Game balls – NFL Week 4

We’ve just had Week 4, folks – how on earth did that happen already? Normally, that would mean teams had completed a quarter of their NFL programme but as we now have a 17-game schedule, they’re only at the 23.5% mark! Anyway, I can tell you’re desperate to know who earned the ‘increasingly prestigious’ (it says here) Full10Yards game balls so without further ado, I shall reveal all…

Offensive player of the week

Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

Mitchell Leff – Getty Images

There was so much to admire on the offensive side of the ball this week, not least with nine running backs breaking the 100-yard rushing mark. They were led by Derrick Henry (no surprise there) with 157 yards and a resurgent Zeke Elliott (143), while David Montgomery, James Robinson and James Conner all notched two touchdowns.

Ten players also went for three figures in receiving, with serious game-ball contender Tyreek Hill (186 yards, 3 TDs), as well as Deebo Samuel (156 yards, 2 TDs) and DJ Moore (113 yards, 2 TDs), particularly catching the eye. Honourable mentions also go to Cincinnati’s CJ Uzomah (95 yards, 2 TDs), the most productive of this weekend’s two-TD tight ends, and to Atlanta’s Cordarrelle Patterson, a running back who bagged 82 yards and three scores from just five catches.  

Turning our attention to quarterbacks, Matt Ryan and Dak Prescott both racked up four TDs, Prescott’s coming from just 14 completions. But Kansas City’s PATRICK MAHOMES went one better, going 24 of 30 (80%) for 278 yards through the air and five passing touchdowns in a 42-30 win over the Eagles.

Mahomes was at his innovative best, scrambling for first downs where necessary but also slicing and dicing the Philly defence at will. His highlights included a bold under-arm sling to Clyde Edwards-Hilaire, Jody Fortson’s TD came from a one-handed shovel pass and a late 50-yard rainbow off his back foot to seal Tyreek Hill’s hat-trick was an absolute corker.

To cap a huge day, Mahomes’ 40th win in 50 starts equals the post-1970 merger record, and he became only the 4th QB in the Super Bowl era with at least three passing TDs in each of his first four games (joining Steve Young, Kurt Warner and Tom Brady). Chapeau!

Defensive player of the week

Trevon Diggs, CB, Dallas Cowboys

Mark J. Rebilas – USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday, a whole raft of players – the Jets’ Quinnen Williams, Ravens LB Tyus Bowser, the Steelers’ TJ Watt, Dallas DE Randy Gregory, Darius Philon for the Las Vegas Raiders and Tampa Bay LB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka among them – ended the day with two sacks. All fine efforts, and I tip my cap to each and every one of them. Williams in particular had a cracking outing against the Titans, adding seven tackles to his tally.

Alas, none of them get our game ball this week, but two is still the magic number for our actual winner, TREVON DIGGS. This award has been coming for September’s NFC Defensive Player of the Month, as the Cowboys cornerback has had at least one interception and one pass defended in every game this season. This Sunday, he snagged two more of each against the Panthers.

Despite a back issue sustained in the first half, his pair of INTs came in consecutive drives in the third quarter, and helped to establish a 22-point lead. His first came when he dropped back and stepped into a pass intended for Robby Anderson around midfield, which set up a Cedrick Wilson TD three plays later, while his second required him to dive forward, do a bit of juggling and wrestle the ball away from DJ Moore.

His outstanding achievements elevate him to the top of the NFL’s leaderboard for both interceptions (five) and passes defended (eight), and his hot streak has helped Dallas rise to the #1 spot in the NFC East. If he continues like this, the sky’s the limit for the 2020 second-round pick.

Coach of the week

Kliff Kingsbury, HC, Arizona Cardinals

Ross D. Franklin – AP Photo

Will the Giants’ 27-21 overtime win at New Orleans mark a turning point in Joe Judge’s second season? There’s certainly plenty he can build on, especially Daniel Jones’ 402 passing yards (a career high) and, of Judge’s seven wins so far, it probably ranks as his best yet.

As for his counterpart at MetLife Stadium, New York Jets HC Robert Saleh got his first Gatorade dunking as an NFL coach at the fourth time of asking. A failed clutch FG at the death by the Titans’ Randy Bullock (is there any other sort?) sealed a 27-24 OT win for Gang Green, and sent the long-suffering Jets’ fans wild. It wasn’t perfect by any means but Saleh made good choices when they were needed, Zach Wilson was pretty solid and the defence sacked Ryan Tannehill seven times.

But for masterminding a 17-point road victory at the previously unbeaten LA Rams, I have to give the game ball to Arizona HC KLIFF KINGSBURY. Their aerial attack got them the lead but he chose to keep grinding down Sean McVay’s Rams with the running game, thanks to James Conner (2 TDs) and Chase Edmonds (120 yards).

In so doing, Kyler and his troops torched the Rams for 465 total yards and scored on seven consecutive possessions, including both their takeaways. In contrast, the team protected the ball and didn’t concede a turnover. Further, the foot of Matt Prater (who despatched another monster FG from 55 yards) is the perfect security blanket when required, while the D kept Stafford, Kupp et al quiet enough to secure a surprisingly comfortable 37-20 victory. For the record, that’s more points than LA conceded in any game last year.

They’re now alone at 4-0 at the top of the ultra-competitive NFC West (and indeed, remain the only unbeaten team left across the whole league) so, having failed to post a winning record since 2015, things are definitely trending in the right direction for the Cards. After the game, KK said it wasn’t a statement win but I’d humbly beg to differ. It was arguably the biggest statement of the season so far.

Play of the week

JD McKissic, RB, Washington Football Team

Brynn Anderson – AP Photo

With no 100-yard touchdowns last season (Jerry Jeudy’s 92-yarder leading the way), we have been spoiled rotten with three in the 2021 campaign already. Jacksonville’s Jamal Agnew topped a ton in Weeks 2 and 3, and this week, Washington’s DeAndre Carter ran a kick-off back to the house for 101 yards against Atlanta.

We also had barrelling touchdown runs by the Saints’ Taysom Hill and Broncos RB Javonte Williams, where they seemed to bounce off defenders like dodgems or drag them along like sacks of coal, and we also saw some impressive downfield connections with receivers. Speedster John Ross marked his Giants debut with a 52-yard TD reception, New Orleans wideout Marquez Calloway made a 58-yard catch in the same game, the 49ers’ Deebo Samuel found himself in a different postcode to everyone else on a 76-yard house call and Marquise Brown’s diving score will definitely make the highlight reel of Baltimore’s solid 23-7 win over the Broncos. And on MNF, the Raiders’ Henry Ruggs III also got himself on the end of a 51-yarder from Derek Carr. 

But for me, the play of the week has to be the game-winning score for the Washington Football Team, as they came from behind to beat Atlanta. Trailing 30-28 with 45 seconds left, Taylor Heinicke was hoping to burn the clock and stay in field goal range. He took the snap from the 30 and rolled left, but everyone came with him, leaving no one open. Luckily, JD McKISSIC had started to drift off to the right and, given time to go through his reads, his QB threw the ball across the field to him. The RB turned, outpaced his closest marker and ran down the right sideline, with two more Falcons in hot pursuit. It looked like they would head him off at the pass but McKissic had other ideas, flinging himself forward from the 4-yard line like Superman. He was knocked off course in mid-air and was initially deemed to be out of bounds a yard short. However, they soon reversed the call and confirmed that he’d crossed the goal-line, effectively winning the game with half a minute to spare. Spectacular.

Gaffe of the week

Kansas City defence

As some of you may have seen on Twitter, here at Full10Yards HQ, we were dumbstruck at a play in the Atlanta/Washington game on Sunday night. Matt Ryan stumbled about like a blindfolded Ben Roethlisberger, took a glancing blow from Chase Young’s forearm, and tottered backwards onto one knee before hurling the ball unceremoniously down the sideline to a waiting opponent for a turnover. The play was called back for a ludicrous roughing the passer penalty against Young rather than a sack, and everyone on social media lost their cool.

And yet, that comedy of errors wasn’t quite hapless enough to secure the game ball. This week’s gaffe of the week goes to the KANSAS CITY DEFENCE, who somehow failed to come away with a turnover with just 16 seconds left in the second quarter against Philadelphia. On a 3rd-and-9 on the KC 39, a speeding L’Jarius Sneed got to Jalen Hurts (“oof!”), who got spun round, had the ball stripped from his grasp and accidentally kneed it backwards about 10 yards (“clank!”). First on the scene, Chiefs DT Chris Jones tried a scoop-and-score but only proceeded to flip it deeper into Philly territory, whereupon it hit a retreating official on the back of the head (“doink!”). It fell back at Jones’ feet but all he could do was push it along the ground with his fingertips as he fell forward (“argh!”). Yet somehow he failed to fall on it and, surrounded by four opponents, Nate Herbig emerged from the scrum with the ball for the Eagles (“ta-dah!”) – a full 34 yards behind where the play had started.

Textbook stuff…  but only if the textbook is Football for Clowns.

Do you agree with my selections or do you have other suggestions? Let us know at @Full10Yards, add your vote to our Twitter polls when they pop up, and listen to the guys on the NFL review pod each week as they share their own opinions. 

Feature image: Vincent Carchietta – USA TODAY Sports

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