Week 5 NFL Report Card Grades for Every Team

Russell S. Baxter@@BaxFootballGuruContributor IOctober 8, 2012

Week 5 NFL Report Card Grades for Every Team

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    As we found out as early as this Thursday night in St. Louis, winning in the NFL on a consistent basis is tough and going through a season unscathed has been nearly impossible.

    The Cardinals were handed their first loss of the season by the Rams, and both the Falcons and Texans were on the road this week looking to stay perfect. And each team proved to be up to the task in near identical fashion, Atlanta beating the Redskins, 24-17, and Houston holding on for their first-ever victory over the Jets, 23-17.

    But like any other season, we have had our share of pleasant surprises, as well as disappointments. And as usual, we have had our share of clubs that have made us scratch our heads in total bewilderment.

    So here we are with this week’s grades. Please remember that they are based on a number of factors, not just wins and losses and game statistics numbers. And as always, they are grades for this week’s performance and not a team’s overall performance in 2012.

    This week, there were a few teams that were nearly given detention.


Arizona Cardinals: C

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    Ray Horton’s defense has been the big story in the desert and a huge reason the Cardinals were off to their best start since 1974.

    Arizona’s defenders appeared up to the task on Thursday night at St. Louis, as they limited the Rams to only 242 total yards and 17 points.

    However, 17 is the less-than-magical number here for Ken Whisenhunt’s team, and especially quarterback Kevin Kolb. That’s the number of running plays the Cards managed against the St. Louis’ defense, totaling a mere 45 yards.

    That meant more passes for Kolb, who dropped back 59 times in this contest and completed 28 passes for 289 yards. But the Arizona signal-caller couldn’t get his team in the end zone and was corralled nine times by the Rams’ aggressive defense.

    All told, Kolb has now been sacked (you guessed it) 17 times in the last two games, a number that better improve sooner than later or all of the efforts by Horton’s defense could go to waste in 2012.

    Yes, it’s only one loss to a divisional opponent on the road, and there’s certainly no reason to panic. But watching your quarterback take a beating on a weekly basis has to be a little disconcerting. Stay tuned.

Atlanta Falcons: B+

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    The lone unbeaten in the NFC entering Sunday’s action was looking to do something that 46 previous Falcons’ teams failed to do.

    And while it was far from easy, Mike Smith’s team managed to get the job done, winning 24-17 at Washington and propelling the franchise to its first-ever 5-0 start.

    Although the Falcons offense rolled up 421 yards, it was a bit of an uneven performance for quarterback Matt Ryan. He completed 34-of-52 passes for 345 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but also coughed up the ball twice, including an interception by Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who leaped in front of a short throw by Ryan and returned the ball 28 yards for a score.

    Meanwhile, the Falcons defense once again had its issues against the run, allowing 115 yards rushing to running back Alfred Morris and a total of 129 on the afternoon. But it also stopped rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins (who replaced an injured Robert Griffin III) when it had to, picking him off twice in the final two minutes to preserve the victory.

Baltimore Ravens: B-

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    John Harbaugh’s well-rested Ravens headed to Arrowhead Stadium not only looking for a win, but hoping to establish some consistency.

    That’s because despite their success in recent seasons, winning away from Baltimore has become less than a certainty. While Joe Flacco and company came away with a hard-earned 9-6 win at Kansas City, there are some questions to be answered.

    And one query may be regarding the defense; strange considering the club did not give up a touchdown to the Chiefs.

    However, Baltimore defenders did allow 214 yards on the ground, including 140 to talented running back Jamaal Charles. But Harbaugh’s defense also came up with four takeaways, none more crucial than Chiefs’ center Ryan Lilja’s fumbled snap at the Ravens 1-yard line in the third quarter with Kansas City owning a 1st-and goal.

    As for that aforementioned rushing total, the Chiefs managed only 35 yards on the ground in the second half.

    On the plus side, a win is a win. Running back Ray Rice rushed for 102 yards as Baltimore totaled 133 yards on the ground. But Flacco was sacked four times and Baltimore failed to score a touchdown against one of the worst defenses in the league.

Buffalo Bills: F-

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    The good news for Chan Gailey and company means not playing one of your divisional brethren.

    After giving up a combined 100 points in losses to the Jets and Patriots, a clash with arguably the best team in the league probably was a welcome sight for the Bills.

    Uhhh…maybe not.

    After blowing a 14-point lead to New England and surrendering 52 points and 580 total yards by game’s end, the Bills were even worse at San Francisco. The 45-3 setback featured the Niners roll up an astounding 621 total yards, including 311 rushing, while that supposedly-vaunted Buffalo pass rush failed to sack Alex Smith.

    Looking for a silver lining? Don’t point to the Buffalo offense, which was limited to 204 total yards in the Bay Area and committed two more turnovers.

    And in somewhat similar fashion to last week’s loss to the Patriots, in which Tom Brady and company outscored Buffalo a combined 45-7 after trailing 21-7, the 49ers scored the final 42 points of the game after Gailey’s club evened the score at 3-3 in the second quarter.

    It was simply a total disaster.

Carolina Panthers: D+

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    There’s a lot of football to be played, but early in 2012, the Carolina Panthers have easily been one of the league’s most disappointing teams.

    Off a 6-10 season that included four victories in the final six weeks, things have not come together for a team that appeared to be on the rise. Instead, the 16-12 home loss to the Seahawks was further proof of how much Ron Rivera’s team has not progressed.

    Coming off a heartbreaking loss at Atlanta in which the Carolina defense had the Falcons pinned on their own 1-yard line and let them drive for a game-winning field goal with under a minute to play, it was the Panthers offense that failed to come up big against the formidable Seattle defense.

    Cam Newton and company managed only 190 total yards, and the talented signal-caller struggled, hitting on 12-of-29 throws for just 141 yards while being sacked four times. And the most damaging of those incompletions came late in the fourth quarter on a 4th-and-1 from the Seattle 1-yard line when Newton badly underthrew tight end Ben Hartsock in the end zone.

    And the Panthers’ last play of the game ended with Newton sacked and a lost fumble.

    Disappointing to say the least.

Chicago Bears: A+

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    This scoring on defense thing is becoming a habit.

    And apparently, it’s becoming addictive to Bears cornerback Charles Tillman and linebacker Lance Briggs, who both returned interceptions for touchdowns for the second time in seven days as Lovie Smith’s team whacked the host Jaguars 41-3.

    With the exception of one Jay Cutler interception, it was a near-flawless performance for a Chicago team that has now won three straight games following the Week 2 Thursday night debacle at Green Bay.

    All told, Mike Tice’s offense rolled up 501 total yards against a disappointing Jacksonville defense. That included 214 yards on the ground, exactly half (107) by Matt Forte. Cutler threw for 292 yards and a pair of scores while being sacked only once.

    Elsewhere, the Bears defense kept the Jaguars out of the end zone and limited them to a mere 189 total yards while totaling three sacks of Blaine Gabbert, whose two interceptions wound up in the hands of the law firm of Tillman and Briggs.

Cincinnati Bengals: C-

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    Marvin Lewis’ team had bounced back smartly from its Week 1 debacle.

    After losing by 31 points in their season opener against the Ravens, the Bengals returned the favor by beating the Browns, Redskins and Jaguars by that same total combined.

    Into the Queen City marched the unlucky Dolphins, losers of two straight overtime games to the Jets and Cardinals.

    Out of town marched Miami with a surprising 17-13 win.

    And Lewis’ team has no one to blame but itself. Cincinnati ran for only 80 yards and quarterback Andy Dalton had his issues, throwing for 234 yards and a score but also serving up a pair of interceptions while being sacked three times.

    And while the Bengals limited Dolphins rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill and company to only 279 total yards and did force a pair of turnovers, it wasn’t enough to make up for an off-day for Dalton and a Cincinnati attack that not only gave up the ball three times by game’s end but was a miserable 2-of-14 on third-down conversions.

Cleveland Browns: D+

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    Talk about breaking tendencies?

    After totaling a mere 32 points and scoring only a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter of their previous 20 games, Pat Shurmur’s team found itself up 14-0 over the defending Super Bowl champion Giants roughly five minutes into the contest.

    But by halftime, it had all come apart for the Browns, who trailed 27-17 at intermission on their way to a disappointing 41-27 loss. And by day’s end, the only winless team in the NFL in 2012 resided in Cleveland.

    How bad did it get? Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw fumbled on the team’s first play from scrimmage, yet he seemed unaffected by the blunder, running for 200 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries. All told, the Cleveland defense allowed 502 total yards and never sacked quarterback Eli Manning, who threw three touchdown passes to wideout Victor Cruz.

    While quarterback Brandon Weeden did throw for 291 yards and a pair of touchdowns, he also served up a pair of interceptions, part of three turnovers by Shurmur’s club.

    The bad times continues for this version of the Browns franchise.

Denver Broncos: C-

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    Quarterback Peyton Manning owns both good and bad memories in his clashes with the Patriots.

    The Broncos have nothing but bad memories after facing Tom Brady and company twice a season ago.

    Make it another sleepless night for the Broncos following a 31-21 loss at New England. That means John Fox's team has now faced Bill Belichick’s team three times in less than a calendar year and has walked away on the short end of all of those contests by a combined score of 117-54.

    This time around, there wasn’t any explosive Brady performance in the first half; rather, the inability of the Denver defense to get off the field. Jack Del Rio’s unit allowed 444 total yards on an astounding 89 plays, with 251 yards coming via the ground on 54 rushing attempts. All told, the Patriots rolled up 35 first downs against a unit that simply couldn’t make enough stops.

    Offensively, Manning would throw for 345 yards and three scores. But he also committed one of three turnovers that ultimately proved to be the Broncos’ undoing, the last a Willis McGahee fumble at the Patriots’ 11-yard line with less than four minutes that killed Denver’s frantic late rally.

    With a lot of the onus on Manning, perhaps it’s time that the Broncos defense did a little soul searching.

Green Bay Packers: D

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    Now these are the Green Bay Packers we have gotten accustomed to seeing. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers throws a pair of touchdown passes in the first half, and Mike McCarthy’s team opens up a 21-3 lead at intermission.

    And a defense which sacked Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck four times in the first two quarters continues to make strides after a disappointing 2011.

    So what happened?

    Not only did the Pack fail to put Indianapolis away, that 18-point lead turned into a three-point deficit by game’s end. McCarthy’s club couldn’t get to Luck in the second half and apparently had no answers for veteran wideout Reggie Wayne as well. When it was all said and done, there was plenty of blame to go around in a stunning 30-27 loss.

    So make it three losses in five games for the 2012 Packers, who appear to be a far cry from last season’s 15-1 club after all. McCarthy’s club has yet to hit to score 30 points in a game this year, while the 49ers and Colts have now put that total on them.

    Perplexing times in “Titletown.”

Houston Texans: B+

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    It was another week and another win for Gary Kubiak’s team.

    For the second time in three games, the Texans took a hungry team’s best shot and weathered the storm.

    Houston’s 23-17 win over the Jets may not wow those who think margin of victory is a key stat. But your eyes will tell you just how good this club has become.

    Quarterback Matt Schaub, who completed just 50 percent of his throws (14-of-28) for a touchdown and an interception, burned the Jets’ defense for plenty of significant gains despite the fact that wideout Andre Johnson was kept under wraps for the entire evening.

    But tight end Owen Daniels and fullback James Casey did plenty of damage, combining for eight catches and 132 of Schaub’s 209 yards through the air, with Daniels catching a 34-yard touchdown pass on Houston’s opening possession of the game.

    While Wade Phillips’ shackled New York’s running game as expected, Jets’ quarterback Mark Sanchez burned the Houston defense for numerous big gains, completing just 14 passes but for 230 yards. But J.J. Watt and company made the big plays when necessary as Texans’ defenders totaled three sacks and a pair of interceptions and Kubiak’s team held on for the win.

    It’s shaping up as a very interesting season for a very talented club.

Indianapolis Colts: A+

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    Even with an extra week to prepare for Aaron Rodgers and the talented Packers, it proved to be tough first 30 minutes for the young Colts on Sunday.

    But perhaps with the reminder that the team would be without head coach Chuck Pagano for a spell as he battles leukemia, Andrew Luck and company showed a lot of heart and even more resilience.

    Down 21-3 at intermission, Indianapolis came all the way back for a thrilling 30-27 victory, giving Pagano’s team two wins in four games just one season after the franchise’s 2-14 finish.

    Luck overcame four sacks in the first half and would have quite the afternoon playing pitch and catch with veteran receiver Reggie Wayne, who snared 13 passes for more than half (212) of his quarterback’s 362 yards passing and scored the game-winning touchdown with 35 seconds to play.

    The Colts offense would roll up 464 total yards by game’s end, and Luck was not sacked in the second half.

    Meanwhile, Pagano’s defense dropped Rodgers five times, which was quite a feat considering the Packers had not allowed a sack in their previous six quarters.

    While it was far from a perfect performance, the comeback alone considering all of the circumstances warranted a superior grade.

Jacksonville Jaguars: F

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    The 2012 preseason brought some promise for second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

    Meanwhile, the 2012 regular season is turning into a big disappointment.

    Two weeks ago, the Jaguars were coming off a thrilling 22-17 win at Indianapolis courtesy of a late 80-yard touchdown connection by Gabbert to Cecil Shorts.

    But it’s been all downhill since for both the Jacksonville signal-caller and his defensive counterparts, the latter which has been a major disappointment for most of the season.

    However, the 41-3 loss to the Bears was a total collapse by both sides of the ball. Mike Mularkey’s team was out-gained 501-189 in total yards and Gabbert turned over the ball three times, two of those interceptions returned for scores by Chicago defenders.

    Jacksonville’s bread-and-butter also failed to satisfy as Maurice Jones-Drew and the running attack managed only 60 yards.

    It may not only be time to go back to the drawing board, but to look for a new set of markers.

Kansas City Chiefs: C

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    When you see a team roll up 214 rushing yards on the Ravens defense, you’re probably assuming that deal has handled Ray Lewis and company.

    What you wouldn’t be expecting would be a 9-6 loss that included the team’s inability to score a touchdown.

    It was another error-plagued performance by the Chiefs offense and quarterback Matt Cassel, who was guilty of three of the team’s four turnovers in a frustrating setback.

    While the Kansas City defense should be lauded for holding Joe Flacco and company out of the end zone and to less than 300 yards of total offense, the fact remains that you’re not winning many games if you can’t hold onto the ball. Romeo Crennel’s club has now committed 19 turnovers during its 1-4 start.

    As for Cassel, he was knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter and replaced by Brady Quinn, who completed all three of his pass attempts.

    It will be interesting to see what happens (depending on Cassel’s health) on this front as the Chiefs prepare for a trip to Tampa next week.

Miami Dolphins: A-

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    With some of the mindset that the Dolphins may be one of the worse teams in the league in 2012, it may be time for a little reevaluation.

    After back-to-back overtime losses to the Jets and Cardinals, a trip to Cincinnati didn’t appear to be the place for Joe Philbin’s team to get back on track.

    Led by a sturdy defensive unit that limited the Bengals to 80 rushing yards while sacking Andy Dalton three times and forcing three turnovers, Miami came away with a 17-13 win over a Bengals team that was in the playoffs a year ago.

    Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill did his part as well, completing 17-of-26 passes for 223 yards. And Philbin’s club didn’t roll up a lot of yards on the ground, but those 35 carries made life easier for the Miami rookie signal-caller.

    One thing we have learned: A date with these Dolphins is far from a gimme on the schedule.

Minnesota Vikings: A-

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    Looking for a letdown from the Vikings after consecutive wins over the 49ers and Lions?

    Not happening, at least not yet.

    Thanks to an impressive day by the versatile Percy Harvin and a defensive unit that limited the Titans to 267 yards of total offense, Leslie Frazier’s team ran its record to 4-1 following a comfortable 30-7 victory. The former first-round pick caught eight passes for 108 yards and a score and also added a four-yard scoring run.

    Meanwhile, it was an up-and-down day for Christian Ponder. But mostly up, as he threw for 258 yards and a pair of score while serving up a pair of interceptions. The offensive line paved the way for 175 yards rushing, 88 by Adrian Peterson, while Ponder was sacked only once on the afternoon.

    Granted, this was a Tennessee defense that has yet to show up in 2012. But it was also a nice performance by a Minnesota offensive unit that failed to score a touchdown last week at Detroit.

New England Patriots: B+

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    There was Bill Belichick’s team, doing what it had done twice the previous season.

    And it nearly got away from New England.

    In the latest showdown between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, the latter and his team won for the ninth time in 13 head-to-head encounters (including playoffs). And when the Patriots opened up a 31-7 lead in the third quarter, the much-anticipated duel between two of the game’s best quarterbacks was…off.

    But a funny thing happened on the way to that blowout. Thanks in part to an ill-advised decision to go for it on fourth down at midfield, the Broncos seized the momentum and suddenly found themselves only down by 10 with a little less than a quarter to play.

    Ultimately, the New England running game, which rolled up 251 yards by game’s end, proved to be the difference in the Patriots’ 31-21 victory.

    But it wasn’t without its anxious moments.

New Orleans Saints: B

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    At 0-4, there was nowhere to go but up for the defending NFC South champions.

    At 1-4, there may still be a glimmer of hope for Drew Brees and company.

    On a night in which the emphasis was on the Saints quarterback’s pursuit of a hallowed NFL record, the more important matter was New Orleans’ 31-24 victory over the Chargers, giving the Cajuns their first win of the season. Brees wasted little time throwing a touchdown pass in a 48th consecutive game, eclipsing the previous record owned by Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas.

    And while that first scoring toss went to Devery Henderson, his next three touchdown passes were hauled in by Marques Colston, who totaled nine catches for 131 yards.

    For the night, Brees finished with 370 through the air and the aforementioned four scores with just one interception.

    Meanwhile, the New Orleans defense was riddled for 354 yards through the air by Chargers quarterback Philip River, who threw for a pair of touchdowns (one interception). More significantly, they sacked the San Diego signal-caller five times, four coming from the defensive line.

    Now we’ll have to wait two weeks to see if this was the start of something really special.

New York Giants: B+

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    Over the last few seasons, Tom Coughlin’s team has been accused of playing down to the competition.

    And that appeared to be the case on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium, as the visiting Browns opened up a 14-0 lead less than five minutes into the game.

    But looks can be deceiving, and by mid-afternoon, the G-Men had restored order courtesy of a 41-27 triumph that featured 200 rushing yards and a score by running back Ahmad Bradshaw (whose fumble on New York’s first play from scrimmage led to a Cleveland touchdown) and wideout Victor Cruz’s three touchdown grabs.

    Although the Giants pass rush didn’t sack Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden, he was picked off twice, part of three New York takeaways on the afternoon.

    It’s not how you start, but how you finish. And that’s been the Giants’ mantra in the last few seasons.

New York Jets: C

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    Perhaps it is little solace that while many figured Rex Ryan’s team to be non-competitive against the visiting Texans, the Jets hung tough in a 23-17 loss.

    Unfortunately, a quick look at the NFL standings and there’s no gold star or asterisk next to New York’s 2-3 record.

    Still, it was a good effort by a team rolled at home by the 49ers a week earlier. But just as was the case against San Francisco, Ryan’s defense failed to stop the run as Houston’s Arian Foster rumbled for 152 yards and a score on 29 carries as the Texans rushed for 169 yards by game’s end.

    Offensively, quarterback Mark Sanchez completed less than 50 percent of his passes (14-of-31) but for 230 yards and an impressive 27-yard touchdown strike to tight end Jeff Cumberland. And the Jets’ starting signal-caller hit his share of big pass plays to wideouts Jeremy Kerley and newcomer Clyde Gates.

    But the Jets’ offensive front, which lost center Nick Mangold for a spell, was under siege all evening as Sanchez was sacked three times and had several passes slapped away by defensive end J.J. Watt.

    Hence, following the bouncing ball as the pressure led to a pair of interceptions, the most damaging off a Watt deflection with New York poised to score at the end of the first half. The pick led to an 86-yard return by Brice McCain and points for the Jets turned into a field goal for Houston and a 17-7 halftime lead.

    While the Jets got a 100-yard kickoff return for a score in the third quarter to narrow the Texans’ lead to 20-14, it was the lone touchdown in the second half for Ryan’s team.

    Yes, the Jets’ offense has its issues. But this club is not headed anywhere until they can keep the other team off the field.

Philadelphia Eagles: B-

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    Here we go again?

    After rolling up 191 yards rushing and not committing a turnover in last week’s win over the defending Super Bowl champion Giants, the Eagles and Michael Vick had his issues with turnovers.

    The Philadelphia quarterback lost a pair of fumbles, including one on his way to the Steelers’ end zone, and the veteran signal-caller was sacked three times in a stinging 16-14 loss to their cross-state rivals from the Steel City.

    While running back LeSean McCoy ran hard, he only managed 53 yards on 16 carries, as the Birds ran for only 78 yards on 23 attempts.

    On the other hand, the Philadelphia defense also deserves its fair share of scrutiny despite holding Pittsburgh to only one touchdown. The Steelers ran for 136 yards, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for 207 yards while not being sacked. And Juan Castillo’s unit allowed Mike Tomlin’s team to possess the ball for the final 6:33 of the game that concluded with the game-winning field goal.

    Still, the Eagles lost in one of the tougher places to play. That’s no excuse, but a fact. And if they’re planning on winning a title this season, they may have to win in a few tough road environments like Heinz Field.

Pittsburgh Steelers: B+

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    While Mike Tomlin’s team found itself on the short of the end of the scoreboard in two of its first three contests, the Steelers also found themselves shorthanded.

    That’s hardly an excuse for any NFL team, but it was a very different Steelers team that took the field in September minus several key performers.

    All of them returned (some for not very long), and it certainly made a difference in a last-second 16-14 win over the Eagles.

    The dormant ground game awoke with the return of running back Rashard Mendenhall, who was playing in his first game of the season, rushing for 81 of Pittsburgh’s 136 yards and scoring the team’s only touchdown on a 13-yard run.

    Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh defense (minus safety Troy Polamalu for most of the game once again) did its part, sacking Michael Vick three times and forcing him to fumble three times, two of which he lost, the most crucial coming in the first quarter when the Eagles quarterback was on his way to the end zone.

    All told, a good win for Tomlin’s veteran crew.

St. Louis Rams: B+

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    Thanks to their second consecutive victory, this one a 17-3 Thursday night triumph over the previously undefeated Cardinals, the Rams sit at 3-2 and have already totaled one more win than they did all of last season.

    Jeff Fisher’s team certainly got off to a good start against its division rivals from the desert. After St. Louis' offensive unit failed to score any points in its previous two games, quarterback Sam Bradford’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Lance Hendricks capped off a 5-play, 69-yard drive on the game’s opening possession.

    The Rams signal-caller completed only 7-of-21 passes for 141 yards and was picked off once as St. Louis was limited to just 242 total yards. But he did connect for two scores, the second a 51-yard strike to rookie Chris Givens early in the fourth quarter.

    Rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein was at it again, connecting on another field goal of 50-plus yards, showing last week’s long-range blasts from 58 and 60 were no fluke.

    But the story here was the St. Louis pass rush, which totaled nine sacks (3.0 by defensive end Robert Quinn) and made it a very long night for Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb as Ken Whisenhunt’s team failed to reach the end zone on a dozen possessions.

    It’s going to be a fun year in what appears to be a defensively loaded NFC West.

San Diego Chargers: B-

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    Heading to the Superdome to face a desperate 0-4 Saints team, the odds were certainly not in Norv Turner and company’s favor.

    And while the Chargers held the lead for much of the contest, it proved to be Drew Brees’ moment and New Orleans’ night as the Bolts fell short, 31-24.

    It was not a matter of San Diego necessarily playing poorly, but rather, a case of running into a hot quarterback and a determined team. While quarterback Philip Rivers did commit a pair of turnovers, he also threw for 354 yards and a pair of scores. And running back Ryan Mathews was very impressive, rushing for 80 yards on 12 carries and catching a team-high six passes for 59 more yards.

    But Rivers was sacked five times by a Saints defense not known for its pass rush up front. And a few costly penalties down the stretch made it even tougher on Turner’s club.

    Still, the Chargers had their chances, and while the final score did not end in their favor, it was a respectable performance by a club that showed it still has plenty of firepower.

San Francisco 49ers: A+

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    A week after suffering their first loss of the season at Minnesota, Jim Harbaugh’s club responded by humbling the Jets in New Jersey.

    But while last week’s 34-0 blanking of Gang Green was certainly impressive, it may have paled in comparison to the beating the Niners laid on the visiting Bills.

    Harbaugh’s team looked virtually unstoppable in the 45-3 rout, totaling 311 yards on the ground while efficient quarterback Alex Smith threw for 303 yards and three scores and was not sacked. The 49ers’ 621 total yards set a team record and eclipsed the old mark set, ironically, against the Bills in a 34-31 loss in 1992.

    If you thought the San Francisco offense was impressive, keep in mind that Buffalo managed only 204 total yards as the Niners did not allow a touchdown for the second consecutive game.

    And to think, this was a tie game at 3-3 less than five minutes into the second quarter.

    After a bump in the road in Minneapolis, this Niners team is looking a little scary.

Seattle Seahawks: B

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    It’s pretty obvious that when you face the Seahawks this week, you better find ways to score points any way you can.

    That’s because they just don’t make it easy on any team to find the end zone. In fact, Pete Carroll’s club is more inclined to score those points for you, as was the case in the team’s 16-12 win at Carolina.

    Seattle defenders held Cam Newton and company to only 190 total yards, sacking the Panthers quarterback four times and frustrating him all afternoon. Keep in mind that Carolina’s only points came on a field goal, a 33-yard interception return for a score and an intentional safety when Seattle punter Jon Ryan ran out of the end zone with less than a minute to play.

    That latter play gave Carolina its one last chance. But the Seattle pass rush got its fourth sack of the afternoon, forcing a Newton fumble and wrapping up an important road win.

    Although rookie quarterback Russell Wilson did throw a pair of interceptions, he hit on 19-of-25 passes for 221 yards and a score. And any road win in this league is a big one.

Tennessee Titans: D+

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    Unfortunately for veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, he doesn’t line up on the defensive side of the ball.

    These days in Tennessee, it appears no one else does as well.

    Another Sunday and another afternoon in which putting points on the board against this team is apparently not a problem. The 30-7 loss at the Metrodome marked the fifth time in as many games that the Titans allowed at least 30 points.

    Jerry Gray’s unit also gave up its share of real estate, a total of 433 yards, which included 175 on the ground. And while Tennessee defenders did pick off Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder twice, he did manage to throw for 258 yards and was sacked only once on the afternoon.

    Meanwhile, it was another lost afternoon for running back Chris Johnson, who ran for a mere 24 yards on 15 carries, seven yards fewer than Ponder, and lost a fumble. What made that performance both perplexing and disappointing was the fact that the former Pro Bowl back was coming off a 141-yard outing against the Texans.

    Then again, just about everything about the Titans is perplexing and disappointing these days.

Washington Redskins: C+

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    Whatever happened to home-field advantage? If you find out, you may want to e-mail, text or tweet Mike Shanahan.

    While the Redskins were certainly in the game against the unbeaten Falcons, too many mistakes and one big injury were factors in the 24-17 loss, the eighth straight for the Redskins in their own backyard.

    Although there were numerous positives, the fact remains that the Washington defense couldn’t close the door. After limiting Matt Ryan and company to seven points in the first 45 minutes, the ‘Skins allowed 17 points in the fourth quarter and never really slowed down the Falcons signal-caller, who threw for 345 yards and a pair of scores.

    It looked like it was going to be a big day for the defense when outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan jumped in front of a Ryan pass and returned in 28 yards for a 7-0 score.

    Of course, quarterback Robert Griffin III was knocked out of the game in the third quarter and replaced by fellow rookie Kirk Cousins, who threw a 77-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss early in the fourth quarter to give Washington a 17-14 lead.

    But he was also picked off twice, and the ‘Skins' misery at FedEx Field continued.