The Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers will wrap up the NFL’s Week 5 action on Monday Night Football, but we already have a lot to discuss from Thursday and Sunday’s slate of games. A running back has entered the MVP mix as a legitimate candidate, looking to become just the fifth non-quarterback to win the award in the last 20 years. Former undrafted rookie quarterback — and said running back Christian McCaffrey’s teammate — Kyle Allen has now improved to 4-0 as a starter in his career. Gardner Minshew mania is here to stay, Teddy Bridgewater’s comeback story is one for the ages when you consider his injury history and it all came full circle on Sunday.
There is a lot more to unpack from Week 5’s action — a lot of awesome surprise and a few not-so-awesome surprises, at least for fans of those teams.
So let’s break down the 10 most surprising performances from Week 5.
1. Teddy Bridgewater ties his career-high in touchdown passes (four)
What a story. Bridgewater has gone from suffering a knee injury so bad that it left his teammates stunned and devastated on the practice field to resurfacing with a new franchise and tying his career-high with four touchdown passes during the New Orleans Saints‘ 31-24 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 5. Bridgewater finished with 314 passing yards and four touchdowns. It was the most yards he’s thrown for since 2015, when he was a member of the Minnesota Vikings and the Saints needed every one of them to help defeat a Buccaneers team that put up 24 points against the vaunted New Orleans defense at home.
Bridgewater had an opportunity to sign with the Miami Dolphins this offseason and compete to start, but instead, he made the correct decision to re-sign with a stable franchise that boasts an elite offensive line, one of the best offensive play-callers in the NFL, and a roster that was one blown pass interference call away from the Super Bowl in 2018. It took him a few weeks to get going, but now Bridgewater has a chance to reinvent himself just in time for what should turn out to be a luxurious free agency period for him this offseason.
Week 5 is almost in the books and there’s a lot to go over, so be sure to check out John Breech, Sean Wagner-McGough and Will Brinson break everything down on the latest episode of the Pick Six Podcast. Listen to the full show below and subscribe here for your daily dose of NFL goodness.
2. Josh Jacobs makes the Raiders record book in multiple ways
It was a career day for Raiders rookie running back Josh Jacobs during the team’s Week 5 upset victory over the Chicago Bears. In Week 1, Jacobs became the first rookie running back since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2001 to rack up 100-plus rushing yards and two touchdowns during the team’s upset victory over the Denver Broncos. This past Sunday, he broke Hall of Fame running back Marcus Allen’s Raiders of his rookie season (430). He also joined Bo Jackson for the most multi-touchdown games (two) in a rookie season for the Raiders and he still has 11 games to go.
Most importantly, the Raiders took another step forward in establishing their identity as a football team. Jacobs is the focal point of the offense and his effectiveness has allowed Oakland to control the clock, keep its talented but young (and not so deep) defense off the field, all while Derek Carr has limited the turnovers. Winning the time of possession and turnover battle is a winning recipe in the NFL and having a lead running back like Jacobs makes it a lot easier.
3. Colts do the unthinkable, holding Patrick Mahomes to under 26 points
Since Mahomes took over as the starting quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs, they have never scored fewer than 26 points, until Week 5 when the Indianapolis Colts pulled off the 19-13 upset victory at Arrowhead Stadium. The Colts snapped the Chiefs’ streak of having scored 25 points or more in 25 consecutive games. The Colts made the Chiefs a one-dimensional offense by holding them to just 36 yards. Dating back to the 2017 season, the Colts have not allowed an opposing running back to rush for 100 yards or more in a single game in 23 consecutive games — the second-longest active streak in the NFL.
Andrew Luck announced his retirement, the Colts will rise again in the post-Luck era thanks to a series of excellent personnel decisions by general manager Chris Ballard and a mentality instilled by head coach Frank Reich.shortly after
Running back Marlon Mock was just as important to the Colts’ upset victory as their defense. Mack totaled 132 rushing yards on 29 attempts — his second 100-yard rushing game this season after entering 2019 with just four of them in his career. Mack made the most out of what was blocked for him and then some.
4. Falcons defense embarrassed again, could reach historic lows in 2019
The Falcons allowed 53 points in Week 5 — the most since 2004 and the highest point total the Texans have scored in a single game in their franchise history. They also allowed more passing touchdowns (five) than they have in any game since 2006. Deshaun Watson completed 84.8% of his passes after entering the week having completed just 65.1%.
The Falcons’ issues on defense are not just personnel-related. The defensive play-call on the following Texans touchdown is unacceptable.
Seriously though — what exactly was Atlanta thinking would happen on this play? The Falcons call for a Cover-0 look — meaning no safeties over the top and in the middle of the field — and they double-team DeAndre Hopkins. This gives the Texans a really easy way to counter with an out-and-up route for Will Fuller — who had dominated Atlanta’s secondary all afternoon prior to this play. The Falcons cornerback plays the out route at the first down marker and Fuller is able to break free over the top with ease. Not a single Falcons defender is left to stop him.
5. Will Fuller joins the Texans‘ record books
Fuller’s career to this point has been a roller-coaster ride. The former first-round draft pick has been explosive when healthy, but injuries had limited him to just 31 game appearances in his first three NFL seasons prior to the start of this year. Now fully healthy, Fuller took full advantage of an Atlanta Falcons defense that could end up historically bad in 2019 (more on that below) and their specific defensive game plan. The Falcons set out to stop Texans wide receiver Deandre Hopkins at all costs — often opting to use bracket coverage and double-team him. This worked to Fuller’s benefit as the fourth-year wide receiver tied a Texans franchise single-game record with 14 receptions. He also tied another franchise record with three receiving touchdowns. Fuller finished with 217 receiving yards — his reception, yards, and touchdown total were all career highs.
Fuller joined the likes of Jerry Rice, Steve Largent, and Jimmy Smith as the only receiver in NFL history to rack up at least 14 receptions, 200 yards, and three touchdowns in a single game. Prior to this game, Fuller totaled just 183 receiving yards on 14 receptions with no touchdowns through his first four games.
6. Christian McCaffrey is a now a legitimate MVP candidate
While another dominant performance from McCaffrey is not exactly a surprise, the fact that he has now become a frontrunner for the NFL’s most prestigious individual honor is not anything we expected prior to the start of the 2019 season. It’s time to start taking McCaffrey seriously as an MVP candidate for the 2019 season, and yes, I know how unlikely it is for a running back to steal this award away from a quarterback. Having said that,the NFL’s single-season yards-from-scrimmage record. McCaffrey finished with three touchdowns and 237 yards from scrimmage on just 25 total touches in Week 5 — he was clearly the biggest factor in the team’s victory.
As CBS Sports.com’s Jeff Kerr broke down in the featured piece on McCaffrey linked above, the third-year Panthers running back joins Jim Brown as the only players with at least 175 scrimmage yards in four of the team’s first five games of a season. His 866 yards from scrimmage to open the season is the second-most in NFL history since 1950, behind only Jim Brown’s 988 in that 1963 season, per NFL Research.
7. Aaron Jones ties a Packers franchise record
Four touchdown runs in one game was the storyline here as Packers running back Aaron Jones tied an all-time single-game Green Bay franchise record. Jones has been pressed into action as closer to a true lead back — what everyone expected he would be this preseason — in large part due to an injury Packers running back Jamaal Williams suffered in Week 4. A large fraction of Packers fans are wondering why it took an injury to his teammate for head coach Matt LaFleur, and head coach Mike McCarthy before him, to understand the importance of utilizing Jones as the featured back and focal point of the running game.
Jones finished with 107 rushing yards on just 19 carries in addition to the four touchdowns. The Packers controlled the game clock and limited Dallas’ offensive possessions by finding consistency in the run game. Notice a similar trend? Several key games in Week 5, including the Colts’ upset over the Chiefs above, were decided in a similar fashion.
8. Marcus Mariota drops another goose egg, his total rises
It was another game for Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota that ended with him having thrown for zero touchdown passes. Mariota entered the NFL as a first-round draft pick in 2015 and since then he has thrown for zero touchdown passes (with a minimum of 20 pass attempts) in 17 games. The next-highest quarterback on that list is Cam Newton with 15 games. The Titans were only able to generate seven points and lost the game at home despite holding the Buffalo Bills to just 14 points. You can’t win football games consistently with a quarterback who more than occasionally doesn’t throw a touchdown pass. Shortly, the Titans will have to consider making a quarterback change and promote veteran Ryan Tannehill.
9. Devlin Hodges nearly pulls off upset win in relief duty
The Steelers are down to Devlin Hodges at quarterback, and the former undrafted rookie free agent is expected to start for Pittsburgh in Week 6. Based on in relief of Mason Rudolph in Week 5, the Steelers have some hope moving forward. Hodges went 7 of 9 for 68 yards passing, including a dandy of a throw to JuJu Smith Schuster, whose fumble derailed what could have been a heroic upset victory for the rookie forced into action.
According to CBS Sports.com’s Bryan Deardo, Hodges was one of the most prolific passers in FBS history, having left Samford as the school’s all-time leading passer. The 2018 Walter Payton Award winner (the FCS equivalent of the Heisman Trophy), the 6-foot-1, 210-pound quarterback threw for 14,584 yards and 111 touchdowns with just 41 interceptions. If he can carry over some of that success to the NFL level, the Steelers could be a tough out for anyone who has to play against them the remainder of the 2019 season — Pittsburgh’s defense is for real.
10. Patriots do something no NFL team has since 1921
The Patriots defeated the Washington Redskins 33-7 in Week 5, and although this isn’t much of a surprise, it’s notable just how dominant they have been through the first five weeks. After Sunday’s victory, the Patriots became the first team since 1921 and one of three teams in NFL history to average 30.0 points per game or more and hold their opponents to 7.0 points per game or fewer through the first five games of the regular season. The Patriots haven’t allowed a passing touchdown in five games becoming the first team to do that in 30 years. We could be witnessing history when it comes to this Patriots team in 2019 — specifically on the defensive side of the ball.