Around The NFL breaks down what you need to know from all of Sunday's action in Week 4 of the 2022 NFL season. Catch up on each game's biggest takeaways using the links below:
- Buffalo Bills 23, Baltimore Ravens 20
- Dallas Cowboys 25, Washington Commanders 10
- Los Angeles Chargers 34, Houston Texans 24
- Tennessee Titans 24, Indianapolis Colts 17
- Seattle Seahawks 48, Detroit Lions 45
- Atlanta Falcons 23, Cleveland Browns 20
- Philadelphia Eagles 29, Jacksonville Jaguars 21
- New York Giants 20, Chicago Bears 12
- New York Jets 24, Pittsburgh Steelers 20
Grant Gordon's takeaways:
- Mahomes the magnificent gets this one against the G.O.A.T. Having scored a season-low 17 points in a loss seven days prior, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs were at their offensive best with all the world watching. Thanks to a fumble recovery on the game’s first play, Mahomes hooked up with Travis Kelce on the second play from scrimmage for six points. It was on from there, as the Chiefs scored touchdowns on each of their first three possessions, scored more points in the first half than a team had scored all season versus the Bucs and racked up the highest point total against Tampa since Todd Bowles arrived in 2019. Showcasing the magic in his arm, fleetness of foot and his immeasurable creativity, Mahomes led the Chiefs to a rather comfortable victory. In the marquee, Mahomes improved to 3-3 when facing Tom Brady in their first matchup since the Buccaneers whooped the Chiefs in Super Bowl LV. But more so, this was a showcase for what Mahomes and head coach Andy Reid can do against a formidable Bucs defense. The Chiefs had four players score touchdowns, five run the ball and eight catch it. Aside from a horrible interception late, Mahomes and Co. were hitting on all cylinders and from all angles. Mahomes got the best of Brady on Sunday night -- in perhaps their final head-to-head matchup -- but the Chiefs offense truly delivered a statement with a thrashing of a formidable Bucs defense.
- Rebuilt Chiefs O-line changes tone. The Chiefs returned to the scene of the crime for the first time since their 31-9 Super Bowl loss against the Buccaneers. On that Feb. 7, 2021, evening in Tampa, the Bucs sacked Mahomes three times and pressured him on 32.7% of his snaps. Though the Chiefs' rebuilt line was hardly perfect on this Sunday evening in Tampa, it set the tone for a far different game. Mahomes was far more comfortable and therefore far more himself. He was sacked three times yet again, but was pressured on just 22.5% of his dropbacks (nine QB pressures on 40 dropbacks). The performance of Orlando Brown, Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey, Trey Smith and Andrew Wylie on the night exorcised a few demons and more so bodes well for K.C.'s fortunes ahead.
- Brady bunch's return a positive in loss. Brady said in the lead-up to the game that the adverse practice situations caused by Hurricane Ian weren't an excuse for how the Bucs prepared. He said the same after the loss. Nonetheless, when reports surface about the team gathering families, dogs and rabbits named Cletus to relocate, it's clear that sometimes life gets in the way of football. Perhaps that was the case Sunday, maybe it wasn't. Nevertheless, after a chaotic week and a disappointing defeat, one silver lining was the return to the field of Bucs wide receivers Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Julio Jones. Evans' contributions (eight catches for 103 yards and two touchdowns) were particularly notable, but it's obvious Brady and the offense are worlds different with those wideouts in the mix. They scored more points and had more yards passing (385) than any previous game this season. When the skies clear in the coming weeks and if this WR crew can stay somewhat healthy, Week 4 might stand as a foreshadowing of what's to come -- in a positive light.
Next Gen stat of the game: Patrick Mahomes was 18-of-28 for 221 yards, two touchdowns, an interception and a 97.5 passer rating versus four or fewer pass rushers. In the Super Bowl LV loss to the Buccaneers, Mahomes was 25-of-44 for 261 yards, no TDs, an INT and a 64.7 passer rating against four or fewer rushers.
NFL Research: Patrick Mahomes became the fastest quarterback in history to throw for 20,000 yards in his career. He surpassed the mark in his 67th game, breaking the record previously held by Matthew Stafford (71 games).
Eric Edholm's takeaways:
- Aaron Rodgers was a new man in the second half. At halftime, Rodgers was 4-of-11 passing for 44 yards and a pick-six. Even with Allen Lazard slipping on Jack Jones' INT, Rodgers' throw had no chance. He even misfired on his first two passes of the second half -- perhaps the ayahuasca hadn't kicked in yet. But after a crucial 32-yard completion to Lazard on third-and-10, Rodgers was pretty locked in. The Patriots were testing him with heavy man coverage, and it threw off the timing of the pass game early. But Rodgers made some gorgeous throws in the second half (including touchdown No. 500) and started dissecting New England's secondary. It also helped that the pass protection improved. Rodgers threw a perfect pass on the front side of the two-minute warning that should have been a TD, but rookie receiver Romeo Doubs just dropped it. In overtime, Rodgers handled the Packers' second drive perfectly and set up Mason Crosby's game-winning field goal. It wasn't vintage Rodgers at first, but it ended that way.
- Bailey Zappe thrust into the spotlight. Who had Zappe as the first rookie to throw a TD pass in 2022? After Brian Hoyer was knocked out by the Packers' Rashan Gary, Zappe was called upon -- in what was supposed to be a redshirt season. The fourth-rounder's first official NFL snap was inside his own 5-yard line at Lambeau Field. No biggie for a player who was facing Michigan State with Western Kentucky a year ago this week and who played at Houston Baptist (with a stadium built next to a CVS) in 2020. They played it very conservatively with Zappe at first (and late), and a few of his early throws were in the dirt. New England even punted on fourth-and-1 from Green Bay's 46-yard line late in the second quarter. Zappe lost a fumble deep in Packers territory on a sack, but he got in a little groove in the second half, hitting DeVante Parker on a controversial TD. But Zappe had the ball with 1:52 left in regulation and in overtime -- both with a chance to win a huge game and couldn't deliver. In OT, Zappe faced a third-and-5 and nearly threw a pick. Rodgers got the ball back and won. We don't know how Zappe's NFL story will end. But he's all of a sudden a household name in New England with a possible start next week in play if Mac Jones (ankle) remains out.
- Rashan Gary comes up big again. Gary has been big this season, developing into one of the league's better edge defenders. He made a huge impact in the first half, knocking Hoyer out of the game and delivering a big hit on Zappe, forcing a fumble on the sack and recovering the ball deep in Green Bay territory. Gary was instrumental in keeping Green Bay in the game while its offense was sputtering, forcing the Patriots into four straight punts in the first half and three straight on their final three possessions. Most of Gary's production came in the first half, but he also added a few late pressures to help Green Bay seal the deal. He's off to a Pro Bowl start to this season. He's now had one or more sacks in each of the Packers' four games.
Next Gen stat of the game: The Patriots used six offensive linemen on 15 of their 58 offensive plays, as tight end Jonnu Smith was injured near the end of the first half.
NFL Research: Aaron Rodgers is the fifth player in NFL history with 500 TD passes, including playoffs.
Kevin Patra's takeaways:
- Josh Jacobs powers Raiders to first victory of Josh McDaniels era. After starting the season 0-3, Vegas fed Jacobs, who bulldozed his way through Broncos defenders for 144 yards, a career high, with two touchdowns on 28 carries. The running back loves playing against the Broncos. Sunday marked his third 100-yard rushing game versus Denver, the only team he's had multiple 100-yard rushing games against in his career. With Jacobs churning out yards, Derek Carr and the passing game didn't have many explosive plays, but the quarterback got Davante Adams heavily involved. The star receiver led Vegas with nine catches on 13 targets for 101 yards. After coming up short the first three weeks, the Raiders finally got over the hump by handing the ball to Jacobs and gobbling up first downs. If not for red-zone struggles, the contest wouldn't have been close. It's apropos that McDaniels' first win as the Raiders coach came against the Broncos -- his former team.
- Broncos offense remains a work in progress. Russell Wilson and the Broncos offense got off on a better foot in Week 4, looking crisp in the first half. Jerry Jeudy made explosive plays, and Courtland Sutton won versus Raiders DBs. Each scored a TD. Then the wheels mostly spun in the second half. Outside of a big play from Wilson to KJ Hamler to set up a score, the Broncos offense did next to nothing in the final two quarters. Denver had three straight three-and-outs at one point and never came close to threatening on its final drive. The disjointed second half was exacerbated by Javonte Williams' knee injury. With Melvin Gordon in the doghouse following a second-quarter fumble, the Broncos turned to Mike Boone. The fall-off was noticeable. The inability of Wilson to keep Jeudy and Sutton involved all game is a perpetual problem -- each WR had a single catch in the second half. Wilson earned +21.4 completion percent over expected in the first half. In the second, that flipped to -20.8. Woof. On the bright side, Denver wasn't completely abysmal again in the red zone, converting both of its goal-to-go situations.
- Raiders D comes up with big plays. Amik Robertson was in the right place at the right time as Gordon's fumble popped into the arms of the Vegas cornerback, who dashed for a 68-yard touchdown return. It was the first Raiders defensive TD since 2019. About time! The recovery wasn't the only big play for Vegas. Maxx Crosby was perpetually in the backfield disrupting plays. The edge rusher earned two sacks and four tackles for loss, and batted a ball back into Wilson's lap for a near safety. In the second half, the pressures came in waves. The Raiders pressured Wilson on 40% of dropbacks in the final two quarters (15.4% in first half), per Next Gen Stats. They got that pressure without blitzing a single time in the second half.
Next Gen stat of the game: Patrick Surtain aligned across from Davante Adams on 25 of 35 routes (71% shadow). Surtain forced more tight window targets (five) than receptions allowed (four) against Adams.
NFL Research: Josh Jacobs moved into second place all-time in two-plus rushing touchdown games against the Broncos with his fourth, behind only LaDainian Tomlinson's seven such games.
Nick Shook takeaways:
- Defense wins the day. For a second straight week, the Panthers found their first points of the day via the Snow Patrol. And like Week 3, it came from a play made my Frankie Luvu, who intercepted Kyler Murray and returned it for his first career touchdown. Unfortunately, that was the high-water mark of the day for the Panthers, who watched the Cardinals hamper their offense all afternoon. Arizona harassed Baker Mayfield, batted down roughly a half-dozen of Mayfield's attempts, racked up three takeaways (including a gift on a fumbled reverse) and held Carolina to 2 of 10 on third down. The identity of the key contributors was a surprise: Zach Allen was a constant problem along the defensive interior, accounting for three QB pressures, one sack and at least three of the batted passes, and linebacker Dennis Gardeck came down with the interception that swung things in favor of Arizona. It didn't make for a visually thrilling game, but defense keyed the victory for the Cardinals, who should feel better about being 2-2 after a month of football.
- There is no light at the end of Carolina's tunnel. Last year, offensive coordinator Joe Brady was made out as the scapegoat. This year, Mayfield is in the crosshairs, and while Mayfield's performance is certainly deserving of criticism, no existing option will likely make things any better. Carolina simply isn't executing whatever offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo dials up, a persistent problem that starts with Mayfield, who posted his worst passer rating as a Panther at 61.9, a number inflated by a late touchdown pass to Christian McCaffrey. Fed up with their offense's lack of excitement, Panthers fans aggressively booed Mayfield and the offense in the fourth quarter. The boos were especially loud after yet another Mayfield pass was batted at the line of scrimmage, an occurrence that is becoming a weekly tradition as reliable as the rising and setting of the sun. One of those tipped passes ended up in a key interception that helped the Cardinals separate themselves from the Panthers in this largely ugly affair. Frankly, there aren't any signs it's going to get better in the weeks ahead.
- The Cardinals aren't explosive, but they're making progress. Look, this game didn't produce a ton of highlights. Two of the NFL's most notoriously bad first-half offenses lived up to their reputations, combining to produce a whopping six points before the break. But Arizona woke up in the second half, gaining 201 yards in the final two quarters and finding the end zone three times. The final score -- a 23-yard Murray pass to Marquise Brown -- was a thing of beauty, capping a strong second half from Murray, who outperformed his own first-half passer rating of 54.2 by nearly 100 points in the second half, and accounted for all three of the touchdowns. It's an improvement, but the Cardinals still need to figure out how to do this over four quarters, not just two.
Next Gen stat of the game: Baker Mayfield was pressured on just 18.4% of his dropbacks Sunday, and completed 15 of 27 passes for a touchdown and two interceptions when facing four or fewer pass rushers.
NFL Research: With Sunday's loss, the Panthers are now 1-26 under Matt Rhule when the opponent scores at least 17 points, and have lost 24 such games in a row.
Eric Edholm's takeaways:
- The Bills were pretty lifeless for the first 28 minutes. The Ravens scored on their first four possessions, while the Bills managed only a field goal early on, turning it over twice and going three-and-out twice. With the game teetering out of control -- an 11% chance of winning then, per Next Gen Stats -- the Bills' defense held late in the second quarter and got the ball back to Josh Allen and Co. The Bills drove 76 yards -- more than they had before the drive -- and cut the lead to 20-10 with a crucial touchdown. Without that stop and drive, do the Bills win this game? We don't think so. Last year, the Bills were awful in the first half of an eventual loss to the Buccaneers in Tampa, but they made it a game with a brilliant, gutsy second half. It's hard not to think that this massive comeback victory over a good conference opponent won't springboard the Bills forward emotionally.
- Two curious decisions haunted Ravens. John Harbaugh made two interesting calls in a 20-20 game that might have hurt the Ravens' chances of winning. The first came late in the third quarter as the Ravens had a promising drive going. Lamar Jackson appeared to scramble for a first down, reaching the ball past the marker, but was ruled to be short at the Baltimore 34-yard line. Harbaugh challenged the play and lost, costing his team a timeout. The Ravens would end up going for it on fourth down and getting it, but the drive would end without points. Then with just over four minutes remaining, the Ravens eschewed the field goal on fourth-and-goal from the Buffalo 2-yard line; Jackson was picked in the end zone. The Bills drove down for the winning score. Arguably, a field goal wouldn't have prevented Allen from scoring; it took them only two minutes of game clock to move from their own 20-yard line to the Baltimore 11, with ample time left. But the Bills might have played the end of the game differently down three points instead of it being tied.
- J.K. Dobbins makes a difference. Dobbins' return last week appeared to come with some limitations, as he ran the ball seven times and caught two passes in a 27-snap outing, his first of the season after returning from injury. This week, the leash was loosened even more, as Dobbins ran for a score and caught another, totaling 63 yards on 17 touches. He became the first player in Ravens franchise history to score both a rushing and receiving touchdown in any one quarter as Baltimore built a lead. We didn't see as much of Dobbins on the wet M&T Bank Stadium field surface in the fourth quarter, touching it twice – once for minus-3 yards, and once for minus-4. Was it caution? Fear of injury? Aggravation of the injured knee? We're not sure. But it was curious and notable.
Next Gen stat of the game: Lamar Jackson was 3-of-3 passing for 34 yards and a TD vs. the blitz in first half, but only 2-of-4 for 5 yards with an INT vs. the blitz in the second half.
NFL Research: The Bills trailed 20-3 in the first half, and Josh Allen had been 0-7 in his career when trailing by 17 or more points. He became the first Bills QB to lead such a comeback that big since Ryan Fitzpatrick did it in Weeks 2 and 3 in 2011.
Kevin Patra's takeaways:
- Cowboys defense bamboozles Carson Wentz, Commanders. Dallas didn't rack up sacks (it netted two), but the defensive front controlled the entire game, forcing Washington to settle for inefficient dinks and dunks. Wentz's head was scrambled all game, as he threw for just 170 yards with two interceptions and a touchdown on 25-of-42 passing. The few times the quarterback dared stretch the field, he was off the mark badly for much of the contest. The Dallas D stepped up big at key moments when the game was still tight, with Trevon Diggs earning an interception and two fourth-down pass breakups. Dallas held star receiver Terry McLaurin to just 15 yards on two catches (six targets). Washington's inability to run the ball consistently, and the fear of the Cowboys' defensive front dictated the contest. Even when the game remained close, it never felt like the Commanders offense had enough big plays to puncture Dallas' stout D.
- Cooper Rush remains steady, moving to 3-0 in 2022. Rush once again ran the offense with aplomb and took shots when required. The Cowboys never got the run game churning and stalled too often in scoring range, but Rush remained a steady signal-caller, earning 8.3 yards per attempt for 223 yards on 15-of-27 passing with two TDs. CeeDee Lamb continued to surge, earning 97 yards and a TD on six catches. The wideout toasted William Jackson for a gorgeous 30-yard TD to give the Cowboys cushion in the fourth quarter. If Rush needs to play another game as Dallas waits for Dak Prescott to get healthier, the QB has proved he can get the job done.
- Welcome back, Michael Gallup. The Cowboys wideout returned after last season's ACL tear and made an immediate impact. Gallup didn't stuff the stat sheet, earning two catches for 24 yards, but made a big third-and-long grab to move the chains and a go-ahead TD catch. He also forced two long defensive pass interference penalties on Washington. Gallup played just 35 snaps as the Cowboys eased him back in, but the threat of the receiver to stretch the field helps open up everything underneath.
Next Gen stat of the game: Carson Wentz was pressured on 40.9% of dropbacks (31.7% in Weeks 1-3). Demarcus Lawrence earned seven QB pressures, Micah Parsons had three QB pressures and Dante Fowler had three QB pressures and a sack.
NFL Research: Cooper Rush is the first Dallas QB to win each of his first four career starts.
Eric Edholm's takeaways:
- Justin Herbert looked far more comfortable. Last we saw Herbert, he was grinding his way through a rough outing against the Jaguars following the rib cartilage injury he'd suffered the week prior. Credit the Chargers' offensive line -- especially sixth-rounder Jamaree Salyer, the replacement left tackle -- for keeping mostly clean pockets, as Herbert was sacked once and hit only twice. The Chargers' game plan called for some quick-rhythm passes, which was smart, but it didn't appear that they kept Herbert bottled up for fear of injury. Even though things got interesting at one point, and the Chargers might have gotten a bit conservative with two- and three-score leads, this was an important win for Los Angeles and for Herbert, whose health was a big concern not long ago.
- Chargers need to be better closers. In Week 1, the Chargers led the Raiders, 24-10, late in the third quarter before the Raiders came storming back and had the ball in their hands with a chance to win late. In Week 2, the Chargers led the Chiefs, 17-7, midway through the third quarter before losing a heartbreaker by three. And in this game, they nearly coughed up a 20-point lead before hanging on in the final minutes. The Chargers scored touchdowns on three of their first four drives against the Texans. They added field goals on their next two possessions. Then they punted three straight times, followed by a fumble from DeAndre Carter on a punt return. Meanwhile, the Texans, who trailed 27-7 late in the third quarter, took advantage of the Chargers stalling and scored 17 straight points to make it a game. Yes, the Chargers closed it out. But it shouldn't have been that dramatic.
- Both teams improve on the ground. The Chargers scored their first two rushing TDs of the season in this game, as Austin Ekeler went from zero scores coming in to three (he also added a receiving TD). The Texans had the NFL's worst rush defense coming into the game, but this was still a big development for the Chargers, who remain limited offensively without Keenan Allen on the field. The Texans have bigger issues, but they have to be pleased with how rookie Dameon Pierce played Sunday. Granted, the Chargers were without Joey Bosa, but Pierce’s 75-yard TD proved he's more than just a power back. His 14 rushes for 131 yards and a score, along with six short catches on six targets, showed he can be an all-around performer for a Houston offense that doesn't have nearly enough of them.
Next Gen stat of the game: Texans RB Dameon Pierce had 77 rushing yards over expected (54 expected, 131 actual), the most by a Texans back since Lamar Miller in Week 12 of the 2018 season, when he was plus-108.
NFL Research: With 340 passing yards in Week 4 at Houston, Chargers QB Justin Herbert tied Andrew Luck (19) for the most games with 300-plus pass yards in a quarterback's first three seasons all time.
Coral Smith's takeaways:
- Battle of the RBs goes Henry's way. Sunday's matchup marked only the third time ever that the two most recent rushing triple crown winners faced off, with the first two times happening back in 1957. And it was 2020 winner Derrick Henry who came out with the better numbers and a win for his team, while 2021 winner Jonathan Taylor struggled. Henry had his best game so far this season, finishing with a season-high 114 rushing yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. In contrast, the Titans defense appeared to have figured out how to defend against Taylor, as the RB had one of the worst outings of his career, finishing with 42 rushing yards on 20 attempts, along with a late-game fumble. Taylor's 2.1 yards per carry were the fewest in his career when rushing at least 20 times, replacing his previous career-low of 3.4 yards per carry from the Colts' game against the Chiefs last week. In the matchup between two of the best running backs in the league, there was a clear winner on Sunday.
- Titans DE shows out. Defensive end Denico Autry was acquired by the Titans last offseason, leaving Indianapolis to sign a three-year deal with Tennessee. Against his old team, Autry showed out, making key plays throughout the game. Autry had two sacks on Sunday, with the first causing Colts forcing a fumble from quarterback Matt Ryan. The Titans recovered and scored a touchdown on the ensuing possession to take an early lead. And as the Indianapolis offense was driving down the field late in the fourth quarter, Autry collected another key sack, bringing down Ryan on third down. The takedown stopped the potentially game-tying drive in its tracks and forced the Colts to go for a long-shot field goal, which was missed. In a game in which the Titans offense was absent the entire second half, the defense had to step up, and Autry played a big role in that effort.
- Turnovers hurt Colts again. The Colts have struggled with turnovers so far this season, ranking 25th in the league coming into Sunday's game. Giveaways again put them in a hole early, as Ryan fumbled on the opening drive (the first of his two fumbles), and then the next quarter was intercepted off of a tipped ball by the Titans' defensive line. Both turnovers led to touchdowns for the Titans, putting the Colts behind early in the game. Ryan and the Indianapolis offense started to close the gap in the second half, getting within a touchdown, but another fumble, this one from Taylor, ended a drive just outside of the red zone with no points to show for it. The turnovers have been a problem for the Colts all season, and if they want to get back in the win column, they'll need to find a solution.
Next Gen stat of the game: Denico Autry had five QB pressures, two sacks and a turnover forced by pressure on 26 pass rushes (19.2 pressure percent).
NFL Research: Jonathan Taylor had 11 carries for 19 rushing yards in the first half, the fewest rushing yards he's had in any half of his career in which he's received at least 10 carries.
Kevin Patra's takeaways:
- Chef Geno Smith was cookin'. Smith diced up the Lions' limp defense all game, throwing darts and making splash plays. Smith completed 76.7% of 30 attempts for 320 yards and two touchdowns with a 10.7 yards per attempt average. The quarterback controlled the game, using his legs early and finding DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett for chunk gains. Smith took advantage of the lack of speed of Detroit's linebackers, finding tight ends early in the flat for YAC. The QB also dashed for 49 yards on seven attempts with a rushing score. Smith has played well through four weeks, moving the offense and finding open receivers. He punctuated that play Sunday with an explosive game. Sunday marked the first time in Smith's career he has earned 300-plus passing yards in back-to-back games. Pete Carroll has displayed trust in Geno to make plays with his arm. The QB took that confidence and spun a sterling game Sunday. The Seahawks didn't punt the entire game, going TD, TD, FG, TD, missed FG, TD, FG, TD, end of game.
- Lions offense still moves the ball despite missing key playmakers. No D'Andre Swift. No Amon-Ra St. Brown. No D.J. Chark. The Lions still racked up 520 yards, with Jared Goff throwing for 378 yards and four TDs with a pick-six. T.J. Hockenson provided a spark, netting 179 yards and two TDs on eight catches. Defense was optional Sunday at Ford Field, with both offenses moving the ball at will. Still, with the Lions missing so many key players, it was encouraging to see Ben Johnson's offense not get stuck in the mud for long stretches. Goff made some nice throws and displayed confidence throwing the ball in traffic. But his back-breaking pick-six to open the second half proved to be the game-changer.
- Hello, Rashaad Penny. The Seahawks running back looked like late-2021 Penny after a rocky start to the 2022 campaign. After netting just 141 total rushing yards in the first three weeks, Penny blasted off for 151 yards on 17 carries with two long TD gallops. The RB showed burst at the second level, and the ability to get to the edge we saw last year. When the Lions offense crept close late, it was Penny who continued to slam the door. His 36-yard TD on third-and-15 gave Seattle a two-score lead going into the fourth quarter. He then dashed for a 41-yarder on third-and-5 late. And when the Seahawks needed a first down to ice the game, Penny again came up clutch. We'll have to see if the RB can continue making plays against better defenses, but Sunday's outing was a good sign for Seattle.
Next Gen stat of the game: Geno Smith went 13-of-17 for 139 yards and two touchdowns on play-action passes (first TD on play action this season).
NFL Research: This was the first game in NFL history with a 48-45 final score. Jared Goff has started three of the four games featuring 90-plus combined points in the past five seasons.
Nick Shook's takeaways:
- Atlanta wins a smashmouth battle. The Falcons ran into a suffocating defense when handing the ball to Cordarrelle Patterson, contributing to a few three-and-outs that had recently become rare in Atlanta. Then, Arthur Smith's staff decided to put the game in the hands of the hard-running backups. Tyler Allgeier and Caleb Huntley took over as the Falcons' two primary backs and found significant success, so much that Atlanta effectively abandoned the pass in the second half. Instead, the Falcons repeatedly handed the ball to Huntley on a 10-play drive that covered 75 yards and ended in Huntley's first career touchdown. It was so productive, Atlanta called 14 -- yes, 14 -- straight running plays before a dropped snap on first-and-goal forced Marcus Mariota to throw the ball away. Atlanta beat Cleveland at its own game, punching it in the mouth repeatedly until the Browns were unable to get up off the mat.
- The Browns can't afford to leave points on the field. Cleveland owns a run-first offense that can control a game, but typically needs to build a lead to do so. The Browns fell well short of that goal Sunday, failing to score on a long opening drive, then only getting three points out of a goal-to-go situation that began on Atlanta's 1. It all seemed fine when Nick Chubb scored to put Cleveland ahead 17-13, but thanks to the Browns' inability to get a crucial stop, the game was once again put in the hands of Jacoby Brissett. As it did in Week 2, Cleveland's comeback attempt in the final two minutes ended in an all-too-predictable interception. The Browns will wish they had this one back, and they need to reflect on their decisions made inside the opponent's 10. Sometimes, it's OK to just pound the run on three (or four) straight plays with the end zone just feet away.
- Atlanta capitalizes on Cleveland's absences. The Browns played this game without Myles Garrett, Jadeveon Clowney and Taven Bryan -- yes, three-fourths of its starting defensive line. For a half, the Browns made it work, but when Atlanta embarked on its ground-powered march to the end zone, the absences became painfully evident. Add in the handful of missed sacks and tackles for loss on Mariota and his teammates, and you have a defense that will be wondering how things might have gone had any of those three -- especially Garrett and Clowney -- been available. Instead, it's a loss for a Browns defense that has exactly one decent performance to be proud of this season, while Atlanta can again be proud of overcoming a second-half deficit to win.
Next Gen Stat of the game: Falcons running backs Tyler Allgeier and Caleb Huntley combined to rush nine times for 97 yards on outside rushes to the right side Sunday.
NFL Research: The Falcons recorded their second game with 200-plus rushing yards Sunday, tying them for the most such games in the NFL through four weeks.
Nick Shook's takeaways:
- Eagles defense shines. Much of the narrative surrounding the Eagles has been centered on their offense, but on a rain-soaked Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field, the defense did the dirty work that powered them to victory. Haason Reddick was a one-man wrecking crew, forcing two fumbles while recovering two more as part of a defense that created five takeaways. After a patient and productive start from Jacksonville's rushing attack, Philadelphia shut it down, buying its offense plenty of time to erase an early 14-point deficit. In total, the five turnovers stand out as the strongest statistical indicator of success, but it was about more than just takeaways. After a slow start, the Eagles put together a complete game for a convincing win.
- Trevor Lawrence still has plenty to learn. The second-year passer entered Sunday on a roll, looking fantastic in Jacksonville's last two wins and carrying the positive momentum over into the first half of Week 4. Eventually, though, the Eagles caught up just as Lawrence started to crumble. Philadelphia's defense forced Lawrence into some mistakes typical of a young quarterback, with one notable play -- a second-and-7 in which the Eagles sent the blitz -- causing Lawrence to loft a pass to Christian Kirk, leaving it in the air plenty long enough for James Bradberry to swoop underneath it for a crucial interception. As the game went on, Lawrence's internal clock seemed to slow down, leaving him vulnerable to Philadelphia's ferocious pass rush. The wet conditions also contributed to a few fumbles, with Lawrence losing the ball on a fourth-down rollout (resulting in a turnover on downs), and dropping a snap that was recovered by Reddick. In all, the Jaguars made too many mistakes with the ball to win. All of them involved Lawrence, who should use this tape as a teaching tool.
- Miles Sanders earns his paycheck. The Eagles have found a number of ways to move the football in 2022, but with conditions being far from perfect Sunday, Sanders stepped up. The running back received 27 carries, rushing for 134 yards and two touchdowns, including a key game-tying touchdown with less than four minutes remaining in the first half. It was around this point that the tide turned in favor of the Eagles, and they were able to both build and hang onto their lead thanks to a rushing attack that also enjoyed a secondary contribution from Kenneth Gainwell. If anything, we know the Eagles can move the football. On Sunday, it was about more than just Jalen Hurts.
Next Gen stat of the game: Trevor Lawrence recorded his lowest completion percentage over expected of his career with a mark of -21.1% on Sunday.
NFL Research: Trevor Lawrence's four fumbles lost were the most in a single game by any quarterback since at least 1991, and his five giveaways were the most in a game in Lawrence's career.
Michael Baca's takeaways:
- Giants exploit Bears' fatal flaw. The G-Men combined for 262 rushing yards to outright control a game that was close on the scoreboard. Saquon Barkley led the way with 146 yards off 31 carries and was the X-factor of a Giants offense that struggled to make plays elsewhere. Barkley's threat in the backfield made the Bears' leaky run defense susceptible to the designed bootleg runs and scrambles from quarterback Daniel Jones (68 yards on six attempts), who scored the only two touchdowns of the game on the ground. The Giants successfully called on those QB runs in several key situations, especially on third down, and greatly benefited from the Bears' poor tackling throughout. The Giants' total yards on the ground tripled that of those through the air (82), and it was more than enough to comfortably control a game with the help of their bend-but-don't-break defense.
- Young Bears make too many mistakes. The table was set for Justin Fields to get a chance at a fourth-quarter drive with two minutes to play, but rookie wideout Velus Jones muffed the ensuing punt and sealed the Bears' fate. It was a blunder that encapsulated the struggles of a green Bears team that is learning the hard way. However, it was Chicago's pass-blocking woes that continue to render the offense into disarray and make life hard on their second-year QB. Fields was sacked five times on the day and lost a fumble that led to a Giants touchdown. Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy wasn't very gutsy with the play-calling because of the O-line, especially in the red zone, as the Bears settled for field goals on all three possessions inside the 20. Fields, who went 11-of-22 passing for 174 yards (52 rushing yards), finally got top wideout Darnell Mooney (four receptions, 94 yards) involved in the offense and it was a small indication of his strides throwing downfield. Those moments were few and far between, however, and Fields will yet again feel the physical brunt of another rough game.
- Giants maintained lead without a QB. With Jones exiting the game due to an ankle injury late in the third quarter, Tyrod Taylor was called upon to maintain the Giants' lead for the extent of the final frame. Taylor (concussion) left the game with about eight minutes to play in the fourth, and a limping Jones re-entered. Jones was essentially used as a decoy while continuing that drive, lining up at receiver as the Giants employed a Wildcat offense. It was successful for all intents and purposes as the Giants got enough yards to get into field-goal range and add another three points to their lead. The Giants proceeded to run the ball on every play in each of their next two possessions, keeping Jones out of harm's way. It ended up working out for New York, but the Giants' QB situation is seemingly in question with a London game approaching in Week 5.
Next Gen Stat of the day: Justin Fields was pressured on 50% of dropbacks (2-of-8 for 17 yards; 6 sacks under pressure).
NFL Research: Daniel Jones is the second Giants quarterback to rush for at least two touchdowns in multiple career games. The other was Super Bowl-winning QB Jeff Hostetler.
Michael Baca's takeaways:
- Zach Wilson shakes off rust in comeback win. Making his 2022 season debut, Wilson was slow out of the gate but turned it all around in the most crucial part of the game. The second-year quarterback led two 70-plus-yard touchdown drives in the fourth quarter to overcome a 10-point deficit and earn the Jets their first consecutive road win in 50 games. Wilson's poise down the stretch was a glaring difference from his first three quarters, when the 23-year-old seemed puzzled after his first read, oftentimes frantic under pressure and was lucky to have Steelers defenders unable to catch more of his errant throws. Wilson's only first-half highlight derived from a perfectly designed trick play that ended with him catching a touchdown pass, but the call itself might have been an indication of his rough start. Wilson completed 18 of 36 passes for 252 yards, one TD and two interceptions at the end of the day, finding eight receivers in the process. It didn't help that the Jets lost another offensive tackle due to injury in this game, but they can go home smiling on a day when their franchise QB made his long-awaited return.
- Kenny Pickett's debut fizzles. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin quelled the jeers of a Pittsburgh crowd to start the second half by benching Mitchell Trubisky, but life with a rookie quarterback at the helm was realized by the end. Pickett's highly anticipated debut started out OK despite his first drive ending with his first interception (Chase Claypool couldn't come down with a 50-50 ball), but he showed some gall within that drive after converting a fourth-and-1 on a QB sneak. Pickett would come through on similar plays near the goal line (two rushing touchdowns) and helped get the Steelers their first lead of the game, but made costly mistakes down the stretch with three interceptions. Pickett completed 10 of 13 passes for 127 yards with those three picks and led five feast-or-famine drives that produced two scores and three turnovers. The 24-year-old kindled an early connection with rookie George Pickens (six catches, 102 yards) with a couple of nice back-shoulder throws, but there was no overcoming the turnovers. Trubisky went 7-of-13 passing for 84 yards and one interception in the first half, but wasn't able to get the Steelers into the red zone during his time at the helm.
- Defense continues to keep Jets afloat. New York's aggressive defense continues to give opposing quarterbacks issues and allow its secondary to make plays. The unit collected four interceptions on the day while tallying three sacks and six QB hits. Safety Lamarcus Joyner found two of those picks, one of which sealed the game late in the fourth quarter. Michael Carter and Jordan Whitehead found the other INTs while the Jets secondary accumulated nine total pass deflections. Captained by middle linebacker C.J. Mosley (11 tackles), the Jets D adjusted to the Steelers' QB change by the end and made just as many crucial plays as their offense down the stretch. Had one of Wilson's picks not ended up at their own 4-yard line, this one might not have been as close thanks to Robert Saleh's fiery crew.
Next Gen Stat of the day: Kenny Pickett was 4-of-6 for 80 yards and two interceptions on passes of 10-plus air yards (one INT on Hail Mary to end the game).
NFL Research: Zach Wilson is the first QB in Jets history with a receiving touchdown.
Jeremy Bergman's takeaways:
- Vikings blow chance after chance ... until they don't. The script felt familiar. Minnesota, the dominant outfit for most of the day, led off the game with a methodical touchdown drive, was in the red zone all afternoon and held the lead for all but a few minutes. But the Vikings beat themselves throughout the proceedings, allowing the Saints to charge back into the game and come two fluorescent yellow cylinders from sending it to overtime. Minnesota found itself in the red zone twice in the last two minutes of the first half, once because of a forced fumble of Saints QB Andy Dalton, starting in place of an injured Jameis Winston, but came away with just six points on two field goals, leaving eight points on the board at halftime. Out of the half, Minnesota recovered another fumble on a punt, only to stall in the red zone again. After losing the lead deep in the fourth, the Vikings got a break with a deep pass interference call and pulled ahead on a Justin Jefferson sweep. But Greg Joseph's missed extra point kept New Orleans a field goal away, a FG the Saints would hit on their very next drive from internal-link-placeholder-8 out. Joseph redeemed himself with a 47-yarder with 24 seconds left, and the Vikes looked to have avoided a London L. Of course, it wasn't that easy. Minnesota surrendered a deep middle-of-the-field completion to rookie Chris Olave that set up a 61-yard attempt from Wil Lutz and held its breath as the pigskin careened off the left upright, angled to the crossbar and fell eventually, into the end zone. The Vikings leave London tops in the NFC North at 3-1, but just barely.
- Banged-up Saints lean on aged backfield. New Orleans knew by Friday that both Winston and wide receiver Michael Thomas wouldn't be good to go. Then, the shock came Sunday that the youngest triplet, Alvin Kamara, was also down with a rib injury. That left Dalton, Mark Ingram, Latavius Murray and Taysom Hill in the backfield -- average age: 32.5 years. The greybeards stumbled in the first half, but kept the Saints marching during their second-half comeback. Dalton was efficient, if not explosive in his first start with the Saints (20-of-28, 236 yards, TD), spreading the ball around evenly to his receivers and struggling to connect on downfield shots until the end of the game. The journeyman veteran led three straight scoring drives to pull the Saints ahead and then even -- and then nearly even again. Ingram and Murray split carries on the afternoon, with the latter (57 yards, TD on 11 totes) demonstrating more power up the middle in his first appearance of the season. Hill's red-zone draw briefly put New Orleans up in the fourth quarter. The vets held their own, but without their top young talent, the Saints can expect more slow starts and close losses.
- Jefferson gets best of Lattimore. After being held in check against Philadelphia and Detroit, Jefferson shined on the international stage, victimizing on more than one occasion his Pro Bowl counterpart, Marshon Lattimore. The Saints CB lined up against Jefferson on 76.9% of the wide receiver's routes, per Next Gen Stats, and was on the Vikings pass catcher on most of his 10 catches; Lattimore was credited with a game-high 10 combined tackles, seven of which came following Jefferson catches. The Vikings WR's second-half receptions were back-breakers, most notably a 39-yard go route on Lattimore to set Minnesota up at the 29-yard line with less than 90 seconds to go and for the game-winning field goal. Jefferson sure took his lumps against Darius Slay and Jeff Okudah (nine for 62), but got back on track with Sunday's 147-yard throttling.
Next Gen stat of the game: Saints QB Andy Dalton averaged 13.7 air yards/attempt in the second half (just 4.7 in the first half).
NFL Research: Vikings WR Justin Jefferson now has the third-most 100+ yard games (17) in a player's first three NFL seasons since at least 1950, behind Randy Moss (19) and Odell Beckham (19).