- In a rematch of last season's surprising defensive slugfest, Dallas and New Orleans treated Sunday night viewers to a beat-for-beat sequel -- with a twist. In 2018, the two sides combined for 23 points and 484 total yards; this year, just 22 points were scored and 523 yards were gained. Though not broadly entertaining, Week 4's clash between the Cowboys and Saints was a slow burn, relying on defensive stands, field goals and the rare Big Play to provide thrills. The difference this time around, other than Drew Brees being sidelined by a thumb injury in favor of Teddy Bridgewater, was that Alvin Kamara, New Orleans' most dynamic and unique offensive talent, showed up and the Saints (3-1) came out victorious. As he did in Seattle last week, Kamara carried the Saints to victory with 89 total yards on 20 touches. Whereas Michael Thomas (nine catches on nine targets) helped move the chains, Kamara moved mountains against the Cowboys' front seven. When he was able to split Dallas' rangy linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch on the edges, he did so with precision. In a "head-to-head" matchup with his contemporary Ezekiel Elliott, he outgained the Cowboy by 24 total yards. Kamara picked up four first downs on New Orleans' final three drives, which resulted in just three points but knocked over 17 minutes off the clock. On a night when offensive heroes were few and far to come by, Kamara was the late game-changer. (That is unless you count Wil Lutz, whose four field goals were the only points the Saints could muster.)
- Let's have a toast for the defense. Neither Dak Prescott, an MVP candidate heading into this week, nor Bridgewater played particularly well in prime time, but chalk that up to outstanding play from both front sevens. Both defensive lines played inspired ball thanks to the return of recently injured and suspended players. In his second game wearing the star, Robert Quinn beat Terron Armstead for a game-high two sacks and three QB hits. On the other side, Sheldon Rankins returned from a torn Achilles to play 35 snaps, record two tackles and pressure Prescott late in the game. But it wasn't just the fresh fish that stood out. As they were last year, Smith and Vander Esch were sideline-to-sideline guard-dogs, snuffing out most east-west attempts in their path; the former's late-game 16-yard sack of Bridgewater nearly swung the final result. But the standout defender on the evening was dressed in black and gold. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who until Sunday had enjoyed a disappointing start to the season, shut down Amari Cooper, allowing just four catches on eight targets for 39 yards. Lattimore's lockdown coverage, in conjunction with the Saints' reinvigorated pass rush, complicated things for Prescott, who threw for a season-low 223 yards at a 6.8 YPA clip.
- After playing three toothless defenses from the eastern seaboard to start the campaign, the Cowboys (3-1) finally ran into a competitor in the Bayou. The result was humbling. Knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten, Kellen Moore's offense doesn't have to go all the way back to the drawing board. However, the Cowboys will want to address bubbling issues, chief among them, the offensive line, which failed to pave a way for Elliott (1.9 YPC) and allowed a season-high seven QB hits on Prescott. Consequently, the aerial explosion that was so apparent in their opening victories against New York, Washington and Miami went AWOL in N.O. The Cowboys' 4-for-11 third-down conversion rate was also their worst on the short season. With tests against Green Bay and Philadelphia coming in the next three weeks, the Cowboys can't afford to backslide on offense and surrender their lead in the conference and in the NFC East. Hopefully, Sunday night's setback was an exception.
-- Jeremy Bergman
- Even when Patrick Mahomes doesn't have his best day, the gunslinger always gives the Chiefs a chance to win. The reigning NFL MVP led a game-winning drive on the road, silencing a raucous Detroit crowd. Mahomes used his legs to pick up several huge first downs late, and found soft holes in the Lions defense, which was only rushing two and three defenders much of the final drive. In his first-ever NFL start in a dome, Mahomes was just a tad off on his deep shots all afternoon, missing a bevy of bombs by a hair. The normally dive-bombing signal-caller generated no completions of 20-plus-air yards on the day. Mahomes came in with 14 straight games with two or more passing TDs. Matt Patricia's defense held him out of the end zone, but Mahomes made enough plays between the 20s and K.C. ran for three TDs, including Darrel Williams' game-winning score. Sunday was a reminder that even when the Chiefs (4-0) don't have their best day, and can't hit the deep shots, Mahomes can still find a way to get a W.
- The third quarter was a fumble-palooza. The teams combined for five fumbles in the stanza, the most in a single quarter since 1991, per the FOX broadcast. K.C. committed three of the botches, opening the quarter with a kickoff fumble and coughing up the ball on each of its next two possessions. The Lions, however, couldn't capitalize on the miscues. Matthew Stafford fumbled inside the 5-yard-line, a play after a touchdown pass to Kenny Golladay was overturned. Following the Chiefs' next fumble, Kerryon Johnson had the ball knocked out trying to stretch out for a score at the goal line. Chiefs defensive back Bashaud Breeland scooped up the ball and ran 100 yards for a score. Referees -- the same crew that blew a call dead against New Orleans two weeks ago -- let the play go as Detroit players thought Johnson was down. The touchdown stood upon review giving K.C. a massive score -- and its first lead of the tilt -- in a tight game.
- Moral victories are for the birds. The Lions (2-1-1) will be kicking themselves for not taking advantage of Chiefs miscues. Four times on its first seven possessions, Detroit had the ball inside the K.C. 8-yard-line. The Lions scored just 10 points in those drives. Coming into the tilt, there were questions about whether Detroit was real after beating two banged-up teams. The loss hurt, but Patricia's team showed it isn't a fluke through four weeks. The Lions D caused turnovers and didn't give up big plays. Corner Justin Coleman was a monster on the back end. Kerryon Johnson ran well, gashing the Chiefs for 125 yards on the ground. Stafford threw with conviction and launched several lasers to Golladay and Marvin Jones. For large chunks of the game, Stafford (three touchdown passes) outplayed Mahomes. In the end, however, Detroit once again came up short.
-- Kevin Patra
- Spotted 14 points, Daniel Jones prevailed in the first of what could be many NFC East showdowns with fellow 2019 first-rounder Dwayne Haskins, who made his debut Sunday and struggled exceedingly as the Giants defeated the Redskins, 24-3, to improve to 2-0 in the Danny Dimes era. Perhaps Daniel Dimes is a better moniker, as Jones continues to mature in front of our eyes. On his second Sunday under center for the Giants (2-2), Jones began phenomenally as he orchestrated touchdown drives on each of Big Blue's first two marches. However, he did show his mortality with a pair of picks and ended the game with a pedestrian 78.0 passer rating. Still, he was 23-for-31 for 225 yards and a touchdown and also had 33 yards on five carries. The move from Eli Manning to Jones continues to be a celebrated one. As for Jay Gruden pulling the trigger on replacing Case Keenum for Haskins, it may well have proved Gruden correct in his hesitation to bring in the No. 15 overall pick to lead the Redskins (0-4). Unlike Jones the week prior when he pulled off a riveting rally to propel the Giants past the Buccaneers, Haskins found no such magic, only struggles. Haskins took over for a sputtering Keenum in the first quarter and led the Redskins on a drive for a field goal. It proved to be their only points of the game as Haskins was woeful to the tune of a 9-for-17 line for 107 yards, three interceptions and a 32.8 rating. After the first two-plus quarters of playing time for Haskins, questions most certainly still remain and missteps are likely still ahead. As for the second chapter in the tale of Danny Dimes, it was a victorious story once again and all that suddenly, the Giants have a spring in their step, a winning streak at hand and a season of promise to play for.
- There's a chance that Saquon Barkley might be back quicker than expected. If that news -- pleasant as it would be for the Big Blue faithful -- does not come to fruition, though, Wayne Gallman provided reason for relief on Sunday. Gallman showcased quickness and aggression with the ball and looked plenty comfortable in the offense as he made an immediate impact. Taking a play-fake from Jones in the first quarter, Gallman ran right into the flats and was completely uncovered. Jones read it and lofted it to the rookie back for a six-yard touchdown and a 6-0 lead New York would never relinquish and a score that would stand as the game-winner despite it coming on the Giants' opening drive. Gallman added another touchdown on the ground and had an all-around impressive outing (18 carries for a game-high 63 yards and a TD; six receptions for 55 yards and a score). As foreign as it was to think not that long ago, fortunes are going the way of the Giants. Perhaps the best running back in the NFL is on the sidelines and yet Gallman has filled in excellently. It's also further evidence that the Giants offensive line, for so long a most problematic quandary, is steadily improving.
- Though he's a former first-rounder, Jabrill Peppers is perhaps best known as the other guy involved in the trade that sent Odell Beckham out of Gotham and west to The Land. On Sunday, he delivered the Giants' grandest defensive highlight when he took a Haskins interception 32 yards to the end zone for the final score of the day. The Giants are improving all around and that includes the defense. The Redskins were held to a meager 176 yards of offense and had four turnovers. Unsung names such as David Mayo and Ryan Connelly (who had a sack and an interception, but was lost to a leg injury) turned in good games. In contrast, the Redskins defense, which boasts plenty of big names such as Josh Norman, former Giant Landon Collins (nine tackles in his return to New York) and Ryan Kerrigan, continued its subpar play, allowing 389 yards of offense despite four takeaways. Both defenses ended up playing against rookie quarterbacks, but it's clearly the Giants D that's trending up and the Redskins D that's continuing to spiral down.
-- Grant Gordon
- Six plays into Sunday's NFC North tilt, Mitchell Trubisky exited with a left shoulder injury and did not return. Veteran Chase Daniel stepped in and immediately guided the Bears to their only touchdown of the game on the opening drive. The 11-year pro made good, quick decisions getting the ball out of his hands, completing 22 of 30 passes for 195 yards and a TD. With a stifling defense at his back, Daniel didn't make boneheaded mistakes, got the Bears (3-1) into the right plays and moved the chains on several long drives that ate the clock. Chicago didn't ask the veteran to do too much -- just three attempts of more than 15 air yards -- but he managed the game well and conducted Matt Nagy's preferred plan. With Daniel's ball placement superior to Trubisky, there is an argument that Chicago could be in a better situation with the backup against good defenses. Depending on how long Trubisky is out, we could see the 32-year-old Daniel for an extended period. Nagy has to be confident in what he saw from his backup Sunday.
- The Bears defense played without Akiem Hicks and Roquan Smith, two massive parts to its smothering front. It mattered not. Chicago's defense destroyed the Vikings offensive line with ease. Khalil Mack obliterated nearly every attempted block, constantly eating Kirk Cousins' lunch, compiling 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a host of other pressures. Linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski filled in for Smith and was a heat-seeking missile all game, gobbling up nine tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a QB hit. Nick Williams, stepping in for Hicks, cleaned up with two sacks and seven tackles. The Bears' defensive front absolutely controlled the contest, holding Dalvin Cook to 35 yards on 14 attempts with a late TD, and sacked Cousins six times. Sunday showed that even with starters out, the Bears have the depth to continue to dominate and win games seemingly on their own.
- The Vikings offense continues to be a rudderless ship stranded at sea. When Cook and the run game is stymied, Cousins has no answers. The quarterback turned into Captain Checkdown far too often, even when trailing by two scores late. Cousins completed just two of four pass attempts of 10-plus air yards, per Next Gen Stats. Adam Thielen was blanketed all day, earning just two receptions for six yards. Stefon Diggs went for 108 yards on seven catches, but much of that was empty calories, and his second-quarter fumble squashed early momentum. Behind a beleaguered offensive line, Cousins took sack after sack and fumbled twice -- losing one and having the other knock them out of scoring range. The Vikings (2-2) had just two first-half possessions. Their second half went little better. On five of their eight second-half possessions, Minnesota generated eight or fewer yards -- including three of negative yardage. Only on a late-game drive going up-tempo did the Vikings move the ball. It was too little, too late. When Cook isn't churning out yards, the Vikings offense simply can't find enough explosive plays through the air to beat good defenses.
-- Kevin Patra
- So much for the Texans' revamped offensive line. A week after giving Deshaun Watson one of the cleanest days of his career against the Chargers, Houston's protection reverted to form against the Panthers' supercharged pass rush. It was apparent that Watson was headed for a long day when he was taken down on back-to-back sacks to end the first drive of the day, and Carolina's front seven turned up the heat up from there. Watson was unable to get anything going through the air for the now 2-2 Texans, finishing 21-of-33 for 160 yards (a paltry 4.8 yards per attempt). Panthers cornerback James Bradberry did an admirable job negating DeAndre Hopkins, and the loss of Kenny Stills to a hamstring injury sapped much of the big-play threat from Houston's attack. But the larger focus should be on Watson's line as Carolina finished with six sacks, 12 QB hits and 18 hurries.
- Kyle Allen garnered the majority of the headlines during the week, but as Christian McCaffrey goes so does the offense in Carolina (2-2). The Panthers star running back had 37 touches (10 catches on a team-high 10 targets for 80 yards to go along with 93 yards and a score on the ground). As Allen struggled with ball security (three lost fumbles), Carolina simplified its game plan to rely on McCaffrey as a sure-handed security blanket for the young QB. No other play exemplified Carolina's reliance on CMC to make something out of nothing than on this third-and-7 conversion:
The Panthers have battled their way back to 2-2 without Cam Newton under center playing the style of football Ron Rivera loves to see: a stifling defense supported by a dynamic running attack.
- The Panthers have a bona fide kicking weapon in Joey Slye. Slye connected on all three of his field goal attempts, including a 55-yard go-ahead field goal he made with ease to put Carolina ahead in the fourth quarter for good. After missing his first field goal of the season, Slye is a perfect 10-for-10 and he has made all nine of his extra point attempts.
-- David Ely
- After a crushing defeat against the Giants last week, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2) came out and put on an offensive clinic in Los Angeles. The Bucs were up 21-0 with 5:34 left in the first half when the Rams finally put some points on the board. The Bucs went into halftime up 28-17. The fourth quarter is when things got interesting. Both offenses scored two touchdowns to bring the score to the Bucs up 45-34. Then cornerback Marcus Peters intercepted a pass from Jameis Winston and ran it 32-yards for a touchdown to bring the Rams within 5 points. Bucs kicker Matt Gay hit a 21-yard field goal. And then ...
- With 1:06 left in the game, Jared Goff was stripped sacked by Shaq Barrett and Ndamukong Suh scooped up the fumble and scored a defensive touchdown to win the game. Welcome back to the Los Angeles Coliseum, Suh. The Bucs signed the unrestricted free agent in March after his one-year deal with the Rams ended.
It was surprising how well the Bucs' offense played against a Rams defense that carried the team for much of the first three weeks of the season. The Bucs were able to put up a franchise-record 55 points against what had been a vaunted L.A. defense. The points the Rams allowed Sunday are the third-most in a game in franchise history, per NFL Research.
Barrett had another incredible game and continues his early Defensive Player of the Year candidacy. He finished with four tackles, a sack, an interception and a forced fumble.
- This was an overall horrible performance by the Rams (3-1). Goff ended the game with 45 of 68 passing attempts, 517 yards for two touchdowns, three interceptions and a fumble. That's right: 68 passing attempts. That's a career-high for the L.A. quarterback. The Rams only ran the ball eleven times. These stats bring to question how the Rams plan to use Todd Gurley this season. The running back had two touchdowns but only ran the ball five times for 16 yards.
"Ultimately it's our job to figure what we think is the best way to move the football and to score points. That's what we decided. That's what I decided on today," coach Sean McVay said after the game when asked by reporters about the high passing attempts. "There were so many different snaps, so many opportunities where we threw the football today. So, there's going to be a lot of things we can go back and look at. I loved the way that he [Jared Goff] continued to battle. [He] took some shots and continued to respond. And those are things we can take away from a positive."
The Rams have fallen out of first place in the NFC West for the first time since McVay was hired, according to J.B. Long with the Rams.
-- Lakisha Wesseling
- The Browns defense held Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense in check. Cleveland might have put up 40 on the Ravens (2-2), but its defense was a crucial part of its success. Aside from a Willie Snead garbage-time touchdown, the Ravens offense couldn't make big plays, struggled on third down and turned the ball over in critical moments. The Ravens filled the stat sheet with yards, but their offense was rhythm-less to the point where Jackson had to take matters into his own hands and scurry to make plays when his receiving corps was bottled up. The Browns (2-2) also did it with a banged-up secondary as Denzel Ward, Greedy Williams and Morgan Burnett were held out of the game, but their replacements were superb. Damarious Randall blitzed from his corner position to sack Jackson on a big third-down play in the first quarter. Jermaine Whitehead had a beautiful interception in the fourth quarter, and deflected a pass during a corner blitz that allowed DT Devaroe Lawrence to get another late interception of Jackson. Cleveland's defense also forced Mark Ingram to cough up his first turnover of the year. They were short-handed but the Browns had the upper hand with effective scheming from DC Steve Wilks against a dynamic Ravens offense.
- Nick Chubb was the motor behind a Browns offense that nearly doubled its point total for the year. Chubb found the end zone three times and sealed the game in the fourth quarter with an 88-yard run to the house. Behind an improved Browns offensive line, the second-year running back finished the day with 165 yards on 20 rushes, three catches for 18 yards and five first downs to go with his three scores.
- The Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. receiving tandem was lopsided, but effective. Landry had a career-high 167 yards on eight receptions, and did it all before exiting late in the third quarter with a concussion. Landry was the go-to playmaker for the Browns in the first half of what started out as a defensive chess match, and he could've had an even bigger day with a score if he didn't lose his footing at the tail end of a 60-yard catch and run. On the other hand, Beckham had a day to forget but his presence was certainly felt. Per NFL Research, OBJ went three quarters without a catch for the first time in his career before getting his two catches in the fourth. Beckham received plenty of attention from the Ravens secondary, however, and it certainly helped the Browns offense break big plays. In the second quarter, Beckham was given a chance to throw on a double-reverse play, and was close to completing a bomb but the would-be TD went through Damion Ratley's hands.
-- Michael Baca
- While first place was the purse at stake on a Sunday morning in Western New York, few believed it would be a heavyweight battle. But the Bills very much showed their might and reserve and showcased a stellar defense. However, as has become a standard in the AFC East and beyond, it was the Patriots who prevailed over the Bills (3-1), winning a game that was as ugly as it was surprisingly close. This was a day won by the Patriots defense (even though it gave up its first TD of the year) and certainly not lost by the Bills' contingent. Buffalo's defense held Tom Brady and the Patriots offense to only 224 yards and one offensive touchdown. But the Patriots came away with four turnovers -- all interceptions -- the last of which clinching victory when Jamie Collins grabbed a Matt Barkley pick. Barkley came on in relief of an injured Josh Allen, but a storybook comeback wasn't to be had on this day. J.C. Jackson had two picks for the Pats and Devin McCourty had the other, his fourth in as many games to start the season, becoming the first New England player to pull off that feat and the first in the NFL since 2003.
- Tom Brady wins. Plain and simple. On Sunday, an outstanding Bills defensive effort held him to a horrendous line of 18-for-39 for 150 yards with a dismal 3.8 average per completion, no touchdowns, an interception and a 45.9 rating. But Brady's experience and knack for winning the big game was still evident in comparison to his counterpart. Every game in which Brady performs in un-Brady-like fashion will call upon the naysayers that he's looking very much 42 years old rather than 42 years young. This has happened before, though. The Patriots (4-0) are a dynasty for myriad reasons and Brady knows full well how to manage a victory even in the cold light of a bad day. Hence, Brady's bad day was still a good one for the Patriots.
- Athleticism and fortitude have never really been in question for Bills quarterback Josh Allen, but on Sunday, playing in likely the most important game of his short NFL career, he struggled in a variety of ways that far overshadowed his positives. The second-season signal-caller began the first-place tussle going 0-for-5 with an interception to McCourty included. McCourty's pick set up the Patriots' first score and had Buffalo playing from behind all afternoon. Under pressure often, Allen never looked comfortable and was woefully inaccurate in a fashion that's quickly becoming infamous for a QB with a rifle for an arm, but one that too often misses ridiculously off-target. His day ended early following a bad helmet-to-helmet hit from Jonathan Jones and concluded with a 13-for-28 line that offered just 5.5 yards per attempt, three interceptions that truly told the story of the game, four sacks and a miserable 24.0 rating.
-- Grant Gordon
- Week 4 will be known as the moment "Minshew Mania" met the "Fournette Frenzy." There's no telling how long this new craze will last, but for at least one week, Leonard Fournette put on a show the likes of which Jaguars fans haven't seen since the days of Fred Taylor. On the road against a Denver defense still looking to live up to expectations, Fournette rushed for a career-high 225 yards on 29 carries, the most since Taylor rushed for 234 in 2000. The number is impressive on its own, but it's even crazier when you consider that Fournette combined for 179 rushing yards through the first three weeks. His big numbers may have outshined Gardner Minshew (19-of-33, 213 yards) in the box score but it's the rookie QB who made the plays that capped off the scoring drives on the comeback bid. The Jaguars (2-2) took the lead after Minshew capped the team's first two drives of the second half with TD passes; an absurd 81-yard Fournette run from the JAX 7 helped set up the second score. Both players were undeniably special, but the biggest star of day was kicker Josh Lambo, whose two clutch fourth-quarter FGs -- particularly the 33-yard game-winner with time expiring -- propelled the team to the second-largest comeback win in franchise history. Lambo may not have a catchy craze but he'll definitely go home with the game ball for his efforts.
- Despite the Broncos' defense earning its first sacks of the season (5), the once-hyped unit still surrendered 20 unanswered points en route to Denver's fourth straight loss. It certainly doesn't help when the offense goes cold after scoring two TDs and setting up a field goal in the first half, but the collapse spoke volumes to the group's inability to play complementary football through the first four weeks. Fournette was held to 35 yards on the ground and Minshew limited to 91 through the air in the first 30 minutes, but obviously that stagnant play wouldn't hold on. Couple another tough showing with the fact that Von Miller earned his 99th and 100th sacks in the loss and things only look more disappointing for the underperforming Denver D.
- No Jalen Ramsey? No problem (for now). With Ramsey's trade request still looming, the Jaguars defense got its first taste of life without the player who had never missed a game prior to Sunday. Giving up three TDs to Joe Flacco -- the most he's had in a game since Week 1 last season -- isn't ideal but the group stepped up when it needed to. Denver (0-4) was held to 371 total yards, converted only 4-of-11 third-down attempts and registered only 20:48 on the field. Jags safety Ronnie Harrison also recorded his first interception, a play that proved crucial as it led to a Lambo 40-yarder to end the first half.
-- Jelani Scott
- After back-to-back losses, the Chargers (2-2) got a much-needed win on the road in Miami. Despite the Dolphins' winless record, the matchup, especially in the first half, was no easy task for the depleted Chargers squad. Philip Rivers was without a few of his top targets -- receivers Mike Williams and Travis Benjamin and tight end Virgil Green -- but he spread the ball around to several targets, finishing the day 24-of-30 for 310 yards and two touchdowns. Veteran Dontrelle Inman, who returned to his old team last month, had an impressive 75-yard outing before exiting the game with a quad injury. Inman came up big in a tight spot with the Bolts. He's clearly comfortable which made for an easy transition for Rivers.
- Josh Rosen and the Dolphins (0-4) had a hot start in the first half against the Chargers. Receiver DeVante Parker caught a beautiful 34-yard touchdown pass on the Dolphins' first drive of the game (which was the first time the Dolphins have led in a game this season). Running back Kenyan Drake galloped for 44 yards and Mark Walton added 23 rushing yards. Despite two promising quarters, the Chargers pulled ahead, and the Dolphins were held scoreless in the second half. The defense did show glimpses of efficiency. Taco Charlton had his second sack in as many games since donning the orange and teal. Like the Chargers, the Dolphins also caught the injury bug during the game. But they luckily have a bye week on deck before a Week 6 matchup at home against the Redskins.
- Chargers fans rejoiced when Melvin Gordon ended his contract holdout this week after being away since training camp. Sans fellow back Justin Jackson, the Bolts had Gordon activated in case the RB needed to be used in case of an emergency. But Anthony Lynn had no need to break the glass case on Gordon. Austin Ekeler had another stellar dual-threat performance Sunday, totaling 60 rushing yards on 18 carries and 62 receiving yards, and a pair of touchdowns. With Jackson sidelined and Gordon back, it will be interesting what the RB depth will look like going forward as Gordon is eased back into game action. Until then, Ekeler and Troymaine Pope proved once again to be solid options.
-- Andie Hagemann
- The Raiders (2-2) went to Indianapolis and pulled off a big win on the road. They came out hot with three touchdowns in the game's first 16 minutes. Rookie tight end Foster Moreau scored his first career touchdown -- an 18-yard pass from Derek Carr -- on the opening drive. Then wideout Trevor Davis scored a 60-yard touchdown in his first game with Oakland on the next drive. Wide receiver Tyrell Williams has scored a touchdown in every game so far this season. The Raiders looked good on both sides of the ball. Their defense forced two turnovers; defensive end Maxx Crosby hit Parris Campbell from behind to jar the ball loose in the second quarter and safety Erik Harris snagged a pick-six in the fourth quarter to seal the game.
- The Colts (2-2) got off to a great start without Andrew Luck this season. But against the Raiders, everything that could go wrong did. Jacoby Brissett had a 20.0 completion percentage in the first quarter. He entered Week 4 leading the NFL with 95.0 in the first quarter, per NFL Research. The Colts just couldn't keep hold of the ball with five drops in the first half, including three by Eric Ebron. The defense could neither put pressure on Carr nor stop the Raiders' run game. Oakland had 110 rushing yards in the first half compared to the Colts' 58 yards.
Even with the Raiders racking up penalties in the second half and suffering a few drops of their own, the Colts couldn't take advantage. Oakland had three false starts in one drive in the fourth quarter. The Colts defense made a huge stop on third-and-5 to force the Raiders to punt with a chance to take the lead. But Oakland got the ball back three plays later and scored.
- Injuries really hurt the Colts this week. Without wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (quad), linebacker Darius Leonard (concussion) and safety Malik Hooker (knee), Indy missed out on several opportunities on both sides of the ball. The Colts couldn't make plays downfield without Hilton, especially when their receivers couldn't hold on to the ball. The drops killed them on offense. The Colts are now 0-5 when Hilton does not play, according to Mike Chappell with FOX59/CBS 4 Sports.
-- Lakisha Wesseling
- Just when you thought you had him figured out, Marcus Mariota puts together his best game of the season. The fifth-year QB moved with purpose throughout the first half, avoiding contact and dicing the Falcons defense up with smart, efficient throws. Rookie wideout A.J. Brown had himself a day against the Falcons secondary, finishing the half, and eventually the game, with three catches on three targets for 94 yards and two TDs. His first score was a 55-yard catch-and-run TD and his second came on an 11-yard fade route into the right corner of the end zone. Brown, in addition to Corey Davis' praise-worthy first half (four catches for 75 yards and a TD) helped give Mariota a 14-of-19, 189-yard, three-TD and zero-interception (144.5 passer rating) stat line through the first 30 minutes. Though it got a little shaky for Mariota (4-of-8 for 38 yards) in the second half, the Titans (2-2) managed to ride their hot start to a 24-10 win.
- There's no denying Julio Jones' greatness will make him a regular in the record books, but on this day, it wasn't enough. A 20-yard pass on his first target pushed Jones past Lions legend Calvin Johnson (127 games) to become the fastest receiver (115) to reach 11,000 career receiving yards, per NFL Research. Unfortunately, he was unable get on the same page with his QB from there. He finished the half with two more catches for a combined 14 yards and was held without another until the 9:40 mark of the fourth. His four catches for 52 yards were the fewest he's had since Week 1; he also finished without a TD for the first time since Week 12 of last season.
- Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees' unit turned Matt Ryan (35-of-53, 397 yards, 0 TDs) into a human pinball machine, sacking him five times and hitting him a total of 11 times. The Titans batted down several balls and were also all over the run, holding Devonta Freeman and Ito Smith to a combined 39 yards on 14 carries. The group even snuffed out an attempt to get Jones going on a reverse. Their most impressive stop came late in the second quarter on fourth-and-1 on their own 39. Freeman built up a head of steam out of the backfield but was stuffed by safety Kenny Vaccaro, who led the effort, and DE Jurrell Casey for a two-yard loss. To that point, Atlanta (1-3) was 3-for-3 on fourth-down conversions this season.
-- Jelani Scott
- Even in a dominant win, it was a tale of two halves for the Seahawks (3-1). In the first half, Seattle played a near-perfect game scoring 20 points, allowing just a field goal, accruing zero penalties and forcing punter Michael Dickson to twiddle his thumbs on the sideline. Led by Russell Wilson, who went 22 of 28 for 240 passing yards and a TD, the Seahawks were efficient through the air and tough to bring down on the ground thanks to the churning legs of Chris Carson, who ended the day with 104 rushing yards on 22 attempts. Entering the second half it seemed as though things would only get worse for the Cardinals (0-3-1), but that's when the Seahawks started making their mistakes via penalties, inefficiency on third down and breakdowns in pass protection. The Seahawks didn't score at all in the third quarter and allowed the Cardinals to gain some momentum early in the fourth after giving up their only touchdown of the game. Once it got down to a two-score game, the Seahawks proceeded to ice the game with a 15-play, eight-minute drive that ended with a C.J. Prosise TD run to put them up by 17. Though the game wasn't completely out of their hands, it will certainly be a half of football coach Pete Carroll will harp on entering their big NFC West matchup against the Rams next Thursday night.
- Newly acquired Seahawks pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney commenced the first-half drubbing with a first-quarter pick-six for the game's first touchdown. Anticipating a screen pass to David Johnson, Clowney corralled the ball with his left hand and went untouched for a 27-yard touchdown return. Surely K.J. Wright's pressure affected Kyler Murray's short throw, and along with virtually all the other Seahawks defenders, he joined Clowney for the photo-op celebration in the end zone. It was the first regular-season INT for Clowney, who nabbed one against the Raiders in the 2017 wild-card round.
- While Murray's growing pains continue, there were some flashes of brilliance. The rookie QB was hounded all day by the Seahawks pass rush but during Arizona's mini-comeback attempt in the fourth quarter, Murray made a play and scrambled to find the end zone for his first career rushing TD, making it a two-score game. There were several times Murray evaded a would-be sack to net positive yards, but Seattle manhandled the Cardinals offensive line to make it tough for him to look downfield. A good amount of Murray's 241 passing yards came on check-downs to Johnson, who led the Cardinals is receiving with 99 yards on eight receptions. On a side note, Larry Fitzgerald made history by surpassing Tony Gonzalez for second on the all-time receptions list, but that moment had to wait for garbage time against a Seattle prevent defense. In the lead-up to this particular matchup of QBs, Murray and Wilson were viewed as one of the same kind, and while there were few moments when that comparison wasn't far-fetched, perhaps it would be better served for when Murray has a complete team around him.
-- Michael Baca