As the first quarter of the regular season comes to a close, here are the main headlines coming out of Week 4:
Shoulder? What shoulder?
After producing the worst performance of his career last week against the New Orleans Saints, Cam Newton shrugged off critics with a dominant display in Foxborough.
Following an early interception, the 2015 MVP bounced back with 316 passing yards, three touchdowns through the air and one on the ground as the Carolina Panthers defeated the New England Patriots 33-30 in a huge upset.
While Newton’s streaky performances may cause some concern, head coach Ron Rivera remains completely behind his franchise quarterback as he continues to overcome the lingering effects of his off-season shoulder surgery.
But after accounting for 350 of the team’s 444 total yards on offence, perhaps his shoulder is just fine after all.
Fitz will forever be clutch
Monday’s (AEDT) game-winning touchdown catch with 32 seconds remaining in overtime wasn’t Larry Fitzgerald’s first walk-off score, and it certainly won’t be his last if this season is anything to go by.
Fitzgerald’s score broke a stretch of nine straight field goals and allowed the Arizona Cardinals to claim a narrow 18-15 victory over NFC West divisional rivals, San Francisco.
For all the pressure the 49ers’ front four threw at Carson Palmer, the 37-year-old remained near-perfect on his do-or-die drive, finding the franchise’s greatest ever player in the end-zone to bring his team back to .500.
Head coach Bruce Arians will breathe a sigh of relief after this one, but will no doubt hope for a more polished performance against the Philadelphia Eagles next week.
Yet another Carr crash
Last season, the Oakland Raiders’ most successful season since 2002 took a turn for the worst when quarterback Derek Carr suffered a broken leg against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 16.
Now, after a successful recovery and promising start to the season, it seems he and his team have reached yet another roadblock.
Before Carr left the game with a back injury in Oakland’s eventual 16-10 defeat to Denver, the Raiders struggled to move the ball down the field for the second straight week.
In their last two games, Jack Del Rio’s squad have amassed just 382 total yards, a figure they topped comfortably in Week 2 alone.
In addition to three sacks and five quarterback hits, the Broncos defence kept Marshawn Lynch in check with just 12 yards from nine carries.
Whether Carr’s back injury extends beyond Week 6 or not, offensive coordinator Todd Downing has a lot of work to do if the Raiders are to have any chance of emulating last season’s form and making the playoffs again.