All season long, Around The NFL's Marc Sessler will offer up his laundry list of heroes and villains from the week that was.
Let's get down to it:
Big Ben Off the Bench:"All he needed was the phone booth and the cape," said Steelers guard Ramon Foster after watching Ben Roethlisberger -- mid-foot sprain, be damned! -- march onto the field in relief of Landry Jones and systematically detonate Cleveland's defense in a 30-9 romp over the Browns. Our only question: Why wasn't Roethlisberger playing from the start? In the most Browns-ish scenario ever, Sizy Ben threw one long-range bomb after the next, unfurling 286 of his 379 passing yards in the first half alone. That's more real estate than any quarterback off the bench in NFL regular-season history.
Dancing Drew and the frolicking Cards: Drew Stanton's gloriously unhinged celebration from the gods is the finest moment ALL SEASON:
Stanton wasn't the only hero on Sunday night. West of New England, no team in the league does a better job of milking production out of every player on the roster than Arizona. No team in the league is more fun to watch. Bruce Arians has built a powerful, weapons-rich Cardinals offense with the requisite versatility to fry anyone in the conference. Their ceiling remains a mystery.
Crappy teams that refuse to die: Detroit dropping an A-bomb on the Pack at Lambeau is another reminder that every Sunday is packed with a flood of surprises. We can't remember exiting Week 10 before with so many crap-record teams still alive for the postseason. The Texans (4-5), Jaguars (3-6) and Titans (2-7) all have a shot to take the AFC South belt away from the Andrew Luck-less Colts (4-5). In the ghastly NFC East, the Cowboys (2-7) still have a mathematical pulse behind the Eagles, Redskins (both 4-5) and Giants (5-5). It's a grand time to be sub-mediocre.
Normally Reliable Offenses Spiraling to Earth:Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson and Peyton Manning have faithfully provided fans with top-flight offense for years. Week after week, we can count on these quarterbacks to deliver the goods, but not this season. Green Bay's 21st-ranked attack is mired in the mud, while the Broncos -- after torching the record books two seasons ago -- rank 27th after posing as a soulless cipher on Sunday. Manning's nationally televised meltdown was ultra-depressing, leaving Denver's fan base (and all of us) to ponder the end of his great career. The Seahawks? Let's label their offense for what it is: Boring to the senses. Good thing we have the Cardinals -- and the ever-reliable Tom Brady -- to entertain us in 2015.
Private Eye/Play-Caller Frank Cignetti, Jr.: He's back on our villains list after Sunday's stinkbomb at home vs. Bears.
Cignetti figures himself to be a talented P.I., but long stretches of time away from the four-win Rams have coach Jeff Fisher steamed at Ol' Frank. Around The NFL lost our bead on Cignetti's movements after Sunday's loss to Chicago, but Monday morning brought evidence of a heated phone call between the play-caller/investigator and his head coach:
FCJ: Good morning, coach.
JF: Frank, I'm genuinely annoyed. You've been impossible to track down. Bin Laden-level impossible. You're avoiding me.
FCJ: I wouldn't describe it that way, sir.
JF: Cut the "sir" business. I want to meet this afternoon to talk offense. I'll bring the coffee and pastries, you just show up on time. Noon sharp.
FCJ: I can't do that coach. I'm on the tarmac. We're about to jet west.
JF: Get off that plane.
FCJ: Coach, I can't.
JF: You need to be here, Frank. What happened on Sunday was a #^$*storm. We're making changes, we're starting Keenum. Did you hear? ... Of course you didn't. You're off for days on end looking for some runaway girl.
FCJ: To be specific: Regina Jane François. Missing for three weeks now. Her mother's worried sick and I promised to help. I vowed to find her, coach.
JF: What about getting the authorities involved? You have a job to do--
FCJ: I have two jobs. And I'm zeroing in. I believe I've tracked the François girl to some sort of mountain compound outside of L.A. I'm not sure what she's doing there, but I've been canvassing local eateries and hangouts and schoolyards for anyone who might have seen her before she--
JF: I need you back here at Rams headquarters pronto.
FCJ: I can't do that, coach. Frank Cignetti doesn't break a promise. I don't leave the case half solved. I'm sorry.
JF: It's time to wake from your dreamworld, Frank. I'm calling back in an hour and you better have your head on straight. Goodbye.
(transcription cuts out at 10:01 a.m.)