Mike Vrabel described the Tennessee Titans' offense as its own worst enemy after the top seed in the AFC slumped to a shocking loss to the lowly Houston Texans.

The Titans went into Sunday's encounter on a six-game winning streak, including victories over the Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams.

But that was remarkably ended by the Texans, who claimed only their second win of the season with a 22-13 triumph in sodden conditions.

Ryan Tannehill was intercepted four times, with a Titans attack missing Derrick Henry and Julio Jones scoring just 13 points against a Texans team that has given up the fourth-most (264) in the NFL.

The Titans also lost top receiver A.J. Brown to a chest injury, but neither Vrabel nor Tannehill made any excuses for a dismal offensive showing.

"I think we've seen Ryan perform at a high level," Vrabel said. "Offensive football at any level takes 11 guys.

"There was a lot of good football out there, unfortunately we turned the football over too many times. Our defense battled. Our offense was its own worst enemy."

Tannehill added: "We just kept shooting ourselves in the foot you know?

"Turnovers, turnover on downs, penalties. We shot ourselves in the foot all day. And we got to get better and it starts with me."

The Titans remain in top spot in the AFC with an 8-3 record, but could be unseated by the New England Patriots (7-4) should they lose in Foxborough in Week 12. 

Miami Dolphins general manager Chris Grier said the franchise did their "due diligence" regarding a trade for wantaway Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson before opting not to make a deal.

The Dolphins were reportedly favourites to land Watson before Tuesday's NFL deadline as the three-time Pro Bowler was believed to have been willing to waive his no-trade clause.

It sparked uncertainty over the future of second-year QB Tua Tagovailoa, however, a trade for Watson did not materialise.

Grier was asked about Miami's interest in Watson – who is yet to play this season – on Wednesday and he told reporters midweek: "We never got to a point where anything was going to be realistic in terms of happening.

"It was still us just doing our due diligence, just talking through things. We never got to a point where anything was that close to happening."

Topping 4,000 yards for the second time in his career as he racked up 4,823 to lead the league, Watson threw for 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions last season.

Fifth in the NFL in air yards per attempt (9.27), according to Stats Perform data, Watson did an excellent job of balancing his aggression with smart decision-making.

Watson threw a pickable pass on just 2.28 per cent of his attempts, the fourth-lowest rate in the NFL last term.

This season, Tagovailoa has 103 completions for 1,040 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions in five games.

"I don't think it's any different than any player on the roster, honestly," Grier said. "Because if there's a player available around the league that's viewed as being one of the top players in the league at any position, I think you look at it and try to go for it.

"We're very happy with Tua. We think he's developing well. Brian has been very consistent with his message, and we have been as well.

"He's working hard, he's showing a lot of improvement and we think he'll continue to develop and be the player he should be."

Watson will remain in Houston until at least the end of the season and Texans GM Nick Caserio added: "The veracity of some of what has been reported is a little bit stretched. But that's just the nature of how these things work.

"There were various levels of discussions, specific to him and specific to other players as well. In the end, there was no trade that came to fruition, so I don't really have any comment about some of the logistics and the mechanics about what happened and what hasn't happened, what did happen."

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson will remain on the team's roster until the end of the season after the disgruntled star was not traded before Tuesday's NFL deadline.

Watson was on the tracking block after requesting a move from the Texans in January as the three-time Pro Bowler faces 22 civil lawsuits that remain unresolved as the NFL conducts its own investigation into sexual assault and misconduct allegations against him.

The Miami Dolphins were reportedly favourites to land Watson, who was believed to have waived his no-trade clause, while the Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles had also been interested.

But Watson – who has been inactive during the 2021 season – is staying put after an agreement was not reached prior to the deadline.

Topping 4,000 yards for the second time in his career as he racked up 4,823 to lead the league, Watson threw for 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions last season.

Fifth in the NFL in air yards per attempt (9.27), according to Stats Perform data, Watson did an excellent job of balancing his aggression with smart decision-making.

Indeed, the 26-year-old threw a pickable pass on just 2.28 per cent of his attempts, the fourth-lowest rate in the NFL last term.

The Pittsburgh Steelers overcame the loss of kicker Chris Boswell for the whole second half as they beat the Cleveland Browns 15-10 on Sunday.

D'Ernest Johnson rushed 10 yards for the game's first touchdown in the third quarter to put Cleveland seemingly in control at FirstEnergy Stadium.

The Steelers' chances were already damaged by the loss of Boswell to a concussion following a huge hit from Browns tackle Jordan Elliot, but Najee Harris' touchdown closed the gap to a point.

Ben Roethlisberger threw two yards on fourth down for Pat Freiermuth to earn the decisive score with a little over 11 minutes on the clock.

Browns defensive end Myles Garrett came in costume as the Grim Reaper to mark October 31, his cape inscribed with the names of his sacked quarterbacks, but it was the Steelers' trick play that proved far from a treat in the first half: Boswell took a direct snap from 28 yards and, after rolling right and throwing for the end zone, he took a powerful hit from Elliot.

After rookie Harris had dragged Pittsburgh back into contention following Johnson's score, Roethlisberger, who is now 24-3-1 in career starts against the Browns, made his mark.

The 38-year-old, who finished 22 of 34 for 266 yards, almost saw his two-yard pass fumbled by Freiermuth but the tight end recovered to land both feet in the end zone.

By contrast, Jarvis Landry's handling let him down as he was stripped by Joe Schobert with a little over six minutes left.

The 4-4 Browns will hope for better next time out against the 5-3 Bengals, who were stunned by a New York Jets 34-31 comeback win in which Mike White threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns on his first NFL start.

Rams rout Texans, Lions looking toothless

The Philadelphia Eagles ran in four touchdowns as they snapped a two-game losing streak to crush the Detroit Lions.

As coach of the NFL's only winless team after eight straight defeats, Dan Campbell will head into a bye week to try to arrest a terrible run of results that culminated in Sunday's 44-6 loss, in which the Lions only got on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter.

The Houston Texans (1-7) are faring little better, their 38-22 loss to the Los Angeles Rams (7-1) looking only a little more respectable after they ran in 22 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, Davis Mills throwing for 310 yards and two touchdowns.

49ers down Bears through sensational Samuel

The San Francisco 49ers improved to 3-4 after a 33-22 defeat of the Chicago Bears in which Deebo Samuel set pulses racing with a spectacular 83-yard catch-and-run.

After being denied an apparent touchdown for being ruled out of bounds, Samuel's run still allowed Jimmy Garoppolo to score from two yards out just a handful of plays later to cut the Bears' advantage.

Not only did Samuel produce the Niners' longest play of the season, he passed Jerry Rice for the most receiving yards for the franchise across the first seven games of an NFL season.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers head into Week 8 with a 6-1 record, though their form will be tested against the New Orleans Saints.

Tom Brady threw for four touchdowns and 211 yards in the Bucs' 38-3 thrashing of the Chicago Bears last week, though Tampa Bay's recent record against the Saints is poor.

The Los Angeles Rams are also 6-1, and are looking to extend their strong start when they take on the Houston Texans, who are out to avoid a franchise first.

Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase, meanwhile, have been linking up to superb effect for the Cincinnati Bengals, who are at the New York Jets on Sunday. 

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-1) @ New Orleans Saints (4-2)

Tampa Bay may have picked up from where they left off last season, but their recent run against New Orleans has not been at all profitable.

New Orleans have won five straight games against NFC South rivals Tampa Bay, which is the longest active losing streak for the Buccaneers against any single opponent.

However, the Bucs did set franchise records for points in a first quarter with 21, and points in a first half with 35, in their 38-3 win over the Bears. The 21 first-quarter and 35 first-half points are also the most scored by any NFL team this season.

Mike Evans caught three touchdowns against the Bears with all of them coming in the first half. He joined Marvin Harrison, Marvin Jones Jr, Jerry Rice, and Sterling Sharpe as the only players since the merger to have multiple games with three first-half touchdown catches.

The Saints beat the Seattle Seahawks in their last outing, and had 35 passing attempts in that win. Both teams have combined to win 76.9 per cent of their games this season, the highest combined winning percentage that the teams have ever had when facing each other.

Los Angeles Rams (6-1) @ Houston Texans (1-6)

This will be only the fifth all-time meeting between the Texans and the Rams, and just the second game since the latter moved back to Los Angeles.

The Rams have outscored the Texans by an aggregate of 71-20 over the last two meetings, and, at 6-1, Los Angeles are enjoying their equal second-best start to a season this century, behind the 7-0 run in 2018.

They are also looking to win each of their first four road games of a season for the fourth time since 2000, having also done this in 2001, 2017 and 2018.

Matthew Stafford has thrown for 2,172 yards this season, the most by any Rams player in the team's first seven games of the season since Kurt Warner threw for 2,445 yards in the first seven games of 2000.

Houston, meanwhile, have lost six straight, with each of the last two losses coming by over 25 points. The Texans have not lost three straight games by at least 25 points in franchise history – the only team to do so in a single season in the last 25 years were the Miami Dolphins in 2019.

Cincinnati Bengals (5-2) @ New York Jets (1-5)

The Bengals have won each of the last three meetings between these teams, matching their longest-ever win streak over the Jets (1973-81). Cincinnati's 23-22 win in New York in 2016 snapped a nine-game losing streak when visiting the Jets.

Cincinnati only managed four wins in 2020, but they surpassed that figure with a brilliant 41-17 victory in Baltimore last week, with quarterback Burrow and wide receiver Chase turning in stellar performances.

Burrow passed for a career-high 416 yards and tied a previous career high with three touchdown passes. It was his seventh consecutive game with multiple TD passes, tying a franchise record set twice before by Carson Palmer (2004-05 and 2010).

Chase, meanwhile, had 201 receiving yards, the most all-time by a Bengals rookie and the most by any rookie since Mike Evans had 209 in 2014. Chase's 754 receiving yards in 2021 ranks are the most by any player through seven career games in NFL history.

The Jets' 54-13 loss to the Patriots last week was their largest defeat since a 45-3 loss in Week 13 of the 2010 season, which also happened in New England. The 54 points are the fourth-most that New York have allowed in a single game and the most since 1980.

Elsewhere...

The Detroit Lions are still winless, going 0-7 so far, but could snap the losing streak against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Lions have won three straight against Philadelphia, with each of the last two games being decided by three points or fewer. 

Strugglers the Miami Dolphins travel to Buffalo. With two receiving yards on Sunday, Stefon Diggs will reach 2,000 as a Bill in just his 23rd game with the team. That would be tied for the second fewest games needed by any player with any single team in the Super Bowl era (Odell Beckham Jr. – 21 with the Giants, Vincent Jackson – 23 with Tampa Bay, Brandon Marshall – 23 with Chicago).

Fresh from their win over the Jets, the Patriots will aim to maintain the momentum against the Los Angeles Chargers, against whom they have five straight wins and are 16-3 in the last 19 meetings.

An AFC North clash sees the Browns (4-3) host the 3-3 Steelers. Pittsburgh have not won in Cleveland since 2017, as the teams tied in 2018 before the Browns won in 2019 and 2020.

Tua Tagovailoa says he is not worried about trade speculation linking the Miami Dolphins quarterback with a swap for Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.

The 23-year-old quarterback, who is playing in his second season, has been the subject of trade speculation but said he felt reassured after conversations with Dolphins head coach Brian Flores.

The NFL's Tuesday trade deadline is approaching, although Tagovailoa said he was not thinking about it.

"I don't not feel wanted. That's what I could say," Tagovailoa told reporters.

"I really don't think about it. The only time I'm really hearing about it, like I've said before, is if [the communications staff] is kind of telling me what's going on within the rumours or if my agent calls me.

"That's really when I hear it. Other than that, I don't really hear it."

Watson requested a trade from the Texans in January and is facing 22 civil lawsuits that remain unresolved as the NFL conducts its own investigation into sexual assault and misconduct allegations against him.

Tagovailoa, who was pick five in the 2020 NFL Draft, has enjoyed the best two-game stretch of his career to date over the past fortnight, completing 75 per cent of passes for 620 yards and six touchdowns.

The Dolphins are 1-6 this season with Tagovailoa completing 82 of 118 attempts for 835 yards, with seven touchdowns, four interceptions and five sacks across his four starts, having missed time due to a rib injury.

Tagovailoa has shown improvements this season but the Dolphins have been let down in defense, giving up 207 points for the season, the second-highest total in the NFL through Week 7.

The Hawaii-born QB would not be drawn on what was discussed in his conversations with Flores but insisted it reassured him.

"Honestly, I don't base my emotions off of who says anything about me or who is saying what," he said.

"All I can do is my job and do it to the best of my capabilities. Everything else, I mean it's out of my control. But I have the utmost confidence and trust that I am the quarterback of this team, just off of conversations that I've had with Flo and whatnot.

"That obviously stays between us. I feel very confident that I'm the person."

Tagovailoa started nine games in his rookie season, winning six of them as he threw 11 touchdowns to five picks with some steady but unspectacular performances.

It says a lot about how far the flawless Arizona Cardinals have come that they found plenty to critique even after a 31-5 victory over the Houston Texans.

At 7-0 after routing the Texans on Sunday, the Cardinals are the NFL's lone unbeaten team and are off to their best start since 1974. 

For a team that have not won more than eight games in a season since their last trip to the playoffs in 2015, the Cardinals are brimming with confidence heading into a Thursday game against the 6-1 Green Bay Packers.

While quarterback Kyler Murray said he "wasn't too concerned" when the Cardinals came up empty on their first three offensive possessions – which included Arizona star being caught in the end zone for a safety – he noted they cannot make a habit of it. 

"I don't know why, maybe came out a little lax," Murray told a news conference. "I just know we've got to be better, because you get beat if you come out too slow. Sometimes you may not be able to catch up.

"So for us, I know we're better than what we put out there today. We kind of clicked, for the most part, during the middle of game but [Houston] got after us today. I don't want to take anything away from them. Obviously we won by large lead but for the most part offensively, I think, we can be a lot better."

Murray followed up that safety by leading a 14-play touchdown drive that got the Cardinals on the scoreboard and they did not look back from there, leading 17-5 at the half before tacking on two more TDs after the interval. 

Arizona's slow start may also have been attributable to head coach Kliff Kingsbury's return to the sidelines after missing the previous game against the Cleveland Browns following a positive COVID-19 test. 

While the Cardinals had no trouble in that 37-14 blowout, Kingsbury said it took him a while to find his rhythm against the Texans after missing the entire week of practice before he was cleared to coach in the game on Sunday. 

"I felt a little disconnected," he said. "I didn't feel as into the game as I usually am, just showing up on game day, but the players are awesome, great energy and made me feel very welcome to be back."

Murray said he did not pick up on his coach's discomfort but noted that it did not seem to be detrimental. 

"I'm sure he probably felt a little bit off, but we put up 31 today, defence played great," Murray said. "It was a great team win so for him to feel awkward or whatever and then we still put up 31 is a good job and you know we've got to keep it going because the Packers are coming in as a great team."

In his first game with the Cardinals after being acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles, Zach Ertz caught a 47-yard touchdown from Murray – his longest TD of his career.

Ertz also became the first player in NFL history with a receiving touchdown in consecutive weeks for two different teams.

Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule vowed to stick with Sam Darnold as his starting quarterback, despite benching the team's top offseason acquisition in a 25-3 defeat to the New York Giants. 

Darnold completed 16 of 25 passes for 111 yards with no touchdowns and an interception and also was sacked three times in the NFL on Sunday.

His intentional grounding penalty in the end zone gave the Giants a safety for their first score of the game. 

Rhule handed the reins to backup P.J. Walker in search of a "spark" early in the fourth quarter, but he was even less effective, connecting on just three of 14 attempts for 33 yards. 

With the NFL's trade deadline looming on November 2, The Athletic reported following the game that the Panthers are expected to engage the Houston Texans in talks about acquiring Deshaun Watson. 

Watson requested a trade following last season and has not played this year after accusations of sexual misconduct surfaced during the offseason.

The 26-year-old quarterback has denied the allegations and remains on Houston's 53-man roster but has been inactive for every game. 

Reports last week said the Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles also were potentially interested in Watson, who has the right to veto any deal. 

Rhule was asked directly about potential interest in Watson on a conference call last week and responded that Darnold was his focus and "I'm not looking anywhere else". 

He maintained his line after the loss to the Giants, despite the Panthers dropping their fourth straight game following a 3-0 start – a slump that has coincided with star running back Christian McCaffrey being out of the line-up due to a hamstring injury. 

"Sam will be our quarterback next week," Rhule said. "He will be our quarterback moving forward.

"We're not winning right now. It's going to take all of us. [Darnold] just needs a lot of help from a lot of guys right now that he's not getting. I see the good moments, too. We're going to keep coaching him."

Tom Brady made history once again as Super Bowl champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rolled past the Chicago Bears 38-3 in NFL action Sunday. 

With a nine-yard strike to Mike Evans in the closing seconds of the first quarter, Brady became the first NFL quarterback to throw 600 touchdown passes.

The 44-year-old – 20-of-36 passing for 211 yards – would finish the game with 602 for his career, all four of his TD tosses going for fewer than 10 yards and three of them landing in Evans' hands. 

Blaine Gabbert took over at quarterback for Brady midway through the fourth quarter with the game well in hand as the Buccaneers improved to 6-1. 

Brady's opposite number, Bears rookie QB Justin Fields, had a brutal day as he was sacked four times and threw three interceptions as Chicago failed to find the end zone. 

Stafford, Rams survive Lions scare

The matchup between Super Bowl contenders the Los Angeles Rams and the winless Detroit Lions finished with the expected result, but the Rams' 28-19 win was much closer than anticipated. 

The Rams (6-1) trailed 19-17 entering the fourth quarter and needed a five-yard touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford to Cooper Kupp early in the period to take the lead and a 47-yard Matt Gay field goal with just over a minute to play to seal the win. 

Stafford completed 28 of 41 passes for 334 yards and three TDs against the team he played for in the first 12 years of his career, while former Rams QB Jared Goff threw a pair of costly interceptions for the Lions (0-7).

Kupp became the first player in the Super Bowl era to have 800-plus receiving yards and nine-plus receiving touchdowns in his team's first seven games of a season.

While the Lions remained the only winless team in the league after Week 7, the Arizona Cardinals (7-0) maintained their status as the lone team with a perfect record, routing the Houston Texans 31-5 behind three TD passes by Kyler Murray. 

Kyle Shanahan needs to get the San Francisco 49ers winning again if their playoff potential is to be fulfilled, and this Sunday looks like a major opportunity.

To snap a three-game losing streak, the Niners (2-3) must get the better of an Indianapolis Colts side who, much like San Francisco themselves, have made an inconsistent start to the season.

By contrast, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are riding a three-game run of wins and have started 5-1 for just the fifth time in the history of the franchise, heading into a tussle with the Chicago Bears (3-3). Tom Brady has been a driving force so far as the Super Bowl winners carry on where they left off last season.

Patrick Mahomes has been hit and miss for the slow-starting Kansas City Chiefs, who will hope the NFL's highest-paid player can cut out throwing interceptions as they face the Tennessee Titans.


Indianapolis Colts @ San Francisco 49ers

If coach Shanahan's 49ers are to turn around their season, then facing a Colts side who have begun 2-4 seems like a pretty good place to start. Yet the Colts have dominated this series of late, winning on their last four meetings, albeit most recently in 2017 when they snatched a 26-23 overtime success. It would not be stepping out of line to predict this could be tight, given the 49ers have played nine consecutive games that have been decided by eight or fewer points, going back to last season.

That is the longest active streak of such close games in the NFL and the longest streak in team history, and the Niners do not have the best recent return when games go close, posting a 3-6 record in this sequence.

San Francisco fell 17-10 to the Cardinals in their most recent game, two weeks ago, while the Colts hot-footed their way to a 31-3 trouncing of Houston last Sunday. That came despite Indianapolis earning just 15 first downs for the entire game. It was the first time the Colts had won by 28 or more points while only having 15 or fewer first downs since 1972 against New England.

In his 21st career game, Colts running back Jonathan Taylor rushed for 145 yards and two touchdowns, meaning he surpassed 1,500 rushing yards, 500 receiving yards and chalked up his 15th rushing touchdown in the NFL. Only four running backs in NFL history have hit all three of those milestones in fewer games than Taylor, with two of those doing so with the Colts – Edgerrin James and Marshall Faulk.

San Francisco will hope to be recharged after a bye week. Deebo Samuel scored the fourth rushing touchdown of his career against the Cardinals, with Jerry Rice (10) the only wide receiver with more rushing touchdowns in 49ers history.

Chicago Bears @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

After a dispiriting loss to the Green Bay Packers last time out, the Chicago Bears encounter a Tampa Bay team in sparkling recent form. Tampa Bay have started the season 5-1, doing so for the fifth time in franchise history, and on each of the previous occasions (2005, 2002, 1997 and 1979) they backed it up by reaching the playoffs. History could be made on Sunday, given the Buccaneers have never started a season with six wins through their first seven games.

Yet this is a game in which the Bears have traditionally, and recently, had the upper hand. Chicago have stacked up 40 wins in 60 all-time meetings against Tampa Bay, which is the most wins by any team against the Bucs. The Bears have also won the last two in the series, scoring victories in 2018 and 2020.

Tampa Bay can seemingly do no wrong when Brady is pulling the strings so masterfully. Brady leads the NFL with 2,064 passing yards, the second-highest total he has ever had through six games of a season – beaten only by his 2,163 passing yards at this stage in 2011. Prior to this year, no Tampa Bay quarterback had ever thrown for more than 1,800 yards through six games.

What have the Bears got to offer? Chicago are averaging 246.2 net yards per game, which is more than 20 yards per game less than any other team. The 1,477 yards is the fewest Chicago has had through six games since the 1993 season. Rookie quarterback Justin Fields needs to make something happen, but others must step up too. In his first career start, Khalil Herbert ran for 97 yards and a touchdown against Green Bay last time out.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Tennessee Titans

"He's trying to make things happen," said Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, explaining away the two interceptions thrown by Patrick Mahomes in Week 6 against Washington. For Mahomes, that was a second straight game with at least two interceptions. He is tied with Jacksonville's Trevor Lawrence in second position on the list of the most interceptions thrown this season, with his tally of eight so far only topped by Zach Wilson of the Jets.

This is only the second run that Mahomes has endured of throwing two or more interceptions in consecutive games, the previous dating back to Week 5 and 6 of the 2018 season, and Reid will hope his radar is better set for the clash with the Titans. Mahomes is still doing an awful lot right in 2021, but the fact remains he threw just six interceptions last season.

The Chiefs' unsteady 3-3 opening is their worst of the Mahomes era, and it was 2015 when they got off to a slower start. On that occasion they followed a 1-5 opening with 10 consecutive wins, a single-season record for Kansas City that was matched last season.

Tennessee's bright start has featured some notable performances. The Titans ran for 146 yards and scored four rushing touchdowns in the 34-31 win over Buffalo on Monday night, taking them to 985 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns for the season. It is the first time in franchise history that the Bills have 10 or more rushing touchdowns and at least 975 rushing yards through six games.

Running back Derrick Henry has 10 rushing touchdowns so far, beating his career best of seven through six weeks in 2020. It puts him tied for the fourth most rushing touchdowns of all time through six weeks (Jim Brown 14, Shaun Alexander 12, Emmitt Smith 11).

Elsewhere...

The Detroit Lions face a tall order on the road against the Los Angeles Rams (5-1). Detroit are 0-6 for the first time since their 0-16 season in 2008 and have not scored more than 17 points in any of their last five games. Former Rams quarterback Jared Goff, now with Detroit, has thrown zero touchdown passes and an interception in each of his last two games.

The 5-1 Baltimore Ravens have recent history on their side ahead of a clash with the Cincinnati Bengals, having won five successive games in their head-to-head series, including the last three by a brutal average of 31.7 points.

Heading into a home game against the Houston Texans (1-5), the Arizona Cardinals are on a 6-0 roll. This has only happened twice before in franchise history, but never before in Arizona. The St Louis Cardinals in 1974 and Chicago Cardinals in 1922 are the teams who both started their seasons 6-0 as well.

Philadelphia QB Jalen Hurts could match an NFL record as the Eagles (2-4) tackle the Las Vegas Raiders. Hurts has rushed for two touchdowns in each of his last two games. Billy Kilmer, for San Francisco in 1961, is the only quarterback to achieve the feat in three straight games.

The Green Bay Packers last lost at home to Washington in 1988, winning five in a row since with home-field advantage, and they put a 5-1 season record to the test when the teams meet again. Washington (2-4) are yielding an NFL-worst 31.0 points per game in 2021, matching the team's worst mark through six games of a season in the Super Bowl era (1998).

Laremy Tunsil is poised to undergo surgery on a thumb injury and is expected to miss around four weeks of action for the Houston Texans.

The Texans face the Indianapolis Colts in an AFC South battle on Sunday with both teams struggling on 1-4 records and trailing the division-leading Tennessee Titans (3-2).

Houston will look to get their season on track against the Colts without Tunsil, who suffered a torn UCL in his thumb during the 25-22 loss to the New England Patriots in Week 5. He had initially hoped to play through the injury.

Texans head coach David Culley confirmed the surgery for star left tackle Tunsil, who was a Pro Bowler in 2019 and 2020, with the team "not really sure" how accurate the four-week recovery timeline will prove to be.

He also reiterated Tyrod Taylor will be the team's starting quarterback when he returns from a hamstring injury, but rookie backup Davis Mills will again start in his stead against the Colts.

"[Taylor] gives us the best chance to win," Culley said, per ESPN. 

"He's our starting quarterback. He was our starting quarterback when he went down. He was doing an excellent job. When he comes back, he'll still be our starting quarterback."

The Colts, meanwhile, will welcome wide receiver T.Y. Hilton back to the practice field on Wednesday with the hope he can soon be activated off injured reserve.

Hilton had to undergo neck surgery ahead of the 2021 NFL season

"Certainly excited to have T.Y. back in the fold and out on the field," said Colts coach Frank Reich. 

"Obviously that's a big, emotional boost to the team."

The Colts now have a three-week window in which they can activate four-time Pro Bowler Hilton off injured reserve, with the prospect of him facing the Texans not yet ruled out.

Sam Darnold may never develop into the kind of quarterback who can truly carry a team, but he has been exactly what the Carolina Panthers needed so far this season.  

Despite losing his top offensive weapon early in the second quarter, Darnold turned in yet another efficient if unspectacular performance on Thursday, helping the Panthers defeat the Houston Texans 24-9 to remain unbeaten.  

Darnold did not throw a touchdown pass, but he ran for two TDs and avoided turning the ball over as Carolina remade their game plan on the fly after Christian McCaffrey left the game with a hamstring injury.  

"It's always hard playing without one of your best players, but Sam stepped up and did a tremendous job tonight," tackle Cameron Erving told reporters. 

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule did not speculate on how long McCaffrey might be sidelined, but the Panthers had plenty of experience playing without him last year as he missed all but three games due to ankle and shoulder injuries.  

Darnold was not around for that, and like everyone else in the locker room will be hoping for a speedy return by the All-Pro running back.  

McCaffrey's departure during Thursday’s game just put more responsibility on Darnold's shoulders, but he handled it calmly.  

"We're starting to find our identity as an offence," Darnold said. "I've just got to, whatever play is called, we've got to execute that play. That's my job, is to get us in the right play and make sure we're hitting on all cylinders, and the offence is moving in the right direction." 

According to Stats Perform, Darnold is the second quarterback in the Super Bowl era (since 1966) to throw for at least 250 yards and win in each of his first three games with a team. Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs is the only other QB to do it.  

Darnold is a different kind of quarterback to Mahomes, but he suddenly has one hallmark of the Kansas City star's game: confidence.  

"One thing about Sam: he has some moxie, man," Rhule said. "I mean, it's him just playing within the system but also I think he has a courageousness, but he's not crossing the line and going over the top. He's protecting the football." 

Turnovers have always been a key concern around Darnold – he had 39 interceptions and lost nine fumbles in 38 games with the New York Jets – but he has only two turnovers this season, just one of them an interception.  

That improved ball security has prompted the Panthers' coaching staff to give Darnold a bit more leeway.  

"If you watch the way we called the game, it means we trust him," Rhule said. "Even in that last drive, we were throwing four verticals with him. 

"I just think in my mind, I say to myself all the time, these are professional football players. Let them go play. Don't try to over-manage the game. Let them go make plays." 

Of course, the season is only three games old, and the Week 4 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys will provide the most difficult test yet – particularly if McCaffrey is unavailable.  

But the much-maligned 24-year-old has earned some respect with his performance so far.  

"Sam, he's a gamer," said Panthers linebacker Haason Reddick. "Guy's a flat-out baller right now." 

The Carolina Panthers lost key players on both sides of the ball to injury Thursday but managed to maintain their perfect record to start the season with a 24-9 defeat of the Houston Texans. 

The win was some consolation for Carolina on a night when they saw All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey depart in the second quarter with a hamstring injury and their top draft pick, cornerback Jaycee Horn, leave in the third with a reported broken foot. 

Carolina entered the game as the only NFL team not to trail in a game this season, and the Panthers once again struck first, with Sam Darnold capping a 10-play drive in the opening quarter by running it in himself for a five-yard touchdown. 

Their defence did surrender its first points in the first half this year, as Texans rookie quarterback Davis Mills hit Anthony Miller for a one-yard TD with 29 seconds left in the opening half, but Joey Slye missed the extra point to leave Carolina in the lead entering half-time. 

Darnold had decent numbers, completing 23 of 34 passes for 304 yards, and DJ Moore caught eight passes for 126 yards, but the Panthers could not find the end zone with their passing game. 

That led to some creativity, as rookie tight end Tommy Tremble ran the ball in from seven yards out to give Carolina a 14-6 lead in the third quarter.

After the teams traded field goals in the fourth, the Panthers put the game away when Darnold ran it in from one yard out with 4:07 remaining. 

This marks the fifth time in Panthers history they have started 3-0. They made the playoffs three of the previous four times, most recently their 2015 team that went 15-1 and lost to the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. 

Carolina Panthers star Christian McCaffrey was forced to leave Thursday's game against the Houston Texans in the first half. 

McCaffrey entered the medical tent on the sidelines after a two-yard carry rush in the second quarter, and the Panthers later announced he was out for the game with a hamstring injury. 

Carolina felt his absence immediately, as backup running back Chubba Hubbard was stopped short on a fourth-and-one deep in Texans territory on a carry that in any other circumstance would have gone to McCaffrey. 

The 25-year-old had seven carries for 34 yards and two receptions for nine yards before departing. 

He led the NFL with 324 total yards through the first two weeks of this season. 

The Panthers will not want to contemplate another extended stretch without their versatile playmaker, who missed most of last year with a pair of injuries. 

McCaffrey suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 2 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and went on injured reserve before returning in Week 9. 

That game saw the 2019 All-Pro selection go down with a shoulder injury that would cost him the rest of the season. 

Those setbacks came on the heels of McCaffrey playing in every game in each of his first three NFL seasons. 

 

Houston Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor has been ruled out of Thursday's clash with the Carolina Panthers due to a hamstring injury, with rookie David Mills confirmed to step in as starter.

Texans head coach David Culley announced on Tuesday that 32-year-old Taylor will not face the Panthers, having suffered the injury in the 31-21 loss to the Cleveland Browns in Week 2.

Taylor will be placed on injured reserve, meaning he will miss three weeks at a minimum.

Culley said veteran Jeff Driskel may be called up to back up 22-year-old Mills, who was a third-round pick in the 2021 Draft.

"He is ready," Culley said about Mills, who came off the bench against the Browns. "He's been exactly what you want your backup quarterback to be."

Mills went eight from 18 for 102 yards, including one touchdown pass against the Browns.

"When he went in the game this past week it had nothing to do with other than the one time that they got him on a blitz, he executed very well, he was sharp, he did exactly what we needed to do, even in the run game," Culley said.

"I just think he'll be a lot more comfortable now, simply because he has been out there and against a very good defensive football team."

He added: "We'll actually have the same playbook, obviously there's some things that he is a little different than Tyrod, but we actually have the same kind of plays.

"But we'll use the things that fit him more so than what we did with Tyrod. Some of the things we did with Tyrod we may not do with him in the run game, but as far as the pass game it will basically be the same thing."

Culley declined to offer up any timeframes on Taylor's likely return from injury, stating he was "not sure what the timetable is right now".

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