NFL Game Recaps: Week 4, 2018

Rams 38, Vikings 31
  • The city of Los Angeles may not care for the most part, but the Rams look unstoppable. It’s still September, and we don’t have a large sample size yet, but the Rams appear to be the best team in the NFL.

    The Rams’ defense didn’t play well in this game because they were down one of their top cornerbacks, but their offense took over and torched the Vikings relentlessly. They averaged 10.1 yards per play, which is an insane number. That means, on average, they got a first down on every single play they ran. How is that even possible?

    Well, I’m glad you asked. I mentioned Jared Goff’s work ethic heading into 2017. He bought into what Sean McVay and Greg Olson were teaching him, and he put in full effort to improve his game. He was much better last year compared to his rookie campaign, and now he’s taken it to a completely different level. Goff is now absolutely lethal, routinely connecting on deep bombs on numerous occasions each week. Four of the Ram receivers caught passes of 36 yards or longer. Cooper Kupp did so on multiple occasions, and one of the touchdowns Kupp scored was a beautiful throw by Goff to drop the ball right into the bucket over two defenders. It was an amazing pass – one Goff couldn’t have even dreamt of when he was struggling mightily in 2016.

    Goff misfired on just seven occasions, going 26-of-33 for a ridiculous 465 yards and five touchdowns. Goff was as good as the numbers indicate, and McVay’s play-calling was impeccable. That was evident early when McVay somehow got Kupp matched up on a linebacker, and he scored a long touchdown easily.

  • Kupp led all Rams receivers with nine catches for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Goff went to Kupp more often than Brandin Cooks because Minnesota’s top cornerback, Xavier Rhodes, was covering Cooks. Rhodes had Cooks bottled up for the most part until he was temporarily removed for the game for kicking an official’s yellow flag in frustration. Goff, alert that Rhodes was on the sideline, hit Cooks with a 47-yard touchdown bomb on the very next play. Rhodes took the field again later, but left again with an injury. Cooks went nuts after that, finishing with seven grabs for 116 yards and a touchdown.

    Goff’s two other touchdowns were thrown to Robert Woods (5-101) and Todd Gurley (4-73).

  • Speaking of Gurley, he was less effective as a runner, though he still had some good rushes. Minnesota’s defensive line limited Gurley to 83 yards on 17 carries. He was better as a receiver because the Vikings struggle mightily to cover in space, and that was very apparent in this game.

  • While Goff was stellar, Kirk Cousins was no slouch. He eclipsed the 400-yard barrier as well, firing some beautiful passes against a banged-up Rams secondary missing starting cornerback Aqib Talib. However, Cousins’ ball security, which was a major issue last week, reared its ugly head once again. He was clean the whole evening until when it mattered most. On the final offensive drive, John Franklin-Myers stripped the ball out of Cousins’ hand, and the Rams recovered. The Vikings looked like they were going to be in position to have a chance at a game-tying field goal, but Cousins’ lost fumble ruined that.

    Cousins finished 36-of-50 for 422 yards and three touchdowns. Pass protection was a big issue at times, as Cousins was strip-sacked and also took some sacks in key situations. Also, there were some handoffs in which there were Rams in the backfield to take Cousins despite it being a run play. Minnesota’s offensive line is a disaster, and it’s something the team desperately needs to address next offseason.

  • Speaking of handoffs, Dalvin Cook was set to make his return to the field after missing last week. However, his fantasy owners would be disappointed, as Cook was on a pitch count. He was given 10 carries, which he turned into 20 meager yards. Cook didn’t touch the ball in the second half, so Cousins actually led the Vikings in rushing with 28 yards on four scrambles.

  • Adam Thielen had a great game. He caught eight passes for 135 yards and a touchdown. He should’ve scored twice, but the officials blew a play dead for some reason. Thielen also missed a crucial third down because someone thought he might have suffered a concussion. An angry Thielen had to be removed from the field, and Cousins threw an incompletion on that third down. Thielen quickly passed a concussion test, so this may have ended up costing Minnesota a chance at a victory. It was a horrible, unfortunate moment for the Vikings.

    Stefon Diggs wasn’t far behind Thielen in the box score, catching 11 passes for 123 yards. He didn’t find the end zone, while someone named Aldrick Robinson did twice on his two catches for 33 yards. Kyle Rudolph (5-57) had a decent outing, while Laquon Treadwell (4-47) predictably dropped a pass.

  • One paragraph on the officials, who were beyond incompetent in this game. There were no dumb roughing-the-passer penalties, but they had several miscues. I already mentioned one, which was Thielen’s touchdown that was ruled down for some reason. Gurley also had a long reception that featured a very obvious block in the back. One referee threw the flag, but the official said that there was no penalty on the play to the chagrin of the FOX announcers and Mike Pereira. Last but not least, the officials missed a very blatant intentional grounding by Goff in the fourth quarter. The refs get worse every year, it seems, and this game was a perfect example of that.

  • Bears 48, Buccaneers 10
  • If Mitchell Trubisky plays like this, the Bears will have a good chance to win the Super Bowl. They have a great defense, a strong offensive line, two quality running backs and some talented play-makers in the receiving corps. Quarterback has been the one question mark, and Trubisky struggled in the first three weeks of the season. However, he took a huge step forward in this game to live up to his billing as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

    Trubisky opened the game by heaving a 39-yard touchdown bomb to Trey Burton. He made some nice passes two drives later to move into Tampa territory, then hit Allen Robinson with a great throw in the end zone to take a 14-0 lead. Another scoring drive occurred when Trubisky made a nice pump fake to hit an open wideout for a touchdown. He later used his legs to scamper down to the 1-yard line, where he tossed the ball to Taylor Gabriel for yet another score.

    By halftime, Trubisky had five touchdowns and only four incompletions. The Bears were up 38-3, and the game was over.

    Trubisky finished 19-of-26 for 354 yards and six touchdowns. It’s a shame that Trubisky had to throw on just eight occasions after halftime; otherwise, he would’ve posted ridiculous, perhaps even record-breaking numbers. Trubisky also led the Bears in rushing, scrambling three times for 53 yards.

  • With Anthony Miller out, Gabriel was set to have a larger target share, and that turned out to be the case. Gabriel led all Chicago wide receivers in targets with seven, and he snatched all of the balls thrown to him for 104 yards and two touchdowns. Gabriel’s highlight was a great diving catch for 30 yards.

    Trubisky’s other touchdowns went to Tarik Cohen, Burton (2-86), Robinson (2-23) and Josh Bellamy (1-20). Cohen led the Bears in receiving yardage, catching seven of his eight targets for 121 yards. Cohen also rushed for 53 yards on 13 attempts.

  • The most disappointing Bear from a fantasy perspective was Jordan Howard, who mustered only 25 yards on 11 carries. This is not too much of a surprise, as the Buccaneers have a tough run defense, while their secondary is atrocious.

  • Moving on to the Buccaneers, Jameis Winston supplanted Ryan Fitzpatrick right after halftime, though it’s difficult to read into that because Tampa was losing by five touchdowns. Still, based on how Fitzpatrick performed, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Winston were named the starter following the Week 5 bye.

    Fitzpatrick was 9-of-18 for 126 yards in one half of action. He fired a laser of a pass to DeSean Jackson for 48 yards, but struggled otherwise. He had a sequence in which he missed badly to an open Peyton Barber, then threw an interception on a telegraphed throw in the red zone.

    Winston, meanwhile, completed most of his passes, going 16-of-20 for 145 yards and a touchdown. However, he threw two interceptions as well, and it’s not like the Bears were giving full effort in the second half. Still, Winston was better by default.

  • Jackson caught five passes for 112 yards, while Mike Evans (6-59) was next in the box score. Chris Godwin (2-22) and O.J. Howard (0 catches) disappointed, while Cameron Brate (3-29) caught a garbage-time touchdown.

  • Rookie running back Ronald Jones saw his first NFL action in this game. He gained 29 yards on 10 carries, though most of that occurred in the second half. Barber (7-24) saw most of the work in relevant action.

  • Cowboys 26, Lions 24
  • It took a game against one of the worst defenses in the NFL, but the Cowboys finally produced more than 20 points for the first time all year. They posted 26, yet nearly lost to the Lions. A last-second field goal was needed for Dallas to prevail.

    The key play on the final drive was Dak Prescott floating a nice fade to Ezkiel Elliott. It was part of an excellent second half from Prescott that saw him go 11-of-16 for 121 yards. Still, the Cowboys shouldn’t have even been in a position to lose, but Jason Garrett’s staff came up with one of the worst goal-line sequences you’ll ever see. The third-down play was a throw to Rico Gathers for some reason, as Gathers, who was not a part of the offense the entire game, got the ball thrown to him, while Elliott was not involved at all.

    Still, there is some hope, as Prescott finished 17-of-27 for 255 yards and two touchdowns. He made nice throws throughout the afternoon, and he should’ve thrown a third touchdown, but Tavon Austin dropped a ball in the end zone. Detroit’s defense is atrocious, so this result needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

  • Elliott also had a tremendous matchup, and he took complete advantage of it. He gained 152 yards on 25 carries, and he also caught four passes for 88 receiving yards and a touchdown. His one blemish was a fumble at the goal line after he converted on fourth down, but a teammate recovered. Elliott also appeared to suffer an injury at one point in the fourth quarter, but he missed just a few plays.

  • Aside from Elliott, Dallas’ receiving leader was Cole Beasley (4-53), who also got banged up. Michael Gallup (2-45) saw five targets. Geoff Swaim (3-39) caught Prescott’s other touchdown.

  • Meanwhile, the Lions were able to take advantage of a Dallas defense missing Sean Lee. As per usual with the Lee-less Cowboys, there were plenty of miscommunications in the back seven, and Matthew Stafford took advantage of it.

    Stafford had a bad miss of Theo Riddick on third down, but rebounded after that. He threw just five incompletions otherwise, going 24-of-30 for 307 yards and two touchdowns. He took a brutal-looking sack in the second quarter, and I thought he would have to leave the game, but the tough Stafford popped up right away.

  • Kerryon Johnson rushed for 32 yards on his first play, and it looked like he was going to have a big game. Oddly enough, however, Johnson was given just eight more carries the rest of the afternoon, as he finished with 55 yards and a touchdown on just nine tries. For some reason, LeGarrette Blount (7-12) had a similar workload. This was an embarrassingly poor coaching decision. Johnson is so much more talented than Blount, so there’s no reason for there to be an even workload between the two.

  • Golden Tate had an enormous game for the Lions. He caught all eight passes thrown to him for 132 yards and two touchdowns. His first score, a 45-yarder, featured a horrible missed tackle by Jourdan Lewis, followed by a nice juke move Tate put on safety Jeff Heath. He then hauled in what appeared to be the decisive score on a 38-yard grab. Tate also made a great catch to convert a third-and-4, as cornerback Chidobe Awuzie was draped all over him.

    Elsewhere in the receiving corps, Marvin Jones (3-56) made a great over-the-shoulder grab for 22 yards, while Kenny Golladay (4-74) was second in receiving.

  • Packers 22, Bills 0
  • The Packers may have enjoyed a shutout win to bounce back from a loss to the Redskins last week, but there’s still plenty of cause for concern. Aaron Rodgers definitely does not look like his usual self.

    Rodgers’ accuracy was off in this game. That was evident early when he badly missed Davante Adams on the opening drive. He then had Ty Montgomery open for a touchdown, but whiffed in his direction. Rodgers still managed to throw a score on that drive, but an ensuing possession saw him fire an interception, as a tipped ball of his bounced off Jimmy Graham’s hands. In the second half, Rodgers had two potential pick-sixes that were dropped, in addition to another interception that was dropped on a downfield shot to Adams. He also lost a fumble on a blind-side blitz he didn’t recognize.

    Rodgers barely completed half of his passes, going 22-of-40 for 298 yards, one touchdown and an interception. He scrambled around a bit – 31 yards on five rushes – but it looked like he may have gotten hurt on one play. He slid and was down for a bit. The crowd gasped, but it turned out that Rodgers just had grass in his knee brace. Rodgers escaped another game without further damage, but once again, he doesn’t look like his normal self. The Packers would’ve had a much more difficult time beating a competent opponent, especially one that didn’t lose a talented safety like Micah Hyde in the early going.

  • Only three Packers logged more than 38 receiving yards: Adams (8-81), Geronimo Allison (6-80) and Montgomery (2-55). Allison had a chance at a touchdown, but he dropped the ball while trying to keep himself inbounds. I wouldn’t blame him for that miscue, as it would’ve been a ridiculously tough catch to make. Conversely, Allison had two bad drops, which was disappointing. Graham, meanwhile, caught three balls for 21 yards and a touchdown, but also dropped a couple of passes.

  • Jamaal Williams may have lost his job. Both Williams and Jones had 11 carries, yet Jones outgained Williams, 65-27. Jones, who scored a touchdown, is so much more explosive than Williams. It’s only a matter of time before Mike McCarthy finally recognizes that, though Williams’ pass-protection ability won’t completely erase him out of the offense.

  • There was a funny moment in this game where Clay Matthews had Josh Allen dead to rights for a sack. However, Matthews, mindful of his roughing-the-passer penalties, slowed down and walked into Allen. It was still a sack. I expected Matthews to get flagged, but the officials didn’t call anything.

  • Speaking of Allen, he had a rough day. He failed to complete half of his passes, going 16-of-33 for only 151 yards and two interceptions, and yet those numbers are inflated because of garbage time. At halftime, Allen was just 5-of-19 for 58 yards and an interception, as he spent most of the afternoon firing reckless, inaccurate lasers. His first pick was very foolish. He moved right to avoid heavy pressure and drifted back while heaving a pass over the middle of the field. Packers rookie cornerback Jaire Alexander had the easiest pick of his life. The second interception was a great play by Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, though Allen never looked off the safety.

    As I’ve said multiple times, Allen is very raw, and Bills fans will have to be patient with him. This is at least a 2-year project, and there will be growing pains along the way like this one. Allen does have major potential though, and he could have a great career if coached up properly. He’ll also need improved pass protection, as he was sacked seven times in this contest.

  • With the Bills in a deficit throughout, LeSean McCoy was given just five carries, which he turned into 24 yards. He also caught three of his six targets for 13 receiving yards. McCoy should have way more than nine touches next week.

  • Charles Clay led the Bills in receiving with four grabs for 40 yards. Zay Jones (4-38) did his damage in garbage time. Kelvin Benjamin, meanwhile, caught just one of his six targets for 34 yards.

  • Titans 26, Eagles 23
  • Mike Vrabel has done an unbelievable job as Titans’ head coach thus far, and I wrote last week that I’d make him NFL Coach of the Year at the moment. He stole some games versus the Texans and Jaguars despite not having a healthy Marcus Mariota at his disposal. Thus, it was only reasonable to expect bigger things from the Titans once Mariota returned to full strength. We got a taste of that in this game.

    The difference between what we saw in this contest from how Mariota looked in Week 3 was night and day. That was evident early when Mariota tried a deep pass to Corey Davis. Mariota didn’t attempt any long passes the prior week, so even though the pass fell incomplete, it at least sent a message that things would be different in this matchup. And they certainly were, as Mariota hit Davis for a deep ball on the very next play.

    Mariota was excellent throughout, but he really shined in overtime. Following a Philadelphia field goal, the Titans needed a kick of their own to tie, but they were not going to settle for that. Mariota fired a perfect pass deep downfield to someone named Darius Jennings, but Jennings dropped it. Mariota was stuck in a fourth-and-15 as a result, but he drilled a 19-yard pass to Taywan Taylor to move the sticks. Mariota then drew a pass inteference on another fourth down, and he converted yet another fourth down after that, eschewing a field goal. Mariota made a mistake after that by missing Tajae Sharpe in the end zone, but he immediately made up for it, firing the game-winning touchdown to Davis, who made a leaping grab in the end zone.

    Mariota finished 30-of-43 for 344 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, a ball that sailed on him when he had a defender in his face. His numbers would’ve been even better if it weren’t for some drops – Taylor had a deep shot go through his hands in the opening half – but the Titans got the victory to improve to 3-1, and that’s what matters most.

  • The Titans struggled to run the ball against Philadelphia’s elite front seven. In fact, Mariota led the Titans in rushing with 46 yards and a rushing score on 10 scrambles. Derrick Henry (8-24) looked sluggish except for a 14-yard burst, while Dion Lewis failed to gain a single yard on four tries. Lewis, at least, was a factor in the passing attack, catching all nine of his targets for 66 receiving yards. Henry dropped a pass.

  • With Mariota healthy again, Davis was able to shine. He caught nine passes for 161 yards and a touchdown. Taylor (7-77) also had a nice PPR stat line, but it would’ve been so much better if he didn’t commit a deep drop. Sharpe (2-27) caught Mariota’s other score.

  • As for the Eagles, they blew a 17-3 lead in the third quarter, as their gassed defense couldn’t stop Mariota. The Eagles also botched some golden opportunities in the red zone. Carson Wentz attempted a few shots into the end zone at the end of regulation to get the victory, but couldn’t convert against Tennessee’s excellent defense.

    Philadelphia lost, but the silver lining is that Wentz looked better than he did last week. He went 33-of-50 for 348 yards and two touchdowns. He didn’t run around very much, but his passing was excellent outside of some red-zone trips. One of his scores was a 56-yard bomb to Jordan Matthews. However, Wentz ended up costing his team with a lost fumble in the fourth quarter. The Titans were able to score off the give-away, which helped them take the game to overtime.

    Part of the problem for Wentz was the pressure he faced throughout the afternoon. The lost fumble was a byproduct of this. Wentz was pressured and sacked far too often, which disrupted drives. Philadelphia’s offensive line must improve soon.

  • Two important Eagles made their return this week. The first was Jay Ajayi, who gained 70 yards on 15 carries. The second was Alshon Jeffery, who was more impressive. Jeffery snared eight of nine targets for 105 yards and a touchdown. The Eagles will regret this loss, but having both players back on the field will be huge going forward.

  • Zach Ertz led the Eagles in receiving, catching 10 balls for 112 yards. Fellow tight end Dallas Goedert caught just two passes for 13 yards, but he drew a pass interference flag. Nelson Agholor, meanwhile, had a big drop on a third down that forced the Eagles to punt the ball away. Tennessee took its first lead of the afternoon on the ensuing possession.

  • Texans 37, Colts 34
  • Frank Reich is a first-year head coach, and his inexperience was apparent in overtime. With the Colts coming back from a 28-10 deficit, Andrew Luck took the game to an extra session. The teams exchanged field goals, but the Colts couldn’t convert on an ensuing third down. The Colts tried to draw the Texans offside on a fourth-and-4 on their own 43, but failed. Following a timeout, it was assumed that they’d punt, but Luck took the snap instead. He fired a pass to Chester Rogers, which fell incomplete.

    The Texans took over with great field position, and following a 24-yard reception by DeAndre Hopkins, they kicked the field goal to clinch the victory. The Colts took a loss instead of a tie in the division, which could matter for tie-breakers in the playoff race.

    Houston, meanwhile, did well to avoid an 0-4 start, but the team should’ve never been in this position. The Texans nearly blew an 18-point lead, and Bill O’Brien had some terrible game and clock management near the end of regulation. But thanks to an even worse coaching situation, Houston was able to prevail.

  • Deshaun Watson posted some great numbers, going 29-of-42 for 375 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also scored on the ground, scrambling six times for 41 rushing yards. Watson did a great job of moving the chains in overtime after his team blew an 18-point lead. The Texans easily could’ve folded, but Watson willed his team to victory to keep Houston’s season alive.

    That said, the Texans really should be having more success offensively with Watson and his stellar receivers, but the offensive line once again struggled. Whether it was via penalty or an allowed sack, the blocking group did its best to ruin a potential victory for Houston.

  • Speaking of the two stellar receivers, Hopkins caught 10 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown. He needed to pick up the slack because Will Fuller (4-49, touchdown), who made two great sideline catches, was knocked out of the game with a hamstring injury. Rookie Keke Coutee was also big, hauling in 11 of his 15 targets for 109 yards. Coutee had a drop on an early third down, but he was huge once Fuller exited. The Texans are high on Coutee, so this result was not the least bit surprising.

  • Lamar Miller struggled once again. It seemed like he sucked the life out of the offense whenever he touched the ball, as Houston’s offensive line couldn’t open up anything for him. Miller mustered just 49 yards on 15 carries.

  • Moving back to the Colts, Luck had a ridiculous stat line despite losing. Because he was constantly in comeback mode, Luck had to throw the ball 62 times, engineering numerous scoring drives in the fourth quarter. Luck torched Houston’s cornerbacks relentlessly, especially Johnathan Joseph, who looked helpless while defending T.Y. Hilton.

    Luck finished 40-of-62 for 464 yards and four touchdowns. This was extremely impressive considering the amount of heat he was under throughout the early stages of the game. J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney constantly hounded him. Clowney was a terror, as he recovered a botched snap by Ryan Kelly, returning it for a touchdown. Luck also was hurt by numerous drops from his receivers. I counted six drops from Indianapolis players in this game.

  • Hilton caught only four passes, but did so for 115 yards, constantly beating Joseph. Hilton missed some time when he hurt his arm on a 40-yard catch-and-run in the early stages, but he returned later.

    Elsewhere in the receiving corps, Chester Rogers caught eight passes for 85 yards, while Ryan Grant logged five receptions for 64 yards. Eric Ebron (5-40) caught a touchdown. Ebron had two drops, however.

  • Two of Luck’s scores were thrown to rookie running back Nyheim Hines, who caught nine passes for 63 receiving yards. Hines was just used as a receiver; he rushed for only 10 yards on four carries. Jordan Wilkins (8-16) didn’t have better luck.

  • History was made in this game, as Adam Vinatieri hit the 566th field goal of his career. That broke the all-time NFL record, previously held by Morten Anderson. Vinatieri should be in the Hall of Fame five years after he retires, though that may not be for a while.

  • Patriots 38, Dolphins 7
  • The Dolphins entered this divisional matchup two games ahead of the Patriots, yet New England was a 6.5-point favorite because it was clear to most that Miami’s 3-0 start was a mirage. If that wasn’t evident to everyone before, it should be now, as New England absolutely demolished the Dolphins. They’re still behind the Dolphins in the standings, but that won’t last very long.

    As the final score indicates, the Patriots dominated this contest for most of the afternoon. Things looked a bit sketchy early when Tom Brady threw an interception into tight coverage, but he improved his play after that. The Dolphins had their usual miscommunications when Reshad Jones is out of the lineup, and Brady took advantage of it. As a result, the Patriots held a 343-87 yardage advantage by the time they established a 31-0 lead.

  • Brady finished 23-of-35 for 274 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. He shook off the early pick and converted 10 of his 15 third downs. His second interception, which occurred in the fourth quarter, happened because Brady released the ball as he was hit, giving Minkah Fitzpatrick his first career pick. Brady went to Josh Gordon early, when Gordon caught a slant on a third-and-6 to give the Patriots a first-and-goal. Brady spread the ball around, as the role players did most of the work, whereas Gordon and Rob Gronkowski combined for just six receptions.

    Speaking of Gordon and Gronkowski, the former caught two passes for 32 yards. His other reception was a 19-yarder in which he broke out of a tackle. Gronkowski (4-44), meanwhile, saw seven targets. Unfortunately, Gronkowski left the game early with an ankle injury, putting his Week 5 status in doubt because the game is on Thursday.

  • James White led New England in receiving, catching eight of his 10 targets for 68 yards and a touchdown. Phillip Dorsett (4-55) and Cordarrelle Patterson (3-54) also scored.

  • White didn’t just do damage as a receiver; he also ran eight times for 44 yards and another score. Sony Michel, however, was the primary rusher, and he had the first great game of his career. He gained 112 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. He had a 13-yard run negated by a penalty.

  • As for the Dolphins, Ryan Tannehill was removed in the fourth quarter, so their only touchdown came via Brock Osweiler. Tannehill was a pedestrian 11-of-20 for 100 yards and an interception on an underthrown ball. He also lost a fumble when he couldn’t handle a high snap, setting up a Patriots touchdown.

  • Kenny Stills led Miami in receiving with three grabs for 40 yards. Danny Amendola (2-21) was next.

  • Kenyan Drake has completely disappeared for some reason. Drake had three yards on as many carries, while Frank Gore (11-41) caught a garbage touchdown. The Dolphins didn’t have much of a chance to run, so it might be a good sign that the Dolphins didn’t want to risk him in garbage time.

  • Jaguars 31, Jets 12
  • This was a game in which a rookie quarterback with limited offensive weapons had to go up against the best defense in the NFL. As you may have expected, the first-year signal-caller didn’t stand a chance.

    Sam Darnold completed half of his passes, going 17-of-34 for 167 yards and a touchdown, and yet he wasn’t as good as those horrible stats indicate. A chunk of his numbers came in garbage time, as Darnold had just 76 yards by intermission. Darnold, who had a pick-six dropped during a rare trip into the red zone, isn’t capable of challenging an elite defense like this downfield, and Jacksonville recognized that. The result was the Jets achieving just 10 first downs (compared to 23 by Jacksonville) and converting just 3-of-13 third downs.

  • Darnold has been happy with his checkdowns, which would explain Quincy Enunwa’s eight targets. Enunwa caught four of them for 66 yards, with his best play being a 42-yard reception in which he broke three tackles. The next-leading receiver on the Jets was Bilal Powell, who logged 26 receiving yards on four catches. Powell, however, dropped a deep pass. Robby Anderson (2-18) struggled once again, though I wouldn’t say it was his fault. Darnold had Anderson with a step on the defensive back in the fourth quarter, but overthrew him way downfield.

  • Powell led the Jets in rushing with 26 yards on 18 carries. Isaiah Crowell, meanwhile, didn’t gain a single yard on four attempts. He was stuffed in the backfield on his own goal line by Calais Campbell for a safety.

  • As for the victors, Blake Bortles was much better in this contest than he was last week. It helped that the Jets blew numerous coverages, but Bortles looked good, going 29-of-38 for 388 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. The pick was tipped, though it was Bortles’ fault because his release took forever and it allowed a Jet to get a hand on the ball. The turnover gave the Jets a field goal. Bortles ran well, scrambling thrice for 28 yards, with one of his runs setting up a field goal.

    Aside from the pick, Bortles made a glaring mistake in this game. He had Austin Seferian-Jenkins wide open in the end zone, yet didn’t recognize it. This didn’t end up mattering, obviously, but Bortles will have to be sharper in big games. He’ll also need to work on hastening his release, as it allowed the Jets to tip multiple passes of his.

  • Bortles’ touchdowns went to Donte Moncrief (5-109) and T.J. Yeldon (13-48). Moncrief scored on a 67-yard touchdown where it looked like Trumaine Johnson was lazy, perhaps because of the heat amid the heat. Jacksonville’s leading receiver was Dede Westbrook, who hauled in nine of his 13 targets for 130 yards, while Keelan Cole (2-15) didn’t do much. Westbrook, who missed out on a long reception because of an uncalled pass interference on Buster Skrine, has tremendous potential, and he would be a great fantasy option if he had consistent quarterback play. Moncrief did most of his damage on one play, so don’t read too much into that.

  • Leonard Fournette returned from a hamstring injury, but not for very long. He aggravated his hamstring and was knocked out. Yeldon, in addition to his strong receiving stats, rushed for 52 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Yeldon lost a fumble on a strip by Avery Williamson in the fourth quarter, which led to the Jets’ only touchdown of the afternoon.

  • If you had the under in this game, you should feel pretty pissed. It was 25-12 with about four minutes in the regulation, yet the Jaguars were throwing on nearly every down. There was an unnecessary roughing penalty following a Westbrook reception. There was 2:10 remaining on the clock after that with the Jets having no timeouts, yet the Jaguars continued to be aggressive. They scored a touchdown, and then they went for two! I don’t know what that was all about, but there could be serious payback the next time the Jets play Jacksonville.

  • Bengals 37, Falcons 35
    By Chet Gresham – @ChetGresham

  • EDITOR’S NOTE: Poor Tyler Eifert. He just can’t catch a break. It sucks.

  • The Falcons have no trouble scoring, but they are sure having trouble keeping other teams from doing the same. They’ve now lost their last two games despite scoring 37 and 36 points respectively, and now own sole possession of last place in the NFC South.

    This game was a barn burner to start, as nobody punted in the first half and the two teams traded touchdowns, building the score up quickly. The Bengals led at halftime 28-24, which had already put the game right at the overall over/under.

    The Falcons came into this game having lost three starting defensive players, including two All-Pros in Deion Jones and Keanu Neal. Their absence has shown an immediate impact in the Falcons’ ability to stop the pass, as they allowed Cam Newton to pass for 335 yards and three touchdowns in Week 2 and then Drew Brees went for 396 yards and three touchdowns, along with two rushing touchdowns. That same lack of pass defense was apparent against Andy Dalton, who had little trouble moving the ball for two touchdown passes and two short Gio Bernard rushing touchdowns before halftime. Dalton only threw two incompletions in the first half, as he hit 14-of-16 passes for 211 yards and those two touchdowns, but the best was yet to come.

    Tyler Eifert was one of those touchdown recipients on a beautiful double move to get wide open in the first half, but unfortunately after a short catch later in the half, Eifert was dragged down and his foot went the opposite way it was designed to go. Eifert, who has missed many games in his career due to injury, will now miss many more after this horrific injury that I wish I could get out of my mind’s eye!

    Scoring slowed down in the second half as the Falcons were able to get the score within one via a field goal by Matt Bryant for the only points in the third quarter. Quickly into the fourth quarter, Matt Ryan hit rookie Calvin Ridley for his second touchdown of the day, and fourth over the last two weeks, to give the Falcons a 33-28 lead.

    The Bengals kicked a field goal on their next possession to make it a two-point game, but the Falcons got the ball back and worked their way into Cincinnati territory before a 15-yard strike to Julio Jones on third-and-seven set up Ryan and company at the Bengals’ 9-yard line for first-and-goal with four minutes remaining and the two-point lead. And that’s where it finally fell apart.

    An offensive holding call and a sack pushed the Falcons into taking the field goal and giving the ball back to Cincinnati with four minutes while down by five. Admittedly, the Bengals hadn’t been able to get back into the end zone in the second half, but remembering Drew Brees driving the ball down for the game-winning touchdown last week, there must have been some deja vu going on for Atlanta fans as Dalton started methodically moving his team down field. He completed three passes in a row to Tyler Boyd and four altogether to him on this all-important drive.

    Dalton also completed a nice touchdown pass to A.J. Green that was called back by a ticky-tack hands to the face call that pushed the Bengals into first-and-20 at Atlanta’s 34-yard-line with 48 clicks left on the clock. But Dalton just kept chipping away, connecting with Boyd on fourth-and-6 to keep the game alive, and then, with seven seconds left on the clock, Dalton found A.J. Green again in the end zone, but this time it counted for a 13-yard touchdown and a 37-36 lead.

    Amazingly, Matt Ryan was able to get off a Hail Mary that Julio Jones came down with for a 49-yard gain, but 11 yards short of a touchdown and the win.

    This was a fun game to watch, as both teams had 20 passing first downs and together they totaled 902 yards. Dalton is likely to get the game ball, but Boyd was the glue in this one, especially on that final drive. He finished the day with 11 receptions for 100 yards and now has 91 yards or more in his last three games. He will likely need to continue to play well and see more work with Tyler Eifert done for the season.

  • The fantasy stats look good all around, as Ryan once again had a huge day, registering 419 yards and three touchdowns while not throwing an interception. Even Mohmed Sanu got some action against his old team this week, as he caught 6-of-9 targets for 111 yards.

  • The Bengals will take their AFC North leading 3-1 record back home to take on a Miami team that was just “de-pantsed” by the Patriots, while the Falcons will head to Pittsburgh to face a team that will be in desperate need of a win no matter the outcome of their Sunday night game against the Ravens.

  • Raiders 45, Browns 42
    By Chet Gresham – @ChetGresham

  • EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s unreal that the Browns were hosed like that. Chet will describe what happened below, but I want to say that if replay review is going to screw blatant things up like this, there’s no point in having a replay review system.

  • Just when you think the Browns have found the keys to winning games, they blow a 14-point lead midway through the third quarter and an eight-point lead with four minutes left in the game to lose by a field goal in overtime.

    This game was a rollercoaster ride from start to finish, and the officiating didn’t help the nausea. I might as well get into the officiating early because there is no doubt it made a difference. The first call that sticks out as egregious was with around six minutes left in the game, the Raiders were driving mid-field down 35-34 when Myles Garrett beat his man and stripped the ball from Derek Carr on a third-and-9, but the officials inexplicably whistled the play over. The ball had popped out, and a Browns defender had grabbed it and started running for paydirt, but sorry, the referees stopped the game for absolutely no reason. Fortunately for the Browns, the Raiders didn’t score on that drive, but the most egregious call came with just a minute and a half left in the game.

    The Browns had a 42-34 lead with 1:32 on the clock. They just needed to get a first down and keep the clock running. They went old school and ran the ball three times with Carlos Hyde, who looked to have gotten the first down on third-and-2, which would have allowed them to kneel and run the clock down, but wait! A booth review overturned the first down, causing the Browns to punt and well, you see the score. Was there definitive proof Hyde had the first down? No, there was not. Was there proof that he didn’t? The same answer here as well. This call was overturned based on what, I don’t know.

    I’m not going to sit here and say the Browns were robbed completely. Why didn’t they go for it on fourth-and-inches? Get that inch, and you win the game. Your team has lost more games over the last three seasons than many people can count to, so play to win. Change the culture! But no. There were bad calls for both sides, and the Browns had plenty of opportunities to win this game or not turn the ball over or make a catch they didn’t, but it’s hard not to leave such an exciting game with a bad taste in your mouth due to some obviously poor calls. This is the way of the NFL unfortunately, and teams have to bake that into the game plan and keep on keeping on. The best teams still end up winning the most games.

  • So, that happened. But this game was filled with some good football plays, with Marshawn Lynch sticking out as a pure bada**, picking up big chunks of yardage while making defenders miss and also running them over as he is wont to do. He also was the victim of an early whistle, as he was rumbling over defenders when the ref blew the whistle indicating his forward progress had been stopped enough to do so, but of course, Lynch was breaking free of the tackle when the whistle blew. He still ended up rushing 20 times for 130 yards and catching 3-of-5 targets for 27 more yards.

  • Baker Mayfield’s debut as a starter was up and down, but there is no doubt he gets his offense moving and plays at a level Cleveland hasn’t had in a quarterback since Vinny Testaverde – and hopefully better than that long term. Mayfield got off to a bad start with a pick-six on his second drive, but his receiver Antonio Callaway in no way helped him out, and that was a theme throughout the day as Callaway had multiple drops along with Duke Johnson, Jarvis Landry and David Njoku. I don’t know what the official count will be, but Mayfield’s 50 percent completion rate should have been much better.

  • Derek Carr had an up-and-down game with two interceptions, but his ups far outweighed his downs, as he completed 35-of-58 passes for 437 yards and four touchdowns, but his final drive to tie up the game was his crowning achievement on the day and keeps up hope that he can be the franchise quarterback the Raiders believe he can be. He has now thrown for at least 288 yards in every game, but this is his first multi-touchdown game, and he leads the league in interceptions with seven. There is room for improvement, but this was a good sign for Oakland’s offense to be sure.

  • There were plenty of statistically significant games for players on both sides of the ball. Nick Chubb made two long touchdown runs from 63 and 41 yards out on just three carries; Amari Cooper got back on track after another dud, catching 8-of-12 targets for 128 yards and a touchdown; and Jared Cook put up similar numbers, but for two touchdowns, including the one that helped the Raiders tie the game with seconds remaining.

  • Both teams come out of this with more positives than negatives to build from this week. The Raiders will head a few miles to play the Chargers in what could be another shootout, while the Browns go back home to take on Baltimore. Both teams will be underdogs but have shown enough to give them more than just some hope that they can win.

  • Seahawks 20, Cardinals 17
  • This was the very definition of a Pyrrhic victory for the Seahawks. They managed to prevail to even their record at 2-2, but they lost one of their top remaining players to an injury when Earl Thomas was carted off the field in the second half.

    The Seahawks weren’t likely to make the playoffs, but they were expected to receive a nice haul in a trade involving Thomas. That’s unlikely to happen now. Thomas, meanwhile, certainly regrets playing for a team he didn’t want to suit up for – as if the middle finger toward his sideline might indicate – and this injury may prompt future disgruntled players to hold out.

  • Russell Wilson led the Seahawks to a late win with a drive that culminated with a field goal. Wilson went 19-of-26 for 172 yards. He didn’t have a good game though, as he should’ve thrown an interception, but replay review showed that it barely hit the ground. Wilson didn’t scramble all that much either, gaining 21 yards on four runs.

  • Mike Davis – not Rashaad Penny – started in favor of the injured Chris Carson. Davis scored early on a 20-yard scamper with a nice block from Wilson. He found the end zone again in the second half. He eclipsed the century mark, gaining 101 yards on 21 carries. He also caught four passes for 23 receiving yards. Penny, meanwhile, gained just 21 yards on four attempts. He converted a fourth-and-1 attempt.

  • Doug Baldwin returned to the field for the first time since Week 1. He didn’t look like quite himself though, catching five passes for 41 yards. Baldwin was one of two Seahawks with more than 40 yards, with the other being Tyler Lockett (5-53).

  • Making his first start, Josh Rosen went 15-of-27 for 180 yards and a touchdown. The numbers don’t look pretty, but Rosen played better than the stats indicate. Rosen appeared to throw a touchdown to Chad Williams early, but replay review showed that Williams’ foot was out of bounds. Rosen then followed that up with a bomb toward J.J. Nelson, which the fast receiver dropped. Another possible touchdown was dropped by Larry Fitzgerald. In total, I saw five drops by the Cardinals.

    Rosen was just 6-of-13 for 50 yards at intermission, but things finally started going his way in the second half. Rosen had a great pass down the seam to Ricky Seals-Jones, then located Williams in the end zone. Rosen later made a tremendous throw, fitting in a great pass to Seals-Jones over the top of a linebacker.

    This was a great start for Rosen, but there’s still a concern that he doesn’t have the motivation or drive to be a successful, consistent NFL starting quarterback. There’s no questioning his talent, though.

  • Fitzgerald, who had the aforementioned drop in the end zone, caught just three passes for 28 yards. Seals-Jones (2-52) led the Cardinals in receiving. Christian Kirk (4-28) dropped a deep pass.

  • David Johnson finally had a strong fantasy outing. He gained 71 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries and also chipped in with three catches for 41 receiving yards. Johnson, however, fumbled in his own territory in the opening half. This didn’t end up costing the Cardinals because Brandon Marshall dropped a pass, then Sebastian Janikowski whiffed on a 38-yard field goal.

  • Phil Dawson has one of the better kickers in the NFL for a long time, but he had a rough game. He missed a kick right before halftime, then whiffed on a 45-yarder for the win late in the game. The Cardinals probably should’ve won this contest, as their defense held the Seahawks to 0-of-10 third-down conversions, but Dawson’s miscues ended up costing them. It’s worth noting that Janikowski also whiffed twice, missing from 38 and 52.

  • New Orleans Saints 33, New York Giants 18
  • If you were paying attention to the score of this game, but not watching it, you may have noticed that the Saints struggled to put the Giants away. New York led for a while, and then the Saints were up just 12-7 in the third quarter. However, there was a stark contrast in talent between these teams, and New York should be considered lucky that this game was within reach for as long as it was.

    The Saints won the yardage battle and averaged more yards per play. They moved the ball extremely well, but stalled repeatedly in the red zone. There were just way too many miscues deep in Giants territory. For example, Alvin Kamara dropped a pass near the goal line, while Ben Watson dropped a touchdown. The Saints also inserted Taysom Hill too often into the game, when going with Drew Brees would’ve been the best option. Hill is a fine gadget player, but using him more than once or twice per game is completely unnecessary because the Saints have a future Hall of Fame player under center.

    It appeared as though the Giants would limit the Saints to three once again in the second half when the score was 12-7. They stopped New Orleans in the red zone once more, but a face mask penalty on B.W. Webb gave the Saints a fresh set of downs. New Orleans capitalized, and a Kamara touchdown bumped the lead up to 12. The Giants were too limited offensively to come back from such a margin.

  • Brees didn’t post a good stat line, going 18-of-32 for 217 yards. He threw no touchdowns, thanks to the aforementioned red-zone woes. Brees should’ve tossed a couple of touchdowns, but the drops negated that.

  • Michael Thomas’ struggles didn’t have anything to do with the red zone. Thomas caught just four passes for 47 yards. The problem was Janoris Jenkins. The Giants allowed their top cornerback to match up with Thomas one-on-one, and he dominated. Thomas didn’t even log his first reception until just right before halftime.

    With Thomas struggling to get open, Josh Hill (3-63) led the team in receiving. Cameron Meredith (3-32) saw four targets.

  • Despite dropping the ball in the red zone, Kamara had a huge performance. He rushed for 134 yards and a ridiculous three touchdowns on 19 carries. He also caught five balls for 47 receiving yards.

  • As for the Giants, they drove right down the field on the opening possession, but didn’t do anything else until late in regulation. Eli Manning and his offensive line were at fault. Manning tossed mostly checkdowns, refusing to challenge the Saints deep. Of course, part of the problem in that regard was that the blocking unit didn’t give Manning much time. Manning took three sacks, but that number may as well have been six. On the rare occasions in which Manning had time, he missed several simple throws. He was awful for the most part, as he fired five what I would classify as horrible passes.

    Manning finished 31-of-41 for 255 yards and a touchdown, with a chunk of that output coming in garbage time. Manning had just 61 passing yards by halftime despite attempting 16 passes. It’s time for New York to move on, which is what I have them doing in my 2019 NFL Mock Draft.

  • Like Thomas, Odell Beckham Jr. struggled to get open versus a top cornerback. Beckham caught seven passes for 60 yards, but didn’t have a single positive yard in the opening half. Part of the reason for that was Manning missing Beckham on a couple of occasions. Sterling Shepard (10-77, TD) continued the tradition of No. 2 receivers burning the Saints.

  • Saquon Barkley didn’t have a chance to run that much because of the early deficit, but he broke tackles and made defenders miss. He gained 44 yards and a touchdown on just 10 carries, and he also caught six passes for 56 receiving yards.

  • I thought the Giants made a huge mistake in this game. Down 26-10, they scored a touchdown and a two-point conversion to trim the margin to 26-18 with several minutes remaining. Rather than trying an onside kick, they decided to give the ball to the Saints. It was a curious decision because they struggled to stop New Orleans in between the 20s all afternoon. Naturally, the Saints scored a touchdown without even reaching the red zone, as Kamara broke a 49-yard score to ice the victory.

    This wasn’t the only blunder New York committed. Two crucial mistakes gave the Saints 10 points. One was a Wayne Gallman fumble on a promising drive that set up a Saints field goal. Later, the Giants forced New Orleans into a fourth down, but a face mask away from the play kept the drive alive, and the Saints capitalized with a touchdown.

  • Chargers 29, 49ers 27
  • This game was a pathetic display by the Chargers. They may have prevailed, but they deserved to lose. They averaged fewer yards per play than the 49ers and also converted a worse percentage on third down. They whiffed on a field goal and two extra points, and they spotted the 49ers seven quick points because of a pick-six. They also gave up an 82-yard touchdown to a tight end on a play in which there was no defender in sight. All of this occurred with the 49ers playing with their backup quarterback and an offensive line that lost its best blocker, Joe Staley, to an injury.

  • C.J. Beathard played much better than expected. He was 23-of-37 for 298 yards, two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. All of this occurred without Staley for more than a half, which is remarkable. One of Beathard’s picks wasn’t his fault, as it popped out of the hands of tight end Garrett Celek. On another occasion, Beathard engineered a 21-play drive in the opening half, which tied for the third-longest possession in the NFL since 2000.

    It wasn’t all fun and games for Beathard, however, as he took a crushing blow in the second half. He got out of a sack, scrambled and took a fierce shot. He was down for a while, and San Francisco’s third-string quarterback prepared to enter the game. Beathard, unbelievably, didn’t miss any action somehow.

    Beathard did better than expected, but it’s difficult to tell if that was more him or the Chargers’ atrocious defense, which has only stopped Josh Allen this year. Beathard’s two interceptions occurred as a result of him getting hit. He also had a possible pick dropped by Denzel Perryman.

  • George Kittle is the player who caught San Francisco’s 82-yard touchdown. He totaled six receptions for 125 yards and the score. Kendrick Bourne (3-34) secured Beathard’s other touchdown. Pierre Garcon (4-52) and Marquise Goodwin (2-24) posted poor numbers.

  • Both of San Francisco’s runners were questionable heading into this game, but they suited up. Matt Breida handled the majority of the workload, gaining 39 yards on nine carries while also catching three balls for 32 receiving yards. Alfred Morris mustered just 14 yards on four attempts.

  • As for the Chargers, Philip Rivers began the afternoon with a pick-six on a tipped pass. He put together some nice drives, but struggled in the red zone once again. That may seem odd because he fired three touchdowns, but the 49ers missed out on some scoring opportunities. Rivers, for some reason, often refuses to throw into the end zone when near the goal line, opting instead to check down and allow his targets to do all of the work. This backfired on a late third-and-goal at the 6-yard line when he tossed what would’ve been a 2-yard catch, but it ended up being an incompletion because there were too many players in the area.

    Rivers finished 25-of-39 for 250 yards, three touchdowns and the early interception. He had plenty of quality moments, but he struggled at times versus a woeful defense. He made some mistakes as well, including an overthrow of Mike Williams.

  • Both Keenan Allen and Melvin Gordon saw 10 targets, and both caught seven passes. Allen’s seven went for 63 yards, while Gordon accumulated 55 yards and a touchdown. Gordon also eclipsed the century mark on the ground, gaining 104 yards on 15 carries.

    Elsewhere as far as the Charger passing numbers are concerned, Austin Ekler (2-31) and Antonio Gates (2-27) both caught touchdowns. Tyrell Williams (3-48) made an amazing catch over the top of a defender.

  • Ravens 26, Steelers 14
  • The Ravens established a quick lead, as John Brown torched Pittsbrugh’s defense. They were leading 14-3 and were in position to go up 18, as they had the ball near the goal line. However, Alex Collins fumbled right at the 1-yard line, and this gave the Steelers some life. Despite starting at their own 1-yard line, they put together a field goal drive, and then a hot Ben Roethlisberger tied the game at 14 going into halftime. It appeared as though this would be a back-and-forth affair that would go down to the wire.

    Inexplicably, the Steelers didn’t score a single point after that. It’s unclear what happened with Roethlisberger, but he looked terribly off. He fired behind Antonio Brown on a third-and-12, then tossed a low ball to James Conner. He later threw an interception when he didn’t see a linebacker, and he was almost picked again a bit after that. Roethlisberger converted just 2-of-12 third downs. He was only 8-of-18 for 50 yards and an interception in the second half. It’s unclear if Roethlisberger suffered some sort of injury, as his stats after intermission were far worse than his first-half numbers (19-of-29, 224 yards, one touchdown.)

    While the Steelers struggled to maintain drives, Baltimore did a good job of keeping possessions alive in the second half. Baltimore converted nearly half of its third downs (8-of-17), as Joe Flacco was much sharper than his counterpart. The Ravens made some miscues early, but they played a great second half to put the Steelers away.

  • Joe Flacco went 28-of-42 for 363 yards and two touchdowns. He hit Brown with a couple of deep connections, and his stats would’ve been much better if there weren’t some drops. Michael Crabtree was the primary culprit in this regard.

  • Crabtree had an inefficient evening, catching three of eight targets for 29 yards. This paled in comparison to both Brown (3-116, TD) and Willie Snead (6-56). Tight end Maxx Williams (5-51) served as a reliable third-down target following halftime.

  • Collins, who was guilty of the aforementioned fumble, scored a receiving touchdown in the early going. He also rushed for 42 yards on 11 carries. He was more efficient than Buck Allen (10-30) if the fumble is excluded.

  • Going back to the Steelers, Roethlisberger’s final numbers were 27-of-47 for 274 yards, one touchdown and an interception. The stats don’t look terrible, but as mentioned earlier, Roethlisberger missed countless passes he normally makes in his sleep, and he also was fortunate to have some picks dropped.

  • With Roethlisberger struggling, Antonio Brown (5-62) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (4-60) hauled in fewer than half of their targets (11 each). Brown at least scored. Smith-Schuster almost did, but cornerback Brandon Carr made a great play to break up a touchdown. Vance McDonald (5-62) tied Brown for the team lead in receiving.

  • Le’Veon Bell’s absence is looking much more significant, as James Conner was limited to just 19 yards on nine carries. Bell’s receiving skills could’ve been used in this game with Roethlisberger struggling downfield; Conner caught three passes for 25 receiving yards.

  • Chiefs 27, Broncos 23
  • This was billed as Patrick Mahomes’ first test in a chaotic environment against a defense that isn’t terrible – which is why the game against the Steelers doesn’t count – so I thought it would be interesting if the young gun-slinger would continue to torch an opposing defense to keep Kansas City’s undefeated streak alive. Mahomes certainly passed with flying colors.

    Things were rough for Mahomes in the early going. The noise clearly bothered him, as well as his offensive linemen, who were flagged for several penalties. Mahomes made a mistake in the red zone during the opening quarter, dropping a shotgun snap to ruin a chance at a touchdown. Meanwhile, Mahomes’ usually reliable weapons couldn’t hold on to the ball. Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill dropped passes in the opening half, while Travis Kelce couldn’t get free against cornerback Chris Harris. He didn’t catch a single pass prior to intermission.

    Thanks to their poor run defense, the Chiefs were down 23-13 in the fourth quarter. That’s when Mahomes took over. He needed to put together two scoring drives, and the first featured a Mahomes bootleg to Hunt to convert a fourth-and-1, ultimately leading to a short score to Kelce. Down 23-20, Mahomes began his next drive by escaping heavy pressure from Ambassador Von Miller to throw a left-handed ball to Hill for a first down on third-and-5. It was an amazing play that no words can do justice. However, it appeared as though Kansas City wouldn’t be able to score because two penalties put the offense into a second-and-30. Mahomes just shrugged it off, firing a 23-yard laser to Marcus Robinson, then lofting a 35-yard completion to Demetrius Harris to move into the red zone. A couple of plays later, Hunt slammed into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.

    Mahomes “struggled” at times in this game with Denver’s crowd noise and poor offensive line play, and yet he still finished 28-of-45 for 304 yards and two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing). Mahomes, who was running for his life for most of the evening, was absolutely brilliant in the fourth quarter, going 13-of-16 on his final two drives, willing his team to victory. Andy Reid compared Mahomes to Brett Favre. Reid is one of the best quarterback minds in the NFL, so it appears as though he’s right once again. Mahomes has now thrown 14 touchdowns compared to zero interceptions this season, and the crazy thing is that he has just five starts under his belt. Think about how amazing Mahomes will be two or three years from now.

  • Mahomes’ sole passing score was thrown to Kelce. Though Kelce didn’t catch a pass in the opening half, he led the team with 78 receiving yards (seven catches) and the touchdown. He appeared to hurt his ribs on a free shot to the end zone in the fourth quarter, but he missed just one play.

    Elsewhere in the receiving corps, Hill snatched nine of his 13 targets for 54 yards, while Sammy Watkins didn’t catch a single pass because he was knocked out with a hamstring. Edge rusher Dee Ford also exited with a groin problem in the third quarter.

  • Hunt dropped a pass, but that was his only blemish. He rushed for 121 yards and a touchdown on just 19 carries, and he also caught three passes for 54 receiving yards. Hunt had a great run in which he kept his balance along the sideline on a 45-yard scamper to set up a touchdown.

  • If there’s a dark cloud over this victory for the Chiefs, it’s the play of the defense. Kansas City came into this game ranked dead last versus the pass, and yet it couldn’t stop the run at all in this contest. Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay ran up the middle for big chunks all evening. There were some instances, including Freeman’s touchdown run, where the Chiefs displayed some abysmal tackling efforts. It was horrible.

    Lindsay (12 carries) and Freeman (8 carries) rushed for 69 and 67 yards, respectively, and they both scored once. There was no differentiating the two in this game, as both were superb. It’s noteworthy that Lindsay received some goal-line carries in the second half, and he managed to convert one of them.

  • Case Keenum, meanwhile, went 21-of-33 for 245 yards and an interception, which was a ball ripped out of the hands from tight end Jeff Heurman (4-57). Keenum nearly had another pick that was dropped by Kendall Fuller. Keenum didn’t play poorly for most of the night, but the Broncos won’t be able to forget one unforgivable error that he committed on the penultimate play of the game. Keenum had Demaryius Thomas wide open down the sideline for the game-winning touchdown, but floated a pass over his head. Keenum is better than the scrub quarterbacks Denver has used since Peyton Manning’s retirement, but this will make the Broncos re-think their future with him. Keenum is paid lots of money, and he needs to connect on simple passes like that.

  • Both Emmanuel Sanders (5-45) and Thomas (4-24) disappointed their fantasy owners. Courtland Sutton (3-51) tried to lateral the ball to Sanders on the final play, but couldn’t get it to him.

  • Broncos left tackle Garett Bolles, who was woeful last week versus Terrell Suggs, couldn’t block Justin Houston. On one sequence, Houston beat Bolles for a sack, then was flagged for holding on Houston.

  • For more thoughts, check out my updated NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.

    Fantasy Football Rankings - May 23

    2025 NFL Mock Draft - May 21

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    2019: Live 2019 NFL Draft Blog - April 25
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    2018 NFL Week 5 Recap - Oct. 5
    2018 NFL Week 6 Recap - Oct. 12
    2018 NFL Week 7 Recap - Oct. 19
    2018 NFL Week 8 Recap - Oct. 26
    2018 NFL Week 9 Recap - Nov. 2
    2018 NFL Week 10 Recap - Nov. 9
    2018 NFL Week 11 Recap - Nov. 16
    2018 NFL Week 12 Recap - Nov. 23
    2018 NFL Week 13 Recap - Nov. 30
    2018 NFL Week 14 Recap - Dec. 7
    2018 NFL Week 15 Recap - Dec. 14
    2018 NFL Week 16 Recap - Dec. 21
    2018 NFL Week 17 Recap - Dec. 31
    2018 NFL Week 18 Recap - Jan. 6

    2017: Live 2017 NFL Draft Blog - April 30
    2017 NFL Week 1 Recap - Sept. 12
    2017 NFL Week 2 Recap - Sept. 19
    2017 NFL Week 3 Recap - Sept. 26
    2017 NFL Week 4 Recap - Oct. 2
    2017 NFL Week 5 Recap - Oct. 9
    2017 NFL Week 6 Recap - Oct. 16
    2017 NFL Week 7 Recap - Oct. 23
    2017 NFL Week 8 Recap - Oct. 30
    2017 NFL Week 9 Recap - Nov. 6
    2017 NFL Week 10 Recap - Nov. 13
    2017 NFL Week 11 Recap - Nov. 20
    2017 NFL Week 12 Recap - Nov. 27
    2017 NFL Week 13 Recap - Dec. 4
    2017 NFL Week 14 Recap - Dec. 11
    2017 NFL Week 15 Recap - Dec. 18
    2017 NFL Week 16 Recap - Dec. 25
    2017 NFL Week 17 Recap - Jan. 1
    2017 NFL Week 18 Recap - Jan. 8
    2017 NFL Week 19 Recap - Jan. 15
    2017 NFL Week 20 Recap - Jan. 22
    Super Bowl LII Recap - Feb. 5

    2017: Live 2017 NFL Draft Blog - April 30
    2017 NFL Week 1 Recap - Sept. 12
    2017 NFL Week 2 Recap - Sept. 19
    2017 NFL Week 3 Recap - Sept. 26
    2017 NFL Week 4 Recap - Oct. 2
    2017 NFL Week 5 Recap - Oct. 9
    2017 NFL Week 6 Recap - Oct. 16
    2017 NFL Week 7 Recap - Oct. 23
    2017 NFL Week 8 Recap - Oct. 30
    2017 NFL Week 9 Recap - Nov. 6
    2017 NFL Week 10 Recap - Nov. 13
    2017 NFL Week 11 Recap - Nov. 20
    2017 NFL Week 12 Recap - Nov. 27
    2017 NFL Week 13 Recap - Dec. 4
    2017 NFL Week 14 Recap - Dec. 11
    2017 NFL Week 15 Recap - Dec. 18
    2017 NFL Week 16 Recap - Dec. 25
    2017 NFL Week 17 Recap - Jan. 1
    2017 NFL Week 18 Recap - Jan. 8
    2017 NFL Week 19 Recap - Jan. 15
    2017 NFL Week 20 Recap - Jan. 22
    Super Bowl LII Recap - Feb. 5

    2016: Live 2016 NFL Draft Blog - April 30
    2016 NFL Week 1 Recap - Sept. 12
    2016 NFL Week 2 Recap - Sept. 19
    2016 NFL Week 3 Recap - Sept. 26
    2016 NFL Week 4 Recap - Oct. 3
    2016 NFL Week 5 Recap - Oct. 10
    2016 NFL Week 6 Recap - Oct. 17
    2016 NFL Week 7 Recap - Oct. 24
    2016 NFL Week 8 Recap - Oct. 31
    2016 NFL Week 9 Recap - Nov. 7
    2016 NFL Week 10 Recap - Nov. 14
    2016 NFL Week 11 Recap - Nov. 21
    2016 NFL Week 12 Recap - Nov. 28
    2016 NFL Week 13 Recap - Dec. 5
    2016 NFL Week 14 Recap - Dec. 12
    2016 NFL Week 15 Recap - Dec. 19
    2016 NFL Week 16 Recap - Dec. 26
    2016 NFL Week 17 Recap - Jan. 2
    2016 NFL Week 18 Recap - Jan. 9
    2016 NFL Week 19 Recap - Jan. 16
    2016 NFL Week 20 Recap - Jan. 23
    2016 NFL Week 21 Recap - Feb. 6

    2015: Live 2015 NFL Draft Blog - April 30
    2015 NFL Week 1 Recap - Sept. 12
    2015 NFL Week 2 Recap - Sept. 17
    2015 NFL Week 3 Recap - Sept. 24
    2015 NFL Week 4 Recap - Oct. 1
    2015 NFL Week 5 Recap - Oct. 8
    2015 NFL Week 6 Recap - Oct. 15
    2015 NFL Week 7 Recap - Oct. 22
    2015 NFL Week 8 Recap - Oct. 29
    2015 NFL Week 9 Recap - Nov. 5
    2015 NFL Week 10 Recap - Nov. 12
    2015 NFL Week 11 Recap - Nov. 19
    2015 NFL Week 12 Recap - Nov. 26
    2015 NFL Week 13 Recap - Dec. 4
    2015 NFL Week 14 Recap - Dec. 11
    2015 NFL Week 15 Recap - Dec. 18
    2015 NFL Week 16 Recap - Dec. 25
    2015 NFL Week 17 Recap - Jan. 4
    2015 NFL Week 18 Recap - Jan. 11
    2015 NFL Week 19 Recap - Jan. 18
    2015 NFL Week 20 Recap - Jan. 25
    Super Bowl 50 Recap - Feb. 8

    2014: Live 2014 NFL Draft Blog - May 8
    2014 NFL Week 1 Recap - Sept. 5
    2014 NFL Week 2 Recap - Sept. 12
    2014 NFL Week 3 Recap - Sept. 19
    2014 NFL Week 4 Recap - Sept. 26
    2014 NFL Week 5 Recap - Oct. 3
    2014 NFL Week 6 Recap - Oct. 10
    2014 NFL Week 7 Recap - Oct. 17
    2014 NFL Week 8 Recap - Oct. 24
    2014 NFL Week 9 Recap - Oct. 31
    2014 NFL Week 10 Recap - Nov. 6
    2014 NFL Week 11 Recap - Nov. 13
    2014 NFL Week 12 Recap - Nov. 20
    2014 NFL Week 13 Recap - Nov. 27
    2014 NFL Week 14 Recap - Dec. 5
    2014 NFL Week 15 Recap - Dec. 12
    2014 NFL Week 16 Recap - Dec. 19
    2014 NFL Week 17 Recap - Dec. 29
    2014 NFL Week 18 Recap - Jan. 4
    2014 NFL Week 19 Recap - Jan. 11
    2014 NFL Week 20 Recap - Jan. 18
    Super Bowl XLIX Live Blog - Feb. 1
    Super Bowl XLIX Recap - Feb. 2

    2013: Live 2013 NFL Draft Blog - April 26
    2013 NFL Week 1 Recap - Sept. 10
    2013 NFL Week 2 Recap - Sept. 17
    2013 NFL Week 3 Recap - Sept. 24
    2013 NFL Week 4 Recap - Oct. 1
    2013 NFL Week 5 Recap - Oct. 8
    2013 NFL Week 6 Recap - Oct. 15
    2013 NFL Week 7 Recap - Oct. 22
    2013 NFL Week 8 Recap - Oct. 29
    2013 NFL Week 9 Recap - Nov. 4
    2013 NFL Week 10 Recap - Nov. 11
    2013 NFL Week 11 Recap - Nov. 18
    2013 NFL Week 12 Recap - Nov. 25
    2013 NFL Week 13 Recap - Dec. 2
    2013 NFL Week 14 Recap - Dec. 9
    2013 NFL Week 15 Recap - Dec. 16
    2013 NFL Week 16 Recap - Dec. 23
    2013 NFL Week 17 Recap - Dec. 30
    2013 NFL Week 18 Recap - Jan. 6
    2013 NFL Week 19 Recap - Jan. 13
    2013 NFL Week 20 Recap - Jan. 20
    Super Bowl XLVIII Recap - Feb. 3
    Super Bowl XLVIII Live Blog - Feb. 2

    2012: Live 2012 NFL Draft Blog - April 26
    2012 NFL Week 1 Recap - Sept. 10
    2012 NFL Week 2 Recap - Sept. 17
    2012 NFL Week 3 Recap - Sept. 24
    2012 NFL Week 4 Recap - Oct. 1
    2012 NFL Week 5 Recap - Oct. 8
    2012 NFL Week 6 Recap - Oct. 15
    2012 NFL Week 7 Recap - Oct. 22
    2012 NFL Week 8 Recap - Oct. 29
    2012 NFL Week 9 Recap - Nov. 5
    2012 NFL Week 10 Recap - Nov. 12
    2012 NFL Week 11 Recap - Nov. 19
    2012 NFL Week 12 Recap - Nov. 26
    2012 NFL Week 13 Recap - Dec. 3
    2012 NFL Week 14 Recap - Dec. 10
    2012 NFL Week 15 Recap - Dec. 17
    2012 NFL Week 16 Recap - Dec. 24
    2012 NFL Week 17 Recap - Dec. 31
    2012 NFL Week 18 Recap - Jan. 7
    2012 NFL Week 19 Recap - Jan. 14
    2012 NFL Week 20 Recap - Jan. 21
    Super Bowl XLVII Recap - Feb. 4
    Super Bowl XLVII Live Blog - Feb. 4

    2011: Live 2011 NFL Draft Blog - April 28
    2011 NFL Week 1 Recap - Sept. 12
    2011 NFL Week 2 Recap - Sept. 19
    2011 NFL Week 3 Recap - Sept. 26
    2011 NFL Week 4 Recap - Oct. 3
    2011 NFL Week 5 Recap - Oct. 10
    2011 NFL Week 6 Recap - Oct. 17
    2011 NFL Week 7 Recap - Oct. 24
    2011 NFL Week 8 Recap - Oct. 31
    2011 NFL Week 9 Recap - Nov. 7
    2011 NFL Week 10 Recap - Nov. 14
    2011 NFL Week 11 Recap - Nov. 21
    2011 NFL Week 12 Recap - Nov. 28
    2011 NFL Week 13 Recap - Dec. 5
    2011 NFL Week 14 Recap - Dec. 12
    2011 NFL Week 15 Recap - Dec. 19
    2011 NFL Week 16 Recap - Dec. 26
    2011 NFL Week 17 Recap - Jan. 2
    2011 NFL Week 18 Recap - Jan. 9
    2011 NFL Week 19 Recap - Jan. 16
    2011 NFL Week 20 Recap - Jan. 23
    Super Bowl XLVI Live Blog - Feb. 6

    2010: Live 2010 NFL Draft Blog - April 22
    2010 Hall of Fame Game Live Blog - Aug. 8
    2010 NFL Kickoff Live Blog - Sept. 9
    2010 NFL Week 1 Review - Sept. 13
    2010 NFL Week 2 Review - Sept. 20
    2010 NFL Week 3 Review - Sept. 27
    2010 NFL Week 4 Review - Oct. 4
    2010 NFL Week 5 Review - Oct. 11
    2010 NFL Week 6 Review - Oct. 18
    2010 NFL Week 7 Review - Oct. 25
    2010 NFL Week 8 Review - Nov. 1
    2010 NFL Week 9 Review - Nov. 8
    2010 NFL Week 10 Review - Nov. 15
    2010 NFL Week 11 Review - Nov. 22
    2010 NFL Week 12 Review - Nov. 29
    2010 NFL Week 13 Review - Dec. 6
    2010 NFL Week 14 Review - Dec. 13
    2010 NFL Week 15 Review - Dec. 20
    2010 NFL Week 16 Review - Dec. 27
    2010 NFL Week 17 Review - Jan. 3
    2010 NFL Week 18 Review - Jan. 10
    2010 NFL Week 19 Review - Jan. 17
    2010 NFL Week 19 Review - Jan. 24
    Super Bowl XLV Live Blog - Feb. 6

    2009: Live 2009 NFL Draft Blog - April 25
    2009 Hall of Fame Game Live Blog - Aug. 10
    2009 NFL Kickoff Live Blog - Sept. 10
    2009 NFL Week 1 Review - Sept. 14
    2009 NFL Week 2 Review - Sept. 21
    2009 NFL Week 3 Review - Sept. 28
    2009 NFL Week 4 Review - Oct. 5
    2009 NFL Week 5 Review - Oct. 12
    2009 NFL Week 6 Review - Oct. 19
    2009 NFL Week 7 Review - Oct. 26
    2009 NFL Week 8 Review - Nov. 2
    2009 NFL Week 9 Review - Nov. 9
    2009 NFL Week 10 Review - Nov. 16
    2009 NFL Week 11 Review - Nov. 23
    2009 NFL Week 12 Review - Nov. 30
    2009 NFL Week 13 Review - Dec. 6
    2009 NFL Week 14 Review - Dec. 13
    2009 NFL Week 15 Review - Dec. 20
    2009 NFL Week 16 Review - Dec. 27
    2009 NFL Week 17 Review - Jan. 4
    2009 NFL Week 18 Review - Jan. 11
    2009 NFL Week 19 Review - Jan. 18
    2009 NFL Week 20 Review - Jan. 25
    Super Bowl XLIV Live Blog - Feb. 7

    2008: Live 2008 NFL Draft Blog - April 26
    2008 NFL Kickoff Blog - Sept. 4
    NFL Week 1 Review - Sept. 8
    NFL Week 2 Review - Sept. 15
    NFL Week 3 Review - Sept. 22
    NFL Week 4 Review - Sept. 29
    NFL Week 5 Review - Oct. 6
    NFL Week 6 Review - Oct. 13
    NFL Week 7 Review - Oct. 20
    NFL Week 8 Review - Oct. 27
    NFL Week 9 Review - Nov. 3
    NFL Week 10 Review - Nov. 10
    NFL Week 11 Review - Nov. 17
    NFL Week 12 Review - Nov. 24
    NFL Week 13 Review - Dec. 1
    NFL Week 14 Review - Dec. 8
    NFL Week 15 Review - Dec. 15
    NFL Week 16 Review - Dec. 22
    NFL Week 17 Review - Dec. 29
    NFL Wild Card Playoffs Review - Jan. 4
    NFL Divisional Playoffs Review - Jan. 11
    NFL Championship Sunday Review - Jan. 19
    Super Bowl XLIII Live Blog