Takeaways and big questions: Ravens and Rams roll, Wentz impresses


Week 6 of the 2021 NFL season saw Tua Tagovailoa return as the starting quarterback for the Dolphins in London against a struggling Jaguars team looking for its first victory. Tagovailoa led Miami to a touchdown on his first drive and the Dolphins led early, but Jacksonville rallied and hit a last-second field goal to stop its losing streak at 20 games.

On Thursday night, Tom Brady threw two more touchdown passes for the Buccaneers, pushing his season total to 17, as Tampa Bay held off the Eagles on the road despite the loss of cornerback Richard Sherman to a hamstring injury.

The afternoon games will feature intriguing matchups, including the Chargers (4-1) at the Ravens (4-1), the Cardinals (5-0) at the Browns (3-2) and the Cowboys (4-1) visiting the Patriots (2-3).

Our NFL Nation reporters react with the major takeaways and lingering questions from this week’s action. Plus, they each look at the bigger picture with their current team confidence rating — a 0-10 grade of how they feel about the team’s outlook coming out of the week. Let’s get to it.

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What to know: Coach Urban Meyer and quarterback Trevor Lawrence got their first NFL victory thanks to a field goal by a kicker who was a free agent when the season started. It stopped a 20-game losing streak that was the second longest in NFL history dating back to the 2020 season opener. It doesn’t matter that the Dolphins were missing their top two cornerbacks and top three receivers and that it was a struggle all the way. This takes a lot of pressure off Meyer and Lawrence. — Mike DiRocco

What does this mean for kicker Josh Lambo? The most accurate field goal kicker in Jaguars history is now likely out of a job after Matthew Wright‘s two field goals, including the winner. Lambo has been battling confidence issues since the season started and hasn’t played in the past three games. Wright’s performance should win him the job permanently. — DiRocco

DiRocco’s confidence rating (0-10): 3, up from 2.5. The Jaguars got sneaky at the end and it set up a field goal, overcoming all the questionable decisions Meyer had made all day.

Next game: at Seahawks (4:05 p.m. ET, Oct. 31)


What to know: Coach Brian Flores said righting the ship would be a team effort and the onus wasn’t on Tua Tagovailoa to stop their four-game losing streak. However, Miami put the game in Tagovailoa’s hands in his first game back from injured reserve. Tagovailoa attempted 47 passes, completing 33 for 329 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. His shining moment came during a seven-play, 91-yard go-ahead scoring drive in the fourth quarter in which he completed all six of his attempts for 83 yards and a touchdown — a drive that came immediately following a possession in which he threw a bad interception. The Dolphins seem ready to live and die by Tagovailoa’s left arm, and he nearly delivered — but his performance wasn’t enough to overcome poor defensive play and coaching decisions down the stretch. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Can Miami figure out how to play from ahead? The Dolphins haven’t led too often this season, but they have held multiple-score leads twice and failed to keep either. Miami led 13-3 against one of the worst teams in the NFL and didn’t finish the job. If putting consistent drives together is the first step toward fixing Miami’s problems on both sides of the ball, the second is learning how to finish — especially with another must-win game in Week 7. — Louis-Jacques

Louis-Jacques’ confidence rating (0-10): 2, down from 4. Tagovailoa’s return was strong, but losing to the Jaguars is unacceptable for a team that considered itself a playoff contender entering the season. The Dolphins’ record drops to 1-5; 111 teams have started their seasons with the same record and three have made the playoffs. If the Dolphins can’t beat the Falcons and the Bills in their next two games, stick a fork in their playoff hopes.

Next game: vs. Falcons (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


What to know: With a ravaged defense already down four starters and cornerback Richard Sherman leaving the game in the first quarter, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady and running back Leonard Fournette carried the load on the road. — Jenna Laine

Can the Bucs survive yet another injury on defense? Sherman suffered a hamstring pull on the opening drive and was ruled out for the remainder of the game for the Bucs, who were already without Carlton Davis, Sean Murphy-Bunting, Antoine Winfield Jr. and Lavonte David. Coach Bruce Arians said Winfield is close to clearing the concussion protocol, but this pass defense was already banged up prior to Sherman’s injury. Now the Bucs must make do with Jamel Dean, Ross Cockrell, Dee Delaney, Pierre Desir and Rashard Robinson. Over the past two weeks, the pass rush has helped tremendously. — Laine

Laine’s confidence rating (0-10): 8, up from 7.5. The Bucs are 5-1 despite being totally decimated by injuries, but will the offense continue to carry them against tougher defenses? We will find out soon with the Bears and Saints up next.

Next game: vs. Bears (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)


What to know: Coach Nick Sirianni continues to ask too much of quarterback Jalen Hurts. Entering Week 6, Hurts had accounted for 87% of the Eagles’ offense by yardage, the highest of any team in the NFL. It was the same story against Tampa Bay. Eagles running backs received just one carry in the first half and nine for the game. Hurts has made 10 NFL starts. He is not consistent enough of a passer at this point to be shouldering such a load. — Tim McManus

What is with the big swings in Hurts’ accuracy? In games against the Falcons, Chiefs and Cowboys, Hurts completed a combined 69% with seven touchdowns to two interceptions. Against the 49ers, Panthers and Bucs, he completed 53% with a touchdown and two interceptions. To establish himself as a quality quarterback in the NFL, Hurts needs to stabilize as a passer. — McManus

McManus’ confidence rating (0-10): 3.9, down from 4.5. The Eagles have dropped four of five and have clear identity issues on offense. They are through the most difficult portion of their schedule. Perhaps they will find some answers on the road the next two weeks against the Raiders and Lions.

Next game: at Raiders (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday)

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