What Have We Learned From Week 5 of the 2018 NFL Season

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APTOPIX Redskins Saints Football

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) responds to the crowd after breaking the NFL all-time passing yards record in the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins in New Orleans, Monday, Oct. 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Here is What Have We Learned from Week 5 of the 2018 NFL Season, thanks to the AP Pro 32 for photos & help in this article.

Ups

  • Record-breaking night brings out Drew Brees’ emotional side-NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Drew Brees used one hand to hold his helmet and the other to wipe away tears.

    It was the first time the 39-year-old Brees had ever walked off of a football field knowing that he had thrown for more yards than any quarterback in the history of the NFL. And the Saints quarterback couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by thoughts of all the work and people who helped him get to such an esteemed point.

    “I broke down and cried a bunch of times this week, just thinking about so many things,” Brees said after his latest NFL-record-setting performance in a 43-19 victory over the Washington Redskins on Monday night. “I think about all the people who have influenced my life in such a powerful way, and there were so many of those people that were here tonight, that witnessed this, so many people that I spoke to this week that are a part of this, and so many other still that I have yet to have a chance to reach out to.

    “Two of the people who had biggest influence on my football career certainly and on who I am, growing up, are my mom and my grandfather and they’re in heaven. They’re no longer here, but I know that they would be proud,” Brees added.

    The 6-foot Brees was lightly recruited out of high school in Austin, Texas, considered undersized for a quarterback at the major college and pro levels. He led Purdue to the Rose Bowl and was a Heisman Trophy finalist, but no NFL team picked him in the first round of the 2001 draft. Brees’ first team, the Chargers, discarded him after a shoulder injury in 2005, setting the stage for his arrival in New Orleans and his emergence as one of the most prolific quarterbacks ever.

    His latest outing would have been memorable even if no records were in play. He completed 26 of 29 passes for 363 yards and three TDs. His second touchdown was a 62-yarder to rookie Tre’Quan Smith that put Brees ahead of Peyton Manning’s previous all-time mark of 71,940 yards.

    Moments after that touchdown, the NFL halted the game for about three minutes so the ball could be handed over to Pro Football Hall of Fame officials. Brees was able to embrace his family and coach Sean Payton on the sideline.

    “It’s a beautiful thing, a beautiful experience for all of us,” said Saint left tackle Terron Armstead, the first teammate to hug Brees after the record-setting completion to Smith. “The energy in the stadium at that time, I thought he was going to cry, really. He’s a tough dude, he probably didn’t want to show that side. But it was an amazing experience.”

     

     

  • Latest Patriots’ win highlights weapons Brady still has-FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tom Brady isn’t worried about the shortcomings that the Patriots’ offense has displayed so far this season — whether it’s turnovers or lack of downfield passing.

    His measuring stick for progress is much more simplistic.

    “It’s really not about those things to me. It’s about points,” Brady said after New England’s 38-24 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night .

    It was the second straight game the Patriots have scored 38 points. It’s also the second consecutive week that it’s looked like Brady and the offense are turning a corner following a lackluster 1-2 start to the season that included a paltry 10-point effort in a loss to Detroit.

    “Ultimately we gotta score more points,” Brady said. “We scored 38, which is great. But we have more in us.”

    Buoyed by the return of receiver Julian Edelman from his four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancers, Brady looked like the reigning regular-season MVP for the first time this season.

    On a night in which he notched his 500th career regular-season touchdown pass, he spread the ball around to eight receivers and threw for a season-high 341 yards.

    He was spot-on from the start, completing his first nine passes on an opening drive that ended with a 1-yard TD pass to Cordarrelle Patterson. Brady didn’t complete more than two passes on an opening drive in any of the team’s first four games.

    And after an offseason that featured lots of player departures on the offensive side of the ball, Thursday’s victory also highlighted just how many weapons Brady still has at his disposal.

    Rookie running Sony Michel came up just two yards shy of his second straight 100-yard game. Tight end Rob Gronkowski broke out of a recent fog with six catches for 75 yards. And recent acquisition Josh Gordon notched his first touchdown — Brady’s 500th — showing off his ability as the big-play threat this offense has been missing.

    Edelman’s return might have simply been an extra cherry on top an already-decadent cake.

    “It was great. There’s some things that obviously we have to work on. But it was good to get out there and catch some rocks and go out there and make some plays and be with the fellas,” Edelman said. “I haven’t played football in like, 405 days or something like that. It was good to be out there with the crowd rocking. It was awesome. It was amazing. It’s great to be back.”

     

  • Steelers defense turns up pressure by turning back the clock-PITTSBURGH (AP) — Joe Haden understands how it looks. Spend an afternoon keeping the NFL’s leading wide receiver in check and you’re bound to get all the credit.

    Yet the veteran Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback understands he didn’t exactly shut down Atlanta’s Julio Jones during a dominant 41-17 win on Sunday all by himself.

    The Steelers sometimes had two — and on occasion three — bodies around Jones. And a resurgent pass rush forced Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan to spend a significant portion of the afternoon under heavy duress.

    “They weren’t running,” Haden said. “The D-line controlled things. They controlled the front and then they got the sacks. That’s helping me out too big time. I just love when the D-line is able to get that type of pressure.”

    So do the rest of the Steelers (2-2-1), who for the first time this season looked like the group that led the NFL and set a franchise record with 57 sacks in 2017. T.J. Watt took down Ryan three times.

    Defensive tackle Cam Heyward picked up a sack and split another with linebacker Jon Bostic. Even reserve linebacker L.J. Fort got in on things, collecting the third sack of his six-year career and later falling on Ryan’s fumble in the end zone to put the finishing touches on Pittsburgh’s most complete performance of the year.

    Though Heyward downplayed the idea his team was desperate, he admitted there was a sense of urgency after the Steelers spent the first month of the season getting pushed around.

    The Steelers walked onto the steamy Heinz Field turf ranked 30th in total defense. Facing the high-powered Falcons, Pittsburgh responded by restoring a bit of normalcy by getting back to basics. They blitzed from all over. They disguised their coverages and then turned to Haden to put the clamps on Jones.

    The idea to have Haden shadow Jones came from coach Mike Tomlin, who broached the subject of having Haden follow Jones all over the field during the week. Haden welcomed the assignment, galvanized by the opportunity to take on one of the best in the business.

    “He can do everything,” Haden said. “He’s big. Physical. Strong. He can catch. Vertical. Everything.”

    At least until the first three quarters on Sunday, when Jones did nothing. Four times Ryan looked Jones’ way over the first 45 minutes.

    Each time the play ended the same way: with the pass falling incomplete.

    By the time Jones finally did break through early in the fourth quarter, the Steelers were already up 17 and the game was effectively over.

    “They had a good game plan for me today,” Jones said.

    One Pittsburgh might want to repeat going forward. The Steelers travel to AFC North-leading Cincinnati (4-1) next week.

    Much like the Falcons, the Bengals and star wideout A.J. Green present their own unique challenge.

    The Steelers have dominated the rivalry in recent years, winning 9 of 10, including an ugly victory in Cincinnati last December that included several vicious shots on both sides and the possible end of Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier’s career because of a spinal injury.

    Pittsburgh’s defense hasn’t been the same since, though the way the Steelers put it together against Atlanta offered a glimpse that perhaps things are starting to turn around.

    The communication issues in the secondary that plagued them in September largely vanished, at least for four quarters.

    And while Watt’s three sacks boosted his season total to six — tying him with older brother J.J. of the Houston Texans and Bengals defensive lineman Geno Atkins for the most in the NFL — Watt was quick to praise Fort and Tyler Matakevich, who stepped in admirably with Vince Williams sidelined by a hamstring injury.

    “I think we have so much confidence in them that we don’t have any wavering opinion whether they are in the game or not,” Watt said.

    “So, I think they just do a great job, go about their business as if they are the starter each and every week, and it shows.”

    Yet success has been fleeting. Pittsburgh thought it had figured some things out two weeks ago in Tampa Bay when it produced four turnovers in the second quarter to cool off the Buccaneers.

    Then Baltimore came to Heinz Field and controlled the second half on its way to a decisive victory.

    Whether Pittsburgh’s play against Atlanta is a one-off or a sign of things to come is uncertain.

    “Hopefully this performance can catapult us in the right direction, and start climbing the leaderboard of defenses and continue to win,” Fort said.

Middle

  • Despite poor start, the Giants have shot in weak NFC East-EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — After losing four of their first five games, the New York Giants would be out of the playoff hunt in most seasons.

    This isn’t most seasons in the NFC East. No one has a winning record.

    Washington (2-2) saw its lead in the division shrink Monday night with a 43-19 loss to the New Orleans Saints. Dallas (2-3) and Philadelphia (2-3) are tied for second with the Giants a game behind.

    “The key is to win your division and give yourself a chance to compete and go on from there,” coach Pat Shurmur said Monday after the Giants held a walkthrough for Thursday night’s game at MetLife Stadium against the Super Bowl champion Eagles. “That’s what we are battling for.”

    The Giants have been competitive. Three of the four losses have been by a total of 14 points. They were close against New Orleans until the fourth quarter.

    “There is no panic,” Shurmur said. “There is urgency to win, every week. That’s what we are fighting to do. Along the way, every team goes through stuff and we’re in it. We just have to go win some games.”

    Defensive captain Alec Ogletree isn’t taking solace with other division foes struggling.

    “You know you still have a chance to get to where you want to go, but we definitely would rather be 4-1 or 5-0 or whatever,” he said. “But we are not, so we have to take it day by day and get ready for this week.”

    The Giants thought they had their second win of the season Sunday when Eli Manning threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Saquon Barkley with 1:08 to play to take a 31-30 lead.

    The Panthers stunned them with an eight-play, 30-yard drive that Graham Gano capped with 1 second to play with a career-best 63-yard field goal. It was 1 yard shy of the NFL record set by Matt Prater in 2013.

    Cornerback Michael Thomas said his only focus is getting some wins.

    “If we eliminate the self-inflicting wounds, those self-inflicted mistakes, I think we will be fine,” he said. “Let’s just worry about us and not anybody else’s job.”

    Manning said the division race is wide open, especially with five more division games in the final three months.

    “There has to be some urgency,” said Manning, who threw for 326 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions Sunday. “We have to get going and we have to get hot and get on a streak.”

    Manning said he spoke with Odell Beckham Jr. about the receiver’s recent comments about how he wants the team to throw the ball more than 20 yards and that the team lacked heart and energy.

    “Coach handled the situation well with Odell, having him address the team and setting the record straight from his point of view,” Manning said. “I think that was smart and big by him in that situation, owning up to what was going on, setting the record straight and avoiding the distractions, the this and that, and just worrying about playing football.”

    Manning said the poor start probably led to comments by Beckham, who caught eight passes for 131 yards and threw a 57-yard scoring pass to Barkley.

    “When you are not winning there is usually not a whole lot of energy around,” Manning said. “That’s kind of the way it can work. You are probably not playing well on Sunday so you are not excited about things. That’s football. The energy, the excitement, all those things, they come with the execution.”

Downs

  • Ravens regret mistakes in overtime loss to Browns-CLEVELAND (AP) — Michael Crabtree sat dejectedly in front of his locker and knew exactly who to blame for Baltimore’s loss.

    He pointed the finger at himself.

    “Put that on me,” the Ravens receiver said.

    Crabtree let a possible game-winning touchdown pass from Joe Flacco slip through his hands in the fourth quarter Sunday as the Ravens, who looked so impressive last week in a win over Pittsburgh, were beaten 12-9 in overtime on Sunday by the resurgent Cleveland Browns.

    Crabtree’s drop wasn’t the only issue for the Ravens (3-2), who couldn’t get anything going on offense and then had their defense fail them in the closing minutes of OT.

    But for all their problems, the Ravens might have pulled out another AFC North win if Crabtree had squeezed Flacco’s throw with a minute left.

    With the Ravens down 9-6 and facing a third-and-10 at Cleveland’s 14-yard line, Flacco fired his pass over the middle toward a leaping Crabtree in the back of the end zone. Crabtree got both hands on the ball, but it bounced off him and instead of taking the lead, the Ravens settled for Justin Tucker’s 32-yard field goal with 56 seconds remaining.

    It wasn’t an easy catch, but it’s one Crabtree has made countless times. He had two other drops earlier in the game.

    “You gotta finish,” said Crabtree, who signed with Baltimore in the offseason after three years in Oakland. “I’ve been there and done that, and this go-around I can’t even jump. I gotta get back in the lab and work on my concentration. That’s all it is. It’s football. You gotta see the ball and catch the ball.

    “If I have to catch 2,000 balls a week in practice, I’m going to have to do that.”

    It was one of those days for the Ravens, who failed to take advantage of good field position in the first half, and allowed Browns rookie Denzel Ward to come off the edge and block Tucker’s field-goal try on the final play of the first half.

    Flacco completed 29 of 56 passes for 298 yards and threw a costly interception in the first half when the Ravens were driving for another score.

    On second-and-goal at Cleveland’s 2, Flacco’s pass intended for tight end Nick Boyle was deflected by defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah and picked off by Ward.

    It was just Flacco’s third pick this season, but it felt ominous on a day when neither offense could get into a rhythm.

    “I was just trying to put it at his feet,” Flacco explained. “It was just one of those unfortunate ones. I was just trying to get the ball out of my hands and go to the next down, to be honest with you.”

    As poorly as they played, the Ravens may have gotten a bad break in overtime.

    On Baltimore’s first possession in OT, running back Alex Collins ran for 17 yards but receiver Chris Moore was called for an illegal block, moving the ball back and out of range for Tucker, the most accurate kicker in league history, to try a long field goal.

    “The guy came down, got cut back on and Chris never really touched him,” Flacco said. “He just tried to avoid him, as far as I’m concerned. That’s just one of many plays that we probably could have made in order to get the game turned our way.”

    The Ravens lost for just the third time in 22 games to the Browns, who improved to 2-0-1 at home and 1-0-1 in the division.

    Baltimore’s defense did its part — the Ravens still haven’t given up a second-half touchdown — but couldn’t stop rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield in overtime. The Browns were backed up near their end zone, but Baltimore let Mayfield scramble for 13 yards and then gave up a 39-yard pass play to rookie Derrick Willies, who got open over the middle.

    “We have to execute regardless of what the situation may be,” safety Tony Jefferson said. “We have to execute the call, and we didn’t in that particular situation. We didn’t finish. We’ve been trying. We’ve been doing a good job at that, so far this season. Today we fell short of doing that, but we have a good opportunity coming up against Tennessee.

    “We have a week to get back in the lab and try and fix those things so that they don’t re-occur in particular situations like today.”

 

  • Mason Crosby stunned by kicking woes-DETROIT (AP) — Mason Crosby didn’t have any excuses Sunday afternoon.

    The Green Bay Packers kicker, who had never missed three field goals in a game despite spending 12 seasons at Lambeau Field, missed four and an extra point in a 31-23 loss to the Detroit Lions.

    “I don’t usually get this much attention unless I’ve done something really good or really bad,” Crosby told a crowd of reporters after the game. “This one is unfortunately really bad.”

    He got a small amount of redemption by making a 41-yard field goal with 2 seconds left, but his onside kick bounced directly to Detroit’s Marvin Jones.

    “This hurts a bunch,” he said. “I left a bunch of points on the field for this team, and I’m disappointed. This was something I’ve never been a part of before and I hope to never be a part of it again.”

    To make things even stranger, the game was played indoors at Ford Field, a kicker’s paradise.

    “This is obviously uncharted territory,” he said. “It’s not good that I was inside and felt great, and then this happened.”

    In his 181st NFL game, he was wide left on a 41-yarder late in the first quarter; hit the right upright from 42 yards early in the second quarter; and missed wide right on a 38-yard attempt with 3:38 left in the first half.

    In the second half, he missed a 56-yarder and an extra point.

    None of that was enough to worry his most important teammate.

    “Mason and I have played together for a long time, and I strongly believe he’s one of the greatest kickers of all time,” Aaron Rodgers said. “He and Robbie Gould have mastered kicking in the elements. He had a bad day today, but we still believe in him 100 percent.”

    Crosby is working with a rookie long snapper in Hunter Bradley and a rookie holder in JK Scott, but they didn’t appear to be at fault on any of the kicks. The 34-year-old kicker came into the game having made 10 of 11 field goals this season, with the only miss coming outdoors from 52 yards.

    “I have to look at this, look at every facet of it, and then flush it,” he said. “It was one of those days where it just wasn’t there, but I’ve never had a day like that before.”

    After the terrible first half, Crosby had to wait for his next opportunity. The Packers scored a touchdown on their first drive of the second half, but successfully went for 2 to make it 24-8.

    The Packers had their next chance to kick a field goal late in the third quarter when they faced fourth-and-4 from the Lions 30. Crosby jogged onto the field, but the Packers decided to go for it. Rodgers scrambled for the first down, setting up Green Bay’s second touchdown.

    If Crosby had made the three medium-range field goals in the first half, the Packers could have been within 24-23 instead of trailing 24-14. The missed kicks meant Matthew Stafford’s touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter gave the Lions a commanding 31-14 lead.

    “We’re going to take a long look at what happened,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “We’re going to be better next Monday against San Francisco.”

    Rodgers answered with his third touchdown pass of the half to make it 31-20, but Crosby’s extra point hit the outside of the left upright and bounced harmlessly wide.

    Needing two scores to tie, the Packers elected for a 56-yard field goal attempt on fourth-and-15 with 3:20 to play. Crosby’s low kick slid to the right for his fifth miss of the day.

    He finally made his last attempt, ending the day with a little hope.

    “I obviously needed to hit that one,” he said. “We’ll take that and move forward with it.”

 

  • Ryan Tannehill accepts blame following Dolphins collapse-DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — With three offensive linemen hurt, Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was feeling the heat Monday.

    From his critics, that is.

    Tannehill took a pounding in the Dolphins’ latest defeat Sunday at Cincinnati, and then caught plenty of blame for his team’s second ugly loss in a row. Coach Adam Gase, ever loyal to Tannehill, mounted a modest defense by noting problems with pass protection.

    “I don’t think he was horrible,” Gase said. “When a (teammate) gets beat so fast he can’t defend himself unless he’s Houdini, not many guys are getting away.”

    The Dolphins are 3-2 and tied with New England for the AFC East lead, but it hardly feels that way. In the past two weeks they’ve lost at the Patriots 38-7 and blown a 17-point lead at Cincinnati , leaving Gase forced to address the question of whether Tannehill remains his starting quarterback (the answer was yes).

    Tannehill took responsibility for the Dolphins’ collapse Sunday, when they were outscored 27-0 by the Bengals in the final 21 minutes left and lost 27-17. His ill-advised pass under pressure was intercepted and returned for a touchdown, and a strip sack produced Cincinnati’s final score.

    “It all started with the turnovers,” Tannehill said. “That’s on me.”

    In Tannehill’s defense, he was hit 11 times in the second half. Protection by Miami’s injury-riddled line disappeared after left tackle Laremy Tunsil was sidelined with a concussion.

    This season’s offensive line was expected to be the best Tannehill has played behind, but instead the perennial problem of poor pass protection persists. The Dolphins lost left guard Josh Sitton and center Daniel Kilgore to earlier season-ending injuries.

    “Anytime starters go down, it’s hard,” Tannehill said.

    When Miami was 3-0, Tannehill had a quarterback rating of 121.8. But in the past two games it’s 54.0, with one touchdown pass, four turnovers and five sacks. He has struggled mostly on third down and late in the game, a career-long pattern.

    No letup in pass pressure is likely this week, when the Dolphins face the Chicago Bears (3-1) and Pro Bowl end Khalil Mack, who has at least one sack and at least one forced fumble in every game.

    How will the Dolphins slow Mack down?

    “You’re not going to slow him down,” Gase said.

    Sam Young flopped as Tunsil’s replacement in Cincinnati. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said the Dolphins missed Tunsil, especially because they left Young in one-on-one situations.

    “It makes a difference when you lose a tackle at this level of football,” Lewis said. “And they didn’t seem to want to help the guy when they left the guy out there. Our guys did a nice job. We had blood in the water, and we went after it.”

    Gase said he’ll re-evaluate the line this week and make “a couple of decisions” regarding who plays where.

    “We’ll figure it out,” Gase said. “That’s what we do. They’re not going to stop the season. We’re going to play next week no matter how many guys we’ve got.”

    Tannehill took a pounding in the Dolphins’ latest defeat Sunday at Cincinnati, and then caught plenty of blame for his team’s second ugly loss in a row. Coach Adam Gase, ever loyal to Tannehill, mounted a modest defense by noting problems with pass protection.

    “I don’t think he was horrible,” Gase said. “When a (teammate) gets beat so fast he can’t defend himself unless he’s Houdini, not many guys are getting away.”

    The Dolphins are 3-2 and tied with New England for the AFC East lead, but it hardly feels that way. In the past two weeks they’ve lost at the Patriots 38-7 and blown a 17-point lead at Cincinnati , leaving Gase forced to address the question of whether Tannehill remains his starting quarterback (the answer was yes).

    Tannehill took responsibility for the Dolphins’ collapse Sunday, when they were outscored 27-0 by the Bengals in the final 21 minutes left and lost 27-17. His ill-advised pass under pressure was intercepted and returned for a touchdown, and a strip sack produced Cincinnati’s final score.

    “It all started with the turnovers,” Tannehill said. “That’s on me.”

    In Tannehill’s defense, he was hit 11 times in the second half. Protection by Miami’s injury-riddled line disappeared after left tackle Laremy Tunsil was sidelined with a concussion.

    This season’s offensive line was expected to be the best Tannehill has played behind, but instead the perennial problem of poor pass protection persists. The Dolphins lost left guard Josh Sitton and center Daniel Kilgore to earlier season-ending injuries.

    “Anytime starters go down, it’s hard,” Tannehill said.

    When Miami was 3-0, Tannehill had a quarterback rating of 121.8. But in the past two games it’s 54.0, with one touchdown pass, four turnovers and five sacks. He has struggled mostly on third down and late in the game, a career-long pattern.

    No letup in pass pressure is likely this week, when the Dolphins face the Chicago Bears (3-1) and Pro Bowl end Khalil Mack, who has at least one sack and at least one forced fumble in every game.

    How will the Dolphins slow Mack down?

    “You’re not going to slow him down,” Gase said.

    Sam Young flopped as Tunsil’s replacement in Cincinnati. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said the Dolphins missed Tunsil, especially because they left Young in one-on-one situations.

    “It makes a difference when you lose a tackle at this level of football,” Lewis said. “And they didn’t seem to want to help the guy when they left the guy out there. Our guys did a nice job. We had blood in the water, and we went after it.”

    Gase said he’ll re-evaluate the line this week and make “a couple of decisions” regarding who plays where.

    “We’ll figure it out,” Gase said. “That’s what we do. They’re not going to stop the season. We’re going to play next week no matter how many guys we’ve got.”

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