NFL Recap Week 3

NFL Recap Week 3

What a crazy week it was. The Browns finally have a win, rookie quarterbacks made their debuts, and massive upsets rocked the football world. Unfortunately, controversy hasn’t left us as this season, we’ve graduated from “what the heck is a catch?” to “what the heck is roughing the passer?” Like we’ve said before, there’s never a dull moment.

Browns 21, Jets 17

Cleveland (1-1-1): If you listen closely, you can hear the construction of the dozens of statues of Baker Mayfield that will soon line the streets around FirstEnergy Stadium. Down 14-0 and their starting quarterback injured, the Browns put in their #1 draft pick to try and salvage the game. Not only did Mayfield (17-23, 201 yds) salvage the night, he became the star Cleveland has been begging for. He surgically picked apart New York’s defense like a seasoned veteran, only having 3 incompletions that weren’t drops, and capped off the night with a 14-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to take the lead and eventually win the game. Carlos Hyde had 2 touchdowns on the night, and Joe Schobert’s and Terrance Mitchell’s interceptions sealed the game. After 635 long days, Believeland can finally open those coolers.

New York (1-2): What do the 2018 Jets, 2009 Redskins, and 1977 Saints have in common? They all ended some of the longest winless streaks in NFL history. Thanks to a second half collapse in which the Jets were only able to score 3 points and gain 141 yards, Sam Darnold (15-31, 169 yds, 2 INT) and the Jets fall to 1-2. Former Browns RB Isaiah Crowell ran for 2 touchdowns as New York got out to an early lead, but it wasn’t enough to hold on for a win. It could be worse, though. At least they will only go down as the team that ended the SECOND longest winless streak since the merger.

Falcons 37, Saints 43, F/OT

Atlanta (1-2): The injuries just keep piling up for the Falcons. First was Keanu Neal, out for the season after tearing his ACL. Then came LB Deion Jones who was placed on IR after sustaining a foot injury in the season opener. This week, the other Falcons starting safety Ricardo Allen was carted off the field in overtime after tearing his achilles tendon. With all the injuries on defense, Atlanta’s season rests on the performance of QB Matt Ryan (26-35, 374 yds, 5 TD), who’s 5 touchdown passes, 3 to rookie Calvin Ridley, weren’t enough to overcome Drew Brees and his record-setting outing.

New Orleans (2-1): Drew Brees showed once again why he’s one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. After passing Brett Favre for most completions in history, Brees (39-49, 396 yds, 5 total TD) nearly single-handedly came back to beat the Falcons in overtime. 2 Brees rushing touchdowns gave the Saints the tie to force overtime and then the win, and Michael Thomas (10 catches, 129 yds) continues to be his quarterback’s favorite target. After a shocking loss in week 1, the Saints are one of the stronger teams in the league. With the hot start by the Buccaneers, Brees and the Saints need wins like this to keep pace in the NFC South.

Chiefs 38, 49ers 27

Kansas City (3-0): Patrick Mahomes (24-38, 314 yds, 3 TD) continues to set records. Mahomes now has 13 touchdowns in the first 3 games of the season, passing Peyton Manning (12) for the hottest QB start in NFL history. The offense continues to fire on all cylinders, but the thing that should concern the rest of the league is that Kareem Hunt (18 rushes, 44 yds, 2 TD) is finally starting to show up. If Hunt can start playing on the same level as the rest of the offense, then this record setting pace will only get faster.

San Francisco (1-2): The worst case scenario has happened. Driving down the field and trying to complete an amazing comeback, Jimmy Garoppolo (20-30, 251 yds, 2 TD) was pushed out of bounds and tore his ACL in the process. After getting blown out in the first half 35-10, the 49ers scored 17 unanswered points before the comeback fell short. Against a red hot Chiefs team, a loss isn’t that bad. Losing their hundred-million dollar man that San Francisco has built the team around for the season definitely is. Their only hope to save the season rests with backup QB C.J. Beathard as he starts week 4 against the Chargers.

Dolphins 28, Raiders 20

Miami (3-0): The Dolphins are alone, 2 games atop The AFC East. That is not a misprint. Ryan Tannehill (17-23, 289 yds, 3 TD) is leading the offense like he never left, and the play calling on offense has created an energetic, exciting team that punishes opponents for their mistakes and exploits small holes in route to huge, highlight reel plays like WR Albert Wilson’s 52-yard touchdown pass to Jakeem Grant. Offense, defense, and special teams are all clicking in South Beach, and the Dolphins have an opportunity to solidify their grip on the division this week when they travel to Foxboro to take on the sputtering Patriots.

Oakland (0-3): This kind of loss has become a bad habit for the Raiders. Leading at the end of the first half for the third straight game, Oakland once again lost their lead and couldn’t get it back. Their garbage time field goal was the first points the Raiders have put up in the 4th quarter this season, and Jon Gruden will need to fix this before he loses the locker room. Derek Carr (27-39, 345 yds, TD, 2 INT) played well for most of the game, but his red zone interception late in the 4th quarter led to a Dolphins touchdown and cost Oakland their first win of the season.

Vikings 6, Bills 27

Minnesota (1-1-1): Giving up 29 points to Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field wasn’t that big of a concern. Giving up 27 at home to Josh Allen might be. Kirk Cousins (40-55, 296 yds, TD, INT) couldn’t get anything going in the first half, and by then it was too late for the Vikings to pull themselves back into things. The offense that scored 26.5 points per game over the first 2 weeks was absent, and the defense that harassed Jimmy G into 3 interceptions seems like a distant memory.

Buffalo (1-2): Before Sunday, the Bills had only managed to score 23 points. Josh Allen (15-22, 196 yds, 3 total TD) led the offense to 27 points in the first HALF. With LeSean McCoy out due to an injury he sustained last week, the offense was still able to roll over one of the best defenses in the NFL. Add to that Buffalo’s defense shutting down the #5 scoring offense in the NFL through the first 2 weeks and we have a huge week 3 blowout. Whether this is the start of a major turnaround or just an outlier remains to be seen, but for now the Bills are in the win column and they seem to have their quarterback.

Eagles 20, Colts 16

Philadelphia (2-1): Carson Wentz (25-37, 255 yds, TD, INT) is finally back and the Eagles managed to have another last-minute goal line stand to win the game. It’s good to be an Eagles fan this week. 10 penalties for 110 yards and 2 turnovers kept the Colts in the game and nearly cost the Eagles the win, but in the end the defense was just too strong. Holding Indianapolis to just 2-12 on 3rd down kept Andrew Luck off the field, which showed with their 40+ minutes of possession. A great strategy to control the game and ease the superstar quarterback back into the game.

Indianapolis (1-2): Despite having less than 33% of possession, 170 fewer yards, and over 70 yards in penalties, Andrew Luck (25-40, 164 yds, TD) and the Colts had a 1st and 10 on the Eagles’ 11 yard line with under 2 minutes to go and a chance to win the game. Instead of punching it in and going home with a win, Luck’s receivers couldn’t get away from their defenders and the Colts turned the ball over after a 4th down sack. Luck and the Colts are in a similar position to the Patriots. Other than their star QB, the offense lacks the weapons to win close games. The difference is that, as good as Luck has been, he isn’t one of the best quarterbacks of all time. As a result, the margin of error is much smaller.

Redskins 31, Packers 17

Washington (2-1): In what may be the surprise of the season so far, Adrian Peterson has had two incredible games en route to a 2-1 record. Against the Packers, Peterson tallied 120 yards and 2 touchdowns on 19 carries. With a running game that effective, all Alex Smith (12-20, 220 yds, 2 TD, INT) had to do was move the ball and make a few good throws, which he did by connecting with WR Paul Richardson for a 46-yard touchdown. Tied for first in the NFC East going into their bye week, the Redskins are looking to return to the playoffs for the first time in 3 years.

Green Bay (1-1-1): It’s a very simple fact that the Packers are not the same team without a healthy Aaron Rodgers. Despite playing 2 1/2 games and coming back in miracle fashion in week 1 on his injured left knee, Rodgers (27-44, 265 yds, 2 TD) hasn’t looked like himself. He’s been less confident in his throws, he’s slower in evading the rush, and he’s clearly in at least some pain. While the Packers season is entirely dependent on their quarterback’s health, it may be in the team’s best interest to rest Rodgers for a week or two so he can fully heal and avoid an even worse injury.

Panthers 31, Bengals 21

Carolina (2-1): Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey might be the deadliest rushing tandem in the league. Newton (15-24, 150 yds, 4 total TD) ran for 36 yards, including 2 touchdowns and a few crucial first downs to keep drives moving. McCaffrey traded in a monster receiving day for a monster rushing day, getting 184 yards off a whopping 28 carries. Rookie CB Donte Jackson had a big day on defense, getting himself 2 picks, 2 pass breakups, and 7 tackles. If Carolina can repeat this kind of performance after their week 4 bye, the Panthers could easily challenge the Rams for NFC supremacy.

Cincinnati (2-1): A tough loss on the road against a strong Panthers team is nothing to hang heads about. Andy Dalton (29-46, 352 yds, 2 TD, 4 INT) played like an old-school gunslinger, resulting in huge completions like his 27-yard touchdown to Tyler Boyd and easy interceptions like his 3rd of the day to Panthers CB Donte Jackson. Tyler Boyd had a career game with 132 yards and a TD, and Giovanni Bernard was okay filling in for the injured Joe Mixon. The Bengals will need to rebound next week in Atlanta.

Jaguars 6, Titans 9

Jacksonville (2-1): Talk about a let down. After putting up 31 points in their revenge game against the Patriots, the Jaguars offense couldn’t muster anything against their division rivals in the Titans. Blake Bortles (21-34, 155 yds) looked much more like his older self, and the absence of Leonard Fournette was really felt as the run game stalled and the offense couldn’t find those big plays that gashed New England just a week prior. The defense was all over Tennessee all game, but it just wasn’t enough. Even the best defenses can’t win games on their own.

Tennessee (2-1): Marcus Mariota (12-18, 100 yds, 51 yds rushing) was clearly not 100%, but when backup QB Blaine Gabbert was knocked out of the game on a brutal helmet-to-helmet by Malik Jackson, the Titans didn’t have much choice but to put him in. Mariota was able to lead the Titans to 3 field goals, including one in the 4th quarter, and that proved to be enough. The defense shut down the Jaguars offense for most of the game and allowed Tennessee to extend their winning streak against Jacksonville to 3 in a row.

Ravens 27, Broncos 14

Baltimore (2-1): After their first drive ended in a blocked punt, Sunday’s game against the Broncos looked like it was going to be a repeat of their thursday night loss to the Bengals. Joe Flacco (25-40, 277, TD) and the Ravens had other ideas. Austin Collins had another big day, rushing for crucial first downs and getting himself another touchdown, and the defense shut down the Broncos air attack. An interception by LB Patrick Onwuasor, the first of his career, all but sealed the win, and would have had it not been for a penalty that took away the pick six.

Denver (2-1): It’s rare to see a special teams clinic like the Broncos put on Sunday and that team still loses. A blocked punt on the first Ravens drive gave Denver 1st and Goal on the 6 and resulted in a touchdown. A blocked field goal in the 2nd quarter set the Broncos up at midfield. What killed the Broncos, however, was penalties. An illegal block in the back took away a touchdown from the blocked field goal, and a holding penalty erased a 40-yard completion to Demaryius Thomas as the Broncos were clawing their way back into the game. In the end, setbacks like these were too much for Case Keenum (22-34, 192 yds, INT) and the Broncos to overcome as they get their first loss of the season.

Texans 22, Giants 27

Houston (0-3): The Texans season continues it’s disappointing start, despite the play of their quarterback. Deshaun Watson (24-40, 385 yds, 2 TD, INT) was picking apart the Giants defense for most of the game, but the absence of a running game (23 rushing yards from running backs) made the offense predictable and kept Houston out of the endzone despite multiple redzone trips in the first half. The defense hasn’t lived up to the hype either, leading the Texans to their first 0-3 start since 2008.

New York (1-2): Saquon Barkley is really coming into his own in his first three games, totalling 353 yards and 2 touchdowns against 3 of the better defenses in football. Eli Manning (25-29, 297 yds, 2 TD) played much better this week, keeping the ball secure and letting the players around him do the work. The loss of TE Evan Engram will hurt, but if the skill players not named Saquon or OBJ can keep up with the stars, the Giants could be headed for a turnaround. It’s still early, so it’s easy to overreact, but there’s cautious optimism in New York right now.

Rams 35, Chargers 23

LA Rams (3-0): The battle for Los Angeles went to the Rams this time, and though the score was closer than week 2, THIS was the Rams’ statement game. Against a stacked Chargers team that was many people’s Super Bowl pick, Goff, Gurley, and the Rams rolled over their cross-town opposition in what was a much bigger blowout than the score lets on. Jared Goff (29-36, 354 yds, 3 TD, INT) completed over 80% of his passes and really showed how much he’s grown under Sean McVay. Todd Gurley was just as reliable, with another 100 yards and another touchdown. The Rams are clear front-runners through the first 3 games.

LA Chargers (1-2): This season has been very frustrating for the Chargers offense. Philip Rivers (18-30, 226 yds, 2 TD) is averaging over 300 yards per game, completing 70% of his passes, and already has 8 touchdowns, yet they still find themselves 1-2. What should ease the worries of the Chargers faithful is that they’ve fallen to what may well be the two teams playing in the Super Bowl, and kept things close in both losses. Still, a defense giving up 31 points per game will be a big concern going forward.

Cardinals 14, Bears 16

Arizona (0-3): It’s official. All four of the top QB draft picks are starting quarterbacks now that the Cardinals have given the reigns to Josh Rosen. After benching Sam Bradford (13-19, 157 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT) while down by just 2 with under 5 minutes left in the 4th quarter, Rosen was put in to try and save the game. He went on to throw an interception on his first drive and was sacked on his hail mary attempt on the final play. There’s baptism by fire, and then there’s what the Cardinals did to Josh Rosen on Sunday. Everyone in Glendale is hoping for a better outing in Rosen’s first start against the Seahawks next week.

Chicago (2-1): Khalil Mack is proving that the Raiders made a huge mistake in trading him with every snap. Now totalling 4 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 interception, and 1 touchdown, Mack is outproducing the ENTIRE Raiders defense combined (3 sacks, 1 FF, 0 FR, 1 INT, 0 TD). Mitch Trubisky (24-35, 220 yds, INT) played as expected, but he is still nothing close to what the Bears were expecting when they traded up to draft him at #2 last season. This is a team that lives and dies by the defense. And right now with make, they’re flourishing.

Seahawks 24, Cowboys 13

Seattle (1-2): The power of the 12th man helped earn the Seahawks their first win of the season. The defense, led by Earl Thomas and his 2 picks, stifled the Cowboys offense all game long and allowed the offense to stretch out drives and play conservatively for most of the game. Russell Wilson (19-26, 192 yds, 2 TD) didn’t have the best game, but the offensive line that had allowed 12 sacks in the first 2 games only gave up 2 to a strong Cowboys front. The running game reaped this reward as well, with RB Chris Carson eclipsing 100 yards rushing for the first time in his career.

Dallas (1-2): The absence of Dez Bryant has been the least of the Cowboys’ worries. Dak Prescott (19-34, 168 yds, TD, 2 INT) is yet to throw for even 200 yards in a game this season, making it 5 in a row and 9 of his last 11 that this is the case. Prescott has thrown for 300 yards just once in the last 19 games and hasn’t had three consecutive 200-yard games since weeks 4-6 last season. Even with Ezekiel Elliott successfully pounding it down opposing defenses’ throats, the QB play must improve before the Cowboys can start winning again.

Lions 26, Patriots 10

Detroit (1-2): What a way to get your first win. After a blowout loss in primetime to the Jets and a closer loss to the 49ers, the expectation going into Sunday night’s game against his old mentor was that the Lions would be 0-3. Matt Patricia flipped that script and did what few rookie coaches have done: beat Bill Belichick. With 4:58 left in the first half, the Lions were outgaining the Patriots 196-13, had nearly 83% of the possession, and scored as many points as the Patriots had YARDS. Matt Stafford (27-36, 262 yds, 2 TD, INT) wrapped up the defense’s masterful performance, and the Lions finally had a 100-yard rusher, the first since Reggie Bush in 2013.

New England (1-2): There might be something seriously wrong in Foxboro right now. The Patriots just didn’t look like themselves, neither in outcome nor effort. The defense couldn’t stop anything despite the tape clearly showing they knew what plays the Lions were running. The running game totaled 15 yards in the first half and only 57 yards total before garbage time. Brady (14-26, 133 yds, TD, INT) couldn’t get anything going himself, and his receivers couldn’t get open down field even if he was on his game. 2 very uncharacteristically dumb throws in the 4th quarter led to an easy pick and an intentional grounding penalty that both killed any hope of coming back. And to top it all off, the play calling was very un-Patriots-like. They now play an undefeated Dolphins team in what has to be viewed as a must-win game.

Buccaneers 27, Steelers 30

Tampa Bay (2-1): FitzMagic was in the air in the second half as the Buccaneers nearly came back from a 30-10 halftime deficit. Fitzpatrick (30-50, 411 yds, 3 TD, 3 INT) had a rocky first half that included 4 Buccaneers turnovers and a pick six, but he came alive in the second half to eclipse 400 yards for the third straight game, the first time that’s ever been done. Mike Evans had a huge game, catching 6 balls for 137 and a touchdown, and the defense was near impenetrable after the break. This loss will hurt, but Tampa Bay should take solace in the fact that if the first half went better, they’d easily be undefeated right now. The future is still bright for the Bucs.

Pittsburgh (1-1-1): Monday night was about as close as a team can get to choking away a game. Big Ben (30-38, 353 yds, 3 TD, INT) had another big game, but for the first time this season it looked like the defense also came to play. Bud Dupree’s pick six made it 23-7 and Mike Hilton collected 2 turnovers of his own in what looked to be a route at halftime. It was enough of a cushion to hang on for the win, but had the result been different, Chris Boswell would have taken most of the blame. He missed another 2 kicks against the Buccaneers, leaving his future uncertain.


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Photo Credit: Cleveland.com, Getty Images, the Associated Press, the Palm Beach Post, the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Baltimore Sun, and the Los Angeles Times

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