Week 7 was ugly but two of three NFC North teams earned wins. The Lions rested on a much needed bye to prepare for the 5-2 Pittsburgh Steelers. Let’s take a look at the action.
Minnesota 24 Ravens 16
The Vikings won another defensive battle with a strong rushing day (5.1 YPC). Latavius Murray finally started earning that contract with 113 yards and a TD on 18 carries. Case Keenum didn’t do much with 188 yards and 1 interception against a strong Ravens secondary. The Vikings defense held the Ravens to 3.2 YPC and Flacco to a paltry 4.8 YPA (186 yards).
The Ravens punted to start the game but Keenum threw a pick to Brandon Carr. The Ravens marched 35 yards for an early field goal and 3-0 lead. The Vikings responded with a 41 yard field goal drive led by two Keenum first down passes for 12 yards. A big penalty on the Ravens for illegal use of hands extended the drive on 3rd down and got the Vikings into field goal range. Forbath nailed the 52 yarder to tie the game.
The Ravens punted and the Vikings earned another field goal drive. Keenum hit Thielen for 13 yards and Murray started running well. Forbath nailed another 50 yarder (51) for the 6-3 lead. The Ravens responded with another field goal drive of their own.
They exchanged punts and the Vikings earned a long field goal drive again on a 60 yard drive. Keenum hit Wright, Treadwell and Rudolph for first downs and McKinnon ran for a first. Forbath nailed the 43 yarder and the Vikings led 9-6 at half time in the battle of field goals.
The field goals continued in the second half with a Vikings 50 yard drive. Murray sparked the drive with a 35 yard run and Keenum scrambled for a first down. Thielen OPI killed the drive but Forbath notched a 43 yarder for the 12-6 Vikings lead.
The Ravens went 3 and out and punted. Marcus Sherels had a nice 19 yard return to start at the Ravens 45 yard line. Minnesota ended the field goal streak and finally got a big TD. Keenum found Rudolph for a first down and Murray ran 29 yards for a touchdown. The Vikings led 18-9 but missed the extra point.
The Ravens responded with another field goal drive with Tucker making the 47 yarder. Flacco hit Campanaro for 19 yarders who played for the injured Jeremy Maclin and Breshad Perriman. The Ravens earned two first downs run but Flacco missed on 3rd down to kill the drive.
The Vikings and Ravens exchanged punts again but Minnesota got the ball at their own 48 yard line. Minnesota drove 35 yards and Forbath nailed yet another field goal for 34 yards and the 21-9 lead.
The Ravens punted again and the Vikings got a sixth field goal drive for 64 yards eating 6:47 from the clock. They led 24-9 and had control of the game. The Ravens had only 3 minutes to work with and earned a garbage time TD as time expired. The Vikings dominated at home against a poor Ravens offense for the 24-16 win. The Vikings are now 5-2 and control the NFC North.
Bears 17 Panthers 3
The Bears defense is legit holding the Panthers to 3 points. Cam Newton had 211 yards for 6.2 YPA with a 54.9 rating due to two interceptions. Rookie safety Eddie Jackson scored on an interception return and fumble recovery return on a flukey bounce. Trubisky threw only 7 passes on the day. That is insane. The Bears ran 26 times for only 2.6 YPC but still won the game with defense.
The Panthers drove deep into Bears territory but fumbled the ball and a crazy bounce went to Jackson who returned the ball 75 yards for the TD and 7-0 lead. The Panthers and Bears exchanged 3 and out punts and the Panthers added a second 3 and out for good measure.
The Bears drove 34 yards but Connor Barth missed a field goal. The Bears defense rose up and picked off Newton and Jackson returned the interception 76 yards for the 14-0 Bears lead.
Carolina responded for 56 yards and 16 plays eating 9:10 of the second quarter. They earned only 3 points and trailed 14-3. The Bears got a big play with Trubisky hitting Tarik Cohen for 70 yards. They couldn’t score from the five yard line and settled for the Barth 19 yard field goal. Chicago led 17-3 at the half.
This half was ugly. The Bears started with a 3 and out and the Panthers drove 52 yards but ended up turning the ball over on downs in Bears territory. Chicago had another 3 and out. The Panthers drove 42 yards for 6:37 but had to punt around mid-field. The Bears again went 3 and out but the Panthers followed with a 3 and out of their own. Defense was the name of the game on this day at Soldier Field.
The Bears were forced for a surprising 3 and out but the Bears defense then picked off Newton for the second time on the day. Chicago responded with another glorious 3 and out. The Panthers down 14 decided they were cool with that and had a 3 and out and punted down 14 with 3:44 left. The Bears ran the clock out and ended this miserable game. Somehow the Bears won two in a row despite zero offense and are back in the NFC North race at 3-4.
Saints 26 Packers 17
Seneca Wallace 2.0 looked terrible for the Packers. Brett Hundley went 12/25 for 87 (yes 87) yards with 39.9 QB rating. Aaron Jones ran well with 131 yards and a TD for 7.7 YPC. Hundley had a few nice scrambles including a TD run but Ty Montgomery ran poorly on 4 carries (1.5 YPC). It was an ugly day for the Rodgers less Packers (tru Packers).
Brees was held in check with an 84.4 rating with 1 TD and 2 interceptions but did have 331 yards. Mark Ingram ran well with 105 yards on 22 carries and a TD. Kamara chipped in 57 yards on 9 carries for 6.3 YPC. The Saints might/may have good running game.
Rookie Aaron Jones started things off well for the Packers with a 15 yard run and 6 yard first down run. Jones found a hole and went 46 yards for the first TD of the game. The Packers run game was on fire to start the game.
Brees drove the Saints to the Packers 20 but threw a red zone interception (Damarius Randall) to kill the drive. The Packers bent but didn’t break on the opening drive. Green Bay’s offense cooled off with a 3 and out. The Saints drove 44 yards but the Packers picked Brees off for the second time already. Randall notched the first pick and House earned the second.
The Packers offense was not impressed and went 3 and out. The Saints started at their own 47 and drove 53 yards to tie the game. Ingram and Kamara ran well on the drive and Ingram capped the drive with a 12 yard TD run for the 7-7 score.
The Packers offense actually responded. Montgomery and Jones notched 9 and 5 yard runs to start the drive well. Hundley hit Cobb for 14 yards and a horse collar by AJ Klein tacked on another 15 yards. Hundley found Bennett for 12 yards and 3rd and 4 was replayed for offsetting penalties. Hundley used his legs for a 14 yard scamper for the TD. Green Bay led 14-7 and it looked like Flynn magic was in effect.
The teams exchanged punts and the Saints punted again down 14-7. The Packers drove 40 yards but Mason Crosby missed a long 59 yard field goal. Green Bay led 14-7 at home.
The Saints offense woke up in the second half. They opened the half and drove 59 yards for a TD. Brees hit Brandon Coleman for the 22 yard TD but the extra point was blocked. Green Bay still led 14-13.
The Packers offense slept through the second half and punted to start the half. The Saints drove 74 yards for the lead on a field goal.
Green Bay responded with a good 53 yard field goal drive to take back the lead at 17-16. Hundley first down for 8 yards and Jones had a 21 yard touch. The Packers fumbled but they recovered but the Saints gave the Packers a free 15 yards on a David Onyemata penalty. This allowed Crosby to hit the 46 yarder.
The Saints kept the field goal train rolling with a 63 yard drive. Lutz hit the 44 yarder and the Saints regained the lead at 19-17. Brees hit Ginn and Thomas for first downs and Kamara had a big 19 yard run on the drive.
The Packers needed a response on offense but instead went 3 and out. The Saints got the ball at their own 45 yard line and marched 55 yards. Ingram ran for 23 yards and Kentrell Brice had a huge 15 yard horse collar tackle. Brees found Ingram for a first down at the 2 yard line. Finally, Brees snuck the ball in the end zone on 3rd and goal. The Saints took control at 26-17.
The Packers still had 4:55 but on 3rd and 6 Kenny Vaccaro intercepted a ball intended for Martellus Bennett and the Saints got the ball back. New Orleans ate the last 4:20 off the clock and sealed the win. Green Bay was competitive but came up short once again without their magician pulling rabbits out of his ass. Green Bay fell to 4-3 and now take a bye to try and figure out their passing game without Rodgers.