Jump to content

NFL Week 3: Lessons from every Sunday game, including Packers’ win over Bucs


Buddy
 Share

Recommended Posts

Another week, another topsy-turvy round of action in the NFL.

Six teams entered the weekend with perfect records, and by night’s end, three — the ChiefsBuccaneers and Bills — had sustained their first defeats of the season.

Meanwhile, six teams entered Sunday in search of their first victories of the year. The ColtsPanthersTitans and Falcons escaped with wins, while the Texans and Raiders will have to wait at least a week longer.

Parity reigns in the NFL, and now 30 of the 32 teams have at least one victory through three weeks for only the second time since 2002, and for the fifth time since 1970 (when the NFL and AFL merged).

Dolphins 21, Bills 19

• So, Mike McDaniel and his Dolphins are for real. Miami delivered a stunner in upsetting the Bills to improve to 3-0 for only the fifth time in the last 20 years.

• The Dolphins have received a lot of attention for McDaniel’s work with Tua Tagovailoa and the offense. But Miami’s defense deserves a lot of credit for getting off the field in key situations. Buffalo dominated in many statistical categories (497 yards to Miami’s 212, 31 first downs to Miami’s 15, 40:40 time of possession edge over the Dolphins’ 19:30) but Miami came through when it mattered, particularly in the red zone. The Dolphins denied the Bills on two of their four trips inside the 20, including a stand at the 2-yard line.

• The Dolphins also largely held Stefon Diggs in check. Josh Allen spread the ball around to 11 receivers, but Diggs had seven catches for 74 yards and no touchdowns. Running back Devin Singletary led the Bills with nine catches for 78 yards and a touchdown.

________________________________________________________

If nail-biters are your thing, then you’re in the right place. Ten games were decided by one score (eight points or fewer). That brings this season’s total to 18 games, which is the most such outcomes through three weeks in NFL history. And 25 games have been decided by six points or fewer, the most in league history.

But what did we learn Sunday?

Here’s a game-by-game look at some of the brightest performances, most crippling transgressions, more intriguing (or, in some cases, troubling) trends around the league and what they mean.

Colts 20, Chiefs 17

• Don’t say “just a kicker” ever again. The injury absence of Harrison Butker loomed large for the Chiefs, who suffered their first loss of the season thanks to struggles in the kicking game. A failed fake field-goal attempt and a missed 34-yarder by Matt Ammendola kept the Colts in the game and ultimately cost the Chiefs. (Ammendola also missed a PAT.)

• Colts quarterback Matt Ryan, who along with coach Frank Reich entered Sunday under immense pressure, earned temporary relief. Ryan turned in two unsightly performances in Weeks 1 and 2, but rebounded from two early fumbles on Sunday to lead his team to victory. The Colts scored 10 unanswered points down the stretch and got an interception from their defense in the final seconds.

• Patrick Mahomes can do a lot, but having him as your leading rusher (four carries for 26 yards) isn’t the recipe for success. Clyde Edwards-Helaire finished with zero yards on seven carries. Third-down struggles also will haunt the Chiefs, who went 3-for-10 on those money downs. The Colts did slightly better at 6-for-15 and also won the time of possession battle 33:32 to 26:28.

Panthers 22, Saints 14

• Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield was a rather pedestrian 12-for-25 with 170 passing yards and a touchdown. But the most encouraging offensive performance belonged to running back Christian McCaffrey (108 yards on 25 attempts). Run CMC just might be back to his old form after two injury-plagued seasons. Sunday’s 100-yard day coupled with last week’s 15-carry, 102-yard outing gave McCaffrey his first back-to-back 100-yard performances since Weeks 8 and 9 of the 2019 season.

• Bend but don’t break would best describe the Panthers’ defensive showing. Jameis Winston and the Saints did put up numbers. Winston passed for 353 yards and a touchdown, and rookie Chris Olave and fellow wideout Tre’Quan Smith each went over the 100-yard receiving mark. But the Panthers did deny the Saints on eight of 13 third-down attempts and forced three turnovers (two interceptions and a fumble recovery).

• Sunday was the 28th time Winston has topped the 300-yard mark. But … Winston also turned the ball over multiple times in 18 of those 300-plus-yard passing days, including Sunday.

Vikings 28, Lions 24

• Busted coverages cost the Lions a chance to open the year at 2-1 for only the second time since 2017. The Lions, who entered the game as 6 1/2-point underdogs, opened the game with a 14-0 lead. Then a miscommunication in the secondary left Adam Thielen wide open for Minnesota’s first touchdown of the day. Later, with 45 seconds left to play and while nursing a 24-21 lead, the Lions had another coverage breakdown, leaving K.J. Osborn wide open for a 28-yard walk-in touchdown catch.

• Cousins on Sunday extended his league-leading streak of consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass to 33.

• This one will sting in Detroit for a while. The Lions outgained the Vikings 416-373. They won the time of possession battle 34:04 to 25:56, and they led the entire game until 45 seconds remained. But third-down struggles will haunt them. The Lions converted only three of 16 third downs while the Vikings were 2-for-9. Head-scratcher decision: Dan Campbell going for it on fourth-and-1 from the Minnesota 30 with 3:30 left rather than attempting a 45-yard field goal. Detroit got stopped on a loss of downs. On their next possession, the Lions missed a 54-yard field goal, and the Vikings cashed in with the Cousins-to-Osborn touchdown pass.

Eagles 24, Commanders 8

• Jalen Hurts on Sunday continued his electrifying start to the 2022 season, passing for 340 yards and three touchdowns (and no turnovers) while leading the Eagles to a divisional win that wasn’t nearly as close as the score indicated. Hurts, who now has 300-yard passing outings in back-to-back weeks for only the third time, has the Eagles off to their first 3-0 start in six years.

• Carson Wentz (traded from Philly to Indianapolis last season, and traded again to Washington this offseason) downplayed the significance of his first meeting with the team that drafted him second overall in 2016. But someone forgot to tell the Eagles faithful, who took over FedEx Field and rained down thunderous boos on their former quarterback. Wentz would no doubt like to forget Sunday’s performance. He had only 24 passing yards at halftime. His team mustered only 50 total first-half yards while punting on six possessions and fumbling on another. Wentz finished with 211 passing yards and a 71.0 passer rating. The Eagles sacked him nine times, but five of those sacks were on Wentz, who held on to the ball too long, trying to make something out of nothing.

• Washington’s offense looked inept, but Sunday marked a continuation of the woes that have plagued the Commanders’ underperforming defense. Around the league, people are starting to wonder if defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio deserves a good bit of blame. Washington remains without top pass rusher Chase Young, but this unit still has plenty of first-round talent up front. Washington ranked in the bottom third of the league last season and this year is among the worst while yielding 383, 425 and 400 yards and managing just one takeaway through three games.

Ravens 37, Patriots 26

• Lamar Jackson faced questions about his health when he was seen this week wearing a padded sleeve on his throwing elbow. But Jackson looked just fine, passing for four touchdowns in Sunday’s win. Jackson also rushed for 107 yards (his second straight 100-yard rushing day) and a touchdown. He joined Randall Cunningham (1990) to become only the second player in NFL history to record four touchdown passes and 100 rushing yards. He also became the first player in the league’s modern era to record 100 rushing yards and at least three passing touchdowns in back-to-back games.

• The Ravens’ top wideout from 2021, Marquise Brown, requested and received a trade because he didn’t feel like Baltimore ran a wide receiver-friendly offense. But the Ravens haven’t missed a beat, and wideout Devin Duvernay is getting plenty of opportunities to make plays. Duvernay on Sunday hauled in his fourth touchdown catch of the season, which puts him among the league leaders. Meanwhile, Jackson increased his passing touchdown total to 10, which leads all quarterbacks this young season.

• Baltimore’s secondary redeemed itself a week after getting torched by the Dolphins. Against New England, the Ravens DBs racked up three interceptions and a fumble recovery.

Titans 24, Raiders 22

• Mike Vrabel and the Titans got a much-needed win and looked a bit more like themselves despite getting outscored 12-0 in the second half.

• Tennessee struggled to get Derrick Henry going in Weeks 1 and 2 as he got hit at or behind the line on 16 of his 34 rushing attempts. So, on Sunday, they moved him around, got him involved in the passing game to help him get a rhythm while also making it harder for the Raiders to load up the box. The approach worked: Henry rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown on 20 attempts (producing a season-best 4.25 yards per carry average) and five catches for 58 yards. Before Sunday, Henry had recorded five receptions or more just once in his career, a six-catch outing in Week 2 of 2021.

• Josh McDaniels and his team fell to 0-3 after their comeback bid came up short, a two-point conversion pass broken up with 1:18 left. The Raiders and their new coach remain in search of a complete effort and clean operation. A 1-for-12 showing on third downs had a lot to do with the Raiders’ offensive struggles. The self-inflicted wounds in the form of mental errors and ill-timed penalties also remain an issue.

Bears 23, Texans 20

• This game could best be described as a display of growing pains. Both second-year quarterbacks (Chicago’s Justin Fields and Houston’s Davis Mills) threw two interceptions. Fields finished with only 106 passing yards and no touchdowns. Mills had 245 passing yards, but his late-game interception in Chicago territory positioned the Bills for the game winner

• Had his team won, Houston safety Jalen Pitre deserved the game ball for two interceptions and a sack. Instead, that honor goes to Chicago linebacker Roquan Smith, who at one point this offseason had demanded a trade, but then decided to play out his rookie contract. Smith picked off Mills with the score tied 20-20 at the Houston 26 with just more than a minute left to play.

• Lovie Smith had a chance to get some vengeance on his old team, which fired him despite a 10-6 campaign in 2012. But Mills’ interception foiled those plans.

Bengals 27, Jets 12

• The Bengals got a much-needed win to avoid falling to 0-3, which would have severely hampered their chances of returning to the playoffs. Since the league merger, only seven teams have reached the playoffs after starting 0-3.

• Cincinnati won, but some of the same issues that have plagued the Bengals remained. Joe Burrow was sacked only two times after getting sacked 13 times in the first two weeks. But he was still hit another nine times. The Bengals also have yet to truly get their rushing attack going. Lead back Joe Mixon managed only 24 yards on 12 carries, and Samaje Perine added 47 on nine carries.

• The Jets again fell prey to self-inflicted wounds, turning the ball over four times and letting the Bengals off the hook on key downs (Cincinnati converted on 50 percent of their third downs).

Falcons 27, Seahawks 23

• The Falcons entered Sunday as one-point underdogs but got their first win of the season, leaving the league with only two winless teams (Las Vegas and Houston).

• Cordarrelle Patterson turned in a monster performance, rushing for 141 yards and a touchdown. It was only the fifth time of the converted wide receiver’s career he has topped the century mark. Patterson’s previous high was a 120-yard, 22-carry day two weeks ago against New Orleans.

• Atlanta’s win spoiled a big day for Seattle quarterback Geno Smith, who passed for 325 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. But Smith and his unit didn’t have many opportunities in the final two quarters. Seattle had the ball only three times in the second half and the outcome of those possessions were a field goal, a punt and an interception.

Packers 14, Buccaneers 12

• The showdown between future Hall of Fame quarterbacks was not the offensive explosion one would expect, largely because the wide receiving units of both teams were decimated by injury, and in the case of Mike Evans, suspension.

• Green Bay’s defense proved heroic and held Tom Brady in check, limiting him to one touchdown pass and then denying him on the two-point conversion attempt that would have tied the game in the final seconds of play. With Aaron Rodgers’ wide receivers dealing with both injury and growing pains, the Packers will need more outings like this from the defense.

• One player to keep an eye on moving forward: Packers rookie wide receiver Romeo Doubs. The fourth-round pick out of Nevada — a 6-2, 200-pounder with 4.47 speed — seemingly is earning the trust of his quarterback. Doubs entered the game with six catches for 64 yards, but on Sunday caught all eight passes that came his way for 73 yards and a touchdown.

Jaguars 38, Chargers 10

• Could Trevor Lawrence be finding comfort in new coach Doug Pederson’s system? It certainly appears so. The second-year pro and first pick of the 2021 draft turned in one of his best games, completing 28 of 39 passes for 262 yards, three touchdowns, no turnovers and 115.5 passer rating. It was the second straight week with multiple touchdown passes and no turnovers for Lawrence.

• Third-year back James Robinson provided great support for Lawrence, rushing for 100 yards and a touchdown on 17 attempts. He also added 16 receiving yards on three receptions. Sunday represented the sixth 100-yard game of Robinson’s career and his first since Week 5 of last season.

• Despite dealing with fractured rib cartilage (a painful injury that makes it challenging to even breathe without pain), Justin Herbert played. But he probably should not have. Sure, he logged 297 yards, but he completed just 55 percent of his passes (the third-lowest clip of his career and well below his average of 66 percent) and also lost a fumble. The Chargers got blown out anyway.

Rams 20, Cardinals 12

• Sean McVay continued his dominance of the Cardinals, improving to 11-1 against the NFC West foes since he took over as head coach in 2017. With the win, the Rams — who saw Aaron Donald record his 100th career sack — improve to 2-1 and into at least a share of first place in the division.

• Meanwhile, Kliff Kingsbury, hired by the Cardinals in 2019 because he was heralded as the next offensive whiz, continues to flounder. The Cardinals got off to another slow start and have now been outscored 56-6 in the first halves of their three games this season.

• Kyler Murray did his best to put his team on his back, attempting a career-high 58 passes. He completed 37 of them for 314 yards. But the Cardinals never managed to score a single touchdown.

Broncos 11, 49ers 10

• Nathaniel Hackett received much criticism entering Sunday night’s contest, and rightfully so. But opposing talent evaluators also wondered if some of Denver’s struggles had to do with regression from Russell Wilson. They pointed to a lack of explosive plays from the quarterback and a perceived hesitancy to both go deep and use his legs to extend plays or scramble as he did during his best years in Seattle. But late in the fourth quarter, Wilson looked like his old self as he bought time with his legs, completed five of seven passes for 58 yards (including strikes of 27 and 19 yards). He even scrambled for 12 yards while orchestrating a 12-play, 80-yard drive capped by a 1-yard Melvin Gordan touchdown run that gave Denver an 11-10 lead with 4:13 left. Wilson finished with just 184 passing yards on 20 of 33 attempts. But he provided the heroics the Broncos expected when they gave him $250 million, and earned his 25th fourth-quarter comeback (most in the NFL since 2012).

• The 49ers weren’t perfect, but for the better part of three quarters, they remained a step ahead of the Broncos. Their fortunes changed midway through the third quarter when left tackle Trent Williams went down with an ankle injury. From that point on, Jimmy Garoppolo found himself under increased pressure and experienced a drop-off in effectiveness. It wasn’t immediately clear how extensive an injury San Francisco’s All-Pro left tackle sustained, but if the 49ers have to endure an extended stretch without him, their goal of keeping pace with the Rams gets that much more challenging.

• After struggling with late-game decision-making, Hackett hired longtime NFL assistant coach Jerry Rosburg to help him in this area from the booth. The move may have raised eyebrows around the league while also sparking scorn within the fan base. But internally, the decision demonstrated to players that their head coach was willing to acknowledge his deficiencies and look for ways to improve. Hackett’s willingness to hold himself accountable also motivated the Broncos. Now it’ll be interesting to see what growth Hackett and his team achieve. With their much-needed win, the Broncos improve to 2-1 and into a tie for first place in their division with a date with the winless Raiders coming up.

“There he goes. One of God's own prototypes.

A high-powered mutant of some kind, never even considered for mass production.

Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...