• Desperation can be a double-edged sword in the NFL, but the Cowboys and Vikings certainly channeled it for season-saving wins in Week 3. Dallas and Minnesota spent the week on the brink after their home losses to the Bears and Dolphins last Sunday, but both have reason to exhale after avoiding the mayhem and carnage that would have ensued at 0-3.
The Cowboys may not make it all the way to their goal of playing the Super Bowl in their own stadium, but they did manage to win a monstrously important game at Houston, knocking off the previously undefeated Texans (27-13) in impressive fashion. It was the same basic story for the Vikings, who thumped the visiting Lions 24-10, thereby ensuring that
Dallas and Minnesota were two of the NFL's three 0-2's to start climbing their way back into contention in Week 3 (the Rams, behind
In Minnesota, the Vikings offense still wasn't crisp, but
The Vikings and Cowboys both take their bye in Week 4, and I imagine the break looks a world more inviting at 1-2 than it would have at 0-3. Favre and Co. need the rest, because in Weeks 5-8, games against the Jets, Cowboys, Packers and Patriots loom. Dallas comes back to face the Titans, Vikings, Giants and Jaguars in the ensuing four games.
Both the Cowboys and Vikings staved off the desperation for now, but a host of challenges still await the pair of Super Bowl contenders. A win in the NFL still lasts an entire week, but it's only one week.
• Roy Williams had the unexpected big game at Houston, but I wouldn't get used to it, Dallas fans. The Texans secondary can make almost anyone look like a threat. Houston became the first NFL team in history to surrender 400-plus yards passing in its opening two games of the season, but "held'' the Cowboys to just 284 on Sunday. In the best game of his Dallas tenure, Williams had 117 yards on five catches, including a pair of touchdowns (15 and 63 yards) in the second half.
Another 25 or so games like that, and Williams might just approach being worth the price Dallas paid for him at the 2008 trading deadline.
• Now we've got an honest-to-goodness race in the NFC South, thanks to Atlanta's thrilling 27-24 overtime defeat of New Orleans (2-1) in the Superdome. The Falcons (2-1) needed a
Atlanta really needed to win Sunday to avoid spending most of the next couple months chasing down the Saints in the division. The Falcons play just one NFC South game (home against Tampa Bay) between now and Week 13, with four of their six division games jammed into the season's final five weeks. The Week 16 rematch against the Saints, in the Georgia Dome, won't happen until two days after Christmas.
• The Patriots offense is all the way back this season, but how can anyone rest easy in Foxboro with a New England defense capable of being dented for 374 yards by
• There was some good news for Buffalo in dropping to 0-3. Fitzpatrick clearly gives the Bills more of a vertical threat than
Spiller scored twice at New England, first on a five-yard pass from Fitzpatrick, and later on a scintillating 95-yard kickoff return in the third quarter. There's plenty more days like that to come for the ex-Clemson star.
• When is that
Batch completed 11 of his first 14 passes, with a spike and a drop mixed in, as the Steelers rolled to a 28-6 lead, en route to a 38-13 blowout of the 2-0 Bucs. Batch had 177 yards and three touchdowns at that point, with a 128.6 passer rating. Pittsburgh only felt the need to throw three passes in the second half, with
Remember when we all theorized that Pittsburgh would do well just to hang on until Roethlisberger resumed playing, maybe scratching out a 2-2 start? Whoever starts at quarterback for the Steelers, they'll be favored to go to 4-0 at home against Baltimore next week.
• Speaking of the Ravens, did anyone need a good game in Week 3 more than quarterback
More importantly, Flacco had no interceptions after four last week at Cincinnati, and one in Week 1 at the Jets. Now comes the toughest test an NFL quarterback can face at the moment: A Week 4 trip to Pittsburgh, for a showdown with the 3-0 Steelers.
• Can't remember the last time I saw two better quarterbacks make two uglier throws than the interceptions
Pass pressure can make even the best quarterbacks do stupid things, and Manning actually switched the ball to his left hand and tried to shot-put a touchdown pass to tight end
In New Orleans, Brees was intercepted by Falcons safety
• What a train-wreck-in-the-making the Giants have become. I didn't pick New York to make the NFC playoffs, but I thought it had a chance to be pretty good if new coordinator
In losing 29-10 at home to the Titans on Sunday, New York (1-2) was an undisciplined mess, with five personal fouls, two turnovers inside the Tennessee 6-yard line, a safety incurred when running back
I don't buy that an entire team can lose its poise at the same time, but New York is making me rethink that. Coughlin yanked offensive tackle
I guess you could say that New Orleans has Moore than enough on offense.
• It was a new quarterback and the same old results for Carolina. The
Clausen was 16 of 33 for 188 yards, with a dismal 53.6 passer rating. He threw one interception and lost a pair of fumbles, and Carolina (0-3) is already two full games behind all three of its NFC South opponents.
• Wow. We already knew
Please tell me Fisher won't wind up in one of those cheesy "Just for Men'' commercials with