What we know after Week 7

Laces Out

Tom Brady" src="http://i.imgur.com/5J2AIsX.gif" alt="" width="600" height="400" /> Embattled Jets head coach Rex Ryan was pumped up after his Jets ended a six-game regular-season losing streak at the hands of the Patriots. Now, Patriots Nation will kick, scream and tell anyone who will listen that they got screwed over by the refs on Sunday, as a new penalty set up the Jets’ winning field goal in overtime. BUT … Should the game have even been in overtime? The Patriots (5-2) had plenty of chances to put this game away, as they took a 21-10 lead into halftime thanks to plays like a Logan Ryan pick-six. However, after halftime, things started to fall apart as Tom Brady – the hero of Week 6 – started the third quarter with this: Then Jets rookie Geno Smith took over, leading a touchdown drive and another that ended with a field goal that put New York (4-3) ahead by 6. Meanwhile, the Patriots offense sputtered as Brady was held without a touchdown pass for the second time in the past three games. That obviously can’t happen, even though New England’s offense is still a work in progress. If Patriots fans want to blame someone, maybe look to the guys wearing helmets and shoulder pads, not the striped shirts. And by the way, don’t look now: The Jets are just a game back of the Patriots in the standings. The AFC East race is getting interesting. Packers 31, Browns 13 – Aaron Rodgers will find new receivers This had all the makings of a trap game for Green Bay. The Packers were already without receivers Randall Cobb and James Jones, who were both out with injuries. They were facing a Cleveland team with an attacking defense that would love nothing more than to put the wood to Rodgers in Green Bay. Sorry, won’t happen. Rodgers dissected the Browns anyway, throwing for 260 yards and 3 touchdowns. Instead of connecting with Cobb and Jones, Rodgers threw scoring strikes to Jermichael Finley, Jordy Nelson and Jarrett Boykin, the latter of whom was making his first career start. Green Bay (4-2) won its third straight and now has winnable division games against the Vikings and Bears over the next two weeks. Things are looking up! 49ers 31, Titans 17 – The Niners’ early season struggles are in the past Remember when people were wringing their hands over San Francisco after its embarrassing home loss against Indianapolis? Well, times have changed. The 49ers (6-2) won their fourth straight game on Sunday, in their standard fashion. Frank Gore ran for 70 yards and 2 touchdowns, while QB Colin Kaepernick accounted for 267 total yards. They also even made room for some razzle-dazzle as Anquan Boldin made a nifty one-handed grab in the first half. Head coach Jim Harbaugh even proved himself to his players, getting involved in a sideline skirmish in the second half. Things will be just fine in the Bay Area. Bills 23, Dolphins 21 -- Buffalo can still rally after blowing a lead If anyone on the Bills roster wanted to beat the Dolphins, it was kicker Dan Carpenter. The sixth-year kicker drilled the go-ahead 31-yard field goal with seconds remaining. Carpenter, of course, was released by the Dolphins in August as the franchise opted for the younger, cheaper version in Caleb Sturgis. Mario Williams had the turning-point sack, putting second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill on his back. Tannehill fumbled the ball and it was recovered by defensive end Kyle Williams. The Bills, by way of Fred Jackson and Tashard Choice, were able to march into field-goal territory. Thad Lewis has done an nice job filling in for EJ Manuel, who has been nursing a knee injury. However, next week could be a challenge as they travel to New Orleans. They also brought in free-agent quarterback Matt Flynn, who could be up to speed by that time and could challenge Lewis for the starting job. Chargers 24, Jaguars 6 – Philip Rivers is the frontrunner to win Comeback Player of the Year For anyone who thought the Chargers were going to mail it in on a short week traveling across the country, they were dead wrong. The leading candidate to win Comeback Player of the Year, Philip Rivers was efficient and was helped out by the running game. Ryan Mathews ran for 110 yards – his second straight 100-yard game – and Danny Woodhead proved to be an effective goal-line runner. But what’s most impressive about this Chargers team is the John Pagano-led defense. Since the preseason, this unit has been ravaged with injuries, including significant ones to pass rushers Melvin Ingram and Dwight Freeney. Surprisingly, the Chargers defense hasn’t allowed a touchdown in its last 11 quarters and now enters the bye week. The misery continues for Jacksonville, as the Jags lose their seventh game of the season and 12th straight dating back to last season. If you’re looking for bright spots, Chad Henne threw for 318 yards and featured his triplet of receivers as best as he could. So there is that. Falcons 31, Buccaneers 23 – Does it really matter who Matt Ryan is throwing the ball to? No Roddy White. No Julio Jones. No problem for Matt Ryan. Harry Douglas became Ryan’s new favorite target, hauling in seven receptions for 138 yards – a career high – and a touchdown. Oh yeah, Ryan also threw two more touchdowns to running back Jacquizz Rodgers, who has been filling in for Steven Jackson. The Falcons, who were coming off a bye, snapped a three-game skid. Now they face a four-week stretch where they travel three of those weeks and also host the Seahawks in Week 10. Steelers 19, Ravens 16 – Ravens running game has vanished What else would you want from a Steelers-Ravens matchup? It was a classic black-and-blue, grind-it-out game that was decided in the fourth quarter. Emmanuel Sanders took back a 107-yard kickoff return, but was ruled out of bounds in the fourth quarter. It actually ended up working for the Steelers as it kept the Ravens offense sidelined. Shaun Suisham nailed the 42-yard field goal to cap the game. The Steelers locker room hasn’t been a fun place to be the last few weeks as head coach Mike Tomlin demands better. They have been able to string two wins together after starting out 0-4. Well, it hasn’t been any easier for the Ravens running game, which has struggled, to say the least. NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling points out that Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce are ranked first and second in the NFL in percentage of runs that have generated two yards or fewer. It’s rather frustrating for a team that is built around the running game. Questions? Comments? Send them to lacesoutmail@gmail.com and we might respond in our weekly mailbag!

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