We wrap up the fifth Sunday of the NFL season by looking at a handful of players who exceeded expectations and a handful who failed to deliver.


Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts: We saw a glimpse of the future Sunday in a very memorable performance from Luck. Don't look past those 24 rushing yards he had, including nine on a clutch first-down scramble on the game-winning drive. His final numbers didn't surprise me, but his maturity, leadership and poise against an elite team blew me away.

Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants: You'd think Bradshaw would have entered Tom Coughlin's doghouse as soon as he lost a fumble on the first play from scrimmage against Cleveland, but instead Coughlin reversed field and gave his veteran back 29 more carries. Of course, that wasn't so difficult to do when you consider that Bradshaw was atoning for his mistake by killing the Browns' defense. He finished with a career-high 200 yards rushing.

Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns: The rookie second-round pick nearly doubled his yardage total from the first four games with an 82-yard performance against the Giants. More importantly, both passes Gordon caught were touchdown grabs. Cleveland might have found its new No. 1 wideout.

Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots: He emerged from the crowd New England has at running back and just killed the Broncos with 151 yards on 28 carries. The Patriots' running game is hotter than it's been in years.

Corey Wootton, Chicago Bears: Huge defensive performance from the Bears, but it was Wootton who led the team in sacks with two, forcing a fumble in the process. Prior to Sunday's game, he had 2.5 sacks and one forced fumble in two and a half seasons.


Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers: It's not as though he's been setting the bar extremely high of late, but Newton had somewhat of a bounce-back game in Atlanta last week before tanking again on Sunday. Seattle's defense isn't easy to solve, but the guy was just 12 of 29 for 141 yards in another Carolina loss. 

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals: Dalton entered Sunday's game in Miami as the league's fifth-highest-rated passer, but he threw two second-half interceptions and averaged just 5.4 yards per attempt in a close loss to the Dolphins. With Baltimore and Pittsburgh winning, the Bengals needed more from their franchise quarterback Sunday.

Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens: I know, another quarterback. But they're kind of important and a few key signal callers produced duds on Sunday. Flacco was one of them. He was off to a great start to the season before falling on his face against the Chiefs. The Ravens beat the Chiefs despite him.

Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots: Tough to tell how large a role his hip injury played here, but Gronk had just four catches for 35 yards despite the fact New England scored 31 points on offense. The running game took over against Denver.

Trent Cole/Jason Babin, Philadelphia Eagles: I'm combining these two Eagles' pass-rushers, who were each held sack-less for the second straight week Sunday. After sacking the quarterback nearly twice per game last season, they're doing it less than once per game this year.

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at, a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at, Deadspin,, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Comeback Media, but his day gig has him covering the NFL nationally for Bleacher Report.