By Nick Shook
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Let the record show that in Week 5 of 2017, we reached peak road team performance.
Visiting squads went 9-4 in the first 13 games of the week, with Monday night‘s Vikings-Bears matchup yet to be decided. The Chargers finally won their first game of the season, the Jets moved to a surprising, if not shocking 3-2 mark after five weeks, and the Patriots and Seahawks both held off late comeback attempts to escape with victories. None were as emphatic as the one along the banks of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers, though.
Jacksonville sent Steeler Nation home stunned. How did they do it? Scroll down to find out!
Greatest on the Road
Jacksonville Jaguars secondary (and Leonard Fournette)
Jacksonville pressured Ben Roethlisberger into throwing his first interception, bringing a five-man rush to force Roethlisberger into a slightly errant throw, which allowed Jalen Ramsey to make a fantastic diving catch for the first takeaway. It was the only interception that was clearly influenced by pressure — and there were still four more to be made.
Interception No. 2 was an errant throw directly into the hands of Telvin Smith, who was lurking in underneath coverage and promptly deposited the interception in the end zone for a touchdown. The third pick was Jacksonville’s second pick-six, with Ramsey breaking up a pass that landed in the arms of safety Barry Church, who took it back for another score.
Interception No. 4 came as a result of Roethlisberger sailing a pass over his intended receiver, with safety Tashaun Gipson there to gladly catch it instead. The fifth and final pick came on Jacksonville’s goal line, with Gipson snagged a desperation heave from Roethlisberger late in the fourth.
Remarkably, only one of the five turnovers came against rushes of more than four men. On Church’s pick-six, Jacksonville showed blitz but dropped into coverage. That’s a true testament to how well the unit blanketed Steelers receivers.
Also considered …
Ed Dickson, Carolina Panthers
Who’d have thought that Ed Dickson was once a man without a team?
After spending his first four seasons in Baltimore, the tight end was a free agent, and could only draw a one-year deal from the Carolina Panthers in 2014. My, how far we’ve come.
As Carolina’s second tight end, Dickson has posted three seasons of less than 200 yards receiving while also appearing in just 29 games over that span. Simply put, he’s not a primary target in that role. But with Greg Olsen out for substantial time due to injury, Dickson outperformed his entire 2016 campaign in one afternoon.
The tight end caught five passes from Cam Newton for 175 yards, taking advantage of soft spots in Detroit’s zone coverage down the middle of the field, and finding open space off play-action bootlegs. Carolina notched a hard-fought win on the road over Detroit to move to 4-1.
Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
I’ve felt rather alone on the Alex Smith bandwagon for quite some time, but it seems as though I have plenty of new additions. Seriously, folks, board in an orderly fashion. We can make space for all of you.
Kansas City remains the league’s only undefeated team with a great amount of credit due to Smith, who has been electric in five games. The Chiefs needed everything they could get out of the quarterback on Sunday night against Houston, winning a high-scoring affair on the road. Smith supplied plenty of fireworks.
The quarterback completed 29 of 37 passes for 324 yards and three touchdowns. He connected with 10 different targets for at least one completion, with tight end Travis Kelce leading the way with eight grabs for 98 yards. The Chiefs exited with a 42-34 win.
Smith still hasn’t thrown an interception this season. His completion percentage sits at 76.6, and his TD-to-INT ratio is a perfect 11-0, which goes well with Kansas City’s perfect 5-0 record. It’s Alex Smith‘s year, and you better get used to it.