Week 4 of the 2022 NFL season got underway Thursday night with a Cincinnati Bengals win that was overshadowed by a frightening injury to Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa, who suffered a concussion and was briefly hospitalized.
The timing of the concussion ignited renewed scrutiny of the hit Tagovailoa took four days earlier against Buffalo. The independent neurotrauma consultant who evaluated Tagovailoa on Thursday was fired.
Sunday’s action kicked off early (9:30 a.m. ET) as the Minnesota Vikings took on the New Orleans Saints in Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. The game came down to the final seconds when Will Lutz’s 61-yard field goal attempt hit off the upright and the crossbar but fell no good.
Our NFL Nation reporters react with the biggest takeaways and lingering questions coming out of this week’s matchups and look ahead to what’s next. Let’s get to it.
Minnesota 28, New Orleans 25
What to know: The Vikings are 3-1 even though their offense and defense, overhauled in the transition to new coach Kevin O’Connell, are very much a work in progress. Sunday’s game in London was won by their special teams — place-kicker Greg Joseph kicked five field goals, including a game-winner from 47 yards out — and sealed only when Saints place-kicker Will Lutz hit the upright from 61 yards away. Meanwhile, the offense has been disjointed and has struggled to get snaps off before the play clock. And the defense has given up huge chunks of yards at inopportune times.
Is quarterback Kirk Cousins going to be able to sharpen up in this offense? Cousins had a decent line Sunday, completing 25 of 38 passes for 273 yards, and made the key pass in the game to set up the game-winning field goal. But he missed receiver Justin Jefferson open twice in the end zone and has looked uncomfortable in the pocket in this new scheme. — Kevin Seifert
Next game: vs. Bears (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What to know: Even a QB change couldn’t save the Saints, as their problems followed them to London. The Saints struggled on special teams coverage and fumbled a punt, and quarterback Andy Dalton had a strip/sack at the end of the first half, giving the Vikings a short field in a close game. The Saints have some persistent issues that have followed them throughout the season and prevented them from winning.
What do the Saints do at quarterback going forward? Dalton certainly didn’t come in and fix the Saints problems, especially considering the outcome was ultimately the same for the last three games. He did get the offense moving enough to consider what the Saints might do while Jameis Winston heals from his back issue that he’s dealt with for the past month. If Winston is healthy enough to play next week, do the Saints play Winston when he’s not 100 percent or try to move on with Dalton going forward? — Katherine Terrell
Next game: vs. Seahawks (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
Cincinnati 27, Miami 15
What to know: Cincinnati’s biggest strength is currently its defense. The Bengals were outgained by Miami but were bolstered by two interceptions from safety Vonn Bell. Cincinnati is allowing the second-fewest touchdowns per drive. The unit that carried the Bengals through the 2021 postseason is good enough to do it again in this season.
Can this team stay hot with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback? Chase had four catches for 81 yards, but teams are defending Chase to not let him rack up big games against them. Miami constantly rolled a safety to Chase’s side of the field and forced Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow to find other receiving targets. That’s why Tee Higgins had a massive performance — seven catches for 124 yards and a touchdown. — Ben Baby
Next game: at Ravens (Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET)
What to know: Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was taken to the hospital after a scary hit rendered him concussed. It was the second straight week Tagovailoa’s head hit the ground hard and sparked an NFLPA-initiated investigation into whether proper protocols were followed — as well as an amendment to the protocols themselves. The Dolphins’ defense played well all things considered but it was difficult for anyone to focus on anything else after watching Tagovailoa leave the field on a stretcher. There is no timetable for his return, per head coach Mike McDaniel, which from a football perspective, hangs a dark cloud over what had otherwise been an exciting start to the season.
What’s going on with receiver Ja’Marr Chase? We saw the good and the bad from Bridgewater in his two quarters of work Thursday. He hit Tyreek Hill on a pass that traveled 64.1 air yards, per NFL Next Gen Stats but he also threw a back-breaking interception on what could have been the Dolphins’ go-ahead drive. He’s a veteran who has been in situations like these before and won’t panic when the lights come on. Miami has an easy schedule over its next seven games, playing just two playoff teams from a season ago. And with a defense that’s playing better than the stats suggest, Bridgewater can theoretically keep the Dolphins in the playoff hunt while they exercise patience with Tagovailoa. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
Next game: at Jets (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
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