By Around the NFL staff
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What a long, luxurious day of football. Case Keenum kicked off the seventh Sunday of the season with a four-pack of picks. The Genocoaster broke down mid-game. A.J. Green dismantled Cleveland’s secondary to save Cincy’s season. And Tom Brady and Co. look as good as ever. Here’s what we’ve learned so far in Week 7.
1. The Browns had things rolling for once before it promptly fell apart. After Isaiah Crowell capped a drive with a one-yard touchdown run, Andy Dalton and the Bengals‘ offense responded to Cleveland’s score and 10-7 lead by connecting with Brandon LaFell for a 44-yard touchdown. Cincinnati’s defense one-upped the offense on the drive prior by forcing Cody Kessler out of the game with a concussion, calling into action fellow rookie and recent practice squad promotion Kevin Hogan. The Bengals‘ offense then fired the final shot, a Hail Mary that A.J. Green corralled with one hand in the end zone as time expired to give the Bengals a 21-10 lead at half. As soon as Cleveland was in it, the Browns were just as quickly out of it.
2. Jeremy Hill ripped off a 74-yard touchdown that saw him top out at 20.17 mph, per Next Gen Stats. It was a good run for him on a great afternoon — 271 yards rushing as a team and 551 total yards of offense great — but isn’t necessarily a sign of more things to come for Cincinnati. It was truly more indicative of a Browns defense that struggles to stop most anyone on the ground, including a 235-pound back who rumbled with ease past all 11 defenders for a score.
3. Cincinnati can thank the scheduling gods for this gift of a Week 7 opponent. The Bengals were nearing free fall after two straight double-digit losses, but thankfully got the Browns on Sunday. No one will question that the Browns bring maximum effort to the field each week, but their lack of talent shows. It was evident in their inability to get stops after scores, their struggles on third down with Hogan at quarterback, and even after the Bengals gifted them two fresh sets of downs in the third, their almost immediate three-and-outs.
— Nick Shook
1. San Francisco jumped out to a 14-0 lead, and it was all downhill from there in the worst way possible. The Niners couldn’t sustain much offensively, and when they did, they stalled out thanks to some peculiar play-calling and poor execution. It resulted in just three points, while Tampa Bay racked up 34. Colin Kaepernick made plays with his feet, but was constantly under pressure and rarely looked comfortable. It was evident in his 16-of-34 day.
2. Jameis Winston continues to perplex those who watch him play quarterback. Statistically, he had a solid game, completing 21 of 30 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. He narrowly avoided a couple more and showed a tendency to sail the ball from time to time. But against opponents the caliber of the Niners, it’s important to both win the game and use it to renew connections that can again become a team’s bread and butter. Winston to Mike Evans was that, as the two hooked up for eight completions, 96 yards and two touchdowns. Winston also made some progress with Russell Shepard, who had a nice afternoon, catching five passes for 77 yards and a touchdown against tight coverage in the second quarter to put Tampa Bay ahead for good.
3. San Francisco is the worst in the NFL against the run — 174.5 yards rushing allowed per game — and it showed Sunday. Tampa Bay gained 249 net yards rushing against San Francisco. For the second straight game, Jacquizz Rodgers broke 100 yards on the ground, gaining 154 yards on 26 carries. Rookie running back Peyton Barber added another 84 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. He wasn’t challenged on his score from 44 yards out. You could have thrown almost any running back back there for Tampa Bay and he’d have gained at least a couple of first downs. It’s going to continue to be a rough season for the Niners’ faithful.
— Nick Shook