Published: Oct 09, 2022 at 01:10 PM
Around The NFL breaks down what you need to know from all of Sunday’s action in Week 5 of the 2022 NFL season. Catch up on each game’s biggest takeaways using the links below:
Grant Gordon’s takeaways:
- Never fear, Justin is here. In an old-fashioned AFC North donnybrook, the Ravens emerged Sunday night with a win and in first place thanks to some tenacious defense and the best kicker in the NFL world. On an unspectacular evening for Lamar Jackson (who missed potential deep touchdown throws on back-to-back plays at one point), Baltimore still prevailed on the strength of a 43-yard game-winning field goal by Justin Tucker with no time remaining. It was Tucker’s fourth make in as many tries on a night in which the Ravens avoided squandering a double-digit lead for the third time this year. It was also a night in which Baltimore’s defense should be lauded; lauded for a huge goal-line stand in the third quarter and holding the Bengals to 17 points and 291 yards on nine possessions. Buoyed by big plays from Patrick Queen, Jason Pierre-Paul, Marcus Peters and others, the Ravens defense cut out the chunk gains from the Bengals and made splash plays of their own when they had to. Over the first three weeks of the season, Jackson was carrying Baltimore. That can’t always happen and it didn’t in this one, but this time around the Ravens were able to lean on defense and special teams to prevail.
- Andrews consistently excellent as ever. Much is made about the Ravens’ dearth of quality wide receiver options — particularly on a night in which Rashod Bateman was inactive. But there’s always Mark Andrews — consistently stellar, consistently coming up clutch. Such was the case (again) Sunday night. Baltimore sputtered on offense against a Cincinnati defense that’s been quietly outstanding this year. Andrews was often the exception. He hauled in game highs of eight receptions and 89 yards receiving and caught the Ravens’ only touchdown (an 11-yarder in the second quarter). On the Ravens’ game-winning drive, Jackson got things going by hitting Andrews twice to start the march for gains of 7 and 8 yards. Thereafter, it was nothing but running plays. But when Jackson needed to make a big play through the air, it was Andrews who he targeted — just as is often the case with the two-time Pro Bowl TE.
- Bengals offense still needs to earn its stripes. Cincinnati fell to 2-3 on Sunday and 0-3 in games in which it fails to score more than 20 points. When a team explodes with the success that Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase and Cincinnati had in 2021, it’s natural to expect continued success. So far, that’s hardly been the case. The running game, ranked 26th in the league coming in, mustered just 101 yards. It was clear the plan early was to feed Chase the ball, but the Ravens smothered him, holding him to 50 yards on eight touches and seven catches on 12 targets. In the later rounds of a divisional slugfest, Zac Taylor got fancy with a reserve WR option pass that Peters snuffed out and then called a shovel pass on the goal line that fell incomplete on fourth down. In a microcosm of the season so far in large part, nothing was working consistently. The defense has been doing its part, but the Cincy offense is still lagging along. The Bengals changed the narrative on a possible Super Bowl hangover over the previous two weeks, but the offensive struggles have yet to be remedied and are sure to make for some headaches on Monday morning.
Next Gen stat of the game: Mark Andrews had seven reception for 82 yards and a touchdown on eight targets when aligned in the slot.
NFL Research: Justin Tucker’s game-winning field was his 61st consecutive field goal in the fourth quarter or overtime, which is an NFL record.
Eric Edholm’s takeaways:
- Rush hour might be winding down. This was the first game in which it felt like the Cowboys needed Dak Prescott back. Rush wasn’t terrible in the Cowboys’ win over the Rams, but he certainly wasn’t the reason they won. No disrespect to Rush, who has led Dallas to four big wins, including two against last season’s Super Bowl combatants. But the Rams limited Rush’s effectiveness, sacking him three times and forcing two fumbles (both of which the Cowboys were lucky to recover). There were some throws in which his receivers let Rush down. But overall, the Cowboys won in spite of their passing game; they don’t win this one without a beefy run game, plus the big plays on defense and special teams early. With the news that Prescott is ramping up his activity and itching to return, the Cowboys are in a good spot heading into a huge game next week against the Eagles. If they must play Rush, so be it, but if Prescott can go against Philly, the Cowboys shouldn’t hesitate going back to the better option.
- Rams offense once again puts the team in a hole. The Rams staked the Cowboys a 9-0 lead with a sack-fumble return and a blocked field goal that led to three more points. Then after settling for a field goal on their next drive, the Rams punted and fell behind 16-10 despite completing big pass plays to Tutu Atwell and Cooper Kupp. The problem? They couldn’t score after that. Forty percent of their yards came on the two big plays – the 54-yarder to Atwell and Kupp’s 75-yard catch and run. Matthew Stafford threw for 308 yards but also lost two fumbles and threw a back-breaking pick late with 3:32 left, while taking an absolute beating in the process. Sean McVay threw the kitchen sink at the Cowboys, calling on three different players to throw passes, but the Rams’ offense was once again too inconsistent and mistake-prone, held back by an offensive line that’s banged up and not playing well. The Rams have one TD in their past nine-plus quarters. Perhaps next week’s game against the Panthers, followed by the bye, is exactly what the Rams need. Because right now this offense is chasing its tail.
- Micah Parsons took the game over. Despite batting a groin injury, Parsons was arguably the best player on the field Sunday – with a nod to the Rams’ Aaron Donald, of course. But whenever Donald decides to retire, Parsons might take his mantle as the most destructive defender in the NFL. He might even be that now. Parsons didn’t really make his imprint on this game until the second half, but when he did, it was loud and impactful. His first huge play was the sack of Stafford on third-and-11 play at midfield late in the third quarter in a 19-10 game. Parsons worked through a chip block, then manhandled Rob Havenstein to throttle Stafford. He even was seen dropping in coverage late in the game – and doing it well – as the Rams tried to sling their way back into it. And for his closing argument, Parsons took down Stafford again and knocked the ball loose to cap off the game. It was a dominant second-half showing for the All-Pro defender.
Next Gen stat of the game: Tony Pollard was expected to gain just 5 yards when he took the handoff on his 57-yard TD run. Pollard has gained 2.6 rushing yards over expected per carry this season, second-most among backs with at least 20 carries this season.
NFL Research: The Rams have scored 80 points over their first five games — the fifth-fewest by a reigning Super Bowl champion in history — and have a losing record for the first time after Week 2 of any season during the Sean McVay era.
Kevin Patra’s takeaways:
- Eagles survive to remain only undefeated team in NFL. Philly got off to a fast start, taking a 14-0 lead on two Jalen Hurts 1-yard touchdown plunges. Then the offense hit a lull, struggling to move the ball for stretches. After Arizona clawed its way back to tie the affair, Philly got back to the ground game, rushing 13 times on a 17-play field-goal drive that milked 7 minutes 58 seconds off the clock. The big plays in the passing game dried up against the hard-hitting Cards’ defense. Hurts attempted just one pass of 20-plus air yards on the game while throwing a bevy of WR screens. It wasn’t a pretty performance by Philly, but Hurts proved his worth at the goal-line and short yardage, converting a host of first downs. The final drive showed the Eagles can still grind out possessions when the explosive plays are harder to come by, particularly on the road.
- Kyler Murray is going to want two spikes back. Trailing by three on Arizona’s final drive, the Cards’ quarterback spiked the ball on first down at the 34-yard line with 36 seconds remaining. Then Murray rushed up the middle but started his slide short of the first down. Either unaware refs marked the ball short, or a slight brainfart, Murray then spiked the ball again, setting up fourth down with 22 seconds left. The Cards were forced to try a 43-yard field goal that Matt Ammendola, called up from the practice squad this week, missed badly. The discombobulated end spoiled a comeback bid by the Cards. Murray spun magic late after another slow start by Arizona, keeping the Eagles’ pass rush at bay with a lot of wide receiver screens, and used his legs. But some missed throws – 0 for 4 on deep passes with an interception – and the two bad spikes sent Arizona to 2-3 on the season.
- Eagles D does just enough. Philly’s front appeared more worried about keeping Murray in the pocket than taking down the elusive quarterback. The Eagles, who entered the week leading the NFL in sacks, came up with just one QB takedown. Philly generated just 11 QB pressures on 42 Murray pass attempts. Worried about giving up the big play, Jonathan Gannon’s defense let Arizona move the ball up and down the field late with a host of short throws to convert first downs. Arizona earned two drives of 90-plus yards, and its final four possessions lasted at least nine plays (16, nine, 12, 10). In the end, Philly’s D looked fatigued but did just enough to keep Murray and the Cards short.
Next Gen stat of the game: Jalen Hurts averaged 3.8 air yards per attempt (second-lowest in career — minimum five attempts) and threw a quick pass on 63.9% of attempts. Hurts went 12 of 13 for 70 yards on screen passes, making him the only player since route recognition began in 2018 to have more than 10 screen attempts in a game.
NFL Research: Sunday marked Jalen Hurts’ seventh career game with multiple rushing touchdowns, tied for the second-most ever by a QB. Only Cam Newton (10 games) has more.
Nick Shook’s takeaways:
- Efficiency is as good as gold. The 49ers’ offense won in Week 4 with a shortened game plan that took advantage of a number of screens and banked on a few big plays. This time around, it was all about methodically marching down the field. San Francisco converted 7 of 12 third-down attempts and put together scoring drives of seven, eight, 10 and 12 snaps on Sunday, moving with urgency within those possessions but also using a healthy amount of plays — both short and long — to get the job done. Jimmy Garoppolo directed an offense that attacked Carolina in a number of ways, completing passes for 16, 18, 20, 24, 30 and 32 yards on the day to propel his passing total to 253 yards and two touchdowns on 18 completions. The only quick-strike scoring drive came at the end of the game because of a turnover on downs on Carolina’s 3-yard line. Otherwise, Week 5 was about moving down the field with purpose, and it paid off handsomely.
- Jeff Wilson continues to shine. Things looked bleak for San Francisco after a Week 1 loss that saw Elijah Mitchell sidelined with a knee injury, but Wilson has since risen the occasion in consecutive weeks. Wilson improved on his 74-yard, one-touchdown Week 4 outing by steadily gaining yards on the ground, carrying the ball 17 times for 120 yards and a touchdown from a yard out. Along with Tevin Coleman, Wilson paced a 49ers rushing attack that brought much-needed balance to the San Francisco offense, allowing Kyle Shanahan to keep Carolina on its heels by mixing run and pass effectively all afternoon. Wilson’s play hasn’t been a revelation — San Francisco has seen him pop in the past — but it has been incredibly helpful during Mitchell’s time off the field.
- These might be the final days of the Matt Rhule era. Perhaps it won’t even last that long. Every Panthers game this season has essentially followed the same story, and no matter what Rhule, Baker Mayfield and anyone else says during the weeks between games, similar problems arise each weekend. Mayfield posted another sub-70 passer rating, threw a bad pick-six just before halftime and only strung together enough positive plays for one productive scoring drive all afternoon. Christian McCaffrey made an impact and broke 20 touches, but it wasn’t enough for a Panthers offense that went 3 of 15 on third down. Carolina’s defense kept it close, but it’s unfair to expect them to hold up for four quarters when the offense isn’t doing its fair share. Rinse and repeat, and for a relatively new owner in David Tepper intent on making his mark on his franchise, patience has to be running thin. Things aren’t changing, and we all know the definition of insanity.
Next Gen Stat of the game: Jeff Wilson rushed 12 times for 95 yards and a touchdown versus a stacked box, the second-most such rushes and rush yards by any player in a game in 2022.
NFL Research: Emmanuel Moseley’s pick-six was the 49ers’ eighth pick-six since 2019, tied for the most in the NFL. All eight have come against former No. 1 overall picks (Jared Goff, Matthew Stafford, Jameis Winston, Baker Mayfield).
Eric Edholm’s takeaways:
- Don’t worry, be Zappe. Last week’s NFL debut by Bailey Zappe featured some nice moments for the Patriots’ rookie quarterback as he stepped into a tough spot and had chances to beat the Packers in an eventual overtime loss. But this game was a far cleaner performance from Zappe, who completed 17 of 21 passes for 188 yards and a pretty touchdown pass versus zone coverage to Jakobi Meyers. Granted, the Lions were losing defensive backs at an alarming rate, with five getting hurt during the game, but it shouldn’t take away from a nice performance from the rookie in his first start. Even Zappe’s one interception wasn’t his fault; it was a well-thrown pass to Nelson Agholor that he just dropped and was tipped into DeShon Elliott’s hands. Zappe also earned credit for two Lions pass-interference calls that earned 25 and 22 yards. The Patriots didn’t punt until 11 minutes were left in the game, and Zappe helped Bill Belichick move to within one head-coaching victory from tying Tom Landry (324 wins).
- Lions offense stalls. Entering the game, the Lions had the highest-scoring offense in the NFL and hadn’t scored fewer than 10 points in any half this season. On Sunday against the Patriots, they didn’t score — at all. The Lions were playing without running back D’Andre Swift and wide receiver D.J. Chark and had leading receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown on a pitch count. So that context is important. But it’s far from a complete explanation of what happened Sunday as Jared Goff was pressured mercilessly and the Lions came up empty on all six (!) fourth-down tries, the most fourth-down failures by a team in a game since at least 1991. Throw two turnovers (one of which came on fourth and was run back for a TD), and the Lions were curtains. Even with the holes in the roster – and the Lions’ defense’s inability to stop Zappe and the Patriots – this is the first game under offensive coordinator Ben Johnson in which things have not looked right. The rushing attack had some success when the game was close, but some of the fourth-down play calls can fairly draw some scrutiny.
- Patriots have a formula for winning. This was a big statement by the Patriots’ defense, which was strong last week in the first half against the Packers but couldn’t hold its water in the second half and overtime. This week, the unit was flying around and making plays, led by Matt Judon (two sacks, including a strip sack run back for a TD by Kyle Dugger) and rookie cornerback Jack Jones, who had a strong showing versus Green Bay and picked off Goff with an acrobatic interception inside New England’s 5-yard line to keep the Lions out of the end zone. Pair that with the steady, heady play of Zappe and the strong run game led by Rhamondre Stevenson, who smashed his career high for rushing yards with 161. After Damien Harris left the game with an injury, Stevenson took over with runs of 49 and 26 yards and a 15-yard catch. Now sitting at 2-3, the Patriots avoided a devastating start and seem to have figured out how to win games – with or without Mac Jones at QB.
Next Gen stat of the game: Jared Goff was 4 of 12 passing for 90 yards and an interception on passes of 10 or more air yards on Sunday. All four of Goff’s INTs this season on have come on downfield passes.
NFL Research: With Bailey Zappe winning his first career start, Bill Belichick and the Patriots are now 5-0 with quarterbacks drafted outside the first round making their debut start. The rest of the NFL is 30-80 with non-first-round rookie QBs in their first starts, since the 2000 season, Belichick’s first in New England.
Kevin Patra’s takeaways:
- Kirk Cousins starts hot, leads game-winning drive. The Vikings quarterback couldn’t have started any better, completing his first 17 passes — a team record. Cousins diced up the Bears’ defense underneath, finding Justin Jefferson (12 receptions for 154 yards) over and over and over and over again. The Vikes scored touchdowns on their first three drives. Minnesota moved the chains with aplomb, going 12 of 15 on third down and punted just once. Special teams miscues allowed the Bears to get back into the game, and the signal-caller threw a bad interception to help give Chicago the lead. But Cousins, Dalvin Cook and Co. spearheaded a 17-play, 75-yard TD drive that regained the lead on a QB sneak. Kevin O’Connell’s offense was in a groove all game, gobbling up 429 yards on 74 plays with 29 first downs. After a few lackluster weeks, the Vikes O got back in gear.
- Bears battle back but come up short. Justin Fields threw for a season-high 208 yards and avoided the bad turnovers that have plagued the quarterback five weeks into the 2022 season. After a slow start, Fields made a splash play to Darnell Mooney to set up a TD going into halftime that got the Bears back in the game. Chicago scored on four straight possessions and took advantage of Vikings miscues to score 19 unanswered points during one string. We still have issues with Luke Guetsy’s play-calling, as he goes stretches during which it doesn’t look like he fully trusts his quarterback. On a day his running backs couldn’t gain yards consistently (1.9 yards per carry), the Bears needed to give the QB more opportunities early. Chicago came up shy, but it was a step in the right direction for Fields after a poor start to the season. Matt Eberflus’ team could have quit after getting down big early on the road.
- Cameron Dantzler makes play of the game to seal the win. The Vikings corner got beat by former teammate Ihmir Smith-Marsette, but came back to rip the ball away from the Bears receiver, ending Chicago’s threat late. It was a brutal day for Smith-Marsette against his ex-teammates. The WR was called for an illegal block that wiped out a Fields TD run and had the final turnover. Dantzler’s play helped Minnesota avoid an epic meltdown in which the defense couldn’t get stops late, and the special teams collapsed.
Next Gen stat of the game: Kirk Cousins completed his first 17 pass attempts as the Vikings scored three touchdowns in the first half. Taking into account the difficulty of each throw, Cousins had just a 1.3% chance of completing all 17 passes.
NFL Research: Justin Jefferson has tied Hall of Famers Randy Moss and Lance Alworth for the most games (six) with 150-plus receiving yards in a player’s first three NFL seasons since at least 1950.
Eric Edholm’s takeaways:
- Breece Hall is a star. The Jets have a home win and a divisional win, and they can thank their rookie running back for carrying the load Sunday against the Dolphins. Hall finished the game with 97 yards rushing and 100 receiving, career highs in both categories, and scored a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter that was the final stake in Miami’s heart. Twice prior to that, Hall took a long reception – the first on a 79-yarder, then later on a 21-yarder – to the Dolphins’ 1-yard line. Michael Carter capped off both of those drives with 1-yard TD runs, so Jets head coach Robert Saleh owed his rookie a score after the third time Hall rumbled deep into enemy territory. According to NFL Research, Hall became the first Jets back with 100-plus receiving yards since LaDainian Tomlinson back in Week 3 of the 2011 season. The Jets have some intriguing young offensive standouts, but Hall’s big-play ability should be the heartbeat of this offense.
- Skylar Thompson thrust into the spotlight in a big game. On Teddy Bridgewater’s first pass Sunday, he was hit in the end zone and flagged for intentional grounding (a borderline call at best), giving the Jets a 2-0 lead early. But the play was more significant because it kicked in the league’s newly enacted concussion protocols, which ended Bridgewater’s day early. That meant the Dolphins had to turn to Thompson, a seventh-round rookie, for the duration. A standout in the preseason, Thompson struggled to get much going early and had a nice scramble called back by a hold. He endured as best he could, but Thompson succumbed too often to the relentless pressure he faced. The Jets registered a stunning 16 QB hits (15 on Thompson) and two sacks, and Thompson was to blame for some of that pressure, hanging onto the ball too long. He finished the game 19-of-33 passing for 166 yards and an interception on a fluttering, dangerous throw. It was a tough first assignment for the 25-year-old rookie, and he couldn’t do enough to rally his team.
- Sauce Gardner brings flavor to Jets win. Bridgewater was hit on the play that knocked him out of the game by Gardner, the Jets’ rookie corner who has performed at a high level this season. He came flying in on the blitz versus Bridgewater, leading to a Jets safety and setting the tone for the New York defense on the day. Gardner also registered his first NFL interception on the underthrown pass by Thompson and made five tackles in yet another impressive performance. He now has at least one pass defended in all five games this season, showing that his fast ascension in college can translate readily to the NFL level, even with a pass-interference call against him while covering Tyreek Hill. If Gardner keeps performing at this level, Hall might not be the only future star to come from the Jets’ 2022 draft class.
Next Gen stat of the game: The Dolphins lost 5.5% win probability by kicking a field goal instead of going for it on fourth-and-5 from the Jets’ 36-yard line in the fourth quarter. The field goal try was no good.
NFL Research: The Jets had one rushing touchdown entering Sunday but had four vs. the Dolphins, the most New York has had in a game since Week 6 of the 2018 season vs. the Colts – and the most vs. an AFC East opponent since Week 1 of the 2012 season vs. the Bills.
Kevin Patra’s takeaways:
- Tom Brady remains undefeated vs. Falcons. Make it 11-0 for TB12 as the Bucs picked apart the Falcons. Brady’s O-line gave him time early, and the 45-year-old took the short passes to move the chains. Brady threw 52 passes, completing 35 for 351 yards and a touchdown. The quarterback checked the ball down to Leonard Fournette time after time. The Bucs were moving the ball at will early, earning drives off 11 plays, 13, 13, and 11 on four of their first six possessions. Things got gummy for the operation, however, going three-and-out thrice late to allow the Falcons back in the contest after Tampa jumped out to a 21-0 lead. But the Bucs sealed the win with an 11-play drive to milk the final 4 minutes 38 seconds off the clock. Brady was aided by a questionable roughing the passer penalty against Grady Jarrett on a third-down sack that would have given the Falcons the ball with a chance to take the lead late. It wasn’t a consistent game for Brady and the Bucs, but they’ll take the W to avoid a three-game slide.
- Falcons again lean on ground game as comeback comes up short. Missing Kyle Pitts and Cordarrelle Patterson, the Atlanta Falcons offense was predictably quiet early, not earning more than two first downs on any drive in its first six possessions. Facing a solid Tampa run D didn’t deter Arthur Smith from grinding the ball on the ground. The Falcons got going in the third quarter on a six-play TD drive, all runs. ATL generated 151 yards on 31 carries for a TD. Marcus Mariota led the Falcons with seven carries for 61 yards. Frankly, the QB needs to do things with his legs because he’s been near abysmal passing the ball. He completed 56% of 25 attempts Sunday for 147 yards and a late TD while taking five sacks. Mariota continues to miss too many throws, and the scramble drill is usually his best play. The Falcons’ ability to scrap back and stay in games this season will probably keep Mariota’s job safe, but it’s worth considering whether Desmond Ridder might bring more pop to a struggling passing offense at some point.
- Leonard Fournette enjoys career-day catching the ball. A week after barely being used in a blowout loss to Kansas City, the running back caught a career-high 10 passes for 83 yards and a TD. Fournette once again led the Bucs ground attack, netting 56 yards and a score on 14 carries. With the Falcons taking away the deep shots most of the game, Fournette made himself available underneath, and Brady was comfortable dumping it to the back. Sunday marked Fournette’s third career game with at least one rushing and one receiving TD — the first such game against a team other than Indianapolis.
Next Gen stat of the game: Marcus Mariota was pressured on 36.7% of dropbacks (five sacks). Mariota was 12-of-19 passing for 127 yards and a touchdown when not under pressure. The QB went 3-of-5 passing for 36 yards (three sacks) vs. blitz.
NFL Research: Tom Brady earned his 23rd career QB win in a game he attempted 50-plus passes (including playoffs). No other QB, since at least 1950, has more than five such career wins.
Michael Baca’s takeaways:
- Texans advertise how far mistake-free football can go. Houston was outnumbered in just about every statistical category except for the most important figure in the box score. Best describing how the Texans got their first win of the season was them limiting mistakes with composed play on defense and realistic play-calling on offense. Lovie Smith’s crew also took advantage of a crucial Jaguars blunder. Fast forward to 7:26 in the fourth quarter, when the game saw its most pivotal moment after Jaguars rookie pass rusher Travon Walker was flagged for unnecessary roughness on quarterback Davis Mills on a third-and 20 play at midfield. The flag was appropriate, and perhaps it was a sign of frustration from a Jags defense that played well up until that point. The Texans went ahead and marched into the red zone (their only possession inside the 20 all game), and Dameon Pierce (99 yards off 26 attempts) found the game’s only touchdown to break a 6-6 tie with 3:11 left to play. That was all she wrote for a Jags offense that couldn’t break the back of a bendy Texans defense, and Smith should be proud of a disciplined team that is evidently listening to its coaches.
- Jaguars offense racks up yards, not points. It was a head-scratching day for a Jacksonville offense that looked explosive with a long field in their view, gaining 422 total yards of offense, but coming away with only six points to show for it in the loss. Jacksonville converted 22 first downs on the day, but came away with three points out of its three red-zone possessions. Coming off a five-turnover day last week, Trevor Lawrence’s big mistakes continued on a sunny day in Jacksonville, throwing two interceptions and leading an offense that had three turnovers on downs. One of those interceptions ruined the Jags’ opening drive in the second half, and the errant throw into the end zone seemed to haunt the former No. 1 overall pick the rest of the way. The offensive woes from Jacksonville were a collective effort, however, with several drops on third down deflating drives, and penalties making the road all that more rougher. Lawrence completed 25 of 47 passes for 286 yards and Travis Etienne flashed with 71 yards off 10 rushing attempts, and while the Jaguars moved the chains, they shrunk on their opponent’s side of the field.
- Derek Stingley Jr. finds first-career interception. Drawing solid reviews through his first four games, the Texans rookie cornerback earned his first career pick on a crucial play in the third quarter. With the Jags threatening in the red zone, Stingley didn’t bite on a play-action from the 7-yard line, instead falling back into coverage right at the spot where Lawrence’s throw was intended. It was the kind of play rookies don’t typically make, but it was a highlight of a terrific day covering Jacksonville’s deep receiving corps. Christian Kirk was held to just one reception for 11 yards on the day with Stingley doing most of the covering on the outside. The 21 year old nearly had another INT during the Jaguars’ final drive, but it ended up being one of two passes defensed for Stingley in addition to his seven total tackles.
Next Gen stat of the day: Texans RB Dameon Pierce forced 13 missed tackles on rushes (most by any player in a game this season).
NFL Research: The Texans’ nine straight wins over Jacksonville is the longest winning streak versus the Jaguars by any team in NFL history. Houston’s last loss to the Jaguars was Week 15, 2017, when Trevor Lawrence was a senior in high school. Jacksonville has played in an AFC Championship Game (Jan. 21, 2018) more recently than it has defeated the Texans.
Coral Smith’s takeaways:
- Taysom Hill carries Saints to victory. While Andy Dalton took most of the snaps at quarterback with Jameis Winston injured, do-it-all tight end Taysom Hill was put in on a couple of plays to give the offense another look, and he took advantage. Hill was brought in to receive direct snaps on key plays, and on two in the first half he used his mobility to rush for touchdowns. And like the true Swiss army knife player that he is, Hill ended up contributing on more than just wildcat runs. Hill (four total touchdowns) lined up on special teams to return punts for the first time this season, taking three punts back for 69 total yards. And he made his first and only pass of the season so far, lofting a throw to Adam Trautman across the middle for a 22-yard touchdown. And to cap off his career day, Hill rushed 60 yards for one more touchdown late in the fourth quarter, maneuvering around the edge of the pile and outrunning the defenders just long enough to reach the ball inside the pylon. That score gave the Saints the lead for good, and New Orleans snapped a three-game losing streak with the help of Hill’s four scores in the contest.
- ‘Hawks rookie RB takes over for injured starter. Running back Rashaad Penny had looked strong through the first few weeks of the season, averaging 73 rushing yards per game, and looked on track to put up similar numbers on Sunday versus the Saints. But Penny had to leave the game early in the third quarter with an ankle injury, his day finished with eight carries for 54 yards. But when the starter went down, rookie Kenneth Walker stepped up and kept Seattle in the game. With Seattle down in the fourth quarter, Walker exploded for a 69-yard touchdown, finding a hole in the line before sprinting to the end zone to put the Seahawks up by one. Though the Seahawks were unable to hold on to the lead, Walker’s contributions late in the game kept it close, and he finished with eight rushes for 88 yards. With NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reporting Penny broke his tibia, Walker being able to come in and produce at a similarly high level will be essential for the Seahawks as the season goes on.
- NOLA defense steps up late. The Saints defense has not looked up to its usual standard this season through the first four weeks. But this Sunday, the defense made the important plays when they counted to secure the victory. Seattle had gotten scores on big chunk gains all game, collecting almost 400 yards of total offense, and had the chance to complete a game-winning drive with five minutes left. But with an opportunity to preserve the one-score lead, the Saints D stepped up and forced a three-and-out. On third-and-2, the Saints stopped the Seahawks’ drive in its tracks, as defensive end Cam Jordan chased down Geno Smith in the backfield for his second sack of the day. Seattle punted, and New Orleans ran out the clock to close out the game. Considering that last week’s loss came about partially because the Saints defense could not get a stop while the Vikings moved down the field for a game-winning field goal, being able to hold the line this week at the key moment of the game is likely a big relief for New Orleans.
Next gen stat of the game: Taysom Hill had +90 rushing yards over expected (22 expected, 112 actual), which is the most by a Saints player in a game since 2018 when the stat was created.
NFL Research: With his performance Sunday, Taysom Hill became one of just three players since 1950 with three-plus rushing TDs, 100-plus rushing yards and a passing TD in a single game. The other two are Ronnie Brown (2008) and LaDainian Tomlinson (2005).
Nick Shook’s takeaways:
- Chargers’ Austin Ekeler provides a spark. The running back broke the Chargers’ rushing touchdown-less streak last week against Houston, then built on that effort with a phenomenal performance in Cleveland. Ekeler ripped off the longest single run of his career Sunday, a 71-yard scamper that put the Chargers on the doorstep of the end zone, on his way to a 16-carry, 173-yard, one-touchdown afternoon. Ekeler chipped in four catches for 26 yards and a touchdown, as well, bringing much-needed balance to a Chargers offense that was difficult to stop for much of the afternoon. After a slow start to 2022, Ekeler is rolling, and the Chargers are winning because of him.
- Joe Woods is on thin ice. Cleveland’s 2022 season has become a weekly guessing game between which defensive element — run or pass — will be worse. On Sunday, the answer was both. The Browns allowed the NFL’s worst statistical rushing offense to rip up 238 yards on the ground, and Justin Herbert was as sharp as usual, completing 22 of 34 passes for 228 yards and a touchdown. Cleveland allowed Los Angeles to gain 465 yards despite losing the time of possession battle and only converting 3 of 10 third-down attempts. Honestly, the stats don’t make a ton of sense, but the tape will tell you the Chargers had a rhythm that made their offensive success seem inevitable. Cleveland’s offense, meanwhile, again responded as it has for much of the season. But the Browns’ consistent defensive failures have left a margin for error too slim for them to survive any mistakes. For the third time this season, a late Jacoby Brissett interception (and two missed field goals from Cade York) compiled a margin too wide to overcome. It might cost the defensive coordinator his job before long.
- Brandon Staley’s fourth-down call wasn’t wrong — it was just unnecessarily risky. The risk of going for it on fourth-and-1 from their own 46 was significant for the Chargers, sure, but this was against a Browns defense that had allowed Mike Williams to catch 10 of 13 targets for 134 yards, and over 200 rushing yards to the Chargers’ runners. If the Chargers convert, the game is over. And Staley wisely dialed up a pass to Williams, who was matched up with rookie corner Martin Emerson. The only surprise from this entire situation was the fact Emerson prevented a completion. Staley has plainly explained himself to Chargers fans and the greater NFL with his aggressive calls on fourth downs over the last year or so, and this was no different, even if Keenan Allen disagreed from home. This is what the Chargers signed up for when they hired Staley. Punting was safe — which Next Gen Stats recommended by just 0.2% — but converting was absolute. They just didn’t convert.
Next Gen Stat of the game: Sunday was the first game in which two players recorded at least 70 rushing yards gained over expected since the statistic was created in 2018.
NFL Research: With his 50th career touchdown scored Sunday, Austin Ekeler became the fourth undrafted running back in the common draft era with 50 career scores, joining Priest Holmes (94), Arian Foster (68) and LeGarrette Blount (58).
Nick Shook’s takeaways:
- Buffalo’s offense gets back on track. The high-octane air attack we’ve become accustomed to seeing from the Bills was back in full force Sunday, starting with a 98-yard strike from Josh Allen to Gabe Davis that dug them out of a terrible hole and produced an early advantage. The second quarter brought even more offense, leading to a 31-3 halftime lead. Allen let it rip all afternoon, completing 20 of 31 passes for 424 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. Allen spread it around among Davis and Stefon Diggs (eight catches, 102 yards, one touchdown), and even connected with Khalil Shakir for the latter’s first career touchdown. It was nothing but fun and smiles in Orchard Park on Sunday for a Bills team that is rolling, exploding for 552 yards of offense and 38 points after being held to 19 and 20 points in the last two weeks.
- Pittsburgh misses T.J. Watt dearly. As the Bills bombarded the Steelers through the air Sunday, Watt’s absence became painfully evident. Pittsburgh registered just three QB pressures as a team, failed to sack Allen, and watched the Bills rack up over 500 yards of offense. What was once a strength for the Steelers is now a weakness, making the going difficult for an offense trotting out a rookie quarterback behind an inconsistent offensive line that hasn’t been able to provide nearly enough balance to insulate Kenny Pickett. The result was the worst loss for the Steelers since the George H.W. Bush administration.
- Welcome back, Gabe Davis. The receiver is healthy and back to his old self, storming out of the gate Sunday by toasting the back end of Pittsburgh’s secondary for a thrilling 98-yard touchdown. On one completion, the Bills went from a worst-case opening-drive scenario to a touchdown, and that was just the beginning. Davis got loose again later in the half, catching another missile from Allen and ripping it out of Minkah Fitzpatrick’s grasp for his second touchdown. Davis only had three catches on the afternoon, but nearly broke 175 receiving yards. When he’s involved, the Bills are exponentially more dangerous through the air, and it showed Sunday.
Next Gen stat of the game: Josh Allen joined Patrick Mahomes as the only two quarterbacks to total 250-plus yards and four touchdown passes of 10-plus air yards in a single half since 2016.
NFL Research: Josh Allen recorded his 150th offensive touchdown of his career in his 66th career game, becoming the third-fastest quarterback to reach that mark, behind only Patrick Mahomes (60) and Dan Marino (61).
Michael Baca’s takeaways:
- Titans defense preserves another victory. A rough and rugged game came down to a goal-line stand that ended with a David Long interception of Carson Wentz at the 1-yard line with six seconds to play. Tennessee may not have it any other way with the way this defense is playing in high-stakes situations. The Titans D especially stepped up on third downs, allowing just one such conversion the entire game and blanking Washington’s only red-zone possession in the final seconds. Allowing just 43 yards rushing, the Titans defense rendered Washington into a one-dimensional offense all game and allowed pass rushers to sack Wentz three times while hitting the QB on seven other plays (Wentz recovered three of his own fumbles). Relying on its defense is becoming the norm for a Titans offense that continues its struggles, especially in the second half of games. With the unit allowing just 17 fourth-quarter points through Week 5, Tennessee’s defense is riding high going into its bye after winning three straight.
- Big plays kept Washington alive. This game could’ve gotten ugly hadn’t Washington come up with big plays throughout. Wentz started the home-run hitting with a 75-yard bomb to Dyami Brown on a play-action pass that began the Commanders’ first drive of the second quarter. It was just one of 20 offensive plays in the first half for Washington as it gratefully entered halftime down, 14-10. The offensive struggles continued into the second half until Terry McLaurin (five catches, 76 yards) and Curtis Samuel (six catches, 62 yards) made big plays to extend drives. Wentz found Brown again on a 30-yard TD throw to give the Commanders their first lead in the third quarter, but the Titans shored up the big plays in the final 15 minutes. The big plays weren’t only made on offense for Washington as its defense harassed Ryan Tannehill to the tune of six sacks and 13 QB hits.
- King Henry continues to be as reliable as they come. Titans running back Derrick Henry accounted for 132 of the Titans’ 241 total offensive yards while scoring two of their three touchdowns on the day. The offense would’ve been lost without the former rushing champion. Henry surpassed the 100-yard rushing mark for the second consecutive game (102 yards) and added 30 yards through the air on two catches, one of which helped set-up Dontrell Hilliard’s 13-yard TD reception in the first quarter. Wideout Nick Westbrook-Ikhine came through with a 61-yard catch in the third quarter for the Titans’ biggest offensive play so far this season, and old reliable was there to finish that drive with the go-ahead score. Henry continues to amaze even with opposing defenses knowing exactly who’s getting the ball. With his two rushing TDs on the day, the 28-year-old Henry tied Earl Campbell on the franchise’s all-time TDs list with 73 and sits one behind Eddie George for the top spot.
Next Gen stat of the day: Washington had three players with five-plus QB pressures (Jonathan Allen seven, Montez Sweat six, James Smith-Williams five).
NFL Research: The Titans are the first team to not score a point in the fourth quarter through five games since the 2005 49ers, who started 1-4.
Jeremy Bergman’s takeaways:
- Big Blue’s offense, bloodied and bruised, bounces back. Down arguably their top four receivers and with a gimpy Daniel Jones under center, the Giants leaned on Saquon Barkley early and often. The league’s leading rusher was at his best again (106 total yards, TD on 16 touches), playing a role on the ground, through the air and, most notably, in the Wildcat, providing the mobility Jones was lacking early on. So, it didn’t help matters when Barkley exited the proceedings with a shoulder injury early in the second half. But Jones, on a bum ankle, led three straight scoring drives out of halftime, including two of over seven minutes, on the backs of role players, like Darius Slayton (back from the brink with 79 yards on six catches), Daniel Bellinger and Marcus Johnson. The oft-ridiculed QB gutted through his ankle injury and a bloody hand to get the Giants back in the game against the cream of the NFC crop, picking up first downs with his arm and eventually his legs (10 rushes for 37 yards). New York teams of previous years would have wilted under the adversity and with their dearth of talent. But Brian Daboll’s side is resilient, crafty and creative, a whole greater than the sum of its parts. The Giants’ improbable 4-1 start, their best since 2009, is indicative of that turnaround.
- Packers live and die by papercuts. Green Bay played small ball on offense in London, opting for routes with short depths of target and utilizing great blocking by skill-position players to spring YAC. Beating Wink Martindale’s blitzes, the strategy worked in the first half. The Packers cruised to a 17-3 lead within 22 minutes of game time, paced by a season-long 13-play, 7:44 touchdown drive. By the half, Rodgers had completed passes to nine different receivers, playing as efficiently as he had all season. But Green Bay got few chances to maintain that level of play in the second half. The Giants returned the favor in the second half with three lengthy scoring drives, stealing away Green Bay’s time of possession advantage and the lead. When the Packers began their third drive of the second half with six minutes remaining in the game, New York was already up by seven. Green Bay’s promising march reached the red zone with four first downs, but ended on two straight short attempts batted down at the line of scrimmage. Rodgers showed trust in his veteran pass catchers Randall Cobb (99 yards) and Allen Lazard (35 yards, TD) all day, but the Giants read his intent toward them on the final two plays of the drive, sealing the comeback upset. Utilizing the short game through the afternoon, the Packers came up short when it mattered most in London.
- Bakhtiari not all the way back. Packers All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari made his return to the Green Bay starting lineup in Week 3 after over a year out of commission and played all but three snaps in the Pack’s overtime win in Week 4. But the veteran was curiously cycled in and out of the starting lineup on Sunday afternoon, alternating drives with Yosh Nijman. Bakhtiari ended up playing only 24 of Green Bay’s offensive snaps. The result? Green Bay moved to a quick-pass game to combat a Giants’ aggressive pass rush that got home more often than expected. Eight New York defenders logged a total of 14 QB pressures, including three each from Jihad Ward and rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux in his sharpest performance to date. Rodgers, who entered Sunday with a 28.6 passer rating when under pressure, fared no better against New York. Green Bay goes as No. 12 goes, and if the merry-go-round offensive line can’t protect him, the 3-2 Packers are in for some trouble.
Next Gen stat of the game: Packers QB Aaron Rodgers was 0-6 on deep passes against New York, his most deep pass attempts without a completion in a game since Week 5, 2016 (4-14, 137 yards, INT on such passes in Weeks 1-4).
NFL Research:The 2022 Giants are the second team since 2000 to lose 4+ games in the previous season and match their win total in first five weeks of the following season (2019 49ers, lost in Super Bowl LIV).