NFL Week Five in Review

10/13/2009 § Leave a comment

The NFL is a quarterback league, and this week was a firm reminder of that fact.  From amazing performances from young signal-callers to last-minute heroics to what happens when neither team has a viable passer, Week 5 was a QB clinic.

The Chad Henne Era has officially begun in Miami.  In yet another Monday night thriller, the Dolphins QB followed up a nice performance against the Bills with a downright brilliant outing against one of the league’s top 5 pass defenses.  Henne completed almost 77% of his passes for 241 yards, throwing 2 TDs and no INTs.  His 130.4 QB rating was the fourth-best showing of the weekend.

In many ways, surprising Denver QB Kyle Orton outplayed superstar Tom Brady on Sunday en route to a huge overtime win over the Patriots.  Orton attempted 15 more passes than Brady and completed 15% more of them.  Orton threw for over 100 more yards and .4 more yards per attempt, and 5 of the 6 receivers he hit had at least 4 catches (only Wes Welker had more than 3 for the Pats).

I don’t think the Bengals have been involved in a game this year that didn’t end in dramatic fashion.  In Week 1, a freak late TD by Denver (off a tipped pass) gave Cincinnati their only loss so far.  In Week 2, the Packers nearly scored with 2 seconds left, felled by a false start penalty.  Week 3 brought the huge victory over the rival Steelers on a Carson Palmer TD pass with 14 seconds left.  In Week 4, the Bengals were entangled in an ugly tie with the Browns, until a late Palmer scramble set up the winning FG with just a few seconds remaining in overtime.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

This week, Cincinnati faced another division game and a win against the dominant Ravens would solidify the Bengals lead in the AFC North and provide a ton of momentum for the rest of the season.  As the third quarter closed, the Bengals held a 10-7 lead that was more solid than it seems.  The Cincy D had held the usually prolific Baltimore offense to 0 points–their only score coming on an interception return.  Then, with just seven minutes remaining in the game, Ravens QB Joe Flacco hit RB Ray Rice for a 48-yard TD to take the lead.  Back-breaking?  Maybe for any other team, but the Bengals held true to form, trading stalled drives with Baltimore before taking the ball at the 25 with just over 2 minutes left.  After a couple of major breaks (a recovered Palmer fumble and a big Baltimore penalty) in the final minute, Palmer hooked up with Andre Caldwell for the winning TD, with just 22 seconds left on the clock.

And Cincy fans exhaled, again.

And then there was the mockery of offensive football that was Cleveland @ Buffalo.  There were no touchdowns in the entire game, and of the eleven first half drives, 7 ended in a punt, 2 were 4th-down failures, and 1 led into halftime.  The other culminated with a 24-yard FG.  In the second half, the Browns and Bills added interceptions to their repertoire, each QB donating a pick to the other team, who of course had no idea what to do with it.  The two QBs managed to squeeze out a combined rating of 67.2, better than only 2 single QBs for the weekend.

But the story of the game boils down to this:  The Browns’ Derek Anderson completed just 2 of his 17 pass attempts for 23 yards.  And his team won.

By far the stud of this game was Cleveland punter Dave Zastudil (how could he not be?), who put an astounding 7 of his 9 boots inside the 20 yard line, including two that were downed at the 1.

Which brings to the bottom of the QB Barrel for Week 5, and there’s another shakeup in the muck.  Tampa Bay’s ineffective Josh Johnson has managed to bring his rating down to 57.1 for the year, landing him in the bottom three.  Tossing Johnson into the mix with stalwarts JaMarcus Russell, Jake Delhomme, and the Clevenstein monster Braderek Quinderson produces a season total of 9 TDs and 24 INTs.

The New Orleans Saints still lead the league with 36 points a game, while the Rams are pulling up the rear with 6.8.  Defensively, the Broncos hold steady, giving up 8.6 a game, while the Lions are allowing 32.4.

Undefeated Teams:  Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints

Winless Teams:  Tennessee Titans, Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, St. Louis Rams

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