Five weeks into the NFL season and we already have a good idea what teams are the cream of the crop and probably playoff bound. The NFC South may actually have two teams that could compete in the post-season –- the Atlanta Falcons and the Carolina Panthers.
The Panthers had a bye last week while the Falcons won a close game against the Washington Redskins. Both teams remain undefeated.
Many pundits may have thought that the Falcons would have an easier time with the Redskins. However, the ‘Skins defense stood out holding Falcons’ star receiver Julio Jones to no catches in the first half and a total of only five for 67 yards for the game.
The Redskins were without their starting corners Chris Culliver and DeAngelo Hall. Instead, they had to rely on second-year pro Bashaud Breeland and Will Blackmon, a journeyman corner who has played for the Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, and Jacksonville Jaguars during his 10-year career in the NFL. The Redskins signed Blackmon after the season started because their defensive backfield has been depleted by injuries. The Seattle Seahawks cut him just before the Redskins called. Breeland helped with an interception and Blackmon forced a Matt Ryan fumble, which was recovered by the Redskins. Safety Trenton Robinson, who played for injured Duke Ihenacho, also had a pick.
It was the Falcons running game that picked up the offensive slack. Devonta Freeman rushed for 153 yards on 27 carries and a touchdown. He is the first NFL player with seven rushing touchdowns in his first three starts.
It appeared that the Falcons had the game in hand when Freeman scored on a 6-yard run with only 24 seconds remaining. However, Redskins QB Kirk Cousins rallied the troops and engineered a drive that set up a Dustin Hopkins’ 52-yard field goal on the final play of regulation, forcing overtime.
The Redskins were the first team to possess the ball in overtime. Cousins led them to the 50 and then on second and eight he attempted to hit Ryan Grant with a pass on the sideline, but Grant slipped and Robert Alford intercepted taking it 59 yards for the winning score.
The Redskins usually rely on their running game to drive the offense, but the Falcons held Alfred Morris to 15 yards on eight carries, Matt Jones to 20 yards on 11 carries and third-down back Chris Thompson rushed for 15 yards on three carries. Jones did rush for a score.
Cousins finished with 21 completions on 32 attempts for 219 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Matt Ryan completed 24 passes on 42 attempts for 254 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions.
FALCONS 25 REDSKINS 19
It appears that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have finally found the formula to some wins, give the ball to running back Doug Martin.
That’s just what they did to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, but it was their first home win in almost two years. Their consecutive losing streak was halted at 11.
Martin sparked the offense rushing for 123 yards and three touchdowns and QB Jameis Winston didn’t make any major mistakes. He threw for 209 yards and a touchdown without an interception.
Jaguars’ QB Blake Bortles passed for 303 yards and four touchdowns. However, he was sacked six times and threw an interception that set up a Buccaneers’ touchdown. The Jags’ special teams also contributed to the loss giving up a 58-yard punt return that set up one of Martin’s scores. In addition, Jaguars’ running back Corey Grant fumbled in the third quarter and Buccaneers’ defensive end Jacquies Smith took it 3 yards for a score. BUCCANEERS 38 JAGUARS 31
Meanwhile, the New Orleans Saints are having their problems. Despite picking off two Sam Bradford passes in the red zone, they still managed to lose to the Philadelphia Eagles as Bradford threw for 333 yards and two touchdowns. Saints’ QB Drew Brees was sacked five times and fumbled the ball three of those times, which led to 17 points for the Eagles. He finished with 26 completions on 43 attempts for 335 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He did hit two long throws –- one to Brandin Cooks for 46 yards and the other to Willie Snead for 59.
The Saints defense was worse giving up 519 yards to an Eagles’ offense that was ranked 29th in the NFL going into the game.
Eagles’ running back DeMarco Murray rushed for 83 yards on 20 carries and scored a touchdown and Ryan Mathews had 73 yards on eight carries and a touchdown.
Eagles’ defensive end Fletcher Cox forced fumbles when he sacked Brees twice. One fumble set up a Bradford to Brent Celek touchdown pass and the other led to a Caleb Sturgis field goal. EAGLES 39 SAINTS 17
NFC SOUTH STANDINGS
ATLANTA FALCONS 5-0
CAROLINA PANTHERS 4-0
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS 2-3
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 1-4
NFC SOUTH SCHEDULE
FALCONS @ SAINTS THURSDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2015
PANTHERS @ SEAHAWKS SUNDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2015
Courtesy of Bleacher Report