Image Courtesy of The Baltimore Sun
By Jonathan Norman
Weeks three and four of the 102nd NFL season are now in the books. NFL fans were given some great games this week that featured some record-setting plays, last-minute wins, and crushing defeats.
During week three, America’s game of the week featured a matchup between the Los Angeles Rams and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had the lead at halftime, but it was not enough to hold back the Los Angeles Rams and their new quarterback Matthew Stafford. Stafford threw for 343 yards and 4 touchdowns in the Rams 34- 24 win over the Buccaneers. On the losing side, Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady threw for 432 yards and a touchdown. In this game, Brady became the second quarterback in NFL history to surpass 80,000 career passing yards.
Also in week three, the Baltimore Ravens defeated the Detroit Lions 19-17. The Ravens were winning for most of the game, but in the fourth quarter, the Lions were able to rally back and take a one-point lead. The Lions were looking for their first win of the season but were not able to get the win behind a record-setting performance by Ravens kicker Justin Tucker. Tucker made an NFL record 66-yard field goal to beat the Lions.
One of the major storylines in week three was when Chicago Bears rookie quarterback, Justin Fields, made his first NFL start against the Cleveland Browns. Fields struggled in the Bears’ 26-6 loss to the Browns, having only 12 rushing yards and throwing for a mere 68 yards. This was the fewest pass yards by a player making their first career start since Nathan Peterman in 2017. In his defense, however, Fields’ offensive line did him no favors and allowed Fields to be sacked 9 times, the most in an NFL game since 2015. While Fields had a difficult start to his NFL career, in week 4 he showed great promise as he led the Bears to a 24-14 win over the Detroit Lions. In this game, Fields threw for 209 yards and had 9 rushing yards. Bears fans are hopeful Fields can build off this win and win more games in the future.
Then in week four, the New York Jets were finally able to win their first game of the season. The Jets defeated the Tennessee Titans in overtime 27-24. This was also the first career win for Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson. The Titans were without their two top receivers, A.J. Brown and Julio Jones, and as a result, the Titans had to rely on their Pro Bowl running back, Derrick Henry, who had 157 rushing yards and a touchdown. Although, it was Titans kicker Randy Bullock that cost them the game as he missed a 49-yard field goal to tie the Jets in overtime with 15 seconds left on the clock. A week 4 win may be a sign of hope for Jets fans as they did not get their first win until week 15 last season.
The biggest game in week four was on Sunday Night Football with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers playing the New England Patriots. This was Buccaneers’s quarterback Tom Brady’s first time playing against New England, and a win against the Pats would have given Brady a win against every NFL team. Brady was originally drafted by the Patriots and played there for over 20 years, winning 6 super bowls in New England. The game was a close one, with Brady’s replacement Mac Jones having a solid game, but Brady was able to beat his former team by 2 points with a score of 19-17. Patriots kicker Nick Folk had a chance to give the Patriots the lead in the 4th quarter, but he missed a 56-yard field goal. Also in the first quarter of this game, Tom Brady became the NFL’s all-time passing yards leader on a 28-yard completion to Mike Evans. Brady passed retired quarterback Drew Brees’ all-time passing record of 80,358 yards, and placed himself on the top of the record book once again. Brady now has 80,560 career passing yards and no active player is within 15,000 yards of Brady’s record.
The final major topic in NFL storylines is that after four weeks of play, only one undefeated team remains. Going into week four, the Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Rams, Arizona Cardinals, and Las Vegas Raiders were all undefeated. Of these teams, only the Cardinals won their week four matchup. They defeated the Rams 37-20 to improve to 4-0.
Going into weeks five and six, some major questions remain: will the Cardinals stay atop a competitive NFC West, when will Trey Lance start his first NFL game, and will the Detroit Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars ever win a game? These questions and plenty more will be answered by Weeks five and six.