The fourth week of activity ends in the NFL and the Eagles are the only undefeated team. Is it the best though? It’s hard to say, but the Eagles have shown they can win either way.
• Read also: The Vikings win a dramatic game in London
Their fourth casualties in as many games were the Jaguars, in a hard-fought duel that the Eagles won 29-21 after overcoming a 14-point deficit.
Before you laugh it off, no, Jaguars aren’t the same good old Jaguars anymore. So this match was not a guaranteed victory.
This time it was defense that played a key role during quarterback Jalen Hurts’ rare tougher outing under the fleet. For three weeks, Hurts had simply been on fire and the attack hovered over the fray.
The sign of a complete team is when it doesn’t rely on a single element when it comes to going after a victory the hard way.
The ground game rises
Prior to this encounter, Hurts’ play echoed across the league. Against the Jaguars, he was limited to 204 yards through the air and 38 on the ground. He did not throw a touchdown pass and committed an interception.
As was often the case last season, the running game took charge with 210 yards on 50 carries. Carrier Miles Sanders led the charge with 27 carries for 134 yards and two touchdowns.
It’s his heaviest NFL workload to date and only the second time he’s carried the ball more than 20 times in a game.
The ground game gained 4.2 yards per carry. Nothing fancy, but all it took to impose himself physically and undermine the morale of the Jaguars.
It’s important to note that prior to this game, the Jaguars were only conceding 55 yards per game rushing, which earned them first place in the league. The Eagles therefore did not take advantage of a weak rival in this facet of the game to inflate their statistics.
In fact, the best part of the Eagles offense came from their defense. This caused five turnovers to bring the total to 10 in four games. In total, the Jaguars were limited to 219 yards and 13 first downs.
Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence ran into trouble throwing an interception, in addition to dropping the ball four times. The result is that two of the Eagles’ touchdowns came off very short offensive streaks of 35 and 24 yards.
Once again, it was the newcomers who stood out. Cornerback James Bradberry made a key interception in the third quarter, when the Jaguars were six points behind the Eagles in the penalty area.
Linebacker Haason Reddick was monstrous with two quarterback sacks, in addition to knocking the ball off Lawrence twice and recovering the ball himself. Both players were acquired on the free agent market.
The best ?
It’s still early to proclaim that the Eagles are the best team in the NFL. The Bills also demonstrated their character by coming up a steep hill against the Ravens, who trailed by 17 points. They have also beaten high quality rivals since the start of the campaign (Ravens, Titans and Rams).
For their part, the Eagles have defeated three of four teams that have lost records or are playing for .500. That doesn’t take away from their start to the season though, and a team that can win as much on defense as on offense can only go a long way.
The Titans carrier changed the game with 114 yards rushing and 33 passing, in addition to a touchdown. Proving that he is essential to the success of the Titans, the team is now 26-1 when he touches the ball at least 25 times.
The receiver participated well in the Seahawks’ offensive explosion by catching seven passes for 149 yards. He scared the hell out of many fans when he was forced to retire to the locker room in a golf cart. We learned later that he only had a little desire. When you have to go, you have to go…
The Chargers quarterback, who is still playing despite a rib injury, butchered the Texans with 340 yards and two touchdowns. He shone even without his receiver Keenan Allen.
A first victory was desperately needed. It wasn’t necessarily elegant, but 0-4 wasn’t an option. Josh Jacobs contributed with 134 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
The Packers quarterback hunter continues to shine. With seven tackles and two quarterback sacks (he has five this season), he sabotaged the Patriots’ offensive efforts. To say that many Packers fans regretted this draft pick…
For the second time this season, his team collapsed in the second half. The Ravens let slip a 20-3 lead. With 4:15 to go, Harbaugh opted for a fourth down conversion attempt over a field goal.
The Browns gave the Falcons 202 rushing yards. It’s practically a criminal offence. Both losses came on last-minute interceptions from Jacoby Brissett. This team lost to the Jets and Falcons. Poor Browns!
Agree, there were several elements missing in the attack. But how to explain that the defense allowed 41 of the Seahawks’ 48 points, in addition to 555 gaining yards? A bit embarrassing!
Not only were the Colts unable to build on their momentum from last week, but they lost the services of runner Jonathan Taylor with an ankle injury. If he’s gone long term, their season is over.
Is the Panthers quarterback experiencing his final moments as a starter? He threw two interceptions. Driver Matt Rhule wouldn’t be better off with Sam Darnold, but he might want to stir up the soup to save his own ass.
5 games of the week
1. PICKETT’S BEGINNINGS
Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett made his NFL debut in the second half, when he replaced the ineffective Mitch Trubisky. On his first pass, Pickett was welcomed to the NFL by Jordan Whitehead, who had an interception. Pickett also threw three interceptions, but one of them was on a touch down pass and the other on a desperate Hail Mary attempt. He completed 10 of 13 passes for 120 yards, in addition to scoring two rushing touchdowns.
2. LONDON POSTS
The Vikings needed all their little change to overcome the Saints, deprived of Jameis Winston, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas. In London, they even had unexpected help from the goal posts. Late in the game, the Saints attempted a field goal from 61 yards to try to tie the game. Kicker Will Lutz saw the ball hit the left post before hitting the crossbar. The line is so thin between a win and a loss.
3. HEART JETS
The Jets became the masters of the fourth quarter by recording their second win this season in the dying moments of a game. It was rookie rusher Breece Hall who scored the game-winning touchdown with 16 seconds left. On the final offensive push, young quarterback Zach Wilson, who was returning after missing the first three games, completed his six passes for 62 yards. Earlier in the game, he had scored a match-fixing touchdown when receiver Braxton Berrios threw the ball to him.
4. WHEN NOTHING GOES…
The Bears are dealing with one of the worst offenses in recent football history. This week, they had their best aerial harvest… 155 short yards! If at least the special teams contributed, but against the Giants, this facet of the game was rather the final nail in their coffin. With two minutes and a dust to play, the Bears were about to get the ball back, but Velus Jones fumbled the punt. When it’s bad…
5. NEAR PACKERS
The Packers were heavily favored against the Patriots, deprived of their starting quarterback Mac Jones. His substitute, Brian Hoyer, was injured early in the game and Western Kentucky rookie Bailey Zappe took over. In context, he didn’t look bad (10 for 15, 99 yards, one touchdown) and the Packers needed an overtime field goal from Mason Crosby to win. Of note, the Patriots were down by 10 points for only the second time in 20 years.