NFL Week 4 Recap: Panthers remain undefeated, Packers keep rolling
By Kevin Wheeler
Jets 27, Dolphins 14
Eric Decker made his return from injury after his more than noticeable absence last Sunday against the lowly Eagles, the Jets defense continued its dominance, and a rejuvenated Fireman Ed made the trip to London to cheer on “Gang Green” while they beat down the Dolphins hard enough for Joe Philbin to lose his head coaching job on Monday morning. Back-to-back divisional losses never go well, especially when it’s to the AFC East rival Jets.
The Dolphins have been weak on offense, led by the new $100-million quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who completed only 43 percent of his passes on the day against the Jets defense. Tannehill turned the ball over three times, pushing his season total to nine in 2015. Even though the Dolphins had a chance to pull within one possession late, this game never felt close and turnovers killed the Fish once again. The Jets defense – led by Darrelle Revis, who picked off Tannehill in the fourth quarter – found itself again in Week 4. Ryan Fitzpatrick found Brandon Marshall seven times for over one hundred yards for the third consecutive game and Chris Ivory posted a career-high 166 yards on the ground on the way to 3-1.
Panthers 37, Buccaneers 23
The Carolina Panthers won again on Sunday, making them one of six undefeated teams in the league to this point. The Panthers picked off rookie phenom Jameis Winston four times on Sunday – one of them returned for a score by Josh Norman – and Cam Newton managed the game while throwing for two touchdowns. Carolina has won eight straight games dating back to 2014, but the streak may be in jeopardy next week as they head to Seattle to visit the “12’s.”
Despite a big day from Vincent Jackson – 10 catches for 147 yards and a score – on a career day for Winston (287 yards through the air), the Bucs are still the Bucs. They were dominated in every phase of the game and five total turnovers might as well have been bullets to the gut. Tampa will try to get back to into the win column Sunday against intra-state rival Jacksonville.
Chargers 30, Browns 27
The San Diego Chargers won off of a last second field goal from kicker Josh Lambo from 39-yards out, but he had two tries to do it. Cleveland gave away a chance to go to overtime after Lambo initially missed a 44-yarder to win the game after Tramon Williams jumped offside. The ‘Bolts’ took advantage of their new life and evened their record to 2-2 on the season.
Rivers threw for almost 400 yards and tossed three touchdowns – one of them to stud receiver Keenan Allen – while rookie Melvin Gordon continued his struggles on the ground against a formidable Browns front-seven, gaining only 38 yards rushing. Johnny Manziel sat back in his usual spot on the pine in favor of Josh McCown, who took back the starting job after suffering a concussion in Week 1 and made his presence felt. McCown threw for 356 yards and two touchdowns on the afternoon. With the Ravens and Broncos looming over the next two weeks, it looks to be turning into another disappointing season for the Dog Pound.
Packers 17, 49ers 3
The bad man himself, Aaron Rodgers, is the best quarterback in the game right now. The man is simply a machine. Colin Kaepernick, on the other hand, has been one of the worst this season. Rodgers threw just one touchdown pass in this game, this one to Richie Rodgers (unrelated), to rack up his total on the season to 11. He did enough to win a road game traveling out west, which always seems to be a bit of a toss up, by completing 22 of his 32 passes for 224 yards and the aforementioned score. On top of that, Eddie Lacy finally looked like himself again after getting banged up in the early stages of the season and gained 90 yards on the ground on 18 carries. Green Bay is 4-0 already this season and look like the cream of the crop in the NFC North, which couldn’t get much worse than it already is.
The Niners coughed up the football three times on Sunday at home, one of which was Kaepernick’s doing, and their leading receiver only had three catches for 26 yards. That doesn’t get you many points, and you need to score to win games. Funny thought, huh? There’s not much more to know here other than the fact that the 49ers are dreadful because of inexperienced coaching and a number of failed experiments on both sides of the football, and the Packers have been fantastic and will only get better as Aaron Rodgers continues to get into his groove.
Rams 24, Cardinals 22
Arguably the most exciting game of the weekend, the St. Louis Rams went into Arizona and took down the mighty Cardinals, who everyone and their brother was handing the Lombardi trophy to about one week ago. Nick Foles threw a pretty little slant over the middle of the Cardinals’ defense to WR Tavon Austin for a score that put the Rams up nine with eight minutes to play. Palmer and the Cardinals scored to give themselves a chance, but couldn’t get the ball back with four minutes left and eventually went on to lose their first game of the 2015 season by two points.
Don’t look now, but the Rams have beaten NFC West foes Seattle and Arizona already in the first four weeks of the season. St. Louis has a tendency to play to the level of its competition, and it’s hurt them so far in losses to the Steelers and the Washington football team. Sure, the Steelers are solid with Ben Roethlisberger, but they couldn’t take advantage of his injury in order to steal a win at home. To me, the Rams should be 4-0 at this point, and we should all keep an eye on Aaron Donald’s squad as the season goes on. Especially if rookie RB Todd Gurley plays like he did this week: 19 carries, 156 yards. This team is fun to watch on both offense and defense. Pay attention everyone; the NFC West looks pretty interesting all of a sudden.