Pitt in the NFL: Williams key in historic comeback for Browns


By Jack DeMarco / Staff Writer

After two weeks of pitiful stats, pro-bowl running back LeSean McCoy returned to his usual form Sunday, running for 81 yards on 21 carries in the Philadelphia Eagles’ week five matchup versus the St. Louis Rams. In the game, Philly held on for a 34-28 win despite the Rams’ 14-point surge late in the fourth quarter. McCoy, however, didn’t score a touchdown in the win, making it three straight weeks the running back hasn’t reached the end zone.

In fact, much of the chatter surrounding the team’s 4-1 record has been the promising playmaking ability of the defense and special teams rather than the running game. Up to date, both units have scored seven touchdowns collectively. The Eagles made the NFL record books this week as the first team ever to score at least one defensive touchdown and one special teams touchdown in consecutive games.

For the Rams, Aaron Donald recorded only one tackle. On the year, Donald now has eight total tackles, giving him an average of two per game. As a group, the Rams’ defense has its bright spots — first in the NFL in opposing passing yards allowed — but also its flaws, with the 29th best rushing defense. The imbalance is a cause for concern and a reason for the Rams’ slow start to the 2014 season with a 1-3 record.

Darrelle Revis and the New England Patriots beat the Cincinnati Bengals handily on Sunday Night Football, claiming a 43-17 victory. In the contest, Revis piled up four solo tackles, one assisted tackle and a forced fumble early in the second quarter. Revis also had what would have been his second interception of the season called back because of offsetting penalties. After the Patriots defense surrendered 41 points in its prior matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs, this game reassured Patriots fans that the team still has the potential to make the playoffs.

The Cleveland Browns also marked their place in NFL history with a remarkable 29-28 win over the Tennessee Titans. By erasing a 25-point deficit, the Browns now hold the record for the biggest comeback win for a visiting team. Ex-Panther Jabaal Sheard made his presence known during a critical fourth quarter defensive stand for the Browns. Corner K’Waun Williams also had a great afternoon, recording six tackles and a sack. He led all defensive backs in tackles and quarterback hits and helped solidify a spot for himself in the Browns’ defensive rotation.

On a fourth-and-one conversion attempt from the Titans’ own 42-yard line, Sheard and safety Donte Whitner corralled Tennessee quarterback Charlie Whitehurst on a quarterback sneak short of a first down. This turnover on downs empowered the Browns offense to respond immediately with the necessary go-ahead passing touchdown from quarterback Brian Hoyer to seal the victory. The Browns are now 2-2 on the year, but with both losses not exceeding three points, they are showing that the combination of timely defensive play and consistent quarterback play can propel them to the playoffs.

In an AFC-NFC showdown between the Arizona Cardinals and Denver Broncos, Larry Fitzgerald was just mediocre once again. The wideout was limited to seven receptions for 57 yards and continued his season-long streak of no touchdowns. Peyton Manning and Demaryius Thomas, who hooked up for two touchdowns on 226 yards of offense, were too much for the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals suffered their first loss of the year and another loss at the quarterback position. When backup quarterback Drew Stanton left in the third quarter, Arizona resorted to rookie Logan Thomas, who never completed a pass to Fitzgerald. As long as there is instability for the quarterbacks, unfortunately Fitzgerald’s struggles will linger.

San Francisco punter Andy Lee was part of some trickery that allowed the 49ers to squeak by the Chiefs 22-17. In the first drive of the fourth quarter, 49ers center Kyle Nelson snapped the ball directly in the backfield to strong safety Craig Dahl rather than Lee on a fourth-and-one. Consequently, Dahl ran up the middle for a three-yard gain, by continuing the drive and eventually setting up a 27-yard field goal to give the 49ers a 19-17 lead. On his own, Lee had two punts that combined for 107 yards.