The Oklahoman

NFL’s Week 4 winners, losers

- Lorenzo Reyes USA TODAY

Tom Brady’s triumphant return against the New England Patriots, in the stadium he called home for 20 seasons, dominated Week 4 in the NFL.

And while Brady yet again can claim bragging rights, other teams made statements in their games. None was more significant than the Arizona Cardinals exorcising their struggles under the Kyler Murray-Kliff Kingsbury era against the Los Angeles Rams. In a battle of undefeated NFC West teams, the Cardinals took care of business on the road, and Murray and Kingsbury secured their first-ever victories against the Rams.

The defending AFC champion Chiefs also have something to celebrate, namely their breaking out of a funk in a victory over the Eagles. But Kansas City still has some weaknesses to fix to get back to top form.

Here are the winners and losers of Week 4 in the NFL.


Chiefs get right: It says something that Patrick Mahomes had one fewer touchdowns (five) than he had incompleti­ons in a dominant 42-30 victory on the road against the Eagles and it was a secondary storyline. That’s just the standard that the Chiefs have set in Mahomes and coach Andy Reid’s time together. The Eagles are not the best barometer, but Kansas City broke out of its offensive slump in two specific areas.

The Chiefs had gotten off to slow starts, but Mahomes threw three touchdowns before the first half ended. And Kansas City achieved balance on offense, rushing for 200 yards. It didn’t hurt that the Chiefs also converted 9 of 10 third-down attempts to strengthen their spot as the top team in the NFL in that area (55.2%). But the defense continues to be a liability and can still cost Kansas City if the offense doesn’t show up in a given game.

The Kyler Cardinals: There was no statement victory bigger than Arizona’s 37-20 takedown of the Rams in what was a battle of undefeated NFC West teams. Now, the Cardinals are the only NFC team to remain undefeated at 4-0.

The Cardinals unleashed explosive plays in both the passing and running game and lit up the talented Rams defense for 465 yards. The architect of all that is quarterbac­k Kyler Murray, who looks like an early candidate for the NFL MVP award.

They became the fifth team in NFL history to score at least 30 points and earn 400 yards of total offense in each of their first four games.

Matt Nagy giving up play calling: This may have come later than it should have, but Bears fans should be glad it came at all. After Chicago’s 24-14 victory against the division rival Lions, Bears coach Matt Nagy acknowledg­ed that he gave up offensive play calling, ceding it to offensive coordinato­r Bill Lazor.

Even though it was the first public admission, anyone watching the Bears could’ve picked up that something was different. Chicago diversified its offense and relied on play-action, pre-snap motion, a deep passing game, moving the pocket and sporadic designed quarterbac­k rushes. Those are all features that play into the strengths of rookie quarterbac­k Justin Fields.

New York, New York: For the first time in NFL history, both the Jets and the Giants won overtime games held on the same day. It was the first victory of the season for both teams, and the first for rookie head coach Robert Salah of the Jets. The Jets needed a Randy Bullock 49-yard field goal try in overtime to sail left to beat the Titans 27-24. The Giants traveled to New Orleans and got a big day from quarterbac­k Daniel Jones to topple the Saints 27-21.


Bill Belichick: This is perhaps an unfair way to measure Tom Brady’s departure from the New England Patriots, but it’s hard not to put Brady on top – yet again. Brady will hold bragging rights after his Buccaneers pulled out a fascinatin­g 19-17 victory in the first game against the team he spent 20 seasons with.

To be clear, this was an excellent job of coaching and preparing for the greatest quarterbac­k of all time. Perhaps Brady was battling emotions, which may have led to some of his passes being overthrown, or perhaps it was the rainy weather, but Belichick deployed a bunch of two-safety looks on defense that limited Tampa Bay’s passing game from taking the top off the Patriots defense. New England disguised its pressures to force Brady to adjust in the pocket.

On offense, the rushing game was a massive disappoint­ment, but credit Belichick and offensive coordinato­r Josh McDaniels for setting up a plan that helped rookie passer Mac Jones put New England in a position to nearly win the game.

The no-identity Saints: The seasonopen­ing blowout of the Packers seems so distant right now for the Saints, losers of two of their last three. The latest defeat, 27-21 in overtime, will sting, after New Orleans blew an 11-point, fourth-quarter lead to the previously winless Giants. When New Orleans has won this season, coach Sean Payton has opened up the playbook and let quarterbac­k Jameis Winston take chances down the field.

Against the Giants, Payton went uncharacte­ristically conservati­ve in the fourth quarter and took the ball out of Winston’s hands as New York battled back.

Davis Mills and the Houston Texans: Asking a rookie quarterbac­k to make his first road start in Buffalo, in rainy weather, was always going to be difficult. But what quarterbac­k Davis Mills and the Texans did in their 40-0 meltdown was ineptitude of historic proportion­s. It was the worst loss in the history of the Texans franchise.

In the first half, Mills was 1 of 7 passing for 3 yards, with two intercepti­ons. Because he was sacked three times for a combined 26 yards lost, the Texans finished the first half with negative-23 net passing yards.

Ben Roethlisbe­rger on fourth down: If there’s one thing that’s emblematic of how much the Steelers offense has struggled this season, it’s how inept the team has been when it most needs to gain yards.

In its 27-17 loss to the Packers, Pittsburgh quarterbac­k Ben Roethlisbe­rger continued an alarming trend of throwing well short of the sticks on fourth-down passing attempts. Pittsburgh is 0-for-5 this year on fourth-down attempts after it could not convert either of its two against Green Bay.

 ?? ASHLEY LANDIS/AP ?? Cardinals quarterbac­k Kyler Murray throws against the Rams on Sunday in Inglewood, Calif.
ASHLEY LANDIS/AP Cardinals quarterbac­k Kyler Murray throws against the Rams on Sunday in Inglewood, Calif.

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