As I sit down to write a recap of everything you may have missed in the chaotic slate of Week 6 Sunday action, I can't get the image of t
he worst play in football history the Colts' failed trickeration out of my brain, so let's just start there and move backwards.
Considering the prevailing thought that the Patriots would drop a 60-burger on the Colts in revenge for tattling on them in the DeflateGate controversy, the Sunday night matchup ended up being a pretty good game. Tom Brady and Andrew Luck both put on excellent displays of quarterbacking, the lead changed hands five times, and there was even a sprinkling of a mangled Julian Edelman finger and a blocked extra point where Jamie Collins jumped completely over Indy's offensive line.
With the win, the Patriots move to 5-0 and, as Al Michaels said in the broadcast, "It's too early to talk about the Patriots going undefeated ... but let's talk about it anyway."
New England's 36.6 points per game through five games is nearly on pace with their rate (36.8) in the historic 16-0 2007 season, and their 183 points through five is more than where they sat at this time in '07 (182). They don't show many signs of weakness. Credit the Colts for giving New England a run for their money in this one, but this Patriots team, with the way that Brady is playing, does have a bit of an aura of invincibility. We'll just leave it at that for now and check back later.
The Bengals remain unbeaten and look like the truest test to the Patriots right now in the AFC, while the Broncos offense again struggled even as Denver sneaked out a win over the Browns in overtime. Elsewhere the Packers beat the Chargers in a barn burner, and the Panthers upset the Seahawks in their place to stay perfect.
On the other hand, the Lions got their first win by beating the Bears in overtime, thanks in part to a Golden Tate "touchdown catch" and a Megatron overtime score. The Dolphins got an infusion of energy following the firing of Joe Philbin and rolled the Titans, the Jets are looking really solid with another win and the Niners got back in the win column by knocking off the hapless Ravens. Meanwhile, the Steelers just keep winning even without Big Ben.
Win the Water Cooler
Arm yourself with a few interesting tidbits from Sunday's action so you can impress your coworkers around the water cooler.
A few quarterback notes...
Philip Rivers joins the 500 Club
Philip Rivers went into Lambeau and passed for 503 yards against what had been a very, very strong Packers pass defense. For context on Rivers' big day, the Packers had gone into this week a top-10 pass defense, to that point allowing just 931 yards over five games, or just 186.2 per game. Obviously, total yards isn't an all-encompassing stat, but ... holy crap, Phil.
Rivers became one of just 15 quarterbacks in the NFL's history to pass for 500 yards in a game and was the first in Chargers history to do so. His total of 43 completions was two off of the NFL record set by Drew Bledsoe in 1994.
Unfortunately, it was all in vain, as the Chargers fell to the Packers when Rivers' fourth-and-goal attempt from the Packers' 3-yard line was batted away by Demarious Randall with three seconds remaining, preserving Green Bay's seven-point lead. Regardless, Rivers' spectacular accomplishment should not be overlooked.
Palmer's big day also for naught
Now, it's worth noting that despite Rivers' 500-plus yards passing, his team only scored 20 points. So, clearly total yards can be misleading at best, meaningless at worst, and another case of that popped up this week: Carson Palmer threw for 421 yards in Pittsburgh -- a high for his time with Arizona -- and the Cardinals could only put 13 points on the board. Palmer's two picks helped seal the Steelers victory, especially the one that came at the 2:25 mark when Arizona was driving to re-take the lead.
Colin Kaepernick thumbs his nose at his critics
It had been a tough start to the season for Colin Kaepernick, and the question of how San Francisco can safely get out of their team-friendly contract after this year has been broached a few times in the media. Now, Kap's had two very solid passing games in a row and has given new life to an offense many had left for dead.
In his last two outings, Kaepernick has thrown for 9.7 yards per attempt while going 39 of 62 (63 percent) for 602 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions.
He gets another nationally televised game this Thursday against the struggling Seahawks, and while Seattle's been Kaepernick Kryptonite thus far in his career (53 percent completion rate for 5.82 YPA, three TDs and nine INTs in seven games, five of which were losses) it is a huge chance to continue righting the ship and restoring his rep as a playmaker. Oh and by the way, a win this week would also put the Niners ahead of Seattle in the NFC West.
Meanwhile, one more noteworthy quarterback stat worth mentioning...
Marcus Mariota's ball security
Second overall pick Marcus Mariota came out of Oregon known for his ball security. He tossed 105 touchdowns to just 14 picks in three years for the Ducks, and his precision and care with the football was apparent in training camp and was such a big deal that Adam Schefter kept a running update on Twitter of Mariota's camp exploits.
At the same time, while clearly talented, first overall pick Jameis Winston came into the league known for his 28 interceptions in two years for Florida State. He did nothing to dispel that rep early on this season and he's hilariously (tragically?) thrown pick-sixes on the first pass attempt of the game on more than one occasion. He's thrown seven picks in five games and has lost one fumble. Not terribly surprising.
Mariota turned the ball over four times, two picks and two fumbles, this week against the Dolphins. He now has more turnovers than Winston in his first five games as a pro -- he's thrown five picks and lost four fumbles. Go figure.
All Martavis Bryant does is score touchdowns
Martavis Bryant was active for the first time this season and what better way to get it started than to score two touchdowns on six catches, moving his career total in touchdowns to 10 on just 32 catches. Yes, one in three of Bryant's career catches has been for pay dirt. Gotta like that efficiency.
Oh, and Bryant is averaging 21.4 yards per catch so far in his career. Bryant's 88-yard, meandering touchdown run with 2:15 remaining vs. Arizona covered a real distance of 131 yards as he traversed the field several times, just for fun.
DeAndre Hopkins is on a bad team but doing some amazing things
The Texans haven't made the playoffs in couple of years, but at least they've had a ridiculously amazing superstar in J.J. Watt to call their own, right? Well, J.J. Watt is still amazing and they're still bad this season, but you can add another ridiculous budding superstar to the list of silver linings. DeAndre Hopkins is straight balling out.
Hopkins is now leading the NFL in receptions (52) and yards (726), and is on pace for 138 and 1,936. He's also caught five touchdowns, putting him on pace for 13 on the year. Oh, and by the way, he made one catch this week where he just pinned the ball on his dome instead of using his other hand.
Marshawn Lynch really enjoyed his assist
The Seahawks blew yet another fourth quarter lead to fall to 2-4, but it wasn't all bad for Seattle fans this week, and a slick little flea flicker with Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson and Ricardo Lockette was one of the most fun plays on the year thus far.
I don't remember seeing it on the TV copy, but Beast Mode's reaction to the assist was an all-timer.
Best play of the day for @Seahawks. @MarshawnLynch24 was happy with his part. @KOMO4Sports @komonews pic.twitter.com/Fz4QvDpZpg— Doug Pigsley (@DougPigsleyKOMO) October 19, 2015
Look, football is supposed to be fun. That is such a fun play, all around.
The Broncos defense is on record pace in defensive touchdowns
Peyton Manning tossed two more picks this week to move his interception total to 10 on the year (worst in the NFL), and it's gotten to the point where many are legitimately wondering if it's time to move on to the Brock Osweiler Era in Denver. I don't know if I can get on board with that quite yet -- and Manning's coach and fellow players rallied behind him after the game in support -- but it's that bad right now for the future Hall of Famer, who broke a streak of 27 straight drives without a touchdown when he hit Emmanuel Sanders up the sideline for 75 yards and a score early in the fourth quarter.
Now, the Broncos may be 6-0, but that perfect record rests squarely on the shoulders of their top-echelon defense, which keeps providing Denver with ways to win even when the offense has failed to score a touchdown in two games. When Aqib Talib intercepted Josh McCown for a 63-yard pick-six early in the second quarter -- his third pick of the season -- it marked Denver's fourth defensive touchdown of the year.
This puts Denver on pace for 10.666 on the year -- and yes, I realize that's not a whole number -- but at this pace, they'd at least tie the record for a season with 10 (set by the 1998 Seahawks), and getting them to 11 would set a new standard.
They say that defense wins championships -- and while I do not think the Broncos can do that with the league-worst offense it has right now -- if Manning can acclimate to the new system and improve as the season goes on, even a shell of his former self may be good enough for Denver to contend for a Super Bowl. Their defense is that good, and that deep.
Here are your scores from this week so far:
Saints 31, Falcons 21 (Thursday)
Vikings 16, Chiefs 10
Bengals 34, Bills 21
Steelers 25, Cardinals 13
Broncos 26, Browns 23 (OT)
Lions 37, Bears 34 (OT)
Texans 31, Jaguars 20
Dolphins 38, Titans 10
Jets, 34, Washington 20
Panthers 27, Seahawks 23
49ers 25, Ravens 20
Packers 27, Chargers 20
Patriots 34, Colts 27
Another week, another example of the NFL not knowing what a touchdown is. Golden Tate isn't complaining.
SB Nation presents: The NFL still doesn't know what a catch is
The refs might have blown a fourth-down call against the Chiefs.
The Dolphins scored a nifty end-around touchdown and dominated in their interim head coach's first game.
Matt Forte recovered his own fumble in highly entertaining fashion.
It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Marvin Jones!
Fines be damned, Cam Heyward continued to pay tribute to his late father.
Martavis Bryant showed off his moves on an 88-yard touchdown from ... Landry Jones?
The Titans are calling BS over a hit the Dolphins delivered on Marcus Mariota, who struggled to hold on to the ball the rest of the game. It was a chippy game all around.
Way to use your head, DeAndre Hopkins.
We tried to figure out what happened at the end of regulation between the Broncos and Browns.
Peyton Manning is Jekyll and Hyde right now.
The Lions won in part because of Megatron's mega-catch in OT.
Aaron Rodgers reached 30,000 career passing yards.
The Panthers stunned the Seahawks with a huge go-ahead touchdown late.
San Francisco's field is so terrible it tried to eat Justin Tucker's foot.
Steve Smith wasn't supposed to play on Sunday, but it's a good thing that he did.
Seahawks flea flicker!
The Colts ran one of the worst trick plays in NFL history.
Mike Vick left the game against the Cardinals twice: First for an "eye" injury and then with a hamstring injury.
After scoring a touchdown against the Bengals, Sammy Watkins left the game with a sprained ankle.
Jeremy Maclin had to be evaluated for a concussion and exited the game against the Vikings.
Melvin Gordon left early against the Packers with foot injury, but returned to the game in the second quarter.