The Week 5 slate was chock full of big games, big wins and big plays. And as the dust settles on the action, it’s time to look back and reward such endeavours with our Full10Yards-embossed game balls. Read on, people, read on…
Offensive player of the week
Tom Brady, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
What a week! Justin Herbert and Jameis Winston both threw for four TDs (Herbert also ran in another himself) and eight players rushed for more than 100 yards, led by Nick Chubb (161 yards) and James Robinson (149). Then came Derrick Henry with 130 and three TDs to boost his league-leading tallies to 640 yards and 7 TDs.
On the receiving side of things, 17 players, including four tight ends and an RB, also broke three figures and the top five on the day – Davante Adams, Kadarius Toney, Mike Williams, Ja’Marr Chase and Robert Woods – hit at least 150 yards. Adams, whose 206 receiving yards marked the first double-century this season, and Williams (165 yards and two TDs) were definitely in the frame this week.
Then on Monday night, Lamar Jackson put the Ravens on his back and led them to a 31-25 OT win over the Colts, a game that featured over 1,000 yards of total offence. Trailing 22-3 in the third quarter, Baltimore suddenly came alive with 22 points in the last 22 minutes. On a night when the Ravens’ streak of consecutive 100-yard rushing games ended at 43, tying but not beating the NFL record, Jackson made amends with a franchise-high of 442 passing yards and four TDs.
Despite Lamar’s heroics, I still have to award the game ball to the GOAT himself, Mr TOM BRADY. TB12 defied his 44 years yet again on Sunday, torching the Dolphins to the tune of 411 yards – Week 5’s top passing yardage until MNF – and five passing TDs in a 45-17 rout. Amazingly, it was the first time that the ageless signal caller has thrown for 400+ yards and five TDs in his 22-year career.
He found Antonio Brown and Mike Evans for two scores each (both also went for 100 yards receiving) while Giovani Bernard took a short catch to the house. Despite injuring his thumb early in the game, Brady finished the day on 30 of 41 (73.1%) with a passer rating of 144.4 and no INTs – setting a new franchise record for consecutive passes without throwing an interception, and marking the third straight game the Buccaneers have gone without a turnover. Brady is second only to Patrick Mahomes for TD passes (15) but leads the league in passing attempts (225), completions (149), total yards (1,767) and yards per game (353.4).
Brady is also four away from 600 career touchdowns but if he’s to reach that milestone this week, his hand doesn’t have long to recover – the 4-1 Bucs travel to Philadelphia for Thursday Night Football.
Defensive player of the week
Derwin James Jr, S, Los Angeles Chargers
Here at F10Y Game Balls HQ, we do love a multi-sack performance and Week 5 did not disappoint. Haason Reddick, Trey Hendrickson, Matt Judon, Everson Griffen, Yannick Ngokoue and Harold Landry all came up trumps, each getting to their targets twice, and Griffen’s forced fumble was an additional feather in his cap. Then we had the Cowboys’ Trevon Diggs, who continues to snag at least one interception per game after yet another against Philadelphia.
However, my vote goes to DERWIN JAMES JR, the Chargers safety, who was an absolute wrecking ball in their 47-42 win over the Cleveland Browns. The guy was hitting hard all over the field and was probably the difference-maker in keeping the Browns out of the win column. James’s 16 (yes, sixteen) tackles included TD-saving sideline takedowns of Donovan Peoples-Jones and Rashad Higgins, and he was often the last line of defence when the likes of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt were charging through the Bolts like a hot knife through butter.
And just for an extra flourish, his highlight reel also included flying in from Baker Mayfield’s blind side for a strip-sack. The game ball is yours, sir.
Coach of the week
Sean McDermott, HC, Buffalo Bills
What catches my eye is an unexpected performance against the odds, which is why I very nearly picked the much-berated Bears’ HC Matt Nagy for masterminding a solid 20-9 win against the Raiders. Their D dominated the Raiders’ high-scoring offence, keeping Derek Carr to 0 TDs, 1 INT and a season-low of just 206 passing yards; he was also sacked three times. On the other side of the ball, Justin Fields was given just enough leash to be effective while the RB committee of Damien Williams and Khalil Herbert (139 yards and a TD between them) filled in admirably for the injured David Montgomery.
But I digress. The prize actually goes to Buffalo’s SEAN McDERMOTT for engineering a 38-20 win against reigning AFC champions the Kansas City Chiefs. The win is their 11th straight victory of 10 or more points, the only such streak of any franchise this century.
Josh Allen went big with 315 yards on just 15 passes (21 yards per completion) and three TDs, as well as 59 yards and a score on the ground. He lost twice to Patrick Mahomes and co. last season but in Sunday’s late game, he wasn’t having any of it. The Bills made big gains throughout the night, with TE Dawson Knox (117 yards from just three catches) scoring on a 53-yard pass and Stefon Diggs hauling in a 61-yarder. KC’s defensive backs chased shadows all game, but especially in the first half.
Amid wind, torrential rain and lightning, it was also a statement win for the Bills’ #1-ranked defence. They intercepted Mahomes twice, with a pick-six from Micah Hyde and a tipped ball landing with Greg Rousseau, and sacked him a couple of times, despite not blitzing once. Meanwhile, the stick-like-glue secondary never left a man open, restricting the usually high-scoring Chiefs to a season-low 20 points.
It was a massive road win for McDermott’s Bills, who move to 4-1 and start to tighten their grip on the AFC East. They destroyed Miami, Washington and Houston along the way, but Sunday’s 18-point win felt like it could herald a changing of the guard in the conference. Yet, at the post-match pressers, every one played it down; every player rolled out a version of the “it’s just one game” mantra.
Yes, it’s only Week 5 and yes, it’s only one win, but that win puts the rest of the conference – indeed the entire league – on notice. With the tie-breaker, Sean McDermott and his team are already the equivalent of three games ahead of KC and they’ve got their eyes set firmly on the Big One in February.
Play of the week
Michael Dickson, P, Seattle Seahawks
I could wax lyrical about a host of huge downfield passes (check out either of Mike Williams’ scores or the Jameis Winston to Marquez Calloway Hail Mary TD), amazing catches (how about Rondale Moore’s sideline toe-tapper or Kyle Pitt’s one-handed snatch in London) and eye-catching rumbles (like Nick Chubb’s 52-yard TD run). But they’re the sort of thing you expect to see every week in the NFL. I was also tempted by Josh Allen hurdling over L’Jarius Sneed for a first down, but in the end, my game ball for play of the week has to be awarded for something I’ve never seen before in my 35-odd years of watching this sport: a double punt.
Down 16-7 in the third quarter against the LA Rams last Thursday, Seattle’s MICHAEL DICKSON was waiting to punt on a 4th-and 14, snapped from his own 21. The attempted kick, taken from about his own 7-yard line, was charged down by Jamir Jones. Initially, Dickson – a Sydney native – showed great composure by scrambling to his left and deftly picking up the spinning ball with one hand without breaking stride. Once he’d reached his own 20-yard line, he then had the presence of mind to cut back inside and boot it 68 yards upfield to the Rams’ 11-yard line – all skills honed as a former Aussie Rules player. At first, the TV pundits said that it was illegal to kick it a second time after passing the line of scrimmage but the judgement from TV reviewers in New York revealed that he’d just managed to stay behind the line before kicking it a second time.
“That was one of the great kicking plays in the history of the league,” beamed Seahawks coach Pete Carroll afterwards. His opposite number, Sean McVay, was like me when he confessed “I’ve never seen anything like a double-punt. That was crazy. So you can kick the ball twice, huh? I guess you learn something every night.”
And as you’re about to read, Dickson provided an all-too-rare moment of magic amid a myriad errors from kickers and punters across the league.
Gaffe of the week
Cameron Johnston, P, Houston Texans
I’m not going to mention Jon Gruden here, but it was tempting to plump for ‘kickers and punters’ in general. We had 27 failed kicks this weekend – 13 missed extra points (an NFL record in the Super Bowl era) and 14 missed field goals – with Green Bay’s trip to Cincinnati responsible for six of those.
The Packers’ Mason Crosby had netted 63 of his last 67 field goal attempts but on Sunday, the machine malfunctioned. He’d begun the day by setting a franchise record with his 27th straight FG but contrived to miss an extra point and three consecutive FGs. In a wild game that seemingly neither team wanted to win, the Bengals’ rookie kicker Evan McPherson also missed his two FG attempts, one of which was close enough for him to start celebrating the win, only to have it ruled no good. This was just the second time since 1970 that four potential go-ahead kicks were missed in the fourth quarter or overtime.
But for the sheer incompetency of a botched trick play against the Patriots, another game ball goes to a punter this week. Stand up and claim your prize CAMERON JOHNSTON, for cannoning the ball off the helmet of a teammate for a net gain of zero yards. There aren’t many teams that could block their own punt but the 2021 Texans are certainly one of them.
In what might yet go down as the worst punt of the season, Houston (leading 22-9 in the third quarter) were lined up on a 4th-and-2 from their own 36. Johnston ran forward, seemingly ready to take the snap and attempt a trick play, causing New England to shift their formation. He then backed up to punt, presumably before the return man could retreat to his normal position. Alas, he didn’t back up far enough and ended up piledriving the ball into the back of Terrence Brooks’ head. It flew off across the field and out of bounds, giving the Pats great field position. They could only score a FG on that possession, but it proved a decisive three points in their 25-22 comeback win.
Do you agree with our game ball picks or would you have gone in another direction? Have you say in our @Full10Yards Twitter polls and listen to our NFL review pod each week as the guys debate these and their own suggestions.
Feature image: The Athletic