History was made on Sunday: Peyton Manning broke the NFL mark for career touchdown passes, DeMarco Murray pounded his way to a seventh straight 100-yard game and the Jacksonville Jaguars didn’t lose. We’ll be talking about two of those three for a long time to come – no offense, DeMarco; the Jags don’t do this very often.
Of course, Week 7 also gave us plenty of moments worth forgetting, too, especially if you’re a Saints or Seahawks fan. There’s discord in the Bears’ den, serious questions to be answered in San Francisco and some doubts about the Chargers’ championship aspirations. Oh, and if anyone can figure out the Cincinnati Bengals, please let us know.
While we wait for answers, let’s get to this week’s Winners and Losers.
Winner: St. Louis’ Special Teams
Rams coordinator John Fassel pulled off the most audaciously executed special teams trick in recent memory on Sunday, and he did it by allowing his crew to embrace their inner actors. Tavon Austin faked right to field a punt, even staggering beneath the invisible ball, but the actual kick was headed left, and after Stedman Bailey snagged with an over-the-shoulder grab, he had clear sailing on a 90-yard touchdown return. It was so impressive the Screen Actors Guild should consider rewarding this crew with their Best Ensemble award.
As an encore, the Rams laid ’em on the table. With under three minutes left in the fourth quarter, St. Louis was up by two but facing a 4th-and-3 from their own 18-yard line, and pretty much everyone in the universe assumed they’d punt and hope their defense could hold Seattle. But punter Johnny Hekker had other ideas, executing a perfect pass to Benny Cunningham to move the chains and run out the clock. Big win for the Rams, and the champs are a mystifying 3-3.
Loser: The Saints
Who Dat? No, seriously, Who Dat? New Orleans handed a win to Detroit, and the normally infallible Drew Brees was a big reason why. He threw an interception on his own 29-yard line with 3:20 remaining, which led to the Lions’ game-winning TD. If you’re used to always betting on Brees with 2:00 remaining like me, then you’d be out on some serious cash (again, like me): he couldn’t muster a response, and New Orleans blew yet another road game. Lucky for the Saints, the NFC South is awful, so they remain right in the thick of things.
Winner: Colt McCoy
Kirk Cousins was having issues against the Titans, tossing a first-half pick (his eighth in his last four stars, BTW), which lead to coach Jay Gruden making a change at intermission, summoning NFL wanderer Colt McCoy from the bullpen. All Colt did connect with Pierre Garcon for a 70-yard TD on his first pass, and finished 11-12 for 128 yards and zero interceptions. Washington won ugly, but right now, we suspect they’ll take what they can get.
Loser: The Battling Bears
According to reports, “things got ugly” in the Chicago Bears’ locker room after a listless home loss to the Miami Dolphins. We’re not exactly sure what happened, but apparently wide receiver Brandon Marshall called out QB Jay Cutler, who presumably scowled then went off and lit up.
Afterward, Marshall didn’t deny there was some spirited discussion behind closed doors – “We lost, there should be a lot of frustration,” he told reporters – and Cutler described the scene as “emotional.” Bears coach Marc Trestman called the whole day “unacceptable,” which is certainly a polite way of putting it. He must’ve learned that in the CFL.
Winner: Kansas City
The people of Rib City have to be on the most natural sports high of their collective lives right now. As the Royals get set to take on the San Francisco Giants in the World Series, the Chiefs started the week off right by taking down another team from Cali (not to mention their bitter divisional rivals): the San Diego Chargers.
It was a back-and-forth battle that came right down to the final punch, as Cairo Santos kicked a 48-yard field goal to win the game for the Chiefs. If this is a sign of things to come, expect Kansas City to be awash in champagne and barbecue sauce by next weekend.
Loser: The Lambeau Leap
It’s been a tradition at Lambeau Field for 20 years now: a Packers player scores a TD then goes sailing into a sea of supporters. But on Sunday, Randall Cobb exposed the dangers of jumping into the stands, getting coated in condiments during his Leap. Yep, that’s ketchup on his shoulder pad. Hopefully someone gave him some fries when he made it to the sideline.
Winner: The Jacksonville Football Jaguars
They’ve got ugly uniforms and a stadium with swimming pools in it. They’ve given up 191 points through seven games and their rookie quarterback has thrown 10 interceptions in four starts. But the Jacksonville Jaguars are winless no longer.
The Jags won for the first time since last December, knocking off the Cleveland Browns 24-6, and they might have found a breakout star in the process. Swiss Army Knife Denard Robinson was the difference, running for 127 yards and a touchdown, the most work he’s gotten since his days as a Michigan Wolverine. The Jags defense frustrated Cleveland all day, bottling up the ground game and holding the Browns to key field goals on two trips to the red zone. Celebrate responsibly, Jacksonville. Just kidding, we know you won’t.
Winner: The Record Breakers
Let’s hear it for the guys who added their names to the NFL’s record book on Sunday. First, DeMarco Murray rumbled over the New York Giants on way to his seventh consecutive 100-yard game, surpassing Jim-freaking-Brown’s mark of six straight century marks to start a season. He also helped the Cowboys win their league-best sixth game, and served notice (just in case you weren’t already aware of it) that he is a juggernaut wrapped in a beast, garnished with a tasteful hint of army tanks.
Then there’s the football savior himself, Peyton Manning. The ageless one threw his 509th touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas (who else?), which broke the all-time touchdown record held by Brett Favre. Yes, he’s the best quarterback of all time. No, Super Bowl’s don’t matter. And for the love of God, he’s a lot better than Eli. There isn’t much more than can be said about Manning. Here’s to 509 more TD passes, which, given his current clip, actually seems sort of possible.