The stars were shining in primetime of Week 4
More often than not, the primetime games (Thursday night, Sunday night, Monday night) don’t live up to the hype, especially TNF and those Color Rush jerseys. While some are better than others, it’s impossible to forget those horrendous Jaguars and Titans uniforms.
Luckily, last Thursday’s matchup between the Rams and Vikings didn’t feature their Color Rush uniforms and instead actually provided football fans with an entertaining game between two of the most talented teams in the NFC. Both teams had been having very different seasons leading up to this point. The Rams were 3-0, surrendering just 36 points over those three games while also averaging 34 points scored per game. Meanwhile, despite the addition of Kirk Cousins to their already strong roster this offseason, the Vikings had stumbled through their first three games of the year, entering Thursday night with a 1-1-1 record.
The Vikings had the best defense in the NFL last year and were expected to be just as strong this season, but that hasn’t been the case and it showed on Thursday. To be fair, the revamped Rams defense wasn’t exactly stellar on Thursday either. Instead, it was the offense of both teams that was being showcased. Goff and the Rams got off to a quick start, scoring 28 points in the first half alone.
Not to be outdone, Cousins and the Vikings were able to keep pace and had 20 points of their own by halftime. When all was said and done, the Rams went home with a 38-31 win, while Goff threw for 465 yards and 5 touchdowns and ruined my fantasy football week. The Rams had three receivers with over 100 yards and at least one touchdown, but Cooper Kupp stole the show with 162 yards and 2 touchdowns on nine receptions, also ruining my fantasy football week. Meanwhile, Todd Gurley contributed with 83 yards on the ground and 73 yards with a touchdown through the air.
The Vikings offense showed up too. Cousins also surpassed the 400 yard mark, finishing with 422 and 3 touchdowns. Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs both had over 100 yards receiving, and Aldrick Robinson managed two touchdowns on his only two receptions of the game. The weak spot of the Vikings offense was the rushing game, where Cousins was the top rusher with 28 yards, and Dalvin Cook managed just 20 yards on 10 carries. Minnesota is now 1-2-1 through the first month of the season, which can be considered nothing other than disappointing considering the expectations of this team. The Rams are now one of just two undefeated teams along with the Kansas City Chiefs, and they don’t show any signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Fast forward to Sunday night, where there was an AFC North matchup between the Ravens and Steelers. Similar to the Vikings, the Steelers have also gotten off to a disappointing start to their season. They’ve been playing without Le’Veon Bell, but James Connor has stepped up in his absence. It’s tough to pinpoint exactly what has gone wrong with the Steelers this year, but it’s clear that something isn’t right. It started off in Week 1 when they tied the Browns, they lost a shootout against the Chiefs in Week 2, barely held on against the Buccaneers to earn their lone win of the season, and fell flat against the Ravens on Sunday night as their record dropped to 1-2-1.
While Joe Flacco might think he’s a lot better than he actually is, he actually played pretty well on Sunday night, throwing for 363 yards and two touchdowns as the Ravens rolled to a 26-14 win over the Steelers. Justin Tucker also went 4 for 4 on his field goal attempts, which ended up being the difference in the game. The Steelers offense struggled, as James Connor was held to just 19 rushing yards and Big Ben managed just 274 yards and one touchdown along with one interception. Roethlisberger has been a turnover machine so far this year, throwing for 5 interceptions through the first month of the season. It’s not the Steelers team that we’re used to seeing, and it might be that the Le’Veon Bell situation is a bigger distraction than the team has let on.
Next up was the Monday night game between the Chiefs and Broncos, and as I mentioned already earlier, Kansas City is the lone undefeated team remaining in the AFC. It was looking for a while as though this wouldn’t be the case, but Patrick Mahomes had other ideas. The Broncos held a 20-13 lead heading into the fourth quarter, and had held the Chiefs offense in check. While Kansas City has had a high-scoring offense all season long, the issue for them has been their defense which was giving up an average of 30 points per game. But as I said, Patrick Mahomes was was not about to lose this game, and he made a handful of unbelievable plays during their comeback, but one stood out above the rest.
Running away from Von Miller on 3rd & 5, Mahomes scrambled out to his left, setting himself up for a difficult throw. This is usually around the point went most quarterbacks would give up on the play. Actually, most quarterbacks wouldn’t have been able to run away from Von Miller. But for the ones who do get that far, they either A) throw it away or B) take the sack. Instead, Mahomes switches the ball from his right hand to his left and still finds a way to complete the pass for a first down.
Mahomes didn’t do it alone though. He also got help from another second-year player in Kareem Hunt, who rushed for 121 yards and a touchdown. As good as the Chiefs were on offense, the defense still almost let them down late. Case Keenum and the Broncos were driving down the field and needed a touchdown to win, and they probably should have gotten it honestly. After marching into Chiefs territory, Keenum saw Demaryius Thomas wide open down the sideline. Unfortunately, it didn’t exactly work out as they both would’ve liked.
With time running out, the Broncos had another shot, but Courtland Sutton attempted a poorly executed hook and ladder play, resulting in a turnover on downs and a Chiefs win.
The first month of the NFL season is officially in the books, but we’ve still got a long way to go. Week 5 kicks off on Thursday night with a matchup between the Patriots (2-2) and Colts (1-3).
In case you missed it, check out the Week 3 recap here.