NFL Week 5
Sometimes, forcing overtime just means giving DeAndre Hopkins another chance to display his brilliant talents. The Cowboys found that out the hard way Sunday night when the Texans’ star wide receiver used the extra session to make an extraordinary play.
With Houston facing a second-and-nine situation at its own 24-yard line, quarterback Deshaun Watson lobbed a short pass just over Dallas cornerback Anthony Brown. Hopkins made a leaping grab, escaped Brown’s attempt at an ankle tackle and used spin moves to evade two other Cowboys defenders before being brought down at the Cowboys 27. The 49-yard play set up Ka’imi Fairbairn’s 36-yard field goal to win the game for the Texans, who took their second straight in OT to improve to 2-3.
After the 19-16 win, Texans Coach Bill O’Brien said that Hopkins had vowed to atone for a fumble earlier in the game, telling him, “Coach, I’ll make up for it,” O’Brien noted with satisfaction, “I’ll say he did.”
Hopkins finished with nine catches for 151 yards, while Watson completed 33 of 44 passes for 375 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The quarterback, who missed much of last season after tearing a knee ligament, also sustained a number of alarmingly heavy hits while attempting to run for touchdowns, and O’Brien said his team had to “do a better job of making sure he doesn’t take as many [shots].” O’Brien added, though, that there was “a fine line,” because running with the ball is “a part of his game.”
Cowboys Coach Jason Garrett, meanwhile, did not exactly earn praise for his overtime performance. Hopkins’s heroics came after Garrett called for his team to punt even though it needed just one yard on fourth down on Houston’s side of the field, at the 42-yard line.
The punt pinned the Texans to their own 10-yard line, but only temporarily, and Garrett was heavily second-guessed, at least online, for taking such a conservative approach.
As Green Bay turns: The Packers turned into a soap opera last week, with Aaron Rodgers passive-aggressively questioning the team’s game plan and play-calling. That led to questions about his relationship with Coach Mike McCarthy, something the two tried to downplay all last week.
On Sunday, personnel was the issue, with two of Rodgers’s favorite receivers (Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison) out with injuries. Still, he passed for 442 yards and three touchdowns after failing to get untracked in the first half. Green Bay’s 24-point halftime deficit was the largest of Rodgers’s career and the most for the Packers since 2006 (per ESPN).
“We missed some field goals, obviously, had a turnover on the 1-yard line,” Rodgers said after the game. “You put that all together, and that’s a lot of points we gave them.”
Green Bay might have made more of a game of it, but veteran kicker Mason Crosby missed four field goal attempts and one PAT in the 31-23 loss to the Lions in Detroit. “I’ve done this a long time and I’ve never had a game like that,” Crosby said after the game (via NFL.com).
Green Bay is 2-2-1, with CBS’s Jason La Canfora reporting that tensions are mounting. That isn’t likely to change this week.
Not too super: Even if they had scored from the 1-yard line late in the third quarter, the Raiders may well have gone on to lose to the Chargers, given that they were losing 20-3 at the time. However, the interception Derek Carr threw all but sealed his team’s defeat, and it left a certain teammate very, very frustrated.
That would be Marshawn Lynch, who, yes, again did not get the ball at the goal line. You may recall that throwing in that situation did not work out well at all for Lynch’s Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX, and “Beast Mode,” who griped about that play-calling gaffe at the time, once again let his unhappiness show.
Maybe Beckham should have spoken up sooner: Odell Beckham Jr. didn’t hold back when he was asked about the Giants’ struggles, saying, “I don’t know,” whether Eli Manning might be part of the problem. The jury may still be out on that subject, but the Giants hung in there before losing 33-31 to the Panthers on a 63-yard field goal by Graham Gano with 11 seconds left.
Beckham followed that up by passing for a touchdown himself, hitting Saquon Barkley on a 57-yarder. Oh, and he also had his first TD reception of the season from Manning.
Gano’s kick tied the NFL record for the longest game-winning effort, equaling the mark set by the Saints’ Tom Dempsey in 1970. Dempsey set a distance record that day which would last until 2013, when Matt Prater hits a 64-yarder for the Broncos.
That unstoppable Thielen: Elite-level consistency, thy name is Adam Thielen. The Vikings wide receiver set a record for the post-merger NFL by going over 100 yards in each of his team’s first five games of the season.
Thielen reached the mark on a 68-yard reception against the Eagles in the third quarter, giving him 110 at the time, and he also contributed a touchdown catch to the cause in Philadelphia. Entering the game, the fifth-year player, undrafted out of Minnesota State, was second in the NFL in both receptions (40) and receiving yards (473).
Big man TD: Linval Joseph packs a listed 329 pounds onto his 6-foot-4 frame. That’s a lot of man to run 64 yards under any circumstances, let alone in an effort to reach the end zone with svelter NFL players desperately trying to catch up.
Yet Joseph succeeded, with some helpful blocking from his Vikings teammates in rumbling for a first-half touchdown after snagging a football fumbled by Carson Wentz after the Eagles quarterback was hit while in the pocket. Joseph was shown moments later on the bench getting a much-needed — and well-deserved — oxygen infusion.
Browns win! Browns win! Browns win! Don’t look now, but Cleveland is 2-2-1, beating the Ravens in overtime on perhaps the ugliest 37-yard, game-winning field goal (by Greg Joseph) you’re ever going to see.
The win is the first on a Sunday for the Browns since 2015, and rookie QB Baker Mayfield completed 25-of-43 passes for 342 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Cleveland is now 2-0-1 at home, its best home start since 2004 (3-0).
More for Mahomes: The league’s top scoring offense met the top defense and the defense gave way. On a wet day in Kansas City, Patrick Mahomes completes 22 of 38 passes for 313 yards (with no touchdowns) and was intercepted twice.
Blake Bortles was, well, Blake Bortles, throwing four interceptions, including a pick six to a lineman, in the 30-14 loss.
As far as the Chiefs’ hot start is concerned, beware of swigging the Kool-Aid. They’ve gotten off to hot starts before and ended up with nothing to show for it in January or February.
Steelers roll: The Steelers put their drama aside, beating the Falcons handily, 41-17, as Antonio Brown scored two touchdowns. Ben Roethlisberger completed 19 of 29 passes for 250 yards and three TDS, with Brown catching six passes for 101 yards. James Conner rushed for 110 yards and two touchdowns, adding 75 yards in receptions.
The Falcons lost their third straight game, with Matt Ryan getting sacked six times.
How ’bout those Jets? Isaiah Crowell set a franchise record with 219 yards rushing (including one 77-yard run for a TD) and rookie Sam Darnold threw two TD passes to Robby Anderson (one a 76-yarder) as the Jets rolled past the Broncos, 34-16. Darnold completed 10 of 22 passes for 198 yards and three TDs (with one interception).
Per ESPN Stats & Info, Crowell’s average of 14.6 yards per carry was the highest in NFL history for any player with at least 15 carries in one game, since the 1970 merger.
A Cincy comeback: The Bengals rallied from a 17-0 deficit for a 27-17 victory over the Dolphins. Ryan Tannehill’s pass under pressure glanced off the helmet of tight end Durham Smythe and landed in the hands of Michael Johnson, who ran 22 yards for the TD that tied the score. That wasn’t the only weirdness, though. After the Dolphins took the lead on a field goal, Tannehill was hit by Carlos Dunlap and the ball went straight to Sam Hubbard, who ran 19 yards for the clinching TD.
Bills get past Titans: A 46-yard Stephen Hauschka field goal as time expired gave the Bills a 13-12 victory over the Titans. The Bills defense forced three turnovers. Rookie Josh Allen finished with 82 yards passing and one interception.
Reid takes a knee: Eric Reid returned to the NFL with a new team and continued to take a knee during the national anthem to raise awareness of social injustice and police brutality. Read more on Reid’s return to the league here.
Top story lines
It can get late awfully early: The NFL season is one-quarter over and John Clayton sees three preseason NFC contenders with cause for concern about making the playoffs because they play in a loaded conference (the Falcons, Vikings and Eagles) and one AFC team that should be worried (the Steelers). Football Outsiders has the Falcons’ playoff odds at 17 percent, the Vikings’ at 24 and the Eagles at 41. The Steelers own 23.9 percent odds. (Read more)
Really, really good news: Roughing the passer penalties were down in Week 4, thank the heavens above. There were five flags thrown for roughing after 34 total in the first three weeks of the season. One NFL executive told The Post’s Mark Maske that the decline is thanks to adjustments by officials, players and coaches. “Some people would say, ‘What’s the reason?’” Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, said. “I would say it’s a combination of coaching points, officiating mechanics and player adjustments. It was all of those. I don’t think it was any one thing.” (Read more)
Oh, say, have you seen? The NFL’s new stars are shining bright and the NFL is fun again, a year after it . . . wasn’t. (Read more from Jerry Brewer.)
A little something for the NFL: Roger Goodell says he appreciates President Trump’s “leadership” on the new trade deal’s Super Bowl provision. (Read more)
What happened to the anthem controversy? All anyone is talking about is roughing-the-passer penalties. (Read more)
Jets’ DC out dealing with an illness: New York Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers will miss the game against the Broncos because he’s dealing with what Coach Todd Bowles said is a “serious” illness. Bowles is expected to call the defensive plays.
And they’re off: The Bears and Buccaneers are this week’s bye teams.
Top story lines
Cowboys’ Williams out: Wide receiver Terrance Williams will miss the game against the Texans with a foot injury.
K.J. Wright out: The Seahawks have ruled out linebacker K.J. Wright (knee) against the Rams; defensive end Frank Clark is questionable.
Sproles out: Eagles running back Darren Sproles (hamstring) and defensive end Derek Barnett (shoulder) will not play against the Vikings; running back Corey Clement (quadriceps) and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (calf) are questionable. The Vikings’ defensive end Everson Griffen is out indefinitely as he undergoes mental health evaluation because of a number of recent incidents. Minnesota running back Dalvin Cook is a game-time decision because of a hamstring injury.
Olsen closer: Panthers tight end Greg Olsen hoped to play in four-to-five weeks after breaking his foot in the opener. Although he was on the practice field last week, he won’t play against the Giants. Linebacker Olivier Vernon (ankle) and tight end Evan Engram (knee) are out for the Giants.
Benjamin out: The Chargers’ Travis Benjamin is out two-to-three weeks with a foot injury.