Skip to main content

What we learned from Sunday's Week 6 NFL games

Week 6 got off to an early start with the Panthers and Buccaneers squaring off for a morning NFC South showdown in London. The streaking Panthers controlled the game from the first snap and rolled to a convincing win. Here's what we learned from that and the rest of Sunday's matchups:

  1. When in doubt, go to James Conner. As he did in Pittsburgh's Week 4 win in Mason Rudolph's first home start, Conner was Devlin Hodges' everything in the UDFA rookie QB's first start. From its first scoring drive on, Pittsburgh made its plan evident: Get Conner the ball again and again. He touched the ball on all seven of the Steelers' snaps on their second drive, capping it with a 12-yard TD catch-and-run. Conner became the first Steeler since 1993 to log a receiving TD, rushing TD and at least 90-plus scrimmage yards in a first half. He finished with 119 total yards and didn't see the field after the third quarter after suffering a quad injury, giving way to Benny Snell. With seven receptions on seven targets for 78 receiving yards, Conner was Pittsburgh's leading receiver by game's end ... by five catches and 64 yards. Such was the scaled-down game plan with Hodges filling in for the injured Rudolph. Hodges attempted just four passes over 10 yards past the line of scrimmage; none were completed and one was intercepted. Short and sweet. That's Steelers football for the being, and it's working. The Rudolph- and Hodges-led Steelers (2-4) have the same record as Baker Mayfield's Browns in the AFC North through six weeks.
  1. Same. Old. Chargers. This one had all the characteristics of a typical Bolts loss. Inexplicable turnovers from a future Hall of Fame QB. Special teams miscues. An overwhelming road-field advantage. The Bolts were off from kickoff, with Philip Rivers committing two turnovers in the first four minutes (one an interception, one a backward pass returned for six -- both to Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate Devin Bush). It was the second straight week that Rivers committed a turnover in the first quarter and the Chargers went down 14-0 in the opening frame. From there, the Bolts didn't stand a chance, not with an offensive line starting Dan Feeney at center and Sam Tevi at right tackle. Los Angeles outgained Pittsburgh by 92 yards and logged five more first downs, but with a Hall of Famer under center, the Bolts made far more mistakes than the Steelers did with a duck-calling rookie at QB. Shutout through three quarters, the Chargers crawled back to within one score late in the fourth quarter, but after being pinned at their own 1-yard-line by a beautiful Jordan Berry punt with a minute to go, Rivers launched a deep pick to Cameron Sutton to end it. It was his longest "completion" of the night.
  1. Welcome back, Melvin Gordon! Please enjoy these 10 touches for 45 total yards behind a hapless offensive line. Los Angeles' ground game has steadily decreased in productivity over the season, and the drop has been precipitous since Gordon's return to the lineup from a prolonged holdout. L.A. logged just 32 rushing yards against Pittsburgh, who had surrendered at least 99 rushing yards in four of its five games. In Gordon's two games since returning to the field, the Bolts have averaged 33.5 rushing yards per game. In unrelated news, the trade deadline is Oct. 29.

Welcome back, Hunter Henry -- for real! The Chargers tight end was active for the first since the home opener and was Rivers' favorite target on the night, finishing with eight catches for 100 yards and L.A.'s only two touchdowns. Henry is unstoppable in the red zone, but the Bolts have to get there more often. Then maybe Los Angeles could get back in the win column. The Chargers (2-4) will enter their Week 7 bout with the Titans tied for the worst record in the AFC West.

-- Jeremy Bergman

  1. Any lingering questions about whether the 49ers are for real? Nope? Didn't think so. The NFC West leaders demolished the Rams on the road, obliterating everything Sean McVay threw at them. Robert Saleh's defense dominated the trenches, suffocated L.A. pass-catchers, and blasted Jared Goff into the stratosphere. The Rams (3-3) opened the game with a 7-play TD drive, all runs. After that, the Niners (5-0) gave up nary an inch. Late in the second quarter, the big-bodies stuffed L.A. on third and fourth down at the goal line, a series which changed the complexion of the contest. The defensive line destroyed a hobbling Rams O-line all game, sacking Goff four times. The secondary allowed just 78 passing yards on 13 completions (24 attempts), with the longest going for a measly 12-yard gain. Saleh's crew of bedeviling firebrands held L.A. to a pitiful 0-of-9 on third down, and 0-of-4 on fourth down. The beatdown was so thorough the scoreboard looked more kind than the thrashing on the field felt.
  1. Kyle Shanahan called a masterful game to protect his two young starting offensive tackles. Jimmy Garoppolo got the ball out quick early and let his receivers do work for him after the catch. Aside from a poor end zone fade that was intercepted, Jimmy G managed the game in which his run game didn't get churning. George Kittle once again put his stamp on the claim of the best TE in the game, corralling all eight of his targets for 108 yards. Even with a supposed tweaked groin, Kittle was a YAC monster blasting through the L.A. secondary. The Rams' defense did a solid job much of the day, especially against a 49ers run game that came in gashing. San Francisco averaged just 2.4 yards per rush on 41 attempts. With a defense this good at its back, it mattered little Sunday for the Niners.
  1. Sean McVay deals with the first three-game losing streak of his career. Sans Gurley, L.A. compiled 109 rushing yards (yay, #establishtherun), but the offense was completely discombobulated all game. The third quarter was a low. In three possessions, the Rams got -29 net yards with a fumble (on the first play of the quarter) and two three-and-outs in the third stanza. McVay's offense earned just two first downs in the entire second half. With Gurley no longer a game-changer and an offensive line that is struggling mightily, McVay will have to go back to the drawing board. Luckily for L.A., they have the 1-5 Falcons and winless Bengals on tap the next two weeks.

-- Kevin Patra

  1. The early returns on Sam Darnold's return? Season-changing. Back from a four-week mono-induced hiatus, Darnold was a significant improvement on his backups, Trevor Siemian and Luke Falk. The second-year signal-caller led three first-half touchdown drives against Dallas, one more than New York had on the season coming into Sunday. Darnold's prescient pocket presence paid dividends on a game-altering touchdown pass in the second quarter. After the Cowboys were stuffed on a fourth-and-1 in New York's territory, the Jets drew up a play-action pass from the 8-yard line. With Demarcus Lawrence rushing past rookie Chuma Edoga in the backfield, Darnold stepped up in the pocket and launched a beauty downfield to a wide-open Robby Anderson, who hit pay dirt. The 92-yard strike was the second-longest TD pass in franchise history and the moment New York's previously lost campaign officially turned around. Darnold was back, and unlike Siemian and Falk, not on his back. Of course, his return to live action was not without blemishes; Darnold threw a second-half pick that squandered a potentially game-sealing opportunity and he nearly threw a few others. But the QB (23-of-32, 338 yards) led three of New York's finest drives of the season on Sunday night, the last of which (a seven-play, 57-yarder late in the fourth) helped extend the Jets' lead to eight points, one that would hold. Gang Green (1-4) is no longer winless, its season no longer lost. There is hope in the swamp, courtesy of one Sam Darnold.
  1. And just like that, the Cowboys are .500. I'm old enough to remember when Dallas was undefeated, Dak Prescott's contract extension was imminent, the QB's MVP campaign was underway and the 'Boys were among the favorites in the NFC. Times were simpler then. How did Dallas lose its third straight game, this one against a team that had previously lost all of its games? Injuries didn't help. Already without their starting tackles and Randall Cobb, the Cowboys lost No. 1 wideout Amari Cooper within the game's first five minutes. That left a perma-pressured Prescott with Michael Gallup, Jason Witten, Tavon Austin and Cedrick Wilson as semi-reliable receiving options. Dallas' lack of skill players limited the ability for big plays, leading to long, time-consuming drives, led by Ezekiel Elliott (152 total yards), that often did not end in touchdowns. Dallas was excellent on third down (10-for-17) but were just 2-for-4 in the red zone and averaged 3.3 points on six trips inside New York's 35-yard line. Close but no cigar. That was exemplified no better than on their final drive, when, aided by three accepted penalties on the Jets, Dallas scored to pull within two points but failed to convert the two-point conversion. A bouncing ball on the ensuing onside kick didn't bounce the Cowboys' way either. Dallas bungled another opportunity off the field, too; on a day when the Eagles lost in Minnesota, the 'Boys (3-3) failed to pull ahead in the NFC East.
  1. Gregg Williams' defenses often break before they bend, but that was not the case on Sunday. New York rarely allowed a previously explosive Cowboys offense to break out; the longest play the Jets allowed went for 23 yards. Even more impressive was the pressure New York mustered against Dallas' vulnerable line. The Jets logged just one sack but hit Prescott eight times; outside backer Jordan Jenkins, who returned from injury Sunday, was responsible for three of them. The return of Quinnen Williams bolstered New York's front, too; in his second game back from injury, the rookie played a pivotal role in stuffing Elliott in the first half, setting up Darnold's TD toss to Anderson. But the player most responsible for New York pulling this one out was Jamal Adams, the on-field manifestation of Williams' id. It was the Pro Bowl safety's A-gap blitz on Prescott on the game-sealing two-point conversion that forced the QB into a quick incomplete throw, and the previously proud Cowboys fans to the exits with heads slumped. During the Jets' recent hebdomades horribilis, Williams' defense held its own as Adam Gase's offense floundered. With Darnold in tow, the Jets are now respectable on both sides of the ball and happy to fly under the radar.

-- Jeremy Bergman

  1. The Broncos have won two games in a row, thanks in large part to a defensive group that finally looks like a Vic Fangio defense. Granted, playing an ineffective Titans offense made life easier, but Denver singularly dismantled Marcus Mariota and Co. in resounding fashion for its first shutout since Week 14 of the 2017 season. The Broncos (2-4) racked up seven sacks after entering the day with just five through five games. They rendered running back Derrick Henry a non-factor throughout the afternoon (15 carries, 28 yards) and gave up just 39 yards on the ground total. And they prevented the Titans from even crossing midfield until the first play of the fourth quarter after Ryan Tannehill had come on in relief of Mariota. Chris Harris Jr., subject of trade rumors in recent weeks, also notched his first interception of the season to become the 12th player in franchise history with 20 career picks. If the Broncos' defense continues to play at this level, the potential fire sale at the trade deadline this month might never materialize.
  1. Speaking of Mariota, where do we go from here with the former No. 2 overall pick? Titans coach Mike Vrabel benched his starter in the third quarter after Mariota looked woefully overmatched for a second consecutive week. Mariota ended the first half 7 of 15 for a paltry 63 yards with an interception and looked unable to make plays against pressure. After a three-and-out ruined good field position off the Titans' one pick of the day, Mariota's final opportunity to stay on the field ended with an under-duress heave that was intercepted at midfield by Broncos safety Justin Simmons that forced Vrabel to switch to Tannehill. Vrabel told reporters after the game that he benched Mariota in order to "find a way to move the football." Tannehill certainly was an improvement (13 of 16 for 144 yards with a pick), but Vrabel did not seem like a man ready to roll with the former Dolphins QB, saying of Tannehill's performance, "It was OK, again we didn't score any points." This will be a situation to monitor in the coming days in Nashville.
  1. If you love punting, then Sunday's game was a dream. The Titans (2-4) and Broncos combined for 17 punts and 825 yards on the day as neither offense was able to sustain much success against two stout defenses. The Titans' Brett Kern had an astounding eight punts downed inside the Broncos' 20 and he boomed a 61-yarder that pinned Denver at the 12-yard line. Broncos punter Colby Wadman averaged 50.1 yards on his eight kicks with two pinned inside the 20.

-- David Ely

  1. Capping off an entertaining shootout in the desert, the final PAT of the game may be the lasting memory. Falcons kicker Matt Bryant lined up for an extra point that would've tied the game with 1:53 left to play, and the 19-year veteran hooked it wide left. Bryant, 44, who was brought in by Atlanta one game into the season, had been perfect on all 12 PATs this year before that one and made his two field goal attempts for the game. Since the NFL changed the PAT length in 2015, Bryant made 97.5 percent of his PATs (159 out of 163). This one not only shattered what was sure to be a dramatic game down to the wire, but maintained the theme of a dismal Falcons season so far.
  1. As ATN's Gregg Rosenthal has been saying, the remedy for any struggling offense is to face the Falcons defense. That rang true for the Cardinals (2-3-1) and Kliff Kingsbury's Air Raid offense had its best showing to date. Arizona scored its season-high in points and got off to a hot start by scoring on its first five possessions of the game (Arizona didn't punt until midway through the third quarter). The Cardinals were wildly efficient as their receivers were often left laughably open all game. Kyler Murray finished the day with 340 yards (27-for-37) and a season-high three touchdowns. The rookie QB found nine different receivers in the process and wasn't sacked at all. Their efficiency didn't come without any lulls, however, as Murray had only 100 of his passing yards come in the second half, which prompted a Falcons comeback. Nor was their offense well-balanced as the Cardinals ditched any semblance of a consistent running attack as RBs David Johnson and Chase Edmonds led the team with 34 yards each. But when the team needed a run, Kingsbury called Murray's number, and the Heisman winner answered by scampering for five yards on third down to get the only first down needed to ice the game after Bryant's missed PAT. They're still growing on offense in Arizona, and now they're streaking with two straight wins and one game under .500 before heading to New York to face the Giants.
  1. On the other hand, the Cardinals defense wasn't exactly stellar and they competed with the Falcons for Rosenthal's bottom spot. Atlanta (1-5) bested the Cardinals in virtually every offensive stat aside from the score (total yards, first downs, red-zone appearances, time of possession). Matt Ryan threw for 356 yards (30-for-36) and four touchdowns, while TE Austin Hooper (117 yards), who caught one of those TDs, and Julio Jones (108) led Falcons receivers with eight catches apiece. In a losing effort, all the offensive success may seem like a waste for the Falcons, but if there was anything to look forward to in Atlanta, it was the play of RB Devonta Freeman. Coming off an injury-laden season a year ago, Freeman returned to form. He match his season-high total for rushing with 88 yards on 19 attempts and caught two TD passes out of the backfield for his first multi-TD game since Week 2 of the 2017 season. But this wasn't a measure based solely off his numbers. Freeman ran with serious intent and wasn't afraid to stick his foot in the ground and lower his shoulder for the extra yards. It may have been a forgetful day for Falcons fans, but certainly they were happy to see the Freeman they've known and loved.

-- Michael Baca

  1. MVP chants were heard through Tottenham Hotspur Stadium during a day in which Christian McCaffrey produced a pair of touchdowns as the Panthers won their fourth straight game, downing the NFC South-rival Buccaneers, 37-26. For the most part, though, CMC -- no matter how MVP-worthy he is -- was bottled up with 57 scrimmage yards, and it was very much another day for Kyle Allen to shine despite the usual gloom of the British weather. Cam Newton will be back eventually from his mid-foot sprain, and Allen is doing everything he can to make it an arduous decision for coach Ron Rivera as to who the starting quarterback of the Panthers (4-2) will be. With the win over the Buccaneers (2-4), who handed Carolina its last loss in Newton's last appearance, Allen is 4-0 as a starter this season. Though McCaffrey scored the team's first touchdown to end a 99-yard drive, it was Allen who was 5-for-5 for 68 yards on the march. He finished the game with a pair of touchdowns, a 104.6 rating, zero turnovers and another win.
  1. This was the Jameis Winston who Buccaneers fans feared would show up. On the first play from scrimmage, Winston threw an interception. It was a sign of the things to come undone for the former first-rounder and uncertain future of the franchise. Under a gloomy sky, Winston turned in a shadowy outing in which he accounted for six turnovers (five interceptions, one fumble lost). Not only did he turn the ball over, he was sacked seven times, many of them due to his lack of pocket presence, and he threw an abundance of errant passes that gave a talented crop of receivers no chance. Not to mention, he actually fumbled on consecutive plays, the first recovered by Tampa Bay. Bruce Arians has been adamant about sticking with Winston -- heading back to the aftermath of Winston's three-interception Week 1 showing against the 49ers -- but this might be the moment in time to give Ryan Griffin his chance.
  1. Terrible as Winston was on this Sunday, the Panthers' defense was outstanding. This was Gerald McCoy's second opportunity to face his former team and he didn't waste it, tallying a game-high 2.5 sacks -- his most since a career-high of 3.0 all the way back in 2013. James Bradberry had a monster game of 10 tackles, four passes defended and two interceptions -- one of four Panthers with a pick on Sunday. A forgotten former first-rounder, Vernon Butler had two strip-sacks. The latest Panthers first-rounder Brian Burns notched another sack -- upping his total to a rookie-leading 4.5. Contributions were made by many on the Carolina defense, which turned in a performance as pleasant as Winston's was unpalatable.

-- Grant Gordon

  1. The Dolphins made an exciting fourth-quarter comeback behind Ryan Fitzpatrick's theatrics but came up just shy on a failed two-point attempt with six seconds remaining in the game. FitzMagic entered the game to open the fourth quarter with Miami trailing 17-3 after Josh Rosen got benched. Fitzpatrick immediately led the Dolphins to a TD drive -- Miami's first points in a second half this season. Fitzy then led a wild two-minute drive for a TD with several great passes to get within one point. Brian Flores eschewed overtime, but Kenyan Drake dropped the pass on the two-yard try. It's clear that Fitzpatrick gives Miami a better chance to win. Rosen was lost behind a wayward offensive line, getting sacked five times through three quarters and throwing two brutal INTs. Rosen completed one pass of more than five air yards on seven attempts with two INTs through three quarters, per Next Gen Stats. If Fitzpatrick had started the game, it's possible Miami wins their first game of the season. Organic tanking, indeed.
  1. Adrian Peterson was hyped for the Bill Callahan era in Washington with the interim coach planning to establish the run. All Day should be happy Sunday. The running back was the focal point of the Redskins offense against the league's worst run defense. Peterson earned a season-high 118 yards on 23 attempts for 5.1 yards per attempt. For the first time this season, the running back found space, earning his only runs of the season of 11 yards or more, with gashes of 25 yards and 18 yards on a second-quarter TD drive. The Redskins offense as a whole was a grind. Case Keenum wasn't asked to do much but wasn't sacked and avoided any backbreaking turnovers. Rookie receiver Terry McLaurin (4/100/2) was the best player on the field Sunday, catching two long TDs and another long reception to get Washington off its goal line late. When Keenum needed a big play, he targeted the rookie, who took advantage of Miami not having top corner Xavien Howard. Sunday's performance was enough to beat Miami. It's doubtful if it's sustainable versus better squads.
  1. The victory gets the Redskins (1-5) off the schneid, and out of the cluster of winless teams sitting in the NFL cellar. Given the opponent, however, the triumph didn't tell us much about Washington's prospects the rest of the way under Callahan. Not losing to a tanking team is a positive. Not putting the Dolphins away late portends potential struggles down the line. For Miami (0-5), the loss keeps them in the catbird seat for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. If the goal is to get the top pick, consider the last-second loss to a fellow winless team a perfect ending. Miami has one more tilt on the docket against a team that is currently winless (Bengals in Week 16).

-- Kevin Patra

  1. DeAndre Hopkins hasn't found the end zone since Week 1. But on this Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium, Deshaun Watson found Hopkins for the game-sealing catch; an eight-yard connection on a fourth-and-3 play that secured the Texans their biggest victory of the season so far, as they downed the Chiefs, 31-24. It was a showcase of first-place squads with first-rate quarterbacks of the present and future, and Watson shined in leading the Texans (4-2) back from a 17-3 first-quarter deficit and using his feet, might and will to score the game-winner on a one-yard run. After Mahomes had thrown his second TD of the day to a returning Tyreek Hill to push the Chiefs (4-2) ahead, 24-23, Watson engineered the game-winning 93-yard drive. It ended when Watson rolled left, juked inside, spun, pushed through a tackle and reached in for the score. A two-pointer to Hopkins (nine catches for 55 yards) accounted for the final margin. In a marquee matchup of Watson and Mahomes, the former didn't put up dazzling numbers, as he was 30-for-42 for 280 yards and a score, along with two rushing touchdowns and 42 yards on the ground. But Watson willed the Texans to the "W" and maintained their standing atop the AFC South. Mahomes is the reigning MVP, but Watson was the one left standing in the gunslinger showdown, looking every bit like one of the very best QBs in the game -- just as he should.
  1. Active for the first time since the opening week, Tyreek Hill wasted no time and made an emphatic return. Taking to the air on a third-and-21 offering from Patrick Mahomes that looked to be headed for an interception, Hill pulled away possession and then muscled through a pair of defenders at the goal line for a 46-yard score. The controversial wideout is a gamebreaker and it took him only six plays to remind everyone. He finished the game with team-highs of five catches, 10 targets, 80 yards and two touchdowns. Mahomes (19-of-35 for 273 yards and three TDs) had his first pick after 292 attempts without one and had a fumble. But Hill's return -- with fellow receiver Sammy Watkins and two starting offensive linemen out -- was a step forward for the offense, even if the team took a step back with its second consecutive loss.
  1. The first meeting between Watson and Mahomes drew the acclaim and Watson's emergence as the victorious QB should draw the praise. But this was a showcase in multiple facets for the Texans moving ahead. For the second straight game, Houston's offensive line did not allow a sack. That's a huge boon for a unit that's been one of the worst over the last few seasons. The Texans defense, keyed by a huge strip-sack from Charles Omenihu that led to Watson's first rushing score on the ensuing play, held the Chiefs to a modest 309 yards. Watson led the way, but this was a Texans team win and an impressive one, at that.

-- Grant Gordon

  1. The Cincinnati Bengals are not good at stopping the run and Baltimore (4-2) took advantage of it. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson ran all over their defense. He had just two carries for 57 rushing yards on their opening drive including a 21-yard TD. The last QB to rush for 100-plus yards in a first half was Terrelle Pryor, who did so with the Raiders in Week 8, 2013, per NFL Research. He is also the first QB to rush for 150-plus yards in a game since Colin Kaepernick ran for 151 yards in 2014, per NFL Research. Jackson finished the day 21-of-33 for 236 yards with 19 carries for a career-high 152 rushing yards and one TD. In his words, "not bad for a running back."
  1. The Bengals (0-6) opened the game with a 92-yard kickoff return touchdown by Brandon Wilson but that was it until a garbage time TD. The Ravens defense held the Bengals to just six receiving yards, six rushing yards and zero first downs in the first quarter. For the third straight game, the Bengals didn't produce an offensive touchdown during the first three quarters, per ESPN. The running game could not get going with just 33 yards. Andy Dalton finally put some points on the board when he ran for a 2-yard rushing TD with 1:28 left in the fourth quarter.
  1. Two words though: Auden Tate. The wideout was the only positive thing going on the Bengals offense. He put on a show today. He had amazing catch after amazing catch. Tate finished with a career-high 91 yards. Dalton tried to get Tyler Boyd going but did not succeed. He was targeted seven times -- the second-most after Tate (12) -- but finished with just three catches for 10 yards.

-- Lakisha Wesseling

  1. Ten days and two fourth-quarter rallies to nailbiting victories. It's just what Russell Wilson does, as he used his long arm and educated feet to pilot Seattle past a flailing Browns squad, 32-28, on a Sunday afternoon in which Cleveland's quandaries carried on and Wilson's magnificence was once more at the forefront. The Seahawks (5-1) won their third in a row as Wilson did Wilson things -- slinging it 33 times with 23 completions, 295 yards, two touchdowns and a 117.6 rating, as he became the fourth player in NFL lore to rack up six starts to begin a season with a 100-plus QB rating. Two Thursdays prior, he dashed the Rams' hopes as he led the Seahawks to another come-from-behind triumph. Bolstered by a bad horse-collar call on the game-winning drive, Wilson's navigation of a 64-yard drive to victory with 5:32 left in the ballgame felt like the usual for the QB during the best season of his already-fantastic career. The MVP hype is building and Wilson's play isn't about to let it quiet down.
  1. These were the Browns so many believed they could be -- for one quarter. The Browns exploded for 20 first-quarter points, scoring touchdowns on each of their first three drives. And then it all unraveled and the Browns are 2-4. Baker Mayfield was favoring his left side, briefly left and returned, highlighting his fortitude but throwing three more interceptions to bring his season total to 11. A 20-6 lead at home evaporated as the offense stalled. A shanked punt and a second chance followed a fourth-and-goal stop of Nick Chubb by the Seahawks. It allowed the Browns to go back ahead 28-25 with a Chubb scoring tally. But Wilson rallied his troops and Mayfield's bid at a comeback march ended with his final pick. This isn't all on Mayfield. The Browns offensive line continues to be a glaring problem. Chubb had a crucial late fumble. Odell Beckham needed to get involved and had 11 targets -- five more than any other player -- and it didn't produce any trips to the end zone. Though the slips and stumbles of the Browns beckon the naysayers, it's the stupendous play of Myles Garrett (two sacks) and Chubb (20 carries for 122 yards, two touchdowns) despite the defeats that's all the more troublesome as it's being squandered. There's too much talent in Cleveland for all these problems; and the ills must be remedied quickly or the most hopeful Browns season in years will be hopeless.
  1. Somewhat quietly, Seahawks running back Chris Carson has been phenomenal. Sunday marked his third straight 100-yard outing, as he turned in a terrific line of 24 carries, 124 yards and the game-winning touchdown. So far he has 504 yards on the year, well on his way to back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons; one of the league's most-overlooked standouts, tucked away in the Pacific Northwest.

-- Grant Gordon

  1. Teddy Bridgewater remains unbeaten (4-0) this year as the Saints' starting QB. The backup to Drew Brees may've seen better days than this one (24-for-36 for 240 yards and a TD), but along with the strength of New Orleans' mistake-free defense, Bridgewater put his team in a position to win. Bridgewater made a key throw in the fourth quarter to score the game's only touchdown. It went to Jared Cook on third and goal and came after Bridgewater's first option was blanketed on an out route. Midway through the fourth, the Saints got the ball and put the game on ice as Bridgewater conducted a nine-play, 51-yard drive that soaked up the remaining 6:09 on the clock. Helping his cause was the sure-handed Michael Thomas, who led the team with eight catches for 89 yards. Early in the game, Bridgewater struggled with his accuracy and the game remained in reach for the Jaguars (2-4) because of the Saints' anemic offense, but the fifth-year QB weathered the storm and made the key throws in crucial situations to eventually end the game in victory formation.
  1. The maniacal Saints defense calmed the excitement of "Minshew Mania." In a defensive slugfest with minimal offense and even smaller room for error, the Saints forced Jaguars QB Gardner Minshew into a rough day at the office. Similar to his counterpart to start the game, Minshew struggled with accuracy and often held the ball too long to induce a drive-killing sack (New Orleans sacked him twice and hit him seven other times). The only difference was Minshew never got anything going in the second half. Minshew made the first crucial mistake of the game by throwing an interception to Marshon Lattimore on the first drive of the second half (Minshew's first INT as a starter) and it resulted in New Orleans (5-1) taking a lead. Minshew was held to 163 yards passing (his first game under 200 yards) and was inefficient by completing only 14 of 29 passes. The Saints' physicality on defense was also felt. Timely hits popped balls out of receivers hands and LB Demario Davis knocked TE Geoff Swaim out of the game with a big hit that was penalized. Without the Saints defense, perhaps Bridgewater wouldn't be unbeaten through four games under center. They're setting the tone.
  1. Alvin Kamara played but was largely ineffective. The Saints' play-making running back was questionable with an ankle injury, and although Kamara played through the pain, it certainly looked like it affected his play. He carried the ball a season-low 11 times for 31 yards and caught seven balls for 35 yards, but he would eventually get out-shined by his contemporary Latavius Murray, who was seen as often in the backfield once Kamara hobbled to the sideline after the opening drive. Murray ran the ball eight times for 44 yards and caught three for 35 yards, but could've had a bigger day had Thomas not been flagged for a holding penalty that brought back his 42-yard catch-and-run for a TD. Kamara finished the game and ran hard once seeing the open field, but it wasn't the normal type of explosiveness we've seen from the dynamic playmaker.

-- Michael Baca

  1. The Minnesota Vikings' offense picked apart a battered Philly defense Sunday afternoon. One week after Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs expressed his frustration over his role in the offense, he had a monster game against the Eagles. Diggs had seven receptions for 167 yards with three touchdowns. Per NFL Research, Diggs is the first Vikings player to catch two TDs of 50 or more yards in a single game since Randy Moss did so in 2000 (Week 5) vs. the Lions. Adam Thielen, who also voiced his displeasure with Kirk Cousins' lack of passing and the offensive woes, added one TD on the day and 57 yards receiving. Cousins looked comfortable airing it out for once and had a near perfect outing (22-of-29, 333 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT). Perhaps it's because they were facing a depleted Eagles D, but the Vikings' offense looked like a well-oiled machine as it cruised to 4-2. Sunday's tilt showed the emergence of rookie running back Alexander Mattison, as well. The 2019 third-rounder galloped to 63 yards on 14 carries, proving he can be a solid option to spell Dalvin Cook, the league's second-leading rusher.
  1. While the offense impressed, it was truly the Vikings' defense that stole the show. A typically exciting Eagles offense was stifled by the stout D. Fueled by the performances of Danielle Hunter, Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr, the defense held Philly to 20 points along with 400 total yards and forced three turnovers. The top-10 pass defense forced Carson Wentz to get flustered, forcing a slew of incomplete passes. Sunday marked another history-making performance for Hunter, who earned his sixth sack of the 2019 season (leads the team). He set the record for the most sacks by an NFL player under 25 years old (stat became official in 1982).
  1. Wentz's day wasn't all poor, though. He showed spurts of his previous self in tosses to Alshon Jeffery, including a TD pass. Eagles running back Jordan Howard, who has emerged as the team's next prolific back, was held to 49 rushing yards, which is a far cry from his previous outing this season. Neither the ground or passing game could get momentum for drive down the field. Zach Ertz had nine targets with four receptions. Wentz's passes were overthrown or were tossed hastily attempting to avoid the furious Vikings' D. Sure, the Eagles are missing quite a few of their standouts due to injuries, but this has been the case since the beginning of the season. It should be interesting to see how they rebound from this loss heading into next week's prime time tilt with Dallas.

-- Andie Hagemann

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content