Updated: Oct 24, 2021
It was an exhilarating Week 5 in the NFL, from the Bills beating the Chiefs, whose defense has cost them this season, to Justin Herbert looking like the next transcendent quarterback, to Jon Gruden resigning as head coach of the Raiders, to Lamar Jackson’s historic Monday night performance against the Colts, it was a jam packed weekend in the NFL. So without further ado, let's get into what was a hectic Week 5.
Starting off with Justin Herbert the Hero, as I call him. Herbert has rocketed to a new level this season. Helping lead the Chargers to a 47-42 victory over the Cleveland Browns, Herbert had another dazzling performance, throwing for 398 yards for four touchdowns with no turnovers, while completing 26 of his 43 passes, good for a 60% completion rate. The Chargers now have a 4-1 record and sit atop the AFC West, a conference that includes the Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes, who have made the Super Bowl the last two seasons. Herbert had his record 11th 300-yard game with 398 yards passing and tied his career high with four touchdowns.
Herbert has the most 300-yard games by any quarterback in history in their first two years in the league and is firmly in the MVP conversation alongside fellow young superstar quarterbacks such as Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, and Kyler Murray, ushering in the new wave of NFL quarterbacks that can make plays for themselves with their elusive speed in the open field. You also have veteran quarterbacks such as Aaron Rodgers, Dak Prescott, and Tom Brady. Herbert has the most 300-yard games by any quarterback in history in their first two years in the league.
Baker Mayfield was no slouch either, throwing for 305 yards with two touchdowns on 23 of 32 completions. The Browns running back Nick Chubb was a machine, running for 161 yards on 21 carries, but they were just four of twelve on third down efficiency and had seven penalties that cost them 77 yards. The Browns also let the Chargers go three for three on fourth downs, which is something Herbert has been fantastic thus far in his career.
There was a controversial play when Chargers wide receiver Austin Ekeler tried to stop short of the goal line so the Chargers could burn more time and win on a last-second score. But Cleveland’s defenders shoved Ekeler into the endzone, which is what the Chargers didn’t want so they could win on a last second drive and not give the Browns a chance to score on the other end.
Now let's get into the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs game, a game that delayed the second half for an hour because of lightning. The Bills won this game behind the odds on MVP favorite Josh Allen who threw for 315 yards on 15 of 26 completions, good for three touchdowns and no turnovers, even rushing for a touchdown himself. Other players that scored for the Bills were receivers Emmanuel Sanders, who caught two touchdowns, along with Dawson Knox, who had 117 yards receiving and a touchdown. Their safety, Micah Hyde, also picked off a Mahomes pass midway through the third quarter to give them a 30-13 lead with 7:12 left in the third. The Bills look like the best team in the NFL, outscoring their competition in the last four games 156-41, while also sitting atop the AFC East with a 4-1 record with Josh Allen leading the way, being the odds on favorite for MVP with +450 odds after their victory.
On the other end, the Chiefs' defense has looked absolutely abominable this season, ranking as the worst defense in the league, allowing the most points per game with 32.6! Despite their offense still being elite, they have been terrible on fourth down, ranking 30th in fourth down percentage and are 28th in interceptions, as Mahomes has thrown an uncharacteristic amount of interceptions this season despite some not being his fault. The Chiefs rank near the bottom in rushing touchdowns allowed (last), red zone touchdowns (last), and first downs allowed (30th). This is not the team we’ve seen the last three seasons and they have a lot of questions to answer on the defensive side of the ball if they want to get back among the elite teams in the league.
Now for Lamar Jackson. Lamar and the Ravens started off very poorly, scoring just three points, the fewest ever in his 42 career starts, including a fumble at Colts' 2-yard line, which led to Baltimore trailing 22-3 with 3:06 left in the third quarter. It seemed liked an insurmountable deficit considering the Ravens were 0-17 when trailing by 19 or more points in John Harbaugh's 14 seasons with the Ravens.
Jackson put on a show for the ages Monday night against Carson Wentz and the Indianapolis Colts, winning 31-25 in overtime in historic fashion while throwing for a franchise record 442 yards with four touchdowns on 37 of 43 completions! Good for an 86% completion rate and is the highest completion rate in NFL history in a 40-pass game. Not bad for someone most scouts thought should be a wide receiver, eh? He’s the first player in league history with 400 yards passing, four touchdown passes with no interceptions, and 50 yards rushing. He also is the first quarterback to complete 85% of his passes in a 400 yard game! What makes this feat even more mind-blowing is they were down by 19 points (22-3) in the third quarter with everyone counting them out and the game looking like it was over!
After he was told of historical achievements Jackson stated, "Dang! I was just locked in. I was just calm. Everything was just moving slow, and I was just taking it a play at a time. That's what it was. I was ticked off. We needed that touchdown," Jackson said of the fumble. "I was just praying we'd get another opportunity in my head. I didn't really want to show everybody I'm praying. It's good to pray now, but I was just like, 'Man, we just need another opportunity, because I know what we can do.”
Jackson accounted for 499 of the Ravens' 523 yards for an offense that lost Sammy Watkins (hamstring) and guard Ben Cleveland (knee) in the first half. Ravens coach John Harbaugh believed there was never a point the Ravens were going to give up, stating, "First of all, we have Lamar Jackson, next of all, we have a bunch of guys just like Lamar Jackson, with heart, spirit, soul, persistence and all the other things." On Monday night, Jackson became the first quarterback in the past 20 seasons to overcome a 16-point deficit in the fourth quarter and finish with 400 yards passing and four touchdown passes.
In other news around the league: The Cowboys now improve to 4-1, defeating the New York Giants 44-20 behind Dak Prescott’s 302 yards and three touchdowns. Ezekiel Elliot also made an impact rushing for 110 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown. The Cowboys are a top five offense in the league, being first in touchdowns and second in yards per game. They are an average defensive team, but when you have a firepower offense with Zak and Deke playing how they’ve been playing, all you need is a solid enough defense that can get some stops when you need.
The Giants lost their quarterback Daniel Jones (concussion), running back Saquon Barkley (ankle), and wide receiver Keith Golladay with a hyperextended knee.
Onto the Green Bay Packers and the Cincinnati Bengals. This was the game of missed field goals with Packers kicker Mason Crosby and Bengals kicker Evan McPherson, combining for five missed field goals just from the 2:12 mark in the fourth alone, which was the first time to happen in the NFL since 1991 with four straight missed FG in the finals three minutes/overtime. The Cardinals won an ugly 17-10 game over the San Francisco 49ers, and the Jaguars remained winless, losing 37-19 to the Tennessee Titans with rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence and coach Urban Meyer contradicting each other, which is making things worse in Jacksonville.
It was a mesmerizing Week 5 in the NFL and it should be a joy to watch the MVP race unfold if all these guys stay healthy. Will it be Josh Allen? Can Herbert take MVP in just his second season? Will Lamar win his second MVP in just four seasons? Or will one of the old heads in Brady and Rodgers take it? We will have to wait and see.