The 40 things we learned from Week 10 of the NFL season:
1. On Sunday, the NFL deemed a report from ESPN “nonsense” amid claims that Commissioner Roger Goodell is seeking $49.5 million annually, lifetime use of a private jet and lifetime health insurance for his family as part of his next contract. Gotta start negotiations somewhere, right? Surely Goodell would reasonably settle for $40 million per year and permanent first-class gratis airline fares.
2. And now you have some idea why it takes soooooo long for the league and players union to agree on anything, especially when it comes time to hammer out a labor deal … a headache Goodell is scheduled to face in 2021 and the primary reason his compensation is off the charts.
3. Welcome back, Teddy Bridgewater. The Vikings quarterback was in tears just before kickoff Sunday in Washington, the first time he’d been active for a non-preseason game since the 2015 playoffs. A horrific non-contact knee injury in practice just prior to the 2016 season jeopardized Bridgewater’s career while sidelining him from meaningful football for 442 days.
4. However the Vikings don’t seem like they’ll need Teddy B.’s services any time soon. Case Keenum went off for a career-best four TD passes against the Redskins, keeping Minnesota (7-2) in control of the NFC North.
5. The Vikings continue their mastery of touchdown celebrations. This week, WR Adam Thielen’s second quarter score set off a game of leapfrog.
6. Thielen, remarkably consistent with at least five catches in every game of 2017, finished with eight grabs for 166 yards. It was his second game this season with more than 150 yards, joining Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown and Indianapolis’ T.Y. Hilton as the only players to do that multiple times in 2017.
7. Prayers and warm thoughts for New Orleans RB Daniel Lasco, who was taken off the field in Buffalo in an ambulance after suffering a scary back injury during a kickoff. Lasco waved his hand on his way off the field, and the Saints later said he had feeling in his extremities.
8. Lasco’s injury was the only concern on a day when the Saints otherwise maintained first place in the NFC South after steamrolling the Bills 47-10. Amazingly, not one of New Orleans’ points came courtesy of a Drew Brees TD pass, though he did run for one. Since Brees arrived in New Orleans in 2006, the team had been 4-11 when he didn’t toss a TD and had never scored more than 27 points.
9. If the Saints stay this hot — their winning streak is now at seven — they can start thinking about at least one playoff game at the Superdome. But they should feel good about their chances of winning in January — even in, say, a Philadelphia snowstorm — given how well they’re running the ball and playing defense.
10. WR Kelvin Benjamin caught three passes for 42 yards in his Bills debut. He did not snare the game’s only TD pass, which naturally came off the right arm of Buffalo rookie QB Nate Peterman.
11. Time to stick a fork into the notion that the Bills might be ready for their first playoff appearance since 1999? After “defending the dirt” so well, they lost their first home game under rookie coach Sean McDermott in dramatic style, surrendering 482 yards (298 on the ground) in addition to those 47 points. Buffalo did nothing on offense and was penalized eight times. Not a good omen for a team that still has to face the Patriots twice.
12. Sunday was the type of performance the Packers have been waiting for from QB Brett Hundley, who channeled his inner Aaron Rodgers with his game-winning, 19-yard fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Davante Adams against the Bears. Hundley rolled to his right out of the pocket, planted his feet and threw a perfect back shoulder pass to the end zone.
13. Expect discussions next offseason regarding the rule that turns a fumble at the pylon into a touchback after it cost another team a score Sunday. This time it was the Bears, when officials determined RB Benny Cunningham lost control of the ball as he dove for the pylon after a 23-yard catch. Instead of a touchdown — or even a ruling that Cunningham was out of bounds at the 1-yard line — it was called a touchback, and possession reverted to Green Bay. (Bears coach John Fox, however, deserves plenty of blame after challenging the initial call — out of bounds shy of the end zone — and the result of the challenge, after officials had time to review replays, was the touchback.)
14. Much of the focus on Cleveland’s ineptitude has shifted to the front office recently after the Browns’ botched attempt to acquire Bengals QB AJ McCarron. But after watching the team’s “execution” as QB DeShone Kizer attempted a 2-yard sneak for a TD at the end of the first half with time winding down and no timeouts — Kizer was stuffed by Detroit as the final 15 seconds ticked off, and Browns RB Duke Johnson was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct — Hue Jackson must shoulder plenty of the blame for this team’s lack of preparedness. That’s exactly what Jackson did after the game, though many Browns players said Kizer audibled to the sneak.
15. The Browns are now 1-24 during the Jackson regime. The franchise’s last road win came on Oct. 11, 2015.
16. And with the 49ers breaking through for Kyle Shanahan’s first win Sunday, Cleveland is now in the driver’s seat for the No. 1 overall draft pick. Again.
17. The Niners handled the Giants, who also have just one win this season, Sunday. Since Dec. 6, 2015, San Francisco hadn’t beaten any team except the Rams. Have fun with that, Ben McAdoo.
18. Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, 20, is the NFL’s youngest player. He scored six points (7-yard TD catch) in Sunday’s win over the Colts.
19. Colts K Adam Vinatieri, 44, is the NFL’s oldest player. His field goal and two extra points Sunday weren’t enough against Smith-Schuster’s Steelers.
20. Don’t sleep on the Jags when they punt. Corey Grant stung the Chargers by dashing and darting 56 yards for a TD after taking the snap as the up-back on a fake — the exact surprise that Jacksonville hit the Ravens with for a 58-yard gain in London during Week 3.
21. Grant’s big play made him Jacksonville’s leading rusher Sunday. Playing for the first time since Oct. 15, Leonard Fournette had just 33 yards on 17 carries after beginning the day leading the NFL in rushing yards per game (99.3).
22. The Jags entered Sunday with a league-high 35 sacks, making them a threat to break the single-season record held by the ’84 Bears (72). However Jacksonville didn’t take down statue-esque Chargers QB Philip Rivers once.
23. In a day full of dumb penalties (see: Burfict, Vontaze), Jaguars WR Marqise Lee might have had the dumbest when he was flagged for taunting after he thought he’d drawn an unnecessary roughness penalty — he hadn’t — in the end zone late in the fourth quarter. Blake Bortles was intercepted on the subsequent third-and-25 play.
24. However the Jags survived in overtime after CB A.J. Bouye’s 51-yard return of a Rivers interception set up K Josh Lambo’s game-winning 30-yard field goal. The Chargers cut Lambo before the season.
25. Losing at EverBank Field was nothing new for Chargers DC Gus Bradley, who was 14-48 in three-plus years as the Jaguars’ head coach.
26. First-place Jacksonville is now 6-3, the first time it has had that many wins in a season since going 8-8 in 2010.
27. The Titans are tied with the Jags atop the AFC South after squeaking by the Bengals 24-20. Tennessee has won four in a row, but it’s last three victories have come by a total of 10 points.
28. Titans rookie CB Adoree’ Jackson would make Chuck Bednarik proud. Jackson started on defense, made two tackles and broke up two passes. He also ran the ball three times for 30 yards, brought back three punts for 17 yards and returned three kickoffs for 71 yards. Ask for overtime pay, Adoree’.
29. Did we mention Vontaze Burfict earlier? Yes? Almost forgot since he didn’t play much Sunday. The Bengals’ resident bad boy backer was penalized for a late hit on Titans RB DeMarco Murray and for making contact with an official in the span of three plays. Burfict was in the showers before halftime.
30. So much for the upstart Jets heading into next week’s bye at 5-5. Sunday, they lost 15-10 to old “friend” Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jameis Winston-less and Mike Evans-less Bucs, who snapped a five-game skid in a defensive struggle that didn’t produce a touchdown until the fourth quarter.
31. Giants QB Eli Manning made his 208th consecutive start Sunday, tying brother Peyton for second place on Iron Man list behind Brett Favre (297). Peyton’s streak ended because of injury in 2011. Could Eli lose his during this season if McAdoo decides it’s time to evaluate rookie QB Davis Webb?
32. Atlanta’s Matt Ryan became the 19th quarterback in NFL history to pass for 40,000 career yards. But he needed only 151 games to do it, making him the quickest player to reach the milestone.
33. Apparently the Cowboys missed LT Tyron Smith far more than suspended RB Ezekiel Elliott. With Smith out with a groin injury, Falcons DE Adrian Clayborn sacked QB Dak Prescott six times, one shy of Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas’ single-game record. A seven-year vet, Clayborn had only exceeded six sacks in a season once.
34. Without Elliott, the Cowboys scored a season-low seven points in their 27-7 loss to Atlanta.
35. Rams WR Robert Woods has four TD catches in the past two games. During his first four NFL seasons, all in Buffalo, he had four TDs in a season just once. Woods scored twice and had a career-best 171 yards in Sunday’s win over Houston.
36. But even though the Rams have become the NFL’s darlings courtesy of their top-scoring offense — they trounced the Texans 33-7 — they’ve allowed just 57 points over the past five games.
37. Let’s hope Larry Fitzgerald has at least one more season in him despite the disappointment of the current campaign. The Arizona receiver went over the 15,000-yard mark Thursday night and now needs 869 more to jump from sixth place on the all-time list (15,066) to second, where Terrell Owens (15,934) currently resides waaaay behind Jerry Rice.
38. A real shame that a ruptured Achilles’ tendon will force perennial Seahawks Pro Bowler Richard Sherman into missing the first games of his career after he’d played 105 consecutively since being drafted in 2011. (You and Joe Thomas should have a beer together, Sherm, and celebrate your interrupted longevity.)
39. The Broncos insisted there was no reason to panic after last week’s rout by the Eagles, but we wonder if the folks in Denver can maintain that claim after a 41-16 drumming at the hand of the Patriots. The first five-game losing streak for the team since 2010 is hard to stomach, especially as the special teams mistakes pile up and the once-dominant defense now looks vulnerable.
40. Martellus Bennett had a relatively quiet debut in his first game back with New England with three catches for 38 yards, though he had plenty to say afterward. But we can’t help but think about what havoc he could wreak with Rob Gronkowski in the Patriots’ two tight end sets, especially in the playoffs.
New England Patriots running back Rex Burkhead (34) runs for a touchdown ahead of Denver Broncos safety Darian Stewart (26) in the first quarter at Sports Authority Field. Isaiah J. Downing, USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn (99) celebrates a sack with defensive end Brooks Reed (50) and defensive end Takkarist McKinley (98) against the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Brett Davis, USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers defensive back Adrian Colbert (38) and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon (23) break up a pass intended for New York Giants tight end Evan Engram (88) during the first quarter at Levi’s Stadium. Kyle Terada, USA TODAY Sports
New York Giants running back Orleans Darkwa (26) runs with the ball past San Francisco 49ers defensive back Adrian Colbert (38) during the first quarter at Levi’s Stadium. Sergio Estrada, USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods (17) celebrates with the crowd after a touchdown against the Houston Texans during the third quarter at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Kelvin Kuo, USA TODAY Sports
Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) catches a pass defended by Los Angeles Rams cornerback Kayvon Webster (21) during the fourth quarter at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Kelvin Kuo, USA TODAY Sports
Detroit Lions running back Ameer Abdullah celebrates with wide receiver Marvin Jones, wide receiver T.J. Jones, and wide receiver Golden Tate after running for a touchdown during the second quarter against the Cleveland Browns at Ford Field. Raj Mehta, USA TODAY Sports
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston reacts to quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick after a touchdown by running back Charles Sims against the New York Jets in the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Aaron Doster, USA TODAY Sports
Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota is knocked out of bounds by Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam Jones as he dives for the goal line during the first half at Nissan Stadium. Jim Brown, USA TODAY Sports
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen stiff arms Washington Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland as he runs after the catch during the first quarter at FedEx Field. Tommy Gilligan, USA TODAY Sports
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee makes a catch for the two point conversion ahead of Los Angeles Chargers cornerback Casey Hayward during the second half at EverBank Field. Reinhold Matay, USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler celebrates with wide receiver Keenan Allen after his touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second half at EverBank Field. Jasen Vinlove, USA TODAY Sports
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Keelan Cole can not make the catch in front of Los Angeles Chargers inside linebacker Korey Toomer during the second half at EverBank Field. Jasen Vinlove, USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler runs on a 28-yard touchdown reception against Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey and outside linebacker Telvin Smith in the second quarter at EverBank Field. Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton attempts to stay in bounds after catching a pass under coverage from Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Artie Burns during the second quarter of the game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Marc Lebryk, USA TODAY Sports
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Donte Moncrief celebrates a touchdown with Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Chester Rogers during the first quarter of the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lucas Oil Stadium. Marc Lebryk, USA TODAY Sports
After scoring a touchdown New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram jumps into the stands and gives the ball to a Saints fan during the second quarter a game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mark Konezny, USA TODAY Sports
New York Jets wide receiver Jermaine Kearse is tackled by Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (left) and defensive back T.J. Ward (middle) in the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Aaron Doster, USA TODAY Sports
Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Malik Jackson celebrates as Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon cannot convert on third down during the first half at EverBank Field. Jasen Vinlove, USA TODAY Sports
Washington Redskins wide receiver Maurice Harris celebrates after his touchdown was confirmed by intent replay in the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at FedEx Field. Tommy Gilligan, USA TODAY Sports
Arizona Cardinals tight end Jermaine Gresham (84) gives the ball to a fan after scoring a touchdown in the first half against the Seattle Seahawks at University of Phoenix Stadium. Matt Kartozian, USA TODAY Sports
Seattle Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham (88) celebrates with teammates after catching a touchdown pass against the Arizona Cardinals in the first quarter at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports
Seattle Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham (88) catches a touchdown pass as Arizona Cardinals safety Tyvon Branch (27) suffers a leg injury in the first quarter at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports
Arizona Cardinals safety Tyvon Branch (27) breaks up a pass intended for Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett (16) in the first quarter at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports
Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Olsen Pierre (72) and safety Tyrann Mathieu (32) sack Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) during the first half at University of Phoenix Stadium. Matt Kartozian, USA TODAY Sports
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Larry Fitzgerald takes a photo with a fans Canon camera on the sidelines prior to the game against the Seattle Seahawks at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Blaine Gabbert stretches on the field wearing a tooth fairy costume after losing the weekly quarterbacks bet before playing the Seattle Seahawks at University of Phoenix Stadium. Rob Schumacher, The Republic-USA TODAY NETWORK