NFL News & Analysis

10 most surprising performances from NFL Week 7

Orchard Park, New York, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback P.J. Walker (6) warms up prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Marquez Valdes-Scantling takes flight: The free agent signing converted four targets into 111 yards and a touchdown for the Chiefs in Week 7.

P.J. Walker excels as Panthers' starter: Walker finished Week 7 as PFF's highest-graded quarterback after making six big-time throws.

Jeffrey Okudah shines in run defense: The Detroit Lions cornerback gave up only 22 yards in coverage but also made seven run stops.

Estimated Reading Time: 7 mins

WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kansas City Chiefs

We can list JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman here, too. All three players had their best performances of the season. But the biggest star here is Valdes-Scantling, as he finally made some plays down the field. He saw just four targets in this game but converted them into 111 yards on three receptions. Below was his best play of the day, beating Charvarius Ward for a huge gain.

Valdes-Scantling is finally starting to become the outside deep threat that the Chiefs have missed since trading away Tyreek Hill. He's gone over 60 yards in three of the past four games, with his Week 7 showing being his biggest statistical performance since Week 11 of the 2021 season. It's taken him a while to get here, but MVS is starting to show his worth.

LT Zach Tom, Green Bay Packers

Tom didn't know that he would be starting at left tackle for the Packers until Sunday morning after the team ruled out David Bakhtiari. Tom had played just 30 snaps in his rookie season (all at left guard) but was thrust into the lineup. 

He did not allow a single pressure on 41 pass-blocking snaps in Week 7, keeping Aaron Rodgers upright. He finished the game with an 82.2 pass-blocking grade and was the team's highest-graded offensive lineman of the week (66.1). He needs to improve as a run-blocker (47.8 grade in Week 7), but Tom showed well and should give the Packers faith that he can be an above-average tackle if Bakhtiari continues to miss time with injuries.

S Duron Harmon, Las Vegas Raiders

It seems like whenever the Raiders need a big play on defense, it’s the veteran Duron Harmon who steps up. The Texans were driving, down 11, with still a ton of time left in the game. With the ball at the Raiders' 40-yard line and all three timeouts, the game was still up for grabs. That was until Harmon picked off Davis Mills and returned it for a score, putting the Raiders up 38-20.

This was the 23rd interception of Harmon's career, but it was his first pick-six. That seems pretty incredible, considering he is a 10-year veteran who has made a bunch of big plays in his career. He finished the game with a 93.4 overall grade, allowing just a 16.7 passer rating into his coverage on 40 such snaps.

RB Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens

The last time Gus Edwards carried the ball was in Week 17 of the 2020 NFL season. He suffered a gruesome knee injury during training camp last season and missed the entire year. Edwards also missed the first six games of the 2022 season as he continued to rehab from that injury. 

His first game back was this week against the Browns, and the Ravens didn't limit him in any way. He saw 16 carries in Week 7, totaling 66 yards and two touchdowns. And he finished as the team's highest-graded offensive player (78.6) after forcing three missed tackles and totaling 41 yards after contact. 

With J.K. Dobbins on the injured reserve list and expected to miss four to five more games, it could be Edwards’ backfield for the next month.

QB P.J. Walker, Carolina Panthers

After a disastrous start against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 6, Walker bounced back in a huge way in Week 7. Not only did he play well against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he also led them to a 21-3 victory. He was the highest-graded quarterback of Week 7 (94.9).

Walker completed 16-of-22 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns while making six big-time throws and taking only one sack. He did not have a turnover-worthy play and was able to make a key throw whenever Carolina needed him to.

After that performance on Sunday, maybe the Panthers won’t need to rush back Baker Mayfield or Sam Darnold as quickly as many thought.

C Connor Williams, Miami Dolphins

Williams played exceptionally well in Week 1 against the New England Patriots, but his play has dropped off significantly. Since Week 2, he failed to earn an overall grade of 68.0 or better, including four performances with a sub-57.0 overall grade.

However, Williams was nearly flawless in Week 7 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He did not allow a single pressure across 38 pass-blocking snaps. More importantly, he finished the game with a 93.3 run-blocking grade, helping the Dolphins control the line of scrimmage. 

Williams is finally starting to look comfortable at center for the Dolphins, and that is excellent news for their offensive line moving forward.

RB Eno Benjamin, Arizona Cardinals 

Heading into Thursday Night Football, Eno Benjamin had never recorded more than 39 rushing yards in a game. He was a reserve player who struggled to get on the field much as a rookie (40 touches in 2021). And after a disappointing outing against the Seattle Seahawks in his first start (Week 6), it looked like he was a little overmatched as a starting running back.

But Benjamin bounced back in a huge way in Week 7. He finished the game with 113 yards on just 16 touches. He was also able to get into the end zone, finishing as the team’s highest-graded player (85.0) in Week 7. 

It remains to be seen if James Conner will be back in Week 8 when the Cardinals take on the Minnesota Vikings. But they can rest easy knowing that Benjamin is a capable runner with the home-run ability to make defenses pay.

EDGE Sam Williams, Dallas Cowboys

Sam Williams has now made this list twice over the past few weeks. Sunday was the best performance of his career despite playing just 14 snaps on defense. 

On that minimal workload, Williams recorded two sacks and a tackle for a loss. His two sacks were highly impressive, beating the offensive tackles around the edge. On one, he took the ball away from Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff. That led to the Cowboys scoring another touchdown and putting the game out of reach.

Williams is the No. 5 edge rusher on the Cowboys' depth chart, but all he does is produce when on the field. It might be time for Dallas to consider upping his workload.

CB Jeffrey Okudah, Detroit Lions

Most players aren't able to overcome an Achilles injury, and the success rate for cornerbacks is extremely low. But the Lions have to be thrilled with how Jeffrey Okudah has bounced back and played this season. 

He just put together the best game of his career in Week 7, allowing 22 yards on four targets. But that's not why he made this list. That came down to his ability to contribute as a run-defender (86.1). 

Okudah led the Lions in tackles (13) on Sunday, making seven run stops. He did not miss a single tackle and was the big reason the Cowboys struggled so much on offense in the first half. Okudah has always been a very willing tackler, but this was his best performance to date in the NFL. 

S Andrew Adams, Tennessee Titans 

The Titans have a ton of injuries in their secondary, forcing a nearly 30-year-old Andrew Adams to start at free safety in Week 7. He took on the challenge and played 62 snaps on defense, grading out as the team's top player against the Indianapolis Colts (89.9). 

Adams was targeted in coverage eight times, allowing just 27 total yards. He makes this list in part because of an incredible pick-six that changed the entire game for the Titans:

But the interception wasn’t his only highlight. He finished the game with nine tackles and two stops as the Titans were able to hold the Colts to just 10 points. It was a career game for Adams, and the Titans needed it to stay atop the AFC South after six games.


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