NFL: Five Observations From Week 5's Action
1) Andrew Luck’s Grace Under Fire
Down 21-3 entering the third quarter, many believed the Colts were headed for a blowout loss against the Packers. Andrew Luck had other plans in mind -- the rookie quarterback orchestrated a furious comeback helped by a career game from wide receiver Reggie Wayne. The Colts outscored the Packers 27-6 in the second half on their way to a 30-27 victory. Luck’s game-winning drive was a thing of beauty. He showed incredible body control against a collapsing pocket and shook off Clay Matthews to convert a 3rd-and-long with under two minutes to go, rifling a first down throw to Wayne. Near the goal line with under a minute to go, Luck picked up a key first down by lowering his shoulder and knifing through two Packer defenders on a crucial 3rd down. Luck’s tremendous poise, underrated athleticism and football acumen-a unique skill set that separated him from any quarterback prospect of the last decade were all on display in Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday.
2) Safety is the Key for Robert Griffin III
The supremely talented RG3 was knocked out of Sunday’s contest against the Atlanta Falcons with a concussion after taking a vicious hit from linebacker Sean Weatherspoon while running for a first down late in the third quarter. RG3’s unique athleticism at the quarterback position is a dangerous attribute. Running quarterbacks take a beating, and for the benefit of RG3’s promising career, he needs to understand that avoiding injuries translates to success in the NFL. It is crucial that the young QB learns the importance of sliding effectively, stepping out of bounds in certain situations and minimizing contact, while treading the fine line of running aggressively and utilizing his blazing speed.
3) Cam Newton Continues Sophomore Slump
There was a buzz surrounding the Carolina Panthers entering the season and belief from inside the organization that they would compete for a Super Bowl. Cam Newton’s record-breaking rookie season, combined with the plethora of skill position players at his disposal and Carolina's revamped defense, had fans, players and pundits alike expecting big things from the Panthers this season. Instead, they find themselves 1-4 after Sunday’s disappointing 16-12 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at home. Newton completed only 41 percent of his passes for a paltry 141 yards on Sunday, a far cry from last year’s statistically astounding season. While Newton still has a bright future ahead of him, he needs to become a leader through thick and thin, stop sulking on the sidelines, and regain the swagger that separates "Superman" from any other quarterback in the league.
The inexperience of a second-year quarterback in Christian Ponder, Adrian Peterson’s questionable return from a torn ACL and an uninspiring defense coming off of a 3-13 season in Minnesota left the Vikings flying under the radar entering the 2012 season. The Vikings currently sit atop the NFC North, tied with the Chicago Bears with a shocking 4-1 record. Ponder has played efficiently; Peterson is explosive as ever; and the team’s most dynamic weapon, Percy Harvin, has been a key contributor on offense and special teams. The Vikings lead a brutally competitive NFC North race, and it will be interesting to see if they can continue to play mistake-free, disciplined football on both sides of the ball.
5) Drew Brees Breaks Johnny Unitas' Passing Record
On Sunday night, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees broke Johnny Unitas’ 52-year-old record of 47 consecutive games with a touchdown pass. To make things even sweeter, Brees accomplished this feat against his old team, the San Diego Chargers, who didn't re-sign him in 2005 when Brees was coming off a potentially career-threatening shoulder injury. Brees lit up the Chargers defense to the tune of 370 yards and four touchdowns. Despite a wretched defense, the absence of head coach Sean Payton and an offseason filled with distractions stemming from the bounty scandal, the 1-4 Saints are led by Drew Brees, the one constant and bright spot who made history on Sunday.
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