NFL Week 6 awards go to Le’Veon Bell, Janoris Jenkins, Jordan Howard and others. Plus quotes of the week, stats of the week and more.
OFFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Le’Veon Bell, running back, Pittsburgh. By halftime of the game of the day, Bell was totally confounding Kansas City defensive coordinator Bob Sutton and his troops. Bell had 17 carries for 104 yards and a touchdown at the break, and the Steelers were well on the way to handing the last undefeated team in the NFL its first loss. The Steelers survived to win, thanks to Bell and a great defensive effort.
Jordan Howard, running back, Chicago. Talk about a John Fox kind of game—the Bears ran it 54 times for 231 yards Sunday in Baltimore. Howard was the brute-force key to this win, with 36 rushes for 167 yards.
Tom Brady, quarterback, New England. He’s had better games in his 18-year NFL career (20 for 28, 257 yards, two touchdowns, one picks), but the 24-17 win over the pesky Jets was his 187th career regular-season victory, which is a record for quarterbacks. Add his 25 playoff wins, and Brady’s win total is 212. And counting. The 212 wins are 12 more than any other quarterback ever.
DEFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Vince Williams, inside linebacker, Pittsburgh. In 74 career games over five seasons before Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, Williams had 4.5 sacks. In the dominating defensive effort over the Chiefs, Williams had two first-half sacks, silencing the crowd and setting the stage for the Steelers’ second defensive conquest of the Chiefs in nine months.
Janoris Jenkins, cornerback, New York Giants. Jenkins had a 43-yard pick-six near the end of the first half to put the Broncos in a 17-3 halftime hole. Then, at the start of the fourth quarter, with the Broncos driving to try to cut into a 17-point deficit, Jenkins stripped Demaryius Thomas as he converted a fourth down. The disheartening strip finished off Denver and was a key to the Giants’ major upset.
Adrian Amos, safety, Chicago. One of the most gorgeous interception returns for touchdown I’ve ever seen—and, interestingly, Amos is quite inexperienced at this business. In his 37th NFL game, Amos plucked a tipped Joe Flacco pass out of the air at his 10-yard line, and weaved and bobbed and sprinted down the left side of the field for a vital 90-yard score.
Nigel Bradham, linebacker; Fletcher Cox, defensive tackle; Brandon Graham, defensive end, Philadelphia. Bradham twice made key stops on third-down conversion tries by the Panthers and knocked down two passes. Cox and Graham terrorized Cam Newton all night, combining for 13 hurries, one hit and one sack of Newton, per Pro Football Focus. The three combined for 15 tackles and Bradham, in particular, played one of the best sideline-to-sideline game of an undistinguished career.
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Pharoh Cooper, kick-returner/wide receiver, Los Angeles Rams. The first touchdown return of an opening kickoff this year was a doozy. Cooper ran 103 yards up the right side to start the game in Jacksonville, and stunningly pirouetted 360 degrees out of a tackle early in the runback. A superb return.
Justin Tucker, kicker, Baltimore. You’ve got to see the 50-yard field goal Tucker kicked in the fourth quarter against the Bears. I swear it would have been good from 68 yards. It hit two-thirds of the way up the net—on a line! With 3:01 left in the game. Which led this game to …
Michael Campanaro, punt-returner/wide receiver, Baltimore. His weaving 73-yard punt return after the Bears’ ensuing series, plus a two-point conversion pass by Joe Flacco, tied the game against the Bears and sent it to overtime.
COACH OF THE WEEK
Doug Pederson, coach, Philadelphia. I’m a longtime go-for-two kind of guy anyway, but Pederson’s move on Thursday night was one of his many solid decisions in the game against Carolina that got the Eagles to 5-1. A minute into the third quarter, Carson Wentz threw a touchdown pass for Philadelphia, and Jake Elliott kicked the PAT to put the Eagles up 17-10. But on the PAT, the Panthers were whistled for an illegal formation for lining up directly over the center, which is illegal. Ref Peter Morelli announced the penalty in the stadium, saying the Eagles would take the five-yard walkoff on the ensuing kickoff. The game went to commercial. When the break was over, here was Morelli saying, “Philadelphia has elected to go for two points. The ball will be placed on the one-yard line.” Now for a here’s-how-the-sausage-is-made moment: Refs and head coaches have an agreement that if there’s any doubt whether the team wants to accept or decline a penalty, the ref will look at the sideline and the coach will make some sort of signal about his intentions. And so CBS had a camera replaying Pederson yelling at Morelli (if my lip-reading is correct): “Look at me! I wanna go for two!” And so the Eagles did, and LaGarrette Blount barreled in from the one, and it was 18-10 instead of 17-10. Good call by Pederson, obviously; the coach in that circumstance can either take the one point and assess the five yards on the kickoff, or he can go half the distance from the 2-yard line to try for the two-point conversion. I think more coaches should go for two from the 2, but moving it to the 1 makes the call a must-do, even if it means risking taking one point off the board. Smart by Pederson.
Quotes of the Week
“I guess this old cowboy’s got a little bit left in him.”
—Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger following the Steelers’ upset of Kansas City on Sunday, a week after Roethlisberger questioned his own future.
“People are confused on the First Amendment versus patriotism, that if you exercise your First Amendment [rights] you're not a patriot, which is crazy. [Donald Trump] knew he could hit on it and take advantage. I think what we're seeing is the great divider overcoming the great uniter.”
—Jaguars owner Shad Khan, a former Trump backer
“I have so much left. I look to play four or five more years.”
—New Cardinal Adrian Peterson
“I stand anyway. Taking a knee and all that, that’s not going to solve the problem in my eyes. There definitely is a problem out there, but taking a knee and all that—I stand for the people who go to war for us.”
—Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib
“Hey—I don’t want to be the answer to the trivia question about your last touchdown pass.”
—Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, walking into a production meeting for the Thursday night Carolina-Philadelphia game, to CBS color man Tony Romo, as relayed by Romo. The last pass of Romo’s career with the Cowboys was a touchdown to Terence Williams on New Year’s Day, against Philadelphia’s Schwartz-coached defense.
Too bad, Jim. Looks like Romo is going to stay in the booth.
Factoids That May Interest Only Me
Aqib Talib pulled into the parking lot at the Denver Broncos training facility at 6:46 a.m. Thursday, the precise time Trevor Siemian pulled in. “I work,” Talib said.
I see. I asked Someone Who Knows while in Denver about leadership on the team this year, and he said the two biggest leaders in the locker room are Talib and Siemian.
Stat of the Week
Per Pro Football Focus, passing snaps played by Jets defensive linemen Leonard Williams, Muhammad Wilkerson, Kony Ealy, Steve McLendon, Mike Pennel, Lawrence Thomas and Claude Pelon in six games in 2017: 623.
Sacks by Jets defensive linemen in those 623 combined pass-rush stats: zero.
Sacks by Jets defensive linemen in the 2016 season: 18.
Check out the Andy Reid Coaching Tree. All five coaches on it, including Reid, and not a one is below .500 six weeks into the season:
|Team||W-L||Coach||Years Working Under Reid|
|Kansas City||5-1||Andy Reid|
|Philadelphia||5-1||Doug Pederson||7 (2009-15)|
|Carolina||4-2||Ron Rivera||5 (1999-2003)|
|Buffalo||3-2||Sean McDermott||12 (1999-2010)|
|Baltimore||3-3||John Harbaugh||9 (1999-2007)|
Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Notes
Airline WiFi stinks. I mean you, Delta. I especially mean you, United. If you can’t make it work so the entire plane can have remotely good connections, scrap it until you can. Stop taking money from customers under the false pretense of providing good wireless connections. It’s never good. I mean never.
I am going to make a confession that will make me seem older than my age (60) and confirm that I am completely out of touch with the youth of America: Until last Wednesday, I had never eaten ramen. I don’t even think ramen was a thing at Ohio University in the late ’70s, when I was there, and it never made it to the King dinner table when the kids were growing up. Shake ’N Bake pork chops, and Hamburger Helper—now those made it to the King table, but ramen … never heard of it.
So I was in Denver, and Robert Klemko of The MMQB lives in Denver, and he and his girlfriend, Dana, invited me to their favorite restaurant, Uncle. It’s a ramen place. I first had to explain that I didn’t know exactly what ramen was. Klemko sent me the menu and I looked it over and said, sure, I’ll go. Uncle’s is a pretty hot spot. We waited about 30 minutes for a table—actually three chairs at a long table, because every chair in the packed place gets used throughout the night. I told Klemko the spicy chicken ramen looked good … but I could do without the soft boiled egg part of it. “That’s the best part!” he said. I went egg-less. The food was really good, particularly the shrimp bun and the ramen, with its noodles and sprouts and tender mouth-burning chicken.
I see why people love this ramen. I see why Uncle’s had a line out the door too.
Tweets of the Week
Don’t want to alarm anyone but the Browns might be terrible at evaluating quarterbacks.— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) October 15, 2017
The national anthem issue is now officially two sides yelling at each other about completely different things.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) October 11, 2017
We’re in the first month of a new section of the column called My MVP, as part of The MMQB’s partnership with State Farm. Each week, I’ll ask an NFL person what his most valuable possession is, and why.
Adrian Peterson, running back, Arizona. “I have a necklace that I got made in Los Angeles. Pretty simple—24 karat gold. It’s a gold necklace with praying hands, with a diamond in it. I wear it everywhere I go. It reminds me to keep praying. I am not perfect. I stumble. I have stumbled, and I will strive not to stumble again. But I know the heart that I have. When I see this, I see what’s important in my life.”
From “The MMQB Podcast With Peter King,” available where you download podcasts.
This week’s conversations: New York Jets quarterback Josh McCown, a veteran of 10 pro football teams, and the first personnel director in the history of the Dallas Cowboys, Gil Brandt, now an NFL.com analyst.
• McCown on his season with the Oakland Raiders and owner Al Davis: “We were hanging out after a game, loading the car up, and this black Lincoln Town Car comes up, the window goes down, boom. He goes [in a distinctly Al Davis Brooklyn accent], ‘Hey McCown, come here.’ It's like a scene out of Goodfellas. My heart is beating fast, and he says, "The second quarter, you threw the ball in the flat. You had [wide receiver John] Madsen on the corner. Why didn't you throw the corner?’ I'm stumbling through the answer, I'm following my reads and doing what I'm supposed to do, I didn't want to sell out the coaches. I kind of fumbled through the answer, and I get done talking, and he nods his head and goes, ‘It's the Raidahs, throw the ball dahnfield.’ And brrrrrrp the window goes up and he pulls off. It was a great experience.
“He was so sharp, even at that age. We walk in and we're hanging out waiting for a team meeting to start, and here he comes in with his walker, and he sees one of our rookie D-ends, and he says, ‘Hey, last year, you played with your right hand down. Now you're playing with your left hand down. Why? Put your right hand down, you had your best games …’ He rattled off the three games in college that he did that—his sack numbers and everything … Commitment to Excellence wasn't just something he had copy written. It was, legit, his life.”
• McCown, with a wife and four children, on the strain of often being an absentee father while he played in one city and his family lived elsewhere, often in Charlotte: “When your employment begins and ends at training camp, it is hard when you've got family to go, ‘Okay, let's move before the school year,’ so we stayed ... We've just learned to manage it. It's not been ideal by any stretch. Thank god for FaceTime. But I also understand that I am not the only guy that works, and works away from his family. We have people serving and protecting this country that spend six to eight months, or years, at a time without being able to see their family. The time away is hard. There were so many nights I hung up FaceTime and hung up times with my kids that I would just sit there and cry and go, ‘Man I don't want to, I can't do it! I can't do it anymore. And then the home game would come and they would come see me, and the joy that they had, and then at the end of the season we would sit down and my kids, especially my two boys, they'd say, ‘Dad, you have to keep playing, we love it.’ They are so supportive and so it's like, I'm sitting there going, ‘Do you really want me to play, or are you just glad Dad is not home to cut off the Xbox?’”
In the podcast, you’ll also hear about this: Opening day, 2004. Arizona at St. Louis. First game of Larry Fitzgerald’s pro life. First snap of Larry Fitzgerald’s pro life. McCown takes the first snap of the season. He hands to running back Emmitt Smith. Smith runs toward the line, stops, pivots, and tosses back to McCown. McCown throws as far as he can downfield. Fitzgerald, covered by Aeneas Williams, jumps over Williams to make the 37-yard catch.
Emmitt Smith. Aeneas Williams. Larry Fitzgerald. Not bad company for McCown.