Week 5 saw two teams stay undefeated and the lone winless team finally claim a victory as NFL squads start to round into the midseason stretch when playoff runs can be made, or broken. Here are the winners and losers from the weekend’s action.
Cleveland Browns: Credit to rookie No. 1 pick Baker Mayfield, who masked poor play from the offensive line, especially late in Cleveland’s 12-9 victory against the Ravens. Mayfield’s pocket awareness and mobility helped extend plays. None was bigger than his 39-yard completion deep in overtime to receiver Derrick Willies that put the Browns near field goal range. Mayfield (25 of 43 for 342 yards, one touchdown and one interception) did throw his pick on Cleveland’s first drive, but it looked like an apparent miscommunication. The Browns might have to live with some Mayfield rookie mistakes, but so far he has shown he can carry the young team to victories.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Coach Mike Tomlin honed in on slow starts, early turnovers, and penalties as the main issues for Pittsburgh’s offensive woes. Well, in a 41-17 thrashingof the Atlanta Falcons, the Steelers reversed the trend and scored touchdowns on their first two possessions in the first quarter to jump to an early lead. Pittsburgh rode running back James Conner (185 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns on 25 touches), and no one mentioned Le’Veon Bell’s holdout. There had been a lot of angst about the chemistry between quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and all-pro receiver Antonio Brown, but after the two connected for six catches for 101 yards and two scores, the pair look dangerous once again. For Pittsburgh, now it’s all about consistency.
Jets running game: Bilal Powell had 20 carries for 99 yards. But he was easily overshadowed by Isaiah Crowell, who punished the Denver Broncos in a 34-16 beating, to 219 rushing yards (a Jets franchise record) and one touchdown on only 15 rushes for an absurd average of 14.6 yards per attempt. New York hung 323 rushing yards on a Denver defense that had entered Week 5 ranked eighth in the league in rushing defense (93.8 yards a game). By the end of the day, Denver ranked 30th (139.6). The Jets had been inconsistent, and rookie quarterback Sam Darnold had appeared to be handcuffed in previous weeks, but with the rushing offense gashing the Broncos defense, it opened up the passing game for Darnold, who averaged 9 yards a throw.
Houston Texans: Perhaps aided by a dubious call by Cowboys coach Jason Garrett to punt late in overtime on a fourth-and-one from Houston’s own 42-yard line, the Texans gritted out a 19-16 victory. And because the Jaguars and Titans both lost their games Sunday, the Texans are just one game back in the AFC South at 2-3. Quarterback Deshaun Watson (415 total yards, one touchdown and one interception) and defensive end J.J. Watt (two tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss, two QB hits) appear to be nearing full health, so Houston could be on the verge of a run. But for the Texans to be true contenders, they need more out of their O-line, because Watson was under constant duress.
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Source: USA Today