The Fifth Down  


Master of illusion Alex Smith leads Chiefs to 7-0 start


While Week 7 lacked the GIFable moments of Week 6, there certainly was a healthy amount of craziness in the NFL to fill up this column. So rather than blather on pointlessly in an intro and throw some obscure pop culture references into the mix, talk about Tim Tebow, or discuss Peyton Manning vs. Andrew Luck, let's just get to the action. After all -- it's Fifth Down.

Forget David Blaine, Alex Smith is the master of illusion

The Chiefs barely escaped the Houston Texans on Sunday, but they were able to emerge victorious thanks to Alex Smith performing some old fashioned trickery to get them into the endzone. Smith took a second quarter snap and faked the handoff ... to no one before running into the endzone. I particularly love Smith's commitment to the fake. Clearly something went awry on this play. But man was it good fun watching Smith stand there like a deer in headlights before getting a large enough dose of courage to run for his life into the endzone. However, in the off chance this play was designed by Andy Reid in a BBQ-induced dream and executed to perfection by Smith, it may just top my previous pick for play-fake of the year.

What in the world is a Jarrett Boykin?

Unless you're a serious Cheesehead (or a fantasy football waiver wire savant), it's highly unlikely you've heard of Boykin before. Well, that should change after today. Boykin helped spark a Packers offense that was without James Jones and Randall Cobb due to injuries. One week after Tom Brady hooked up with Kenbrell Thompkins to put away the Saints, Aaron Rodgers found Boykin eight times for 103 yards receiving and a late touchdown that put away the Browns in the fourth quarter at Lambeau Field. This game was yet another example that great quarterbacks make their receivers better, and regardless of where Brandon Weeden plays he will complete more rocket passes to the turf than his teammates.

Defenses make their case

Either the defenses of the NFL were sick and tired of hearing how this is an offensive league, or as Mike Silver joked, throwing "Matt Schaub's" might be a rapidly spreading viral epidemic:

There were five, five, interceptions returned for touchdowns in the early games alone. To top it off, the St. Louis Rams forced the ninth safety of the season and the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers each returned a fumble for a touchdown. Defenses definitely made a statement on Sunday...

... except when it came to covering Calvin Johnson

I mean, come on. That's just not fair.

Also, did you see Megatron and A.J. Green trade jerseys after the game as if they were playing in the World Cup? The picture alone is almost too much greatness for one computer monitor to handle. Seriously, I wish more NFL players would take on this tradition. How great would it be to see Manning and Luck swap jerseys after Sunday Night Football? Almost as great as it would have been to see Brady and Brees swap jerseys last week, with Rob Ryan sobbing uncontrollably in the background.

Matt Birk: Lineman can be really, really ridiculously good-looking too

Yes, that is a former NFL center, and no it does not make me feel guilty about eating Chipotle earlier today.
Yes, that is a former NFL center, and no it does not make me feel guilty about eating Chipotle earlier today. (Image courtesy of Visalus/)

Matt Birk went out on top, retiring after 15 seasons in the NFL following a Super Bowl win with the Baltimore Ravens last season. So what has the former center done with his retirement? He decided to audition for a part in Zoolander 2. OK, maybe not, but Birk has shed 75 pounds according to the Ravens' website, and is currently in the running to be the cover model for Visalus, a fitness magazine. NFL center to male model? Yeah, that's a natural progression. If Birk wants to get serious about his modeling though, he may have to give up that all-American smile in favor of a look that can best say "Magnum."

Jaguars finding new ways to impress the NFL... with their mediocrity

One week after putting out an excellent effort against the Denver Broncos, the Jaguars returned home to face the Chargers, and laid an absolute egg. In three home games this season, the Jaguars offense has scored just nine points. Nine! For the Chargers, Philip Rivers did everything to help his team get a win. Including trying to not-so-cleverly hide Mike McCoy's errant challenge flag. The only way it could have been better was if Rivers got as animated as he typically does on the sidelines, perhaps faking an injury and covering up the flag in dramatic fashion. Regardless, the challenge didn't matter and the Chargers got the win. Sorry, Jacksonville.

Today in obscure NFL rules

Geno Smith and the New York Jets toppled Tom Brady and the Patriots on Sunday in overtime, 30-27. No, that is not a typo. The Jets were able to win in overtime when Nick Folk got a mulligan on his missed field goal, because the Patriots commited a new foul in the NFL: one of their players pushed another player into the offensive formation to gain leverage on the field goal. It seems ticky-tack, but it is in fact, a rule. So be quiet, Patriots fans. You've been on the opposite end of a similar call before.

Devin Hester ties Primetime's record for return touchdowns

Devin Hester is a beast. All he did with the return to the right was tie Deion Sanders' record for the most return touchdowns in NFL history. Considering Hester is only 30-years-old, there's a good chance he takes sole possession of that record before his playing days are done. Plus, he has Primetime's blessing to break the record, so there's that.

Alfred Morris ran with heart against the Bears, but was stabbed in the back by Mike Shanahan when it came to getting in the endzone.
Alfred Morris ran with heart against the Bears, but was stabbed in the back by Mike Shanahan when it came to getting in the endzone. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon/)

Fantasy Football sacrificial lamb of the week: Alfred Morris

Poor Freddy Morris. Sure, he ran for 95 yards on 19 carries, serving as the workhorse to motor the Washington Redskins offense to victory. But Morris, and his fantasy owners, fell victim to yet another case of Shanahanigans, as it was Roy Helu who scored not one, not two, but three rushing touchdowns in the Redskins victory over the visiting Chicago Bears. Instead of having a game-changing fantasy day, Morris had to take one on the chin so his team could get the win. Morris took it like a champ, however, and will be rolling home in style in his new tricked out Mazda that he lovingly refers to as "Bentley."

Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar for his musings on food, film and of course, the occasional insightful football comment.



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