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By Sky Sports NFL
Last Updated: 12/10/20 1:16pm
There were contrasting fortunes for quarterbacks Alex Smith and Dak Prescott, as the former make a remarkable return from injury, while the later is ruled out of the season after suffering a horrific ankle injury; here’s a look at what we learned from Week Five in the NFL…
Carolina Panthers 23-16 Atlanta Falcons
Mike Davis, playing in place of the injured Christian McCaffrey had a great game on Sunday as the Panthers secured a third-straight win. He helped put the game away late in the fourth quarter, as he picked up three first downs inside of the final four minutes to help run the clock out. That was part of a 16 carry, 89-yard performance.
Davis did even more damage through the air, catching nine passes for 60 yards and a score – the McCaffrey role to perfection.
The Falcons finally allowed less than 30 points for the first time this season, but that was not enough to save head coach Dan Quinn and GM Thomas Dimitroff their jobs, with both fired following the team’s 0-5 start. Sonny Cohen
Up Next – Panthers v Bears (Sunday, 6pm); Falcons v Vikings (Sunday, 6pm)
Philadelphia Eagles 29-38 Pittsburgh Steelers
Remarkably, despite all their success, despite three Super Bowl appearances in the last 15 years and the fact Mike Tomlin has never coached a losing side in 13 years in charge, the Steelers have moved to 4-0 for the first time since 1979!
On Sunday, it was all about rookie Chase Claypool! He delivered seven catches for 110 yards, three rushing attempts for six yards, and four total touchdowns including the game-sealer with three minutes left on the clock.
With this defence and Ben Roethlisberger looking back in fine form – 27 of 34 for 239 yards and 3 TDs – Pittsburgh are in great shape.
Eagles fans should be encouraged by the performance of Carson Wentz and their offence – they managed to put up 29 points against one of the league’s best defences – but as long as their linebackers continue to get torched, it will not mean a thing. James Simpson
Up Next – Eagles v Ravens (Sunday, 6pm), Steelers v Browns (Sunday, 6pm)
Los Angeles Rams 30-10 Washington Football Team
There is nowhere else to go here but Alex Smith. We could talk about how bad the NFC East is, how good the Rams might be – although all four of their wins have been against teams from the aforementioned NFC East – but let’s go with a feel-good story for the league.
When the 36-year-old quarterback, making his first tentative steps back from a life-threatening leg injury almost two years ago, made the Washington roster in August it felt like the Comeback Player of the Year Award was already sewn up – and then he took to the field on Sunday. There was not a dry eye in the house.
Smith’s family looked on as he completed his first pass, much in the same way they did when he was announced on the roster.
The former Kansas City and San Francisco quarterback suffered a spiral and compound fracture to his tibia and fibula in November 2018 that left him fearing for his life. He may have been sacked six times and completed only nine of his 17 passes in a handy defeat, but he was out on the field playing football and that meant everything to him.
“I’ve been waiting for that one for a long time – the first one felt good, it’s nice to know that you are fine,” he said. Paul Prenderville
Up Next – Rams at 49ers (Sunday, 1.20am), Washington at Giants (Sunday, 6pm)
New York Giants 34-37 Dallas Cowboys
Sadly, on the very same day Smith was making his incredible return to football, another of the game’s leading lights at quarterback was struck down with a gruesome season-ending ankle injury.
To see Dak Prescott’s team-mates turn away spoke to the severity of the situation, with the Cowboys QB carted off in tears with a clenched fist raised to the sky. It was heartbreaking to watch.
Your thoughts goes out to him amid a year when he has lost his brother and spoken publicly about struggling with his mental health.
And, without wanting to talk about the business side of things too much, it’s worth remembering Dak was playing under the franchise tag this season and with no long-term deal. You would like to think he gets the pay day he deserves at the end of this. This was another reminder of just how brutal the NFL can be. Cameron Hogwood
Up Next – Giants v Washington (Sunday, 6pm), Cowboys v Cardinals (Monday, 1.15am)
Arizona Cardinals 30-10 New York Jets
In NFL parlance this was a ‘get right game’ for the Cardinals, and they got right with more than 500 yards and without having to do a great deal.
Kyler Murray put a tough couple of weeks behind him to throw for 380 yards and a solitary touchdown, but most of the scoring damage was done on the ground. Murray was one of three players to run in for a score.
The Jets slip to a fifth-straight defeat, the first time since 1996 they have started 0-5, as they drift aimlessly from one week to the next. Sam Darnold has come in for some criticism, but you only need to look across the state of New York to Buffalo to see how the right environment can improve a young quarterback’s production. Josh Allen has progressed year-on-year for the Bills under good coaching and savvy recruitment.
Darnold has been dealt a rough hand, and veteran Joe Flacco looked like a drop off. The Jets might be heading for the No 1 pick in next year’s draft, but the QB is not the problem. Paul Prenderville
Up Next – Cardinals at Cowboys (Monday, 1.15am), Jets at Chargers (Sunday, 9.05pm)
Cincinnati Bengals 3-27 Baltimore Ravens
Last season, the Ravens boasted the league’s Most Valuable Player in Lamar Jackson. This time around, they have early contenders for both Defensive Player of the Year and Rookie DPOY. In their shut-down performance against the Bengals, both corner Marlon Humphrey and linebacker Patrick Queen had themselves fantastic days.
Humphrey managed five tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss, and a savvy forced fumble in which he wrapped up Bengals receiver Mike Thomas before punching the ball out. Queen took that fumble 53 yards the other way for a touchdown, adding to his nine tackles and one sack.
Jackson had an underwhelming day with just 180 passing yards and a 71.9 passer rating, but did enough to gain an early lead. He can be forgiven for slowing down. The Ravens look right back to the team that topped the AFC last regular season. James Simpson
Up Next – Bengals at Colts (Sunday, 6pm), Ravens at Eagles (Sunday, 6pm)
Jacksonville Jaguars 14-30 Houston Texans
No Bill O’Brien, no problem. Defensive coordinator, Romeo Crennel was given the interim head coach role after O’Brien – who was also the general manager – was let go by the Texans following an 0-4 start. Crennel celebrated making history as the oldest head coach in NFL history by leading his team to their first win of the season.
Wide receiver Brandin Cooks had himself a day, reeling in eight receptions for 161 yards and a touchdown. He was backed up by Will Fuller who had four receptions for 58 yards, with one TD. The two combined in a way that was necessary to lessen the blow of losing leading wideot DeAndre Hopkins in the offseason. Sonny Cohen
Up Next – Jaguars v Lions (Sunday, 6pm), Texans at Titans (Sunday, 6pm)
Miami Dolphins 43-17 San Francisco 49ers
It was a brutal first half for the 49ers on Sunday as the Dolphins put up 30 points – the most they have scored in the first half since Week Seven of the 2015 season!
San Francisco’s woes were compounded by starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo completing seven of his 17 passes for 77 yards and two interceptions – posting a 15.7 passer rating – on his return from injury to the team.
C.J. Beathard replaced Jimmy G at the half in an attempt to “protect Garoppolo”, according to the TV broadcast, but the Dolphins carried on along their path to victory.
There had been calls for Tua Tagovailoa to get the start after a couple of bad games from Ryan Fitzpatrick. But, on Sunday, he lived up to his ‘Fitzmagic’ nickname in throwing for 350 yards and three touchdowns. Sonny Cohen
Up Next – Dolphins at Broncos (Sunday, 9.05pm), 49ers v Rams (Monday, 1.20am)
Did we learn anything new about Russell Wilson? Perhaps not. The MVP frontrunner recorded his 34th fourth quarter/overtime comeback and his 30th game-winning drive as he led the Seahawks 94 yards in under two minutes in their comeback win over the Vikings.
Wilson found D.K. Metcalf for a big fourth-and-10 conversion to keep the drive alive, before again finding his big wide receiver for a six-yard touchdown to seal the victory with 15 seconds to play. As long as No 3 is under center, this Seattle team is never down.
As for the Vikings, Alexander Mattison, look to your right! The second-year running back went off in the second half and finished with 112 yards rushing off 20 carries, but missed a gaping hole to his right for what would have been a game-winning touchdown with Minnesota up 26-21 inside the final two minutes. Cameron Hogwood
Up Next – Vikings v Falcons (Sunday, 6pm), Seahawks BYE WEEK
How about it, Browns fans? A four-game winning streak has put Cleveland at 4-1 for the first time since 1994 when a certain Bill Belichick was in charge!
On Sunday evening, this team looked like a well-rounded group. They were able to move the ball in the passing game (Baker Mayfield had 247 passing yards and two TDs, despite two picks), on the ground (124 rushing yards) even with Nick Chubb out of the lineup, and their defence produced two interceptions and a safety.
Looking at their schedule, they have a great chance to continue racking up the wins, but a road trip to Pittsburgh is next on the cards. That will be the real test, as Cleveland had beaten Cincinnati (1-3-1), Washington (1-4) and Dallas (2-3) before Sunday’s scrappy victory and lost to the only top opponent (Ravens, 4-1) they’ve so far faced.
As for the Colts, their main concern must be the performance of Philip Rivers. With their elite defence, the 38-year-old needs to, at the very least, take care of the football. But his two costly interceptions and 60.5 QB rating are not going to get them far. James Simpson
Up Next – Colts v Bengals (Sunday, 6pm), Browns at Steelers (Sunday, 6pm)
The Raiders put up 490 yards of total offense and 40 points as they outpaced Patrick Mahomes and the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
Derek Carr threw for 347 yards and three touchdowns, while Josh Jacobs added two scores on the ground as the Raiders handed the Chiefs (4-1) their first loss of the season, pulling to withing one game of their divisional rivals in the AFC West. James Simpson
Up Next – Raiders BYE WEEK, Chiefs at Bills (Monday, 10pm)
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