Reacting and overreacting to everything that happened in the Week 4 Sunday afternoon games...
Things That Made Me Giddy
Baker Mayfield Had Time Early: Weird, since that hadn’t been the case at all earlier this season. That’s how you end up with a 13-play, 84-yard TD drive on the game’s second possession, and 342 passing yards (with a little help from sloppy Ravens tackling) on the game. Mayfield's feet are still a little happier than you'd like, but if he gets consistent protection that issue will correct itself.
Bucs Bounce Back in Big Bway: That last ‘B’ is silent. I’m not a believer in “trap games” in the NFL, but the Rams came out flat and the Bucs took full advantage, with the O-line winning throughout the first half, Ronald Jones finding new life and Jameis Winston finding Chris Godwin again and again and again. Throw in a Lavonte David pick on a trap coverage setting up another short TD, and it adds up to an impressive road win at L.A.
Bears Pass Rush Vs. the Washington Generals: It’s annually the biggest mismatch of the year when the Vikings try to block the Bears. Sunday was no exception.
Take a Bow, Steve Wilks: A bit maligned since his disastrous year in Arizona and meh (but improving) start for the Browns defense he’s coordinating, but Wilks's unit had a bead on Lamar Jackson and the Ravens all afternoon, and they did it all with an injury-depleted secondary.
Lions Left Too Much Time for Mahomes: Detroit’s defense made him work for it, as Mahomes had to scramble to convert a fourth-and-8, but ultimately the Chiefs had little trouble driving for a game-winning TD in 146 seconds. It's tough to fault the Lions for scoring the go-ahead TD whenever they could get it, considering their struggles in the deep red zone all day Sunday.
Jon Gruden’s Early Script: Say what you will about the guy who wanted no part of Khalil Mack yet was willing to debase himself for some receiver who’s no longer in the league, but the Raiders have had it working with the early scripts. They have 17 points on opening drives through four games. That included an opening drive touchdown in Indianapolis, followed by a long TD run on a Trevor Davis reverse on their second possession, sparking the upset in Indy.
Nick Chubb From Deep: He had TD runs of 92 and 63 as a rookie, and he finally broke a big one in 2019 with an 88-yarder for his third TD of the day in the Browns’ drubbing of Baltimore.
Sean McDermott De-Pantses Josh McDaniels: McDaniels isn’t alone though—McDermott has done this to most opposing coaches over the past two-plus seasons. The Brady-led Patriots looked like the Falk-led Jets, finishing with 224 yards of offense on 62 plays (3.6 per), with Brady going 18-for-39 for 150 yards (3.85 per), an interception and a 45.9 passer rating.
It’s a Trap!: Raiders safety Erik Harris shows that he’s carrying the tight end on the crosser before stepping in front of the outside receiver, fooling Jacoby Brissett and creating the easy pick-six.
Chris Carson Running Through Tackles: The Seahawks’ back was absolutely bullying a bunch of Arizona Cardinals who looked like they were auditioning to for the roles of “hapless defenders” in an Any Given Sunday sequel.
You Are a Daniel Jones Believer: There are going to be bumps in the road—we saw a few against Washington on Sunday—but he has met the hype in every way while playing without Saquon Barkley and Golden Tate. Pretty impressive for the sixth overall pick who should have, y’know, gone like 11th overall.
Dontrelle Inman De-Pantses Eric Rowe: Things were a little hairy for the Chargers until the route-running connoisseur took over for a stretch in the second half, finishing with five catches for 76 and once again proving how little sense it makes that he can’t stick with a team.
Jaguars’ Opening Drive of the Second Half: They went 75 yards on 16 plays, eating up 10:24 in the thin air (they got a little help from an illegals hands on the defensive line on a second-and-18, but also converted on a third-and-14). That’s the magic of Minshew.
Your Children and Your Children’s Children Will Watch Frank Gore: Seventeen carries for 109 yards to keep the Bills hanging around in their slugfest with New England.
Josh Rosen Is Actually Pretty O.K. When He Has Time: Though, even when he has time, he doesn’t have a very good group of weapons to throw to. After Arizona last year, and Miami this year, next year he’ll be lining up for whichever team plays a pile of grass clippings as an offensive line and a collection of burlap sacks they push downfield on a skateboard as receivers.
Nick Kwiatkoski Brings More Than Enough: Filling in for an unavailable (for reasons unknown) Roquan Smith, the Bears defense didn’t miss a beat as the fourth-year linebacker was everywhere you want him to be.
Panthers D Reminds Us They’re Still Really Good: They overwhelmed the overmatched Texans up front, and while they caught a couple breaks (Deshaun Watson just overshooting DeAndre Hopkins deep, and Hopkins throwing a ridiculous red-zone interception on a gadget play), they allowed nothing through the air. The Texans’ long completion was 14 yards.
Jadeveon Clowney Absorbs the Pick-Six:
You Will All Regret Passing on Dawson Knox: He runs angry and flashed some impressive hands en route to a three-catch, 58-yard outing against the Patriots. He will be one of the NFL’s 10 best tight ends in three years. (I say three years because that’s enough time for everyone to forget about this take if it doesn’t pan out.)
Kyle Allen Is a Fine Backup QB: He’s now 3-0 as a starter and has looked just fine (aside the ball security issues that got him benched at the University of Houston rearing its ugly head). He’s not Cam if Cam is 100%, and he’s probably not Cam if Cam is 70%, but he is good enough to keep the train running on-time.
Larry Fitzgerald Is No. 2: He surpasses Tony Gonzalez for No. 2 on the all-time receptions list.
Matt LaCosse Is the Nazr Mohammed of the NFL: Because Nazr Mohammed lasted 20 seasons in the NBA by being good at setting a ton of borderline illegal picks. That is LaCosse’s primary role in the Patriots’ offense, and he’s good at it.
Too Much Bad Josh Allen on Sunday: A lot of it came early, and he finished with three interceptions. He found something of a rhythm in the second half but wasn’t around to attempt a comeback after suffering a concussion. You get the extremes with Allen, and Sunday was the bad end of the spectrum.
Lions With Goal-to-Go: They had five goal-to-go series that resulted in: field goal, lost fumble (after an apparent touchdown was overturned), lost fumble returned for a touchdown, touchdown, touchdown. So, basically, on those five series they only outscored the Chiefs 17-7, which is how you shatter your tender heart in a 34-30 loss.
Déjà Vu for Broncos D: For the second time at home this season, they took a one-point lead late only to have the defense give up a field goal on a drive that included a roughing passer penalty (this one was not nearly as outrageous as the phantom call that cost them the Bears game).
Come Now, Dwayne Haskins Isn’t Ready to Play: He showed a complete misunderstanding of the speed of NFL defenses. Nothing good is going to come of forcing him out there with the truly bad supporting cast they have in Washington.
DeAndre Hopkins Reading This Coverage: We can all chuckle at this silliness of the wide receiver thinking he’s a quarterback, but the back end of Carolina’s secondary doesn’t budge at all here. This is a second-and-4 play in the red zone—it can only be thrown if you’re 100% certain it’s open—in a low-scoring game the Texans ultimately lost by six.
Case Keenum’s Missed Opportunities: I mean, no one wants to play quarterback for that crappy team anyway, but Keenum misfired on two walk-in TDs. That was soon followed by Dwayne Haskins misfiring on another open touchdown, so it’s probably a peer pressure thing.
Tony Jefferson’s Attempted Killshot:
It’s All Over for the Falcons: It’s hard to figure it any other way; the defense was going to take a step back with Keanu Neal sidelined, and the offense put up another uninspired dud. They haven’t topped 24 points in a game so far this season and mustered 10 at home against the Titans. This isn’t gonna work.
Can You Find the Penalty on This Play?: In the officials’ defense, no one is expected to have their eyes on the quarterback, who is holding the ball. Rather, NFL officials are trained to stare into the middle distance during every play.
Tramaine Brock Gets Baited by DK Metcalf: Into a dead-ball personal foul before a third-and-goal. Tramaine Brock is old enough to be DK Metcalf’s great grandfather (approximately). That can’t happen.
Jameis Winston Throwing a Pick-Six: While protecting an 11-point lead with less than 10 minutes left. On an otherwise wonderful day for the Bucs, that was a bit of atrocious football.
I Can’t Believe Young Sheldon Was Reading Tolstoy Instead of Going to Gym Class: What a card!
Moments We’ll Tell Our Grandkids About
Of All the Dirty Hits Vontaze Burfict Has Delivered in His Career: This one ranks somewhere in the middle.
J.C. Jackson Gets ’Em Both Down: This was his second INT on a day when he also blocked a punt that was recovered for a touchdown. This is what happens when you focus on developing your young players (hint, hint, Miami Dolphins).
What We’ll Be Talking About This Week
AFC North Race Will Be Interesting: Cleveland breaking serve at Baltimore (while the Steelers and Bengals sink into irrelevance) will loom large in December. The Browns are not only in this thing after that lackluster start, they have the inside track.
Is It Chase Daniels’ Team Now?: Because it probably should be, even after Mitchell Trubisky is ready to come back from what appears to be a non-throwing shoulder injury. It’s not necessarily a good offense with Daniel, but there’s something to be said for knowing where the ball is going when your quarterback throws it.
Dear Tom Coughlin, I Don’t Think Jalen Ramsey Is Coming Back: He’s a free agent after 2020, and no one is giving up two first-round picks and a franchise contract to get him long-term. Most of all, he doesn't want to be there. Just take the one first-round pick and move on with your life.
You All Just Keep Disrespecting the Lions: Make no mistake, this is a playoff-caliber team led by a superstar quarterback. If not for two lost fumbles around the goal line (the second one returned from the three-inch line for a touchdown), they would have handled the Chiefs and been in full control of the NFC North.
Vance Joseph Could’ve Overseen This: The Broncos couldn’t get off the field against Gardner Minshew and Leonard Fournette. The Jaguars ran 48 offensive plays and scored 20 points in the second half, winning in the thin air the exact same way the Broncos supposedly want to play in the thin air. This is gonna get worse before it gets better.
Steve Keim Better Have His LinkedIn Page Updated: The Cardinals’ offense is underwhelming, and the defense doesn’t tackle anyone. This doesn’t look like progress.
It’s Clearly All Jay Gruden’s Fault: Because there’s no one else firing capable personnel men, replacing them with a braintrust that assembles a bottom-five roster, doing nothing in the face of stud LT Trent Williams’s holdout, and generally pulling the strings in this comedically mismanaged organization. Once Gruden is gone, the single problem in Washington will be fixed.
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