NFL Week 7 takeaways, stat leaders – Big days for Baker Mayfield, Aaron Rodgers –

NFL Week 7 takeaways, stat leaders – Big days for Baker Mayfield, Aaron Rodgers –

Week 7 in the NFL was wild. The Steelers survived a late comeback attempt from the Titans to move to 6-0. The Browns edged by the Bengals on a huge, go-ahead TD with 11 seconds remaining — Baker Mayfield‘s fifth of the game. A Panthers tying field goal attempt from 65 yards came up just short, helping the Saints get a big division win. The Lions beat the Falcons with a touchdown pass on the final play of the game after an eight-play, 75-yard drive in the final 64 seconds. Washington kept the Cowboys to three points, and Green Bay dropped 35 on Houston, thanks to another strong day from Aaron Rodgers.

In the afternoon slate, Tom Brady threw four touchdowns in a Tampa Bay win, Justin Herbert led the Chargers back, and the Patriots fell flat in a rough, 27-point loss to the 49ers.

All that and more in Week 7‘s biggest takeaways from NFL Nation.

Jump to a matchup:

Standout performer for PIT-TEN: Diontae Johnson, nine catches, 80 receiving yards, two TDs

Thanks to a fast start and scores on their first four possessions, the Steelers outlasted a Titans fourth-quarter comeback to remain undefeated and set up a huge AFC North showdown next week in Baltimore. But even with an unblemished record, the Steelers have things to fix after the late-game meltdown, beginning with limiting splash plays by the opponent. “We have goals so high for ourselves because we know what we can do when we feel like we can be a truly special defense,” linebacker T.J. Watt said. “And that’s why no one’s really satisfied after today. We need to do a lot better job, especially in the second half. But it starts with the run. And even though we did a good job in the first half, we got to continue and roll it over into the second half.” — Brooke Pryor

Next game: at Ravens (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

The Titans made a valiant effort in the fourth quarter to make the game close, but their inability to stop the Steelers early was too much to overcome. Tennessee couldn’t force the Steelers to punt in the first half. It gave up seven first downs on all seven of Pittsburgh’s third-down opportunities in the first two quarters. Now the Titans sit at 5-1, which is still best in their division, but they need drastic improvement on third downs — starting with the Bengals next week — before they get into the tougher part of the schedule. — Turron Davenport

Next game: at Bengals (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Standout performer for CAR-NO: Alvin Kamara, 83 rushing yards, 65 receiving yards

No Michael Thomas. No Emmanuel Sanders. No problem for the Saints’ offense — which had its prettiest performance of the season from start to finish. New Orleans’ defense still has major problems preventing big plays and stopping teams in the red zone, but this was an awfully nice way for the Saints (4-2) to reboot their offense after the bye, something they’ll need to carry over into an even stiffer test next week at Chicago. — Mike Triplett

Next game: at Bears (4:25 p.m. ET Sunday)

Another amazing day from quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was spoiled by the defense’s inability to make plays on third down. The Saints started 8-of-8 on third down, and at one point, they were 11-of-12 before finishing 12-of-14 in the victory. That’s inexcusable, even with a secondary depleted by injuries. The worst was a third-and-14 pass to running back Kamara that should have been stopped for a short gain. The Panthers entered the day ranked 29th on third-down defense, and if they can’t solve this problem, there’s no way they can keep pace with New Orleans and Tampa Bay in the NFC South. — David Newton

Next game: vs. Falcons (8:20 p.m. ET Thursday)

Standout performer for GB-HOU: Davante Adams, 13 catches, 196 receiving yards, two TDs

It wasn’t the criticism the Packers faced after their blowout loss to the Buccaneers last week that drove them Sunday at the Texans. “It was more so we felt like we owed it to ourselves,” said receiver Davante Adams, who had a career-high 196 yards receiving. Yes, it came against a one-win team and a bad defense Aaron Rodgers picked apart. And next week they face another one-win team in the Vikings. But Sunday’s game got the Packers (5-1) back to doing what they did during their 4-0 start and gave them confidence they can win without running back Aaron Jones and All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari. — Rob Demovsky

Next game: vs. Vikings (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

With another loss that dropped the Texans to 1-6, the team is likely in sell-now mode headed into the bye with the trade deadline on Nov. 3. While Houston’s front office is not interested in a fire sale without getting proper value in return, it is at the point where this team needs to look toward the future, even after signing quarterback Deshaun Watson to a lengthy contract extension. — Sarah Barshop

Next game: at Jaguars (1 p.m. ET Nov. 8)



Aaron Rodgers throws for 283 yards and four touchdowns as the Packers defeat the Texans 35-20 to avoid a two-game losing streak.

Standout performer for DET-ATL: Matthew Stafford, 340 passing yards, one TD

For years, Stafford had been building the reputation as a comeback king, among the quarterbacks you wanted to face least with him holding the ball and time winding down. It had gotten away from him the past two-plus seasons, with Detroit struggling to win games and too often losing leads in the fourth quarter instead of pulling off improbable comebacks. Then came Sunday, when Stafford drove Detroit 75 yards in 64 seconds, capping it with an 11-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Hockenson with no time remaining to set up the extra point that gave Detroit the win. The comeback king, picking up fourth-quarter comeback No. 30 and game-winning drive No. 36, pulled it off at a time when Detroit needed it the most, to get back to 3-3 and keep his team relevant toward midseason. — Michael Rothstein

Next game: vs. Colts (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Is it bad luck, poor decision-making or execution that has hurt the Falcons the most this season? Regardless, the Falcons are now the only team with three losses in a season — over the past 20 seasons — after having a win probability of at least 98%, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Atlanta could have won its second consecutive game if Todd Gurley II would have gone down before scoring an ill-fated touchdown that left the Lions enough time to come back and win the game. And Gurley realized it after running 10 yards to the end zone. “Ah f— it, I shouldn’t have scored,” Gurley said postgame. The Falcons had a 98.7% chance to win after Stafford’s incompletion with 57 seconds left, per ESPN’s win probability model, and still managed to lose. — Courtney Cronin

Next game: at Panthers (8:20 p.m. ET Thursday)

Standout performer for BUF-NYJ: Cole Beasley, 11 catches, 112 receiving yards

This might have been Buffalo’s most impressive defensive performance to date. After a shaky first half, the Bills allowed four yards of total offense, holding the Jets scoreless while their own offense continued to score, three points at a time. Factor in five sacks and two takeaways, and for the first time this season, the Bills’ defense carried the load — a burden that had fallen on their offense through the first six games. It’s a positive sign both sides of the ball are capable of winning games. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Next game: vs. Patriots (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

New playcaller, same result. Coach Adam Gase handed the playcalling to offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, but the Jets managed only 25 yards on 23 plays after taking a 10-0 lead. They made no adjustments, resulting in six total sacks. It will get worse for the Jets (0-7), who face the Super Bowl champion Chiefs on the road next week. — Rich Cimini

Next game: at Chiefs (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Standout performer for CLE-CIN: Baker Mayfield, 297 passing yards, five TDs

After throwing an interception on his first passing attempt for a second consecutive game, Mayfield rebounded with one of the finest QB performances in Browns history. Mayfield broke a franchise record with 21 consecutive completions and threw three touchdowns in the fourth quarter alone, lifting Cleveland to a comeback victory. This version of Mayfield is what could elevate the Browns into more than just a fringe playoff contender. And Cleveland will need more of this from him — especially if wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.’s knee injury proves serious. — Jake Trotter

Next game: vs. Raiders (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Even though the Bengals failed to pick up the victory, Sunday was another reminder Cincinnati has its quarterback of the future. With three offensive starters sidelined with injury, Joe Burrow was still able to post a career-high 406 yards on 35-of-46 passing, three touchdowns and one interception. He also had a rushing touchdown in the Bengals’ third consecutive defeat. Entering the game, the Bengals were without injured running back Joe Mixon (foot). Throughout the day, left tackle Jonah Williams (neck), center Trey Hopkins (concussion) and right tackle Bobby Hart (undisclosed) also went down at various points. That didn’t stop Burrow from nearly pulling off the first comeback win of his career. — Ben Baby

Next game: vs. Titans (1 p.m. ET Sunday)



Harrison Bryant reels in a 3-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter. Later in the third, Baker Mayfield finds Bryant again for another score.

Standout performer for DAL-WSH: Antonio Gibson, 128 rushing yards, one TD

Washington still has a lot of issues that won’t be resolved any time soon, but it can feel good about one thing: It’s a lot better than Dallas right now. Washington played its best all-around game. And the more running back Gibson matures, the more Washington can start to develop a consistent ground game. But Sunday’s game also showed the kind of mindset coach Ron Rivera wanted to see. After five consecutive losses — four by 14 points or more — and a crushing one-point defeat a week ago, the team responded. For Washington to truly generate momentum, it must come out the same way after the bye week. This was a good win, but if it’s just a one-game blip, it won’t mean a whole lot. — John Keim

Next game: vs. Giants (1 p.m. ET Nov. 8)

The Cowboys are 2-5. Forget about how bad the NFC East is. Where do the Cowboys start to fix their problems? Is it on defense, which has been terrible since Week 1 and has been shredded on the ground? Or the offense, which has scored one touchdown in two games without Dak Prescott and can’t play a game without a turnover? Quarterback Andy Dalton was knocked out of the game in the third quarter because of a concussion, but he was not given much help by an offensive line that looked like a preseason group. This has turned into a nightmare scenario Mike McCarthy never envisioned when he was named coach in January. — Todd Archer

Next game: at Eagles (8:20 p.m. ET Sunday)

Standout performer for NYG-PHI: Carson Wentz, 359 passing yards, two TDs, one rushing TD

The Eagles aren’t a good football team, no matter their odds to win the NFC East, but the positive signs they’re getting from quarterback Carson Wentz hold significance. He has turned it on over the past three games after a sluggish start, and again showed a penchant for late-game heroics with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown throws to save Philadelphia from an embarrassing loss to the Giants. The Eagles now have a 61% chance to win the division, per the ESPN Football Power Index. That’s nice, but what’s really important is that their franchise quarterback is once again beginning to play like one. — Tim McManus

Next game: vs. Cowboys (8:20 p.m. ET Sunday)

The Giants still can’t beat the Eagles or Cowboys. And they still can’t compete in a division that appears destined to be historically bad. The Giants (1-6) lost their eighth straight to the Eagles and have now dropped 15 consecutive games combined to Dallas and Philadelphia. It’s hard to compete in the NFC East if you continually lose to those two teams. The Giants blew an 11-point lead in the final five minutes, committing three penalties on the winning drive. Had tight end Evan Engram not dropped what could’ve been the clinching pass with a little over two minutes remaining, the Giants would have won. But it all proves the Giants are still not good enough. — Jordan Raanan

Next game: vs. Buccaneers (8:15 p.m. ET, Monday, Nov. 2)

Standout performer for TB-LV: Tom Brady, 369 passing yards, four TDs, one rushing TD

The Buccaneers cleared one major hurdle this season, with their first signature win last week against the Packers, playing one of their best games of the past decade. The next hurdle: How would they handle winning on a weekly basis with a growing target on their backs as favorites in the NFC? The answer: A 45-20 win over the Raiders on the road. This wasn’t an error-free performance for the Bucs, with their second-half struggles earlier in the season resurfacing in the third quarter. But a three-TD scoring explosion in the fourth quarter has this team at 5-2 and atop the NFC South. — Jenna Laine

Next game: at Giants (8:20 p.m. ET, Monday, Nov. 2)

When you can’t run the ball and your defense cannot get any pressure on the QB, it’s going to make for a long day. Although the Raiders did creep to within four points of the Bucs early in the fourth quarter, they were physically run over the rest of the way to fall to 3-3. Rest versus rust was the debate for an offensive line that finished with two backups and a third-stringer. Trent Brown should return from COVID-19 (coach Jon Gruden said Friday that he was feeling better), and Richie Incognito is coming back from injured reserve, so the line should have some semblance of normalcy before the team heads on the road to play the Browns and Chargers the next two weeks. — Paul Gutierrez

Next game: at Browns (1 p.m. ET Sunday)



Tom Brady connects with Rob Gronkowski, who goes up to take the ball away from the defender and score a 5-yard touchdown to give the Buccaneers a 14-10 lead over the Raiders.

Standout performer for KC-DEN: Byron Pringle, 102-yard kickoff return TD

Le’Veon Bell appears to be more than a running back at the end of his career. He is a running back who can produce for the Chiefs. He showed his trademarks of patience and vision on a pair of 16-yard runs Sunday. He split time as the featured back with Clyde Edwards-Helaire, an arrangement that should continue next week against the Jets and beyond. — Adam Teicher

Next game: vs. Jets (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

In the ninth start of his career, quarterback Drew Lock showed that he has plenty of work to do and that it won’t always be smooth sailing as he goes through some very public on-the-job training. His pick-six interception Sunday gave the Chiefs momentum and led to Denver’s 10th consecutive loss to the Chiefs. Lock repeatedly passed up shorter completions in favor of riskier plays that didn’t work out, as he continues to try to find the line between risk and reward. At 2-4 in the AFC West, it already might be too late for Lock and the Broncos, who trail Kansas City by four wins. — Jeff Legwold

Next game: vs. Chargers (4:05 p.m. ET Sunday)

Standout performer for SF-NE: Jeff Wilson Jr., 112 rushing yards, three TDs

After an embarrassing loss to the Dolphins, the 49ers have rediscovered their identity the past two weeks, just in time for their most difficult stretch of schedule. The Niners rode a dominant running game complemented by an efficient play-action passing attack and a stingy defense all the way to the Super Bowl last season. Although injuries have taken their toll this season, the 49ers seem to have found that formula again in a pair of impressive victories, including Sunday over the Patriots. “How it’s been the last two weeks is how we obviously hope every week is,” coach Kyle Shanahan said. “When you play defense the way our guys have been playing, running the ball like we have been, just how physical all of our guys have been playing … I was very impressed with the character of our guys individually, which adds up collectively.” With Seattle, Green Bay and New Orleans up next, the 4-3 Niners will need that to continue if they are going to make another run at the postseason. — Nick Wagoner

Next game: at Seahawks (4:25 p.m. ET Sunday)

Stunningly noncompetitive. Those are words you never expect to use to describe a Bill Belichick-coached Patriots team, but that’s what it looked like Sunday. Cam Newton (three interceptions) was never comfortable, and the Patriots hardly seemed to put up a fight. In recent weeks, they are learning a hard lesson about sloppy quarterback play, which they seldom had to worry about with Tom Brady. In their 2-4 start, the Patriots have thrown three touchdown passes (fewest in the NFL) and 11 interceptions (most in the NFL). It’s hard to win with QB play like that. — Mike Reiss

Next game: at Bills (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Standout performer for JAX-LAC: Justin Herbert, 347 passing yards, three TDs, 66 rushing yards, one rushing TD

Rookie Justin Herbert continues to impress. He threw a career-high 347 yards and three touchdowns while adding another touchdown on the ground to get the Chargers back on the winning track after several frustrating near misses. Will this win help the Chargers turn their season around as the schedule lightens? Who knows. The Chargers had lost four consecutive games, and the Jaguars were on a five-game skid, but a strong finish to Sunday’s game for Los Angeles — after squandering a 16-point first-half lead — potentially saved its season. — Shelley Smith

Next game: at Broncos (4:05 p.m. ET Sunday)

With his job potentially on the line, coach Doug Marrone said he wanted to be more aggressive than he normally is against the Chargers. He called four fourth-down attempts and three 2-point conversion tries in an effort to energize a team that entered the weekend with five consecutive losses and without several key defensive players because of injuries. It wasn’t enough, though, as the Jaguars lost for the 13th time in 16 trips to the West Coast. If owner Shad Khan is going to make a change, it likely will come in the next few days because the Jaguars are on their bye. — Mike DiRocco

Next game: vs. Texans (1 p.m. ET Nov. 8)

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