This NFL season has been kinda ornery. That was especially the case last week when almost every game pulled a Costanza and did the opposite of what you’d expect, Vontaze Burfict was served a season-long suspension, and Kirk Cousins made both Stefon Diggs’ and Adam Thielen’s poop list.
So it was heartwarming to see so much fan support this week. Teddy Bridgewater had the type of game we’ve been waiting three years to see, and earned “Teddy! Teddy!” cheers from an ebullient Saints crowd. Bills fans descended on Nashville in droves not seen since peak bachelorette party season. Cheeseheads erupted in “Go Pack Go” chants at JerryWorld. The Patriots and the (previously winless) Broncos played on the road in what felt like home games.
UK fans showed up to the first NFL game in the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, setting a venue attendance record of 60,463, to watch the Raiders take down the Bears. Then Jon Gruden got caught up in the fervor and danced exactly like you’d expect him to, all flailing arms and crazed expression.
Despite such outpouring of love from the most ardent fanbases, there were still moments that probably deserved to bring out the boo birds — several of which came in that London game. Or, in British slang, they really made an arse of it.
And back on US soil, there were times that teams just done messed up. Here are the nine dumbest mistakes from Week 5:
9. Richie Incognito cost the Raiders two scoring opportunities in very Richie Incognito fashion
Incognito was one of Gruden’s many controversial pickups this spring. His disciplinary issues run back to his college days, he was involved in a bullying scandal while playing for the Dolphins, and he spent 2018 out of football and dealing with legal issues off the field — issues that cost him the first two games of the season due to suspension.
On Sunday, Incognito was part of a dominant front five effort from the Raiders. His push at guard helped neutralize the Bears’ stellar pass rush and limited Chicago to zero sacks and one QB hit in a 24-21 win in London.
He also single-handedly drove Oakland out of field goal range on one drive and derailed another trip to the end zone.
The first mistake saw the Raiders drive all the way to the Chicago 28 before an Incognito unnecessary roughness penalty on third down forced them to punt from the 43. It also forced Jon Gruden to make this face for roughly 90 seconds as he sent out the punt unit.
Richie Incognito got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that knocked the Raiders out of field goal range, you say? pic.twitter.com/lNxisjAF5J— Christian D'Andrea (@TrainIsland) October 6, 2019
Incognito struck again when his 15-yard chop block penalty took first-and-10 at the Chicago 19 and turned it into first-and-25. When the Raiders couldn’t convert, a potential touchdown-scoring drive was limited to a 41-yard field goal on fourth-and-14.
Despite Incognito’s reputation, he’ll have a place in Oakland as long as his good outweighs his bad. On Sunday, it was a tenuous balance between the two.
8. Tom Brady lost his mind in the red zone for the second straight week
Last week, Brady threw his first interception of the season by tossing an ill-advised pass with almost no chance of success to Bills safety Micah Hyde in the red zone. This week, Brady threw his second interception of the season by tossing an ill-advised pass with almost no chance of success to Washington cornerback Montae Nicholson.
Redskins corner stayed with James White like a shadow pic.twitter.com/oCCVL7ZEn9— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) October 6, 2019
The Patriots overcame each of these mistakes to improve to 5-0, but they’re beginning to showcase a trend of mortality that could cost them once the schedule gets tougher following a tissue-soft start to 2019.
Then again, Brady finished his day with 348 yards and three touchdowns and New England won by 26 points. They’ll probably be fine.
7. Jaylen Samuels, who is not a quarterback, threw an interception
Samuels made a positive impact for a beleaguered Steelers passing game last week. The second-year tailback completed all three of his passes for 31 yards as Pittsburgh avoided the AFC North basement by beating the hapless Bengals.
That gave head coach Mike Tomlin confidence to turn to him again in Week 5. That confidence was misplaced.
Samuels’ interception led to a Ravens touchdown four plays later and a 10-0 Steelers deficit. This would have been less of a big deal had Pittsburgh not botched Lamar Jackson’s two interceptions so handily. The Steelers earned two first-half turnovers deep in Baltimore territory, then gained seven total yards on the ensuing drives to settle for a pair of field goals in an eventual overtime loss.
6. Chase Daniel lobbed a game-ending pick that never had a chance
The Bears only needed another first down or two to set up a game-tying field goal in the final minutes against the Raiders. A touchdown would’ve been a game-winner.
So it makes sense that Daniel wanted more than just a checkdown pass with a chance to win. But his pass to receiver Anthony Miller was imprudent from the start:
It looks like a bit of a miscommunication, but even if Miller ran exactly where Daniel put the ball, there were going to be at least two Raiders defenders with a chance to get the pick.
That bad decision turned into an easy interception for Gareon Conley that essentially clinched the win for the Raiders.
5. The Panthers got too cute in the red zone (again)
Early in the fourth quarter, the Panthers were up 28-24 on the Jaguars. They had never trailed all game, thanks mostly to the MVP-like performance of Christian McCaffrey.
They were knocking on the door again after putting together an impressive drive that began at the Carolina 6-yard line. McCaffrey touched the ball seven times on the drive’s first 12 plays, and had upped his numbers to a monstrous 237 total yards. With a third-and-1 at the Jacksonville 5, it seemed obvious who would get the ball. It’s not like the Jaguars could stop the same play the Panthers kept running.
So the Panthers had McCaffrey ... try to pass? Ugh. Surprise, it wasn’t successful. Then they went for it on fourth down, rather than take the easy three points and pad their lead to seven.
That time, McCaffrey got the ball — and looking eerily like the fourth-and-goal stop by the Bucs a few week prior, it happened to be the one time the Jags could stop him all day.
We know he’s “Riverboat” Ron Rivera for a reason, but sometimes you can just take the points. Or at least, idk, try a quarterback sneak once in a while?
4. Maybe cover Will Fuller, Falcons?
Look, we get it: DeAndre Hopkins is stupidly good and covering him with multiple players makes sense. But the Texans aren’t exactly starved for other offensive talent, so if you just ignore the other guys, it’s going to go poorly for you. Like it did for the Falcons on Sunday.
The entire Atlanta secondary decided to move with DeAndre Hopkins on Fuller's second touchdown. pic.twitter.com/czUspxVdaP— Rivers McCown (@riversmccown) October 6, 2019
Whoops! But perhaps that was just a fluke. Surely the confusion among Falcons fans about whether or not the team is actually aware of Fuller’s existence was a little overblown. SURELY, they understood that Fuller is a threat.
Or perhaps not.
I will be on my deathbed trying to get someone to explain to me how they couldn't adjust to Will Fuller https://t.co/XHge7Kritj— The Badfootballoholic (@TheFalcoholic) October 6, 2019
Fuller finished Sunday’s game with 14 catches on 16 targets, putting up 217 yards and three touchdowns in what was ultimately a 53-32 Texans win. Facing one of the worst-performing offensive lines in the league, the Falcons continued to send 3-4 guys after Deshaun Watson, and he punished them over and over by finding Fuller for bigger and bigger plays.
3. The Titans test the definition of insanity by trying FGs over and over again and expecting different results
It was no surprise to see the Titans and Bills locked in a defensive struggle for most of the afternoon. They have two of the best scoring defenses in the NFL and two of the most hard to figure out quarterbacks.
On Sunday, both the defenses and the quarterbacks were on their game. Tennessee’s kicking game, however, was not. The Titans tied the game up 7-7 midway through the third quarter and on their next possession, they put together another nice drive to get into the red zone. An illegal forward pass by Marcus Mariota nullified a touchdown, and in came Cairo Santos — who had missed his two previous field goal tries — to try to get Tennessee its first lead of the game.
Alas, his 33-yard attempt was blocked. So when the Bills went ahead 14-7 and the Titans faced another fourth down, what did head coach Mike Vrabel decide to do?
TRY A 53-YARD FIELD GOAL. Sigh:
Mike Vrabel has made some questionable coaching decisions. Electing to try that 53 yard field goal after Santos has missed 3 today was among the most questionable. Alternatives are pin them inside the 5 or go for it on 4th and 4. And you try the field goal? WHYYYYYYY??????? Wtf??— Music City Miracles (@TitansMCM) October 6, 2019
It wasn’t even close, and the Titans never threatened again. One day after his 0-for-4 performance, Santos was released and Tennessee decided to fix its kicking woes by signing Cody “double doink” Parkey.
2. The Raiders gave the Bears life with a hilarious turnover
Oakland dominated the first half of a London game against Chicago and began the third quarter with a 17-0 lead. But instead of adding to it, the Raiders accidentally set up the Bears on the doorstep of their first touchdown of the day with a giant oops.
Derek Carr launched a pitch by the face of running back Josh Jacobs, who couldn’t recover the fumble before former Raider Khalil Mack jumped on it.
Anyone see that no-look toss from Derek Carr pic.twitter.com/nogaI106C4— hiSEAN808 ☠️ (@Oahu_Raider808) October 6, 2019
The problem for the Raiders appeared to be a miscommunication after Carr changed the play at the line of scrimmage. Jacobs expected a handoff and was surprised by the pitch, then made the mistake of trying to scoop it up with one hand.
The Bears took advantage of the turnover and scored a touchdown three plays later, keeping them in the game.
Green Bay escaped Texas with an upset win over the Cowboys, and while it came with a relatively comfortable 10-point advantage, there was a little more drama than the final score suggests.
For one, Jason Garrett broke through his robot facade. He called out the side judge and umpire during a failed pass interference challenge in the third quarter and then, three drives later, earned an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty while emphatically challenging a completion to Amari Cooper that was ruled out of bounds.
Jason Garrett just drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty flag for slamming down a challenge flag too angrily pic.twitter.com/V9XzVrycnw— Christian D'Andrea (@TrainIsland) October 6, 2019
Garrett got the call reversed and played nice after that, but the officials weren’t done turning small missteps into big penalties.
The Cowboys were riding a little momentum when Dak Prescott threw his third interception of the game, which came on what sure looks like some illegal contact from Kevin King:
This is okay though and I no longer have any idea what illegal contact means pic.twitter.com/2DmRdictOI— new-age analytical (@benbbaldwin) October 6, 2019
It was not called, and Garrett had run out of challenges. The Packers added a field goal moments later.
The Cowboys would get 15 yards back on their final drive of the game when Rashan Gary was flagged for roughing the passer after slapping Dak Prescott’s helmet as he scrambled for a 14-yard gain.
Rashan Gary was penalized 15 yards for this, and it didn't even come against Tom Brady pic.twitter.com/YB2RIiM3jV— Christian D'Andrea (@TrainIsland) October 6, 2019
That bonus yardage ultimately didn’t help Dallas. A false start turned a made 28-yard field goal into a 33-yard miss seconds later, and Green Bay kneeled out the clock. The Packers left with the win, the Cowboys left with a loss, and everyone left unhappy with the officiating.