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Team Notes week 6 2022
NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS AND OTHER GOOD STUFF
Directly from the desk of FlashUpdate Editor Bob Harris. The good; the bad; and yes. ... Even the Bears. There is no better way to jump start your weekend than browsing these always educational -- often irreverent -- team-by-team, Fantasy-specific offerings. ...
Access specific teams by clicking on a team name in the schedule appearing directly to your left or by clicking on a helmet below; return to the helmets by hitting the link labeled "Menu" following each teams notes. ...
Arizona CardinalsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 11 October 2022
According to ESPN.com's Josh Weinfuss, Kyler Murray walked to the podium inside State Farm Stadium an hour after the Cardinals lost to the Eagles, 20-17, still in full uniform.
While his teammates showered, changed and hustled out of the locker room, the quarterback sat at his locker, despondent.
The Cardinals (2-3), after their sixth scoreless first quarter in a row, had fought back to put themselves in a position to potentially knock off the last undefeated team in the NFL -- or at least take the game to overtime.
Their last drive ended with a missed field goal on fourth down from 43 yards by Matt Ammendola. But the plays that led up to his kick were full of confusion.
Arizona took possession at its own 25 yard-line, with no timeouts left, behind by 3 and 1:45 left in the game.
The Cardinals ate up yards in a hurry. With 37 seconds left and the Cardinals at the Eagles' 34, Murray spiked the ball on first-and-10 to stop the clock.
Then, on second-and-10, the drama commenced.
Murray took off on a keeper. He slid, avoiding a hit and potentially saving the offense some time. Murray thought he had run for a first down. So did many inside the stadium, including the Cardinals' coaches and the scoreboard operator, who changed the down-and-distance from second-and-10 to first-and-10.
Even though Murray slid through the first-down marker, the officials marked the ball behind it. Murray had gained 9 yards.
"In hindsight, would have loved to get a couple more yards -- 1 yard or whatever it was," Murray said. "You got the rule when you slide, when you start to slide that's where they stop the ball."
It was third down on the field but the Cardinals' coaches thought it was a first down. As Murray scrambled back to the line of scrimmage, head coach Kliff Kingsbury was yelling "clock" into his headset. Because that was all Murray heard, he thought he had the first down.
"I was right there," Kingsbury said. "Thought he was clearly past, and they brought it back, and by that time, we committed to clocking it."
The Cardinals lined up in their formation for spiking the ball before they found out it was actually third down. Tight end Zach Ertz said there's so much going on in that moment that the players just assumed everyone was on the same page. He said the safest way for the players to know what down it was to look at the sticks on the sideline.
"From there, the operation was so far gone that we had to," Ertz said. "We didn't really have another choice with the clock winding down."
Kingsbury felt the play should have been reviewed, saying he'll look into it.
Weinfuss went on to point out the Cardinals would have been better off running a play on third down, according to ESPN's win probability model. Had Arizona run a play on third down instead of spiking it, its win probability would have been 43.9 percent. After the spike, it was 34 percent. However, there were obvious caveats: Time would've been consumed to get the play in, line up and so on.
As Kingsbury put it after the game, the Cardinals felt they were at a point of no return when they lined up to spike it.
Ultimately, the Cardinals were going to kick a field goal from some point on the field, Kingsbury said, citing the risk-reward analysis of the situation.
He explained that if the Cardinals had checked into a run, they could've been scrambling to get Ammendola on the field with about 20 seconds left for a "hurricane" field goal. If they wanted to throw it, then they ran the risk of an interception or a sack, which would've essentially ended the game.
And if the Cardinals had thrown the ball, Kingsbury said they weren't going for the end zone, instead opting for "maybe something safe."
"It would have been some conservative throws to try and get closer," Kingsbury said.
There wasn't any solace in coming close to beating the best team in football. It was quite the opposite in the locker room after the game. Safety Jalen Thompson said players were "a little bit heated." While Ammendola was getting interviewed by a media scrum, left guard Justin Pugh walked over, put his arm on his shoulder and unleashed a profanity-laced tirade about how one player isn't to blame for the loss.
"We're not pleased at all," Ertz said. "We're not happy. The mood is low and, particularly, because we haven't won at home in a while, and we're all frustrated."
Meanwhile, Ammendola went 3 for 4 in two games for Kansas City in place of injured starter Harrison Butker and signed with the Cardinals to replace Matt Prater, who was out with a hip injury.
Ammendola's kick looked good at the start, but veered hard right, sending the undefeated Eagles rushing out in celebration.
"It's like golf; sometimes you might slice the ball ever so slightly," Ammendola said. "It felt good off my foot. It's something I'm not going to get back."
Neither will the Cardinals. They have lost all three home games this season and eight straight over two seasons, longest since an eight-game losing streak from 1956-58.
Philadelphia is the NFL's lone remaining undefeated team.
It's worth noting, the Cardinals were down to one running back at the end of the game, with Eno Benjamin shouldering the load after James Conner (ribs), Darrel Williams (knee) and Jonathan Ward (hamstring) all left with injuries.
Murray completed 28-of-42 passes for 250 yards, riding Marquise Brown, who caught eight passes for 78 yards and a touchdown, and Rondale Moore into the rally that came up just short.
"At the end of the game, we had a chance," Murray said. "We had a chance, and that's all you can ask for."
"We've got to find a way to win at home," Kingsbury said. "We play really good on the road and for whatever reason we haven't gotten done here."
Next up, the Cardinals will face the Seahawks in Seattle.
Can the Cardinals put together a complete game next week in Seattle?
According to Weinfuss, all signs are pointing to "it's likely."
This year's Seahawks aren't the Seahawks of old, so a first-quarter score is most likely to happen in Seattle. The Cardinals are a few plays here and there away from that complete showing. It might have taken them a month to figure themselves out, but they're on the verge of showing who they are for an entire game. ...
A positive here is Arizona's defense continues to hold its own against some of the NFL's best offenses. The Eagles managed just 357 total yards on Sunday, which is a respectable performance against Philadelphia QB Jalen Hurts, who has emerged as an MVP candidate. Cardinals LB Isaiah Simmons had 13 tackles, bouncing back from a rough start to the season. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Although his efforts weren't enough to snap the Eagles' undefeated record this season, Benjamin took advantage of the opportunity with playmaking.
As Kevin Parrish Jr. of the team's official website notes, Benjamin rushed for 25 yards on eight carries, including the 11-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to tie the game, while adding 28 receiving yards on three catches.
"I had to lock in and focus," Benjamin said. "The offensive line did their job. We were getting movement and run lanes were everywhere."
Despite dealing with the injury bug, the Cardinals had 124 rushing yards on 4.8 yards per carry.
Conner and Williams combined for 64 rushing yards on 12 carries, with Williams carrying out a successful fake punt for a first down in the first half.
After the game, Kingsbury didn't give an update on Williams or Ward's respective injuries but said Conner is okay. The team is being cautious with their lead back.
But Kingsbury didn't forget to praise Eno for handling the load while the others dealt with unfortunate injuries.
"That was a little tricky," Kingsbury said about the limited running backs available on Sunday. "I thought Eno did a great job; he was cramping the entire second half and just stayed out there and continued to make plays.
"Unfortunately, James and Darrel got hurt. But Eno stepped in and I'm proud of that effort."
Conner's rib injury is one he's been dealing with in recent weeks and his status will be more clear later in the week, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported. Williams has a sprained knee and will be out this week, per Rapoport. Ward (hamstring) has been placed on the IR, per NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero.
With at least two men down, rookie Keaontay Ingram might be needed to chip in along with Benjamin.
In addition, running back Corey Clement and Ty'Son Williams signed with Arizona's practice squad Tuesday. ...
The Cardinals had designated Antoine Wesley to return from injured reserve last week, clearing him to practice.
According to ArizonaCardinals.com's Darren Urban, the early part of the game didn't go well for Moore -- the horizontal game in which he is used wasn't going anywhere. But perhaps things changed on one key play. A screen to Moore on third-and-17 gained 17, as Moore showed some of his moves in space, finally.
He made another key catch-and-run on the final drive, and finished with seven catches for 68 yards despite the slow start. If the Cardinals can get him loose more often, he indeed would make a difference.
"I just think it's time on task," Kingsbury said. "You saw (Rondale) get more comfortable in the second half and do what he can do. Being shifty and making plays. We're going to need him to be that guy for us on offense and kind of be that piece that can get in open space and make those extra yards."
As KC Joyner wrote for The Athletic this week, Moore will likely draw solid attention on the waiver wire this week, but is his production pace sustainable?
Joyner went on to explain that Brown was a workhorse wideout in Baltimore last year (146 targets) and was brought in to do the same in Arizona, so his targets will be protected. The same can be said for Ertz, as he is a security blanket in this offense and on pace to set a franchise record for single season receptions by a tight end.
The Cardinals have to play one more game without three-time All-Pro DeAndre Hopkins, who returns next week after a six-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
Hopkins will take over Moore's workload when he returns and Moore is apt to be shifted down to Green's workload pace, as Green, who had three targets against the Eagles, will be the odd man out.
Hopkins should provide a deep threat that's been missing from the offense for most of the season. ...
Kingsbury said he's unsure about Prater's timeline this week, adding the team will be cautious with the veteran.
"We're going to work him out on Wednesday and see how he feels," Kingsbury said. "We'll be smart. I want to make sure he's 100 percent before we get him back out there."
I'll have more on Prater, Conner and the rest of the injured Cardinals via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ..
A few final items. ... The Cardinals released receiver Andre Baccellia on Tuesday, the team announced.
They signed Baccellia to the active roster Saturday, and he played 12 offensive snaps and four on special teams on Sunday.
He has played every game this season, including three elevations from the practice squad.
Baccellia has four catches for 25 yards, playing 71 offensive snaps and 12 on special teams.
The Cardinals will re-sign Baccellia to the practice squad if he clears waivers, per multiple reports. ...
But now the receiver will have to remain on the list and is out for the season.
Via Urban, Kingsbury said on Monday that the injury Wesley suffered at practice last week will keep him out for all of 2022. ...
And last. ... The Cardinals re-signed tight end Maxx Williams to the practice squad on Monday.
The tight end was released last week to open more roster spots for players returning from injured reserve. Williams is much respected in the locker room and someone Kingsbury is glad to have back in the building.
"We want Maxx to be here," Kingsbury said. "We love what he's about. We just want him to continue to work and feel more confident on that leg and that was the biggest thing. I'm sure at some point we'll have him activate again and rocking with us."
You can access complete stats for the Cardinals Week 5 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Kyler Murray, Colt McCoy, Trace McSorley
RBs: James Conner, Keaontay Ingram, Jonathan Ward, Darrel Williams
WRs: DeAndre Hopkins, Marquise Brown, Rondale Moore, A.J. Green, Robbie Anderson, Greg Dortch, Antoine Wesley
TEs: Trey McBride, Maxx Williams, Stephen Anderson, Zach Ertz
Atlanta FalconsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 11 October 2022
As Ashton Edmunds of the Falcons official website reported, the e Falcons offense struggled finding any momentum in Sunday's loss against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Pitts not playing due to injury, the offensive production relied heavily upon young players Drake London, Tyler Allgeier and Caleb Huntley to step up against a veteran Buccaneers defensive unit.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota was sacked five times on Sunday compared to the seven times he was sacked through the first four games. Pressure from Tampa Bay's defensive front swarmed Mariota on several plays, causing multiple three-and-outs for the Falcons offense.
"It's a tough defense, you have to give them credit," Mariota said. "They've been causing havoc through the first four weeks of the season and we knew we had a challenge in front of us, but our guys didn't flinch at all. We understand that sometimes you have to be patient, especially with what we do on offense."
Through the first two quarters, the Falcons offense accumulated a total of 89 net yards on 27 plays compared to the Buccaneers 297 total net yards on 44 plays.
Mariota finished with 52 passing yards completing 5-for-14 passes, which was his lowest total amount of passing yards in a first half through the first five games of this season.
Not to mention, third down efficiency hurt the Falcons in more ways than one, going 3-for-7 on 42.9 percent in the first two quarters. Mariota mentioned not capitalizing on first and second downs is what hurt the Falcons offensively on Sunday.
"We got to be better on first and second down. I think through the course of the game we had 10 third and longs or something like that, but for any offense that's tough," he said. "Being able to be better on first and second down, create rhythm, move the chains, that's when this offense starts to get going. If we can do a better job on first and second down, I think we'll find ways to improve."
Now, a Falcons team picked by many to contend for little more than the No. 1 pick in next year's NFL draft has instead been competitive in every game this season. The Falcons have surpassed those low expectations by playing five consecutive games decided by one score.
According to Associated Press sports writer Charles Odum, if head coach Arthur Smith must coach better in any area for his Falcons, it is in the passing game.
Mariota is playing well enough to keep the Falcons competitive. He threw a touchdown pass, wasn't intercepted and had a team-leading 61 yards rushing.
The question for Smith: Is Mariota playing well enough to make the Falcons a winner?
Perhaps with more offensive balance, Atlanta wouldn't have trailed Tampa Bay 21-0 entering the fourth quarter.
Mariota's performance through five games has been mid-level at best. He has thrown only four scoring passes with four interceptions. He has provided stability for an offense in transition but not standout production.
Smith believes Mariota provides the best chance for wins in 2022. Rookie Desmond Ridder, a third-round pick from Cincinnati, hasn't appeared in a regular-season game.
Inevitably, Smith must find out if the rookie makes the Falcons -- and the coach -- better for the future.
That said, the Falcons rushed for 151 yards in their first game since placing leading rusher Patterson on injured reserve following knee surgery. Atlanta has rushed for at least 150 yards in four of its first five games for the first time since 1986.
Allgeier had 13 carries for 45 yards as the starting running back against Tampa Bay's tough defense. He had a long run of 17 yards and averaged 2.3 yards on his other 12 carries. It was a sharp decline from his 84 yards on 10 carries in a 23-20 win over Cleveland on Oct. 2.
Meanwhile, Huntley and Avery Williams chipped in behind Allgeier, who was the clear lead back.
While Smith says the offense will look different each week, the commitment to the running game is strong and consistent.
Next up, Atlanta will look for a stronger start on offense when it returns home to play the NFC West-leading San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. ...
Other notes of interest. ... The Falcons missed Pitts, who was held out with a hamstring injury. Anthony Firkser and Parker Hesse each had one catch while Feleipe Franks had two targets at tight end.
Pitts has 10 catches for 150 yards in Atlanta's first four games. He had 68 catches for 1,026 yards -- a team record for a tight end -- as a rookie in 2021.
Smith told reporters last week that Pitts' injury wasn't a long-term issues and he said on Wednesday the star tight would be back at practice to start the week
“We will see how it goes during the week,” Arthur Smith said.
I'll obviously be watching for more on that in coming days; check the Late-Breaking Updates section for more. ...
And finally. ... The Falcons' trade of Deion Jones to Cleveland supports the team's confidence in their inside linebackers on the roster, including Mykal Walker. Walker had 11 tackles against the Bucs before leaving in the second quarter with a groin injury. Rookie Troy Andersen took over for Walker.
Jones opened the season on injured reserve after having an offseason shoulder surgery. The Falcons will receive a late-round draft pick in the deal. Walker is starting alongside Rashaan Evans. ...
You can access complete stats for the Falcons Week 5 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Marcus Mariota, Desmond Ridder
RBs: Cordarrelle Patterson, Tyler Allgeier, Caleb Huntley, Avery Williams, Damien Williams
WRs: Drake London, Olamide Zaccheaus, Damiere Byrd, KhaDarel Hodge, Bryan Edwards, Jared Bernhardt
TEs: MyCole Pruitt, Parker Hesse, Anthony Firkser, Feleipe Franks, Kyle Pitts
Baltimore RavensCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 11 October 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Noah Trister suggested, Justin Tucker's game-winning kick felt pretty routine.
The real indication of his greatness may have come earlier.
In the third quarter, head coach John Harbaugh sent Tucker out to try a 58-yard field goal, even though a miss would have given Cincinnati the ball near midfield.
"That was a tough one, because normally you're playing good defense, and your thought is going to be to pin them down in there and keep them down in there," Harbaugh said. "That was not an easy choice, but in the end, the scale tipped towards Justin."
Tucker made that attempt as well. In fact, the star kicker accounted for all of the Ravens' second-half scoring in their 19-17 victory over Cincinnati on Sunday night. He calmly connected from 43 yards on the game's final play to put Baltimore in sole possession of first place in the AFC North -- and spare the Ravens another close loss at home.
Baltimore (3-2) had blown leads of 21 and 17 points in losing its first two home games. The Ravens allowed a 10-0 advantage to slip away before halftime against the Bengals, but an inspired defensive performance and the legs of both Tucker and quarterback Lamar Jackson were enough to earn a win.
Jackson ran for 58 yards on 12 carries. The dual-threat quarterback had a 19-yard run on the winning drive to move the Ravens into field goal range.
But it wasn't a great game for the Baltimore passing game. Jackson missed some open receivers downfield, and there were occasional protection issues. Tackle Ronnie Stanley was playing in his first game since last season's opener. He played 22 offensive snaps.
The Ravens were without receiver Rashod Bateman (foot). Jackson threw for 174 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
That's why we shouldn't underestimate Tucker's value to the team.
Games like Sunday are why the Ravens shouldn't take him for granted. He makes long kicks and clutch kicks, and when Baltimore had the ball down one with under two minutes remaining, all Jackson needed to do was drive them about 30 yards for the Ravens to have a chance.
Instead, Baltimore traveled 50 yards to the Cincinnati 25 to set up Tucker, who has now made 61 consecutive field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter and overtime.
He's made 17 field goals in the final minute of regulation in his career. He's never missed one.
Meanwhile, the Ravens still haven't played a full 60 minutes at the level you'd expect from a Super Bowl contender, and the offense has fizzled in the second half of the past two games. Baltimore didn't score at all after halftime in a 23-20 loss to Buffalo two weekends ago, and the Ravens were limited to Tucker's three field goals in the second half Sunday.
In fairness, Baltimore put together some long drives in the second half of those games, but they didn't result in touchdowns. On the season, the Ravens have outscored opponents 34-3 in the first quarter but have been outscored 50-15 in the fourth.
Next up, the Ravens travel to play the surprising New York Giants (4-1) this coming weekend. Former Baltimore defensive coordinator Wink Martindale now fills that role for the Giants.
Fortunately for the Ravens, their own defense is improving.
After allowing 41 points in each of last season's two losses to Cincinnati, the Ravens more than held their own against Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase this time around. Baltimore's defense has taken a step forward since yielding 28 fourth-quarter points in a 42-38 loss to Miami in Week 2.
"They've been getting a lot of noise about how they've been playing," Jackson said. "In our eyes, they played lights out."
The Ravens looked particularly well-prepared when defending their own goal line in the third quarter. The Bengals lost 12 yards on a trick play, then Burrow threw incomplete on a shovel pass on fourth-and-goal from the 2.
"We work on the shovel pass a lot. It's a play that we run too," Harbaugh said. "It's one that's pretty defined -- the techniques, we recognize the blocking scheme involved there. I just think our guys did a great job. ..."
Other notes of interest. ... Running back Kenyan Drake led the Ravens running backs in snaps, getting one more than J.K. Dobbins (27 to 26). Dobbins had 35 offensive snaps against the Bills. He had twice as many carries as Drake (eight to four), but Drake's number was called on Baltimore's final offensive drive and he grinded out a 4-yard gain.
Dobbins finished with 44 yards on his eight carries, continuing to boost the run game in his third game back from his serious knee injury. Dobbins' most impressive run came early in the third quarter, when he was hit in the backfield but broke several tackles for a 12-yard run that showed his determination to fight for every yard.
Dobbins did not play during Baltimore's final two possessions, but Harbaugh said that had nothing to do with how he looked running the football.
"I thought he had his best game," Harbaugh said. "He's getting better every week. I thought he took a jump last week in practice and this week in the game. The one run for the first down was spectacular. He was hit in the backfield … broke about five tackles."
What about the snap counts?
"You can't read too much into that. When you start looking into who gets how many carries, how many snaps, that's not really in our thought process. We're not saying this guy has to get so many carries, if he doesn't something's wrong," Harbaugh said. "You play guys in certain situations, some guys get tired, some guys do some things better, you want them out there for certain things. We've got three backs up. They're all good players. You want to use them all to some degree if you can. He's going to have a great future here. He's a star, and he's going to be a star. So, we'll take it one game at a time."
With Bateman out, Devin Duvernay got a bump in snaps to a career-high 47 (72 percent). Demarcus Robinson saw a lot more action, and even had two more snaps than Duvernay. Duvernay was targeted by seven passes and had three carries, as the Ravens leaned on his versatility.
Duvernay had five catches for 51 yards, and also carried the ball three times for 24 yards on designed runs.
Duvernay made the Pro Bowl as a returner last season, and Harbaugh is enjoying seeing him blossom as a receiver and versatile weapon.
"He's kind of taken steps every week, it seems like," Harbaugh said. "He's really impacting games now in a big way. He's still doing in the return game, but in the passing game, coming up with plays and running the ball, part of the read option game. He's doing a lot of great stuff for us."
Harbaugh said S Marcus Williams (dislocated wrist) would go on injured reserve, but he said he did not expect the injury to be season-ending. ... Harbaugh also said Bateman and LB Justin Houston (groin) might return next weekend.
I'll have more on Bateman, who wasn't seen on the practice field for the start of Wednesday's session, and Justice Hill, who missed Sunday night's game with a hamstring injury, via Late-Breaking Update as the week progresses.
You can access complete stats for the Ravens Week 5 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Lamar Jackson, Tyler Huntley
RBs: Gus Edwards, Kenyan Drake, Justice Hill, Mike Davis, J.K. Dobbins
WRs: Devin Duvernay, Demarcus Robinson, James Proche, DeSean Jackson, Tylan Wallace, Rashod Bateman
TEs: Mark Andrews, Isaiah Likely, Josh Oliver, Nick Boyle, Charlie Kolar
Buffalo BillsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 11 October 2022
As ESPN.com's Alaina Getzenberg reported, it took Josh Allen less than 30 minutes into the Bills' Week 5 game against the Steelers to make history.
Allen's 348 passing yards in the first half in the 38-3 win were the most in a single half by a Bills player, per Elias Sports Bureau data.
Earning the AFC Offensive Player of the Week honor, Allen completed 20 of 32 passes for 424 passing yards and four TD throws in Sunday's blowout win. He was 11 yards short of the all-time first-half record, according to NFL Research.
Allen's four touchdowns in the first two quarters did tie the franchise's all-time record and quickly secured the Bills' fourth win of the season, which put Buffalo atop the AFC East.
"Josh is close to a record every game, and I say that humbly ..." left tackle Dion Dawkins said. "We have a great quarterback. That's why they paid him. That's why he's our franchise. That's why he's Josh. No cockiness. Josh is able to do amazing things every time he touches the football and touches the football field."
Allen isn't just playing well in a good offense. Of the 17 touchdowns the Bills have scored, he's accounted for 16 of them, and he is responsible for 83 percent of the team's net yards, the highest of any player through five games in the past three seasons.
And while Allen is making an early case for MVP, the offense under first-year coordinator Ken Dorsey continues to improve.
The Bills got another component of their offense going Sunday that they had previously been unable to -- the big-play passing game, giving opposing defenses another dimension to defend.
"Honestly, I felt like I missed a few throws," Allen said after his record-setting first half. "I was a little ticked off for a couple of the passes I had early on in the game. I want to complete every ball. Obviously, I know it's not typically possible. But there are some things I could have done better early on in that game."
Through the first four games of the season, the Bills completed 12 passes of 20-plus yards, but against an injury-ravaged Steelers defense, especially in the secondary, Allen completed eight such passes, including three for touchdowns. Two of those touchdowns went to wide receiver Gabe Davis, who had been dealing with an ankle injury the past couple of weeks.
Against the Steelers, he looked healthy once again -- finishing with three receptions for 171 yards and two scores.
"You just feel like, you know, no one can stop you," Davis said. "You feel like you're the best man on the field, and every time the ball comes your way, you're gonna make a play on it."
It hasn't been a secret the Bills have struggled to get their running backs going consistently; Allen has led the team in rushing for four games. But with four touchdown drives taking three plays or fewer against the Steelers, the run game wasn't needed.
Part of the reason for Buffalo's success deep against Pittsburgh was Allen's ability to beat the Steelers' man coverage. Allen saw man coverage on a season-high 56 percent of dropbacks and threw three touchdown passes on 12.5 yards per attempt on those plays.
"Every team is going to play you different," wide receiver Stefon Diggs said. "Some guys are going to call it and play, man, some guys have confidence in their guys, some guys want to play zone. Schematically, we've seen everything. We've seen the guys who crawl up and we get a lot of big plays. And then we see the guys who play it, we're going to play zone, make 'em move down the field one play at a time."
Allen has 1,876 combined passing/rushing and 16 combined passing/rushing touchdowns already this season, the third player in NFL history to do so through five games and the first since Peyton Manning's record season in 2013. Stopping this offense, even without a traditional run game, is difficult because there's so much Allen and his receivers can do. With Davis healthy and Diggs also a deep-play threat, the Bills will be able to take advantage of one-on-one matchups downfield.
The Bills had that success without starting slot receiver Isaiah McKenzie, who was out with a concussion, and tight end Dawson Knox (foot/ankle).
Next up for the Bills is a team that they are plenty familiar with in the Kansas City Chiefs after consecutive playoff losses at Arrowhead Stadium.
Going into Monday Night Football against the Las Vegas Raiders, the Chiefs have given up the eighth-fewest passing yards per attempt (6.55), but there will be opportunities, as Kansas City has allowed the second-highest completion percentage (72.9 percent).
In two games last season against the Chiefs, Allen threw for seven touchdowns and had zero interceptions.
"It's hard to win in this league," Allen said. "So, we're going to celebrate this one tonight. Have a good time. Move on tomorrow. Watch this film and then we'll get on to Kansas City."
Other notes of interest. ... Allen's trust in Davis was evident on the opening drive of the game. As soon as Davis lined up and saw the type of coverage the Steelers were playing, he knew the play call could result in a big play.
But what he didn't know is that the play was going to be a 98-yard TD pass from his quarterback.
"It's something I always knew I could do, I just needed the opportunity," Davis said. "Just like everybody else in this world, we're human, and we're going to have our days and have our time. I had my time, and I was happy I was able to come out there and be focused and ready to go."
Davis felt that his long TD play was a confidence boost for the offense. And in turn, the four touchdowns that followed the first score of the day proved his thought to be true.
The Bills' next touchdown also came from Davis. On the 62-yard bomb from Allen which made it 17-3, Davis was slightly worried that Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick was going to get the ball away from him. But once he got a good enough grip on it, the WR was able to come out of the ball battle with his second TD of the afternoon.
With his 62-yard and 98-yard touchdown catches, Davis became the third player in team history to record multiple 60-plus yard TD catches in a single game.
In addition. ... The offense didn't miss a step despite missing slot receivers McKenzie and Jamison Crowder (broken ankle). Rookie Khalil Shakir had three catches for 75 yards and a touchdown in his first career start and Isaiah Hodges added four catches for 41 yards after being promoted from the practice squad.
Rookie James Cook put a bow on the effort with a 24-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter.
For Shakir and Cook those plays marked their first career touchdowns in a Bills uniform. ...
Meanwhile, Devin Singletary rushed six times for 42 yards and brought in one of two targets for four yards against the Steelers.
Singletary was highly efficient with his rushing workload, but he had precious few opportunities to build on his success despite the Bills boasting a comfortable lead most of the game. The fourth-year back has logged double-digit carries only once this season and on Sunday he gave way to Cook once the game was completely out of hand.
Singletary and his fantasy managers will perhaps see more opportunity in Kansas City. ...
Quintin Morris got the start at tight end with Knox out for this game and caught 3-of-5 targets for 39 yards. As NBCSportsEdge.com suggested, the most notable play of his day was a shovel pass at the goal line. He caught the ball but fumbled it into the end zone while extending for the score. Pittsburgh recovered the loose football.
Morris will return to the bench once Knox is healthy.
McKenzie cleared the NFL's concussion protocol on Wednesday and is "good to go," head coach Sean McDermott told reporters on Wednesday.
I'll follow up on McKenzie and Knox, who worked on a limited basis Wednesday, via Late-Breaking Update as developments warrant in coming days. ...
You can access complete stats for the Bills Week 5 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Josh Allen, Case Keenum
RBs: Devin Singletary, James Cook, Nyheim Hines, Reggie Gilliam, Duke Johnson
WRs: Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, Isaiah McKenzie, Khalil Shakir, Jake Kumerow, Jamison Crowder
TEs: Dawson Knox, Quintin Morris, Tommy Sweeney
Carolina PanthersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 11 October 2022
Matt Rhule has been fired as the coach of the Panthers less than six full months after owner David Tepper said it could take five, maybe six years to rebuild an organization capable of sustained excellence.
Rhule's firing on Monday came less than 24 hours after a 37-15 loss to the San Francisco 49ers and less than three years into a seven-year, $62 million contract he was given in January of 2020 to turn around the Panthers the way he did college programs at Temple and Baylor.
He was fired with a record of 11-27, including this year's 1-4 start.
Under Rhule, the Panthers went 1-27 when allowing 17 or more points, including 25 losses in a row. Every other team has multiple such wins in that span, according to ESPN Stats and Information research.
Defensive pass game coordinator Steve Wilks was named the interim coach. Wilks, 53, was previously a head coach in the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals in 2018 where he posted a 3-13 record and was fired following his first season.
The team also fired defensive coordinator Phil Snow and assistant special teams coach Ed Foley, two longtime Rhule assistants from his college days at Baylor and Temple.
On Tuesday, Wilks said he alone made the decision to fire Snow and Foley. Wilks made clear that he had no personal issues with either of the coaches he fired, but did want the team to get a fresh start.
"Two great men, two great coaches," Wilks said. "It was my call, my decision. I just felt like I wanted a different approach moving forward, and that was all."
Wilks said Al Holcomb, who was Wilks' defensive coordinator with the 2018 Cardinals and also worked with Wilks on the 2019 Browns, will call the Panthers' defensive plays. Holcomb is in his third season with the Panthers and has the job title of assistant head coach for defense.
Rhule's firing came after Tepper in late April said: "I believe in Matt. He has my full support."
"I'm a fan," Tepper added that day. "I don't like to lose. But it takes time and it takes a foundation, and it takes time to create the foundation to win. I do believe Coach Rhule and [general manager] Scott [Fitterer] have done a great job of creating that foundation."
As ESPN.com's David Newton noted, what Rhule, 47, never found was a quarterback capable of sustained success.
He inherited Cam Newton, who was released in March of 2020 as he rehabbed from foot surgery and an ailing shoulder that made him a shell of the player who won the NFL MVP Award in 2015.
The Panthers brought in Teddy Bridgewater, who was released one season after getting a three-year, $63 million deal. They then traded with the New York Jets for 2018 third-round pick Sam Darnold, who had gone 13-25 as the starter in New York.
Carolina brought back Newton midway through the 2021 season when Darnold suffered a shoulder injury, only to watch the first pick of the 2011 draft go 0-5.
Rhule and Fitterer made a hard push to trade with the Houston Texans for Deshaun Watson this past offseason even though the quarterback had 22 civil lawsuits filed against him alleging sexual misconduct and sexual assault.
When Watson chose the Browns, making Baker Mayfield expendable, the Panthers began pursuing the first pick of the 2018 draft.
That trade finally occurred in July.
Mayfield hasn't regained the form he had in 2020, when he led the Browns to an 11-5 record and playoff win, putting up career lows in almost every statistical category. Mayfield's 16.5 QBR is the lowest among passers with at least three games in the NFL this season while he has completed a league-worst 54.9 percent of his passes and has committed five turnovers (four interceptions and a lost fumble).
Since the start of last season, Carolina ranks last in yards per play (4.7), third-down conversion percentage (33 percent) and Total QBR (31.0), according to ESPN Stats and Information research.
"That's the most important position on the field," Tepper said after the team moved on from Newton. "Unless you have that guy for sure that gets you to the playoffs and Super Bowls, you have to keep reevaluating that because that's the only thing that matters is Super Bowls.
"And until you have that guy, you're evaluating, evaluating, evaluating every year."
Rhule felt the overall roster was good enough to win this season if he got good play from Mayfield.
That hasn't happened, and Tepper decided on Monday to make a change.
So the Panthers will play out the rest of the 2022 season without their head coach, and they might have to take the field this weekend without Mayfield, too.
Mayfield suffered a high ankle sprain in Sunday's loss to San Francisco, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported on Monday. Per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, Mayfield got some more information Tuesday to confirm there was no major damage to his ankle. Mayfield does not need surgery and as of now will not be placed on injured reserve, which means he could be back within four weeks.
Pelissero adds that Mayfield will push to be back on the field as soon as possible, but a realistic timeline is anywhere from two-to-six weeks.
Of course, Wilks wasn't ready to officially rule Mayfield out on Wednesday, instead saying: “He’s making progress, and after talking to him today, I’d say there’s a chance.”
Wilks added Darnold (ankle) could be cleared to return to practice next week.
P.J. Walker is in line to replace Mayfield, should he prove unable to participate in this week's game in Los Angeles against the reigning champion Rams.
Walker started training camp as the fourth-string quarterback behind Mayfield, Darnold and rookie Matt Corral, but injuries have thrust him into the spotlight again.
Walker has appeared in 10 games with the Panthers, winning both of his starts in 2020 and 2021. He'll stand as the Panthers' best remaining hope while Carolina waits for either Mayfield to make his way back to the field, or for Darnold to return from injured reserve. Jacob Eason is another option on the Panthers' practice squad.
"I have confidence in everybody," running back Christian McCaffrey said. "I have confidence in P.J. and Baker. I'm going to point the thumb and be better for whoever is out there. Props to Baker, jacking his ankle up and playing whole second half."
The good news?
As Associated Press sports writer Steve Reed noted, McCaffrey combined for 104 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown against the 49ers top-ranked defense and continues to be one of the few bright spots on an otherwise unproductive offense.
But with the Panthers seemingly having thrown in the towel on the season and in need of a rebuild, it will be interesting to see if the team entertains trade offers for the 2019 All-Pro before the Nov. 1 deadline in an effort to acquire draft picks. ...
Also worth noting. ... Rookie receiver Shi Smith played a career-high 43 snaps while making four receptions for 69 yards. Terrace Marshall Jr. saw action for 26 snaps and had his first receptions of the year, making four catches for 30 yards. ...
On the injury front. ... Mayfield did not participate in Wednesday’s practice.
Cornerback Jaycee Horn (ribs), wide receiver Laviska Shenault (hamstring), cornerback Stantley Thomas-Oliver (thigh), and McCaffrey (rest) also sat out on Wednesday. Cornerback C.J. Henderson (knee), tight end Stephen Sullivan (back), and safety Xavier Woods (hamstring) were limited participants.
I'll have more on Mayfield, Shenault and the coaching changes -- via Late-Breaking Update in coming days.
You can access complete stats for the Panthers Week 5 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, P.J. Walker, Matt Corral
RBs: D'Onta Foreman, Chuba Hubbard, Spencer Brown, Raheem Blackshear
WRs: D.J. Moore, Terrace Marshall Jr., Shi Smith, Laviska Shenault, Rashard Higgins, Andre Roberts
TEs: Ian Thomas, Tommy Tremble, Stephen Sullivan
Chicago BearsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 11 October 2022
Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears' passing game carried the offense Sunday for the first time this season in a 29-22 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
Now, as Associated Press sports writer Gene Chamberlain suggested, if the Bears (2-3) can only find ways to finish games, they could prevent a three-game losing streak Thursday night when they host the Washington Commanders (1-4).
Fields went 15 of 21 (71.4 percent) for a career-best completion percentage and also had a career-best passer rating of 118.8 against Minnesota, while throwing for a season-high 208 yards.
"You can feel Justin comfortable where he is right now in the offense," head coach Matt Eberflus said on Monday. "He's taking command. I can see him in practice, and I've seen in the last couple weeks, him taking control of route depths and talking to receivers."
Fields is in his second offense in two NFL seasons and agrees with the assessment of his comfort.
"I would say so," he said. "I mean, it's just like just trying to stay calm. I think when I first got here, you'd see big guys flying around, D-linemen going fast. Like, you just think you have to speed everything up.
"I'm just starting to figure out you just try to play within your own rhythm, the way you know how to play and stay calm in the pocket."
Bears receivers have been inconsistent, but now Fields' top two targets, wide receiver Darnell Mooney and tight end Cole Kmet, are making bigger impacts.
Mooney made a leaping one-handed grab of 39 yards Sunday, while Kmet had a season-high four catches for 45 yards.
According to Larry Mayer of the team's official website, Mooney's sensational grab generated momentum that the Bears carried into the second half, scoring on their first three possessions in rallying to take a brief 22-21 lead.
"A big play like that before the end of the first half, it set us up for that touchdown," Fields said. "It definitely gave us a lot of momentum."
"Any time you get explosive plays on offense, that's a spark," added Eberflus. "I think that was definitely a confidence builder for sure."
Also worth noting. ... Fields was sacked just twice after being sacked 16 times in the first four games.
"The guys are growing," Eberflus said. "The players are getting used to the scheme. The timing's getting better, the rhythm's getting better.
"Yesterday the protection was good and the protection's been good at times and it was better yesterday. The guys are just getting used to it."
Meanwhile, running back David Montgomery made an impact, but not as a runner.
In a game when the starter returned from a week away with an ankle injury, he was held to only 20 yards rushing. However, he was extensively involved in the passing game for the first time this year as a blocker and receiver with four catches for 62 yards. He took one short toss for 30 yards.
"I can't control what people see, but the passing game is really getting on a roll, so it can be really, really good," Montgomery said. "To have that balance is good. It helps in the run game, and the run game helps the pass game.
"It helps in all facets of the game. You've got to be able to do both."
In a related note. ... KC Joyner of The Athletic believes the Week 5 snap count suggests Khalil Herbert is more a bench play than a stand-alone fantasy option with Montgomery back.
Montgomery outsnapped Herbert 37 to 13.
"This shows that Chicago sees Montgomery as its lead back and Herbert as the change of pace back," Joyner wrote. "As long as that remains the case, Herbert will be a bench candidate more times than not. ...
Next up, the Bears host the Commanders on Thursday Night Football. ...
Also of interest. ... With the passing attack possibly heating up, the Bears activated veteran receiver N'Keal Harry off injured reserve Monday, the team announced.
Harry injured his ankle Aug. 6 in practice, and the Bears placed him on injured reserve Sept. 1. He returned to practice last week, beginning a 21-day window to add him to the active roster.
He is expected to make his Bears' debut against the Commanders.
The Bears acquired Harry on July 13 in a trade with the Patriots, giving up a 2024 seventh-round draft selection.
Harry, the 32nd overall selection in 2019, has appeared in 33 NFL games with 18 starts over three seasons. He has 57 catches for 598 yards and four touchdowns.
Fields was asked last week what Harry will bring to the team's offense.
"He would be a good matchup for smaller DBs," Fields said, via Larry Mayer of the team website. "One on one, especially red zone, just throwing up a jump ball to him, that's one of the things he does really well. So just being able to throw more 50-50 balls. ..."
The Bears scored two touchdowns on two trips inside the red zone. They worked at this area of the field extensively in practice after going 0 for 3 there last week. ...
As noted above, the Bears have a quick turnaround this week, with only three days to prepare for Thursday night's matchup with the Commanders. The short week means limited physical preparation to preserve everyone's health.
"You really can't work 'em too hard," Eberflus said, "because you think about, you just played a game yesterday. Typically, you bring them in on a Monday, then Tuesday they have off, then Wednesday. So really the Wednesday is the day they play, so to speak, so you really gotta be mindful of that, the rest and health of the players, and we were, leading into the game.
"We were doing that a couple of weeks ago, we shortened down practice, shortened down reps. So we've been mindful of that all the way."
Eberflus said the Bears would conduct walkthroughs Monday and Tuesday, then a "quick, red-zone type practice with helmets on" Wednesday.
The Bears did not conduct a full practice Monday, but they were required to release an injury report. Had they practiced, cornerback Jaylon Johnson would have been a full participant. The third-year cornerback has missed the last three games with a quad injury. Safety Dane Cruikshank (hamstring) also would have practiced without restrictions, while linebacker Matt Adams (calf) would have been held out of practice. ...
You can access complete stats for the Bears Week 5 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Justin Fields, Trevor Siemian
RBs: David Montgomery, Trestan Ebner, Darrynton Evans, Khalil Herbert
WRs: Darnell Mooney, Chase Claypool, Equanimeous St. Brown, Dante Pettis, Velus Jones Jr., Byron Pringle, N'Keal Harry, Tajae Sharpe
TEs: Cole Kmet, Ryan Griffin, Trevon Wesco
Cincinnati BengalsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 11 October 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Mitch Stacy reported, after rolling to two straight victories, the Cincinnati Bengals stumbled again and lost to the Baltimore Ravens because of a late field goal.
As in the two losses that started the season, the reigning AFC champs sputtered in the first half Sunday night, looked better in the second half, squandered opportunities and ended up losing 19-17 via a late field goal.
Cincinnati (2-3) blew its chance to take over first place in the AFC North. The Ravens are 3-2, the Browns 2-3 and the Steelers 1-4. The Bengals lost to Pittsburgh in Week 1.
"Frustrating, but there's still a lot of football to be played," quarterback Joe Burrow said. "We're not going to panic. Obviously, 0-2 in the division is not ideal, but like I said, there's a lot of football left to be played. Still going to go on a run here (on Sunday) before the bye (week), and we still have everything in front of us."
Head coach Zac Taylor hasn't begun wringing his hands, either.
"We started finding a rhythm there with the run and pass really at the end of the second quarter, and all the way through the rest of the game. It was just too little, too late," Taylor said.
As ESPN.com's Ben Baby pointed out, Cincinnati couldn't push the ball downfield against one of the worst pass defenses in the league. Entering Sunday night, Baltimore allowed 30 completions of 11 air yards or more, according to research by ESPN Stats and Information, tied for the most in the NFL.
Cincinnati had four such completions but against a mere six attempts, with no completions of 20 air yards or more.
What worked for Cincinnati so well last season has been absent in 2022.
It wasn't just the coverage.
Burrow again had trouble finding time to pass and went to mostly short, quick throws. He was 24 for 35 for 217 yards, with a touchdown and an interception that led to a Baltimore field goal in the third quarter. He was sacked twice.
On a more positive note, the running game finally showed signs of life.
Joe Mixon averaged 2.6 yards per carry in the first four games but on Sunday he had 5.6 per carry, a good bit of it after first contact.
He picked up 44 of his 78 rushing yards in the second half as the offensive line got more push.
"I felt like we had an attitude to us today, and we wanted to run," Mixon said.
But the issues are clear and they include getting started and building momentum.
Cincinnati punted on its first four possessions of the game, until Burrow found tight end Hayden Hurst for a 19-yard TD pass with 4:24 left in the first half. ... Play-calling was perplexing at times, particularly in a third-quarter series where the Bengals had first-and-goal on the Baltimore 2-yard line with the score tied at 10.
Here's how it went: First down, an incomplete pass to Hurst; second down, double-reverse trick play resulting in a 12-yard loss; third down, Burrow passed to Chase to get back to the 2-yard line. Instead of kicking a short field goal or handing Mixon the ball on fourth down, the Bengals dialed up a shovel-pass attempt that fell incomplete -- ball turned over on downs.
Hurst had six catches for a team-high 53 receiving yards and a touchdown. Hurst was signed as a free agent when C.J. Uzomah departed for the New York Jets and is becoming a nice target for Burrow, especially with Tee Higgins out.
"It doesn't matter the situation," Hurst said. "We're going to get this thing rolling. We've got playmakers all over the place. There's no panic in here. We're going to get this thing figured out, we're going to start putting up points."
The bigger issue -- at least for fantasy managers, was Higgins' absence.
But it sounds like the star receiver and starting left tackle Jonah Williams won't be out long.
According to multiple reporters, Taylor said in his Monday press conference that Higgins and Williams are both considered day-to-day.
Higgins is dealing with an ankle sprain. He was limited in practice all last week and tried to play Sunday's game. But he was on the field for just 10 snaps. He did not record a catch or a target.
"Those things can be complicated. Appreciate him trying to push through it," Taylor told Charlie Goldsmith of the Cincinnati Enquirer. "We got to be mindful as we practice this week."
Williams has an MCL sprain. He was on the field for 90 percent of Cincinnati's offensive snaps in the loss to Baltimore.
"There's a lot of soreness there," Taylor said.
At 2-3, the Bengals will travel to New Orleans to face the Saints this weekend.
I'll have more on Higgins via Late-Breaking Update as the week progresses. ...
You can access complete stats for the Bengals Week 5 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Joe Burrow, Brandon Allen
RBs: Joe Mixon, Samaje Perine, Chris Evans, Trayveon Williams
WRs: Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, Trent Taylor, Stanley Morgan, Trenton Irwin
TEs: Hayden Hurst, Mitchell Wilcox, Devin Asiasi, Drew Sample
Cleveland BrownsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 11 October 2022
Quarterback Deshaun Watson returned to the Cleveland Browns' training facility on Monday.
Watson violated the NFL's personal conduct policy by committing sexual assault on massage therapists, as defined by the NFL. He is serving an 11-game suspension but can now participate in team meetings, meet individually with the coaches and work out at the team's facility.
"We'll work through what we're allowed to do with him for the foreseeable future," said Browns coach Kevin Stefanski, who spoke with Watson earlier Monday morning. "He's in the meeting rooms with our guys. ... Which is great for him and for us to have him back with his teammates."
Watson can't practice with the team until Nov. 14. He won't be eligible to play again until Week 13, when the Browns travel to face his former team, the Houston Texans, on Dec. 4.
Since Aug. 30, Watson has been banned from having contact with Browns coaches or entering the practice facility. He's been working out on his own with his personal quarterback coach, Quincy Avery.
"He's in a good spot," Stefanski said. "I think he worked real hard, was in [Cleveland], working locally, making sure he was staying on top of it physically. So now he's just got to catch up a little bit in the meeting room."
On Aug. 18, the NFL and NFL Players Association reached a settlement on Watson's 11-game suspension, after he was accused by more than two dozen women of sexual assault and inappropriate sexual misconduct during massage sessions. Watson was also fined $5 million and has had to undergo a mandatory treatment program.
Over the summer, Watson agreed to settle 23 of the 24 lawsuits against him. Two other women filed criminal complaints against Watson but did not sue him.
Two grand juries in Texas declined to pursue criminal charges against Watson earlier this year. But Sue L. Robinson, an independent arbiter jointly appointed by the league and players' union, found that "the NFL carried its burden to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that Mr. Watson engaged in sexual assault." Robinson also concluded in her report that Watson's behavior was both "egregious" and "predatory."
Watson has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and said that people haven't been interested in listening to his side of the story.
"I'll continue to stand on my innocence, just because, you know, settlements and things like that happen doesn't mean that a person is guilty for anything," he said Aug. 18, after the settlement agreement. "I feel like a person has an opportunity to stand on his innocence and prove that, and we proved that from a legal side, and just going to continue to push forward as an individual and as a person."
The Browns traded for Watson in March, giving the Texans three first-round draft picks. Cleveland also gave Watson a new five-year deal worth $230 million guaranteed, the richest contract in NFL history.
Meanwhile, Cleveland (2-3) faces the New England Patriots on Sunday.
They'll be looking to figure out how to get their run defense shored up. In fact, they already started.
Hours after giving up 238 yards rushing to the NFL's worst rushing team, the Browns traded for a linebacker who hasn't played this season due to an injury.
As Associated Press sports writer Tom Withers put it, "Desperate times. ..."
A unit that was supposed to be one of the team's strengths -- and possibly carry the Browns while waiting for Watson to get back from his 11-game suspension -- has underperformed to alarming levels through five games.
The 27-year-old Jones can perhaps fill the void left by captain Anthony Walker Jr.'s season-ending injury.
But, as Withers put it, "Nobody knows how to expose a team's weaknesses more than Bill Belichick, who is well aware of Cleveland's defensive issues as he readies the New England Patriots for their visit on Sunday. ..."
Fortunately, the offense is holding up its end, moving the chains, scoring and doing enough to win. Nick Chubb had another solid game, rushing for 134 yards and scoring a pair of TDs, including a 41-yarder he capped by stiff-arming Chargers star Khalil Mack.
Jacoby Brissett has been dependable and, in many ways, better than expected while filling in for Watson.
Until the end, that is.
Brissett has thrown three interceptions, all of them in the closing minutes of Cleveland's three losses.
On Sunday, he was picked in the end zone on a third-and-7 play at LA's 9, when that was the only thing he couldn't afford to do. The Browns signed Brissett and started him because he had a reputation for avoiding turnovers.
Wide receiver Amari Cooper bounced back from a week ago with seven catches (on 12 targets) for 76 yards. Cooper had only one reception for 9 yards in a loss to Atlanta. Beyond being a dependable pass catcher, Cooper's presence opens space for Cleveland's other receivers.
But rookie Cade York missed two field-goal attempts, including a 54-yard try with 11 seconds left that would have won the game. York couldn't remember ever missing twice in the same game.
The fourth-round draft pick opened the season with a game-winning, 58-yarder in the closing seconds at Carolina, but has since veered off target. ...
Finally. ... The Browns needed to clear a roster spot for Jones on Monday. They did so by waiving tight end Miller Forristall.
Forristall opened this season on the practice squad and he was signed to the active roster on October 1.
Forristall appeared in two games for the Browns this season, but he was inactive for Sunday's loss to the Chargers. He also appeared in two games last season and he's seen most of his playing time on special teams.
In addition to that cut, the Browns also announced that they released quarterback Josh Rosen from the practice squad. Rosen initially signed with the Browns in July and returned to the practice squad after failing to make the 53-man roster.
You can access complete stats for the Browns Week 5 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Jacoby Brissett, Josh Dobbs, Deshaun Watson
RBs: Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, D'Ernest Johnson, Demetric Felton, Jerome Ford
WRs: Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones, David Bell, Anthony Schwartz, Michael Woods II
TEs: David Njoku, Harrison Bryant, Pharaoh Brown
Dallas CowboysCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 11 October 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Schuyler Dixon notes, the Dallas defense has done a little more each week during Cooper Rush's four-game winning streak filling in for injured quarterback Dak Prescott.
Now the Cowboys have to slow Jalen Hurts and the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles in an early NFC East showdown, with Prescott's return creeping ever so closer.
But the star QB's recovery from a fractured right thumb will no be far enough along for him to play Sunday night at the Eagles (5-0).
Head coach Mike McCarthy told reporters at his Wednesday press conference, “We are preparing for Cooper to start against the Eagles.”
Meantime, the defense is harkening to the franchise's "Doomsday" teams of the 1970s -- and posting numbers not since seen since the birth of that era 50 years ago.
"We're for real," reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Micah Parsons said. "We're going to keep proving this every week. One thing I've learned about us is that we're tougher and we're better than we thought we were. That says a lot."
Rush threw for the fewest yards in the 5-0 start to his career with 102 in a 22-10 victory over the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams.
That's because Dallas (4-1) scored on a sack-fumble of Matthew Stafford three plays into the game, then sealed the victory with two fourth-quarter turnovers -- an interception and another strip-sack.
Give the running game some credit, too. Tony Pollard had a 57-yard touchdown and the Cowboys finished with 163 yards rushing a week after having just 62.
Rush's 4-0 run started with touchdowns on his first two drives against last season's other Super Bowl team, Cincinnati. The defense did most of the rest before a game-ending field goal in a 20-17 victory.
Another fourth-quarter drive to the winning points followed in a 23-16 victory at the New York Giants before the Cowboys were outgained in a 25-10 win over Washington.
This time, Dallas finished with 76 net yards passing, the club's fewest in a road victory since 1975.
And that defense Parsons believes is the best in the NFL? The Cowboys have allowed one touchdown in each game. The only other time Dallas gave up five or fewer touchdowns in the first five games was 1972.
"They've been doing this for quite some time," head coach Mike McCarthy said. "Just tremendous confidence and communication. The young guys are growing up, the older guys are a year better."
The Parsons-led pass rush has 20 sacks, one behind San Francisco for the NFL lead. Parsons, who has three two-sack games, is tied with Joey Bosa of the 49ers and New England's Matt Judon for the league lead with six sacks.
The Cowboys have at least two sacks in each of the first five games for the first time since 2005, the year they drafted the club's career leader in sacks, DeMarcus Ware. Dallas has at least 20 sacks through five games for the first time since 1987.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys haven't finished out of the top 10 in passing offense since 2018. It appears they won't get anywhere close in 2022.
Dallas is 27th in the NFL in passing at 182.2 yards per game, coming off its lowest net passing total in a victory since 2000.
Rush has done his part by going without an interception while the Cowboys await Prescott's return.
But opponents figure to load up against the run better than the Rams did until Dallas gets the passing game going.
It didn't help that receivers CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup had crucial drops that kept the Dallas passing game from being at least a little more productive.
While Gallup had a spectacular toe-dragging catch for 27 yards on third-and-16 to keep a drive to a field goal alive, his drop on an easy third down catch in the first half was followed by LA's only TD.
Lamb's drop also cost Dallas a third down conversion early in the fourth quarter when the Cowboys were trying to protect a 19-10 lead. The defense answered with a three-and-out.
How much would Prescott help?
As The Athletic's KC Joyner explained it this week, "Rush plays a high percentage brand of football, but that doesn't mean that the big play ability is gone from the Dallas offense, as Rush ranks ninth in vertical yards per attempt this year. This is why Lamb has been able to post a double-digit point total in four straight weeks without Prescott.
"This trend shows that the Cowboys passing game will still be able to produce some quality fantasy totals until Prescott returns and it should offer a quick path back to full speed once he is under center once again."
Given all that, Joyner believes it's a good idea to trade low for Lamb after his 10.3-point game in Week 5, and it makes Gallup a good low-cost upside trade option in the roughly 50 percent of leagues where he isn't available on waivers. ...
Prescott had another visit with the doctor Tuesday to see how his surgically repaired throwing hand was recovering and owner Jerry Jones said Prescott will begin throwing this week.
"Well, let's just put it like this: He's got to spin the ball. He's got to really spin the ball," Jones said on his weekly radio show on 105.3 The Fan, via Mark Lane of WFAA. "Just think about it: Put your hand down on something like what would be equivalent of a football. Try to do that without thumb strength. Try to spin that ball. Try to direct that ball without thumb strength if you really have a broken thumb. Can't do it. But if you have strength and can grip the ball, then you can spin the ball."
Prescott has not played or practiced since injuring his thumb in the season opener and undergoing surgery Sept. 12.
"Can he zip the ball out there and make the throw? We'll start working on that Wednesday real hard," Jones said. "He's certainly doing the kinds of things medically that you want to do. That is the indication. The X-rays, all of that, have [shown] tremendous improvement. But can he spin the ball?
"We know Dak can play, and we know he will be ready to play the minute he gets the chance to go into the game. Can he spin the ball? We'll see."
McCarthy has made it clear Prescott needs to practice a full week before returning to the lineup. That won't be this week.
Also on the injury front. ... Tight end Dalton Schultz aggravated his sprained PCL in the win over the Rams. According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, there's no new injury or damage. As long as he makes it through the week okay, he should be good to go Sunday night against the Eagles.
Parsons played through a groin injury that had him limping noticeably at times. ... OL Jason Peters was inactive against LA with a chest injury that's expected to sideline him several weeks.
I'll be following up on all that via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
You can access complete stats for the Cowboys Week 5 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush, Will Grier
RBs: Tony Pollard, Ezekiel Elliott, Malik Davis, Qadree Ollison
WRs: CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, Noah Brown, Simi Fehoko, KaVontae Turpin, Jalen Tolbert, James Washington
TEs: Dalton Schultz, Jake Ferguson, Peyton Hendershot
Denver BroncosCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 11 October 2022
Russell Wilson received an injection on Friday to alleviate discomfort near his throwing shoulder. According to multiple reports, Wilson received a platelet-rich plasma injection in Los Angeles to treat a strained latissimus dorsi.
As Associated Press sports writer Arnie Stapleton noted, that's an injury that's more common in baseball players and isn't typically treated with an injection.
Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott had a similar injury that sidelined him for most of the Cowboys' training camp last year. He didn't throw for a month to let his injury heal.
The Broncos don't play again until Monday night, against the Los Angeles Chargers (2-2) following their 12-9 overtime loss to the Indianapolis Colts last Thursday night. They're hoping the injection and round-the-clock care will keep Wilson from missing any games.
Wilson missed three games with a broken finger on his throwing hand last season in Seattle, the only time in his 11-year career he's been sidelined.
Wilson popped up on the injury report Tuesday and head coach Nathaniel Hackett said the quarterback's throwing shoulder had been "dinged up" in Denver's 32-23 loss at Las Vegas last weekend.
Wilson completed 21 of 39 passes Thursday night, when he was evaluated for a concussion after attempting a tackle on one of his two interceptions. He stayed in the game after being cleared by medical staff.
After the game, which ended with his incompletion into the end zone to a well-covered Courtland Sutton, Wilson huddled with Hackett at his locker for an extended time. He was still in full uniform, including pads, when he met with the media an hour after the game.
Wilson briefly mentioned "battling" shoulder discomfort in his postgame comments but didn't blame the injury for his poor performance in which he threw two key interceptions and didn't see a wide-open KJ Hamler on the final play in overtime.
"I was battling, obviously, just the shoulder and all that, and just trying to play quickly," Wilson said. "We should have won that game. Should have won it. Like I said, it's on me."
On Saturday, Wilson quoted Winston Churchill in a tweet: ""If you're going through hell, keep going."
Stapleton went on to note that aside from their shared optimism, Hackett and Wilson have proven to be a less-than-ideal fit so far.
Shotgun formations are the wrinkle in the rookie head coach's West Coast philosophies, and they haven't meshed well with Wilson, who shows off fantastic footwork and meticulous mechanics from under center but looks lost in the shotgun.
Denver's coach said Friday he'd be willing to let Wilson run more of the plays he's accustomed to, but he noted the Broncos offense is already a hybrid of the two styles and what would really help is better execution and fewer penalties.
"I think we definitely want to take a hard look at everything that he's done successfully and make sure we're accommodating him as much as possible so that he feels comfortable," Hackett said. "But at the same time, we want to do things that our players do. It's a different team than the team that he was on in the past. So we just want to make sure we're doing all the right stuff."
That would be great, since the offense is averaging just 14.6 points per game.
Twice in 65 NFL games so far this season teams have gone 0-for-4 in the red zone and both of those were by the Broncos.
Hackett's play-calling came into question again Thursday night with the Broncos ahead 9-6 and facing third-and-4 from the Indy 13 with 2:19 remaining and the Colts out of timeouts.
Instead of a run that either would have led to victory formation or a chip-shot field goal and a six-point lead on a team that hadn't come close to the end zone all night, Hackett dialed up a pass into the end zone for Tyrie Cleveland, who hadn't been targeted all night, and Stephon Gilmore intercepted it.
That led to the game-tying field goal that forced overtime, where Gilmore knocked away Wilson's shotgun pass to Sutton in the end zone on fourth-and-inches from the Indianapolis 5 when a QB sneak or handoff might have bought the Broncos four more chances at the game-winning touchdown.
Wilson has now completed just two of 18 passes into the end zone.
Overall, Wilson has completed 59.4 percent of his throws with four touchdown passes and three interceptions through five games. He's been sacked 16 times.
Wilson has just one game with more than one TD pass so far, but both he and Hackett can take solace in this fact: Aaron Rodgers had nine games with zero or one TD pass in 2019, his first year with Hackett as his offensive coordinator in Green Bay.
He followed that with back-to-back MVP seasons.
"I think there's solace in the fact that going to Green Bay, it was someone who had been in a system for a long time and the system was changing. At that time, at least all those guys had all played together," Hackett said. "I think this is even more of a unique situation because it is a new offense and Russell comes from a different place. He hasn't played with any of these guys."
All the newness is no excuse, Hackett stressed: "We still have to execute at a higher level. We just need to continually get better and it does take time."
The Broncos were widely seen as a playoff contender after the arrivals of Hackett and Wilson, the sixth different starting QB in six seasons. But a rash of injuries complicate matters as they try to jumpstart that stagnant offense.
In the last week, left tackle Garett Bolles (ankle) and leading rusher Javonte Williams (knee) were lost for the season. The Broncos lost their leading receiver from 2021 when Tim Patrick tore an ACL in August.
The Broncos are also missing key defenders with pass rusher Randy Gregory (knee) on IR and cornerback Ronald Darby out for the year with a torn ACL.
Fortunately, Denver's disruptive defense can keep them competitive. Bradley Chubb had 2½ sacks, three QB hits and a tackle for loss and Baron Browning had 1½ sacks, six quarterback hits and two tackles for loss.
But the offense was so bad last Thursday that thousands of fans streamed to the exits before referee Brad Rodgers had even flipped the coin in overtime. It's already looking like a big mistake for Hackett to have ditched the training camp staple 7-on-7 drills that help QBs build confidence and rhythm with the receivers.
Is Wilson pressing?
According to ESPN.com's Jeff Legwold, not all the time, but there are moments, especially when Wilson is trying to push the ball downfield when he doesn't have to, when it looks like he is trying to live up to the trade and his contract on every play.
The Broncos acquired the nine-time Pro Bowler from Seattle in March in a blockbuster trade that cost them three players and five draft picks, including two first-rounders. The new ownership group gave Wilson a $245 million contract extension before Wilson had taken his first snap for Denver.
We're only five games in, but there's no denying it's been a rocky start. ...
I'll have more on Wilson's shoulder and anticipated availability -- while noting Hackett told reporters on Tuesday the QB "should be ready to play" -- for Sunday's game against the Chargers via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
Also of interest. ... Receiver Kendall Hinton has used up his elevations from the practice squad, so the team is adding him to the active roster.
NFL rules allow a maximum of three standard elevations from the practice squad.
Hinton played Weeks 2-4, seeing action on 117 offensive snaps as the Broncos used him as their third receiver behind Sutton and Jerry Jeudy. Hinton was inactive Thursday night.
He has four catches for 86 yards this season.
The Broncos also placed three players on injured reserve Monday. As previously noted Bolles (right leg) and cornerback Ronald Darby (left knee) have season-ending injuries. Long snapper Jacob Bobenmoyer (wrist) will have to miss at least the next four games before returning.
The Broncos have two open spots on their 53-player roster.
They might be keeping them open for a reason. ... The Broncos officially designated safety Justin Simmons, tight end Greg Dulcich and cornerback Michael Ojemudia for return from injured reserve, Aric DiLalla of the team's official website reports.
The three players are now eligible to practice with the team but do not count against the Broncos' 53-man roster.
Simmons, Dulcich and Ojemudia returned to practice on Tuesday for the first time since being placed on injured reserve.
Dulcich and Ojemudia were placed on IR ahead of Week 1, while Simmons was placed on IR following the Broncos' first game.
"From his college tape, he was a very electric player," Hackett said on Tuesday of Dulcich. "[He] was able to separate down the field, stretch the field. He did some really good things for us as we were here in OTAs and a little bit of training camp. He's just kind of another weapon for us -- and we're excited to get him out there -- but he hasn't played a lot of football lately, so it's going to be a slow process, and we want to be sure we work him in the right way."
The Broncos can activate any of the three players to the active roster over the course of the next 21 days.
All three players are eligible to play against the Chargers in Week 6, but they must be activated to the 53-man roster to participate in the game.
You can access complete stats for the Broncos Week 5 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Russell Wilson, Brett Rypien
RBs: Latavius Murray, Marlon Mack, Mike Boone, Devine Ozigbo, Javonte Williams, Chase Edmonds
WRs: Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Montrell Washington, Kendall Hinton, Jalen Virgil, K.J. Hamler, Tyrie Cleveland
TEs: Greg Dulcich, Eric Tomlinson, Eric Saubert, Andrew Beck, Albert Okwuegbunam
Detroit LionsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 11 October 2022
Dan Campbell didn't mince words when describing Sunday's 29-0 loss at the New England Patriots.
The coach was brutally honest in his assessment of the team's poor performance ahead of the bye week, including his own questionable coaching decisions.
"To me, it's about as bad as it gets. This is the worst," Campbell said. "This is where we're at, and sometimes it's gonna get bad before it gets better and I believe we hit rock bottom. So, now the only place to go is back up."
For Detroit, "rock bottom" is a 1-4 record.
Through their first five games, the defense allowed a franchise-worst 170 points.
As ESPN.com's Eric Woodyard noted, they entered Gillette Stadium with the league's highest scoring offense, while also ranking last in defense, and were exposed by Patriots coach Bill Belichick's sound strategy to put pressure on quarterback Jared Goff and attack the depleted defense.
Goff agreed with Campbell that "before you can better, things have to get worse sometimes and today it certainly did."
Detroit was 0-6 on fourth-down attempts, which included going for it during the second quarter on fourth-and-9 instead of attempting a 49-yard field goal, which resulted in a scoop-and-score after Goff fumbled while being sacked by Patriots linebacker Matthew Judon.
However, Goff doesn't feel that this game affects the team's confidence moving forward, especially on offense.
"It was man coverage, and they just played it really well and they rushed really well and I made some dumb decisions," Goff said. "Kind of a combination of all that, but it wasn't anything revolutionary over there. They just did a good job planning, and it's always hard with those guys."
This was the first instance in NFL history that a team averaging 35 points per game in its first four games was shutout in their fifth game of the season, according to ESPN Stats and Information.
Campbell says the team will look internally to make changes.
"Certainly, we didn't play good football there. It was not good," Campbell said. "It was the worst of the season overall as a team, and that falls on me. You can't play that way unless your head coach doesn't have them ready so that's 100 percent on me."
Detroit's offensive struggles were surprising to wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, who pushed through a high ankle sprain to face the Patriots after missing the previous week.
His nine-game streak with at least five receptions ended as he reeled in just four for 18 yards while playing at "85 percent" by his own assessment.
St. Brown was limited to one light practice throughout the week in preparation for the Patriots, but he'll get additional rest this week to heal up before facing the Dallas Cowboys on the road Oct. 23.
"I don't think the bye week could've came at a better time for us as a team," St. Brown said. "You look at the injuries we have, the guys that went down. It's gonna give us some time to heal up, rest up and just rethink everything. This bye week is gonna be perfect for us after having lost three straight just to reset our minds, and once we get back from the bye week, it's full go."
Running back D'Andre Swift (shoulder/ankle) is also expected to return against the Cowboys after missing the past two games.
The Lions are hoping they can turn things around after the second consecutive season of starting 1-4 or worse through five games. They started 0-5 last season.
Despite Sunday's shutout, the Lions still rank third in points and yards entering Monday, thanks in great part to a rushing game that is averaging 5.4 yards a carry.
You can access complete stats for the Lions Week 5 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Jared Goff, Nate Sudfeld
RBs: Jamaal Williams, D'Andre Swift, Justin Jackson, Craig Reynolds
WRs: Amon-Ra St. Brown, D.J. Chark, Josh Reynolds, Kalif Raymond, Tom Kennedy, Quintez Cephus, Brandon Zylstra, Jameson Williams
TEs: Brock Wright, James Mitchell, Shane Zylstra
Green Bay PackersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 11 October 2022
According to ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky, Aaron Rodgers heard the talk even before someone relayed what Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander said in the locker room after Sunday's upset loss to the New York Giants.
And he didn't like it.
Alexander, the Pro Bowl cornerback, said he wasn't worried about the defense despite its role in the second-half meltdown that led to Green Bay's 27-22 loss in front of a pro-Packers crowd at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. At least not yet.
"I ain't worried, but if we lose next week, then I'll be worried," Alexander said, referring to next Sunday's game against the New York Jets at Lambeau Field. "But it's a new situation for everybody. New circumstances, sleep patterns. It's a whole adjustment here in London."
Rodgers, who publicly embraced the overseas trip all week, didn't like that message. And he wasn't just singling out Alexander; he heard it from others, too.
"Frankly, I don't like all this conversation about losing next week," Rodgers said. "I'm a firm believer in the power of words and manifestation. And we've got to check ourselves on that, because talking about that is not winning football. There was conversation about it in the locker room, and I don't like it. Ja's my guy, but we don't need to be talking like that."
The Packers almost certainly will be a heavy favorite against the Jets, but that was the case against the Giants, too. They lost as a 9-point favorite, making it the biggest upset in the NFL to date this season and the Packers' worst loss since Week 13 of 2018, when they lost to the Cardinals as a 13.5-point favorite and coach Mike McCarthy was fired afterward.
The Packers' performance spoiled what had been a festive week for the team in its first international game. They were the last NFL team that had not played outside of the country. They jumped out to a 17-3 lead and still led 20-10 at halftime thanks to an effective run game and some precise short passes.
As Demovsky outlined it, the second half turned for a couple reasons.
First, the Packers tried to throw deep.
He tried to go deep to Allen Lazard several times and couldn't connect. He tried Romeo Doubs and missed him. He tried Randall Cobb, but Cobb has never been a consistent deep threat.
Rodgers averaged just 3.5 air yards in the first half and had a 75 percent completion rate and two touchdowns doing so, according to ESPN Stats and Information research. He averaged 12.1 air yards per attempt in the second half and completed just 47 percent without a touchdown. He was 0-for-5 on passes that traveled 20 or more yards in the air, including 0-for-4 in the second half.
Cobb said they're just slightly off on deep balls.
But Rogers was asked whether the Packers -- with Davante Adams traded and Marquez Valdes-Scantling leaving in free agency -- aren't built to go deep and might need to stick with the run longer.
"You make a good point," Rodgers said. "It's something to think about."
Also. ... In a last-ditch effort to tie the game, Rodgers had two passes batted down on consecutive plays -- third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 from the Giants' 6-yard line. He had just one batted down previously this season.
"We had a run-pass option on, and they loaded the box and went Cover 0, and we figured that's what they were going to do," head coach Matt LaFleur said. "Unfortunately, had two batted passes."
All in all, the offense can't put together a complete performance. The defense isn't living up to its preseason expectations.
"We've got to be better," LaFleur said Monday. "We have to be better at responding to adversity when it strikes because it's inevitable. It's going to happen in every game. Obviously, yesterday we did not respond well to the adversity."
Green Bay doesn't have much time to correct things before hosting the New York Jets (3-2) on Sunday.
The Packers requested to have their off week later in the season rather than immediately after their international game.
LaFleur said he would alter the team's usual schedule to make sure the Packers are ready to play so soon after returning from a trip overseas.
"Our guys have got to get not only their bodies back but their minds right to play," LaFleur said. "We'll adjust accordingly and we'll get a better feel for our guys come in on Wednesday, but I would assume Wednesday is going to be a little bit more of a mental day, and then we'll try to get back more to a normal schedule on Thursday or Friday."
It's worth noting the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saint s won Sunday a week after they faced off in London. ...
Other notes of interest. ... As Associated Press sports writer Steve Megargee noted, the Packers ran the ball pretty effectively, with Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon combining for 97 yards on 19 carries. They didn't get the ball enough as the Giants staged their comeback. The Packers finished with 39 pass attempts and 20 rushes.
LaFleur said Monday: "I've got to do a better job of making sure that we're getting those guys the necessary touches."
As a matter of fact, he should get that rolling when the team is in scoring position.
Jones was asked about Green Bay passing the ball inside the 10-yard line the last minute of the game and he said, "I'd put money on giving me or Dillon two downs to get two yards, I'd put my money on it."
The Packers evidently don't feel that way, as this wasn't a one-game anomaly.
As The Athletic's KC Joyner noted, the Packers haven't trusted Dillon or Jones to run the ball in that area of the field for a month now. It's something fantasy owners need to change to keep Dillon relevant. ...
Cobb had seven receptions for 99 yards. The seven receptions represented his highest single-game total since he caught eight passes against Green Bay while playing for the Houston Texans on Oct. 25, 2020. The 99 yards were his most since he had consecutive games with over 100 yards receiving in November 2019 while playing for Dallas. ...
Mason Crosby connected from 46 and 48 yards out and is 6 of 6 on field-goal attempts to bounce back from his disappointing 2021 season. ...
On the injury front. ... LaFleur told reporters on Wednesday that Rodgers would not practice to start the week due to a thumb injury, but the coach added: “We don't have much concern as far as gameday.”
In addition, Christian Watson left with a hamstring injury in the second half.
I'll have more on both status via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
You can access complete stats for the Packers Week 5 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love
RBs: Aaron Jones, A.J. Dillon, Tyler Goodson, Patrick Taylor
WRs: Allen Lazard, Christian Watson, Randall Cobb, Sammy Watkins, Samori Toure, Romeo Doubs
TEs: Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis, Josiah Deguara, Tyler Davis
Houston TexansCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 11 October 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Kristie Rieken stated, "Running back Dameon Pierce has been Houston's best player all season, so it was only fitting that the rookie would lead the Texans to their first victory. ..."
Pierce ran for 99 yards and a game-clinching touchdown as the Texans extended their winning streak against the Jaguars to nine games with a 13-6 victory Sunday.
The fourth-round pick from Florida was asked last week what he considered to be his best quality as a runner. After thinking for a few seconds, Pierce answered.
"Tenacity," he said. "I'll never quit. I'll fight for every yard and try to get every inch I can."
On Sunday, he perfectly illustrated that mindset on a run in the fourth quarter.
Pierce looked to be bottled up at the line before bursting through and shedding defender after defender after defender on a 20-yard run.
By the time he finished that determined dash he had slipped away from seven would-be tacklers before finally being taken down when Dawuane Smoot grabbed him by the ankle and two other Jaguars jumped on him at the 2-yard line.
He scored two plays later to put the Texans (1-3-1) on top in what was head coach Lovie Smith's first win as the team's head coach.
"He's had a consistent impact on our team, from when he came into the building," Smith said. "We know that he's going to finish. He's going to show toughness. He's going to make plays. He's going to make you miss in the open field. He's doing what a 1 running back in the NFL should do, and on a day like (Sunday) we needed to lean on the run, and I thought he was outstanding."
Pierce has 412 yards rushing, which is the most by a rookie in franchise history through five games and ranks fourth in the NFL this season entering Monday. It's the third most by any player in team history, trailing two years by Texans' career leading rusher Arian Foster, who had 546 in 2010 and 532 in 2012.
Pierce came into the game at No. 10 in rushing yards, and he is now averaging 4.8 yards per carry and has three rushing touchdowns.
Pierce's performance this season has been a boon to a team that has had one of the worst running games in the NFL for the past two seasons.
He credited his early success to his teammates who have helped him navigate the jump from college to the NFL.
"It takes me a village to groom me in the right direction to be a key factor on this team," he said.
As NFL.com noted, the chatter in Houston has already turned to Pierce's chances of being Offensive Rookie of the Year.
"It's a little early. He's a rookie and he's playing well," Smith said Monday. "I haven't seen all of the rookies out there. I just know that our rookie, we've loved him from the start. It's not a bandwagon-type thing. We believed in this guy and what he can do. He's letting other people kind of see it a little bit. Again, for us to be talking that way, the offensive line and the guys that are blocking for him, they have to be doing their job. I just know after a quarter of football, we like where he is. Much more to go, but I like the way he's trending."
Pierce deserves mention for Rookie of the Year, but he's got company in the likes of Breece Hall, Chris Olave, Drake London and others.
But if the Texans are to keep winning with this roster, Pierce will be a big reason why. ...
Meanwhile, Houston's defense did a much better job Sunday that it had through the first four weeks of the season.
The Texans were solid in the red zone, keeping the Jaguars out of the end zone on three trips inside the 20-yard line.
Jacksonville settled for field goals on its first two trips to the red zone before rookie Derek Stingley Jr. intercepted Trevor Lawrence in the end zone on the third chance by the Jaguars.
It was the first career interception for Stingley, the third overall pick in the draft.
The Texans also stopped the Jaguars on each of their three fourth down attempts on a day they allowed their fewest points of the season.
Sunday was the first time Houston had limited a team to fewer than 10 points since holding the Jaguars to three points in a 26-3 win on Nov. 3, 2019.
Though the Texans finally got their first win, they have plenty of work to do if they hope to dig themselves out of the NFL's basement this season. They'll have some time to rest and recover with an early bye this Sunday before hosting Las Vegas Oct. 23.
"We've been battling for four weeks, and haven't been able to finish it," Smith said. "That's all we've talked about. I know how the guys have been responding behind the scenes. They've just (had) belief, faith, that eventually it's going to get done. But now that we have taken care of that, I'm just anxious to get that second win now."
Other notes of interest. ... Quarterback Davis Mills failed once again to get Houston's passing game going. While he didn't have a turnover Sunday after piling up four in the past two games, he struggled to make plays and finished with a season-low 140 yards passing.
The emergence of Pierce has made the Texans a run-first team, but Mills will need to play much more consistently if Houston expects to compete with better teams in the upcoming weeks.
Brandin Cooks entered Sunday's game with five 100-yard games and five touchdowns in six meetings with the Jaguars. But the veteran was a non-factor this weekend, finishing with a season-low 20 yards on four receptions.
Ka'imi Fairbairn had field goals of 50 and 51 yards Sunday to help Houston to the win. It's the second time in his career that he's made two field goals that were 50 yards or longer and the first time since the previous meeting with Jacksonville last season.
You can access complete stats for the Texans Week 5 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Davis Mills, Kyle Allen
RBs: Dameon Pierce, Rex Burkhead, Eno Benjamin, Dare Ogunbowale, Royce Freeman
WRs: Brandin Cooks, Nico Collins, Chris Moore, Phillip Dorsett, Tyron Johnson
TEs: O.J. Howard, Jordan Akins, Teagan Quitoriano, Brevin Jordan
Indianapolis ColtsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 11 October 2022
The Indianapolis Colts wanted to put on an entertaining prime-time show Thursday night.
Instead, they turned most football fans off with another dismal offensive performance. They allowed six more sacks, had two more turnovers and failed to score a touchdown for the second time this season. But the Colts still won 12-9 in overtime in Denver.
"An ugly win is a beautiful thing," team owner Jim Irsay posted on Twitter.
The league's lowest-scoring offense should benefit from a few extra days to find a fix.
And the reality is if the Colts can't change their ghastly numbers, they won't make the playoffs.
Indy (69) and Chicago (64) are the only NFL teams to score fewer than 70 points this season -- and the Bears can break away from the pack Sunday.
The Colts enter last weekend tied with New Orleans for the league's most giveaways (11). Quarterback Matt Ryan has 11 fumbles, matching the second-highest single-season total of his 15-year career. He's one short of a single-season career high and on pace for 37, which would shatter the NFL record (23).
And while the Colts (2-2-1) played without injured defending rushing champ Jonathan Taylor and lost his replacement, Nyheim Hines, to the concussion protocol before most people tuned in Thursday, their offensive line is in shambles. It's given up a league-worst 21 sacks.
What's wrong? What isn't?
"We're obviously in a slump of scoring points, the facts are the facts," head coach Frank Reich said of Indy's seven-game streak of scoring 20 or fewer points. "There are a lot of things that go into that -- play-calling is certainly one of them. I'm always evaluating that."
Most notable, as Profootballtalk.com's Myles Simmons suggested this week, have been some concerning aspects of Ryan's play through the first five weeks, particularly with his turnovers.
In addition to the fumbles, Ryan has thrown a league-leading seven interceptions (tied with Matthew Stafford.
Still, Reich had some particularly positive things to say about the quarterback on Monday.
"My evaluation and my comfort with Matt as our starting quarterback is very high," Reich said in his press conference. "I know everybody does -- obviously, I feel like I have a deeper understanding having played the position for a long time and having coached the position for a long time, understanding all the dynamics that go in to having effective quarterback play.
"What is the effect of playing behind the sticks and having a run game that has been subpar, and so on and so forth? But at the same time, you're always pushing and coaching somebody to get better."
As Reich noted, the fumbles are a significant issue. The head coach pointed out that he's given Ryan some coaching tips, but wouldn't quite go into what they were.
"But obviously when you're having that issue, at one point, just like you said, it's the maturity to say, 'I've got 14 years of film that says this is a fluke for him. But wait a second, it's not a fluke to us because we feel the pain of those so we better get this thing fixed,'" Reich said. "It's that combination of I've got extreme confidence in Matt, that we're going to get this cleaned up.
"But on the other hand at the same time, I feel like we've got to have a sense of urgency. What little things can we do? What little things can we do? I know these aren't all his fault, but what can we do to clean these up? We've talked about those with Matt and he's making a conscious effort."
The Colts will take on the Jaguars on Sunday for their second divisional matchup of the season. Ryan threw three picks and took five sacks in the 24-0 loss back in Week 2. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Reich told reporters after their game against the Broncos that the team is "optimistic" Taylor (ankle) could return for Week 6, according to Zak Keefer of The Athletic.
Reich didn't offer further updates when he met with the media Monday. The same goes with Hines, who remains in the concussion protocol.
Taylor's season hasn't gotten off to a start that was expected of him. Following his 161-yard performance in Week 1, the star running back hasn't had more than 71 rushing yards in a game and has averaged just 2.76 yards per carry over the last two games.
Regardless, the Colts need Taylor to return healthy if they want a shot at the division, which is still up for grabs.
In addition to Hines, DE Kwity Paye was carted off the field in the second with an ankle injury. Reich said X-rays were negative and they hope he can return soon. Danny Pinter replaced Pro Bowl center Ryan Kelly (hip) following Ryan's first interception. Receiver Ashton Dulin did not return after hurting his foot.
The Colts also are hopeful three-time All-Pro LB Shaquille Leonard (concussion, fractured nose) could play in the Jacksonville rematch.
We'll learn more about Taylor's injury situation -- as well as Hines and the rest in coming days. But Keefer reports that Taylor was rehabbing on the side at the start of Wednesday's session while Hines was workin in a red non-contact jersey. I'll be following up via Late-Breaking Update as needed. ...
A few final items. ... The defense has been among the league's stingiest -- and Chase McLaughlin has been the most reliable scoring option. Since rejoining the Colts in Week 2, he's made all four extra points and seven of eight field goals.
McLaughlin was the leading point-getter Thursday night, and it earned him AFC Special Teams Player of the Week. The 26-year-old made all four of his field goal attempts, two of which came from 50-plus yards out and one secured Indianapolis' victory in overtime.
But the team needs to figure out their offensive line.
The Colts reconfigured their lineup for last Thursday night's matchup, making moves at three of the five positions. It didn't work, though, so they might not be done tinkering. During their 10-day layoff, they will continue examining their options. But nothing matters unless highly paid linemen such as Quenton Nelson, Kelly and Braden Smith play, at minimum, at a respectable level.
As ESPN.com's Stephen Holder suggests, that might be enough to allow the embattled Ryan and an emerging group of pass-catchers to keep the Colts in games. Maybe. ...
And last. ... The Athletic's KC Joyner notes that Alec Pierce has held his own as a WR3/flex candidate over the past three weeks, as his 12 points-per game pace in that stretch ranks 29th among wide receivers. Pierce also led the Colts in targets, receptions, and receiving yards against Denver despite placing third on the team in routes run.
Joyner added: "Indianapolis needs as much offensive firepower as it can get and Pierce is delivering that of late, so he can be a helpful bench option in many leagues as byes weeks hit. ..."
And finally. ... The Colts signed defensive tackle Chris Williams to the 53-player roster from the practice squad, the team announced.
Indianapolis elevated Williams from the practice squad the past two weeks, and he played against the Broncos last week. He saw action on seven defensive snaps but had no stats.
The Colts made room for Williams on the 53-player roster by placing Dulin on injured reserve.
Dulin, who is expected to return later this season, will have to miss a minimum of four games before returning to the active roster.
He has 13 touches for 171 yards this season. ...
You can access complete stats for the Colts Week 5 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Matt Ryan, Nick Foles, Sam Ehlinger
RBs: Jonathan Taylor, Deon Jackson, Zack Moss, Jordan Wilkins, D'Vonte Price
WRs: Michael Pittman Jr., Parris Campbell, Alec Pierce, Ashton Dulin, Mike Strachan
TEs: Mo Alie-Cox, Kylen Granson, Jelani Woods
Jacksonville JaguarsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 11 October 2022
As Profootballtalk.com’s Josh Alper noted this week, after back-to-back wins left them with a 2-1 record, buzz around the Jaguars was all positive.
That was particularly true of the chatter about quarterback Trevor Lawrence. He threw for 497 yards and five touchdowns without turning the ball over in either game, which was exactly the kind of play that the Jaguars expected when they took Lawrence with the first overall pick in 2021.
But according to Associated Press sports writer Mark Long, the Jaguars may have flushed four weeks of progress in four quarters against rival Houston.
"Lackluster effort, boneheaded decisions, costly turnovers and dropped passes," Long wrote. "It was the kind of performance everyone has grown accustomed to seeing from the Jaguars for the past decade or more."
Even the future of the franchise -- Lawrence and pass rusher Travon Walker -- made head-scratching mistakes reminiscent of former failed regimes.
Will it have a carryover effect when the Jaguars (2-3) play at Indianapolis (2-2-1) on Sunday?
Clearly Lawrence has slipped the last two weeks.
He turned the ball over five times in a Week 4 loss to the Eagles and then threw two interceptions without leading the Jaguars to a touchdown in Sunday's 13-6 loss to the Texans.
After the game, head coach Doug Pederson said the drop in production has not been accompanied by a lack of confidence in Lawrence's future.
"He's going to get better," Pederson said, via Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com. "He's going to get better. I'm not worried about that at all. We have a lot of faith and trust in him and he can definitely do the job. We've seen it this season. We've just got to keep working on it."
Still, as DiRocco put it, "Now the Jaguars have a problem: Which Lawrence are they going to get each week?"
It's troubling that most of Lawrence's mistakes the past two games (as well as Week 1) were unforced -- including an inexcusable interception in the end zone early in the second half Sunday before another one to end the game.
Not knowing what you're going to get from your quarterback each week makes it hard to be confident and make adjustments when things start to go wrong.
Lawrence will try to get back on track against the Colts and anything other than a total rebound will make it hard for the Jaguars to get back to their winning ways. ...
Worth noting. ... The Jaguars are looking to sweep the Colts for the first time since 2014. But neither team looks as it did in the first meeting: a 24-0 shutout a little more than three weeks ago. ...
Other notes of interest. ... According to Long, the Jaguars needed to be more committed to running the football.
James Robinson and Travis Etienne combined to carry just seven times for 11 yards in the second half of a close game. The duo ran for 87 yards on 13 attempts in the opening 20 minutes.
Jacksonville finished with nearly twice as many passes (47) as runs (26).
"That's on me. Got to call more runs," Pederson said.
That said, Etienne had his best game as a pro.
He finished with 114 total yards -- 71 rushing and 43 receiving. He also dropped a pass.
Still, he played 10 more snaps than Robinson and showed why he's considered one of the team's top playmakers with a 30-yard run and a 20-yard reception.
More importantly, FantasyLife.com's Dwain McFarland believes it's fair to correlate the overall poor offensive showing and Etienne's role.
"The Jaguars are not looking so hot over last two weeks and Etienne is profiting," McFarland pointed out. ...
Christian Kirk, a high-priced free agent who had 18 catches and three touchdowns in Jacksonville's first three games, has cooled considerably the past two weeks. He had one catch for 5 yards a week after dropping three passes at Philly and finishing with two receptions for 60 yards.
The good news?
Their defense has given Jacksonville a chance in consecutive losses. The Jaguars forced six punts, allowed 248 yards and even gave Lawrence and Co. the ball back twice in the final three minutes while trailing by a touchdown. The unit stiffened near the goal line the previous week at Philadelphia, forcing a short field goal, stopping a 2-point conversion and forcing a turnover on downs -- all in the fourth quarter -- to keep it a one-possession game.
But what's happened to the turnovers?
The Jaguars forced eight in the first three weeks -- one shy of their 2021 total -- but have just one in the past two games. Some of those are the bounce of the ball one way instead of another, but it seemed like getting turnovers was the defense's identity.
DiRocco acknowledges this might be just a lull, but the Jaguars need to get things going on the takeaway front again because the offense could benefit from a few short fields.
You can access complete stats for the Jaguars Week 5 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Trevor Lawrence, C.J. Beathard
RBs: Travis Etienne Jr., JaMycal Hasty, Snoop Conner
WRs: Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, Marvin Jones, Jamal Agnew, Tim Jones, Kendric Pryor
TEs: Evan Engram, Dan Arnold, Chris Manhertz, Luke Farrell
Kansas City ChiefsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 11 October 2022
The Kansas City Chiefs won a much different type of game than last week, this kind of victory leaving them with the feeling that they're never out of a game. The Chiefs came back from a 17-point deficit to defeat the Las Vegas Raiders 30-29.
Patrick Mahomes and the offense scored at one point on five straight possessions, with four being Travis Kelce touchdown catches.
The Chiefs jumped to a big lead early last week in beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but this victory came tougher.
And it might have been out of anger.
The Chiefs headed off to the locker room facing a big hole against the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday night, everything from the big plays to the officiating calls going the way of their longtime AFC West rivals.
One call in particular lit a fire under them.
It was a dubious penalty on Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones for roughing Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, and nobody in the Kansas City locker room could believe it. But rather than stew over it, or lament their 10-point deficit, Mahomes and the rest of the Chiefs used it as motivation to storm from behind for the victory.
"There was anger just about how we had played up to that point," said Mahomes. "We needed everybody to go out there and take the fight to them."
With Andy Reid and the Chiefs still irate from that penalty, the Chiefs scrambled in the final seconds of the first half to get a 59-yard field goal from Matthew Wright to gain some momentum and cut their deficit to 20-10. The kick was the longest in the histories of both the Chiefs and Arrowhead Stadium.
"I've seen (Reid) angry," Mahomes said later, "but not about a call on the football field."
But notable, Kelce did something on Monday night that no NFL player had ever done before: He scored those four touchdowns while gaining just 25 yards.
How rare was Kelce's stat line of seven catches for 25 yards and four touchdowns?
It was totally unprecedented.
Prior to Kelce on Monday night, 93 yards was the fewest receiving yards any player had ever gained in a game in which he caught four receiving touchdowns. (That was Marvin Jones Jr. with the Lions in 2019, when he caught 10 passes for 93 yards and four touchdowns in a loss to the Vikings.)
No running back had ever had a game quite like Kelce's, either: The fewest rushing yards ever in a game with four touchdowns was the 37 yards gained by Jamal Lewis of the Ravens in a four-touchdown game against the Seahawks in 2007. (Lewis also had 67 receiving yards in that game.)
Prior to Kelce on Monday night, the fewest all-purpose yards in a game with four touchdowns was 60, by Danny Woodhead of the Chargers in a 2015 game against the Dolphins. Woodhead had eight carries for 10 yards and one touchdown, plus six catches for 50 yards and three touchdowns.
Kelce has always been a threat in goal-to-go situations, but what he did on Monday night was something neither he nor anyone else in NFL history has done before.
Mahomes was pressured relentlessly early in the game, the result being two punts and a missed field goal in the first three Chiefs possessions. Maxx Crosby of the Raiders had two early sacks. The Chiefs figured out a protection scheme that worked, and Mahomes got the job done.
It was a good warmup for what's likely to be a shootout this week, when the Chiefs host the Bills on Sunday in a rematch of January's playoff overtime thriller. ...
A few final items. ... Clyde Edwards-Helaire rushed nine times for 15 yards against the Raiders.
As NBCSportsEdge.com notes, Edwards-Helaire added three catches for 20 yards on four targets in the passing game, but he was out-rushed 53-15 by Jerick McKinnon despite seeing one more carry than McKinnon.
Isiah Pacheco was a non-factor in this one, carrying one time for zero yards.
Indeed, with the Chiefs falling in a quick 17-0 hole and chasing points much of the night, McKinnon was the Chiefs' preferred running back. This came on the heels of a bit performance from Edwards-Helaire in Week 4, when he carried the ball 19 times for 92 yards and a touchdown against the Buccaneers.
With the Bills on deck, Edwards-Helaire could again be in danger of losing a sizable chunk of playing time to McKinnon. ...
Meanwhile, JuJu Smith-Schuster caught 3-of-8 targets for 33 yards. He tied both Kelce and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who caught six passes for 90 yards, for the team lead with eight targets.
But Smith-Schuster dropped a couple balls and has yet to find the end zone through five weeks. He's also been held to 46 yards or fewer in 3-of-5 outings with zero 100-yard efforts. As NBC suggested, it's pretty clear Kelce is going to dominate the scoring-area looks, and MVS is going to get the air yards leaving JuJu without much ceiling. ...
On the injury front. ... DT Tershawn Wharton tore his left ACL early in the game. ... OL Trey Smith (pectoral muscle) was inactive after starting the first 21 games of his career. DE Mike Danna (calf) and K Harrison Butker (ankle) also were inactive.
I'll have more on Butker, who returned to practice Wednesday, via Late-Breaking Update in coming days.
You can access complete stats for the Chiefs Week 5 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Patrick Mahomes, Chad Henne, Shane Buechele
RBs: Isiah Pacheco, Jerick McKinnon, Ronald Jones, Clyde Edwards-Helaire
WRs: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kadarius Toney, Justin Watson, Skyy Moore, Mecole Hardman
TEs: Travis Kelce, Noah Gray, Jody Fortson, Blake Bell
Las Vegas RaidersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 11 October 2022
As ESPN.com's Paul Gutierrez framed it: "The Las Vegas Raiders aren't ready for prime time. ..."
Not after blowing a 17-0 lead to lose to the Kansas City Chiefs 30-29, three weeks after blowing a 20-0 halftime lead to the Arizona Cardinals.
There would be a learning curve, no doubt, with a new coach in Josh McDaniels bringing his offensive system to Las Vegas, which was a playoff team last season and added an All-Pro receiver in Davante Adams to a slew of former Pro Bowlers.
But one-possession losses have become a cruel routine for the Las Vegas Raiders this season.
Monday night was their fourth such defeat. The Silver and Black had everything going their way in the first half, holding a 20-10 lead in Arrowhead Stadium. But they found themselves on the wrong end in a second half that led to them trailing 30-23 late in the game.
A 48-yard Adams touchdown grab helped swing momentum back with a chance to tie or go up again.
But Josh Jacobs, who had a career-high 154 rushing yards Monday night, was stuffed by the Chiefs on the two-point conversion.
"I love [the decision to go for two]," Derek Carr said. "We were all fired up. ... It's hard, frustrating, all those things, but I love going for two in that situation -- especially on the road.
"I'm all for it."
Before his deep touchdown to Adams in the fourth quarter, Carr let loose to the wide receiver early in the contest. A 58-yard touchdown pass on fourth down put the first points of the game on the board. It also happened to be Carr's 200th career passing touchdown, the most in franchise history.
He finished with 241 passing yards and two touchdowns with completions to six different receivers.
"I've been doing it long enough, eventually we were going to get there," Carr said of the milestone. "Happy about it, thankful. Always thankful. You're never going to see me disregard that stuff, but I would much rather just win than get that. But I'm thankful. It's a lot of hard work that goes into it, so I'm thankful for it. To throw it to (Adams) is pretty special, that's cool."
But as McDaniels pointed out, there are still 12 games left in a long season ahead.
"This is a marathon. If it was a sprint, we lost the sprint. Fortunate for us, it's a marathon," McDaniels said. "We understand what these games mean. They each matter. They're each significant at the end of your season, we know that. They add up. But I think the thing we have to focus on is take the positives and then also try to learn from the things that we're not quite doing well enough.
"That's our job. That's what we're going to continue to do. That's what we've done after we've won, that's what we've done after we lost, and we're going to continue to do that."
The Raiders get next week off before facing the Texans on Oct. 23 in Las Vegas.
On the injury front. ... Tight end Darren Waller left with a hamstring injury in the first half. TE Foster Moreau (knee) already was unavailable despite returning to practice Saturday. ...
Veteran wide receiver Albert Wilson signed to the Raiders practice squad last week and he'll be moving up to the active roster this week.
Wilson's agent Drew Rosenhaus announced that the Raiders are signing Wilson to the 53-man roster this week. Wilson was not elevated for Monday night's game against the Chiefs.
Wilson spent four years with the Chiefs after making the team as an undrafted free agent in 2014 and he spent the last four seasons with the Dolphins. He had 25 catches for 213 yards in 14 games last season.
Adams, Hunter Renfrow, Mack Hollins and Keelan Cole are the other wideouts on the active roster in Las Vegas.
And finally. ... Adams was charged with misdemeanor assault in Kansas City (Missouri) Municipal Court on Wednesday, two days after he shoved a credentialed worker to the ground following the Raiders' loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
The citation states that Adams "did, by an intentional, overt act, inflict bodily injury or cause an unlawful offensive contact" upon the worker, pushing him to the ground using two hands and "causing whiplash and head ache" and a possible concussion.
A court date was set for Thursday, Nov. 10.
Adams was walking off the field at Arrowhead Stadium toward the tunnel on Monday evening when he shoved the person, who then fell to the ground. Following the incident, the individual filed a report with the Kansas City (Mo.) Police Department.
"[The victim] made arrangements for private transport to the hospital for treatment at which time he called police," the incident report said on Tuesday. "The injuries are preliminarily thought to be non-life threatening."
In addition to the citation, Adams is facing potential discipline, including a possible suspension, from the league, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Tuesday.
During his postgame news conference, Adams apologized to the man and addressed the incident following the game.
"Before I say anything, I want to apologize to the guy running off the field and he ran and jumped in front of me," Adams said. "I'm coming off the field and I bumped into him and pushed him. I think he ended up on the ground, so I want to say sorry to him because that was just frustration mixed with him running in front of me and I shouldn't have responded that way and that's how I initially responded. I want to apologize to him for that."
We'll follow up as needed through the bye week. ...
You can access complete stats for the Raiders Week 5 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Derek Carr, Jarrett Stidham
RBs: Josh Jacobs, Zamir White, Brandon Bolden, Ameer Abdullah, Brittain Brown
WRs: Davante Adams, Mack Hollins, Keelan Cole, DJ Turner, Hunter Renfrow
TEs: Foster Moreau, Jesper Horsted, Jacob Hollister, Darren Waller
Los Angeles ChargersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 11 October 2022
As ESPN.com's Lindsey Thiry reported, head coach Brandon Staley expressed no second thoughts Monday regarding his late-game, fourth-down decision a day earlier that nearly proved costly in a 30-28 win over the Cleveland Browns.
Staley also said that he has since met with team captain and wide receiver Keenan Allen, who was at home nursing a hamstring injury when he wrote in a since-deleted tweet, "WTF are we doing" moments after Staley's decision.
Clinging to a two-point lead at FirstEnergy Stadium with 1:14 to play, Staley elected to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the Bolts' 46-yard line. Quarterback Justin Herbert's pass to wide receiver Mike Williams fell incomplete. With 1:10 remaining, the Browns took over and advanced the ball 10 yards before kicker Cade York missed a potential game-winning 54-yard field goal.
"Since I've become the head coach we've grown extremely close," Staley said of Allen. "We met this morning. Anyone that's been a part of competition knows that when you're not a part of it, you can feel some type of way. Keenan's heart is with me, with us. I'm understanding of where he was in that moment because he's not with his team or in the fire, that's a money down that he's used to being out there ... We're going to become closer because of it. We already became closer this morning."
Allen, a 10th-year pro and the Bolts' receptions leader since 2017, has been sidelined since Week 2 and remains "day-to-day," according to Staley, in his return from a hamstring injury suffered in the season opener.
Despite scrutiny from Allen and pundits, ESPN's win probability model agreed with Staley's decision to go for it on fourth down Sunday. The winning percentage in going for it was 84.1 percent; the winning percentage to punt was 78.9 percent.
"There's going to be some decision that some majority are going to disagree with," Staley said. "You just have to have conviction in what you believe in and also be transparent with your process, not feel defensive or insecure about it."
The Chargers are 5-of-11 on fourth-down conversions this season (45.5 percent, ranked 19th in NFL).
Last season, in Staley's first as head coach, the Bolts converted a league-high 22 times on fourth down in 34 attempts (64.7 percent, ranked tied for fourth).
"This is no surprise," said running back Austin Ekeler, who amassed 199 all-purpose yards Sunday, of Staley's decision to go for it. "I mean, it's still Brandon Staley that we're talking about here, and we saw everything last year that we were doing, and so it showed up in this moment where he believed in us. He said we're having some pretty good success, and he gave us an opportunity to go get 1 yard and we came up short."
The Chargers gained a season-high 465 yards against the Browns, which included a season-high 10 catches for 134 yards for Williams, who was targeted on fourth down.
"We wanted to finish that game with our offense on the field," Staley said. "They had played a whale of a game. We liked our matchup outside and that's what I felt like the best decision was for us at that time."
The Browns ran five plays before attempting a 54-yard game-winning field goal. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett was 1-of-4 for 10 yards and running back Kareem Hunt was stopped for no gain by Derwin James Jr. in the series.
"The way our offense was playing in that game gave me full confidence in the matchup, and the way our defense was defending in the passing game, their kicker, all that good stuff. I mean that factored into it," Staley said. "But we trusted our offense to go make a play and, um, that was the decision I made and, and felt like it was the right one."
Next up, the Chargers have two straight home games before their bye week.
They host Denver next Monday night. They have lost to the Broncos in four of the past six meetings. Los Angeles then has a short week before facing Seattle on Oct. 23. ...
Other notes of interest. ... As hinted at above, Ekeler and the running game were able to break out. Ekeler had a career-high 173 yards on 16 carries, including a 71-yard run in the first quarter. The Chargers ran it 34 times for 238 yards and averaged 7.0 yards per carry.6 carries, including a 71-yard run in the first quarter.
The Chargers ran it 34 times for 238 yards and averaged 7.0 yards per carry.
Can the Chargers keep running the ball?
They went into the weekend ranked 25th in rushing. Their production in Cleveland took pressure off Herbert and allowed the Chargers to keep their defense off the field. If the Chargers can keep running the ball with Ekeler and Co. going forward, they will be that much tougher to defend.
Worth noting. ... Joshua Kelley rushed 10 times for 49 yards and a touchdown in Cleveland.
Kelley added two catches for 33 yards on two targets in the pass game. As NBCSportsEdge.com notes Kelley has supplanted Sony Michel as the Chargers' clear RB2 behind Ekeler, as Kelley out-carried Michel 10-1 and saw the only two targets between the duo.
Kelley looks like the back to have behind Ekeler as a bench stash. ...
Meanwhile, Williams has had 100 yards receiving for the fifth consecutive road game. That is tied with Cincinnati's Chad Johnson (2002-03) for the longest run by an AFC player. Detroit's Calvin Johnson was the most recent player to do it in six straight road games. ...
Taylor Bertolet connected on all three field-goal attempts and added three extra points in his NFL debut. Bertolet was signed to the practice squad earlier in the week after Dustin Hopkins suffered a right quadriceps injury and then was promoted the active roster on Saturday. Bertolet is the 11th kicker the Chargers have used since 2017.
As noted above, Allen missed his fourth straight game because of a hamstring injury and remains day to day. RT Trey Pipkins and WR Joshua Palmer are dealing with knee issues. Hopkins has the quad issue.
I'll follow up on all involved via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
You can access complete stats for the Chargers Week 5 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Justin Herbert, Chase Daniel, Easton Stick
RBs: Austin Ekeler, Isaiah Spiller, Sony Michel, Joshua Kelley
WRs: Keenan Allen, Josh Palmer, DeAndre Carter, Mike Williams, Michael Bandy, Jason Moore, Jalen Guyton
TEs: Gerald Everett, Tre' McKitty, Donald Parham
Los Angeles RamsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 11 October 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Greg Beachum pointed out, the Rams have the least productive rushing offense in the NFL. No quarterback in the league has been sacked or pressured more times than Matthew Stafford.
Nobody needs advanced analytics to determine that the Super Bowl champions' offensive line is failing.
The problems were obvious on practically every offensive snap in Los Angeles' 22-10 home loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
And if the Rams (2-3) don't figure it out up front soon, their entire season is at risk.
At least they realize it.
"I love Matthew Stafford," head coach Sean McVay said after Sunday's loss. "He is competing and doing everything in his power for this team. He needs some help. We've got to be able to help him."
Stafford is playing behind an offensive line that has dealt with injury after injury this season. Center Jeremiah Kolone, who started in place of an injured Coleman Shelton, who was starting in place of an injured Brian Allen, was the Rams' ninth different offensive lineman to start a game this season. Only left tackle Joe Noteboom and right tackle Rob Havenstein have started all five games for the Rams.
It has shown this season, as Los Angeles has struggled to keep Stafford upright. According to Next Gen Stats, Stafford has been pressured a league-high 73 times in five games. That's more than Carson Wentz (71) or Ryan (64). Stafford is facing only the fourth-highest pressure percentage at 34.3 percent.
Stafford was sacked five times Sunday and has now been sacked 21 times this season, which is tied for the most by a Rams quarterback through five games since the merger in 1970.
He was pressured 20 times by the Cowboys defense, which is tied for the second-most in a game in his career, according to ESPN Stats and Information research.
After the game, the quarterback was asked how he feels physically after taking so many hits this season.
"I feel OK," Stafford said. "It's part of the game."
Stafford went 6-of-15 for 59 yards and an interception when pressured Sunday, according to ESPN Stats and Information research. He was 22-of-27 for 249 yards and a touchdown when he wasn't facing pressure.
When asked how the Rams can fix the offensive line until they get several starters back from injury, McVay said, "I don't know if I have that answer right now."
"But we've got to be able to figure it out, whether it's guys that are playing right now or whether we need to figure out some other options," McVay said. "But it's not good enough and it's not exclusive to one player, to one position. But there are some things that consistently are glaring issues for us that are preventing us a chance to be able to operate at a level that you guys have seen from us."
As noted above, Los Angeles has also struggled on the ground, rushing for 38 yards on 15 carries in the loss to the Cowboys. McVay said the Rams need to "be able to run the football efficiently."
Their 312 total net yards rushing this season are fewest in the NFL and far below the usual production in McVay's offenses. LA is also dead last with 62.4 yards per game, and its 3.2 yards per carry are 31st, leading only Tampa Bay (3.1).
When they're not running the ball efficiently, McVay said, the Rams are having trouble protecting, which means "you can't give yourself a chance to let things develop."
Stafford said when the offense struggles the way it has, he looks inwards to say, "what can I do more of?"
"We've got to find a way to get the ball in the end zone," Stafford said. "Got to do a better job sustaining some drives, giving ourselves some more manageable situations and find a way to get more points."
That's the key.
As ESPN.com's Sarah Barshop noted, the Rams have scored just one touchdown in their last nine quarters, a 75-yard catch and run from Stafford to wide receiver Cooper Kupp in the second quarter of Sunday's game.
Next up, a visit from struggling Carolina (1-4) six days after Matt Rhule's firing and with P.J. Walker under center right before LA's bye week is a golden opportunity for the Rams to get better.
As Beacham put it, "If they waste it, they'll be in an enormous hole. ..."
Other notes of interest. ... Kupp caught 7-of-10 targets for 125 yards and the aforementioned touchdown against the Cowboys.
Kupp saw a 23.9 percent target share on the day while dealing with some sort of lower leg injury that sidelined him for a couple snaps in the fourth quarter. Kupp remains on pace to break the NFL record for receptions in large part because the stale Rams offense has no other viable options with which to move the football.
Tyler Higbee caught 7-of-10 targets for 46 yards and he tied Kupp for the team lead in targets against Dallas. Higbee now has 37 targets over his past four outings, operating as LA's No. 2 pass catcher. As NBCSportsEdge.com notes, Higbee has benefited from a strong route-running profile and a pass-heavy Rams attack.
Meanwhile, Allen Robinson's lack of impact on the Rams' offense has gone from a light joke to a serious problem. The prized free-agent acquisition had three catches for 12 yards on five targets against Dallas, and he's caught only 12 passes for 107 yards in five games. Stafford rarely appears to look his way, and Robinson hasn't done much with his few catches.
Tutu Atwell's first NFL reception was a beautiful 54-yard grab. The downside is that the Rams' second-round pick in the 2021 draft didn't make his first NFL catch until the fifth game of his second season. Los Angeles needs more out from a rare high draft choice -- who, as many Rams fans will tell you, was chosen six picks before outstanding Kansas City center Creed Humphrey -- but at least Atwell finally showed he has something to give.
The Rams waived running back Jake Funk, who could return to the practice squad. ...
You can access complete stats for the Rams Week 5 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Matthew Stafford, John Wolford, Bryce Perkins
RBs: Cam Akers, Kyren Williams, Malcolm Brown, Ronnie Rivers
WRs: Allen Robinson, Van Jefferson, Ben Skowronek, Brandon Powell, Tutu Atwell, Lance McCutcheon, Cooper Kupp
TEs: Tyler Higbee, Kendall Blanton, Brycen Hopkins
Miami DolphinsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 11 October 2022
Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will take a step toward returning to the lineup on Wednesday when he throws at the team’s practice, but he won’t complete the journey back to action this week.
Head coach Mike McDaniel acknowledged at his press conference that there is a chance that Tagovailoa could be cleared from the concussion protocol ahead of Sunday's game against the Vikings, but noted that he has not played football in two weeks and said that he did not “see a scenario” where Tagovailoa could get on the field this weekend.
“I can say with certainty that he’s not playing this Sunday,” Tagovailoa said.
When asked about Tagovailoa returning in Week 7 against the Steelers, McDaniel said that he wanted to see how Tagovailoa responds to his increased workload this week before considering the team’s approach for that game.
Teddy Bridgewater remains in the concussion protocol and will be working with trainers at Wednesday’s practice. He’ll be eligible to do a limited practice on Thursday and could be cleared in time to play this weekend, but McDaniel said the team is planning to start Skylar Thompson at quarterback whether that happens or not because Bridgewater would not have a full practice before the game.
“As long as everything goes to plan with his protocol procedure, I’m very confident that Teddy will be active in that scenario and be backing up Skylar,” McDaniel said.
When asked about going with Thompson over a cleared Bridgewater, McDaniel said he did not view Thompson as a “run of the mill rookie.”
To be clear, even though McDaniel said the team has the utmost confidence in Thompson, he needs to process plays more quickly before he proves to be a capable starter.
In addition, the game plan changes significantly when the signal caller is a third-string rookie.
McDaniel leaned on the running game more, and it equaled the Dolphins' best rushing output of the season. Miami's 137 yards was the first time this season the offense rushed for over 100 yards. McDaniel said they thought they'd have an opportunity to run the ball more going into the Jets game and wanted to take advantage of it.
Raheem Mostert, who rushed for 113 yards on 18 carries, was Miami's first 100-yard rusher since Week 18 of the 2021 regular season, when Duke Johnson had 117 rushing yards against New England.
Mostert led Miami in carries for the fourth-straight week and has double-digit carries in three games. Entering the season, Mostert and Chase Edmonds seemed like they'd share lead-running back roles, but as Associated Press sports writer Alanis Thames notes, Mostert looks to be separating himself as Miami's clear No. 1 option.
Meanwhile, receiver Tyreek Hill left MetLife Stadium in a walking boot after Sunday's loss to the Jets, but there does not seem to be much concern about his condition from the team.
McDaniel was asked about Hill's status during his Monday press conference that Hill looked and felt well, but that the team will continue to monitor things as they move closer to their Week Six game against the Vikings.
"He looked pretty good today, but we'll take that day by day," McDaniel said. "I know he won't -- if and when he plays next, he won't play in a boot. I know that much. . . . He felt all right, but it's going to be -- with him he's a fast healer, but you just don't know those type of things. So like most of my life right now, we'll take it day by day."
The Dolphins will get on the practice field Wednesday and Hill's participation level -- McDaniels said Hill would practice "without a boot" -- will provide some more insight into how things look for him this week.
Terron Armstead, the Dolphins' left tackle, exited the game in the first quarter with a toe injury. Armstead injured his toe in the season opener and hasn't practiced much since, though he has not missed a game this season. McDaniel said the Dolphins had previously planned for Armstead to stay in New York and see a specialist for his injury.
I'll have more on the QB situation, Hill and any other injuries that arise in the Late-Breaking Updates section in coming days. ...
One last note here. ... Jason Sanders missed a 54-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that would have given the Dolphins a lead. Miami had moved the ball to the Jets 36, and McDaniel elected to send his kicker out instead of trying to convert on fourth-and-5.
Sanders' kick sailed wide right, and the Jets marched down the field and scored a touchdown on their next drive.
You can access complete stats for the Dolphins Week 5 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Tua Tagovailoa, Teddy Bridgewater, Skylar Thompson
RBs: Jeff Wilson, Raheem Mostert, Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed
WRs: Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Trent Sherfield, Cedrick Wilson, Erik Ezukanma, Tanner Conner
TEs: Mike Gesicki, Durham Smythe, Adam Shaheen, Hunter Long, Cethan Carter
Minnesota VikingsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 11 October 2022
According to Associated Press sports writer Brian Hall, as Kirk Cousins opened Sunday with a team-record 18 consecutive completions, star wide receiver Justin Jefferson was the focal point of a Minnesota Vikings offense that scored touchdowns on its first three possessions.
Jefferson caught eight of Cousins' passes during that stretch, but there was no forcing the ball to Minnesota's top playmaker. Jefferson found plenty of open space against the Chicago Bears, and six other players had receptions during the quick start.
The Vikings are starting to see more results in the offense engineered by new coach Kevin O'Connell.
"We've got a long way to go, five games in, but we're really seeing some of our philosophy come to life," O'Connell said.
Minnesota eventually pulled out a 29-22 victory late, scoring the winning touchdown with 2:26 remaining after a 17-play, 75-yard drive. It capped the most consistent effort of the season for Cousins, Jefferson and the Vikings in their new offensive system.
Cousins finished 32 of 41 for 296 yards passing. Jefferson set a career high with 12 catches for 154 yards. In all, eight players had receptions. Dalvin Cook added 18 carries for 94 yards, rushing for 5.2 yards per carry.
Jefferson also caught a two-point conversion and completed a pass in the second quarter, the third of his career, on a throw across the field to Cook.
Minnesota had four straight drives in the middle of the game go for fewer than 40 yards, but finished with a season-high 429 total yards.
"It's never going to be perfect, and today there were some times we stubbed our toe," Cousins said. "But for much of the game, we played at a very high level. I also felt a lot of the success in the first half was just a really good plan by our coaches, putting us in some pretty good positions to be effective and kind of putting the wind at our back for us."
Much of the Vikings' offense includes holdovers from the previous regime, with the belief O'Connell could elevate their play. After not playing in the preseason, there were growing pains.
Sunday showed those pains might be subsiding. Not only are O'Connell and the offensive staff finding ways to scheme Jefferson open, but the entire offense is contributing.
"We've got some guys that have played a lot of football together and learned a lot along the way about each other," O'Connell said. "The scheme is one thing, but what allows a lot of that to come to life is my comfort not only in Kirk as our quarterback, but those guys up front to give him enough time, and then our guys' execution."
The success Sunday wasn't due to big plays. Minnesota only had two longer than 16 yards. Instead, Cousins methodically dissected Chicago's defense.
"I respect the man's game," Bears safety Eddie Jackson said of Cousins. "You give him something, he's going to take it. He's going to take advantage of it and that's what happened."
O'Connell credited Cousins for adjusting after Chicago made changes defensively.
"You don't have to throw it over people's heads all the time to generate explosives," O'Connell said. "Some people just won't allow that, and that's when we kind of have to lock into a mode of all five eligibles coming to life, attacking coverage within depth, and our guys just have done a tremendous job."
With the win, the Vikings took the lead in the NFC North at 4-1, one game ahead of Green Bay. Perhaps most importantly, Minnesota has now swept its division opponents at home. The first division road test is Week 14 at Detroit and the season ends at Green Bay and Chicago.
This week, the Vikings are back on the road and face Miami, which is unsettled at quarterback due to the concussion status of starter Tua Tagovailoa, and Teddy Bridgewater, the former Minnesota starter, left Sunday's game after being put in the new league concussion protocol.
Rookie Skylar Thompson was 19 of 33 for 166 yards after replacing Bridgewater. ...
Other notes of interest. ... According to The Athletic's KC Joyner, since Adam Thielen just got done posting his second game of fewer than seven points, it might seem that bench duty is in his near future.
But Joyner points out that probably won't be the case in Week 6 when the Vikings face a Miami squad that just gave up 40 points to the Jets, and it shouldn't be for most of the rest of the season, either, as Thielen has five favorable matchups and only one difficult matchup on his rest of season cornerback schedule.
Joyner added: "Thielen should make for a high floor flex candidate with upside in most of those matchups. ..."
Also according to Hall, the offensive line has seen a dramatic turnaround this season. Cousins has only been sacked eight times in five games this season, the seventh-lowest total in the league.
According to Pro Football Focus, left tackle Christian Darrisaw has graded out as the second-best tackle in the league among players with at least 50 percent of his team's snaps. Right tackle Brian O'Neill is 12th among tackles. Garrett Bradbury is the ninth-rated center and left guard Ezra Cleveland is the 11th-rated guard. Rookie right guard Ed Ingram is 31st of 62 guards. ...
One week after one of the best games by the Vikings special teams in recent memory, the group struggled through multiple situations.
Kicker Greg Joseph went 0-for-2 on kicks, sending a 53-yarder wide right and having a 51-yard kick blocked.
Punter Ryan Wright also shanked his lone punt of the day, a 15-yarder that went out of bounds. The Vikings committed a hold during the attempt, so the play netted 5 after the penalty was added to the end of the kick.
Minnesota did recover an onside kick the Bears tried early in the third quarter. ...
On the injury front. ... Rookie running back Ty Chandler broke his thumb during the win over the Bears on Sunday. He is expected to miss multiple weeks.
The Vikings made that official Tuesday, placing Chandler on injured reserve.
He will have to miss a minimum of four games before he can return.
Chandler played 28 special teams snaps in two games and made one tackle.
The Vikings signed rookie safety Theo Jackson to their 53-player roster in a corresponding move. Jackson joins Minnesota from Tennessee's practice squad.
The Titans selected the former Volunteer in the sixth round of the 2022 draft.
CB Andrew Booth Jr. (quadriceps) and WR Jalen Nailor (hamstring) were held out of Sunday's game. ... CB Akayleb Evans is in the concussion protocol.
And finally. ... O'Connell said S Lewis Cine was back at the team's facilities Tuesday after returning from London following surgery to repair his broken leg.
You can access complete stats for the Vikings Week 5 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Kirk Cousins, Nick Mullens
RBs: Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, C.J. Ham, Kene Nwangwu, Ty Chandler
WRs: Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, K.J. Osborn, Jalen Reagor, Jalen Nailor, Olabisi Johnson
TEs: T.J. Hockenson, Johnny Mundt, Ben Ellefson, Nick Muse, Irv Smith Jr.
New England PatriotsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 11 October 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Kyle Hightower framed it, "Bailey Zappe wasn't the best player on the field for the Patriots during their matchup with the Lions.
"He didn't need to be. ..."
A week after being called off the bench and thrust into his first NFL regular-season game, the rookie quarterback benefited from a full week of preparation and plenty of support from his teammates during New England's 29-0 win over Detroit.
The game was the most complementary of the season between the offense and defense. It included a touchdown pass by Zappe, five field goals by Nick Folk and a fumble returned for a touchdown by Kyle Dugger.
"It's difficult in this league to win games. That's what we had to do. We had to pitch a shutout," said linebacker Matt Judon, who had the strip sack on Jared Goff that Dugger returned. "We know that the offense got our back and we got their back. So, when we can get them the ball back in any fashion, that's what we want to do."
With the victory, the Patriots (2-3) ended a two-game losing streak and avoided their first 1-4 start since 2000. They also improved to 5-0 under Bill Belichick with quarterbacks drafted outside the first round making their debut start. The rest of the NFL is 30-80 in such games since Belichick became New England's coach in 2000.
"I think really I felt more comfortable with really everything," Zappe said. "To have my teammates around me, they helped prepare me a lot this week."
Now, what once seemed like a perilous situation after Mac Jones and Brian Hoyer were injured looks more than salvageable heading into games against Cleveland (2-3) and Chicago (2-3).
One of the reasons the offense was able to move the ball so well was the steadiness of the run game, led by Rhamondre Stevenson. The second-year running back had a career-high 161 yards rushing, including a 49-yard burst to set up the Patriots' second field goal. He's overtaken Damien Harris as the team's leading rusher with 372 yards.
The red zone continues to be a problem for New England's offense.
The Patriots went 0 for 4 on Sunday and are converting on only 40 percent (6 of 15) of their chances inside the 20-yard line for the season. That ranks 28th in the league.
Next up, the Belichick may have a decision to make this week if Jones is healthy enough to return for their road matchup against Cleveland. The Patriots may not need Jones to beat a struggling Browns team, and another week of rest is always beneficial coming off an injury.
At this point in the week, Jones' status is unclear.
But what's not so murky is Jones' effort to recover from his ankle injury, at least according to New England quarterbacks coach Joe Judge.
"All I can speak on is how I see him work and the attitude and enthusiasm for his team he brings every day. So, this guy's doing everything he can physically to get back on the field full-time for us," Judge said on Tuesday, via NBCSportsBonston.com. "He's doing everything he can possible mentally he can to prepare for the game. He comes in every day focused. He does a great job in meetings, he does a great job on the field in what he can do out there when he's with us.
"So, very encouraged by how he's worked and we all know he's doing everything he can to be back on the field. So in terms of how he handles it from a mental standpoint, all I can speak on is I know he's mentally preparing himself and helping mentally prepare the other quarterbacks for Sunday every week."
Jones has been out since suffering the ankle injury on his last play in New England's Week 3 loss to Baltimore. So far this season, he's completed 66 percent of his passes for 786 yards with two touchdowns and five interceptions.
During an appearance on WEEI on Monday, Belichick was asked if Zappe could hold onto the job once Jones is back and he made it clear that he wouldn't engage in that conversation.
"Yeah, I'm not going to get into a lot of hypotheticals on all the different things that might or might not happen and all that," Belichick said. "That's just, to me, a waste of time. I'm not going to sit around here and dream up scenarios and all that. We'll take things as they come and go from there. Obviously, Mac wasn't active yesterday, so it wasn't any part of any decision yesterday."
Belichick wasn’t offering any additional clues during his Wednesday press conference.
“We’ll see,” Belichick said when asked if he expects to have Jones this weekend. “We’ll see what it looks like today and go from there.”
Jones was limited in practice all last week before being listed as doubtful on the final injury report before facing the Lions.
Wednesday will tell us what kind of practice work Jones is doing this week.
Also worth noting. ... Harris left in the first half with a hamstring injury and didn't return.
Harris is likely to be out multiple games after injuring his hamstring in Sunday's win over the Detroit Lions, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Tuesday.
Harris was still undergoing tests to determine the severity of the injury, but the expectation is the fourth-year back will miss time, a source informed of the situation told Pelissero.
The running back played six snaps in Sunday's 29-0 win before exiting due to the injury, earning 11 yards on four carries and catching one pass for one yard.
On the season, Harris has 57 carries for 257 yards and three TDs.
With Harris sidelined, Stevenson figures to get the bulk of the workload out of the Pats' backfield against the Browns.
In addition, receiver Nelson Agholor was also sidelined with a hamstring injury in the second half. Cornerback Jonathan Jones left the game with an ankle injury.
I'll follow up on all involved via Late-Breaking Updates as developments warrant in coming days. ...
A few final items here. ... As FantasyLife.com's Dwain McFarland wrote this week, "Everyone wants to dismiss Jakobi Meyers.
"Then he posts another huge target share (38 percent) and 24.1 fantasy points."
We should probably stop dismissing him.
Last. ... The Patriots released receiver Lil'Jordan Humphrey on Tuesday, the team announced.
His release leaves Meyers, DeVante Parker, Agholor, Kendrick Bourne and Tyquan Thornton on the active roster at the position.
Humphrey played only 14 snaps in Thornton's return to the lineup Sunday.
He appeared in all five games with two starts and, though usually primarily as a run blocker, has two catches for 20 yards.
The Patriots are expected to re-sign him to the practice squad.
You can access complete stats for the Patriots Week 5 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Mac Jones, Bailey Zappe, Brian Hoyer
RBs: Rhamondre Stevenson, Damien Harris, Pierre Strong Jr., Ty Montgomery
WRs: Jakobi Meyers, DeVante Parker, Tyquan Thornton, Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor, Matt Slater
TEs: Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith
New Orleans SaintsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 11 October 2022
As ESPN.com's Katherine Terrell pointed out, the Saints' two wins have something in common this season.
The Saints unleashed Taysom Hill in Weeks 1 and 5, and he rewarded them with four touchdowns Sunday in a 39-32 win against the Seattle Seahawks (2-3).
"He's such a weapon, and there's nobody else like him," said quarterback Andy Dalton, who started in place of the injured Jameis Winston. "If you're a defense, you have to prepare for so much when you never know where he's going to line up.
"His performance today, it's hard to match all the stuff that he can do and all the stuff that he was able to do. ... He's special."
The Saints (2-3) piled responsibilities on Hill. He carried the ball nine times for 112 yards and three touchdowns and threw a touchdown pass, and when kick returner Deonte Harty went out with an injury, the Saints put Hill into an extensive role at kick returner for the first time since the 2018 season.
"I was not anticipating that," Hill said. "But [special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi] said he needed some help, so I was happy to do it. It had been a while, but it was fun to be back out there."
Hill, who was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday, even recovered a fumble by Seahawks punter Michael Dickson in the second quarter (and then scored two plays later).
His 60-yard touchdown run put the Saints up by a touchdown with 5:33 left and ended up being the difference in the game.
"That was a big play," Hill said. "They knew we were going to run the ball on third-and-short. They were clearly selling out to stop the run. If you get past the first level of defense, then there is no one left. Once I broke through I knew it was a foot race. I think if I was 5 yards farther back, then I don't know if I would have gotten in."
Hill became the third player since the AFL/NFL merger in 1970 to rush for at least 100 yards, run for three touchdowns and throw a touchdown in a single game, according to ESPN Stats and Information.
But when asked if he plans to moonlight as a running back going forward, he just laughed and said "I just work here."
It was the most extensive usage Hill had seen all season, and the most he'd done to help the Saints' struggling offense since rushing four times for 81 yards against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1. Hill was essentially the Saints' only offense in the first quarter, rushing for 57 yards on one play and getting in the end zone on an 11-yard run two plays later.
Hill came to the Saints in 2017 after being claimed off waivers from the Green Bay Packers, and he spent three seasons playing a number of different roles. He often came in for special packages to bring a different dimension to the offense.
He came into Week 5 with a combined 25 rushing and receiving touchdowns in his Saints career. He had also thrown for eight touchdowns.
NewOrleans.Football's Mike Triplett believes Hill will "remain a huge part" of the rushing offense.
"Obviously no one can expect anything close to this level for the rest of the year," Triplett acknowledged. "But Sunday was a good reminder that Hill has always been and should remain a huge part of New Orleans' rushing package."
Hill made it clear his long-term goal was to play quarterback full time, and he got that opportunity when Drew Brees was injured in 2020 and Hill started four games.
Hill spent the 2021 offseason competing with Winston to be the full-time replacement to Brees after he retired, but he lost out on the job. He still ended up starting five games after Winston suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Head coach Dennis Allen vowed in the offseason to return Hill to a role where he could be used more rather than have him standing on the sidelines as a backup, and he moved Hill to tight end with the idea that he would still take a few snaps at quarterback like he had in the past.
A rib injury in training camp delayed some of those plans, but Hill was seen taking snaps with the other Saints quarterbacks in London ahead of their Week 4 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings when Winston was also sidelined with a back injury.
"I feel like each week is a little bit different," Hill said. "Jameis got a little banged up, so I think that limited me in terms of what the plan was supposed to be at the start of the season. But I think every week I go in and prepare for what I am being asked to do. It is a fluid deal. I anticipate that at least for the rest of this season."
While Hill is no longer listed on the depth chart at quarterback, he would likely take over if anything happened to Dalton while Winston is out.
The Saints seem willing to accept the injury risk by continuing to put him all over the field. It's likely that role will continue to shift even more as Winston and wide receivers Michael Thomas (toe), Jarvis Landry (ankle) and Chris Olave (concussion) come in and out of the lineup.
The big question here is how do the Saints sustain positive offensive momentum going forward?
The Saints have been one step forward, two steps back all season. Now they've got to figure out a way to keep the offensive momentum going, whether that's keeping Dalton at QB, continuing to utilize Hill in all areas or figuring out how to get Thomas back in the lineup as a healthy receiver.
That means there will continue to be questions as to whether an injured Winston, who was on the practice field Wednesday, should return to the lineup or if they should stick with Dalton.
In addition, Olave appeared to be briefly knocked unconscious when he his head was slammed into the turf during his TD catch and he did not return. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore had an abdomen injury in the fourth quarter. Harty left with a foot injury.
I'll be watching for more on the QB situation, Thomas, Landry, Olave and Harty in coming days; check the Late-Breaking Updates section for more. ...
Meanwhile, Alvin Kamara has now posted more than 150 yards from scrimmage in each of his three career games against the Seahawks.
That includes 194 yards in the Saints' win Sunday.
"Alvin is one of our best players," Dalton said. "When you get to have that in the lineup and a guy with his energy and his ability -- the things that he can do -- it definitely gives the offense the energy that we need."
As New Orleans Times-Picayune staffer Terrin Waack noted, Sunday’s total is actually the second highest of Kamara's career, short by 3 yards. On Sept. 27, 2020, Kamara had 197 yards from scrimmage against the Green Bay Packers. The Saints lost that contest, though. So, the 194 against the Seahawks is a career-high mark in a victory.
Kamara's final count broke down into 23 carries for 103 yards rushing and six catches for a 91 yards receiving. He led the Saints in their passing attack and was their second-leading rusher.
"We really wanted to get him going," said Dalton, who finished with a 16-24-1 stat line for 187 yards and a touchdown. "There were a lot of explosive plays from him in the run game. You saw the big screen, too. Big gain, got us down there, let us score a touchdown.
"It's great having Alvin back out there."
Kamara's status was actually questionable for Sunday. He participated in a limited capacity all last week as he continues to manage a rib injury. He has missed two games already because of it, including the Week 2 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Week 4 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
Regardless of what any injury report listed, Kamara publicly declared this past Wednesday he'd be playing against the Seahawks.
And he definitely did. ...
Finally. ... The Saints have had quite a bit of turnover at the running back position lately, and they added a new name to the list Wednesday when they signed veteran Jordan Howard to the practice squad, Luke Johnson of the New Orleans Times-Piaycune reports.
Howard has rushed for 4,631 yards and 37 touchdowns in his career with the Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins.
In the last two weeks, the Saints lost Latavius Murray (who was claimed off the practice squad by the Denver Broncos) and Tony Jones Jr. (who was claimed off waivers by the Seattle Seahawks).
You can access complete stats for the Saints Week 5 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston
RBs: Alvin Kamara, David Johnson, Mark Ingram, Dwayne Washington
WRs: Chris Olave, Jarvis Landry, Tre'Quan Smith, Marquez Callaway, Rashid Shaheed, Michael Thomas, Deonte Harty
TEs: Juwan Johnson, Taysom Hill, Adam Trautman, Nick Vannett
New York GiantsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 11 October 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Tom Canavan pointed out, the New York Giants are off to their best start since 2009 with a 4-1 record under head coach Brian Daboll, and it's still hard to get a handle on them.
There is certainly a lot being said about the club that had five straight losing seasons, including a 4-13 record in 2021.
The two most prominent thoughts from some media and fans are the banged-up Giants are the worst 4-1 team in the NFL this season. The other is Daboll is the front-runner for NFL coach of the year.
Having lived in the New York City metropolitan area for roughly nine months, Daboll understands the hype building. The Giants have made the playoffs once (2016) since winning their fourth Super Bowl in February 2012 and the fans' expectations have grown.
Daboll said his approach with the team isn't going to change.
"What do we need to do to fix the things we want to fix and improve on?" Daboll said Monday. "Build off the things that we've been doing well and be as prepared as we can going into the next game."
Daboll and his staff have done a good job preparing the players, especially the backups. The receiving corps has been without Kadarius Toney, Wan'Dale Robinson, Sterling Shepard (ACL) and Kenny Golladay (knee) at various times this season. Injuries among the defensive backs are growing.
The receivers have been led recently by backups Richie James and Darius Slayton, who was forced to take a pay cut before the season and wasn't active for the opener.
Slayton had his best game, catching six passes for 79 yards.
Defensively, Wink Martindale's group has been stingy, giving up no more than 23 points. In the Giants' 27-22 win over the Packers in London on Sunday, the defense had a second-half shutout. The only points Green Bay got came on a deliberate late safety.
As for some considering the Giants being the worst 4-1 team and the coach of the year talk, Daboll isn't paying attention.
"Whether we're 4-1, 1-4, whatever our record is, that's what our record is," he said. "It's always about improvement and trying to do the best job you can each week to play your best and coach your best."
The reality is the Giants, who have won four games by a total of 17 points, have 12 regular-season games left and anything can happen.
The constant for the Giants has been the play quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley.
Playing on a sprained left ankle, Jones was 21 of 27 for 217 yards and no interceptions with the wide receiver who played the most snaps -- Marcus Johnson (45) -- coming from the practice squad.
He also ran 10 times for 37 yards.
For the season, he has 230 yards rushing and a TD and has thrown for 848 yards, three TDs and two interceptions.
As ESPN.com's Jordan Raanan pointed out, the passing game hasn't produced big numbers, but they've managed to make enough plays to keep the offense from getting stagnant.
Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka are using play-action on 39.3 percent of their dropbacks this season, according to ESPN Stats and Information. That is the second-highest rate in the NFL behind only the Atlanta Falcons (50 percent). The Giants used play-action only 23 percent the previous three seasons.
"It gives you the ability to influence second-level defenders a little bit," Kafka explained last week. "Those guys are stepping up in the run game, obviously creates a little bit bigger of a window on the second level and then gives you a little more space on the perimeter as well. Those are definitely good aspects of any offense. Our offense, obviously, we've done a few more of those. … You have to have the ability to do multiple things. That way you keep the defense on their toes a little bit."
The play-action passing is working in unison with the league's top-ranked rushing attack. Jones is completing 78 percent of his play-action attempts this season. That's compared to 66 percent over the previous three years.
Jones went 9-of-10 for 99 yards on play-action passes Sunday against the Packers. If anything, it should prompt Kafka to call even more play action.
Barkley's 533 yards rushing is second in the NFL to Cleveland's Nick Chubb (593). He has three rushing TDs and 143 yards receiving. His 676 all-purpose yards leads the league.
Buried quietly behind Barkley's brilliance early this season has been how good the Giants' offensive line is in the run game. Legit good. Barkley is running hard and hitting holes quicker than the past (especially last year), but he's averaging a career-best 3.2 yards per rush before contact this season.
He averaged a healthy 3.7 against the Packers. Credit his O-line.
New York's line, anchored by left tackle Andrew Thomas, has allowed ball carriers to compile 605 yards before contact. That is the most in the NFL. Barkley's 314 yards before contact is most among running backs and second only behind Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who the Giants will host this week.
Barkley accounted for 43 percent of their total offense coming into the game and said this week he's "good with whatever [workload] they throw at me."
But after New York went to Barkley early and often, he left Sunday's contest in the third quarter with a shoulder injury. He went to the locker room before returning to score the game-winning TD out of the Wildcat midway through the fourth. Everyone will be watching how Barkley feels this week given his importance to this offense.
The Giants return home and play at MetLife Stadium for the fourth time in five weeks. Facing Baltimore will be interesting because it matches Martindale against coach John Harbaugh and Jackson. Martindale spent a decade in Baltimore, the last four years as the team's defensive coordinator before being fired.
Daboll had no word on the players injured Sunday, but he said on Wednesday that Barkley would be limited to open the week. Raanan reports, however, there doesn't appear to be too much concern on that one.
In addition, Golladay and Toney, who suffered a new hamstring injury in practice last week, did not practice Wednesday; Robinson was limited.
I'll obviously have more on all the team's walking wounded via Late-Breaking Update as the week progresses. ...
Giants rookie defensive lineman D.J. Davidson tore an anterior cruciate ligament in his knee on Sunday in London. He is out for the season.
The Giants placed Davidson on injured reserve Tuesday, the team announced.
Davidson, a fifth-round selection out of Arizona State, played 43 defensive snaps in the defensive line rotation and 43 on special teams. He was injured on a punt.
Davidson is the Giants' third 2022 draft pick to tear an ACL this season, joining fellow fifth-round lineman Marcus McKethan and sixth-round linebacker Darrian Beavers on injured reserve.
You can access complete stats for the Giants Week 5 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Daniel Jones, Tyrod Taylor
RBs: Saquon Barkley, Matt Breida, Gary Brightwell, Antonio Williams
WRs: Darius Slayton, Richie James, David Sills, Kenny Golladay, Marcus Johnson, Isaiah Hodgins, Sterling Shepard, Wan'Dale Robinson
TEs: Lawrence Cager, Tanner Hudson, Chris Myarick, Daniel Bellinger
New York JetsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 11 October 2022
The Jets went into the 2022 offseason with an eye on acquiring more offensive playmakers to support quarterback Zach Wilson and they found one in the second round of this year's draft.
Running back Breece Hall came up with the game-winning touchdown in the team's Week 4 win over the Steelers and he turned in his most impressive performance of the year this Sunday.
Hall posted 97 rushing yards and 100 receiving yards to set a franchise record for total yards by a rookie in the Jets' 40-17 victory over the Dolphins.
"We were just out there balling and making plays today," Hall said. "The coaches put us in a good position to execute and make really good plays for the team and that is what we did."
Hall only scored one touchdown, but he made several big plays to spearhead the win.
First was a 79-yard reception on the final play of the first quarter -- 61 yards after the catch. It was the longest play by a rookie running back since Nick Chubb in Week 10, 2018.
Head coach Robert Saleh said after the game that those kinds of plays were exactly what the Jets were looking for when they drafted the back.
"He was awesome. He's an explosive player," Saleh said. "When he drafted him, we said we drafted him because we needed a home-run hitter on this team and he did that. He hit a couple of home runs today."
The running back was tackled short of the goal line a couple of times, but Gang Green was able to punch it home -- five rushing TDs on the day, including two by fellow running back Michael Carter.
"Man, ugh," Hall said jokingly of getting tackled at the 1-yard line. "I just have to learn to fight for that extra yard."
The Jets drafted Hall with hopes he could provide an explosive element to complement Carter in the backfield.
As ESPN.com's Rich Cimini noted, the Jets used Hall and Carter at the same time more against Miami than in any previous game -- a nice wrinkle.
Meanwhile, Saleh and the Jets would tell anyone who'd listen over the past several months that things were changing with the franchise.
Negative energy was being replaced by positive vibes. Caution was giving way to confidence.
And now, losses are getting shoved aside by victories.
The Jets are 3-2 after the dominant win over AFC East-rival Miami. It's the first time the Jets are over .500 since 2018 -- when they won the season opener.
As Associated Press sports writer Dennis Waszak Jr. suggested, they're not exactly among the NFL's powerhouses just yet.
But progress is breeding optimism -- and that's not something anyone has been able to say around the team in quite a while.
"We have a long way to go, let's be very clear," wide receiver Braxton Berrios said. "But we're trying to turn these pages left and right. Being good in the fourth quarter, winning those close games, being in those moments that we know and love, and then pulling away from teams.
"These are all stones that were starting to turn. And it's been different since the day this whole staff got here. And now it's finally showing a little more."
But now comes the hard part: Being consistent winners and regularly good. The Jets' previous three-game winning streak, which they'll be trying to match this Sunday, was in 2019.
The game Sunday was close -- 19-17 -- in the fourth quarter, until both the offense and defense took over and scored 21 unanswered points. The Jets put an opponent away, and that was another sign of progress that might not have happened in recent seasons.
"We have a young group that doesn't flinch," Saleh said. "When we get a chance in the fourth quarter, I mean, you just don't have any quit."
It's still only October optimism, but it's a chance for the Jets to build upon success and keep it going the next few months.
The Jets get another chance to prove they're for real Sunday when they head to Lambeau Field to take on the Packers. Saleh is close friends with coach Matt LaFleur, whose brother Mike is New York's offensive coordinator. There's plenty of familiarity there, but it'll likely come down to how the defense handles Aaron Rodgers after putting away rookie Kenny Pickett and Skylar Thompson the past two games.
You can access complete stats for the Jets Week 5 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Mike White, Joe Flacco, Zach Wilson
RBs: Michael Carter, James Robinson, Ty Johnson, Breece Hall
WRs: Garrett Wilson, Elijah Moore, Corey Davis, Denzel Mims, Braxton Berrios, Jeff Smith
TEs: Tyler Conklin, C.J. Uzomah, Jeremy Ruckert, Kenny Yeboah
Philadelphia EaglesCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 11 October 2022
According to Associated Press sports writer Dan Gelston, Donovan McNabb was all smiles in the Philadelphia Eagles' locker room as he hit up Jalen Hurts for a big bro hug and a few encouraging words.
The greatest quarterback in Eagles history and the one leading the top team in the NFL have something in common: Each led the Eagles to a 5-0 start.
McNabb did it under coach Andy Reid in 2004 and the Eagles went all the way to the Super Bowl. Hurts and head coach Nick Sirianni are 5-0 after Sunday's 20-17 win over the Arizona Cardinals. The future is wide open with how far the Eagles can go this season, but standing tall as the only unbeaten team in the NFL sure makes it seem like the future is bright.
The Eagles, who also started 5-0 in 1981, played their worst game of the season but still did enough behind Hurts and a new kicker -- and a defense that gave up 357 yards and barely hung on -- to win on the road.
Undefeated, yes. Perfect? Hardly.
"I personally hate hearing 5-0. I don't like to hear it," Hurts said. "Because nobody wanted to mention the record when we were 2-5 (last season). Nobody wanted to talk about that. So, I don't want to hear it now. I don't want to hear it now. Can we come in here and control the things we can, attack every day and just grow and climb. That's what matters. The process. Not anything else."
Hurts had two rushing touchdowns but had an otherwise ordinary 239 yards passing and no touchdowns. But he is finding tight end Dallas Goedert, who had eight catches for 95 yards, including a crucial 16-yard gain on the final drive that set up the game-winning field goal.
"Dallas is a monster with the ball in his hands. He is a beast with the ball in his hands," Sirianni said. "He went out and just finished that drive. It was a great play by those two guys."
In fact, According to Pro Football Focus, Goedert has 285 yards after the catch this season, which is the second most among all players in the entire league. He's in his fifth season, but it's his first full year as the team's starting tight end after trading now-Cardinal Zach Ertz in October 2021. Sunday was a display of his growing dominance in the position.
The Eagles will of course take any victory. But the win in Arizona was easily their worst all-around performance of the season.
The play-calling was puzzling on both sides: the Eagles used a prevent defense in the second half and gave up a first down on third-and-17 in the third quarter; the Eagles rolled out Hurts and he threw into traffic trying to hit Quez Watkins on third-and-goal from the 5 with 1:52 left. The pass fell incomplete and the Eagles were bailed out by their new kicker.
One question: Where did you go, A.J. Brown?
The standout receiver was limited to only three catches for 32 yards. Brown, acquired in a draft-night trade, had 155 yards receiving in the opener and had five catches each of the next three games. Brown was only targeted seven times against the Cardinals. He was targeted once in the second half.
Eagles fans took over Glendale, Arizona, on Sunday and it sure sounded like a home game at the Linc. Some diehards brought a banner that read "5-0 We Want Dallas."
Well, here come the Cowboys (4-1) for a Sunday night showdown that may be the most enticing game of the weekend. Cooper Rush remained unbeaten as the Cowboys' fill-in starter despite passing for just 102 yards in a 22-10 victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. ...
Other notes of interest. ... With his pair of touchdowns on Sunday, Hurts passed Cam Newton for most rushing TDs by a quarterback in his first 25 starts with 19.
Expect more of that.
As the team's official website noted, Hurts has been brilliant running the football on RPOs, designed runs, runs when he takes off in the event receivers are covered as well as quarterback sneaks.
Philadelphia's run game ranks fourth in the NFL, averaging 160 yards per game.
Having Hurts as a threat, as a take-off-and-go player, is something defenses have to account for each week. Sirianni is going to continue dialing up Hurts as part of the running game, understanding that No. 1 continues to play it smart and avoid defenders when he is able to do so. ...
On the injury front. ... The Eagles entered this contest without left tackle Jordan Mailata (shoulder), and they lost left guard Landon Dickerson (leg) and center Jason Kelce (ankle) for parts of the game before they eventually returned.
Kelce rolled an ankle in the second half and needed X-rays at halftime before he decided he could go back and play. Of course he played. Kelce has started 127 games and his toughness has made him the heart of the Eagles.
"We all know he's a soldier and that's something we can't take for granted," Hurts said. "It's something I damn sure don't take for granted. I admire his leadership. I admire the way he plays the game, his toughness. He's relentless. He's everything I admire in a competitor."
Right guard Isaac Seumalo, meanwhile, was limited this week with an ankle injury. The offensive line is a primary strength of this team, and the Eagles need it healthy, especially for next week's game against the Cowboys and their vaunted pass rush.
Cameron Dicker gave his resume a boost when he kicked a 23-yard field goal with 1:42 remaining for the win. Dicker, who was undrafted out of Texas, was signed last week after Jake Elliott suffered an ankle injury a week earlier in a win against Jacksonville.
Any nerves walking into the biggest kick of his one-game NFL career?
"None. I was ready to go," Dicker said. "I was excited. The first kick was awesome. It's a kickoff so you get to go out there and just hit a ball and it went well. I think I've played in bigger games in my life. I've been playing at Texas and it prepared me for this opportunity, so it's cool."
Dicker, who also kicked a 42-yard field goal, was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week on Wednesday.
You can access complete stats for the Eagles Week 5 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Jalen Hurts, Gardner Minshew, Ian Book
RBs: Miles Sanders, Kenneth Gainwell, Boston Scott, Jason Huntley, Kennedy Brooks
WRs: A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins, Zach Pascal, Britain Covey
TEs: Jack Stoll, Grant Calcaterra, Dallas Goedert
Pittsburgh SteelersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 11 October 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Will Graves noted, for nearly two decades the Steelers seemed immune to the realities of the NFL.
Seasons came, seasons went. And the Steelers stayed relevant. In the mix. A factor even as the fortunes of their AFC North rivals -- Baltimore chief among them -- and the vast majority of the rest of the league rose and fell and rose again, just the way it's supposed to work under the salary cap.
During coach Mike Tomlin's first 15 years on the job, Pittsburgh played exactly one game in which it was eliminated from playoff contention.
One. One out of 241.
It's a figure that seems all but certain to climb by several multiples in 2022 after the Steelers fell to 1-4 during an embarrassing 38-3 loss to Buffalo on Sunday.
"We just got smashed today," Tomlin said shortly after the franchise's worst setback in 33 years, a dismantling that exposed a staggering gap in talented depth between the two teams.
The Steelers have been 1-4 before on Tomlin's watch, pulling themselves out of a massive hole to nearly reach the postseason in 2013. They've gotten blown out before on Tomlin's watch. Last year alone they followed 31 and 26- point losses with victories the following week.
Yet the resiliency that's been the trademark of Tomlin-coached teams seems far away at the moment.
Not with the offense 30th in the league in scoring. Not with practice squad players filling in for an injury-ravaged defense. Not with the very small margin for error the Steelers needed to work within as they began the post-Ben Roethlisberger era -- don't turn the ball over and hope the defense reverts to its 2020 version -- obliterated well before Halloween.
Tomlin promised "to turn over whatever stone to change the outcomes of games like what transpired today."
The stones they've turned over on the roster have yet to make a significant positive impact. Their short-term options are basically limited to raiding other team's practice squads or signing guys off the street.
The chance at real solutions likely won't come until free agency and the 2023 draft.
There are 12 more games remaining in 2022, a dozen more up-close looks at the harsh realities of a business model the Steelers are discovering they are no longer immune to.
Graves believes the decision to turn to rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett looks like the right move. Pickett appeared to be two things against the Bills: Fearless and decisive, qualities Mitchell Trubisky failed to show with any sort of consistency during his 3 1/2 games at the helm.
Pickett completed 34 of 52 passes for 327 yards with one interception, but the offense came away with only three points.
Meanwhile, Buffalo QB Josh Allen picked apart the Steelers' secondary with a career game. The NFL's highest-paid defense came into the game missing two defensive starters in addition to T.J. Watt, and three more were ruled out during the game after sustaining injuries.
Sunday was supposed to be about Pickett's first start, but failures in every phase of the game made his play irrelevant.
The 35-point margin of defeat is the worst for the Steelers since a 51-0 loss to Cleveland on Sept. 10, 1989.
Beyond Pickett and perhaps rookie receiver George Pickens, there's not much to get excited about.
Tomlin wasn't lying when he said it's all interconnected. Yet the best way to take some of the pressure off a beat-up and underperforming defense is by scoring more.
The Steelers have six offensive touchdowns through five games. Cleveland running back Nick Chubb has seven.
Speaking of running backs. ... The list of things that have not gone as hoped for the Steelers this season is a long one and it includes running back Najee Harris' performance over the first five weeks.
Harris ran 11 times for 20 yards in Sunday's 38-3 loss to the Patriots and he now has 222 yards on 69 carries for the season. He's only averaged more than four yards per carry in one of the team's five games and his slow start was a topic at Tomlin's Tuesday press conference.
Tomlin was asked if he thinks Harris' foot injury this summer is contributing to his sluggish start to the season.
"He missed some time in team development and that may be a component of him finding or not finding rhythm," Tomlin said. "Probably it's just reflective of kind of where we are. It's tough to analyze individual components when things unfolded the way that they unfolded from a collective perspective."
Harris played 37 snaps against New England and undrafted rookie Jaylen Warren produced 63 yards on nine touches while playing 38 snaps.
The score contributed to the split in playing time, but Tomlin said on Tuesday that "I think that's going to continue" while discussing an expanded role for Warren because the Steelers need everyone who can make plays on offense right now.
Next up, the Steelers face a serious challenge: Beat Tom Brady. The Tampa Bay QB is 9-3 against Pittsburgh in his career, with 29 touchdowns against five interceptions.
Whatever the case, with games against the Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles on the slate before the bye, the Steelers face the very real possibility of starting the season 1-7 -- something that hasn't happened in Pittsburgh since 1969.
The Steelers don't believe in rebuilding years, but that's exactly how this one is playing out. ...
Other notes of interest. ... While Tomlin said on Sunday that he's open to changes that produce better results, that doesn't include a change of offensive coordinator.
On Tuesday, Tomlin was asked if he's confident that Matt Canada is the right man for the job.
Tomlin said he is confident in that before adding that the results matter more than that confidence. He also said that he isn't going to make a chance simply because people outside the organization want to see one made.
"I'm confident, but confidence means very little," Tomlin said. "It's what is on tape. We understand that. We understand the nature of your questioning. That's just where we're I'm at with it right now. I'm not changing for the sake of changing, I'm changing if I feel it produces a better desired outcome in any area. We're looking at those things, we're open to those things but not in an effort to quell the masses."
Some would argue that any change at the coordinator spot would be likely to produce a better outcome, but it doesn't appear such a change will be coming in Pittsburgh.
The Steelers are dealing with a laundry list of injuries, in particular in the secondary where the two starting corners and both safeties are dealing with injuries.
Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick has a knee injury. Safety Terrell Edmunds remains in the concussion protocol, although he is progressing. Cornerback Cam Sutton has a hamstring injury that is lingering from the Jets game and although he played against the Bills, he didn't finish the game. Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon is still dealing with a hamstring injury that forced him to miss two games, but is progressing and should practice this week.
In addition, Cornerback Levi Wallace is in the concussion protocol following the Bills game.
And it doesn't stop there, with two starters on the defensive line hobbled. Nose tackle Montravius Adams has a hip injury, while defensive end Larry Ogunjobi is dealing with a back issue.
On offense, the team's top two tight ends are both injured as well. Pat Freiermuth is in the concussion protocol, while Zach Gentry is still dealing with a knee injury.
One player Tomlin didn't mention at the top of his presser was return specialist Steven Sims. Sims had an eye injury pregame against the Bills that caused some blurriness. He wasn't able to go at the start of the game, but did play later when his vision cleared.
He is expected to be fine this week and will be the returner.
"We expect him to be healthy, and if healthy he is going to be our return man," said Tomlin.
You can access complete stats for the Steelers Week 5 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Kenny Pickett, Mitchell Trubisky, Mason Rudolph
RBs: Najee Harris, Jaylen Warren, Benny Snell
WRs: George Pickens, Diontae Johnson, Miles Boykin, Steven Sims, Gunner Olszewski
TEs: Pat Freiermuth, Zach Gentry, Connor Heyward
San Francisco 49ersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 11 October 2022
After failing to land Deshaun Watson in the offseason, the Carolina Panthers had a choice of whether to pursue Jimmy Garoppolo or Baker Mayfield in an effort to upgrade at quarterback.
They chose Mayfield.
That decision didn't work out so well on Sunday. Garoppolo threw for 253 yards and two touchdowns, Emmanuel Moseley intercepted Mayfield and returned it 41 yards for a score, and the San Francisco 49ers beat Carolina 37-15, handing the Panthers their 10th loss in 11 games.
"I think we've still got room for improvement, but today was a good day. We were rolling pretty good," said Garoppolo, who improved to 2-1 as a starter since replacing the injured Trey Lance.
Jeff Wilson Jr. ran for 120 yards and a touchdown and Tevin Coleman provided a boost, scoring twice for the 49ers (3-2) after being elevated to the active roster earlier in the week.
"I thought he played real well," head coach Kyle Shanahan said of Garoppolo. "He made some big plays, some big throws and didn't turn the ball over which was huge. That was real big emphasis coming into this game, so I was real happy with Jimmy."
The Niners converted 7 of 12 first down tries thanks mostly to a strong performance from Garoppolo. He completed 8 of 9 passes on third down for 118 yards and a 4-yard touchdown pass to Deebo Samuel.
Garoppolo's completions led to all seven conversions, tied for the second most third-down conversion passes by a Niners QB in the past 20 seasons. Only Garoppolo's nine conversions in a win at Arizona in 2019 had more.
The win did not come without cost.
Shanahan said the 49ers are concerned Moseley might have torn his ACL in the fourth quarter. Also, pass rusher Nick Bosa left the game early with a tightness in his groin, safety Jimmie Ward broke his hand and kicker Robbie Gould suffered a knee contusion.
"It's tough. It is football," Garoppolo said. "It's a tight locker room in there. It sucks whenever we lose a guy."
San Francisco's defense came in having allowed an NFL-best 37 points through four games, and has now held all five opponents to fewer than 20.
Coleman, who had four touchdowns for the 49ers in a 51-13 win over Carolina in 2019, was a big factor early. He scored on a 9-yard screen pass before outjumping a Carolina defender to haul in 30-yard reception, leading to a Gould's 49-yard field goal.
He finished with 67 yards from scrimmage, caught a touchdown and ran for another.
"He's just Mr. Reliable. He really is," Garoppolo said. "You know where he's going to be. You know he's going to do the right thing. Whenever you have a guy like that and you're the quarterback, you can put that ball up there and trust him. It's fun."
In what's probably not a coincidence, the 49ers released running back Marlon Mack on Tuesday, the team announced. Coleman was signed to the active roster on Wednesday.
Mack appeared in two games and played only five special teams snaps. He had a fumble recovery.
With Coleman elevated from the practice squad, Mack was a healthy scratch. Running back Tyrion Davis-Price, who could resume practicing this week, also is nearing a return from a high-ankle sprain, general manager John Lynch said last week.
Shanahan said the team would know more about how long Ward will be out after he has surgery this week.
Bosa and Gould will test out their injuries this week to see if they can avoid missing time, but the Niners made a move to solidify its depth at the position.
Sam Sloman is joining the 49ers practice squad, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.
Sloman was last with the Steelers, spending parts of last year on the club's practice squad. He was waived in May.
Sloman started his career with the Rams as a seventh-round pick in 2020 but was cut after missing three field goals and three extra points in seven games. He also kicked one game for the Titans in 2020.
Gould missed his league-high third field goal from inside 45 yards when he had a 43-yarder blocked in the second quarter. The Niners then allowed two long kickoff returns in the third quarter with a 45-yarder and a 48-yarder that set up two scores by Carolina.
Gould injured his knee making a tackle on the second return.
Two other injuries from the game weren't serious with CB Deommodore Lenoir (wrist) and Wilson (bruised shoulder) not expected to miss any time.
After playing in Charlotte on Sunday, the 49ers are staying in West Virginia this week before playing the Falcons in Atlanta on Sunday. ...
Other notes of interest. ... George Kittle missed the first two games of the season with a groin injury. He returned against the Broncos and was relatively quiet. He had only two catches against the Rams. Kittle was more involved on Sunday, catching five Garoppolo-thrown passes for 47 yards against the Panthers.
"I would love to have 100 yards receiving and a touchdown every single game," Kittle shared last week. "As long as I'm impacting the game in a positive way, as long as we're winning games, I don't really care."
Garoppolo understands Kittle's situation and isn't concerned with the tight end's lack of production in the passing game. The quarterback understands that not everyone can consistently have big games in Shanahan's offense.
"George was dealing with some injuries early on, so obviously that's going to pertain to that," Garoppolo said. "Our offense is cool because not every week, not every guy is going to have five catches, 100 yards. One week, this guy's going to have it, and the next week, the next guy's going to have it.
"When you've got skill guys who are committed to that and committed to that goal, and really are all just playing for each other, that's what makes a good team. That's what we've got. We've shown [that] in the past, and we've just got to keep doing that, and good things will happen.
"But yeah, I think George, he started out fast this past game. It must have been a little birthday magic (He turned 29 on Sunday) or something like that. But he was rolling early. ..."
One last note. ... After rushing for 105 yards the first two weeks, Samuel has been quiet as a runner. He had two carries for 12 yards on Sunday and has just 20 yards rushing total over the past three games.
You can access complete stats for the 49ers Week 5 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Jimmy Garoppolo, Brock Purdy, Trey Lance
RBs: Christian McCaffrey, Elijah Mitchell, Kyle Juszczyk, Jordan Mason, Tyrion Davis-Price
WRs: Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings, Danny Gray, Ray-Ray McCloud, Malik Turner
TEs: George Kittle, Ross Dwelley, Charlie Woerner, Tyler Kroft
Seattle SeahawksCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 11 October 2022
Rashaad Penny's season is indeed over after the Seattle Seahawks running back suffered a devastating injury during Sunday's loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Coach Pete Carroll said Monday on 710 AM Seattle Sports radio that Penny suffered a broken fibula that will end his season. The running back also injured his tibia.
"It's going to be a haul for him," Carroll said. "This is what they refer to as a tib-fib incident. He broke his fibula, cracked that, but it's the high-ankle sprain element of it that makes it difficult. There's a particular surgery they do to tighten down those bones. It's going to take a number of months, so he's going to miss the season."
Penny underwent tight-rope surgery Tuesday morning and have his fibula plated to stabilize the ankle, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported.
The surgery reportedly went well. The Seahawks back faces a four-month recovery and should be healthy by the start of the 2023 league year, when he will be a free agent.
Penny exited Sunday's game on a cart midway through the third quarter after being gang-tackled on a 6-yard run.
The season-ending injury is the latest setback for the former first-round pick, who has never played a full season in five years with Seattle.
"It's really a heartbreaker for a kid who has really bounced back into the limelight of our program," Carroll said on Monday. "He's been through such a long haul, it's really just a heartbreaking loss for him. He's been doing great and everybody can see it, and we've been so excited for him. He's going to miss the rest of this year. He'll come back, he'll be able to play again and all of that. It's a really clear surgery process and all of that, but it just does take a long time."
Penny played in 10 games in 2021 and caught fire down the stretch. His promising end-of-year play led to a one-year, $5.75 million contract to remain in Seattle after the club had declined Penny's fifth-year option. Penny will be a free agent after the season.
The 26-year-old rushed 57 times for 346 yards and two touchdowns in five games before suffering the injury.
Kenneth Walker III should see more action with Penny down for the season.
The Seahawks also have DeeJay Dallas on the roster and Darwin Thompson on the practice squad and claimed Tony Jones Jr. off waiver Monday from New Orleans. Travis Homer is on injured reserve with a rib injury bit is eligible to return after Week 7.
But make no mistake: The primary job is Walker's.
Walker showed some of the flash that made him a second-round pick by Seattle with his 69-yard touchdown run against the Saints.
According to ESPN.com's Brady Henderson noted that Walker, who missed the opener after a hernia procedure, didn't seem to have a full handle on the playbook, based on the multiple times he went the wrong way on a running play. With Penny out, Walker will need to speed up his learning curve.
Walker also has to prove he can handle the load of 15 to 20 carries per game. Fantasy managers should assume he can until we see otherwise. ...
Meanwhile, over the past three games, the Seahawks have scored 103 points.
And they've lost twice.
A defense that is broken. Incapable of stopping the run. Incapable of stopping big plays. And until that changes, no matter how many points Geno Smith and Seattle's offense scores it may not be enough.
"I would have thought that would be plenty of points to win all those games," head coach Pete Carroll said Monday.
Smith might be the front-runner for comeback player of the year a quarter of the way through the season. He played exquisite again against the Saints throwing for 268 yards and three touchdowns, although Seattle continues to have second-half inconsistencies on the offensive side.
Big plays continue to be a key part of Seattle's offense. The Seahawks had four touchdowns of 35 yards or longer against the Saints, and have eight offensive touchdowns of 25 yards or more through five games. Last season, the Seahawks had 14 offensive touchdowns of 25 or more yards in 17 games.
"It's a really fast progressing group and I'm hoping that we can keep making the plays and making the explosions, set the field position in order and all that kind of stuff," Carroll said. "It's a pretty exciting part of our team."
But the inadequacy of the defense so far is slowly nudging Smith out of the spotlight he deserves and is making his performance somewhat of a footnote.
Up next, Seattle plays its only home game in a four-week span, hosting division rival Arizona on Sunday.
The Seahawks have lost two of their past three at home against the Cardinals. ...
Other notes of interest. ... DK Metcalf had five catches for 88 yards and a 50-yard touchdown against the Saints.
But it was two errors by Metcalf that proved very costly. Metcalf dropped a pinpoint throw from Smith in the back of the end zone in the first half that would have pulled Seattle even at 17-17. The bigger mistake came on the first play of the second half when Metcalf fumbled.
New Orleans scored off the turnover and never trailed again.
Tyler Lockett caught 5-of-6 targets for 104 yards and two touchdowns in New Orleans.
Lockett, who has at least 75 receiving yards in four of the team's five games, could be another featured piece of the offense in a Week 6 matchup with the Cardinals, where Byron Murphy has been used in shadow coverage on primary wide receivers this season. ...
Finally. ... Carroll made a surprising statement at his press conference Tuesday, saying the kickoff time for Sunday's Cardinals-Seahawks game could change because of a conflict with the Seattle Mariners.
The Seahawks are currently scheduled to kick off at home at 1:05 p.m. Pacific Time on Sunday, and the Mariners could play Game 4 of the American League Division Series against the Houston Astros that afternoon as well. Both teams would likely prefer not to have their games happening simultaneously.
As Profootballtalk.com suggested, realistically it's hard to believe that the NFL would change the time of a game to accommodate baseball. The NFL is accustomed to being the 800-pound gorilla of the sports world, and the league's attitude is likely that if Major League Baseball doesn't want a conflict, then baseball can schedule its game accordingly.
Furthermore, the baseball game might not even happen, as the ALDS is a best-of-5 series, and with Game 3 on Saturday, it could be over before Sunday. The NFL isn't going to want to move the Seahawks game only to have the issue become moot because the Mariners' series is over before Sunday.
So expect the Seahawks and Cardinals to kick off as scheduled at 4:05 p.m. Eastern Time on Sunday. Even if Carroll is leaving the door open to a change. ...
You can access complete stats for the Seahawks Week 5 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Geno Smith, Drew Lock
RBs: Kenneth Walker III, DeeJay Dallas, Travis Homer, Tony Jones Jr.
WRs: Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, Marquise Goodwin, D'Wayne Eskridge, Penny Hart, Dareke Young
TEs: Noah Fant, Will Dissly, Colby Parkinson
Tampa Bay BuccaneersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 11 October 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Fred Goodall suggested, there's one true barometer of success for a Tom Brady-led offense, and that's whether the Buccaneers score enough points to win on a particular day.
One week, attempting a season-high 52 passes while throwing for 385 yards and three touchdowns without an interception didn't get the job done in a 41-31 loss to Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.
Next time out, dropping back in the pocket the same number of times and passing for 351 yards and one TD without an interception was enough to beat the Atlanta Falcons 21-15.
Sure, there's a significant difference between facing the high-scoring Chiefs and the run-oriented Falcons.
Still, the Bucs insist the offensive philosophy doesn't change from week to week.
The objective is to do whatever necessary to produce enough points to win, whether that's throwing the ball a lot like Brady did the past two weeks or relying on a more balanced attack, which the Bucs tried to maintain the first three weeks of the season.
After averaging 30 points per game the past two seasons, the Bucs (3-2) are down to 20.6 through five games this year.
With Mike Evans missing one game due to a suspension and fellow receivers Chris Godwin and Julio Jones in and out of the lineup due to injuries, there has been a noticeable dip in the number of 20-yard plays on offense.
"It's really the way teams play us," offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich said. "The teams know who we have from a personnel standpoint, especially when our guys are out there. So they try to get us to throw underneath. We don't care, we'll take the completion.
"We don't care what defenses do. We're going to make the right play all the time. If it takes us 12 plays, if it takes us five plays, it's really irrelevant to us. We're not trying to play a certain way. We just want to attack the defense, keep attacking the defense and score points. That's really our process."
Brady led scoring drives of 13 plays and 88 yards (touchdown), 13 plays and 84 yards (field goal) and 11 plays and 74 yards (TD, 2-point conversion) on the way to take a 21-point lead early in the fourth quarter against the Falcons on Sunday.
The running game, however, has been inconsistent and the offense contributed to the Falcons getting back in the game by going three-and-out on three of their last four possessions.
Brady said the unit remains a work in progress.
"We're not nearly at the point where we're capable of being, and we need a lot of people to step up," Brady said. "We (have) to get people out there playing (and consistently healthy). We've got to keep practicing, get together, make the corrections, and try to continue to improve."
While the rushing attack has been inconsistent, Leonard Fournette continues to be a big part of the offense's success. He had 24 touches and scored two touchdowns against the Falcons, running for 56 yards on 14 carries and catching a team-high 10 passes on 11 targets for 83 yards. He had a TD run and reception.
The 10 catches and 83 receiving yards were both career highs.
Rachaad White got more playing time on offense than usual against the Falcons, finishing with five rushes for 14 yards and three receptions for 28 yards.
Head coach Todd Bowles has been saying he'd like to get the rookie more involved.
As a result, White reached a 40 percent snap share for the second consecutive game. Fournette, however, continued to dominate passing-down work and received 68 percent of rushing attempts.
Meanwhile, the offense hasn't been as efficient on third down as the Bucs would like. They were 9 of 16 (56.3 percent) against Atlanta -- 1 of 4 in the fourth quarter, when they were trying to put the game away.
They'll get another shot to hone their offense against an injury-depleted Steelers defense in Pittsburgh this weekend. ...
For what it's worth. ... Brady improved to 11-0 all-time against the Falcons, including one of his seven Super Bowl victories. John Elway (11-0 vs. New England) and Andrew Luck (11-0 vs. Tennessee) are the only quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era to face an opponent as many times without losing.
Other notes of interest. ... The Buccaneers haven't gotten much from receiver Julio Jones in September and October. They're apparently not trying to.
Via JoeBucsFan.com, GM Jason Licht said before Sunday' game that the team is "playing the long game here a little bit" with the veteran receiver, with the goal of having him healthy late in the year.
Bowles agreed with that assessment on Monday.
"Yeah, I think we are," Bowles told reporters. "Again, just like Jason said, we want him fully healthy and not coming out for a week and then missing another couple [of] weeks. We think we've got enough guys right now to weather that storm."
Bowles also was asked whether pain tolerance is an issue for Jones, who currently has a knee injury.
"Well, I don't have the injury, so I'm not sure," Bowles said. "His pain tolerance is very high, so I know he's hurt. But when he's back, we'll be happy to have him. It's just one of those things we have to wait and see."
Jones has appeared in only two games this year, catching four passes for 76 yards. He signed a one-year, $6 million deal with a variety of incentives based on catches, yards, and team success.
He needs at least 50 catches for 600 yards to start earning the extra money based on performance. At this point, that's highly unlikely.
Also on the injury report, tight end Cameron Brate (concussion) was inactive against the Falcons. I'll have more on Brate and Jones via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
You can access complete stats for the Buccaneers Week 5 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Tom Brady, Blaine Gabbert, Kyle Trask
RBs: Leonard Fournette, Rachaad White, Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Giovani Bernard
WRs: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Julio Jones, Russell Gage, Breshad Perriman, Scott Miller, Jaelon Darden, Kaylon Geiger
TEs: Cade Otton, Cameron Brate, Ko Kieft, Kyle Rudolph
Tennessee TitansCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 11 October 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Teresa M. Walker suggested, having a bye at the NFL's first opportunity is not usually not what anyone wants.
The battered Tennessee Titans are in no position to complain, needing this break both to heal and fix a laundry list of issues.
"This is when it falls, and certainly we'll use the time best to our advantage to try to get guys back healthy, give some guys some rest that have played a lot of football for us and we'll see if (we can) find ways to improve," coach Mike Vrabel said Monday.
The Titans already have 11 players on injured reserve with their top draft pick, wide receiver Treylon Burks, added to the list the day before their win at Washington. Three starters were scratched from that game with LB Zach Cunningham (elbow) and S Amani Hooker (concussion) missing their second straight.
OLB Bud Dupree has played 21 snaps combined over the past month, missing two other games with an injured hip. Starting RG Nate Davis (knee/foot) was a late scratch after apparently getting hurt in practice last week.
The Titans (3-2) have won three straight by a combined 13 points, the latest a 21-17 win at Washington. Their rally from an 0-2 start has allowed the two-time defending AFC South champs to claw their way from the bottom of the division back to the top.
And they're a missed field goal and a blown lead from being 4-1.
"Got some good things going, need to clean up some things, but got some good things going and just want to keep the foot on the gas and keep going," quarterback Ryan Tannehill said.
Among the positives?
The two-time NFL rushing champ has strung together back-to-back 100-yard rushing games, climbing to fifth in the league with 408 yards rushing entering Monday. He's fourth with five rushing TDs entering Monday. Henry also has blossomed as a pass-catching threat with 10 catches for 121 yards over this three-game streak.
Henry is well on his way to the best season of his career at this rate. He had a career-best 19 catches in 2020 and 206 yards receiving in 2019.
The defense is also on point -- at least when defending the run and making big stops when it matters most, not bad for a unit that has started an NFL-high 20 different defenders already after using 26 last season. They haven't allowed more than 101 rushing yards since then and have allowed 38 and 43 yards in each of the past two games.
Tennessee broke up a 2-point conversion pass to preserve its first win of the season over Las Vegas, and linebacker David Long Jr. got the interception at the goal line to seal its latest victory on Sunday over Washington.
Now they'll use the bye week to try to heal up. Then they host Indianapolis on Oct. 23 with a chance to sweep the Colts, then face a two-game road swing at Houston capped by a prime-time game at Kansas City.
Then they'll have five games in Nashville starting Nov. 13 to try to stay atop the division.
You can access complete stats for the Titans Week 5 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Ryan Tannehill, Malik Willis
RBs: Derrick Henry, Dontrell Hilliard, Hassan Haskins, Julius Chestnut, Trenton Cannon
WRs: Robert Woods, Treylon Burks, Nick Westbrook_Ikhine, Cody Hollister, Chris Conley, Kyle Philips
TEs: Austin Hooper, Chigoziem Okonkwo, Geoff Swaim, Kevin Rader
Washington CommandersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 11 October 2022
Head coach Ron Rivera has apologized for creating a stir with Monday comments regarding quarterback Carson Wentz.
Rivera said on the Don Geronimo Show on Tuesday morning that he addressed the team and talked to Wentz about his comments the previous day.
"I didn't have to. I was fortunate enough that our media relations director contacted him and let him know," Rivera said, via Nicki Jhabvala of The Washington Post. "And I actually talked to Carson this morning. In fact I talked to the whole team. I had a mea culpa moment and that I should know better. I created a little bit of a distraction and that's one thing that I try not to do and it's one thing that I'm very aware of. Again, it's one of those things that when you misstep, people can't wait to dive onto it and jump onto it and hold onto it without an opportunity to explain yourself. So, hey, that's on me. I should know better."
On Monday, Rivera was asked why other NFC East teams (all 4-1 or better) are ahead in the division at this point, and he responded: "Quarterback."
The coach added he had no regrets about the trade for Wentz despite the team's struggles that put them at 1-4.
"No, I got no regrets about that quarterback," he said Monday. "I think our quarterback has done some good things. There's been a couple games that he struggled, but you look at his numbers from yesterday and you would say, okay, look, his numbers he's had throughout the year, there times he was very solid. And then we had the unfortunate Philadelphia game, and he struggled a little bit in the Dallas game. But the way he performed yesterday, and it just shows you what he's capable of and we chose him because we believe in him. We chose him because we looked at what we felt were things that pointed towards him."
Tuesday, Rivera clarified that his comments about other NFC East teams were regarding the QB's familiarity with their systems while Wentz is in his first year with the Commanders.
"My whole point being is when you have a quarterback that's been around and been around your building for a specific period of time, the players know the guy," Rivera said, per The Post. "They develop this cohesiveness and this bond. We have a quarterback, he's been here for his first season, and as he continues to work and develop with our guys and assimilate to what we do, I think we will be progressively better. I thought he played very well this past week. He had some really good moments. He had a couple that I know he wished he had back, but the guy played, for the most part, a pretty doggone good football game."
When Wentz was asked about what Rivera said, he essentially brushed off the comments as no big deal, saying he didn't know much about them until the team's PR staff brought it up to him.
Wentz was then asked the same question that prompted Rivera's "mea culpa" words -- why he thinks the other NFC East teams are ahead of the Commanders.
"Yeah, I wish I had all the answers on that," Wentz said. "I think there's a lot of football left. There's a lot of varying factors across our division, which is obviously a very good division at this point in the season. At the same time, I know there's a lot of ball left. And we talked about it after the game, unfortunately we kind of dug ourselves a little bit of a hole.
"But we know where we're at. We know what we're capable of. And we can't try and fix it all right tawny. Our job is to go 1-0 this week and we've got a short week to do that, so we're focused on that."
Wentz wasn't the reason Washington lost to Tennessee on Sunday. The QB went 25-of-38 passing for 359 yards with two TDs and one INT, including a 75-yard TD to Dyami Brown that went 46.2 air yards (most air yards on a completion for Washington since Week 14, 2016, per Next Gen Stats).
Wentz has been sacked 20 times through five games (third-most in NFL) and thrown six interceptions (third-most), while throwing for 1,390 yards (fifth-most) and 10 TDs (tied for fifth-most).
Now, however, playing the Bears on Thursday, the Commanders are a bigger part of the news cycle than they might otherwise be, especially as a 1-4 team in a division with two 4-1 teams and the league's only 5-0 club. If Wentz can have a strong, winning performance against Chicago, it might sink Rivera's comments into irrelevancy.
Other notes of interest. ... The Commanders fell short of victory against the Titans, but Brian Robinson Jr.'s return to the lineup six weeks after being shot provided a personal win.
"That was one of those remarkable feelings," Robinson said after the loss. "I can't even really explain it."
Robinson was shot twice during an attempted robbery in late August. He underwent surgery and was placed on the non-football injury list to start the season.
Six weeks later, he led the Commanders with nine carries in his debut. Washington introduced Robinson last during pregame festivities.
"I feel good, man," he said. "It's just being back out on the field. I mean, the ups and downs, but today everything finally came into the light. I'm just so blessed to be back out there with all the fans, the team, everybody involved."
Robinson rushed nine times for 22 yards with a long of 6 yards despite playing just 16 snaps. Rivera clearly views the rookie as the Commanders' top back moving forward.
Antonio Gibson had just three carries for six yards on 19 snaps Sunday.
After the rookie was able to get his feet wet Sunday after a remarkable turnaround, he could be in for a bigger chunk of reps morning forward.
"Now that part of it is over," Rivera said. "We know he is ready to roll."
How much Washington will let Robinson roll remains to be seen early in his return. ...
On the injury front. ... The Commanders will be without wide receiver Jahan Dotson and tight end Logan Thomas again this week.
Both players sat out against the Titans last Sunday and they have been ruled out of Thursday night’s game against the Bears. Dotson was listed as a non-participant in practice all week with a hamstring injury and Thomas went from a limited listing on Monday to out of practice with a calf injury.
The Commanders confirmed that cornerback William Jackson III will miss the game with a back injury while also ruling out right tackle Sam Cosmi (finger), safety Percy Butler (quad), and running back Jonathan Williams (knee).
Wentz was listed as a limited participant with a shoulder injury, but is set to play after avoiding an injury designation on the team’s final report.
With Dotson out, Brown caught TD passes of 75 and 30 yards against the Titans. Those were his first TD catches as a pro.
"One of the consistent spots has been the play of the wide receivers," Rivera said. "I thought Dyami really flashed and showed what he's capable of."
You can access complete stats for the Commanders Week 5 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Taylor Heinicke, Sam Howell, Carson Wentz
RBs: Brian Robinson Jr., Antonio Gibson, Jonathan Williams, J.D. McKissic
WRs: Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, Jahan Dotson, Dyami Brown, Cam Sims, Dax Milne
TEs: Logan Thomas, John Bates, Cole Turner, Armani Rogers