Official review: NFL's game, drive and play that shaped Week 6
These were the defining moments of Sunday's Week 6 action in the NFL.
Week 6 in the NFL had its defining moments on Sunday. These turning points can be described in three different ways.
This article will highlight the game, the drive and the play that shaped Sunday's action. The game featured below served as an interesting barometer for one conference's top two contenders, the drive was a smooth showing by one of the league's most erratic passers, and the play was an explosive moment from a wide receiver who always finds his way into the headlines.
Read on to learn more about how the game, the drive and the play highlighted in this article shaped Week 6.
The Game: Cowboys dominate Packers
The Sunday afternoon game against the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers was supposed to be a battle between to NFC powerhouses. Instead, it turned out to be a pretty one-sided affair.
Even though the game was not very close, the television ratings were through the roof.
17.4 overnight for yesterday's late NFL game on FOX. Highest NFL overnight of the season and +12% better than Week 6 late game last year.— Michael Mulvihill (@mulvihill79) October 17, 2016
We knew heading into the season that the Cowboys would lean on their running game, but few could have predicted rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott's level dominance in Dallas' 30-16 win over the Packers. Heading into Week 6, Green Bay had the NFL's best run defense with an average of 2.0 yards allowed per carry. Elliott carried the ball 28 times for an average of 5.6 yards per pop, finishing with an astounding 157 yards on the ground.
Elliott's powerful performance against the Packers was indicative of the team's overall identity.
"We are a physical team," Elliott said after the game. "A lot of teams can't keep that physical presence for four quarters. We aren't going to back down, no matter what front they bring. So just the attitude that we have wears those guys down."
The Cowboys are now 5-1 and rivaling the Minnesota Vikings as the best team in the NFC. Quarterback Dak Prescott has exceeded all expectations, but so has Dallas' defense.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers couldn't get much of anything going against the Cowboys, even though his final stat line looked decent. He threw an interception, lost one of his two fumbles and did not throw a touchdown pass until late in the fourth quarter, when the game was pretty much decided.
Dallas finished the game with four takeaways, as the defense officially established itself as one of the NFL's top units.
"This year the ball is kind of bouncing our way," Cowboys safety Barry Church said, per Cowboys.com, describing what's different about 2016. "Last year we didn’t get a lot of takeaways, and it kind of works together. The rush has improved from last year, and our coverage on the back end has improved from last year. We’re forcing teams to give us the ball, and we’re taking advantage of it."
While the Cowboys have stepped forward as a team to beat in the NFC, the Packers remain somewhat mysterious at 3-2. They still have a playoff reputation, but they haven't looked entirely like themselves lately. Rodgers has struggled, and the Vikings have taken over as the clear front-runner in the NFC North.
The power structure is shifting in the conference, and the Cowboys are one of the teams setting the pace.
The Drive: Matthew Stafford picks apart Rams
Don't look now, but the Detriot Lions have won two in a row against teams with winning records. When Sunday's clash with the Los Angeles Rams called for a comeback, quarterback Matthew Stafford stepped up to the challenge.
The Rams took a one-touchdown lead early in the fourth quarter, but the Lions struck back with a perfect response. With 14 minutes to play, Stafford embarked on a 13-play drive that tied the game at 28 points apiece, spanning 84 yards and just over eight minutes.
The drive didn't get off to a glorious start. Stafford's first two pass attempts fell incomplete. He was sacked on 3rd-and-10 from his own 16-yard line, but an offsides call gave the Lions new life. Stafford hit wide receiver Andre Roberts for an 11-yard gain and a fresh set of downs.
That play was the first of four third-down conversions on the drive. Later, Stafford hit Golden Tate for 13 yards on a 3rd-and-1. Then, he got a 17-yard pass interference call while targeting Marvin Jones on a 3rd-and-12. A few plays after that, he scrambled for a five yards on a 3rd-and-4.
On the last play of the drive, Stafford found Tate open underneath for a 23-yard, catch-and-run touchdown to tie the game with just over six minutes to play.
This drive defined the game, as it sucked the life out of the Rams and gave all of the momentum to the Lions in the waning minutes. After Tate's touchdown pass from Stafford, everyone at Ford Field knew the tide was turning and the home team was about to pull off a come-from-behind victory.
Sure enough, Detroit's defense forced a three-and-out on the ensuing drive. Now working the clock, Stafford and running back Zach Zenner moved the Lions into comfortable field-goal range. They forced the Rams to spend all three of their timeouts, then called on kicker Matt Prater to hit a 34-yarder with a minute-and-a-half left on the clock.
Prater nailed it, but Stafford's cool under pressure was the real reason why the Lions emerged as 31-28 victors and resurfaced with a 3-3 record on Sunday.
The Play: Odell. Beckham Jr. stuns Ravens
That was the scenario late in Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens. New York's game-winning drive was dangerously close to stalling out, facing a 4th-and-1 with almost three-fourths of the field to go and time running out.
That's when Manning hit Beckham on an innocent-looking slant route that turned out to be a 66-yard lightning strike.
This play turned out to be the one that decided the game, as the Giants held on to beat the Ravens by a score of 27-23.
Beckham did not get off to a hot start on Sunday. He fumbled on his first catch of the game and finished the first half with just two receptions for 11 yards. He also suffered a hip injury after going up for a deep ball that was broken up by Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith.
Despite his forgettable first half, Beckham exploded in the second to finish the game with eight receptions for 222 yards and two touchdowns. Before his 66-yard game-winner, he took a 75-yard bomb down the right sideline for a touchdown.
Thanks to Beckham's late-game heroics, the Giants are 3-3 and back in the hunt heading into Week 7.
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