32 things we learned from Week 5 of 2022 NFL season: New York, New York on the rise


32 things we learned from Week 5 of 2022 NFL season: New York, New York on the rise

The 32 things we learned from Week 5 of the 2022 NFL season:

1. Reminder off the top, concussions remain the most important issue facing the NFL. Saturday, the league and NFL Players Association issued a joint statement in the aftermath of the investigation into Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa's controversial "care" last month and, while they agreed the concussion protocol was correctly followed when Tagovailoa clearly suffered a blow to the head Sept. 25 against Buffalo but re-entered the game after a brief absence anyway, "the outcome in this case was not what was intended when the Protocol was drafted." The protocol, initially implemented in 2013, has been modified since and now has been again "to enhance the safety of the players."

1a. The term "ataxia" – defined as "abnormality of balance/stability, motor coordination or dysfunctional speech caused by a neurological issue" – has been added to the protocol's enforcement. Players diagnosed with ataxia, which is basically what Tagovailoa displayed against the Bills, will now be ruled out of the game without exception.

1b. In sum, the league and union agree the "Protocol exists to establish a high standard of concussion care for each player whereby every medical professional engages in a meaningful and rigorous examination of the player-patient (sic). To that end, the parties remain committed to continuing to evaluate our Protocol to ensure it reflects the intended conservative approach to evaluating player-patients for potential head injuries."

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1c. Irony (or coincidence) being what it is, Tagovailoa's replacement, veteran Teddy Bridgewater, played one snap in Sunday's loss before being ruled out after showing signs of ataxia. He was hit by New York Jets rookie CB Sauce Gardner while being flagged for intentional grounding in the end zone – giving the NYJ a safety.

2. The Jets, who split their first four games of this season – while playing all four AFC North teams – beat the Dolphins 40-17 to notch their first AFC East victory since the 2019 season. Prior to Sunday, the Jets had lost 12 consecutive divisional matchups.

2a. At 3-2, the Jets are above .500 after five weeks for the first time since 2017 (when they finished 5-11).

3. For the second time in as many weeks, the NFL staged a game in London – Sunday's marking the Green Bay Packers' first appearance in the league's International Series before a full house, very partial to the Pack, at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

4. But it was the New York Giants, who played in the first regular-season game in London back in 2007 (and went on to win the Super Bowl at the end of that season), who pulled off a 27-22 upset behind another solid performance from RB Saquon Barkley (106 total yards, TD) and a gutty one from injured QB Daniel Jones.

5. The Giants are now 3-0 in the United Kingdom, tying them with the Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots for the NFL's best record abroad.

6. Green Bay's offense didn't score a point after halftime. Maybe an impersonator was playing quarterback?

7. The Giants (4-1) and Jets are now a collective 7-3. However between the 2017 and 2021 seasons, they both went 22-59 – tied for the worst mark in the league over that five-season stretch.

8. The Philadelphia Eagles (5-0) remain the NFL's lone unbeaten team, powered Sunday by two more rushing TDs from QB Jalen Hurts in a 20-17 defeat of the Arizona Cardinals in the desert.

8a. However Philly certainly benefited from Cards QB Kyler Murray's lack of situational awareness – remember, no mandated independent study ... like confirming whether the chains have moved – late in the game, when he slid short of the first-down marker and spiked the ball on the next play. That forced backup K Matt Ammendola to prematurely attempt a (failed) 43-yards field goal. A few yards closer, and this game might go into overtime.

9. Rams WR Cooper Kupp has 49 catches through five games.

9a. Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields has 49 completions through five games.

10. The Houston Texans became the last team to notch a win in the 2022 season.

10a. Should anyone be surprised? The Texans have now beaten the Jacksonville Jaguars nine straight times.

11. And now look who's back on top of the AFC South after winning their third in a row: The Tennessee Titans, who started 0-2, but are clearly going to be a factor in their bid to win the division for a third year in a row.

12. Tom Brady improved to 11-0 all-time against the Atlanta Falcons, and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers – with help of a dubious roughing-the-passer call against Grady Jarrett – reclaimed sole possession of first place in the NFC South by hanging on for a 21-15 victory.

12a. TB12 has not lost three in a row in the regular season since 2002, the last time one of his teams missed the playoffs in a season when he wasn't injured.

13. Los Angeles Chargers > Los Angeles Rams.

13a. Who would have guessed it would be the Bolts, now 3-2, handling a heaping helping of early season adversity and injuries – plus coach Brandon Staley's mind-bending adherence to analytics over common sense – better than the defending champs, now 2-3 following Sunday's "home" loss to the Dallas Cowboys?

14. The Cleveland Browns, who missed a 54-yard field goal on their final play of the 30-28 loss to the Chargers – after the Bolts lost the ball on downs at their own 46-yard line when Staley should have punted – are just a few breaks from being 5-0. Instead, they're 2-3 and very much in danger of not being relevant when QB Deshaun Watson's suspension ends heading into Week 13.

15. This is the latest the Rams, who can't run the ball or protect QB Matthew Stafford, have had a losing record in any of coach Sean McVay's six seasons.

16. Doesn't help when Cowboys fans take over your building, and Stafford and Co. are forced to operate with a silent count.

16a. The Cowboys and their defense, run by former Seattle Seahawks coordinator Dan Quinn, are starting to look a bit Legion of Boom-y after improving to 4-1. QB2 Cooper Rush's 4-0 record is nice, but he only had to throw 16 passes against the Rams on a day when Big D's D had five sacks, forced Stafford into three turnovers and held the reigning champs to 10 points.

17. Three of the top four cornerbacks drafted this year – the Texans' Derek Stingley Jr., the Jets' Gardner and Buffalo Bills' Kaiir Elam – recorded their first career interceptions Sunday. (The fourth, Trent McDuffie of the Kansas City Chiefs, is on injured reserve.)

18. A new king in the North? The Vikings, who beat the Packers in Week 1, now hold a one-game lead on Green Bay in the NFC North. 

18a. Speaking of kings in the North, Jon Snow was at that Pack-Giants contest just a few kilometers south of Winterfell.

18b. The last time the Packers didn't win the division? That would be 2018 when coach Mike McCarthy was fired.

19. Vikes QB Kirk Cousins began Sunday's game against the Bears with a franchise record 17 consecutive completions and ended it with a game-winning 1-yard TD run.

20. The Cook brothers – Minnesota's Dalvin and Buffalo's James – combined for three rushing TDs on Sunday. For James Cook, a rookie, it was his first trip to an NFL end zone.

21. The Bosa brothers – the Chargers' Joey and San Francisco's Nick – have now combined for two groin injuries. Joey is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery Sept. 30. Nick Bosa was injured Sunday and missed the remainder of the 49ers' 37-15 win against the Carolina Panthers, though his setback appeared less severe as he remained in uniform on the Niners sideline.

22. The Patriots' Bailey Zappe and Pittsburgh Steelers' Kenny Pickett became the first rookie quarterbacks to start this season.

22a. Zappe notched a win with an efficient performance (17-for-21, 188 yards, TD, INT) during a shutout of the Detroit Lions.

22b. Of course, it helps when you face a league-worst Detroit defense, which is allowing 34 points a week.

23.Predictably, it didn't go nearly as well for Pickett. He threw for 327 yards (and an INT), but the Steelers were thrashed 38-3 by Buffalo. Yet Pickett did provide that spark coach Mike Tomlin wanted ... mostly by fighting back after taking multiple cheap shots from Bills defenders.

23a. The Steelers are now 0-8 in games without OLB T.J. Watt since he was drafted in 2017.

24. The Bills averaged 10.2 yards – better than a first down – per offensive snap Sunday on their way to 552 total.

24a. Buffalo QB Josh Allen (career-high 424 yards and 4 TDs passing, 42 yards rushing) may be back in the driver's seat in the race for league MVP.

25. The Baltimore Ravens broke their franchise-worst five-game losing streak at home (by a total of 12 points) by beating the Cincinnati Bengals 19-17 Sunday night. The best analytics play? Put the game on the foot of K Justin Tucker, who scored 13 of Baltimore's points.

26. Last season's Super Bowl teams, the Rams and Bengals, are both 2-3.

27. Hope you started the New Orleans Saints' Taysom Hill at quarterback ... or running back ... or tight end ... in fantasy. Hill, who didn't start at any of those positions Sunday, nevertheless accounted for four TDs – one throwing and three rushing, including a game-winning 60-yarder, in a 39-32 victory over the Seahawks. He rushed for 112 yards on nine carries and has developed into the player Tim Tebow could have only aspired to be.

28. Welcome back to Washington Commanders rookie RB Brian Robinson, who rushed for a team-best 22 yards in his pro debut exactly six weeks after he was shot twice in the leg during an apparent carjacking. "I really can't explain the feeling of getting back out on the field," he said. "Today everything finally came to the light, and I'm just so blessed to be back out there."

29. The Commanders, who have lost four in a row, got another full taste of the Carson Wentz Experience. He passed for 359 yards, including 75- and 30-yard TD passes to WR Dyami Brown ... but was also picked off at the 1-yard line with 6 seconds to go as Washington was driving for a potential go-ahead TD.

30. Remember, you paid Amazon to watch last Thursday night's debacle between the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos. The teams combined for zero touchdowns, going a collective 0-for-6 in the red zone, four interceptions, 10 sacks and 15 penalties. Indy's Matt Ryan continues to struggle hanging onto the ball, while Denver's Russell Wilson keeps missing every other pass. So much for the notion that acquiring a proven passer is a panacea, though maybe Wilson will perform better after undergoing a procedure to his throwing shoulder following the game.

30a. Worse news: This upcoming Thursday, Amazon will charge you to watch the Commanders and Bears. We'd suggest opting to have the score delivered to you instead, two-day guarantee. 

31. Welcome back, Pat Patriot ... been too long – 10 years to be exact.

32. Congratulations to recently enshrined Hall of Fame LT Tony Boselli. Sunday, he became the first Jags player ever to have his number (71) retired.


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