By Sarah Moltz
This week, Tom Brady made his much anticipated return from his controversial four-game suspension handed down by the league. In his absence, the Patriots were able to go 3-1 while starting Jimmy Garoppolo and rookie Jacoby Brissett at quarterback.
Some wondered if Brady would have any rust having sat out the first four games. ESPN “First Take” host Max Kellerman publicly stated that he believed Tom Brady’s play would soon diminish just the way Peyton Manning’s play had.
“Tom Brady is just about done,” he said. “It could be the next game he plays, it could be a year from now, but he is going to fall off a cliff.”
Brady finished New England’s 33-13 victory over Cleveland with 406 passing yards and three touchdowns, quickly answering critics who might have doubted if he still can play at a high level.
One of the biggest matchups this week was the Atlanta Falcons’ high-powered offense versus the reigning Denver Broncos’ stifling defense. The Falcons entered the game ranking first in yards per game and points per game. The Broncos returned the majority of their defense from last year’s Super Bowl-winning team.
Their defense also features arguably the league’s best pass rusher in Von Miller. This would be a true test of the Atlanta Falcons to see if they are a legitimate playoff contender.
The Falcons jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. The offensive line seemed to control the Broncos front seven throughout the game, as Denver was only able to get one sack on Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. Ryan appeared poised and spread the ball around to his different weapons as the Falcons marched the ball up and down the field.
On the other side, the Broncos’ offense struggled behind rookie first-round draft pick Paxton Lynch. Lynch was making his first career start, although he did appear in last week’s game when starter Trevor Siemian went down with a shoulder injury. Lynch never seemed to looked comfortable as he was sacked six times and threw one interception. He did throw a late touchdown, but it was not enough for the Broncos to make a comeback.
The Dallas Cowboys have also had lot of offensive success being led by two rookies. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott helped lead Dallas to their fourth-straight victory. Elliott currently leads the NFL in rushing yards, which is quite a feat for a rookie and is certainly making a case for Rookie of the Year. With Dallas’ early success without veteran quarterback Tony Romo, who has been out all season with an injury, raises the question as to whether or not they should go back to their oft-injured starter when he is ready to return.
The Pittsburgh Steelers were another team who kept their momentum rolling in Week 5, defeating the New York Jets by a score of 31-13 in Pittsburgh.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger picked up his stellar play right where he left off from last week’s 45-14 blowout of the Kansas City Chiefs. Roethlisberger went 34 of 47 and threw for 380 yards and four touchdowns in Saturday’s victory. Coach Mike Tomlin gave his team a chance to redeem themselves the past two weeks and it seems they’ve taken advantage of it. Pittsburgh is now 4-1 on the season and is sitting with sole possession of the division lead in the AFC North.
Teams who earned wins on Sunday also included the Lions, Colts, Titans, Redskins, Bills, Raiders, Packers and the Minnesota Vikings, who are the only undefeated team remaining.