helmet to the hip and rolled his ankle on the landing as well.
No more Beast Mode? Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch is likely to miss at least a month with a groin injury, the NFL Network reports.
Deshaun Watson update: The chest injury to Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson was last week described as a broken rib and a partially collapsed lung but Watson stressed that he was in no danger. “For sure, I wouldn’t be out there if it would’ve caused any more problems,” Watson said last week. “I talked it over with my family [and] doctors and everything, and everything was fine. That’s the only reason why I was out there.” He didn’t really confirm or deny the report and reports Sunday indicated that he was driven to Jacksonville because the team did not want him to fly.
No Kupp for Rams: Coach Sean McVay said as far back as Thursday and it was “safe” to rule out wide receiver Conner Kupp because of a knee injury. Josh Reynolds is likely to step up with Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods in three-wide receiver sets.
Crowder out: Wide receiver Jamison Crowder (ankle) will not play against the Cowboys; receiver Paul Richardson (shoulder/knee), safety Troy Apke (hamstring) and running back Chris Thompson (rib/knee) also are out. Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring) will play after missing three games. Wide receiver Tavon Austin (groin) will miss a few weeks, the team says.
Bengals’ Bernard out: Bengals running back Giovani Bernard (knee) and center Billy Price (foot) will not play against the Chiefs; safety Shawn Williams (elbow) is questionable. Chiefs safety Eric Murray (ankle) and linebacker Tanoh Kpassagnon (ankle) are questionable. Center Mitch Morse (concussion) has been ruled out and safety Eric Berry (heel) and linebacker Justin Houston (hamstring) are listed as doubtful.