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NFL Football 2013: 5 Things We Learned From Week 7

Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning
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Peyton Manning had a bittersweet homecoming in Indianapolis, and injuries to several key players could reshape the playoff picture. Here’s what we learned in Week 7 of the 2013 NFL season:

You Can’t Push Your Teammate into a Pile

New England Patriots v New York Jets
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When kicker Nick Folk missed a 56-yard field goal, it appeared that the New England Patriots (5-2) had kept the Jets (4-3) off the scoreboard on New York’s first possession of overtime. However, officials called a new-for-2013 penalty on New England’s Chris Jones for pushing his teammate into a pile — the first time the 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct foul had ever been called in an NFL game. The infraction gave the Jets a new set of downs and set up Folk’s game-winning 42-yard effort. There was plenty of swearing after the 30-27 New York win. Most of the profanity was by Patriots’ fans directed at Jones and/or the refs, but Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan was equally pumped up about the victory.

Calvin Johnson Can’t Block Kicks

Cincinnati Bengals v Detroit Lions
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Lions’ wide receiver Calvin Johnson caught nine passes for 155 yards and two scores against Cincinnati (5-2) on Sunday, but no catch was more impressive than the 50-yard touchdown grab he made over three Bengals’ defenders on Matt Stafford’s heave into the end zone at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Despite Johnson’s game-tying score, Detroit (4-3) lost, 27-24, when Mike Nugent kicked a 54-yard field goal on the game’s final play. Maybe Lions’ coach Jim Schwartz can send Johnson in on special teams next game. His vertical leap could only help.

The Cowboys Solved the Eagles’ QB Controversy

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles
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With Nick Foles making his second straight start in place of injured Michael Vick — and the Eagles riding a two-game win streak — a quarterback conundrum was looming for Philadelphia (3-4). Not anymore. Even without DeMarcus Ware, Dallas (4-3) dominated Foles and the Eagles’ weapon-rich offense, 17-3, on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. Foles had a dreadful game before leaving with an undisclosed head injury at the end of the third quarter. Rookie Matt Barkley came on to throw three interceptions in the fourth quarter. Regardless of Foles’ health, Vick should remain the Eagles’ starter if he’s healthy. Barkley, unfortunately, can’t return to USC, where he is sorely missed.

The Broncos Have a Legend, But the Colts Have Luck

Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning
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For more than three quarters, Indianapolis (5-2) dominated Denver (6-1) and former Colts’ quarterback Peyton Manning. Thanks to three first-half touchdown passes by Manning’s replacement, Andrew Luck, Indy rolled to a 33-14 lead late in the third quarter. That’s when Manning started to bring the Broncos back, closing to within 36-30 with 8:44 to play. Had it not been for a goal-line fumble by Ronnie Hillman with 3:03 left, Denver could have beaten the Colts in ‘The House That Peyton Built.’ It’s clear to most football fans after Indy’s 39-33 win that Andrew Luck is the new lease-holder.

Injuries May Reshape Divisional Races

Chicago Bears v Washington Redskins
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Three starting quarterbacks could not finish their respective games on Sunday due to injuries they suffered: Chicago’s Jay Cutler (groin), St. Louis’ Sam Bradford (knee) and Philadelphia’s Nick Foles (head) could all be lost for several weeks. While the Bears, Rams and Eagles aren’t top-tier teams, each was still in position to make a playoff run prior to Week 7. That could change.

Additionally, Texans’ linebacker Brian Cushing reportedly tore his left LCL and broke his leg when Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles’ helmet impacted on his knee. Also, Houston running back Arian Foster left with a hamstring injury; the Bengals lost cornerback Leon Hall for the season with a torn right Achilles; Packers’ tight end Jermichael Finley was stretchered off with a neck injury; Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin didn’t finish his team’s game against the Falcons due to a shoulder injury and Colts’ WR Reggie Wayne left the Sunday night game with a sprained knee. The Bucs and Texans might not be playoff-level teams, but all of the injured players are key to their teams’ competitiveness in the second half of the 2013 season.

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