NFL week four round-up
Week four of the NFL regular season saw the return of the league’s officials. The replacement referees’ time was brought to an end following controversial calls in the Baltimore Ravens win over the New England Patriots, as well as a game which saw one of the most controversial calls in NFL history, meaning that the Seattle Seahawks got the win over the Green Bay Packers.
As usual, week four saw lots of exciting action in the national football league, and with some normality restored, it was all about football this week. Here we take a look at the games from week four as the season starts to heat up.
Cleveland Browns (0-4-0) 16-23 Baltimore Ravens (3-1-0)
This Thursday night’s game was when the real officials returned to the field. In what many expected to be an easy win for Baltimore, it actually turned out to be a fairly tough night for the Ravens with opposing quarter-back Brandon Weeden passing for 320 yards against their defence.
A late drive by Cleveland failed as Baltimore won the game by seven. Despite the defeat, the Browns can take positives from week four with the likes of rookie running-back Trent Richardson impressing with 47 rushing yards off 14 carries with one touchdown.
Ravens quarter-back Joe Flacco was efficient on a night where, despite throwing an interception, he managed to throw for 356 yards and a touchdown which helped his team to their second straight win.
With Cleveland now the only team in the AFC who are winless, it looks like a long season for all those involved with the franchise, whereas Baltimore are now 3-1 and sit first in the AFC North.
Both teams are on the road in week five with the Ravens looking ahead to a game against the Chiefs, as they look to strengthen their credentials. Meanwhile, the Browns look to snap their four-game losing streak against the Giants at MetLife Stadium.
=Carolina Panthers (1-3-0) 28-30 Atlanta Falcons (4-0-0)
Following an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Giants, the Carolina Panthers almost pulled off an upset at the Georgia Dome. In the end it wasn’t mean to be and following Matt Bryant’s kick with five seconds remaining, the Atlanta Falcons stayed perfect by moving to 4-0 with a 30-28 victory.
Atlanta was down by a point when they took over from their own one-yard line with 59 seconds left. Matt Ryan orchestrated the game-winning drive which started with a 59-yard pass to Roddy White, before two more completions to set up the field goal following a defence pass interference call.
Ryan himself was brilliant as he threw three touchdowns for 369 yards and just one interception; two of his touchdown passes were to White as the pair connected well once again.
The run game was also in full flight as Michael Turner rushed for 103 yards and he also hauled in 68 receiving yards with 60 of those on a play early in the third quarter when Ryan threw a screen pass, giving the running-back the space to sprint and score.
Cam Newton – who threw for two touchdowns, 215 yards – and DeAngelo Williams showed why this Panthers team is young and exciting, as they now look to get back to winning ways at home against the Seahawks in their week five match-up.
The Falcons will now travel to Washington for a week five match-up in the capital against the Redskins, as Atlanta look to maintain their impressive start to the regular season with Matt Ryan hoping to put one over opposing rookie quarter-back RGIII.
New England Patriots (2-2-0) 52-28 Buffalo Bills (2-2-0)
With an uncharacteristic two early season defeats in a row and the team being 14-7 down at half time, the New England Patriots had their backs against the wall. Roll back a year and it was the Bills who came back to beat the Patriots, but this time it was Tom Brady and co who rallied back to get the win on the road for Bill Belichick’s men.
Even at the start of the third quarter the Patriots saw themselves down 21-7, but then suddenly everything clicked and they hit top gear. New England managed to score six consecutive touchdown drives in the second half as they went on to win the game by 24 points.
Tom Brady finished the game with 340 passing yards, threw for three touchdowns and also added a four-yard touchdown run. His receiving corps put in strong performances as Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski both caught for over 100 yards with Gronk getting his third touchdown in four games. Brandon Lloyd showed he is becoming a key part of this offence as he hauled in a few catches which included a touchdown of his own. Danny Woodhead also chipped in with a receiving touchdown when he hooked up with Brady on an impressive 17-yard play.
Stephen Gostkowski missed key field goals which could have proved costly for New England, so it was down to Brady once again to get it done. He rose to the occasion with a fantastic – as well as vintage – performance which saw Brady (41,206 yards) pass Kerry Collins for 11th place on the NFL’s career passing yardage list.
The highlight of the day for the Patriots was the impressive numbers put up on the ground by rookie free agent Brandon Bolden (137 yards, one touchdown) and second year running-back Steven Ridley (106 yards, two touchdowns). The two carved up the Buffalo defence which was essential to opening up the passing game for Tom Brady.
The Patriots’ brilliance went hand-in-hand with the Bills’ inconstancy, as despite some early impressive defence plays by Buffalo that included forced fumbles on Gronkowski and Welker, they turned it over a number of times themselves; six altogether on the day. They included Vince Wilfork recovering a fumble and their quarter-back Ryan Fitzpatrick threw four interceptions despite also throwing four touchdowns.
After two close defeats, the New England Patriots have gone back to winning ways to go top of the AFC East and will now return home to Foxborough for their week five match-up where they welcome old nemesis Peyton Manning with the Denver Broncos to Gillette stadium.
Minnesota Vikings (3-1-0) 20-13 Detroit Lions (1-3-0)
The Vikings moved to a surprising 3-1 record and backed up their shock win over the 49ers in week three to go on the road and put one over their NFC north rivals by beating the Lions.
Percy Harvin opened the scoring on literally the opening play as he returned the kick-off for an outstanding 105-yard touchdown. It was Harvin’s fifth and longest kick return for a touchdown as he burst through a big hole nearby mid-field after cutting to his right to make his way in to the end zone for the score.
The surprise of the season so far for the Vikings, along with the fact that they are first in the NFC North after four games, is that running-back Adrian Peterson is playing almost as if he never suffered any sort of knee injury. He carried the ball 21 times for 102 yards and added four catches for 20 yards.
Vikings quarter-back Christian Ponder also did well by completing 16/26 pass attempts which included him throwing for 111 yards. Minnesota’s other touchdown was when Marcus Sherels returned a punt in to the end zone for 77 yards.
So once again it was special teams that let down the Detroit Lions and even late one-yard run for a touchdown by quarter-back Matthew Stafford was not enough to inspire a fight back like the dramatic win for the Lions in week one over the Rams. They got the ball back with 1.42 on the clock, but Stafford, who threw for 319 yards in the game, was sacked for the fifth time on the final play of the game while trying to set up a hail mary.
Nevertheless, it was good to see Stafford back on the field following his recent injury. This young Lions team could be 3-1, but sloppy defensive play against the Titans in week three and this week against the Vikings has seen them practically throw two games away, meaning they now sit 1-3 and bottom of their division.
Detroit now have a bye week to refocus before they go to Lincoln Financial Field to take on the Philadelphia Eagles, whereas the Vikings look to beat their total wins from the 2011 season already when they welcome the Titans to the Metrodome this week.
Tennessee Titans (1-3-0) 14-38 Houston Texans (4-0-0)
Many people hyped up this Texans team for a successful season; others questioned if they were the real deal. Well, after four games Houston are 4-0 for the first time in franchise history, so early signs are good.
As for this game, it was effectively over as soon as Titans quarter-back Jake Locker went down on Tennessee’s second drive. He grabbed his hand in pain and after the game it was reported that he had separated his shoulder.
With the Titans sitting bottom of the AFC South following this divisional loss, it was a major blow to lose their starting quarter-back to injury, especially after the display he put up when the team beat the Lions in a 44-41 overtime thriller in their week three game.
The experienced Matt Hasselbeck came in and threw two touchdowns along with two interceptions. One of the interceptions was returned for six when it was still a one-score game in the third quarter, which killed any sort of close contest in this game.
With the Titans enduring bad luck, as well as playing some bad football, this meant that Houston registered the first 24 points of the second half to give them control of the game. Matt Schaub completed 20 passes out of 28 attempts for 202 yards and two touchdown passes with Adrian Foster contributing on the ground by running for 86 yards and a touchdown.
Schaub and the Texans carved up the opposition as the team showed off their offensive skills, but in their next game will be tested by Rex Ryan’s New York Jets when they set off to visit East Rutherford as Houston look to stay perfect in a Monday night match-up. As for the Titans, they also have a road game and will take on the Vikings who have started well in 2012. They have a rejuvenated Adrian Peterson and Tennessee will hope that their running-back, Chris Johnson, takes a leaf out of his book as he looks to build on his performance in week four in which he showed shades of the old CJ2K form.
San Diego Chargers (3-1-0) 37-20 Kansas City Chiefs (1-3-0)
In an AFC West divisional match, the San Diego Chargers proved too much for the Kansas City Chiefs meaning that the Chargers left Arrowhead stadium as divisional leaders, leaving the Chiefs with a losing record after four weeks of the regular season.
San Diego were pretty impressive as Phillip Rivers completed 18 out of 23 passing attempts for two touchdowns, throwing one interception, and then they had the likes of Jackie Battle who had one receiving and one rushing touchdown. Antonio Gates also managed to haul in three catches for 59 receiving yards.
Despite that, it was the Chiefs who practically beat themselves with a dismal performance. Quarter-back Matt Cassel threw three interceptions with one being on the team’s opening drive. It was a first half meltdown that gave the Chargers a 27-6 lead at one point; Jamaal Charles fumbled twice for Kansas with both being deep in their own territory.
Although Charles rushed for 92 yards on just 17 carries, caught three balls for 23 more yards and scored a pair of touchdowns, unfortunately the two fumbles he committed were very costly. Overall it was a bad day at the office for the Chiefs as they now move on to week five where they entertain the 3-1 Baltimore Ravens.
As for the Chargers, they will be looking to go 4-1 when they travel to the Superdome on Sunday night’s late game. They face the winless New Orleans Saints who have all sorts of problems and are already in a must-win situation so early on in the season.
San Francisco 49ers (3-1-0) 34-0 New York Jets (2-2-0)
The Niners were brought back down to earth in week three when they were defeated by the Vikings and after having a week to stew over the loss, they took it out on the Jets in a 34-0 blowout win.
Even with a healthy Darrelle Revis, the Jets would still have had no chance of winning this game because the 49ers grounded and pounded their way to the victory with Alex Smith only throwing 21 times for San Francisco; he completed 12 of those passes for 143 yards.
Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter couldn’t be stopped. Both rushed for a touchdown each with Gore going for 62 yards and Hunter for 56 yards, meaning the pair racked up over 100 between themselves.
It wasn’t just those two who chipped in though, as overall on the day, San Francisco had nine different rushers. The biggest surprise was how often the 49ers ran the wildcat with Colin Kaepernick taking the snap five times; he accumulated 50 yards and a touchdown.
It was the Jets and Tim Tebow who were meant to be the masters of the wildcat, but Tebow rushed twice for no yardage and completed one pass for nine yards which turned into a fumble as Dedrick Epps lost the ball following a big hit after the catch. Mark Sanchez was poor and should have been picked off more than once as he only managed to complete 13/29, with the overall stats on the day showing that the Jets went 103 yards for passing and 45 for rushing.
The 49ers defence still deserves credit and appears to be back to its best. Head coach Jim Harbaugh will be happy with the manner of the victory as his team now go back home to entertain the Buffalo Bills at Candlestick Park. Meanwhile for the New York Jets, it is back to the drawing board and it doesn’t get any easier as they take on the 4-0 Houston Texans in their week five match-up.
Seattle Seahawks (2-2-0) 13-19 St Louis Rams (2-2-0)
Rookie Greg Zuerlein literally kicked the Rams to victory in a 19-13 win over the Seahawks. There were only two touchdowns in the game and both came in the first half, meaning that the game turned into a kicking fest.
Edward Jones Dome witnessed Zuerlein kick four field goals which included a 60-yarder which is a new Rams franchise record. Quarter-back Sam Bradford completed just over 50% of his passes for 221 yards and threw a pick.
His opposite number, Russell Wilson, managed to complete 17 out of 25 attempts, but unfortunately three of the eight incompletions were interceptions. The Seahawks and Wilson himself went from being on top of the world after knocking off the Packers in a controversial Monday night thriller to being brought back down to earth by St Louis.
The Rams will look to get another home win under their belt when they take on the Arizona Cardinals who are surprisingly 4-0, whereas the Seahawks go on the road to the Bank of America Stadium where they take on the Carolina Panthers.
Miami Dolphins (1-3-0) 21-24 Arizona Cardinals (4-0-0)
In a game that went to overtime, it was another small margined defeat for the Miami Dolphins. There were many surprises though once the dust settled from this game at the University of Phoenix Stadium.
First of all, it was the first time in 38 years that the Arizona Cardinals had started 4-0 and surprisingly they have Kevin Kolb to thank for that. Despite throwing two interceptions, Kolb threw three touchdown passes for 324 yards which included a game-tying 15-yard score to Andre Roberts on a fourth down play with 22 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
After that it was Jay Feely who nailed a game-winning 46-yard field goal in overtime for the Cardinals. Despite the pain of another close defeat for the Dolphins, their rookie quarter-back Ryan Tannehill is slowly starting to prove doubters wrong, as he threw for a franchise rookie record 431 yards which included 26 completions out of 41 attempts.
Miami had their opportunities to get the win, but will now have to regroup as they prepare for a week five match in Cincinnati against the Bengals. As for Arizona, they take on the St Louis Rams with their eye on a fifth straight win.
Oakland Raiders (1-3-0) 6-37 Denver Broncos (2-2-0)
Peyton Manning was back to his old self in a convincing 37-6 blowout win for the Denver Broncos over the Oakland Raiders. Denver moved to a 2-2 record ahead of a massive week five game against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
Manning will need to be at his best when the Broncos take on the Patriots, but after this performance, you could say he was back to the Peyton everyone admired in Indianapolis. He put in a near perfect performance with flawless numbers as Manning threw three touchdown passes for 338 passing yards.
The Broncos erupted by scoring 27 unanswered points in the second half to send the home-fans at Mile High home with smiles all round. By completing 30 out of 38 passes it was Manning’s most impressive display since he became a Bronco, and when he wasn’t passing on the ground Willis McGahee was tearing up the opposing defense as he rushed for 112 yards and a touchdown. The effectiveness of the run game helped open up the pass and contributed to a win which snapped a two-game losing streak for Denver.
At half time the score was only 10-6, but a scoreless second half for the Raiders led to an embarrassing defeat. Carlson Palmer threw no picks, but he also threw no touchdowns and running-back Darren McFadden only rushed for 34 yards to cap off a poor day for Oakland who now have a week off before they travel to Atlanta to take on the highflying Falcons.
Cincinnati Bengals (3-1-0) 27-10 Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3-0)
Following a big defeat in the Bengals’ opening match against the Ravens, they have gone on to win their next three games including this fairly straightforward win over the Jags.
Cincinnati’s quarter-back Andy Dalton scored a touchdown on the ground and threw two touchdown passes after an early interception to help his team keep pace with Baltimore at the top of the AFC North. Dalton completed 20 out of 31 passes for 244 yards.
The win ensured that the Bengals are off to their best start since 2009. Dalton linked up well once again with receiver A J Green who hauled in six passes for 117 yards and scored a touchdown for a third consecutive game.
A good performance by the Bengals was helped by the fact that they restricted Jacksonville’s running game as Maurice Jones-Drew posted just 38 yards on the ground. Blaine Gabbert managed to link up with Mercedes Lewis for a touchdown, but a fourth quarter interception by the quarter-back meant that a Bengals field goal made it a three-score game.
The Jaguars didn’t help themselves by only scoring three points in the second half and although unlikely, they will hope for improved fortunes when they host the Chicago Bears in week five. As for the Bengals, well, they go in to their next game against the Dolphins on a high as they look to make it four straight wins against the AFC East’s last placed team.
New Orleans Saints (0-4-0) 27-28 Green Bay Packers (2-2-0)
Once the real refs took to the field, all those associated with the Green Bay Packers must have felt a sense of relief following the controversial defeat to the Seattle Seahawks, a game which ended the replacement officials’ time in the NFL.
When the referees took to the field at Lambeau Field, a cheer went round the stadium, but by the end of the game they had developed into boos which then turned in to chants of “bullshit”.
Thankfully for Green Bay, despite three calls which should have been overturned in their favour, they managed to hold on to the win.
An 11 -yard pass from Packers quarter-back Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson gave them a one-point lead with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter. With less than three minutes remaining, New Orleans’ kicker Garrett Hartley made a 43-yard field goal attempt to give his team the lead, but a hold was called and following the five-yard penalty the kicker then missed from 48 yards. With 2.49 to go, Green Bay were able to run out the clock and win to go 2-2 on the season whilst leaving the Saints winless.
The game saw both quarter-backs put on amazing displays: Drew Brees threw three touchdown passes whilst completing 35 out of 54 attempts, meaning that he threw for a very impressive 446 yards. Brees tied Johnny Unitas’ 47 consecutive game streak of throwing a touchdown pass, which is an all-time NFL record, meaning that if he throws one against the Chargers in the Saints’ next game he will be the outright record holder.
Aaron Rodgers was extremely efficient as he completed 31 out of 41 passes for the Packers. He threw four touchdown passes and one interception for 319 yards. Two of Rodgers’ scores went to wide receiver James Jones who managed to haul in 56 yards on the day. Cedric Benson also played his part by rushing for 84 yards which helped take the load off of Rodgers and open up the passing game for him.
Overall, in a close game it came down to gutsy calls and although it looked like the whole world was against Green Bay, they prevailed in the end. The key call was in the second quarter when head coach Mike McCarthy opted to tell his team to go for it on a fourth and inches at his own 15 which the Packers made, it resulted in a score which in the end proved to be vital for his team.
In week five, the Packers travel to Lucas Oil to take on Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts, whereas the Saints play later on at home against the San Diego Chargers as Drew Brees and co look to end their four-game losing streak.
Washington Redskins (2-2-0) 24-22 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3-0)
Billy Cundiff, the man who missed a field goal that would have tied the game for the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship game last season against the Patriots, became a hero in Washington as he connected on a 41-yard attempt to lift the Redskins over the Buccaneers 24-22 and help move his side to 2-2 on the season.
Despite being a game-winning hero, Cundiff had missed kicks of 41, 57 and 31 yards earlier on in the game before drilling home the winner at the end of the match. The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Redskins who now have tied records with the Cowboys and Giants in the NFC East and are only a game behind division leaders the Eagles.
Robert Griffin put in an efficient performance by completing 26 of 35 passing attempts as he spread the ball out, meaning that there were nine different receivers on the day. Davis, Morgan and Hankerson all caught over 50 yards which meant that Griffin accumulated 323 passing yards. Griffin also ran for a touchdown and almost had a second, but fumbled in the end zone although thankfully for the Redskins, Pierre Garcon recovered it for the score.
On the ground, Alfred Morris put on an impressive display by rushing for 113 yards for a touchdown for Washington. Defeat for the Bucs left them with a losing 1-3 record. They can take positives from the game though, as quarter-back Josh Freeman threw for 299 yards and a touchdown, as well as an interception. Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson both hauled in over 100 receiving yards with the latter also adding a touchdown for himself.
Tampa Bay has a bye for week five, so will have time to prepare for their next game which is at home against the Chiefs. As for the Redskins, they will take on the 4-0 Atlanta Falcons in a game which is set up to be an entertaining one at FedEx Field.
New York Giants (2-2-0) 17-19 Philadelphia Eagles (3-1-0)
Lincoln Financial Field was the setting for this NFC East clash on Sunday night and the New York Giants found themselves defeated again by a divisional rival. The win meant the Eagles gained control at the top of the division leaving the Giants with a 2-2 record and tied with the Redskins and Cowboys.
Philadelphia put in a good team performance to hold out for a win in this close one. Surprisingly the Eagles did not commit a single turnover and after a scoreless first half, quarter-back Michael Vick found DeSean Jackson on a 19-yard play for a touchdown. It was Vicks only touchdown pass of the game but he threw for 241 yards, rushed for 49 and completed 19 out of 30 attempts.
In the end it was Philadelphia’s kicker, Alex Henery, who proved to be the match winner as his fourth field goal of the game proved to be the decider. Eli Manning had got the Giants into field goal range with ten seconds remaining, but their kicker, Lawrence Tynes, missed from 54 yards meaning that the Eagles escaped with the win.
Despite Manning throwing for 309 yards and two touchdown passes, Victor Cruz racking up 109 receiving yards and a score and Domenik Hixon also hauling in over 100 yards defeat for the Giants means that it is the first time since 1996 that they have dropped to 0-2 in divisional play.
The star of the game was Eagles running-back LeSean McCoy who ran for 123 yards. The improved performance for Philadelphia will give them a newfound belief ahead of a tough trip to Heinz Field against the Steelers in week five.
As for the Giants, well, they look to get back to winning ways when they return home to take on the winless Cleveland Browns at MetLife Stadium.
Chicago Bears (3-1-0) 34-18 Dallas Cowboys (2-2-0)
Tony Romo made his way in to the Dallas Cowboys’ record books, but not for a good reason. He became the second quarter-back in franchise history to throw five interceptions twice in his career, so he now holds the unwanted record with Eddie LeBaron.
The first quarter was scoreless, but following a Robbie Gould field goal which gave the Bears a 3-0 lead, Tony Romo threw his first interception on the Cowboys’ next drive which resulted in a 25-yard return for a touchdown by Charles Tillman.
Jay Cutler was very efficient for Chicago: he threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns. Cutler completed 18 passes out of 24 which included seven throws to receiver Brandon Marshall who racked up 138 yards and got a score.
The Bears led at half time 10-7, but in the second half they seized control of the game. Devin Hester was the man who caught the other touchdown pass from Cutler and it was on a 34-yard play-action play on Chicago’s opening series of the second half.
From that moment on, the Bears never looked back and Lance Briggs sprinted into the end zone after picking off Tony Romo to complete a 74-yard interception touchdown return. By the time Dallas scored their second touchdown of the game, it was with 34 seconds left in the fourth and back-up quarter-back Kyle Orton was on the field, meaning that the Chicago Bears wrapped up the victory by 16 points and moved on to a 3-1 record to go joint top in the NFC North with Minnesota Vikings.
The Bears will go on the road again in week five as they take on the 1-3 Jacksonville Jaguars and will look to put on another good display. Meanwhile the Cowboys, especially Tony Romo, will want to forget about this defeat by regrouping and focusing on their game against the Baltimore Ravens which will take place in week six as Dallas has a bye for week five.
Skye Pank, NFL correspondent