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NFL Week 4 observations: The good, bad and ugly

Pat Mahomes kept the Chiefs unbeaten. Andrew Mather, Chiefs team website

Week 4 of the NFL season saw some high scoring games. We also saw nine games decided by one score. Three of those games were decided in overtime and could have ended in ties. What would another week of games be without more controversy and questionable decisions? Let’s take a look through my lenses at Week 4:

The Good

-Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot tallied 240 total yards and a touchdown in a 26-24 win over the Lions. His most impressive play was a 34 yard over the shoulder catch in one on one coverage on their final drive to set up the game winning field goal.

-Bears second year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky threw six touchdown passes in a blow out win over the Bucs Sunday. Five of the six came in the first half! Trubisky also tied for the team lead with 53 yards rushing. So much for the sophomore jinx. Khalil Mack has competition for team MVP.

-Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes continues his assault on the record books and is drawing comparisons with Hall of Famer Brett Favre with his “gunslinger” mentality and playmaking ability. He led a fourth quarter comeback win over division rival Broncos on Monday Night Football. Some of the unconventional throws he’s able to make remind some of Favre, especially the cross-body pinpoint accurate throws with sauce on them.

The Bad

-The Vikings and Rams had a shootout Thursday night the ended with the Rams winning 38-31. Both teams are considered two of the best in the league. But did we see chinks in their respective armor? Both have great defenses, but gave up a lot of points. Let’s keep an eye on this moving forward.

-The Dolphins fell back down to Earth with a 38-7 loss to the Patriots. They looked fairly average being outgained 449-172. They’re still technically in the lead of the AFC East, but I believe Cinderella has lost her slipper.

-The Falcons are now 1-3 on the season after falling to the Bengals 37-36 Sunday. This team is two seasons removed from a Super Bowl appearance, and is now in danger of missing the playoffs. Sure, it’s early in the season, but key injuries on the defensive side of the ball will make this start to their season hard to overcome.

The Ugly

-Seahawks all pro safety Earl Thomas has been embroiled in a contract dispute with the team as he is in the last year of his deal. Last November, he openly campaigned for the Cowboys to trade for him. In Sunday’s game against the Cardinals, Thomas fractured his left tibia and will be out for the season. As he was being carted off, Thomas gestured a middle finger towards the Seahawks’ bench. Not a good look, for Thomas or the team.

-Browns running back Carlos Hyde appeared to pick up a crucial first down against the Raiders with under two minutes left and his team up 42-34. The call was reviewed and reversed. The Browns punted, the Raiders scored a touchdown and two point conversion to tie the game and send it into overtime where they would later win. Sure, the Browns shouldn’t have given up a 14 point lead, but the refs didn’t need to help them either.

-The Cardinals couldn’t even overcome the Seahawks after Thomas got hurt and lost 20-17. They’re a team that’s hard enough to watch because they’re so devoid of talent. Enter rookie quarterback Josh Rosen. He had a respectable start, but the talent around him wasn’t enough to overcome the Seahawks. This team shows the early signs of being a top contender for the first overall pick in the draft.

I believe shootouts every week are going to be the norm. So are ridiculous calls by the refs, as well as boneheaded decisions by coaches and players. Every week, we seem to lose another great player due to freak accident injuries. But that’s football. The same wonderful game we love can  cruelly remind us of how violent it can be. However, let’s enjoy the influx of young talent the league has to sustain this beautifully chaotic game.

 

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Yuli Gurriel had a monster night at the plate Friday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

Although they lost the series 2-1, the Astros ended their road trip with a nice win over the Yankees to head home on a positive note. On Friday, they welcomed in the Toronto Blue Jays and former teammate George Springer, currently on the IL, to start a three-game series and long homestand. They had an excellent night at the plate, along with a strong start from Jose Urquidy, cruising past the Blue Jays to take the opener.

Final Score: Astros 10, Blue Jays 4

Astros' Record: 17-15, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (3-2)

Losing Pitcher: Ross Stripling (0-2)

Jays strike first, then Houston responds and never looks back

It first appeared that Urquidy may be in for a long night, giving up two solo home runs early in Friday's game, one to Bo Bichette in the top of the first with one out to put Toronto up 1-0, then another to Danny Jansen in the top of the third. However, Urquidy would lock-in, and his offense would back him up strongly.

Houston ended up sending nine batters to the plate in the bottom of the second, getting two runs on a homer by Carlos Correa, then later loading the bases to set up an RBI walk by Alex Bregman. In the bottom of the fifth, with a one-run lead at 3-2, Yuli Gurriel expanded the lead to three runs on a two-run shot.

Gurriel went on to have a fantastic night, going 4-for-4 at the plate with 4 RBI. His third of those came in the bottom of the seventh, extending the lead again with an RBI single to make it 6-2. Kyle Tucker made it a five-run game that same inning with an RBI double, then more insurance came in the bottom of the eighth. They reached double-digits that inning, with Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, and Yuli Gurriel, his fourth of the night, all getting an RBI to make it 10-2.

Urquidy finishes seven, then Emanuel finishes it off

Those gave Urquidy plenty of support, though he would bounce back after the two early homers and have a nice night on the mound. He allowed just two other hits, working around both, en route to a seven-inning two-run performance to earn him the win. His final line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2 HR, 84 P.

He likely could have gone longer, but Dusty Baker turned the ball over to Kent Emanuel to wrap things up with the significant lead. He did so, despite allowing a two-run home run to former-Astro Teoscor Hernandez in the top of the ninth to make the score 10-4. The win kept the Astros above .500 and two games back of the A's, who sit atop the AL West standings.

Up Next: The middle game of this series will be a 6:10 PM start Saturday night. The pitching matchup will be Steven Matz (4-2, 4.78 ERA) for Toronto and the electric Cristian Javier (3-0, 1.75 ERA) for Houston.

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