Week 3 action was far less traumatic than last week’s never-ending ride to an injured reserve list. However, it was certainly traumatic for numerous teams including the NFC East that saw their defenses give up an average of 32 points per game on Sunday. Yet, no one’s pain could equal that of the Atlanta Falcons, who once again showed us that victory is never a sure thing.
THE GHOST OF 28-3 IS STRONG:
BEARS 30, FALCONS 26: The Atlanta Falcons are cursed right?
One week after their disastrous, last-second loss to the Cowboys, the Falcons were back at it again on Sunday, this time coughing up a 16-point fourth quarter lead and giving up a 20 spot to the Bears.
The 3-0 Bears became disillusioned with starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and made a call to the bullpen for Nick Foles. The Super Bowl LII MVP threw two touchdown passes to key a fourth quarter comeback in Atlanta.
Following the game, Falcons head coach Dan Quinn, who may not be much longer for Atlanta said “It falls on me in all spaces.” It’s going to fall on him in all spaces, alright…
Barring a reversal of fortune and Super Bowl victory, Quinn and the Falcons will not be able to outrun their historic 28-3 Super Bowl collapse. The last two weeks are just a re-affirmation of that.
…AND SPEAKING OF 28-3 LEADS….:
BILLS 35, RAMS 32: The Bills were up 28-3 in the third quarter at home over the Rams and quickly blew the lead in the fourth quarter. Suddenly down by four, the Bills launched a game-winning drive that featured some notable assistance:
The pass interference call on Darious Williams of the Rams set the stage for Josh Allen’s game-winning score. While that DPI call is questionable, can any Rams fan or player complain about benefiting from pass interference calls ever again?
Meanwhile, Josh Allen is the new Dan Fouts apparently. He led the NFL in passing yardage through two weeks and added 311 yards with four more touchdown passes.
If people want to add Russell Wilson to the MVP discussion, Allen deserves a mention or two after the first three weeks of the season.
THE FASTEST GUNS WEST OF THE MISSISSIPPI:
PACKERS 37, SAINTS 30: Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers outdueled the rapidly aging Drew Brees of the Saints on Sunday Night Football. The Packers survived an All-Pro level night by Saints running back Alvin Kamara, who scored twice and amassed nearly 200 yards from scrimmage.
Both quarterbacks threw three touchdown passes but a critical second half fumble by Saints all-purpose player Taysom Hill spelled the end for New Orleans, who fell to 1-2. Rodgers threw for 283 yards and three scores in the win for the unbeaten Packers.
SEAHAWKS 38, COWBOYS 31: Seattle survived arguably the lamest play of the season by wide receiver DK Metcalf and were aided by another ridiculous effort by Russell Wilson to nip the Cowboys by seven points.
Russell Wilson threw five touchdown passes in the win and set an NFL record for most touchdown passes through the first three games of the season with 14 (topping 13 by Patrick Mahomes in 2018). Meanwhile, Dak Prescott threw for 472 yards but committed three costly turnovers in the defeat including a game-ending interception.
BUCCANEERS 28, BRONCOS 10: Denver really had no chance from the jump in this one for what proved to be the best game of Tom Brady’s three-game as Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback.
Brady threw for nearly 300 yards and tossed three touchdown passes in the win. The game also yielded my favorite stat line of the season from Bucs wide receivers Mike Evans:
2 catches, 2 yds. 2 TDs.
How about that for a day?
THE LOSERS CLUB:
EAGLES 23, BENGALS 23: Sadly, I watched a lot of this game. In short, the Eagles are an injured and unproductive mess. The Bengals are led by an extremely promising rookie quarterback in Joe Burrow but can’t block for him.
The Eagles should have lost this game in regulation and in overtime but they should have also won this game in overtime if that makes sense.
Late in overtime, the Eagles setup to try a potential game-winning 58-yard field goal. However, a false start penalty pushed them back five yards to make it a 63-yard try. Eagles head coach Doug Pederson opted to punt instead of trying the kick with just :19 seconds left and potentially opening the door for a Bengals win if kicker Jake Elliott couldn’t connect.
So, he thought a tie was the best option. Yikes. It’s likely the Sunday Night Football crew will play the theme from MASH next week when the Eagles visit the other NFC’s injury-ravaged outfit, the San Francisco 49ers.
Somewhere, former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, who also played to a tie against the Bengals in 2008, was shaking his head.
TITANS 31, VIKINGS 30: Titans running back Derrick Henry finally got going to the tune of 119 yards rushing and two touchdowns to help lead the AFC South leaders to a one-point win on the road.
The 0-3 Vikings got strong performances by running back Dalvin Cook and rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who caught seven passes for 175 yards and a touchdown in a loss.
STEELERS 28, TEXANS 21: Despite playing with a lead throughout the game, Houston couldn’t hold off the Steelers in Pittsburgh. Trailing 21-20 in the fourth quarter, the Steelers embarked on a 12-play drive that nearly took eight minutes.
James Conner punched in the go-ahead score to give the Steelers a seven-point lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Houston fell to 0-3 after playing arguably the AFC’s three best teams (Kansas City, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh) and seem to be on the fast track to a winter vacation.
49ERS 36, GIANTS 9: A week after having nearly every 49ers player suffer an injury at MetLife Stadium dating back to the Bill Walsh regime, San Francisco’s reserves delivered an impressive performance.
Quarterback Nick Mullens threw for 343 yards while replacing an injured Jimmy Garoppolo but perhaps the most impressive stat was time of possession. The 49ers held the ball for nearly 40 minutes to support a defense that held the Giants to just 231 yards of total offense.
Incredibly, a 27-point win on the road with plenty of backups proved to be the second-biggest 49ers-related story of the day.
THE MEME OF THE YOUNG SEASON:
PATRIOTS 36, RAIDERS 20: After a slow start, the New England Patriots outclassed the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday behind 250 yards rushing including Sony Michel’s first 100-yard rushing day since his rookie season in 2018.
While the 2-1 Patriots played well, this game gave my pick for Meme of the Year so far in the NFL. CBS cameras caught this shot of Patriots quarterback Cam Newton talking to teammate N’Keal Harry:
LIONS 26, CARDINALS 23: I take back most of the nice things I’ve said about the Cardinals. Bad loss.
COLTS 36, JETS 7: If you want to torture someone, show them this game. Sam Darnold threw to two pick-sixes to the Colts and also accounted for a safety. The 2020 Jets are pure nightmare fuel.
PANTHERS 21, CHARGERS 16: The Chargers definitely had a Chiefs hangover. They just never got in sync against the Panthers.
BROWNS 34, WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM 20: Nick Chubb rushed for 108 yards and two touchdowns in what was an otherwise pedestrian matchup.
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