The Chiefs bested the Lions in Motor City, New England moved to 4-0 in Buffalo, Daniel Jones continued the impressive start to his career, Cleveland’s offense got back on track against the Ravens and Houston couldn’t get going against the Panthers.
All that and more in Week 4’s biggest takeaways from NFL Nation.
Patrick Mahomes can impact a game even when he isn’t throwing multiple touchdown passes — or even one. His impact on the win over the Lions just happened in a different way. He served notice to opponents that will play a lot of man-to-man coverage that he’s willing to run. His 15-yard scramble on fourth down was the biggest play of the winning touchdown drive. “On the final drive, he made every play we needed him to,” Chiefs tackle Mitchell Schwartz said. “He won’t play a game where he’s not the most important player on the field. It doesn’t matter what the stats show.” — Adam Teicher
Next game: vs. Indianapolis (Sunday, October 6, 8:20 p.m. ET)
Travis Kelce hauls in a catch and immediately laterals to LeSean McCoy, who runs to gain an extra 23 yards.
It ended with a loss, but Detroit made a statement on Sunday. The Lions may not like the result, but the defense held Mahomes without a touchdown, the offense moved the ball well on the ground and in the air, and with a minute left in the game, Detroit was leading. It’ll live on as a loss, but on Sunday, the Lions showed they can play with any team in the NFL. “We showed a lot as a team,” cornerback Mike Ford said. “Being able to show that we’re tough. That we don’t give up.” — Michael Rothstein
Next game: at Green Bay (Monday, October 14, 8:15 p.m. ET)
The Patriots are a team led by their defense. It’s been a while since that could be said decisively in the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era, but that’s where things stand after a close call Sunday on the road. The defense (and special teams) came to the rescue with an end-zone interception on fourth down, and ultimately, a stop on the Bills’ final drive. The Brady-led passing offense hasn’t looked sharp for the last seven quarters. — Mike Reiss
Next game: at Washington (Sunday, October 6, 1 p.m. ET)
Josh Allen becomes the big question after this close one in Buffalo. The Bills holding the Patriots to 224 yards and just 3.6 yards per play no longer matters. The main focus in Buffalo is the health of Allen, who is in concussion protocol after an ugly helmet-to-helmet hit he took from Patriots safety Jonathan Jones. Even before his injury, however, Allen struggled to make plays in the pocket, where the Patriots seemed intent to keep him. Buffalo’s defense will keep it in most, if not every, games, but its offense needs to hold up its end of the bargain. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
Next game: at Tennessee (Sunday, October 6, 1 p.m. ET)
The Titans found a way to keep Marcus Mariota from getting sacked after giving up a league-high 17 sacks through three weeks. The solution is to keep him on schedule with decisive throws in the quick passing game. As a result, he connected with rookie wideout A.J. Brown for two scores and Corey Davis for another. Tennessee is tough to beat when it plays that kind of complementary football. “For the first time, I feel as a team we showed what we can really do when we hit on all cylinders,” linebacker Rashaan Evans said. The challenge for the Titans is to do to it on a week-to-week basis starting next week at home against a tough Buffalo defense. — Turron Davenport
Next game: vs. Buffalo (Sunday, October 6, 1 p.m. ET)
Whatever message the Falcons’ coaching staff is sending to the players is not getting through. It’s the same song every week with the Falcons getting off to a slow start and not being able to recover. This time, it was a 24-7 hole in the second quarter against the Titans. They’ve been outscored 38-10 in first quarters and 71-20 in first halves this season, a major contributor in their dismal 1-3 start. Asked why these slow starts keep mounting, especially for an offense that’s supposed to be extremely explosive, quarterback Matt Ryan responded, “Usually it comes down to all 11 of us executing and finishing our plays, and winning our 1-on-1 matchups … across the board, we haven’t done a good enough job of that.” Recovering from their latest loss won’t be easy when the Falcons have to travel to Houston. — Vaughn McClure
Next game: at Houston (Sunday, October 6, 1 p.m. ET)
The Browns’ offense finally came alive. Quarterback Baker Mayfield delivered his sharpest performance of the season, while running back Nick Chubb and wide receiver Jarvis Landry exploded, as the Browns produced a 300-yard passer, 150-yard rusher and 150-yard receiver for the first time in franchise history, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was held to a career-low two catches but demonstrably helped open up space for his teammates with the Ravens keyed on slowing him. “This sets the standard of our offense,” Mayfield said. The Browns now lead the AFC North for the first time in five years, and their offense has momentum going to San Francisco for Monday Night Football next week. — Jake Trotter
Next game: at San Francisco (Monday, October 7, 8:15 p.m. ET)
Nick Chubb goes off for three touchdowns against the Ravens, including an 88-yarder in the fourth quarter.
The Ravens lost more than sole possession of first place in the AFC North — they also lost the pride of what has been one of the traditionally strong defenses. The Ravens gave up 531 yards in an embarrassing performance where receivers went uncovered downfield and running backs went untouched on long runs. This marked the first time in the Ravens’ 24-year existence that they’ve allowed more than 500 yards in back-to-back games. The 40 points were the second-most allowed by Baltimore at home in the John Harbaugh era. The Ravens will look get their defense back on track against the Ben Roethlisberger-less Steelers. — Jamison Hensley
Next game: at Pittsburgh (Sunday, October 6, 1 p.m. ET)
Carolina had six sacks at Houston and has 14 the past two games. That’s the second-most in a two-game span within the same season in team history. (Carolina had 15 sacks in Games 15 and 16 of the 2013 season.) This is what coach Ron Rivera envisioned during the offseason when he added more speed to the defense, particularly at OLB, and made the switch from a 3-4 to a 4-3 front after finishing 27th in the NFL in sacks a year ago. Despite Kyle Allen holding the offense together while quarterback Cam Newton rehabs a left-foot Lisfranc sprain, the Panthers have won their past two games to get back into the conversation as a playoff contender in the NFC. If the defense can maintain consistent pressure on the quarterback, the Panthers have a chance to continue their win streak next week against Jacksonville. — David Newton
Next game: vs. Jacksonville (Sunday, October 6, 1 p.m. ET)
Deshaun Watson faced pressure all game — again — and was sacked six times. After guard Zach Fulton was scratched before the game, the Texans started their fourth different offensive line in four games. Watson has now been sacked 18 times in four games, something left tackle Laremy Tunsil said the Texans have to fix going forward. — Sarah Barshop
Next game: vs. Atlanta (Sunday, October 6, 1 p.m. ET)
The Raiders dictated the pace of the game against the Colts early. They found a certain synergy, a balance between the passing and running game that bodes well for Oakland going to London to face the Bears. Consider that the Raiders had 189 yards through the air and 188 yards on the ground, a week after being pummeled by the Vikings. “You have to be able to run it and throw it against this defense,” said quarterback Derek Carr. “We were able to run the ball efficiently. We were able to pass the ball very efficiently … overall, you sit back and look and it was very balanced.” — Paul Gutierrez
Next game: vs. Chicago (Sunday, October 6, 1 p.m. ET)
The defense hasn’t actually progressed. The Colts were supposed to take a step forward defensively this season after surprising many by finishing 11th overall last season and using seven of 10 draft picks on that side of the ball back in the spring. But the unit hasn’t shown signs of the required improvement this season. The Colts appeared to be on their way to having a good pass-rush when they recorded eight sacks in the first two weeks of the season. But that pass-rush has vanished the past two weeks, as they had only one sack in those two games. The Raiders also rushed for 188 yards. Things won’t get any easier for the Colts next week when they face Kansas City. — Mike Wells
Next game: at Kansas City (Sunday, October 6, 8:20 p.m. ET)
The much-anticipated return of Melvin Gordon will have to wait another week. With only two practices, the Chargers chose to use the Wisconsin product only in case of emergency. With Gordon sitting, Austin Ekeler continued to carry the load for the Chargers’ running game, totaling 122 yards from scrimmage and scoring his fifth and sixth touchdowns of the season. With three touchdown catches this year, Ekeler became the first undrafted running back since 1967 to have at least three TD catches in each of his first three pro seasons. Will he remain the Chargers’ workhorse back next week at home with Gordon back in the fold? — Eric D. Williams
Next game: vs. Denver (Sunday, October 6, 4:05 p.m. ET)
The Dolphins aren’t even close to getting a win, even when they play somewhat well. Josh Rosen played a near perfect first half, going 12-of-16 for 159 yards, one touchdown and a 126.8 quarterback rating, his highest in a single half for his young NFL career. But the Dolphins’ second-half horrors — they’ve been outscored 81-0 in their first four games — have doomed any realistic chances the Dolphins have had of winning a game. They’ve now been outscored 163-26 over their first four games, overall. Still, perhaps their best chance at a win yet is looming after their bye week when they face Washington in Week 6. — Cameron Wolfe
Next game: vs. Washington (Sunday, October 13, 1 p.m. ET)
There is a noticeable difference between Daniel Jones and Dwayne Haskins at this point of their rookie progressions. It’s not the be-all, end-all for the first-round picks, but it was a major factor in the Giants’ victory. Haskins threw for barely more than 100 yards and three interceptions after entering in the second quarter and admittedly “didn’t execute the way I wanted.” Jones threw for 225 yards and a touchdown as the Giants moved the ball effectively most of the afternoon prior to shutting it down early with a big lead. For one day at least, the Giants proved they made the right selection by taking Jones over Haskins with the sixth pick. — Jordan Raanan
Next game: vs. Minnesota (Sunday, October 6, 1 p.m. ET)
Daniel Jones says the Giants stayed confident going into the game vs. Washington after starting the season 0-2.
The Redskins don’t have a quarterback controversy as much as they have a quandary. Do they go back to an ineffective starter in Case Keenum? Do they turn to the rookie they feel wasn’t close to ready in Haskins? Or do they hope Colt McCoy‘s right leg is ready? Nobody has grabbed this job, and that’s a huge part of the problem. Keenum can be upset about being pulled, but then he needs to play better. Haskins didn’t show enough to automatically keep the job, especially with New England next week. Yes, he’s their future, but they have wanted him to be further along in the offense before starting the clock on that future. And at 0-4, that time is real close — regardless of where anyone thinks he’s at in his development. — John Keim
Next game: vs. New England (Sunday, October 6, 1 p.m. ET)
Jordan Howard helped relieve some concern for Philadelphia. He busted up his old rival for 115 total yards and three touchdowns, as the Eagles (2-2) turned to the ground game for a hope-restoring victory. Not all the Eagles’ ailments were fixed — the defense continues to struggle against the pass, and they lost cornerbacks Avonte Maddox and Sidney Jones to injury in the game. But they can at least breathe a little easier as they set their sights on a Week 5 home game against the Jets. — Tim McManus
Next game: vs. N.Y. Jets (Sunday, October 6, 1 p.m. ET)
This game showed the Packers just how much they need Davante Adams — and just how much they miss him. After Aaron Rodgers said they needed to get the ball to Adams more, he did just that. And Adams delivered with 10 catches and a career-high 180 yards. Then they lost him to a turf toe injury midway through the fourth quarter and failed on two separate drives deep in Eagles’ territory, including one that included four plays from the 1-yard line. If the Packers are going to put together a complete game on offense next week at Dallas, they’re going to need Adams both available and heavily involved. — Rob Demovsky
Next game: at Dallas (Sunday, October 6, 4:25 p.m. ET)