An MVP performance, a legendary let-down and a 'Butt Punt' safety headline this week's matchups. Just two teams remain unbeaten heading into the fourth round, while others begin their slow and sad descent to disappointment...
There's plenty to unpack from week 3's games, so let's get stuck in.
Steelers 17 - 29 Browns
Cleveland takes a step towards redemption.
With last week’s colossal collapse still fresh in their minds, the Browns manage to land a rebound win over divisional rivals from Pittsburgh and now sit temporarily atop the AFC North.
Jacoby Brissett looks great as he puts in another strong performance in Ohio, and this time, the defense doesn't fumble the lead. Instead, they recover one for a touchdown on the final play of the game. It's nice to see the Browns deliver something other than failure to their home fans...
Believe it or not, Brissett was a reliable QB all game, with 220 yards, 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. If he keeps up current form, maybe Watson will have some competition for the starting spot when he returns in Week 12?
The Steelers as a whole were pretty average, but one highlight soars above the rest, as rookie WR George Pickens puts in his submission for catch of the week:
Bills 19 - 21 Dolphins
Buffalo miscues take Miami to 3-0.
I had all bets on this game being an absolute score-fest, with two of the most electric QBs in the league facing off. But the win/lose factor in this game? Minor mistakes with some major consequences...
A fumble inside their own 10-yard line to give the Dolphins their first easy score. A mishandled spike which lost a potential go-ahead field goal at the half. A sure-fire touchdown thrown straight into the turf on 4th&Goal with just 1:49 left. It was just that kind of day for the Bills. If this doesn't sum things up, I don't know what will.
All game long, the Dolphins defense was as reliable as anything - compiling 20 QB pressures, 10 hits, and 4 sacks. They rattled the Bills offensive line, while Melvin Ingram basically lived in Buffalo's backfield.
So, an in-form Tua and a defense capable of stopping Josh Allen - Miami could really have something here...
Despite an exciting, competitive game, the only highlight to hit headlines from this matchup was the first ever 'Butt Punt'.
Miami's unusual safety put the Bills within a field goal of the win, but the Fins defense stood tall as time expired and took their record to 3-0.
This will be in blooper reels for years to come:
Bengals 27 - 12 Jets
Is Joe Burrow back on track?
The Bengals star QB clocked a career-high 163 passing yards in the first quarter alone, throwing two touchdowns in the process - a stark contrast to the previous two games, where Cincy failed to find the endzone in the first half of both contests.
Flacco had me worried last week, but he's back to his usual mediocre ways - 0 touchdowns and 2 interceptions - just what I like to see.
The Jets as a whole have failed to catch any momentum after mounting one of the greatest comebacks we've ever seen in Cleveland last week. Joe - I take back my apology. You're still average.
So, the Bengals are running an exciting offense and the Jets are disappointing New York again. Everything's back to normal.
Only highlight here is this catch from Tee Higgins which was ruled out of bounds, but I'm pretty sure this should have been 6 on the board:
HOLY MOLY TEE HIGGINS 😱pic.twitter.com/JUie9rxaua— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) September 25, 2022
Raiders 22 - 24 Titans
All bets are off in Vegas.
The Raiders are now the only team in the NFL without a win.
Derrick Carr is putting up some good numbers - he's now a top 10 QB for both yards and touchdowns - but the run game and defense are struggling hard. So, despite some offensive talent, Vegas have now lost all three opening games by just one score... Tough.
The Titans on the other hand, bag their first win of 2022 as Tannehill does just enough to stay off the bench this week.
Tennessee came out swinging as they found the endzone on all three of their first possessions and went into the half with a 24-10 lead. But, as the scoreline shows, they then did absolutely nothing for the next 30 minutes... Typical Tannehill. Luckily, the defense turned up to save them from a late touchdown.
I would say this is the game-winning play, if not for the stop on a two-point conversion that prevented overtime.
Saints 14- 22 Panthers
A bad offense - even when it's good.
The scoring struggles don't seem to be slowing down in New Orleans, as they somehow lose to a team that went six games without a single take-away and nine without a victory.
With the Saints' three fumbles and two interceptions, Carolina only needed 170 yards from Baker Mayfield to secure the win. It's an easy first victory for the Panthers, who had a tough 0-2 start.
Now, the Saints aren't short of offensive weapons - Chris Olave is looking like a top rookie wide-receiver, Marques Callaway certainly has talent and Michael Thomas is Michael Thomas... Not to mention Kamara and Ingram in the backfield.
The problem is that even when Jameis Winston is good, he's also really really bad... Just take a look at the coverage on his only TD of the night - I mean why would you EVER throw THIS, especially on 1st down?! Callaway definitely bailed out his QB here, saving an interception throw with this ridiculous one-handed grab.
Ravens 37 - 26 Patriots
Action Jackson back at it again.
Lamar Jackson is revolutionising the quarterback position right before our eyes; simultaneously tearing defenses apart through the air and an the ground. He's now the first player in the Super Bowl era to clock at least 3 TDs and 100 rushing yards in consecutive games. His dual-threat talent has forced the NFL to add the term 'double triple' to their vocabulary... And I'm not complaining.
If he keeps up performances like this, he'll be well within reach of another MVP title.
Bill Belichick on the other hand, is now a 100-loss coach, just as predicted. And sadly, it seems there'll be even tougher times ahead in New England, with Mac Jones suffering an ankle sprain and likely to warm the bench for a while. After 3 interceptions on Sunday night, perhaps he could use some time to sit down and study film?
Lions 24 - 28 Vikings
Barely a victory.
This one was tough to call. Detroit were clocking 35+ points in both of their season openers, while the Vikings were impossible to predict.
All things considered, the matchup was pretty even, but the story here is Kirk Cousins having a dismal day until a last-minute game-winning play. The Vikings QB threw just one completion over 20 yards and fortunately for Minnesota, it sealed the victory.
They may have managed to pull off a win here, but constant check downs and a single long-shot completion isn't going to be enough against better teams - and there are plenty better than the Lions. That's for sure.
It goes down as a W, but there’s still a lot to work on in Motown.
Kirk Cousins finds KJ Osborn WIDE OPEN for the touchdown 🔥— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) September 25, 2022
Vikings take the lead with under a minute to play.pic.twitter.com/N1lAHQluAG
Eagles 24 - 8 Commanders
Wentz will be feeling this one all week long after his offensive line allowed a whopping nine sacks on Sunday night's fixture...
The constant pressure from Philly - who were clearly desperate to make their old quarterback eat dirt - almost led to a complete shutout, but Washington was saved from humiliation with a score in the final 2 minutes.
Wentz was looking okay in their first two fixtures, but he'll surely be terrified having to stand behind that mess of an O-line.
No change for the Eagles: Hurts is still on fire - racking up 340 yards, 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. AJ Brown had another great performance with 85 receiving yards, but was outshone by DeVonta Smith who logged a career-high 169 yards on the day.
The Birds now join the Dolphins as the only 3-0 teams in 2022. Who will be the first to break?
🎥 Every catch from DeVonta Smith's career-high performance vs. Washington pic.twitter.com/BvLa4kI8MD— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) September 26, 2022
Chiefs 17 - 20 Colts
Trouble in paradise.
The Chiefs looked certain to go 3-0 with this game against a Colts offense that failed to score a single point last week. But Kansas City struggled all night, having zero confidence in their back-up kicker and they paid the price with a 3-point loss in Indy.
Their first PAT attempt was missed. Their first field goal formation was a fake on 4th & 11 that didn't pay off. And their final FG attempt was missed from 34-yards, which would have sealed a 7 point lead in the fourth quarter...
Sure, Mahomes wasn't his usual self - throwing just one touchdown - and missed field goals definitely hurt the scoreline, but when your QB accounts for 26 of 58 total rushing yards, something much worse is going wrong.
Matt Ryan was actually alright, but this was definitely a Chiefs failure in what should have been an easy win on the road. The Colts will count themselves lucky that Harrison Butker's ankle is made of glass.
Jaguars 38 - 10 Chargers
Turnovers go Jacksonville's way.
They might not be the 'Sacksonville' they once were, but this is the best the Jags defense has looked in years. Jacksonville have given up just 10 points in the last two games, after shutting out Matt Ryan and the Colts in week 3. Forced fumbles and interceptions sealed an early lead in this matchup and LA never quite recovered.
Now, I know Justin Herbert isn't 100%, but when you're only rushing for 26 total yards (19 without a QB scramble), what do you expect but a loss on your record?
Trevor Lawrence logs another great game with multiple touchdowns and zero picks. He's now starting to look like the star he was back in Clemson.
Are the Jags actually... good?
Rams 20 - 12 Cardinals
Magic Murray disappears.
After convincing me last week that he was about to light up the league, Murray magic was nowhere to be seen in Los Angeles.
All 12 of Arizona's points came from second-half field goals and while Kyler threw for over 300 yards, it's pretty much meaningless if you can't find the endzone.
In fairness, Stafford was equally disappointing in the redzone and also failed to put up any points (though he didn't throw a pick for once).
So, all credit for this win goes to the Rams defense.
The ever elusive Murray failed to gain much traction with his usual scrambles - escaping for only 8 yards - while James Connor clocked just 39 yards rushing. The dominant Rams D-line proved vital once again, as Aaron Donald recorded his 100th career sack - the second DT in NFL history to do so.
The Rams are now 11-1 against the Cardinals and head into week 4 looking set for a victory over the 49ers.
Packers 14 - 12 Buccaneers
A boring battle of the Bays.
In a game that hosted two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, I was ready to see insane throws, thrilling plays and touchdown mania... Instead, I got 26 total points and a defensive slog that only became vaguely interesting in the final 3 minutes.
Put it this way: these are the results from all Tampa Bay drives, minus their last: Field Goal, Punt, Punt, Fumble, Fumble, Punt, Field Goal, Punt, Punt, Punt...
Tom Brady was looking like anything other than the GOAT until it came right down to the wire. He threw together a 13 play, 89 yard drive to score a TD and put the Bucs 2 points away from overtime with just 0:14 on the clock.
Arguably, he did his job, but a delay of game penalty pushed the 2-point conversion back by 5 yards and the pass fell incomplete.
Sure, he's still the GOAT, but with only one touchdown pass in each of the first three games, I really can't see Brady adding anything to his legacy this season.
As for Aaron Rodgers, I fully expect last year’s award to be the final time he sees an MVP trophy - but it doesn't mean the Pack are done for. It's very early days. I guess we'll see...
🚨 BALL GAME 🚨— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) September 25, 2022
THE PACKERS' DEFENSE DENIES THE BUCS' OFFENSE A TWO-POINT CONVERSION TO TIE THINGS UP!pic.twitter.com/YTKfk5Fcmk
Falcons 27 - 23 Seahawks
Ups and downs.
Geno Smith was slicing and dicing... until he wasn't. The Seattle QB had a rollercoaster game that saw a strong performance for the most part, but mixed in some errant redzone throws and poor pocket presence to sum up a rocky one just short of the win.
When the time came, Smith couldn't deliver a game-winning drive. Taking a few late sacks, including a tough 10-yard loss on 3rd & 8, the Hawks couldn't muster a comeback in the final moments. And although it takes more than a great QB to win games, Smith just didn't make the big plays when it counted.
Mariota led a smooth offense, making good use of Kyle Pitts, Drake London and Cordarrelle Patterson. The Falcons are looking strong on this front - despite their rather average QB- it's just the defense that needs some work, though they still did enough to scrape a victory on the road. I guess itt could be worse, they could be the Raiders...
This marks their first win of the season. Falcons fans - enjoy it while you can, these are going to be few and far between.
In other news, DK Metcalf will always be a walking highlight reel:
49ers 10 - 11 Broncos
Dan Orlovsky is finally free.
I guess there was a good reason Jimmy Garroppolo got benched, I just didn't think we'd find out what it was, quite so soon.
Doing his best impression of 2008 Dan Orlovsky, Jimmy G became one of just two NFL QBs to commit this atrocious safety and in the process, gifted 2 points to Denver that would end up deciding the game. This sums up a very bland performance from San Francisco and their back-up QB...
Jimmy Garoppolo is playing 5 dimensional chess.— Savage (@SavageSports_) September 26, 2022
Takes the safety before he can throw a pick-6.
What a legend pic.twitter.com/a0wraw542J
The snoozefest of a game made two things painfully clear in Denver: Nathanial Hackett is miles away from head coach material and Russel Wilson needs Seattle, more than Seattle needs him.
This matchup becomes just the second NFL game in history to finish with the weird 11-10 scoreline, which may be the most interesting part of the whole thing. I don't expect to see either of these two anywhere near the playoffs - unless Trey Lance makes a quick recovery.
Cowboys 23 - 16 Giants
Cooper Rush continues to prove me wrong.
Believe it or not, Rush is the first QB in over 50 years to lead three 4th quarter/overtime game-winning drives in his first three starts. A mouthful I know, but certainly worth the recognition.
I thought any momentum in Dallas would be stunted without Dak, but it seems he could have some tough competition when he returns. Now, I don't want to get ahead of myself, but with a defense that sacked Dan Jones five times and didn't give up a single passing touchdown, they could go quite a long way with Rush at the helm.
After the Commanders were dominated by the Birds last game, I wouldn't be surprised to see them feast on Carson Wentz next week and take Rush to 4 straight wins as a starter.
Cowboys 3-1 seems possible, but Cooper's audibles could certainly use some work.
Cooper Rush didn’t tell Zeke the play lol pic.twitter.com/u8TWIadJk5— alex (@highlghtheaven) September 27, 2022
So, just two teams remain unbeaten after week 3: the Eagles and the Dolphins.
Could Miami move to the top of the odds after their win over Buffalo? Or will Jalen Hurts and the Birds prove they have what it takes to make Super Bowl LVII?
It's still very early days, but we're starting to get an idea of which teams are playoff bound and which teams will meet their low expectations once again.
Tune in next Tuesday for Week 4's recap, where you're likely to see yet another apology to some QB I've slated.