Seattle's latest road victory sends message to rest of NFC; more Snaps
• On another quarterback front, rookie Mike Glennon did nothing to change the bottom line in Tampa Bay. The Bucs blew a 10-point second-half lead at home and lost 13-10 to Arizona, falling to 0-4 and completely out of the NFC South playoff picture.
Tampa Bay has lost five straight home games, while the Cardinals hadn't won on the road since Week 2 of last season, when they went to Foxboro and shocked the Patriots. Arizona's nine-game road losing streak was the NFL's longest at the start of play on Sunday. The Cardinals erased a 10+ point fourth-quarter deficit to win in regulation for the first time since Dec. 28, 2003 against Minnesota.
Glennon wasn't bad by any means, but the two fourth-quarter interceptions he threw to Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson were the difference in the game. You can't blame this one on Josh Freeman, Bucs fans. Glennon was 24-of-43 for a respectable 193 yards, with one touchdown and those two big picks. But in the second half, with a double-digit lead to protect, Glennon connected on just nine-of-19 pass attempts.
• They made it uncomfortably close at the end, but break up the Lions, who are 3-1 and have the lead in the NFC North after a month of the season. Detroit got huge contributions on both sides of the ball, but running back Reggie Bush was spectacular, accounting for 173 yards of offense and a touchdown on 22 touches in the Lions' 40-32 conquest of visiting Chicago. Bush's highlight moment was when he hurdled Bears safety Major Wright on a 37-yard second-quarter scoring run.
Any time you hang up 40 points against the Bears defense, you've done something. Especially since quarterback Matthew Stafford entered the game just 1-5 against the Bears in his career, and Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler had owned Detroit to the tune of a 7-1 career record.
• With his three interceptions against the Lions, Cutler came back to earth pretty rapidly after his stellar start to the season. Same goes for the 3-0 Bears, who gave up 27 second-quarter points to Detroit. All told, the Lions scored 24 consecutive at one point, and held Chicago to a dismal 1-of-13 showing on third downs. Ugh. The first real challenge of the Marc Trestman coaching era in Chicago has officially arrived.
• I don't think you can keep running Blaine Gabbert out there in Jacksonville. In his two starts this season, both at home, Gabbert has presided over losses of 28-2 to Kansas City and 37-3 to Indianapolis, a 65-5 deficit overall. His passer rating was 30.8 against the Chiefs and an even worse 30.6 against the Colts.
Gabbert tossed three more interceptions against Indy, and has five on the season. He's averaging 150 yards passing per game, has absorbed 10 sacks and with him under center, the Jaguars aren't even threatening to do damage in the red zone, let alone actually scoring. I'm not saying Chad Henne is any great improvement, but how do the Jags keep serving up Gabbert to the hometown fans after two horrendous outings like the ones he has turned in this month? The 2014 draft can't come soon enough in Jacksonville.
• It was a nice, business-like road rout for the Colts, and I'm starting to think I was wrong when I predicted Indy would take a slight step back this season and miss the playoffs. This team seems like it's still getting better and wants to make last year's 11-5 playoff-qualifying run just a starting point.
And when exactly did Andrew Luck decide to become such a running threat? The Colts' quarterback doesn't do the read-option thing, but he has turned in some very big scrambles already this season, including his game-winning touchdown run in Week 1 at home against Oakland. Luck was at it again against the Jaguars, running twice for 26 yards, including a key 17-yard pickup for a first down in the first half.
• One month down and the 2-2 Cowboys are on pace for another maddening 8-8 season. Dallas is back in can't-stand-prosperity form, losing 30-21 at San Diego on Sunday despite racing to a 21-10 lead in the second quarter on Sean Lee's 52-yard interception return for a touchdown.
The Cowboys had their lack of a killer instinct come back to bite them against the Chargers, and have now dropped a pair of road games to AFC West teams (at Kansas City and at San Diego) that were both eminently winnable. The Chargers are usually the ones who blow leads and find ways to lose, but San Diego scored the game's final 20 points and showed some mental toughness when it fell way behind early.
Makes you think that Dallas hasn't really gotten over the hump yet when it comes to beating the teams its supposed to beat. The Cowboys are still in first place in the NFC East, but they're just one slim game ahead of both Washington and Philadelphia (1-3), and hold only a two-game edge over the winless Giants (0-4). Dallas could look back late this season and rue September's missed opportunities.
• I don't think the Vikings really have a choice. They have to stick with the hot hand of Matt Cassel when they face off against visiting Carolina in Week 6, after next week's bye. Minnesota's new starting quarterback wasn't spectacular in the Vikings' 34-27 win over Pittsburgh in London, but he did a very professional job at the position and contributed plenty to Minnesota's first win of the season.
If I'm Leslie Frazier, I make the move from Christian Ponder (who missed the game with a broken rib) to Cassel and make the announcement quickly this week.
Cassel sparked the Vikings offense and took care of the football. He completed 16-of-25 passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns, without throwing an interception or losing a fumble. Cassel also got No. 1 receiver Greg Jennings heavily involved, something Ponder has struggled to do. Jennings caught just three passes, but two went for touchdowns. Also, Adrian Peterson returned to form with a passing threat at quarterback for Minnesota, gaining 140 yards on 23 carries. The Steelers couldn't stack the box and dare the Vikings to beat them through the air after Jennings scored from 70 yards out in the first quarter.
• All in all, the Vikings and Steelers put on a jolly good show at Wembley, as the Brits like to say. And Pittsburgh made a game of it with a nice second-half comeback, scoring 17 of its 27 points after the break.
The best news for the Steelers was the regular-season debut of rookie second-round running back Le'Veon Bell, who ran 16 times for 57 yards and two touchdowns. Those were the first two rushing scores for the Steelers since Week 15 of last season, believe it or not.
• The Chargers hired new head coach Mike McCoy last January in part because they thought he could breathe life into quarterback Philip Rivers' flagging game. You'd have to say it's mission accomplished through the season's first four weeks. Rivers was outstanding against Dallas, with 35 completions in 42 attempts, for 401 yards and three touchdowns. The Chargers finished with an eye-popping 506 yards of offense, 27 first downs and gained 7.2 yards per play.
• It's a great sign for the 4-0 Chiefs that they can win with less than their A game on any given day. Kansas City started slowly against the winless Giants, slogging to a 10-7 halftime lead. But then the Chiefs turned it on, and won going away, 31-7.
And that Dexter McCluster 89-yard punt return touchdown in the third quarter was the most ridiculous play of the day in the NFL. It was like watching a real-life video game touchdown, with his effortless change of direction.
• How much longer can the Ravens keep throwing in the direction of stone-handed tight end Ed Dickson? Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco has to be losing confidence in Dickson, if he had much to begin with entering Week 4. Dickson had another Flacco pass bounce off his hands, with this one going right to Bills safety Jim Leonhard for an interception in the first half.
• With the benched Josh Freeman declared inactive and told to stay off the Bucs' sideline -- reportedly he watched the game from a stadium suite somewhere -- things have gotten remarkably ugly, remarkably fast between Tampa Bay and its former franchise quarterback. There's no way the Bucs can let this situation fester for much longer. Somehow the two sides have to negotiate a settlement and go their separate ways. This can't continue to be an open sore for another 13 weeks.
There hasn't been this much animosity in the air in Tampa Bay since head coach Jon Gruden banished lead receiver Keyshawn Johnson from the team for the final seven games of 2003. Bucs head coach Greg Schiano said the decision to not have Freeman on the sideline was mutual, but Freeman's agent told the Tampa Bay Times that Schiano's comments were lies.
The situation only grows worse by the moment in Tampa Bay.
• Comeback of the week goes to Washington's defense, which was torched in historic fashion in the season's first three games (1,464 yards allowed, the most by anyone since 1951). Jim Haslett's guys looked to be in trouble again with Oakland leading 14-0 after the first quarter, but Washington stiffened and in essence kept its season alive and relevant with a 24-14 win over the injury-prone Raiders.
Imagine if Washington hadn't beaten this Raiders team, which was missing starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor, and lost running backs Darren McFadden and Marcel Reece early on. As if we needed confirmation, there will be no quarterback controversy in Oakland, where backup Matt Flynn got the start in place of Pryor.
Flynn was largely ineffective and looked like a sitting duck for Washington's defense, which sacked him seven times. His 21-of-32 passing for 227 yards included one interception and a lost fumble that set up a mid-fourth quarter game-clinching 14-yard touchdown run by Roy Helu Jr.