The Patriots have played no one this year, and it showed in this game. They've beaten the Steelers and a one-armed Ben Roethlisberger; the Dolphins, who are the worst team in NFL history; the Jets, who had the worst quarterback in the NFL, Luke Falk; the Bills, who are overrated themselves; and the Redskins, who are 0-5.
The untested Patriots nearly threw this game away. They were leading by just seven in the fourth quarter, with the Giants having possession. Daniel Jones tossed a screen pass to third-string running back Jon Hilliman, who coughed up the ball on a strip by linebacker Jamie Collins. Kyle Van Noy scooped and scored, putting New England up 28-14. If that didn't seal the victory, Pat Shurmur's idiotic decision to punt on a fourth-and-2 on the ensuing possession wrapped things up for the Patriots to improve to 6-0.
New England may have prevailed, but there were signs of weakness that could be prevalent moving forward against superior opponents. Pass protection, for example, has to be a major worry. Tom Brady took three sacks from a team with no pass rush to speak of, and one of those sacks resulted in Brady fumbling. Linebacker Markus Golden scooped and scored, which is a reason why the Giants were hanging around in the fourth quarter.
Another issue is Brady's play-makers. Already down Antonio Brown (release), Rob Gronkowski (retirement) and N'Keal Harry (injury), the Patriots lost Josh Gordon to some sort of leg malady. If Gordon is out for a while, the Patriots will need rookie Jakobi Meyers to step up. Meyers had a mixed offseason, so it remains to be seen if that can happen.
Brady finished 31-of-41 for 334 yards and an interception. He didn't throw a touchdown, but he scored twice on the ground via sneaks. Brady began poorly, even firing seven incompletions in a row, but he caught fire in the second half when he wasn't getting lots of pressure in his face. His pick was some sort of an odd miscommunication with Julian Edelman.
Speaking of Edelman, he's the lone dynamic threat at wide receiver remaining. Despite the early blunder, he ended up finishing with nine catches (15 targets) for 113 yards. He made one other mistake, which was a dropped ball, but he later atoned for it by drawing a defensive holding penalty on a fourth down. Meyers was next on the receiving list with four grabs for 54 yards.
James White will continue to be a big part of the passing attack. White reeled in all nine of his targets for 46 receiving yards. He was behind Sony Michel and Brandon Bolden in carries, predictably. Michel ran 22 times for 86 yards, but was stuffed on early third- and fourth-and-1 opportunities. Michel, who dropped a pass, later lost goal-line opportunities to both Brady and Bolden. The latter tallied 23 yards and a score on three attempts.
The Giants understandably didn't have nearly the same level of success running the ball. Saquon Barkley and Wayne Gallman were both out, leaving Hilliman as the lead back. Hilliman mustered just 38 yards on 11 carries and had that back-breaking lost fumble returned for a touchdown.
Daniel Jones failed to complete half of his passes, going 15-of-31 for 161 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. The first pick was a tipped ball by Stephon Gilmore, who was his usual, terrific self. The second interception wasn't Jones' fault; his arm got hit as he threw. The third was just a bad pass. The Giants were simply undermanned; they achieved just 10 first downs in this game, compared to 27 for New England.
That said, Jones didn't play too poorly, and it's not like he had much around him. In addition to Barkley and Gallman, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram were also out. The only viable players Jones had at his disposal were Golden Tate (6-102), who scored a touchdown, and Darius Slayton (3-32). Tate, Slayton and Rhett Ellison (3-30) were the only Giants to register positive receiving yardage.
Panthers 37, Buccaneers 26
It's become apparent that Jameis Winston's tenure in Tampa Bay will end at the conclusion of the season. Winston has enjoyed some bright moments this season, but there have been far too many instances of poor play. The bad version of Winston was on full display in London.
Winston's very first play was an interception. He tried to fit the ball through a tight window, and the pass was picked, allowing Carolina to turn the give-away into a field goal. Winston had another interception in the opening half, but his arm was hit as he released his pass. That wasn't his fault, but this sequence was: Winston fumbled in the red zone near halftime because he pumped on a screen. He was fortunate that a teammate of his recovered the loose ball, but Winston fumbled again on the very next play! Winston wasn't as fortunate this time, as the turnover negated at least three points.
Winston wasn't finished. The Buccaneers were down 20-7 in the third quarter with possession, but Winston hurled an interception right to Luke Kuechly. The All-Pro linebacker read Winston's eyes perfectly to make the easy pick. Carolina scored on the very next play on a Curtis Samuel end-around to put the game out of reach. The Panthers picked off Winston two more times late in the game for good measure.
Winston finished 30-of-54 for 400 yards, one touchdown and six turnovers (five interceptions, one fumble). The yardage looks nice, but much of that came in garbage time. Winston was a mess, showing no feel for the game at all. Pass protection was an issue because two starting offensive linemen were out, but that still doesn't excuse this sort of wretched performance that has been all too common in Winston's career.
Chris Godwin eclipsed the century mark, thanks to garbage time. He caught 10 of his 12 targets for 151 yards. Mike Evans (9-96) also had a decent statistical performance, but he dropped what would've been a 74-yard touchdown. Evans should've enjoyed a stellar morning, but was guilty of that horrible drop.
As for Tampa's tight ends, O.J. Howard once again did nothing for the most part. He caught a 30-yard pass, but that was it; he reeled in two of his four targets for 35 yards. Cameron Brate (2-47) found the end zone in the second half.
It's unclear why Bruce Arians gave Peyton Barber double the carries compared to Ronald Jones. Barber had 28 yards on eight attempts, while Jones scored on four carries for 10 yards.
While the Buccaneers continue to spiral downward, the Panthers have been undefeated since they lost to Tampa the first time. Kyle Allen is now 4-0 on the year; 5-0 overall in his upstart career.
Allen had a couple of poor throws in this game, but did very well overall in an easy matchup. He had no issues going against the Buccaneers' putrid secondary, going 20-of-32 for 227 yards and two touchdowns. He once again avoided mistakes, allowing the rest of his talented roster to perform well.
It seemed as though Christian McCaffrey would have a tough time finding any positive production to begin the game. The Buccaneers smothered him when he ran the ball or caught passes, which resembled his Week 2 struggles versus this very same defense. McCaffrey plunged into the end zone in the first quarter on a fourth-and-goal try from the 1-inch line to cap off a 99-yard drive, which seemed like the only score he would generate, based on how well Tampa's front was playing. However, McCaffrey would later score on a 25-yard reception in which he unleashed a punishing stiff-arm on linebacker Devin White.
McCaffrey finished with just 31 yards on 22 carries, so if it wasn't for his two touchdowns, he would have really disappointed his fantasy owners. McCaffrey, of course, was a factor in the passing attack, catching four balls for 26 receiving yards.
The Panther receivers had an easy time getting open against the Buccaneers' putrid secondary. This was apparent on the Panthers' aforementioned 99-yard touchdown drive in the first quarter. Both D.J. Moore and Samuel had terrific performances. Moore caught seven of his 10 targets for 73 yards, while Samuel scored twice. Samuel logged four receptions for 70 yards. Moore got hurt at one point in the second half, but he didn't miss too many snaps.
Seahawks 32, Browns 28
It was truly an amazing feat for the Browns to lose this game. They dominated for most of the afternoon, holding a 20-6 advantage in the second quarter. However, they eventually lost a pair of leads because of horrible mistakes. Countless drops, a pair of interceptions and a blocked punt allowed the Seahawks to crawl back into this game.
Still, the Browns had a chance to prevail. However, a couple of sequences in the fourth quarter derailed their chance to claim a victory. The first was Baker Mayfield's third interception. This was not his fault, as he attempted to throw a back-shoulder pass to some running back named Dontrell Hilliard. The scrub dropped the ball, which deflected into the arms of a Seattle defender. It's unclear why head coach Freddie Kitchens had Hilliard on the field on such an important play in the first place. The second horrible instance was when D.K. Metcalf caught a pass along the sideline to give the Seahawks a first down, and ultimately, the win. It wasn't clear if Metcalf even caught the ball, but Kitchens couldn't challenge the play because he was out of timeouts. He would've had one extra stoppage had he not challenged an obvious play earlier in the half.
Kitchens screwed up earlier as well. He managed the clock very poorly prior to halftime, which allowed the Seahawks to score what was effectively a free touchdown.
Kitchens' poor coaching ruined what looked like a gritty performance from Baker Mayfield. The second-year signal-caller wasn't 100 percent in the second half because of an injury that caused him to leave the field temporarily, but ultimately not miss any plays.
Mayfield finished 22-of-37 for 249 yards, two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing) and three interceptions. However, only one pick was his fault, which was when he was trying to thread the needle to Jarvis Landry in the red zone. Mayfield's other first-half pick occurred because of a miscommuncation. The third interception, as mentioned, was the result of Hilliard's drop.
Mayfield's completion percentage would've been better had Odell Beckham Jr. not dropped several passes. He made a terrific, diving catch along the sideline, but his mistakes were part of the reason why Cleveland suffered this latest loss. Beckham still led the team in receiving with six catches for 101 yards.
Elsewhere in the Cleveland receiving corps, Jarvis Landry (3-36) and Antonio Callaway (2-22) both had disappointing afternoons. Ricky Seals-Jones (3-47) hauled in Mayfield's sole touchdown.
Nick Chubb had Cleveland's other touchdowns. He scored twice while rushing for 122 yards on 20 carries. He also caught five passes for 17 receiving yards. The one blemish was a lost fumble after a holding penalty put Cleveland out of field goal range in the middle of the third quarter.
Chris Carson also had a big rushing game. He had one touchdown, unlike Chubb, but he outgained his counterpart by a bit and had some key runs late in the game to kill the clock. Carson finished with 124 yards and a touchdown on 24 attempts. He was a big part of the passing game as well, catching four balls for 35 receiving yards.
Like Mayfield, Russell Wilson found a way to score on the ground. He scrambled nine times for 31 rushing yards and a touchdown. However, unlike Mayfield, Wilson was very efficient as a passer, to no one's surprise. Wilson went 23-of-33 for 295 yards and a pair of scores. This was remarkable, given that the Seahawks were missing two starting offensive linemen.
Metcalf was the hero of this game for Seattle, thanks to the aforementioned sideline grab. That wasn't the first impressive catch Metcalf made near the out-of-bounds barrier on the afternoon, as he did a terrific job of tapping his toes on the ground before falling out of play earlier in the second half. Metcalf also had a 30-yard reception in which he stiff-armed multiple defenders. He took advantage of Cleveland's injury-ravaged cornerback group, caught four passes for 69 yards. He trailed only Tyler Lockett (5-75).
The dark cloud over this Seattle victory was Will Dissly's injury. The upstart tight end left the game early and might have torn his Achilles.
Texans 31, Chiefs 24
For a while, the Texans did not look like they showed up to play in this game, which might sound surprising, given what the score turned out to be. They surrendered two big gains to the Chiefs on a pair of third downs on the opening drive, then Carlos Hyde lost a fumble on the first offensive play from scrimmage. Following a pair of dropped touchdowns by Will Fuller, the Texans suddenly found themselves down 17-3 in the second quarter.
And yet, the Texans won somehow. They cleaned up their mistakes - aside from a couple more drops - and they were able to control the clock. In fact, they won the time-of-possession battle by nearly 20 minutes! At one point, spanning the end of the opening half to the beginning of the third quarter, it seemed as though it had been an eternity since the Chiefs touched the ball.
The problem for Kansas City was that it once again couldn't stop the run at all. Missing two starters on the defensive line, the Chiefs offered no resistance against the vaunted Houston running attack, which featured the prolific Carlos Hyde. Atoning for his earlier blunder, Hyde eclipsed the century mark, which never seemed like it would be possible heading into the year. Hyde talled 116 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries, and yet he wasn't the only effective runner. Duke Johnson dashed for 34 yards on five attempts, while Deshaun Watson was also able to scramble effectively with 42 yards and a pair of rushing scores on 10 runs.
The Chiefs had to sell out against the run in order to attempt to contain it, which allowed Watson to have some easy throws downfield. Watson finished 30-of-42 for 280 yards, three touchdowns (one passing, two rushing) and a pair of interceptions. The picks were ugly, but Watson's stats should've been better if it weren't for a handful of drops. His best moment was converting a fourth-and-3 pass at the very end to DeAndre Hopkins to clinch the victory.
Fuller, as mentioned, dropped a couple of balls in the end zone in the early going. He later had a third dropped touchdown. Hopkins did the same once as well. It's a shame for their fantasy owners, as Hopkins (9-55) and Fuller (5-44) posted poor non-PPR numbers. In fact, they trailed Darren Fells (6-69) on the receiving chart.
The Texans did a great job of rebounding following their early flurry of mistakes. Conversely, nothing went right for the Chiefs in the final three quarters. In fact, Kansas City had fewer than 100 net yards in the second half. The team didn't have the ball very often in the second half, and even when they did, they barely accomplished anything outside of one drive, thanks in part to their injury-ravaged offensive line. Patrick Mahomes' interception, which he heaved off his back foot, didn't help matters.
Mahomes finished 19-of-35 for 273 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. He was just 7-of-12 for 51 yards and a score following halftime. And speaking of intermission, he had a horrible sequence at the end of the opening half when he was nearly picked twice and then lost a fumble to set up a Houston touchdown. Mahomes will need at least one offensive lineman to return to prevent more outputs like this from happening. He isn't fully mobile because of his ankle injury, and he needs better protection to be fully effective.
If there's one silver lining to this loss, it's that Tyreek Hill returned. Hill didn't play the entire game, as his snaps were managed, but he still looked electric. He caught five of his 10 targets for 80 yards and two touchdowns.
Hill's return was supposed to open things up for Travis Kelce, yet the stud tight end barely did anything. He caught four passes for 58 yards. Granted, the Texans play well versus tight ends, but Kelce was expected to have a better performance.
Given that the Chiefs were trailing in the second half and barely had the ball, they didn't have much of a chance to establish the run. LeSean McCoy gained 44 yards on just eight attempts, while Damien Williams had just one attempt for six yards after catching a 52-yard pass on the opening drive.
Saints 13, Jaguars 6
The Saints continue to win despite not having Drew Brees. Some wrote them off when they were blown out in Week 2 when Brees suffered his thumb injury, and yet they haven't lost since. They're now 5-1 with Brees set to return in a couple of weeks.
New Orleans won with Bridgewater throwing all over the Buccaneers last week. This Sunday, they did it with defense. They put a stop to Minshew Mania, limiting the upstart quarterback to sub-50-percent passing. The Jaguars were limited to just 226 net yards of offense and 11 first downs in what turned out to be the fastest game of the afternoon.
Minshew didn't look like the same quarterback, as he was never comfortable without being able to throw to D.J. Chark very much. Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore smothered Chark after shutting out Mike Evans the previous week. This forced Minshew to look elsewhere, and his timing seemed off with the other receivers.
Minshew finished 14-of-29 for 163 yards and an interception, which was snatched by Lattimore on a poor throw toward Chark. He was fortunate he had just one turnover. He lost a fumble early, which was negated by a penalty. He also saw a pair of New Orleans defenders drop two potential interceptions. The Saints did a great job against him as both as a passer and a scrambler; he ran just twice for a single rushing yard.
Chark was so smothered that he was limited to just three catches for 43 yards. He trailed both Dede Westbrook (3-53) and Leonard Fournette on the receiving list. Fournette's six catches for 46 receiving yards saved his mediocre rushing day (20-72) for his PPR owners.
Alvin Kamara's PPR fantasy owners also needed his receiving stats to save his poor rushing performance. A week after Christian McCaffrey blew by Jacksonville's declining linebacking corps, Kamara was somehow limited to just 31 yards on 11 carries, as it was apparent that he wasn't his usual self. Kamara even fumbled at one point, but was lucky a teammate recovered the ball. Latavius Murray even outgained Kamara, as he tallied 44 yards on eight tries. Kamara did, at least, catch seven passes for 35 receiving yards.
Bridgewater didn't throw four touchdowns this week, but he could have tossed two had a score of his not been nullified by a Michael Thomas hold. Instead, Bridgewater finished with one touchdown on 24-of-36 passes for 240 yards.
Bridgewater didn't play very well. He missed several throws, especially on one sequence where he skipped a ball to a wide-open Ted Ginn, then overshot Thomas by several yards. He later missed Thomas again, sailing a ball over Thomas head for what should've been a touchdown. However, the important thing is that he took care of the football and avoided turning it over to Jacksonville.
Thomas may have been guilty of the hold, but he made up for it by catching eight of his 12 targets for 89 yards. He missed out on a touchdown, as mentioned, but was also guilty of a drop. Jared Cook (3-37) hauled in Bridgewater's sole score.
Vikings 38, Eagles 20
The Eagles have a great overall roster, but they have one major liability. The Vikings exposed that weakness in this game, which they controlled from start to finish.
That liability, of course, is the secondary, namely cornerback. Philadelphia's top three corners are out with injuries, and Kirk Cousins and his two talented receivers wasted no time attacking this weakness. Adam Thielen drew a defensive holding flag on the second drive to set up a field goal, and then Stefon Diggs torched the Eagles for a pair of deep touchdowns. Diggs had 135 receiving yards - at halftime!
The Vikings' great passing continued in the second half. Diggs drew an interference flag on a third down and a defensive hold in the end zone, all while catching a third touchdown. The Eagles had no answer for either Diggs or Thielen, though they will get some reinforcements back in the coming weeks. Still, cornerback will remain a major problem. The Eagles reportedly tried to trade for Jalen Ramsey, but the Jaguars wanted too much. Perhaps they'll attempt to acquire Patrick Peterson.
Diggs finished with seven catches for 167 yards and three touchdowns, while Adam Thielen logged six receptions for 57 yards and a score. The thing is, they could have both posted better stat lines had the Eagles kept up on the scoreboard. Instead, the Vikings had the luxury of taking the air out of the ball in the fourth quarter, running heavily with Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison. It's also worth noting that Diggs and Thielen's stat lines could have been better if they didn't have a couple of things go against them. Thielen, for example, nearly scored a second touchdown, but he was barely out of bounds. Diggs, meanwhile dropped an easy reception.
With Thielen and Diggs performing so well, it should come as no surprise that Kirk Cousins was the top-performing fantasy quarterback of the early afternoon slate. Cousins misfired on just seven occasions, finishing 22-of-29 for 333 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. The pick wasn't even his fault, as Diggs made a rare mistake when he dropped a pass. The ball popped into the hands of former Viking safety Andrew Sendejo.
Cook struggled to run on the Eagles, which came as no surprise. He rushed for just 41 yards on 16 carries, but he salvaged his afternoon with a late touchdown. He had a 16-yard rush negated by a hold. Mattison (14-63) posted the better stat line, thanks to a 35-yard burst.
As for the Eagles, it was a frustrating day for Carson Wentz, who spent most of the second half yelling at people. It looked like he was going to possibly engineer a comeback when he turned a 24-3 deficit into a 24-20 margin, but more defensive miscues, an Alshon Jeffery drop on fourth down and a Zach Ertz lost fumble ended all hope for the Eagles.
Wentz finished 26-of-40 for 306 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Wentz's teammates let him down with some drops and the aforementioned lost fumble. Wentz also didn't have quality pass protection from his usually stout offensive line. Jason Peters left the game on a couple of occasions, so that was a factor in the blocking not being as reliable as usual.
With Wentz throwing a lot because of the early deficit, Jeffery was able to see 12 targets. Jeffery converted 10 of them for 76 yards and a touchdown. Ertz, who coughed up the ball, caught four passes for 54 yards. Ertz had a nightmare of an afternoon; in addition to his fumble, he dropped two passes. Fellow tight end Dallas Goedert (5-48) also made a mistake, dropping a ball on third down in the opening half.
The Eagles were in a large, early deficit, so they didn't get to run the ball very much. Jordan Howard was limited to 49 yards on 13 carries, while Miles Sanders churned out just six yards on three attempts. Sanders, however, caught all three of his targets for 86 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Ravens 23, Bengals 17
Despite missing Marquise Brown, Lamar Jackson nearly made history in this game. Then again, it was probably Brown's absence that inspired this terrific performance in the first place.
Jackson nearly broke the NFL single-game record for rushing yards by a quarterback. Colin Kaepernick holds that distinction with 181 yards, and Jackson was just 26 yards shy of that mark. Jackson ran circles around the Bengals all afternoon, gashing them for 155 yards on 16 scrambles. He also scored once on the ground.
Of course, Jackson will need to improve as a passer if he wants to avoid the same fate as Kaepernick. He had a mostly solid aerial performance, going 21-of-33 for 236 yards. He had two bad throws. One was when he overshot Mark Andrews for a decent gain. He later sailed a pass way over the head of Willie Snead for what should've been a long touchdown. It also must be noted that Jackson was battling one of the worst defenses in the NFL, but to be fair, he didn't have his best receiver available.
With Brown out with an injury, Andrews led the Ravens in receiving with six catches for 99 yards. Andrews, the only Raven with more than 28 receiving yards, converted an early third-and-15 with a 20-yard grab to set up a touchdown for Mark Ingram. However, Andrews also lost a fumble in the second quarter when he attempted to hurdle a defender.
Speaking of Ingram, he was victimized by all of Jackson's running, so he wasn't able to have much of an opportunity to post great stats. He carried the ball just 13 times for 52 yards, though he was able to score that aforementioned touchdown. He also caught two passes for 22 receiving yards.
The Ravens led 23-10 at the end of the game, but Andy Dalton was able to generate one garbage-time drive to cover the spread at the very end. Dalton, however, finished with an underwhelming stat line when considering that he was battling a defense with no pass rush and three injured defensive backs. Dalton finished 21-of-39 for 235 yards and an interception, which was a careless pass into tight coverage in the red zone.
Dalton had a poor afternoon overall, and he really only had success when targeting beleaguered cornerback Maurice Canady. He skipped a couple of balls and threw some wobbly passes. He never got into rhythm before garbage time.
Dalton's leading receiver was Auden Tate, whose stats did not come in garbage time. He caught five passes for 91 yards. He made some spectacular catches in this game, including two impressive back-shoulder hauls. He also made two terrific diving receptions, and he reeled in a leaping grab on the final drive of the afternoon. He drew a pass interference penalty as well. None of this is fraudulent, as Tate looks like he's the real deal. I'm excited to see how he develops.
Conversely, Tyler Boyd posted a miserable performance despite the great matchup, securing just three of his seven targets for just 10 yards. He was guilty of a drop.
With the Bengals trailing for most of the afternoon - they were up 7-0 because an opening kickoff return, but that lead quickly disappeared - Joe Mixon didn't get much of a chance to do anything versus a tough run defense. Mixon managed just 10 yards on eight carries. He also caught two passes for 29 receiving yards.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Anyone else think the Dolphin coaches told their players to drop a pass on the two-point conversion attempt? They would've cost themselves Tua Tagovailoa otherwise!
Jay Gruden was fired earlier in the week, and the Redskins looked like a different team, playing more physical football and taking advantage of the hapless Josh Rosen. Miami made a fourth-quarter comeback with backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick leading them to 13 points, but in the final seconds, the Dolphins went for a two-point conversion. The attempt was unsuccessful and gave the Redskins their first win of the season. Miami maintained its draft position, and winning this game would not have been worth potentially losing out on the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Hence, the Dolphins are much better off in the long run for having lost the game.
The Redskins got the scoring started midway through the first half when they put a drive together with Adrian Peterson running well to get moving. The drive ended with Case Keenum finding Terry McLaurin for a 25-yard touchdown. After throwing an interception to Quinton Dunbar, Rosen got the Dolphins got on the board with a field goal drive.
Early in the third quarter, McLaurin torched the Miami secondary for a 33-yard touchdown to put the Redskins up 14-3. Quickly, Rosen threw an interception to Shaun Dion Hamilton, and that gifted Washington a field goal.
Miami benched Rosen and inserted Fitzpatrick to start the fourth quarter. That energized the entire team, as Fitzpatrick was getting the ball out quickly to move down the field and set up a short rushing touchdown for Kallen Ballage (3-7-1).
In the final two minutes, Fitzpatrick had one more chance to tie the game, and he moved ball inside the 15 with passes to Mike Gesicki and Allen Hurns. With just a few ticks left on the clock, Fitzpatrick threw a strike to DeVante Parker (3-28-1) for the touchdown. Miami went for the two-point conversion with a screen to Kenyan Drake in the flat, but Drake dropped the pass. It wouldn't have been successful if he had caught it, as the Redskins had Drake surrounded.
Keenum completed 13-of-25 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns. McLaurin continued his fabulous rookie season, catching four passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns.
Peterson ran for 118 yards on 23 carries with two receptions for 18 yards.
Rosen went 15-of-25 for 85 yards and two interceptions. Fitzpatrick was 12-of-18 for 132 yards and a touchdown. Rosen didn't get a lot of help as the offensive line was completely destroyed by Jonathan Allen and the Washington front. The Miami receivers also struggled to get open, but Rosen did hold the ball too long on many plays.
Speaking of Allen, the former Alabama product was excellent for the Redskins with two sacks and a lot of disruption. Landon Collins played well also with 12 tackles, a sack and two passes batted.
Drake ran for 40 yards on 10 carries.
Gesicki led the Dolphins in receiving with three catches for 51 yards.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the Jets team we should've seen all year. Sam Darnold's mono, however, ruined what probably would've been a 3-2 start to this season.
Sam Darnold returned to the field after missing three games with mononucleosis, and he made all the difference for the Jets to get their first win of the 2019 season. The Cowboys were decimated by injuries, as they played without their starting offensive tackles and Amari Cooper went out in the first half with a quad injury. The loss drops Dallas to 3-3, and this loss could be a painful one later in the year when it comes to the competitive NFC playoff race.
The Jets opened the scoring with a drive in the first quarter that saw Darnold moving the ball with his arm and legs to set up a short rushing touchdown for Le'Veon Bell. Dallas responded with a field goal drive that was keyed by a pretty juggling catch by Ezekiel Elliott. Dak Prescott later drove Dallas inside the Jets' 20, but a fourth-and-2 option run was stuffed for no gain by Jets rookie Quinnen Williams. On the very next play, Darnold threw a bomb to Robbie Anderson for a 92-yard touchdown on which Anderson burned Chidobe Awuzie with a double move.
Darnold hit Demaryius Thomas for 33 yards right before halftime and made three completions to tight end Ryan Griffin, including a 5-yard touchdown pass. However, on the last play before halftime, Dallas kicker Brett Maher hit a 62-yard field goal. The Jets took a 21-6 lead into the locker room.
Dallas used the rushing attack in the third quarter to move the ball inside the 10-yard line but ended up settling for a field goal. Darnold drove deep into Cowboys territory before getting picked off by Jourdan Lewis. Dallas moved the ball down the field, but Maher missed a 40-yarder to bail out Darnold's mistake.
In the fourth quarter, Prescott hit Jason Witten for 16 yards to convert a critical third-and-long to get inside the Jets' 25. Elliott finished the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run to cut the Jets' lead to 21-16. Darnold and the Jets responded moving the ball for a field goal.
The Cowboys were down 24-16 with 3:24 remaining. They moved the ball down the field thanks to a number of penalties on New York, including some very questionable pass interference penalties. Prescott finished the drive with a quarterback draw for a short touchdown run to pull the Cowboys within two points, but the two-point attempt fell incomplete as Prescott was hit as he threw by a blitzing Jamal Adams, letting the Jets clinch their first win of the season.
Darnold was 23-of-32 for 338 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Anderson led the Jets with five receptions for 125 yards and a touchdown.
Bell ran for 50 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.
Prescott was 28-of-40 for 277 yards with a rushing touchdown.
Elliott ran for 105 yards on 28 carries with a touchdown and had five catches for 47 yards.
With Cooper out, Tavon Austin led the Cowboys with five catches for 64 yards. Michael Gallup had three dropped passes that really hurt Dallas.
EDITOR'S NOTE: If you're puzzled about how the Rams have lost three games in a row, please check out my NFL Overrated-Underrated Teams page where I've had the Rams listed as overrated all year.
This Jared Goff ride is starting to show some signs of wear and tear, while the 49ers Defensive Domination Station is fully functional and poised to wreak havoc on the NFL after a thorough domination over the Rams at L.A. Memorial Coliseum on Sunday afternoon.
The game started with a decisive Rams drive, which went for seven plays, all rushing, ending with an 8-yard sweep for a Robert Woods touchdown and a quick 7-0 lead. It was all downhill from there, as the Rams couldn't muster another score all game.
Todd Gurley didn't suit up for this game due to a quad contusion, so Malcolm Brown took over for him and ran the ball five times for 40 yards on that first drive. Brown ended the game with 11 rushing attempts for 40 yards.
After that quick score, the 49ers answered with a long drive, ending with a 2-yard Tevin Coleman touchdown run, that tied up the game.
The Rams' defense was sharp for much of the game despite the loss, as Marcus Peters intercepted Jimmy Garoppolo in the end zone, Aaron Donald continued to be a massive force, and the 49ers averaged just 2.4 yards per rushing attempt, which is extremely tough to do against a Kyle Shanahan offense when its players are healthy. But the Rams couldn't stay on the field, as they finished with 21 minutes of possession to the 49ers' 39 minutes.
No matter the context, Goff was bad in this game. The Rams tried to hide him by running the ball, but it didn't matter, as Goff was no match for this 49ers' defensive line, getting sacked four times and losing a critical fumble on the first play of the second half, setting up the 49ers to take a 14-7 lead with a Garoppolo quarterback sneak.
George Kittle was again a beast and the 49ers' best receiver, as he caught all eight of his targets for 103 yards despite coming into the game questionable with a groin injury. Still, he trucked defenders all day and didn't look limited in any sense.
Kittle's 103 yards came close to matching the Rams' total offensive output of 165 yards, with 56 of those yards coming on their first and only scoring drive. Of the three stud wide receivers the Rams have, none topped 18 yards, as they totaled seven receptions for 35 yards. There are so many statistics of futility for the Rams that we could go on for hours pointing them out.
Garoppolo didn't look great, as he threw an interception and lost a fumble in bad spots, but compared to Goff, he looked like Joe Montana, completing 24-of-33 passes for 243 yards. He didn't need to do much with his defense backing him up, and if the 49ers can do that against the Rams, they should be able to continue to win without needing Garoppolo to play perfectly.
Tevin Coleman rushed 18 times for 45 yards and one touchdown, and despite the poor efficiency numbers, that was his second touchdown since returning from injury. He has also now seen 16 and 18 touches in those two games, planting him firmly on top of the running back depth chart despite Matt Breida's great talent. But both are going to continue to see good usage as long as this defense is balling out.
Kittle was by far the offensive star for the 49ers, but we did see Dante Pettis emerge as the No. 2 target this week, as he caught 3-of-6 targets for 45 yards. His game wasn't one to frame and send to the Hall of Fame, but he just missed a touchdown and appears poised to keep being a top target for Garoppolo moving forward.
Darrell Henderson looked great on his touches, well, except for the one that ended with him losing a fumble. He's a rookie, but he looks dynamic and probably needs to see more work moving forward, even when Gurley returns.
Sean McVay has now lost three games in a row, which is his worst stretch as the Rams' coach, while Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers remain unbeaten and show no signs of slowing down. McVay's team gets to travel to Atlanta to take on a Falcons team that has looked awful this season, so a get-right game might be in order, while the 49ers head to Washington to meet an even worse team than the Falcons to likely keep their undefeated streak humming along.
Cardinals 34, Falcons 33
For a while, it didn't seem as though this game would go down to the wire. The Cardinals led 27-10 in the third quarter, as Atlanta had no answer for Kyler Murray and the rest of the Arizona offense. Murray had 240 passing yards at the half!
The script flipped at the beginning of the third quarter. Matt Ryan caught fire, as the Cardinals couldn't do anything to stop him and all of his weapons. It seemed as though the Arizona defensive coordinator panicked late in the fourth quarter, sending an all-out blitz on Ryan in an attempt to put an end to what appeared to be an unstoppable drive. Ryan remained calm in the pocket and floated a pass to Devonta Freeman for an easy touchdown.
This should have tied the game at 34. Except, it didn't because Matt Bryant whiffed on an extra point - his first such miss during the season. A distraught Bryant, who looked 60 years old, knelt by himself on the sideline as he hoped the defense could force a punt. It could not, as Murray scrambled to move the chains on a third down to ice the victory.
Murray had just 100 passing yards in the second half, meaning he finished with 340 yards on top of his other prolific passing stats: 27-of-37 and three touchdowns. He also scrambled 11 times for 32 rushing yards. He was terrific, but he was playing one of the worst defenses in the NFL. His offensive line is still a big concern, though it had a reprieve against an Atlanta defense that can't put any pressure on the quarterback.
With Christian Kirk out, Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson were the only Arizona players with significant passing numbers. Fitzgerald reeled in six of his eight targets for 69 yards, while Johnson scored twice. He rushed for 34 yards on 12 carries, while catching six balls for 68 yards.
Johnson was great, though he didn't handle all of the touches. He was expected to be limited heading into this game, and that's exactly what he was. Still, he made the most of it, even though he ceded seven touches to Chase Edmonds, who accumulated 67 total yards and a touchdown.
The Cardinals are lucky that Bryant missed the extra point because there would've been no stopping Ryan in overtime. Ryan was unbelievable in the second half, going 19-of-23 for 258 yards and three touchdowns. Overall, he was 30-of-36 for 356 yards and four touchdowns. Arizona's hapless defense stood no chance, though Patrick Peterson's return next week should help improve things.
Tight ends have destroyed Arizona's defense throughout the entire season. Austin Hooper continued the trend, reeling in all eight of his targets for 117 yards and a touchdown. He and Calvin Ridley (4-48) both scored once.
Julio Jones, meanwhile, once again had an underwhelming stat line. He wasn't bad - eight catches, 108 yards - but it wasn't the dominant fantasy performance his owners were looking for against Arizona's miserable defense.
Freeman had a monstrous performance. He rushed for 88 yards on 19 carries, which may not look great, but he scored two touchdowns as a receiver on three receptions for 30 aerial yards.
Broncos 16, Titans 0
This may have been the end of the Marcus Mariota era in Tennessee. Mariota was benched in the second half without any sort of apparent injury. He was brutally ineffective, which forced Mike Vrabel to pull the trigger.
Mariota had a nightmare of an afternoon despite battling a short-handed defense with some obvious weaknesses. For example, the Broncos haven't been able to stop tight ends for years, yet Delanie Walker received barely any targets throughout the afternoon. The Broncos haven't been able to stop the run either, yet even though the score was close for most of the game, Derrick Henry was given just nine carries in the opening half, compared to 15 pass attempts by Mariota. The Broncos simply didn't respect the pass, which allowed them to clamp down on Henry, and rightfully so.
Mariota ended his afternoon 7-of-18 for 63 yards and two interceptions, and he was every bit as bad as those numbers indicate. He was so inept that he missed Henry on a basic, short throw. He also skipped a pass to Walker. The seven sacks the Broncos pass rush accumulated didn't help, but Mariota was still atrocious. His final pass was his second pick, which was a pass that he lobbed up like a prayer. It was ridiculous.
Ryan Tannehill replaced Mariota and was way more effective. Granted, the Broncos played a bit softer against him, but it seems as though Tannehill is the better passer at the moment, as strange as that sounds. Tannehill, who finished 13-of-16 for 144 yards and an interception on a desperation heave at the end of regulation, could be named the starter for the Week 7 battle against the Chargers.
Henry had a very disappointing afternoon. Leonard Fournette rushed for 225 yards against this Denver defense two weeks ago. Yet, Henry managed just 28 yards on 15 carries to go along with a drop. His offensive line played very poorly, and the defense didn't respect the pass at all.
No Titan receiver had more than 50 aerial yards. The leader in this regard was Adam Humphries (6-47), who made a tough catch in traffic, followed by Walker (3-43), who should've posted better numbers. Walker, at the very least, drew an interference flag. Corey Davis (3-36) and A.J. Brown (2-23) both disappointed, though Brown had a big gain wiped out by offensive pass interference. Brown was luckier on another instance when he fumbled, only to see a the recovering Denver player have his foot out of bounds when he initially touched the ball.
While Tennessee's offense was putrid, the Broncos didn't have much more success moving the chains. In fact, the Titans achieved more first downs (12-11) and had just 66 fewer net yards, though some of that was a byproduct of garbage time.
Joe Flacco was part of the reason for this, as he had a pedestrian performance. He was 18-of-28 for just 177 yards and an interception. It's worth noting that the pick wasn't his fault, as the ball hit Noah Fant in the back and bounced into the arms of a Tennessee player. Fant simply didn't see the ball in the sun.
Fant, despite catching just two passes for 16 yards, was fourth on the receiving chart, which should tell you how bleak Denver's passing game was. Courtland Sutton led the way with four catches for 76 yards, while Emmanuel Sanders didn't log a single reception because he left the game early with a knee injury.
Phillip Lindsay didn't have much running room during the afternoon, but finally broke free for a 30-yard scamper in the fourth quarter. This helped him finish with 70 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. He also dropped a pass. Unfortunately, he had just one more touch than Royce Freeman (11-34), which doesn't make any sense, given how talented Lindsay is compared to Freeman.
Steelers 24, Chargers 17
It's hard to believe that the Chargers entered this game as touchdown favorites. I found the spread unbelievable, as the Steelers were either even or way better at every position compared to the Chargers, save for quarterback.
Philip Rivers was obviously the superior quarterback in this matchup, but he couldn't do anything because of his diminished supporting cast. His offensive line is down several starters, and this allowed Pittsburgh to dominate the trenches. It forced Rivers into throwing a backward pass into the early going, which star rookie linebacker Devin Bush scooped and scored. The Pittsburgh defensive line created a turnover after that when Tyson Alualu tipped a pass at the line of scrimmage, which turned into an interception. This set up a James Conner touchdown, giving the Steelers an insurmountable double-digit lead.
Pittsburgh's offense, meanwhile, took care of the ball and moved the chains methodically with their undrafted rookie quarterback, Duck Hodges. They had Hodges check the ball down for most of the evening, as Hodges attempted only one pass of longer than 10 yards in the opening half, which fell incomplete. Hodges avoided any errors until he took a senseless deep shot in the fourth quarter. He managed the game very well otherwise, finishing 15-of-20 for 132 yards, one touchdown and an interception.
While Hodges did what he was told, James Conner was the primary catalyst for Pittsburgh's offense. Conner broke countless tackles in this contest, rushing for 41 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, while catching all seven of his targets for 78 yards and a touchdown. To illustrate how much of a checkdown artist Hodges was, no Steeler, save for Conner, accumulated more than 14 receiving yards. In fact, one of the two Steelers with 14 receiving yards was the other running back, Benny Snell!
Speaking of Snell, the rookie looked good, so the injury to Jaylen Samuels proved to be a blessing in disguise. While Conner broke lots of tackles, Snell showed more burst and energy. He rushed for 75 yards on 17 carries. He had more attempts than Conner because Conner got banged up in the second half. Fortunately, he has a bye coming up to heal.
Both Snell and Conner outgained both Charger running backs on the ground, as San Angeles didn't have much of a chance to run the ball, given the constant deficit. Melvin Gordon had just eight carries, which he turned into just 18 yards. Austin Ekeler (5-14) didn't do much in the receiving game for once, logging just three receptions for 14 yards.
Perhaps Ekeler's diminished stats were the byproduct of Hunter Henry's return. Henry was one of the lone bright spot for the Chargers, as he hauled in eight of his nine targets for 100 yards and two touchdowns. He and Mike Williams (5-72) were the only Chargers to accumulate more than 50 receiving yards, though Williams, who dropped a deep pass, left the game late with some sort of injury.
You may have noticed that I didn't mention Keenan Allen as a Charger with more than receiving yards. Allen was erased by the Steelers' improved secondary, as they limited him to just two catches for 33 yards.
Rivers, meanwhile, went 26-of-44 for 320 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, with the second being a desperate heave at the very end. The stats look great, but Rivers struggled throughout because of his poor offensive line. He simply accumulated his yardage - and both touchdowns - in garbage time. He was 8-of-14 for 111 yards and a pick in the opening half. He had a couple of dropped interceptions in garbage time, so there are a couple of reasons why his stat line could have been far worse.
Packers 23, Lions 22
You wouldn't know it just based on looking at the score or the stats, but the Lions appeared as though they were going to run away with a blowout. Matthew Stafford opened the game with a 66-yard bomb to Kenny Golladay. Stafford then launched another bomb on the next drive, hitting Marvin Hall for a 58-yarder. Following an Aaron Jones fumble, the Lions established a 13-0 lead, which easily could have been 17-0 had T.J. Hockenson not dropped a touchdown.
The Lions had full control of the game, but mistakes and poor officiating allowed the Packers to make the contest competitive. The first blunder was having 12 men on the field on a Green Bay field goal attempt. That occurred on a fourth-and-5 play, which gave the Packers a first down in the red zone. Moments later, Jamaal Williams scored a touchdown to put Green Bay on the board.
Detroit continued to maintain a lead throughout the entire evening, save for an instance in which the game was tied at 13. The Lions then kicked a trio of field goals to extend the advantage to 22-13, but the lead may have been greater had Golladay not dropped a deep ball. Still, the Lions were up nine in the fourth quarter, which would have been enough had it not been for incompetent or biased officiating.
Three horrible calls stood out. First, Trey Flowers were flagged for a very bogus hands-to-the-face penalty on third down that kept the drive alive for the Packers, ultimately setting up a touchdown. Green Bay then got away with a blatant pass interference on Detroit's next possession. The Lions were forced to punt as a consequence, which set up Green Bay's game-winning drive. The Lions would've had some time on the clock, but Flowers was called for yet another bogus hands-to-the-face infraction. It was an utter embarrassment that the refs screwed this up twice, and head official Clete Blakeman, who has been incompetent for more than a decade - as documented on this Web site - needs to pay the price with his job.
At any rate, thanks to Flowers' second penalty, Mason Crosby connected with a chip-shot field goal to move the Packers to 5-1. Green Bay didn't lead for a single second in this game, yet came away with a victory.
Aaron Rodgers finished 24-of-39 for 283 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, which wasn't his fault (backup receiver Darrius Shepherd dropped the ball, which deflected into the arms of a defender.) Rodgers didn't have a great night, thanks in part to his injury-ravaged receiving corps. Already down Davante Adams, Rodgers saw Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Geronimo Allison leave with injuries. Valdes-Scantling missed about a half, while Allison never returned.
Rodgers was forced to throw to no-name scrubs for the most part, but one no-name scrub might actually be a solid player. Allen Lazard, an undrafted free agent in his second year, stepped up in the clutch, hauling in a touchdown to move the Packers to within two. Lazard finished with four receptions for 65 yards and the score. He led the Packers in receiving, and he should be added in all fantasy formats.
Valdes-Scantling, meanwhile, had just two catches for 48 yards. Allison (3-40) didn't do much either outside of getting hurt and making mistakes. Allison had his usual drop, and he was also called for a hold in the red zone.
Speaking of errors, Jones had two crucial ones. Jones not only lost a fumble in the early going; he also dropped a wide-open touchdown. He was outgained by Williams as a consequence. Williams gained 104 yards on 14 carries, while Jones was limited to 47 yards on 11 attempts.
Another note on Williams: He had a chance to score a touchdown at the very end when the Lions were willing to let him run into the end zone in order to gain another possession. Williams wisely saw through the ruse, falling down much like Todd Gurley did versus Green Bay last year.
The Lions didn't have as much success running the ball, despite the positive perceived matchup. Kerryon Johnson was limited to 34 yards on 13 carries, though he managed to find the end zone to save his fantasy owners. He also caught two passes for 27 receiving yards. He should've had three receptions, but he dropped a ball in Green Bay territory.
Johnson scored Detroit's sole touchdown. Matthew Stafford couldn't get the ball into the end zone, as he finished 18-of-32 for 265 yards. It was a disappointing output overall, as Stafford had 169 passing yards in the first quarter. Suddenly, the deep bombs he was completing early on weren't there. He tried to hit Marvin Jones with some deep throws, but the two couldn't connect.
Jones was a big disappointment, logging just two receptions for 17 yards. Golladay was the wideout to own, as he hauled in five of his nine targets for 121 yards. Hockenson (4-21) nearly scored a touchdown, as discussed earlier, but dropped the ball.
For more thoughts, check out my updated NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.