It’s a good week to be the Steelers.
Okay, let’s be honest: it’s always good to be the Steelers. But this week was especially sweet, as they were the sole victor in the AFC North. The Ravens lost to the Redskins (more on that below), the Browns lost to the Patriots (more on that, too) and the Bengals lost to the Cowboys (more on that below, kinda). Pittsburgh’s victory came at the expense of New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles’ will to win, apparently, as Bowles elected to punt twice in the fourth quarter when down by 11 and facing 4th and 2 or less. The Pittsburgh home win was an honorable sendoff for the Steelers’ polarizing 1934 “bumblebee” throwbacks, which have been officially retired with a 4-2 record.
Without further adieu, here is what else we learned in week five.
And then there was one.
We’ve reached that point, where there is a single undefeated team in the NFL. That team? The...
Minnesota Freakin’ Vikings.
If we were taking bets on who would be the last team standing before the season started, I don’t think Mike Zimmer, himself, would have figured his Vikings would end up the sole team without a loss. And I’m not convinced anyone would have expected that as soon as the end of week five.
So, who do they defend their “and-oh” record against in week six? Drumroll, please.
Nobody. They’re off in week six. Kinda anticlimactic, really. Oh well, you can’t win ‘em all. Well, we can say that with certainty about 31 teams, at least.
Quarterback? Nope, no refunds in Cleveland. You broke it, you bought it.
It’s a big deal in business when your brand becomes a verb, e.g., Google. As in, “I didn’t know the name of the Browns’ strength and conditioning coach, so I googled it. It turns out, his name is Dewey; he couldn’t lift his own spirits, let alone weights; and he’s head coach Hue Jackson’s next-door neighbor’s step-grandson.”
Usually, to be “verbed” is a great honor; for the Browns, it’s as negative a connotation as you can find, and it’s typically synonymous with intestinal evacuation. These days, “Browning” means “1) to find more impressively bad ways to blow a game with each passing week; 2) to be the last healthy person at a given position, and get injured.” Right now, Cleveland quarterbacks are “Browning” left and right. This week, third starter Cody Kessler went down with chest and rib injuries and is likely to miss at least a little time. His backup, Charlie Whitehurst, a.k.a. “Clipboard Jesus”, suffered a leg injury late in the game. His backup — presumably either wide receiver Terrelle Pryor or offensive tackle Joe Thomas’ paper boy — will probably suffer a ruptured uterus, or something.
That Ezekiel Elliott kid is going to give Le’Veon Bell a run for his money.
I know I’ve talked a lot about Elliott in this weekly article, and I know what I am about to say is sacrilege in Pittsburgh. But, in the next few years, there will be two names in the Best-Running-Back-in-the-League conversation, and neither of them will be Adrian Peterson. It’s going to be Elliott and Bell, and they will be neck-and-neck for at least three or four years, assuming both stay healthy — and away from the wacky weed.
What Elliott is doing as a rookie -- and with a rookie quarterback, no less — is nothing short of spectacular. And, if you watched him run in college, then his NFL performance so far is another thing, as well: not at all unexpected. As an Ohio State University Buckeye, Elliott was, perhaps, the most impressive college power back since Bo Jackson, or even Herschel Walker. What gives Bell the advantage, overall, is his extreme versatility. But, as a pure runner, the two are going to be neck-and-neck, and it’s going to be a lot sooner than we all might think.
For everyone who is still wishing the Steelers drafted C.J. Mosely instead of Ryan Shazier...
Just remember that what could have been a career-defining moment for Mosely did, instead, likely cost the Ravens a chance at winning the Battle of the Beltway against the Washington Redskins.
Now, don’t get me wrong: it was a great individual effort by Mosely — from intercepting Kirk Cousins, then the solid return, right up to the point where he decided to toss the ball at the corner pylon instead of simply going down and letting the offense try to punch it in from the one-yard line. Instead of setting up the go-ahead touchdown, it was a fumble through the end zone, and a touchback for the Redskins. Considering the ‘Skins had been backed up to their own end zone, the end result actually netted Washington 17 yards and a new set of downs. It was...well...just have a look for yourself.
Weekly Belly Flop
I’m not even going to describe this. All I’m going to say, is this week’s Weekly Bellyflop Award goes, unequivocally, to Tyrod Taylor, for this spectacularly awful moment.
College Football Bonus! Michigan beat Rutgers, 78-0...
...and the Wolverines’ quarterback, Wilton Speight, was 6 of 13 for 100 yards and a single touchdown.
Let that sink in. Then, go weep over the state of quarterbacking today. Then, laugh at the realization that the Cleveland Browns will eventually draft Speight in the first round.
And finally...Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is making history. Again.
With Sunday’s four touchdown passes, Roethlisberger is now tied for the fourth-longest streak of home games with at least three touchdowns, at six. It’s the second-longest active streak, behind Drew Brees’ seven. Brees, himself, is tied for second with...Drew Brees, who managed the same feat between November 28, 2011 and October 7, 2012. They both trail Peyton Manning, whose record streak was nine games. For the record, Roethlisberger is tied with two others for fourth: Peyton Manning and Peyton Manning. Yeah, the elder Manning brother was kind of good at this football thing. Regardless, it’s some spectacular company at the top of that list. And, considering these Steelers are still jelling, it wouldn’t be the least bit shocking to see Roethlisberger top that list by season’s end.