Did the league send a memo to road teams this week?
After an abysmal performance by visiting squads in Week 5, the group collectively shoved it in the face of doubters (they're out there somewhere), going 8-4-1 against home teams on Sunday. Big road victories included Dallas' emphatic win at the home of the 12s in Seattle; New England's prove-ittriumph against division foe Buffalo; and Baltimore's dominating performance against the lowly Buccaneers.
There were plenty of stars to choose from this week, but alas, we have a limit of three. Here are the very best visitors of Week 6.
Greatest on the Road ...
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Before you take up arms and attempt to hunt me down, allow me to clarify: Joe Flacco had a fantastic game (21 of 29, 306 yards, five touchdowns), most of which he accomplished in the first half, but it's the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There's a reason they're 1-5 and have been carved up by more than one quarterback (see: Thursday Night Football, Week 3).
Meanwhile, in Southern Florida, the Packers found themselves in quite the barn burner. Green Bay had a lead, then lost it, then regained it, then lost it again. But with the Packers trailing by four with 2:04 left to play and Cheeseheads across America wondering, possibly panicking -- *are we really about to lose to the Dolphins? -- *it was Rodgers to the rescue.
Also considered ...
DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys
Murray is on pace for more than 400 carries on the season -- which, much like fossil fuels, is not sustainable -- but his performance (29 carries, 115 yards, one touchdown) proves that although the NFL is a passing league, a good running game is still the best foundation for a successful offense. Murray is a big, powerful and deceptively fast back who, rather than running away from or around a defender, runs through multiple would-be-tacklers on his way to the endzone.
Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos
Again, before you arrive at my doorstep with torches and pitchforks -- Tom Brady had a very good game, his second in as many weeks. But Thomas is on pace to obliterate Randy Moss' single-season receiving touchdown record of 23, and he's leading a stellar class of freakishly talented tight ends that includes Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski and Jordan Cameron, among others.
Playing with Peyton Manning is a decisive advantage -- after all, he's a week away from potentially breaking Brett Favre's record for most career touchdown passes. But one must be in the right place at the right time to catch Manning's tosses, and Thomas has been there not one, not two, but nine times through five games, etching his name in NFL record books forever. He beat Calvin Pryor twice on Sunday. Opposing defenders better start studying his tape more closely.