1) Late into the desert night, headliners Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson battled and dazzled. And then Zane Gonzalez found 48 yards of redemption, booting the Cardinals to a ridiculously dramatic victory. Gonzalez had booted the Cardinals into overtime, only to miss horribly on a previous game-winning try. It was a game in which the Cardinals never led until they won. It was a game full of so many huge plays and statistical splendor, the soaring offenses combining for 1,091 yards. But it was the small superstars who stood tallest, of course. Murray and Wilson each had marvelous outings for the most part, but it was the Cardinals' second-season wonder who made fewer mistakes and the MVP frontrunner whose last mistake loomed largest. This ended up being the second consecutive prime-time showing for Murray and the Cardinals. His team's lopsided lambasting of the Cowboys was impressive, but Murray was better on this evening as his Cardinals (5-2) faced a far better opponent in the Seahawks (5-1). He faced the challenge of matching Wilson's play and came out on top. Murray had four total touchdowns and 360 yards passing and led his team with 67 yards rushing. Wilson tossed for 388 and three touchdowns and was also his team-high (and game-high) rusher with 84 yards. But Wilson had three interceptions and the youthful Murray had just one. Murray drove the Cardinals to 13 straight points to end the game, rallying his Cardinals to a statement-making win. It was a night that began with Wilson taking charge, but it ended with Murray taking home the victory.
2) Welcome to the spotlight, Isaiah Simmons. The ultra-versatile Cardinals first-round pick has become much-maligned in his first season, having cobbled together 12 tackles and little else through his first seven games. But on a night in which he had just one tackle, he made the biggest play by far of his young NFL career when he picked off the MVP frontrunner in overtime and set up Gonzalez's game-winning kick. It was just one play, but it's a heckuva way to get things going and remind people you're still around.
3) If ever there's a Pop Warner coach looking for an example of hustle to teach his young players, one arrived midway through the second quarter when Wilson threw an interception to Budda Baker at the goal line. DK Metcalf, despite Baker jumping the route and having a huge head start, ran down Baker from behind, his huge strides carrying him to the shocking tackle at the Seattle 8-yard line. It was an outstanding example of hustle and fortitude by Metcalf, a second-year player who showed no quit and displayed that which beats within the great ones. It proved crucial as the Seahawks defense held the Cardinals to a turnover on downs, but even if Arizona had scored on the ensuing play, it was still a phenomenal example of how to play the game. Metcalf has drawn acclaim so often because he's such a physical marvel and that was emphasized in his rundown of Baker, but even more so it was a showcase of the tenacity and will he possesses. It wasn't the only example on the night, either. Future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald, much like Metcalf turning in a rather pedestrian night statistically, might well have saved the game for Arizona when he hustled the ball to the center of the field near the end of regulation to be placed to allow Murray to spike it. It gave enough time for Gonzalez to hit the game-tying shot. An all-time great and one of the brightest future stars of the game combined for 85 yards receiving, but turned in two plays that won't show up in a stat sheet, but no doubt altered the game and exemplified the intangibles that the best of the best have.
-- Grant Gordon
1) The Steelers built a comfortable 27-7 lead in the third quarter. From there, it slowly was whittled away as Ben Roethlisberger saw two interceptions give Tennessee life. Getting the ball back down three points with 2:35 left in the fourth quarter after an end-zone INT, Ryan Tannehill maneuvered his squad into field goal range. Stephen Gostkowski , who's been on a rollercoaster season, lined up the game-tying 45-yard field goal. He pushed it wide right. Pittsburgh hung on despite getting outplayed in the second half. After forcing a three-and-out and scoring their own FG to open a 20-point second-half lead, the Steelers (6-0) allowed the Titans (5-1) to gobble up 200 yards on the next five possessions to claw their way back in it. In that timeframe, the Steelers offense turned it over twice and had a three-and-out. Pittsburgh's quick start, coupled with Gostkowski's miss, was enough to keep the Steelers undefeated. Pittsburgh is also perfect when generating a 20-point lead -- 213-0-1 in such games.
2) Big Ben got off to a hot start slinging pinpoint passes all over the field, including a bullseye between defenders to Diontae Johnson to open the scoring. Third downs were the key to the game for the Steelers. Pittsburgh went 13 of 18 on third downs, including eight of nine in the first half. The chain-moving offense -- 23 first downs -- allowed the Steelers to earn a 36:37 time of possession advantage and kept Derrick Henry on the sideline for the bulk of the first half. Pittsburgh scored on its first four possessions, including three touchdowns. The Titans' defense looked gassed for much of the tilt. Three INTs, including an end-of-half heave, however, gave the Titans life late. While the past few weeks were the Chase Claypool show, this Sunday it was JuJu Smith-Schuster's turn in the spotlight. With Malcolm Butler shutting down Claypool, JuJu caught nine passes for 85 yards, including a bevy of big first downs in big spots. Smith-Shuster was a key reason the Steelers converted so well on third downs. Johnson (9/80/2) also returned for a big day before hobbling off with an injury. When the Steelers are healthy, they have the weapons to spread the ball around with the best. It's not just one WR who can win on any given day.
3) The Titans looked like a team playing their third game in 13 days. The defense couldn't get off the field early and rarely got pressure. Tannehill was off-target early and was under siege. It took until after halftime for Henry to find his legs. Credit T.J. Watt with wreaking havoc all over the field, crushing Henry and badgering Tannehill. The Titans did find life in the second half, thanks to A.J. Brown. The YAC monster took a short pass for a 73-yard TD gallop to give Tennessee hope. Brown (6/153/1) kept making plays as the Titans scrapped back into the game. When the WR is healthy and Henry is pounding it on the ground, Tennessee is tough to handle. Given how the game was trending, had Gostkowski forced overtime, it could have been the Titans who moved to 6-0. Instead, the Steelers are the last undefeated team in the AFC.
-- Kevin Patra
1) The older Tom Brady gets, the better his clock-management skills continue to get. The latest example came before halftime Sunday when the 21-year NFL veteran began 88 yards from pay dirt with 2:19 left, and calmly burned most of that time just getting across midfield. With one timeout left at the Las Vegas 41, Brady spiked a second-down snap to save clock, threw incomplete on third down, then found Chris Godwin on fourth down to move the chains. After another spike with 25 seconds left, he picked a perfect time for a deep shot, which Scott Miller hauled in for a touchdown. Had that been incomplete, Brady still had a third-down throw, 25 seconds to work with and a timeout still in his pocket. Worst case: field goal try. Brady case: seven points. With four TD passes on the day, he now has 559 for his career, one more than the Saints' Drew Brees for the most all-time.
2) Devin White was a madman of a pass rusher Sunday as he continues to elevate his place among the league's linebackers. The second-year pro remains a work in progress in pass coverage, but if the Bucs (5-2) turn him loose on quarterbacks on third downs, that won't matter as much. He was at it again Sunday, tallying three sacks of Derek Carr, plus two tackles for loss, as a highly disruptive force on the NFL's top defense. He can also get sideline to sideline -- just ask Carr, who took a clean-but-brutal hit from White with 5:27 left while trying to squeeze out a first down near the boundary.
3) Any chance Las Vegas (3-3) had of balancing its offense with a good rushing day was vanquished when the right side of its line -- tackle Sam Young and guard Gabe Jackson -- exited with an injury and an ejection, respectively. Against Tampa Bay's No. 1-ranked run defense, that put all the pressure on Carr to move the ball, and he played well, but could not carry the offense on his back. The Raiders finished with just 76 yards on the ground.
-- Chase Goodbread
1) With a patchwork offensive line missing key players due to injury, Dallas (2-5) couldn't protect QB Andy Dalton or reserve Ben DiNucci, who had to finish after Dalton absorbed an egregious hit to the head that resulted in the ejection of LB Jon Bostic. Washington (2-5) tallied half a dozen sacks, two by Montez Sweat, and pretty much took up residence in the Cowboys backfield as the pressure came both up the middle and around the edge. Washington first-round rookie Chase Young was shut out of the sack fest, but applied his share of heat; Washington has invested heavily in the defensive line in recent drafts, and it showed up in a big way Sunday.
2) The Washington Football Team found a running game Sunday against perhaps the only NFL club that would allow it one. The team entered the game without an individual rushing performance of 60-plus yards all season, but Antonio Gibson had more than that by the end of the first quarter. The rookie, who primarily played wide receiver in college, sliced through Dallas' much-maligned defense for 128 yards on 20 carries. Washington finished with 208 on the ground, keeping QB Kyle Allen in manageable down-and-distance situations.
3) Just a play after Washington WR Terry McLaurin and Cowboys rookie CB Trevon Diggs traded some nasty shoves in the first half, McLaurin ran right by Diggs for a 52-yard touchdown catch that put Washington ahead, 15-3. McLaurin then turned to Diggs and rocked the ball like a baby in his arms, adding insult to touchdown. Diggs broke up two passes on the day and has a bright future in Dallas, but learned a hard lesson on that play. McLaurin, one of the NFL's underrated talents at receiver, finished with a 7-90-1 afternoon.
-- Chase Goodbread
1) The rushing attack is back in San Francisco (4-3). Jeff Wilson ripped up 112 yards of Gillette Stadium synthetic turf on just 17 carries, finding the end zone three times before exiting with what appeared to be a serious ankle injury. JaMycal Hasty picked up 57 yards on nine carries, and even Kyle Juszczyk got in on the action, carrying the ball four times for 18 yards and his second touchdown of the season. Kyle Shanahan's variety of ways to run wide and between the tackles, a range for which he became known (and feared) in 2020, returned with emphasis and unlocked the rest of San Francisco's offense. Jimmy Garoppolo completed 20-of-25 passes for 277 yards and bolstered his connection with Brandon Aiyuk to the tune of six receptions for 115 yards. The field position gained by the defense's four takeaways didn't hurt either. Two weeks after folks were ready to jettison Garoppolo into the Land of Busts, the 49ers are soaring with glee back to the Bay Area thanks to their complete victory.
2) Cam Newton had his worst outing as a Patriot and seems to be declining by the week. Newton threw three interceptions, and only one of them -- an overthrow down the middle of the field near the end of the first half -- was even somewhat excusable. The first was right into the hands of linebacker Fred Warner, who ran step for step with Newton's target from the moment he crossed the center to the point of target, and Newton still forced it to him. The second was tipped off Julian Edelman's hand because it was thrown behind him. Newton finished with a line of 9-for-15, 98 yards, the three picks and a 39.7 passer rating before exiting in the second half with the game out of reach. Things haven't improved, but quite the opposite, and the Patriots are now in the midst of their longest losing streak since 2002. The promise of the first foray into the post-Tom Brady era has all but evaporated, and because Newton is a) a highly publicized signee playing on a cheap, one-year deal and b) a quarterback, he's going to be the center of criticism regardless. On Sunday, though, he earned it.
3) It's easy to pin the blame on Newton, but he's not the sole reason for New England's 2-4 record. The Patriots surrendered more than 450 yards of offense, including nearly 200 on the ground, allowing an average gain of 7.4 yards per play. At that rate, forget third-down conversion rate, because the Niners weren't gaining yards at a pace low enough to even consider needing to convert a third down. And when they did meet the down with the number three displayed on the box, they still converted over 50% of them. San Francisco punted just once and the Patriots lost the time of possession battle nearly 2:1 (38:23 to 21:37). Sure, New England's offensive ineptitude didn't help, but neither did the sieve that was the Patriots' run defense Sunday. Combined, they had the look of a 2-4 team.
-- Nick Shook
1) The Kansas City Chiefs (6-1) didn't need vintage Patrick Mahomes to beat the Denver Broncos (2-4) into oblivion. The Chiefs won in all three phases, underscoring the gulf between the AFC West rivals, as K.C. won its 10th straight game over Denver. The Chiefs scored on a pick-six and a 102-yard kickoff return TD in the second quarter to blast open a close game. Mahomes took a sack two plays into the second quarter with K.C. up 10-6. The next time the QB touched the ball, the Chiefs were up, 24-9. Ballgame. Kansas City scored 43 points; Mahomes was on the field for 12 of those. Credit Vic Fangio's defense for doing a good job on the Super Bowl MVP. Mahomes went 15-of-23 (65.2%) for 200 yards and one TD and took three sacks. The QB was constantly under pressure behind a reworked offensive line. K.C. displayed the firepower to win any type of game. On a cold, snowy day in Mile High, Andy Reid's defense and special teams showed they can carry the load when needed. The mark of a truly great team is the ability to win any way necessary. The Chiefs can.
2) Drew Lock struggled in the cold, missing a multitude of passes high, wide, in the turf and behind receivers. Lock's pick-six came on a back-foot throw under pressure on an out-route that was placed too far inside. It's a long throw Lock stared down that he can't make if he wants to take the next step. Lock struggled when under pressure and couldn't find the mark downfield. The second-year QB lacked pocket presence at times and panicked too often. Lock's three sacks all came in crucial spots, too, including late in the first half that all but wiped out a chance to score. His two INTs were killer, but he wasn't alone in his struggles. Melvin Gordon fumbled twice, including one of the worst flea-flicker pitches you'll ever see. Phillip Lindsay (8.8 yards per carry on nine totes) was the best part of the Broncos offense. Once he went out with a concussion, the Broncos failed to move the ball consistently. While the defense played well, for the most part, the offense and special teams crumbled against a division foe.
3) Le'Veon Bell's first carry in a Chiefs jersey went for 16 yards. The veteran authored another 16-yarder later in the game. In 264 attempts with the New York Jets, Bell had just one carry of 16-plus yards. Yes, Reid's souped-up offense will fit Bell better than Adam Gase's jalopy. Bell looked fresh and closer to his former self that he did in N.Y. this year. Bell took six carries for 39 yards, averaging 6.5 yards per carry as he got his feet wet with the Chiefs. Bell played 17 snaps. K.C. had only 51 offensive plays -- including garbage time -- so we'll likely see more Bell moving forward. Despite Bell's addition, Clyde Edwards-Helaire still looked good, taking his eight totes for 46 yards and a score while adding one catch for 17 yards. In Reid's offense, there is room for both to share time, particularly in closer games where the Chiefs offense plays a bigger role.
-- Kevin Patra
1) Texans QB Deshaun Watson makes a lot of good decisions under pressure in an offense that often gives him little help, but it was a Watson miscalculation that opened the door for the Packers to put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter. On a fourth-and-1 play near midfield with seven minutes left, with the Texans trailing, 28-13, but holding some momentum, Watson ran left with a QB option and kept for a one-yard loss and a turnover on downs. The Packers' Preston Smith was unblocked on the edge and ran straight to Watson, making Watson's proper read a pitch outside to the running back, who likely would've moved the chains with ease. Green Bay (5-1) converted its fifth TD on the ensuing possession.
2) The Texans (1-6) could not contain Packers WR Davante Adams in any respect. Aaron Rodgers hit him short and long, inside and outside, against different coverages and defenders, and Houston had no answer for any of it. Adams went into the half already with star-of-the-game numbers -- eight catches, 114 yards and a touchdown -- with Green Bay holding a 21-0 lead. If the Texans adjusted at the half, it wasn't effective. Adams put the game out of reach with 4:44 left in the third quarter, scoring on a 45-yard throw from Rodgers, and finished 13-196-2. Houston entered having allowed a QB rating of 111, 31st-ranked in the NFL, and looked it.
3) Houston's offense sleep-walked through another first quarter and, once again, could not recover. Outscored in the opening stanza, 34-14, this year, the Texans now have failed to put first-quarter points on the board for four consecutive games. It was an especially glaring issue this week. Forget about points; Green Bay had 14 points before Houston had three first downs, and that's no recipe for beating Rodgers. The Texans have one of the league's worst rushing attacks, making early deficits all the more challenging for Watson.
-- Chase Goodbread
1) Sunday brought us the Saints offense we've expected to see from them in 2020. Drew Brees was sharp, completing 29 of 36 passes for 287 yards and two touchdowns, and connected with eight different targets, none of them named Michael Thomas. Alvin Kamara carried the weight left behind by Thomas' absence, racking up 148 all-purpose yards -- his seventh-straight game of 100-plus all-purpose yards, the longest active streak in the NFL. Deonte Harris caught his first career touchdown pass. Jared Cook celebrated National Tight End Day with an excellent touchdown grab. Three players (Kamara, Tre'Quan Smith and Marquez Callaway) broke 50 receiving yards. And while Dennis Allen's defense needs to be better (and get more pressure), the group stood tall when needed most. A fun game produced an enjoyable Sunday for Saints fans, who can smile after watching their team move to 4-2 in a tight NFC South.
2) The Panthers (3-4) lost, sure, but Teddy Bridgewater passed a notable test Sunday. Carolina had very little of a rushing attack to speak of, leaving Bridgewater to do the majority of the offensive work, and he answered the call. Bridgewater completed 23 of 28 passes for 254 yards, two touchdowns and a 128.3 passer rating, spreading the ball among six pass-catchers and improvising when necessary to keep drives alive. His longest pass was a 75-yard strike to D.J. Moore (four catches, 93 yards, two touchdowns), and he even got Curtis Samuel involved (six catches, 48 yards; one rush, five yards, one touchdown). Watching Bridgewater operate in Joe Brady's offense is a treat, and even if the Panthers aren't quite contention material just yet, he's making this first season under Matt Rhule worthwhile. He nearly got them a win Sunday.
3) In a game in which defense wasn't exactly prominent, the two best plays came on sacks. One meant much more than the other. Brian Burns toasted replacement tackle James Hurst with a quick up-and-under move around the edge in the second quarter, sacking Brees and forcing a fumble that was recovered by Carolina. The turnover sparked a touchdown drive for Carolina to take a 17-14 lead (Carolina didn't close the half, though, surrendering a Brees touchdown pass to Harris to give up the lead with 0:01 left in the quarter). Marcus Davenport's sack essentially decided the game. The Saints showed blitz and brought five, with linebacker Alex Anzalone running a quick stunt with Davenport to free him up on the inside shoulder of the guard and breaking through to sack Bridgewater for a loss of eight. Carolina was forced to try a 65-yard field goal (instead of 57, had the play simply gained nothing), and Joey Slye came a yard short of resetting the field goal record in the Superdome. The Panther pain was immense. In games like this, that's the difference between a win and a loss.
-- Nick Shook
1) A week after looking absolutely dreadful, Baker Mayfield continued such struggles with a miserable 0-for-5 start that included an ugly interception on a play that saw Odell Beckham and JC Tretter get hurt. Mayfield lost his No. 1 receiver, and promptly proceeded to complete his next 15 passes for 182 yards and three touchdowns, skyrocketing his passer rating north of 121. His streak finished at 21 straight, when Mayfield was forced to throw an incompletion because he needed to stop the clock with a spike. If we overlook that spike, Mayfield completed each of his 22 legitimate attempts following that miserable start. He threw five touchdown passes -- including a beauty to Rashard Higgins inside the game's final minute, and an impressive strike to rookie Donovan Peoples-Jones for the game-winning score -- and finished with a rating of 135.6. The tweets with screenshots of Mayfield's opening line stopped popping up once he got hot. Much of Mayfield's criticism in the Cleveland area has included the statement: He's not a quarterback who is going to go win you a game when you need him to. He proved that crowd wrong Sunday.
2) It's only right that on National Tight End Day, Mayfield threw three touchdown passes to tight ends -- even on a day in which he didn't have Austin Hooper available. Harrison Bryant's coming-out party saw the rookie catch four of five targets for 56 yards and two touchdowns, both with less than 2.5 yards of separation, and David Njoku followed fresh rumors of discontent with a spectacular 16-yard touchdown grab with Vonn Bell blanketed over him. How tight was the coverage? Njoku had 0.56 yards of separation when the pass from Mayfield arrived, and his catch completed a connection that had a 24.2% chance of happening. Not bad for a group that didn't include Hooper.
3) Joe Burrow keeps improving. Burrow was electric in Cincinnati's (1-5-1) first meeting with Cleveland (5-2) and was even better Sunday. Burrow became the fourth rookie passer to register five 300-plus passing yards games Sunday, then topped that by becoming the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to throw for 400-plus yards and three passing touchdowns and run for a score in a single game. He drove the Bengals down the field in the game's final minutes, tossing a touchdown to Giovani Bernard on fourth-and-1 inside the 5 to take the lead with 64 seconds to play. All of that is remarkable, but what really stood out Sunday was Burrow's moxie, specifically in how he escaped collapsing pockets, kept his eyes downfield and found his target for positive gains, going three for four on passes on the run for 47 yards and a 113.5 passer rating. This type of improvisation was frequent and required thanks to the harassment of Myles Garrett -- who did record his second strip-sack on Burrow in 2020 – and thanks to the efforts of Burrow, the Bengals were in the game until the very end. They just don't have a win to show for it.
-- Nick Shook
1) What a way for Justin Herbert to secure his first career 'W.' The boy wonder completed 27 of 43 pass attempts for a career-high 347 yards and three TDs, and led the team in rushing (nine carries for 66 yards). Eight receivers hauled in at least one target, but it was Keenan Allen (10 receptions for 125 yards) who feasted once again. Despite three early scores over four drives, L.A. hit a wall with a trio of punts -- one of which was blocked and returned for a TD -- and a missed FG. Not phased by the slump, Herbert steadied the ship with a pair of TD dimes to tie the game 29-all. A forced fumble/recovery on special teams gave L.A. another quick scoring opportunity which Herbert capped off in style, rolling to his right from five yards out and freezing Joe Schobert with a pump fake before scrambling and extending into the end zone. After struggling to close out multiple games this season, the Chargers (2-4) finally held on to snap their four-game losing streak.
2) While one streak was snapped in impressive fashion, another continued in depressing fashion. The Jaguars (1-6) have now dropped their last six, allowing 30-plus points in each defeat. It was yet another mixed bag for Gardner Minshew (173 yards, two passing touchdowns), whose first completion didn't come until early in the second quarter. After four straight punts to begin the game, Minshew's 26-yard strike to D.J. Chark seemingly awakened the Jags, as they went on to to score 21 unanswered. After a relatively quiet past few games, rookie James Robinson and his career day (22/119/TD) provided a major spark. The surge would fizzle out, though, as Jacksonville's last score came late in the third while L.A. scored 17 straight to seal the deal.
3) We all know Minshew loves to improvise, but a QB's creativity only goes so far when facing this type of pass rush. With Melvin Ingram back in the lineup and Joey Bosa leading the way as usual, the Bolts crowded Minshew's space and created chaos with a flurry of hurries and QB hits (nine). Over the last four games, the Chargers accumulated just five sacks; they matched the number in one afternoon in Inglewood. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley loves bringing pressure; L.A. did that in spades against a vulnerable Jacksonville O-line.
-- Jelani Scott
1) Don't let the ugly ending distract you from the fact that the Bills defense played lights out in the second half. It appeared that Buffalo (5-2) had yet to find a cure for its run defense woes, allowing 82 rushing yards in the first half. Costly PI penalties helped set up La'Mical Perine's first career TD to give N.Y. a 10-point lead. Things continued to look iffy until CB Dane Jackson came up with a game-altering INT just before half. From there, the Bills went on a stampede, limiting the Jets to 17 rushing yards and four passing yards (116 in the first half). Defensive end Jerry Hughes (two sacks, PD, FF) stamped his smothering effort with a game-sealing pick after a Quinton Jefferson bat down at the line. Overall, the Bills forced four punts and two turnovers after the Jets score, and tacked on four second-half sacks to give them six on the day.
2) Even with the terrible second half, the Jets had a shot late. Making his return from a two-week hiatus, Sam Darnold (12-23, 120 yards, 2 INTs) looked rejuvenated through two quarters. Perhaps Adam Gase's decision to surrender play-calling duties to OC Dowell Loggains contributed to the energy. The defense played just well enough, holding one of the NFL's better offenses to six FGs (0-5 in red zone), to position Darnold and Co. for a potential game-tying drive. After getting sacked, Darnold fired a deep shot to Breshad Perriman, who was blown up by Micah Hyde for an unnecessary roughness penalty. A holding call then negated a 10-yard Darnold scramble before another Hughes sack and the aforementioned pick delivered the one-two KO. And just like that, N.Y. is 0-7 for the first time since 1996.
3) The Bills began the season like a team on a mission, but sloppy play has continued to plague them. Josh Allen (307 yards, 30-for-43) found some drive-sustaining success with Cole Beasley (11/112) and in the run game (11/61) but made several forced, tight-window throws to Stefon Diggs (6/48) that stifled momentum. Most egregiously, though, Buffalo accrued 11 penalties (106 yards). Hyde's big hit could've cost them, but prior to that, Buffalo missed out on a TD (illegal formation) late in the third, lost precious yardage on several nice Andre Roberts punt returns and gave away a score with PIs. They escaped with one today, but they'll have to clean up the lack of discipline up moving forward.
-- Jelani Scott
1) This one got fun late, as games involving the 2020 Falcons are wont to do. Atlanta's latest collapse could have probably been avoided had it not scored a go-ahead touchdown. Todd Gurley tried to down the ball at the Lions' 1 to run the clock, but his momentum took him into the end zone, giving the Falcons a 22-16 lead. Matthew Stafford used the remaining 64 seconds to drive Detroit to a game-winning score, hitting T.J. Hockenson from 11 yards out as time expired. Matt Prater, who pushed a 46-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter but connected from 49 yards out soon after, split the uprights on a 48-yard extra-point attempt to end the game. It was all so Falcons.
2) It couldn't have been lost on Matt Patricia what happened to Dan Quinn just two weeks ago. The Lions entered Sunday's contest in far better shape, in early wild-card contention even, but a loss to the Falcons would have been a lost opportunity. And it might have been one that caught up to Patricia and Detroit at the end of the regular season. Instead, thanks to the heroics of Stafford, Kenny Golladay and Romeo Okwara, the Lions (3-3) return home on a two-game winning streak before taking on a Colts team that has looked vulnerable in recent weeks.
3) The Falcons (1-6) are three plays away from being 4-3. That would have them a half-game off the NFC South lead. Interim coach Raheem Morris delivered Atlanta its first win a week ago, but it took just one more game for the team's deep-rooted issues to arise. The Falcons can't run the ball with any consistency and their pass defense might be worse -- the perfect ingredients to blowing big leads. The previous front office invested heavily on both fronts in recent years, so perhaps the Falcons will experience a comeback of their own. But it's looking more likely that they've wasted the primes of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones.
-- Adam Maya