Scully's NFL notebook: The Chargers can't win close games
After Tuesday’s meeting between the Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans, four unbeaten teams will remain in the NFL. Home teams took it on the chin in Week 5, with a 4-8 record against the spread.
Week 6 will feature some enticing matchups, including Kansas City at Buffalo, Cleveland at Pittsburgh, and Green Bay at Tampa Bay.
Here are my top three takeaways from Week 5 of the 2020 NFL season.
Chargers keep losing close games
For the third time this season, the Los Angeles Chargers let a fourth-quarter lead slip away in Week 5, in a 30-27 overtime loss in New Orleans.
They’ve now lost four straight games by one score. Los Angeles benefited when Randy Bullock shanked a 31-yard field goal in the opener, otherwise the Chargers might be 0-5.
Since the start of the 2019 season, the Chargers are 3-13 in games decided by one score. It’s a troubling trend, but Los Angeles has something to look forward to, with the arrival of Justin Herbert, who became the first rookie to throw four touchdown passes in a Monday-night game.
He looks like the franchise quarterback Los Angeles desperately needs. Over the last two weeks, Hebert has thrown seven touchdown passes, with only one interception, against New Orleans and Tampa Bay, two of the better defenses in the NFC.
Up 20-3 in the first half, Los Angeles did little offensively in the second half, until New Orleans tied the game, 20-20. Hebert connected with Mike Williams on 64-yard touchdown pass to put the Bolts up by seven points with 3:40 remaining, but Drew Brees marched the Saints 73 yards to draw even on New Orleans’ final drive in regulation.
The Chargers still had a chance to win before overtime, but Michael Badgley missed a 50-yard field goal.
Claypool, Fulgham emerge in Pittsburgh’s win over Philadelphia
A couple unsung, young wide receivers, Chase Claypool and Travis Fulgham, were dominant for opposing sides in Pittsburgh’s 38-29 win over Philadelphia.
A rookie out of Notre Dame, Claypool caught seven passes for 110 yards and three scores. He also had a rushing touchdown, and the Steelers improved to 4-0.
Claypool appears to have a bright future, and he adds depth to a quality wide receiver corps that includes JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington. Tight end Eric Ebron, who signed as a free agent in the offseason, is starting to get on the same page with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and recorded his second consecutive five-catch game in Week 5.
Philadelphia rallied dramatically, after it fell into a 31-14 hole in the third quarter, but missed a 57-yard field goal to take the lead with 3:18 remaining. Pittsburgh then sealed the game with a touchdown on its final drive.
Fulgham, who is in his second year out of Old Dominion, lit up the Steelers secondary for 152 yards and a touchdown on 10 catches, which represented half of quarterback Carson Wentz’s completions. The Steelers couldn’t stop him, and he’s emerged at the right time for an Eagles squad missing three receivers and a tight end sidelined for Week 5.
On the Philadelphia practice squad earlier this season, Fulgham made an appearance in three games for Detroit last year without a catch. He has come out of nowhere, with 57 receiving yards and an acrobatic touchdown reception in his debut at San Francisco in Week 4, and continued to step forward against Pittsburgh.
Fulgham provides Philadelphia with an outside threat in a wide-open NFC East division.
Best wishes for Dak Prescott
Dak Prescott’s gruesome ankle injury was heartbreaking. Dallas can be one of the most polarizing teams in sports, but Prescott is easy to root for as a person. He’s such a class act and possesses a work ethic and team-first attitude that is unsurpassed.
Teammates don’t do this for just anybody. Fans don’t give ovations like that for just anybody. A former (now opposing) coach doesn’t do this for just anybody. It’s infuriating even more so today that anyone would EVER question if Dak Prescott is a leader pic.twitter.com/ctWZ6lOIUL— JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) October 11, 2020
After he was drafted in the fourth round in 2016, Prescott became the face of the Cowboys. He has developed into an elite passer over the last four seasons, with 4,902 yards and 30 touchdowns in 2019, and commands respect from peers and coaches throughout the league.
After the Cowboys missed the playoffs with an 8-8 record last year, Prescott continued to elevate his play in 2020. He was in the midst of a special season, with 1,856 passing yards, before he was carted off the field.
His injury isn’t considered a threat to his career. Professional football players have come back from similar ankle dislocations, and I would bet on Prescott making a full recovery.