Week 3 superlatives: MVP, head-scratching decision, more
As Week 3 of the NFL season winds down, we take a look back at some notable performances and key plays.
Sunday's early games
Hard to find a Week 3 game more exciting than Philadelphia's 37-34 triumph over Washington, with the proverbial playoff atmosphere at Lincoln Financial Field.
Kirk Cousins was phenomenal, too, in his first start of the 2014 season, finishing with 427 yards and three touchdowns. He also made a critical mistake -- something Foles avoided -- when he badly overshot Niles Paul and was picked by Malcolm Jenkins in the fourth quarter.
Foles nearly threw an interception a few moments earlier, but that play turned the finish into something of a signature moment for the Philadelphia QB. On what initially was ruled an INT by Bashaud Breeland, Foles took a brutal shot to the chest from 325-pound defensive lineman Chris Baker. Foles struggled to get to his feet after the hit, which touched off a fight between the two teams.
After Breeland's near-interception was overturned, though, a hurting Foles proceeded to complete five passes on the drive, capping it with a TD toss to Jeremy Maclin. Foles ended the afternoon with 325 yards, three touchdowns and a crucial win for his team. -- Chris Burke
The Texans moved to 2-0 with Fitzpatrick playing it pretty close to the vest -- a perfect strategy given his tendency to be a human roller coaster at QB. Sunday, Fitzpatrick did not have that luxury, and the results were rather predictable.
New York picked off Fitzpatrick three times, marking Fitzpatrick's 10th career game with at least three INTs. Mistake No. 2 was run back by Antrell Rolle to the Houston 2-yard line, setting up a short Rashad Jennings score that put New York ahead 14-0. -- CB
Must-see play: Since the trick play Cleveland pulled off for Johnny Manziel was called back on a penalty, this early award goes to the now 3-0 Bengals for their own trick play -- a TD pass from Mohamed Sanu to Andy Dalton, who made a nice leaping grab and sprinted to the end zone. -- CB
Head-scratching decision: Kenny Britt, not picking up a first down.
That's when St. Louis running back Zac Stacy was stuffed on a 4th-and-1 from the Dallas 15, turning over possession. However, the Rams should have had a first down on the play before, except that Kenny Britt failed to reach for the marker after catching a very short pass on 3rd-and-3. If Britt gets to the needed spot, as a veteran receiver should there, the drive continues and perhaps the Rams reestablish control of the game. -- CB
Key injury: Dennis Pitta (hip)
A dislocated right hip cost Dennis Pitta most of his 2013 season ... and badly hindered Baltimore's offense all year as a result. The Ravens again will be without Joe Flacco's best buddy in the coming weeks. Pitta was carted off Sunday after dislocating that same hip on a non-contact play.
Pitta already had 16 catches and 22 targets in two-plus games this season. -- CB
Sunday's late games
Not only are the Cards on top of the NFC West with a 3-0 record, they've also won their last two games without the efforts of starting QB Carson Palmer, who suffered a nerve injury in his throwing shoulder in the season opener against the Chargers. So, head coach Bruce Arians had to turn to Stanton, a journeyman who, until his start against the Giants last week, hadn't started an NFL game since 2010. Against the 49ers on Sunday, Stanton completed 18 of 33 passes for 244 yards, two touchdowns (both to rookie receiver John Brown) and no interceptions, despite the fact that San Francisco's defense was knocking the tar out of him all day. Many were worried when Palmer's inability to move past that pesky nerve issue took him out of the picture, but with the constructs of Arians' offense, Stanton appears to be a very good fit. --Doug Farrar
It wasn't really anyone else's fault. The Dolphins' new offensive line played well enough, and Miami's defense kept Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith on the run all day. Lamar Miller ran 15 times for 108 yards, and Mike Wallace broke out of his occasional Witness Protection Program timing to grab five receptions for 74 yards. But the Dolphins lost to Kansas City, 34-15, and Tannehill's third straight sub-par start had to have Miami concerned. Tannehill completed just 21 of 43 passes for 205 yards (4.8 yards per attempt) and one touchdown. This against a Chiefs team without seven starters. Tannehill topped out with an 80.0 passer rating in the season opener against the Patriots, but so far this season, he's proven to be the same amazingly talented but maddeningly inconsistent quarterback he's always been.
“It’s a long season," Tannehill said after the game. "We’re only three games in. We have some problems right now but we have to correct it and correct it fast. We have some time to do that. Big game, like I said, traveling this week and then the bye week. It’s a long season. We’ve got a lot of football in front of us. We’re not giving up yet. No chance we’re giving up yet. We’ve got the players to do it. We just have to do it.”
They'd better do it soon. --DF
Lockette already has two deep touchdowns for the Seahawks this season. Not bad for a guy who has always been a reserve receiver until recently and is most notable for his contributions on special teams. On the touchdown that put the Seahawks up 10-3 against the Broncos on Sunday afternoon, Lockette was covered by Denver cornerback Aqib Talib, who had allowed just five catches for 56 yards in Denver's first two games. But Wilson threw a perfect rainbow to Lockette, and Lockette outran and outjumped Talib for the 39-yard touchdown. --DF
Head-scratching decision: The 49ers' lack of composure
This wasn't one head-scratching decision as much as it was a series of really strange behaviors from the 49ers, who have been through more than their share of off-field drama in the last couple of years. Maybe some of that slipped over into the team's 24-13 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, but whatever it was, Jim Harbaugh's team lost composure from start to finish, and it wasn't pretty. San Francisco totaled six personal fouls in this game, and on one play in the third quarter, when receiver Anquan Boldin head-butted an opponent and then railed to Harbaugh about the call, Harbaugh -- who is usually first in line when it comes to arguing the smallest call against his team -- seemed to have had enough, and simply stared at Boldin.
“He was expressing his frustration … I was listening to it,” Harbaugh after the game. “But it was already over. Got to do a better job of keeping our composure while the play’s going on.”
Through the Harbaugh era, the 49ers have been one of the toughest and most reliable teams in the NFL. But they're 1-2 now, and they've been outscored 52-3 in the second half this season. It's early yet, but the 49ers appear at first glance to be falling apart. --DF
Cromartie walked off the field favoring his left knee during Arizona's win over the 49ers, and it's not known how serious the injury may be. Cromartie has had knee issues before, and he's played very well this season on a one-year, "try-me" contract. Jerraud Powers finished the game for Cromartie opposite Patrick Peterson, and he'd ostensibly be Cromartie's replacement for any length of time. --DF