Tim Tebow delighted fans in a late-game comeback victory over the Miami Dolphins, Rex Ryan's strong words won out again over the Chargers, what's wrong with the Titans' Chris Johnson, and more in this week's Week 7 Roundup.
Tebow Mania Begins in Miami
Tim Tebow didn't play well for 55 minutes against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
In his first start of the year -- at the Dolphins' celebration of the 2009 Florida national championship team -- Tebow wasn't able to do much to get the Broncos offense going.
But no one will remember any of that.
Instead, the only thing that anyone will remember is Tebow's furious 15-point comeback at the end of the game to force overtime. There the Broncos would recover a Matt Moore fumble and win on a Matt Prater 52-yard field goal.
Tebow's stats on Sunday were nothing to write home about -- he threw for a meager 13 for 27 and 161 yards -- but those last two end of the game drives were magical.
This is what Tebow's manic fans were long looking for when they bought billboards supporting him over Kyle Orton. This is what college football fans expected after watching Tebow win a Heisman and two national championships with the Florida Gators.
More importantly, this is what the NFL wants and needs to happen. For a team like the Broncos, the NFL needs a star like Tebow to emerge and prosper. There's not much else going right in Denver -- especially when the team is trading away players like Brandon Lloyd -- making it all that more important for someone like Tebow to fare well.
Right now the Broncos have no real shot to make the playoffs and are still one of the lesser talented teams in the NFL, but Tebow gives fans a reason to hope and a reason to attend games. He might not be the most talented starting quarterback, but he clearly has a knack for winning big games.
Rex Ryan's Talking Does Succeeds Again
The Jets came into Sunday badly needing a win against the San Diego Chargers and through Mark Sanchez's three touchdowns to Plaxico Burress, they managed to do just that.
The defense struggled initially, but came on strong in the second half in forcing Phillip Rivers to throw two interceptions that led to points.
But one of the most important things about the Jets' win against the Chargers on Sunday wasn't the return of Burress or the defense shutting out the Chargers in the second half, but that Rex Ryan still knows how to get his team ready for a big game.
Ryan engaged in a war of words earlier in the week with Chargers coach Norv Turner, telling reporters that he would have won a few Super Bowls if the Chargers hired him in 2007. The brilliance of the trash talk by Ryan, as noted by Yahoo's Dan Wetzel before the game, is that it turned all of the attention to Ryan and not the Jets' lackluster defense, Sanchez's inconsistent arm, or the weakness of the Ground and Pound strategy.
Instead everyone was yet again talking about Ryan's big mouth and allowed the Jets players to focus in on the upcoming game and not have to answer questions on why the team has struggled.
Ryan's had a lot of success doing this and helps you understand why so many Jets would run through a wall for him. Some might call it selfishness on Ryan's behalf to hog the headlines, but he's realized it's the best way for his team to succeed in media crazy New York City.
Have his Super Bowl guarantees gotten to be a bit much? Sure, but they are his way of taking all of the attention -- and yes, mostly criticism -- away from his struggling players.
It allowed someone like Burress, who had struggled mightily in his first six games, fly under the radar for a monster three touchdown game against the Chargers. Or Shonn Greene, who has been the focal point of an anemic rushing attack, rush for his best game of the year with 112 yards.
You can say a lot about Ryan and that's the point. He'd rather you talk about him all day, every day as long as you forget to focus on the Jets' struggles.
And yet again it worked against the Chargers on Sunday.
Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons started the season off slowly at 2-3, but seem to be finding their groove after reeling off two straight victories. The Falcons really needed to win on Sunday at Detroit and managed to do so even with quarterback Matt Ryan suffering an ankle injury. The Falcons need Ryan to be as healthy as possible and thankfully have a bye this week for Ryan to rest up. The Falcons still face an uphill battle in the NFC, but should stay in the hunt the rest of the way assuming no more injuries.
Houston Texans: The Texans came into their game with the Titans on a slump and missing top wideout Andre Johnson, but managed to absolutely destroy the Titans on Sunday. Matt Schaub and Arian Foster keyed the offensive side of things, while the defense forced two interceptions, including one for a touchdown. The Texans are still a bit shaky, but finally solidified their spot at the top of the AFC South.
Seattle Seahawks: 2010's surprise playoff team doesn't seem to have the same magic that led to a surprise Wild Card weekend victory against the New Orleans Saints. Quarterback Charlie Whitehurst's 12 for 30, 97 yards, and one interception simply isn't going to get it done, even if it was against the very mediocre Cleveland Browns.
Tennessee Titans: What's going on with Chris Johnson in Tennessee? The Titans expensive star running back managed only 18 yards on 10 carries, but yet again refused to take responsibility for his poor production. TitansInsider indicated on Monday that it could be poor condition that is slowing the former 2,000 yard back, but whatever it is needs to change soon if the Titans want to win the AFC South.
Coaching Hot Seat Barometer
1) Tony Sparano, Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins are 0-6 and clearly competing hard for the Suck for Luck sweepstakes based on their loss to the Broncos on Sunday. The Dolphins played decently enough for the majority of the game, but never had that killer strike to knock out the Tim Tebow-led Broncos and somehow allowed him to put together a 15-point performance in the fourth quarter to lead to an overtime victory. It's clear that the Dolphins have given up on Sparano and it's only a matter of time before owner Steve Ross does the same.
2) Jim Caldwell, Indianapolis Colts
Everyone expected the Colts to be bad without Peyton Manning, but no one quite expected it to sink this low. The Colts got absolutely throttled Sunday night by the Saints, 62-7, while Caldwell helplessly looked on. Caldwell has never been known for his coaching skills -- Peyton Manning essentially runs the offense himself - so it wouldn't be much of a surprise to see the Colts dump Caldwell if the Colts continue losing like they did on Sunday. The Colts couldn't possibly bring Caldwell back if they go 0-16, right?
3) Steve Spagnuolo, St. Louis Rams
Spagnuolo is a very likable coach, but something has to change after a 0-6 start for the Rams. The Rams were tabbed by many as the favorite to win the NFC West, but have relapsed dramatically this season. Quarterback Sam Bradford hasn't warmed to offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels' offensive schemes and the Rams defense has looked pitiful. If the Rams can't turn it around for at least a few late-season victories this might be the end for Spags.
Talty's Top 10
1) Green Bay Packers (7-0) Last week's rank: No. 1
The Packers have looked absolutely dominant this season
2) New England Patriots (5-1) Last week's rank: No. 4
Bye week gives Belichick's crew a chance to prepare for road game against Steelers
3) Baltimore Ravens (4-1) Last week's rank: No. 2
Ravens should beat the Jaguars fairly easily on Monday night
4) San Francisco 49ers (5-1) Last week's rank: No. 8
49ers had a bye this week ahead of the Browns on Sunday.
5) New Orleans Saints (5-2) Last week's rank: No. 5
Saints absolutely thrashed the Colts, 62-7, on Sunday night.
6) Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2) Last week's rank: NR
Roethlisberger is starting to develop a solid rhythm offensively
7) Detroit Lions (5-2) Last week's rank: No. 3
Lost another close game at home and face allegations of unsportsmanlike behavior after Matt Ryan's injury
8) New York Giants (4-2) Last week's rank: NR
Giants rested during their bye week ahead of a game against the hapless Dolphins next week
9) New York Jets (4-3) Last week's rank: NR
The Jets got a win they absolutely needed against the Chargers
10) Atlanta Falcons (4-3) Last week's rank: NR
Won against Lions but most important thing going forward will be Matt Ryan's left ankle
Ed's Note: There as was no Talty's Top 10 last week which is why some of the rankings seem a bit off.
Want to reach this writer? You can email John Talty at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @jtalty.