40 things we learned in Week 4 of the 2017 NFL season

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Check out the top moments that helped define the outcomes of Sunday’s NFL matchups.
USA TODAY Sports

The 40 things we learned from Week 4 of the NFL season:

1. Six points over the last eight quarters for the Miami Dolphins? Look out for some fresh Jay Cutler memes (and that first-quarter red zone pick was brutal), but Miami’s problems start up front. The O-line failed to get a push, allowed four sacks and was often penalized.

2. And with that, the Dolphins became the first team to ever be shut out in London. That makes for one long flight home.

3. During the Dolphins’ 20-0 loss to the New Orleans Saints, Fox announcer Kevin Burkhardt said: “Boy, this has been a really awful first half of football.” He wasn’t wrong. In the first half, there were 16 penalties (11 enforced) and three points. Oof.

4. Give props to the Saints defense, which pitched its first shutout since Week 15 of the 2012 season. They have now limited the Carolina Panthers and Miami to only 474 yards and 13 points, combined, in the past two weeks.

5. One holdover from Thursday: No place for reckless helmet-to-helmet hits like the one Chicago Bears LB Danny Trevathan laid on defenseless Green Bay Packers WR Davante Adams. Trevathan’s resulting two-game suspension seems fair, and here’s hoping it sends a message across the league.

6. Week 4 marks the last time we’ll have a full 16-game slate for a while. Next time that happens will be Week 12, when all teams will have had their bye weeks. The first teams getting time off next week are the Saints, Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins.

7. We thought it was an odd fit for Adrian Peterson to join Sean Payton’s pass-heavy scheme. After Sunday (four touches, 4 yards), it’s probably time to pull the plug on the experiment. Peterson may still have some football left to give, but this looks like square peg, round hole, and the Saints should find a trade partner.

8. We can all agree that Deshaun Watson is — by far — the best quarterback in Houston, right? So can we wonder what Texans coach Bill O’Brien was thinking when he appointed Tom Savage the Week 1 starter?

9. Watson lit up the Tennessee Titans for 283 yards and four TDs through the air while adding 24 yards and another score with his legs. But with any rookie, the key is avoiding the big mistake. Watson’s red-zone pick before the half took points off the board. Live and learn.

10. But Watson did lead the Texans to a franchise-record 57 points, which shattered the previous mark of 45 — which also came against the Titans, back in 2014.

11. Just one season after the New England Patriots allowed the fewest points in the NFL (15.6 per game), they’re now surrendering a league-worst 32 per week. New England allowed a Panthers team that entered Week 4 ranked 29th in scoring offense (15 points per game) to drop 33 on them. Uh oh. A secondary that often looks lost and leaving players open is the first thing to fix.

12. All four quarterbacks the Patriots have faced this season — Alex Smith, Drew Brees, Deshaun Watson, and Cam Newton — have each thrown at least 300 yards against New England’s secondary. The Pats had allowed that to happen only three times in 2016.

13. Maybe it was all on the offensive coordinator. Since the Cincinnati Bengals fired Ken Zampese and replaced him with Bill Lazor, Andy Dalton is a combined 46-for-57 for 498 yards, six touchdowns and — most importantly — 0 interceptions.

14. Trouble may already be brewing in Cleveland after the Browns dropped to 0-4 after being spanked by the previously winless Bengals. But coach Hue Jackson denied Sunday that there’s friction with the Cleveland front office, insisting: “That doesn’t exist in our building at all.”

15. Bengals rookie defender Carl Lawson lost something on his way to Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer on Sunday. “When I’m bringing him down I see my teeth just in the air,” Lawson said. “I’m like, ‘oh crap.’ ” Lawson didn’t get a sack on the play, either. But he did gain some wisdom, admitting he’ll finally follow his teammates’ advice to wear a mouthpiece.

16. Our heart goes out to the Minnesota Vikings. Another non-contact knee injury strikes the franchise, this time to promising rookie RB Dalvin Cook.

17. Speaking of … is there a running back available who would fit the Vikes offense (see point No. 7).

18. Safe to say the transition to OC Steve Sarkisian after Kyle Shanahan left the Atlanta Falcons after last season is going to take some time. Losing top targets Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu to injuries hurt, but a lot of tipped passes have led to five Matt Ryan interceptions over last two weeks.

19. With all that said, maybe it’s time we start paying attention to the AFC East-leading Buffalo Bills, who have now beaten the Broncos and Falcons in back-to-back weeks.

20. Kudos to Bills rookie coach Sean McDermott for building a competitive team around defense, the league’s stingiest entering the weekend, and protecting the ball. Buffalo has committed just one turnover all season.

More: Patriots in shambles? Even Tom Brady couldn’t salvage win vs. Panthers

More: Le’Veon Bell’s resurgence catapults Steelers by Ravens 26-9

21. That finally looked like the Le’Veon Bell — the Pittsburgh Steelers star had a season-high 39 touches against the Baltimore Ravens — we’re all used to. It would have taken us some time to get back to mid-season form, too, after seven months off.

22. There’s one thing we really love about what rookie coach Sean McVay has done in his first four games. He built the Los Angeles Ram offense around Todd Gurley, highlighting Gurley’s pass-catching ability. Last season Gurley caught 43 passes for 327 yards and zero TDs. This season? Twenty catches for 234 yards and three scores.

23. Oh, and that Rams offense everyone laughed at last year? They’re dropping a league-leading 35.5 points per contest.

24. Some Joe Flacco stats forthcoming. And, no, they’re not pretty. His fourth-quarter interception against Pittsburgh extended his streak to 10 games with at least one pick, the longest active stretch in the NFL.

25. In the past two games, Flacco has combined for 263 yards, one touchdown and four INTs.

26. But Flacco’s play isn’t the only reason Baltimore has struggled, but when he’s getting paid more than $20 million annually, he should be doing more. After the game, he said: “I sucked. It wasn’t good.” We won’t argue with that, Joe.

27. Chris Carson’s gruesome lower leg injury was about the only thing that went wrong for the Seattle Seahawks in the second half of a 46-18 win against the Indianapolis Colts. Losing the talented rookie would be a big blow, but there might be another unheralded player ready to step up. J.D. McKissic had two touchdowns and breathed new life into Seattle’s offense.

28. This might be the most the Colts can hope for against competitive teams until Andrew Luck returns. Jacoby Brissett had two turnovers that were returned for touchdowns, and there was no stopping once the Seahawks’ second-half surge (36 points) once it started.

29. Fun day in Philadelphia West — er, we mean Carson, Calif., where the Los Angeles Chargers confirmed they’ll be playing in what will feel like 16 road games this season.

30. A nice development for the Eagles in the wide-open NFC East: Philly found its identity in the rushing game. That’s two dominating performances (407 total yards on the ground) in as many weeks.

More: Steelers’ Alejandro Villanueva: ‘Unacceptable’ to use me as tool in national anthem debate

More: Eagles’ Jason Peters: Almost as if Chargers have 16 away games because of crowd

31. The New York Giants may have found an unlikely sparkplug to revive their league-worst rushing offense in rookie RB Wayne Gallman Jr. But now 0-4, it’s almost certainly too late for Big Blue.

32. Catch of the day alert: Check out the one-handed snag by Broncos TE A.J. Derby.

33. The book is out on how to stop the Oakland Raiders. Rush the passer — if done with four, even better — and then drop back into tight coverage. In the last two weeks, the Redskins and Broncos have combined to restrict the Raiders to a combined 2-for-23 on third-down attempts.

34. A bigger concern for Oakland? The health of QB Derek Carr, who left the game with back spasms. We all know what happened to the Raiders when Carr went down late last season, so hopefully this isn’t a lingering problem.

35. Sure, QB Marcus Mariota’s hamstring issue is troublesome. But the Tennessee D has surrendered 84 points and 878 yards over the past two weeks. The Titans suddenly aren’t looking like the AFC South juggernaut many foresaw.

36. The kicking drama continues in Tampa. Yes, the Buccaneers’ Nick Folk connected (barely) on the 34-yard field goal that vanquished the New York Giants on Sunday. But he missed two of his other three attempts and an extra point for a club that was already forced to cut bait on 2016 second rounder Roberto Aguayo.

37. The Giants came into the season with Super Bowl expectations. The offense has fallen flat. So now what? Coach Ben McAdoo might have to graduate from thinking about giving up play calling to actually letting go.

38. What to make of the 2-2 Dallas Cowboys? They’re a talented team, clearly, but after allowing 19 unanswered points from late in the second quarter until the middle of the fourth, they need to fix consistency issues. And they need more of a pass rush than just Demarcus Lawrence, who leads the NFL with 7 ½ sacks.

39. Those concerns about Cam Newton’s surgically repaired right shoulder popped up after an early interception in New England on Sunday. But they quickly evaporated once he bounced back to throw for 316 yards, three scores, and ran in another for good measure. Carolina didn’t punt until midway through the fourth quarter. That shoulder is fine.

40. Kickers everywhere must’ve loved the Arizona Cardinals-San Francisco 49ers game, in which Phil Dawson and Robbie Gould alternated kicks to a 12-12 tie in regulation. Gould hit another in overtime, but leave it to Larry Fitzgerald to spoil it with an epic game-winning TD grab. We were so close to that 15-15 tie. 

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Follow Lorenzo Reyes on Twitter @LorenzoGReyes

PHOTOS: Week 4 NFL action

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