Who looked pretty out there this past week?
The Patriots? New England was relatively flawless outside of Tom Brady getting sacked early, but you have to take how decimated Dallas is into account. Arizona blew out the Lions in Detroit, but even Jim Caldwell, the head coach most likely to join Joe Philbin as the next in-season coaching casualty, admitted his guys probably didn't go as hard as they could.
You're now out of options with which to answer that first question.
Every other team that won a football game in Week 5 did so in ugly fashion. Those that lost did so brutally. Either they played poorly or met with cruel twists of fate. Any way you slice it, on the heels of Lions heartbreak against the Seahawks on a Monday night, the drama continued a few days later and intensified all the way through.
Survivors found ways while losers melted
Indianapolis backup QB Matt Hasselbeck spent most of the week dealing with a bacterial infection, taking IVs and suffering so much he had as many practices as hospital visits. Then he went out and had himself a flu game against the awful Texans, who have gone from Hard Knocks to hard times over the past few weeks. Instead of the season being essentially over at 1-4 due to Andrew Luck's shoulder woes, Hasselbeck saved it by winning a pair of games the Colts had no business winning.
Of course, Indy's unexpected reprieve can also be looked at as Jacksonville and Houston wasting golden opportunities. The Jags blew their shot due to missed field goals, while the Texans couldn't get any pressure from a front seven that's supposed to be the strength of their football team. A lot was being made of Bill O'Brien being wishy-washy about which of his QBs to ride with, but the fact is he should've been able to win with either of them if J.J. Watt had been able to beat a double-team or if teammates would've been able to take advantage of him drawing that extra attention. Hasselbeck wasn't sacked once. Ironically, the Colts ultimately sealed the win when Brian Hoyer was pressured into a horrific interception.
Baltimore was in survival mode in a battle of 1-3 teams against Cleveland, a divisional opponent it had beaten 13 of 14 times and led deep into the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, it lost Elvis Dumervil, Kyle Arrington and Lardarius Webb in-game and was already without Terrell Suggs and Chris Canty. Chalk up the Ravens loss to the Browns to the same misfortune that has haunted them all season, although Josh McCown keeps impressing down the stretch, strengthening his hold on the QB job.
Even though they deserve pity, the Ravens aren't alone. Some found a way to persevere where others wilted.
Bills QB Tyrod Taylor was sacked four times and suffered an MCL injury that may require him taking at least this next week off. It didn't stop him from willing Buffalo to a road win in Tennessee, one of those victories that makes Rex Ryan extra giddy due to the defense's starring role. Instead of falling to 2-3, Buffalo avoided consecutive losses and survived without LeSean McCoy, Karlos Williams and Sammy Watkins.
The Eagles overcame their own banged-up roster in addition to Sam Bradford's inefficiency in the red zone. Despite throwing a pair of first-half interceptions in the end zone, Bradford's Eagles still led the woeful Saints 10-7 at halftime and dominated the last 30 minutes by a 29-10 count.
Athough some people already have Chip Kelly outfitted in the Cardinal and Gold of USC, he's got a shot at overcoming this season's early struggles. DeMarco Murray finally looks healthy and dispelled some of the chatter that he's the wrong running back for the system by averaging over 4 yards per carry and contributing 120 all-purpose yards to the cause. Either the Eagles or Drew Brees' Saints were going home 1-4 this past Sunday, so it's somewhat telling that the visitors went down the way they did. You could almost see New Orleans collectively running out of gas.
The same thing happened to the Chiefs, although it manifested itself in all the air coming out of Arrowhead the second Jamaal Charles tore his ACL. Up 17-3 early in the third quarter, Charles went down in a crumpled heap and Kansas City's already disappointing season ended. The Bears would win 18-17, rising up valiantly to help put everyone in the stadium out of their collective misery.
Now that we're into mid-October, teams are going to start to fall off. Some will go down swinging -- see Dallas desperately turning to Matt Cassel -- while others, like Caldwell's Lions, may curl up into a ball and give less of an effort than they should.
The final installments of Week 5 saw a pair of primetime games go down to the final seconds. Jim Tomsula's 49ers unexpectedly flew cross-country and gave the Giants a battle, getting Colin Kaepernick's best effort of the season. It took a team-record 41 completions, but Eli Manning utilized his last one to help stave off an upset bid. More on that below.
On Monday, Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin rolled the dice with a last-second run to win at San Diego in the ultimate microcosm of what the past week in the NFL felt like. Philip Rivers was out there attempting to mask what is currently the worst offensive line in pro football by getting the Chargers into the right play and getting rid of the ball as soon as possible. On the other end, the older backup version of the force of nature once known as Michael Vick was painfully grinding through an off night. It was so bad he made you openly wonder how he could look worse than he did in his first start despite considerably more preparation time.
Two 2-2 teams fought to stay on the right side of .500 and the one that had the ball at the end was seemingly always going to win. The Steelers closed out Week 5 with a walk-off touchdown, delivering a fantastic ending to an awfully ugly game. It's only going to get more riveting, more desperate in the next few weeks. The divide is quickly forming. Six unbeatens remain. There are 10 teams with one win or less. Some will join Detroit in going quietly. However it goes down, it's a safe bet Week 6 won't feature a lot of pretty either.
NFL Week 5 recap snapshot
1. Bengals 27, Seahawks 24 OT, 2. Browns 33 Ravens 30 OT, 3. Giants 30 49ers 27
1. Patriots 30 Cowboys 6, 2. Cardinals 42 Lions 17, 3.Bears 18 Chiefs 17
1. QB Eli Manning, N.Y. Giants: 41-54 441 yds 3 TD 1 INT vs San Francisco, 2. RB Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh 21-111 rushing yds, 4-16 rec yds 1 TD at San Diego, 3. QB Andy Dalton, Cincinnati: 30-44 331 2 TD, 1 INT vs Seattle
1. Bell brilliantly scored on that wildcat play, because originially, the push wasn't there. He was patient and adjusted to how the play unfolded, breaking the plane just before his knee hit. 2.Cleveland TE Gary Barnidge made another brilliant play down by the goal line late in the fourth, following up a diving Week 4 reception in San Diego by catching a ball in between his thighs while landing on his back in Baltimore. The grab helped set up the score that sent the game to OT. 3. Giants TE Larry Donnell made a tremendous catch on Manning's game-winning throw with 21 seconds left. It almost looked like his facemask sucked in the football over a pair of 49ers defenders as they all jumped. He had to hold on to it while landing flat on his back too. The degree of difficulty was high.
Best coaching jobs:
1. To keep his team locked in despite a healthy deficit against the two-time defending NFC champs speaks volumes about where Marvin Lewis has his team mentally. Dalton deserves a ton of the credit too, but Lewis has his Bengals poised and confident enough to trade blows and make plays against a fellow heavyweight. 2. Atlanta's Dan Quinn didn't have a healthy Julio Jones to lean on and saw his team play down to Washington's level. Still, they hung in there and twice took a lead in the fourth in a game they trailed through three quarters, finally winning in OT on a defensive play. Given how low the Falcons fell last season, winning a game like this was a huge step forward. 3. Pittsburgh's Tomlin gets credit for his gamble paying off, not to mention winning thousands of miles from home. It certainly helped the cause to have so many Terrible Towels being waved Qualcomm. Steeler nation dropped a key assist.
Worst coaching jobs:
1. He's made this list a few times already this season, but Kansas City's Andy Reid did a horrible job getting his guys to rally after Charles' injury. If it's Alex Smith who is stunting his creativity, then it's on him to call to the bullpen for Chase Daniel. The Chiefs are in shambles. 2. Detroit's Caldwell had a tough task on a short week given that his team was gift-wrapped an excuse for losing to the Seahawks, but they may as well have worn white flags as t-shirts and proclaimed they left their hearts in Seattle. The Lions didn't bother to show up at home for Arizona. 3. Houston's O'Brien knows his team shouldn't have lost to the Colts. With Luck out, an opportunity to seriously threaten Indy's AFC reign presented itself on a silver platter at home and the Texans failed to take advantage. Though he was right in riding the hot hand of a more poised Brian Hoyer over Ryan Mallett, he has to be on this list for letting one get away.
Sharp money came in on the Titans getting as much as 2.5 before it became a pre-game pick'em, so most cashed despite the 14-13 loss. Another instance of getting the line at nice price came in Broncos/Raiders, where the visitors endede up laying 6 and pushing at many spots. Under calls on Colts/Texans and Saints/Eagles weren't as effective. In Dineroland, we went a disappointing 7-8.
Close calls and bad beats:
The 1 o'clock ET block featured wild swings like the one that saw the Chiefs go from covering 9 to losing outright and the Browns fighting back to not only cover in Baltimore, but ultimately, an OT win.
As covered above, money line players or those that got in on the Bills on Sunday morning loved Taylor's late heroics and weren't made to sweat too much late since Stephan Gilmore picked off Marcus Mariota at the Bills 38-yard-line on the first play of Tennessee's final drive, allowing the offense to run out the clock.
Cincinnati's comeback and OT win provided a push to those who rode with the hot Bengals over Seattle, a trendy pick that was shared by both the public and sharps fading the Seahawks on the road. Josh McCown made some really nice throws and decisions in working his way down the field and hit Gary Barnidge down by the goal line when the tight end made a tremendous diving catch right in front of the pylon to set up his own 1-yard score two plays later to ensure the cover.
Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles (ACL/OFY), Browns CB Joe Haden (Concussion/likely out Week 6), Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. (Hamstring, questionable), Jaguars QB Blake Bortles (Shoulder/probable Week 6), Browns QB Josh McCown (Ankle/Likely to play Week 6), Texans DE Jadeveon Clowney (Ankle/day-to-day), Broncos DE DeMarcus Ware (Back, Likely out 2 weeks), Texans DT Jared Crick (Knee/day-to-day), Saints WR Marques Colston (Shoulder, week-to-week), Ravens RB Justin Forsett (Ankle, questionable), Ravens LB Elvis Dumervil (Groin, questionable), Rams DE Chris Long (Knee, week-to-week), Packers T T.J. Lang (Knee, questionable), Rams LB Nick Perry (Shoulder), Bears LB Shea McClellin (Knee, week-to-week), Cardinals LB Alex Okafor (Calf, out 2-4 weeks), Patriots LB Dont'a Hightower (Ribs, Probable), Giants WR Reuben Randle (Hamstring, questionable), Giants LB Jon Beason (Concussion, questionable)
Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA