If you thought Week 4 was going to separate the pretenders and contenders, you were sorely mistaken. The Bills and the Lions were terrific in defeat, the Browns reminded everyone why they were hyped so much during the off-season and the Rams showed off quite a few flaws in a devastating loss at home.
Week 4’s theme was keeping things interesting. Here’s what we learned.
You can lose without being exposed. The Bills and the Lions came into this week looking to prove that their undefeated starts to the season were not just flukes and they did just that despite losing. Buffalo’s outstanding defense made Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense look positively pedestrian, and Matthew Stafford and the Detroit offense hung tough in a shootout with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. The rest of the league should be on notice that Buffalo and Detroit are teams to worry about.
Fitzgerald Up to No. 2 on Receptions List
Larry Fitzgerald, the longtime star wide receiver of the Arizona Cardinals, now trails only Jerry Rice in career receptions after his five catches on Sunday gave him 1,326 for his career.
Fitzgerald, in his 16th season out of Pittsburgh (all with Arizona), came into the game four catches short of Tony Gonzalez for second place and he pushed past the Hall of Fame tight end with his fifth of the day, which came in the fourth quarter of the Cardinals’ 27-10 loss at home to the Seattle Seahawks.
Jason Witten, back from retirement this season, had four catches in the Cowboys’ 12-10 loss to New Orleans, and is second to Fitzgerald among active players with 1,166 receptions for his career.
In another milestone, Frank Gore, the ageless running back of the Buffalo Bills, had 109 yards on the ground in Sunday’s loss to New England, which pushed him past the 15,000-yard mark for his career. He is at 15,021, which has him 248 yards short of Barry Sanders for third-place on the career rushing list.
Daniel Jones Steadies Giants in Win
The Giants’ season seemed to be slipping away after an 0-2 start. The switch to Daniel Jones made the team instantly relevant and has led to consecutive wins. That the wins came against lesser competition mutes the enthusiasm some, but the Giants are officially putting the team’s bad start behind it.
“We’re not worried about two weeks ago,” Janoris Jenkins said. “We’re worried about what’s ahead.”
One* Sentence About Every Game
*Except when it takes two.
Panthers 16, Texans 10 Carolina might want to temper their enthusiasm for Kyle Allen a bit, as the second-year quarterback won the game but also lost three fumbles.
Buccaneers 55, Rams 40 A 3-0 start was good, in theory, but the Rams failed to garner much enthusiasm for their play. After a turnover-laded loss at home to Tampa Bay, Los Angeles is a fairly shaky 3-1.
Patriots 16, Bills 10 This is a very weird things to write: Tom Brady is lucky his lackluster performance didn’t lead to a loss in Buffalo.
Chiefs 34, Lions 30 Patrick Mahomes saw his streak of 14 consecutive games with two touchdown passes end — he was held without a touchdown pass — but he used his arm and his legs to engineer a come-from-behind victory.
Jaguars 26, Broncos 24 Denver led by 17-3 in the first half but Gardner Minshew, Leonard Fournette and the rest of the Jacksonville offense kept pressing, sneaking out with a road victory thanks to Josh Lambo’s game-winning 33-yard field goal.
Browns 40, Ravens 25 It is hard to determine which was more disappointing: Lamar Jackson’s passing (247 yards, 2 interceptions) or Baltimore’s run defense (193 yards and four touchdowns).
Bears 16, Vikings 6 Chicago’s offense had a perfectly good excuse for looking a bit lackluster — Mitchell Trubisky was lost to injury on the Bears’ sixth play of the game — while Minnesota did not appear to have an excuse for the disappearing act of both Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Cook.
Saints 12, Cowboys 10 Touchdowns? The Saints don’t need touchdowns to win on Sunday night.
Raiders 31, Colts 24 A recipe for road success: Derek Carr got Oakland off to a fast start, the Raiders’ defense scored a touchdown and the team’s newest acquisition, Trevor Davis, ran in a 60-yard touchdown.
Giants 24, Redskins 3 Wayne Gallman isn’t going to make anyone forget Saquon Barkley, but the Giants’ fill-in at running back did just fine against Washington, with 118 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns.
Seahawks 27, Cardinals 10 Either Seattle’s defense is a lot better than it had looked in the season’s first three weeks or Arizona’s offense needs a lot of work.
Titans 24, Falcons 10 “We’re a quarter way through the season and we have not played to our standard, that’s for sure,” Matt Ryan said.
Chargers 30, Dolphins 10 Having returned from his holdout, Melvin Gordon had a terrific view from the sideline as Austin Ekeler carried Los Angeles to victory against a team that has no business playing in the N.F.L. this season.