Justin Jefferson’s 10 catches for 147 yards yards in London buoyed the Vikings’ win over New Orleans, Saquon Barkley once again took on multiple duties in the Giants’ zero-quarterback offense and Seattle’s Geno Smith earned the weekend’s highest pass-rating, but in Kansas City’s resounding win, Patrick Mahomes illustrated the difference in dynamicism between himself and a rapidly aging Tom Brady.
A week after throwing a game-ending interception against the Colts, Mahomes sculpted a masterpiece on Sunday Night Football with his bare hands, feet, and some junk he assembled in his backyard. No Tyreek, no problem. Mahomes willed the Chiefs into the end zone playing some of that streetball that quarterback scouts belittled this offseason.
In addition to making an assortment of plays that shouldn’t have been possible, his resplendent play built the Chiefs a comfortable first-half lead that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were unable to tear down. In the second quarter he spun out of a sack, sprinted toward the line of scrimmage, stopped on a dime and flipped a pass to Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the end zone to end a career highlight play that belongs in The Museum of Modern Art. Under the primetime lights, Mahomes just moves differently.
Tampa Bay forced three interceptions out of Jameis Winston, held Dak Prescott and the Cowboys to a field goal and limited Aaron Rodgers to a pair of scoring drives. Facing a Bucs defense that has decimated every quarterback who’s faced their wrath, Mahomes was flawless and his passes just seem to be guided by the winds of heaven from beginning to the near end when he carelessly threw a pick in garbage time.
Brady actually outgained Mahomes by 136 yards, but he took too long to get revved up and had to throw 52 passes just to keep pace with the Chiefs offense. In the process, Mahomes became the fastest player to 20,000 yards, doing so in four fewer games than Matt Stafford. Mahomes’ passes appear to be propelled by the winds of heaven.
If there was ever any doubt that he was the best quarterback in the NFL, the gifts he put on display Sunday quelled those questions.
Least Valuable Player: Baker Mayfield
It wasn’t a very good Sunday for Mayfield, who watched the mutant quarterback who replaced him at Texas Tech show out on Sunday night while the one who one-upped him at Oklahoma, Kyler Murray, scurried up and down the field embarrassing the Panthers defense. In a matchup of diminutive, former Heisman-winning Oklahoma quarterbacks, the difference between Murray and Mayfield was vast.
Chicago’s Justin Fields continued his streak of doing nothing of consequence except taking sacks and throwing incompletions, but at least he cut down on the deleterious turnovers. Mayfield ran away with Least Valuable Player of Week 4 with his negative plays. He could barely throw over the line of scrimmage as Arizona’s defensive front knocked down not one, not two, not three, but four passes batted down by halftime. By the merciful end of regulation, he’d thrown five total, one of which was turned into an interception. Since being drafted in 2018, Mayfield leads the NFL in passes batted down at the line of scrimmage and he’s running away with the crown in 2022.
Finding a single area Mayfield is excelling in requires a search party. Mayfield and the Panthers’ drunken offense staggered their way to 16 points on the back of Mayfield’s meager production. Throwing for 197 yards passing with two interceptions and coughing up a fumble won’t cut it. Mayfield was so underwhelming in the month of September that the Panthers are considering dipping back into their depth chart for Sam Darnold. It’s the most frustrating quandary of all for Panthers Nation. Being slowly chewed to death by little Mayfield or being crushed underneath the 6-foot-4 Darnold.
The Panthers had opportunities to beat an uninspiring Cardinals team, but Mayfield was abysmal. His 61.9 QB rating was among the lowest of all starting quarterbacks in Week 4 and he may have delivered the most tone deaf rebuttal to his performance when he said he didn’t “really care about the fact that our fans are booing.” Baker is going to be Baker, and because of that, it’s clear that his time in Carolina is running out.