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NFL: Patriots Bounce Back To Crush Bengals

football

Week five’s results are in, and with no undefeated teams left in the NFL, it is clear now more than ever that any team can beat anyone else on any given Sunday. Every division remains extremely tight, with at least two teams in the hunt for divisional honours and a playoff spot. Let’s take a look back at the action from week five.

Arizona Cardinals at Denver Broncos (20-41)

A necessary win for the Denver Broncos, and one that they had to work hard for. The positives can be found primarily under one man’s name: Demaryius Thomas. In the first three games, the wideout had a combined 141 yards. On Sunday, he more than doubled his season total, gaining a stunning 226 yards, off a mere eight passes, with two touchdowns to boot. Peyton Manning picked on the Arizona secondary, and Thomas tore them to shreds. The return of Wes Welker has allowed Thomas to return to playing out wide, and he has made the most of his opportunity. It wasn’t all good for the Broncos though. Their own secondary continued to struggle while an NFL-ready quarterback was playing, while the struggling run game is likely in even more bother, with Montee Ball likely out for some time with a groin problem.

The Arizona Cardinals continue to lose key players to injury. Drew Stanton left the game in the third quarter with a concussion, leaving the offense in the hands of rookie project quarterback Logan Thomas. Now, the game was likely out of the Cardinals hands at this point anyway, and it was the eight dropped passes they stacked up that cost them as much as anything. But if this team has to go with Thomas next week (whose only completion on eight attempts was an 81 yard touchdown pass), then their season may well begin to unravel. Antonio Cromartie was picked on and picked apart by Manning and Thomas, who averaged nearly thirty yards per reception. The Cards hung tough with the Broncos for a long time, and that will give them confidence in future big games. But if they can’t stay healthy, particularly at quarterback, then it will be more glorious failure in the desert.

Cincinnati Bengals at New England Patriots (17-43)

What a statement victory that was for the New England Patriots. Coming in off the back of a thumping defeat against the Kansas City Chiefs and facing serious questions over the viability of Tom Brady at quarterback, the Pats came out and blew their illustrious opposition away. In some ways, it was a typical home game in New England. They forced turnovers, claiming the ball when it was loose three times, and racked up scores on turnover drives. Brady was just shy of three hundred yards, while a more involved Rob Gronkowski thrived in a two tight-end, alongside the impressive Tim Wright. Those two accounted for nearly two hundred yards through the air, while Steven Ridley ran for over a hundred yards too. Good luck beating the Pats in New England with those numbers.

A bit of a capitulation by the Cincinnati Bengals in this one. With a bye week to help prepare for this big game, they never really got going. They were managed and bossed by the Patriots defense, and coughed up the ball far too many times to succeed on the road. The score at half time was 20-3, clearly indicating the dominance the Patriots held throughout. It’s not the end of the world for the Bengals, who still sit atop the AFC North. But it does have people questioning their ability to beat big teams, especially come playoff time.

Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts (13-20)

The Indianapolis Colts are really on a roll following this win, bouncing back from two losses to stand at 3-2 now after five games. While the wins over the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans were impressive, there were big questions over the calibre of those opponents. Beating a tough side with an impressive defense says a lot more for these Colts. Andrew Luck came out throwing, as he will continually have to do until he has a run game to lean on. But the more games where he attempts 49 passes, the more games he will throw two interceptions, as he did here. For once though, the Colts defense played stellar football and played a big part in winning this game, recovering two fumbles and minimizing the big play ability of their opponents.

 

A turgid display by the Baltimore Ravens offense cost them here, as their defense did extremely well throughout. Containing Andrew Luck is no mean feat, and keeping him to twenty points at home is about as much as any team can hope for. Rookie CJ Mosley is fast becoming a contender for defensive rookie of the year. The young linebacker covers the ground in a fashion similar to Ravens legend Ray Lewis, giving them a presence they have missed since his retirement. But the offense couldn’t get out of its own way. Steve Smith coughed up a fumble on their first offensive play, while Jacoby Jones also muffed a punt horribly to lose possession. The ground game looks better in Baltimore. Maybe they should put more of the work on Bernard Pierce and co. next time out.

Chicago Bears at Carolina Panthers (24-31)

The Carolina Panthers came out on top in this battle of the malfunctioning sides, and they needed it. They relied on their defense who saw them through in the clinch, claiming two turnovers in the fourth quarter, which the offense converted into ten points. Cam Newton still is struggling to recapture his pre-surgery form, and certainly isn’t the same running threat. The Panthers running game is a mess too, with all three of their premier ball carriers out injured. Still, at least they can lean on their ferocious defense, which returned to some degree on Sunday. If they keep forcing turnovers, then the NFC South title might just stay in Carolina.

The Chicago Bears look to be in all sorts of trouble at the moment. Jay Cutler has already thrown six interceptions this year, but what is of more concern is the key moments in which he tends to throw them. His fourth quarter pick on Sunday was a death knell for the Bears, in a game they had been three points up in at the start of the final quarter. A failure to register any points in the fourth lost them this game. They have several players thriving on defense; they just need the gunslinger to join them, before they fall too far behind in the race for the NFC North.

Houston Texans at Dallas Cowboys (17-20)

A clutch overtime win for the 4-1 Dallas Cowboys. That’s a series of words not many would have predicted they would be saying at the start of the season. That team is really running the wall superbly though. DeMarco Murray is over two hundred yards clear of the next highest rusher in the league, and that has given so much freedom to the rest of the Cowboys’ offense. Tony Romo took full advantage, throwing for over three hundred yards, including the killer pass to Dez Bryant to set up the winning field goal in overtime. You keep expecting this defense to capitulate, but they are playing hard. Next up- an away trip to Seattle. There’s a test for DeMarco Murray.

The Houston Texans have started the season well, but they are doing so in spite of the quarterback. Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 16/25 for 154 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. He has one more interception (6) than touchdown passes thrown so far. Throwing for less than ten yards per completed pass while turning the ball over is a recipe for losses. Arian Foster had a monster day in the battle of Texas, but at the end of the day they need to get the ball to Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins. The Texans are building under new coach Bill O’ Brien, and their team has certainly improved a lot since last year’s worst in the NFL outfit. But until they acquire a trustworthy signal caller, they will remain a team in transition.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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