NFL is a league that must deal with trust issues

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Four weeks into the NFL season, and whom can you trust?

Philadelphia can’t trust its rookie kicker. Alex Henery was wide right on two field-goal tries in the fourth quarter of a 24-23 home loss to San Francisco.

Ben Roethlisberger can’t trust his patchwork offensive line. The Pittsburgh quarterback was sacked five times and repeatedly hammered in a 17-10 loss at Houston.

Cincinnati fans can’t trust their home team. It was far from a full house that witnessed the Bengals upset Buffalo, which came into the game as one of three undefeated teams.


And Tony Romo can’t even trust his groomsman. Detroit linebacker Bobby Carpenter, formerly of Dallas, intercepted a pass by the Cowboys quarterback — his old pal — and returned it for a touchdown.

By game’s end, though, it was everyone rooting for Dallas who had trust issues.

Romo had three passes intercepted — two returned for touchdowns on consecutive possessions — in a colossal collapse at home. Detroit erased a 24-point deficit in the second half against the Cowboys, posting a 34-30 victory and keeping its record pristine at 4-0.

“It’s crazy how it happens,” Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “When it was 27-3, we knew we had to start making plays. Once we did, we started catching fire.”

Clearly, his team is highly flammable. A week earlier, the Lions clawed their way out of a 20-point hole in the second half to win in overtime at Minnesota. They have outscored opponents 54-10 after the third quarter this season.

So maybe the Cowboys shouldn’t feel so bad. Then again, maybe they should. This was the biggest blown lead in franchise history, eclipsing a loss to Washington in 1965 when they frittered away a 21-point advantage.

“Today and over the next week or two, it’s going to be difficult to look back at it,” Romo said. “But at some point, we’re going to move on.”


The Lions are moving right along too, running their NFL-best regular-season winning streak to eight games (although the undefeated Green Bay Packers have won 10 in a row, counting the playoffs). The Lions also set a club record with a fifth consecutive win on the road — yes, from the franchise that last November set an NFL record with its 26th straight road loss, a defeat that happened to come at Dallas.

When it came to protecting its unblemished record, Buffalo didn’t do as well. The Bengals, playing in front of a crowd of 41,142 — the smallest in the history of Paul Brown Stadium — erased a two-touchdown halftime deficit to beat the Bills, 23-20. It was Cincinnati’s biggest comeback since 2004.

So far, Buffalo has played a lot better when trailing, as it was in prior victories over Oakland and New England, than when protecting a robust lead.

“I don’t know if it had anything at all to do with all the emotion from last week’s game,” Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. “It had more to do with us flat-out not showing up in the second half.”

That, you can trust.

Three’s a charm

Rob Ryan, Dallas’ defensive coordinator, caused a stir last week when he said he wasn’t concerned about Lions receiver Calvin Johnson because he would be the third-best receiver on the Cowboys behind Dez Bryant and Miles Austin.


Johnson caught two touchdown passes Sunday, joining Cris Carter as the only players in NFL history with at least two touchdown receptions in four consecutive games.

“I’m just glad the third-best receiver on their team is on our team,” Detroit Coach Jim Schwartz said.

Perfect storm

NFC North rivals Green Bay and Detroit are the two remaining undefeated teams, but it will be a while until they face each other. The Lions play host to the Packers in Week 12, and the teams play at Lambeau Field in a season finale.

Welcome, Matt

Tennessee is looking pretty smart for picking up 36-year-old quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who turned down a one-year offer to stay in Seattle before eventually signing a three-year deal with the Titans.


Hasselbeck’s numbers at Cleveland weren’t eye-catching — 10 for 20, 220 yards — except that three of those completions went for first-half touchdowns. The Titans won, 31-13.

Tennessee is 3-1 heading into Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh, and is feeling good about Hasselbeck.

“We thought he had a lot left in the tank from watching him in the playoffs last year,” Coach Mike Munchak said. “We didn’t bring him in here to retire quietly. We brought him here to do exactly what he’s been doing.”

Whistle stop

There was a strange and controversial moment in the Giants-Cardinals game with three minutes to play and Arizona leading by three.

New York receiver Victor Cruz caught a pass for a first down. Surrounded by Cardinals defenders at the Arizona 29, Cruz slipped to the ground and was not touched. Thinking he was down, he released the ball on the turf. The Cardinals recovered what looked to be a fumble. Officials ruled, however, that the receiver had given himself up and the ball was dead. It turned out to be a pivotal play in the 31-27 Giants victory.


Cardinals Coach Ken Whisenhunt said the officials told him he couldn’t challenge the call.

“There was not much I could say after that,” the coach said.

Garbage time

The Steelers are already minus-10 in turnover differential, and they limped away from Houston with several key injuries. Roethlisberger, who has been sacked 14 times in four games, hobbled out of the locker room with a protective boot on his left foot, and was on crutches boarding the team plane. The offensive line is missing two regular starters. Running back Rashard Mendenhall has a bum hamstring, defensive end Aaron Smith has a sprained foot, and linebacker James Harrison has an eye injury.

Harrison could see well enough to make this judgment: “We played like garbage. Period. We stink right now.”


Oakland’s Richard Seymour greeted his old New England teammate Tom Brady in a memorable way, hitting him and flinging him around on a play that had been blown dead. Seymour was flagged for unnecessary roughness and later said the raucous crowd at the sold-out stadium drowned out the officials.


“They said they blew the whistle,” Seymour said after the 31-19 loss. “But it was so loud I never heard the whistle. That’s still no excuse. We have to play better.”

Safety first

San Diego raised some eyebrows this off-season when it signed safety Eric Weddle to a five-year deal worth $40 million. This isn’t Ed Reed we’re talking about, after all.

But Weddle has been plenty valuable so far. He clinched Sunday’s victory over Miami with an interception with 2 minutes 53 seconds remaining. A week earlier, he iced the Kansas City game by picking off a pass with 55 seconds left.

The Chargers are 3-0 at home for the first time since 2006.