NFL Week 5 Grades: Steelers get an 'F' after Roethlisberger melts down vs. Jaguars
Here are the Week 5 grades for every team that played on Sunday
After spending half the offseason talking about whether or not Tom Brady could fend off Father Time this year, it turns out that maybe we should've been having that conversation about Ben Roethlisberger.
At 35 years old, Roethlisberger is starting to look more like Scott Tolzien and Ryan Fitzpatrick than the quarterback who led the Steelers to two Super Bowl wins. During the Steelers' embarrassing 30-9 loss to the Jaguars on Sunday, Big Ben may have actually hit rock bottom in what was arguably the ugliest game of his career.
The Steelers quarterback threw a career-high five interceptions and watched helplessly as two of those picks were returned for touchdowns. The reason we mentioned Tolzien and Fitzpatrick earlier is because they were the last two quarterbacks to look that horrible in a regular season game. Tolzien was the last quarterback to throw two pick-sixes in a game and Fitzpatrick was the last quarterback to throw five interceptions without a touchdown.
Roethlisberger's pick-six to Telvin Smith is an example of just how badly he struggled against the Jaguars.
Roethlisberger was so bad against Jacksonville that he actually seemed to be questioning his own talent after the game.
"Maybe I don't have it anymore," Big Ben said, via NFL Network.
When asked what he specifically meant by that, Roethlisberger gave an answer that was way more accurate than any pass that he threw against the Jaguars.
"I'm not playing well enough." Roethlisberger said.
To put Roethlisberger's struggles in perspective, he had 15 touchdown passes and only four interceptions through five games last season. Through five games this year, Big Ben has six touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Despite getting off to an ugly start this season, Roethlisberger isn't quite ready to hit the panic button. After all, the Steelers are in first place even though their quarterback is off to one of the worst starts of his career.
"Doing this long enough, you understand not to panic," Roethlisberger said, via ESPN.com. "I'm not going to hit any buttons where it's like, 'Oh man, what do I do to change all this and that, go see people.' Just come out on Wednesday and be ready to practice."
The problem for the Steelers is that Roethlisberger's struggles are affecting the entire psyche of what was supposed to be an unstoppable Steelers offense. In Week 4, Antonio Brown because that's what receivers do when they're not getting the ball enough.
With the Steelers in first place in the AFC North, the team doesn't need to worry about Roethlisberger yet. But if he continues to struggle, the Steelers' 2017 season could be a disaster waiting to happen.
Jacksonville 30-9 over Steelers
Although it's easy to blame this loss on Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers' defense didn't do much in terms of helping the team win. The Steelers had no answer for Leonard Fournette and a Jaguars rushing attack that totaled 231 yards on the ground. The Jaguars' rushing total marked only the second time that the Steelers have surrendered more than 230 yards or more since Mike Tomlin was hired as coach in 2007. The Steelers look completely lost on both sides of the ball and things aren't going to get any easier next week when they have to travel to Kansas City.
It looks like the Jaguars have finally figured out how the easiest way to win with Blake Bortles: don't let him do anything. The Jags basically took Bortles out of their game plan on Sunday and then watched as Leonard Fournette and their defense carried them to the win. Fournette ran for 181 yards and two touchdowns as the Jags bulldozed their way to 231 yards on the ground. The rushing total marked the first time since 2010 that Jacksonville has rushed for 230 or more yards in a game. As it turns out, 230 is kind of a magic number for the Jaguars: They're now 10-0 in franchise history when rushing for 230 or more yards. The crazy part about this win is that the Jags' defense outscored the Steelers by themselves. Jacksonville returned two interceptions for touchdowns with Telvin Smith (28-yard return) and Barry Church (51 yards) both grabbing a pick-six.
Philadelphia 34-7 over Arizona
Since losing David Johnson to injury back in Week 1, the Cardinals' offense has become completely one-dimensional. Basically, their ground game has disappeared. Going into this game, the Cardinals had the worst rushing attack in the NFL (57 yards per game) through the first four weeks of the season, and things actually got even uglier in Philadelphia. The Cards only totaled 31 yards on the ground against the Eagles, which is pretty much always a recipe for a loss with Arizona. The Cards are now 0-5 in the their past five games when they rush for 35 yards or less. They really need David Johnson back. Unfortunately for Arizona, that won't be happening anytime soon.
If you're not already on the Wentz wagon, now might be the time to join after what Carson Wentz did to the Cardinals' defense on Sunday. In what might have been the most impressive game of his young career, the second-year quarterback finished 21 of 30 for 304 yards and four touchdowns against Arizona. Before Sunday, Wentz had never even had a three touchdown game in his career. The most impressive part of what Wentz did against the Cardinals is that he did most of his damage on third down. Over the course of the game, Wentz went 11 of 12 for 228 yards and three touchdowns on third downs alone. Maybe the Eagles should just start kneeling it on first and second down so Wentz can do this thing on third down.
Cincinnati 20-16 over Buffalo
If we've learned one thing about the Bills over the past three seasons, it's that they almost never win when they have to rely on Tyrod Taylor to carry the offense. The Bills quarterback threw 37 passes, which is basically a recipe for a loss with Buffalo. In Taylor's career, the Bills are 1-11 all-time when he throws 30 or more passes. Not only was Taylor inaccurate, but he struggled against a Bengals rush that sacked him six times. Of course, you can't completely blame Taylor for his struggles, the Bills' offensive line rarely gave him time to throw in what was easily their worst game of the season.
Playing the Bengals in Cincinnati during the month of October almost isn't fair to other NFL teams. Since the beginning of the 2013 season, the Bengals are unbeaten in October home games (7-0-2), a total that includes Sunday's win over the Bills. Thanks to A.J. Green, the fans in Cincinnati definitely got their money's worth in this game. Green was a one-man highlight reel, which got a little weird because he was basically providing the highlights for both teams. The Bengals receiver was single-handedly responsible for three of Cincinnati's turnover -- he lost a fumble and both of Andy Dalton's interceptions went off of Green's hands -- but he redeemed himself by putting up huge numbers. Not only did Green catch seven passes for 189 yards and a touchdown, but he also set up the Bengals' other touchdown in the game when he caught a 47-yard pass in the third quarter that took the Bengals down to the Bills' five-yard line. One play later, Joe Mixon would score Cincy's first rushing touchdown of the season.
Carolina 27-24 over Detroit
If Cam Newton was distracted by anything going into this game, he definitely didn't show it against the Lions. The Panthers completely gave up on their rushing attack in this game and decided to let Newton carry them to the win. The veteran quarterback responded by throwing for 355 yards and three touchdowns Combined with last week's 316-yard performance, Newton has now put together back-to-back 300-yard games for just the second time in his career (the other time came in Weeks 1-2 of 2011). By the way, when we say Newton had no help on the ground, we mean it. The Panthers totaled just 28 rushing yards on 28 carries, marking only the second time in Newton's career that the Panthers didn't hit the 30-yard mark on the ground.
Now that the Lions are paying Matthew Stafford some serious money, they might want to pay someone to protect him, because things got ugly against the Panthers. The Lions' offensive line got steamrolled by the Panthers' defense, with things getting especially ugly after the first quarter. Despite getting sacked six times in the game, Stafford almost pulled off another miracle comeback for the Lions with two fourth-quarter touchdowns in the final 5:48 of the game. Unfortunately for Stafford, he never got a chance to go for the win because the Lions' defense couldn't make a stop on third-and-9 with 2:30 left in the game.
It looks like all the Chargers needed to do to pick up a win was leave Los Angeles. Melvin Gordon basically willed the Chargers to victory with one of the best performances of his short career. The second-year running back totaled 168 yards in the game (105 on the ground and 58 through the air). Gordon's air total included two touchdown catches from Philip Rivers.
Murphy's Law wasn't written for the Giants, but it might as well have been because everything that could go wrong did go wrong for the Giants in this game. Not only did they drop to 0-5, but it's starting to look like it could be awhile before they pick up their first win due in large part to the fact that they just lost all of their playmakers. The team's top three receivers -- Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard and Brandon Marshall -- all left this game due to injury, and there's a good chance that .
N.Y. Jets 17-14 over Cleveland
It took five weeks, but the Browns finally took their first lead of the season on Sunday; unfortunately for everyone in Cleveland though, they weren't actually able to hold on to it. This game was a disaster on so many levels that it probably couldn't have happened to any other team but the Browns. The Browns drove inside the Jets' 5-yard line a total of two times in this game and came away with zero points thanks to a fumble and an interception. Cleveland also missed two field goals, and eventually, things got so bad that coach Hue Jackson decided to bench DeShone Kizer in favor of Kevin Hogan. The Browns lost this game despite outgaining the jets by 207 yards (419-212). The last time the Browns outgained a team by 200 or more yards and still lost came in December 1981.
The only bigger surprised than the Jets being 3-2 is how they're winning those games. The Jets beat the Browns on Sunday despite the fact that they only totaled 212 yards in Cleveland. To put that in perspective, since 2006, the Jets had been 0-12 in games where they gain 215 yards or less. They are now 1-12. Even more improbable is that quarterback Josh McCown has now won three games in a row as a starter for the first time in his career. McCown has been playing since 2002, and before this week, he had never topped a two-game winning streak. The Jets probably shouldn't be 3-2, but they are, so let's just ride this wave as far as it will go.
Indianapolis 26-23 (OT) over San Francisco
The 49ers might have been able to win this game if they were able to keep any of their drives alive on offense. Every time the 49ers started to get something going, it would slowly die due to the fact that they couldn't convert on third down in this game. The 49ers converted just 4 of 14 third-down attempts in the game, The 49ers didn't even convert their first third down until there was just 19 seconds left in the first half. This overtime game caps a month of gut-wrenching losses for the 49ers. Including the loss to the Colts, the 49ers have now lost four straight games by a total of 11 points.
We're going to let T.Y. Hilton hand out his own grade this week because that's how we reward players who put up huge numbers (Hilton caught seven passes for 177 yards against the 49ers).
Well, ouch. Maybe we won't T.Y. hand out his own grade. Although Hilton played a C- game, the Colts were able to come away with a win because running back Marlon Mack (nine carries, 91 yards) and Jacoby Brissett brought their 'A' game. Brissett (22 of 34, 314 yards) did make one big mistake in the game -- an interception in overtime -- but he made up for it by marching the Colts 49 yards in overtime to set up Adam Vinatieri's game-winning field goal from 51 yards.
Miami 16-10 over Tennessee
When the Titans decided to roll with Matt Cassel as their starter in this game, they knew exactly what they were getting: a below average quarterback with no mobility. So it was no surprise when Cassel put up below average numbers (141 yards passing) and got crushed for his lack of mobility (sacked six times). If only there had been a mobile quarterback out in free agency who could've possibly helped the Titans in this game.
The lowest grade for a winning team this week goes to the Dolphins, who pulled off a win despite the fact that their offense continues to look lost every time it takes the field. The Dolphins' 178 total yards in this game marks the first time since 2010 that Miami won without hitting the 180-yard mark. Jay Cutler is probably going to want to buy a few gifts for the Dolphins' defense, which produced six sacks against Tennessee and returned a fumble for a touchdown.
Baltimore 30-17 over Oakland
It looks like Joe Flacco and the Ravens have finally figured out how to jumpstart their offense: throw the ball to Mike Wallace. Although Wallace only caught three passes in the game, all three catches went for over 20 yards, which is absolutely crazy when you consider the fact that the Ravens had only had three catches of 20 or more yards the entire season going into Sunday's game. Wallace ended up matching the season total by himself. The most important part of Wallace's receptions is that the Ravens came away with points on every drive where he made a catch. A 52-yard catch by Wallace on the first play from scrimmage set up an early Baltimore touchdown. Wallace also had a 54-yard and 27-yard catch that set up Baltimore field goals.
The Raiders better hope that Derek Carr is ready to play some time in the near future because the offense looks helpless without him. With EJ Manuel running the show, the Raiders struggled to move the ball through the air. The Raiders quarterback was wildly inaccurate in the game (13 of 26) and only threw for 159 yards. Of course, the biggest gaffe for the Raiders actually had nothing to do with Manuel. That came from Jared Cook, who fumbled away a first quarter catch and then watched as the Ravens returned it for a touchdown.
Seattle 16-10 over L.A. Rams
It's a good thing the Seahawks defense shut down the Rams on Sunday because there was no way Seattle was going to win a shootout. Seattle's offense sputtered to just 241 total yards, marking the first time since 2013 that the Seahawks have come away with a win after totaling less than 250 yards in a game. If defenses win championships, then the Seahawks have to feel pretty good about their chances of winning the NFC West. Not only did they hold the NFL's top scoring offense to just 10 points, but they also forced five turnovers while doing it. The Seahawks are now 8-0 all-time under Pete Carroll when forcing five or more turnovers in a game.
Going into Sunday's game, the Rams had only turned the ball over a total of five times through their first four games. Apparently, the team didn't practice ball security this week because they doubled that total during four quarters of ugliness against the Seahawks. Nearly everyone on the Rams' offense played a part in the turnover party: Jared Goff threw two picks, and three different players lost a fumble in the game (Goff, Todd Gurley and Tavon Austin).
Green Bay 35-31 over Dallas
Ten days ago, Davante Adams was on the way to the hospital after taking a frightening hit from Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan. No one would've blamed Adams if he missed Sunday's game, but he decided to play, and in a fitting twist of fate, he ended up being the hero. Adams caught two touchdown passes, including the game-winner with just 11 seconds left. In what might have been the biggest surprise of the week, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense actually got some ground help in this game. Aaron Jones rushed for 125 yards, marking just the second time in three years that a Packers running back has rushed for 125 or more yards. Also, Aaron Rodgers was unstoppable (19 of 29 for 221 yards and three touchdowns), which has seemed to become an annual thing against Dallas. Since 2009, Rodgers is 7-1 against the Cowboys, including the playoffs.
If the Cowboys don't get their defensive problems figured out soon, this season could go south in a hurry. Over the past four weeks, the Cowboys have surrendered an average of 32.25 points per game, which is an ugly total for a team that's hoping to win the NFC. When your defense struggles like that, your offense can't afford to make any mistakes, and unfortunately for Dallas, there were a few key mistakes on the offensive side of the ball against the Packers. The biggest mistake came from Dak Prescott, who threw an ugly pick-six with just under 10 minutes left to play in the fourth quarter, although Prescott could probably partly blame Terrance Williams for what happened (the pass bounced off Williams' hands). Either way, it was a mistake the Cowboys couldn't afford in a game where Aaron Rodgers was nearly perfect. Prescott's pick-six marks the second time this season that he's thrown one in the fourth quarter of a game (Week 2 vs. Broncos).
Kansas City 42-34 over Houston
For years, we've all wondered what would happen if Alex Smith morphed into an MVP-caliber quarterback, and it appears that we now have our answer: He becomes unstoppable. The Chiefs quarterback (29 of 37, 324 yards, three touchdowns) continued his ridiculously impressive season on Sunday by shredding a Texans defense that went into the game ranked fifth in the NFL. The Chiefs pretty much utilized every weapon in their arsenal in this win: Kareem Hunt cracked 100 yards rushing (104), Travis Kelce nearly cracked 100 yards receiving (eight catches for 98 yards) and Tyreek Hill racked up 143 all-purpose yards, including an 82-yard punt return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
This loss couldn't have gone much worse for the Texans. Not only did they lose on the scoreboard, but they might have also lost J.J. Watt for the season after their star defensive end. The only upside in all of this for the Texans is that it looks like they finally found their quarterback of the future. One week after throwing four touchdown passes against the Titans, Watson topped himself by throwing five touchdown passes against the Chiefs. Watson tied Ray Buivid (1937), Matthew Stafford (2009) and Jameis Winston (2015) for most touchdown passes by a rookie in a single game.
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