NFL Week 6 Recap: Browns try for comeback against Broncos, Houston QB controversy may be resolved
By Roger Sinclair
Broncos 26 Browns 23 OT
Denver’s defense once again propelled the team to a win as it overcame Peyton Manning’s deteriorating arm. Manning finished the game with 3 interceptions, one of which came in overtime, and appeared to end the Broncos’ hope of staying undefeated. Denver’s “Orange Crush 2.0” defense was able to stop Cleveland in its tracks and prevent them from scoring a game winning field goal in overtime. Aqib Talib of Denver recorded his eighth interception return for a touchdown in his career with a 56-yard interception return. Ronnie Hillman also supplied Denver with a consistent rushing attack, gaining 111 yards on the ground. Cleveland, on the other hand, was marred by turnovers and inconsistent offensive production the entire game. While they led a fierce comeback in the 4th quarter to take the game into overtime, the offense sputtered and failed to pick up any yards after Peyton Manning’s interception gave them the ball at Denver’s 39-yard line. Cleveland will take on the Rams next week, while Denver heads into their bye week 6-0 and notably 4-0 on the road.
Texans 31 Jaguars 20
Houston’s quarterback controversy appears to be turning in Brian Hoyer’s favor as the team picked up their second win of the season. Hoyer had three touchdown passes Sunday afternoon, hitting DeAndre Hopkins twice and Arian Foster once. Foster, still returning from injuries that kept him out of Houston’s lineup earlier this season, had over 100 all-purpose yards and also added a receiving touchdown to his solid performance. Julius Thomas, Jacksonville’s prized offseason acquisition, had his first productive game of the season following a foot injury that sidelined him for the first four weeks of the season. Thomas finished with 78 yards and a touchdown, and Jags fans are hoping the Bortles-Thomas connection continues to impress. Blake Bortles took a step back in a so far impressive sophomore season with three interceptions on the day, one of which was returned for a touchdown and gave Houston a 31-14 lead in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately for Jacksonville, this is the second consecutive week where the team showed signs of life, only to collapse in the fourth quarter. The Jags fall to 1-5 on the season, while Houston sits at a lowly 2-4 record. Surprisingly, Houston is only one game behind Indy for the AFC South crown, making next week’s showdown with the Dolphins matter much more.
Steelers 25 Cardinals 13
With Arizona heading to town and the Steelers still struggling with Michael Vick at the helm, many people penciled this game in as a loss for Pittsburgh. However, former Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones provided the spark that may have saved the Steelers’ season. Jones entered the game in the 3rd quarter after Michael Vick left with a hamstring injury and led the Steelers to 19 second-half points. Martavis Bryant’s first game back from suspension started incredibly well for Pittsburgh, with the second year wideout catching two touchdowns and ending the game with 137 receiving yards. If Roethlisberger can’t go for the Steelers next week against the Kansas City Chiefs, many Steelers fans expect (and hope) Landry Jones will get his first career start in the NFL. Arizona missed an opportunity to increase their lead in the NFC West and looked befuddled by Pittsburgh’s defense. Carson Palmer was able to lead the Cardinals on long drives; however, they were mistake prone the entire game. Arizona turned the ball over three times and also missed a field goal early in the first half, allowing the Steelers to stay in and eventually triumph in a game they were thoroughly outplayed in. Arizona will play another AFC North opponent next week, albeit the lowly 1-5 Ravens (never thought I would type those words). Pittsburgh stays alive in the AFC North race by improving to 4-2, 2 games behind the undefeated Bengals.
Ravens 20 49ers 25
In one of the most depressing Super Bowl rematches in recent memory, the 49ers and Jim Tomsula earned a hard fought victory against the Ravens (revenge, maybe?). Baltimore continues to plummet to the cellar of the NFL with this loss and surprisingly couldn’t get the W in an incredibly winnable game against San Francisco. The Ravens continue to struggle on the defensive side of the ball and allowed Colin Kaepernick 340 yards and two touchdowns. While Baltimore’s run defense only gave up 65 total yards on 25 carries, their secondary has made Josh McCown and Colin Kaepernick appear to be Bernie Kosar and Joe Montana in successive weeks. This ineptitude in the secondary seems astounding, especially since there are still quality players out there for the Ravens. Jimmy Smith, Lardarius Webb and Will Hill are all perennial starters in the NFL, but the loss of Matt Elam at the strong safety position has thrown the entire secondary off. The 49ers pick up their second win in this rough 2015 season, with Kaepernick continually improving after a horrid game against Green Bay two weeks ago. Carlos Hyde had a difficult game rushing, but both Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith (former Ravens on their 2012 Super Bowl roster) tore up the Ravens defense. The 49ers have a quick turn around as they battle the Seattle Seahawks for last place in the NFC West on Thursday night.
Packers 27 Chargers 20
While it may be official that Aaron Rodgers is indeed a human, he was still able to lead his team to a victory over the Chargers on Sunday afternoon. Rodgers’ offense is hampered with injuries, with Eddie Lacy having a rough game coming off an injury. Players like James Starks and Jeff Janis stepped up to help the Packers offense. Philip Rivers looked like a superhero Sunday afternoon, but he did not have any other players step up to help him out. Rivers set franchise records for completions and pass attempts (43 and 65 respectively) on top of 503 yards passing. His great performance was marred by the awful play of rookie Melvin Gordon, who had a mere 29 rushing yards and two fumbles. Rivers helped his team as much as possible, but couldn’t prevent his team from dropping to 2-4. San Diego’s loss only increases the disparity in the AFC West standings, with the next best team behind Denver (6-0) being Oakland (2-3). Green Bay heads into its bye week feeling very happy after an undefeated start and glad to have the extra time for their next test against the vaunted Denver defense.
Patriots 34 Colts 27
This “rivalry” game was far more one sided than the score shows, and also included possibly the worst fake punt in NFL history. Chuck Pagano dialed up a play that saw a wide receiver directly snap the ball to a backup safety, with everyone else on the punting team to the right of the field. Not only was it an illegal formation, but it led to a turnover on downs and a New England touchdown that turned out to be the game winner. Indianapolis was competitive in this one, holding a 21-17 lead late in the first half. Surprisingly, many pundits in the NFL felt that New England viewed this as a revenge game for the entire “Deflate-gate” fiasco and would blow out the Colts. While it wasn’t a blowout, New England proceeded to score 17 unanswered points to take a commanding 34-21 lead over Indy and effectively seal the victory. Tom Brady threw his first interception of the season, which was returned by Mike Adams for a touchdown. To be fair, Edelman should’ve caught the pass and Brady shouldn’t take too much blame for throwing his first interception in Week 6. New England heads home next week, taking on the surprising Jets in a battle for first place in the AFC East. Indy continues to struggle, falling to 3-3 on the year and placing Chuck Pagano on the hotseat. The Colts host New Orleans next Sunday.
Eagles 27 Giants 7
In a strange conclusion to Week 6, the Eagles picked up a convincing win against Big Blue on Monday Night Football. Philly’s defense continued to shine, returning an interception for a touchdown in the second quarter and forcing two more turnovers. Eli Manning was unable to get anything going, as he was sacked three times and pressured all night. This score only shows one half of the story though. Quite possibly the most overhyped quarterback in the NFL, Sam Bradford threw three interceptions (one of which was in the endzone) and the Eagles fumbled once more, raising their turnover tally to four. Despite this, the Eagles offense showed signs of improvement, and was able to sustain longer drives and limit their 3-and-outs when they weren’t coughing up the ball. If the Eagles did not have one of the best defenses in the NFL, they would be in a much more difficult situation. While I’m still not convinced that Mark Sanchez isn’t the starter at some point this season for the Eagles, their offense did show signs of life, and Eagles fans have reason to be hopeful. The Giants head home, hoping to return to their winning ways against Matt Cassel and the Cowboys. The Eagles have a tough game ahead of them on Sunday night, traveling to Carolina to take on the still undefeated Panthers.