Week 10 of the NFL season saw Peyton Manning break another passing record, the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers improve to 9-0 and the Detroit Lions win a game in the state of Wisconsin for the first time in almost a quarter century.
Sunday also saw Manning benched during the worst game of his career, the Lions nearly choke away said win and a couple of disastrous defensive performances.
Here is the rest of the best and worst from the NFL’s tenth week:
QB Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins
Cousins picked on the NFL’s worst defense, completing 20 of 25 passes for 324 yards, four touchdowns and a perfect 158.3 passer rating during Washington’s 47-14 win over the Saints. Three of his scores came in the first half, when the Redskins gained almost 400 yards and built a 27-14 lead.
Anyone and everyone is slicing and dicing the New Orleans defense these days, but credit Cousins for producing a career best day to help his team stay alive at 4-5. A perfect quarterback is difficult to beat.
QB Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers deemed Roethlisberger (foot) unfit to start but healthy enough to be active as the No. 2 quarterback against the Cleveland Browns. It turned out to be a fantastic decision.
After starter Landry Jones limped off the field in the first quarter, Roethlisberger came on and produced another Big Ben classic, throwing for 379 yards and three scores. He hit receivers Martavis Bryant and Antonio Brown 17 times for 317 yards and all three touchdowns as the Steelers blew out the Browns, 30-9. Not bad for a backup.
Adam Gase’s Bears Offense
No Matt Forte, no problem. Gase continues to perform miracles for the Bears offense, which produced 37 points during Sunday’s blowout win over the Rams in St. Louis. Jay Cutler threw three touchdowns, rookie running back Jeremy Langford gained 182 total yards and scored twice, and emerging tight end Zach Miller caught two touchdowns.
Players play and coaches coach, but it’s hard not to see Gase’s fingerprints all over Chicago’s offensive improvement. The Bears are running the football, receivers are being schemed open and Cutler is making all the right decisions. Quietly, the Bears have won four of their last six games.
RB Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
A week after teaching rookie Todd Gurley a trick or two, Peterson powered the surging Vikings to a fifth-straight win, rushing for 203 yards and a game-clinching 80-yard touchdown against the Oakland Raiders.
Peterson tied O.J. Simpson for the most career 200-yard rushing games in NFL history with six, while also increasing his lead atop the league’s rushing charts in 2015. He now has 961 yards through nine games, putting him on pace for over 1,700. Only one running back age 30 or older has rushed for 1,700 or more yards in a season in NFL history (Tiki Barber, 2005).
K Stephen Gostkowski, New England Patriots
Why not a little love for kickers? Gostkowski’s incredible season continued Sunday, when Mr. Automatic made two more field goals—including the 54-yard game-winner to beat the New York Giants.
The Patriots’ NFL-best scoring offense is mostly the product of Tom Brady’s brilliance, but don’t forget about Gostkowski, who has made 21 straight field goals and all 34 of his extra points to lead the NFL with 97 points. Having a flawless kicker is just another reason why the Patriots are flying high at 9-0.
QB Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
On a day when Manning broke another one of the NFL’s most important passing records, the future Hall of Famer produced one of the worst games by a quarterback in recent memory. And that’s not just hyperbole.
While Manning passed Brett Favre for the most passing yards in league history, he also completed just five of 20 passes for 35 yards and four interceptions against the Chiefs. Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak pulled him for Brock Osweiler with Kansas City up 22-0 in the second half, and he’ll have a big decision on whether or not to play the 39-year-old next week.
How bad was it? Manning became the first quarterback to attempt at least 20 passes and finish a game with a passer rating of 0.0 since 2004 (Jeff Garcia). He also joined Todd Collins as the only quarterbacks to throw four interceptions with less than 40 yards passing in a game since 1982.
New Orleans Saints Defense
Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan might be looking for employment soon. His flat-lining defense gave up over 500 yards to Washington, including almost 400 in the first half. The Redskins scored 47 points, giving Saints’ opponents 130 over the last three games.
Troubles with quarterbacks remain a big reason for the Saints’ struggles, as Kirk Cousins’ four scores Sunday marked the third straight game New Orleans has allowed at least four passing touchdowns without an interception. By week’s end, the Saints will have the NFL’s worst scoring defense. Deservedly so.
Green Bay Packers
The now 2-7 Lions converted just five of 16 third downs, turned the football over twice, missed two extra points and mishandled an onside kick, but Detroit still managed to go into Green Bay and win in the state of Wisconsin for the first time in 24 years. The Packers were held to just three points over the first 55 minutes, and another late rally came up short when Aaron Rodgers couldn’t hook up with Davante Adams on a two-point play and Mason Crosby missed the game-winning kick.
Green Bay has now lost three straight games, but Sunday’s might be the hardest to swallow. There’s no sugarcoating a home loss to one of the NFL’s worst teams in 2015. The punchless Packers—who now sit one game behind the Vikings in the NFC North—might be in trouble.
QB Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia Eagles
Sanchez relieved an injured Sam Bradford in the second half of Philadelphia’s late loss to the Miami Dolphins. Another bone-headed play from the Butt Fumble architect all but gave the game away, as Sanchez threw an interception in the end zone with the Eagles down just one point late in the fourth quarter.
A field goal would have won the game. A series later, Philadelphia turned the ball over on downs to end the game. At one point in the first quarter, the Eagles led 16-3. Sanchez helped finished the collapse.
Rock bottom also represents the end of whatever playoff hopes the Cowboys were holding onto before Sunday. Dallas gained 216 yards and scored just six points in Tampa Bay, while rookie quarterback Jameis Winston led a late touchdown drive to send the Cowboys to their seventh straight loss.
All it took was seven points to beat Dallas, a team that has failed to score a touchdown for a third game this season. Tony Romo is coming back, but he’ll return to a team already thinking about 2016.