NFL: 5 things we've learned in Week 7 - Henry, Darnold, Bengals...
As Tom Brady made more NFL history, Derrick Henry showed his influence in the Titans' win over the Chiefs, and the Bengals sent out quite a message by defeating the Ravens.
With byes for four teams, there has been NFL action at 12 stadiums in Week 7, ahead of the New Orleans Saints' Monday Night Football visit to Lumen Field to face the Seattle Seahawks.
And as is the case nearly every weekend, Tom Brady has grabbed the headlines, the quarterback becoming the first player to throw 600 career touchdown passes in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 38-3 win over the Chicago Bears. It feels like Brady has been going since the dawn of time; he continues to defy the ageing process.
Indeed, like Benjamin Button, Touchdown Tom just seems to get younger. Now 44, he still looks like a kid in his turned-around baseball cap and, as he racks up record figures in passing yards (81,479) and TD passes (602), he plays like he’s brimming with youth, too.
With 203 completed passes and 21 touchdown passes so far this season, Brady has also become the third player to rack up at least 200 successful throws and 20 TDs in the first seven weeks of a campaign, following in the footsteps of Andrew Luck (2018) and Hall of Famer Peyton Manning (2013).
Perhaps, like Sylvester Stallone in the movie Over the Top, Brady has discovered that flipping his baseball cap around brings him extra energy. What’s for certain is that, having moved to 6-1, the Bucs have registered their best ever start.
However, the seventh Sunday of the 2021 season wasn’t only about the exploits of Tom Brady. For other quarterbacks, it was an altogether less successful day; just ask Kansas City Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes, who was forced out of his team’s 27-3 loss to the Tennessee Titans, after taking a hit to the head in a brutal sack by Denico Autrey.
Derrick Henry is the most influential player in the NFL
On the same stage where Mahomes could have been mistaken for any old quarterback and not the man with a 500-million-dollar cheque, Derrick Henry put in a statement performance that marked him out as the most influential player in the NFL.
The Titans took several steps forward when they climbed aboard their muscle car. Although he didn’t get into three figures on Sunday, the 100 rushing yards he usually registers served to fool the Chiefs’ defence when, close to the end zone, he made to run the ball before throwing to tight end Mycole Pruitt to get the first points on the scoreboard.
The Henry effect means teams are so concerned with stopping the NFL’s best runner that the Titans are left with almost boundless space and opportunities to create aerial plays.
Raiders thriving, Carr on pace to break Manning record
As the name Jon Gruden disappears from the NFL vocabulary (Tampa Bay have removed him from their Ring of Honor), the Las Vegas Raiders are now 2-0 under interim head coach Rich Bisaccia and sit top of the AFC East, with Derek Carr playing at a level of intensity that matched the rain that fell on Santa Clara on Sunday.
The quarterback completed 16 consecutive passes in the first half against the Philadelphia Eagles. He ended up with 31 out of 34 passes for 323 yards, and is in the running to break Manning’s single-season throwing yards record of 5,477.
Bengals looking like a force to be reckoned with
Taking on the Ravens is a challenge for any team, given that the Baltimore offence boasts the dynamism of Lamar Jackson. Viewed as underdogs on Sunday, the Cincinnati Bengals sprang a surprise by defeating the Ravens, on a day when Joe Burrow made his 17th NFL start and marked it by throwing for 406 yards and three touchdowns.
Burrow is only the fourth player to register at least 400 yards and two TDs twice in the first 20 games of his career. Wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase had 201 yards - a record for a Bengals rookie - and one touchdown.
It's official: Darnold's regression continues
In the Carolina Panthers’ 25-3 loss to the New York Giants, Sam Darnold again showed that his promising start to the season was a false dawn. Affected by the prolonged absence of running back Christian McCaffrey, the quarterback threw for 111 yards before being benched. The Panthers remain in free fall: they've now suffered four defeats in a row.
Jets just the opponent for the Patriots
Matchups with the worst teams in the NFL always come at the right time for Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots. After another devastating defeat, the Patriots came up against the hapless New York Jets and hit them for 54 points and 551 yards.
The rookie Mac Jones threw for 307 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions. Jones has 174 completed passes this season and is one of three QBs to have racked up 170 successful passes in the first seven starts of his NFL career.