1. I think this is what I liked about Week 7:
a. Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch meeting Dashon Goldson and bulling him five yards past the initial hit.
b. Very nice touchdown-allowing block by Vernon Davis Thursday night, the Delanie Walker job just inside the cone.
c. Martellus Bennett, with hands Jerry Jones paid for but never saw.
d. Great tackle on Ben Tate, Ed Reed.
e. Ronde Barber. The ball just finds him.
f. Two touchdown runs, Andrew Luck? Who are you trying to be, RGIII?
g. As important: 11- and 14-play drives on the first two possessions of the day against Cleveland.
h. Catch of the day, and I don't mean fish: Houston tight end Garrett Graham's tap to himself on the Texans' second-quarter touchdown drive. A 240-pound man shouldn't be that lithe.
i. Linval Joseph, the unsung Giant on the defensive line, knocking Alfred Morris' first fumble of his NFL career loose.
j. Great camera work by FOX showing, apparently, Ahmad Bradshaw going nutso on Victor Cruz for pulling up short on a downfield block that could have sprung Bradshaw for a longer run. Bradshaw slapped Cruz so hard on the helmet I was surprised Cruz didn't go back at him. But they didn't have to be separated.
k. How clutch is Eli Manning?
l. Casey Hayward, the rookie from Vanderbilt, with his fourth interception in seven games for the Packers. The kid's a keeper.
m. I'd love to give Chris Johnson more praise than this for a 195-yard, two-touchdown day, but the Buffalo defensive front, so stunningly leaky all season, doesn't allow me to muster all that I normally would.
n. Surprised how clutch Nick Folk has been for the Jets.
o. Really like how active the former draft-weekend busteroo Vontaze Burfict was against the Steelers. I can see why defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer likes him so much. He had 15 tackles Sunday night.
2. I think this is what I didn't like about Week 7:
a. Dumb, dumb taunt by Dashon Goldson, handing Seattle a drive-extending first down.
b. Robert Turbin, you just can't drop a touchdown pass in a game of Seahawks-Niners magnitude. Cost your team four points right there, the difference between a touchdown and the field goal Seattle settled for. And Ben Obamanu, you can't trip over a ghost.
c. That wasn't a chop block, Walt Anderson. Second blocker blocked the San Francisco defender, Aldon Smith, in the hip/waist, and a second block in a chop-block combo needs to block below the waist.
d. You might want to cover Tiquan Underwood, Saints. He's a receiver for the Bucs. Wide open in the red zone.
e. Uh, Bucs? Worst uniforms in NFL history, those creamsicles. There was once a time, a generation ago, when the Bucs wanted to send the team out with orange shirts and orange pants. Linebacker Hardy Nickerson balked. Said you can send everyone else out in that junk but I'm not wearing orange pants with the orange shirt; the shirt's bad enough. So the team relented.
f. Decisions, Christian Ponder, decisions. Throw the ball away near the end of the half deep in your own turf, not to the other team.
g. Could say the same thing for John Skelton in the same game. Awful pick he threw.
h. And Carson Palmer, if you're going to make a dumb left-handed throw, study Brett Favre first, please.
i. Redskins defenders jaw too much for my liking.
j. Ryan Fitzpatrick's interception late to Jason McCourty, costing Buffalo the game. "Dumb throw, dumb decision,'' Fitzpatrick said. No one argued.
k. Are you serious, Mike Wallace? Two drops in the first 13 minutes Sunday night? The second was going to be a big gainer. And here's the deal: There's no way a receiver with a case of the drops (which Wallace has had this year) is going to get big money from the Rooneys.
l. Baron Batch, Baron Batch. You get playing time by making plays. You sit when you drop wide-open touchdowns.
m. Jags adrift. So many injuries, so little hope.
n. Stephen Hill's big late drop in New England. Can't build trust with your quarterback playing like that.
3. I think this says something, and it's not good, about Cam Newton: Carolina's 0-12 in games he throws an interception. And the one he threw deep in the red zone Sunday was a horrible decision.
4. I think you should watch for chinks in the Steeler offensive harmony. Ben Roethlisberger has been taking little shots at first-year offensive coordinator Todd Haley, and Friday, he told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "Haley's offense is not a big-play offense. It's kind of a dink-and-dunk offense." Asked about wanting more downfield throws, Roethlisberger said: "There's a guy calling the plays. That's on him." There was a gulf between Haley and his quarterback in Kansas City, Matt Cassel, and now there might be some with Roethlisberger.
5. I think it's been a long time since I saw the Steelers get gashed on the run the way Cincinnati gashed them early Sunday night. Nine carries, 49 rushing yards on the first drive. We're seeing a changing of the defensive guard in Pittsburgh right now, and it's not good.
6. I think the officiating call of the day was by Tony Steratore, the back judge in Tampa, when he had to make a lightning-fast ruling when Vincent Jackson caught a pass at the back of the end zone in Bucs-Saints, and both of his heels came down verrrrry close to the end line, and Steratore ruled the catch no good immediately. And when the replay came down, both feet had a half-inch on the back line.
7. I think quarterbacks trying to resuscitate their careers look to San Diego throwing coach George Whitfield, and Vince Young is the latest. Whitfield said Sunday night he just spent a week with Young, working three times a day. Young, who could get a workout with Arizona, has been dogged by NFL teams thinking he's not a worker bee, so being with Whitfield will obviously help.
8. I think if I were defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt, I would be renting, not buying, in Buffalo.
9. I think we're not going to know what we need to know about the Vikings -- namely, how they'll play in January, if they make it that far -- until we see their 15-day stretch following their Week 11 bye: at Chicago, at Green Bay, Chicago.
10. I think these are my non-NFL thoughts of the week.
a. I may be the last person on earth still to have an AOL email address, I guess I'm just too lazy to change. Now I have a good reason to change. On AOL's front page the other day, the page with news and social and sports commentary, there was a picture of Kim Kardashian, with the news that she was caught going "commando,'' which, and you don't need to use Urban Dictionary for this, means she was photographed with no underwear. Of course you could click the link and go find out more about this important story. So I'm a prude. Do I need to see a headline about some celebrity's underwear displayed prominently on the front page of a supposedly respectable internet company? Aren't there idiot websites for that? Shame on you, AOL.
b. I weep for America.
c. Congrats, Paul Fichtenbaum, for getting the Time Inc. Sports Group editor's job, and Chris Stone, for being named the new managing editor of Sports Illustrated. And thanks to Terry McDonell, SI's longtime managing editor, for his leadership over the past 10 years -- and for his personal friendship. Good luck to all.
e. From those who enjoy calling someone who has lost four parents and parents-in-law to cancer (me), pro-cancer, it's a free country.
f. My point in questioning those who continue to support Lance Armstrong and the cancer-cure charity, Livestrong, that arose out of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, was not to criticize anyone for giving money to try to help eradicate cancer. It was this, very simply: When I contribute money to a cause, I want to know where it's going, and I want to respect the people and or the cause.
Lance Armstrong engendered a flood of giving -- some $470 million over the years -- to Livestrong because he sold a great comeback story: that he'd overcome testicular cancer to win seven Tours de France. Now the avalanche of evidence suggests he did it while blood-doping, which is against the rules. It could be that people would have contributed the same amount if Armstrong finished third or eighth or 26th in all those races, but I doubt it. If you donate money, it should be to a cause that's totally above board.
g. For those who say everyone was cheating, so who cares, I say: So he won a dirty race while cheating like everyone else. Wow. That's something to be proud of.
h. For those who say, I don't care how they raise the money, it's sorely needed, I say: I'm glad people felt so passionate about cancer research and causes that they contributed more than a dollar for every man, woman and child in the country toward it. I just believe that if you ask complete strangers for money for anything, you should be honest in doing so.
i. Coffeenerdness: Long live Starbucks Italian Roast. Along with Peet's Major Dickason's Blend, it's peerless among dark roasts.
j. Beernerdness: Found the best pumpkin beer of the season (with due respect to my buddy Alex Marvez, who votes for Dogfish Head Punkin, which I liked but not as much as this one): Captain Lawrence Pumpkin Ale, from Elmsford, N.Y., with, according to the label, "pumpkin pie spices added to the end of the boil.'' Very noticeable. And very good. Great nose.
k. Sox trade shortstop Mike Aviles to Toronto for manager John Farrell. Odd, unless you consider Farrell is one of the only guys who can handle that strange mess in the Boston clubhouse, and unless you consider Aviles, an admirable good team player, had a .291 on-base percentage in 613 Boston at-bats over two years and wasn't part of the long-term solution.
l. Never thought the Yankees would hit for a full series like the '11 Mariners. Stunning fall.
m. There's no perfect team, which is why the World Series, Detroit at Cards/Giants, starting Wednesday, should be fun and unpredictable.
n. Notre Dame seems to have used two of its nine lives.
o. I still see Geno Smith as I saw him a month ago -- as a top-10 pick next April. With flaws, like the rest of the prospects.
p. RIP, George McGovern. He grew up during the Depression, fought for everything he ever got in life, and earned his right to be the biggest anti-Vietnam critic in America 40 years ago because he flew 35 bomber missions over Europe in World War II. South Dakota mourns the 1972 Democratic candidate for president today, and American joins in.
q. And RIP, Abe Collinsworth. The father of Cris, who died last week of leukemia, coached and taught before becoming a school superintendent in Florida. If children are the measure of a man, Abe had one heck of a life. Condolences to Cris and his family.
The former SI senior writer has written an invaluable two-part series on the decline and suicide of Junior Seau for UT-San Diego, and it puts into clear focus why Seau killed himself. She writes: "Seau was completely unprepared for retirement's physical, psychological, emotional and financial toll. Instead of having open-ended days in which he could just relax and enjoy life, he started to question his identity; his purpose in life; his shortcomings as a husband, a boyfriend and a father, and his worth as a man. The lack of structure in his life -- in particular, the absence of career obligations and responsibilities -- increased his depression, and gave him more time to dwell on it. The diminished offseason physical training, as well as no longer having to devote hours each week to practices and games, meant he generated less adrenaline and fewer endorphins, which act as antidepressants. Once Seau retired, it didn't take long for his life to start coming apart. It happened fast, and it came at him from all angles. And it never seemed to stop.''
She quotes Seau's former wife, Gina, as saying he felt "obligated to be an ATM for his family. It was a constant drain." Lieber Steeg writes that Seau became a serial gambler, losing $191,276 one night at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. And she quotes good friend Warren Moon as saying he understood, after seeing the weight of evidence, why Seau killed himself. Great work by Lieber Steeg.
As for Chicago 27, Detroit 20 tonight at Soldier Field: The state of the Bears right now reminds me of the state of the Bears around game nine last year, when they routed the Lions 37-13 at Soldier Field. (After starting 7-3, Chicago faded when Jay Cutler was hurt in game 10 against San Diego.) Only this time, the Bears have better weapons at receivers, and they're competent at cornerback. I think the Lions are getting better, particularly in the passing game, which is why I think this will be a competitive game into the fourth quarter.
Love football? Me too.
Learned one thing in Week 7:
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