Week 4 of the 2022 NFL season got underway Thursday night with a Cincinnati Bengals win that was overshadowed by a frightening injury to Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa, who suffered a concussion and was briefly hospitalized.
Sunday’s action kicked off early (9:30 a.m. ET) as the Minnesota Vikings took on the New Orleans Saints in Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. The game came down to the final seconds, when Will Lutz’s 61-yard field goal attempt hit off the upright and the crossbar but fell short.
Later in the day, Cooper Rush led the Dallas Cowboys to a win over the Washington Commanders, the Philadelphia Eagles and Jacksonville Jaguars battled through the rain, and a showdown between two of the league’s top teams — the Baltimore Ravens and Buffalo Bills — came down to a game-winning field goal. Pittsburgh Steelers rookie QB Kenny Pickett made his debut in the third quarter and rushed for his first two career touchdowns, but Zach Wilson (who made his season debut) and the New York Jets took the win home with a last-minute touchdown.
The Tennessee Titans scored an AFC South road win against the Indianapolis Colts, and the Seattle Seahawks had an offensive explosion, putting up 48 points on the Detroit Lions, who tried to battle back but fell just short in the end.
The Las Vegas Raiders finally got in the win column in the later afternoon window, defeating the Denver Broncos to give coach Josh McDaniels his first victory in silver and black. The Green Bay Packers moved to 3-1 with a last-second, overtime win versus a gutty New England Patriots team playing with a third-string rookie quarterback.
Our NFL Nation reporters react with the biggest takeaways and lingering questions coming out of this week’s matchups and look ahead to what’s next. Let’s get to it.
Jump to a matchup:
MIN-NO | MIA-CIN | JAX-PHI | TEN-IND
CLE-ATL | WSH-DAL | BUF-BAL | LAC-HOU
NYJ-PIT | CHI-NYG | SEA-DET | ARI-CAR
DEN-LV | NE-GB
What to know: Don’t give Aaron Rodgers more than one chance to win it in overtime. As ugly as the end of regulation and the first drive of overtime were, Rodgers wasn’t going to come up empty on a second possession in overtime. And he trusted his wide receivers to do it. Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb caught passes for first downs, and rookie Romeo Doubs added a couple of big catches to set up Mason Crosby’s 31-yard game-winning field goal. It saved Rodgers and the Packers the indignity of losing to third-string rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe. Regardless of how difficult it looked, the Packers now have a legitimate chance to turn 3-1 into 6-1 heading to Buffalo in Week 8 given that they have the Giants, Jets and Commanders up next.
Is Rodgers still the Packers’ best player? Rashan Gary is making an argument against that. With two sacks on Sunday against the Patriots, he has five through four games. Gary became the first Packers player to record a sack in each of the first four games of a season since Cullen Jenkins in 2010. Previously, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila did it in 2001, when he had nine sacks in the first four games. Gary’s second sack on Sunday was a strip sack in which he also recovered the fumble, and he later set up Jarran Reed for a sack by forcing Zappe to step up in the pocket. — Rob Demovsky
Next game: vs. Giants (Sunday, 9:30am p.m. ET)
What to know: Valiant effort. The Patriots had no business being in the game against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers — as they were down to their third-string quarterback after two series in a challenging road environment — but played with great heart and effort. There are no moral victories in the NFL, but it’s hard to knock the Patriots for taking Green Bay deep into overtime before falling.
Did Bailey Zappe just play himself into the top backup QB spot? The fourth-round pick out of Western Kentucky proved the moment wasn’t too big for him, coming on for veteran Brian Hoyer on the third offensive series of the game after Hoyer was knocked out of the game with a head injury. Zappe finished 10-of-15 passing for 99 yards and one touchdown, showing poise in a tough spot. He was sacked three times, losing a fumble on one. Clearly, the Patriots had to scale down their offense with Zappe, but he was poised and did enough to keep the team in the contest. — Mike Reiss
Next game: vs. Lions (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What to know: Raiders coach Josh McDaniels can exhale. Finally. Having lost 15 of his last 20 games as a head coach, dating to his terrible tenure with the Denver Broncos in 2009-10, McDaniels got his first win with the Raiders in Game 4. Yeah, against the team that fired him more than a decade ago. Irony, right? Sure, it’s one win, but at 1-3 and with another key AFC West battle up next in Kansas City, at least McDaniels and the Raiders can relax and stop worrying about getting that first win.
Do the Raiders have the rest of the AFC West right where they want them? Could be. Sure, Las Vegas is 1-3 but the Raiders just handled the Broncos, Kansas City looks vulnerable (the Chiefs play the Buccaneers Sunday night) and the Chargers, while they had a big win at woeful Houston, are a walking M*A*S*H* unit. The Raiders go to Kansas City for a Monday night matchup next and then enjoy a bye before the schedule lightens up considerably. It’s a long season, and the Raiders finally have some positive momentum. — Paul Gutierrez
Next game: at Chiefs (Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET)
What to know: The Broncos’ offense broke through the atmospheric barrier that was 16 points with three Russell Wilson touchdowns (two passing, one rushing). But even with the comeback attempt Sunday, they won’t really be back in the playoff conversation until they can do some damage in AFC West games on the road. The Raiders’ win over the Broncos is just another in a growing pile of losses to the Raiders and Chiefs that have contributed mightily to the Broncos being little more than parsley on the division’s plate.
OK, what’s the plan in the run game now after Javonte Williams’ injury? So much of what an already-struggling Broncos offense does is dependent on running the ball, especially in the play-action passing game that coach Nathaniel Hackett wants to be a part of some big play pop. Williams was taken to the locker room on a cart early in the third quarter with a right knee injury. And while Williams will receiver additional tests, including an MRI on Monday, he couldn’t put any weight on the leg when he was helped to the sideline and had a towel on his head as he was driven to the locker room. Melvin Gordon III has fumbled four times in four games — the Broncos have lost two of those, including one the Raiders returned 68 yards for a touchdown Sunday — and Mike Boone has been the Broncos’ change-of-pace option, not the hammer Williams can be. — Jeff Legwold
Next game: vs. Colts (Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET)
What to know: When the Cardinals’ offense finds its rhythm and tempo, it’s tough to beat. Kyler Murray is as dynamic of a player as there is in the NFL. Zach Ertz can do do nearly anything Arizona needs. Marquise Brown is the perfect marriage of great hands and speed. But the problem this season is it takes too long for the Cardinals to find that rhythm and tempo — and even when they do, they’re too inconsistent. This was yet another week of a slow start and a fast finish. Fortunately for Arizona, the Panthers weren’t good enough to take advantage of it.
How much longer can the Cardinals survive their slow starts? Obviously it all comes down to their opponent, but they know they can’t continue to make a habit of it. Teams like the Eagles, who come to Arizona next week, may not let the Cardinals come back. But teams like the Seahawks and Saints may not be able to put them away. If this is the identity of this team, then the Cardinals — players, coaches and fans — are in for a season of a lot of gray hairs. — Josh Weinfuss
Next game: vs. Eagles (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)
What to know: The defense continues to be good enough to win, but Baker Mayfield isn’t. It’s not all on him, but most of what happened on Sunday was on Mayfield. He had five passes batted down at the line, raising his NFL lead to 11. He had two interceptions and a lost fumble, the 10th time since he entered the league in 2018 he’s had three or more turnovers in a game. No quarterback has more. Opponents know Mayfield is not good against pressure and continue to bring it at the highest blitz rate in the league, about 35%. Mayfield isn’t responding the way good quarterbacks do, which is why the Panthers are 1-3.
Should the Panthers consider turning to Sam Darnold? Darnold (ankle) is set to come off injured reserve this week, and while there’s a reason he lost the starting job to Mayfield in training camp, the Panthers have to at least consider getting Darnold ready to play next week against the 49ers if Mayfield struggles early. This is no longer a small sample for Mayfield. He entered the day ranked 32nd in the NFL in total QBR (18.9) and did nothing to improve that in Week 4 with a three-turnover performance. Darnold at times last season showed potential with a healthy Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey is healthy and the defense is playing at a top-10 level, so maybe his game management would give Carolina a chance. — David Newton
Next game: vs. 49ers (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)
What to know: The Eagles can win ugly, too. With quarterback Jalen Hurts not at his best (16-for-25, 204 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT) and the weather conditions poor at Lincoln Financial Field, the defense and ground game took over. Corner James Bradberry turned the tide, intercepting Trevor Lawrence late in the third quarter with the Jags threatening down six points. The defense generated five takeaways in all, while Philadelphia’s rushing attack racked up over 200 yards and four touchdowns on a Jacksonville defense that was holding teams to a league-low 55 rushing yards per game coming in. The Eagles have proved they can win shootouts and slop-fests alike through four weeks.
Will the mounting injuries hold them back? Cornerback Darius Slay (forearm), tackle Jordan Mailata (shoulder), guard Isaac Seumalo (ankle) and linebackers Patrick Johnson (head injury) and Kyron Johnson (head) all left the game for the Eagles, who were already without corner Avonte Maddox (ankle) and running back Boston Scott (rib). Philadelphia has largely enjoyed good health to this point, but there are multiple injuries to monitor heading into next week’s game at the Cardinals. — Tim McManus
Next game: at Cardinals (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)
What to know: The Jaguars are an improved team under coach Doug Pederson, but they’re not good enough to overcome being careless with the football. They turned the ball over five times Sunday after committing just one turnover over their first three games. Those five takeaways resulted in 22 points for Philadelphia. That can’t happen, especially on the road against a quality opponent.
How quickly will Trevor Lawrence rebound? The reigning AFC Offensive Player of the Week had his worst game of the season, losing four fumbles and tossing an interception. While growing pains are still expected for the 22-year-old signal-caller, the Jags need him to play like the top-end talent he is more consistently to reach their ceiling this year. — Tim McManus
Next game: vs. Texans (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What to know: The Titans felt Derrick Henry was close to getting on track entering Week 4 against the Colts, and it turned out they were right. Henry gained 99 yards in the first half and scored his longest touchdown of the season in the first quarter when he scooted 19 yards on the second drive of the game. It was the fifth time in the past seven games that Henry rushed for 100 or more yards against the Colts. The Colts had allowed a league-best 2.6 yards per carry before Henry gashed them for 114 yards on 22 carries (5.2 average).
What is up with the second-half collapses? The Titans have been outscored 64-7 in the second half this season, including 7-0 on Sunday. The momentum shifted back to the Titans’ favor on Indianapolis’ last drive, when Denico Autry got a sack to force a 51-yard field goal attempt that Chase McLaughlin missed. But the fact remains: Tennessee’s offense has to find a way to produce in the second half. The Titans came out flat on their first series of the third quarter and had to punt after three plays. The Colts scored on the very next drive, bringing life to the crowd at Lucas Oil Field. Although they’re now 2-2, the Titans have to start putting teams away when the opportunity arises. — Turron Davenport
Next game: at Commanders (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What to know: The Colts fell to 0-2-1 in the AFC South after their third division game in four weeks, and already it looks as though they might be facing a steep climb to win their first division crown since 2014. The Colts have lost games to the Jaguars and Titans and tied the Texans. Now, they face Jacksonville and Tennessee again within the next three weeks. The Colts’ lack of consistency on either offense or defense was apparent in this game, particularly for an offense that committed three costly turnovers.
Is the Colts’ running game broken? Jonathan Taylor, the 2021 NFL rushing leader, was bottled up again in what is becoming a concerning trend for Indianapolis. Taylor finished with 42 yards on 20 carries (2.1 yards per attempt) as he was consistently hit in the backfield because of a porous offensive line. The Colts’ offense was built around its productive running game, but if Taylor can’t get going, a disproportionate amount of the burden will fall on the passing game. — Stephen Holder
Next game: at Broncos (Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET)
What to know: The Falcons were 7-2 in one-possession games last year. One-score games are not the easiest way to live in the NFL, but with a team in transition, the Falcons are .500 with a two-game winning streak in such games in 2022. It’s still a young team, but after wins over the Seahawks and Browns with a similar style — balanced rushing and passing with aggressive defense when it matters — perhaps Atlanta’s young team is figuring things out.
Is the Atlanta Falcons’ run game for real? Cordarrelle Patterson entered Sunday questionable with a knee injury. By the end of the game, the only question was how complete the run game is with or without him. Patterson’s backups were effective on Sunday. Rookie Tyler Allgeier ran for 84 yards. Practice squad call-up Caleb Huntley ran for 56 and converted cornerback Avery Williams had a 21-yard carry. They all offer a different type of rusher and combined for the Falcons’ second 200-yard rushing game in four contests. — Michael Rothstein
Next game: at Buccaneers (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What to know: Blown coverages doomed the Browns in a Week 2 loss to the New York Jets. A key fourth-quarter miscue in coverage doomed Cleveland again Sunday. With three minutes to play, the game tied and the Falcons at their own 9, Olamide Zaccheaus dashed wide open across the middle of the field for a 42-yard gain. And a face-mask penalty on Denzel Ward put Atlanta in range for the game-winning field goal.
Can the Browns’ defense get healthy up front? With the Browns missing almost their entire defensive line, including Myles Garrett, Atlanta ran the ball at will in the fourth quarter. Garrett and pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney should be back soon. But at 2-2 and facing one of the toughest remaining schedules in the league, Cleveland’s season already could be teetering. — Jake Trotter
Next game: vs. Chargers (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What to know: The Cowboys’ defense is legitimate. For the first time since 1973, the defense has not allowed 20 points in any of their first four games. The Cowboys have allowed one touchdown in each of their games. On Sunday, they sacked Carson Wentz twice, intercepted him twice and harassed him all game long. So good was the Dallas defense that even when Washington started a drive on the Cowboys’ 30 in the fourth quarter, it got a stop with a Trevon Diggs’ pass deflection in the end zone on a fourth-down play. Playing without Dak Prescott the past three games, the defense knew it needed to carry the day. It did … again.
Why hurry up Dak Prescott’s return? This has nothing to do with Cooper Rush becoming the first Cowboys quarterback to win his first four starts and everything to do with science. Prescott had surgery on his right thumb on Sept. 12. He has not thrown more than a couple of flips here and there after getting a stitch removed on Sept. 26 (yes, a single stitch.) Will a couple of practices be enough for him to play next week versus the Los Angeles Rams? By winning these three games, the Cowboys have bought themselves time with Prescott’s return. — Todd Archer
Next game: at Rams (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)
What to know: Washington isn’t just off to a bad start — it’s a bad team. That’s not where the Commanders should be in coach Ron Rivera’s third season. Sunday, there were too many penalties (11 for 136 yards; including two that wiped out interceptions) and a failure to win enough one-on-one matchups. Corner William Jackson III committed three penalties; one wiped out a pick, two others combined for 65 yards. Yes, it’s still early and Washington can recover. But the Commanders haven’t yet shown that they can be a consistent team, and that’s a huge concern. The problems run deep.
What has happened to the passing attack? After scoring 28 points in Week 1 — with quarterback Carson Wentz throwing four touchdown passes — the Washington offense, and passing game in particular, has been mostly bad. It averaged 3.6 yards per pass Sunday. The Commanders still have talent at receiver, but Wentz and his protection have not helped. Washington’s line loses too many individual pass-rush matchups; Wentz gets sped up too often by the rush, and too often it leads to inaccuracy. It’s a bad combination. — John Keim
Next game: vs. Titans (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
CeeDee Lamb runs a nice route into space and walks into the end zone for the Cowboys.
What to know: The Bills ended their seven-game streak stretching back to 2020 of losing one-score games thanks to a bounce-back second half on the road. After going down 17 points to the Ravens in the second quarter, quarterback Josh Allen led Buffalo on a quick scoring drive at the end of the first half and then scored on three of four possessions in the second half. The defense also played a significant role, holding the Ravens scoreless in the second half. The effort was led by safety Jordan Poyer’s two interceptions in the fourth quarter.
Can the Bills find a way to run the football consistently? Coming into the game, the Bills were worst in the league at run block win rate (62.2%) and struggled to get the running game going outside of Allen. That streak only continued against the Ravens, as Allen had a team-high 70 rushing yards, and it played a significant role in the team’s early offensive struggles. The Bills went into halftime with 34 rushing yards and finished with a combined 55 yards from their running backs on the ground. — Alaina Getzenberg
Next game: vs. Steelers (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What to know: For the second time this season, Baltimore lost at home after leading by 17 or more points. The Ravens held a 20-3 lead late in the second quarter before watching Buffalo score 20 straight points. Baltimore became the first team in eight years to lose multiple games at home when leading by 17 or more points. In Week 2, Tua Tagovailoa threw four touchdown passes against the Ravens’ defense in the fourth quarter. This time, Lamar Jackson and the offense disappeared in the second half and couldn’t punch the ball into the end zone in the red zone. The Ravens are 2-2 and host a Bengals team that will have 10 days’ rest.
Why didn’t the Ravens kick the field goal? The Ravens went for the touchdown on fourth down from the Buffalo 2-yard line instead of kicking the go-ahead field goal. Jackson was pressured and threw an interception in the end zone, keeping the game tied at 20 with four minutes remaining. The Bills then marched down the field to kick the winning, 21-yard field goal as time expired. Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters had to be pulled away from yelling at coach John Harbaugh before the winning kick, throwing his helmet down on the sideline. This has been a frustrating start for Baltimore. — Jamison Hensley
Next game: vs. Bengals (Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET)
What to know: A week after an embarrassing loss to the Jaguars, the Chargers corrected course, albeit in less-than-convincing fashion against the Texans. Equally important as the win, the Bolts appeared to escape NRG Stadium without suffering any further significant injuries. The offensive line — behind rookie left tackle Jamaree Salyer making his first career start — provided solid protection for Justin Herbert as the franchise quarterback plays through fractured rib cartilage.
Who are the Chargers? Nearly one-quarter through the season — and after several significant injuries that included losing left tackle Rashawn Slater for the season, placing edge rusher Joey Bosa on injured reserve indefinitely and playing three games without wide receiver Keenan Allen because of a hamstring injury — it remains unclear whether a Super Bowl-caliber roster on paper will materialize on the field. — Lindsey Thiry
Next game: at Browns (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What to know: The Texans trailed 27-7 at halftime, but quarterback Davis Mills ignited a comeback to bring Houston within three with eight minutes remaining. Mills and the offense started slowly, as he threw for 76 yards with an interception. But in the second half, the second-year quarterback had 170 yards and two touchdowns (and another interception). His most impressive play was when he uncorked a 58-yard bomb to wideout Nico Collins in the early moments of the fourth quarter. Mills capped that drive with an 18-yard strike to Brandin Cooks. Mills has been up and down but continues to tease promise.
Defense in a funk? After starting the first two weeks holding their opponents to 16 points per game, the Texans have allowed 57 points over the past two. They allowed 34 points and 420 yards Sunday as quarterback Justin Herbert threw for 340 yards and two touchdowns on 27-of-39 passing (69.2%). They rarely pressured Herbert, as he was sacked only once. Coming in, the Texans’ strong point was their pass defense — as they were second in allowed quarterback completion percentage (55%) and fourth in sacks (10) — but they couldn’t bail them out this time. — DJ Bien-Aime
Next game: at Jaguars (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What to know: QB Zach Wilson overcame three quarters of rust in his 2022 debut and delivered the biggest comeback win of his career. He showed guts and poise, qualities he often didn’t show as a rookie. He made big throw after big throw, rallying the Jets to 81- and 65-yard touchdown drives to erase a 10-point deficit. He could’ve folded after two interceptions, but he made plays behind a makeshift offensive line and showed nice accuracy on downfield throws. This is what the Jets envisioned when they drafted him second overall in 2021. His surgically repaired knee was no factor; he actually showed terrific mobility. A brilliant day. — Rich Cimini
Can the Jets overcome all of their offensive line injuries? It will be a minor miracle if they can. Rookie RT Max Mitchell (knee) was the latest go down, as he was carted off in the second quarter. With Mekhi Becton, Duane Brown and George Fant already on injured reserve, the Jets are down to their fifth- and sixth-string tackles. The line was so messed up that RG Alijah Vera-Tucker started the game at left tackle — a surprise move. Brown is due to come off IR this week, but he may need a week or two to get ready. It’s a bad situation, one that is bound to impact Wilson’s progress. — Rich Cimini
Next game: vs. Dolphins (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What to know: The Kenny Pickett era has begun — or has it? The rookie QB from Pitt came off the bench to provide a temporary spark for the Steelers in the third quarter, as he ran for two touchdowns and ignited a moribund offense. He threw only three incompletions — and they were all interceptions, the second-to-last one setting up the Jets’ game-winning TD. So there was some good from Pickett, but a lot of rough edges. Clearly, he ignited the offense and the crowd, but the turnovers were massive. — Rich Cimini
Pickett or Mitch Trubisky? Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has a decision to make, one that will chart the course for the season. One factor to consider: The next four games are tough, as the Steelers face the Bills, Buccaneers, Dolphins and Eagles. At 1-3, the Steelers can’t afford too many more losses. Tomlin has to weigh Trubisky’s experience and their upcoming opponents versus Pickett’s upside. — Rich Cimini
Next game: at Bills (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
Breece Hall barely gets into the end zone before losing the game for the game-wining TD.
What to know: The Giants are 3-1. Who could have predicted that? But they were again not overly impressive against the Bears on Sunday and still have questions to answer. Aside from running back Saquon Barkley (146 rushing yards) and scheming to use quarterback Daniel Jones’ legs, the Giants don’t have much offensively. Their wide receivers combined for three receptions and 25 yards. Kenny Golladay was catchless before leaving late with a knee injury. The real tests for the Giants come in the next two weeks: They face Green Bay in London in Week 5 and then host Baltimore.
Who will start at quarterback next week in London against the Packers? Jones hurt his left ankle on a third-quarter sack, but was forced back into the game when backup Tyrod Taylor was evaluated for a concussion after a fourth-quarter run. Jones was clearly compromised and did not attempt to throw a pass for the remainder of the contest. After hurting the ankle, he tried to run sprints on the sideline, but the medical team determined he should be removed from the game. Both Jones and Taylor could be in doubt for next week. Davis Webb, the No. 3 quarterback, is currently on the practice squad and was not active Sunday. It’s going to be a situation to watch this week. — Jordan Raanan
Next game: at Vikings (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What to know: Michael Badgley was added to the Bears’ roster only 24 hours before he was counted on to deliver all of Chicago’s points on Sunday, going 4-for-4 on field goals in place of kicker Cairo Santos, who was ruled out for personal reasons. The kicking game was the most consistent phase in the Bears’ loss on a day when the offense showed no ability to score touchdowns and blew three opportunities when it reached the red zone. Justin Fields’ connection with receiver Darnell Mooney (four catches, 94 yards) was the best it has looked all season, and there were moments when the second-year quarterback looked more comfortable throwing the ball. But Fields still took five sacks and completed just 11 of 20 passes. Those 11 passes were the most he has completed in a game all season.
How can the Bears get their second-half defense to show up sooner? Jones (two rushing TDs) and Barkley (146 rushing yards) ripped Chicago in half. The Bears followed up their abysmal performance against the run in Green Bay two weeks ago by allowing 262 rushing yards to the Giants. Chicago bit too many times on play-action but figured out some ways to adjust at halftime. The Bears still have not allowed a touchdown in the second half of games, and two of safety Eddie Jackson’s three interceptions have also come after the half. Can they learn how to play this way from the start against Minnesota next Sunday? — Courtney Cronin
Next game: at Vikings (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What to know: Geno Smith is playing like an above-average starting quarterback — and the Seahawks have needed every bit of that, considering how badly their defense is struggling. Both trends continued Sunday. Smith threw for two touchdown passes and ran for another. He entered the day leading the NFL in completion percentage by a wide margin and connected on 23 of 30 attempts for 320 yards in what has become a typically efficient outing. With Rashaad Penny and the run game coming alive in a big way, the Seahawks hung 555 yards of total offense — the fifth most in franchise history — on the Lions. But instead of winning in a runaway, they needed a second long Penny TD run and a recovered onside kick to close it out thanks to a defense that is still allowing way too many big plays.
Can the Seahawks turn their defense around again? They did it the past two years, recovering from brutal starts on that side of the ball. They’re going to have to do it again if they want to make anything of this season. They’ll need to do it without safety Jamal Adams, who’s out with a quad tendon injury. And they need to do it in a hurry because Smith — or any other NFL quarterback — can’t be counted on to carry this much of the load every week. Sunday’s game was supposed to represent a break for the Seahawks’ defense, with the Lions missing three offensive playmakers in D’Andre Swift, Amon-Ra St. Brown and DJ Chark. Instead, it was arguably their worst outing of the season with more missed tackles, blown coverages, costly penalties and losses in one-on-one matchups. — Brady Henderson
Next game: at Saints (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What to know: Although the Lions have fallen to 1-3 after another one-score loss, running back Jamaal Williams has proved to be a reliable option. Without his backfield mate D’Andre Swift (ankle/shoulder), Williams scored two rushing touchdowns again — including a 51-yard score — en route to 108 yards on 19 carries. He set a team record, becoming the first Lions player with six rushing touchdowns through the first four weeks of a season, and credits the early production to his daily routine of taking care of his body.
Should T.J. Hockenson continue to be more involved when the starters return? Through Week 3, Hockenson had just 82 receiving yards and a touchdown. Against Seattle, without wide receivers DJ Chark (ankle) and Amon-Ra St. Brown (ankle), Hockenson had a season-high eight catches for 179 yards and two touchdowns along with a 2-point conversion. With so much talent on offense, quarterback Jared Goff has targeted other options more often but should consider getting Hockenson more involved moving forward through creative playcalls from offensive coordinator Ben Johnson. — Eric Woodyard
Next game: at Patriots (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What to know: The Vikings are 3-1 even though their offense and defense, overhauled in the transition to new coach Kevin O’Connell, are very much works in progress. Sunday’s game in London was won by their special teams — place-kicker Greg Joseph kicked five field goals, including what proved to be the game winner from 47 yards out — and was sealed only when Saints place-kicker Will Lutz hit the upright and crossbar from 61 yards away. Meanwhile, the offense has been disjointed and has struggled to get snaps off before the play clock. And the defense has given up huge chunks of yards at inopportune times.
Is quarterback Kirk Cousins going to be able to sharpen up in this offense? Cousins had a decent line Sunday, completing 25 of 38 passes for 273 yards, and made the key pass in the game to set up the game-winning field goal. But he missed receiver Justin Jefferson open twice in the end zone and has looked uncomfortable in the pocket in this new scheme. — Kevin Seifert
Next game: vs. Bears (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What to know: Even a quarterback change couldn’t save the Saints, as their problems followed them to London. The Saints struggled on special teams coverage and fumbled a punt, and quarterback Andy Dalton had a strip sack at the end of the first half, giving the Vikings a short field in a close game. The Saints have some persistent issues that have followed them throughout the season and prevented them from winning.
What do the Saints do at quarterback going forward? Dalton certainly didn’t come in and fix the Saints’ problems, especially considering the outcome was ultimately the same for the past three games. He did get the offense moving enough to consider what the Saints might do while Jameis Winston heals from his back issue that he’s dealt with for the past month. If Winston is healthy enough to play next week, do the Saints play Winston when he’s not 100 percent or try to move on with Dalton going forward? — Katherine Terrell
Next game: vs. Seahawks (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What to know: Cincinnati’s biggest strength currently is its defense. The Bengals were outgained by Miami but were bolstered by two interceptions from safety Vonn Bell. Cincinnati is allowing the second-fewest touchdowns per drive. The unit that carried the Bengals through the 2021 postseason is good enough to do it again in this season.
What’s going on with receiver Ja’Marr Chase?
Chase had four catches for 81 yards, but teams are defending Chase to not let him rack up big games against them. Miami constantly rolled a safety to Chase’s side of the field and forced Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow to find other receiving targets. That’s why Tee Higgins had a massive performance — seven catches for 124 yards and a touchdown. — Ben Baby
Next game: at Ravens (Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET)
What to know: Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was taken to the hospital after a scary hit rendered him concussed. It was the second straight game that Tagovailoa’s head hit the ground hard and sparked an NFL Players Association-initiated investigation into whether proper protocols were followed — as well as an amendment to the protocols themselves. The Dolphins’ defense played well, all things considered, but it was difficult for anyone to focus on anything else after watching Tagovailoa leave the field on a stretcher. There is no timetable for his return, per head coach Mike McDaniel, which from a football perspective, hangs a dark cloud over what had otherwise been an exciting start to the season.
Can this team stay hot with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback?
We saw the good and the bad from Bridgewater in his two quarters of work Thursday. He hit Tyreek Hill on a pass that traveled 64.1 air yards, per NFL Next Gen Stats, but he also threw a back-breaking interception on what could have been the Dolphins’ go-ahead drive. He’s a veteran who has been in situations like these before and won’t panic when the lights come on. Miami has an easy schedule over its next seven games, playing just two playoff teams from a season ago. And with a defense that’s playing better than the stats suggest, Bridgewater can theoretically keep the Dolphins in the playoff hunt while they exercise patience with Tagovailoa. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
Next game: at Jets (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)