Cam Newton Is Back & Other Things We Learned in Week 4 of the NFL
Cam Newton returned to MVP form and injuries to star players kept teams from winning. Here's what we learned in Week 4 of the 2017 NFL season:
Deshaun Watson Led a Texans Rout
Rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson threw four touchdown passes and ran for another score, and the Houston Texans destroyed the Tennessee Titans, 57-14, on Sunday. Watson finished 25 of 34 passing for 283 yards for defending AFC South champ Houston (2-2), which served notice that they are still the team to beat in the division.
Watson led the Texans to a franchise record for points and he set an NFL record for most touchdowns by a rookie quarterback in a game. DeAndre Hopkins had 10 receptions for 107 yards and a score for Houston.
On the other sideline, Marcus Mariota left with a hamstring injury for Tennessee (2-2). He ran for two touchdowns and threw for 96 yards with two interceptions before he was injured. Matt Cassel was terrible in relief, throwing for 21 yards with two picks.
Injuries to Offensive Stars Hurt the Raiders, Falcons & Vikings
Several high-profile offensive players left their respective games on Sunday. Their teams all lost.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr suffered a back injury on a sack in the third quarter of Oakland's 16-10 loss to Denver on Sunday. The Broncos hung on to win after Justin Simmons intercepted Carr's backup, E.J. Manuel, in the red zone with under two minutes to play. Denver (3-1) held Oakland (2-2) to 24 yards rushing in the game, including just 12 for Marshawn Lynch. If Carr is out for any extended amount of time, the Raiders playoff chances are greatly reduced.
Vikings rookie running back Dalvin Cook went down with a left knee injury in the third quarter of Minnesota's 14-7 loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday. The non-contact injury caused Cook to fumble, which allowed Detroit (3-1) to recover on the Vikings' 29-yard-line. The turnover set up Ameer Abdullah's go-ahead, 3-yard rushing touchdown five plays later. Led by Anthony Zettel's three tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery, the Lions defense shut down the potent offense of Minnesota (2-2), which started Case Keenum in place of injured Sam Bradford at quarterback for the third consecutive game. If Cook and Bradford can't contribute soon, the Vikings won't be playoff contenders.
Falcons wide receivers Julio Jones (hip) and Mohamed Sanu (hamstring) each were injured in their team's 23-17 home loss to Buffalo on Sunday. Stephen Hauschka's 56-yard field goal with less than 5 minutes left gave Buffalo (3-1) the unexpected win over previously unbeaten Atlanta (3-1). The Bills defense frustrated Falcons' quarterback Matt Ryan all day, forcing him into two interceptions. He'll be more frustrated if Jones and Sanu aren't back soon.
Cam Newton Punched Out the Patriots
Graham Gano kicked a 48-yard field goal as time expired and the Carolina Panthers upset the New England Patriots, 33-30, in Massachusetts on Sunday thanks largely to the play of quarterback Cam Newton. The Carolina quarterback threw for 316 yards and three touchdowns and he ran for another score, making him the first QB in NFL history to rush for 50 touchdowns.
After his 7-yard scoring run gave the Panthers a 30-16 lead in the fourth quarter, Newton celebrated by holding up a clenched fist, a sign of solidarity with NFL player protests against police brutality, social injustice and President Trump over the past few weeks. The game was a coming-out party for the 2015 NFL MVP, who was often inconsistent last year and over the first three weeks of this season.
Despite a Tom Brady-led rally by New England (2-2) in the final minutes that tied the game, the Patriots defense was unable to prevent Newton from getting Carolina (3-1) into position for Gano's game-winning kick. Brady finished 32 of 45 for 307 yards and two touchdowns, but his team suffered its second home loss of the season in three games.
The Steelers Ran Over the Ravens
Le'Veon Bell ran for 144 yards and two touchdowns, and the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Ravens, 26-9, on Sunday for their first win in Baltimore since 2012. The victory gave Pittsburgh (3-1) first place in the AFC North.
The Ravens held Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to 216 yards passing and a touchdown, but Bell shouldered the load, converting when it counted.
Baltimore (2-2) generated little offense and only one touchdown. Quarterback Joe Flacco threw for 235 yards and a score, but he was sacked four times and intercepted twice. The Ravens ended the game with the NFL's worst offense, something that will have to change if they want to stay in the post-season chase.
The Rams Are for Real
Todd Gurley had 215 total yards -- 121 rushing and 94 receiving -- and the Los Angeles Rams got their first signature win since relocating back to Southern California, beating the Dallas Cowboys, 35-30, on Sunday. Gurley scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 53-yard catch-and-run and kicker Greg Zuerlein added seven field goals for Los Angeles (3-1).
Dallas (2-2) played without linebacker Sean Lee and wilted in the second half, allowing scores on five consecutive possessions. Quarterback Dak Prescott finished 20 of 36 for 252 yards with three touchdowns for the Cowboys. Ezekiel Elliott ran for 85 yards and two scores. It doesn't get easier for Dallas; playoff nemesis Green Bay visits next week.
Thursday, Sept. 28
Green Bay 35, Chicago 14
Sunday, Oct. 1
Seattle 46, Indianapolis 18
New Orleans 20, Miami 0
Cincinnati 31, Cleveland 7
N.Y. Jets 23, Jacksonville 20 (OT)
Philadelphia 26, San Diego 24
Tampa Bay 25, N.Y. Giants 23
Arizona 18, San Francisco 15 (OT)