Week 7 of the 2014 NFL season was one for the ages. One of the biggest records in the sport went down, a fake punt nobody saw coming sealed a win for a team looking to get over the hump, a team scored three touchdowns in 73 seconds on Monday night, and a significant rushing record was set as well. On top of that, we got a clearer picture of which teams are playoff contenders and which teams are simply playoff pretenders. Here’s a look at three takeaways from Week 7 of the 2014 NFL season.
The Seattle Seahawks may miss the playoffs altogether
The Seahawks’ shocking division loss to the St. Louis Rams left the defending Super Bowl champions with a 3-3 record, which is good for third place in the NFC West behind the Arizona Cardinals (5-1) and the San Francisco 49ers (4-3). The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Seahawks, and dissent in the locker room may make things even more difficult for them. While they were able to trade away Percy Harvin, the player who was reportedly causing most of the rumored problems within the Seahawks locker room, they will undoubtedly miss his explosive playmaking ability. Their defense is still arguably the best in the league and will keep them in most games, but their playoff hopes will likely come down to the play of quarterback Russell Wilson.
The Cincinnati Bengals badly need A.J. Green to get healthy
At one point in 2014, The Bengals were thought of as the best team in the AFC. Since starting 3-0, the Bengals have gone 0-2-1 in their last three games; the last two were played without All-Pro wide receiver A.J. Green, who is battling a toe injury. Cincinnati survived life without Green in Week 6, playing to a 37-37 tie with the Carolina Panthers, but Green’s absence was severely felt in Week 7.
The Bengals traveled to Indianapolis for a game with the Colts that was full of playoff implications. The result was a 27-0 loss to the Colts, in which the Bengals were able to put together a measly 135 yards of total offense. While Green may not have made the difference in the Bengals winning or losing the game, his mere presence would have opened things up for Mohamed Sanu and the other Bengals receivers, as well as Giovani Bernard (seven carries for 17 yards against the Colts) and the Cincinnati running game.
Jeff Fisher has some serious guts
Jeff Fisher’s St. Louis Rams shocked the professional football world by beating the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks in Week 7. Two key special teams calls led the way in the upset for the Rams: a deceiving punt return call and gutsy fake punt call. Most of the credit for the punt return goes to special teams coordinator John Fassel. Through his scouting, he saw an opportunity to exploit tendencies in the Seahawks’ punting game and successfully positioned his players to pull off a 90-yard punt return for a touchdown in what will likely be the most impressive punt or kick return of the 2014 season.
While the scouting and execution were flawless, it was Fisher who had to have the confidence to call for it. The second play, a fourth-quarter fake punt, was one of the gutsiest calls you will ever see an NFL coach make. The call came with two minutes and 55 seconds left in the game and the ball on the Rams’ 18 yard line. With a 28-26 lead, an unsuccessful attempt on the fake punt would have given Seattle the ball well within Seattle kicker Steven Haushka’s range, likely resulting in a Rams loss. Punter Johnny Hekker threw a perfect pass to up-back Bennie Cunningham, giving the Rams a first down, which allowed them to run out the clock and complete their Week 7 upset. If it wasn’t already clear, Fisher is clearly not a coach who believes in playing not to lose.