Thirty-nine things you need to know from Week 5

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Week 5 was made for comebacks. No lead was safe and it was hard to keep up with the dizzying array of wild finishes during the early games.

Brian Hoyer led the biggest road comeback in NFL history. New Orleans avoided a disastrous 1-4 start by overcoming an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit. The Giants scored the final 20 points to come back against Atlanta. Carolina's defense finally woke up in time to come back from a 21-7 deficit against Chicago. Buffalo overcame a 14-0 hole in Detroit, with Jim Schwartz getting carried off the field on his players' shoulders. The St. Louis Rams scored the final 21 points in Philadelphia ... and still lost.

For a brief moment in the fourth quarter Sunday afternoon, all nine early games were within one score. Perhaps it's not accurate to call this a week-to-week league where storylines boomerang wildly back-and-forth. It's a half-to-half league, and no lead feels safe anymore.

Here's what you need to know from all 13 games:

Cleveland Browns 29, Tennessee Titans 28

1. For the fourth game in a row, the Browns caused heart attacks all across the state of Ohio as quarterback Brian Hoyer led Cleveland to 26 unanswered points and the win. Over the first 30 minutes, Hoyer was exactly what his critics believe him to be: A game-managing placeholder not worthy of your time. In the second half though, he and the Browns made enough big plays -- and saw enough key penalties go their way -- to trigger the biggest blown lead in Titans history. Hoyer makes his share of dangerous, head-scratching throws, but he also showed fine touch on two gutsy, fourth-quarter scoring strikes to Travis Benjamin.

2. Jake Locker opened 6-of-6 passing and took advantage of a mistake-prone Browns defense in the first half. Locker made plays with his arm and feet, but it didn't last, as the Titans starting passer left before halftime with a thumb injury. Charlie Whitehurst came in to throw a pair of touchdowns on his first three passes, but the backup looked lost in the second half.

3. The game's officials would be wise to charter an immediate flight out of Nashville. Flags played a major role down the stretch as Jason McCourty's long interception return of an ill-advised Hoyer pass was wiped out by an illegal contact penalty on Tennessee's Brandon Harris. Madness ensued as a resulting scuffle generated personal fouls for Cleveland's Joe Thomas and Titans defender Derrick Morgan, the latter of whom was ejected.

-- Marc Sessler

New Orleans Saints 37, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31 (OT)

1. The Saints overcame three Drew Brees turnovers, including a pick-six and an earlier interception that led directly to a Bucs touchdown. The normally explosive New Orleans offense has been in a malaise all season, as Brees has struggled to connect on passes beyond 20 yards.

2. Pierre Thomas saved Brees and Rob Ryan's porous defense, totaling 112 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 12 touches. The best screen-pass back of his era ran with authority and was especially hard to bring down on Sunday.

3. For the second consecutive game, Mike Glennon started off slowly, failing to move the chains for the first quarter and a half. Much like last week, he caught fire in the second half. The difference Sunday was that he was sacked for a safety and went five-and-out on two key fourth-quarter drives, allowing the Saints back in the game. All things considered, he has shown enough to merit keeping the starting job once Josh McCown's thumb is healthy.

-- Chris Wesseling

Buffalo Bills 17, Detroit Lions 14

1. Kyle Orton looked shaky early, checking down often. His worst pass came on an interception where Lions cornerback Rashean Mathis sat on the short route and took it for a touchdown. Orton turned it around in the second half and began stretching the field. He had a beautiful deep pass on a big third down that led to the game-tying touchdown and another big one on the game-winning drive. Orton proved exactly why the Bills anointed him the starter. He played better than EJ Manuel has all season and it wasn't even close.

2. On the flip side, Matthew Stafford and the Lions' offense looked bad all game. After an early touchdown drive, Detroit couldn't get anything going. The offensive line allowed Stafford to get pummeled and the quarterback made multiple terrible throws (including a bad pass that was tipped and picked). This Lions' offense has struggled the past four weeks.

3. The Bills' defense helped give coordinator Jim Schwartz a revenge win over his former squad -- then carried him off the field (literally). Buffalo's defense was swarming. The front four dominated against both the run and the pass. Led by Marcell Dareus' three sacks, the Bills constantly battered Stafford and ended up with six sacks. The backend was equal to the task, sticking to receivers and not giving the quarterback any open looks.

-- Kevin Patra

New England Patriots 43, Cincinnati Bengals 17

1. The Patriots' tight-end centric is back. Over the last three years, their use of two-tight-end sets had dwindled from 74 percent in 2011 to 49 percent in 2012 and 26 percent in 2013, per Football Outsiders' 2014 Almanac. After watching the wide receivers fail to separate, the game plan called for Rob Gronkowski and Tim Wright to make plays down the field. It helped that Gronk was moving better than he has all season, finally showing pre-injury form while playing increased snaps.

2. It's time for a new Tom Brady narrative. Finally given time to throw by an offensive line that kept him clean, Brady had his best game this year against a Cincinnati defense that gave Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan and Jake Locker their longest afternoons of the season. The Patriots scored 43 points against a defense that allowed 33 combined against their first three opponents. It is possible for a future Hall of Fame quarterback to have a bad outing without being washed up.

3. If the Bengals have a team weakness, it's run defense. They entered the game 32nd in Football Outsiders' DVOA metric against the run and played without weakside linebacker Vontaze Burfict, their best defensive player over the past two years. Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen combined for 203 yards on 36 carries at 5.63 yards per clip.

-- Chris Wesseling

Dallas Cowboys 20, Houston Texans 17 (OT)

1. Sometimes a superstar needs to step up and make a play. That's what happened in overtime when Dez Bryant made a one-handed grab with Johnathan Joseph all over him, a 31-yard gain that put Dallas in field-goal range. Tony Romo knows exactly where to go when it matters most.

2. Some great running back play from both sides. Both Arian Foster and DeMarco Murray went well over 100 yards on the ground. Foster returned to his bell-cow role after a three-week hiatus because of a hamstring issue. Murray has eclipsed the century mark in each of Dallas' first five games, a new franchise record. Murray also lost his fourth fumble of the season; he leads the league in that unsavory category.

3. Romo is moving much better in the last three weeks. That was on clear display when J.J. Watt had a clear path to the Cowboys quarterback in the third quarter. Romo sensed the pressure, wiggled away, then hit Terrance Williams deep for a 43-yard touchdown to put Dallas ahead, 10-7. Watt will lose sleep over that missed opportunity.

-- Dan Hanzus

New York Giants 30, Atlanta Falcons 20

1. The Giants' three-game winning streak starts up front. The offensive line looks better than it has since the '07 and '08 seasons. Eli Manning had loads of time to survey the field, while the running game wore the Falcons down Sunday. New York ended the game on a 20-0 run in the final 18 minutes.

2. Andre Williams runs with rare power. Giants starter Rashad Jennings left the game in the third quarter with a knee injury, and Williams proceeded to look like he was shot out of a cannon on power runs up the middle. Williams seeks contact and ran over defenders to pick up a touchdown and key first downs to put the game away.

3. The Falcons survived the loss of two more starting offensive linemen fairly well. But the lack of faith in their running game showed up late when they called for a pass play on a do-or-die fourth down late in the game. Matt Ryan was sacked by Johnathan Hankins. It was reminiscent of Atlanta's fourth-and-short woes in New Jersey in their playoff loss after the 2011 season.

-- Gregg Rosenthal

Carolina Panthers 31, Chicago Bears 24

1. Cam Newton has thrown the ball extremely well over the last month. This time he got enough help to win. Despite a number of drive-killing drops and mistakes by his wideouts, Newton kept delivering darts. More importantly, his defense gave him some short fields in the fourth quarter to help the Panthers pull off a 21-7 comeback.

2. Something is not quite right with the Chicago passing attack. They schemed a number of great screens early in the game, but only put up three points after halftime. They are struggling to make intermediate throws, and Jay Cutler threw a killer interception in the fourth quarter.

NFL Replay
Relive the Carolina Panthers' thrilling 31-24 victory over the Chicago Bears on Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET on NFL Network.

3. Luke Kuechly was everywhere. He finished with 15 tackles, and so many of them seemed to end Bears drives. The Bears killed Carolina with their screen game in the first half, but Kuechly was a one-man wrecking crew after intermission taking down Matt Forte.

-- Gregg Rosenthal

Philadelphia Eagles 34, St. Louis Rams 28

1. The Eagles set the tone in this one with a blocked punt returned for a touchdown on the game's first series. They capped their scoring when Trent Cole beat Jake Long and sacked Austin Davis, forcing a fumble that was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. The Eagles have five return touchdowns in the past two weeks.

2. Austin Davis caught fire in the second half, finishing with 375 yards and three touchdowns. He lost two fumbles and took too long to get going, but Davis continues to give the Rams reason for optimism moving forward.

3. We're still waiting for LeSean McCoy's breakout week, but he and the Eagles' maligned running game showed some progress. On the downside, McCoy and Darren Sproles were unable to run out the clock late in the game, giving St. Louis a chance to win it in the fourth quarter.

-- Dan Hanzus

Indianapolis Colts 20, Baltimore Ravens 13

1. Both of Andrew Luck's interceptions were off deflections. The second was just a bad decision in the red zone. The Colts would have won by a wider margin if not for that interception, a fumble by Ahmad Bradshaw inside the Ravens' 10-yard line and a touchdown from Luck to T.Y. Hilton that was nullified by a Reggie Wayne penalty.

2. Led by Bjoern Werner's pass rush, the Colts' defense played their best game since last December. They had pressure on Joe Flacco throughout the game. Safety Sergio Brown was impressive as a replacement for the suspended LaRon Landry.

3. Ravens inside linebacker C.J. Mosley is emerging as the favorite for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. He was all over the field Sunday, racking up 15 tackles in a losing effort.

-- Chris Wesseling

San Francisco 49ers 22, Kansas City Chiefs 17

1. Give Jim Harbaugh and Brandon Lloyd credit for turning this game around. Harbaugh's fake punt call early in the fourth quarter kept a drive going. Brandon Lloyd subsequently pulled off a ridiculous third-and-long leaping grab to put the 49ers in position for a go-ahead field goal.

2. Andy Reid also deserves an assist for the 49ers win. Jamaal Charles averaged over five yards per carry, yet the Chiefs kept throwing the ball on third and one. It backfired twice, short-circuiting drives. He punted on fourth and four from the 49ers' 36-yard line in the second half, resulting in a silly touchback with a net 16 yards. 

The biggest coaching blunder: The Chiefs were hit with a penalty for 12 men on the field with under five minutes to play on a 53-yard 49ers field goal attempt. San Francisco was then able to burn time off the clock, rob the Chiefs of their timeouts, and set up an easier field goal.

3. Alex Smith started out hot by helping the Chiefs convert their first five third downs. This was a game dominated by the offenses for much of the game despite the score, with plenty of long drives and few punts. But Smith was undone by a few loose throws in the fourth quarter. His game-sealing pick got away from him. The Chiefs offense looks vastly improved, but they have little big play ability, with no plays over 20 yards. Smith has to remain razor sharp to keep winning, and he wasn't late Sunday.

-- Gregg Rosenthal

Denver Broncos 41, Arizona Cardinals 20

1. Demaryius Thomas is back. After struggling through a foot injury early in the season, he showed his difference-making speed when he pulled away from defenders on touchdowns of 86 and 31 yards. Thomas had more yards through two quarters Sunday than his first three games combined. His career-high 226 yards are the most in franchise history and more than any receiver has produced in a single game this season. He would have added another 77-yard score had it not been nullified by a Ryan Clady chop block.

2. "Bay Bay" isn't the only Denver star recapturing dominant form. Von Miller was beastly against the run prior to the bye week. He spent Sunday terrorizing quarterbacks Drew Stanton and Logan Thomas. Between Miller and a reinvigorated DeMarcus Ware, the Broncos have the best edge-rushing tandem in the league.

NFL Replay
Relive the Denver Broncos' history-making 41-20 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. ET on NFL Network.

3. Stanton was evaluated for a concussion after taking a hard hit from Miller. Arians revealed that Carson Palmer (shoulder) threw 20 times on Sunday and will stay in Denver to continue getting treatment. If neither Palmer nor Stanton can play, the Cardinals will be forced to start the raw rookie against the Redskins in Week 6. Thomas completed just one of eight passes Sunday and was sacked on his first two dropbacks.

-- Chris Wesseling

Pittsburgh Steelers 17, Jacksonville Jaguars 9

1. Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau entered the game an outrageous 17-2 against rookie passers, but Blake Bortles gave the old play-caller one of his tougher tests. We saw the No. 3 overall pick change calls at the line and extend plays on the ground with his feet. Bortles made his share of plays off rollouts and boot action while moving the ball in the two-minute offense. It's still a work in progress as Bortles threw for just 5.3 yards per attempt.

2. Jacksonville's defense held its own against the Steelers' offense. It took Pittsburgh 14-plus minutes to generate its second first down of the game as Ben Roethlisberger and friends opened the tilt zero for four on third downs before heating up in the second half. The Jaguars also put plenty of pressure on Big Ben, forcing the veteran quarterback into his share of rushed throws and a costly fourth-quarter strip-sack that squelched a Steelers drive at the Jacksonville 17. Roethlisberger, though, completed his final 10 throws of the day.

3. That Big Ben fumble was Jacksonville's first forced turnover since Week 1. With a chance to be the hero, Bortles immediately threw a pick-six to Pittsburgh's Brice McCain -- sitting on the route -- which essentially put this one in the bag.

-- Marc Sessler

San Diego Chargers 31, New York Jets 0

1. The Chargers look like a complete team and a legit AFC contender after their fourth consecutive win. They dominated the Jets in all facets, moving the ball at will while not allowing the New York offense to cross midfield until well into the fourth quarter. The Chargers outgained the Jets 439 to 153 in the first shutout of the NFL season. This felt like Varsity vs. JV.

2. Geno Smith used up the rest of Rex Ryan's patience over six fruitless first-half drives. Ryan pulled the trigger at the start of the third quarter, inserting Michael Vick in the lineup. The change didn't achieve the desired effect -- Vick looked extremely rusty and fared no better moving the offense. Don't be surprised if Rex turns back to Geno in Week 6.

3. The Jets made Chargers running back Branden Oliver look like an evolutionary LaDainian Tomlinson. Oliver, an undrafted free agent out of Buffalo, piled up 182 total yards and two touchdowns against a Jets defense that had previously stonewalled the likes of Matt Forte, Reggie Bush and Eddie Lacy. Oliver's contribution was especially well-timed on an afternoon in which Donald Brown suffered a concussion.

-- Dan Hanzus

The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps every Week 5 game and tells you who's leading the pack for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL Now.

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