Week 3 NFL Whiparound: The good, the bad, and the ugly from a wild Sunday around the National Football League

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Paul Connors/AP/Shutterstock (13419263cu) Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) plays against the New England Patriots in the first half of an NFL football game, in Foxborough, Mass Ravens Patriots Football, Foxborough, United States – 25 Sep 2022

Week 3 NFL Whiparound: The good, the bad, and the ugly from a wild Sunday around the National Football League

Colts 20, Chiefs 17

Indianapolis certainly didn’t expect to find themselves winless heading into their Week 3 home opener against the Kansas City Chiefs, but disappointing performances against Houston and Jacksonville left them in desperation mode heading into Sunday afternoon. Indy immediately benefitted from a Chiefs mistake, punching in an early touchdown after a muffed punt set them up first and goal – their first points since Week 1. Kansas City would score 17 of the game’s next 20 points, setting them up with a 17-10 lead with less than eight minutes remaining. Indianapolis would add a field goal to pull within four, but continued to sputter on offense through much of the fourth quarter. Finally, with 24 seconds on the clock, the Colts would strike for a 12 yard touchdown to Jelani Woods – his second scoring catch of the game for a 20-17 lead. After a personal foul penalty on Indianapolis gave Kansas City one final opportunity to win the game, Stephon Gilmore’s tip of a Patrick Mahomes pass would lead to Rodney McLeod’s game winning interception. 

Next Week: Kansas City: at Tampa Bay, Indianapolis: vs Tennessee

Dolphins 21, Bills 19

The Bills traveled to Miami in Week 3 as the most impressive team to date in the NFL, dominating both the Rams and Titans en route to 2-0. The Miami Dolphins hadn’t missed a beat either, also 2-0 following an epic comeback at Baltimore that set up a massive divisional matchup at Hard Rock Stadium. After a back and forth start, Tua Tagovailoa would exit with what looked like a head injury in the second quarter – only to return as the second half began. Buffalo would hold three different leads, twice by a touchdown and once by a field goal – but Miami responded every time, finally taking the lead 21-17 with 10:05 to play. In the final minutes, Buffalo would drive the length of the field while converting three different third downs en route to a first and goal opportunity from the Dolphins’ one-yard line. Miami’s defense would come up with a massive stop, thwarting a 17-play, 73-yard drive with less than two minutes on the clock. Backed up in front of their own goal line, though, the Dolphins’ punt would be blocked, yielding a safety. Down just two points in the final seconds, Josh Allen led a desperate Bills’ drive back into Dolphins’ territory – but after a massive holding call, Buffalo would fail to spike the ball in time in the final seconds. The 21-19 Dolpins’ win was their most impressive to date, and put them in the drivers’ seat in the AFC East heading toward Week 4. 

Next Week: Buffalo: at Baltimore, Miami: at Cincinnati

Titans 24, Raiders 22

The desperation was palpable at Nissan Stadium in Nashville as the Las Vegas Raiders and Tennessee Titans went at it in Week 3. Tennessee controlled most of the game, finally getting Derrick Henry going en route to leads of 14-3 and 24-10. Derek Carr and the Raiders led a furious comeback in the second half, converting two Daniel Carlson field goals and a Mack Hollins touchdown reception en route to a huge two-point conversion opportunity that could’ve tied the game. Tennessee would finally get the stop they needed on the attempt, and recovered an onside kick in the final moments to secure their first win. The loss leaves Las Vegas searching for answers, now 0-3 despite having legitimate opportunities to be 3-0. 

Next Week: Tennessee: at Indianapolis, Las Vegas: vs Denver

Ravens 37, Patriots 26

Two 1-1 teams met in New England for the Patriots’ home opener, as an angry Baltimore team came to town following last week’s meltdown. Lamar Jackson continued his incredible statistical season, accounting for 325 yards of offense and 5 touchdowns in a 37-26 road win. New England fought to keep the game within reach throughout, and even took a brief 20-14 lead early in the third quarter. Baltimore would regain the lead and extend it to 28-20 soon thereafter, but the Patriots had plenty of opportunities. New England possessed the football three different times with opportunities to regain the lead, but turned the ball over four different times throughout the afternoon. Mac Jones hobbled off the field late, leaving his status in as much doubt as the Patriots’ playoff hopes moving forward. 

Next Week: Baltimore: vs Buffalo, New England: at Green Bay

Bengals 27, Jets 12

The New York Jets, fresh off one of the most electrifying comeback wins of the early NFL season, came back home – and back down to earth – in Week 3’s loss to Cincinnati. Despite a whopping 52 pass attempts by Joe Flacco, New York’s offense wouldn’t manage a single touchdown. The Bengals would force four turnovers on the afternoon, as Joe Burrow got back on track with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Arguably most important for Cincinnati was improved protection of their franchise quarterback, who would be sacked only twice. The good news for the Jets, at least in theory, is the return of starting quarterback Zach Wilson next week in Pittsburgh. 

Next Week: Cincinnati: vs Miami, New York: at Pittsburgh

Eagles 24, Commanders 8

Hordes of Philadelphia Eagles fans packed FedEx Field on the road at Washington, and they had plenty to be excited about. The Eagles cruised all afternoon, scoring 24 second quarter points that would prove to be all they needed against the deflated Commanders. Jalen Hurts passed for 340 yards and 3 touchdowns while wide receiver Devonta Smith had a career day with 169 yards receiving and a score. Philadelphia’s defense put forth a vintage performance, crushing the spirit of the Washington offense en route to allowing just 3.2 yards per play. Now 3-0, Philly finds themselves right where they want to be atop the NFC East. Their only competition in the divisional standings seems to be the New York Giants as of now, whose ability to maintain their winning ways feels much less likely to continue. 

Next Week: Philadelphia: vs Jacksonville, Washington: at Dallas

Vikings 28, Lions 24

When the Lions and Vikings met last season, they each won a matchup by two points in contests that came down to the wire. Their first meeting of 2022 would not be much different, a barn burner down to the wire between divisional rivals. Detroit controlled the game all afternoon, continuing the offensive prowess they showed during their first two games en route to a 24-14 lead entering the final period. Despite losing running back Dalvin Cook to injury, Minnesota would battle back in a big way in the fourth quarter. Alexander Mattison punched in a score with just under three minutes to go, pulling the Vikings within three points. After Detroit’s offense failed to salt the game away, the Vikings took back over seeking a game-tying field goal in the final minute – but when Kirk Cousins found a wide open KJ Osborn, all bets were off. Minnesota would score a touchdown with 45 seconds left, and intercepted Jared Goff on the ensuing drive to clinch an impressive and important victory. 

Next Week: Detroit: vs Seattle, Minnesota: at New Orleans (London)  

Panthers 22, Saints 14

Sitting at 0-2, the Carolina Panthers had experienced nothing but frustration heading into Week 3’s matchup against division rival New Orleans. Carolina had lost the two games by a combined five points, both on decisive opposing field goals in the final minutes. Despite the offense continuing to scuffle, the Panthers’ defense proved opportunistic as they forced three turnovers including two Jameis Winston interceptions. It was a game of “what if’s” for the Saints, who outgained Carolina 426-293 with very little to show for it. New Orleans’ defense only allowed 12 first downs all afternoon, but couldn’t do enough to overcome the turnover margin and now find themselves tied with Carolina at 1-2. 

Next Week: Carolina: vs Arizona, New Orleans: vs Minnesota (London)

Jaguars 38, Chargers 10

The biggest question surrounding the Los Angeles Chargers’ Week 3 matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars was the status of Chargers’ quarterback Justin Herbert, who injured his ribs two Thursday nights ago in Kansas City. The decision was eventually made that he would indeed start at quarterback, but Jacksonville would dominate the day nonetheless. Trevor Lawrence passed for three touchdowns without any turnovers, continuing a trend that has seen him seemingly take a massive step in year two of his career. James Robinson ran for 100 yards and a touchdown, while Zay Jones and Christian Kirk had big outings at wide receiver as well. Jacksonville dominated time of possession by almost 11 minutes, and are now off to a 2-1 start that has them atop the AFC South division. The upset loss may prove costly to the Chargers down the road, who were fortunate that Kansas City fell at Indianapolis as well. 

Next Week: Los Angeles: at Houston, Jacksonville: at Philadelphia

Packers 14, Buccaneers 12

It’s understandable to expect fireworks when two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks get together, but it was the defenses that would shine between the Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the late afternoon at Raymond James Stadium. Green Bay would eventually emerge victorious following a failed Buccaneers two-point conversion in the final seconds, surviving with a 14-12 win. The Packers’ defense dominated on third down, holding Tampa to just 2 conversions in 11 opportunities. Neither team could get much of a run game going, as both averaged fewer than three yards per carry on the day. For the Buccaneers, a troubling trend that has seen their offense sputter continues as they’re now averaging fewer than 18 points per game through the season’s first three weeks. 

Next Week: Tampa Bay: vs Kansas City, Green Bay: vs New England

Rams 20, Cardinals 12

Sean McVay is 11-1 against the Cardinals as the Los Angeles Rams’ head coach following today’s win in Arizona, at a venue the Rams haven’t slipped up since 2014. Arizona gained plenty of yards, won the time of possession battle, and converted eight more first downs than Los Angeles on the afternoon – but none of it mattered as they settled for only field goals. It was the first time Arizona failed to score a touchdown in a game since October of 2019, when they fell 31-9 to Drew Brees and the Saints. Los Angeles’ offense wasn’t a dominant force by any means, but made big plays when they needed to. Cooper Kupp finished just third on the team in receiving yards, but recorded his first career rushing touchdown in the win. 

Next Week: Los Angeles: at San Francisco, Arizona: at Carolina

Falcons 27, Seahawks 23

The Atlanta Falcons stayed out west all week after falling 31-27 to the Los Angeles Rams, and put up the same number of points in a winning effort Sunday at Seattle. The Seahawks’ offense came alive behind an offensive game plan that saw them pass more often on early downs, and they’d head into halftime with a 20-17 lead. Atlanta’s defense would stiffen significantly in the second half, allowing only a field goal and picking off Geno Smith on the Seahawks’ final drive to preserve a 27-23 win. The Falcons’ offense was far from perfect, turning the ball over twice – but they’d ride Cordarrelle Patterson’s 141 yards rushing to a strong enough performance to win on the road and move to 1-2. The excitement of Seattle’s opening night win over Denver now feels like a distant memory, as the Seahawks have yet to put together a full game of competent offense. 

Next Week: Atlanta: vs Cleveland, Seattle: at Detroit

Broncos 11, 49ers 10

The Broncos and 49ers combined for 17 punts, and played to a score that looked better suited for a Rockies game at Coors Field than a Broncos game at Empower Field at Mile High. More than 75,000 people sat through the slog, becoming increasingly frustrated with a Broncos’ offense that hasn’t looked right at any point in the season’s first three weeks. San Francisco’s attack didn’t look a whole lot better, converting their first third down of the game with less than four minutes on the clock. The Broncos’ first touchdown, which came in the fourth quarter, gave them an 11-10 lead with six minutes to go. Appropriately, the difference in the game was an unforced safety – the result of Jimmy Garoppolo stepping out of the back of his own end zone untouched. Denver would seal the game by recovering a Jeff Wilson fumble in the final 70 seconds, and mercifully everyone got to go home.

Next Week: San Francisco: vs LA Rams, Denver: at Las Vegas

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