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Week 7 provides history lesson for observers, bad and good

Jack Dempsey / Associated Press
Behind Darren McFadden's four-touchdown effort, the Raiders had a record-setting day vs. the Broncos.


Week 7 provided history, some great, some good, some bad and some extremely bad.

As Broncos coach Josh McDaniels told his team after getting destroyed at home by the Raiders, "We get one chance a week to put our name on something for the three hours that we play and coach on Sunday and our name is forever going to be put on this game. None of us are proud of it, but we're a part of it and those of us who are a part of the problem are also going to have to be a part of the solution."

Starting with the extremely bad, the Broncos were hosting the Raiders and in desperate need of a win, after losing their last two homes games. But instead of a victory, Denver was embarrassed by Oakland, allowing 59 points and being out of the game in the first quarter. The Raiders deserve all the credit for going to Denver with a real sense of urgency and determination to get back in the win column.

The Broncos don't even need to watch the tape this week as their effort was not worth evaluating. This game will never be forgotten by any member of the Broncos, and as they take that long flight to London to play the 49ers on Sunday, they will need to move forward without feeling sorry for themselves.

The only reason the call in Miami falls under bad history and not the extreme category is because of how poorly the Broncos played. However, what happened in the Steelers-Dolphins game was bad for Miami and the league. The officials ruled (after 10 minutes of discussion and review) that there was not enough evidence to know who actually recovered Ben Roethlisberger's fumble in the end zone. So, instead of turning the ball over to the Dolphins, the Steelers got a huge break and a win that will always be a little tainted.

I believe officials are supposed to allow players to play to the whistle, therefore, why was there not more of an effort to make sure they knew who had the ball? The reason for the stoppage was once a touchdown was signaled the play was over. Clearly Roethlisberger fumbled and the ball was loose in the end zone. The blunder cost the Dolphins a victory. This will haunt the Dolphins all season, especially if they fail to make the playoffs by one game.

For the good history from Week 7, look to the Browns beating the Saints. The Browns have been down for years but they rode creative thinking, physical play and David Bowens writing his name in the NFL history books to victory. Bowens took two Drew Brees passes back for touchdowns. Prior to Sunday, the linebacker only had two picks in his entire career and he became the first Brown to take two interceptions back for scores in a game since 1960.

"I think we are all doing a little soul searching," a concerned Brees said after the loss. "We know how good we are and how good we can be. Obviously, we aren't playing that way right now. We are doing things that are not like the things that we talk about, the things that we preach and the things that we understand win and lose football games in this league."

The game was not even as close as the 30-17 score might suggest. The Browns dominated from the opening whistle thanks to creative coaching, particularly in the kicking game, and an opportunistic defense that forced Brees into four interceptions. This is a huge cause for alarm in New Orleans because the Saints no longer have that swagger that they carried with them all of last year.

For the great history, DeAngelo Hall might want to have a confrontation each week with defensive coordinator Jim Haslett if the results were as historic as they were in Chicago. Hall has never been shy about sharing his thoughts and opinions. With that in mind, Hall engaging in a disagreement with Haslett is plausible. But Hall backed up his words with an unbelievable four-interception day along with a touchdown to lead the Redskins past the giving Bears. Hall tied an NFL record with his four picks, becoming only the 19th player to achieve the feat.

With all this history being made, the one thing that is uniquely clear about the 2010 season is the best team has yet to emerge. Yes there are some good ones, but after seven weeks, it is not clear -- at least to me -- who will be the best of the AFC and NFC. That is why we need to keep watching.

Sunday's best

» I was in Atlanta, watching the Falcons play the Bengals in a must-win game for both teams, and came away impressed with combination of Matt Ryan and Roddy White. Both players were great and Ryan is now 16-1 at home. White had 201 of the 299 yards Ryan passed for, and accounted two of the quarterback's three touchdown passes.

» I love watching Ravens safety Ed Reed. The ball is a magnet that just seems to find him all the time. He has what I call "Crib Instincts," which means when his momma took him from the crib, he was already a playmaker, no training involved. Coming off the physically unable to perform list, not having any formal training camp, Reed was his old self, securing two interceptions in his first game back.

» Darren McFadden returned from an injury after missing the last two games to have his best game as a Raider, scoring four times and reinforcing why he was the fourth overall pick in the draft in 2008. McFadden was the best player on the field and made every member of the Broncos look slow.

» Kenny Britt had a weird week. Friday morning he was involved in a bar fight, which lead him to sitting out Friday's practice and the first four series against the Eagles. Britt then went on to have his finest game as a pro, leading the Titans to a victory behind three touchdowns catches as he and dominated the Eagles' secondary. Britt proved he has unique talent, and if he works hard and dedicates himself to being a great player, he will have more days like that.

» LaDainian Tomlinson is having a great year for the Jets and the man he replaced in New York is also producing. Thomas Jones always seems to be around winning teams. Sunday, he had a 70-yard run and gained 125 total on the ground in the Chiefs' victory against the Jaguars.

Sunday funnies

» The Bears are struggling offensively, and what Mike Martz is finding out is what former coordinator Ron Turner already knew -- Chicago lacks an offensive line to run any scheme effectively. Converting third downs has been an adventure for the Bears this year. They moved the chains on just 2 of 10 third-down opportunities against the Redskins, which was an improvement from a week ago (0-12).

» A year ago, the Bengals were a physical defense that played well and kept people from scoring. However, this season they struggle to play the run or pass and have not yet matched the level of intensity from a division winning squad. The Bengals spotted the Falcons a 24-3 halftime advantage and when Cincinnati's offense finally showed up and took the lead, the defense let the team down once again.


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» At what point do the 49ers stop talking about the playoffs and start talking about just trying to get better? They allowed the Panthers to gain 379 yards of offense and convert third downs at a 46 percent rate. Still, after their sixth loss, they believe in their chances. I am missing something here.

» The Eagles faced a tough matchup, especially on the road, as the Titans are built to rush the passer and create havoc, which they did against the Eagles' offensive line. Yet, not scoring the last four possessions of the game and allowing 27 fourth-quarter points is not the way to win on the road.

On the lookout

With all the talk about the recent bad tackling and helmet-to-helmet collisions, the underlying factor is most players are not trying to actually tackle the ball carrier, but instead strip the ball away and create a turnover. As evidenced Sunday, there were 52 fumbles, 29 of them lost. No one is properly tackling any longer. Everyone is going for the football.

Off the beaten track

While the Buccaneers are 4-2, I am not a believer in their team. However, quarterback Josh Freeman has had to lead the team to fourth-quarter rallies in five of the seven games he has won. The Buccaneers are one of those teams that, if they are able to hang around, might be able to mount a comeback, especially at home.

Do you think coach Raheem Morris really believes what he is saying?

"I like where we are. We're 4-2. We're the best team in the NFC. Yeah, I said it. We're the best team in the NFC and we're excited."

Three-step drops

» The Bills gave a valiant effort against the Ravens. If they keep playing hard and cut down on the turnovers, they will break into the win column. …

» The Ravens had to play several tough games in a row and did not bring their "A" game. Still, they managed to win, which is all that counts. …

» Vikings DE Jared Allen has only one sack this year and does not look like the same player coming off the edge. He still gives great effort, but his production in terms of hurries and sacks is down. …

» Bears coach Lovie Smith (more about this on Wednesday) did not challenge a goal-line fumble call against the Redskins after throwing a questionable flag the play before. He is 3-15 on challenges since 2009. His Bears are not good enough to overcome the missed opportunities. …

» The Patriots made the Chargers work the ball down the field and forced 15 third downs, which is critical if you want to slow down this passing game. The biggest pass completed was for 26 yards. …

» Punter Reggie Hodges' run accounted for a third of the Browns' offense on his 68-yard fake punt. Forget yards gained, it's more important to do what it takes to win. And Eric Mangini did the right things to allow his team a chance to beat the Saints in New Orleans. …

» Marshawn Lynch has given the Seahawks a little power in their run game and this has helped the offense find an identity. I still think the Packers would be better with Lynch then they are with their four-round pick in 2011. …

» Speaking of backs, Ryan Torain had another 100-yard day for the 'Skins and Chris Ivory is the real deal for the Saints. Both backs were available to all teams via the waiver wire, but each went unclaimed. At this point point, both could help many teams that need a back. …

» Running back Danny Woodhead has helped the Patriots redefine who they are offensively and become more explosive. Filling in for Kevin Faulk, Woodhead allowed the Patriots to ignite a stagnate offense against the Chargers.

Follow Michael Lombardi on Twitter @michaelombardi

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