NFL Winners and Losers: Panthers won gamble that Teddy Bridgewater's great comeback could replace Cam Newton
On a day when Alex Smith's return to the field should be celebrated, it should be remembered that Teddy Bridgewater is still writing its own wondrous story.
The Carolina Panthers believed enough to cut former NFL MVP Cam Newton and give Bridgewater $ 63 million over three years. Even if Newton is playing well in New England, it looks like they made the right call.
Bridgewater's wonderful story continued on Sunday as he and the Panthers improved to 3-2 with a win over the Atlanta Falcons. Bridgewater threw for 313 yards and a couple of touchdowns. The Panthers looked like they were one of the worst teams in the NFL this season, and they were far from that. Bridgewater was a big reason. He joined a new team with a new coaching staff over a crazy off-season, but it's clear he prepared to be instant success.
Bridgewater's career seemed to be over when he suffered a terrible knee injury in training prior to the 2016 season. At this point he was an aspiring player, a former first round player who had just helped the Minnesota Vikings to a division title. It was feared that in practice Bridgewater would lose his leg from this injury. He missed all of 2016, throwing two passports in 2017 and only 23 in 2018.
Just playing was a great comeback story. Bridgewater makes a lot more of it.
After filling out five starts at the New Orleans Saints for an injured Drew Brees well last season, the Carolina Panthers wanted free agent Bridgewater to replace Newton. It's not that there's no risk, especially when you're dumping a former MVP.
Bridgewater was a great story. The Panthers are 3-0 after Christian McCaffrey sustained an ankle injury after beating the Atlanta Falcons, and Bridgewater is a big contributor. He had 261 yards and two touchdowns in the first half against Atlanta. This is the second most frequent pass in the first half of a game in Panthers history.
Bridgewater did a good job in McCaffrey's absence. He carries out the offense efficiently. He does not have a large arm, but can masterfully place the ball in spots that, once caught, lead to great games. It did so with a long touchdown to D.J. Moore, who got the panthers going. This is a big reason Mike Davis took up McCaffrey's valuable role as an effective receiver off the field.
Carolina has come a long way since starting 2-0. Bridgewater has come a long way too, losing much worse than losing a couple of soccer games.
Teddy Bridgewater does an excellent job for the Carolina Panthers. (AP Photo / Brynn Anderson)
Here are the remaining winners and losers from Week 5 of the NFL:
The 1972 Miami Dolphins: OK, so it's not like the Kansas City Chiefs are close to 16-0 or anything. But the way they've seen it this season, it didn't seem impossible.
The Las Vegas Raiders' tremendous excitement over the Chiefs will be seen throughout the NFL. The Chiefs will be fine, but obviously they're not unbeatable. While Kansas City has looked really good at times this season, we can look back on long stretches of games against the Los Angeles Chargers, New England Patriots and Raiders in which they fought and wondered if there are things that future opponents will copy can.
All NFL teams eventually lose, even if they are defending Super Bowl champions and have Patrick Mahomes. That said, all NFL teams except the 1972 Dolphins lose. Their greatest threat was knocked off on Sunday.
Los Angeles Rams: Getting up for an early game on the East Coast in a rainstorm against a poor Washington soccer team isn't exactly easy.
The Rams did the business. They didn't look good at all against the New York Giants last week and were a bit lucky to win, but they recovered with a 30:10 win over Washington on Sunday. The defense looked great, albeit against a poor opponent who was in the second and third quarterback of the season on Sunday, and the offensive did enough. Given the weather, it's not like Jared Goff would go 500 meters.
The only thing that didn't go right was Goff trying to point it after a touchdown. We let it slide after a giggle.
Bill O’Brien-less Houston Texans: There didn't seem to be many complaints in Houston when the Texans fired Bill O’Brien after a 4-0 start.
When a team fires an unpopular coach, it is often followed by a pretty good performance. That's what happened in Houston when the Texans defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 30-10. The Texas Defense was finally getting some sales. Deshaun Watson threw for more than 300 yards and a couple of touchdowns. It's not that beating the jaguars is a cause for celebration, but it seemed like the Texans were enjoying their day.
It is difficult for any 0-4 team to rally for the playoffs, and the Texans probably won't either. But it seems like O'Brien is getting fired early enough that they have a small chance of doing so.
Will Fuller jumps up after no one touches him on the heads-up TD
Houston Texans receiver Will Fuller jumps to his feet after nobody touched him in heads-up touchdown. This game will be streamed live on the Yahoo Sports mobile app or on NFL.com
Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens' four wins this season have been 32, 17, 14 and 24 points.
There's still the problem of that one loss where the Ravens were outdone by the Kansas City Chiefs. For many, this meant the ravens weren't as good as advertised. They just fell back on a Chiefs team that can play at a phenomenal level and cannot excavate. It happens.
There is no reason to believe the Ravens are not among the elite teams in the NFL, and a win over the Cincinnati Bengals took that point home again. The Bengals aren't great, but the ravens' defenses have put them down. The Bengals fell 20-0 in the third quarter. Overall rookie winner Joe Burrow seemed under pressure every game. A scoop-and-score of the defense with a nice forced fumble set an exclamation point for a thorough performance. Even if Lamar Jackson was only ten feet from the goal, the Ravens scored a 27-3 victory.
The ravens will be one of the teams fighting for a Super Bowl. There's no guarantee they can beat the Chiefs in a rematch, but it seems like they'll be better than anyone else.
Lamar Jackson's Pump Fake gives Mark Andrews time for TD Dart
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson's Pump Fake clears time for a touchdown dart to put an end to Mark Andrews. This game will be streamed live on the Yahoo Sports mobile app or on NFL.com
First Place Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles arrived this week as the leaders of NFC East, whatever that means. They did not cover themselves or the division in fame.
The Eagles started well against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but then it fell apart. A poor interception by Carson Wentz resulted in a Steelers touchdown that gave them a 31-14 lead. The Eagles rallied to cut Pittsburgh's lead to 31-29, but one drive stalled and Jake Elliott missed a 57-yard field goal by just over three minutes. Rookie receiver Chase Claypool scored his fourth touchdown and scored a 38-29 win. It is the first time since 1979 that the Steelers have started 4-0.
Week after week, when the NFC East loses, they say it's okay because the rest of the division can't split up. But at some point a team has to win a few games to win the division.
The 0-5 Atlanta Falcons and their beleaguered coach: Another week, another Atlanta Falcons defeat, another round of questions about how much longer Dan Quinn will coach the team.
The Hawks have many injuries, particularly in their secondary school and recipient Julio Jones, but the season is all but lost. They are 0-5 after a 23-16 loss to the Carolina Panthers. The Falcons took a 7-0 lead, then Teddy Bridgewater began to tear them apart. The falcon crime is also at risk. Atlanta stood a chance when it cut Carolina's lead to 20-13, but Matt Ryan tossed a terrible interception into the end zone. Nothing about Atlanta looks good.
Quinn's future has been a question for a few years. The falcon owner Arthur Blank was reluctant to make a change. But it will remain a question until a step is taken.
The New York Jets again: It's good that Adam Gase has decided to continue to place fourth and short at the beginning of the Sunday game. Otherwise, the Jets might have lost four or five touchdowns instead of three.
The Jets are the rest of NFL bye week this season. They are hardly a professional entity, drowning in poor coaching and lack of talent. The Arizona Cardinals rolled the Jets between 30 and 10 on Sunday and happily won easily after losing a pair in a row.
It's hard to go 0-16 in a season, but the Jets have the ingredients to try.
Chase Edmonds turns on the jets in the 29-yard TD sprint
The Arizona Cardinals racing back Chase Edmonds turn on the Jets in the 29-yard TD sprint against the New York Jets Defense. This game will be streamed live on the Yahoo Sports mobile app or on NFL.com
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