As summer turned to fall, week three of the NFL season saw comebacks, classics, and controversy. Along the way the NFL season is proving to be unpredictable as it is exciting with standings that read as if someone threw darts at September’s schedule. Here now is a recap of all the week three NFL games played.
Carolina 24 (3-0), Houston 9 (1-2): This game may prove to be a case of the visiting Panthers winning the battle but losing the war. The battle was taking to the Texans early in this game when Carolina marched down the field and scored a touchdown on their opening possession. Early in the second quarter, however, the fortunes of the Panthers’ faithful changed when star running back Christian McCaffery pulled up lame with a hamstring injury, taking him out of action for the rest of the contest. Houston’s third string quarterback Davis Mills mounted the team’s only offensive surge late in the first half with a two-minute drill that ended with a touchdown (and a missed PAT) to make the game 7-6. The Panthers’ defense shut the door on Mills and the Texans in the second half and put together enough drives and points of their own to make their fans and those who supported them with a bet happy. Carolina has played three games and not only won them all but has never trailed in any of them; however, the loss of McCaffery for any length of time may put a damper on the team’s solid start, beginning next week when they travel to Dallas.
Arizona 31 (3-0), Jacksonville 19 (0-3): Arizona played a team game this week with quarterback Kyler Murray relying on a running game that accounted for three TDs on the afternoon. It was the Cardinals’ defense who turned the game late in the third quarter with a pick-six of Jags’ QB Trevor Lawrence to give Arizona a 23-19 advantage. It would prove to be a lead they never gave up as the defense locked down Jacksonville for the rest of the game, making this third win of 2021 a team effort from start to finish.
Atlanta 17 (1-2), NY Giants 14 (0-3): Call it a defensive battle or call it a duel of bad offensives, but in this low scoring affair, the Falcons saved their biggest plays for the end of the first and second halves. They scored in the two-minute drill at the end of the second quarter to take a 7-6 lead and needing only a FG to win, posted their biggest play of the day, a 28-yard Matt Ryan pass to start the game-winning drive. The Giants would be a great arena league team since they were awesome at moving the ball 40 or 50 yards on each possession but would always find a way to be turned away without points in this game, which is why they lost and are winless in 2021.
Baltimore 19 (2-1), Detroit 17 (0-3): Lamar Jackson accounted for 345 yards of total offense on the day (287 passing and 58 rushing); but against the Lions’ defense that has been torched all season, could only manage one passing touchdown. It was only the NFL’s most accurate kicker in history that saw the Ravens win this game. This lackluster Baltimore offensive is going to run their defense into the ground with all these close games, as evident by the fact they pitched a first half shutout but were only up 10-0 and needed to scramble to keep their one trick pony offense in the game until they could kick enough field goals to win. Baltimore of a paper tiger this season who might win from October to December but will go nowhere once the postseason arrives. And YES, the Detroit Lions were screwed at the end of the games by the officials who missed the delay of game penalty … but fans of Lamar Jackson and the Ravens won’t bring that up now or later in the season when a playoff birth might be riding on one game when they know this one was stolen.
Cleveland 26, (2-1), Chicago 6 (1-2): The return of Odell Beckham, Jr. marked the return of a sluggish Browns offense this week; however, against the Bears, even in Chicago, Cleveland mustarded up enough offense to win. The narrative will be how well Justin Fields did in his first start as the Bears’ QB; but it was clear he was overmatched by a Browns defense that could see what he wanted to do faster than he did and swarmed to the football on almost every play. It was an ugly win, but in the NFL teams don’t throw away ugly wins, and treasure those win when the come on the road as the Browns are slowly rounding into a championship contender this season.
Cincinnati 24 (2-1), Pittsburgh 10 (1-2): When it takes your Hall of Fame QB 58 pass attempts to reach 318 yards and your team still only posts one touchdown, you know you had a bad day. That’s that Pittsburgh did in losing this home divisional game, their second straight home loss of the season. The Bengals followed the NFL formula by never playing from behind on the road in this game and played a balanced game in seeing QB Joe Burrow throw 18 times and RB Joe Mixon rush 18 times. The duo combined for 262 yards with Burrow throwing three TD passes when it counted to lead his team to victory and a one-third scare of the AFC North lead. The questions surrounding the return of Ben Roethlisberger this year will grow louder after this game as it already looks like the future Hall of Famer’s Super Bowl winning ways are over three weeks into the year.
Tennessee 25 (2-1), Indianapolis 16 (0-3): Have the Titans already won the AFC South? Because in a must-win contest, the visiting Colts came up flat in allowing Tennessee QB Ryan Tannehill to toss three TD passes and Derrick Henry to rush for 113 yards. Carson Wentz did little to help the cause as Indy’s offense was outgained by 100 yards as the Colts will return home 0-3 and looking up at the division with little home of making November, let alone any December football games matter. How much did they give up for Carson Wentz again? Are those Philly fans I hear cheering for Indianapolis to give the Eagles a top-ten draft pick next spring?
LA Chargers 30 (2-1), Kansas City 24 (1-2): Has the NFL already caught up with Kansas City? That will be the question this week now that KC has posted a two-game losing streak. The visiting Chargers played them will with rookie quarterback Justin Herbert last season, and this year that hard work paid off with a divisional win. Herbert was the best quarterback on the field in the fourth quarter, posted two touchdown drives as part of his four-touchdown afternoon after entering the final 15:00 down 17-14. It is always easier for teams that face powerhouse rosters twice a season to pick up on their tendency, however, teams like the Chargers are giving the rest of the NFL a blueprint for how to play Kansas City, and the league is definitely taking notes.
New Orleans 28 (2-1), New England 13 (1-2): The Jekyll and Hyde tour of Jameis Winston went to New England this week where the Saints’ quarterback posted quad-sevens, scoring a touchdown in each quarter of this win over New England. The Saints’ defense probably iced the game away on the first play of the second half with a pick-six of Patriots’ QB Mac Jones, extending a 14-3 halftime lead by another TD and putting the game out of reach for the rookie out of Alabama. It appears that the Buccaneers have some competition for the NFC South with the Panthers already 3-0 and the Saints right behind them at 2-1, making for a much more difficult road to repeating.
Buffalo 41 (2-1), Washington 23 (1-2): Bills QB Josh Allen returned to his MVP caliber form this week with 358 passing yards and four TD passes as Buffalo posted their first home win of the year. Scoring in every quarter, the Bills did not give the visitors time to catch their breath with their backup quarterback starting his second straight game. Although Washington fans will be encouraged by the 14-point second quarter they posted, it is clear the defending NFC East champs are a far cry from a playoff worthy team as the calendar turns to October next week.
Las Vegas 31 (3-0), Miami 28 (1-2) OT: The Dolphins held their own on the road without Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback, even jumping out to a 14-0 first quarter lead. The Raiders took a while to get going, but they were leading 25-14 one minute into the fourth quarter. Miami backup QB Jacoby Brissett mounting a comeback, helping the Dolphins score a FG with 8:00 left and on the final possession of regulation, aided by a fourth and eight conversion and a defensive pass interference call to set up the game tying TD and two-point play. In the extra session, each team scored a FG to make it sudden death, with the home team securing their second overtime win of the year with a second field goal, keeping them atop the AFC West heading into October. With Miami without their starting QB for at least two more games, finding wins will be difficult for the Dolphins, so letting this one slip away may prove costly when it comes down to the end of the season when they believe they should be fighting for a playoff berth.
Denver 26 (3-0), NY Jets 0 (0-3): The Broncos’ tomato can tour continued this week with a home game against the Jets, and since Teddy Bridgewater is playing well this season, this win should not come a surprise to anyone. Jets’ fans are always bemoaning the drafting of QB Zach Wilson, who last week toss four interceptions, and this week was shut out in this third start. This was a simple week for Denver since they won, adding to their win over the Giants and Jaguars, when combined with the Jets, are 0-9 on the season. Nevertheless, the Broncos are 3-0 and leading the AFC West, two games ahead of Kansas City as the NFL reaches October next week.
Minnesota 30 (1-2), Seattle 17 (1-2): The Vikings came out and played like desperate team with QB Kirk Cousins leading the way. The current and soon-to-be former Viking outplayed is Seahawks; counterpart Russell Wilson with three TD passes in the first half to wipe out a strong Seattle start to the game. The Seahawks did little on offense after scoring 14 first quarter points and watched their defense give up an 11-points lead in the second quarter. This despite Dalvin Cook not being on the field and Cousins relying on RB Alexander Mattison to rush for 110 yards in the victory, Minnesota’s first of the season as both teams will reach October 1-2 in 2021.
LA Rams 34 (3-0), Tampa Bay 24 (2-1): These two heavyweights took a while to open up the playbook, but when they did, it was the Rams who had more to choose from than the Buccaneers did, leading to the game’s outcome. LA’s defense made life difficult for Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians and his QB Tom Brady by applying so much pressure, it was nearly impossible for the Bucs to fire the ball deep down the field. Meanwhile, once he warmed up, Matthew Stafford outplayed Brady as the Rams’ QB tossed four TD passes as part of a 343-yard passing day. With the NFC West looking tough this season, it might be the LA Rams setting the pace as they join the Cardinals atop the division and the conference with perfect records after three weeks. As for Tampa Bay, they are fortunate there are not more teams that have the level of players on their defense that the Rams have, otherwise being able to win 10+ games would be difficult in 2021.
Green Bay 30 (2-1), San Francisco 28 (2-1): The magician name Aaron Rodgers was at work again in Northern California again Sunday night needing only 37 seconds and without a timeout set up a game winning 50-yard field goal to help the Packers win their second straight game. San Francisco set up the magic show with what they believed was a game-winning touchdown drive of their own thanks to QB Jimmy Garoppolo converting third downs on the way to taking a one-point lead. While the game was marred by close penalty calls, these two teams showed how and why they are both Super Bowl contenders in 2021, with those lacking a rooting interest perhaps hoping for a rematch come January.
Dallas 41 (2-1), Philadelphia 21 (1-2): The Eagles were not ready for primetime in their divisional game at Dallas Monday night. Their defense looked overmatched and confused and their offense lacked the talent to keep up with the Cowboys. Philly QB Jalen Hurts put together an impressive drive in the third quarter, going 90 yards for touchdown; but the score only offset the pick-six he threw in the quarter’s opening minute that put his team down by 20 points. Dallas would response with two more touchdown in the second after to take over the game and turn it into a blowout. Philly’s only other score was a strip of Dak Prescott in the end zone, one of the few mistakes the Cowboys’ QB made in his return to AT&T Stadium since his injury last season. The wins gives Dallas sole possession of first place in the NFC East.
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NFL Week Three Recap | TooAthletic.com