Zach Wilson and Justin Fields earned their first victories as pro starters in Week Four as the new season continued to produce unrivalled drama across its slate of 16 games.
Half the contests finished with a winning margin of a touchdown or less — showing once again the parity the NFL provides on a weekly basis.
Tom Brady broke the all-time passing yardage record, three teams secured their first wins of the season and only one team remains undefeated. Here is a breakdown of the winners and losers from Week Four.
Andy Reid solidified his Hall of Fame résumé by becoming the first coach in NFL history to record 100 wins — regular and postseason — with two different NFL franchises on Sunday as his Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 42-30 at Lincoln Financial Field.
Reid recorded his 100th win with the Chiefs against his former team, having already amassed 140 victories during his time with the Eagles — including five trips to the NFC Championship Game and a lone appearance in the Super Bowl.
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The one critique of Reid in Philadelphia was his failure to bring a Vince Lombardi Trophy to the City of Brotherly Love, something he did achieve with Kansas City in February 2020.
Reid is undoubtedly one of the greatest offensive schemers in the long and storied history of the NFL, and his career record is up there with the coaching greats.
In total, Reid has won 223 regular-season games, 17 postseason games, 11 division titles, three conference championships and a single Super Bowl. With Patrick Mahomes by his side, few would bet against Reid adding further numbers to those five categories.
Overtime for New York
A week after including both New York teams in the losers’ section of this column, and specifically discussing the possibilities of both teams going a considerable distance into the season winless, the Jets and Giants secured their first victories of 2021.
Giants QB Daniel Jones ‘balled out’ in Week Four at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome as his team defeated New Orleans 27-21 in overtime. The much-maligned #6 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft threw for 402 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Star running back Saquon Barkley secured the winning score, a six-yard touchdown run to complete a 126-yard, two-touchdown, all-purpose performance.
The Jets meanwhile got a glimpse of the future as #2 overall pick Wilson recovered from some early troubles to lead his side to victory in OT against the AFC South-leading Tennessee Titans.
Wilson tallied 297 passing yards, two touchdowns and a pick as he secured victory #1 of his NFL career — Jets fans will be hoping it’s the first of many for the former BYU signal caller.
The Jets defense also recorded seven sacks of Titans QB Ryan Tannehill — Quinnen WIlliams (2.0) and Bryce Huff (1.5) in particular spent most of the afternoon in the Tennessee backfield.
The Arizona Cardinals came out on top of the NFC West battle of undefeated teams, defeating the Los Angeles Rams 37-20 at SoFi Stadium to solidify their early position as the #1 team in the NFL — the only remaining undefeated team.
MVP candidate Kyler Murray led his all-star offensive cast to four touchdowns against an LA defense littered with big names, including reigning Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald and all-pro cornerback Jalen Ramsay.
Running back James Connor rumbled for two touchdowns, with former all-pro wide receiver AJ Green and exciting young tight end Maxx Williams both snagging scoring passes from Murray.
Byron Murphy also had a crucial first-half interception of Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford as LA drove into scoring position.
Arizona has scored 30-plus points in all four of its games so far in 2021, but will face stern tests in the upcoming weeks in the shape of San Francisco and Cleveland.
As of now, however, the Cards are the cream of the crop in the NFC West, and the NFL as a whole.
The Soldier Field faithful got their first glimpse of rookie QB Fields as a starter when he took command of the Chicago Bears offense against NFC North rivals Detroit.
Although the stat line may not light up the room, Fields demonstrated considerable arm strength on several throws, and head coach Matt Nagy tailored the offense to support his young quarterback – something he failed to do in last week’s loss to Cleveland.
Chicago impressed in the run game with 188 yards on the ground, thanks mainly to David Montgomery (106 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries) and Damien Williams (8 carries, 55 yards and a score).
Wide receivers Darnell Mooney and Allen Robinson complemented the running game perfectly, combining for eight receptions and 188 yards.
With a fierce defense – which recorded four sacks – in addition to a much better gameplan from Nagy, hopefully this is the start of better times to come in the Windy City.
Cornerback Trevon Diggs has been in dominant form for the Dallas Cowboys as they have opened the season with a 3-1 record.
The much-maligned Cowboys defense – historically bad in 2020 – looks much improved in 2021. The emergence of Trevon – brother of Bills WR Stefon Diggs – is a huge part of that change.
Diggs has already recorded five interceptions through the first four weeks of the NFL season, including a two-pick performance against the Carolina Panthers in Week Four.
The former Alabama standout has all the attributes to be a shutdown corner. He is 6’1, 204lb and has blazing speed, meaning he can match up with both the physical and speedy wide receivers. He also has experience of playing wide receiver in his high-school days, honing those terrific ball skills.
Dallas looks a certainty to win a very questionable NFC East in 2021, and if the first four weeks are anything to go by, they look primed to enjoy postseason success too.
It was an afternoon to forget for Garoppolo as he was once again forced off the field due to injury in San Francisco’s 28-21 loss to NFC West division rival Seattle.
Jimmy G has missed time during four of his first five seasons in the Bay Area through injury. The only time he completed a 16-game regular season came as the 49ers went to the Super Bowl in 2019.
However, the 49ers traded up to select North Dakota State product Trey Lance with their first pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. Fans and experts alike were excited to see what the dynamic playmaker could do in Kyle Shanahan’s offense, and he flashed glimpses on Sunday.
Lance completed 50% of his 18 passing attempts for 157 yards and two touchdowns, also adding a further 41 yards on seven carries on the ground. He formed an instant rapport with wide receiver Deebo Samuel — the recipient of both his scoring passes.
It seems like Garoppolo is on his last legs in San Francisco, and it feels like this will soon be Lance’s team. A few good performances from Lance in Garoppolo’s absence in the coming weeks could lead to a permanent switch at the game’s premier position.
Meyer’s NFL career has not got off to the greatest of starts. An 0-4 record, an offense which scores just 18.5 points a game and a defense which gives up 28.75 points a game is not a recipe for a long tenure in pro football.
An NCAA coaching behemoth, Meyer won National Championships with the University of Florida and Ohio State University and holds a 187-32 record in the college ranks. But his week couldn’t have gone much worse.
On Thursday Night Football the Jaguars fell to a 24-21 defeat at the hands of the Cincinnati Bengals, despite an improved performance from the 2021 NFL Draft’s #1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence. Running back James Robinson, who Meyer reportedly upset when selecting Clemson RB Travis Etienne in the draft, was also impressive.
Etienne suffered a season-ending injury in preseason, allowing Robinson to once again showcase the talents which made him a household name in his rookie campaign as an undrafted free agent.
With all the struggles on the field, Meyer certainly didn’t need the off-field storm which then came his way over the weekend. He was captured on video dancing with a woman in a bar while his wife babysat their grandchildren at home. Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan — also owner of English football club Fulham — described his conduct as “inexcusable”.
A season that had so much promise is turning into a disaster in Miami. They thought they had their franchise quarterback, they thought they had surrounded him with a plethora of offensive weaponry and the franchise was in prime position to build on a 10-6 campaign last time out.
Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, though, suffered a rib injury in Week Two, and the Dolphins have been unable to overcome that loss. A 35-0 shutout against the Buffalo Bills was followed by a heartbreaking overtime loss to Las Vegas last Monday.
On Sunday the Dolphins made it three straight losses by falling to a 27-17 defeat by Indianapolis — a team which had gone 0-3 to start the season.
If the season ended today, Miami’s record would earn them the #4 overall pick in the 2022 Draft. Unfortunately, the Fish already dealt that pick to Philadelphia so they could move up and take Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle in 2021.
The Atlanta Defense
The Atlanta Falcons defense snatched defeat from the jaws of victory as they allowed the Washington Football Team to score 21 second-half points.
Matt Ryan threw for 283 yards and four touchdowns, Cordarrelle Patterson caught three touchdown receptions and the Falcons offense put up 30 points — but it was all for nothing. The Falcons’ defense has given up a league-high 128 points so far this season at a rate of 32 points per game.
The Falcons sit at 1-3 at the bottom of the ultra-competitive NFC South and their only victory so far came over the struggling New York Giants.
Losing to Buffalo is nothing to be ashamed of, but the Texans were handed a 40-0 beating by the Bills in a one-sided contest.
The Houston offense managed only 109 yards – 61 through the air and 48 on the ground – committing five turnovers in the process.
Rookie quarterback Davis Mills threw four interceptions and completed under half of his passes on an afternoon to forget for the #67 overall pick.
The defense also had a miserable day, giving up 450 total yards with 199 of those on the ground.
With the Deshaun Watson situation continuing to rumble on in the wings, there seems very little cause for optimism right now at Reliant Stadium.