The starting quarterbacks from last season's Super Bowl combined to throw a hand-wringing 14 interceptions through the first five weeks of 2006.
After throwing seven interceptions apiece in their first four games, the two Super Bowl quarterbacks finally played up to expectations.
Roethlisberger's early slump was more troublesome because of his touchdown drought, the Steelers' 1-3 start and his off-field issues.
He seemingly resolved those problems by throwing for 224 yards and two touchdowns in the first half as the Steelers cruised to a 31-0 halftime lead.
Hasselbeck had five touchdowns to go with his seven picks before yesterday. While the Seahawks have lost only once this season, that loss -- a 37-6 blowout against the Chicago Bears -- suggested Seattle might become the sixth straight Super Bowl loser to miss the playoffs the following season.
Not to worry, Seahawks fans. Throwing for 268 yards and three touchdowns, Hasselbeck dispatched Seattle's only serious NFC West threat.
Halftime leads meant little in Week 6. Of the eight 1 p.m. starts, five were won by teams that trailed at halftime.
The Giants beat the Atlanta Falcons at their own game, turning Tiki Barber (185 rushing yards) loose on the league's No. 2 rush defense for a 27-14 win. Barber's effort outshined Warrick Dunn's 146-yard performance that included a 90-yard TD run.
Down 14-3 after that long run early in the third quarter, the Giants scored the last 24 points. A pass rush that sacked the Falcons' Michael Vick seven times was the difference.
Brees rallies Saints
Brees helped the Saints to a 17-3 first-half lead. When the Eagles rebounded for a 24-17 lead in the second half, Brees hit Joe Horn for a tying 48-yard touchdown pass.
Then he directed a 16-play, 72-yard drive to the winning field goal, a 31-yarder from John Carney, that consumed the final 8:26 of the game.
Brees threw two interceptions, but also threw for three touchdowns and 275 yards. The resurgent Saints are the surprise story of the NFL, leading the NFC South at 5-1.
They have a bye next week, then face the Ravens in New Orleans in Week 8.
S. Smith: playmaker
Terrell Owens had three touchdown catches in the Dallas Cowboys' 34-6 romp over the hapless Houston Texans -- will he shut up for a week now, maybe? -- but it's hard to imagine a better receiver in the NFL than Carolina's Steve Smith.
Smith torched the Ravens for eight catches worth 189 yards in the Panthers' 23-21 victory, and his 72-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter decided the issue.
Smith is the best playmaker in the league right now, and because of him, the Panthers are never out of any game.
Replay works for Bucs
Say what you will about instant replay, but it served its purpose in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 14-13 win over the Bengals.
When Bucs receiver Michael Clayton lost the ball upon hitting the ground in the end zone after taking a pass from Bruce Gradkowski, the play was ruled an incompletion. But the booth official ordered a replay, and it was determined that Clayton had broken the plane at the goal line first, and the touchdown sent the Bengals to their second straight loss.
It also ended a streak of eight straight wins against NFC opponents for Cincinnati.
NFC has upper hand
It's still early, but this is worth noting: The NFC holds a 13-8 advantage in interconference games so far, including a 4-2 edge in yesterday's games.
The AFC's only wins in Week 6 belonged to the Titans, who beat the Redskins, and the San Diego Chargers, who shredded the San Francisco 49ers, 48-19.