Two marquee matchups on Oct. 21 summed up Week Seven perfectly: the Baltimore Ravens’ 24-23 narrow defeat at the hands of the New Orleans Saints and the 45-10 Cincinnati Bengals’ demolition by the Kansas City Chiefs.
The former game featured four lead changes and a last-second missed extra point by Ravens kicker Justin Tucker, resulting in victory for the Saints. But the latter matchup saw the Chiefs blow out the Bengals, further cementing the Chiefs’ status among the NFL’s elite.
Those two games encompass the blowouts and dramatic finishes of Week Seven.
Five games in Week Seven finished with a score difference of 20 points or more. Conversely, five games were decided by four points or less.
In the second NFL game in London this year, the Los Angeles Chargers beat the Tennessee Titans by one point. Although the Titans scored a touchdown with 31 seconds left and could have kicked an extra point to tie the game at 20, Head Coach Mike Vrabel went for the two-point conversion, which backfired. Quarterback Marcus Mariota threw an incomplete pass to wide receiver Taywan Taylor to end the game in defeat for the Titans.
“I told the team that I made a decision that we were going to be aggressive early in the drive,” Vrabel said in a post-game interview. “When that drive started, I thought … when we scored if there was less than 40 seconds, we were going to go for two points, and we were going to win the game.”
The Titans-Chargers game was not the only one-point game this week. The Ravens-Saints game also came down to the final seconds. The Ravens received the ball trailing by seven points with one minute and 59 seconds left on the clock on their 34-yard line. They embarked on a six-play drive that ended in quarterback Joe Flacco’s touchdown pass to Ravens wide receiver John Brown. The touchdown pushed the score to 24-23, leaving the Ravens hanging with just one extra point to tie and send the game into overtime. But Tucker, who had never missed an extra point in his career, missed his kick wide right.
The Ravens were unable to recover the subsequent onside kick, resulting in a heartbreaking loss for Tucker and the Ravens.
“[The kick] just happened to get away from me,” Tucker said in a post-game interview, taking accountability for the missed point. “I can’t tell you exactly what happened, but at the end of the day, I feel like I cost us the game.”
On the other end of the spectrum, the Chiefs destroyed the Bengals on offense, defense and special teams. Offensively, the Chiefs accumulated an impressive 551 total yards. Defensively, they allowed only 10 points to the Bengal offense that came into the game averaging 29 points per game. On special teams, the Chiefs nullified dangerous punt and kick returner Alex Erickson and set up their offense with a drive that started at the Cincinnati 33-yard line, tackling Bengals safety Clayton Fejedelem prior to the first down on a fake punt.
Week Seven separated pretenders from contenders. While teams like the Chiefs firmly established themselves as one of the league’s best, teams with playoff aspirations like the Ravens, Titans and Bengals faltered. Oh, how football is a game of inches!