Reacting and overreacting to everything that happened in the Week 3 Sunday afternoon games...
Things That Made Me Giddy
If Passer Rating Was Actually Indicative of a Quarterback’s Play: Russell Wilson’s would be approximately equal to the temperature on the surface of the sun.
The Seattle Seahawks, Like a Young Cris Carter, Only Score Touchdowns: They’ve been in the red zone nine times this year and have scored nine touchdowns. (They’re also 1-for-1 on two-point conversions). They have 111 points through three games and only one field goal.
Josh Allen Is the World's Wildest Roller Coaster: Allen’s afternoon included four passing touchdowns, one rushing touchdown, a reckless jump-ball prayer with a 25-point lead that was completed ... but was incorrectly ruled an interception (there was also an offensive pass interference flag). There was another lost fumble, the rare quarterback facemask penalty committed as he used one pass rusher as a human shield to block another pass rusher. And he had another late lateral to an unsuspecting teammate—that teammate was unsuspecting because no reasonable person would ever attempt such a lateral (the ball rolled safely out of bounds). Anyway, the Bills defeated the Rams in a football game, by three points.
Bills Score Seven When They Get to the Red Zone: Five red zone trips, 35 points, and they needed every one of them. In a league where no one seems interested in tackling anyone, red-zone efficiency is a very important thing.
Rams Playing From Behind: Perhaps they prefer not to be playing from 25 points behind, but they’re perfectly capable of scoring points in bunches if they need to.
Dak Channels His Inner Josh Allen: What a beautiful mess! Prescott had two bad turnovers, a third in desperation, and should have had a fourth when he hit Seattle’s Tre Flowers in the chest only to have it bounce into Michael Gallup’s hands. But Prescott also rained big plays against a bad Seahawks defense, erasing a 15-point deficit with 40-plus-yard TDs to Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson (he also had a 40-yarder to Wilson earlier in the game).
The Foles Era Is Underway in Chicago: Just like any video game, you start with the easiest level: Complete a fourth-quarter comeback against the Falcons. He wasn’t exactly sharp—and, hey, Mitchell Trubisky also led a three-TD fourth quarter against a bad defense this month!—but he was sharp enough considering what the Bears have been dealing with the past three seasons. (Though you really have to wonder how Foles didn’t win the job this summer...)
Tom Brady Was Really Sharp: That’s it. I don’t have a joke here. He was on-point throwing downfield, and the Bucs are probably going to end up having a very successful season. Happy?
Lions Get Takeaway! No, Lions Get Takeaways!: It was their second taste of Kyler Murray, and they had his number with three interceptions and a potential fourth that hit safety Duron Harmon in the chest. Detroit didn’t have a takeaway in their first two games of 2020, and before Sunday had only one multi-takeaway game in their last 13.
Philip Rivers’s 400th Touchdown Pass: Of his career, not of the game. (He was playing the Jets, so that clarification is necessary.)
Patriots Erase Darren Waller: There’s a saying I made up just now, and it’s that Bill Beichick’s philosophy is to take away an opponent’s best weapon. After lighting the Saints ablaze on Monday night, Waller had two catches for nine yards in Foxboro, all of that production coming in the final five minutes of a three-possession game.
Matt Rhule Is on the Board!: The Panthers generally played it safe, and eventually got enough Chargers mistakes to pull off the upset in L.A.Stephen Gostkowski Never Misses: At least not in the past 24 hours. He goes 6-for-6 in Minnesota as the Titans win a back-and-forth affair.
Robert Woods With the Ball in His Hands: He piled up YAC yards (yeah, I know that's redundant) again, and went for 9, 15 and 6 yards on his three rushing attempts.
49ers Win on Take Your Kid to Work Day: Or I think that’s how they assembled their roster for the victory over the Giants.
Cam Is Cruising: To the point where he can spend the last five minutes of action creating memes.
The Browns Win Games They Should Win: Which is a very good thing, because they didn’t do that a year ago.
T.J. Watt Declares His Defensive Player of the Year Intentions: More on that later this week.
* * *
Falcons Prove They Can Blow Any Lead at Any Time: You might say the defense is the issue—and it is!—but how about this offense? Against Chicago, their last six possessions included four punts (including three three-and-outs), a missed field goal, and an interception. Over the last 20 offensive plays they ran with the lead, they produced 68 yards of offense and three first downs.
DK Metcalf Petitions to Make NFL Fields 97 Yards:
Falcons Petition to Make the NFL Two-Hand Touch:
Seattle’s Defense Is a Liability: No one’s defense is good right now, but Seattle’s is particularly bad for a team with Super Bowl aspirations. And on Sunday, Jamal Adams went down with an injury.
Jalen Ramsey, Toyed With: Ralph Wilson Stadium continues to be Ramsey’s house of horrors; he was culpable on three touchdowns on Sunday. On a fourth-and-goal in the first quarter, Josh Allen moved Ramsey to the other side of the field with his eyes and then dropped the ball off to Lee Smith for an easy touchdown. On the second, Ramsey jumped inside and left Tyler Kroft uncovered for another easy drop-off. And on the third TD, Stefon Diggs ran to the corner then moved back inside behind Ramsey as Ramsey seemed to forget he was participating in a football game.
This Eagles Offense: Without seeing the all-22 angle it’s tough to know whether it’s a matter of designs not work, receivers not getting open or Wentz not even trying to throw the ball anymore because he doesn’t know where it will go when he does. (The guess is that it’s a mixture of all three.) But they were scratching and clawing for everything they got against the Bengals (the Bengals!).
Chargers Hook-and-Lateral Misses By Inches: If the pitch is on-target that is a game-winning touchdown on the final play:
Josh Allen Going Wild When He Shouldn’t Be Going Wild: The call was atrocious—the actual result of the play should have been a 30-yard completion—but there’s no reason for Allen to be throwing a first-down, downfield jump ball to Tyler Kroft when protecting a 25-point lead in the second half.
Mike Zimmer Has a Bad Defense: This was the best performance of their three games so far, but they had a 12-point lead with 20 minutes left and gave up 20 points to lose it.
Matt Pryor Jumps: With the Eagles lining up for a potential 59-yard game-winner in the final seconds of overtime. Doug Pederson punted rather than try the 64-yarder. Which was a shame, because had he tried and missed Bengals kicker Randy Bullock could have countered with a 64-yard try, and if he missed Jake Elliott would have gotten a chance to come out and try from 64 again. (Well, most likely the Bengals would have run a play first, but it will always be the dream.)
Original Justin Herbert Was Better Than the Sequel: But the sequel was still good. He was under more pressure than a Panthers opponent should be under, he threw a pick on what seemed to be a miscommunication (though likely on the rookie QB, not Keenan Allen), and he had a big play erased by an atrocious offensive pass interference flag. There’s no doubt this is a better offense with him under center.
Jadeveon Clowney Is a Bad Blocker: This probably didn’t factor into the Titans’ decision to sign him, but during Johnathan Joseph’s walk-in pick-six to open the second half, Clowney needlessly laid out Justin Jefferson with a blindside block to take the points off the board. The Titans went three-and-out and punted on the ensuing possession.
D’Andre Swift: Among the rookie running back’s limited snaps was a Matthew Stafford pass hitting him in the back because he didn’t realize he was hot. One day he’ll look back on his first three NFL games and laugh. Maybe.
Dwayne Haskins Throws Picks: He sailed a seam throw, made a bad read and stared down a receiver for his three turnovers. Chalk it up to a learning experience, but it’s a little tougher to stomach in a very winnable game.
A.J. Moore’s Difficult Time: He’s a fine special teamer in Houston. Really, he shouldn’t be left one-on-one on Eric Ebron on a third-and-goal—that’s a free touchdown for the Steelers. But Moore also blew the coverage on a JuJu Smith-Schuster 26-yard walk-in TD a few minutes later—it was a zone call, and Moore just ignored the receiver that had been passed off to him on the crosser.
Rookie Problems for the Giants: Particularly, rookie corner Darnay Holmes committing a blatant and wholly unnecessary illegal contact foul on third-and-22 late in the first half. The Giants would have been getting the ball back in a 6-6 game, instead the 49ers were in the end zone three minutes later. Holmes probably didn’t run enough laps at training camp.
Allen Robinson Is Good and All, But…: He's had a defensive back—in this case Darqueze Dennard in the end zone—take an interception out of his hands in two straight games.
Kalen Ballage’s Steeplechase Tryout Goes Poorly:
* * *
Moments We’ll Tell Our Grandkids About
This Fourth-Down Pass Interference Call: Tastes more like illegal contact—for the record, Mike Pereira said on the broadcast that it was a defensive penalty. The question is whether or not Gabriel Davis initiated the contact, or Darious Williams grabs Davis first, which would make it a penalty. It looks an awful lot like the latter. The Bills stayed alive and won it on the next play.
Will This Stand as the Worst Call of the Season?: Granted, this was tough to call in real-ti—actually, no it wasn’t. This was worse than the Fail Mary, and the fact that it was upheld on review is an indictment of the entire replay system.
Dak Calls Bank: Angled perfectly off Tre Flowers’s chest and knee and hand and into Michael Gallup’s grasp.
This Josh Allen Facemask: Of all the quarterback facemask penalties you'll see, this is easily the most impressive. He uses one defender as a human shield, then switches the ball back to his right hand for the throw away.
* * *
What We’ll Be Talking About This Week
Trubisky’s Leash Runs Out: It’s been quite the journey over the last three years, but it’s going to take a Nick Foles injury for Trubisky to take another snap for the Bears. Most likely, someone who thinks they can fix him mechanically and manage him in a highly-schemed offense will take a Bortles-like flier on the former No. 2 overall pick next offseason.
The Bears Are … 3-0?: I’m gonna need a fact-check on that.
Lions Were Just Kidding About Those First Two Games: Even on an afternoon when Matthew Stafford wasn’t his sharpest, the Lions had enough to go on the road and handle a rising Cardinals team by taking the ball away. The defense kept them in it, and vintage Stafford showed up in time to make plays late (including a gorgeous would-be winner to Marvin Hall that came off the board because of a penalty). Matt Patricia lives!
Pump the Brakes on the ‘Kyler for MVP’ Campaign: It might have been one of those days, but I’m not sure what he was seeing—or if he was seeing the field—against the Lions on Sunday. He put a potential fourth INT in safety Duron Harmon’s chest in a performance that was much uglier than the numbers suggest. He’s very good already, and there might be MVP campaigns in his future, but he’s not there yet.
Joe Burrow Gets His First Career Tie: Though it felt like a loss for his opponent, so that’s something.
Titans Are 3-0: With a +6 point differential (and are 0-3 against the spread, if you’re into that kind of thing).
Is Contraction on the Table for the Giants and Jets?: I mean, we’re mid-pandemic, there are accusations that the homefield turf is unsafe…
Panthers and Lions Snap Double-Digit Losing Streaks: Carolina had gone to 10, Detroit was at 13. We’ll end it on that happy note.
• Question or comment? Email us.