NFL Week 5 takeaways: Steelers, Vikings get season-changing wins

Steelers found the recipe for success against Falcons (0:36)

Jeff Saturday breaks down how getting James Conner into a rhythm and getting Antonio Brown a lot of targets were instrumental for the Steelers in Sunday's victory over the Falcons. (0:36)

The Steelers and Vikings pulled off important wins, the Chiefs' offense powered them past the Jaguars, the Packers booted away multiple opportunities and the Panthers slipped past the Giants with a 63-yard field goal.

All that and more in Week 5's biggest takeaways from NFL Nation.

Jump to a matchup:

New Orleans Saints 43, Washington Redskins 19

Not only did Drew Brees have one of the best performances of his 18-year career on the night he set the NFL passing yardage record, but the Saints' entire team played its best game of the season in a rout of the Redskins. The Saints (4-1) now head into their bye week as one of only four NFC teams with a winning record, which is especially impressive considering how sloppy they started in September. They're set up to make a serious run.-- Mike Triplett

The Redskins have to get a lot fixed in the next six days to avoid heading down a bad path. Their secondary continues to have breakdowns in coverage, notably by corner Josh Norman. He's their highest-paid defensive player, yet hasn't played like it and has not made any game-changing plays this season. That must change. But the problems go beyond Norman. The Redskins have this terrible pattern of playing poorly after a good win. The good news for them is they're 14-6-1 after a loss under coach Jay Gruden. The problem for fans is that, in Year 5 of Gruden's regime, they had hopes for more than the same old issues. The Redskins have 12 weeks to prove they are different. -- John Keim

Houston Texans 19, Dallas Cowboys 16

The Texans' red zone struggles continued against the Cowboys. Houston was 1-of-6 inside the 20 on Sunday night and scored just one touchdown in its overtime victory. Coach Bill O'Brien has stressed the importance of the Texans improving in this area if they want to erase their slow start to the season. Although Houston won Sunday, it will need to turn that stat line around against the Bills next week as it looks for its third win in a row. -- Sarah Barshop

The Cowboys' decision to go with a committee approach at wide receiver was more noticeable in Sunday's loss to Houston than at any point this season. DeAndre Hopkins' nine-catch, 151-yard effort for Houston stood out even more when compared to the Cowboys' receivers, who caught just six passes. Both of Dak Prescott's interceptions came on deflected passes, although the quarterback was not blameless in the giveaways. "I don't really want to dwell on any aspect of the offensive side of the ball," owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. -- Todd Archer

Kansas City Chiefs 30, Jacksonville Jaguars 14

The defense isn't necessarily a lost cause, after all. The Chiefs can head into the next two games against high-scoring opponents (New England and Cincinnati) and not feel like they have to score on every possession to win. The Jaguars had more than 500 yards on Sunday, but don't be fooled. Most of it came in garbage time. -- Adam Teicher

Blake Bortles had a career-high five turnovers, including two interceptions in the end zone (one of which bounced off A.J. Cann's helmet). He seemed to make strides with his consistency late last season but has yet to put together back-to-back good games this year. With Leonard Fournette (hamstring) out indefinitely and Corey Grant likely done for the year with a foot injury, the Jaguars need Bortles to find a rhythm, beginning with Sunday's game at Dallas. -- Mike DiRocco

Pittsburgh Steelers 41, Atlanta Falcons 17

The Steelers put together a complete performance, offering a tease it can climb into contention. The defense's resurgence -- sacking Matt Ryan six times and holding Julio Jones to 62 yards -- is by far the biggest positive. It was reasonable to expect Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown to get hot again. But a defense that looked lost for the better part of a month desperately needed an edge. -- Jeremy Fowler

The Falcons simply don't have what it takes to close right now. They were within striking distance, trailing 13-10 at Pittsburgh and getting the ball to start the second half. Then they got outscored 28-7 in the second half. They are now 1-4 and have blown fourth-quarter leads in their other three losses. With the defense decimated by injuries and failing at fundamentals, the season appears to be a lost cause, although coach Dan Quinn continued his positive outlook. "By no stretch are the guys we have playing not up and capable for the job,'' Quinn said, referring to the rebuilt defense. -- Vaughn McClure

Carolina Panthers 33, New York Giants 31

No, it wasn't pretty, although the celebration after Graham Gano's 63-yard field goal with one second remaining was a sight to behold. But it was important for the Panthers to get to 3-1 over the first quarter of the season -- including 3-0 at home -- to keep pace with New Orleans in the NFC South. Carolina now welcomes back outside linebacker Thomas Davis (four-game suspension) and likely tight end Greg Olsen (foot injury) next week when it visits Washington. -- David Newton

The Giants' locker room was a mixture of frustration, anger and, as Saquon Barkley told me, "hurt." This is what happens when you lose on a last-second field goal after a game filled with head-scratching unforced errors and penalties. At least the Giants (1-4) seemed to overcome their first Odell Beckham Jr. drama of the season, and their offense finally hit its stride late. They can take that into their Thursday night matchup with the Eagles. -- Jordan Raanan

Detroit Lions 31, Green Bay Packers 23

A win over Green Bay to improve to 2-3 entering the bye was crucial for what the Lions are still hoping to accomplish this season. "Not even just a division game. We just knew we had to win," cornerback Nevin Lawson said. "We want to start winning at home and making that a priority." The Lions are now 2-1 at Ford Field this year, with wins over New England and Green Bay. -- Michael Rothstein

Sunday's loss -- which featured four missed field goals and an extra point by Mason Crosby -- left the Packers with a win, a loss and a tie in their first turn through the NFC North. While they don't play another division game until Week 12 at Minnesota, they know there's work to do. Said Aaron Rodgers: "I still like our chances. ... I think this could be a year where everybody kind of knocks each other off for a while, and if we can hang in there through the middle stretch of our season, I think we'll be there." -- Rob Demovsky

Cleveland Browns 12, Baltimore Ravens 9

The Browns feel they are oh-so-close to being a legitimate team after their overtime win over Baltimore. They've gone 1-1-1 in overtime this season. They feel if they plow forward and just play, they can compete with any team on their schedule, including Philip Rivers and the Chargers next week. -- Pat McManamon

The Ravens' overtime loss to the Browns extended Baltimore's offensive misery. The Ravens have now failed to score a touchdown in their past seven quarters and an overtime period. That's a drought of 123 minutes. Joe Flacco has been erratic, Michael Crabtree is dropping passes and the Ravens have not fully committed to the running game. Baltimore has to figure out how to get into the end zone Sunday against the Titans and Dean Pees, the Ravens' defensive coordinator from 2012 to 2017. -- Jamison Hensley

Cincinnati Bengals 27, Miami Dolphins 17

The Bengals simply have a knack for closing out games, even when they aren't playing well. They turned a 17-point deficit into a double-digit-point win against the Dolphins after scoring back-to-back defensive touchdowns. The late-game turnovers are something they've forced several times this season, and that gives them confidence as they prepare to host the rival Steelers on Sunday. The Bengals haven't beaten the Steelers since 2015, but they feel like they can compete with any team in the league right now. -- Katherine Terrell

Miami was three-fourths of the way to an impressive 4-1 start to the season before a collapse led to 24 consecutive Bengals fourth-quarter points, including two defensive touchdowns. Ryan Tannehill has cooled off after a hot first three weeks, and the Dolphins' offensive line is a disaster. "It all unraveled when the turnovers happened," Tannehill said. "That's on me." There doesn't appear to be an easy fix, and that's a scary proposition with Khalil Mack's Bears coming to town. -- Cameron Wolfe

New York Jets 34, Denver Broncos 16

The Jets delivered a Rams-like performance on offense, racking up 34 points and 512 total yards. In the process, they found a formula that works: Good things happen when they run the ball. Isaiah Crowell's 219-yard rushing day (a franchise record) opened up the passing game for rookie quarterback Sam Darnold, who threw three long TD passes. This should be their identity going forward. -- Rich Cimini

Whenever the words "square one'' are used in a locker room after a game, it means trouble has arrived. And the Broncos' loss to the Jets on Sunday had cornerback Chris Harris Jr. using that exact phrase as the team lost its third straight to drop to 2-3. The Broncos sunk into an eight-game losing streak last season after a 3-1 start, so the locker room is grasping for a life raft -- and the Rams are looming next Sunday. "We have to find out who wants to be here,'' Harris said. -- Jeff Legwold

Buffalo Bills 13, Tennessee Titans 12

The Bills did their best to keep the game out of Josh Allen's hands, limiting the rookie quarterback's mistakes with a conservative game plan that saw LeSean McCoy run 24 times. But even in the limited throws Allen made, he continued to struggle with inconsistent accuracy. Allen finished with 82 passing yards and a 42.0 passer rating. Beyond the Bills simply protecting a young quarterback, this game should raise questions about Allen for whenever the Bills need to again open up their offense. -- Mike Rodak

The Titans fumbled away a chance to make a statement in a game they were favored to win on the road. Tennessee had three turnovers, including a pick and two fumbles, and failed to stop Buffalo from marching down the field for the game-winning field goal. They have to put it behind them as they get set to face a tough Ravens team that is coming off a close loss to the Browns. -- Turron Davenport

Los Angeles Chargers 26, Oakland Raiders 10

After giving up 30 points a contest through the first four games, the Chargers finally showed they can play some defense. Led by edge-rusher Melvin Ingram's seven tackles, interception and sack, the Chargers held Oakland's offense to 289 total yards, forced two turnovers and limited the Raiders to 10 points. Now with three wins this early in the season for the first time since 2014, the Chargers hit the road for two contests against the Browns and Titans (in London) before the team's bye in Week 8. -- Eric D. Williams

Considering the number of self-inflicted wounds the Raiders incurred in this loss, one play was not going to change the outcome. But not giving the ball to Marshawn Lynch at the 1-yard line on first-and-goal? Four times since the Seahawks' fateful Super Bowl loss to the Patriots have teams with Lynch in the backfield had the ball at the 1-yard line and not given it to him, deciding to throw instead. All four passes have been incomplete, with two getting picked off, including Derek Carr's pass on Sunday. The Raiders simply out-thought themselves in using Lynch as a decoy on a play-action pass and need to simply feed the beast in such instances. Maybe a long trip to London next week to play the Seahawks would serve the Raiders well, as long as they don't overthink things. -- Paul Gutierrez

Los Angeles Rams 33, Seattle Seahawks 31

Facing fourth-and-inches, the Rams needed a final first down to secure a victory over the Seahawks. Coach Sean McVay elected to go for it from their own 42, and Jared Goff delivered on a 2-yard keeper. But the win came at a cost, as two of the Rams' top playmakers -- receivers Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp -- went into the concussion protocol, putting their status in question as the 5-0 Rams now look ahead to the Broncos. -- Lindsey Thiry

The Seahawks should find some encouragement in their loss. The gap between them and the Rams doesn't seem as wide as it did before they went toe-to-toe with the NFC's last unbeaten team. Seattle can feel particularly good about how its running game -- 190 yards against a tough defense -- is finding its form after a slow start. "I'm thrilled about that because you can see it, you can tell what kind of team we are now," coach Pete Carroll said of Seattle's rushing success. "You know who we are and we know who we are, too. We're just getting warmed up." -- Brady Henderson

Minnesota Vikings 23, Philadelphia Eagles 21

It wasn't the prettiest win, but to hold off a late Eagles push showed the Vikings' defense may not be far from regaining its identity. It also showed why Minnesota placed such a high priority on landing John DeFilippo as its offensive coordinator. The Vikings' offensive game plan was aggressive, attacking the Eagles in the back end while forcing runs to the perimeter in an attempt to stay ahead of the league's No. 1 rushing defense. Now Minnesota has an opportunity to put together a winning streak with the Cardinals coming to town next Sunday. -- Courtney Cronin

The Eagles are on shaky ground entering Thursday night's game against the Giants. Their loss to the Vikings was filled with costly mistakes and penalties, dropping the Super Bowl champs to 2-3. They already matched their loss total from last season and need to turn it around fast to avoid getting into a big NFC hole early. -- Tim McManus

Arizona Cardinals 28, San Francisco 49ers 18

The Cardinals got their first win of the season Sunday despite playing an ugly game on both sides of the ball. The offense mustered just 220 yards and the defense was on the field for 40:11 -- more than two-thirds of the game -- but was still able to get five turnovers. That ended up being the difference. -- Josh Weinfuss

The 49ers' already-thin margin for error has nearly evaporated as injuries continue to pile up. Those injuries have contributed to the type of self-inflicted wounds they simply aren't equipped to overcome right now. What's more? Things could get worse before they get better as the Niners head to Green Bay for Monday Night Football before another prime-time game at home the following week against the Rams. -- Nick Wagoner

New England Patriots 38, Indianapolis Colts 24

The Patriots' defense, which had generated momentum in a Week 4 win against Miami, took a step back against the Colts, allowing 355 passing yards. That's not good timing with the high-flying Chiefs coming to town. How the Patriots will contend with the Chiefs' speed and playmaking ability, especially quarterback Patrick Mahomes, is a big question mark. -- Mike Reiss

The Colts are hoping that 10-day break in between games will allow them to get some of their injured players back. They had only 44 players -- instead of the normal 46 -- available for their game against New England, and that number was down to 40 by the time the game ended. "Couple of extra days' rest probably comes at a good time for us," head coach Frank Reich said. The biggest concern for the Colts is the health of receiver T.Y. Hilton, whose Week 4 hamstring injury could keep him out for a while. -- Mike Wells