We always knew that it wasn't easy playing quarterback in the NFL, but Sunday was a particularly rough day for quarterbacks. No fewer than 22 different quarterbacks threw at least one interception -- for a total of 33 picks total. Cleveland's Derek Anderson, St. Louis' Gus Frerotte, the Jets' Chad Pennington and Tennessee's Vince Young each threw three apiece.
Two passers, Arizona's Matt Leinart and New Orleans' Drew Brees, threw interceptions on their team's first offensive series. Three passers had less than 34 passing yards in the first half -- San Francisco's Trent Dilfer (8), the Giants' Eli Manning (22) and Detroit's Jon Kitna (33).
Even Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, despite completing 22 of 38 passes for 265 yards and 3 touchdowns, saw his season passer rating go down. Of course, Brady entered the game with a super-human 134.7 -- no shame that he's down to 128.7.
We also had four interceptions returned for touchdowns on Sunday. And while three were by players who did it for the first time, Tennessee safety Vincent Fuller did it for the second game in a row. So after going the first 20 games of his NFL career with no interceptions, he's got two picks for touchdowns in his last two.
A few more things we learned in Week 5:
Seau says thanks
The Patriots re-worked the contract of veteran linebacker Junior Seau last week. It had been a split contract calling for $500,000 -- plus an additional $500,000 if he played in all 16 games. The new deal calls for a guaranteed $1 million regardless of how many games he plays. So how did the 18-year NFL veteran show his appreciation? Instead of a thank-you card, he delivered a two-interception, four-tackle performance in New England's win over Cleveland.
Who needs a big-name running back? Four of the top five rushing performances were turned in Sunday by players who are considered backups -- the Chargers' Michael Turner (147 yards), the Colts' Kenton Keith (121), the Rams' Brian Leonard (122) and the Patriots' Sammy Morris (102). Miami's Ronnie Brown, with 114 yards, was the only full-time starter among the top five.
I think these performances are a testament to the quality of running backs throughout the NFL. Morris was a one-time starter in Miami and he's always been good. Leonard was shaping up to be a quality runner at Rutgers before switching to fullback. Turner has been highly regarded as LaDainian Tomlinson's backup.
|Al Bello / Getty Images|
|Despite the loss to Houston, Miami running back Ronnie Brown continued to play like an elite running back.|
Ronnie Brown might be next LT
Speaking of Brown, he had another strong effort despite Miami's loss to Houston. In addition to rushing for 114 yards, he added another 39 yards on five receptions -- finishing 47 yards short of tying Walter Payton's record of three straight games with 200 yards from scrimmage. If the numbers Brown has posted in recent weeks remind you of Tomlinson, it's no fluke. As we mentioned in last week's fantasy matchups column, Brown has really benefited from the presence of head coach Cam Cameron. The Dolphins are running the same offense that Cameron ran in San Diego, and it has really brought out the best in Brown. Not only that, but Miami does not have a backup as good as Turner in San Diego. That's why Brown got 23 of the team's 25 carries against Houston -- and why he should continue to put up great numbers.
What we didn't learn
With New England looking so dominant through five games of the season, opponents could theoretically look at Sunday's win over Cleveland this way: The Browns aren't a playoff team, and they were within 10 points in this game with just under six minutes to play. They could study this game, trying to gain some insight into how to at least stay close to the Pats ... but I don't think they would find anything. The bottom line is that New England was looking forward to next week's showdown with Dallas. Even a professional outfit like the Patriots can't avoid thinking ahead in a situation like that. That's the only reason Cleveland was within reach.
For those who still want to find holes in the Patriots, here's one small opening: New England took the opening kickoff and had the ball for seven minutes, but had to settle for a field goal. Clearly, the red-zone offense needs work.
Following Week 3, we talked about defensive coordinators making adjustments. In the past two weeks, the average scoring per game has decreased eight points, from 47 to just under 39 points per game ... Brett Favre had the only 300-yard passing game of Week 5 with his 322 yards in Green Bay's loss to Chicago ... The Ravens' nine points was the lowest total in a win in franchise history ... Indianapolis enters its bye week undefeated for the third straight season ... Tennessee won yesterday despite committing five turnovers -- that's very rare ... Because Steelers receiver Santonio Holmes was injured during warmups, it was too late to deactivate him for the game (and thus dress someone else). Rules state that a team's inactives must be turned in 90 minutes before kickoff ... Houston's Kris Brown became the third kicker in NFL history to make three field goals of 50-plus yards in one game -- and the other two are still active: Morten Andersen and Neil Rackers ... The Chiefs' loss to Jackonsville was the second-worst rushing day in team history. They had a total of 10 rushing yards. The all-time low was zero yards on Dec. 19, 1967 in a game against Denver. The difference: Kansas City won that game, 45-35.