It was not the day many people expected. The Broncos, the Falcons and the Bears all pulled off upsets on the road. The Buccaneers made easy work of the Packers, the Eagles gave the Ravens a scare, and the Browns went from looking like an offensive juggernaut in Weeks 2 through 5 to being absolutely humiliated by the Steelers.
But when you consider that several N.F.L. teams dealt with closed practice facilities this week because of positive coronavirus tests, the fact that the games were even played was nearly as surprising as the results on the field.
Here’s what we learned:
One* Sentence About Sunday’s Games
*Except when it takes more.
Buccaneers 38, Packers 10 Just about everything went Tampa Bay’s way, but the most stark thing about this game was likely the pass protection, as Aaron Rodgers, who had been sacked just three times over his team’s first four games, was put down four times by the Buccaneers’ fearsome pass rush. Rodgers finished the day with a passer rating of 35.4, the third-worst mark of his career.
Titans 42, Texans 36 (overtime) It’s hard to quibble with a game in which a team’s offense managed 601 total yards, but Tennessee really should be concerned about its defense, which allowed 412 yards and 36 points to a team that fired its head coach and general manager two weeks ago.
Steelers 38, Browns 7 Cleveland averaged 37.5 points over its previous four games but could do absolutely nothing against Pittsburgh, with quarterback Baker Mayfield looking beat up and ineffective while throwing for 119 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. The Browns have topped 30 points four times and been held to less than 10 twice.
Colts 31, Bengals 27 It was an emotional week for Indianapolis, as the team had to briefly close its facility because of a few false positive tests for the coronavirus, fell behind by 21-0 to Cincinnati and then raced back to win, tying the franchise’s record for largest comeback in a regular season game.
Ravens 30, Eagles 28 Baltimore was overwhelming Philadelphia with its running game during its 17-0 start, but in a rare instance of the Ravens taking their collective foot off the gas, they very nearly let the Eagles pull off an upset only to be bailed out when Carson Wentz couldn’t run the ball in for a 2-point conversion with just under two minutes remaining.
Bears 23, Panthers 16 It is hard to get excited about Chicago’s offense, regardless of the team’s record, but the Bears’ defense had a throwback day, forcing three turnovers including a game-saving interception in the final two minutes.
Falcons 40, Vikings 23 The firing of Coach Dan Quinn and the return of Julio Jones were certainly factors in Atlanta’s first win of the season, but having Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins melt down to the tune of three interceptions in the first half helped stake Atlanta to such a wide lead that the team was in cruise control for most of the day.
Broncos 18, Patriots 12 It seemed like New England would have an easy win at home once it was announced that Cam Newton was active, but Denver got six field goals from Brandon McManus and just barely held off a comeback. Newton took his team to Denver’s 24-yard line in the final minute of the game, down by just six points, but the Patriots turned the ball over on downs when Newton’s pass to N’Keal Harry fell incomplete.
Dolphins 24, Jets 0 It was the full Ryan Fitzpatrick experience, as the veteran quarterback threw for three touchdowns, was intercepted twice, and did a Patrick Mahomes impersonation by completing a short left-handed pass in the easy victory. Tua Tagovailoa made his N.F.L. debut, but it was to mop up a laugher rather than to replace his team’s volatile starter — and Fitzpatrick was leading the cheers for the rookie who will eventually replace him.
Lions 34, Jaguars 16 Matthew Stafford threw a touchdown pass — he now has one against all 31 teams besides Detroit — D’Andre Swift ran for 116 yards and the Lions won so convincingly that Jacksonville Coach Doug Marrone acknowledged after the game that his job may be in jeopardy.
Giants 20, Footballers 19 Tae Crowder’s fumble recovery for a touchdown put Big Blue up by seven with less than four minutes to play, but this game between also-rans was decided when Coach Ron Rivera, desperate to stay in the N.F.C. East playoff race, had his Footballers gamble with a 2-point conversion attempt in the game’s final minute, only to have Kyle Allen throw an incomplete pass under pressure. Rivera wanted a clean win rather than to chance it in overtime, but he had to settle for a loss.