By Anthony McClean, Editor-In-Chief Emeritus
Okay, we’re a month into the season and what have we learned so far. For starters, the guy in Arlington has yet to miss a beat from last season, the little fella in the Valley keeps getting better, and No. 3 in Seattle keeps adding to his Hall of Fame resume (more on that at the end).
While there has yet to be a sighting of the law firm of Newton and Watson, there was an actual sighting of an offensive line in Chicago this week. Denver dropped from the ranks of the undefeated at the hands of LJ and they may be without Teddy Ballgame for a bit.
All of that and more highlighted the season’s first quarter pole.
Week Four results: 6-4 (Overall: 24-16)
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (Win at Philadelphia)
The two-time defending AFC champion Chiefs (2-2) snapped a two-game losing streak after entering with a losing record for the first time since they were 4-5 in 2015. It was just another day at the office for No. 15 as he threw five touchdown passes three different ways, including three to Tyreek Hill, in Andy Reid’s homecoming at Philly. Mahomes tossed TD passes underhanded, overhanded and shoveled one on Kansas City’s three possessions in the first half. He finished with 278 yards passing and his interception was the only possession the Chiefs didn’t score a TD. Hill had 11 catches for 186 yards. Reid returned to Philadelphia and earned his 100th career win with the Chiefs, becoming the first coach in NFL history to win 100 games with two teams. Reid’s 140 victories with the Eagles are the most in franchise history.
Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia (Loss vs. Kansas City)
On the other side of the ledger, despite putting up good numbers, it proved to be another painful loss for the Eagles. Hurts threw for a career-high 387 yards and two TDs but Philadelphia (1-3) couldn’t keep up with Kansas City’s high-powered offense. The Eagles had three touchdowns negated by penalty and settled for field goals three times inside the red zone. Another bright spot was the continued emergence of No. 1 pick Devonta Smith. The rookie receiver caught seven passes for a career-high 122 yards. Smith, the 2020 Heisman Trophy winner with the 10th overall pick in the NFL draft, had 115 yards receiving in the first three games combined.
Dak Prescott, Dallas (Win vs. Carolina)
It may be a bit premature to start the MVP chant, but No. 4 keeps continuing to impress. While the Cowboys used more of a ground attack (245 rushing yards including 143 from Zeke Elliott), Prescott finished 14 of 22 for 188 yards and four touchdown passes in win against the Panthers. Three of the TDs came in the third quarter to erase a 14-13 halftime deficit. Defensively, The Cowboys sacked Sam Darnold five times, including two from Randy Gregory, while Dallas kept Prescott upright against a defense that entered the game with an NFL-best 14 sacks.
Jameis Winston, New Orleans (Loss vs. N.Y. Giants)
Playing at home for the first time since Hurricane Ida and leading New York 21-10 in the fourth, things were looking good for the Saints. However, something really unfunny happened along the way as New Orleans would fall in overtime to the Giants. “Famous Jameis” passed for 226 yards and a touchdown, but it was a furious comeback in the final stanza that saw the Saints wilt in front of nearly 70,000 fans in the first game played in the dome without restrictions on crowd size since before the COVID-19 pandemic. Saquon Barkley ran for a 6-yard touchdown in overtime after Daniel Jones passed for a career-high 402 yards, and the Giants rallied for their first win of the season.
Justin Fields, Chicago (Win vs. Detroit)
Isn’t it amazing what a revamped game plan with real blockers can do for one’s stature? Fields brushed off a nightmarish first start, and Chicago bounced back from one of the worst offensive performances the NFL has seen to beat the winless Lions. Fields and the Bears (2-2) were in much better form coming off a brutal loss at Cleveland last week. They scored touchdowns on their first two possessions and rang up 373 yards after being held by the Browns to 47, the ninth-lowest total in league history. Fields looked more comfortable, completing 11 of 17 passes for 209 yards in his second consecutive start. The former Ohio State star threw an interception. But he was also sacked just once, a big improvement after being taken down nine times for 67 yards while throwing for just 68 the previous week.
Jacoby Brissett, Miami (Loss vs. Indianapolis)
The Dolphins (1-3) lost their third straight, largely because their offense couldn’t do much of anything until it was too late. Miami was outgained 349 yards to 203 and 139-35 on the ground, and 123 of Brissett’s 199 passing yards came in the fourth quarter. He finished the game completing 20 of 30 passes. Among the Dolphins’ problems: They were outgained 226-15 in the middle two quarters; went 30 minutes — game time, not real time — between first downs; jumped offside on a punt to extend a Colts drive that turned into Indianapolis’ first touchdown; and then Brissett lost the ball early in the fourth quarter for a turnover after evading two tackles but not a third wave.
Russell Wilson, Seattle (Win at San Francisco)
Wilson overcame a rough opening to the game by throwing for two scores and running for a third and the Seahawks rebounded from back-to-back losses by beating the 49ers in Santa Clara. The Seahawks (2-2) went three-and-out on their first five drives of the game and appeared in danger of their first three-game losing streak in a season in nine seasons with Wilson at quarterback. Seattle’s sluggish start and and rare losing streak were a thing of the past thanks to another vintage performance from their star quarterback.
Kyler Murray, Arizona (Win at L.A. Rams)
While the media was ready to annoint Matthew Stafford as the King of L.A. after beat the defending Super Bowl Champs, they forgot annoint Mr. Murray as the current King of the NFC West. Murray passed for 268 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 39 more yards, and the Cardinals extended their longest perfect start since 2012 with a 37-20 win over Los Angeles on Sunday. The Cards haven’t won the division or had a winning record since 2015, but they’re off to a roaring start to 2021 highlighted by this blowout of the previously unbeaten Rams. Arizona won with style, lighting up the Rams’ defense for 465 total yards and scoring touchdowns after two early takeaways to affirm their status as a contender despite playing three of their first four games on the road.
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore (Win at Denver)
Not bad for a running back, huh? Although he was held to 28 yards rushing, Jackson threw for 316 yards as the Ravens handed the Broncos their first loss of the season. Only twice in his four-year NFL career has Jackson passed for more yards, once in the regular season (324) and once in the playoffs (365). But it’s probably something that the rest of the league may have to get used to. However, the Ravens’ overall 102 yards on the ground, their 43rd consecutive 100-yard rushing game, tying the mark set by Pittsburgh from 1974-77.
Teddy Bridgewater, Denver (Loss vs. Baltimore)
Losing the game was tough enough for Denver. Losing Teddy Bridgewater in the process added more salt to the wound. No. 5 was knocked out with a concussion on his final pass of the first half. Bridgewater completed just 7 of 16 passes after posting 75% days in each of Denver’s three wins. How bad was it for the Broncos? Denver punted on 10 of their 12 possessions after punting just nine times total in their three wins. Teddy Ballgame worked with the starters for the majority of the snaps in both practices, with the expectation that he will start Sunday. Bridgewater will be evaluated by an independent physician Saturday before the team’s walk-through at the team’s suburban Denver facility
Trey Lance, San Francisco (Loss vs. Seattle)
Coming in after an injury to Jimmy Garoppolo, Lance finished 9 for 18 for 157 yards with two TDs, 41 yards rushing and a 2-point conversion run. On Friday, the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s NFL draft was named San Francisco’s starter in Sunday’s game against the undefeated Arizona Cardinals. Lance, who will be 21 years and 154 days old on Sunday, will become the fourth-youngest quarterback at the time of his first NFL start. He will also attempt to become only the second quarterback (joining Phil Simms in 1979) selected in the first round to win his first start against a team that’s 4-0 or better.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Seattle’s Russell Wilson had three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) with no interceptions and a 116.0 rating in the Seahawks’ 28-21 win over San Francisco. Wilson earned his 100th career regular-season win and joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Peyton Manning (105 wins) as the only quarterbacks with at least 100 regular-season wins in their first 10 seasons in NFL history. Wilson has a passer rating of 110-or-higher and no interceptions in each of his first four games this season and joined John Hadl (1973) and Milt Plum (1960) as the only players in NFL history with a rating of 110-or-higher and no interceptions in each of his team’s first four games of a season.
Anthony McClean can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.