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Geno Smith tore his ACL and 3 other forms of terrible cruelty from Week 7 in the NFL

Week 7 was cruel and stupid and pointless.

Baltimore Ravens v New York Jets Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Geno Smith might have been a fine NFL quarterback in another life. He was a lethal weapon at West Virginia, throwing for 42 (!) touchdowns to just six interceptions in 13 games during his final season. For a while he was the presumed Best Quarterback Of The Draft, and if you were a college football fan, you were hyped for what he might do in the NFL after posting video game numbers in Morgantown.

Then he got drafted by the Jets, threw a lot of interceptions, got punched in the face by IK Enemkpali, and lost his job to journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick. On Sunday, he got his job back, only to apparently suffer a torn ACL after throwing just eight passes.

Smith threw a 69-yard touchdown pass, his first score in his first start since 2014, and for a moment it looked like he might have emerged from his long Chautauqua a better quarterback.

Then Smith’s glimpse of promise was emphatically smothered. Smith has fallen on the bad side of razor-thin margins before. His broken jaw gave Fitzpatrick just enough time to Pipp the job, and after Smith left Sunday, Fitzpatrick played well again, going 9 for 14 for 120 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions.

This is dispiriting cruelty, the sort that feels like deliberate trials from a higher power to stress the mettle of a man. It is just one of many forms of cruelty that football inflicts upon NFL teams and all of us every week of the season. Week 7 might have been the cruelest of all, with teams suffering backbreaking plays and crushing mistakes well into the night. This is a sampling.

Inevitable cruelty: Case Keenum throws it all away against the Giants

The Rams are destined to go 7-9. Their head coach guaranteed that they wouldn’t before the season, so they probably will. And that same head coach adamantly refuses to play the No. 1 overall pick ahead of a player who is ranked 34th in the NFL by passer rating.

The Rams have been making the same mistakes for years under Jeff Fisher, who only has empty promises to show for the faith he receives from the organization. Keenum was the worst version of what he has always been: A not particularly good quarterback. He attempted 53 passes — three fewer than Aaron Rodgers on Thursday night — and threw just one touchdown to four interceptions. Landon Collins’ pick-six against Keenum was simply one of the best individual efforts we’ll see this season.

Collins wouldn’t be denied. He left more than half of the Rams offense in his wake to the end zone. It was his fate to score and the Rams’ to lose.

Grotesque cruelty: A.J. Green dunks on the Browns

The Browns have now had six different people throw passes as quarterbacks when no other team has even used five since 2003. They are on a direct path to a winless season after going 3-13 in 2015. The Browns were never supposed to be good, but with Robert Griffin III joining the team, Josh Gordon returning to the field, and Corey Coleman providing another explosive outlet, they should have been better than this. An 0-6 start is their worst since their first season as an expansion franchise in 1999.

A.J. Green’s bobbling, one-handed Hail Mary touchdown grab just before halftime was so unnecessary.

But cruelty is unnecessary. If you’re the victim, you feel powerless. It felt like the universe wanted Green to make that catch, and for no conceivable reason except to torture the saddest franchise in the NFL.

Cleveland, I want to hug you, but I’m afraid to be associated with you.

Astonishing cruelty: The Seahawks and Cardinals play a game that made everybody miserable

And I don’t simply mean the teams involved in the late-night 6-6 tie Sunday, although your heart has to go out to Chandler Catanzaro and Steven Hauschka, who both missed chip-shot field goals that would have won the game for their teams.

Sunday night’s game was also an assault on viewers, who watched what was, for 70 minutes, the most extreme example of the bad prime-time football that has plagued the NFL this season. The Seahawks gained just 130 yards of offense in regulation. The Cardinals more than doubled them, gaining 326, but also had a punt and field goal blocked. Somehow, there were no turnovers, just struggle.

More than any season of recent memory, it has been hard to watch football this season. Following the NFL is demanding, with two weeknight games, fantasy football teams to manage, and fully packed Sundays. Your day started at 9:30 a.m. ET if you got up to watch Giants-Rams at Twickenham Stadium and ended 14 and a half hours later with the most delirious five-minute sequence of the season. If you wept, that would have been OK.

Week 7 was pointless

There’s no kicker here about the NFL’s ratings dip. There is no broad takeaway to make about Sunday except that sometimes with the right opportunity, chance spits out some truly horrifying results. Geno Smith doesn’t deserve these cruelties, nor do the Rams, Browns, or any of us. But no one does — Ever. Period. — so on any given day it makes just as much sense that these things should happen to the people who always seem to experience these things as anyone else.

And on a restless Monday morning there isn’t anything to do really except sit and gawp at the cruelty of it all. Sunday was such a dumb day.