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2021 NFL season, Week 6: What we learned from Sunday's games

Around The NFL breaks down what you need to know from all of Sunday's action in Week 6 of the 2021 NFL season. Catch up on each game's biggest takeaways using the links below:

Pittsburgh Steelers
2021 · 3-3-0
Seattle Seahawks
2021 · 2-4-0

Grant Gordon's takeaways:

  1. Watt cashes in. Teddy KGB once memorably said, "Pay that man his money." The Steelers did with T.J. Watt earlier this year and are hoping it will pay off for the franchise for autumns to come. It certainly did on Sunday night. Watt ravaged the Seahawks in overtime and wrecked Geno Smith's hopes of finishing his first start with a magical win. First came a mammoth third-down sack of Smith for 13 yards on the opening drive of OT. Then came the game-winning assist when Watt sacked a scrambling Smith and forced a fumble that led to kicker Chris Boswell's Sunday-ending 37-yard make three players later. This was one of the game's elite stepping into the spotlight and stepping up in a big moment on a prime-time stage. Watt had two sacks, four QB pressures, two QB hits, three tackles for loss, six tackles and one monumental forced fumble. Nights such as these exemplify how special Watt is and that he is, indeed, well worth the Steelers' investment.
  2. Russ is missed. Geno Smith played better than the last glimpse of him grasping his helmet in frustration following a fumble leads you to believe. He was pressured throughout and sacked five times. But he kept the 'Hawks in it, completing 23 of 32 passes for 209 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. Few gave Seattle much of a chance and the Seahawks certainly had a chance as Smith was able to pilot them back from a 14-0 deficit to force overtime. But Russell Wilson is a different animal, and a future Hall of Famer. He's one of the very best, and while Geno kept the Seahawks within striking distance, Wilson has proven time and again he can lead them to wins. While Smith deserves an attaboy, Sunday night was further indication of just how much Russ means to the Seahawks.
  3. Steelers offense still needs tinkering. Rescued from the dregs of a three-game skid, the Steelers now march into their bye week winners of two straight. Ben Roethlisberger is still hanging around and looking better these last two wins. The offense is now very much running through Najee Harris. But while winning may cure all ills, it doesn't cover up reality. Roethlisberger made some bad throws, including one right to Jamal Adams late. Steelers WRs had some bad drops. And the offense continues to be methodical at best and horribly plodding at worst. Against a Seahawks defense that came in ranked last in total defense, the Steelers mustered 345 yards in offense in four quarters and change, and scored 23 points on 13 drives. More work must be ahead if the Steelers aim to maintain their aspirations of returning to the postseason.

Next Gen stat of the game: Ben Roethlisberger was 19 of 19 on short passes (0-9 air yards) for 138 yards and a TD. That's the most completions without an incompletion on short passes by any QB in the Next Gen Stats era.

NFL Research: Following his forced fumble to set up the game-winning field goal in overtime, T.J. Watt has a combined 22 interceptions and forced fumbles since 2018, which is the most in the NFL over that span.

Arizona Cardinals
2021 · 6-0-0
Cleveland Browns
2021 · 3-3-0

Nick Shook's takeaways:

  1. Who needs your play-caller when you have Kyler Murray? It was another week and another statement win from the Cardinals, who routed another opponent even without head coach Kliff Kingsbury. Murray was again excellent, completing 20 of 30 passes for 229 yards, four touchdowns and a stellar 129 passer rating. Arizona only needed to punt twice in the game, and James Conner and Chase Edmonds combined to rush for 117 yards. DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk and A.J. Green all found the end zone, and the Cardinals converted 8 of 10 third-down attempts. They only hit one lull in the third quarter, which didn't last the entire period thanks to Hopkins' second receiving touchdown with 2:56 left in the quarter. Houston awaits, and we're all circling Oct. 28 for their Week 8 date with the Packers. The Cardinals train keeps on chuggin'.
  2. The banged-up Browns are in dire straits. Cleveland entered this game facing an uphill climb and was forced to play without both of its starting offensive tackles, star running back Nick Chubb, receiver Jarvis Landry ... frankly, I could go on for a while. That situation grew worse Sunday with the loss of Kareem Hunt to an apparent non-contact leg injury. Baker Mayfield also injured his left shoulder, which already has a partially torn labrum. The Browns are so banged up, they've been reduced to an average roster. The going only gets tougher, too, entering a short week with a date with Denver set for Thursday night. Cleveland has to hold out hope it can avoid further injury and take it a week at a time, and pin its prayers on getting closer to full strength in the next month. Right now, the Browns are nothing more than a middling roster incapable of keeping up with the league's elite. Their lone silver lining: Donovan Peoples-Jones is continuing his ascent and will be a future star. His performance Sunday (four catches, 101 yards, two touchdowns) was just the latest example of his bright future.
  3. Arizona's defense can hang its hat on this game. The Cardinals will start with the three turnovers, including two forced fumbles via hits on Mayfield, and an interception of an errant Mayfield pass. Toss in their 70% success rate on third down and 66.7% rate on fourth down -- including a pass break-up on a throw intended for Odell Beckham -- and you have a total team victory. The stats can't get much prettier than this for the Cardinals, who limited the Browns (scorers of 42 points last week) to 14, and half of those points came on a half-ending Hail Mary. They sacked Mayfield five times and held the league's No. 1 rushing attack -- albeit without two of its five starting offensive linemen and Chubb -- to 73 yards. Arizona did this without Chandler Jones and Corey Peters, too.

Next Gen stat of the game: Baker Mayfield's 57-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass to Donovan Peoples-Jones had a 15.4% completion probability and was completed with a target separation of 0.6 yards. It was the third-most improbable completion of Mayfield's career, and accounted for both the most air yards (58) and yards of air distance (66.4) by any player on a completion in the Next Gen Stats era.

NFL Research: The Cardinals have started 6-0 for the first time since 1974. Forty teams have started 6-0 since 1990, posting an average finish of 13-3, and 38 of them have made the playoffs.

Dallas Cowboys
2021 · 5-1-0
New England Patriots
2021 · 2-4-0

Chase Goodbread's takeaways:

  1. Dak delivers. It was a mighty struggle, but the Cowboys pulled out their fifth consecutive win on the overtime heroics of quarterback Dak Prescott, who dimed a walk-off, 35-yard TD pass to CeeDee Lamb, beating cornerback Jalen Mills to end a see-saw affair. Through it all, Prescott was a constant positive for the Cowboys in completing 36 of 51 passes for 445 yards, three touchdowns and an interception that came off a deflection. Lamb was the primary beneficiary with 149 receiving yards, but Prescott's huge performance was more about distribution; he completed passes to nine different targets and peppered the Patriots secondary for 25 passing first downs among Dallas' 32 for the game. On the final drive to win in overtime, Prescott was a perfect 5-for-5 through the air, three of them to Lamb. It took the overtime period to get there, but Prescott also helped Dallas' offense tie a franchise record with its fourth consecutive game of 35 points or more. Long-proven as one of the game's best quarterbacks, Prescott issued a hard-stamped reminder on Sunday.
  2. Right back at him. Patriots quarterback Mac Jones got the best of his former Alabama teammate, Trevon Diggs, in one of the wildest regulation finishes of the NFL season to date. Diggs jumped a slant route from Jones to WR Kendrick Bourne for a pick-six in the final minutes, giving the Cowboys a late lead and plenty of momentum with barely more than two minutes remaining. After a failed two-point try and an ensuing kickoff, Jones and Bourne went right back at Diggs with an out-and-up double move, and Diggs bit hard enough for Jones to throw over the top for a 75-yard touchdown pass to reclaim the lead. It was a month's worth of maturation for Jones in just a two-play sequence, nearly throwing away a victory only to atone for the mistake with a perfect deep ball. At the same time, Diggs learned a hard lesson of his own; it was a bitter way to follow a stunning streak of seven interceptions in six games, but the postgame bitterness was Jones'.
  3. Patriots make their stand. New England's defensive play in short-yardage situations demands due mention. At the heart of that effort was linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley, who made two of four stops on a rare four-down goal-line stand in the first half. Credit Devin McCourty first for setting up the stonewalling by stopping Cedrick Wilson at the Patriots 1-yard line on a 13-yard reception that might've otherwise gone for a touchdown. From there, the Cowboys, with their outstanding offensive line and myriad options to put the ball over the goal line, couldn't do so in four consecutive chances. Bentley stopped Ezekiel Elliott on a pitch to the right on first down. On second down, Elliott couldn't get through the middle even with a fullback lead, then Prescott was buried amid an assortment of Patriots on a third-down sneak. Prescott tried to reach over the top with the ball on fourth down, and Bentley knocked it away for a lost fumble. Bentley finished with a game-high 13 tackles. Not to be forgotten, the Patriots also stoned Dallas on a fourth-down run on the Cowboys' opening drive.

Next Gen stat of the game: On Kendrick Bourne's 75-yard touchdown catch, the Patriots' win probability jumped 36 percentage points to 58%.

NFL Research: Trevon Diggs returned his seventh interception of the season for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter against the Patriots to become the first player in the Super Bowl era to have seven-plus interceptions and return multiple pick-sixes in the first six games of his team's season.

Las Vegas Raiders
2021 · 4-2-0
Denver Broncos
2021 · 3-3-0

Kevin Patra's takeaways:

  1. Derek Carr divebombs Broncos defense. The first game of the post-Jon Gruden era came with a superb effort from the franchise QB. Carr continued his sterling season, splashing big play after big play. The signal-caller authored four completions of 20-plus air-yards, including two touchdowns. Carr hit Henry Ruggs III deep on the opening series for a 48-yard score. He added another picture-perfect ball down the sideline to Kenyan Drake for another touchdown before the end of the half. Outside of a second-quarter lull, the Vegas offense was unstoppable, gashing a once-stingy Broncos defense. Carr ran the offense with aplomb, earning 347 yards and two TDs, with the splash gains coming in droves.
  2. So much for that Broncos 3-0 start to the season. Denver scoffed at the suggestion the first three tilts of the season were a mirage. Since then, the Broncos have been bowled over for three consecutive losses. Getting pounded by a division rival at home will bring the heat on coach Vic Fangio -- whose bad day included two ill-advised challenges in the third quarter. Teddy Bridgewater had little chance in the pocket all day. The QB was erratic when he did have time and missed a host of deep shots badly, including a late prayer. Bridgewater's four turnovers belied his usually steady game-managing. Garbage-time yards and scores made the score look closer than it was. In all three phases, Sunday was disastrous for Fangio's club.
  3. Credit interim HC Rich Bisaccia. The veteran coach had his team ready to play off the bus despite a tumultuous week. The Raiders defense played with its hair on fire. The defensive front dominated the game, generating five sacks. Maxx Crosby was a menace, compiling three sacks, five QB hits, 10 pressures, a tackle for loss and a pass defended. The Raiders played with controlled emotion, flying all over the field on both sides of the ball, making big play after big play. Sunday showed the leadership in Vegas is in good hands with Bisaccia and veterans in the locker room.

Next Gen stat of the game: Teddy Bridgewater was 1 of 8 for 26 yards and an interception on deep passes; 12 of 19 for 140 yards, two touchdowns under pressure (sacked five times) and 23 of 30 for 194 yards for a touchdown and three interceptions when not under pressure -- first game with three INTs when not under pressure in Next Gen Stats era (since 2016).

NFL Research: Henry Ruggs III had two receptions of 40-plus yards, including a 48-yard TD. Since entering the NFL in 2020, Ruggs is tied with Davante Adams for the most 40-plus-yard receptions (eight) and all four of his career receiving TDs have been 40-plus yards.

Green Bay Packers
2021 · 5-1-0
Chicago Bears
2021 · 3-3-0

Chase Goodbread's takeaways:

  1. Pack backs. On a day when Packers wide receiver Davante Adams was relatively quiet outside of a 41-yard catch in the second half, Green Bay's rushing duo of Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon fueled the engine just fine. Jones, in particular, burned the Bears defense for 110 total yards, including a 13-for-76 day on the ground. Jones' 12-yard TD reception in the second half gave the Packers a crucial two-score lead. Dillon isn't to be forgotten in this tandem. The Packers' powerful, downhill complement to Jones got fewer touches but was effective with them (11 for 59), including a 36-yard breakaway. Both of them are a load to bring down and consistently fall forward for an extra yard or two, especially on solo tackles. There are better backfield combinations -- the Cowboys' duo of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard comes to mind -- but there aren't many of them.
  2. Fields with some time. Call this a small step forward for the Bears' pass protection, which rightly has been a grave concern in Chicago. Bears quarterback Justin Fields had all sorts of time to throw in the first half, and while he didn't always take advantage, he at least got to survey the field. The Packers' first sack was the result of good downfield coverage, not a lack of time, and Fields did a nice job of deciding when to extend pass plays, and when to tuck and run. The Green Bay pass rush harassed Fields more effectively in the second half, particularly late in the game to help seal the win. Four sacks will always be too many, but the sack total doesn't credit the plays on which Fields had all day to throw. He bailed more pockets because he wanted to than because he had to. One caveat: Fields entered as the NFL's most blitzed quarterback (40.7%), and was blitzed a season-low 16.1% by Green Bay. For Chicago's offensive line, it wasn't great, but there was progress.
  3. Rodgers dices defense underneath. It wasn't an air-it-out kind of win for Aaron Rodgers, whose famous deep ball can strike for six at any moment. He threw for just 195 yards, his lowest total since compiling just 133 in a season-opening loss, and was 0 for 4 on go-routes. But he came up with perfection in throwing underneath Bears coverage, completing 15 of 15 passes of 10 or fewer air yards, per Next Gen Stats. On those 15 throws, he notched both his touchdown passes and accounted for about three-quarters of his total yardage (141). There was a shovel pass to Allen Lazard that was perfectly executed near the goal line, and plenty of quick strikes to move the chains. It was a take-what-they-give kind of day, and the veteran didn't force things in leading the Packers' fifth consecutive victory.

Next Gen stat of the game: The Bears' Robert Quinn notched a sack and four pressures on 20 pass-rush downs.

NFL Research: With a win against rookie QB Justin Fields, Aaron Rodgers is now 6-0 vs. NFC North rookie QBs in his career as a starter.

Baltimore Ravens
2021 · 5-1-0
Los Angeles Chargers
2021 · 4-2-0

Nick Shook's takeaways:

  1. Baltimore's backfield of castoffs is starting to build enough evidence to bury doubters. The Ravens rushed for 187 yards as a team, outgaining Lamar Jackson's passing effort by 47 yards and doing so with a complete cast of contributors. Devonta Freeman had his best game in some time, averaging over 5 yards on each of his nine carries, which also included a rushing touchdown. Latavius Murray nearly matched him with 44 yards and his own touchdown on nine attempts. And Le'Veon Bell -- wearing No. 17, for some odd reason -- found the end zone for the first time since last year. The Ravens didn't even need Jackson's heroics on the ground to win this one. They took care of business with their backfield of misfit running backs, whom Los Angeles could not stop all afternoon.
  2. The high-flying Chargers left their fuel in Los Angeles. The cross-country trip has rarely been kind to West Coast teams, and that proved to be true again Sunday. Los Angeles couldn't put up much of a fight defensively in the first half, giving up 183 yards and allowing the Ravens to march down the field for touchdowns on each of their first two possessions. Their strength -- the offense -- failing to show up only made things worse, with the Chargers finishing possessions in Baltimore territory just four times out of a total of 11 possessions. Justin Herbert had a rough day typical of a second-year quarterback (22-of-39 passing, 195 yards, 1-1 TD-INT, 67.8 rating), and so did the guys attempting to catch his passes. The Chargers came out flat, showed life on one possession and then finished flat. They'll fly back home with a clunker to digest.
  3. Sunday was Baltimore's most complete performance -- which should scare folks. As our own Gregg Rosenthal tweeted Sunday, the Ravens got to 4-1 with plenty of room for improvement defensively and in the ground game. They got both on Sunday, limited a red-hot quarterback, shut down an offense that put up 47 points a week earlier, and blew out one of the NFL's darlings of the first month of the season. The Ravens executed a perfect game plan just six days after completing a frantic comeback on national television, received their best defensive performance of the season against a legitimate foe, and don't look to be slowing down any time soon.

Next Gen Stat of the game: The Ravens gained 140 yards and scored a touchdown on 26 rushes outside the tackles, averaging 5.4 yards per carry in Sunday's win.

NFL Research: With Sunday's win, Lamar Jackson passed Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino for the most wins by a starting quarterback before their 25th birthday with 35.

Los Angeles Rams
2021 · 5-1-0
New York Giants
2021 · 1-5-0

Kevin Patra's takeaways:

  1. Rams offense steamrolls Big Blue D. Matthew Stafford and Co. got off to a wobbly start but hit the gas pedal in the second quarter to blast apart a Giants defense that had zero answers. Stafford ripped chunk gains to Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods, who whipped New York DBs with ease. Sean McVay's offense makes Stafford's life easy, and the QB zipped strikes, averaging 9 yards per attempt before taking the bulk of the fourth quarter off. Stafford runs the offense with ease and aplomb, finding wide-open targets, expertly getting through his reads. On his last pass of the afternoon, Stafford authored a jaw-dropping no-look dime to Kupp on the run for a TD that will probably go overlooked given the lopsided nature of the game. The Rams O also showed it could lean on defenses, churning out yards in the second half en route to 132 rushing yards on the day.
  2. Hello, Taylor Rapp. The third-year safety was all over the field, intercepting Daniel Jones twice, including baiting the QB on an easy pick in the third quarter of Sunday's laugher. Rapp also generated a QB hit and three PBUs. When the L.A. secondary is as smothering as it was Sunday, the Rams defense is scary. The front, again led by Aaron Donald, swarmed Jones repeatedly, sacking the QB four times. Donald dominated even without packing the box score, crumbling the pocket, eating up blockers, and disrupted the entire Giants offense. The Rams authored their most complete game of the season against the crumbling Giants. Good teams get easy wins like this on the road.
  3. Daniel Jones has a forgettable day. The Giants QB was stripped on the first play of the game. Even with Big Blue recovering that flub, it was an ominous sign of a bad day to come for the QB. Coming off a concussion, Jones struggled all afternoon. The QB threw three picks, lost a fumble and missed a cavalcade of passes. With little time to think in the pocket, Jones' head was spinning versus the swarming Rams D. After a 68-yard FG drive to open the game, the Giants earned just 48 total yards on the next seven possessions in the first half as the game turned into a blowout quickly. Jones had a -17.0 completion percentage over expected in the first half, per Next Gen Stats. It didn't help that an already banged-up Giants squad saw rookie Kadarius Toney exit after the first drive (3/36) with an ankle injury.

Next Gen stat of the game: Leonard Floyd, Aaron Donald and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo combined for nine QB pressures, three total sacks and two forced fumbles. Floyd generated pressure on 15.4% of his 26 pass-rush snaps.

NFL Research: The Rams scored 28 points in the second quarter against the Giants. This was the first time they had scored 28 points in a quarter since Week 17, 2002, versus San Francisco, when they erased a 20-3 deficit in the fourth quarter to win 31-20. It also marks the first time in his career that Matthew Stafford threw for three TDs in a quarter.

Minnesota Vikings
2021 · 3-3-0
Carolina Panthers
2021 · 3-3-0

Nick Shook's takeaways:

  1. Though it didn't produce a win for the Panthers, give Frankie Luvu credit for waking this game up. An ugly battle of attrition caught in a lengthy lull suddenly found life with Luvu's punt block, which the Panthers recovered for a touchdown. From there, the Vikings responded, seemed poised to win in regulation, then watched helplessly as the Panthers' offense finally found life in the last possible moments. What came from it was a thrilling finish, but we can't overlook the ugliness of the first half. Kirk Cousins missed at least two chances for touchdown passes and the Vikings struggled to get much going, save for a well-timed touchdown pass to Chris Herndon along the goal line. Greg Joseph missed two field goals in the game, and Minnesota converted just one of three red-zone opportunities in the first half. In all, though, Minnesota finished with 571 yards of offense, its third-most in a game in franchise history. Cousins finished with a strong second-half performance. Dalvin Cook rushed for 140 yards and a touchdown on 29 attempts. They got 34 points out of it and needed an extra period to do so. That's definitely progress to build upon -- oh, and a win to get the Vikings back to .500.
  2. Carolina's offense has some serious issues. At one point in the second half, Sam Darnold had as many completed passes as Adam Thielen had receptions. Darnold's receivers didn't do him many favors, dropping roughly a half-dozen passes (seven, per Pro Football Focus), and even with the late flurry of offense, Darnold still finished with an ugly passing line: 17 of 41, 207 yards, one touchdown, one interception and a 55.6 passer rating. Chuba Hubbard had a strong start in another game played in place of Christian McCaffrey before tailing off in the second half, further emphasizing McCaffrey's importance. A 2-for-12 third-down rate won't win most games, and neither will three turnovers. But the Panthers fought back, erasing an 11-point deficit in the final 10 minutes of the game. They just need to get going earlier than the fourth quarter, and need to help Darnold figure out how to get to his second and third read in his progression without becoming skittish.
  3. This might have been the closest matchup of teams this season when it comes to squads struggling to establish their identity. The middle of the game was chock full of frustration for both sides before Luvu's punt block, but could be spun into a defensive battle by each fanbase. Carolina's defense deserved credit before falling apart in the fourth quarter and overtime, while the same could have been said about Minnesota before its own decline in the game's final minutes. If we need a true separator, it's momentum. Carolina has lost three straight after starting 3-0. The Vikings have won three of their last four. They also have a quarterback capable of leading them to more success in a slate that is incredibly unforgiving in the next month (vs. Dallas, at Baltimore, at the Chargers, vs. Green Bay). The Panthers can't say the same about Darnold at this point.

Next Gen Stat of the game: Sam Darnold completed 1 of 7 passes of 10-plus air yards in his first three quarters Sunday. He completed 4 of 10 such attempts for 94 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

NFL Research: Kirk Cousins has thrown three or more touchdowns and zero interceptions in five of his last eight games. He's done so 11 times since 2020, ranking second behind Aaron Rodgers.

Cincinnati Bengals
2021 · 4-2
Detroit Lions
2021 · 0-6

Chase Goodbread's takeaways:

  1. Chasing from behind. Bengals rookie wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase took the top off another defense with what has become his signature impact in the Cincinnati offense: the deep ball. His first big play set up a field goal to put the Bengals up, 10-0, entering halftime, and the victim was Lions cornerback Jerry Jacobs, who let Chase get behind him on a gain of 34. Chase later got behind Jacobs for a deep ball down the middle for a gain of 53. Chase entered the game leading the NFL in deep-target catches (20-plus air yards) with five, and it should be no surprise that the Lions allowed his sixth and seventh. Detroit's defense had allowed an NFL-high 387 yards on deep targets outside the numbers this season, and Chase's first big grab fell into that category.
  2. Lions offense toothless. The Lions offense went from playing with a flat tire all season to rolling on four rims against the Bengals. To wit: one single yard of total offense in the first quarter, 61 yards in the first half, and nary a point until mustering a field goal with 8:36 left in the game. It would only be fair to Jared Goff to point out that he had little help from his running game and that his receiving corps lacks for downfield separation. It would only be fair to his running game and receivers, however, to point out that Goff was out of sorts on his own. His lone interception wasn't his fault, but if tight end T.J. Hockenson wasn't open, it was as if nobody else was on the field; on one Hockenson target in particular, Goff failed to recognize a wide-open D'Andre Swift, who was uncovered and potentially could've scored.
  3. Big-play Trey. Bengals defensive end Trey Hendrickson notched a QB hit on Goff on Detroit's opening possession, and if his exchange of words with Goff after the play was of the "I'll be here all day" variety, he wasn't kidding. Hendrickson would subsequently notch a pair of sacks, and he did it while playing fewer than half of the Bengals' defensive snaps. The first let the Lions know that single blocking him with the aforementioned Hockenson wasn't advisable. He beat Lions first-round rookie left tackle Penei Sewell for the other. Hendrickson now has 6.5 sacks in six games and after posting a career-best season for the Saints in 2020, it's looking like Hendrickson is well on his way to another stellar campaign.

Next Gen stat of the game: Ja'Marr Chase had two targets, two receptions and 87 yards on deep passes and now has a deep reception in each game this season.

NFL Research: Joe Burrow has thrown for 270-plus yards, two-plus TDs, and a completion percentage of 65-plus in the last three games (longest active streak in NFL; Tom Brady has two).

Kansas City Chiefs
2021 · 3-3-0
Washington Football Team
2021 · 2-4-0

Kevin Patra's takeaways:

  1. Chiefs right the ship after first-half struggles. The K.C. offense repeatedly suffered self-inflicted wounds in the first half. The Chiefs generated 274 yards of offense in the first two quarters, but had just 10 points thanks to two interceptions and a fumble. Patrick Mahomes made a brutal error panicking after a dropped snap to throw a disastrous interception late in the second quarter to take points off the board. The second half completely flipped the script with Mahomes gashing the Washington defense and Tyreek Hill (9/76/1) proving unguardable. The Chiefs scored on three straight drives, generating 15 first downs on those series, to turn a tight game into a blowout. Mahomes pressed early with the big plays once again silenced. In the second half, the QB took what the defense provided, maneuvered the pocket versus pressure better and ate up yards. The Chiefs generated 499 total yards, averaging 6.4 yards per play on 78 plays. When it doesn't get in its own way, K.C.'s offense remains potent.
  2. Washington offense can't take advantage of opportunities. Facing a K.C. defense that was among the worst in the NFL entering Sunday, Taylor Heinicke couldn't find consistency. With Antonio Gibson not looking 100 percent due to a shin injury, the Washington offense couldn't sustain drives, going 7 of 14 on third downs and picking up just 15 first downs on the day. Settling for field goals against Mahomes is a recipe for a blowout and Ron Rivera complied early. Washington's offense was a restricted, ugly operation outside of a busted play TD to Ricky Seals-Jones. When shifty back J.D. McKissic is Washington's most prolific offensive player, things have gone sideways. Credit the Chiefs defense for finally getting pressure -- despite not generating a sack -- after weeks of rarely sniffing the QB. K.C. had seven QB hits on the afternoon.
  3. Darrel Williams clear workhorse for K.C.'s backfield. With Clyde Edwards-Helaire on IR, Williams is the clear lead runner. He took 21 carries for 62 yards and two TDs. Williams' ability to churn out yards between the tackles and stay out of negative plays fits the Chiefs' offense well. The RB also caught three passes for 27 yards. If defenses continue to take away Mahomes' deep ball and dare the Chiefs to run, Williams will play a pivotal role as the 3-3 club claws its way back into the playoff picture.

Next Gen stat of the game: Patrick Mahomes was 8 of 15 for 83 yards and two interceptions on passes of fewer than 10 air yards in first half. He was 14 of 16 for 93 yards and a TD on passes of fewer than 10 air yards in second half. It was Mahomes' third career game with two interceptions on passes of fewer than 10 air yards (also happened Week 5 vs. BUF).

NFL Research: The Chiefs are one of two teams in the last 30 seasons to score 30-plus points per game and have 14 or more giveaways in their first six games of a season -- also 2014 Eagles (finished 10-6, missed playoffs). The Chiefs are the sixth team in the Super Bowl era to not have a winning record despite averaging 30-plus PPG through their first six games of a season -- only one of previous five such teams made playoffs (2012 Patriots).

Indianapolis Colts
2021 · 2-4-0
Houston Texans
2021 · 1-5-0

Adam Maya's takeaways:

  1. Let Jonathan Taylor cook. This was a weird game, where the Colts ran just 31 plays through three quarters. Still, more of them needed to be in the hands of their star running back. Taylor's been Indianapolis' most (only?) consistent offensive contributor through the first trimester of the season. And if you keep feeding him, he's bound to break one. His 83-yard run set up his own touchdown moments later to effectually put the Texans away in the third quarter. He would add an 11-yard TD to give him five in the past three games. The second-year bruiser finished with 145 yards on just 14 carries, displaying a combination of power and speed few backs in the league can match. It's time for the Colts to take further advantage of it.
  2. The Texans are who we thought they were. Their defense is terrible. Their offense is worse. A bizarre blowout over fellow one-win wonder Jacksonville in the season opener and competitive losses to the Browns and Patriots have perhaps masked the fact Houston has been the most overmatched team in the NFL (league-worst minus-80 point differential). There were really no bright spots Sunday for David Culley's squad, which had three turnovers and zero takeaways, averaged 4.8 yards per play, reached the red zone just once and allowed a plethora of big plays. That's how you hold a nine-minute advantage in time of possession and still get obliterated.
  3. The Colts are still AFC South contenders. The beauty of being in the worst division in football is hope remains on the horizon. Indianapolis showed no signs of a hangover from last week's demoralizing loss to Baltimore. The Texans' ineptitude makes it premature to call Sunday a get-right game. But upcoming meetings with the 49ers, Titans, Jets and Jaguars (combined record of 7-14) mean the 2-4 Colts are firmly in the division race. They also still have follow-up bouts with Houston and Jacksonville. Only one AFC South team can be expected to earn a postseason berth. If the defense continues to force turnovers (12 through six games) and Carson Wentz keeps avoiding them (one interception, one fumble), the Colts should win just enough to push Tennessee for the division crown. Of course, those are tough trends to sustain.

Next Gen stat of the game: Carson Wentz went 3 of 4 for 131 yards and two TDs on deep passes. He had just one deep TD in Weeks 1-5.

NFL Research: Jonathan Taylor joined HOFer Lenny Moore (two such games, most recently in 1960) as the only Colts players with 10-plus yards per carry and two-plus rush TDs in a single game.

Jacksonville Jaguars
2021 · 1-5-0
Miami Dolphins
2021 · 1-5-0


Jeremy Bergman's takeaways:

  1. Tagovailoa, you're it. Tua Tagovailoa had a typically topsy-turvy time at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in his return from injured reserve. Miami leaned on the second-year southpaw early, with Tagovailoa completing eight of 10 attempts on the Dolphins' game-opening scoring drive. For the rest of the afternoon, Tagovailoa looked sharp on throws between the hashes and short of the sticks, but struggled to locate deep-ball accuracy, his bugaboo in the pros. Down three receivers, Tua looked most in his element when targeting college teammate Jaylen Waddle (2 TDs) and Mike Gesicki (8 for 115). However, Tua appeared uncomfortable and indecisive as the game wore on, particularly on a flat-footed, third-quarter INT thrown toward the left sideline. Miami declined to rely on its runners against Jacksonville's 20th-ranked rush defense; Tagovailoa attempted 47 passes in his first game back from cracked ribs, the third-most of his career. The Dolphins put the game on Tua's back until they didn't, when on a fourth-and-1 from their own 46 deep in the fourth, looking to break a four-game losing streak, Miami handed the ball off to Malcolm Brown. The RB, on just his fifth carry of the game, was stuffed. The Dolphins, in their third year under Brian Flores, are nose-diving, and with Tua back in the fold and Deshaun Watson on the trade block, Miami needs to decide what it wants out of the QB position and if it has it on the roster.
  2. The Wright stuff. Entering Week 6, the Jaguars were the only team in the NFL without a made field goal; Josh Lambo and Matthew Wright were a combined 0-for-4 through five games, all losses by Jacksonville. But the Jags found their legs in the original home of football and rewrote the narrative of what looked like a lost season with two clutch fourth-quarter kicks. In place of the injured Lambo for the third straight game, Wright broke Jacksonville's kicking curse with a 40-yarder on its lone first-quarter drive. The Jaguars found themselves in FG territory thrice on their first three second-half drives, but came away with just seven points; a failed fourth-and-1 up four points near the goal line portended disaster for Duval. On Jacksonville's next two times in Miami territory, with the Dolphins ahead, the Jags rode the hot foot. Wright bent an improbable 54-yarder through the uprights with 3:40 left to tie the game. Then with the ball back in Jacksonville's possession, Trevor Lawrence hit Laviska Shenault Jr. for a short, midfield gainer to set Wright up with a 53-yarder with just a second on the clock. The second-year booter from UCF was sure from that distance, as well, providing emotional uplift and a first win in 21 games to a team that was trapped in turmoil just two weeks ago.
  3. Jags off the schneid. Jacksonville had a talent advantage on offense -- with the hard-nosed James Robinson good for at least four yards on every carry and strong-handed receivers Marvin Jones and Shenault on the edges -- and played like it. The Jaguars moved the ball better on offense for a full four quarters Sunday than they had in any game this season. Lawrence didn't throw a pick -- he did have a fumble -- and tossed a few beauties down the sideline to Jones, including a clutch TD at the end of the first half, where the veteran WR Moss'd an overmatched Noah Igbinoghene. The Jags continue, however, to get in their own way with costly penalties that wipe out big gains (a field-flipping Robinson run in the second quarter), misfires from Lawrence, drops from receivers, questionable play calls and fourth-down decision-making. Plus, the lack of teeth on defense, save for Josh Allen, poses issues for a slow-and-steady Jacksonville offense that can't afford to get caught in shootouts. It's still early for this young team and green coaching staff, but the Jags putting it together on one side of the ball and showing legit late-game awareness is a step in the right direction and away from midseason implosion.

Next Gen stat of the game: Tua Tagovailoa was 8 of 8 for 163 yards on intermediate passes, but 0 of 5 on deep passes against Jacksonville.

NFL Research: Matthew Wright is the first kicker in NFL history to make multiple FGs of 50-plus yards in the last four minutes of the fourth quarter in a single game.

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