NFL Week 4 Recap: Of Comebacks and Middle Fingers

NFL Week 4 Recap: Of Comebacks and Middle Fingers

Week 4 showed some of the best and worst of what football has to offer. Chris Long is using his multi-million dollar salary to build a child literacy program, the Thursday Night game was a shootout between two of the best teams in the NFC, and the Titans, Texans and Bengals came back in remarkable fashion. On the other side, one of the best defenders in the league saw his season come to a bitter end in the exact way he feared all throughout his holdout. We hope to see more of the good and less of the bad in the future.

Rams 38, Vikings 31

Los Angeles (4-0): The return of the Greatest Show on Turf started off the week with an exhilarating shootout against the Vikings in the LA Coliseum. Jared Goff (26-43, 465 yds, 5 TD) had a perfect passer rating, Todd Gurley had over 150 total yards and a touchdown, and 3 separate Rams receivers eclipsed 100 yards. The clear #1 team in the NFL doesn’t look like they can be stopped, and those ’72 Dolphins look like they’ll have to wait a lot longer than they’d want before they can pop the champagne.

Minnesota (1-2-1): If you’d have said the Vikings would be under .500 after week 4 at the beginning of the season, the people of Minneapolis would’ve laughed (or maybe worse) in your face. Unfortunately, they’re big free agent signing hasn’t translated into wins. Kirk Cousins (36-50, 422 yds, 3 TD) doesn’t seem much more effective than Case Keenum was last season, and the defense that gave up less than 16 points per game a year ago is allowing 27.5 per game this September. With the NFC as high-octane as it is on offense, the Purple People Eaters need to figure things out before they fall too far behind.

Falcons 36, Bengals 37

Atlanta (1-3): So where exactly are the Falcons right now? They’re 1-3, but those losses are @ Philadelphia, an overtime shootout against the 3-1 Saints, and a last second loss to the 3-1 Bengals. The rookie WR Calvin Ridley had another huge game, totalling 15 catches for 264 yards and 6 touchdowns in just 3 games. Matt Ryan (29-39, 419 yds, 3 TD) is torching opposing defenses left right and center. But with all the injuries on defense, the offense just isn’t enough. It’s still early, but Atlanta is already behind the eight ball in the NFC South.

Cincinnati (3-1): A.J. Green continues to shine in 2018, capping off a decent 78 yard performance with a brilliant 13-yard touchdown catch with just 7 seconds remaining. Andy Dalton (29-41, 337 yards, 3 TD, INT) had plenty of weapons besides Green, including a surging Tyler Boyd catching 11 for 100 yards and RB Giovanni Bernard totalling 98 yards and 2 touchdowns. Currently atop The AFC North, the Bengals look to continue this offensive explosion into October, where they face a tough stretch of opponents with a combined 10-5-1 record.

Bears 48, Buccaneers 10

Chicago (3-1): Hands up if you picked Mitch Trubisky (19-26, 354 yds, 6 TD) to be the best quarterback of week 4. In the first half, the Bears offense could do no wrong, and by the final whistle Trubisky had 400 total yards, the team had 139 yards rushing, and Taylor Gabriel had over 100 yards and 2 touchdowns. Things slowed up in the second half, but this was still a complete game from the first place (yes, you read that correctly) Bears. Oh, and Trubisky became the first Bears QB to throw even 5 touchdowns in a game since the 40s.

Tampa Bay (2-2): Did the Bucs spend all their FitzMagic in the first 3 games? Fitzpatrick (9-18, 126 yds, INT) couldn’t manage to get anything going against the brick wall that was the Chicago defense, and eventually coach Dirk Koetter made the change and put Jameis Winston back in at the half. Winston (16-20, 145 yds, TD, 2 INT) couldn’t do any better, but was at least able to get a touchdown during Sunday’s rout. Now the Bucs have real decisions to make at quarterback going forward. Week 5’s matchup with the Falcons looks like the first make-or-break game for the Bucs this season.

Patriots 38, Dolphins 7

New England (2-2): Did anyone else get the feeling that Sunday’s game was Bill Belichick’s way of saying “I told you so”? There were talks that first round pick RB Sony Michel was a bust. He ran for 112 yards and a touchdown. People said the defense is terrible and can’t stop the run. The Patriots allowed 116 yards in the air and only 56 on the ground. There were even some talks that Brady (25-35, 274 yds, 3 TD, 2 INT) may finally be meeting that long-predicted cliff. He went out and made the undefeated Dolphins look like a JV team. With Julian Edelman returning this week, Thursday is looking like it could be New England’s next statement win.

Miami (3-1): Well, at least they’re still in first place. Ryan Tannehill (11-20, 100 yds, INT) started the game with a 22-yard completion, then failed to complete a pass longer than 18 yards for the rest of the game and averaged a measly 4.1 yards per attempt. The defense managed to grab a pair of Brady interceptions and Frank Gore became only the 8th running back to play in his 200th game, scoring a touchdown in the process, but those were the only bright spots in an ugly loss to close out September.

Cowboys 26, Lions 24

Dallas (2-2): Good news! The Cowboys finally found a wide receiver. Bad news? It’s their running back. Ezekiel Elliot ran for 152 yards and caught 4 passes for 88 more, including a 39-yard screen pass for a touchdown and a 34-yard bomb to set up the game-winning field goal. Dak Prescott (17-27, 255 yds, 2 TD) also had his first 200-yard passing day this season, but was only 13-23 for 167 yards and a touchdown when not targeting Elliot. There have been rumors that the Cowboys may sign Dez Bryant back, and looking at the current receiving corps, they need SOMEONE for Prescott to throw to.

Detroit (1-3): Golden Tate (8 catches, 132 yds, 2 TD) has got to be looking back at his touchdown celebrations in frustration. He had a career day and the rest of the offense was in synch most of the game, yet the Lions still flew back home with a loss. Stafford was able to eclipse 300 yards for the second time this season, but Detroit’s defense crumbled on the final drive. Matt Patricia will need to bring some of that October magic he used last year with the Patriots’ defense if the Cowboys hope to return to the playoffs.

Packers 22, Bills 0

Green Bay (2-1-1): Despite Aaron Rodgers (22-40, 298 yds, TD, INT) saying the Packers were “terrible on offense,” Green Bay still rolled over the Bills and put up 423 yards and dominated the time of possession. Rodgers may be talking about the fact that after scoring two touchdowns on their first three possessions, the Packers only scored 3 field goals for the rest of the game. Still, the defense seems to be improving, even if it was just the Bills and their 31st ranked offense.

Buffalo (1-3): Any of that cautious optimism I mentioned last week? Yeah, forget that. Josh Allen (16-33, 151 yds, 2 INT) looked nothing like he did against the Vikings, and the defense had trouble stopping Aaron Rodgers and the Packers without them getting in their own way. The running game was also non-existent, totalling a meager 58 yards. The Bills were only able to put 2 good drives together, including a drive right before the half that could have cut the score to just 13-7. Instead, Allen threw and interception and the Packers were able to get a field goal and made it 16-0 at halftime. The playoff team from just one year ago seems so far away.

Titans 26, Eagles 23, F/OT

Tennessee (3-1): Where the Colts saw failure Sunday, the Titans found success. After coming back from 17-3 down late in the third quarter, the Titans gave up an overtime field goal. Marcus Mariota (30-43, 344 yds, 3 total TD, INT, 46 yds rushing) converted a 4th and 15 before driving past midfield. That’s when Mike Vrabel forgoed field goal attempts of 61 and 49 yards on two separate fourth downs that were both converted. After a 16-play drive, Mariota found Chris Davis in the endzone to complete the incredible comeback. It takes guts to go for it on fourth down in overtime. Mike Vrabel did it 3 times and was right all 3 times.

Philadelphia (2-2): Carson Wentz (33-50, 348 yds, 2 TD) and the offense played well, and the defense was mostly great until the fourth quarter, but the defending champions still couldn’t win. They just couldn’t contain Titans WR Chris David when it mattered. A costly sack-fumble gave Tennessee momentum, and once the Titans were able to cover Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery, Wentz had nowhere else to throw to. The team just isn’t as dynamic as it was last season, and results like this show why.

Colts 34, Texans 37, F/OT

Indianapolis (1-3): People will be criticizing coach Frank Reich’s decision all season, but that’s what happens when you bring in a guy looking to change the culture. The Eagles attempted more 4th downs than any other team in the NFL last year, many in those same situations. And even though they also led the league in 4th down conversions, they also failed on plenty of them. It’s just a shame that Andrew Luck (40-62, 464 yds, 4 TD) and the offense weren’t rewarded for such a great comeback in the 4th quarter.

Houston (1-3): The Texans are finally in the win column, and they’ve got Deshaun Watson (29-42, 375 yds, 2 TD, INT) back in his stride. The defense held on a 4th and 4 in overtime, and from there Watson was able to find De’Andre Hopkins down the seam for 24 yards to set up the game winning field goal. Indianapolis said they weren’t playing for the tie. Watson’s 7-9 for 81 yards in overtime showed he wasn’t either.

Jaguars 31, Jets 12

Jacksonville (3-1): Blake Bortles (29-38, 388 yds, 2 TD, INT) continued his hot start as the Jaguars rolled over the Jets in the scorching Florida heat. T.J. Yeldon led the rushing game to a solid day and the defense hounded New York’s rookie QB and completely shut down the run game. A Marcel Dareus safety to open the 3rd quarter added to the onsluaght and felt like a game-sealing play that sucked away what was left of the Jets’ willpower. Sacksonville is only allowing league lows of 14 points and 259 yards per game, and with the offense improving, the Jags could end up taking their revenge this January.

New York (1-3): Going into Jacksonville is always tough, but trying to win with just 34 rushing yards is almost impossible. Sam Darnold (17-34, 167 yds, TD) could never find a rythym, and any the Jets could have built out of halftime was slashed when RB Isaiah Crowell was brought down for a safety on their first offensive play of the 3rd quarter. What hurt most was Jacksonville running up the score at the end of the game and still not being able to stop them.

Raiders 45, Browns 42, F/OT

Oakland (1-3): Jon Gruden got his first win in his new tenure in Oakland in his home opener in the Black Hole, and did so in a very Raiders fashion. Derek Carr (35-58, 437 yds, 4 TD, 2 INT) played incredibly well down the stretch, and Marshawn Lynch danced to the music as he ran for 130 yards, topping the 100-yard mark for only the third time since week 7 of 2015. Kicker Matt McCrane nearly cost them in overtime, but he made up for it by making the game winner. Jordy Nelson also did his share and more, getting a touchdown and the vital 2-point conversion to tie the game with just 30 seconds left.

Cleveland (1-2-1): This season may already be more painful than their 0-16 campaign last year. After a first down that would have iced the game was overturned on a dubious decision after replay, the Browns couldn’t keep the Raiders from tying the game. They were given a second chance in overtime, but couldn’t move the ball and ended up with a loss. The bright side is #1 pick Baker Mayfield (21-41, 295 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT) looked great for large portions of the game, and his performance should lead to plenty of Cleveland wins in the future, but his few mistakes cost the Browns dearly. Don’t sleep on the Browns, though. They’re a competant kicker and about 2 extra inches away from being 4-0.

Cardinals 17, Seahawks 20

Arizona (0-4): Despite the change at quarterback, the Cardinals are still the only winless team left in the NFL. Rosen (15-27, 180 yds, TD) was ok, not turning the ball over and letting the game come to him, but he just didn’t have the spark to jumpstart an offense that is averaging a measly 9.2 points and 208.5 yards per game. RB David Johnson had his best game of the season, but it still wasn’t enough to get in the win column.

Seattle (2-2): A last-secomd field goal by Sebastian Janikowski won the Seahawks the game, but Seattle definitely don’t feel like winners right now. Earl Thomas, who was holding out in the off-season and has been looking for a trade for weeks, broke his leg in the 4th quarter. As he was being carted off the field, Thomas flipped off his own sideline, letting them know exactly how he felt about his own team’s treatment off him. Situations like this are why players hold out, and injuries like this derail seasons. Without Thomas, the final game in a Seahawks uniform may have been played by any of the members of the Legion of Boom.

Giants 18, Saints 33

New York (1-3): Despite phenomenal defense in the first half, the Giants could only muster 7 points before getting blown apart after halftime. Eli Manning (31-41, 255 yds, TD) used his weapons when he could, but Saquon Barkley and the rest of the running game were held in check all game and forced New York into some tough third down situations. Now 1 1/2 games behind the Redskins and last in the division, Pat Shurmur finds himself with a lot of questions and few answers for his new team.

New Orleans (3-1): Drew Brees (18-32, 217 yds) is now just 98 yards behind Brett Favre and just 201 yards away from passing Peyton Manning for the most passing yards in NFL history. He’ll almost certainly accomplish that feat on Monday night in front of a packed Superdome and a national audience. Against the Giants, the offense sputtered in the red zone, kicking 4 field goals on 4 trips in the first half. In the second half, the Saints marched up and down the field en route to 3 Alvin Kamara touchdowns and look to make one final super bowl run with Brees at the helm.

Chargers 29, 49ers 27

Los Angeles (2-2): Despite giving up a pick six on the first drive, Philip Rivers (25-39, 250 yds, 3 TD, INT) and the Chargers were still able to sneak away from San Francisco with a win. Los Angeles was able to win thanks to an 8:03 stretch in which they scored 20 points, and kicker Caleb Sturgis made all 3 of his kicks after a first quarter miss, including what turned out to be the game winner. A win’s a win, and the Chargers were in need of one after a rough start to the season.

San Francisco (1-3): The 49ers first game without Jimmy G wasn’t horrible, but it still showed how far San Francisco has to go before they can compete for the playoffs again. The Niners jumped out to an early 14-0 lead and led 17-6 with less than 5 minutes left in the half before giving up 20 straight Chargers points and eventually falling 29-27. C.J. Beathard (23-37, 298 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT) just isn’t Jimmy Garoppolo, but the rest of the team has rallied behind the backup.

Steelers 14, Ravens 26

Pittsburgh (1-2-1): Vance McDonald is quickly rising into the ranks of the NFL’s elite tight ends. After sending Chris Konte to the shadow realm with a brutal stiff arm last Monday, McDonald followed it up with 5 catches for 62 yards in the first half. After the break, however, the entire offense just shut down. Big Ben (27-47, 274 yds, TD, INT) and the offense didn’t even see Baltimore’s half of the field in the second half, punting 4 times and turning the ball over twice with just 3 first downs. Le’Veon Bell may be coming back sooner than expected, but this is still a team with a lot of problems that is running out of time to fix them.

Baltimore (3-1): The Ravens were a yard away from a 21-3 lead in the 2nd quarter after Joe Flacco (28-42, 363 yds, 2 TD) threw up a 71-yard bomb to Joe Brown. Then Austin Collins fumbled on the goal line and Pittsburgh managed to tie things up by halftime. The Ravens defense stepped things up in the second half, shutting out Pittsburgh while Justin Tucker hit field goals from 28, 31, 47, and 49 yards out to give Baltimore the win. Ask the Browns how important having a good kicker can be.

Broncos 23, Chiefs 27

Denver (2-2): After a 2-0 start, the Broncos have lost their last two games, with Monday night’s loss to the Chiefs breaking a 65-game streak when leading by 10+ in the 4th quarter. Totalling just 38 yards in the 4th quarter before the final drive, the offense fell apart late. First was QB Case Keenum (21-33, 245 yds, INT) missing a wide open Demaryius Thomas with 16 seconds left that would have been a touchdown. Then, after catching a first down on 4th and 10, receiver Courtland Sutton attempted and failed a lateral to his teammate when they could have spiked it and had one final play. This game was the definition of a self-inflicted loss.

Kansas City (4-0): Patrick Mahomes (28-45, 304 yds, TD) continues to set records and the Chiefs continue to win. Down 10 with less than 7 minutes remaining, the Mahomes marched down the field like he was the reincarnation of Joe Montana. He was 10-15 for 192 yards outside the pocket, the most in 10 years, and made completions of 23 and 35 yards on the final drive to win the game. Kareem Hunt ran in the game winner before the defense bent but didn’t break on Denver’s final drive. Hopefully this 4-0 start goes better for Kansas City than last year’s.

Bye Week

Happy Bye Week to the Washington Redskins (2-1) and Carolina Panthers (2-1). Adrian Peterson and Christian McCaffrey have definitely earned their weeks off.

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Photo Credits: NBC Sports, USA Today Sports, the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Chicago Tribune, Getty Images, the Associated Press, the Houston Chronicle, Mercury News, and Dongwe Ocean resort.

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