Philadelphia fans packed Lincoln Financial Field to cheer Andy Reid in his return to Philadelphia and Donovan McNabb during his jersey retirement. Both Reid and McNabb received standing ovations, but that's all the celebrating the Eagles' faithful would do throughout the evening. The early cheers turned into loud boos, as Philadelphia struggled in all areas:
- The Eagles' supposed up-tempo offense was pretty sluggish against the Chiefs. They committed five turnovers, including a pick-six in the first quarter that the quarterback telegraphed. QBDK would end up going 13-of-30 for 201 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions (the second was thrown behind Riley Cooper). He showed flashes of brilliance; he had a 61-yard scramble in the first quarter, lofted a 22-yard rainbow to Jason Avant into the end zone as he was getting hit, and hit DeSean Jackson (3-62) with a 40-yard bomb downfield.
However, QBDK was pretty pedestrian overall. Many of his passes were way behind his receivers. He used poor mechanics on his attempts and was occasionally guilty of throwing late over the middle. Worst of all, he was banged up at the end. He didn't look like he could move very well in the fourth quarter. The final hit, which resulted in a strip-sack, had him limping off the field. Nick Foles was seen warming up, but the Chiefs took possession and killed the clock.
It's a shame for LeSean McCoy that his teammates ruined another outstanding performance. McCoy rushed for 158 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. There was a scary moment in the second quarter when McCoy fell and clutched his knee, screaming in pain. It seemed like his season would be over, but McCoy somehow returned to the field after halftime.
- Philadelphia's defense was awful once again. I can't even count how many missed tackles the team was guilty of in this contest. The Chiefs converted multiple third-and-15ish situations with short passes to Donnie Avery. In fact, Kansas City ran the same place twice, yet Billy Davis' unit wasn't prepared for it. That's inexcusable.
The Chiefs would've scored way more than 26 points had they not made errors themselves. They bogged down in the red zone and dropped four passes in the first quarter alone. The offensive line was also guilty of several illegal formations. I'm not sure why the Chiefs continuously had issues lining up, but their inability to do so disrupted some of their drives.
I don't want to take anything away from Alex Smith though. He once again seldom looked downfield, but he didn't really need to. He went 22-of-35 for 273 yards. He was clutch on a long drive in the fourth quarter. The Chiefs had the ball on their own 5-yard line with 10 minutes remaining, but he took them into field goal range while bleeding seven minutes off the clock.
Smith spent the entire night dumping the ball off to Avery and Jamaal Charles. Both were awesome; the former caught seven passes for 141 yards. Charles, meanwhile, rushed for 92 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries and matched Avery's seven catches for 80 receiving yards. Smith didn't go to Dwayne Bowe as much. Bowe caught only one pass for four yards. He was guilty of two drops.
- The Eagles also struggled on special teams. They surrendered a 57-yard kickoff return to Quintin Demps to open the game. Damaris Johnson then muffed a punt, setting up a Kansas City field goal.
Two defenders of note for Kansas City: Justin Houston will get all of the headlines with 4.5 sacks and a forced fumble (QBDK was sacked six times overall), but second-year nose tackle Dontari Poe was equally dominant. He crahsed into Philadelphia's backfield on so many instances and made life difficult for QBDK. Poe is making a strong bid to be a Pro Bowler this year.
Ravens 30, Texans 9
It's a good thing the Ravens' defense and special teams carried the squad early on because the offense was completely anemic. Baltimore endured terrible field position, as it started its first two drives on its own 7- and 1-yard line. Making matters worse, the team was penalized seven times for 69 yards in the first 19 minutes. This included a ridiculous two personal fouls on Bryant McKinnie that disrupted a drive that ventured into Houston territory.
As a result of all of this, the Texans had the Ravens outgained in the first half, 157-65. Yet, Baltimore had a 17-9 lead, thanks to a Daryl Smith 37-yard pick-six and an 82-yard Tandon Doss punt return.
The Ravens' offense did finally get its act together in the second half. The team managed 171 net yards after intermission. Joe Flacco went 9-of-12 for 118 yards following the break, as he did a good job of methodically moving the chains to keep Houston's scoring attack off the field.
Flacco's final numbers were 16-of-24 for 171 yards. Only a couple of Ravens caught more than two passes: Torrey Smith (5-92) and Dallas Clark (4-46). Smith missed out on a 23-yard sideline reception in the third quarter because he let the ball briefly hit the ground. The officials ruled it incomplete following a review, but Smith came back on the next play with a 24-yard catch to set up a Bernard Pierce touchdown.
Speaking of Pierce, he couldn't get anything early on - seven carries, 13 yards in the first half - but found some holes after intermission, finishing with 65 yards and the aforementioned score on 24 attempts.
As for the Texans, Matt Schaub was able to complete 25-of-35 passes, but for only 194 yards and the pick-six. Schaub seldom looked downfield, as it appeared that he didn't trust his pass protection; stud left tackle Duane Brown was out of the lineup. Schaub was sacked three times and was able to convert only 3-of-12 third-down attempts.
Given that Schaub was tentative in the pocket, it should be no surprise that the Texans didn't have many big gains. In fact, no Houston player had a play longer than 18 yards. DeAndre Hopkins led the team with 60 yards off six catches. Andre Johnson (5-36) and Owen Daniels (5-29) disappointed their fantasy owners. Johnson injured his shin in the third quarter. Schaub was even more helpless when his No. 1 wideout left the field.
Fantasy owners also have to be upset by the Houston running back situation. Arian Foster (12-54) and Ben Tate (9-36) split carries almost evenly. The two ran the ball just five times after halftime. I know the Texans were trailing by double digits, but they shouldn't have abandoned their ground attack; not having that nullifies Schaub's patented play-action bootlegs.
One injury of note for the Ravens: Nose tackle Terrence Cody suffered a knee sprain and will be out for a couple of weeks.
Panthers 38, Giants 0
Tom Coughlin lost his younger brother this week. I figured the Giants would rally around their head coach and give him a victory to brighten things up for him ever so slightly. But instead of bringing heavy emotion and energy into this contest, the New York players looked completely lifeless and lethargic.
The offensive line was mostly to blame. Eli Manning was sacked thrice in the first six minutes and six times overall in the first half. The unit was also guilty of a holding penalty that negated a nice-looking David Wilson touchdown run when the game was still close. Right after the Wilson score was taken off the board, Manning took a sack, which set up a long field goal that was missed.
The result of this poor blocking was disastrous outside of that blown scoring opportunity. The Giants mustered just two first downs and 18 total net yards by halftime. The team's fans on the forum all agreed that this was the worst offensive performance they've ever seen.
As you may guess, Eli Manning struggled immensely because he had no time to throw. By the time the Panthers went up 31-0, Manning was just 6-of-11 for 37 yards and an ugly interception that he fired into double coverage.
Manning finished 12-of-23 for 119 yards and the pick. His three wideouts - Victor Cruz (3-25), Hakeem Nicks (0 catches), Rueben Randle (2-4) - didn't do very much.
David Wilson received the bulk of the workload for a change, but given that the Giants were being blown out the entire contest, he was given just 11 carries for 39 yards. He also had that aforementioned touchdown that was nullified by a hold.
As for the winning team, Cam Newton finally looked like the quarterback who dominated the opposition to close out the 2012 season. His completion percentage wasn't very good - 15-of-27 - and he tossed a pick that was undercut by Aaron Ross, but he managed to throw for 223 yards and three touchdowns. He also did a good job of scrambling for a change, rushing seven times for 45 rushing yards and an additional score. Some of Newton's throws were beautiful, including one touchdown that was a perfectly placed back-shoulder throw.
Two of Newton's aerial touchdowns went to Brandon LaFell (3-53). The other fouund Ted Ginn (3-71). Steve Smith didn't do much (3-40) because he missed some time with a hip injury. Greg Olsen, meanwhile, had four catches for 54 yards. He was guilty of a bad drop.
Newton rebounding is obviously encouraging for the Panthers. Another glimmer of hope was head coach Commander Adama's decision to go for it on a fourth-and-1 at the end of the first quarter. Adama, who has been accused of being too conservative in such situations, kept his offense on the field. Mike Tolbert rewarded him with a touchdown.
Tolbert may have found the end zone, but DeAngelo Williams was still the most prominent fantasy running back in this contest. He rushed for 120 yards on 23 carries.
Bengals 34, Packers 30
The Packers spent two draft picks on running backs, yet that position continues to haunt them. James Starks made the start for the team with Eddie Lacy out of the lineup. He looked good in the first half, rushing for 55 yards on 14 carries, but was knocked out of the game with a knee injury. Johnathan Franklin, the team's fourth-rounder, rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown on 13 attempts, which included a 51-yard burst.
All looked well until the Packers, up three, were faced with a fourth-and-inches in Cincinnati territory with a few minutes remaining. It was a bit too long for a field goal, so Green Bay opted to go for it. All the team was doing was trying to bleed the clock. Franklin went to leap for the first down, but the ball was stripped out of his hands before he could do so. The Bengals returned it for a touchdown, which turned out to be the decisive score in this contest.
This was just one of countless turnovers between the two teams. The Packers started it when Jeremy Ross fumbled a first-quarter kickoff return, setting up a quick Cincinnati touchdown. The Bengals returned the favor, as BenJarvus Green-Ellis was strip-sixed. Cincinnati lost three fumbles, including the Law Firm's cough-up. Andy Dalton, who was guilty of one of those lost balls, was also intercepted on a bad decision. Green Bay, meanwhile, saw Rodgers toss two picks in addition to the pair of aforementioned fumbles.
Each squad had four give-aways, but the Packers were better overall. They outgained Cincinnati, 399-297. The Bengals were helpless to stop the Green Bay ground attack - which makes it ironic that one of the Packer running backs was mostly responsible for this defeat.
Rodgers had a rough afternoon - 26-of-43, 244 yards, one touchdown and the two picks - as the Bengals' defensive line was in his face the entire contest. Cincinnati also batted down what seemed like 100 passes. Rodgers was so frustrated that he and Mike McCarthy had an angry exchange of words on the sideline following a botched red-zone attempt. It seemed as though Rodgers was pissed because McCarthy opted to kick a field goal on a fourth-and-goal opportunity inside the 1-yard line.
Rodgers' lone score went to James Jones (4-34). He produced fewer yardage than the other two receivers; Randall Cobb (5-54) was OK, but Jordy Nelson (8-93) made a spectacular, acrobatic catch where he tip-toed the sideline. This prompted the play-by-play announcer to exclaim, "He catches everything!"
As for Jermichael Finley, he didn't catch a single pass because he was was knocked out in the first quarter because of a concussion.
Dalton had just eight incompletions, going 20-of-28 for 235 yards, a pair of touchdowns and the two aforementioned turnovers. It helped his cause that Clay Matthews was knocked out of the game with an injury. Fortunately for the Packers, Matthews is expected to play next week.
Dalton's scores went to A.J. Green (4-46) and Marvin Jones (3-38). Green's production all came after intermission, as he didn't do anything in the first half. Mohamed Sanu (4-68) led the team in receiving.
Marvin Lewis needs to start making Giovani Bernard his featured back. The good news is that Bernard an Green-Ellis had an equal amount of carries (10). Bernard outgained Green-Ellis, 50-29. Both scored. As mentioned, Green-Ellis was guilty of a fumble returned for a touchdown, while Bernard made four catches for 49 receiving yards.
Cowboys 31, Rams 7
This could be the Cowboys' year. In terms of the divisional crown, anyway. The Giants looked like one of the worst teams in the NFL in their blowout loss at Carolina. The Redskins have been awful thus far. Philadelphia was sharp for one half in the opener, but has struggled ever since. So, Dallas looks like the front-runner in the NFC East - and not just by default.
Dallas played very well against the Rams. It looked like it would be the "same old Cowboys" when they muffed a punt in the first quarter, but they regrouped and were able to keep St. Louis off the scoreboard. It was just the beginning of a dominant performance by their defense. By halftime, the Rams were able to accumulate only 18 net yards and one first down. They were able to tally way more yardage after intermission, but that was the same type of Sam Bradford garbage-time yardage he posted at Atlanta.
The key for the Cowboys was the amount of pressure they were able to put on Bradford. They accumulated six sacks, including two by DeMarcus Ware, who became Dallas' all-time leading sacker.
Dallas' offense was also sharp. Tony Romo went 17-of-24 for 210 yards and three touchdowns. He was protected well, as he was sacked only once.
Romo's scores went to Dez Bryant (4-38), Gavin Escobar and Dwayne Harris. The Cowboys' leader in receiving yardage was Jason Witten, who caught five balls for 67 yards. Miles Austin-Jones (2-22) injured his hamstring in the third quarter. Surprise, surprise.
Romo didn't have to do much because DeMarco Murray ripped off big chunks of yardage on almost every touch. He gained 175 yards and a touchdown on 26 attempts. He also caught three passes for 28 receiving yards. Dallas' offensive line simply manhandled the Rams' front, pushing defensive tackles Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford around as if they were small children. Linebacker Will Witherspoon was even worse; he doesn't look like he belongs on an NFL roster at this point.
The Rams came into the season with so much hype as a popular playoff sleeper pick that they were no longer a sleeper in that regard. They disappointed some in the season opener, but scratched and clawed their way to a victory against the Cardinals. They looked much worse the following week at Atlanta, but some fluky things happened in that contest, so excuses were made for them. But now? They have to be regarded as one of the worst teams in the NFL. It's almost inexplicable how they've regressed every single week.
As mentioned, Bradford compiled a bunch of junk yardage at the end of the game. He finished 29-of-48 for 240 yards, but those numbers are a farce; he was just 6-of-12 for 43 yards by halftime. Again, Bradford didn't have much of a chance behind his terrible offensive line, so it's hard to tell how much blame he deserves for this loss.
Bradford also had no running game to work with. Daryl Richardson was knocked out of the game on the first play from scrimmage with a foot injury, so Isaiah Pead was given the opportunity to waste six carries for 20 yards. Pead did catch seven balls for 43 yards, nearly edging out Chris Givens (2-54) and Jared Cook (5-44). Austin Pettis (2-20) was the one who hauled in Bradford's lone score.
Browns 31, Vikings 27
Michael Lombardi is a genius. He traded away Trent Richardson in an apparent attempt to tank for Teddy Bridgewater - go here for my 2014 NFL Mock Draft - but instead, he found a franchise quarterback who already happened to be on his roster. Brian Hoyer is the future of the Cleveland Browns!
OK, maybe I'm exaggerating just a bit, but Brian Hoyer seriously did look a billion times better than Brandon Weeden. Of course, it helped that Hoyer actually had a legitimate No. 1 receiver to throw to. Josh Gordon, returning from his two-game suspension, caught 10 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. He was an absolute monster, and the Vikings had no answer for him. Perhaps this means that Lombardi will sell high on Gordon and deal him to a team desperate for a receiver like the Patriots. Perhaps he can obtain a second-rounder for him.
Gordon's inevitable departure will hurt Hoyer, but the former New England quarterback is solid for now. He went 30-of-54 for 321 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. Hoyer became the first Cleveland quarterback to throw three scores in a single game since Brady Quinn in December 2009. One of his picks wasn't his fault, as it was tipped at the line of scrimmage and intercepted deep inside Minnesota territory.
The Browns predictably couldn't run the ball without Richardson. They signed Willis McGahee this week, but all he could do was muster nine yards on eight carries.
The Vikings' ground attack was much more successful, but only by default. Adrian Peterson once again failed to eclipse the century barrier, rushing for 88 yards and a touchdown on 25 attempts. Peterson really misses Pro Bowl fullback Jerome Felton, who will be back from suspension next week.
Peterson had two scores vultured away from Christian Ponder of all people. Ponder found the end zone twice, as he scrambled five times for 46 rushing yards.
Ponder finished 25-of-44 for 228 yards and an interception. He really struggled at times while airing out the ball, including one instance in which he missed a wide-open Joe Webb for a score, prompting heavy boos from the crowd.
No Minnesota player exceeded 50 receiving yards. Greg Jennings had just three grabs for 43 yards. Coradarrelle Patterson actually led the team in that category (2-49). He made an awesome, 37-yard catch at the beginning of the second quarter. He was targeted just four times, however.
A major reason why Cleveland won this contest was because the team had no pressure. No one gave them a chance, so they didn't have anything to lose. That would explain the ridiculous amount of fake punts and field goals they attempted in this contest. They were successful on all but one of them, with Jordan Cameron (6-66, 3 TDs) scoring a touchdown on one try. In fact, punter Spencer Lanning became the first NFL player with a punt, point after attempt and a touchdown pass in same game since Sam Baker in Oct. 13, 1968.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Charlie will talk about how much Josh Freeman sucked. It's time to consider slotting a quarterback to the Buccaneers in my 2014 NFL Mock Draft.
The AFC be warned, the Patriots are 3-0 and are getting better. It's scary for the AFC to think that New England is winning when the team isn't playing its best football. The Buccaneers had their opportunities to build a lead on the Patriots early in this game, but Tampa Bay couldn't finish drives, and New England eventually took control.
Tom Brady started slowly, but eventually got into a groove to move the chains. His young receivers stepped up and played much better against the Bucs. Aaron Dobson (7-52) had two big catches on a second-quarter drive. The posession ended when Brady hit Kenbrell Thompkins (3-41) on the run, and he darted into the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown. Just before halftime, the duo hooked up for their second touchdown. They beat Johnthan Banks beat for the score and a 26-yard penalty on the drive.
In the third quarter, Brandon Bolden (3-51) burst through the line for a 46-yard run. The drive fizzled when Brady missed a wide-open Dobson in the end zone and then threw a bad pass that was intercepted by Mark Barron. Brady completed 25-of-36 passes for 225 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in this contest. He missed some wide open receivers in the deep part of the field, which says that while New England's offense was better, it was far from flawless and could have scored more.
Former Buc LeGarrette Blount (14-65) led the Patriots on the ground. A bunch of players contributed yards for New England, including Steven Ridley (11-35), Julian Edelman (7-44) and Michael Hoomanawanui (2-31).
Josh Freeman and Tampa Bay moved the ball well early in the game, but couldn't finish drives. Rian Lindel missed a 38-yard field goal and tight end Tim Wright dropped a touchdown pass. Vincent Jackson also dropped two passes, including a long one inside the 10-yard line. Kevin Ogletree dropped a pass for a fourth-down conversion, and the Bucs were stopped short on multiple fourth downs. With 11 seconds left before halftime, Freeman was picked off by Aqib Talib on a horribly thrown ball. That spotted New England a 53-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski, who later hit two more from 40+ yards.
While the dropped passes hurt, Freeman had his normal accuracy problems. He completed just 19-of-41 passes for 236 yards. If Freeman doesn't make a big improvement next week against the Cardinals, the Bucs will probably be starting Mike Glennon against the Eagles after the bye.
Doug Martin (20-88) ran well for Tampa Bay as the team enjoyed Carl Nicks making his season debut. Jackson (3-34) left the game with a rib issue while Mike Williams (5-65) was gimpy with a leg injury.
The Bucs' defensive line played pretty well. Adrian Clayborn, Akeem Spence and Lavonte David recorded sacks. Gerald McCoy had a leg injury late in the fourth quarter in garbage time.
The Patriots' defense struggled in the beginning before adjusting to Tampa Bay's offense. Talib played well against his former team. Rob Ninkovich, Chandler Jones, Jerod Mayo and Tommy Kelly all recorded sacks. Brandon Spikes and Vince Wilfork also played well.
Saints 31, Cardinals 7
The Cardinals marched down the field against the Saints on their opening drive. They went 80 yards in 5:47. It looked like they were primed for the upset.
But then they couldn't do anything the rest of the game. Outside of that first possession, Arizona managed only 167 yards of offense. The New Orleans defense, which has put forth its third great effort in three weeks now, should definitely be taken seriously.
Carson Palmer would've thrown all over the Saints last year, but that wasn't the case int his matchup. He went just 18-of-35 for 187 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. He was smothered in the backfield, as he was sacked four times - a number that doesn't even come close to indicating how frequently he was pressured - including twice by Cameron Jordan, who absolutely must be a Pro Bowler this year.
Larry Fitzgerald led the Cardinals in receiving, snagging five catches for 64 yards. The good news is that his hamstring wasn't an issue. He just struggled statistically because Palmer didn't have time in the pocket.
As bad as Arizona's aerial attack was, the ground game was even worse. Rashard Mendenhall tallied just 29 yards on nine carries. Alfonso Smith (3-27) vultured a touchdown away. Andre Ellington, meanwhile, saw six touches (3 carries, 19 rushing yards; 3 catches, 36 receiving yards).
The Saints are fortunate that their defense was able to carry the team because the offense was sluggish until the fourth quarter. The Saints, who totaled just 17 points entering the final frame, had extreme difficulty dealing with Darnell Dockett. The Cardinal lineman got off to a slow start this season, but snapped out of his funk with a whopping three sacks on Drew Brees.
Despite the pressure, Brees still managed to go 29-of-46, 342 yards, four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) and an interception in the end zone by Tyrann Mathieu. Two of Brees' scores went to Jimmy Graham, who was unstoppable (9-134). The other touchdown went to Robert Meachem (2-34).
Brees' other prominent targets included Marques Colston (5-71), who had to deal with Patrick Peterson, and Darren Sproles (4-39).
So much for Sean Payton wanting to be more balanced. He barely bothered to run the ball, calling for just three rushes in the first half. Pierre Thomas ended up with 11 attempts for 28 yards. Meanwhile, a rookie from West Texas A&M named Khiry Robinson gained 38 yards on four carries. That's not a fluke; Robinson looked pretty talented and had the crowd in awe.
Titans 20, Chargers 17
Jake Locker has been extremely inconsistent throughout his brief NFL career. If he can somehow sustain the level of play he summoned against the Chargers, he'll be a pretty solid starter in this league.
Locker went 23-of-37 for 299 yards and a passing touchdown, but he was much more potent on the ground - at least for most of the game. Locker was very elusive as a scrambler, running five times for 68 yards and an additional score. However, he was at his best on the team's final drive when he aired out a 34-yard touchdown bomb to Justin Hunter to take the lead for good. Locker remarkably went 94 yards in just 1:50 despite not having any timeouts.
Locker's favorite target has always been Nate Washington, and that was once again the case this week. Washington hauled in a whopping eight balls for 131 yards. Kendall Wright was also solid (6-71). As for Kenny Britt? He dropped a pass early on and was booed by the crowd. He then suffered an injury on another incompletion.
Chris Johnson was effective, but didn't get very many carries because the Titans trailed for most of this contest. He rushed for 90 yards on just 19 carries.
As for the Chargers, this was a game of blown opportunities for them. For instance, Eddie Royal (2-34) scored a touchdown, but it was wiped out by offensive pass interference (Keenan Allen picked a defender). Philip Rivers was then whistled for an unsportsmanlike penalty, which gave San Diego a second-and-goal at the 25-yard line.
The Chargers made some other mistakes throughout the afternoon, including a hold as the team was trying to run out the clock late in the fourth quarter. However, no error was worse than a dropped interception on Tennessee's final drive. The ball bounced off Delanie Walker and into the arms of a San Diego defender, who let a potential pick fall out of his hands. Locker found Hunter a few plays later for the decisive touchdown. I'm also not sure why the Titans didn't have any safety help on the Hunter score, though it should be noted that Hunter pushed off. The officials could've called offensive pass interference, but kept all yellow flags in their pockets.
It's remarkable San Diego lost this contest considering that Philip Rivers misfired on just four attempts. He went 20-of-24 for 184 yards and a touchdown. As mentioned, he had a second score nullified by offensive pass interference. Rivers couldn't really look downfield in the second half because two of his starting linemen - King Dunlap and Chad Rinehart - exited with injuries. Right tackle D.J. Fluker was already out.
Rivers' score went to Antonio Gates (5-55, TD). Danny Woodhead tied Gates for the team lead in receiving yards, though he had more receptions (7).
Ryan Mathews didn't do much. He gained 58 yards on just 16 carries; he's not being used much because he's not a part of the passing game. Mathews was robbed of a touchdown by Ronnie Brown in the third quarter, but he did get some opportunities as the Chargers were trying to bleed the clock, but the aforementioned hold prevented him from being able to clinch the victory.
Lions 27, Redskins 20
The good news for the Redskins is that Robert Griffin is getting more comfortable. He went 32-of-50 for 326 yards and an interception that was a foolish decision as he was scrambling right and trying to throw the ball away. He missed out on a deep touchdown to Aldrick Robinson because his receiver let the ball hit the ground. The important thing is that the Redskins ran more read-option plays. Griffin scrambled six times for 37 rushing yards, though he did lose a fumble on a head-first slide in which he wasn't touched down by contact. It's looking like Griffin is close to breaking out. It could happen any week now.
The bad news for the Redskins is that their defense is still a disgrace. They allowed 441 total yards of offense to a Detroit team that was missing Reggie Bush. Joique Bell had defenders bouncing off of him left and right, while Washington had absolutely no answer for Nate Burleson. It's a sad state of affairs, as the Redskins might just have the worst stop unit in the NFL (though the Eagles and Jaguars may have something to say about that.)
Matthew Stafford went 25-of-42 for 385 yards, two touchdowns and an interception that was returned for six by DeAngelo Hall. The pick was the byproduct of a miscommunication between Stafford and Calvin Johnson in the first half.
Stafford and Megatron were able to hook up often after that. Johnson caught seven balls for 115 yards and a touchdown, though he missed out on another score because Stafford overthrew him. Megatron didn't even lead his team in receiving. Burleson held that distinction, hauling in six passes for 116 yards.
Stafford's other score went to undrafted rookie tight end Joseph Fauria. The UCLA product caught just one pass (for five yards), but he was targeted in the end zone on another occasion. The important thing here is that Brandon Pettigrew has been phased out of the offense. Stafford threw to him twice on the opening drive, but that was it.
As mentioned, defenders were bouncing off Bell as if he were Jim Brown. He generated 63 rushing yards (20 carries), 69 receiving yards (four catches) and a touchdown.
Bell's counterpart also scored. Alfred Morris ran well, gaining 73 yards on 15 carries. His touchdown, which went for 30 yards, was a thing of beauty.
Griffin's numbers were listed earlier. Four of his targets accumulated more than 50 receiving yards: Santana Moss (7-77), Pierre Garcon (8-73), Logan Paulsen (4-51) and Jordan Reed (5-50). Reed left the game in the second half with a quad injury.
The Lions suffered a significant injury: Defensive end Jason Jones is out for the year after tearing his patellar tendon.
Dolphins 27, Falcons 23
I'm not really sure how the Dolphins won this game. The Falcons ran all over them, allowing themselves to win the time of possession by about 15 minutes. They also outgained Miami by close to 100 yards. They didn't even trail for 59 minutes of this contest. Yet, the Dolphins were able to score the game-winning touchdown with seconds remaining in regulation.
Ryan Tannehill simply came through in the clutch. He was 8-of-11 for 67 yards on the final possession, capping it off with a 1-yard score to rookie tight end Dion Sims. Tannehill had some accuracy issues at times throughout the afternoon - his overall numbers were 24-of-35 for 236 yards, two touchdowns, a lost fumble and an ugly interception thrown off his back foot - but he was sharp when it mattered most.
The Falcons helped Miami clinch an improbable victory with mistakes. Harry Douglas fumbled a punt return deep in Dolphins' territory, which led to a game-tying touchdown in the third quarter. A missed, chip-shot field goal by Matt Bryant also took three points off the board. Worst of all, Mike Smith had issues with clock management. The Dolphins were bleeding the clock while driving for their decisive touchdown. Smith used only one of his timeouts. As a consequence, the Falcons missed out on 1:20 to try to win the game. They went into the locker room with two timeouts in their pocket. That's inexcusable.
These mental lapses ruined a great effort by Atlanta's rushing attack. Jacquizz Rodgers (18-86) and Jason Snelling (11 carries, 53 rush yards; 4 catches, 58 rec. yards, 1 TD) both ran extremely well. A major reason for this was that three Miami front-seven players were knocked out of the lineup. Cameron Wake, Philip Wheeler and Koa Misi all suffered injuries. It should be noted though that rookie Dion Jordan did a great job of setting the edge to stuff the Falcons in the red zone. He didn't register a sack, however.
Matt Ryan didn't have Sam Baker at his disposal. Roddy White once again was ineffective (2-16). Despite this, Matt Ryan was solid, going 23-of-38 for 231 yards, two touchdowns and a late interception in desperation time.
Ryan's scores went to Snelling and rookie tight end Levine Toiolo. That had to anger Tony Gonzalez fantasy owners, as the veteran caught just four balls for 24 yards. Julio Jones didn't score either, but still dominated the stat sheet (9-115).
As for the Dolphins' stats, Tannehill's two touchdowns went to Brian Hartline (4-56) and Sims of course. Mike Wallace (2-22) and Charles Clay (4-40) disappointed their fantasy owners.
Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas also split carries. The much more talented Miller outgained his teammate, 62-21, but Thomas was the one who found the end zone.
Jets 27, Bills 20
It's not usual for a non-overtime 4:25 p.m. game to last until 8 o'clock. It happened last week with Saints-Buccaneers, but only because of a weather delay. This contest also went to 8 p.m., but there were no weather-related issues. This game lasted forever because of penalties.
The Jets were whistled for 20 infractions in this matchup. Twenty! It got pretty ridiculous in the second half, as there seemed to be a yellow flag after almost every single play. The Bills actually achieved eight of their 18 first downs via penalty. Cornerback Kyle Wilson, one of the main culprits, was benched after getting penalized twice on one drive for unsportsmanlike conduct. The Jets also continuously were whistled for being offside even though E.J. Manuel wasn't using a hard count at all.
These mental errors nearly ruined a great performance by the defense (at least the players who weren't getting flagged). The Jets limited E.J. Manuel to 19-of-42 passing for 243 yards and a touchdown. Manuel was extremely inaccurate, as his attempts were all over the place. It didn't help him that the Jets sacked him a whopping eight times. Manuel did rush for 40 yards, but that didn't nearly make up for all of his poor throws.
Manuel's lone score went to Scott Chandler (5-79). Stevie Johnson (6-86) led the team in receiving.
C.J. Spiller was a huge disappointment. He had nine yards on nine carries by halftime. Following his first attempt in the second half, which went for zero yards, Spiller limped off into the locker room with a knee injury. Fred Jackson's numbers look much better, as he rushed for 72 yards on seven tries and caught four balls for 37 receiving yards. However, 59 of Jackson's 72 yards on the ground came on just one carry. Jackson also fumbled in the second half, but it of course was nullified by a New York penalty.
Geno Smith was chosen after Manuel in the 2013 NFL Draft, but he was the superior signal-caller in this matchup. Smith went 16-of-29 for 331 yards, three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) and a pair of interceptions. He looked very sharp at times, but both picks were bad. The first was underthrown into double coverage. The second occurred because he didn't see rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso. He also nearly tossed a third interception late in the game. Still, there was way more good than bad from Smith, who repeatedly attacked cornerback Justin Rogers, who was on the field because starter Leodis McKelvin was knocked out of the game with a hamstring.
Smith hit Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill for touchdown bombs from 69 and 51 yards out, respectively. Both Holmes (5-154, TD) and Hill (3-108, TD) took turns torching Rogers.
Chris Ivory was barely a factor in this matchup, as the Jets primarily ran with Bilal Powell. Utilized in both regular runs and Wildcat formations, Powell managed 149 yards on 27 carries, thanks in part to Marcell Dareus getting knocked out with an ankle. Ivory (4-5) did nothing, partly because of a hamstring issue.
Seahawks 45, Jaguars 17
All anyone wanted to talk about entering this game was the point spread. The Seahawks were favored by 19. Most deemed this too high - a spread of this magnitude hasn't been covered in more than a decade - but when the best team in the NFL plays the league's worst squad in the loudest stadium in the world, 19 points doesn't seem like all that much.
I'm not going to delve too much into this contest. The Jaguars are so pathetic that Seattle sent Russell Wilson to the bench at the beginning of the third quarter. Wilson went 14-of-21 for 202 yards, four touchdowns and an interception that was an uncharacteristic poor decision in which he threw late across his body. Wilson was otherwise stellar, finding Golden Tate (88 yards) and Sidney Rice (79 yards, 2 TDs) five times apiece.
Marshawn Lynch rushed for 69 yards on 19 tries. One of the few positive things Jacksonville's defense did in this contest was stuffing Lynch at the goal line. Unfortunately for the Jaguars, it didn't matter because Wilson found Rice and Zach Miller (2-5) twice each in the end zone.
The Jaguars' offense was so bad that calling it an "offense" is an insult to all other offenses in the NFL. They produced minus-9 yards on their first nine plays. They didn't even cross their own 30-yard line until 18 minutes into the game.
Behind a shoddy offensive line - guard Will Rackley embarrassed himself - Chad Henne had no chance, going 18-of-38 for 235 yards and two interceptions. He should've thrown a touchdown, but Cecil Shorts dropped it. Shorts otherwise had a solid outing, making eight grabs for 143 yards.
Maurice Jones-Drew was questionable heading into the contest, but rewarded his dedicated fantasy owners with a touchdown. He scored against Seattle's backups, but it was an end-zone trip nonetheless. Jones-Drew managed 43 yards on 19 tries.
EDITOR'S NOTE: There's no way to measure this, but I wonder how much of a distraction Aldon Smith's DUI and drug possession arrest was for the 49ers in this game. There's no way the Colts should've beaten them by 20.
Players and coaches have told me that there are times when their teams can get a boost of momentum when their front office and ownership go all in to make it clear they will do whatever it takes to win immediately. The Colts seemed to have that lift this week as they took care of business against the 49ers, while San Francisco seemed to still be reeling from last week's loss to the Seahawks. Aside from a good drive in the second quarter, the 49ers' offense looked like it was sleepwalking against a Colts' defense that hardly looked elite in Weeks 1 and 2.
Offensively, Indianapolis got some use out of newly acquired running back Trent Richardson. He plunged into the end zone from a yard out early in the first quarter. While Richardson (13-35) contributed, Ahmad Bradshaw (19-95) did the heavy lifting for the Colts' offense. He ripped off a 27-yard to set up a short touchdown run on a bootleg by Andrew Luck. That score put Indianapolis up 20-7 with seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and basically finished off the 49ers.
Luck took care of the football and did his job as a game-manager. He completed 18-of-27 passes for 164 yards, plus ran for 24 yards and a score. Reggie Wayne (5-63) and Darrius Heyward-Bey (5-59) led the Colts' receivers. Indianapolis offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton had a solid game plan and stayed patient with the run game.
The Colts' defense really played phenomenal football. Linebacker Jerrell Freeman was awesome, as he led the team with eight tackles and chipped in a sack and forced fumble. Cory Redding chipped in with half a sack and a deflected pass to set up a Cassius Vaughn interception. Robert Mathis played well with 1.5 sacks, too.
49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was off all day. Indianapolis' defense stopped the read option and never let Kaepernick get in sync. He completed only 13-of-27 passes for 150 yards with an interception and lost fumble. Kaepernick ran for just 20 yards on seven carries. The Colts' secondary stepped up to have blanket coverage with enough pass rush to keep Kaepernick pressured. Anquan Boldin (5-67) was the only receiver to catch more than two passes for San Francisco.
The 49ers ran the ball well early, but the Colts adjusted to shut that down. Frank Gore (11-82) led the way with over 40 yards on San Francisco's lone touchdown drive. That possession was capped with by a 13-yard touchdown run by Kendall Hunter (4-14). Gore also caught two passes for 21 yards.
The 49ers' defense played well until its members were exhausted in the fourth quarter. Justin Smith had a sack; Ahmad Brooks, NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis all were solid. The Colts had only 13 points midway through the fourth quarter, but San Francisco's offense didn't the give the defense a break. The 49ers have to get their offense turned around because, right now, their Week 1 performance against Green Bay looks like it could be an anomaly.
Bears 40, Steelers 23
A missed extra point decided this contest. The Bears had an opportunity to take a one-point lead late in the game, but had their try-after blocked. That's why this game finished with a 23-23 tie.
Oh wait, I forgot Chicago's offense actually played. The Bears' defense itself scored 23 points, thanks to five Pittsburgh turnovers. The Steelers were so sloppy with the football that they just didn't give themselves a fair chance. Ben Roethlisberger threw two interceptions and lost a pair of fumbles. Felix Jones also coughed the ball up. The Bears have an opportunistic defense that always finds a way to come up with a ton of take-aways, and that's exactly what they did in this matchup.
Despite the Steelers' blunders, they had a shot in the fourth quarter. They were down 24-3 in the second quarter, but a Chicago roughing-the-punter penalty seemed to spark them. Roethlisberger caught fire and led a charge, bringing Pittsburgh to within three. However, Jay Cutler put together a strong drive in the middle of the final period that featured a scramble to move the chains in which he rammed into a Steeler defender. Cutler then found the Earl Bennett in the end zone for a touchdown. The Earl of Bennett was initially ruled out of bounds, but the officials eventually discovered that he impressively tapped his feet in the end zone after looking at the replay.
Cutler's connection with Bennett was his only touchdown. He went 20-of-30 for 159 yards. Cutler made only a couple of bad decisions, one of which was a deep attempt into double coverage on third-and-1 late in the third quarter.
Brandon Marshall (5-52) and Alshon Jeffery (7-51) combined to generate more than half of Cutler's yardage. Martellus Bennett (2-10) disappointed his fantasy owners.
Matt Forte rushed for 87 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries to go along with four catches for 24 receiving yards. It was disappointing to see him lose some goal-line carries to Michael Bush.
As for the Steelers, they seemed to pick up their offensive flow once Jonathan Dwyer took the field. He gained just 39 yards on 12 carries, but his pass-protection skills gave Roethlisberger a chance in the pocket that he didn't enjoy when Jones (7-34) joined him.
Roethlisberger finished 26-of-41 for 406 yards and two touchdowns. Those are great numbers - he had a number of great, downfield strikes - but he simply made too many terrible mistakes to call it a good performance. The four turnovers were brutal. He also missed some throws, including an open Emmanuel Sanders deep downfield in the first quarter.
Both of Roethlisberger's scores went to Antonio Brown, who had a monstrous performance. He snagged nine balls for 196 yards and the two touchdowns, one of which was an amazing, one-handed grab. Heath Miller (3-35) was on and off the field in his debut.
Some terrible news for the Chicago stop unit: Stud defensive tackle Henry Melton was carted off with what looked like a serious knee injury. He's one of the top defenders on the team, so his absence will be huge.
Broncos 37, Raiders 21
Steve Young called this Peyton Manning performance a "clinic." That's exactly what it was. Manning was surgical, misfiring on just five throws. He went 32-of-37 for 374 yards and three touchdowns. His only mistake was a strip-sack by stud defensive end Lamarr Houston, who beat left tackle Ryan Clady's backup, but outside of that, Manning pretty much did everything he wanted to. Had the Broncos not been guilty of some holding penalties in the first half, Denver could've posted 50 points.
With Manning's three scores, he now has more touchdown passes than any quarterback in NFL history through three weeks (12), breaking Tom Brady's mark of 11.
Manning's touchdowns went to Eric Decker (8-133), Wes Welker (7-84) and Julius Thomas (3-37). Demaryius Thomas didn't find the end zone, but he managed to haul in 10 passes for 94 yards.
With the Raiders' defense completely reeling, the Broncos were able to trip them up with some nice runs. The three Denver backs combined for 166 rushing yards on 32 carries. Ronnie Hillman (9-66) found the end zone and broke a 19-yard gain. Knowshon Moreno (12-39) handled most of the workload early. Denver fed Montee Ball late (11-61) when the game was out of hand, but he disappointed the coaching staff with a lost fumble that set up a late Oakland touchdown. Ball isn't going to see the field much in significant action if the team doesn't trust him with pass protection and ball security.
We all expected Manning to torch the hapless Oakland defense, but Terrelle Pryor was a pleasant surprise. The offense started slowly - the team had 18 net yards on the first three drives - but it wasn't Pryor's fault; a hold, an offensive pass interference and two drops disrupted whatever the Raiders were trying to do.
Pryor got into a groove after that, finishing 19-of-28 for 281 yards and a touchdown. He also scrambled four times for 36 rushing yards. Pryor made several nice throws and didn't turn the ball over against the first solid defense he's ever battled in the NFL. Unfortunately, he suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter.
Pryor's sole touchdown was a 73-yarder to Denarius Moore (6-124). Moore caught the pass about 25 yards downfield, but two Denver defensive backs collided to help spring Moore free.
Darren McFadden couldn't find any sort of running room; he was limited to nine yards on 12 carries. However, he actually had a nice fantasy performance because he was involved in two touchdowns. He rushed for one at the very end of the game, and he earlier tossed a score on a trick play to Marcel Reece (4 catches, 45 yards).
Two injuries of note for the Broncos: Cornerback Tony Carter and safety Duke Ihenacho suffered ankle issues and had to leave the contest.
For more thoughts, check out my updated NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.