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NFL Game Recaps: Week 3





Falcons 56, Buccaneers 14

  • This game was absolutely ridiculous. It was never in doubt, as the Falcons scored almost every single time they had the ball. They effortlessly went down the field each time without any sort of resistance in what was the biggest blowout in Thursday Night Football history. They could have scored 100 points if they really wanted to.

    It didn't even look like the Falcons were exerting any energy. Ryan completed 11 out of his first 12 passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns. His only moment of adversity when this game was still remotely close on the scoreboard was a third-and-17 in which he found Julio Jones for exactly that many yards. Devin Hester ran a 20-yard reverse into the end zone on the very next play to make it 28-0 on the first snap of the second quarter. Game, set, match.

  • Hester made history in this game, as he later ran in a punt return touchdown. That was his 19th return score of his career, surpassing Deion Sanders' record of 18 in the Hall of Famer's old stomping grounds. The officials tried to spoil the moment by throwing a flag for taunting while Hester was high-stepping in an attempt to mimic Sanders, but it turned out to be inconsequential. Hester and Sanders embraced after the contest was over.

  • The poor Buccaneers had everything go wrong for them. Bobby Rainey dropped a pass early on during a third down. Mark Barron recovered a fumble during an Atlanta drive, but he also lost the ball when Hester knocked it out. Josh McCown was pick-sixed on a telegraphed throw. Rainey lost a fumble on what appeared to secure the team's initial first down. Tampa recovered an Antone Smith fumble at its own 1-yard line, but following a three-and-out, Hester did this thing and expanded the lead to 35-0. All the Tampa players could do was sit on the sidelines, staring vacantly into the distance.

  • Ryan finished 21-of-24 for 286 yards and three yards. He was pulled in the third quarter because the game was so out of hand. It was nice to see him so locked in after last week's loss. Sure, the Buccaneers were missing some very key personnel in Gerald McCoy, Michael Johnson and Mason Foster, but Ryan didn't have Roddy White's services. He also lost Harry Douglas (2 catches, 14 yards, TD) to an injury in the second quarter. Douglas walked to the locker room with a limp.

    With White out, Julio Jones was more productive than usual, catching nine balls for 161 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Not bad for two-and-a-half quarters of work. Jones was the recipient of that third-and-17 heave that helped put this game away, but his best reception was a remarkable over-the-shoulder catch in the third quarter that turned out to be 40-yard score.

  • Aside from Hester's rushing touchdown, the Falcons scored twice on the ground with Steven Jackson (14-54) and Antone Smith (4-50) in garbage time. Jackson wasn't great or anything, but he didn't look like a slow plodder in this game. The offensive line was most responsible for his production, however, as it blasted open massive holes for him versus a depleted defense. Meanwhile, Devonta Freeman (11 carries, 12 yards), struggled to do much. He lost a fumble in the second half.

  • As for the Buccaneers, McCown was an absolute train wreck. He went 5-of-12 for 58 yards and the telegraphed pick-six before leaving the game with an injury that he sustained when he banged his hand on a helmet. McCown couldn't do anything while he was in the game, as he missed routine passes badly. The Buccaneers didn't even achieve a first down until the 6:51 mark of the second quarter.

    Mike Glennon was better, but only by default. He went 17-of-24 for only 121 yards and a touchdown. Most of what Glennon did was throw checkdowns to Rainey, but that was a huge upgrade over anything McCown accomplished. A rare exception was a near-interception by Desmond Trufant.

  • Speaking of Rainey, he was a huge disappointment. He lost two fumbles and dropped a pass. Mike James entered the game after each of the two fumbles, but Lovie Smith kept sticking with Rainey, who was filling in for an injured Doug Martin. Rainey finished with 41 yards on 11 carries as well as a whopping seven catches for 64 receiving yards.

  • Vincent Jackson also struggled. Some of it was the quarterback play, but Jackson seemed to quit on some of his routes. He didn't catch a pass until there were 10 minutes remaining in regulation. Fortunately for his fantasy owners, his second reception, a 3-yarder, was in the end zone. He got away with blatant offensive pass interference by pushing off the cornerback, but the official may have let go because the game was so out of hand. Mike Evans, meanwhile, logged four grabs for 52 yards.

  • Jackson performed like a lazy bum, but the Buccaneers' worst player by a mile was center Evan Dietrich-Smith. The former Packer kicked things off by botching a snap, giving the Falcons possession at the Atlanta 2-yard line. He was then whistled for two personal foul penalties for headbutting (seriously), and he capped off his night by snapping the ball to Glennon as if the quarterback were under center when he happened to be in the shotgun. Dietrich-Smith was simply not paying attention to what was going on. Lovie Smith should consider benching him, but his center is just one of his many problems.





    Chargers XX, Bills XX




  • Bengals XX, Titans XX




  • Ravens XX, Browns XX







  • Browns 26, Saints 24
    By Charlie Campbell - @draftcampbell

  • Editor's Note: Are things turning around in Cleveland? The Browns of the past would have missed Billy Cundiff's attempt. Perhaps LeBron James returning to his hometown has changed everything. Or maybe the Browns are just getting their fans' hopes up in an attempt to crush everyone's spirit down the road.

  • The Saints have dug themselves a real hole in the NFC South with an 0-2 start and Carolina winning its first two games. New Orleans should have beaten Cleveland, but the Saints' defense had some critical busts while Sean Payton waited far too long to get Jimmy Graham involved. Payton and Rob Ryan did some shouting on the sideline, so you have to wonder if New Orleans will remain together to turn its season around.

    Cleveland showed some real fight, and Mike Pettine's squad earned an impressive win over a playoff team. Pettine deserves congratulations on his first win as a head coach, while Brian Hoyer is showing that he knows how to win in the NFL.

  • The Browns got on the board first when the Saints punted from their own end zone to set up Cleveland in a short field. Led by running back Terrence West, the Browns moved the ball inside the 5-yard line before Hoyer threw a short touchdown pass to Miles Austin (6-44) after he beat Patrick Robinson on a slant. Robinson kept hurting his team when he lined up offsides as the Browns missed a field goal. That gave Cleveland a first down and a shorter field goal for Billy Cundiff. The Browns opened up a lead of 13 when a bad pass from Brees floated to Tashaun Gipson. Gipson jetted down the field for a 62-yard touchdown return, although Cleveland's holder dropped the extra point.

    In the final minutes before halftime, the Saints finally started to throw the ball to Graham, as Brees worked the ball down the field with his stud tight end. Graham had five receptions for 57 yards and a leaping touchdown catch to close out the half. After intermission, the Saints kept going to Graham, who put them in the lead with a short touchdown catch on a third-and-goal.

    The Browns regained the advantage with a nice drive that ended with West (19-68) plunging into the end zone. The Saints came right back with passes to Graham setting up a short score for Mark Ingram (11-83). Cleveland had time for one more drive, and Hoyer made some clutch passes with the big one being a 22-yard pass to Andrew Hawkins (6-70), who got wide open in busted coverage. That set up Cundiff's game-winning 29-yard field goal with just a few seconds left on the clock.

  • Hoyer was 24-of-40 for 204 yards with a touchdown. Brees, meanwhile, finished having completed 27-of-40 passess for 237 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Graham notched 10 receptions for 118 yards and two scores, but he went almost the entire first half without a target. Sean Payton screwed up not getting Graham involved immediately, and he easily could have produced a lot more because the Browns had no answer for him. New Orleans' receivers didn't do much. Robert Meachem (3-37), Kenny Stills (3-25) and Brandin Cooks (3-17 receiving, 2-31 rushing) had minimal impact, while Marques Colston had zero receptions.

  • Karlos Dansby had an excellent game for Cleveland with 12 tackles and a sack. Paul Kruger had a sack and heat on Brees as well.

  • After a rough first quarter, the Saints' defense played better, but the team folded late in the fourth rather than slamming the door on the Browns.


    Lions XX, Packers XX




  • Colts XX, Jaguars XX




  • Patriots XX, Raiders XX







  • Saints XX, Vikings XX




  • Giants XX, Texans XX




  • Eagles XX, Redskins XX






  • Cowboys XX, Rams XX




  • Cardinals XX, 49ers XX






  • Dolphins XX, Chiefs XX




  • Seahawks XX, Broncos XX




  • Panthers XX, Steelers XX




  • Jets XX, Bears XX




  • For more thoughts, check out my updated NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.



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