KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The career of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes through eight games has been like no other — at least when it comes to touchdown passes.
Mahomes threw four scoring passes in Sunday night’s 45-10 win over the Cincinnati Bengals at Arrowhead Stadium. That gives him 22 touchdown passes in the first eight games of his career, breaking the NFL record of 21 set by Kurt Warner.
“You think you’re going to have success, but I didn’t expect this much,” Mahomes said. “But at the same time, I knew the weapons we had, and I knew if I just ran [the offense] and did what Coach [Andy] Reid wanted me to do that there was a chance we could be really, really good.”
Mahomes is closing in on the Chiefs’ single-season record for touchdowns. Len Dawson threw 30 touchdown passes in 1964, and Mahomes has nine games to catch him.
“We have a lot of season left. … We’re going to try to get a couple more and keep doing what we’re doing,” Reid said.
Mahomes threw four touchdown passes this season in games against the Chargers and Patriots. He had six scoring throws in a game against the Steelers.
Mahomes, the Chiefs’ first-round draft pick in 2017, said he has never had as much fun playing football as he’s having this season.
“To be able to learn every day from Coach Reid, to be able to get out here with all these guys … we literally have fun every single day,” he said. “We love coming to work, I guess you would say, and just getting to play this game that we’ve loved since we were little kids and winning a lot of football games.”
Mahomes threw three touchdown passes in the first half as the Chiefs built a 24-7 lead. He had scoring throws of 6 and 15 yards to Kareem Hunt and 17 yards to Demetrius Harris.
Mahomes’ 22nd touchdown pass of the season came in the fourth quarter. Tyreek Hill caught the 3-yard throw.
Mahomes failed to throw a touchdown pass in two of his eight career games: last season against the Broncos and this season against the Jaguars.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The San Francisco 49ers brought back their all-white 1994 throwback jerseys for Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams. The Niners didn’t do much to conjure memories of that world championship season. As it turned out, going back to a 1980 look would have been more appropriate.
That’s because the 49ers didn’t do much to give themselves a chance against the heavily favored Rams. To be sure, the Rams are the better, healthier, more star-studded team and their undefeated record should tell you all you needed to know about the expected outcome against the Niners.
But given an opportunity to pull off an NFL-shaking upset, the 1-6 Niners turned the ball over four times, coming up with zero takeaways and falling into an early hole that eventually became a 39-10 blowout loss at Levi’s Stadium.
“It’s inexcusable,” coach Kyle Shanahan said. “It’s impossible to win in this league when you turn the ball over like we are and we don’t get any [takeaways]. We had four today, 4-0, and I think it was 24 points off turnovers. In order for us to be able to play in a football game, we have to tighten up with the ball and get the ball.
“We have to fix the turnovers. Once we fix the turnovers then we have a chance to start playing football.”
The 49ers never had much of a chance in Sunday’s loss, as they wasted little time giving the Rams’ potent offense prime field position. Two of the offense’s first three possessions resulted in a C.J. Beathard fumble that gave the Rams the ball at San Francisco’s 44 and another from running back Matt Breida that gave it to the Rams at the Niners’ 21. Those giveaways resulted in an early 10-0 hole from which the 49ers could not recover.
Later, Beathard threw two interceptions, both of which also resulted in Rams’ touchdowns. Four turnovers, 24 Rams points, ball game over.
“It’s extremely frustrating because we know we’re a lot better team than that and we have just got to get it stopped,” Breida said. “We’re doing nothing but hurting ourselves and I feel like we’re the reason why we’re losing these games, so the sooner we get that corrected, I feel like we’ll be in a lot better direction.”
Meanwhile, the defense was again struggling to get takeaways despite a pair of golden opportunities provided by Los Angeles quarterback Jared Goff. One went through the hands of safety Jaquiski Tartt on a play that might have been a pick-six had Tartt secured it. Another came later when cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon and free safety Adrian Colbert collided as a catchable ball fell to the ground.
The Niners haven’t come up with a takeaway since the opening moments of a Week 4 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. The Niners have turned the ball over 14 times since without getting a takeaway of their own. That lack of production has come despite a consistent emphasis from coordinator Robert Saleh in practice.
“[We’ve got to] just keep attacking the ball, keep having that focus during the week which is trying to create fumbles, trying to get interceptions, not being satisfied with pass breakups and I think it will come,” Witherspoon said.
In this lost season, the sight of opponents coming up with fumble recoveries or interceptions while the Niners fail to get any of their own has become all too familiar. Injuries and other issues aside, the Niners’ whopping minus-15 turnover margin through the first seven weeks is the single biggest issue the team just can’t seem to overcome.
At minus-15, the 49ers are tied with the 1980 Niners for the worst turnover differential in franchise history at this point in the season. Jacksonville has the second-worst turnover margin and is still three better than San Francisco.
That negative turnover margin is the second-worst in the NFL through seven games since 2001, with only the 2012 Kansas City Chiefs posting a worse number.
The 49ers’ three takeaways are the fewest and their 18 giveaways are the most in the NFL.
The Niners had a minus-1 turnover margin in their first 14 quarters of the season. In the ensuing 14 quarters, that number is minus-14.
Sunday’s loss was the fourth time this season that the 49ers were minus-3 or worse in turnover margin. They’ve lost all four games.
The Niners are negative-54 in point differential off turnovers this season, worst in the league by 19 points.
Going into Sunday night’s game between Kansas City and Cincinnati, there had been 23 games this season in which a team was minus-3 or worse in turnover margin. Of those games, only two teams were able to overcome the turnovers and win and one more was able to come away with a tie.
For an injury-ravaged Niners team, finding victories figured to be hard enough without quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo but this team definitely doesn’t have the weapons to cancel out such mistakes in its current state.
While it’s easy to put the blame on Beathard — who has thrown an interception in eight straight starts, the longest streak by a starting 49ers QB since Steve DeBerg in 1979, according to Elias Sports Bureau research, and has at least one giveaway in every game in which he has played substantial snaps — the Niners’ problems run much deeper. Which is why Shanahan said after the game he intends to stick with Beathard moving forward.
“If it was just one thing, you’d say one thing. if it was just one guy, you’d say one guy,” Shanahan said. “But it’s an accumulation of a number of things.
“We need to get better. The better you get, the less you turn it over. We talk about the ball and work on going after balls as much as you possibly can. You don’t stop. You don’t wait for it. You keep preaching those same things and you expect it to get better the more you work at it and if it doesn’t, then you’ve got to find people who do take care of it.”
LANDOVER, Md. — Officially, the penalty was a false start in the game book. In the words of referee John Hussey, Dallas Cowboys long snapper L.P. Ladouceur was called for a snap infraction.
Ladouceur, a 14-year veteran, could not recall ever being flagged for such a penalty.
With three seconds remaining, Ladouceur’s penalty moved a potential game-tying field goal attempt from 47 to 52 yards, and Brett Maher‘s kick hit the left upright, leaving the Cowboys with a loss — 20-17 against the Washington Redskins — and at a loss.
“I just adjusted down so I could put my hands on the bottom of it, so I could snap it in the right direction,” Ladouceur said. “Exact same thing I’ve been doing for 14 years … I’m not even trying to get him offside. I know the situation. Just too bad.”
Coach Jason Garrett said he was told that Ladouceur moved the ball in a way that prompted Jonathan Allen to jump offside. Garrett could not recall the last time he saw that called as a penalty.
“Once? Twice? Not very often,” Garrett said.
On Twitter, Al Riveron, the NFL’s director of officiating, said the “illegal ball movement by the center causes the defense to come across the neutral zone and contact a lineman.”
Ladouceur — the longest-tenured Cowboy, having joined the team in 2005 — said he went through the same pre-snap routine he has followed his entire career.
“Never had that before,” Ladouceur said. “I do the exact same thing every time, so when that happens, that’s what I was telling the ref: ‘I do the exact same thing. Yeah, the guy jumped.’ That’s what I thought.”
Ladouceur said he puts one hand on the ball, then a second and lays it down so he can snap it accurately. Entering Sunday, he was perfect as a snapper, with clean snaps on 924 punts, 572 point-after attempts and 419 field goal tries.
What is Ladouceur’s understanding of the rule?
“As long as I don’t pick up the ball,” he said. “The ball was on the ground the whole time.”
Maher had made 16 straight field goal attempts prior to his miss. He said he pulled the kick slightly, and the wind might have played a part as it was coming down.
“That penalty had zero impact on the result of that kick, I can promise you that,” Maher said. “L.P. and [holder Chris Jones], like they’ve done all year, they made my job easy, and it was the same in that situation. Yeah, I felt like I was very capable of making that kick. Just didn’t get it done.”
Aaron Rodgers has overcome a lot of obstacles in his career, and still plays with a chip on his shoulder from falling to No. 24 in the 2005 NFL draft.
He’ll have some more motivation next Sunday at the Los Angeles Rams, courtesy of Las Vegas oddmakers.
The SuperBook at the Westgate Las Vegas opened the Green Bay Packers as 8.5-point underdogs in Week 8.
If the line stands, it would represent the largest total by which Rodgers has been an underdog in his career, per ESPN Stats & Information data, and biggest since the Packers were 8-point underdogs to the Seattle Seahawks in 2014. Green Bay was an underdog to the Arizona Cardinals by 7 in 2015, to the New York Jets by 6 in 2010 and to the Atlanta Falcons by 5.5 in 2016. All but the Jets game came in the playoffs.
That 2010 meeting with the Jets was the previous biggest regular-season spread as an underdog for Rodgers; the Packers visited New York as 6-point underdogs and won (and covered) 9-0 in Week 8.
The Rams are undefeated (7-0) and have been favored by at least 6.5 points in every game so far this season, going 4-2-1 against the spread.
The 3-2-1 Packers, off in Week 7 for their bye, will enter the game as underdogs for the third time this season. They are 2-4 ATS.
The Chiefs will be difficult to beat if their defense continues to play as well as it did against the Bengals. The Chiefs have played well at times defensively in all of their games except a recent one against New England, but it’s possible they turned a corner with a consistent defensive showing against Cincinnati. — Adam Teicher
Andy Reid expresses his emotions on getting his 200th win, including playoffs, in the NFL and says “everybody is involved” in this milestone.
Where has the Bengals’ defense gone? The Bengals have given up at least 480 yards in three of the past four games, and they couldn’t stop the Chiefs’ offense all night. That doesn’t bode well, as the Buccaneers and Saints are coming to town soon. The Bengals clearly don’t match up well against speedier offenses, and that’s going to be a problem moving forward if they don’t generate turnovers. — Katherine Terrell
Don’t look now, but the Chargers are one of the hottest teams in the NFL, riding a four-game win streak into their bye week after edging the Titans in London. The break comes at a good time for the Chargers, with Melvin Gordon nursing a hamstring injury and defensive end Joey Bosa potentially playing for the first time this season against the Seahawks in Week 9 after missing time with a bruised left foot. “Was it our best game all around? Probably not,” quarterback Philip Rivers said. “But the name of the game is to score one more point than the other team, and we did that.” — Eric D. Williams
The NFL Countdown crew breaks down why the Chargers are showing signs of positive growth.
The Titans’ offensive struggles were showcased in their third consecutive loss. They’ll have plenty of time to figure out what went wrong as their bye week comes at an opportune time. “We’re gonna get back to work and we’re going to improve the stuff we didn’t do very well and get better,” coach Mike Vrabel said. Time off will allow the Titans to work on their ineffective red zone offense. Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur will get a chance to showcase his revised scheme Week 9 against the Cowboys. — Turron Davenport
The Patriots wanted to prove they can win on the road after opening 0-2 away from home. They showed mental toughness in overcoming several sudden changes in a win over the Bears. At the same time, three turnovers continues an alarming trend, as Tom Brady called them “frustrating” and an area that has to be corrected heading into Monday night’s road game against the Bills. So while the Patriots were pleased to win, they felt this was far from their best effort. — Mike Reiss
For the Bears to beat a quality opponent like New England, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has to play better. Trubisky had some good moments on Sunday, particularly in the run game, but he missed the mark on 24 pass attempts and tossed a pair of interceptions. Even with Trubisky’s last-second Hail Mary completion to Kevin White, the Bears’ starting quarterback still had a passer rating of below 70.0. Not having Khalil Mack at full strength hurt, but the Bears need better accuracy from their quarterback to win big games. They look to get back in the win column next week against the Jets. — Jeff Dickerson
Coach Ron Rivera called this a “statement” win. Indeed, the Panthers not only overcame a 17-0 fourth-quarter deficit, but also did it on the road where they were 0-2 this season. With two home games coming up against Baltimore and Tampa Bay, the Panthers, 3-0 at Bank of America Stadium, have a chance to keep pace with the Saints in the NFC South. — David Newton
Cam Newton notes Carolina’s persistence as the team kept battling to overcome a 17-point deficit.
There’s no excuse for a fourth-quarter collapse against the Panthers that drops the Eagles to 3-4 and sets up an uphill climb. The defense shut Cam Newton out for three quarters — a first for a Newton-led team — but couldn’t hold late. There are major questions to be answered with their London game against the Jaguars on deck. Eagles coach Doug Pederson said after the game: “Basically told ’em that, ‘Hey, pressure’s off of us. Nobody on the outside world is giving us a chance to do much of anything, and the pressure’s off, so we can go play, have fun and just relax.’ Lot of football ahead, too.” — Tim McManus
The Texans won their fourth consecutive contest and gained sole possession of first place in the AFC South, playing their best and most complete game of the season. Houston did it with another stellar effort from its defense and an improved running game, two areas the team needs to continue to have success with on Thursday night against the Dolphins as quarterback Deshaun Watson plays through ribs and lung injuries. — Sarah Barshop
Things are falling apart for the Jaguars. Players were heard yelling at each other in the locker room, and at one point, Calais Campbell was restraining Yannick Ngakoue. Jalen Ramsey said there’s no secret to what’s going on: It’s a mess right now. Coach Doug Marrone said the starting QB job is up for grabs after benching Blake Bortles along with pretty much every other spot on offense heading into Sunday’s game against Philadelphia in London. — Mike DiRocco
Even after failing to capitalize on great field position created by the special teams unit throughout the game, the Vikings’ offense still hung 37 points on the Jets in their third straight win. As long as Minnesota has Adam Thielen, who recorded his seventh consecutive game of 100 yards receiving, it’s going to be difficult for teams to contain the Vikings’ explosive passing attack. Now the Vikings face their biggest test of the season next Sunday night when they host the Saints in rematch of last year’s “miracle” finish in the divisional playoffs. — Courtney Cronin
Harrison Smith praises Adam Thielen’s performance so far this season, saying “now you see kind of all the fruits of his labor.”
Sam Darnold suffered his worst game in part because the Jets’ pedestrian receiving group — down Quincy Enunwa (ankle) and Terrelle Pryor (released/injured) — was exposed by the Vikings. Now the front office must weigh the pros and cons of acquiring a receiver before the trade deadline. The Jets could be hurting Darnold’s development if they stand pat. — Rich Cimini
The Colts rushed for 220 yards in their 32-point victory over the Bills. Sunday was the first time since the 2011 season that the Colts rushed for at least 200 yards on the ground. Second-year running back Marlon Mack‘s 126 yards marked just the fourth time in Andrew Luck‘s career that he had a player rush for at least 100 yards in a game. “It just gives you a feeling of physical power,” Colts coach Frank Reich said. The Colts could extend their winning streak next week against struggling Oakland team. — Mike Wells
Three interceptions and a lost fumble by Derek Anderson made it clear Buffalo is doomed whatever direction it turns at quarterback. Whether it’s raw rookie moments from Josh Allen, disastrous interceptions from Nathan Peterman or the expected flaws Anderson showed Sunday less than two weeks after being signed, the Bills (2-5) have little choice but to accept their situation at the position. Their defense’s performance Sunday proved it was too soon to call the unit elite and too optimistic to expect that side of the ball to bail out a bottom-feeding offense this season, especially next week against the Patriots. — Mike Rodak
The Bucs turned the ball over four times, but defensively, they were able to pressure the quarterback and their secondary didn’t have the coverage breakdowns we’ve seen much of this season, simplifying things on the back end. Losing linebackers Kwon Alexander and Jack Cichy played a role in allowing the Browns back into the game, but this is a step in the right direction for the Bucs, who play at Cincinnati next Sunday. — Jenna Laine
Another slow start, another struggle in overtime. Coach Hue Jackson said he will have to get more involved in the Browns’ offense. “I got to jump in headfirst, all hands, feet, everything, and go figure it out,” Jackson said after his team fell to 2-4-1. Jackson will take the plunge just in time for the Steelers and the possible return of Le’Veon Bell next week. — Pat McManamon
It was the Lions’ best day running the ball since the Barry Sanders era, and that says something for their future. After gaining 248 rushing yards — Detroit’s best since Sanders had 216 yards against Indianapolis in 1997 — in a road win to get back to .500, the Lions appear to have a more diversified offense than at any time during Matthew Stafford‘s career. And that can make Detroit dangerous with a critical portion of its schedule upcoming with a home game against Seattle followed by road trips to Minnesota and Chicago. — Michael Rothstein
Kerryon Johnson breaks through and takes off for a 71-yard run to set up a field goal for Detroit.
The Dolphins’ wide receiver room is getting extremely light after injuries to Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson, the Dolphins’ two most productive receivers this season. To make matters stickier, DeVante Parker‘s agent called Adam Gase “incompetent” after his client was inactive once again. That situation seems volatile, but the Dolphins have to turn around and travel to Houston on Thursday with injuries that may force their hand into different personnel in another week of Brock Osweiler. — Cameron Wolfe
The Saints (5-1) won their most important game of the season to date, coming back from a 10-point deficit at Baltimore against the NFL’s No. 1 defense. As coach Sean Payton and his players preached Sunday, these are the types of games that build a team’s character. Mark Ingram II said they proved they are “road warriors.” The tests don’t stop, though. They’re at Minnesota next week, then they host the undefeated Rams. — Mike Triplett
The Ravens need to prove consistency before they can be stamped as a playoff contender. Baltimore has a bad habit of following up big wins with disappointing losses. Earlier this season, the Ravens lost at Cleveland after beating Pittsburgh. On Sunday, Baltimore fell to New Orleans after shutting out Tennessee on the road. Now, the Ravens will have to rebound at Carolina, where the Panthers have won eight in a row. There have been too many close losses over the past two years in September and October, costing the Ravens playoff trips. — Jamison Hensley
After a 4-turnover performance against the 49ers, Sean McVay tips his hat to the defense and looks forward to next week’s test against the Packers.
Even without Jimmy Garoppolo, the 49ers have found themselves in the position to win games over the past few weeks, coming away with something to build on even if they didn’t win. But Sunday’s blowout loss to the Rams was an example of what happens when you pair an uber-talented opponent with the 49ers’ continued mistakes. The Niners are now a league-worst minus-15 in turnover margin, something no team can overcome. Even with “winnable” games coming against the Cardinals, Raiders and Giants, the Niners won’t return to the winner’s circle until they can forge some sort of turnover turnaround. — Nick Wagoner
The Redskins have found a formula that works, and it’s one they haven’t had for a while: strong defense and a run game. It’s why they’re 4-2, and it’s why they’re optimistic that they can continue to contend in the NFC East. Adrian Peterson has provided an attitude for the offense, while young linemen Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen have done so for the defense. They will need quarterback Alex Smith to play better if they want to be serious contenders, but for now their formula is working. — John Keim
The Cowboys enter the bye week at 3-4 in second place in the NFC East after a game-tying field goal attempt hit the upright on the final play. This team is searching for confidence, especially away from home. “You want to come up here and win this ballgame and do everything you can to scratch and claw and find a way to come out on top but unfortunately that did not happen,” coach Jason Garrett said. The Cowboys have five games remaining at AT&T Stadium, but their season could be decided with back-to-back road games against Philadelphia and Atlanta on Nov. 11 and 18. — Todd Archer
Brett Maher misses a 52-yard field goal with a chance for the Cowboys to tie the game, giving the Redskins a 20-17 victory.
Broncos coach Vance Joseph said the team’s defense “got back to what we do best” on Thursday night, when the Broncos finished with six sacks, three interceptions — they returned two for touchdowns — and the kind of effort they’ve been waiting to see for four quarters. When cornerback Bradley Roby plays with discipline in coverage, the Broncos are better equipped to play man on the outside and rush five or more defenders. The Broncos were at their best defensively against the Cardinals, but will it continue next week against the high-powered Chiefs? — Jeff Legwold
The Cardinals came pretty close to rock bottom in this one. It was a bad enough offensive performance to get offensive coordinator Mike McCoy fired on Friday morning, and it’ll be up to quarterbacks coach Byron Leftwich, who replaced McCoy, to right a ship that’s severely off course. When Arizona gets back to work Monday, it’ll be a new dawn for Josh Rosen, Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson. — Josh Weinfuss
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Kerryon Johnson saw the hole open up on the left side of the offensive line. It was the first play Sunday afternoon and everything happened exactly the way the rookie from Auburn thought it might.
The blocks from his linemen and receivers were perfect. In the heat against the Miami Dolphins, the openings were there all day.
In the Detroit Lions‘s 32-21 victory over Miami, something big seemed possible for Johnson on every play. Give him a sliver of space and he can make something happen. Give him more room and better blocks and even bigger things can happen.
“In my mind, that’s great. That means I know what those guys up front are doing and I know our game plan is going to stay true to itself,” Johnson said. “So, it definitely gives me confidence, gives them confidence. The crowd energy goes up, our energy goes and then the key is to carry it through four quarters, which we did.”
They ran left, right and up the middle. They ran for short gains, medium gains and a 71-yard gain that Johnson said was his longest run since high school. The Lions registered 248 rushing yards against Miami, Detroit’s best total since Nov. 23, 1997.
Barry Sanders rushed for 216 yards that day (in another game in which Detroit won by scoring 32 points) in an era when Detroit was known more for its running than its passing. That’s not quite happening here with these Lions, even though Johnson’s 158-yard game was the most for a Lions back since Jahvid Best had 163 on Oct. 10, 2011.
Lions left guard Frank Ragnow has seen this before, when he was at Arkansas. His team faced Johnson’s at Auburn every year. It went about as well for the Razorbacks then as it did for the Dolphins on Sunday.
“He beat us up,” Ragnow said. “I’m not going to lie to you. He ran all over us at Arkansas. I definitely am not surprised by his success. He’s been talented in the SEC for a while.”
Four weeks ago against the New England Patriots, Johnson snapped the team’s four-year drought of 100-yard rushers, and he was even better Sunday. His emergence offers Detroit a different type of offensive structure, particularly when the Lions start fast. Johnson gained 106 of his yards in the first half.
“It allows us to be more dynamic,” running back Ameer Abdullah said. “Because now, obviously, you got a running back coming in who has 100 yards like that, they are going to focus on him. Then you can bring in a LeGarrette [Blount] or you can bring in me — they are bouncing around like, ‘How the heck are we going to stop all these guys?’”
This started in April, when the Lions convened for the first time under new coach Matt Patricia. He craved balance and physicality. A consistent, respectable run game, which the Lions never had under previous coach Jim Caldwell, makes play-action more effective. It keeps teams from dropping too many players into coverage against the Lions’ talented receivers.
It allows Detroit to manage the clock — and the potential outcomes, because a strong run game can wear down a defense. It is something the Lions hadn’t had in half a decade.
“It changes everything,” receiver Marvin Jones said. “Obviously, when you can run the ball, you control. And that’s the big thing. That’s what we did. You look at all of our wins — we’ve been able to do that and control the ball. That’s how it was today.
“We ran it whenever we wanted to, at will; and if we needed a play in the passing game, we threw it and made the play. To have that control is great and it’s a tribute to the line, the work that they put out throughout the week.”
Every Lions player mentioned the line after Sunday’s victory. General manager Bob Quinn invested so much in the line over the past three years since his hiring in January 2016: two first-round picks (left tackle Taylor Decker and left guard Ragnow), two highly-touted free agents (right guard T.J. Lang, right tackle Rick Wagner) and a third-round pick who has become dependable (center Graham Glasgow).
He spent this offseason changing the running backs, signing Blount and trading up in the second round to select Johnson. Both moves have worked. In Johnson, the Lions have found a stabilizer and difference-maker in the run game.
And it has led to more success and a confidence that the entire offense can be dynamic, because if Detroit can run, there are possibilities to do almost anything.
Johnson spent close to 10 minutes after the game sitting in front of his locker, taking well-wishes from teammates and ribbing from Blount. He sat there, clad in an Auburn shirt, ready to go. He wasn’t bothered that on the perfectly blocked 71-yarder in the second quarter, he got caught from behind.
“Look, since high school, I’ve been caught from behind enough times for me to know it’s just how it happens in life,” Johnson said. “You know, but I ain’t ran 71 yards in a long time, so I was proud of myself.”
In the best Lions rushing day in two decades, Johnson gave a glimpses of the team’s present and future — one that looks loaded with potential. That, more than anything else, is a reason not to worry.
“They say it’s a game of inches and that’s kind of what it came down to,” Patriots running back James White said.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady described it as a play in which “you just kind of hold your breath.” He credited Trubisky, who faced pressure from outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy, for making a good throw.
As for Trubisky, who was rolling out across his body to his left before planting his feet to throw from the Bears’ 36 yard-line, he initially believed it was a touchdown.
“I saw a group of receivers down there, Kevin made a heck of a catch. From my vantage point, I thought he was in,” he said.
Trubisky’s impressive heave covered 62 yards in the air, and referee Clay Martin reviewed the play to confirm that White — who turned quickly to his left after making the catch in an attempt to barrel through Patriots defenders Jason McCourty, Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon and Jonathan Jones — was stopped short.
“It looked closer, I just saw him go up, catch the ball, and I just couldn’t tell exactly where he was, how he came down, what the extra effort was, and then you could see on tape we were just a little short,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said. “In a perfect world, you’d love to get into the end zone for that, but we were a little far away, and into the wind. … We were a yard away from tying the game.”
One of the unusual parts of the play for the Patriots was the presence of receiver Josh Gordon as a defender, which is a role tight end Rob Gronkowski usually plays, but Gronkowski was inactive due to a back injury.
Gordon’s assignment was as the “jumper,” but his attempt to bat the ball down was unsuccessful.
Gordon said it has been a while since he has assumed that role.
“Too many people around the ball at once to try to even figure out what’s going on. I wanted to grab it. Somebody else wanted to grab it. Pushing and pulling, and everything like that,” he said when asked what happened. “He ended up with it. It was a great play for him, definitely. But fortunately enough, we were able to hold them out of the end zone.”
Meanwhile, Harmon, one of the Patriots’ safeties, said that while the play didn’t necessarily unfold the way the Patriots would have liked, one positive was that everyone knew their role.
The Patriots had four players involved with the pass rush, dropping seven deep into coverage.
“You can’t prepare for every scenario, but you can have rules that you can always go to that always put you in a good situation and good position, and that’s what it was,” Harmon said. “We didn’t go over him catching the ball at the 2-yard line, but we did have rules and everybody did their rules. We had a jumper and everyone else kind of playing for the tip.
“When you see that everybody does their job, and resorts back to their rules and plays by their rules, we can get a good play out of a situation like that.”
Harmon also eyed Bears receiver Taylor Gabriel as a player White might have tried to pitch the ball to after making the catch.
“Gabriel was trying to call for the ball, but I made sure I put my arm around him, too. It’s the last play. Anything can happen. They had the ball right there,” Harmon said. “Just trying to do everything to make sure they couldn’t get the ball into the end zone.”
BALTIMORE — Another week, another milestone for Drew Brees.
The New Orleans Saints quarterback became the fourth player in NFL history to throw for 500 career TD passes when he completed a 1-yard pass to tight end Benjamin Watson for a 7-3 lead in the second quarter Sunday at Baltimore.
Brees, 39, joined Peyton Manning, Brett Favre and Tom Brady.
Two weeks ago, Brees broke Manning’s record for the most passing yards in NFL history. He entered Sunday’s game with 72,103 career passing yards.
Brees is also looking to add one more achievement to his career bucket list Sunday — beating the Ravens. He is 0-4 against them all-time, making them the only team he has never beaten in his 18-year career.
With a win, Brees could join Manning and Favre as the only QBs to beat all 32 teams (Brees beat the Saints early in his career with the Chargers).
After initially announcing that Michel’s return was questionable, the team ruled him out for the game in the third quarter.
Michel was running left when Bears defensive tackle Bilal Nichols twisted him to the ground with force, dislodging the ball.
A first-round draft choice out of Georgia, selected No. 31 overall, Michel appeared to be in considerable pain and required help getting to the sideline. After receiving help getting to the medical tent along the sideline, the club called for a cart to bring Michel to the locker room.
Michel, who has on the injury report as a limited participant in practice because of a knee injury, had elevated to a leading role in recent weeks with running backs Rex Burkhead (concussion, eligible to return) and Jeremy Hill (torn ACL, out for the year) on injured reserve.
Michel had missed all four of the team’s preseason games and the regular-season opener after undergoing a procedure to drain fluid from his knee.
His absence Sunday left the Patriots with just James White and Kenjon Barner at running back. If Michel’s absence is a long-term situation, it will likely force the Patriots into exploring the possibility of signing another player at the position.
On the Texans’ second drive, quarterback Deshaun Watson found Hopkins down the left sideline with Ramsey covering him. Hopkins beat Ramsey and reached out his left hand to make a one-handed catch for 31 yards.