Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14, Philadelphia Eagles 33QB Josh Johnson, Pass: 26 - 50 - 240 - 2 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 5 - 40 - 0 - Johnson did very well in the face of a ton of blitzes from the Eagles in Week 5. Johnson was blitzed at least 20 times and possibly as much as 50% of his passing attempts (he threw 50 times) but used his agility, speed and quickness to elude the Eagles as much as possible to escape within and then quickly out of the pocket. Johnson did not do what most mobile young quarterbacks would do in those situations -- he chose to continue to look down field for possible receivers. He did run on occasion, tucking it under and rushing five times including a long 29 yard rush where he avoided several would-be tacklers. Johnson's numbers would have even been better if he had more reliable outlets as only TE Kellen Winslow Jr. did much with their chances. Drops continued to plague the Buccaneer receivers, costing Johnson a shot at a 300-yard performance. Look for Johnson to continue to make plays on offense next week against Carolina.
RB Cadillac Williams, Rush: 10 - 8 - 0, Rec: 3 - 8 - 0 (3 targets) - Cadillac Williams could not get rolling at all in Week 5 as the tough Philadelphia Eagles defense crowded the line and challenged Tampa Bay to push them out of the box. The Buccaneer offensive line could not create separation or space for Williams to do much of anything. The Eagles often made first contact with Williams behind the line of scrimmage, and he could not break that initial tackle to get any yards after the hit. He was even the unfortunate victim of a late tackle for loss for a safety. Williams actually was averaging under a yard per carry until he added an eight yard run, his longest of the day. Williams did add three catches but two were for losses and again a meaningless 12-yard catch afforded him some semblance of a positive stat line. Williams will need better blocking for any hope of putting up decent numbers against a weaker run defense at home against the Panthers next week.
RB Derrick Ward, Rush: 6 - 37 - 0 - Derrick Ward played the role of second tailback behind Cadillac Williams in Week 5, getting just six carries on the day. The Philadelphia Eagles stacked the line well and afforded the Buccaneers little room to run, but Ward did manage to squeeze through the first line of defenders once to pick up 28 yards up the middle, breaking tackles and only getting stopped by a facemask penalty that was the only chance the Eagles had to keep Ward from scoring. Look for Ward to likely see more work and get more per touch next week at home against Carolina.
RB B.J. Askew, Rush: 1 - 0 - 0 - Fullback BJ Askew had one carry late in the game to try and get the ball away from the goal line. The Eagles pushed him back and held him to just a one yard gain, but Philadelphia still recorded a safety on the next play. Askew has no fantasy value.
RB Clifton Smith - Smith had no offensive touches again in Week 5. Smith was given the role as primary kick and punt returner against Philadelphia.
WR Antonio Bryant, Rec: 5 - 62 - 0 (11 targets) - Antonio Bryant was healthy enough to start for Tampa Bay in Week 5, and he was certainly needed against a tough Philadelphia defense. Bryant started well with a solid slowly with a few catches that were under 10 yards each but in the second quarter he snared a nice 31-yard reception on a post corner route. Bryant went into halftime with 62 yards on nine targets but a few drops from QB Josh Johnson, and he barely showed up after intermission as he caught nothing on two tries. Bryant may need to work more with Johnson on timing after his recent health issues cost him practice time, but he still remains the top wide receiver for the Buccaneers.
WR Michael Clayton, Rec: 3 - 25 - 0 (12 targets) - Michael Clayton continues to disappoint as the second wideout for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Clayton had a dozen targets but several drops, including a deep target on the first offensive play for Tampa Bay and another key one early in the contest on a fourth down and two in borderline field goal range. Until he can get rid of the drop issue and start making more of his targets, Clayton has to be kept on fantasy benches and most likely even off of everyone's roster.
WR Sammie Stroughter, Rec: 3 - 18 - 0 (7 targets) - Rookie wideout Sammie Stroughter was far from perfect, but he at least was getting a good number of targets including one in the Red Zone later in the game but that scoring chance sailed out of bounds. His numbers were nothing to write home about but if Tampa Bay wants to start to evaluate Stroughter as a possible WR2 opposite of Antonio Bryant the time may come sooner rather than later as Michael Clayton is not impressive at all and making very little of his large number of targets.
TE Kellen Winslow, Rec: 9 - 102 - 2 (12 targets) - Kellen Winslow really stepped up to the call to action in Week 5, catching nearly everything thrown in his direction against the Eagles. Young quarterback Josh Johnson needed a go to receiver to assert himself and be a consistent target, and Winslow afforded him a big target down the middle of the field and especially in the Red Zone. Winslow made two strong catches in tight man to man coverage for his two scoring catches, the first at the back of the end zone in tight coverage where he just kept his feet in bounds, while the other was a high pass late in the game he reeled in on fourth down. Johnson to Winslow looks to be the top tandem to produce right now for the Buccaneers.
TE John Gilmore, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (2 targets) - Third string tight end John Gilmore had two targets in Week 5 against the Eagles, grabbing the first for nine yards early in the second quarter. He is way too far down the depth chart to provide any fantasy value.
TE Jerramy Stevens, Rec: 1 - 1 - 0 (2 targets) - Stevens had just two chances in Week 5 against the Philadelphia Eagles, snagging only one of them for a single yard in the second quarter.. With Kellen Winslow excelling and on the same page as Josh Johnson, Stevens has next to no fantasy value.
QB Donovan McNabb, Pass: 16 - 21 - 264 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 30 - 0 - Donovan McNabb returned to action after both the Philadelphia bye week and also from his Week 1 rib injury, and he showed no signs of rust or pain against Tampa Bay. Getting what many consider a weak opponent certainly helps, and McNabb took full advantage of the Buccaneer secondary from the onset. His first throw was a deep strike to rookie WR Jeremy Maclin, whom McNabb later hit again for another score. McNabb also showed good mobility within and out of the pocket, scrambling twice away from pressure and smartly getting out of bounds for about 15 yards on each play and a first down. McNabb was nearly perfect (157.2 QB rating) on the day, averaging a gaudy 12.5 yards per attempt, evidenced by his strong fantasy numbers on just 21 attempts.
QB Michael Vick, Pass: 1 - 3 - 1 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 10 - 0 - Michael Vick was active again in Week 5 as the Eagles had all three quarterbacks active against Tampa Bay. Vick came in and ran the Eagles' version of the Wildcat offense, but his effectiveness was minimal at best. Vick had just four carries and three pass attempts, with all three throws coming late in the contest after the game was long since decided and McNabb was able to take a well-deserved breather. McNabb and Vick are coexisting fine so far, but against a tougher opponent the disruption of bringing in Vick and removing McNabb from the game may cause some problems. For now, Vick's contributions are barely worth a mention.
QB Kevin Kolb - Kevin Kolb returned to the bench in Week 5 after Donovan McNabb returned to health after the bye week. Still a capable starter and with a nice upside for the future, Kolb is a valuable QB but only as a handcuff to McNabb in very deep QB leagues.
RB LeSean McCoy, Rush: 6 - 14 - 0, Rec: 2 - 15 - 0 (3 targets) - LeSean McCoy was expected to see both split time with Brian Westbrook and extra touches with the Philadelphia Eagles heavily favored against Tampa Bay and most of that came to be in Week 5. McCoy had the same number of touches (eight) as Westbrook but neither back was really needed to produce against the Buccaneers as the Eagles rode the back of their defense and the passing offense. McCoy had one modest run of nine yards and a good catch and run of 10 more as his best two plays of Week 5. Both he and Brian Westbrook will see more work next week against the Raiders who have a weak run defense.
RB Brian Westbrook, Rush: 6 - 18 - 1, Rec: 2 - 17 - 0 (2 targets) - Brian Westbrook returned to the lineup for the Eagles in Week 5, and he looked to be back to his normal self -- although against Tampa Bay the Eagles did not really need much from their running backs. Westbrook had only six carries on the afternoon but with all the production on offense coming from the passing attack. Westbrook did add a nice 20-yard catch with an over the shoulder catch inside the Red Zone on single coverage against LB Barrett Ruud. Westbrook will likely see more touches next week against the Raiders who have a weak run defense.
RB Leonard Weaver, Rush: 2 - 4 - 0, Rec: 1 - 20 - 1 (1 targets) - Fullback Leonard Weaver saw more action than usual against Tampa Bay, getting two carries and a catch -- but it was the reception that made the highlight reel for the Week 5 victory. Weaver caught a short Red Zone pass to the right and Weaver turned it upfield along the sideline, barely making it to the pylon before getting yanked out of bounds. Weaver doesn't have much fantasy value with both Westbrook and McCoy healthy and ahead of him on the depth chart so he only warrants handcuff consideration in exceptionally deep fantasy leagues.
WR Jeremy Maclin, Rec: 6 - 142 - 2 (8 targets) - Maclin started his second game in a row thanks in part to Kevin Curtis' injury woes. Maclin started in place of Curtis in Week 5 against Tampa Bay and he exploded on the first offensive play of the game for the Eagles, catching a strong 51-yard touchdown pass from Donovan McNabb that found him beating single coverage at the goal line. Maclin continued his huge performance with another deep score off of a "bunch" formation (two receivers tight to the offensive line on either side of the tackles) where Maclin went another 40 yards down the middle of the field. Maclin still is not running polished routes, grabbing most of yards on deep "go" patterns or simple curl plays, but as long as the rookie continues to work well with McNabb to get open when he gets his chances, he will see plenty of action. Maclin demonstrated his upside potential against the Bucs and he will be working hard the rest of the way to keep up both his playing time and his production.
WR DeSean Jackson, Rush: 1 - 0 - 0, Rec: 1 - 1 - 0 (3 targets) - DeSean Jackson was expected to have a big game against Tampa Bay in Week 5, but the Buccaneer defense decided to cover him well and force Donovan McNabb to look elsewhere and try and beat them -- which he did. Jackson's coverage only afforded him three official targets on the day, with one of them connecting for a one-yard catch late in the fourth quarter. He also lost a 16-yard catch on a ticky-tack offensive pass interference call in the first quarter (his unofficial target). Jackson was minimized by Tampa Bay because they viewed him as the key playmaker in the passing game, but now with Jeremy Maclin stepping up and also Brent Celek showing he can produce on a weekly basis defenses cannot game plan to focus too much on Jackson. Next week is a tough matchup against Oakland, but Jackson should be able to get his fair share going forward.
WR Jason Avant, Rec: 1 - 12 - 0 (2 targets) - Jason Avant was the third wide receiver option for the Eagles against Tampa bay, lining up in the slot and running shorter and intermediate routes over the middle for Philadelphia. Avant was the unlucky target of a rare off-target McNabb throw, missing a 20-yard reception chance in the first quarter but later added his lone 12-yard grab in the same period on his final target of the day. Avant is a solid possession receiver but given how much the Eagles spread the ball he will be a very inconsistent contributor and difficult to rely upon as a fantasy option.
WR Reggie Brown - Reggie Brown was active in Week 5, but he was the fourth wide receiver behind DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant. He likely would not have been active if Kevin Curtis was able to go.
TE Brent Celek, Rec: 4 - 58 - 0 (5 targets) - Celek continued his breakout season in Week 5, racking up another batch of catches and big plays against Tampa Bay in Week 5. Celek's highlight of the day was a 38-yard catch over the middle that he took up the left sideline and leapfrogged over Ronde Barber to avoid his would-be tackle. Celek added three more catches for a combined 20 extra yards to up his total to 26 on the season to lead all Eagles this season. Celek's value was questioned by some who thought that Celek would not see as much of a workload without his friend Kevin Kolb at quarterback but his Week 5 performance should stifle those concerns.
New York Jets 27, Miami Dolphins 31QB Mark Sanchez, Pass: 12 - 24 - 172 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 6 - 0 - Sanchez started and ended well, but was quiet through the middle of the game. He found Dustin Keller in the middle of the field on a pass that was incomplete, but drew a pass interference penalty that set up Braylon Edwards first TD as a Jet. Sanchez moved well in the pocket and understood that his new big target means he can just throw the ball in Edwards vicinity, and his wideout can make the rest happen on his own. Edwards made a great catch at the one to set up one fourth quarter TD, and he drew a pass interference inside the five on a bomb from Sanchez to set up the Jets other fourth quarter. Sanchez fantasy day was mild because Thomas Jones finished those drives, but Sanchez's willingness to let Edwards make plays on 50/50 balls created the scores. Sanchez played like a vet managing a two-minute drill at the end of the first half that let to a field goal, but he also made a few rookie mistakes, throwing to Edwards when he was blanketed on a pass that should have been an interception and leaving Ben Hartsock out to dry on a high pass over the middle that led to a questionable personal foul on Miami when Hartsock got lit up. His deep ball to David Clowney couldn't have been more on target if Sanchez ran down the field and handed the ball to Clowney. Sanchez continues to arrive way ahead of schedule as a quality NFL QB.
RB Thomas Jones, Rush: 13 - 42 - 2 (2 targets) - Jones ran better than his yards per carry yet again, making quick, efficient moves to find extra yardage, and running very hard to generate yards after contact. His leg drive helped on two short TDs that gave Jones a good fantasy night even though he never got in a rhythm in the running game.
RB Leon Washington, Rush: 10 - 44 - 0, Rec: 1 - 13 - 0 (2 targets) - Washington was a little more involved than he was last week, and he threatened big plays on a few of his carries, but the Jets failed to get him the ball in space enough for him to have a real chance to break a long play. Washington is running with a great initial burst, sudden moves at full speed, and good field vision. He is a big play waiting to happen, it's just a matter of time.
RB Shonn Greene, Rush: 3 - 8 - 0 - Greene got a few carries deep in the Jets end, but didn't show anything special.
WR Braylon Edwards, Rec: 5 - 64 - 1 (9 targets) - Edwards made a huge splash in his first game as a Jet, even though he had a bad drop and appeared to be out of sync with Mark Sanchez at times. Edwards got open in the back of the end zone for his TD, and he made a spectacular catch on third and very long at the one-yard line, twisting to catch a 50/50 ball at the sidelines. Edwards also drew a long pass interference penalty, although it could be argued that he should have caught the pass from Sanchez. With the injury to Jerricho Cotchery, Edwards should continue to be a major part of the passing game.
WR David Clowney, Rec: 4 - 72 - 0 (4 targets) - Clowney had his biggest game as a pro when Jerricho Cotchery's injury opened the door to more playing time. He looked to be in sync with Mark Sanchez on a pair of catches in the two-minute drill, and his long bomb catch was exactly the kind of play he has been routinely making in the preseason. With injuries decimating the Jets WR corps, Clowney could be in for a bigger role in the near future.
WR Brad Smith, Rush: 1 - 12 - 0, Rec: 1 - 19 - 0 (2 targets) - Smith made a few important plays early. He had a nice gain on a short pass by breaking the initial tackle during the Jets first touchdown drive. He also broke a tackle when he got the ball on the Jets second successful fake punt of the game. Smith got an end zone on a fade that he laid out to catch, but Sanchez threw the ball out of bounds. Smith would be in line for more work with Cotchery's injury problems, but he also left with a foot injury. We are waiting for more information on the extent of the injury.
WR Jerricho Cotchery, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (2 targets) - Cotchery caught one short pass, but he was mainly a non-factor. After the game, Cotchery said he probably re-aggravated his hamstring injury, so he could be on the bench next week.
TE Dustin Keller (1 targets) - Keller drew a pass interference penalty deep in Dolphins territory to set up the Jets first TD, but he was barely part of the game plan after that. He was not on the same page as Sanchez on an option route, and his role as the playmaker in the passing offense seems to have been usurped by Braylon Edwards.
QB Chad Henne, Pass: 20 - 26 - 241 - 2 TD / 0 INT - Henne had a big-time performance in front of a national audience that announced his arrival as the QB of the present for the Dolphins. He was mainly a game manager early in the contest, often yielding to the wildcat formation, but when the Dolphins needed to make plays in the passing game in the fourth quarter, Henne rose to the occasion. His mobility, arm strength, and poise all showed up as big assets. He was very effective early on short third downs, but not so much when the running game failed to get him out of a third and long situation - until the game's final drive, when Henne converted two key third downs. One was in the face of massive pressure, and the other was on a designed rollout where Henne threw a laser on the run. Henne also threw a gorgeous deep ball to Ted Ginn for an earlier fourth quarter TD that added the dimension that was lacking from the passing offense when Chad Pennington was in. Henne also used his mobility and arm strength on his first TD pass to Anthony Fasano. The tilt of the offense toward the run limits Henne's fantasy upside, but this game proved that he does indeed have some.
QB Pat White, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0 - White got in on the game's final drive and ran the spread option well, handing off once to Ronnie Brown, and keeping once for a good gain, but any dreams of White taking over soon because of shortcomings from Chad Henne vanished in this game.
RB Ronnie Brown, Pass: 1 - 2 - 21 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 21 - 74 - 2, Rec: 3 - 14 - 0 (4 targets) - Brown wasn't explosive was he was very effective in the wildcat and on his conventional runs. The offensive line was getting a consistent good push, and Brown's combination of power, patience, and burst created solid gains to keep the Dolphins in good down and distance situations all night. He broke a lot of tackles down around his ankles to get extra yardage at the end of his runs. Brown showed that he is the master of the wildcat again, even completing a downfield pass to Anthony Fasano on the move early in the game to force the Jets defense to honor that dimension of the wildcat. Brown had a few receptions as a checkdown, but none resulted in good gains, and he also dropped a pass in the red zone. Brown scored twice on short TD runs, once out of the wildcat, and he also had a first and goal carry inside the five that was unsuccessful, followed up by Henne's TD pass to Fasano. As long as the Dolphins keep games close, he is looking like a fantasy RB1.
RB Ricky Williams, Rush: 11 - 68 - 0, Rec: 3 - 70 - 0 (3 targets) - Williams continues to defy his age, running with great power and speed on most every touch. He broke a screen pass for a very long gain by cutting back across the field, and he consistently broke tackles and got to the open field when there was daylight. Williams got red zone touches inside the 10, including a run where he dove for the pylon, but was pushed out before he could get to it. Williams has done an excellent job of creating fantasy value on limited touches, and he will be a good flex play as long as the Dolphins are competitive.
WR Greg Camarillo, Rec: 3 - 33 - 0 (3 targets) - Camarillo made a few key late receptions to gain the trust of Henne, but the passing pie is not big enough for his modest slice to equal fantasy value.
WR Davone Bess, Rec: 3 - 18 - 0 (3 targets) - Bess only got a few very short receptions, but he showed his tackle-breaking ability on a few of them. He is going to have only marginal value as long as the Dolphins can have a run-heavy offense.
WR Ted Ginn, Rec: 2 - 57 - 1 (2 targets) - Ginn had a key early third-down reception, but he was not heard from again until catching a long bomb to give the Dolphins a temporary fourth quarter lead. He burned Darrelle Revis, which is something few wide receivers can say. He is not going to be the #1 WR the Dolphins hoped he would be, but with Chad Henne's arm strength, he'll be a fine bye week/injury play in the hopes that Henne finds him deep.
TE Anthony Fasano, Rec: 4 - 38 - 1 (7 targets) - Fasano had his best game of the year, including a short TD catch from Henne and his longest catch of the day from Ronnie Brown out of the wildcat, but this game represents his ceiling, so he is still only a bottom-end backup fantasy TE.
Minnesota Vikings 38, St. Louis Rams 10QB Brett Favre, Pass: 18 - 24 - 232 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rec: 1 - -2 - 0 (1 targets) - Brett Favre played another excellent game for the Vikings, leading them on several scoring drives and making smart plays left and right, keeping the defense guessing for most of the game. Favre again worked the short and medium passes, hitting Rice on several slant routes and getting Percy Harvin involved early with big plays to set up Peterson's initial score. Favre worked the deep part of the field a little more this game, throwing a rainbow to Harvin down the middle of the field and looking for Berrian and Rice down the deep sidelines. He played well the whole game, and although his interception was a clear case of him forcing the ball into coverage, it was only his second INT for the season. He was pulled in the 4th quarter to give TJAX some reps as the game was well in hand for the Vikings.
QB Tarvaris Jackson, Pass: 3 - 3 - 68 - 0 TD / 0 INT - Jackson came in during garbage time, midway through the fourth quarter and worked the offense well to wrap up the game. Jackson made smart decisions, set up the run with short passes and hit a nice screen to Chester Taylor to avoid a blitz from the Rams. He's not a threat to replace Favre any time soon, but is clearly learning from watching Favre run the offense.
RB Adrian Peterson, Rush: 15 - 69 - 2, Rec: 2 - 6 - 0 (2 targets) - A 'quiet' game for Peterson as the Vikings were out early and never looked back. Peterson's opening TD was an outside run to the wide side of the field where Peterson beat everyone to the corner. Later in the fourth quarter, he ran hard up the middle, breaking arm tackles and striking the final blow to St. Louis on his last TD. He had solid runs for most of the game, but was pulled on passing downs and missed most of the fourth quarter like Favre as the Vikings were running out the clock.
RB Chester Taylor, Rush: 9 - 20 - 1, Rec: 3 - 49 - 0 (3 targets) - Taylor had a solid performance as the 3rd down change of pace back for the Vikings and late in the fourth quarter as the Vikings were running out the clock. Taylor was used on many of the 2nd and long and 3rd and long sets, catching the short dump offs and trying to break them into bigger gains. He took over the primary duties at RB mid-way through the 4th quarter and kept the clock moving. He had a nice catch and run for 33 yards that set up his TD late in the game. Although he was stuffed the first two attempts on 1st and goal from the 1, he punched it into the end zone on his third attempt.
WR Percy Harvin, Rec: 4 - 66 - 0 (5 targets) - Harvin was a key component in getting the Vikings off to a quick start. He had two big plays on the opening drive, a short pass over the middle that he broke for a long gain and a deep pass down the sideline that he almost scored on. He was the target of several more deep passes later in the first half, but did not get involved much in the second half as the Vikings were looking to run out the clock. He was a decoy on a fake reverse as Favre tossed the ball to Visanthe Shiancoe for a nice screen. Aside from that, Harvin was only used as a kick returner for the few times that St. Louis was kicking off.
WR Bernard Berrian, Rec: 3 - 39 - 0 (6 targets) - Bernard Berrian had a quiet game for the Vikings. He made a few catches early in the game but in general was not involved in the offense much. He had one potential big play down the sidelines in the third quarter but the pass was out of bounds and he wasn't able to make the play.
WR Sidney Rice, Rec: 3 - 61 - 0 (5 targets) - Sidney Rice had another big game for the Vikings. He was their main target underneath the defense, working slants and corners to help the Vikings pick apart the defense and move the ball down the field. He also went deep on several plays, helping to stretch the defense out and take advantage of the poor coverage. He drew a big pass interference play early in the 4th quarter and had a golden opportunity to score on a 23 yard TD strike from Favre. However, he couldn't get both feet down and the Vikings eventually scored on a Peterson 8 yard run. He only finished with three receptions but was a big part of the offense and made the most of the catches that he had.
TE Visanthe Shiancoe, Rec: 4 - 49 - 1 (4 targets) - Shiancoe scored for the third time in four games for the Vikings and was a bigger part of the offense outside of the red zone as well. Shiancoe was targeted on short range passes where he was able to work the softer spots of the defense for nice gains. He had one particular play toward the sidelines where he fought and stretched for the first down. He was also used late in the game on a fake reverse to Harvin, where the real play was a screen to Shiancoe. He set up Peterson's second TD with several nice catch and run plays.
QB Kyle Boller, Pass: 20 - 31 - 209 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - 1 - 0 - Boller moved the offense well for the Rams, but the turnovers deep in Viking Territory ultimately led to his removal. In the first quarter, on the fumble, Boller clearly dropped the ball as he was going back for the throw. Later in the first half, he and Steven Jackson couldn't connect on a goal line handoff and Jackson fumbled away the ball. Later he made a nice pass to Daniel Fells inside the five yard line but Fells was drilled from behind and coughed up the ball again. Boller's final turnover was the interception in the end zone where he forced the ball into coverage even though his WR was out of position. His performance wasn't as bad as his stats might indicate, but ultimately he was replaced by Bulger and will be the #2 QB after this week.
QB Marc Bulger, Pass: 7 - 7 - 88 - 1 TD / 0 INT - Much was made of Bulger's game time prep and that he was available to play if needed. After Boller threw the interception in the end zone, Bulger got his chance and came into the game during the garbage time in the fourth quarter. He made the most of it with short passes to keep the ball moving and a couple deeper passes to Donnie Avery. On Avery's TD receptions, the ball was short but Avery was able to make an adjustment and spin his way into the end zone. He'll be the starting QB next week for the Rams, but be warned that his stats were largely inflated due to garbage time play.
RB Steven Jackson, Rush: 21 - 84 - 0, Rec: 2 - 25 - 0 (3 targets) - The one bright spot of the Ram offense was Steven Jackson. Despite a tough Minnesota defense, Jackson was able to run the ball straight up the gut for medium and longer gains several times throughout the game. He nearly scored in the second quarter on a nice 13 yard run. It's unfortunate that he didn't because he fumbled the handoff on the next play and the Vikings took over. The Rams split him out at WR a couple times later in the game, but were unable to get him the ball. He broke a nice screen pass for 25 yards in the second quarter but the drive eventually ended up failing when Daniel Fells fumbled on the goal line again. Jackson is a big key to the Ram offense and they did not play well when he was on the sidelines.
RB Samkon Gado, Rush: 3 - 16 - 0, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (1 targets) - Gado saw limited action in relief of Jackson. He had a couple nice runs late in the 2nd quarter but did not see much action after that.
WR Danny Amendola, Rec: 5 - 43 - 0 (5 targets) - Amendola was used primarily as a kick returner for the Rams, but saw action on the three and four WR sets later in the game. With the Rams trailing badly, they were forced to pass more and went with a few empty backfield sets. Amendola worked the inside of the field and the short sidelines, and came up with several receptions. He was also the primary kick returner for the Rams, which gives him an added dimension for leagues that award points for kick returns.
WR Donnie Avery, Rec: 5 - 87 - 1 (7 targets) - Avery had his first good game for the Rams this season. Unfortunately most of his stats were accumulated during garbage time on the final two drives. Marc Bulger clearly favors Avery over others and went to him on the long bomb for a TD late in the game. The pass was a little short, but Avery came back to make the catch and spin into the end zone. On the final play of the game, Bulger hit Avery on a 19 yard sideline pass that was high but Avery went up to make a nice catch. Boller also hit Avery earlier in the game on a nice designed roll out pass that found Avery deep down the sideline on 3rd and long. Avery is Bulger's go to guy and with Bulger in the starting lineup next week, Avery's stats should improve.
WR Keenan Burton, Rec: 5 - 42 - 0 (9 targets) - Burton had a quiet game despite racking up five receptions. He was used more as a sideline and quick slant receiver this game and he worked the defense well despite the fact that the Rams were losing badly. Late in the third quarter, he was the target of two deep passes, but came up empty through no fault of his own. On the first, Boller just overthrew him. He was open, but had no chance to catch the ball. On the second, he was open down the sidelines and would have had an easy six point. Boller put the ball on the money but Tyrell Johnson made a spectacular play to get a hand on it and break up the pass.
TE Daniel Fells, Rec: 5 - 45 - 0 (6 targets) - Fells saw a lot of action as the Rams ran quite a few 2 TE sets. Fells primarily worked the middle of the field, sneaking under the coverage for short gains and running delays where he would block for a second and then release out into the flat for a short pass. He worked these well, making the most of his receptions and keeping the drives alive for St. Louis. His one big mistake was on the goal line late in the second quarter. After making a nice catch, Fells was hit hard from behind and the ball popped up into the air. EJ Henderson came down with it, killing the drive and breaking the hearts of St. Louis fans as they hoped to get back into the game. Fells probably moved into the #1 TE slot with his performance in this game, but time will tell with Bulger back under center next week.
TE Randy McMichael, Rec: 3 - 45 - 0 (5 targets) - McMichael had a big play to start the game off for the Rams. He caught a short pass down the sideline and jumped over a defender to break it for a longer gain. Aside from that, he was quiet for most of the game, with only two other receptions for minimal gains.
Cleveland Browns 6, Buffalo Bills 3QB Derek Anderson, Pass: 2 - 17 - 23 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0 - Anderson likely set some career lows -- if not all-time NFL lows -- by playing the whole game and finishing with a 15.1 QB Rating (it was actually as low as 4.9 at one point). To be honest, he was absolutely terrible. But to be fair, he had help along the way. First, the Browns only called pass plays when the Bills would be expecting them to pass. Like clockwork, the first four possessions went like this: rush on first and second down, pass on third downs. Finally, on their fifth possession, the Browns opted to pass on first down, but the pass was tipped. So they went back to the old routine. When they did go to the air, Anderson was a victim of a few dropped passes, but mainly there were no open receivers downfield. Anderson's first completion came with 37 seconds left in the first half, and it didn't get any better after halftime. With the lack of offensive weapons at his disposal, it would be wise not to expect his prospects for success to improve anytime soon.
RB Jamal Lewis, Rush: 31 - 117 - 0 - Lewis was handed the ball on the first 4 plays of the game, which was a sign of things to come. He was effective rushing out of FB position on a couple of occasions as well, and posted his first 100 yard rushing day of the season. The fact that he achieved this while the Browns passing game was completely shut down is all the more impressive. With not many long gains on the day, he was consistent and continued to gain tough yards even though the Bills knew exactly what was coming. Lewis actually appeared to get stronger as the game went on, with the majority of his longer gains (6 carries between 7 and 18 yards) coming in the second half.
RB Jerome Harrison, Rush: 8 - 21 - 0 (2 targets) - Harrison got the ball in the second series. In the first half, he made gains of 9 and 8 yards along with four more carries that all got stopped for no gain. He didn't see the ball much after that, as it was all Jamal Lewis the rest of the way.
WR Josh Cribbs, Rush: 1 - 31 - 0 (2 targets) - Cribbs had a nice 31-yard run, but failed to do any damage as a receiver, and did not have much opportunity to do so. Which is a shame, because his run was one of the few exciting moments of the game.
WR Mohamed Massaquoi, Rec: 1 - 16 - 0 (6 targets) - It's tough to say anything good about a Cleveland receiver in this game, but at least Massaquoi caught one! He was definitely Anderson's favored receiver, which isn't saying much. Massaquoi dropped a few passes, which was a major problem for him in college at Georgia.
WR Mike Furrey (1 targets) - Furrey was a complete afterthought in this one. The Browns not only traded away their top receiver this past week, but also have very few wideouts with an actual track record for catching the ball. So it comes as a bit of a surprise that Furrey's veteran presence wasn't called upon.
WR Chansi Stuckey (2 targets) - Stuckey had two catchable balls essentially bounce off of his fingertips. Not the best debut for the newest addition to the receiver corps. The passes were far from perfect, but those are the kind of catches that simply need to made, and it simply wasn't happening today.
TE Robert Royal (2 targets) - Royal was a checkdown target, nothing more. Oh, and he was covered. He did break open on one target but joined the cast of many receivers who let Derek Anderson down with a drop on Sunday.
QB Trent Edwards, Pass: 16 - 31 - 152 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 4 - 40 - 0 - First the good: Edwards played much, much better than he had the past couple of weeks. He was finally able to get Terrell Owens the ball, he scrambled a few times for good yardage, and overall played a more poised and confident game. Now the bad: On the few chances he had to make the big play, Edwards came up short. He was better at evading the rush than he had been so far this season, but his accuracy suffered as a result. The most glaring example is the interception he threw, which could have been a touchdown to Owens, but he underthrew the ball. With a passing game that featured almost exclusively short throws, poise wasn't enough to overcome a terrible performance by the offense as a whole. The run game was never a threat, and the Bills don't take enough shots downfield to keep the defense honest.
RB Marshawn Lynch, Rush: 17 - 69 - 0, Rec: 6 - 56 - 0 (6 targets) - Lynch looked great to start, with 36 yards on his first five carries, but stalled after that. He broke a 35 yard gain on a nice catch and run that hit him in stride, allowing him to pull away from the coverage. It was one of the few bright spots for the Buffalo offense, and a reminder of how potent a threat Lynch poses when given the opportunity.
RB Fred Jackson, Rush: 13 - 30 - 0, Rec: 2 - 17 - 0 (3 targets) - Jackson fared even worse than Lynch. You could say he has mastered the art of the two yard gain. He was never in danger of breaking a long one.
WR Terrell Owens, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0, Rec: 4 - 44 - 0 (7 targets) - Owens caught a couple over the middle for a change, took a big hit, and looked like he was having fun doing it. This is a 180 degree turnaround from the past few games, in which he was only targeted on deep and sideline routes, with almost no success. He was targeted on deeper routes twice: the first was overthrown, and the second underthrown (and intercepted). He and Trent Edwards are getting closer, but still have a long way to go to get on the same page.
WR Lee Evans, Rec: 2 - 11 - 0 (5 targets) - Evans was barely looked to this time around, and was not even targeted in the first half. He caught one of two catchable balls, but it's the longer one -- that he didn't catch -- that would have made a difference in the game.
WR Josh Reed (2 targets) - Edwards continues to utilize Reed on third downs, but had very little success this week.
TE Derek Fine, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (3 targets) - Fine was a last option, and one of his targets was an out-of-bounds toss.
TE Shawn Nelson, Rec: 1 - 0 - 0 (4 targets) - Early in the game, Nelson was targeted on 4th and 6, and then again on 3rd down. But in both cases, he wasn't able to make the catch.
Indianapolis Colts 31, Tennessee Titans 9QB Peyton Manning, Pass: 36 - 44 - 309 - 3 TD / 1 INT - It is becoming clear that Peyton Manning is back to being the best QB in football this season. Manning torched the Titans defense for 3 TD's en route to his 5th straight 300 yard effort and at one point in the game completed 16 passes in a row. He honestly looks unstoppable right now and is hitting on all phases of his game all over the field. When he was pressured Addai & Clark caught a bunch of passes underneath and then when the defense adjusted, he killed them down field with passes to Wayne & Collie. Manning just seems completely comfortable and at ease taking what the defense gives him. Manning hit Wayne with a short fourth down TD to open up the scoring and help set the tone for the evening. He later hooked up with rookie Austin Collie on a pair of TD tosses, one of which was a nice touch pass into the back of the end zone. Manning could have easily had a 4th TD pass but Reggie Wayne had a rare drop in the end zone. Manning's lone mistake on the night was a short INT on which he was heavily pressured. At this point Manning and the Colts look like a well-oiled machine, mostly unstoppable.
RB Joseph Addai, Rush: 14 - 27 - 1, Rec: 10 - 53 - 0 (10 targets) - Addai was a focal point of the Colts offensive attack on Sunday night touching the ball a team leading 24 times. He was extremely effective as Peyton Manning's favorite check down option as he caught a season high 10 passes (on 10 targets) none for more than 13 yards. From a running perspective Addai at times looked indecisive at line and was held in check by a stout front 4 of the Titans. He was able to punch in a 1 yard TD run on a well designed trap. In the 3rd quarter Addai left game after getting kneed in the head by a teammate at the end of a play, but he returned after sitting out 2 offensive drives. At this point, Addai is in a 60/40 split with rookie Donald Brown.
RB Donald Brown, Rush: 6 - 22 - 0, Rec: 2 - 13 - 0 (3 targets) - Brown was used sparingly on Sunday night touching the ball just 8 times for 35 total yards. Brown entered the game in the 3rd series (Addai allegedly comes out when he wants to according to the broadcasters) and was effective, but not spectacular when on the field throughout the game. He continues to run hard with good field vision and displays soft hands out of the backfield. He remains a decent flex play with a limited ceiling until his role grows with the Colts.
RB Chad Simpson, Rush: 3 - 9 - 0 - Simpson entered the game on the Colts last series and got 9 yards in mop up duty.
WR Austin Collie, Rec: 8 - 97 - 2 (9 targets) - Collie had a career night setting career highs in receptions (8) and yards (97) while earning his first multi-TD game of his young career. Collie worked out of the slot virtually all night and was targeted early and often by Peyton Manning. Collie's first TD catch came on mismatch as he ate up LB Keith Bulluck, breaking two tackles on his way to a 39 yard TD scamper. He later caught a nice touch pass over the middle in the 3rd quarter for his 2nd TD of the night. Collie continues to improve week to week and seems to be becoming more involved in the Colts passing attack. It is unclear if he is now the true #2 WR in Indy, but for this week he looked like the #2 and played like a #1.
WR Reggie Wayne, Rec: 6 - 60 - 1 (8 targets) - The wily vet made the most of his opportunities going 6 for 60 and a TD. Wayne was mostly double-teamed so Manning looked to his other targets more frequently on Sunday night however he caught a key 4th down TD catch on a well designed pick play in the 1st quarter. This help set the tone for the rest of the game for the Colts offense. Wayne had a rare drop in the 4th quarter of a TD pass from Manning, but the game was out of reach by that point.
WR Pierre Garcon, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (4 targets) - Garcon was held in check by the Titans this week as he only ended up with a single catch for 9 yards. As we have seen over the first four games, Garcon does his damage on deep out routes. He was targeted on a couple of these this week but was overthrown by Manning both times. Look for him to resume his role as a dangerous stretch the field and after the catch WR next week.
TE Dallas Clark, Rec: 9 - 77 - 0 (9 targets) - Clark continues to look like this years Jason Witten. He simply torches defenders over the middle and down the field on every series and rarely makes a mistake. This night was no different. Clark caught 9 passes (on 9 targets) for 77 yards. At this point Clark and Manning are in a zone and appear to be on auto-pilot together. He is the premier TE in fantasy football circles through the first 5 weeks of 2009.
QB Kerry Collins, Pass: 19 - 32 - 164 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0 - Collins was largely ineffective at moving the Titans offense down the field on Sunday night. For the most part Collins simply managed the game vs. the Colts, taking what was given to him by a banged up Colts squad that was missing three starters in its secondary. However, even with the Colts secondary playing at less than 100%, Collins rarely pushed the issue down field to test them. He preferred short routes underneath as 13 of his 19 completions went to his TE's or RB's. His longest completion of the night went to Nate Washington for 23 yards and he threw an interception when Colts CB Tim Jennings wrestled a pass away from Nate Washington on the first drive of the second half. It is worth noting that the Titans continue to have a serious case of the dropsies. For the third straight game the Titans brought drives to a halt with drops. Moving forward there is sure to be people calling for the benching of Kerry Collins now that the team is 0-5, however another QB would not make a difference with this team right now. They are just not playing well.
QB Vince Young, Pass: 0 - 3 - 0 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0 - Young saw action Sunday night entering with about 7 minutes to go in the 4th quarter, playing on the teams final two drives. Young did not complete a pass but did use his legs to run for a 1st down, stiff-arming two Colts on the way to a 6 yard scamper. We may be seeing more of Young in the coming weeks as the Titans are off to an 0-5 start, keep an eye on him in deep leagues if he is not rostered already.
RB Chris Johnson, Rush: 9 - 34 - 0, Rec: 2 - 9 - 0 (3 targets) - The Colts clearly had a game plan on Sunday night to shut down the Titans most dynamic play maker and that was exactly what they carried out. Johnson was contained between the tackles all evening and never had a chance to break one lose. The leagues leading rusher heading into week 5 touched the ball just 11 times (9 carries/2 catches) and never found himself in open space. He did run hard and made a few of his brilliant cut-back moves, but he simply had no room. Johnson remains one of the league's most electric players, however until the Titans passing game opens things up a bit he may find himself slowed down in the coming weeks.
RB LenDale White, Rush: 10 - 51 - 0 - LenDale White proved to be the more effective of the two Titan RB's on this night. White ran well with his typical power and no non-sense approach to hitting holes. The Colts defense was able to bottle him up for the most part, as his largest gain of the night was just 11 yards. White was not involved in the passing game and the majority of his production came late once the game was soundly out of reach. The Titans offense is going to need to get the ball into the red zone more frequently if owners want to get a good value return from White, until then he is barely a flex option.
RB Ahmard Hall, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (1 targets) - Hall got a target and turned it into a nice catch early in the game for 7 yards. Aside from his catch, Hall was exclusively used as a blocker on Sunday night.
WR Nate Washington, Rec: 3 - 37 - 0 (6 targets) - Nate Washington finished the game with 3 catches for 37 yards. It appears that the Titans have settled into using Washington as a WR for short to intermediate routes which is a surprise considering the break-away speed he is graced with. One of Nate's targets turned into an interception as Colts CB Tim Jennings wrestled the ball from him on a pass that Washington should have had. Washington was responsible for the largest play from scrimmage on Sunday night for the Titans, a 23 yard gain. Washington later had a key third down catch for 10 yards that he fought hard for the marker on.
WR Kenny Britt, Rec: 2 - 18 - 0 (5 targets) - Britt was mostly a non-factor in the game on Sunday night. He was used mostly out of the slot and had a couple of costly 3rd down drops early in the game. The rookie remains a high-ceiling prospect moving forward but his production will be limited week to week while playing in this offense.
WR Justin Gage, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (7 targets) - Justin Gage was the most targeted Titan receiver on this night, but turned in a performance he would probably like to forget. Gage continues to drop passes on a weekly basis and one has to wonder how much longer Jeff Fisher will count on him in critical situations. Gage had a 3rd down pass bounced directly of off his hands and was later targeted in the end zone but could not break free from Colts rookie CB Jacob Lacey. His lone reception of the night came on a nice sideline catch over the top of his defender.
TE Bo Scaife, Rec: 4 - 45 - 0 (4 targets) - Scaife continues to be the Titans most sure-handed target, and he was Kerry Collins main down field target early in the game. Scaife caught everything thrown his way early on, mostly staying near the line of scrimmage as Collins favorite check-down option. The highlight of Scaife's evening came on a 18 yard catch over the middle of the field in heavy traffic. This catch put the Titans in FG range to help get them on the board. However as the game progressed we saw more of Alge Crumpler and Jared Cook.
TE Alge Crumpler, Rec: 3 - 14 - 0 (3 targets) - Crumpler lined up in mostly two TE sets with Scaife on Sunday night and was targeted a handful of times, however he continues to look like a shell of his former self in the passing game. In his prime he had great hands, but these days it seems like he drops as many as he catches. On this night, that was the case yet again. Crumpler also committed a painful turnover early on when he fumbled a short reception. This took place when the game was still close and seemed to put the Titans offense into a funk they would never recover from.
TE Jared Cook, Rec: 3 - 27 - 0 (4 targets) - Rookie Jared Cook entered the game in the 3rd quarter and caught a few passes in the second half once the game was out reach. Cook looks to be the future of the TE position for the Titans and he continues to show consistent route running to go along with good hands. With the Titans off to an 0-5 start be on the lookout for more targets for the prospect in coming weeks.
Pittsburgh Steelers 28, Detroit Lions 20QB Ben Roethlisberger, Pass: 23 - 30 - 277 - 3 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 4 - -3 - 0 - Ben Roethlisberger systematically picked the Detroit Lions apart, finishing yet another contest with a completion rate over 70%. Only one pick six thrown late on an out pass to Mike Wallace kept him from having an outstanding QB rating, but it was still over 120. He was fortunate to have another INT called back due to a roughing the passer penalty, but he also should have had another touchdown to Wallace who dropped what should have been a 71-yard catch and run to the rookie. Roethlisberger found both Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward open well downfield all game, and on the rare occasions where he had to check down it was TE Heath Miller and the two Steeler backs (Mendenhall, Moore) who picked up the slack. Look for Roethlisberger to continue his hot pace next week home against the Browns.
RB Rashard Mendenhall, Rush: 15 - 77 - 1, Rec: 2 - 16 - 0 (2 targets) - Rashard Mendenhall took full advantage of both getting the start and also facing Detroit in Week 5. He ran hard and got several yards after first contact, but his two touchdowns were simple strolls into the end zone as he easily turned the corner and went untouched into the end zone both times. Mendenhall will at least see half of the touches once Willie Parker (turf toe) is healthy, but he is making a strong push to get the majority of the touches once both are healthy. Mendenhall is a strong candidate to be the lead back again next week as Pittsburgh hosts Cleveland.
RB Mewelde Moore, Rush: 2 - 8 - 0, Rec: 3 - 20 - 0 (3 targets) - After Pittsburgh mentioned last week that they wanted to see more Moore in the offense, his touches were still low in Week 5 against Detroit. Mewelde Moore was used on passing downs, in shotgun formation or when Rashard Mendenhall needed a short rest, but for the most part he was minimized due to Mendenhall's strong play. Even Mendenhall had two catches, eating into Moore's chances. Moore is a change of pace back with unpredictable upside so he cannot be relied upon for fantasy purposes.
WR Hines Ward, Rec: 7 - 85 - 1 (7 targets) - Hines Ward looked more like the top Steeler wideout option again, leading Pittsburgh with seven targets and converting all of them against the weak Detroit Lion defense. Ward even found the end zone for the first time all season, pushing through two would-be tacklers for a 21-yard touchdown. Ward worked the under routes and middle of the field, helping the Steelers to a quick lead and 21-13 halftime lead. Ward looked quick and strong, securing everything thrown his way and with no hesitation in going over the middle.
WR Santonio Holmes, Rec: 4 - 50 - 0 (6 targets) - Santonio Holmes was wide open at every turn in Week 5 against the Lions, racking up yardage quickly in the first half with four catches for 50 yards. He was open for 10-20 yards at a clip and took full advantage of the suspect secondary. Only the play calling kept him from a much bigger game as Pittsburgh stuck to a conservative approach after the half with just seven pass attempts in the third and fourth quarters.
WR Mike Wallace, Rec: 2 - 52 - 1 (5 targets) - Rookie wideout Mike Wallace staked his claim to be the WR3 for Pittsburgh, catching two passes for 52 total yards in Week 5 against Detroit. Wallace got behind the defense for a 47-yard deep catch for his first career touchdown, but he also was open beyond coverage and dropped what should have been a 71-yard score. It remains to be seen if Pittsburgh can support three wideouts for fantasy production, but as of now Wallace is way ahead of Limas Sweed for the job.
WR Limas Sweed (1 targets) - The good news for Limas Sweed was that he was not inactive in Week 5, but the bad news was he was a distant WR4 in the lineup for the Steelers. Sweed had one target on the first Pittsburgh series which was incomplete and then he never saw action again.
TE Heath Miller, Rec: 5 - 54 - 1 (6 targets) - Miller helped the Steelers to a quick lead in the first half, catching all five of his short passes before halftime. Miller caught all but one of his targets as he went 5 for 5 after one pass sailed wide early. Miller feasted on short passes, racking up 9-15 yards on each of his grabs on the side and over the middle, highlighted by a TE screen for a touchdown in the second quarter. Miller remains a borderline fantasy TE1 and a solid start during bye weeks and up against good matchups.
QB Daunte Culpepper, Pass: 23 - 37 - 282 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - 44 - 0 - Daunte Culpepper stepped in to start for Matthew Stafford against the Steelers in Week 5. He showed good speed when running out of the pocket, something he had to do quite often with LB James Harrison speeding in his direction on several occasions. Culpepper threw well and spread the ball to nine different receivers, a fact unfortunately helped some by the loss of Calvin Johnson to injury early in the contest. Culpepper still tends to hold the ball a little too long and also overthrew some open targets, but overall he did quite well against a tough opponent. Culpepper is likely to start again next week (at Green Bay) to buy Matthew Stafford two weeks off thanks to Detroit's Week 7 bye.
RB Kevin Smith, Rush: 20 - 53 - 0, Rec: 3 - 42 - 0 (4 targets) - Kevin Smith struggled to get any room to run in Week 5 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He looked healthy and ready to go, finally getting some decent runs and screen pass catches after halftime, but the Lions had to throw most of the fourth quarter as they trailed by 15 late in the contest. Smith still walked away with 23 touches on the afternoon and should do better against Green Bay next week in a more favorable matchup.
RB Jerome Felton, Rush: 1 - 8 - 0, Rec: 3 - 37 - 0 (4 targets) - Jerome Felton only had four touches in Week 5 for Detroit, but he made the most of them. Felton's only carry came in the third quarter on third and long but he took the inside draw for eight yards and a first down. Felton added that carry to a nice 27 yard catch and run out of the backfield in the first quarter, picking up most of the yardage after the catch. Felton may pass Morris as the backup to Kevin Smith at this rate, but neither gets enough touches to present much fantasy value.
RB Maurice Morris, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0, Rec: 1 - 16 - 0 (2 targets) - Maurice Morris was mostly an afterthought for Detroit against the Steelers. Morris finished the afternoon with just two touches, highlighted by a short dump off pass from Daunte Culpepper as he tried to avoid a sack. Morris scrambled for 16 yards on the second quarter play but then disappeared for the rest of the afternoon.
WR Dennis Northcutt, Rec: 5 - 70 - 1 (8 targets) - Dennis Northcutt racked up the most yardage against the Steelers, converting five of his eight targets for 70 yards including a 25-yard touchdown over the middle. Northcutt stepped up when Calvin Johnson left the game and became a nice target for Daunte Culpepper down the middle of the field. Northcutt also should get another catch of nine yards once the game book is reviewed with Bryant Johnson inadvertently credited with his nine yard catch. Northcutt will likely benefit the most if Calvin Johnson misses any time.
WR Bryant Johnson, Rec: 4 - 35 - 0 (8 targets) - Bryant Johnson had eight targets against the Steelers in Week 5, tied for the team lead with fellow wideout Dennis Northcutt. That number gets an asterisk though because Calvin Johnson went down in the first quarter and had to leave the game. Johnson worked the intermediate and deeper routes, stretching the field without Calvin Johnson in the lineup, but Daunte Culpepper never got him the ball when he was open, including a deep 40 yarder in the third quarter where the ball sailed well over his head. Johnson was credited on Monday with four catches and 35 yards, but the box score was wrong -- Dennis Northcutt actually grabbed his late nine yard catch. Look for the NFL to make a scoring / stat change sometime this week after the game is reviewed.
WR Calvin Johnson, Rec: 1 - 2 - 0 (1 targets) - Calvin Johnson did not let a bruised thigh keep him from starting in Week 5 against Pittsburgh. He caught one ball for a couple of yards and then hurt his leg and had to leave the game in the first quarter. He was unable to return to the game against Pittsburgh and not much is being revealed about the leg injury after the game. Johnson and the Lions have an interesting decision to make as Detroit visits Green Bay in Week 6 but the next week is Detroit's bye. Should Detroit decide to rest Johnson, they would in effect give him an extra two weeks off due to the bye.
TE Brandon Pettigrew, Rec: 3 - 27 - 0 (6 targets) - Rookie tight end Brandon Pettigrew made three solid catches against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 5, highlighted by a leaping 19-yard grab down the middle of the field right after halftime. QB Daunte Culpepper nearly overthrew him but Pettigrew reeled it in, but he paid the price and was hit hard in the back. Culpepper did not consistently put the ball in a catchable place for the rookie with good hands to make a play and he cannot be faulted for the three targets he did not catch.
TE Will Heller, Rec: 1 - 16 - 0 (1 targets) - Heller caught one pass in Week 5 for 16 yards as he caught a backside screen pass and made a good play to pick up extra yardage, but Detroit is not a strong enough passing game to support two tight ends. Heller is way down the target food chain and well behind Brandon Pettigrew.
Dallas Cowboys 26, Kansas City Chiefs 20QB Tony Romo, Pass: 20 - 34 - 351 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 5 - 0 - Romo continued his transformation into a sound game manager with the ability to make something happen when the play breaks down. He peppered the Chiefs defense with quick, short, accurate throws that kept them on their heels. Romo saw the field well and made hair-trigger decisions to find the open receiver before the pressure could get to him. He could have had up to three more touchdown passes on the day, but he was either a little off or victimized by drops. If he continues to play with this kind of patience and precision, Romo will stay in the fantasy QB1 ranks
RB Marion Barber, Rush: 15 - 53 - 0 (1 targets) - Barber ran better than his numbers indicate. He ran with good spring in his legs, but he rarely had a big hole to run through. Barber was often relegated to picking through small openings at the line of scrimmage instead of building up a head of steam as he got to the second level of the defense. He had one of his better runs called back due to a penalty, and he also had a good run on a draw, which was also the kind of run that Tashard Choice had a lot of success on vs. the Chiefs. Barber did break through to the third level once, but he lacked the second gear to turn the run into a touchdown.
RB Tashard Choice, Rush: 8 - 92 - 1 (1 targets) - Choice was the complementary, but much more productive back on this day. The draws and delays that Choice got were creating much better holes and gaps for him to run through than the conventional runs that the Cowboys called for Barber. He was also running with good power and determination, putting his head down at the end of runs and getting yards after contact. Choice scored the Cowboys first TD on the day with great open field acceleration that made last line of defense Jarrad Page take a bad angle once Choice got into the open. He also broke a run outside for a long gain in overtime that helped the Cowboys get out of the shadow of their own goalpost before the game-winning catch and run by Miles Austin.
WR Miles Austin, Rec: 10 - 250 - 2 (15 targets) - Austin vaulted from obscurity to the front page of sports sections with a career day that could have been even more mind-boggling. He started quietly, but did get behind the defense in the end zone early, only to be slightly overthrown by Romo. Austin attempted to tip the ball to himself, but couldn't control the ball before he left the end zone. Austin threw a big block that foreshadowed the physical play that would make his banner day. He did his damage on short throws that he turned into long gains by breaking the initial tackle and then running away from the defense. He had two touchdowns (including the game-winner) and another long gain in this fashion. Austin also took a big hit to convert a big third-down over the middle and ripped away an underthrown deep ball from a defensive back for another long gain. Austin had at least two other end zone targets that were either poorly thrown by Romo or dropped - he could have had four touchdowns on the day if things had gone a little better.
WR Patrick Crayton, Rec: 4 - 44 - 0 (8 targets) - Crayton made a few important catches to move the sticks, including a catch over the middle that he took some punishment to make, but he mainly played tentative, including a muffed punt, a fumble that was nullified by a "stopped forward progress" call, and a bad drop.
TE Jason Witten, Rec: 5 - 47 - 0 (6 targets) - Witten operated as Romo's security blanket. He found soft spots in the zone to sit down in underneath, and ran hard after the catch. He didn't break any big gains or make any highlight catches, but still played an important role, moving the offense in seven to eleven yard increments and providing a sure-handed checkdown for Romo.
TE Martellus Bennett (1 targets) - Sunday added another chapter to Bennett's anonymous season. He did break open over the middle on one play, but Romo did not have the time to find him.
QB Matt Cassel, Pass: 23 - 41 - 253 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 28 - 0 - Cassel had a wild game, but made some big plays when it counted. He was under pressure all day, but used his legs to create yardage when nothing came open. He had trouble putting the right touch on the ball, often putting too much heat on short passes. Cassel did have a good feel for eluding pressure when it came, and he settled down in the second half when the Chiefs called more quick passes to offset the Cowboys pass rush. He made the game-tying TD pass on 4th and seven in the red zone, and his other TD pass was on a third and goal throw to Mike Vrabel at the one. He generally was more accurate on throws over the middle of the field than throws to the outside, and looked as good as he has in his short career with the Chiefs.
RB Larry Johnson, Rush: 21 - 37 - 0, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (2 targets) - Time after time, Johnson was met in the backfield or given no room to run at the line of scrimmage. It was hard to tell if he has lost any burst because he never had a chance to really get up to speed. LJ got about half of his yardage on a pair of runs in a long fourth quarter drive, so stamina is not an issue. He did have two carries inside the five that were unsuccessful before Cassel's TD pass to Mike Vrabel, so the Chiefs are still feeding him the rare times that they do get in a goal to go situation.
RB Jamaal Charles, Rush: 3 - 9 - 0, Rec: 5 - 54 - 0 (7 targets) - Charles played important role as a receiver in the two-minute drill and had a few change of pace carries, but he still hasn't risen to the level of a true committee back.
WR Dwayne Bowe, Rec: 5 - 74 - 1 (10 targets) - Bowe wasn't heard from too much early in the game. He did snag a laser from Cassel over the middle in the first half for a 20 yard gain, but didn't catch another ball until the fourth quarter, when he caught three including the game-tying TD on fourth and seven in the game's final minute. Bowe had a catch in overtime on third and long that wasn't even for the first down. It doesn't appear that the Chiefs are making any special attempt to get him involved in the passing game.
WR Bobby Wade, Rec: 4 - 42 - 0 (8 targets) - Wade didn't have much of an effect on this game until the desperation fourth quarter drive, when he caught a 25-yard pass over the middle to convert a third-and-14 to get the Chiefs into Cowboys territory. He was open over the middle on a play in the first half, but Cassel didn't put any touch on the fireball pass and the play resulted in an incompletion.
WR Mark Bradley, Rush: 1 - -2 - 0, Rec: 3 - 35 - 0 (7 targets) - Bradley didn't do too much in this game, but he was featured in the scripted part of the game plan, getting the deep target on a flea flicker that drew a holding penalty from the Cowboys, and a touch on a double reverse that went nowhere. Bradley showed a good burst running after the catch on one of his targets, and the Chiefs obviously view him as a playmaker, but it didn't come together in this game.
TE Sean Ryan, Rec: 2 - 27 - 0 (4 targets) - Ryan worked the middle of the field for a few receptions, but his biggest catch of the day was called back by a penalty, and he wasn't a big part of the Chiefs passing attack for the most part.
Oakland Raiders 7, New York Giants 44QB JaMarcus Russell, Pass: 8 - 13 - 100 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 5 - 0 - Russell was actually reasonably accurate in this one, but a ball security problem reared its ugly head vs. the Giants to negate any positive effects of his quality downfield throwing. Russell lost three fumbles, including one on a corner blitz from Terrell Thomas that he didn't feel, and another when he actually escaped the initial pressure only to get hit outside of the pocket as he was about to throw. Russell threw with pinpoint accuracy on two downfield throws to Zach Miller in the middle of the field, and he tossed one perfect arcing deep ball to Louis Murphy that took a leaping breakup from Russell's nemesis today, Terrell Thomas. Russell did have a few ugly throws, including one about five yards short to Darrius Heyward-Bey, and a deep ball to no one in particular. He did flash some toughness on his runs, and one excellent bullet throw on the run that showed off his arm strength. Russell was under pressure all day from the Giants defensive ends. It looked like they were unblocked at times, and on at least one sack, they were. Russell had some problems today, but the blame for the offense stalling out deserves to be spread around.
RB Michael Bush, Rush: 12 - 37 - 1, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (1 targets) - Bush answered the bell and ran very hard in his first start this year. He had the body lean of a power back and he broke a few tackles by running behind his pads. Bush notched the only Raiders TD on the day on a well-blocked run up the gut inside the five.
RB Justin Fargas, Rush: 11 - 18 - 0, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (1 targets) - Fargas rarely found room to run, and he wasn't creating at all after contact. He did get a carry in the red zone, only to fumble it away, but the play was blown dead before CC Brown picked it up and returned it for a TD. Fargas did at least display good vision when there was a hole to hit, and he squirmed underneath a tackle to get extra yards on one run.
WR Louis Murphy, Rec: 1 - 2 - 0 (3 targets) - Murphy got a step on Terrell Thomas, and he was ready to haul in the bomb from Russell, but Thomas sprung up at the last second to deflect the ball away. He did draw a pass interference on an intermediate route, and caught a short ball in space, but couldn't do anything after the catch.
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (2 targets) - Both of Heyward-Bey's targets were uncatched because they were low and short of the receiver. He continues to struggle to make any kind of impact.
TE Zach Miller, Rec: 4 - 69 - 0 (4 targets) - It's clear that defenses can't keep track of Miller downfield. Twice he found huge dead spots in the Giants zone defense, and twice Russell threw a dart to Miller for a big gain. He also caught a pair of passes as Russell's outlet. His week-to-week production will fluctuate with Russell's performance, but Miller seems to be the #1 target in this meager passing game.
QB David Carr, Pass: 9 - 14 - 90 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 27 - 1 - Carr got over a half of work, and demonstrated some of the reasons he was a #1 overall pick for the Texans. He ran well when he was flushed from the pocket, including a touchdown run in the red zone that started with him eluding Gerard Warren. He threw short and intermediate passes with good velocity and accuracy, including a back shoulder throw that Mario Manningham dropped. He threw into tight windows. Carr even tossed a gorgeous deep ball to Hakeem Nicks that barely drew him out of bounds. On the other hand, Carr also seemed antsy in the pocket, even when there was no pressure, and he seemed too eager to pull the down the ball and run when his initial reads were not open. He looked like one of the better backups in the league, but one with the same old limitations that we're used to seeing.
QB Eli Manning, Pass: 8 - 10 - 173 - 2 TD / 0 INT - Manning couldn't have done much more to show that he will be fine as he plays through his foot injury. He lofted two perfect deep balls in his ten attempts, including one for a TD to Mario Manningham. He threw his short and intermediate passes with zip and accuracy. Both of his incompletions were on target, but dropped by the intended receiver. His second TD pass was a bullet to Hakeem Nicks over the middle. The Giants wisely pulled Manning when the game got out of hand. We didn't really get to see how Manning's foot injury is affecting his ability to move in the pocket and run because the Raiders got no pressure on him.
RB Brandon Jacobs, Rush: 21 - 67 - 0, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (1 targets) - At first, Jacobs was running with a less than impressive burst, and he left the game for a spell in the first quarter (it was later reported that he suffered a burner which caused him to leave the game). Jacobs had three straight carries inside the five on the opening drive, but could not score before yielding to Ahmad Bradshaw. After his return to the game, Jacobs ran with a better burst and won a lot more collsions. He was productive on runs inside the tackles, but did almost nothing on his runs to the outside. Jacobs did look very natural on his reception, which is encouraging for a player who has had his share of trouble in the passing game in his career.
RB Ahmad Bradshaw, Rush: 11 - 110 - 2, Rec: 1 - 55 - 0 (1 targets) - Bradshaw eviscerated the Raiders defense, with a lot of help from a dominant offensive line performance. He was often untouched until he was at least ten yards downfield. Bradshaw got in on fourth and goal to finish the Giants first drive after Brandon Jacobs left the game with a neck stinger, and he stayed in for the next two drives, which was enough for Bradshaw to have one of the best fantasy days of any RB in week 5. He could have walked in on his 19-yard TD run, and once he made the first man miss on his screen pass catch, it was off to the races for Bradshaw. He ran with a fantastic burst, and he was very slippery in the open field. Bradshaw did have a fumble in the red zone, but it was recovered by the Giants.
RB Gartrell Johnson, Rush: 5 - 16 - 0 - Johnson got mop-up duty. It wasn't pretty at first, as he ran into David Carr on his initial carry and fumbled. Eventually he did get going with sharp cuts and irresistable leg drive that took a few Raiders for a ride in the fourth quarter.
WR Hakeem Nicks, Rec: 4 - 49 - 1 (6 targets) - Nicks already seems to be a primary part of the Giants passing game, even as a #3 receiver. He found the opening in the Raiders zone coverage on his TD, and flashed the hands, adjustment, and run after catch skills that made him a first-round draft pick in April. He tracked a deep ball from David Carr perfectly and hauled it in, but could not get both feet in bounds. He looks ready to make a big contribution this season.
WR Steve Smith, Rec: 3 - 70 - 0 (4 targets) - Smith had one early drop, but otherwise he looked the part of a number one wideout. Smith got behind the speedy Chris Johnson for his deep catch, and got some good yards after the reception on one of his other two grabs with a crafty move. He also drew a pass interference call on an intermediate route. His owners should be pleased that this game represents his floor going forward.
WR Mario Manningham, Rec: 2 - 36 - 1 (3 targets) - Manningham's TD was too easy, as he slipped behind Chris Johnson on a deep corner route in the end zone. Manningham broke yet another tackle on his other catch. He left the game with a chest injury, but the injury is not considered serious and should not be a problem in the future.
TE Darcy Johnson, Rec: 3 - 26 - 0 (4 targets) - Johnson got the start in place of Kevin Boss and showed surprisingly good pass catching skills. He got the first target of the day, and also snagged a pass directly over his head in the red zone that many TEs would not have been fluid enough to bring in. He did get a target that could have turned into a TD down the seam, but Thomas Howard had very good coverage on Johnson.
TE Travis Beckum, Rec: 2 - 12 - 0 (2 targets) - Beckum made one leaping catch early and a broke a tackle to get some extra yards on his other target, but he is going to be a marginal part of the passing game with the Giants having three quality young wide receivers.
Jacksonville Jaguars 0, Seattle Seahawks 41QB David Garrard, Pass: 18 - 31 - 188 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 1 - 0 - Garrard actually looked good at the start of this game. He was taking chances, throwing downfield with accuracy. He hooked up with Torry Holt for a few first downs, and it appeared that the surprise absence of top receiver Mike Sims-Walker wasn't going to hurt too much after all. When it became apparent that Holt was the only real threat the Jags had -- and when the Seahawks had no trouble handling the ground game -- it became a very long day for Garrard, indeed. The Seahawks defense pressured him all day, resulting in five sacks and two lost fumbles - one of which was returned for a TD, while the other gave the Seahawks the ball at the 30, setting up an easy score. He tried to get the ball to players other than Holt, but with very little success.
QB Luke McCown, Pass: 1 - 1 - 2 - 0 TD / 0 INT - McCown replaced Garrard in 4th quarter, and did not fare much better in his short time on the field.
RB Maurice Jones-Drew, Rush: 12 - 34 - 0, Rec: 5 - 23 - 0 (5 targets) - Jones-Drew was never able to get anything going. He had one carry of 18 yards in the first half, and didn't gain more than four yards on any one carry the rest of the game. It was a similar story for him catching passes out of the backfield. He caught everything thrown to him, but for very little yardage. He also had one first down catch called back on a penalty.
RB Rashad Jennings, Rush: 2 - 3 - 0 - Rookie Rashad Jennings carried the ball once in each half. Since Jones-Drew was ineffective, it appeared that he might see the ball a few more times, but as the game got out of reach, Jacksonville basically abandoned the running game altogether.
WR Torry Holt, Rec: 7 - 95 - 0 (11 targets) - Holt had no trouble getting open early on, and Garrard found him easily. With nearly 100 yards on the day, he was the lone bright spot for an offense that kept on stumbling - and fumbling - just when it seemed ready to score. Holt's only downside was that he never was targeted on deep routes.
WR Jarett Dillard, Rec: 2 - 29 - 0 (3 targets) - Dillard was thrown to late in the game and made the most of the opportunity. He moved the chains on both of his catches, which had the Jags inching closer to scoring territory, when a turnover put the game completely out of reach.
WR Mike Thomas, Rec: 1 - 28 - 0 (2 targets) - Thomas drew in for Sims-Walker, but was only targeted twice and did not catch a pass until the second half.
TE Marcedes Lewis, Rec: 3 - 13 - 0 (8 targets) - Garrard tried and tried to get him the ball, but Lewis would have none of it. He dropped a pass in the end zone. He was thrown to on screen routes, but stopped. He got open a number of times but could not hang on to the ball. All of his targets were called plays -- as opposed to dump offs as you would normally expect from the TE position. He just couldn't catch the ball.
QB Matt Hasselbeck, Pass: 18 - 30 - 241 - 4 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 23 - 0 - In his first game back, Hasselbeck didn't miss a beat. If anything he played BETTER than he had before the injury. He had a good rapport with each of his receivers, did a nice job avoiding the sack, and played without fear of getting hit - a good sign that his rib injury is fully healed. The Seahawks used the no-huddle offense a fair bit, with which Hasselbeck was both effective and efficient. His greatest asset was his ability to put the ball where his receivers could catch it, which is slightly different in each case. He made a lot of smart plays and spread the ball out easily, which resulted in a four touchdown day and not much to nitpick at.
RB Edgerrin James, Rush: 16 - 46 - 0, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (1 targets) - James did not receive many important carries. He got tagged for mop up duty to end the half; then again in garbage time, with the 'Hawks up 41-0. If nothing else, he was durable, racking up carries on nine consecutive plays at one point.
RB Julius Jones, Rush: 12 - 34 - 0, Rec: 1 - 2 - 0 (2 targets) - Jones was the primary ball-carrier for the Seahawks. He did nothing spectacular, but gained just enough yardage with each first and second-down carry - generally 3-4 yards - to make it easier for Hasselbeck to convert the first down.
RB Justin Forsett, Rush: 6 - 43 - 0 (2 targets) - In limited duty, Forsett looked to be the best of the three running backs. He made a nifty 22 yard gain on a HB pass that turned into a run after all. He made good gains each time he touched the ball, but did fumble once as well.
WR Nate Burleson, Rec: 6 - 98 - 2 (8 targets) - Early on, Hasselbeck looked for Burleson deep, and almost got the ball to him. Before long he tried again. The result? A 44 yd TD, in which Burleson shed his coverage, broke two tackles, and outran two defenders en route to the end zone. Aside from the long reception, each of his other catches resulted in either a first down or a touchdown. Because he is more of a deep threat, he complements Houshmandzadeh's shorter routes, and so is not your typical number 2 guy. He gets the same amount of targets, and the way Hasselbeck is able to spread the ball around, that should continue going forward.
WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Rec: 5 - 77 - 2 (7 targets) - Houshmandzadeh and Hasselbeck are officially on the same page. They made both of his touchdown receptions look easy. Hasselbeck likes to throw to him whether he is covered or not, and more often than not, he comes down with the ball. He also showed why he is the favored red zone target, catching a perfectly thrown fade pass for a score.
WR Deion Branch, Rec: 2 - 23 - 0 (4 targets) - Branch was effective but was a clear number three on the depth chart behind Burleson and Houshmandzadeh. He has upside, but as long as those two are productive, his chances will be few.
TE John Carlson, Rec: 2 - 31 - 0 (3 targets) - Carlson wasn't needed all that much as a receiver, since Hasselbeck was able to get the football in the hands of his wideouts so often. He had only two catchable balls thrown to him, and converted both for first downs.
New England Patriots 17, Denver Broncos 20QB Tom Brady, Pass: 19 - 33 - 215 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0 - Brady was only sacked one time, but the Broncos defense did a good job of getting to the quarterback. Even after he delivered the ball, the defense would get a hand on him, just to let Brady know that they were there. Brady was looking underneath on most of his throws, but did take a few shots downfield. Again, the Broncos blitz got to him as he overthrew Moss wide open in the end zone as cornerback Jack Williams came in and made Brady change his throwing motion at just the last second. The Patriots picked up most of their passing yardage in the first half, as Brady only threw for 63 yards in the second half. When left tackle Matt Light left the game with a knee injury in the fourth quarter it forced the Patriots to leave one more man into block, thus taking one receiving option away. The Broncos were regularly lining up 7 and 8 men in the box, and knowing Brady's tendencies based on the pre-snap coverage shown really helped Denver know where the ball would likely go.
RB Sammy Morris, Rush: 17 - 68 - 0, Rec: 2 - 39 - 0 (3 targets) - Morris was running hard all day against the Broncos, and did a good job of taking what the defense gave him while picking up yards after contact. Facing 7 and 8 in the box regulary, many times Morris had to just lower his head and keep his legs churning to pick up yardage. Morris contributed a couple of times in the passing game, and showed good patience -- allowing his blocks to set up in front of him on a big 35-yard screen pass.
RB Kevin Faulk, Rush: 4 - 8 - 0, Rec: 3 - 26 - 0 (3 targets) - Faulk was his usual effective receiving threat out of the backfield. He was able to gain separation against the Broncos assigned to covering him, and after the catch he was able to pick and slide for extra yardage. He was a willing inside runner, but Denver quickly took him to the ground anytime he ran the football.
RB Laurence Maroney, Rush: 5 - 21 - 0 - Maroney had a good day running the football, but only received limited opportunities as the Patriots featured Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk more. He did a good job of following his blockers and driving his legs when he carried the football. Maroney didn't make too many moves behind the line of scrimmage, but did make subtle moves that helped set up defenders on the second level. One of the reasons he may not have had more playing time is his failure in pass protection. He completely missed on linebacker Andra Davis as he was blitzing up the middle, and it forced Tom Brady to throw the ball away as he was getting dragged to the ground.
WR Wes Welker, Rec: 8 - 86 - 1 (15 targets) - Welker was targeted 15 times on Sunday, and he did a good job of setting up defenders before breaking off his route. On Welker's touchdown catch he ran a 5-yard stop route where he turned to the outside. As soon as linebacker Wesley Woodyard broke outside, Welker quickly ran where Woodyard used to be and found himself wide open for six. Later in the second quarter Welker was injured as he went low to scoop in a pass. All-Pro safety Brian Dawkins crushed him in the back as he was going to the ground, and Welker was in obvious pain. He was able to come back later in the game and the injury didn't seem to bother him in the second half.
WR Julian Edelman, Rec: 3 - 15 - 0 (3 targets) - The rookie was getting open underneath, and many of Brady's targets were thrown short as the Broncos took away the deep routes. The former quarterback knows how to find the soft spots in a zone, and does a good job of squaring his shoulders and giving Brady the biggest possible target. Edelman also did a nice job of coming back to the football which naturally prevents a defender from making a play on the ball.
WR Randy Moss, Rec: 1 - 36 - 0 (4 targets) - Randy Moss had two catches on Sunday. One from Brady, and one from Kyle Orton. His first catch of the day was actually an interception at the end of the first half. The Broncos lined up and threw a hail mary at the end of the second quarter, and Moss was in playing defense. He intercepted a pass intended for Jabar Gaffney on the 1-yard line as time expired. It was Kyle Orton's first interception of the year, but Moss wasn't finished there. Brady had targeted Moss a couple of times (including one that was overthrown when he was wide open in the end zone) but both had missed their mark. In the third quarter Brady found Moss on a deep slant over the middle. Moss hauled in the catch and it looked like he was going to pitch the ball back to Wes Welker who was running behind him. Instead he held onto the ball as he was getting tackled on his only offensive reception of the day.
TE Ben Watson, Rec: 2 - 13 - 1 (2 targets) - Watson was able to take advantage of second-year linebacker Wesley Woodyard on his touchdown catch. He lined up on the right side of the offensive line, and ran a crossing route to the left. Woodyard mistakingly thought he was playing man coverage instead of zone, and Watson ran right by him. Brady found Watson quickly and zipped the pass into the end zone for the score.
TE Chris Baker (2 targets) - He was used primarily as a blocker because the Patriots were very concerned about the Broncos pass rush. Baker helped Matt Light block outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil on the left side, and did a good job of stopping him for the most part. Baker did have a 3-yard reception, but it was reviewed and deemed incomplete as the ball hit the ground before he could maintain control.
QB Kyle Orton, Pass: 35 - 48 - 330 - 2 TD / 1 INT - This was the first week Orton played without a glove on his throwing hand, and he commented before the game how he had a better feel of the football and that he trusted himself more without the glove. That confidence showed up on Sunday as Orton threw the ball 48 times against the Patriots. The Broncos debuted their "Wild Horses" offensive formation, which is their version of the Wildcat. Instead of bringing in a Wildcat QB, the Broncos instead would often line up Orton out wide and then motion him back under center. Starting a play in this formation simplifies the defensive look, and the Broncos had plenty of success both running and passing out of the Wild Horses formation. Once again, Orton was safe and effective when distributing the football and his one interception on the day came on a hail mary pass at the end of the second quarter. In addition to changing up their formations, the Broncos also substituted a lot of players in and out of the game which seemed to confuse the New England defense. The primary mismatch the Broncos looked to exploit was cornerback Leigh Bodden on Eddie Royal. Orton did a good job of looking off defenders, only to hit Royal on a timing route.
RB Knowshon Moreno, Rush: 21 - 88 - 0, Rec: 4 - 36 - 0 (5 targets) - The Broncos started the day running their Wild Horses offense, with Moreno running the show. During training camp the Broncos worked out of this formation, but it was veteran Correll Buckhalter that lined up as the Wildcat QB. Moreno did a good job of reading the defense out of this formation, and his hard charging style is perfect for picking up yards between the tackles. Moreno did a good job of keeping his feet moving after contact, and would spin and push for as many yards as he possible could each time he ran the football. He showed great patience as a receiver out of the backfield, and picked up big yardage on a screen pass when the Broncos were driving late in the fourth quarter. Moreno did get a little careless with the football, but when the game was on the line he was covering up the rock with both hands
RB LaMont Jordan, Rush: 3 - 9 - 0 - Jordan didn't get as many touches as some had thought with Correll Buckhalter out with an ankle injury. He came in and ran the ball hard when he got the opportunity. Jordan would spin, and drive to pick up extra yardage after contact. He also did a nice job late in the fourth quarter in pass protection when the Patriots were trying to turn up the heat on quarterback Kyle Orton.
RB Peyton Hillis - It looks like Hillis may be in coach McDaniels doghouse, as he barely made it onto the field for any offensive snaps on Sunday.
WR Eddie Royal, Rec: 10 - 90 - 0 (15 targets) - Finally! Eddie Royal was a big part of this Broncos passing offense, and it seemed like Denver went out of their way to exploit Leigh Bodden. The cornerback was giving a big cushion to Royal early in the game, so the reads were easy and the passes were short. However, later in the game Bodden started to play tighter on Eddie Royal but to no avail. By that time Orton and Royal were in the zone, and the chemistry was obvious as Orton threw passes where only Royal could snare them. Throughout the whole game Royal was confusing Bodden, and finally seemed comfortable running option routes. Royal's only bad play of the game was when he fumbled a punt that was recovered by his teammate, cornerback Jack Williams. Royal was not trying to do too much when he got his hands on the football, and was the primary read on several pass plays.
WR Brandon Marshall, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0, Rec: 8 - 64 - 2 (11 targets) - Once again the Broncos were looking to Marshall early and often. The first pass they threw out of the Wild Horses formation was to Marshall as they tried to soften up the defense with a short pass to later on set up a deeper look. Marshall is healthy and motivated, and now looks excited to be involved in the offense after starting off the season slow. His make-you-miss ability is legendary, and was key on both of his touchdown receptions. Marshall is hard to cover one-on-one and was simply a physical mismatch against veteran Shawn Springs. Orton threw short to Marshall near the goalline, and the big receiver was able to turn inside, muscle the ball in, and get into the endzone. Later in the game when the Broncos needed to tie it up Orton looked Marshall's way again. Marshall was able to juke and stretch his way into the endzone after breaking free near the sideline. As great as those plays were, perhaps his best play of the day came on an incomplete pass. With around seven minutes left in the second quarter Kyle Orton had his pass batted up high in the air and behind the line of scrimmage. Marshall came off a short crossing route and split through Patriots defenders -- but not to try and catch the ball. Instead, he used his incredible vertical to sky over the defense, and promptly swatted the ball to the ground. It was a great play, and shows just how dialed in Brandon Marshall is now.
WR Jabar Gaffney, Rec: 6 - 61 - 0 (8 targets) - The Patriots respect the skill set of Jabar Gaffney, and were sometimes double teaming him to prevent a big play. Gaffney did a good job getting open against his former team, and did a lot of his damage on underneath routes. An underrated part of Gaffney's game is his run blocking, and he was doing a good job of turning his man away from the play. He even caught a circus catch that was tipped by Brandon McGowan and almost intercepted by the Patriots. Gaffney cut through four defenders to grab the pass and turn a disastrous play into a first down. It's evident just how much trust Kyle Orton has in Jabar Gaffney.
WR Brandon Stokley (1 targets) - Stokley was once again not very involved on Sunday, and was only on the field when the Broncos lined up in four wide receiver sets. He did get targeted with one pass, but that was broken up by Brandon McGowan underneath. Stokley did not do a good job of setting up his route, and that allowed the cornerback to make a play on the ball.
TE Tony Scheffler, Rec: 4 - 45 - 0 (5 targets) - Tony Scheffler worked hard as a receiver on Sunday, and he also was a tremendous help in pass protection. Scheffler is a matchup nightmare, and the Broncos made sure to get him involved in the passing game. He was mostly used outside the hashmarks as a relief valve recevier, but with his size and athleticism he makes for a great option when the team needs to move the chains. With the game on the line, the Patriots tried to turn up the heat on quarterback Kyle Orton. Scheffler did a good job of chipping in and keeping his quarterback upright.
TE Daniel Graham, Rec: 3 - 34 - 0 (3 targets) - Just like Jabar Gaffney, Graham knows how to get open against his former team and did a good job of that on Sunday. Graham also was a key blocker on Knowshon Moreno's big 27-yard screen pass in the fourth quarter as the Broncos were trying to tie up the score.
Washington Redskins 17, Carolina Panthers 20QB Jason Campbell, Pass: 17 - 23 - 145 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 4 - 0 - Jason Campbell did nothing to quiet the boos of Redskins fans around the country with his performance in Sunday's loss to the Panthers. Campbell completed 17 of 23 passes for a respectable 74% completion percentage but most of his throws were short passes to the flats and checkdowns. With the exception of a 23 yard pass to Santana Moss, Campbell did not have a pass completion of more then 13 yards and seemed resigned to making short throws rather then take long chances down the field. The Redskins raced out to a 17 point lead (which is partly responsible for the short passing game) but Campbell's throws were rarely in a place that receivers could gain yards after the catch. Campbell was sacked 5 times and despite the Panthers loading the box to stop Clinton Portis, he could not take advantage of man-coverage to the outside for any long completions. He threw for a mere 8 first downs passing and even in 3rd and long situations, Campbell rarely threw the ball far enough to earn a first down. Outside of the completion to Moss, Campbell only had two passes that traveled more then 10 yards in the air, both resulting in incompletions.
RB Clinton Portis, Rush: 19 - 57 - 1, Rec: 2 - 17 - 1 (3 targets) - Clinton Portis had his best game of the year combining for 74 yards and two touchdowns. Portis caught an early screen pass on the right side of the field and quickly accelerated down the line and in to the endzone ahead of the defense's pursuit for his first score. He also scored on a first down carry up the middle from the Panthers' one yard line on a run where he took the handoff and hit the hole straight on with a full head of steam. However, Portis also was tackled 3 yards deep in the endzone on a sweep to the right side that resulted in a safety, allowing the Panthers to get on the scoreboard and begin their comeback. Most of Portis's carries were 3 and 4 yard gains between the tackles.
RB Ladell Betts, Rush: 2 - 7 - 0, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (1 targets) - Betts had three touches for 13 yards in relief of Clinton Portis against the Panthers. His lone gain rushing was an 8 yard scamper up the middle wherein he hit the hole with a full head of steam and gained about 4 yards after first contact. Otherwise, Betts did not play much of a role against the Panthers
WR Santana Moss, Rec: 4 - 44 - 0 (6 targets) - Santana Moss was Jason Campbell's most targeted receiver against the Panthers. Moss caught one deep ball for a 23 yard gain and had a second deep pass fall incomplete. Otherwise, Moss was relegated to catching 6 and 7 yard slants and screens wherein he was quickly wrapped up by the Panthers' man coverage. Moss was targeted on a 4th and 3 play in the 4th quarter but was well covered by Thomas Davis and couldn't make the reception for what would turn out to be a critical stop for the Panthers.
WR Antwaan Randle El, Rec: 3 - 28 - 0 (3 targets) - Randle El returned punts for the Redskins and caught 3 balls for 28 yards in the passing game. Randle El was targeted only on short crossing routes and slants and didn't have much room to work once he did catch the ball as his routes ran him towards the middle of the field (and thus towards the defense). Randle El also had a 17 yard reception brought back on a penalty that would have resulted in a first down.
WR Devin Thomas, Rec: 3 - 19 - 0 (4 targets) - Thomas rotated with Malcolm Kelly on the Redskins 3 and 4-wide sets, finishing the game with 3 catches for 19 yards. Thomas was also targeted on a deep pass by Campbell but was well defended by Julius Peppers, who had dropped back in to coverage on the play.
WR Malcolm Kelly, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (2 targets) - Malcolm Kelly was targeted twice on the same drive by Jason Campbell, once on a wide receiver screen to left side and again on a short pattern to the right. He finished the game with one reception for 8 yards but was on the field for about half of the Redskins 4-wide sets.
TE Fred Davis, Rec: 3 - 23 - 0 (3 targets) - Fred Davis had his best game of the season with 3 receptions for 23 yards. Davis was kept in the game to block for Portis on most downs and at least two of his receptions came after audibles at the line of scrimmage. Campbell appeared to favor Davis as an outlet when the Panthers blitzed from his side.
TE Chris Cooley - ight End Chris Cooley was held without a catch for the first time since his rookie season. He worked mainly as a blocker after left tackle Chris Samuels left the game with an injury.
QB Jake Delhomme, Pass: 16 - 25 - 181 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - 7 - 0 - Jake Delhomme played well enough in the win against Washington that his job looks safe for now. In a word, Delhomme was efficient and showed much more poise then he had in recent weeks. Outside of an interception to Deangelo Hall that set up Clinton Portis's first rushing touchdown of the season, Delhomme made good decisions and regularly got the ball out of quick enough to avoid the Redskins' pressure. Delhomme also stepped up in the pocket confidently and managed to turn sure-sacks in to short gains on a handful of occasions, including on a crucial 3rd and 8 play in the 4th quarter where he escaped the grasp of Deangelo Hall and picked up a first down.
RB DeAngelo Williams, Rush: 18 - 40 - 0, Rec: 2 - 19 - 0 (2 targets) - Williams had a poor start against the Redskins fumbling on his very first carry. Things didn't improve much from there as Williams constantly found no room to run both between the tackles and to the outside. His best runs came to the right side of the line and his most important carries came in the 4th quarter as the Panthers worked to run out the clock. Williams had 13 yards on 4 straight carries over the course of two and a half minutes from deep inside Carolina territory to as the Panthers iced the game and earned their first win of the year. Williams did not have a reception in the passing game.
RB Jonathan Stewart, Rush: 10 - 39 - 1, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (1 targets) - Stewart returned to action and was the more effective Carolina runner against the Redskins. Stewart's first 3 carries were for losses (or no gain) and after a muffed punt, his day appeared to be going badly. But Stewart turned the tide rushing effectively off tackle and up the middle for an effective 39 yards to go along with an 8 yard touchdown. On the touchdown, Stewart ran up the middle and barreled his way to paydirt. Stewart also had one 6 yard reception on a screen to the middle of the field.
WR Muhsin Muhammad, Rec: 5 - 39 - 0 (10 targets) - Muhammad had one of his more productive games in recent memory with 5 catches for 39 yards. While Smith was patrolling the middle of the field, Muhammad worked almost exclusively outside of the right-side hashmark. Not long after a completion to the deep-right side of the field, Delhomme and Muhammad tried the same play and the pass was intercepted by Deangelo Hall. Otherwise, Muhammad spent much of his time running slants and hitches as the defense spotted him 5-7 yards at the line of scrimmage.
WR Steve Smith, Rec: 5 - 65 - 0 (6 targets) - Steve Smith's productive day existed almost completely between the hashmarks. Smith was sent on a number of crossing patterns and "in" routes in an attempt to loosen up the defense for the running game. Smith's 65 yards receiving were the very definition of "hard fought" as he caught the ball on the run and very quickly was wrapped up by the Redskin defense. Smith was held without a touchdown but did catch a 2-point conversion after Stewart's rushing touchdown to give the Panthers a 3 point lead.
TE Jeff King, Rec: 2 - 30 - 1 (2 targets) - Jeff King finished the day with 2 receptions for 30 yards including a 17 yard touchdown reception on 2nd and 5. King also fell on a ball (fumbled by Brad Hoover) in the endzone but the ball was spotted at the one since it can not be advanced by the offense on a fumble on 4th down. Outside of his few targets, King was kept in to block, primarily against the opposite defensive end on off-tackle runs by Deangelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.
Houston Texans 21, Arizona Cardinals 28QB Matt Schaub, Pass: 35 - 50 - 371 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - 5 - 0 - Sunday's game against the Cardinals was a tale of two halves for Schaub. In the first half, Schaub was under constant pressure and forced to throw on the move a significant amount of the time. On the first snap of the game, Schaub fumbled the snap, perhaps an omen of things to come. Left tackle Eric Winston had a bevy of problems keeping the blitz at bay which led to Schaub being flushed from the pocket to the right side on a regular basis. In the event that Schaub did complete a throw, it was often for minimal gain. In short, both Schaub and the Texans offense looked woefully out of sync in the first half. The second half was a different story all together. Schaub began getting time in the pocket and as a result found a number of receivers wide open all over the field. He completed 14 passes of more then 10 yards (11 in the second half). Schaub was most successful on comeback and crossing routes between 10 and 20 yards downfield. On one drive in the 4th quarter, Schaub took the Texans from their own 24 to a touchdown on the back of 7 passes in an 8 play drive that took only four minutes off the clock. Schaub's lone mistake in the second half was a big one: he delivered a pass intended for Kevin Walter on a short out pattern to the right side of the field as the Texans looked to tie the game, but the pass was intercepted by Antonio Rodgers-Cromartie and returned for a touchdown. Up until the pick, Schaub had completed 11 straight passes. Schaub had one more crack at a comeback and navigated the Texans to a first and goal situation from the 6 yard line. He quickly completed a screen pass to running back Steve Slaton who was stopped just short of the goalline. The Texans elected to run the ball on 2nd and 4th down (Schaub threw an incompletion on 3rd down) and were stopped both times, essentially ending the game.
RB Steve Slaton, Rush: 13 - 39 - 0, Rec: 6 - 59 - 0 (6 targets) - Steve Slaton still struggles to find room to run. Against the Cardinals, he was once again tasked with trying to find space between the tackles that simply wasn't there. His longest run came on a sweep around the right side on first down. His next longest run came two plays later on a sweep around the left side. Otherwise, Slaton was met by a mass of defenders on most every touch. A more telling note for fantasy owners is that Slaton has started to dance behind the line of scrimmage on some runs rather then hitting the hole quickly. Furthermore, it was Chris Brown and not Slaton who received the Texans' carries at the goalline. Slaton had much more success in the passing game, racking up a number of 5 to 10 yard receptions to go with a 23 yard gain in which he found open space on the left side of the field and accelerated for yardage before being pushed out of bounds by Antrel Rolle. He also had a 13 yard reception in the 4th quarter that set up Andre Johnson's second touchdown of the day.
RB Chris Brown, Rush: 4 - 2 - 1, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (1 targets) - Chris Brown found his way back in to the Texans lineup and was used often as a blocker on passing downs. He also received 3 goalline carries for the Texans, converting his first goalline touch for a score. Unfortunately, Brown was stopped on both 2nd and 4th down from the Cardinals one yard line, ending the Texans' chances to tie the game. On both carries, Brown cleanly took the handoff and hit the line at full speed only to find no hole existed for him to run through. Brown also had one reception while giving Slaton a breather.
RB Vonta Leach, Rec: 3 - 31 - 0 (3 targets) - Vonta Leach split time with Chris Brown on passing downs when Steve Slaton was not in the game. Leach caught three screen passes out of the backfield, two of which he turned up the field for solid gains before being pushed out of bounds.
RB Ryan Moats - After playing an integral part in last week's game, Ryan Moats did not have a carry in week 5. If Chris Brown is out of Gary Kubiak's doghouse, then Moats isn't likely to earn much playing time.
WR Andre Johnson, Rec: 8 - 101 - 2 (14 targets) - Despite being one of the best receivers in the NFL, Andre Johnson still continues to find a way to get wide open in the Texans passing game. Johnson had another productive game Sunday against the Cardinals, catching 8 balls for 101 yards including a 17 yard touchdown and an 11 yard touchdown. Johnson appears to be most productive between the hashmarks when he finds space between the linebackers and the safeties. On his 17 yard touchdown reception, Johnson bounced off of two-defenders before powering across the goalline. The Cardinals rotated three different corners (McFadden, Rolle, and Rodgers-Cromartie) on to Johnson but none of them were able to regularly contest the passes that came his way. When the ball was on target, Johnson would make the reception and usually found yards after the catch. Quarterback Matt Schaub actually looked to Johnson on short routes more then normal against the Cardinals but was only able to complete about half of his passes to Johnson under 10 yards. Johnson was badly overthrown on one deep ball as well.
WR Kevin Walter, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0, Rec: 4 - 37 - 0 (6 targets) - Walter was only able to get open for modest gains against Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and he was the target on the ill-fated pass that DRC took to the house to beat the Texans. Walter also got a carry on an end around in the red zone, but he wasn't able to even get back to the line of scrimmage.
WR David Anderson, Rec: 3 - 32 - 0 (4 targets) - David Anderson received all of his snaps out of the slot and was able to catch three balls for 32 yards against the Cardinals. Schaub looked to Anderson on 2nd and 3rd down when the Cardinals had rotated a safety to Andre Johnson's side of the field, leaving Anderson in single-coverage for short routes. Anderson had a key reception on 3rd and 8 that set up Andre Johnson's first touchdown. Anderson caught the ball on a quick toss to the right side and barreled ahead for a 15 yard gain before being brought down. Anderson appears to be the clear third wide-receiver in the Texans offense (ahead of Jacoby Jones).
WR Jacoby Jones, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (2 targets) - Jones once again showed that his real value to the Texans is as a kick returner. He received a punt and, after waiting for a second or two for his blocks to develop, darted up the left side of the field for 63 yards before being run out of bounds. Jones also had one reception for 4 yards when the Texans were in a five wide set. With the return of Kevin Walter, however, Jones doesn't have much value except in leagues that award points for return yardage.
TE Owen Daniels, Rec: 8 - 94 - 0 (10 targets) - Owen Daniels was targeted on a number of three step drops for short gains against the Cardinals. With the exception of one completion on a deep ball and one incompletion on a deep pass, Daniels was targeted when the Cardinals had rolled an extra defender to both Kevin Walter and Andre Johnson, leaving the short-field between the hashmarks open for Daniels. Daniels' quickness was a difficult matchup for the Cardinals linebackers. Unfortunately, he was unable to gain much yardage after the catch on his short receptions. Daniels was kept in close to the offensive line on most of Steve Slaton's interior runs but was unable to help the Texans get much push at the line of scrimmage.
QB Kurt Warner, Pass: 26 - 38 - 302 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 0 - 0 - Kurt Warner had another fantastic game, throwing for two touchdowns to Larry Fitzgerald in the 2nd quarter. Warner also had another first half toss to Anquan Boldin to inside the Texans 5, but Boldin fumbled the ball. On Warner's second touchdown toss to Fitzgerald, he showed magnificent touch -- Fitzgerald ran a deep post to the right pylon from the Houston 26. Warner tossed the ball over two defenders, leading Fitzgerald straight to paydirt. Warner was a very efficient 26/38 spreading the ball to four different receivers all over the field. In the first half, Warner favored deep tosses to Steve Breaston, Fitzgerald, and Boldin before the Cardinals went to an extremely conservative passing game in the 2nd half, trying only three passes more then 8 yards down the field (one of which was caught for 24 yards but overturned due to a penalty). The Texans' defense tried a variety of looks against the Cardinals but were largely unable to pressure the quarterback and cover all three receivers at the same time. Only when Warner began focusing on shorter routes did the Texans begin to have success in stopping the Cardinals' drives.
RB Tim Hightower, Rush: 6 - 17 - 1, Rec: 5 - 30 - 0 (5 targets) - Hightower started the game on fire, carrying six times in the Cardinals first drive (with a touchdown) as Arizona took advantage of the Texans' overplaying for the pass. For the rest of the game, he split touches with rookie Chris Wells but was still able to make an impact as a receiver out of the backfield, catching 5 balls for 30 yards. Hightower showed good burst in the open field but his statline for the day as a rusher was done in by a number of short/negative carries after his first series.
RB Chris Wells, Rush: 7 - 24 - 0 - Wells led the Cardinals with 7 carries and managed a respectable 24 yards, but he did not show consistent burst to the line of scrimmage on many of his carries. Furthermore, outside of a handful of downs where he blocked for Kurt Warner in the shotgun, Wells did not see much time on the field in passing situations. He continues to develop as a runner but will need to show more consistency in each carry in addition to learning to trust his linemen with opening the hole in the right place.
WR Anquan Boldin, Rush: 1 - 3 - 0, Rec: 7 - 81 - 0 (12 targets) - Kurt Warner's first pass was a 20 yard throw to a streaking Anquan Boldin against corner Eugene Wilson. On the Cardinals' second drive, Boldin was targeted near the goalline on a short slant on the right side for the field, but he fumbled as he was wrapped up fighting for extra yardage. Boldin was targeted the rest of the game on shorter routes and no doubt is still one of Kurt Warner's favorite targets. Boldin played a very physical game against Houston, catching a number of balls as he was simultaneously being wrapped up by Eugene Wilson, Bernard Pollard, or Brian Cushing. Nonetheless, he fought for yards after contact and outside of the fumble at the Texans' 5, he played a very good game. Boldin was targeted often in the no-huddle offense by Warner and his success in the early going helped spring Larry Fitzgerald loose on his first touchdown.
WR Larry Fitzgerald, Rec: 5 - 79 - 2 (6 targets) - Fitzgerald had another stellar game against the Texans, springing loose for two touchdowns on back to back possessions in the first half. His second touchdown came in triple coverage on a deep-post to the front left pylon that Fitzgerald caught in stride before changing direction to lunge across the goalline. Fitzgerald was targeted primarily on mid-range and deep routes. He also had a 24 yard reception called back due to holding on the other side of the field. After an exciting first half, Fitzgerald only had two targets in the second half as the Cardinals moved to a more conservative passing attack, favoring short passes to Boldin and Urban over deep balls to Fitzgerald.
WR Jerheme Urban, Rec: 4 - 41 - 0 (5 targets) - Urban played as the fourth receiver in the Cardinals offense and was targeted on downs when the Texans did not have an extra defensive back on the field. He caught 4 passes for 41 yards, all on 1st or 2nd down when the defense had rotated extra coverage to Larry Fitzgerald or when the Texans were showing blitz while Warner was in the shotgun. Urban continues to show solid hands and route running, making it more likely that the Cardinals will continue running 4-wide sets in the future.
WR Steve Breaston, Rec: 4 - 66 - 0 (6 targets) - Breaston had another solid game as the Cardinals third receiver, catching 4 passes for 66 yards. Breaston was targeted three times on deep balls by Kurt Warner when he was in "man" coverage, catching one ball on the run for 22 yards. Breaston was left in on many running downs as well and even though the Cardinals did not run the ball to the outside often, Breaston was an enthusiastic blocker when called upon.
TE Anthony Becht, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (1 targets) - Becht had one reception for 5 yards against the Texans but was also called for a crucial offensive holding penalty on what would have been a long Larry Fitzgerald reception. Becht stayed in to block when the Cardinals ran the ball and helped double-team Mario Williams when Kurt Warner dropped back to pass. Even though it didn't show on the stat-line, Becht had a very productive game as a blocker.
Cincinnati Bengals 17, Baltimore Ravens 14QB Carson Palmer, Pass: 18 - 31 - 271 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 5 - 18 - 0 - Palmer led his team to another strong comeback win, this time on the road against a stout Baltimore defense. Palmer moved well in the pocket and helped his offensive line keep the Raven pressure from shutting down the passing game. Aside from a couple of dropped balls and passes he intentionally threw away, Palmer was very accurate, even when challenging the Raven defense downfield. Palmer did make one big mistake when he failed to locate Ed Reed jumping a hook route, resulting in an interception Reed returned for a touchdown.
RB Cedric Benson, Rush: 27 - 120 - 1, Rec: 2 - 16 - 0 (3 targets) - Benson continued his hot start with another strong effort against one of the league's best rush defenses. Benson ran hard early pushing the pack and gaining tough yards before the Bengal offensive line began opening bigger holes later in the game. Benson broke tackles at the line of scrimmage then sprinted through the Baltimore secondary on his long touchdown run. Benson was more sure-handed this week than last on his few targets out of the backfield.
RB Brian Leonard, Rush: 1 - 1 - 0, Rec: 3 - 30 - 0 (3 targets) - Leonard managed only a one yard gain on a short yardage situation late in the fourth quarter, but was again effective on a variety of screen and shovel pass plays in the two minute and third down offense.
RB Bernard Scott, Rush: 1 - 3 - 0 - After a larger workload last week, Scott was again relegated to a very minor role against the aggressive Raven defense. Scott spelled Cedric Benson for only a few snaps and had no role in the third down packages.
WR Chad Ochocinco, Rec: 7 - 94 - 0 (10 targets) - Ochocinco was again Palmer's favored target this week and was regularly open on intermediate routes over the middle. Ochocinco was effective in traffic and competed hard for yards after the catch. He fumbled on one long gain over the middle when Ed Reed punched the ball out from behind.
WR Chris Henry, Rec: 3 - 92 - 0 (5 targets) - Henry was a bigger part of the offensive gameplan this week and Carson Palmer frequently looked to him on deep outs and sideline routes. Henry fought and made a one handed catch on a ball down the sideline, then broke away for a long run after the catch only to be tackled inside the ten.
WR Andre Caldwell, Rec: 2 - 33 - 1 (2 targets) - Caldwell and Palmer struggled to connect much of the day. The Ravens pressured Palmer up the middle and their zone schemes behind the blitz made it difficult for Palmer to be ready to throw when Caldwell worked his way open. Caldwell's sight adjustment on the go-ahead touchdown pass got him wide open on a seam route that Palmer completed with a bullet pass.
TE Dan Coats (4 targets) - Coats was able to beat the Baltimore linebackers on seam and skinny post routes repeatedly and could have had two touchdown catches if he had held onto Carson Palmer's passes.
QB Joe Flacco, Pass: 22 - 31 - 186 - 1 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 1 - 9 - 0 - Flacco was accurate and managed the game well against Cincinnati, but was forced to settle for underneath routes on nearly every pass play. The Bengals limited Flacco's options by locking up Derrick Mason and preventing Mark Clayton and Kelley Washington from getting open downfield. On one of the few occasions Clayton did get behind the defense, Flacco overthrew him. Flacco also threw an interception in the red zone when a Bengal corner read his eyes and left his receiver to make a play on a corner route to Todd Heap.
RB Ray Rice, Rush: 14 - 69 - 0, Rec: 7 - 74 - 1 (8 targets) - Rice took nearly all of the rush attempts for Baltimore this week, with 14 to Willis McGahee's one. The Ravens had very few red zone snaps, however, which is where McGahee usually gets most of his work. Rice was decisive, but found little running room inside. He looked better when able to bounce runs outside the tackles. He was also very effective as an outlet receiver and broke multiple tackles on a short pass he turned into a long touchdown.
RB LeRon McClain, Rush: 2 - 6 - 0, Rec: 3 - 10 - 0 (4 targets) - The Ravens used McClain on a number of screens again this week, but the Bengals bottled him up quickly with sure tackling.
RB Willis McGahee, Rush: 1 - -2 - 0, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (1 targets) - McGahee had only two touches against Cincinnati. The Bengals only allowed the Ravens three snaps inside the red zone, however, which is where McGahee sees most of his playing time.
WR Mark Clayton, Rec: 3 - 36 - 0 (7 targets) - Clayton was the Ravens' most targeted wide receiver against Cincinnati. He was able to gain separation on timing routes and got behind the defense late in the game but Flacco overthrew him on what should have been a long touchdown pass.
WR Kelley Washington, Rec: 1 - 21 - 0 (1 targets) - Washington had only one target and made a nice catch over the middle to convert on a third and long play in the fourth quarter.
WR Derrick Mason (1 targets) - Mason was held without a catch by the Bengals' Leon Hall, who also had help over the top with a safety at times. Joe Flacco rarely looked in Mason's direction and targeted him only once.
TE Todd Heap, Rec: 7 - 41 - 0 (9 targets) - Joe Flacco targeted Heap more often than any other Baltimore receiver against Cincinnati. Heap wasn't able to get loose for any long receptions, however, with the bulk of his catches coming after he leaked away from the line of scrimmage when Flacco was unable to find a downfield target.
Atlanta Falcons 45, San Francisco 49ers 10QB Matt Ryan, Pass: 22 - 32 - 329 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - 3 - 1 - Ryan dissected the 49ers defense in a Manning/Brady/Brees-esque surgical performance. He was given a lot of time to survey the field by his offensive line, and he used it to see the field with clarity and make smart decisions and accurate throws. Ryan hooked up with Roddy White a lot early in the contest, including a deep TD where Ryan led White to the open part of the end zone with ease, and a quick throw that White turned into a 90-yard catch and run TD. Ryan was patient, and his execution and timing were precise on all but a handful of plays. His one interception came when the umpire disrupted Roddy White's crossing route, but Ryan hustled downfield to make a fumble recovery when White caught Dre Bly from behind. Ryan scoring a rushing TD when a rollout was called on 1st and goal at the one and nothing came open in the end zone. Ryan performed very well, but the 49ers defense seemed to lose their fight when the Falcons opened up a lead in the second quarter.
RB Michael Turner, Rush: 22 - 97 - 3 - Turner was instrumental in putting away the 49ers with his unstoppable red zone presence in the first half. He ran over Michael Lewis and the umpire on his first TD run, and he made a savvy cutback on his second TD run. The third TD run was created by the offensive line with a good push at the one-yard line. The 49ers run defense was stout at first, but Turner started breaking more and more of their tackles as the game went on, and he was able to break into the open field a handful of times and show his speed. Turner did fumble in enemy territory for the second straight game, but this time the Falcons recovered.
RB Jerious Norwood, Rush: 12 - 44 - 0, Rec: 1 - -6 - 0 (1 targets) - Norwood got a lot of work in the fourth quarter, but only got to show his speed on one red zone run in the second half. Norwood did see a good hole and made an explosive cutback on a toss carry in the first half. He also got a direct snap on a short yardage play that he converted. Norwood did fumble away a quick pass in the first half, and Norwood still hasn't looked like a game changer yet this year.
RB Jason Snelling, Rush: 2 - 5 - 0, Rec: 3 - 15 - 0 (4 targets) - Snelling saw the field a lot as a fullback, and got a few touches as a runner and receiver on early drives. He also got the short yardage work after Michael Turner was pulled in the fourth quarter.
WR Roddy White, Rec: 8 - 210 - 2 (10 targets) - White got warmed up early with a couple of out routes. He got behind Dashon Goldson for an easy long bomb TD later in the first half, and then landed the punch that really sent the 49ers reeling when he caught a contested ball against Nate Clements on a quick throw deep in Falcons territory and ran away from the defense for a 90-yard TD. White also converted some key third downs in the game and caught a pass at the one-yard line later in the contest. He even chased down Dre Bly and separated him from the ball after Matt Ryan's only interception.
WR Michael Jenkins, Rec: 2 - 35 - 0 (4 targets) - Jenkins worked the middle of the field for a couple of good gains, but otherwise wasn't a big part of the game plan.
WR Brian Finneran, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (1 targets) - Finneran made the most of his one target, converting a first down with strong running after a catch to carry a tackler a few yards past the first down marker.
TE Tony Gonzalez, Rec: 6 - 55 - 0 (10 targets) - Gonzalez didn't score, but he still made his mark on this game. After an early drop inside in the five on a low throw from Ryan and another Ryan pass that slipped away because it was too high, Gonzalez settled down and got open enough to keep the chains moving and keep the 49ers pass defense off balance. He drew a pass interference penalty in the end zone in the second half and then kept defenders from getting to Ryan as he ran it in on first and goal.
QB Shaun Hill, Pass: 15 - 38 - 198 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 4 - 53 - 0 - Hill never seemed to get comfortable in this game. He faced a lot of pressure from the first drive to the last, and looked antsy in the pocket on most dropbacks. The 49ers tried a lot of quick timing throws, but Hill's rhythm was off because of defenders in his face, and sometimes he didn't seem to be on the same page as his receivers. Hill did show good instincts to pull the ball down and run when nothing was there and he got flushed from the pocket, ripping off some good gains. The coaching staff also trusted him enough to call a pass on an early 4th and 1, and Hill made the play. His interception came off a Mike Peterson deflection, but the pass wasn't going to be a completion even if Peterson hadn't gotten a hand on it. Hill's throwing mechanics got sloppier as the game went on, and his deep balls weren't even close to being completions. He was a competitive gamer, but it was clear that he didn't have the ability to get the 49ers back in this game.
RB Glen Coffee, Rush: 12 - 45 - 1, Rec: 4 - 21 - 0 (5 targets) - Coffee wasn't able to get the running game established, but he did flash a good burst on the few carries where the line opened up a good hole for him. Coffee was able to be active in the passing game because he was Hill's primary checkdown the pressure came, and he scored the 49ers only TD by taking a pitch to the pylon. He also made a great open field move to elude a tackler on a screen pass that was a good gain, but called back by penalty.
WR Josh Morgan, Rec: 4 - 78 - 0 (9 targets) - Morgan got mostly short targets close to the line of scrimmage, and he broke a tackle to turn one into a long gain, only getting tackled at the one-yard line. He was targeted on a deep jumpball in garbage time and drew a pass interference penalty. Morgan made a leaping catch in the end zone near the end of the game, but he couldn't get both feet down. He is definitely the best playmaking threat in the 49ers passing game.
WR Isaac Bruce (4 targets) - Bruce was targeted close to the line of scrimmage most of the time, but he was still tightly covered and couldn't convert any targets into receptions. He did catch a red zone target at the front pylon, but he was out of bounds.
WR Brandon Jones (2 targets) - Jones got one deep target from Hill, but the ball was overthrown and he was well-covered.
TE Vernon Davis, Rec: 5 - 51 - 0 (12 targets) - Davis caught a long pass on fourth and one early in the game, but most of his modest production came when the game was out of hand. He didn't get a chance to be Hill's main man over the middle of the field because Hill didn't have the time to go through his progressions on most dropbacks.
TE Delanie Walker, Rec: 1 - 39 - 0 (3 targets) - Walker made a great catch and long gain on an underthrown ball, but his fumble of a kickoff return was one of the nails in the 49ers coffin in this game.