In Cleveland, the journeyman quarterback who’s been lower a staggering 11 instances in his profession — at one level, he was the XFL’s main passer — outlasted the league’s latest star in an upset nobody noticed coming.
P.J. Walker, previously of the Colts, Panthers, Bears and Houston Roughnecks, stepped in for Deshaun Watson and helped the Browns hand the 49ers their first lack of the season — and Brock Purdy the primary regular-season lack of his profession.
“They tie their footwear similar to us,” Walker stated after the Browns’ 19-17 win. “They good, however all of us right here for a purpose.”
In New York, an identical script unfolded as one other unbeaten went down: Zach Wilson led the Jets to their second win in a row, a 20-14 upset of the closely favored Eagles. It was the Jets’ first victory towards the Eagles in franchise historical past (New York had someway beforehand been 0-12 towards Philadelphia), and at 3-3, Robert Saleh’s squad appears to have calmed the storms that adopted Aaron Rodgers’ gutting, Week 1 damage.
How’s that for Week 6 within the NFL? The league’s two remaining unbeatens — the 49ers and Eagles — each suffered their first lack of the season by the hands of a backup quarterback.
Learn extra: Sando’s Choose Six: NFL execs on Tremendous Bowl favorites, plus Broncos woes and a Giants-Vikings predicament
In Miami, the Dolphins noticed the winless Panthers an early 14-0 lead, turning some heads throughout the league, earlier than coolly ripping off 35 straight to place the sport out of attain. Carolina’s 0-6 begin is the franchise’s worst since 1998, and although the Dolphins have but to beat a contender, Mike McDaniel’s offense is averaging 37.1 factors a sport a month and a half into the season. That’s the fifth-highest whole since 2000. To date, they’re in good firm.
Prime scoring offenses, Weeks 1-6
In Houston, one other workforce with a rookie passer has already matched its win whole from 2022. C.J. Stroud seems to have a stranglehold within the Offensive Rookie of the 12 months race, and the Texans are 3-3 after beating the Saints 20-13.
In Jacksonville, the Colts misplaced a street sport to the Jaguars for the ninth consecutive season. In Tampa Bay, the Lions moved to 5-1.
In Chicago, Justin Fields left the Bears’ 19-13 loss to the Vikings with a dislocated thumb on his throwing hand, a league supply advised The Athletic’s Dianna Russini. Though X-rays had been unfavorable, he’ll have an MRI on Monday, leaving his instant availability in a vital season for him unsure.
And in London, the Ravens improved to 4-2 with a 24-16 win towards the Titans, who watched quarterback Ryan Tannehill go away the stadium on crutches.
Right here’s what stood out from the afternoon slate of Week 6:
Jets hold ’embarrassing’ elite QBs
Whereas their AFC East rivals proceed to flounder — after Sunday’s 21-17 loss in Las Vegas, Invoice Belichick’s Patriots are 10-18 of their final 28 video games — the Jets have discovered new life.
Credit score to Robert Saleh, the coach who stubbornly caught along with his struggling starter, Wilson, amid three consecutive losses after Rodgers went down. A month later, he’s been confirmed proper.
And credit score to Wilson, who’s fought by way of the ridicule and early-season (and early-career) lumps which have outlined the majority of his tenure in New York. Beating a foul Denver workforce final week was one factor; handing the reigning NFC champions their first lack of the season is one other. Wilson didn’t mild up the Eagles, however he did end the sport and not using a turnover. On the opposite aspect, Jalen Hurts threw three interceptions.
Central within the Jets’ turnaround is Saleh’s protection. Coordinated by Jeff Ulbrich, the unit acquired the very best of Eagles coach Nick Sirianni and offensive coordinator Brian Johnson on Sunday, limiting a sometimes explosive offense to 3 performs of 20 yards or extra. Philly didn’t rating some extent after halftime. That was the distinction.
In three video games this season towards a number of the greatest quarterbacks in soccer — that features Buffalo’s Josh Allen, Kansas Metropolis’s Patrick Mahomes and now Philly’s Hurts — none has completed with a passer ranking above 64. Mixed, the three QBs have thrown three landing passes and eight interceptions.
“By these first six weeks, we’ve performed a gauntlet of quarterbacks,” Saleh boasted after. “I do know we haven’t gotten all wins, however we’ve embarrassed all of them.”
That’s why they’re nonetheless within the hunt, and why Saleh’s title must be within the Coach of the 12 months dialog.
Browns spoil Purdy, 49ers’ streak
This was a slugfest befitting the 2 stiffest defenses in soccer. The shock wasn’t simply the ultimate final result — Browns 19, 49ers 17 — however how they did it, and who they did it with out. Lacking Sunday’s sport due to damage: quarterback Deshaun Watson, working again Nick Chubb in addition to two key items on the offensive line, Jack Conklin and Joel Bitonio. That left them 9.5-point underdogs heading in.
Now, Cleveland benefited from some iffy officiating late within the sport, a missed 41-yard area objective from Jake Moody with six seconds left and the truth that the 49ers had been down two key offensive weapons by sport’s finish in Christian McCaffrey (indirect) and Deebo Samuel (shoulder). However the Browns aren’t apologizing for this one, nor ought to they: This was a formidable win for Kevin Stefanski’s workforce, which is now 3-2 and within the thick of an early, crowded AFC North race.
Walker completed 18-for-34 for 192 yards and two interceptions however discovered some rhythm with wideout Amari Cooper, who snared 4 catches for 108 yards, together with a ridiculous sideline seize. That proved sufficient on a day Purdy, who was vying to develop into simply the second QB in league historical past to win his first 11 begins (Ben Roethlisberger being the opposite), completed 12-for-27 for 125 yards, a landing and an interception. He was always hounded by the Browns’ suffocating protection however did sufficient late to offer his workforce a strong probability to flee with the win, main a nine-play, 45-yard drive as time expired that arrange Moody’s 41-yard try. However the kick was a foot extensive, and the Dawg Pound erupted.
Every week in the past, the 49ers regarded totally unstoppable in a prime-time thrashing of the Cowboys; on Sunday, they couldn’t scrape out a win towards a backup quarterback. That’s life within the NFL. Loads of that could be a results of what Jim Schwartz is doing because the Browns’ defensive coordinator, remaking a unit that already had expertise in any respect three ranges however now’s enjoying like essentially the most vicious group in soccer. Yards aren’t all the time essentially the most telling stat, however take into account: The Browns have allowed simply 1,002 by way of 5 video games, the fewest since 1971.
It was the 49ers’ first regular-season loss since Week 8 of final season, snapping a streak of 15 in a row. It was additionally the primary time in 9 video games they haven’t scored 30 or extra.
“It wasn’t simply Brock, it was everyone,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan stated. “All people had their activate offense, and it begins with me.”
Ridder prices the Falcons (twice)
Falcons coach Arthur Smith has backed his embattled quarterback Desmond Ridder this season, however that sort of unwavering religion goes to be a more durable promote after Sunday’s dispiriting 24-16 loss to the Commanders.
As a result of this one harm.
And the quarterback price them.
Two of Ridder’s three interceptions Sunday killed Atlanta’s comeback bid. Twice within the fourth quarter, the sport nonetheless inside a rating, Ridder coughed it up with throws in Washington territory he shouldn’t have made. After the primary, a careless heave that was picked off simply ultimately zone, Smith stared ahead for a number of seconds, fingers on his chin, frustration simmering.
That look stated loads.
It’s important to marvel how lengthy Smith will keep on with Ridder, the second-year QB out of Cincinnati, contemplating the uptick in expectations round this Falcons workforce this 12 months. Atlanta’s now misplaced three of 4, averaging 9.6 factors per sport in these losses. Ridder has thrown 5 picks in his final three outings. This received’t lower it.
But the criticism in Atlanta will stretch past the quarterback, together with to the top coach. The Falcons are nonetheless 3-3 and in a winnable division, however they received’t keep aggressive with one of these quarterback play, or with an offense that continues to battle.
Smith goes to have a call to make eventually.
The Bengals are heating up
We in all probability ought to have seen this coming. We’ve seen it earlier than.
However there wasn’t an entire lot of proof at hand — in addition to, in fact, final season — that pointed to a Cincinnati turnaround this early within the season. Again in September, when Joe Burrow wasn’t himself, the Bengals didn’t look proper and the coach was stressing “it’s a protracted season,” it was fairly troublesome to see this coming, particularly shortly.
Put merely, they had been enjoying some unhealthy soccer. Burrow, hobbled by a lingering calf damage, was inconsistent at greatest, terrible at worst. The offense was out of sync. And the Bengals had been 1-3 after getting trounced 27-3 by a mediocre Titans workforce on Oct. 1.
Coach Zac Taylor by no means panicked, stressing that his workforce had been in an identical spot only a 12 months earlier: After an 0-2 begin sounded the alarm bells round Cincinnati, the Bengals completed 12-4, ripping off 10 consecutive wins late within the season.
“I all the time really feel like we’re in it,” Burrow stated after the loss to the Titans.
The QB’s phrases ring true two weeks later. The Bengals can breathe a sigh of reduction heading into the bye: They’re 3-3 after Sunday’s 17-13 win towards the Seahawks, and Burrow is beginning to play higher. After carving up the Cardinals final week in a 34-20 win, he began 13-for-15 for 123 yards and two touchdowns on his first two drives Sunday.
The Bengals’ protection held agency late, sacking Geno Smith a complete of 4 instances to shut out the win. That’s a great signal transferring ahead as a result of Cincy received’t have the ability to lean on its offense each week.
“It’s loads simpler to sort things if you find yourself 3-3,” Burrow stated.
His first 4 video games of the season: two touchdowns, two interceptions, 728 yards and a passer ranking below 70.
His final two: 5 touchdowns, two interceptions, 502 passing yards and a passer ranking close to 100.
Burrow hasn’t but regained his MVP-caliber kind, however as Taylor identified a couple of weeks in the past, there’s a number of season left. Don’t write off the Bengals but.
(Prime picture of P.J. Walker: Gregory Shamus / Getty Photos)
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