Welcome to the Fifth Quarter, the only NFL recap column you’ll ever need. It’s the only one to provide a full day’s supply of Vitamin C, after all. Here’s what was going on around the rest of the league while you were selfishly focused on your home team and your fantasy players.
By this point, we all know Peyton Manning is having one of the great NFL seasons of all time. He's thrown for 20 touchdowns already, and he's a key reason why Denver is one of three remaining undefeated teams. But we already know he's a certain future Hall of Famer. We also know that fella up New England way is headed to Canton too. But with proper respect for the great Elway-Montana-Marino-Kelly era, the level of talent right now at the quarterback position is as strong as it's ever been. (Well, except for certain Florida teams.)
Consider this fairly routine cross-section of the snap jockeys. Drew Brees had a "quiet" afternoon, going 29 of 35 for 288 yards and two touchdowns. Aaron Rodgers put up another 270 yards and a touchdown; both efforts came in victories. Andrew Luck had two touchdowns of his own in taking down one of the NFL's toughest teams.
Also, consider this: even the losers didn't do so bad. Tony Romo, the guy that most people consider a choker par excellence, went and dropped 500 yards and five touchdowns on the latest version of the Greatest Team In History. Russell Wilson had two touchdowns in Seattle's loss. And Tom Brady saw a 52-game touchdown-pass streak snapped; what's impressive is that such a streak even existed in this era.
We also still don't know what to make of Colin Kaepernick or Robert Griffin III. Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan and Philip Rivers might turn out to be something after all. And then there's Ben Roethlisberger, who has three freaking Super Bowl appearances and two wins. Could all of these players have survived in earlier eras? Absolutely. Even Christian freaking Ponder would have unparalleled success in, say, the 1960s.
So enjoy these fine quarterbacking days while they last, friends. Unless you don't have any of these guys on your fantasy team.
Running down the biggest stories of Week 4. We'll try not to catch you offsides.
• Football After Dark. Because of the baseball playoffs, the Chargers and Raiders didn't kick off until 11:30 p.m. Sunday night. The NFL Network billed it as "Thursday Night Football," but anybody who was actually watching the game was too football-addled to even care. You realize this means we're only a few years away from 24 HOURS OF FOOTBALL, college basketball-style.
Ain't gonna lie. I love the way @DonteWhitner plays. He adjusting to the rules but still delivering that unadulterated stank on folks.
— Brian Dawkins (@BrianDawkins) October 7, 2013
• "Unadulterated stank" needs to catch on. Right now.
• You are not good at football. If any of us were ever going to really play football, the safest thing to be would be a kick holder. The likelihood of having your internal organs rearranged is relatively low, and while there's tension involved, your total work commitment each week is maybe 30 seconds. Unless, of course, there's a block, and you're called upon to try to make a tackle. Then, something like this would happen, and we'd all end up exactly the same way poor Jon Ryan of Seattle ends up ... knocked into the mezzanine level:
• Tom Brady slightly imperfect at something. Not often we can say this, so we're going to all enjoy it: Tom Brady was terrible in a Sunday afternoon loss to Cincinnati. He completed less than half his passes, he got sacked four times, and in crunch time he crumbled. OK, sure, you can blame his O-line or his butterfingered receivers or the Biblical rain, but we're going to stick with just blaming Mr. Perfect. Also, where's the pipe with this English professor outfit:
In which we recap every game in seven words. Ready ... go!
Kansas City 26, Tennessee 17: Who thought KC would be 5-0? Liars.
St. Louis 34, Jacksonville 20: This was Jacksonville's winnable game. Oh boy.
Green Bay 22, Detroit 9: Megatron's last-second absence was a killer.
Philadelphia 36, New York Giants 21: Mannings average out to two solid quarterbacks.
Baltimore 26, Miami 23: Ryan Tannehill doesn't quite get it done.
Denver 51, Dallas 48: And you left Romo on your bench.
Indianapolis 34, Seattle 28: Only way Seattle loses is on road.
Arizona 22, Carolina 6: Did anyone actually see this game happen?
Cincinnati 13, New England 6: Brady has to survive being rich, pretty.
New Orleans 26, Chicago 18: Jay Cutler, doin' those Jay Cutler things.
Cleveland 37, Buffalo 24: That Richardson trade is working just flawlessly.
Houston at San Francisco: Someone just intercepted Schaub's cries for help.
San Diego at Oakland: Starting at midnight Eastern? Sure, why not?
New York Jets at Atlanta: Anytime you want to start playing, Atlanta.
Teams on bye: Buccaneers, Redskins, Steelers, Vikings
Champ: Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys. "What? But he lost! How can he be champ when he lost?" Yeah, yeah, yeah. Look, Romo is all too often a choking dog, and you could argue that he did exactly that at the end of the spectacular Denver-Dallas game Sunday. But you'd be wrong. Romo was flat-out exceptional, throwing for five touchdowns and over 500 yards. Of course, the fact that Romo set a franchise record for yardage and still lost has to be the most Tony Romo thing ever.
Chump: Matt Schaub, Houston Texans. Look, nobody realistically thinks Schaub belongs with the big dogs mentioned above, but for heaven's sake, this Houston team was a trendy pick to make the Super Bowl this year. That, of course, was before Schaub went on his pick-six spree, now four games and counting. When they start showing your backup on the sideline long before halftime, it's a bad, bad sign.
"Hey there, hun! We're the Bal'mer posse, and we're ridin' from the dusty streeets of Charm City right into your heart! We're rough n' tumble Maryland cowpokes, see? Well, Frank decided to wear a fireman's hat for some reason, but he's as tough as we are! You can tell by the makeup around his 'stache! Now, who needs their crabs cracked?"
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There's plenty of good writing every day on the NFL. Here are a few choice reads to keep you busy while there's no football. Because the other alternatives are talking to your family or doing chores, and nobody wants that. (Send us your favorite words of the week.)
• Dan Wetzel on how one of the greatest games of Tony Romo's career won't be remembered that way. (Yahoo Sports)
• Check out one compilation of the best plays of the first four games of the year. (Sports Illustrated)
• Here's how Madden games might do more than Jacksonville to spur interest in the NFL in London. (Yahoo Sports)
• Speaking of Jacksonville: here are 20 reasons why they're in some real trouble. (Grantland)
• Josh Freeman may no longer be a Buccaneer, but that doesn't mean the NFL should let this mess die down. (Yahoo Sports)
• This is eye-opening: an injury history of every single player on the field when Tennessee's Jake Locker got hurt. Only one player of the 22 hasn't been injured. (Deadspin)
Each week, we’ll make a random Super Bowl pick based on trends, stats or general nonquantifiable gut feelings. One of these weeks, we’ll be right. Probably right after both conference championships.
Saints vs. Colts. Yes, Denver hung half a century on Dallas. But Denver's D allowed almost that much to a freaking NFC East team. You know what that means: vulnerable! (Yes, we're looking for any reason to slot anyone else in here.) Indianapolis looked steady and smooth in taking down Seattle. New Orleans has turned into one of the best teams in the NFC, and we're not just saying that because Sean Payton pulled aside one of his linebackers, pointed at us, and made that rubbing-money-in-the-fingertips motion.
Super Bowl picks, full season: Denver 3x, New Orleans 2x, Seattle 2x, New England, San Francisco, Indianapolis.
And that's a wrap for this week's edition of Fifth Quarter. Got a question? Comment? Concern? Rant? Hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @jaybusbee. We’ll run your words here or in Thursday’s weekly letters column. For now, enjoy the week. It's not long 'til more football!