Here are five things to love about the NFL from the seventh weekend of the season:
One. Tony Gonzalez. After catching five passes for 62 yards in the Falcons’ victory over the Lions on Sunday, only one player in the 92-year history of the league has caught more passes than Gonzalez – and that is, of course, Jerry Rice. But Gonzalez, a wide-out in a tight end’s body (6-5, 247), has 1,104 receptions – two more than Marvin Harrison, who had been No. 2 on the all-time list entering Sunday’s games; and three more than Cris Carter, who had been No. 3. You catch that many passes, you’ve obviously played a long time. And the 35-year-old Gonzalez acknowledged that after the game, offering, “Those numbers mean I’m getting old.” But he’s also still getting it done. With 35 receptions, he’s on pace for the 12th 70-catch season of his 15-year career, and ninth in a row.
Two. Running backs who play in the state of Texas. First, there’s one everyone has heard of – the Texans’ Arian Foster. All he did in a 41-7 romp over the Titans that lifted Houston into first place in the AFC South was become the first Texan to run for 100 yards (115) and also have 100 receiving yards (119, including a 78-yard TD) in the same game. Oh, and he scored three touchdowns as the Texans posted the largest margin of victory in club history. Then, there’s DeMarco Murray of the Cowboys. With Felix Jones out because of a high ankle sprain, Murray was in – not to mention on. All he did in Dallas’ 34-7 rout of the Rams was rush for 253 yards, including a 91-yard TD run that surpassed the rookie’s rushing total from his first five games (71 yards).
Three. Drew Brees. All that really needs to be said is that the Saints’ QB had more TD passes (five) than incompletion passes (four) in a 62-7 victory over the still-winless Colts. Brees was 31 of 35 for 325 yards and did not throw an interception. That makes for a tidy 144.9 passer rating. He has now thrown 18 TD passes, two fewer than the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers.
Four. Cam Newton. While we’re gushing about quarterbacks, this kid continues to impress. Newton’s latest got-to-love-it performance came with something that had been missing from his others – a victory. In the Panthers’ 33-20 win over the Redskins, he was 18 of 23 for 256 yards and a touchdown as he continued to display an uncanny touch. Newton’s fancy passing also set up former Seahawks kicker Olindo Mare for four field goals.
Five. Red Bryant. He still hasn’t played an entire season as the Seahawks’ five-technique defensive end (seven starts before being injured last season; six starts this season), but the man his teammates call “Big Red” is making up for his lost time last season. Bryant was a force in Sunday’s 6-3 loss to the Browns. He blocked two field goals, shared a sack, deflected a pass and chased ball carriers into tackles by other defenders. But Bryant also accepted the blame for his late unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that got him ejected from the game.