Week 7 of the NFL season produced blunders early and often.
The Arizona Cardinals got the week started with a game that was one big blunder from start to finish. The Dallas Cowboys, meanwhile, had two horrendous blunders in the fourth quarter alone. Those were expected.
But in Chicago, a play that could have been one of the most exciting of the week (and possibly, the entire season) quickly turned into an unquestioned blunder. We also got an unexpected mistake from one of the league’s most reliable players.
It was just that kind of week.
These were the 10 most notable mistakes from the week of NFL action.
Arizona completely hopeless in blowout to ice cold Broncos
The Cardinals threw two first quarter pick-sixes against the Denver Broncos on Thursday (including on the game’s first possession). Those are certainly hard to ignore.
But this wasn’t simply about two plays. The overall plan was so bad that offensive coordinator Mike McCoy was fired after the game — after only seven weeks.
Defensively, it wasn’t much better. Arizona couldn’t do anything against Emmanuel Sanders, who caught six passes for 102 yards with a touchdown (and threw for another). Phillip Lindsay gashed the Cardinals for more than six yards a carry. Arizona was simply unprepared.
As a result, the Cards were routed 45-10. And they weren’t routed by one of the league’s best. The Broncos weren’t simply 2-4 heading into Thursday. They were on a four-game losing streak, averaging just over 18 points a game during the slide. Denver had no business going on the road on a short week and scoring 45 points. But that’s exactly what happened.
Jason Garrett horrendously butchers final drive
A snap infraction penalty does not let Garrett off the hook. Dallas was on the Washington 37 with 52 seconds and a time out remaining. The ‘Boys managed only two more plays before attempting the field goal. They certainly had the time to make the game-tying field goal much shorter. Heck, they could have even gone for the winning touchdown.
Instead, Garrett was content to let his kicker try a must-make field goal outdoors, on grass, from 47 yards. The penalty made it 52 and that certainly was a bad play by L.P. Ladouceur made even worse when the ensuing field goal banged off of the upright. But when you’re a coach and you go that conservative, you deserve what you get.
Mitchell Trubisky can’t quite reach the end zone on Hail Mary
Trubisky threw for 333 passing yards against the New England Patriots on Sunday. He really needed 334. Trubisky and Kevin White connected on a Hail Mary that could have tied the game for the Chicago Bears (watch here). Unfortunately, he couldn’t quite reach the end zone.
The Bears weren’t deep in their own territory. They were just shy of midfield. An NFL quarterback has to be able to get that ball in the end zone. Otherwise, the receiver needs to get himself turned around and then fight off several opponents. Even for one yard, that’s tough to do. That’s exactly what happened to White. Not converting on a Hail Mary isn’t a blunder. Not even getting the ball to the end zone is a different story.
Browns force OT with dramatic comeback but can’t get out of their own way
The Cleveland Browns scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to erase a 23-9 deficit and tie the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But things went south in a big way in overtime. After intercepting a pass in Tampa territory, they faced a third-and-three from the 38. Unlike Garrett and the Cowboys, a conservative play would have made more sense. Instead, Hue Jackson called for Baker Mayfield to drop back. He was brought down by Carl Nassib, taking Cleveland well out of field goal range.
From there, things only got worse.
A nice punt return from Jabrill Peppers appeared to set the Browns up with a decent chance to win. But the ball was fumbled, setting the Bucs up for the eventual winning kick. There’s no doubt that Cleveland has talent. But both the players and coaches make far too many mistakes which consistently doom this team. That’s why Browns could be 6-1 but instead sit at 2-4-1.
Eagles abandon the run in fourth quarter collapse
The Philadelphia Eagles led the Carolina Panthers 17-0 heading into Sunday’s fourth quarter and ended up losing 21-17. In no way is the defense blameless for that. But it’s actually the offense that gets our attention. Nursing a lead in the final frame, Philadelphia didn’t attempt a single run play.
How is that possible? Wendell Smallwood and Josh Adams were both reasonably effective through the first three quarters, albeit with a small sample size. The two of them deserved at least one combined run in the fourth quarter. The Eagles absolutely blew the game on defense. But the offense didn’t exactly do this team any favors, either.
Eli Manning stuffed on consecutive QB sneaks
With his New York Giants trailing by 11 points without a timeout in the final minute of Monday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons, Eli Manning completed a pass to Rhett Ellison at the one. With the clock running, the proper play would have been to spike the ball. If not spike it, try a pass to the end zone. Eli Manning did not do that. He elected to try a quarterback sneak and was not successful. Little did we know then, he was just getting started. Manning did the same thing on the next play and was again stuffed. Meanwhile, the clock kept on ticking.
Eventually, Manning found Odell Beckham Jr. for a touchdown with five seconds left. The ensuing onside kick was unsuccessful. Even if it had worked, New York would have had a chance to run only one play to the end zone. If the Giants scored just 20 seconds earlier, a successful onside kick would have given them a much better chance. Yes, the odds were dramatically against New York anyway. But that doesn’t make the mistakes any better. This wasn’t about Manning making physical errors. This was about a 37-year-old QB making the same mental mistake twice in a row. It’s hard to accept that.
Andy Dalton regresses in Kansas City blowout
While the Kansas City Chiefs have an unbelievable offense, the defense is nothing special. At the very least, we figured that the Cincinnati Bengals would be able to score on Kansas City, even if it came in a losing effort. But Dalton looked completely lost on Sunday night. He couldn’t even do well in garbage time, throwing a pick-six down 31-7. All told, Dalton threw for only 148 yards, with 117 of those going to A.J. Green. This offense is too talented for that to happen.
Dalton has had the reputation as a guy who doesn’t come through in the big spots. His 0-4 postseason record makes it hard to argue that point. But for the early part of 2018, he seemed to be turning a corner. Even in losses (like Week 6 vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers), Dalton has performed well in crunch time. But Sunday night in Kansas City was ugly. And if you’re a Cincinnati fan, it’s certainly troubling.
Dak Prescott hands Redskins touchdown on a silver platter
Garrett gets the blame for Dallas mishandling the final drive. But Prescott shoulders a good deal of responsibility for the Cowboys being in that position. Trailing by three in the fourth quarter, Prescott committed a cardinal sin (watch here).
Prescott not only took a sack on third-and-14 from deep in his own territory, but he actually scrambled into his own end zone. It would have been a safety; except Prescott fumbled the ball. The Redskins scooped it up for what ended up being the game-winning touchdown.
His sense of the pass rush needs to be much better, as does his sense of where he is on the field and, of course, ball security. These mistakes are frustrating enough when they come from rookies. For a quarterback like Prescott, in his third year as a starter, there’s absolutely no excuse.
Jaguars look lost again
Deshaun Watson was 12-for-24 for only 139 yards on Sunday. Despite that, the Houston Texans went on the road and defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars soundly. Blake Bortles was bad. He turned the ball over twice and was eventually pulled. But this isn’t exclusively a Bortles problem.
Jalen Ramsey didn’t have a terrible day against DeAndre Hopkins, who caught three passes for 50 yards. But the big play was there for Hopkins when he needed it. As a team, Houston rushed for 141 yards, with 100 of those belonging to Lamar Miller, who hadn’t hit even 70 yards in any of the previous four games. Remember, this is supposed to be a championship defense. It’s something entirely different right now. The Jags were painfully close to reaching the Super Bowl in 2017. In 2018, something is quite clearly very wrong in Jacksonville.
Justin Tucker inexplicably misses game-tying PAT
After John Brown scored a touchdown with 24 seconds left, all that kept the Baltimore Ravens from forcing overtime against the New Orleans Saints was the pesky PAT from Tucker, one of the best kickers the NFL and one who had never missed an extra point.
But in this game, Tucker did miss the PAT (watch here).
The Ravens lost 24-23 to the Saints. Tucker has been an incredible weapon for Baltimore over the years. He certainly can be forgiven for one blunder. He just picked a heck of a time for it. It was certainly one of the day’s biggest blunders.