Around The NFL breaks down what you need to know from all of Sunday's action in Week 4 of the 2023 NFL season.Catch up on each game's biggest takeaways using the links below:
SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
- Jacksonville Jaguars 23, Atlanta Falcons 7
- Buffalo Bills 48, Miami Dolphins 20
- Minnesota Vikings 21, Carolina Panthers 13
- Denver Broncos 31, Chicago Bears 28
- Baltimore Ravens 28, Cleveland Browns 3
- Houston Texans 30, Pittsburgh Steelers 6
- Los Angeles Rams 29, Indianapolis Colts 23
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26, New Orleans Saints 9
- Philadelphia Eagles 34, Washington Commanders 31
- Tennessee Titans 27, Cincinnati Bengals 3
- READ: Patrick Mahomes becomes fastest to 200 passing TDs
- READ: Jets HC Robert Saleh lauds Zach Wilson's performance after loss
Coral Smith's takeaways:
- Chiefs make it through rough offensive outing. After taking a 17-0 first-quarter lead, the Chiefs offense seemed to lose its mojo, allowing the Jets to get back in the game through a series of miscues, including two uncharacteristic interceptions by Patrick Mahomes and a safety caused by a Jawaan Taylor facemask penalty in the end zone. Consistent pressure from the Jets’ defense certainly didn’t help matters. But in the end, they did just enough to pull out the win, putting together a 14-play drive ending in a field goal and then running out the clock after Jets QB Zach Wilson’s costly fourth-quarter fumble. Travis Kelce, who had his fair share of media attention with Taylor Swift in attendance again but had become essentially invisible after the first quarter, got back in the action to reel in a couple of key catches to move the 75-play drive along, finishing with a team-leading 60 yards on six catches. And once Gang Green coughed up the ball on the ensuing possession, Kansas City ran out the clock. The Jets had the ball for just 3:27 in the final quarter, and the Chiefs escaped with a win despite up-and-down offensive play.
- Zach Wilson can’t quite deliver. Since Aaron Rodgers’ untimely Week 1 injury, the Jets have remained emphatic that Wilson was still their man despite some dismal performances. And on Sunday, Wilson seemed to finally find his stride for a moment before letting things get away from him once again. New York tied up the game with a seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive coming out of halftime, with Wilson going 5-for-5 passing with throws of 25 and 23 yards and converting the two-point conversion with his legs. But he couldn’t find the end zone again, with the next two Jets possessions ending in punts. The inability to take the lead opened the door, and looking to respond after the Chiefs’ fourth-quarter field goal, Wilson instead fumbled a snap and Kansas City recovered. What could have been a statement win for the much-scrutinized QB instead ended in heartbreak.
- Isiah Pacheco a bright spot amid struggles. In a game during which the Chiefs’ passing game was largely unable to get things moving for three quarters, Pacheco accounted for a solid portion of the positive yardage in a breakout showing. The second-year back shined early, shedding would-be tacklers en route to a 48-yard touchdown in the first quarter. He continued to reliably run the ball through the rest of the game, finishing with 20 carries and an average of 5.8 yards per tote. After having solid, if not flashy, showings through the first three games of the season (155 total rushing yards), Week 4 saw Pacheco finish with career highs in both rushing and receiving yards, recording 115 and 43 yards, respectively. The 24-year-old runner continues to grow and gain importance in this offense.
Next Gen stat of the game: Isiah Pacheco’s 48-yard rushing touchdown had a 0.5% TD probability, the most improbable touchdown run of his career, with 39 rush yards over expected.
NFL Research: With Sunday’s win, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid became the fifth NFL coach with at least 250 regular-season wins.
- READ: Chargers OLB Mack notches six sacks, finishes one shy of record
- READ: Justin Herbert leads Bolts win despite "flesh wound" on left hand
- READ: Chargers QB Herbert won't miss time with fractured finger
Nick Shook's takeaways:
- Chargers escape with a wacky win. After throwing for 220-plus yards in each of his first three games, Justin Herbert fell short of that mark on Sunday, completing 13 of 24 passes for 167 yards. He simply didn't need to stuff the stat sheet to turn possessions into points. Two short fields produced by takeaways made the going easier for Herbert, who was once again slinging the ball all over the field, helping the Chargers build a 24-7 halftime lead. When things started to fall apart, though, Herbert wasn't spared. He threw an ugly interception that opened the door for the Raiders to mount a comeback, and suffered an apparent hand injury during the return, playing the rest of the game with a glove on his left (non-throwing) hand and a splint on his left middle finger. The injury was significant enough for Herbert to take his victory formation snaps from the shotgun. Luckily for him, Asante Samuel Jr.'s interception late in the fourth quarter made such kneel-downs possible.
- Turnovers sink Raiders. Rookie Aidan O'Connell made his first career start in place of Jimmy Garoppolo (concussion) on Sunday and almost immediately found the going to be difficult. He fumbled the ball away twice in the second quarter, which the Chargers turned into two touchdowns, and was sacked seven times (six were by the same player -- more on that later). Three of the Raiders' final four drives lasted at least 12 plays, including a handful of on-target passes that kept Las Vegas' hopes alive. But his final throw doomed them, ending in Samuel's interception. At 1-3, the Raiders are an incredibly frustrating team that can't seem to get out of its own way. They certainly didn't help themselves on Sunday, especially early.
- Khalil Mack: Still good. At 32 years old, it was fair to wonder if Mack might ever rediscover the form that saw him rack up double-digit sack totals annually from 2015 to '18. He'd flirted with the mark in recent years, but for a Chargers team that gave up at least 24 points per game in each of its first three contests entering Week 4, he needed to be that type of game-changer to help them become an effective group, especially with Joey Bosa sidelined on Sunday. Mack answered the call in resounding fashion, recording six sacks, one short of tying the single-game record of seven (set by Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas in 1990). Mack repeatedly dug the Raiders into holes in key moments, including on a pivotal fourth-quarter drive that seemed destined to produce points, but ended in a punt. On Sunday, he proved he still has some of that elite fuel in his tank.
Next Gen stat of the game: Despite failing to convert, Brandon Staley's decision to go for it on fourth-and-inches in Chargers territory late in the fourth quarter was the optimal call, per Next Gen Stats. It was the second consecutive week in which he made the optimal decision in such a situation and the Chargers failed to convert but still won the game.
NFL Research: Khalil Mack joined Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas as the only players in NFL history with multiple games of five-plus sacks. Also, Mack became the sixth player since sacks were first officially recorded in 1982 to finish a game with six sacks.
- READ: Belichick suffers largest defeat of career in loss to Cowboys
- READ: Cowboys' Bland snags two interceptions filling in for Diggs
Kevin Patra's takeaways:
- Dallas' defense smothers Patriots as Cowboys roll. Dan Quinn's D shook off last week's disappointing performance by taking it out on New England. The Cowboys’ D-line dominated the Patriots’ struggling offensive line, controlling play up front. Stifling the run game (2.3 yards per carry), Dallas made New England one-dimensional. Dante Fowler hustled from the back side to strip Mac Jones in the second quarter, and Leighton Vander Esch scooped up the loose ball for a TD. With the Pats unable to threaten downfield, Dallas squatted on routes, challenging everything underneath. DaRon Bland jumped an ill-advised cross-field toss from Jones for a pick-six, giving Dallas its second defensive score of the first half. Bland added another INT to open the third quarter. After giving up an opening-drive field goal, Dallas' D allowed just six first downs and 13.5 net yards per drive on the next nine Patriots drives. In their three wins to open the 2023 campaign, Dallas has outscored its opponents 108-13.
- Mac Jones benched after latest dud. Jones turned the ball over three times, leading to 18 Dallas points, and completed only 12 of 21 attempts for 150 yards before being sent to the bench in favor of Bailey Zappe with 3:41 left in the third quarter. The Patriots' woeful blocking didn't help, but Jones' ball security and mental mistakes exacerbated the issues. Jones never looked comfortable, often fleeing the pocket too early and throwing two atrocious interceptions that never had a shot to be completed. He's lucky to have only thrown two. The third-year QB either couldn't or wouldn't stretch the field, attempting only one deep pass. Zappe fared a little better behind a sieve offensive line, completing 4 of 9 attempts for 57 yards. When asked after the game about whether Jones would start in Week 5, Bill Belichick told reporters “Yeah. I didn’t think there was any point in leaving him out there, so I took him out.” The question is how long will the leash be if the struggles continue?
- Cowboys' red-zone issues persist. It didn't bite them this week, but Mike McCarthy's red-zone offense remains a work in progress. Dallas started 0 of 3 in the red area, extending its streak of possessions inside the 20-yard-line without a touchdown to seven straight dating back to last week. It took a 3-yard run from fullback Hunter Luepke late in the blowout to end the streak. Dallas' red-zone offense remains an amalgam of negative plays, head-scratching play calls and sacks. Through four weeks, Dallas is 7 of 19 in the red zone. The Cowboys moved the ball between the 20s, earning 377 yards and 22 first downs while going 8 of 15 on third-down conversions. The red-zone problems become background noise when the defense plays like it did on Sunday. But it's something McCarthy will need to clean up to keep pace in tighter contests.
Next Gen stat of the game: Mac Jones completed 7 of 10 passes for 69 yards and two INTs when not under pressure. Jones averaged -0.85 EPA per dropback when not under pressure, his lowest mark in a game on such dropbacks in his career.
NFL Research: The 35-point loss is the largest margin of defeat in Bill Belichick’s 29-year head coaching career.
Eric Edholm's takeaways:
- Too much Christian McCaffrey and Brandon Aiyuk. Credit the Cardinals for making a game of it after falling behind 21-3 in the second quarter. But despite making it a five-point game in the second half, they had no answers for the 49ers’ two big playmakers. McCaffrey scored the 49ers’ first four TDs -- three rushing, one receiving -- and totaled 177 yards from scrimmage in another high-volume game. Three of his TDs came in the first half, as the Niners scored on every possession other than the end-of-half kneel-down. After missing last week, Aiyuk returned in fine fashion to give the offense a turbo boost. They didn’t go to him much early on, but Aiyuk hauled in catches of 16, 11, 42, 25, 34 and 20 yards. Interestingly, the first five of those came on first downs, showing just how tough the 49ers can be to defend in any situation. On a day where George Kittle and Deebo Samuel combined for one catch, the 49ers rang up nearly 400 yards of offense and won comfortably.
- Cardinals battle but come up short. The Cardinals fell behind 14-0 and played the game with desperation from that point on, going for it on fourth-and-7 near midfield early in the second quarter and converting on a fake punt from their own 21-yard line later in the second quarter. Those plays led to 10 Arizona points, keeping it close at the half. It was game on when the Cardinals drove 99 (and a half) yards in the third quarter to cut the lead to five. But the 49ers stopped the two-point try -- with only 10 men defending on the field -- and the Cards just couldn’t finish the comeback. They ran out of gas against the high-powered Niners but also paid for their own mistakes. Seven first-half penalties really hurt as San Francisco grabbed a 21-3 lead, and Niners QB Brock Purdy finished with one incompletion and was hit only one time.
- Michael Wilson shines in the loss. There were two wide receivers at the 2023 Reese’s Senior Bowl who got people buzzing, both of whom battled injuries throughout their college careers. The first was the Rams’ Puka Nacua, who has taken the NFL by storm through his first four NFL games. The other was Wilson, who has gotten better with each game he’s played. Wilson hauled in his first two NFL TDs in the Cardinals’ loss and made several big catches, including a 33-yarder to set up his first score and a clutch third-down conversion early in the fourth quarter to keep his team’s hopes alive. Wilson finished with seven catches (on seven targets) for 76 yards, giving the Cardinals’ offense more weaponry.
Next Gen stat of the game: One week after being blitzed at the highest rate in the NGS era, Brock Purdy was blitzed on only 13.6% of his dropbacks in the 49ers’ win over the Cardinals. Purdy was blitzed on 84.6% of his dropbacks in Week 3 against the Giants.
NFL Research: The first six touchdowns in this game were scored by players who attended Stanford -- four by San Francisco’s Christian McCaffery and two by Arizona’s Michael Wilson.
Jeremy Bergman's takeaways:
- Jaguars feel at home in London. The UK's home team played its most complete game of the season in its 10th trip to London. After slow starts in prior weeks, Jacksonville dominated the first quarter -- outgaining the Falcons, 146 yards to 5, with more than 10 minutes of possession. Trevor Lawrence was comfortable in the pocket but made his biggest plays on the run, racking up 42 rushing yards on eight carries, four for first downs. With Zay Jones out, Lawrence leaned on Christian Kirk and Evan Engram (15 receptions for 143 yards combined) but also found time for Calvin Ridley. The former Falcon got off the schneid in his "revenge game," hauling in a game-opening 30-yard score on a busted coverage and sealing the game with a drawn pass-interference call, both against ex-teammate A.J. Terrell. On defense, Sacksonville showed up, led by Josh Allen's three sacks and a game-ending strip-sack.
- Time to get rid of Ridder? Desmond Ridder continues to experience a Jekyll and Hyde start to his career. Sunday's game showcased new horrors. After throwing just one interception in his first seven starts, Ridder threw two on back-to-back passes in the second quarter, just as the Falcons were finding their stride. The first was intended by Drake London but went for a pick-six; the second was in the direction of Kyle Pitts and instead found Jaguars safety Andre Cisco. The QB is oft criticized for not getting his top talents involved. Well, Ridder tried and failed in the first half. He bounced back in the second, however, finding the towering London for a red-zone TD (and just missed connecting on a second). A competent backup in Taylor Heinicke is waiting in the wings if head coach Arthur Smith wants to make a change. Smith told ESPN at halftime a change wasn't happening Sunday, and he was rewarded for his non-decision. But how patient will Smith be if Ridder continues to put Atlanta in holes and limit its offensive potential?
- Falcons continue to frustrate fantasy owners. Star rookie Bijan Robinson bounced back after a weak Week 3, with 137 total yards on 19 touches, showcasing his skills for the international audience. He continues to be the straw that stirs Atlanta's drink. The same cannot be said for Pitts. The former No. 4 pick followed up a season-best outing with a two-reception, 21-yard day against Duval. He out-snapped offseason acquisition Jonnu Smith by just six snaps, but Smith was Ridder's security blanket on the afternoon (six receptions, 95 yards) and now outpaces Pitts on the season. London, another first-round pick, got on the scoreboard and led the team in targets (seven) but caught just three balls for 28 yards. When the Falcons are winning, it doesn't matter that their star players aren't producing on par with their draft position. But when the offense is stuck in the mud and the losses pile up, Atlanta's aerial aversion to its top picks becomes increasingly annoying to fans and fantasy owners alike.
Next Gen stat of the game: Bijan Robinson totaled 105 yards on 14 carries and generated +48 rushing yards over expected. The Falcons rookie faced at least seven defenders in the box on 10 of his 14 carries (71.4%) and tallied 82 rushing yards and +39 RYOE on such attempts. Robinson is the only player to have generated +45 RYOE in multiple games this season.
NFL Research: Jacksonville's defense provided some international firsts. Jaguars pass rusher Josh Allen became the first player to record three sacks in a game overseas, and safety Darious Williams recorded the longest pick-six in international game history with his 61-yard TD.
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Kevin Patra's takeaways:
- Josh Allen, Bills outduel high-flying Dolphins. Allen showed the S on his chest on Sunday. The Bills quarterback was the best player on the field, picking apart Miami's defense to the tune of 320 yards on 21 of 25 attempts with four TDs for a perfect 158.3 passer rating. Perfect is an excellent way to describe Allen's play. He averted disaster with deft pocket movement, found checkdowns and moved the chains. Then, when given the chance, Allen splashed big plays. The QB iced the contest with an 11-yard TD scamper for good measure. When Allen takes care of the football, as he has for the past three games, the Bills are a dominant force. Buffalo scored TDs on four of its first five possessions and punted twice on the day (only once before the game was out of reach).
- Bills defense curtails big-play Dolphins offense. Sean McDermott's D did what no other team could through the first three weeks: Slow the Dolphins’ explosive offense. Oh, Miami still gobbled up yards, generating 393 with 20 first downs. But McDermott's crew made life difficult the whole way. Buffalo didn't give Tua Tagovailoa his first read often, forced tough throws, got quick pressure and negated most of the explosives that have defined the Dolphins' success. Miami had just four pass plays of 20-plus yards, and their only run play of 16-plus yards came when Buffalo was up 28 points in the fourth quarter (55 yards from De'Von Achane). Buffalo didn't allow a first down on four straight second quarter Miami drives to help blow the game open. The defensive line controlled the game. Greg Rousseau was all over the backfield. Ed Oliver disrupted the middle. And Buffalo capitalized on Dolphins miscues, forcing a fumble and forcing a high Tagovailoa pass that Micah Hyde picked off. After Miami put up 70 points last week, looking unstoppable, Buffalo showed Mike McDaniel's crew is human after all. The big storyline for Buffalo's D moving into next week is the status of corner Tre'Davious White, who was being evaluated for an Achilles injury.
- Stefon Diggs tortures Kader Kohu. Poor Kohu, a slot corner forced to play on the outside due to injury, got tormented by Diggs. The all-world receiver caught six of seven targets for 120 yards and three TDs. A complete wideout, Diggs won everywhere on the field, then showed off his YAC ability, taking a 14-air-yard pass for a 55-yard score. Five of Diggs' six grabs for 112 yards and all three scores came with Kohu in coverage, per Next Gen Stats.
Next Gen stat of the game: Bills WR Stefon Diggs picked up 41 yards after catch, +39 YAC over expected, on his 55-yard TD reception late in the second half. It was Diggs’ most YACOE on a play over the last six seasons and 10th TD on a sideline target in that same span, most in the NFL.
NFL Research: Teams coming off a 50+ point victory are now 7-6 in their next game since 1970.
Michael Baca's takeaways:
- Vikings overcome first-half woes to get first win. Credit Minnesota’s defense for shutting out the Panthers in the second half after Carolina took a 13-7 lead into the half. Veteran safety Harrison Smith led the charge with a strip-sack that was picked up by D.J. Wonnum and returned 51 yards for the go-ahead score in the third quarter. The game-altering play was one of three sacks for Smith, who posted 14 total tackles. Marcus Davenport and Wonnum each recorded a sack to help suffocate a Panthers offense that failed to find the end zone on two red-zone possessions and owned a 35.7% conversion rate on third down. The defensive effort allowed the Vikings’ offense to gather itself and help the team earn its first victory. Brian Flores’ unit prevented any further panic.
- Lack of protection, offensive playmakers holding back Panthers’ offense. It really is tough to gauge Bryce Young’s development in the early going of his rookie season thanks to the constant pressure he’s under and the lack of weapons at his disposal. Carolina’s offense failed to produce a TD and Young was sacked to end the Panthers’ last gasp on Sunday. That fourth-and-goal from the 18-yard line, which was set up by another sack of Young two plays earlier, was the perfect summation of Carolina’s frustrating day on offense. Young (25 of 32, 204 yards) flashed great accuracy with time to throw, but Adam Thielen (7 catches for 76 yards) and Terrace Marshall Jr. (9/56) could only do so much after the catch. The Panthers’ offense has yet to eclipse the 300-yard mark with Young at the helm.
- Turnovers, penalties persist for Minnesota’s offense. Kirk Cousins threw a pick-six in the red zone to ruin a solid opening drive for the Vikings, and the offensive holding flag that wiped away his previous throw -- a touchdown pass to Justin Jefferson -- were more examples of the mistakes that have plagued the team through the first four weeks. The Vikings had seven penalties (37 yards) and every one of them seemed to be extremely costly. Cousins threw another interception late in the second quarter, but K.J. Osborn’s hustle prevented another pick-six from happening. Alexander Mattison offered relief with 95 yards rushing (5.6 YPC), which allowed Cousins to settle in and eventually connect on two TD throws to Jefferson (6/85). Minnesota saved itself from certain misery with a great second half, but it won’t be easy to completely turn it around with a malfunctioning offense.
Next Gen stat of the game: The Vikings' win probability increased by 35 percentage points as a result of D.J. Wonnum's 51-yard scoop-and-score TD in the third quarter (from 21% to 56%).
Kevin Patra's takeaways:
- Broncos storm back to earn first victory. Sean Payton’s club got off to another ugly start on Sunday. The offense went in the tank after a first quarter touchdown drive, generating two first downs and 45 net yards on its next four drives. The defense was getting shredded, allowing the Bears to score 28 straight points to take a 28-7 lead with 4:11 left in the third quarter. Then the tide turned. Rookie running back Jaleel McLaughlin injected some juice into the offense. Russell Wilson began tearing through a weak Bears D. A Denver fumble recovery for a TD tied the game at 28. After a fourth-down stop by the defense, Wilson gashed Chicago’s D with a massive 48-yard strike to Marvin Mims Jr. to complete the improbable comeback with a go-ahead FG. The offensive lulls are bad, and the Broncos continue to shoot themselves in the foot with atrocious pre-snap penalties. But unlike last week when things snowballed on them, Wilson, with three TD passes, righted the ship. It helps to play a winless squad that bumbled its way to the end, but Payton will take a road win wherever he can get it.
- Bears collapse, wasting Justin Fields’ career day. Finally, Fields looked comfortable in the pocket, shredding a hapless Broncos defense. The QB got to the correct reads, made Denver pay for busts and slung darts downfield. In the first half, Chicago generated six pass plays of 20-plus yards, per Next Gen Stats. Fields posted a career-high 335 yards passing, completing 80% of his throws with four TDs. Coupled with a punishing Khalil Herbert-led ground game, it was precisely the type of performance the Bears hoped to get after the disastrous first three weeks. The good times didn’t last. After the defense allowed Denver to march back into the game, Fields was pressured by Nik Bonitto -- unblocked off the edge -- and lost the ball, which Jonathon Cooper scooped up for a touchdown to tie the game. On the strength of Herbert, Chicago responded, marching to the Denver 18. Instead of kicking a field goal, Matt Eberflus elected to go for it on fourth-and-1 after a timeout. Herbert was stuffed. Eberflus will be questioned about the decision, not only to go for it but for not putting the ball in Fields’ hands when it seemed like the entire stadium assumed Herbert would get the pigskin. After Eberflus’ D surrendered the lead, Fields missed on his final throw to Cole Kmet for the game-sealing INT. It was a better performance from the offense on Sunday, but the results remained the same as the Bears fell to 0-4.
- Broncos’ D still has issues but made plays late. The Denver D still has significant issues. It allowed Fields to have a clean pocket most of the afternoon. Bears receivers danced wide open. The Broncos made a previously inept Bears offense look explosive, one week after allowing 70 points to the Dolphins. But the defense stepped up late. In the fourth quarter, Denver forced a three-and-out, returned a fumble for a TD, stuffed Herbert on fourth down and Kareem Jackson iced the game with an INT. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph still has a lot to clean up, but it’s easier to do so after a win.
Next Gen stat of the game: Justin Fields completed 9-of-12 passes for 189 yards, two TDs and an interception on attempts of 10+ air yards against Denver. Fields' nine completions on 10+ air-yard passes tied his single-game career high on such completions (Week 9, 2021 vs. Steelers).
NFL Research: The first win for Sean Payton as Broncos head coach tied for the second-largest comeback win on the road in franchise history.
Nick Shook's takeaways:
- Lamar Jackson carries the Ravens to another win. Baltimore's strange Week 3 overtime loss to Indianapolis didn't feature many highlights outside of Jackson's heroics. One week later, Jackson deserves a game ball for a victory. His Ravens arrived in Cleveland with many expecting them to face a stifling Browns defense that would undoubtedly keep the game close, and early on, it seemed to be following such a narrative. Eventually, though, Jackson's improvisational magic chipped away at Cleveland's defense, paper-cutting the Browns with scrambles and out-of-structure completions. His successes softened Cleveland's defense enough to open up the running game, helping the Ravens find a flow that would guide them to the win. Jackson finished with four total touchdowns and only four incompletions on the day, dominating the game almost singlehandedly. He even provided a bonus by rekindling his connection with tight end Mark Andrews, who caught two touchdown throws.
- Browns fall flat without Deshaun Watson. With Watson out nursing a right shoulder injury, pressure shifted to rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who made his first career start. Unfortunately for the Browns, the goodwill he built with an impressive preseason evaporated by halftime. Thompson-Robinson looked overwhelmed by the speed of the game, and without much of a running game, he was tasked with far too much responsibility to keep the Browns’ offense afloat. Some questionable early play-calling decisions didn't help the rookie, nor did a defense that appeared to be gassed by halftime. The Browns went from having a legitimate chance to win a divisional battle to not having so much as a prayer of beating the Ravens by the end of the third quarter. They'll want to flush this one as quickly as possible, and hope the upcoming bye week gives Watson the time he needs to heal.
- Ravens emerge from first month as AFC North's best team. Through four weeks, Baltimore has two division wins to its name, one odd loss, and a one-game lead in the AFC North. The Ravens have achieved this while missing a number of key starters, and while failing to truly blossom as an offense. It hasn't been pretty every week, but with the Bengals foundering, the Steelers struggling and the Browns taking a big step backward on Sunday, the Ravens look like the class of the division after one month.
Next Gen stat of the game: Lamar Jackson was excellent under pressure on Sunday, completing 8 of 9 passes for 136 yards and a touchdown against the Browns despite facing a pressure rate of 53.8%.
NFL Research: Lamar Jackson had his first career game with two-plus passing touchdowns and two-plus rushing touchdowns on Sunday, which is also the first such game by any player in the NFL in 2023, and only the second time it has been achieved in Ravens history.
- READ: Tomlin: 'We've got to make some changes' after loss to Texans
- READ: Steelers QB Pickett suffers knee injury in loss to Houston
- READ: Stroud: Texans' home losing streak was 'not flying for anybody'
Nick Shook's takeaways:
- C.J. Stroud continues to blossom. Week 3 was the first truly eye-opening performance of Stroud's rookie season. Entering Week 4 against the Steelers’ defense, Stroud could go one of two ways: Build on last week's success or lose ground. He undoubtedly took another step forward on Sunday. Although his numbers don't suggest Stroud was dialed in all afternoon -- he completed just 16-of-30 passes -- his yardage total (306) tells the story. Stroud is operating in lockstep with his offensive weapons, connecting with seven different pass-catchers and continuing to cultivate his rapport with Nico Collins (seven catches, 168 yards and two touchdowns). He was calm under pressure and repeatedly delivered, capping his day with another beauty of a throw over a defender to Collins for a 52-yard score. Offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik is in complete sync with his rookie quarterback, and they're reaping the benefits.
- Kenny Pickett injured on ugly day for Steelers. After finally showing some signs of offensive comfort in a win over Las Vegas last week, Pittsburgh reverted to its unproductive, frustrating style of play in Week 4. The Steelers converted 42.9% of third-down attempts, totaled just 225 yards for the game and failed to find any sort of rhythm in the passing game. Pickett had another rough day, completing 15-of-23 passes for 114 yards and an interception before exiting with a knee injury. On the defensive side, things were equally bad. The Steelers allowed Houston to rack up 451 yards of offense, couldn't get off the field on third down and failed to make Stroud uncomfortable. In total, the Steelers came out flat and paid for it dearly.
- Houston is quickly transforming its reputation. The Texans are taking on the personality of first-year head coach DeMeco Ryans more and more with each passing week. It was evident from the very beginning of Sunday's game, in which they took the fight to the visiting Steelers, landing a couple of right hooks on Pittsburgh's jaw before the Steelers even knew what hit them. Houston's defense was excellent, making for another tough outing for Pickett (prior to his departure), and finishing the game by preventing the Steelers from reaching the end zone at all on Sunday. The Texans are 2-2 and primed to continue ascending.
Next Gen stat of the game: Ninety-two of Nico Collins' career-high 168 receiving yards were over expected, marking the second-highest total of receiving yards over expected of any receiver in a game this season.
NFL Research: C.J. Stroud posted his third consecutive game with 250-plus passing yards, two-plus passing touchdowns and zero interceptions, the longest such streak by any rookie since at least 1970. He also became the first player in NFL history with 1,200-plus passing yards and zero interceptions over his first four career games.
Eric Edholm's takeaways:
- The Puka Nacua legend grows. As if it wasn’t enough that the Rams’ fifth-round wide receiver was second in the NFL in catches entering Week 4, the wunderkind pulled off his greatest act yet, catching the game-winning touchdown pass in overtime for a big Rams road victory. The Rams had coughed up a 23-0 lead, and the Colts had the ball with a chance to drive for the game-winning score in regulation. But they couldn’t capitalize, and the Rams picked themselves off the mat in OT. Matthew Stafford hit Nacua for 20 yards on the first play of OT, then the two hooked up on the eighth and final play of the extra frame, as Nacua caught Stafford’s pass for 22 yards and the walk-off score. He’d finish the game with nine grabs for 163 yards and the biggest TD of his young career. Nacua now has an absurd 39 catches through four weeks after catching 43 and 48, respectively, in his final two years at BYU. Amazing.
- Anthony Richardson’s valiant second-half effort comes up short. The Colts had very little going offensively in the first half, missing a field goal on their most promising drive. Richardson was fueling what little offense they had with his legs, rushing for 56 yards before halftime, but he completed only 4 of 7 passes for 30 yards. Indianapolis was down 17-0 after running only nine offensive plays. But with the Rams missing two field-goal attempts, it left the door open a crack. Richardson looked like a different player after halftime, and head coach Shane Steichen really dialed up some beautiful plays. Richardson led three TD drives (and two two-point conversions) to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. It was everything you’d want to see out of a rookie QB, even if he struggled early and the Colts eventually lost.
- Matthew Stafford gutted his way to victory. When the Colts’ Dayo Odeyingbo landed on Stafford midway through the third quarter, the QB got up very slowly and limped back to the huddle. He never looked comfortable for the rest of the game. He was sacked twice and hit nine times on Sunday. But Stafford didn’t miss a snap, and he got the Rams’ offense back on track after five straight empty possessions. The overtime drive might be one we remember if the Rams make a run at the playoffs. Stafford completed four of his five OT passes and hit Nacua for the walk-off winner. Kyren Williams was big early for the Rams, rushing for two scores in his first NFL game with 100 yards rushing. But without Stafford’s late heroics, they probably blow a 23-point lead and lose on the road.
Next Gen stat of the game: The Colts’ Samson Ebukam generated pressure on a career-high 11 of his 33 pass rushes (33.0%) against the Rams.
NFL Research: The Rams' first-half shutout of the Colts was their first time achieving that since Week 8 of 2021 at the Texans (Rams led 24-0 at halftime of that game).
Michael Baca's takeaways
- Buccaneers seem to feed off Baker Mayfield’s energy. There’s a palpable energy that follows Mayfield’s gutsy plays. Those moments are usually preceded by a sack-eluding effort in the pocket before a completed pass or a drive-saving scramble for a much-needed first down. Mayfield completed 25 of 32 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns (31 yards rushing) to help end the Saints’ franchise record of allowing 20 points or fewer (21 straight games). Doing it in New Orleans made it all that more impressive. Chris Godwin (8 receptions, 114 yards) and Deven Thompkins (4/45/TD) stepped their game up after Mike Evans exited in the first half with a hamstring injury. Mayfield’s lone mistake was a big one, as he threw a pick in the red zone, but after the Bucs defense recovered a fumble on the very next play, he made up for it by finding rookie Trey Palmer for a TD just before the half. It was a team effort to get the win, but Mayfield’s tremendous play can’t go unnoticed with Tampa Bay atop the NFC South.
- Failure to find splash plays dooms Saints offense. Mustering just 197 total yards, the Saints’ inability to stretch the field not only prevented them finding the end zone but also tired the Saints’ usually stellar defense. Perhaps Derek Carr's right shoulder injury had something to do with a game plan that featured a bevy of short dump-offs -- the Saints’ longest play all game was for 20 yards. A predictable offense was no match for Tampa Bay’s aggressive, fast defense. Alvin Kamara (13 receptions for 33 yards; 51 rushing yards) was fed the ball plenty in his return from suspension. Carr (23-of-37 passing, 127 yards) went deep a handful of times to no avail. It was a rough day at the office for Carr, who had one limited practice this week.
- Antoine Winfield Jr. leads Tampa Bay’s defensive surge. The Buccaneers defense had much to do with the Saints’ offensive woes. Winfield exemplified the effort with a team-high nine tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and a key pass deflection. Winfield was instrumental in helping keep Kamara from making that much-needed big play. Winfield broke up a deep ball to Chris Olave in the end zone, and his brilliant strip and recovery of Adam Prentice’s fumble allowed the Bucs to get a quick touchdown before halftime. Vita Vea also had a good game, with a two-sack performance, but it was a high-flying safety who shined brightest in New Orleans.
Next Gen stat of the game: Derek Carr attempted 14 passes behind the line of scrimmage, tied for the most such attempts for Carr in his career.
NFL Research: The Saints' 3.2 yards per play is tied for third-fewest by New Orleans since 2001 (2.3 in Week 17, 2001), and Sunday marked the first time New Orleans didn't score a touchdown since Week 10, 2019.
Eric Edholm's takeaways:
- Eagles show grit in hard-fought victory. It was as entertaining a game as one could hope for, but for Eagles fans, this one had to be feeling a lot like the Week 10 loss to the Commanders a year ago, when Philadelphia struggled early and lost. A similar script played out on Sunday, as Washington took a 10-point first-half lead and Philly committed some self-inflicted errors. But the Eagles cut into the lead with two field goals and then wrested control of the game in the middle of the third quarter. The Eagles had been a second-half team this season, but this was their best overall performance of the campaign in crunch time. The defense allowed two fourth-quarter TDs and couldn’t get the stop at the end of regulation, but it forced a three-and-out in overtime. That’s when the offense took over and kicked the game-winning field goal.
- Once again, Jalen Hurts to A.J. Brown saves the day. The Eagles came in averaging 185.7 yards rushing, but couldn’t really get the run game going early. Brown was the Eagles’ leading receiver at halftime (4 catches, 43 yards), but his real fireworks came after that. Brown scored on a 59-yard catch and run to give the Eagles their first lead at 21-17, and then he burned rookie CB Emmanuel Forbes for a 28-yard score, giving Philly a 31-24 lead with less than two minutes to go. Time and time again, Hurts leaned on his big-play threat in key spots -- and to think, a couple weeks ago it seemed like the two weren’t on the same page. Brown finished with nine catches for 175 yards and two scores. He caught only one pass on the game-winning overtime drive, but without Brown’s second-half heroics, the Eagles wouldn’t have even made it to OT.
- Don’t overlook Sam Howell’s performance. One week after Howell was pummeled in a nine-sack, four-INT game, the second-year QB came back with a gutsy and prolific performance against a scary Eagles defense. Howell finished the game 29-of-41 passing for 290 yards and one TD. He ran for 40 yards, as well. Early on, the Commanders protected Howell better than the week before, and he was able to cook. But his best work was on the final drive of regulation, with 1:43 on the clock and one timeout left. He hit huge completions to Byron Pringle, Dyami Brown, Terry McLaurin and -- with the game clock almost at 0:00 -- Jahan Dotson for the game-tying TD. Should Ron Rivera have gone for two there and the win? Maybe. Howell and the offense went three and out to start OT, and they never got the ball back.
Next Gen stat of the game: Jalen Hurts generated positive EPA (+9.7) for the first game this season, completing 25 of 37 passes for 319 yards and two TDs.
NFL Research: Jalen Hurts has won each of his last five regular-season starts in which his team trailed by 10+ points (this excludes Week 10, 2022, against Washington, when the Commanders scored as time expired to go up by 11 points).
Bobby Kownack's takeaways:
- Titans erupt after sleepy start. Tennessee took 15 plays to go 40 yards on its first drive, responding to a Cincinnati field goal with a 53-yard kick of its own to tie the game. The teams only completed two combined drives in the opening frame, and the contest appeared to be settling into a defensive battle after the next three possessions resulted in punts. That’s when the Titans took over, scoring touchdowns on consecutive drives of 78, 73 and 80 yards. They entered halftime leading, 24-3, then started the third quarter with a 10:22 field-goal drive that removed any doubt over who was in charge. The oft-maligned Ryan Tannehill showed pinpoint accuracy, completing 18-of-25 passes for 240 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He repeatedly made the Bengals pay after a handful of damning defensive penalties, and he could have had another score on a perfectly placed 55-yard throw that slipped through DeAndre Hopkins’ fingers in the end zone. Derrick Henry was initially slowed, going for just 22 yards on his first seven carries, but he averaged 6.6 yards on his next 15 attempts to finish with 122. He had a signature scoring rumble, sending defenders pinballing away for 29 yards, and added a goal-line TD pass out of shotgun to rub salt in Cincinnati’s wound. It was a dominant performance reminiscent of the Titans from a couple years ago.
- Panic time in Cincinnati. The Bengals opened with a methodical, 72-yard drive to put three points on the board. That was the high point of their day. Not counting a kneel-down to end the first half, Cincinnati punted on five of its remaining seven possessions. The other two ended in a fumble and on downs. Joe Mixon did have 14 carries for 67 yards and looked elusive. Ja’Marr Chase had 73 yards on seven catches. But their efforts did precious little to affect the outcome. Although Joe Burrow is a gamer for playing though his calf injury, he’s a shadow of himself and a statue in the pocket. He finished 20-of-30 passing for 165 yards. When there was room to maneuver for a few easy yards on the ground, Tennessee knew he couldn’t do anything about it. This is the second time in four games that the Bengals have managed just three points.
- Take a bow, Titans defense. Tennessee had been a middle-of-the-road unit defensively through three games. The defense came out looking like a game-wrecking, top-tier group on Sunday, though. Titans pass rushers pinned their ears back against a hobbled Burrow, while the secondary smothered WRs. Jeffery Simmons, Arden Key and Trevis Gipson each recorded a sack. Gipson forced a fumble, and Azeez Al-Shaair nearly had another strip sack. The Titans’ defensive backs only gave Burrow reason to attempt four passes beyond 10 air yards. Aside from Cincy’s opening drive and its final drive, when the game was already decided, the Titans swarming D didn’t allow a drive to travel more than 30 yards. There was nothing going today for the Bengals. Some will point to Burrow’s injury as the reason, but Tennessee’s performance cannot be overlooked.
Next Gen stat of the game: The Bengals allowed +49 rushing yards over expected in Week 4, their second most RYOE allowed in a game since the start of last season.
NFL Research: This was Derrick Henry's 35th career game with 100-plus rushing yards, which ties Chris Johnson for the third most in Titans history, trailing only Eddie George (36) and Earl Campbell (39).