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  • Plus, a (possibly) questionable call precedes the Cowboys’ game-ending missed kick, why Vrabel was right to go for two, the story of a kicker’s redemption in Tampa, Kerryon Johnson shines, Eric Reid’s eventful day, Vikings very much back on track, Trubisky implodes while the Bears pass rush disappears, and more from Week 7
By Gary Gramling
October 21, 2018

Reacting and overreacting to everything that happened on Sunday afternoon. Get the full Sunday breakdown from Andy Benoit and Gary Gramling on The Monday Morning NFL Podcast. Subscribe to The MMQB Podcasts now and it will be in your feed first thing Monday morning

Things That Made Me Giddy

Cam Engineers a Wonderful Comeback: It seemed this Panthers team would have trouble playing from behind, especially down 17 in the fourth quarter on a windy day in Philly. Some creative play-calling, plus a couple big time, wind-cutting throws by Newton led to one of the most impressive fourth quarters you’ll see this year. As inconsistent as he’s been the past couple years, this was MVP Cam on Sunday.

Chandler Catanzaro: Redeemed!: This game had something of a high school feel with all the mistakes, among them Catanzaro’s missed 40-yarder at the end of regulation. But the kicker redemption was sweet, connecting from 59 to win it late in overtime.

Cory Littleton Is Everywhere You Want Him to Be: In the Rams’ win in San Francisco the linebacker was big in run support, as a blitzer and on special teams, blocking a punt through the end zone. Linebacker is supposed to be a weakness on this Rams defense, but it wasn’t on Sunday.

Never Peek In at Philip Rivers: He likes to throw downfield, ya know. Rivers ended up throwing walk-in touchdowns of 75 (on the Chargers’ first play from scrimmage) and 55 yards in London, both times the receiver busting open because a defensive back was looking into the backfield.

Dont’a Hightower Blocks a Punt With His Face: Which, I think we can all agree, is the most bad-ass way to block a punt.

Marcus Mariota Vs. Predictable Defenses: Much better than the past two weeks, when he was overwhelmed by disguised looks from Buffalo and Baltimore. Today was a reminder that there’s still hope for the young QB.

D.J. Swearinger Can Play for My Team Any Day: He helped set the tone early in this one, filling in run support and at one point just taking the ball from Dak Prescott on a QB sneak.

Andre Hal: Makes his return to the field after beating cancer. This is just nice.

Brees Gets Touchdown Pass No. 500: Joining Manning-Favre-Brady. It’s also Touchdown Catch No. 43 for Benjamin Watson, if you’re tracking milestones.

Melvin Ingram Owns RPOs: A great player who apparently underwent great preparation. He sat back against RPOs to his side of the field twice in the first half, nearly intercepting one early (batting it down for an incompletion), then tipping a ball to cause an interception, Marcus Mariota’s first-ever red-zone INT.

After All That, Vikings Lead the NFC North: It was a quiet 20-point win over an improving (though banged up) Jets team. It looks like order has been restored with the Vikes, except for maybe that Xavier Rhodes injury…

Browns Ready for 70 Minutes Every Week: A fourth OT game this season, and third in the past four games for Cleveland. Good, make up for those reps Baker Mayfield missed out on when the Browns had him holding a clipboard for no particular reason.

Alshon Jeffery Ate James Bradberry’s Lunch: This was an enormous mismatch all day, and nearly ended with Jeffery beating Bradberry deep for a winning TD (Bradberry smartly tackled him and took the 50-yard pass interference instead).

Kerryon Johnson: The Lions have been easing him in, but what an absolute gift as a talent. Four of his nine rushes went for 12-plus yards, including a 71-yarder early in a 158-yard effort.

Titans Score a… Touchdown?: Derrick Henry’s third-quarter plunge was their first TD in more than 10 quarters of football.


Regrets

Kessler In for Bortles: It had to happen because the Jaguars reached a point where they had to play anyone but Bortles. However, now the Jaguars go from Bortles’s careless, scattershot play to Kessler’s inability to push anything downfield.

Two Key Penalties—One Questionable—Does Dallas In: There was the Connor Williams hold that erased a third-down conversion and was immediately followed by Ryan Kerrigan stripping Dak Prescott at the goal line and Washington scooping up an easy TD. And there was the snap infraction (wouldn’t mind seeing that again—looked like pretty routine movement) that pushed the potential game-tying 47-yard kick back to a 52-yard kick, which then hooked late and clanked off the left upright.

Jalen Ramsey: He’s on the wrong side of a lot of highlights these days. And, yes, after he was willing to fill tape recorders with nonsense last summer, he’s going to have to answer some questions about it now.

Bears Pass Rush Counting Seven Mississippi: Perhaps Khalil Mack’s ankle issues were affecting him, but yeesh, he was even handled one-on-one a few times by Trent Brown as Chicago barely caught a glimpse of Tom Brady save for one clean blitz.

Calm Down, Keenan Allen!: You were doubled at the snap and the ball was already out anyway! (Looked like he and Philip Rivers are still friends.)

Xavier Rhodes Goes Down: Awfully bad news for a Vikings defense that’s been playing up to its potential the last couple weeks.

Those Sloppy 49ers: Two first-quarter fumbles is less-than-optimal against the best team in football.

Being Terrified for Deshaun Watson: Jay Glazer reported that he took a bus instead of flying to Jacksonville because of worry over how the air pressure would affect his bruised lung. That’s especially worrisome considering his offensive line.

Taywan Taylor’s Ball-Tracking: My Lord, a Troy Williamson-level drop on a fourth-quarter deep crosser when the Titans were trying to drive for the game-tying points.

Use Two Hands, Corey Davis: A few plays after the Taylor drop, Davis ends the drive with an atrocious drop of his own, this one on third down. Ryan Succop comes on and misses a 51-yarder, and the circle of life is complete.

Sean Lee Isn’t Dead Yet: The veteran was back in the lineup and made a number of plays, not only due to instincts but flashing sideline-to-sideline range. And with rookie Leighton Vander Esch getting banged up (he did return), it’s a pretty nice luxury to have Lee back in the lineup.

So… How Did Desmond King Not Get Flagged Here?: There was the horse collar after the play was over, then he rips the ball out, then head-butts the opponent who takes exception to the first two actions.

Albert Wilson’s Injury: This is a heart-breaker for one of the league’s breakout players over the first third of the season.

Bills Defense: Well, can’t give up points like that if Derek Anderson is your quarterback.


Moments We’ll Tell Our Grandkids About

Justin Tucker Missed and Now You Must Question Everything You Thought You Knew: The most automatic play in football—Tucker was 222-for-222 career on PATs going into the final minutes in Baltimore—backfires when the Ravens need it most. Tucker seemed to have a little bit of trouble with the wind all day, sneaking in a couple of kicks, and after Joe Flacco led a TD drive to make it 24-23 Saints, Tucker just shanks the extra point.

Kevin White on the Doorstep: The Bears come up one yard short (in a game they had no right being in)! What a catch by White, and while the throw was short it was phenomenal by Trubisky (more on him later) with a pass-rusher in his face.

That Poor Security Guard in Miami: That looked like a serious shoulder injury (Rohan, can we please move that wall back from the end zone?). I’m not sure giving her the TD ball really helps, but it’s a nice gesture. Kenny Stills is good people.

Cody Parkey “Attempts” to “Tackle” Cordarrelle Patterson: As a kid I remember how much I loved diving unnecessarily. It's fun! This is kinda like that...

Dion Lewis With Year’s Best Run on Foreign Soil:

Michael Gallup Ignites Greg Stroman: Rookie on rookie violence. If you’re a Cowboys fan who’s been hoping Gallup would emerge as a No. 1 receiver, this is encouraging.

Josh Gordon Helmetless Catch: Bizarro David Tyree, or something.


What We’ll Be Talking About This Week

Mitchell Trubisky Is a Mess: The legs are great, sure. But this is spray-and-pray quarterbacking at its worse; overactive feet, terrible ball placement, every other pass coming out of his hand wobbling, horrific decisions on which wounded ducks hit defenders in the chest (the exaggerated wobble of the ball the only thing preventing two easy red-zone interceptions). This is supposed to be getting better, but it’s Bortles North right now.

Now It’s Time to Worry About the Jaguars: The defense was shaky when it mattered, and as bad as Blake Bortles has been Cody Kessler lacks the arm talent to do much of anything at the NFL level. Jacksonville might have to do some deadline shopping, but the pickings are very slim. Considering how much they’ve invested in developing Bortles, there’s a pretty good chance we haven’t seen the last of him.

Vrabel’s Onions: I’m not crazy about the playcall from the 1-yard line (if the play ends up with Taywan Taylor having to make a catch in traffic, it’s not a good play), and Matt LaFleur will rightfully be second-guessed for that. But Mike Vrabel was right to go for two considering basic probability, not to mention the Chargers’ firepower and the fact that the Titans surely realize they were playing with a bit of house money in terms of their offensive success on Sunday. The choice was right, even if the result didn’t back it up.

Eric Reid’s Day: It started with an on-field argument with Malcolm Jenkins, reportedly rooted in the Players Coalition (I won’t weigh in except to say there are lots of people who should be higher on Eric Reid’s enemies list than Malcolm Jenkins), then included a body slam of Zach Ertz, three-and-a-half quarters of poor play, a questionably overturned game-clinching INT, then finally a stop to cap off an impressive comeback win for Carolina in Philly. I think that was it.

• Question or comment? Email us at talkback@themmqb.com.

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