Week 3 NFL Game Recaps
Bills 34, Patriots 31
Well, it's now 16 in a row, and Buffalo still appears to be a long way from being a legitimate perennial playoff contender.
Fitzpatrick was incredible. He went 27-of-40 for 369 yards, two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. Four Bills had at least 80 receiving yards: Donald Jones (5-101), Steve Johnson (8-94, TD), Fred Jackson (5-87) and David Nelson (6-84). Scott Chandler (2-10) had the other score.
Meanwhile, I thought Chad Ochocinco would step up with Hernandez out of the lineup, but that was hardly the case. Ochocinco hauled in just two grabs for 28 yards. Even worse, he dropped a wide-open touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Panthers 16, Jaguars 10
Despite the rain, Gabbert was able to hook up with Mike Thomas on a 36-yard touchdown as time expired in the first half. It was reminiscent of the David Garrard-to-Thomas Hail Mary, though Jacksonville didn't get the victory this time.
Gabbert was pretty mediocre otherwise. He went 12-of-21 for 139 yards, one touchdown an interception and three fumbles. He did have his first pass - a nice, 13-yard completion to Jason Hill - wiped out because of a Eugene Monroe penalty. However, Gabbert's pocket presence was a big problem; he struggled with pressure and even took a safety. Most of his yardage came on screen passes to Jones-Drew.
49ers 13, Bengals 8
By Greg Cox - @ActuallyGregCox
It started promising for rookie Andy Dalton. Cincinnati came out with an excellent blend of running Cedric Benson (5 carries for 15 yards) and completing passes primarily to Andre Caldwell (3 receptions for 32 yards). They chewed up almost half the opening quarter, but on first and goal from the six, picked a bad time to run on consecutive plays for the first time in the drive. It stalled and a field goal put them up, 3-0. Little did we know they would not score again until the fourth quarter.
Alex Smith came out on San Francisco's first possession and immediately completed a pass to Bruce Miller for 11 yards. Then he got sacked and threw two incompletions. You can pretty much copy that a few times, and you get the gist of what the 49ers did on much of the afternoon, mixing in some unsuccessful runs by Frank Gore who finished with 42 yards on 17 carries. This is not lazy analysis - I am serious.
Both defenses played well in this game obviously, with the final total yards going to Cincinnati just barely at 228-226. Cincinnati's five sacks were crucial in getting their defense off the field. Only once did the 49ers get a first down on a drive following a sack, and it was the result of a penalty. Meanwhile San Francisco's defense was getting it done on third down, stopping nine out of 10 conversion attempts. If not for a Frank Gore fumble early in the fourth quarter, the Bengals would not have scored after the opening drive.
Vernon Davis was the offensive force for the 49ers. His 39-yard reception in the second quarter led to the tying field goal. Yes, it was 3-3 at halftime. Then with the game on the line, he had receptions for 8, 8 and 20 yards during a 72-yard march for the game's only touchdown. Kendall Hunter finished it off with a 7-yard run and he had a mild coming out party here. Gore was ineffective and the smaller rookie Hunter ran big. Immediately after the score, Carlos Rogers intercepted Dalton and even though the drive immediately stalled, David Akers drilled a field goal from 53-yards out to put them up 13-6.
Those two drives took the game from 8:57 remaining to 2:11 by the time Cincinnati got the football back trying to drive for the tying touchdown. Dalton started connecting with tight end Jermaine Gresham and had the Bengals on the move until a dreadful interception to Reggie Smith. Head coach Jim Harbaugh made a questionable coaching decision last week not taking points off the board in a loss to Dallas, but this time managed the final 1:45 well. The 49ers took time off the clock and then punter Andy Lee chewed up precious seconds while conceding a safety, and that was that. I wish I had more to say about this game, but I really wish I could just erase it from my memory.
Browns 17, Dolphins 16
By Charlie Campbell - @draftcampbell
On Cleveland's first possession, Colt McCoy rolled out and threw a bad pass that was intercepted by Dolphins cornerback Jimmy Wilson. There weren't any open receivers and McCoy threw behind wide Mohammed Massaquoi. Wilson made an easy pick to set the Dolphins up at the Browns 43-yard line. On the next possession, McCoy had Josh Cribbs running wide open down the middle of the field. It was an easy pass that Cribbs would have turned into an 80-yard touchdown, but McCoy's pass was horribly overthrown, and the Browns had to punt.
McCoy came back and got the Browns on the board in the second quarter. He rolled out of the pocket and tossed a jump ball into the end zone for Cribbs. The wide receiver made a leaping catch in front of cornerback Shaun Smith for the game-tying score. To start the second half, McCoy helped lead another tying drive with a lot of passes to Ben Watson.
In the second half, Henne generally moved the ball well against Cleveland, which is a credit to him because his pass protection was lacking. He made some plays with his legs and distributed the ball pretty well. Miami and Henne did not finish drives and had too many possessions fizzle out or settle for easy field goals rather than getting in the end zone. On the last drive of the game Henne got to midfield when he overthrew his receiver on fourth-and-10 and was intercepted by safety Mike Adams. Henne completed 19-of-29 passes for 255 yards with one touchdown and one interception. It was an incomplete game from Henne, but not a horrible performance especially when you consider the Dolphins struggles in pass protection.
Lions 26, Vikings 23
Well, the Vikings apparently didn't agree. They're a proud veteran team that didn't take too kindly to being underdogs against an unproven Detroit squad.
Stafford couldn't get anything going. Even on the rare occasions when he wasn't pressured, he looked jittery in the pocket. The Lions had just four first downs in the opening half.
Saints 40, Texans 33
- The Texans started hot and got everyone excited. They had leads of 10-0, 16-10 and 26-17. Matt Schaub (22-of-39, 373 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT) was unstoppable. The Texans were getting good pressure on Drew Brees and even picked him off twice. It really looked like Houston was about to take the next step.
- But as usual, the Texans withered down the stretch, choking for what seems like the billionth time in franchise history. Suddenly, Brees was the quarterback who couldn't be stopped (31-44, 370, 3 TDs, 2 INTs). Schaub also tossed a horrible fourth-quarter pick with the lead. There's no excuse for that.
In my 2011 Houston Texans season preview, I expressed concern with Schaub being able to perform in the clutch, listing his awful fourth-quarter and overtime numbers when the game is close. Well, it appears as though nothing has changed. Well, scratch that. The Colts are a non-factor, so maybe the Texans can sneak into the playoffs by winning an awful AFC South. Maybe...
- Jimmy Graham was silent in the first half, but really became a reliable weapon for Brees down the stretch. Graham hauled in four grabs for 100 yards and a touchdown; one of the receptions featured an impressive hurdle over a Houston defender.
- Lance Moore is healthy again. He had nine grabs for 88 yards and a touchdown. Pick him up if he was dropped last week.
- Darren Sproles continues to be a big weapon in the passing attack. Sproles had six catches for 50 yards to go along with a 30-yard rushing touchdown.
- Andre Johnson (7-128) and Owen Daniels (5-76, TD) predictably had huge games. H-back James Casey (5-126, TD) put together a great statistical performance against the Saints, but I would ignore him in fantasy.
- Ben Tate, starting in place of Arian Foster, had a decent contest, gaining 82 yards on 19 carries. He didn't find the end zone, however. He was also severely underutilized in the second half.
-Mark Ingram scored, but rushed the ball just nine times because the Saints were in an early hole.
Giants 29, Eagles 16
QB Dog Killer's broken hand is his right one, so it shouldn't be that big of a deal. What has to be disconcerting though is how dreadful the offense looked before the injury. The line pathetically allowed quick pressures on three-man pass rushes. A frustrated QB Dog Killer looked scared to run coming off a concussion. He threw a pick that was a tipped pass by Steve Smith, but he should have been intercepted a second time by Kenny Phillips in the red zone.
Overall, QB Dog Killer went 16-of-23 for 176 yards an interception and three fumbles. He came out of the game twice; on the first occasion, Mike Kafka lobbed an ugly interception downfield on his initial pass. Kafka finished 4-of-7 for 35 yards and a pair of picks.
Manning finished 16-of-23 for 254 yards and four touchdowns. Two were to Cruz, one went to Bradshaw, and the other was thrown to Ahmad Bradshaw. Bradshaw had a great game, collecting 139 total yards.
Titans 17, Broncos 14
Despite the absence of Britt for more than a half, Matt Hasselbeck was still prolific, going 27-of-36 for 311 yards and two touchdowns. His top target was Nate Washington, who caught eight balls for 92 yards and a score.
Raiders 34, Jets 24
By Greg Cox - @ActuallyGregCox
Sanchez came out firing, completing his first two passes for 40 yards to Plaxico Burress and Dustin Keller. That would be a theme as well as he finished with 369 yards. However, the drive stalled. When the Jets quickly got it back, LaDainian Tomlinson made a dynamic run after catch good for 74 yards to set up a Sanchez bootleg run to tie it up at 7. Sanchez was asked to roll out of the pocket quite a bit, and while it worked early, the Raiders adjusted and shut it down. It was really an uneven game for him even with the big passing numbers. Rookie Jeremy Kerley returned a punt 53 yards only to watch Sanchez give it away on an interception to Tyvon Branch.
The second quarter was a scoring frenzy. To be honest, I had trouble keeping up after watching the defensive struggle earlier in the day. Tomlinson caught a touchdown pass to put the Jets on top 14-7. Raider fans used to seeing Tomlinson in a Chargers uniform saw another vintage performance from him as he piled up 154 yards on 11 touches. McFadden answered with a few tough runs for 17, 15 and 6 yards to get Oakland just close enough for Sebastian Janikowski to try a 56-yard field goal. He missed, but it would set him up for later on. The field position allowed the Jets to drive and eventually kick a short field go to go up by 10, but it would be two full quarters before their offense scored again.
In the meantime, the Raiders started working on offense. McFadden turned in a brilliant 70-yard touchdown run. On the next drive, Campbell completed short pass after short pass to march the team into position for Janikowski to make a field goal from 54 yards out and tie the game at halftime. New York head coach Rex Ryan could be seen shaking his head as his team walked off the field. This was not a vintage Jets performance, and although Tomlinson and Shonn Greene did combine for 97 yards on the ground, the running game did not come close to dominating like they have grown accustomed to doing in the past.
Alternating punts chewed up the first half of the third quarter, as both offenses failed twice. Then came the turning point of the game. New York had a 3rd-and-2 from the Oakland 37-yard line. Two incompletions later, the 43-yard drive resulted in no points. The answer from Oakland was dramatic. On the play's third drive, McFadden had a pass option and instead ran left for 27 yards. Rookie phenomenon Denarius Moore then took a reverse 23 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. The Black Hole was rocking, and all of the frustration from a game with four penalties built up for Cromartie. He booted the return, and two plays later, a Michael Bush touchdown made it 31-17 to open the fourth quarter.
There was no quit in the Jets. A drive basically bookended by completions to Burress spanned 93 yards and resulted in a touchdown to make it 31-24, but it took almost three minutes and left just 5:33 on the clock. Oakland took advantage of a penalty on Calvin Pace to extend a drive, and it was critical considering they did not convert a third down in eight tries. The key play was Campbell's touch pass to Bush good for 28 yards. It set up Janikowski for a chip shot field goal from 49 yards out. Again, the Jets responded with a drive, but Sanchez's scramble on fourth down came up a hot dog short.
A lot of New York's 439 total yards were wasted. Oakland's defense came up with numerous sacks, a pair by Jarvis Moss, who might be experiencing a career renaissance. Most amazingly, the Raiders scored a 34-24 win without the services of their matchup nightmare Marcel Reece.
Chargers 20, Chiefs 17
It's really telling that the Chargers were up only 10-0 at halftime because Kansas City had ZERO first downs compared to San Diego's 14. Furthermore, the Chiefs even missed a 38-yard field goal, so that wasn't enough to help the Chargers.
Ravens 37, Rams 7
St. Louis' defensive backs looked like a bunch of high-schoolers at times trying to stop Joe Flacco, who went 27-of-48 for 389 yards and three touchdowns. Flacco was pressured often and was guilty of a pair of fumbles, but the Rams' pathetic secondary betrayed the defensive front.
Packers 27, Bears 17
Seahawks 13, Cardinals 10
Jackson wasn't too bad; he went 18-of-31 for 171 yards and an interception, but also rushed for 20 yards and an 11-yard touchdown on four scrambles. He really benefited from the return of Sidney Rice, who hauled in eight grabs for 109 yards. No other Seahawk had more than two catches.
Buccaneers 16, Falcons 13
By Charlie Campbell - @draftcampbell
Freeman was off for most of the first half. A 16-yard pass to Mike Williams and some quality runs by LeGarrette Blount got Tampa Bay on the board first with a field goal. Freeman got into more of a groove late in the second quarter to lead a 14-play, 80-yard touchdown drive. He connected on a few passes to rookie tight end Luke Stocker and Williams. Freeman dived into the end zone from a yard out to give Tampa Bay 10-3 lead. A turnover set Tampa Bay up for three more points just before halftime and a lead of 16-3.
To start the third quarter, Freeman led a drive that ate up over half the period and produced another field goal for the Buccaneers. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Freeman had a pass deflected off the hands of wide receiver Arrelious Benn and into the hands of safety William Moore, who returned the interception to midfield.
Freeman finished the game 22-of-32 for 180 yards and two interceptions. Williams had five receptions for 43 yards. Winslow had two catches for 20 yards. Blount finished with 81 yards on 24 carries.
When Ryan started to throw more to Jones in the second half, good things happened for Atlanta. Jones beat Talib to the end zone on a pass that was overthrown by Ryan. Later in the fourth quarter, Jones beat Talib and the safety in zone coverage for a 49-yard pass to the Bucs' 10-yard line. Jones had to stop and wait for the ball, and a better pass would have been a score. Ryan finished the drive on the next play with a 10-yard touchdown to Gonzalez.
Ryan later had White for a potential touchdown, but his No. 1 wideout dropped the ball. Atlanta had to settle for a field goal and never got the ball back because Tampa Bay was able to run out the clock.
Steelers 23, Colts 20
Speaking of which, Pittsburgh's front line is in shambles. Reserve left tackle Marcus Gilbert, who has been starting because of injuries elsewhere, left the game with a shoulder. Later, right guard Doug Legursky was forced out of the game with a shoulder problem of his own. Later on, tackle Jonathan Scott suffered a leg malady. With no other linemen available, Mike Tomlin was forced to usher Gilbert back into the lineup.
I don't have to tell you that the Steelers are in trouble heading to Houston. How can they possibly block Mario Williams and J.J. Watt?
Curtis "Finger" Painter stepped in and wasn't much better. He went 5-of-11 for 60 yards and a strip-six. Painter had Pierre Garcon wide open for a touchdown on his first drive but completely missed him.
For thoughts on Redskins-Cowboys, check out my updated 2011 NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.
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