What we know after Week 5

Five teams entered Week 5 perfect, three of them remain. The Patriots and Seahawks were each served a cold dish of humble pie. The Broncos and Chiefs each survived scares on the road. And the Saints, fresh off delivering a beating on Monday Night Football, played complementary football on their way to their fifth straight win. Who impressed and who underwhelmed? Let’s get into what we know:

Broncos 51, Cowboys 48 – Romo has the game of his life and still gets criticized

What else would you expect in the Lone Star State? A shootout at Jerry World went down on Sunday and naturally, the Tony Romo haters are now on the loose.

Following a performance in which Romo threw for 506 yards – a Cowboys’ record – and 5 touchdowns, the fourth-quarter interceptions continue to haunt the veteran quarterback.

With less than two minutes remaining in the game and the score tied 48-48, Romo stepped back and threw a strike to Broncos linebacker Danny Trevathan. Denver marched down to the goal-line, ran out the clock and Matt Prater nailed the 28-yard chip-shot field goal as time expired. It seems blasphemous, but the Cowboys should have considered letting Denver score as they were out of timeouts. It would’ve given them an opportunity to tie the game, but instead they watched Denver take the game away from them.

Nobody gave the Cowboys, nine-point underdogs, a chance in this game. Peyton Manning was sharp. The Broncos offense looked as well-oiled as it has all season. But Monte Kiffin’s defense capitalized on a rare Manning mistake, forcing his first interception of the season. Romo led a five-play, 51 yard scoring drive, but of course, it wasn’t enough.

The fact is, Romo wows fans at times.

And at other times he makes ill-fated throws which will continue to be a part of his reputation.

He’s not the greatest quarterback to ever live, but he sure isn’t the worst. But until he shakes off his fourth-quarter demons, Twitter assassins will continue to prey.

Saints 26, Bears 18 – WARNING: Saints’ bandwagon will be filling up fast

Six days after knocking off an unbeaten team (Miami Dolphins) on Monday Night Football, the Saints went to Soldier Field and beat a tough opponent. You can bet that all of the popular people on their popular TV shows will be picking the Saints as their new “Super Bowl contender.” Look, the Saints don’t have a running game and they still know how to extend long drives and keep their opponent’s offense on the sideline.

Sean Payton coaches the fundamentals better than anyone and that’s what this team is: a fundamentally sound group. They play aggressively on defense and Drew Brees pilots the offense with precision.

Brees hooked up with his favorite target Jimmy Graham 10 times for 135 yards, but the latter wasn’t the only player who had double-digit receptions. Bears second-year wide receiver Alshon Jeffery finally had his breakout game, catching 10 passes for 218 yards and a touchdown. Jeffery fought off tight coverage and made some very difficult catches.

Colts 34, Seahawks 28 – Andrew Luck is the clear leader of the 2012 QB class

Let’s summarize: The Seahawks ran for 218 yards on the ground, had more first downs and won the time of possession battle against the Colts on Sunday. Umm, how did Indy pull this one out?

Andrew Luck, take a bow. The young quarterback stepped with a huge play in the third quarter, connecting with T.Y. Hilton for a nifty 29-yard scoring strike that pulled the Colts to within two points of tying the game:

However, his finest effort came at the start of the fourth quarter, when he directed a 14-play, 86-yard drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown run by Donald Brown. Twice on that drive, Luck completed passes to keep the chains moving on third down, which helped demoralize a vaunted Seahawks defense.

Luck’s heroics moved the Colts to 4-1 and padded their lead in the AFC South. With wins against the 49ers and the previously unbeaten Seahawks (4-1), is it time to anoint Indy as a legitimate Super Bowl contender?

Maybe, maybe not. But one thing is for sure: He’s sitting on top of Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill. Sorry, it’s true.

49ers 34, Texans 3 – Is the Matt Schaub era over in Houston?

We’ve seen one Pro Bowl quarterback hit the unemployment line this season, could we see another? Probably not. While head coach Gary Kubiak benched the 10-year quarterback amidst his three interception performance, the Texans’ future is not T.J. Yates. Schaub, who threw a pick-six in his fourth consecutive game, had trouble getting his offense moving. An undermanned San Francisco defense – Patrick Willis (groin) and Aldon Smith (personal reasons) — forced five turnovers and only allowed one score in 10 meaningful drives.

Colin Kaepernick, who is still trying to find his Week 1 magic, had a serviceable performance completing only six of 15 passes for 113 yards. Kaepernick’s highlight was when he threw a dime to tight end Vernon Davis for a 64-yard touchdown. The Niners, who play the Cardinals, Titans and Jags the next three weeks, need to get on a little run before they head into their Week 9 bye.

Bengals 13, Patriots 6 — Tom Brady’s TD streak had to end at some point+

What better time than on Sunday, with the Patriots still missing Rob Gronkowski and being forced to play the end of the game in a driving rain storm. When Adam Jones intercepted a Brady pass with just seconds left, New England said sayonara to its previously unbeaten record.

Brady’s streak of 52 consecutive games with a touchdown pass also ceased to be. So, where can blame be pointed? Nowhere.

If anything, massive amounts of credit must be heaped on the Bengals defense, specifically their front seven. They harassed, pressured and hit Brady all afternoon, limiting him to just 197 yards passing and a QB rating of 52.2.

Cincinnati really needed this victory as its moved to 3-2 and kept pace with the Ravens and Browns in the AFC North. Kudos to Marvin Lewis’ crew.

Ravens 26, Dolphins 23 – When the Ravens lean on Ray Rice, they win

When Ray Rice touches the ball at least 20 times in a game, the Ravens are 34-9. Well, you can make that 35-9 because the running back was the focal point of the offense in Miami on Sunday.

Rice carried the ball 27 times – a week after getting just five carries – for 74 yards and two touchdowns in the victory. He also caught six passes for another 278 yards. Surprisingly, Rice still hasn’t cracked the 100-yard barrier in a game this season, but that’s not as important. What does matter is the Ravens fed him a steady diet of carries and it paid off.

Joe Flacco still has to tighten up his game a bit after throwing a pick-six in the second half, but this performance was a far cry from his five-interception fiasco in Week 4. All in all, Baltimore has to be pleased with grinding out a tough win against a good Dolphins team. The Ravens should also give their fans a standing ovation:

Chiefs 26, Titans 17 – So, are these Chiefs a legit contender?

Should we all still be skeptical about these Chiefs? This wasn’t a statement win by any means as they needed to rally for the victory. But it’s important to not gloss over the Chiefs’ 5-0 record, which is their best start since 2003.

Kansas City’s 13-point lead at halftime was quickly wiped away after Ryan Fitzpatrick hooked up with Chris Johnson on a 49-yard touchdown pass. Fitzpatrick piloted two more scoring drives, but the Chiefs had the final laugh in the fourth quarter. The Chiefs have four winnable games coming up. They host the Raiders, Texans and Browns before traveling to Buffalo in Week 9. Unfortunately for them, they are in one of the most competitive divisions and still have four games against the Broncos and Chargers.

Since 1990, 90 percent of the teams who started with a 5-0 record made the playoffs, according to the NFL.

Cardinals 22, Panthers 6 – Daryl Washington makes a huge difference

The versatile linebacker returned to the Cardinals lineup on Sunday, fresh off a four-game suspension for a substance abuse violation. Welcome back, Daryl.

Washington sacked Cam Newton twice and picked off a pass as Arizona (3-2) moved above .500 with the win. But it wasn’t just Washington who played lights-out. The Cardinals made Newton’s life miserable all day, racking up an amazing seven sacks (one for a safety) and forcing four turnovers. They also forced the Panthers to go 0 for 3 in red zone scoring opportunities.

So, what now? Arizona faces back-to-back division battles against the 49ers and Seahawks. Who knows, with Washington back leading a talented defense, the Cardinals could make some noise in the NFC playoff race.

Eagles 36, Giants 21 – It doesn’t get any easier for the G-Men

After a quarter-and-a-half of The Michael Vick Experience, the Eagles franchise quarterback was sidelined for the remainder of the game with a hamstring injury.

Vick, who led the team in rushing (seven carries, 79 yards) by way of designed runs, was in obvious distress on the sideline before the Eagles entered the locker room for half time. Second-year quarterback Nick Foles took over and exposed a moth-eaten Giants secondary. DeSean Jackson (seven catches, 132 yards) and Brent Celek each scored fourth-quarter touchdowns to extend the lead. Eli Manning didn’t help matters (again) as he added to his league-leading mark for turnovers by throwing three interceptions. Can it get any worse for the G-Men? Sure it can.

They must play in front of a national audience four days from now against a Bears squad which is angry after coming off a loss. Oh yeah, the Giants also lost David Wilson to a neck injury, the severity of which is unknown.

Rams 34, Jaguars 20 – Can the Jaguars catch a break?

Starting quarterback Blaine Gabbert exited early with an injured hamstring. First-round pick Luke Joeckel is done for the season with a fractured ankle. And the Jaguars are off to an 0-5 start and now must prepare for a very unfriendly matchup against the Broncos in Denver in Week 6. The lone bright spot? Wide receiver Justin Blackmon made his debut after serving a four-game suspension and had five receptions for 136 yards and a touchdown. The Jaguars should consider trading Maurice Jones-Drew, who is expected to test free agency after the season, before the Oct. 29 deadline.

The Rams were coming off a 10-day layoff following a 35-11 drubbing from the 49ers. The extra preparation paid off. A very opportunistic defense forced three turnovers, including a Matt Giordano interception return for a touchdown.

Packers 22, Lions 9 – Detroit hasn’t won in Green Bay in a long, long time

Just how long has it been exactly? Check this out:

That’s right, it’s been that long. What’s worse, the Lions came into this game hobbling, as star wide receiver Calvin Johnson sat out with an injury. The effects of that loss were obvious.

Without Johnson on the outside, the Packers defense were able to focus their efforts on stopping Detroit running back Reggie Bush. The latter was held to 44 yards rushing on 13 carries on 25 yards through the air. Green Bay also sacked Matthew Stafford five times.

All told, Green Bay caught a break in facing a shorthanded Detroit squad. The Packers won’t apologize as they were due for a break after tough losses against the 49ers and Bengals earlier this season. The win pushed them to 2-2, which is crucial in a highly competitive NFC North.

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