In a week in which they needed wins, the Texans’ offense scored 53 points, the Vikings’ Adam Thielen gained 130 yards and scored twice and the Ravens’ Justin Tucker hit an overtime game-winner in Pittsburgh. The Patriots remained undefeated, and the Cardinals and Broncos finally found the win column. The Raiders pulled off a huge comeback, and New Orleans’ Teddy Bridgewater threw four touchdowns in a division victory.

All that and more in Week 5’s biggest takeaways from NFL Nation.

Jump to a matchup:
TB-NO | ATL-HOU | BUF-TEN
NE-WSH | BAL-PIT | OAK-CHI
MIN-NYG | NYJ-PHI | JAX-CAR
ARI-CIN | DEN-LAC | GB-DAL
LAR-SEA


Teddy Bridgewater has done wonders for his future earnings — oh, and the Saints’ Super Bowl chances — over the past three weeks. He is now 3-0 as starter in Drew Brees‘ absence, and he put an exclamation point on his performance with 314 yards and four touchdowns on Sunday. Bridgewater might not get another chance to light up the stat sheet at Jacksonville and Chicago the next two weeks, but it was a nice reminder he has this kind of performance in him when the circumstances are right. — Mike Triplett

Next game: at Jacksonville (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Oct. 13)

With a chance to show their 55-points against the Rams last week was no fluke, the Bucs failed to deliver. With or without Brees, the Saints on Sunday showed the NFC South is still very much theirs to win. If the Bucs want to compete, they have to take it up several notches and can’t allow receiver Mike Evans to be taken out of a game. NFL sack leader Shaquil Barrett and the Bucs’ defense were unable to pressure Bridgewater and surrendered 457 total yards. That’s not going to win you division title. — Jenna Laine

Next game: vs. Carolina (9:30 a.m. ET, Sunday, Oct. 13, London)


A week after scoring 10 points against the Panthers, the offense woke up. Deshaun Watson threw for 426 yards and five touchdowns. He has now thrown at least four touchdown passes in a game for the fifth time in his career, which is tied for the second-most in the NFL since 2017, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The quarterback who leads that category? Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the Texans’ Week 6 opponent. — Sarah Barshop

Next game: at Kansas City (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Oct. 13)

The Falcons’ defense is atrocious, and there doesn’t appear to be a quick fix. The Falcons surrendered 592 yards of total offense to the Texans and did not sack Watson. And now the Falcons have Kyler Murray, Jared Goff, Russell Wilson and perhaps Drew Brees upcoming over the next four games. The offense might have to score 35-plus points per game if the Falcons hope to win. “We’re disappointed across the board,” said Falcons coach Dan Quinn, also the defensive coordinator. “One hundred percent gut-check time for us.” — Vaughn McClure

Next game: at Arizona (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday, Oct. 13)


The hype surrounding Duke Williams might have been warranted. The practice squad signee caught four passes for 29 yards and the go-ahead touchdown in his NFL debut Sunday, picking up a first down or touchdown on three of his four receptions. He was a fixture in the Bills’ three-receiver sets and has another opportunity to shine when Buffalo hosts Miami after its Week 6 bye. “I loved his juice. I loved the toughness he brings — he’s earned it,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said. “The way he practiced, his behavior, in terms of his habits. One practice to another, all the way through the first four weeks. … He made plays in practice and in the one-on-ones, so he earned it.” — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Next game: vs. Miami (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Oct. 20)

The Titans have to figure out a way to play better on the offensive line. They gave up three first-half sacks to Bills defensive tackle Jordan Phillips. Quarterback Marcus Mariota was continuously under pressure and had little time to do anything with the ball. Right guard Rodger Saffold was signed to shore up the interior line, but he gave up a sack, as well. Tight end Delanie Walker is one of the top weapons in the passing game but has only two catches in the past two weeks. If the Titans plan on winning more games, they’ll need to fix a leaky offensive line and get the ball to Walker more frequently. — Turron Davenport

Next game: at Denver (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday, Oct. 13)


The running game changed everything for the Patriots’ offense. After quarterback Tom Brady tied a career high with 31 pass attempts in the first half and the offense wasn’t operating at peak efficiency, a switch to a Sony Michel-led rushing attack changed the complexion of the game. Up to that point, concerns were growing in New England over the state of the offense. Only seven runs were attempted in the first half. But receiver Josh Gordon also said that was part of the plan — to play fast and see if Washington could keep up with the passing game before unleashing the running game. Will the Patriots continue with the running attack on Thursday night against the Giants, who surrendered 211 rushing yards to Minnesota on Sunday? — Mike Reiss

Next game: vs. N.Y. Giants (8:20 p.m. ET, Thursday, Oct. 10)

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Sony MIchel makes a nice move at the line and stiff-arms a defender on his way to a 14-yard touchdown.

The Redskins have no answers on offense. They’re a mess. They can’t run, a function of inconsistent blocking and schemes. They struggle on third downs, a function of line play and inconsistent quarterback play. Colt McCoy was the latest to start, and he’ll likely continue; they’ll want to give him more than one week. And maybe they’ll get a win at Miami. But perhaps the biggest failing in coach Jay Gruden’s five-plus years has been the inability to establish a running game with any kind of identity. Injuries have hurt, but so have other factors, such as poor blocking. The scheme, designed by line coach Bill Callahan, has been knocked. After the opener, the Redskins looked like they might have a solid passing game, but they’ve had too many players in and out to establish anything. They’re 0-5 and headed nowhere. — John Keim

Next game: at Miami (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Oct. 13)


The Ravens can always rely on Justin Tucker. They ended a two-game losing streak and jumped back into first place in the AFC North on the strength of Tucker’s leg. The most accurate kicker in NFL history hit four field goals, including the winning 46-yarder in overtime in the notoriously tough open end of Heinz Field. Quarterback Lamar Jackson said, “That’s the best kicker in the game … I knew he was going to make that.” On a day when Jackson threw a career-worst three interceptions and the defense allowed big plays, Tucker remains the most consistent part of the team. He is now 24-of-25 (96%) on field goals in Pittsburgh. — Jamison Hensley

Next game: vs. Cincinnati (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Oct. 13)

The Steelers are on their third starting quarterback in five weeks. With a concussion to Mason Rudolph, the next man up is Devlin Hodges, a Samford University product who went through training camp with the Steelers and was signed to the practice squad after the Joshua Dobbs trade. Hodges was elevated to the 53-man roster after the season-ending elbow injury to Ben Roethlisberger in Week 2. Playing just more than a quarter and a half, Hodges finished the game 7-of-9 for 68 yards. He also had the Steelers’ longest run of the game with a 21-yard dash in the fourth quarter. The game plan obviously changes with the 6-foot-1 Hodges as the starter going forward. — Brooke Pryor

Next game: at L.A. Chargers (8:20 p.m. ET, Sunday, Oct. 13)


Josh Jacobs‘ big day came at a big moment. He went to the Raiders in the Khalil Mack trade. Basically. It was with the No. 24 overall pick — acquired as part of the package the Raiders acquired from the Bears on Sept. 1, 2018 — that the Raiders selected the Alabama running back in April. And it was Jacobs who scored the go-ahead touchdown on a Marcus Allen-like leap over the pile in the fourth quarter. Jacobs rushed for two TDs and a career-best 123 yards on 26 carries. Mack had a fumble recovery and three tackles and was shut out on the sack front. Advantage, Raiders, who now go into their bye week with two straight wins, a 3-2 record and loads of momentum. — Paul Gutierrez

Next game: at Green Bay (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Oct. 20)

The Bears offense is inconsistent. Chicago entered the year with such high hopes, but after five games, the offense lacks an identity. It’s hard to pinpoint one particular thing the Bears do well on offense, even though backup quarterback Chase Daniel has had good moments in relief of the injured Mitchell Trubisky. The Bears’ defense will only take them so far, and on a day when the Bears’ usually ferocious D needed the offense to bail it out, it didn’t happen until it was too late. — Jeff Dickerson

Next game: vs. New Orleans (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday, Oct. 20)


The Vikings finally found their formula for achieving offensive balance. It starts with moving Kirk Cousins around in the pocket, changing his launch points via rollouts and bootlegs so he can buy himself more time to make his reads and establish an explosive passing game via play-action. It also means utilizing running back Dalvin Cook in both the passing and rushing attack (218 yards from scrimmage). Minnesota did its damage through the air early against the Giants so it could burn the clock later by running the ball. When the Vikings go against some of the league’s best defenses, this will be the strategy so they don’t become one-dimensional early. — Courtney Cronin

Next game: vs. Philadelphia (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Oct. 13)

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0:44

Kirk Cousins finds Adam Thielen for two scoring strikes to lead the Vikings past the Giants.

This was a learning experience for quarterback Daniel Jones. Jones hadn’t seen anything like the Vikings’ defense and admittedly was “not good enough.” It was his worst start yet, as Jones was sacked four times, threw an interception (probably fortunate there weren’t a few more) and missed a pair of touchdown passes to a wide-open Sterling Shepard. But this is the Giants’ reality. Jones is a rookie quarterback, and with that comes ups and downs. Still, there were positives after he threw for 182 yards on 38 attempts. Coach Pat Shurmur saw toughness and poise. “That’s why he’s going to be a good player for a long time,” Shurmur said. It’s not easy to come away with that feeling in an 18-point loss. — Jordan Raanan

Next game: at New England (8:20 p.m. ET, Thursday, Oct. 10)


The Eagles’ defense was stifling. The Eagles’ win over the Jets said more about the Jets (they’re a mess), but Philadelphia took care of business, dominating on D to the tune of 10 sacks, 16 QB hits and two return TDs. Still, Carson Wentz and the offense need to pick it up if the Eagles are to keep it going during a three-game road swing through Minnesota, Dallas and Buffalo. — Tim McManus

Next game: at Minnesota (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Oct. 13)

The Jets have a lot of issues right now. Without quarterback Sam Darnold (mono), the Jets were noncompetitive on offense for a third consecutive week. With the Cowboys and Patriots up next on the schedule, they are staring at the possibility of 0-6. The offensive line was a mess, and replacement QB Luke Falk didn’t help with his lack of experience and pocket presence. Darnold’s eventual return will help, but the problems go beyond the quarterback position. — Rich Cimini

Next game: vs. Dallas (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday, Oct. 13)


The offensive line has been key. Ron Rivera got a game ball for becoming the winningest coach in Panthers history with 74 wins, and running back Christian McCaffrey also deserved one for collecting a franchise-record 237 total yards from scrimmage. But the man behind the scenes who deserves credit is offensive line coach John Matsko. He was without his Pro Bowl right guard (Trai Turner, ankle) and starting left tackle (Greg Little, concussion) but pieced together a unit that helped the Panthers to 285 rushing yards and gave up only three sacks. Rivera called the line’s performance “awesome.” Keep an eye on this team. It could be dangerous with this formula. — David Newton

Next game: vs. Tampa Bay (9:30 a.m. ET, Sunday, Oct. 13, London)

The Jaguars’ inability to stop the Panthers’ ground game (285 yards) was the reason for Sunday’s loss. It wasn’t like the Panthers disguised what they wanted to do, either: McCaffrey entered the game as the league’s leader in rushing and yards from scrimmage. Missed tackles continue to be a problem, especially in one-on-one situations, and the Jaguars have to shore that up with Alvin Kamara and Le’Veon Bell on the schedule in two of the next three weeks. The Jags weren’t gap sound on Sunday, but that should be an easy fix. — Mike DiRocco

Next game: vs. New Orleans (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Oct. 13)


The Cardinals finally won a month into the season. They showed the ability to pivot to run-heavy team led by 93 yards from dual-threat quarterback Kyler Murray. But in reality, it was one bad team facing another. Something had to give, making it impossible to know if the Cardinals made any progress against the Bengals or if they were just better than another winless team. — Josh Weinfuss

Next game: vs. Atlanta (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday, Oct. 13)

The Bengals lack a consistent pass-rush and red zone scoring, but they also continue to play poorly late. For the second time in three weeks, the Bengals didn’t make enough plays in the fourth quarter. Cincinnati’s losses can be split into two categories: overwhelming blowouts and tight losses. The defeat to the Cardinals is the third one in the latter category. “That’s a hard one to swallow right there, when you think you got it in your grasp and you don’t get it done,” Bengals first-year coach Zac Taylor said. — Ben Baby

Next game: at Baltimore (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Oct. 13)


How will the Broncos build off their first win? Coach Vic Fangio’s team gave him the game ball after the first win of the season, and Fangio promptly handed the ball to the player closest to him in the locker room — linebacker Alexander Johnson. And though Fangio said the Broncos have shown they can “hang on” for a victory, as they did Sunday against the Chargers, now it’s about progress. The Broncos played a muscle-up game but to turn this victory into something more, they can’t go stale on offense for more than a quarter as they did in the second half. They have no middle ground on offense right now — it’s either dominant or dormant. And with their Sunday-Thursday combination of games approaching (Tennessee, then Kansas City on a short week), the Broncos need a wire-to-wire effort from the offense if they are going to dig out from their difficult start. — Jeff Legwold

Next game: vs. Tennessee (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday, Oct. 13)

In his first game action, Chargers running back Melvin Gordon looked like someone who has missed more than two months of work. The Wisconsin product appeared out of sorts and had trouble finding any rhythm on offense running the football. The result was 31 rushing yards on 12 carries, for a paltry 2.6 per carry average. Without an effective running game, the Chargers struggled to move the ball. However, at 2-3, the Chargers will get a shot to get back to .500 by hosting the Steelers in Week 6 on Sunday night. — Eric D. Williams

Next game: vs. Pittsburgh (8:20 p.m. ET, Sunday, Oct. 13)


The Packers can win big games on the road. They won exactly one road game last year — and it didn’t happen until Week 16 at the hapless Jets. Sunday’s win at Dallas not only put them at 2-0 away from Lambeau Field and 4-1 overall, but gave them two road wins at two playoff-caliber teams in the Bears and Cowboys. With winnable home games coming up against the Lions and Raiders, they have a realistic shot at being 6-1 before they go to Kansas City on Oct. 27. What’s the difference? “I like the vibe on the team,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “I think we’re having a lot of fun.” — Rob Demovsky

Next game: vs. Detroit (8:15 p.m. ET, Monday, Oct. 14)

The Cowboys need to learn from Sunday’s loss. Coming off consecutive losses to New Orleans and Green Bay, quarterback Dak Prescott is not ready to alter what he believes the Cowboys are capable of doing the rest of the season. After five weeks, the Cowboys are 3-2, but losses to NFC playoff-caliber teams could come back to haunt them when it comes to playoff seeding or wild-card tiebreakers. “Definitely a lot of football to be played,” Prescott said. “A lot of plays to be made, and we’re not shy of making them. We’re not backing down. We’ll take this one on the chin. We’re going to take the good, take the bad. We’re going to learn from it, and hopefully we’ll look back at this and say this was a turning point or this was good for us.” — Todd Archer

Next game: at N.Y. Jets (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday, Oct. 13)


Russell Wilson is off to the best start of his career. His numbers rival what he did in the second half of the 2015 season, which is the best stretch of football he has played. Wilson has set new career highs through five games with 12 touchdowns (and zero picks), a 73% completion rate and a 9.0 yards-per-attempt average. Sure, the Seahawks were fortunate to escape with a win over the Rams, but they’re 4-1 with extra rest before they play the Browns in Cleveland — and they have a quarterback who’s playing at an MVP level. That can mask some deficiencies around him. — Brady Henderson

Next game: at Cleveland (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Oct. 13)

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Tyler Lockett explains to Scott Van Pelt that Russell Wilson’s accuracy and ability to bring a team back once a play breaks down isn’t a skill that can be taught.

The offense was finally clicking. The Rams played their most complete game on offense, which could come as a surprise given the loss. Coach Sean McVay wasted no time involving running back Todd Gurley II early, which helped the production of the entire offense, allowing it to be less one-dimensional behind quarterback Jared Goff. Despite two consecutive losses, the Rams should go into Sunday’s division contest with the 49ers with a renewed confidence on offense. Defensively, they have some work to do. — Lindsey Thiry

Next game: vs. San Francisco (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday, Oct. 13)