Everything You Need to Know: Week 6
Let’s face it: While there’s nothing better than NFL Sundays, it can be a little intimidating keeping up with what’s going on in every game. You can analyze the box scores or scan Twitter, but we’ll make it even easier. Here you’ll find the most important points from every day game, so you’ll be prepared no matter what comes up at the water cooler Monday morning. We’ll be updating throughout the games, so keep checking back.
1. For the fourth straight week, the Colts had a legitimate threat to put a win on the board. And for the fourth straight week, something went horribly wrong. This time, with the Colts down 20-17 in the waning moments, Pierre Garcon coughed up a fumble and Cincinnati ran it back for a score.
2. Andy Dalton to A.J. Green. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. The Bengals' dynamic rookie duo hooked up again for Green's fourth TD of the season, this one coming in the first quarter to get Cincinnati on the board.
3. Dallas Clark is having a rough year without Peyton Manning throwing passes to him. Things only got worse Sunday, with Clark also committing a bad turnover -- Cincinnati recovered Clark's fumble in Colts territory and turned it into a touchdown.
1. The Lions' defensive line has earned a reputation as one of the fiercest in the NFL, but San Francisco's front stole the show Sunday. The 49ers kept Jahvid Best from finding any running room and made Matthew Stafford rush his throws all game long. Stafford took five sacks, including one in the end zone for a critical safety.
2. Detroit felt like it was robbed on Calvin Johnson's controversial no-catch in Week 1 last season. The Lions got the benefit of the doubt on a similar play Sunday -- Nate Burleson was given a TD after his catch in the back of the end zone initially was ruled an incompletion, as Burleson took several steps with the ball but dropped it after stumbling on the field-goal net under the goal posts.
3. Frank Gore may not be 100 percent, but he still racked up 141 yards rushing. Fifty-five of those yards came on a third-quarter carry -- Gore was hit in the backfield, kept his feet and found a huge hole. The Lions eventually chased him down to prevent a touchdown.
1. The Packers broke the game open in a key sequence early in the second quarter. On 4th-and-1, the Rams allowed James Starks to gain 15 yards, which led to James Jones' 35 yard TD grab to put the Packers up 10-0. But the Rams were driving on the Packers when they took a key sack, giving Aaron Rodgers the ball back. First play? A 93-yard scoring strike to Jordy Nelson. 17-0, game.
2. The Packers were one-dimensional, but it doesn't matter when that dimension is Aaron Rodgers. While James Starks and Ryan Grant finished with only 74 combined yards on 22 carries, Rodgers threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns.
3. Meanwhile, Sam Bradford finally had something to feel good about. While the Rams took another loss from this game, Bradford started to look like last year's top rookie. In the first half, he connected often with two 2011 rookies -- receiver Greg Salas and tight end Lance Hendricks -- and topped 300 yards passing on the day.
1. Atlanta's inconsistent defense had trouble getting off the field on third down, and Carolina's superstar QB Cam Newton delivered his usual package of highlight-reel plays, but the Falcons also forced three Newton interceptions. Those turnovers were huge in turning this one from a close game to a fairly-easy Atlanta win down the stretch.
2. On back-to-back Atlanta possessions, the Panthers took big pass interference penalties -- both against Roddy White, and both giving the Falcons the ball on Carolina's 1. Michael Turner scored on a TD run after the first flag; Ovie Mughelli did the same after the second.
3. With Julio Jones out due to a hamstring injury, the Falcons asked Harry Douglas to fill a complementary role alongside White. Douglas came up with just two catches but averaged 28.5 yards per grab.
1. Pittsburgh's defense already was down James Harrison and lost Troy Polamalu late Sunday to a head injury. The Steelers struggled mightily without Polamalu in 2009 -- if he's out for any extended period of time, Pittsburgh's defense might be in big trouble.
2. Welcome back, Rashard Mendenhall. He had just 173 yards rushing on the season heading into Sunday but nearly doubled that total Sunday, ripping off 146 yards and a touchdown.
3. Blaine Gabbert did not have a groundbreaking statistical day, but he put the Jaguars in position to pull off an upset. After throwing for just 41 yards in the first 43 minutes of the game, Gabbert hit Jason Hill for an 18-yard TD to pull Jacksonville within seven and had a Hail Mary chance at the end to win it.
1. Rex Grossman had been flirting with disaster the past couple of weeks, and the sky finally fell down Sunday. Grossman tossed four interceptions -- the worst coming one play after Vince Young, in for Michael Vick, threw his own pick deep in Philadelphia territory -- and was benched in favor of John Beck.
2. Michael Vick accounted for six TDs in his last trip to Washington, a 59-28 whitewash of the Redskins last year, and he played well again Sunday. LeSean McCoy provided plenty of help, rushing for 126 yards and a touchdown and tearing through big holes up front all day.
3. Redskins TE Chris Cooley left the game in the first half with a left hand injury. His absence robbed Washington's offense -- not to mention Grossman -- of one of its bigger weapons.
1. Fred Jackson's "You Should Know Who I Am" tour continues. On the first play from scrimmage after the Giants took a 7-0 lead, Jackson outraced everyone for an 80-yard score that saw him put on a burst of speed late to avoid defenders nipping at his heels
2. The Bills' and Giants' offenses got it done in different ways. The Bills relied on the big play in the first half, with an 80-yard scoring run from Fred Jackson and a 60-yard catch by Naaman Roosevelt. The Giants, on the other hand, feasted on long, back-breaking drives that wore out the Bills' defense.
3. Eli Manning has been good, and he's getting a little help from his friends. Manning had a huge first half, hooking up for key plays with Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham and Jake Ballard, the latter of whom is doing a nice job carving out a role for himself in a crowded Giants offense.
1. Oakland will be without QB Jason Campbell for awhile, possibly the remainder of 2011. Campbell reportedly broke his right collarbone scrambling in the second quarter. Kyle Boller replaced him, though the Raiders' lone TD pass on the day came from punter Shane Lechler on a fake. Boller and Terrelle Pryor are the Raiders' only healthy quarterbacks now.
2. The Peyton Hillis saga continues in Cleveland. Hillis took some heat after sitting out Week 3 with strep throat, and he found himself back on the bench Sunday with what the Browns called a hamstring injury. But he returned to the field in the fourth quarter as Cleveland tried to rally.
3. One mark of a good team is the ability to bounce back after something goes wrong. Late in the first quarter, Oakland QB Jason Campbell turned the ball over on a fumble and Cleveland scored on the ensuing possession. Jacoby Ford ripped the momentum back for the Raiders with a 101-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
1. Ray Rice wound up rushing for 101 yards, but he had a hard time getting going early. The Ravens' pass game picked up the slack, with Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith combining for 216 yards receiving.
2. Baltimore's move to add veteran receiver Derrick Mason may have lit a fire under Jacoby Jones. Jones hauled in a 32-yard TD in the third quarter to give Houston a 14-13 lead and finished with four catches for 76 yards.
3. Texans running back Ben Tate nearly made a very costly mistake when he fumbled on a play at the Baltimore 1. But, luckily for him, Houston offensive lineman Wade Smith pounced on the ball for a touchdown.
1. Tom Brady legitimately struggled trying to figure out Rob Ryan's defense, even throwing a fourth-quarter interception that looked -- for a bit -- like it might cost the Patriots the game, after Dallas turned it into a go-ahead field goal. But down three with two minutes left, Brady did what Brady does: Win. Lesser QB's might have settled for a field goal. Brady went for the throat, hitting Aaron Hernandez for the game-winning TD.
2. Miles Austin made four catches in the first half, the first action he's seen since Week 2. With Austin back in the lineup and Dez Bryant close to 100 percent, the Cowboys are as healthy as they've been all season.
3. Speaking of injuries ... the oft-hurt Felix Jones suffered another injury Sunday. He hobbled off in the first half with an ankle issue and did not return, forcing the Cowboys to use Tashard Choice and DeMarco Murray at running back.
1. New Orleans coach Sean Payton reportedly suffered a torn MCL and broken tibia when Saints tight end Jimmy Graham rolled into him after being tackled. Payton stayed down for several minutes, then was helped to the bench. He coached the rest of the half there but did not return to the sideline for the second half.
2. Slow starts? What slow starts? The Bucs shook off their season-long first-half doldrums and put up 20 points on New Orleans before the break, including 17 in the second quarter.
3. Earnest Graham got the nod at running back for Tampa, with LeGarrette Blount hurt, and he responded. Graham topped the 100-yard mark and broke a 12-yard run just after the two-minute warning to ice the game.
- Tom Mantzouranis contributed to this post. Follow @ChrisBurke_SI