NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE: The Steelers remain unbeaten as New England suffer another lossFriday, October 30, 2020
BY MARK ARCHER
Week seven of the 2020-21 National Football League (NFL) season was filled with so many headlines, it would take an encyclopedia to fully cover all the action. However, here is a condensed version of the main acts.
The battle of the undefeated lived up to its billing. The Pittsburgh Steelers outlasted the Tennessee Titans 27-24 to remain the only undefeated team left in the league.
The Steelers had a strong first half and built a 24-7 lead by half-time. The Titans scrambled their way back in the second half, holding their opponents to three points while adding 17 of their own. Pittsburgh only won after a late missed field goal from kicking legend Stephen Gostkowski—this was well worth the watch.
The Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals' matchup provided one of the most enjoyable games this season; a game which showcased an NFL-first five touchdowns to change the lead. Cincinnati's quarterback (QB) Joe Burrow was sensational (406 passing yards with three touchdowns) but his counterpart, Baker Mayfield (297 passing yards with five touchdowns), was that much better where it mattered.
The only low point of the game was the season-ending injury to receiver Odell Beckham Jr but, truth be told, in his 23 games for the Browns, he has averaged 58.9 receiving yards per game with just seven touchdowns – this may not be that bad a blow. Other receivers on both teams had career nights and the narrow 37-34 Browns' victory will be discussed for a long time – especially in Ohio where both teams call home.
The Seattle Seahawks can't seem to avoid a thriller when they play on Sunday nights but there was a big difference last weekend, they lost. Seahawks QB and NFL-MVP frontrunner Russell Wilson had a topsy-turvy evening, throwing for 388 yards with three touchdowns but also had three untimely interceptions that kept the Arizona Cardinal in the game and ultimately led to the 34-37 overtime defeat.
Seattle receiver Tyler Lockett was particularly impressive with 200 yards and three touchdowns, but his degree of technical execution cannot be recorded in statistics and can only be appreciated in actual gameplay. If you didn't see the game, search for the highlights – It will be worth it.
Cardinals kicker, Zane Gonzalez, who missed a 41-yard field goal early in overtime, redeemed himself by scoring one from 48 with only a few seconds left, handing Arizona a mammoth victory and Seattle its first loss of the season —This was an edge-of-your-seat thriller.
The Bill Belichick coached New England Patriots are 2-4 for the first time since 2000 after they were crushed 33-6 in Foxboro last Sunday by the San Francisco 49ers. Drew Bledsoe was the quarterback then and Tom Brady was only a rookie fresh out of Michigan State University.
The 27-point home defeat was the worst for Belichick as New England's head coach and they were lit up by 49ers' QB Jimmy Garoppolo, the one-time backup for Brady with the Patriots. Garoppolo was far from perfect but he was the best QB on the field while San Francisco's defence capitalised on mistakes by Patriots' QB Cam Newton.
It is really strange to see the Patriots sink to this level and, while they last missed the play-off in 2008, it would take a miracle for them make it to the postseason this year.
Last weekend, there was a thriller between undefeated teams, but the victors must now put the celebration of their victory over the Tennessee Titans to rest and look to defend their status this weekend. The Steelers (6-0) will take the NFL's only undefeated record into M&T Bank Stadium to tackle American Football Conference (AFC) North rivals, the Baltimore Ravens (5-1).
The Ravens are coming off a bye so they should be fully rested, and the Steelers are coming off a marathon where they narrowly escaped with a win after nearly blowing a 20-point lead last Sunday. The Steelers lead the overall series 28–24, but Baltimore's QB Lamar Jackson has been spectacular since becoming a starter and, apart from three losses against the Kansas City Chiefs, he has only lost once in his 25 regular season starts.
These are the only two teams in the AFC North to have won the Super Bowl, there is pride at stake and they are both expected to come out swinging — Mark this one on your calendar.
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Kansas City Chiefs 4.80
Baltimore Ravens 6.60
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8.80
Pittsburgh Steelers 9.40
Green Bay Packers 11.00
Seattle Seahawks 11.00
New Orleans Saints 14.00
Los Angeles Rams 19.00
Tennessee Titans 21.00
Buffalo Bills 24.00
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