Week 5 of the NFL season featured the triumphant return of Tom Brady, huge wins for the Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys, Ryan Tannehill and Brock Osweiler struggling and the San Diego Chargers losing again in heart-breaking fashion.
Here is a closer look at the best and worst from the past week:
QB Tom Brady, New England Patriots
The four-time Super Bowl champion returned from his four-game suspension with a vengeance. Brady threw for 406 yards and three touchdowns in his first game of 2016, leading the Patriots to a 33-13 rout of the Browns in Cleveland. He certainly wasn’t rusty after a month away from the game. Brady hit tight end Martellus Bennett for all three of his scores, and both Chris Hogan (114 yards) and Rob Gronkowski (109) went over the century mark in receiving yards. The 39-year-old quarterback even scrambled for a first down in the second half. Brady’s back.
The NFL’s last remaining undefeated team was dominant in all three phases on Sunday. Sam Bradford threw for 271 yards and two touchdowns, despite not having top receiver Stefon Diggs available. The Vikings defense held Brock Osweiler and the Texans to 214 total yards (with most coming in garbage time), and Marcus Sherels returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown.
Minnesota still doesn’t have a turnover on offense, and Mike Zimmer’s defense continues to be unkind to opposing quarterbacks. It’s going to be very difficult to beat the Vikings when they stick to the winning formula they’ve established through the first five weeks.
QB Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers improved to 4-1 overall and 3-0 at home with Sunday’s 31-13 win over the Jets. Roethlisberger led the way again, throwing for 380 yards and four touchdowns—including a 72-yard score to Sammie Coates on Pittsburgh’s first series.
Big Ben now has 12 touchdown passes at home this season, and his 15 total passing scores after five games put him on pace for 48 in 2016. Nine of his touchdowns have come in just the last two games. With Le’Veon Bell (154 total yards) back in the lineup, Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense is firing on all cylinders.
Dallas Cowboys/Atlanta Falcons
The two NFC teams entered Week 5 with 3-1 records and uncertain credentials, but both left Sunday looking like true contenders. The Cowboys thrashed the Cincinnati Bengals, scoring the first 28 points in a blowout of a franchise that has made the playoffs five straight years.
The Falcons were even more impressive, winning in Denver against the defending Super Bowl champions. The Cowboys and Falcons are now 4-1, and both sit alone atop their respective divisions. It’s probably time to start taking the two unexpected contenders seriously.
RB David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
Desperate for a win and starting Drew Stanton at quarterback, the Cardinals leaned on Johnson on Thursday night against the 49ers—and Arizona’s second-year running back delivered. He rushed for a season-high 157 yards and two touchdowns, including the go-ahead score in the third quarter and the game-sealing touchdown late in the fourth.
Johnson added three catches for 28 yards, giving him 695 total yards after five games in 2016. He’s now on pace for an NFL-high 2,224 yards from scrimmage and 16 touchdowns. The Cardinals’ do-it-all running back should probably be in the MVP discussion.
WR T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
Just two weeks after torching the Chargers for 174 yards and the go-ahead score, Hilton produced 171 yards and hauled in the game-winning touchdown against the Bears. He had 117 yards in the first half, and his 35-yard touchdown on a deep post put the Colts up by three points deep into the fourth quarter.
Through five games, Hilton has 507 receiving yards and three touchdowns—putting him on pace for 1,622 and 10 scores in 2016. He’s also been directly responsible for both of the Colts’ wins this season.
A comprehensive defeat at the hands of the visiting Tennessee Titans has left the disappointing Dolphins at 1-4 after five games. Tennessee rushed for 235 yards and Marcus Mariota threw three touchdowns, while the Titans defense sacked Ryan Tannehill six times and forced a pair of interceptions.
Miami’s punchless offense managed just eight first downs, 200 total yards and less than 24 minutes of possession. By the fourth quarter, the crowd in Miami could be heard chanting for Matt Moore, Tannehill’s backup. Dolphins fans have every right to demand change, but the reality is the quarterback position is just one of many problems hurting Adam Gase’s team to start 2016.
QB Brock Osweiler, Houston Texans
Houston’s $72 million quarterback became the latest victim of Mike Zimmer’s punishing defense. Osweiler completed just 19 of his 42 attempts, with one interception and a garbage-time touchdown pass in a 31-13 loss in Minnesota. He took four sacks, and the Texans offense gained 214 total yards and converted just 1-of-13 third down opportunities.
It could have been worse for Osweiler, who saw Vikings safety Harrison Smith drop what would have been an easy pick-six in the first half. He wasn’t the first and won’t be the last to look terrible against Zimmer, but Osweiler’s performance on Sunday was bad enough to test head coach Bill O’Brien’s confidence in him moving forward.
Baltimore Ravens offense
Baltimore’s 3-0 start is beginning to look like a mirage. While last week’s late loss was pinned on the defense, Sunday’s defeat rests at the feet of the offense. The Ravens scored just 10 points, thanks largely to inefficiency on key downs. Baltimore converted on 3-of-15 third downs and failed on fourth down with the game on the line late in the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Joe Flacco produced just 210 passing yards on 46 attempts, which contributed heavily to the 10 punts or turnover-on-downs after a touchdown drive on Baltimore’s first possession. The Ravens should be winning games when their own defense plays as well as it did on Sunday.
San Diego Chargers
It’s hard not to feel terrible for the Chargers, who fell to 1-4 after dropping another game in heart-breaking fashion. Already losers of three games in which they held a fourth-quarter advantage, the cursed Chargers coughed up a fumble and then lost their lead over the Raiders in the third quarter on Sunday.
But the real heartbreak came later, when San Diego bobbled the snap on a potential game-tying field goal late in the fourth quarter. The Raiders are now 4-1 and leading the AFC West. The Chargers will have to settle for being the unluckiest 1-4 team in NFL history.