We're getting into the meat of the NFL season, and road teams are starting to find their footing. Visiting squads won just six of 12 games Sunday, but three of those losses (Bears, Chargers, Ravens) were decided on the final play of the game. There were also too many stunning performances from road warriors to account for in this one column; they came in winning and losing causes, close games and blowouts. Some posted massive numbers, some showed up in the clutch and some just got off the schneid. Here are your Week 6 Greatness on the Road candidates:
Greatness on the Road winner...
Yes, greatness comes in all shapes and sizes, ladies and gents. Even in losses, there are sprinkles of greatness -- or in the case of Rivers, a tidal wave. On the hallowed Lambeau Field grounds, Rivers set Chargers franchise records for completions (43), attempts (65) and passing yards (503), all against a Packers pass defense that was considered the best in the league by some metrics.
With Melvin Gordon hampered by injury and Antonio Gates back in the fold, Rivers felt free to spray passes to all of his receivers, including Keenan Allen, who also had a monster day (14 catches for 157 yards). In fact, three Chargers receivers had at least 95 receiving yards on the day, all of whom were clearly beneficiaries of Rivers' aerial assault.
Some may argue that Rivers wasn't great "when it counted" and that he shouldn't deserve this honor -- Rivers threw incomplete on a fourth-and-3 from the three-yard line with 20 seconds left down by seven to lose the game. To that, we say poppycock. Let's choose the glass half-full approach. Down a touchdown with 2:37 to go, Rivers drove the Chargers down the field 77 yards, going a perfect 7-for-7 before reaching the goal line. A pair of questionable Danny Woodhead run calls from the three-yard line cost San Diego the game, or at least overtime, more so than any perfectly-defended out throw for Rivers.
So take a bow, Philip. Your record-breaking performance in Sunday's heartbreaking loss will not be forgotten.
The former 2011 first-overall pick finally had his coming-out party. Sitting undefeated before a road matchup with the Seahawks, the Panthers were down 24-13 in the fourth quarter with their legitmacy and perfect season on the line. Newton had struggled earlier in the day, throwing two picks and struggling to hit his receivers in space, but when it mattered, Superman saved the day.
With just over eight minutes to go, Newton led the Panthers on two successive 80-yard scoring drives to win the game, completing 11 passes -- more than half of his game total -- and hooking up with tight end Greg Olsen three times for 70 yards. Newton showed awareness in the pocket, displayed his trademark zip on bullets down the middle of the field and threw with touch on the game-winning throw to Olsen. Thanks to Cam, the Panthers remain undefeated in a now-competitive NFC South and appear ready to take on the league's great teams.
More Cam! The highly-touted Dolphins' defensive line had underwhelmed mightily, totaling a grand total of one sack through four games under Joe Philbin. However, a coaching change and a shift in philosophy toward physicality had Miami signing a different tune in Tennessee on Sunday, and Wake was conducting the orchestra.
The Dolphins defensive end swarmed Marcus Mariota and the Titans offensive line, totaling four unassisted sacks on the day -- those sacks also acted as his first four tackles of the season! Wake forced a key Mariota fumble in the second quarter with the Titans driving down seven, which was subsequently returned back into Titans territory. Finally fully healthy, Wake was a force to be reckoned with all day and swung momentum in Miami's favor on each of his hurries.
You deserve some credit, too
Nuk nuked the Jaguars to the tune of 10 catches for 148 yards and two touchdowns. However, Hopkins' acrobatic antics are unfortunately too consistent and ordinary to be considered "great" anymore -- he's created too high of a standard to bear each week. Call us when he secures a wobbly Brian Hoyer pass with his facemask whilst being blanketed by Darrelle Revis in a hurricane. Then, we'll talk.
The Redskins cornerback ended up having a rough day keeping up with Jets wideout Brandon Marshall, but he did have one monster first half. In the first 30 minutes, Breeland compiled three takeaways -- two fumble recoveries and one acrobatic pick. The Redskins turned those turnovers into 13 points and took a lead into the half before promptly blowing it in the second. Good job, good effort.