NFL Week 5: The Good, Bad and Ugly
The one thing that is certain after five weeks of the NFL season is that you cannot be certain of anything.
Let’s take a look at the players, coaches, plays and fans that make up the good, the bad and the ugly in Week 5.
The Good: Drew Brees
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Drew Brees was cast aside by the San Diego Chargers in 2006. He was unwanted by 30 other NFL teams until he landed with the New Orleans Saints. Since then, Brees has been one of the best signal-callers in the game.
This week, against the team that cast him aside in 2006, Brees broke an NFL record that has stood for 52 years. In the first quarter of the Saints' 31-24 victory over the San Diego Chargers, Brees threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Devery Henderson.
With that touchdown pass, Brees moved past Johnny Unitas with the most consecutive games with at least one TD pass. Brees has thrown at least one TD pass in every game he has played in since Oct. 4, 2009, when he did not throw for a score against the New York Jets.
Brees went on to throw for three other scores as the Saints got their first victory of the season.
The Bad: Bills Offense
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The Buffalo Bills offense failed to make the trip to the West Coast, as they only managed a single field goal against the San Francisco 49ers. The Bills only gained 204 yards of total offense.
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was ineffective, going 16-of-26 for 126 yards and no touchdowns with one interception. The ground game was also unproductive, as the Bills only gained 89 yards rushing.
Add a Scott Chandler fumble, and that was an awful performance from a Bills team that was averaging around 28 points per game.
The Ugly: Chiefs Fans
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With about 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter of the Baltimore Ravens vs. Kansas City Chiefs game, Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel was sacked by the Ravens' Haloti Ngata.
Cassel suffered a concussion on a hit and lay on the ground before being removed from the field. Instead of showing concern for an injured player on the field, some Chiefs fans took to cheering the injury and the quarterback’s departure from the game.
Chiefs offensive tackle Eric Winston said (via ESPN.com), “It's 100 percent sickening.”
That was classless and ugly.
The Good: Reggie Wayne
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Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne was playing for his coach, Chuck Pagano, who was diagnosed with leukemia. Wayne was wearing orange gloves and a "ChuckStrong" T-shirt in honor of his coach.
Then Wayne went out and played his heart out. On the game-winning drive, he caught the touchdown pass with 35 seconds left in the game.
Wayne finished the game with 13 receptions for 212 yards and one touchdown, including a spectacular one-handed catch in the second quarter.
The Bad: Michael Vick
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Call the doctor because Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick has a case of fumble-itis. In the Eagles' 16-14 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Vick had three fumbles and lost two of them.
The big turnover came in the first quarter with the Eagles facing a 1st-and-goal from the Steelers' 3-yard line. Vick ran a quarterback draw and fumbled the ball into the end zone. He continues to make too many mistakes with the football.
So far this season, Vick has thrown six interceptions and lost five of eight fumbles.
The Ugly: Jaguars Offense
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The Jacksonville Jaguars offense was simply inept at home against the Chicago Bears. They only gained 189 yards of total offense and gained 10 first downs in the entire game.
Quarterback Blaine Gabbert was awful, throwing for 142 yards on 17-of-33 passing with two interceptions, both of which were returned for touchdowns by the Bears defense. The running game was equally unimpressive, as they only gained 60 yards rushing.
The Jaguars offense is currently ranked dead last in the league. That’s right, ugly!
The Good: Ahmad Bradshaw
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New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw had an inauspicious start, as he fumbled the ball away on the very first play of the game. He was fortunate that head coach Tom Coughlin did not bench him for the mistake.
Bradshaw was able to overcome his early mistake and run all over the Cleveland Browns. He had a huge day, as he rushed 30 times for 200 yards and one touchdown. He added 29 yards on four catches.
The Bad: Harrison Smith
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Minnesota Vikings rookie safety Harrison Smith must have thought he was still playing in the first three weeks of the season with replacement refs.
Unfortunately for Smith, the regular officials are back, and he made a stupid mistake. Smith pushed the back judge, Steve Freeman, during a confrontation with the Tennessee Titans. Smith paid for the mistake immediately, as he was ejected in the second quarter of the game.
The rookie has to learn that some of the things you could get away with in the first three weeks of the season are not going to pass now.
The Ugly: Willis McGahee
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In a game that featured quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, it was a running back that made the headlines for the wrong reasons.
In the fourth quarter, with the Denver Broncos trailing the New England Patriots 31-14, the Broncos went for it on 4th-and-1 from the Patriots' 47-yard line. Manning threw a short pass to running back Willis McGahee, who was wide open on the play. McGahee dropped the pass.
Later, after the Broncos cut the Patriots' lead to 31-21, Manning handed the ball off to McGahee on 2nd-and-10 from the Patriots' 14-yard line. McGahee fumbled the ball away and with it any chance for the Broncos to mount a comeback.
The Good: Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs
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The Chicago Bears thrashed the Jacksonville Jaguars thanks to the defensive play of Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs. For the second consecutive week, both Tillman and Briggs returned interceptions for touchdowns.
Tillman intercepted a pass intended for rookie Justin Blackmon and returned it 36 yards for the score. Briggs also returned a pick 36 yards for a touchdown.
That makes them the first pair of teammates in NFL history to have a pick-six in back-to-back weeks. On Monday Night Football, Tillman intercepted a Tony Romo pass and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown, while Briggs returned a Romo INT 74 yards for the score.
The Bad: Billy Cundiff
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Washington Redskins kicker Billy Cundiff may be looking for a new home soon. Cundiff, infamously known for missing a kick in the AFC championship game for the Ravens last season, came into Sunday's game having missed three field-goal attempts last week.
This week, with the Redskins holding a 7-0 lead over the Atlanta Falcons at home, Cundiff missed a 31-yard field goal attempt that could have pushed the lead to 10-0. Instead, the Falcons drove down the field after the miss and score a game-tying one-yard touchdown.
Cundiff is 7-of-12 so far this season on field-goal tries, and that is not going to get it done in the NFL.
The Ugly: Blaine Gabbert
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Blaine Gabbert has sunk lower as the season goes along. In Week 2, Gabbert made the bad category. This week, he is plain ugly.
Gabbert looked downright out of place against the Chicago Bears. He was all over the place and never looked set in the pocket. Gabbert had a 37.7 passer rating and three turnovers.
He finished the game with a mere 142 yards on 17-of-33 passing and no touchdowns with two interceptions and a lost fumble.
The Good: Robert Quinn
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St. Louis Rams defensive end Robert Quinn was a beast on Thursday Night Football. By the end of the night, Quinn was on a first-name basis with Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb.
Quinn was all over the field. He sacked Kolb three times in the game and was constantly in the backfield, applying six QB pressures. He ended the game with six tackles, one pass defensed, one pass deflection and a forced fumble.
Quinn was outstanding against the run and a dominant pass-rusher against the Cardinals and helped the Rams keep Arizona to three points in the game.
The Bad: Cam Newton
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It may be time to start talking about a sophomore slump for Cam Newton. The Carolina Panthers signal-caller struggled mightily against the Seattle Seahawks.
Newton barely completed 41 percent of his passes and fumbled the ball once. He finished with a 56.8 passer rating on 12-of-29 passing for 149 yards and no touchdowns.
Newton’s worst play of the game came late in the fourth quarter with the Panthers trailing the Seahawks 16-10. Carolina was facing a 4th-and-goal from the Seahawks 1-yard line.
Newton rolled out to his right and had Ben Hartsock wide open in the end zone, but Newton left his pass about three yards short of Hartsock. If Newton wants to be considered a great quarterback, that is a throw he has to make.
The Ugly: Saints Defense
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The Saints finally won a game, and it was a great night for quarterback Drew Brees. However, the win was not because of the defense.
Once again, the defense allowed over 400 yards of offense. The San Diego Chargers moved the ball up and down the field as they gained 427 yards of total offense and scored touchdowns on plays of 15, 44 and 13 yards.
New Orleans managed to win despite its defensive play.
The Good: Alex Smith and the 49ers Offense
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Alex Smith did something neither Joe Montana nor Steve Young ever did with the San Francisco 49ers.
Smith led the 49ers as they set a franchise record for total yards of offense in a single game. The 49ers gained 621 yards in their blowout win over the Buffalo Bills and became the first team in NFL history to record over 300 yards passing and 300 yards rushing in a game.
Smith finished the game with a near-perfect passer rating of 156.2. He passed for 303 yards on 18-of-24 passing and threw touchdown passes of 43, 28 and 10 yards.
Six different receivers caught the ball, and seven different players rushed the ball, gaining 311 yards on 38 attempts.
The Bad: Troy Polamalu Injury
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Sometimes players rush back from an injury to get back on the field, and that is usually not a good idea.
Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu was back on the field for the Steelers, but it was short-lived. Polamalu saw limited action, as he left the game after aggravating his strained right calf in the first quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Polamalu has already been ruled out of the Week 6 game on Thursday Night Football against the Tennessee Titans. It might be time for Polamalu to think about his future and stay off the field until he is 100 percent healthy.
The Ugly: Cardinals Offensive Line
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The Cardinals' offensive line was abysmal against the St. Louis Rams on Thursday Night Football. They could not stop a puppy from getting to quarterback Kevin Kolb.
The Rams sacked Kolb nine times just one week after the Miami Dolphins sacked him eight times. Kolb was hit another three times, and the Rams applied 22 QB hurries. Kolb was never comfortable in the pocket, as he had to run for his life nearly every single time he dropped back to pass.
The Rams also got in the backfield on running plays, making seven tackles for a loss. If the Cardinals do not fix their offensive-line problems, their 4-0 start will disappear in a hurry.
The Good: Victor Cruz
Let the salsa music play on!
Victor Cruz only had five receptions for the New York Giants in Week 5 against the Cleveland Browns. What’s good about that?
Three receptions went for touchdowns. Cruz let loose with his salsa dance three times on touchdown catches of three, seven and 28 yards as he helped the Giants rout the Browns 41-27.
Without a doubt, Victor Cruz has become the Giants' best wide receiver.
The Bad: Chris Johnson
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Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson didn't fool anyone with his performance last week. This week, Johnson rushed for 24 yards on 15 carries for a 1.6 yard-per-carry average.
Those numbers are bad, but Johnson had to go a step further. This week, Johnson lost a fumble to go along with his anemic rushing performance.
At some point, the Titans have to realize that Johnson might not be the running back they thought they had.
The Ugly: Jets Wide Receivers
This week against the Houston Texans, without Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller, the Jets were playing with relative unknowns at the position. There were several dropped passes and several miscommunications between the receivers and Mark Sanchez.
How can the Jets expect their offense to be successful if Sanchez is throwing to receivers who can’t catch the ball or are falling down on routes?
Terrell Owens offered his services via Twitter on Monday night.
Hey JETS!!! I'm available! I'm ready, willing & able! Call my agent @jordanwoy & let's make it happen.— Terrell Owens (@terrellowens) October 9, 2012
At this point, Owens might be more successful than Chaz Schilens, Jason Hill or anyone else on the Jets roster.
The Good: Greg Zuerlein
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Look, we have a kicker to praise.
St. Louis Rams rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein has been a great addition to the team. Zuerlein has been perfect so far this season. He is 13-of-13 on field-goal attempts and 7-of-7 on extra points.
This week, he connected on a 53-yard field goal against the Arizona Cardinals. That kick puts Zuerlein in the NFL record books, as he tied the NFL record for most 50-yard field goals by a rookie kicker.
That also tied another record, as he has successfully made his first four field-goal attempts from 50-plus yards, becoming the sixth kicker in NFL history to do so.
The Bad: Andy Dalton
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Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton had a bad day at home against the Miami Dolphins. A real bad day.
Dalton ended the game with a 63.5 passer rating and threw two interceptions. The second was the killer.
With under two minutes left in the game and the Bengals trailing the Dolphins 17-13, Dalton faced a 2nd-and-20 from the Cincinnati 23-yard line.
Dalton fired across the middle of the field for Andrew Hawkins, and the ball sailed high. It was intercepted, and that killed any chance the Bengals had of coming back to win the game.
You can’t win them all.
The Good: ChuckStrong!
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Ending on a positive note this week.
Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia last week, and this week his team honored him with a win.
The Colts were trailing the Green Bay Packers 21-3 at halftime. Somehow the Colts managed to come back to upset the Packers 30-27.
Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck led the Colts on an 80-yard scoring drive for the game-winning touchdown. That was in honor of their coach. That was “ChuckStrong.”
We wish Chuck Pagano and his family the best as he undergoes treatment.