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Ranking the 10 dumbest mistakes in an NFL Week 7 that teased us

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Derek Carr fumbled out of the end zone, again. And, oh no, the Chargers fumbled at the goal line. AGAIN.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Tennessee Titans Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday, the winless Dolphins were up on the Bills for 26:44, which was nearly 23 minutes longer than they had held a lead all season. With the Dolphins threatening to go ahead by two scores in the third quarter, Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a pick. The Bills scored on their ensuing 98-yard drive and never trailed again.

At almost the exact same time, the Bengals fumbled at midfield, and the Jaguars got the lead back thanks to their 12-play, 38-yard, 6:28 field goal drive (dear God). Unlike Miami, Cincinnati was able to regain the lead again, although it was temporary. Despite a 10-9 point edge at the start of the fourth quarter, the Bengals let another opportunity for their first win slip through their fingers after Andy Dalton threw three interceptions on three straight possessions.

Meanwhile, Washington had the best shot it was going to get at taking down the unbeaten 49ers. A torrential downpour all afternoon in the DMV area left FedEx Field a virtual Slip ‘N Slide, minus the friction burns. The game was 0-0 for a majority of its 2 hours, 36 minutes, until Adrian Peterson fumbled in San Francisco territory, leading to the 49ers’ second of three field goals. Washington totaled -7 yards the rest of the way.

To recap, the two teams that entered Week 7 without a win left it the same way. The only franchise that has fired its coach this season also stayed in the race for the No. 1 pick. All were close but came up empty, though maybe that was the plan all along.

Even if — or especially if? — teams are in full-on tank mode, there are plenty of mistakes for us to highlight. Here are our picks for the 10 dumbest in Week 7:

10. STAY IN BOUNDS, KYLER MURRAY

With 2:20 left in the game, the Cardinals were getting ready to add to their 24-21 lead over the Giants, who had just taken their last timeout. On third-and-10 from the New York 17, all Murray had to do was not turn the ball over. Well, that’s almost all he had to do.

Murray avoided a sack but had to take off running. He wasn’t going to get the first down anyway, so the least he could do was take some time off the clock and — oh no:

Murray ran out of bounds at the 2:13 mark, stopping the clock — 13 seconds before the two-minute warning and giving the Giants extra time they wouldn’t have had otherwise.

It didn’t end up hurting the Cardinals. They made the field goal on the next play and won 27-21. But to quote Greg Olsen, who was in the broadcast booth during his bye week: “Oh, my God, why would he do that?”

We’ll just chalk it up to a rookie mistake.

9. The Vikings didn’t realize Danny Amendola was playing

Amendola isn’t an unknown. The veteran wide receiver has never made it to a Pro Bowl, but he’s been a starter throughout his 11-year career and played a big role for two of the PatriotsSuper Bowl-winning teams.

Which makes it pretty surprising that the Vikings forgot who he was late in the first quarter of a vital NFC North showdown.

Minnesota blanked the long-tenured wideout on first down, failing to get a single defender within 10 yards of him on what turned out to be a 36-yard gain. That set the pace for a nine-play, 75-yard drive that ended in a Marvin Jones touchdown catch and a temporary Detroit lead.

8. DK Metcalf forgot you have to hold the ball after you catch it

In Madden franchise mode, Metcalf can gain the ability called “Max Security.” It’s a trait that is generally given to big, physical receivers who make tough catches and if you put the ball anywhere near them, it’s usually safe.

Real-life Metcalf may be that receiver eventually, but he was decidedly NOT that receiver against the Ravens on Sunday.

Trailing by 10 points with just under four minutes to go, the Seahawks had the ball and went to Metcalf on the left sideline. It was a good throw, a good catch, and a good opportunity to put up some series YAC. About that ...

That’s a catch, some football moves, and a good old-fashioned fumble from Metcalf. The touchdown counted, and the Seahawks’ comeback efforts were over.

7. Andy Dalton went on an interception spree

The Bengals had a chance to beat the Jaguars and get their first win of the season. They were leading in the fourth quarter, before the Jaguars jumped ahead with a touchdown. Cincinnati’s attempt to answer with a touchdown of its own ended with Dalton throwing an interception.

He threw another on the next drive and another the drive after that. Altogether, it was three interceptions in five pass attempts for Dalton, all in a span of less than five minutes of game clock. The worst of the three was this throw on what was supposed to be a screen pass that instead turned into an easy pick-six for Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.

That made the score 24-10, and the third interception set up a field goal to make it 27-10. Those mistakes ended any chance at a win and secured an 0-7 record for the Bengals.

6. Deshaun Watson was robbed of a touchdown by a whistle-happy ref

The Texans should’ve had the lead in the second quarter against the Colts. Watson broke away from one sack and kept his balance, with Colts defensive end Justin Houston grabbing his ankle, to throw to DeAndre Hopkins for a touchdown. It was an incredible play by Watson, but it didn’t count because the referee blew the play dead.

Watson was ruled to be “in the grasp” of Houston, nullifying the pass to Hopkins. The play became a sack and the Texans were forced to settle for a chip shot field goal to cut the Colts’ lead to 7-6.

The Texans wound up losing the game by a touchdown, but things could’ve been much different if they were correctly awarded a few more points in the second quarter.

5. Daniel Jones should retire from fullback duties

New York’s rookie quarterback still has a lot to learn in the NFL. Jones’ propensity for turnovers will take time to fix, but one thing he could do better right away is never lead block again.

Jones played the role of fullback for Saquon Barkley on a long third down and it earned him a huge hit from Cardinals linebacker Haason Reddick.

Defensive players are always licking their chops at the chance to hit a quarterback, so Jones is only doing them a favor by giving them a freebie. Even worse, he didn’t help Barkley get any extra yardage.

Jones should learn from Tom Brady and get the hell out of the way instead of taking unnecessary shots.

4. Derek Carr dialed up his worst throwback

One of the NFL’s more controversial rules is the one that designates a fumble out of the end zone as an automatic touchback for the defense. Carr knows this all too well, because that rule cost him a shot at a comeback win over the Cowboys back in 2017.

Or maybe he doesn’t! Carr took an entirely-too-big risk late in the second quarter of the Raiders’ upset bid in Green Bay and completed deflated his team in the process.

That fumble out the end zone turned a scoring opportunity that could have put Oakland up, 17-14, with halftime looming into an 80-yard touchdown drive for the Packers. The Raiders wouldn’t get any closer to victory Sunday than the yard between where Carr’s hand stopped and where his last-gasp effort accidentally pitched the ball out of bounds. Green Bay won comfortably, 42-24.

3. Dolphins DT Christian Wilkins took less than a minute to get ejected

Earlier in 2019, Miami first-round rookie defensive tackle Wilkins said he had no idea he wasn’t allowed to suplex Chargers running back Austin Ekeler.

“I didn’t know you couldn’t really do that,” Wilkins told the Miami Herald. “I didn’t know there could be a flag or anything like that. But now I do know that.”

A few weeks later, he got ejected for something he probably already knew he couldn’t do: Punching an opponent.

It wasn’t exactly a haymaker, but it was the type of hit that probably would’ve resulted in a personal foul, even if other officials may not have seen it as ejection-worthy. The Dolphins already face an uphill climb trying to win with a talent-deficient roster. Wilkins isn’t helping by struggling to keep his frustration under control.

2. Devonta Freeman tried to fight, of all people, Aaron Donald

Donald is one of the last people anyone should try to fight. Freeman, the Falcons running back, didn’t get the memo, because that’s exactly what he tried to do on Sunday during the third quarter against the Rams:

A couple things to keep in mind: Freeman is 5’8, 206 pounds, while Donald is 6’1, 280 pounds, and looks like this:

This might be the moment when Freeman realized just how stupid picking a fight with Donald was:

Unsurprisingly, Freeman was ejected for this terrible decision, but man, we can’t think of a better analogy for how the Falcons season has been going.

1. The end of Chargers-Titans was a literal farce

Sunday’s showdown between the Chargers and Titans was a wild one, but the ending was nothing short of a comedy of errors. Trailing by three points with just over two minutes to go, the Chargers launched a drive that started from their own 49-yard line, due to the Titans coming up short on a fourth down (that they might’ve gotten but didn’t challenge).

Philip Rivers got the Chargers to the Tennessee 16-yard line, where things started to go poorly for both teams, but much more for Los Angeles.

First, Mike Vrabel called a timeout for seemingly no reason after the Chargers made it to the 1-yard line. The timeout came after a replay review with 39 second left, giving the Chargers ample time to plan for a strong finish.

They did not use that time wisely.

Absent their own timeouts, the Chargers first had a false start. Rivers threw incomplete, but the Titans were called for pass interference, giving the Chargers those yards back. Then Los Angeles dialed up a Melvin Gordon run, which was stuffed for no gain after a replay review overturned the initial touchdown call.

For some context, Gordon had already had a fumble at the goal line, as well as a play where he tried to jump over the pile from nearly 5 yards back. And Austin Ekeler was wrapping up what was an incredibly productive day:

So what do the Chargers dial up with 19 seconds left and the game on the line? Another run from Gordon, who fumbled the ball AGAIN. He fumbled it just as contact was made, and the Titans recovered.

Keep in mind the Chargers easily could have tried a QB sneak, something that they bizarrely never do with Rivers, or gone with quick pass plays before kicking a field goal to tie the game. Instead they ran it twice, with a running back who had already made several mistakes and hasn’t looked good since returning to the team, with no timeouts and and very little time left.

It was a masterclass in bad decision-making by the Chargers, who have sadly been here so many times before:

It was also hilariously bad clock management and discipline by the Titans. What a farce.