Originally Published: 09 OCT 23 06:38 ET
By Ben Morse, CNN
(CNN) — There are some weeks in the NFL when it’s hard to pick out the main storylines, but then there are others where every game seems to have some big takeaway from it.
Week 5 was one of those weeks where all of Sunday’s game had intrigue, talking points or controversies.
49ers dominate in historic rivalry
The sight of the red of the San Francisco 49ers and the silver of the Dallas Cowboys on the same field is one which evokes strong memories of the heyday of one of the NFL’s fiercest rivalries.
The two battled plenty through the 1980s and 1990s, many times in the latter stages of the playoffs with the winner often going on to win the Super Bowl.
After laying dormant for a while, the rivalry has been renewed in recent years with two postseason meetings; the 49ers have won both, eliminating the Cowboys from the playoffs in the last two seasons.
When the two met on Sunday Night Football, with both enjoying promising starts to the season, a thrilling encounter was anticipated.
It didn’t live up to the billing though, with the 49ers continuing their unbeaten start to the season thanks to a blowout 42-10 victory over the Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium in California.
Second-year quarterback Brock Purdy threw for four touchdowns – a hat trick to tight end George Kittle – while Christian McCaffrey and Jordan Mason ran for a touchdown apiece as the 49ers dominated their opponents from Texas.
McCaffrey’s touchdown continues his excellent season as it was his 14th consecutive game with a score, tied with Emmitt Smith for the fourth-longest streak in NFL history. He is one behind Hall of Fame running backs Lenny Moore, O.J. Simpson, and John Riggins, who all scored in 15 straight games.
The 49ers defense turned the screw on the Cowboys offense at the same time, intercepting Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott three times – Oren Burks, Tashaun Gipson and Fred Warner each picking off the 30-year-old.
For the 49ers, the win reinforced the team’s title credentials, while it was another frustrating defeat for the Cowboys, emphasizing the team’s up and down form.
The Cowboys have enjoyed dominant victories, like last week’s win against the New England Patriots, but have also suffered damaging defeats to opponents they would be expected to beat, such as to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 3.
“Didn’t see it coming,” Prescott said afterwards, per the NFL. “Put everything into this and got punched in the mouth.
“Called a couple weeks ago humbling against Arizona. But this may be the most humbling game I’ve ever been a part of.”
The end of an era in New England?
The New England Patriots have had a period of unmatched success under the stewardship of Bill Belichick.
Six Super Bowl titles, record number of wins and a legendary partnership with Tom Brady – his status as the organization’s most important head coach is solidified.
However, with Brady gone and the team in a state of flux, Belichick has struggled to replicate the level of excellence he once enjoyed.
The 2023 season has been one to forget for the 71-year-old so far with the Patriots’ only win coming against an injury-ravaged New York Jets.
Last week, he suffered the heaviest defeat of his storied career in a 38-3 thumping by the Cowboys, one which saw him bench quarterback Mac Jones midway through the game.
It was a similar story this week too, with the Patriots losing 34-0 at home to the New Orleans Saints, a result which saw Jones benched once more and the New England fans voice their displeasure by booing throughout Sunday’s game.
Jones threw two interceptions and lost a fumble as the team produced a season-low 156 yards of total offense in what was the largest home loss Belichick has ever had as a head coach.
Between a poor season last year, some underwhelming performances to begin this campaign and reports of discontent emanating from Massachusetts, questions have begun to percolate as to whether Belichick’s time with the Patriots is coming to an end.
However, he insisted after the loss to the Saints that he is focused on readdressing the team’s issues.
“Obviously, it was a poor performance today here,” Belichick told reporters, per the NFL. “Plain and simple, we’ve got to find a way to play and coach better than that.
“So let’s go start all over and get back on a better track than we’re on right now. Slow start, and then just couldn’t, could never really get the game under control.”
Offensive explosion continues
The Miami Dolphins are now 4-1 after Sunday’s emphatic 31-16 victory over the New York Giants, a victory which saw the team continue its record opening on offense.
Miami totaled 524 yards against the Giants – with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa throwing for 308 yards, Tyreek Hill catching 181 of those, and rookie running back De’Von Achane rushing for 151 yards. Second-year head coach Mike McDaniel continued to show why he’s viewed as the NFL’s most creative young offensive mind.
It means that the 2023 Dolphins have set a new record for the most offensive yards for a team through five weeks of the NFL season, previously held by the 2000 St. Louis Rams.
That Rams team was given the nickname the “Greatest Show on Turf,” and the Miami fans have crowned this year’s team with its own Florida spin on that famous nickname – “The Greatest Show on Surf.”
According to NFL.com, Miami has 2,568 total yards of offense this season, which is over 500 more than the second-place Eagles.
It wasn’t a perfect outing for the Dolphins though, with Tagovailoa throwing two interceptions, including one which was returned for a 102-yard touchdown by the Giants’ Jason Pinnock.
Tagovailoa does lead the NFL with 1,614 passing yards, and – according to NFL Research – is the first player in Dolphins history with at least 1,600 passing yards in the team’s first five games of the season, breaking Dan Marino’s franchise record of 1,574, set in 1994.
When his team’s historic offensive achievement was put to him after the victory, McDaniel had a simple response: “Mission accomplished.”
“We had the whole time, the whole off-season, that was our goal was output after five games,” he told reporters with a smile. “I mean, I think it speaks to what the group is capable of and you’re honored to be in the same breath for any statistical reason.
“But when push comes to shove, I think it speaks to a lot of deliberate hard work from a lot of human beings, players, coaches, everyone.”
Full Week 5 Sunday scores
Away vs. home
Jacksonville Jaguars 25-20 Buffalo Bills
Houston Texans 19-21 Atlanta Falcons
Carolina Panthers 24-42 Detroit Lions
Tennessee Titans 16-23 Indianapolis Colts
New York Giants 16-31 Miami Dolphins
New Orleans Saints 34-0 New England Patriots
Baltimore Ravens 10-17 Pittsburgh Steelers
Cincinnati Bengals 34-20 Arizona Cardinals
Philadelphia Eagles 23-14 Los Angeles Rams
New York Jets 31-21 Denver Broncos
Kansas City Chiefs 27-20 Minnesota Vikings
Dallas Cowboys 10-42 San Francisco 49ers