Another full weekend of football is in the books after Sunday’s action in NFL Week 5, and as usual there were some pretty big stunners around the league.
The Buffalo Bills shocked another playoff team from last year, for starters. The New York Jets made minced meat out of a defense that’s been known recently as one of the best in the league.
Meanwhile, the Oakland Raiders and Atlanta Falcons continued to struggle badly and left their respective games with blowout losses.
We’ll dive into all that and plenty more looking at the biggest winners and losers from NFL Week 5.
Winner: Tom Brady adds to his HOF resume
Is there anything left for Tom Brady to prove as an NFL player? Not really. But the future Hall of Famer continues to pad his legendary resume.
On Thursday night as the New England Patriots hosted the Indianapolis Colts, Brady threw three touchdowns. His third touchdown pass (watch here) moved him up to 500 on the all-time list, making him just the third quarterback in NFL history to hit that hallowed mark.
Oh, and the Patriots won their second straight game and are suddenly atop the AFC East once again.
Loser: Marcus Mariota continues to struggle
Let’s face facts, folks: Marcus Mariota hasn’t progressed. If anything, he’s taken steps in the wrong direction the past two seasons. The Titans have a playoff-caliber roster and got to the postseason in spite of Mariota last year. It might happen again in 2018.
On Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, Mariota had an awful game. He completed just 14-of-26 passes for 129 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. Mariota also coughed up a fumble that thankfully was recovered by the Titans.
On the season, Mariota has passed for just 676 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions. He’s holding this offense back in a big way, and it’s fair to wonder at this point if he’ll ever be the franchise quarterback the Titans thought they had when they took him No. 2 overall a few years back.
Winner: Bengals defense eats Ryan Tannehill for lunch
The Miami Dolphins appeared to be cruising toward their fourth win of the season. Up 17-0 in the third quarter, Ryan Tannehilll and Co. were in great shape. Then the Cincinnati Bengals scored a couple of times to pull to within a touchdowns. Needing to keep the momentum going, Tannehill instead completely fell apart as the Bengals feasted.
First Cincinnati forced him into a pick-six, taken to the house by defensive end Michael Johnson. Two drives later, now down by three points, Tannehill was stripped from behind by Carlos Dunlap. The ball landed in the arms of rookie Sam Hubbard, who went 19 yards for another defensive score. On his next drive, Tannehill threw his second interception of the game, this time to Jessie Bates, sealing the loss for the Dolphins.
Cincinnati’s defense showed up in a huge way in the second half, sparking a monster win. Now the Bengals are a full game-and-a-half ahead of the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North.
Loser: Raiders are a dumpster fire
One week after finally winning their first game of the season thanks to a couple of awful calls by NFL refs, the Raiders put forth their worst effort of the season. In a game that might as well have been contested in Oakland due to Chargers fans being significantly outnumbered by Raider Nation, Oakland laid an absolute rotten egg.
Derek Carr threw another awful red-zone interception. Marshawn Lynch never got going on the ground. The defense was about as effective as air on passing downs. The end result was a 26-10 shellacking that showed just how wide the gap is between mediocre (Chargers) and bottom-of-the-barrel awful.
Jon Gruden’s getting paid how much for this?
Winner: Minnesota’s defense finally shows up
The Minnesota Vikings were one of the best teams in the NFC last year because they featured one of the league’s best defenses. That dominant unit was hard to find as it gave up more than 31 points per game the past thee weekends.
On Sunday in a pivotal, must-win road game against the defending champions, Minnesota’s defense came to the party in a big way. Carson Wentz and Co. did end up making quite a game of it late, but a couple of key Vikings turnovers were the difference in the game.
The first occurred toward the end of the second quarter when Stephen Weatherly sack-stripped Wentz, leading to an incredible 64-yard fat man touchdown by Linval Joseph (watch here). Then in the third quarter, with Philly threatening on Minnesota’s four-yard line, the defense forced Jay Ajayi into a fumble, which the Vikings offense turned into three points six plays later.
This was a huge performance from Minnesota’s defense, which really needs to step up and do this on a weekly basis if this team is going to live up to expectations.
Loser: Mason Crosby’s very bad, truly awful day
The Green Bay Packers had a very good opportunity to beat the Detroit Lions on Sunday. In the end, they lost by eight points to fall to 2-2-1 on the season.
Those eight points are pretty significant in light of Mason Crosby’s awful game. The veteran kicker had the worst game of his career, bar none. He missed all but one of his field-goal attempts (the one make coming at the end of the game) and his only extra-point attempt, which boils down to 13 total points the Packers didn’t get from their kicker.
After his fourth miss of the game, which would have pulled the Packers to within a score, Aaron Rodgers did something pretty significant that demonstrated his outstanding leadership. But everyone on that sideline was feeling the impact of Crosby’s terrible game.
Winner: James Conner exploded (in the best possible way)
It was pretty sweet to see Antonio Brown finally have a monster game for the Pittsburgh Steelers this year. That being said, he wasn’t the MVP of Sunday’s blowout win over the Atlanta Falcons. That honor goes to second-year running back James Conner, who had his second huge game of the season.
Conner rumbled for 110 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, averaging an impressive 5.2 yards per carry. He also caught four passes for 75 yards, bringing his total for the game up to 185.
It’s worth pointing out that Atlanta’s defense is a shambles due to multiple injuries. That doesn’t really diminish what Conner was able to do on Sunday, however.
Loser: Bad Eli showed up at the worst time
Down by just four points late in the third quarter after Cam Newton threw his first interception Sunday, Eli Manning had a chance to really flip the script on how the game was going in Carolina. He did just that, but not in a way that benefited the New York Giants.
Manning threw interceptions to safety Mike Adams on two consecutive drives, the first of which turned into a touchdown for the Panthers on their next drive.
Yes, Manning turned around and threw two late touchdowns, including the first of the year to Odell Beckham Jr., but his two huge turnovers came at the worst possible time and ultimately were just too costly to overcome.
Winner: Jets offense was unstoppable
It was pretty stunning to see the Denver Broncos lay down defensively on Sunday against the New York Jets. It’s as if last week’s meltdown against the Kansas City Chiefs crushed their spirit and sucked all the life out of the team’s defense.
Sam Darnold had a career game, going for three touchdowns, including a perfect strike to Robby Anderson that went 76 yards (watch here).
The real star of the game, however, was running back Isaiah Crowell. He went off for 219 yards (including a 77-yard touchdown) on just 15 carries, which gave him the highest average in NFL history for a player with at least 15 carries.
All told, the Jets racked up 512 yards on 61 plays and routed the Broncos, 34-16.
Loser: Self-inflicted wounds doom 49ers
It’s been a common theme that goes back to last season. The 49ers keep shooting themselves in the foot with turnovers and costly penalties.
On Sunday, San Francisco controlled the clock and gave rookie Josh Rosen and Co. really no chance to do much damage on offense. The 49ers held the ball for over 40 minutes and racked up 33 first downs. That’s pretty impressive.
Unfortunately, they also turned the ball over five times, as C.J. Beathard threw two interceptions and lost two fumbles, while Raheem Mostert lost the third. San Francisco was also hit with nine accepted penalties, bringing their seasonal total up to 39 penalties accepted against them.
This team is already behind the eight ball before pretty much every game due to injuries. Self-inflicted wounds during the games will only lead to more losses.
Winner: Browns finally win a divisional game
The last time the Cleveland Browns won a divisional game, Baker Mayfield was a sophomore at Oklahoma. Coincidentally, the last AFC North team they beat was the Baltimore Ravens, in overtime, back in October of 2015.
That all changed on Sunday as the Browns eked out an overtime win over those same Ravens. It was a brutal game for both offenses. But in the end Baker Mayfield and Co. did just enough to set up kicker Greg Joseph for the game-winning field goal with six seconds left on the clock in overtime.
Which he barely knocked through, by the way.
This marked the first career win for Mayfield. It also really highlights how far this team has come in a very short amount of time under new general manager John Dorsey and his chosen quarterback.
Loser: Bill O’Brien has no business coaching Deshaun Watson
What we saw on Sunday night, and what we’ve seen all year so far, is a coach in Bill O’Brien who continues to put his franchise quarterback in harm’s way. Not to mention, putting him and his offense in a position to fail on money downs in the red zone.
Calling designed runs that expose this young man to big hits. Consistently calling shotgun plays inside the five-yard line. Coming away with 16 points on five drives inside the five-yard line.
That’s all a big fat no thank you.
Then there’s the play where he went for it on fourth down at the end of the first half. Okay, sure. Go for it. But my god man, pound the rock or have your quarterback sneak. Or, you know, just take the points. Whatever.
The chatter about Bill O’Brien has long been about how we’ll see how good he is when he has a quarterback. Well, he has one now. And it’s not a pretty sight. Personally, I am more concerned about Watson’s long-term health than anything else. What O’Brien is subjecting Watson to right now is just unconscionable.
Winner: Seattle found winning formula in loss
Sure, the Seattle Seahawks lost to the best team in the league. But there is a silver lining that should have fans excited about what this Seahawks offense can do going forward.
Seattle has long been bereft of a consistent rushing attack. That lack of balance, along with what’s been an awful offensive line on passing downs, has really hampered the offense as a whole.
On Sunday, the duo of Chris Carson and Mike Davis was outstanding. They combined for 184 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries, giving the Seahawks a level of balance that has been missing for quite some time. This weekend’s showing, along with what Davis accomplished in Week 4, is a tremendously positive development.
Loser: Falcons melt down in Pittsburgh
It’s been a slippery slope to the bottom of the barrel for the Falcons in recent weeks. In particular, the defense has been atrocious, which is not surprising given the unbelievable rash of injuries that hit some of its key players.
But at least the Falcons were putting up points in bunches the last two games to give themselves a chance at a win. Even that didn’t happen on Sunday as they got blown out of the water at Heinz Field against the Steelers.
Atlanta’s offense managed just two touchdowns in Week 5. Julio Jones was largely held in check, as was the NFL’s top receiving touchdown threat, Calvin Ridley. The two of them combined for nine catches, 100 yards and no touchdowns. This is pretty significant considering the Steelers entered Week 5 with the league’s 27th-ranked pass defense.
Nothing was working right for the Falcons, who are now 1-4 on the season, occupying last place in the NFC South.
Winner: Graham Gano. That is all.
Hero. Legend. Giant slayer. It all applies to Graham Gano, who tied an NFL record for longest field goal outside of Denver when he drilled a 63-yarder at the end of Sunday’s game against the Giants.
Really, it seemed like nothing more than a desperation play by Ron Rivera to throw Gano out there with just one second left on the clock from New York’s 45-yard line.
Then the veteran stepped up and drilled it through the uprights to win the game.
Pandemonium ensued, and Gano should get free beers in Charlotte for the rest of his days.
Loser: Broncos’ pass rush nowhere to be found
For the second game in a row, the vaunted duo of Bradley Chubb and Von Miller failed to make an impact for the Broncos, who desperately need a pass rush to keep from getting burned on the back end.
Sam Darnold entered Week 5 having endured 10 sacks on the season. The Broncos got to him just once, with interior linemen Domato Peko and Derek Wolfe converging for a shared sack.
Von Miller opened the season with four sacks in his first two games and has been shut out ever since. Chubb hasn’t had one the past two games, either. This is a problem, and now the Broncos — once again in trouble without an offense — are 2-3 and looking very shaky, indeed.
Winner: Todd Gurley just keeps scoring touchdowns
Todd Gurley entered Week 5 with six touchdowns on the season, tied for the league lead. On Sunday as the Los Angeles Rams staved off the Seattle Seahawks in a narrow 33-31 win, he added three more scores.
Gurley had a huge all-around performance to help the Rams stay undefeated in a game that saw Jared Goff struggling a bit with two interceptions and two fumbles (both recovered by the Rams. He rushed for 77 yards and added another 36 yards on four catches, and of course rushed in three scores.
On the season, Gurley has now racked up 645 total yards and nine touchdowns. Extrapolate that out and he’s on pace for 2,064 yards and 28 touchdowns. Is that good? That seems pretty good.
Loser: The ratio is off, Baltimore
The Ravens had a shot to beat the Browns from the first play of the game all the way until the overtime period. There wasn’t one moment in time that necessitated a complete air-raid attack, yet that’s exactly what happened.
Joe Flacco threw the ball a staggering 56 times, completing 29 passes. He did have nearly 300 yards but failed to connect for a single score and got picked off by Denzel Ward in the red zone.
Alex Collins and Jarvorious Allen, who’ve both been very productive this year for the Ravens, did a wonderful job when called upon. Only, they only received 20 carries out of 84 total plays run by Baltimore. It’s not like Cleveland has been shutting down opposing rushing attacks, either. The Browns came into Sunday’s game ranked 23rd in the NFL, allowing 117 rushing yards per game.
This was a case of offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg refusing to put a round peg through a round hole. And it backfired in a big way.
Winner: DeAndre Hopkins comes through in OT
After the Houston Texans forced the Dallas Cowboys to punt — as an aside, Jason Garrett should have gone for it — the Houston offense took over at their own 10-yard line.
Already with eight catches for 101 yards on the night, Hopkins came through with the play of the night. His 49-yard catch and run, which involved multiple spin moves and many jaws dropped, put the Texans in field goal range.
A few plays later, Ka’imi Fairbairn knocked through a 36-yard field goal to win the game for Houston. Hopkins’ play set it up, and it capped off a monster game for the Texans.
It’s also worth giving Watson a shout out for persevering through what was obviously a painful rib injury suffered on one of the many big hits he took throughout the night.
Loser: Blake Bortles once again dooms the Jags
Blake Bortles is either the king of the world or a pauper. There’ no in-between with this guy. On Sunday as the Jacksonville Jaguars went into Arrowhead Stadium for their showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs, he reverted to bad Blake Bortles and sunk his team’s chances.
On particular sequence in the second quarter really highlights what Bad Blake is all about. First, he threw an interception to defensive lineman Chris Jones — threw the ball right at the dude — and then failed hard trying to tackle him. Ten plays later, after driving the Jags into the red zone for a potential score before halftime, he threw the ball off the head of one of his linemen, resulting in another interception (watch it all here).
When the dust had settled at the end of the game, Bortles had coughed up five total turnovers in a losing cause.