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NFL Game Recaps: Week 3, 2020
Dolphins 31, Jaguars 13
Gardner Minshew was the quarterback who entered this game getting all the hype, but Ryan Fitzpatrick didn't get the memo. In the end, we finally have our answer: The beard is better than the mustache.
Fitzpatrick was on fire to start the game, torching Jacksonville's secondary mercilessly. He completed his first dozen passes and ultimately misfired just twice on his 20 attempts. Fitzpatrick went 18-of-20 for 160 yards and two touchdowns. He also did some damage on the ground, scrambling six times for 39 yards and another score. For good measure, Fitzpatrick also caught a pass that was batted at the line of scrimmage.
As great as Fitzpatrick's stats were in this game, they could've been even better. Fitzpatrick nearly threw two more touchdowms, as a pair of his teammates - DeVante Parker, Mike Gesicki - drew interference flags in the end zone. This performance needs to be taken with a grain of salt because Jacksonville's defense is a skeleton crew of what it once was as a result of the tanking, but Fitzpatrick was great in this contest.
Fitzpatrick's touchdowns went to Gesicki (1-15) and Preston Williams (2-7). Gesicki, as mentioned, could've scored twice, but a Jacksonville defender committed a penalty to prevent that from happening. Parker didn't find the end zone, but he led the team in receiving with five catches for 69 yards.
Myles Gaskin continued to handle the majority of the workload for the Dolphins. Gaskin didn't find much room on the ground - 22 carries, 66 yards - but he was solid as a receiver out of the backfield, catching five passes for 29 receiving yards.
As for Minshew, the mustachioed quarterback played well in the first two weeks, making many wonder if his improved play would deter the Jaguars from selecting Trevor Lawrence, which I no longer have happening in my 2021 NFL Mock Draft.
However, Minshew was a major disappointment against a pedestrian Miami defense that was missing one of its star cornerbacks. He had a nice drive in the opening quarter, but that was it. Minshew was especially brutal in the second half, failing to complete a pass longer than 10 yards until a couple of minutes were remaining.
Minshew had some misleading stats as a result of garbage time. He finished 30-of-42 for 275 yards and an interception in desperation mode. While the pick was irrelevant because the game was already out of hand, Minshew could have easily thrown several more interceptions. One potential pick nearly occurred when he irresponsibly launched a bomb into triple coverage in the opening half. Minshew then had a possible interception dropped in the red zone. Making matters worse, Minshew lost a fumble on a strip-sack. The verb in that previous sentence would properly describe Minshew in this game: lost. He appeared befuddled by Brian Flores' scheme.
The Minshew bandwagon may not be completely derailed in the wake of this defeat, but it certainly blew a tire. It should be noted that Minshew missed top receiver D.J. Chark, but he needed to be better in this game for the Jaguars to improve to 2-1.
Like Minshew, fourth-string running back James Robinson impressed in the first two weeks of the season. While Minshew struggled in this contest, Robinson continued to thrive. He didn't get much of an opportunity to carry the ball because of the constant deficit - 11 carries, 46 yards - but he scored twice and was a monster as a receiver out of the backfield. He caught six passes for 83 yards, as he was able to elude defenders with ease. Robinson has shown promise and could be the starting running back heading into 2021.
With Chark out, Jacksonville's leader in receiving yardage not named Robinson was Keelan Cole, who caught four balls for 43 yards. Unfortunately, Cole appeared to suffer a concussion in the fourth quarter. Laviska Shenault, meanwhile, caught five passes for 33 yards. He made a great catch in between traffic to convert an early third down.
Bears 30, Falcons 26
We may have finally witnessed the end of the Mitchell Trubisky era in Chicago. Trubisky had a stellar matchup entering this game, but was an utter disaster. He was nearly picked on the initial drive and then fumbled, but was lucky to recover. There were stalled drives in the red zone throughout the opening half, but nothing terrible happened until the beginning of the third quarter. Trubisky threw an inaccurate pass where he completely misread a zone defense. The pass was easily intercepted, allowing the Falcons to convert the give-away into a score to give them a 26-10 lead.
That was the final pass Trubisky threw in this affair. He finished the afternoon 13-of-22 for 128 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Trubisky can only blame himself for the benching. He hasn't learned to read defenses, and he constantly forgets to use his best attribute, his legs. He scrambled only once, which he turned into a 45-yard scamper that led to a touchdown. If Trubisky were smarter, he would've established himself as a dual threat. Instead, he desired to become a pure pocket passer, and he has paid the price.
Nick Foles stepped in for Trubisky on the second drive following intermission, and the offense looked much crisper with him under center. The Bears went down the field and appeared to score a touchdown, but suffered some bad luck when cornerback Darqueze Dennard wrestled away a potential touchdown from Allen Robinson. Another replay review wiped out an apparent Anthony Miller touchdown. It looked like a Foles-led comeback would fall short, but Atlanta's defense proved to be epically horrific.
The Falcons, once again, embarrassed themselves by blowing a double-digit lead, this time allowing the Bears to come back from down 26-10. Foles scored 20 unanswered points, and then the defense came up big on one final gasp by the Falcons, as a Matt Ryan overthrow was intercepted.
Foles finished 16-of-29 for 188 yards, three touchdowns and an unlucky interception. There is no denying that Foles is infinitely better than Trubisky. The Bears can now move forward with a real quarterback under center, one who has proven that he can win a Super Bowl with a great supporting cast.
Foles obviously has some dynamic receivers, as Robinson caught 10 of his 13 targets for 123 yards and a touchdown. He was a replay review away from a second score. Jimmy Graham (6-60) found the end zone twice, while the same can nearly be said for Miller (2-41).
The dark cloud over this comeback victory for the Bears was that Tarik Cohen suffered a torn ACL on a punt return. David Montgomery's workload will increase as a result. Montgomery didn't get to do much because of the constant deficit, as he rushed for only 45 yards on 14 carries.
As for the Falcons, Ryan made some terrific throws in this contest, particularly in the opening half. However, Ryan had a severe meltdown in the second half, going just 8-of-20 for 95 yards and a pick. He completed half of his passes overall, going 19-of-38 for 238 yards, one touchdown and an interception. He was also guilty of a lost fumble on a strip-sack, but a roughing-the-passer penalty negated that.
Ryan didn't have Julio Jones at his disposal, which might explain the poor performance (outside of the tough matchup.) It also didn't help that the Falcons lost Justin Gage (2-26) to a concussion. Calvin Ridley (5-110) was Ryan's only reliable target.
Todd Gurley ran well for a change, tallying 80 yards and a touchdown on 14 attempts. Brian Hill (9-58) also sprinted into the end zone on an impressive 35-yard run.
Bills 35, Rams 32
It seemed as though the Rams had all the buzz entering this game, with many NFL analysts proclaiming that they are a top-five team. The Bills didn't like this chatter, as they were determined to prove that they are the real Super Bowl contender of the two in this matchup. They certainly made that statement with appeared to be a very decisive victory over the Rams.
The Bills' defense did a great job of rattling Jared Goff. The former No. 1 overall pick was guilty of an interception thrown into heavy traffic in the second quarter, and he had a dropped pick right after halftime. On the very next play, a fourth-down attempt, Goff had a poor misfire to set up the Bills with great field position. Several plays later, Josh Allen located Stefon Diggs in the end zone to give his team a 28-3 advantage.
This game appeared to be finished, as nothing was going right for the Rams. Yet, everything completely changed at that very moment. Sean McVay had a masterful second half as a play schemer. Goff caught fire with what McVay gave him, as Buffalo's defense suddenly looked lost to try to stop it. Meanwhile, Aaron Donald made life very difficult for Josh Allen, blowing up plays on consecutive drives.
The Rams eventually took a 32-28 lead, as Buffalo's sure victory was able to vanish. Allen, however, had one more chance, and he made the most out of it despite a bizarre play where he was flagged for a face mask while getting hit. Allen survived this to throw a fourth-down pass to Gabriel Davis that fell incomplete. However, a questionable interference flag gave the Bills another chance, and Allen capitalized with the game-winning touchdown to Tyler Kroft with 15 seconds remaining.
Allen had a terrific afternoon despite some bogged-down drives in the second half as a result of Donald's disruption. He finished 24-of-33 for 311 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. He ran in an fifth score on four scrambles for eight rushing yards. As I've been writing, it's very important that Allen sees great success like this while not scrambling, as it shows a progression in his passing ability. Allen has certainly improved by leaps and bounds. If he continues to perform at this level, the Bills can certainly win the Super Bowl this year.
Allen's top target in this game wasn't Diggs for a change, though Diggs still had a nice game, catching four passes for 49 yards and a touchdown despite some tough coverage. Allen threw most to Cole Beasley, who hauled in six balls for exactly 100 yards. Meanwhile, John Brown didn't catch a single pass because of a calf injury.
With Zack Moss out, Devin Singletary handled most of the workload. Singletary did well, rushing for 71 yards on 13 carries and catching four passes for 50 receiving yards. However, Singletary just missed out on a huge game, as he was tackled just shy of the goal line on three occasions.
The Rams got a better performance out of their starting running back, as second-year Darrell Henderson is finally coming to life. Henderson ripped through Buffalo's defense, accumulating 114 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Malcolm Brown (7-19) was an afterthought.
Goff finished 23-of-32 for 321 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He struggled mightily early, but McVay's great scheming gave him an opportunity to generate what almost turned into an amazing comeback.
Goff threw a pair of touchdowns to each of Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. Kupp snatched nine of his 10 targets for 107 yards, while Woods secured five of his six targets for 74 yards.
Browns 34, Redskins 20
This was a battle of quarterbacks who tried to commit the most errors. Dwayne Haskins kicked off the festivities by nearly throwing an interception into double coverage, and then Baker Mayfield nearly did the same on a horrible underthrow. It was so bad, in fact, that Odell Beckham Jr. had to bat the pass away from the defensive back. Mayfield was lucky that this wasn't a turnover, while Dwayne Haskins wasn't as fortunate. He heaved an interception on a miserable overthrow, all while staring down his receivers. This set up a touchdown for the Browns on a short field, giving Cleveland a 10-7 lead.
Another Haskins pick set up Cleveland to score once again to go up 17-7. He telegraphed this throw by staring down his receiver for a good five seconds, allowing the Browns came away with an easy turnover. Haskins appeared to improve after that, but yet another interception occurred in the second half when he threw behind his receiver. He was strip-sacked by Myles Garrett on the ensuing drive.
Haskins, who went 21-of-37 for 224 yards, two touchdowns, three interceptions and a lost fumble, still has lots of growing to do. The upside is there, as he had some bright moments in this game, but he's way too raw at the moment. It doesn't seem like he knows how to read a defense, which will be a big obstacle in his progression. It won't be impossible for him to overcome that, but he needs to put in lots of work into film study.
Haskins, at the very least, has a terrific receiver at his disposal, and that is obviously Terry McLaurin, who once again led his team in receiving. McLaurin caught four passes for 83 yards. He didn't score, as Dontrelle Inman (3-38) did all of that.
Antonio Gibson had some nice runs, finishing with 49 yards and a touchdown on just nine carries. However, he was guilty of a blunder when he fumbled the ball at midfield just prior to halftime. He's very lucky there wasn't any time left on the clock for the Browns to take advantage of another turnover.
The Browns had better luck running the ball, as Nick Chubb rumbled for 108 yards and two touchdowns on only 19 carries. Kareem Hunt didn't do as much on the ground - 16 carries, 46 yards - but he caught two passes for 18 receiving yards and a touchdown. Hunt also made an amazing one-handed reception on a pass thrown behind him.
Mayfield finished 16-of-23 for 156 yards and two touchdowns. He was fortunate for two reasons: one, that his horrible pass was batted away by his teammate, and two, Chase Young left the game early with a groin injury. The Browns weren't doing much offensively to start the afternoon, but they had much more success moving the chains when Young was knocked out of the contest.
Considering the great matchup, Beckham was a major disappointment with four catches for 59 yards, though he was able to save Mayfield from a sure interception. Jarvis Landry (4-36) also struggled.
Titans 31, Vikings 30
It did not seem as though the Titans would be improving to 3-0 for most of the afternoon. Ryan Tannehill made mistakes throughout the contest, beginning when he missed Jonnu Smith for a big gain and then threw an interception when he didn't see Harrison Smith. He also allowed a snap to fly right by him, resulting in a huge loss. The offense was ineffective throughout the opening half, as the Vikings averaged nearly two more yards per play than Tennessee. Making matters worse, Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan was knocked out with an injury.
The Vikings ultimately established a 24-12 lead, but things began unraveling for them. The beleaguered Kirk Cousins should have been pick-sixed on a miscommunication with his receiver, though Jadeveon Clowney's penalty negated the return. Still, it gave the Titans some life. They had one final chance at the end that was nearly ruined by a potential interception that was dropped. This set up a Stephen Gostkowski 55-yard game-winning field goal, which the long-time Patriot converted.
This was an ugly game for Tannehill, but he still found a way to win. Tannehill finished 23-of-37 for 321 yards and an interception. He should've been picked on several other occasions. That said, it wasn't all negative for Tannehill, as he converted a couple of deep bombs to Khalif Raymond, who led the team with three catches for 118 yards.
Elsewhere in the Tennessee receiving corps, Corey Davis caught five passes for 69 yards, while Jonnu Smith (5-61) wasn't too far behind. A.J. Brown's return will help immensely.
Derrick Henry often doesn't do much early in the season, but he put his team on his back in this game despite the double-digit deficit after intermission. Henry rumbled for 119 yards and two touchdowns on 26 attempts.
Dalvin Cook also had a huge performance. Cook outgained Henry, as he accumulated 181 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. The Titans had no answer for Cook - outside of forcing a fumbe in the opening quarter to set up a field goal - which makes it odd that the Vikings blew a double-digit lead in the second half.
Cousins had a nice fantasy day, as he went 16-of-27 for 251 yards, three touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. However, Cousins blew it with the aforementioned pick, though his second interception was a desperation heave at the end of regulation. Cousins always seems to be good for bone-headed plays at inopportune moments, and his near-pick-six was one of them.
The silver lining for the Vikings, who are now 0-3, is that they appear to have a huge stud in Justin Jefferson. The first-round rookie had a breakout game after playing behind Olabisi Johnson for the first two weeks. Jefferson led the team in receiving, catching seven of his nine targets for a ridiculous 175 yards and a touchdown. This includes a 32-yard reception down the sideline in which he made a terrific adjustment to make the catch over the defender. His next deep reception was a 76-yard tuchdown bomb in which Jefferson dodged two defenders to run into the end zone, prompting the FOX color analyst to say, "He has some mad, mad skills." It goes without saying that Jefferson should be owned in every fantasy format.
Elsewhere in the receiving corps, Adam Thielen also found the end zone, but he caught just three passes for 29 yards otherwise. Kyle Rudolph (2-11) also scored a touchdown.
Patriots 36, Raiders 20
CBS color analyst Tony Romo said on this telecast that he expected this game to be the quickest of all the contests in the early window because both teams would be able to run frequently and convert short passes. That was hardly the case, as the Patriots and Raiders committed blunders in the opening half. For example, Cam Newton took a bad sack on a third down in the opening quarter, only to see Josh Jacobs lose a fumble in the red zone on an ensuing drive. The Patriots, however, could not take advantage of this because Newton threw an interception as a result of failing to see Johnathan Abram. Derek Carr returned the favor with a strip-sack, thanks to heavy pressure from Chase Winovich.
Save for the closing drive of the opening half, the Raiders couldn't really do much offensively, especially when reaching New England territory, while the Patriots improved their efficiency as the afternoon progressed. They were able to blow open what was just a 13-10 margin at the half with a 16-point victory.
Newton, despite the early mistakes, did well to close out the game. He misfired just twice after halftime, ultimately finishing 17-of-28 for 162 yards, one touchdown and the pick. He didn't have much success on the ground - nine scrambles, 27 rushing yards - so credit the Raider defense for at least limiting that.
While Newton didn't run well, the Patriot backs had plenty of success moving the chains. Sony Michel led the way with 117 yards on just nine carries, thanks to a 48-yard burst late in the afternoon. Michel didn't score, but Rex Burkhead did, finding the end zone thrice. He rushed for 49 yards on just six attempts, and he caught a team-leading seven passes for 49 receiving yards. Meanwhile, J.J. Taylor gained 43 yards on 11 attempts.
Aside from Burkhead, no Patriot logged more than 34 receiving yards, as Newton spent the majority of the afternoon throwing to his running backs. N'Keal Harry led the way with two grabs for 34 yards.
Derek Carr, meanwhile, posted some great numbers, but most of that came in garbage time. He went 24-of-32 for 261 yards and two touchdowns, but he was barely over the century mark at intermission. Don't blame Carr for this, as he had a very difficult matchup on a short week. That said, Carr was very fortunate not to be intercepted on several occasions.
Carr's favorite receiver with Henry Ruggs out was Hunter Renfrow, who caught six passes for 84 yards and a touchdown. Renfrow nearly scored twice, but a potential second touchdown was wiped out by replay review. Meanwhile, the Monday night hero, Darren Waller, was completely erased by Bill Belichick. Waller caught just two passes for nine yards. In fact, the first time Carr even threw to Waller was the third quarter, and the pass was nearly intercepted on a deflection.
Jacobs, who was guilty of the early fumble, managed 71 yards on 16 carries - numbers that weren't that bad considering the second-half deficit.
Bengals 23, Eagles 23
I hate ties, and I think they should be abolished in the NFL, but if there was ever a game that deserved to tie, it was this.
Both the Bengals and Eagles were miserable offensively throughout the afternoon, as incompetence was abound everywhere. Ultimately, both teams waved the white flag, conceding a draw at the end of overtime when Philadelphia punted and Cincinnat ran out the clock. This occurred after the Eagles had a 59-yard field goal attempt thwarted by a false start. Earlier in overtime, another field goal try was negated by more offensive line penalties, and even earlier than that in the extra session, Carson Wentz nearly threw an interception that was dropped.
This was the type of afternoon it was for the Eagles. The Bengals also made blunders, but you'd expect as much from a rebuilding team with a rookie quarterback under center. The Eagles, conversely, were expected to compete for the division this year, yet they've been one of the worst teams in the NFL.
Carson Wentz has struggled mightily. You couldn't really blame him for the loss to the Redskins in the opener because of the offensive line issues, but he should have been better since, especially against the Bengals' woeful defense. Yet, Wentz just isn't seeing the field well. For example, he had a receiver open for a potential touchdown, but didn't throw the ball, opting to scramble for a couple of yards instead. He then took a bad sack two plays later. Wentz went down on another bad sack because he held on to the ball too long just prior to halftime, and later in the game, he threw an interception on what should've been a back-shoulder throw to Zach Ertz, yet he threw it to the wrong shoulder, and the defender was able to out-fight Ertz for the pick. If all that wasn't enough, Wentz had Miles Sanders wide open deep downfield for a touchdown, but he overshot him by a mile.
Wentz finished 29-of-47 for 225 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions to go along with nine scrambles for 65 rushing yards and a score on the ground. He could've been picked on other occasions as well. It's difficult to say what has happened to Wentz. He was once an MVP candidate, but he has regressed miserably since. The offensive line is still a problem - especially in the wake of Jason Peters' injury in overtime - but Wentz should be playing much better than this.
Joe Burrow, conversely, did some good things in this contest despite some poor pass protection. He went 31-of-44 for 312 yards and two touchdowns. He led some great drives, but also made some errors, including one occasion in which he had Auden Tate open for a first down, but didn't throw the ball. Burrow got hurt in the third quarter, but he missed just one play.
Burrow had a mixed game overall, but suffered some bad luck. For instance, he completed one 20-yard pass where he spun out of three potential sacks. The play was reversed because of a penalty, but it was still an amazing play. Burrow also found Tee Higgins for a nice gain down the sideline in overtime, but a holding penalty negated it. Burrow was very close to leading an upset on the road. He'll be much better eventually with more experience and presumably an improved offensive line.
Of all the skill players, Tyler Boyd was most productive, as he caught 10 of his 13 targets for 125 yards. A.J. Green was a disappointment once again, snatching just five passes for 36 yards. Rookie Tee Higgins (5-40) caught two touchdowns and saw nine targets in the process.
Joe Mixon didn't find much running room, gaining only 49 yards on 17 carries. Conversely, Sanders was more effective - 18 carries, 95 yards - yet didn't get much more work than Mixon for some reason. Sanders also caught four passes for 12 receiving yards, but could've caught that aforementioned deep touchdown had Wentz not overthrown him by a country mile.
DeSean Jackson wasn't on the field late in the game because of a hamstring injury. It's not like the anti-Semite was doing much, as he caught just two passes for 11 yards. Instead, Greg Ward did most of the damage, catching eight passes for 72 yards and a touchdown. Zach Ertz (7-70) wasn't too far behind, as he handled all of the tight end workload because Dallas Goedert (1-7) also left the game early with an injury. Ertz dropped a pass in the second quarter, which prevented him from nearing the century mark. However, he made up for it later with a great one-handed catch for a gain of about 12.
Steelers 28, Texans 21
For a while, it seemed as though the Steelers would suffer an upset at the hands of the Texans. Houston moved the ball quite well throughout the opening half, averaging seven yards per play. Deshaun Watson was unstoppable. He made some spectacular plays, including one instance in which he somehow escaped three potential sacks on a third-and-9 and then found a receiver for a first down to set up a first-and-goal. David Johnson scored a touchdown on the very next play to give the Texans a 14-3 lead.
It looked like the Texans would run away with this game, but they were outscored 25-7 the rest of the way. Things melted down for Watson in the second half, as Pittsburgh's defense proved to be too much. Watson completed just five passes after intermission. That's right: just five passes. He also threw an interception where he irresponsibly heaved the ball way back across his body.
Watson finished 19-of-27 for 264 yards, two touchdowns and the pick. It was a tale of two halves for Watson, but the overall story is the same: Watson's supporting cast and coaching staff mostly sucks.
Meanwhile, the Steelers were unstoppable in the second half. They sat on the ball for what seemed like an eternity, and Ben Roethlisberger and all of his weapons performed at a high level.
Roethlisberger went 23-of-36 for 237 yards and two touchdowns. Not included in this stat line are a couple of deep passes to Chase Claypool and JuJu Smith-Schuster that were ruled pass interferences. Roethlisberger was able to help the Steelers win the time of possession by nearly 14 minutes.
James Conner ripped right through a Houston defense that hasn't been able to stop the run at all this year. He tallied 109 yards and a touchdown on just 18 carries to go along with four catches for 40 receiving yards. Benny Snell saw some work - seven carries, 11 yards - but wasn't much of a factor.
Eric Ebron (5-52) and Smith-Schuster (4-43) were the other Steeler play-makers who found the end zone. They also led the team in receiving. Smith-Schuster made an incredible play in the opening half when he caught a pass on third down and made a back flip upon contact to move the chains.
Diontae Johnson, meanwhile, had seen tons of targets heading into this game, but that was far from the case in this contest. He saw just two balls go his way, and he failed to come up with either of them. He missed the second half of this game with a concussion.
As for Houston's receiving corps, Randall Cobb (4-95) and Will Fuller (4-54) led the team in receiving and also scored touchdowns. They were the only Texans with more than 35 receiving yards, as Brandin Cooks (3-23) did very little.
There was hardly any running room for David Johnson in this contest. He mustered only 23 yards on 13 carries, though he managed to find the end zone to salvage his fantasy day. Still, it's a big disappointment, as Bill O'Brien's DeAndre Hopkins trade is not looking too hot.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The officials did a great job of dicking over the Giants in this game. When it was still a 6-6 affair, the officials were quick to whistle dead a play in which Nick Mullens lost a fumble, and then they called the Giants for an illegal contact on a third-and-22 to give the 49ers a first down and an eventual touchdown. Later, it was very obvious that Jones converted a first down on a sneak, but the officials ruled him short. There was a $500,000 bet placed on the Giants earlier this week, so I wonder if someone told the refs to make sure the 49ers would win by more than four.
The 49ers cruised over the hapless Giants despite being without starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and star defensive end Nick Bosa. San Francisco's backup quarterback, Nick Mullens, ripped up the vulnerable New York defense, and New York's offense was impotent without Saquon Barkley.
On the opening drive of the game, Mullens moved the ball into Giants territory to set up a Robbie Gould field goal. The Giants soon fumbled a pitch on an end-around that San Francisco's Dion Jordan recovered near midfield, which would end up gifting the 49ers another field goal.
New York got moving when Daniel Jones took a read-option run for about 20 yards, which set up a 52-yard field goal for Graham Gano. A back-shoulder pass to Darius Slayton set up a second three-spot to tie the game at six all. Mullens spread the ball around late in the first half before Jerick McKinnon darted into end zone from 10 yards. Fred Warner promptly picked off Jones at New York's 32-yard line with 55 seconds remaining in the half. The 49ers settled for a field goal and a 16-6 lead at intermission.
To open the third quarter, Jones led a drive using his legs and converted a fourth-and-2, but the drive stalled and the Giants had to settle, once again, for a Gano field goal. The 49ers continued to out-execute near the end zone, as Mullen connected with Brandon Aiyuk for a few receptions and Aiyuk ran the ball into the end zone from 19 yards out to give San Francisco a 23-9 lead. The 49ers scored again when Jeff Wilson Jr. took a screen pass into the end zone 19 yards out early in the fourth quarter, and even though the 49ers botched the extra point, it didn't matter as they had the win locked up at 29-9.
Mullens was 25-of-36 for 343 yards with a touchdown pass.
McKinnon was San Francisco's leading rusher with 14 carries for 38 yards and a touchdown, plus caught three passes for 39 yards. Wilson snagged three passes for 54 yards and a score, plus took 12 carries for 15 yards and a touchdown.
Aiyuk caught five passes for 70 yards with three carries for 31 yards and a touchdown.
Jones was 17-of-32 for 179 yards with an interception. He ran for 49 yards on five carries and was the Giants' leading rusher. Jones played better than the numbers illustrate, as his team gave him zero support, lacking any semblance of a rushing attack or receiving weapons.
Devonta Freeman had 10 yards on five carries in his debut with the Giants.
Slayton was New York's leading receiver with three receptions for 53 yards.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Seeing how the Colts have dominated the past two weeks, and how the Jaguars lost at home to the Dolphins, I need to ask: How the hell did the Colts lose to the Jaguars in Week 1!?
The Jets did their best to emphatically prove that they are the worst team in the NFL this season. They were no challenge for the Colts, whose defense dominated Sam Darnold into two pick-sixes, a safety, and an afternoon of pathetic football. Philip Rivers cruised over the Jets defense, and it looked like New York had quit before halftime.
Xavier Rhodes picked off Darnold on the opening drive of the game before racing down the sideline 43 yards for a touchdown. Darnold responded with a drive that moved across midfield and used his feet to convert a third-and-6. He continued to his feet to make plays, running away from pressure and throwing a bullet to Braxton Berrios for a 16-yard touchdown.
It was all the Colts after that, as they responded with a good drive that featured Rivers making a few completions and Jonathan Taylor running well. Rivers closed out the drive by tossing his 400the career touchdown pass; this one went to tight end Mo Allie-Cox. On the next drive, Rivers found a wide open Allie-Cox downfield, and he rumbled for a 46-yard gain, but the Colts settled for a field goal and a 17-7 lead.
Darnold responded by getting the ball to midfield before finding Berrios wide open for a 28-yard completion after a bump knocked the cornerback to the ground. Darnold, however, then misread the defense and fired an interception to Rhodes in the end zone to kill the drive. The Colts took their 17-7 lead into the locker room.
The Colts got on the move in the third quarter thanks to runs by Taylor and some passes by Rivers. On fourth-and-goal, Taylor charged into the end zone to put the Colts up by 17.
On the final play of the third quarter, Darnold threw an awful pass underpressure while not on the same page as his receivers. The pass went right to the midsection of T.J. Carrie, who returned the interception 47 yards for a touchdown, and the blowout was on at 31-7. Justin Houston later sacked Darnold in the end zone for a safety.
Rivers completed 17-of-21 passes for 217 yards with a touchdown.
Taylor ran for 59 yards on 13 carries with a touchdown.
T.Y. Hilton (3-52) and Mo Alie-Cox (3-50-1) were Indianapolis' leading receivers.
Darnold was 17-of-29 for 168 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions.
Gore ran for 57 yards on 15 carries.
Berrios led the Jets in receiving with four receptions for 64 yards and a touchdown.
Panthers 21, Chargers 16
Justin Herbert was incredibly inconsistent at Oregon. It's only been two games for him in the NFL, but we've already seen that maddening inconsistency at the professional level. Herbert was terrific in his debut against the Chiefs, but in a much easier matchup against the Panthers, he struggled immensely.
Herbert threw just one interception, but he was lucky he didn't have multiple picks. His actual interception occurred when he didn't see cornerback Donte Jackson in coverage. Herbert then was very fortunate that a defender dropped what seemed to be a sure pick-six. There were numerous other blunders along the way, including:
- A bad sack on the opening drive as a result of holding the ball too long.
- A strip-sack on the ensuing possession that the Panthers recovered in Charger territory.
- A near-strip sack occurred when Herbert was hit on the arm prior to releasing the football.
- An overthrow of Keenan Allen in the end zone.
Despite all of this, Herbert had one final chance at the very end because the Panthers settled for too many field goals. Herbert, however, didn't seem to have a sense for time, as he repeatedly checked down passes to his teammates, who were tackled inbounds. Herbert also didn't seem to know that he had to spike the ball to stop the clock, opting to run hurried plays instead. The 2-minute drill was a disaster.
Herbert finished with decent numbers - 35-of-49, 330 yards, one touchdown, one interception - but much of that came in garbage time, as the Chargers were faced with a constant deficit. It's clear that Herbert is far from a finished product, though the upside is certainly apparent, as Herbert made some great throws in this game, including a tight pass through a window to Allen for a touchdown.
Despite Herbert's struggles, Allen posted some terrific stats. He caught 13 of his 19 targets - yes, 19 targets - for 132 yards and a touchdown. His only mistake was a drop on the opening drive. Mike Williams, conversely, was an afterthought with his one catch for 17 yards, though a deep reception of his was wiped out by a ticky-tack offensive pass interference. Hunter Henry (5-50) dropped a pass on the final drive.
Excluding Allen, Austin Ekeler saw the most targets on the Chargers, as he snared all 11 targets for 84 receiving yards. He also did well as a runner, rushing for 59 yards and a touchdown on 12 attempts. Joshua Kelley (8-43) lost a fumble in the red zone during the second quarter, which really gave the Panthers some great momentum.
The Panthers didn't have nearly as much success on the ground. Mike Davis handled the majority of the workload in Christian McCaffrey's absence, and he rushed for just 46 yards on 13 carries. However, he did his best McCaffrey impression as a receiver out of the backfield, catching eight balls for 45 receiving yards and a touchdown, which came after a Charger penalty on special teams gave Carolina a fresh set of downs in the red zone.
Davis was behind just D.J. Moore (2-65) and Robby Anderson (5-55) on the receiving list. Curtis Samuel was also involved, as he caught four balls for 45 yards.
Teddy Bridgewater did a great job of managing this game, as he was very efficient despite the difficult matchup. The Chargers put the clamps on Patrick Mahomes, but seemed more lethargic in this contest. This allowed Bridgewater to complete 22-of-28 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown. One of his incompletions was a drop by tight end Ian Thomas.
Buccaneers 28, Broncos 10
The Buccaneers' blowout loss at New Orleans feels like so long ago. Tampa Bay dominated the Panthers last week and crushed the Broncos even more severely to improve to 2-1.
Tampa's special teams gave the squad momentum to begin this game, as a blocked punt on the opening drive set up a Chris Godwin touchdown to give the Buccaneers a quick 7-0 lead. Scotty Miller then caught a Tom Brady bomb to set up another trip to the end zone. The defense took its turn later, opening this game even further by picking off Jeff Driskel. The Denver backup was hit upon release by Tampa's stellar defensive line, so he never had a chance.
Brady, meanwhile, played a good game against a tough defense. He went 25-of-38 for 297 yards and three touchdowns. His numbers would've been much better had the Broncos been able to be more competitive to keep this game closer. Brady moved the chains consistently, converting six third downs in a row at one point. He would have gotten to seven had Mike Evans not dropped a pass.
Godwin, as mentioned, scored Tampa's first touchdown, and he ultimately caught five balls for 64 yards, finishing only behind Miller (3-83). Godwin, however, was knocked out with a hamstring injury. With Godwin out, it was Evans who found the end zone twice after that. Evans, who dropped a pass on a third down, completed the game with a very unusual stat line, catching two passes for two yards and two touchdowns. This almost rivals Jerome Bettis' line of five carries, one yard, three touchdowns that he achieved against the Raiders 16 years ago.
The Tampa tight ends did a good job of keeping the chains moving against a defense that struggles against the position. Rob Gronkowski snatched six passes for 48 yards and nearly caught a touchdown, but failed to do so because Brady overthrew him. O.J. Howard reeled in three balls for 49 yards. His highlight was a deep catch made in a tight window, as Howard made the reception right over linebacker Josey Jewell's arms as he was drawing an interference flag.
It was disappointing to see Leonard Fournette fail to eat more into Ronald Jones' workload. Jones had nearly double the number of carries, as his 13 attempts went for 53 yards, while Leonard Fournette had just seven tries that he turned into 15 yards. He fumbled the ball on an exchange with Brady, but managed to recover it.
The Broncos couldn't run the ball nearly as well, as the Buccaneers have the best ground defense in the NFL. Melvin Gordon handled the entire workload, yet could only muster 26 yards on eight carries.
Driskel understandably struggled in a tough matchup. When he wasn't running for his life, he was launching inaccurate passes. For instance, he completely missed Gordon in the flat and then overshot Jerry Jeudy on a deep throw on the very next play. Driskel finished 17-of-30 for 176 yards, one touchdown and the aforementioned interception. He also took a safety in the third quarter. Driskel nearly tossed two other potential picks that were dropped. He telegraphed both passes, but was lucky the Buccaneers dropped the ball each time.
Jeudy and Noah Fant saw 19 combined targets, as they led the Broncos in receiving. Jeudy paced the way with five grabs for 55 yards, while Fant's five receptions went for 46 yards. Fant, however, really struggled to block and hurt his team with two drops. He had a potential catch of 20 yards go awry because Driskel overthrew him badly.
Lions 26, Cardinals 23
Kyler Murray was in MVP consideration entering this game, but that campaign came to an abrupt halt. Murray struggled in this game, as we all were reminded that Murray is just a second-year quarterback who still has room for improvement.
Murray threw three interceptions in this game, though the first one wasn't quite his fault. The initial pick occurred because Murray was hit as he released the ball. However, the other two interceptions were all on Murray. The second one was a result of Jamie Collins jumping the route, as he read Murray's eyes perfectly. Jeff Okudah then did the same thing as Collins on the third interception, taking advantage of Murray making a mistake by throwing late across his body. Okudah stepped in front of DeAndre Hopkins and snatched the pick. Murray nearly committed a fourth pick when he stared down his receiver, but safety Duron Harmon dropped an easy interception.
Murray posted nice fantasy numbers, especially if interceptions don't count in your league. Murray went 23-of-35 for 270 yards, two touchdowns and the trio of picks. He scored a third touchdown on the ground, gaining 29 yards on five scrambles in the process.
Despite the rough game for Murray, Hopkins still posted terrific numbers. He caught 10 of his 12 targets for 137 yards. He also drew a defensive holding penalty. Hopkins didn't score a touchdown, as Murray's two touchdowns were thrown to Andy Isabella (4-47), who was on the field more because of Christian Kirk's injury.
Kenyan Drake rushed for 73 yards on 18 carries. He was outgained by just two yards by Adrian Peterson, who rumbled for 75 yards on 22 attempts. A big chunk of Peterson's production came on a 38-yard burst that featured a dazzling spin move. Peterson didn't do much else, however. The Lions' decision to run Peterson so much is nonsensical. He's reliable, but D'Andre Swift should be getting more of a workload. Instead, Swift didn't log a single carry. His only touch was a 19-yard reception, though there was another potential reception that fell incomplete as a result of Swift not looking for a pass that hit him in the back. Still, the Lions' coaching staff would be under heavy scrutiny had they lost this game.
Matthew Stafford made up for the pedestrian running game, torching Arizona's defense mercilessly. He misfired just nine times, going 22-of-31 for 270 yards and two touchdowns. Stafford looked like a completely different quarterback with Kenny Golladay on the field for the first time this year, though he had some poor incompletions during one of his red-zone trips.
Speaking of Golladay, he led the Lions in receiving with six catches for 57 yards and a touchdown. He made a great play in the fourth quarter when he caught a pass thrown behind him. T.J. Hockenson (4-53) was next on the receiving list, while the other tight end, Jesse James, hauled in a touchdown and robbed a bank while snatching three balls for 28 yards.
Seahawks 38, Cowboys 31
The Seahawks entered this game as one of the perceived best teams in the NFL, while Dallas was completely banged up, with eight starters sidelined. The Seahawks predictably established a 30-15 lead, but the narrative eventually completely flipped. Seattle lost countless players to injury throughout the contest, which made it very difficult to stop the Cowboys and maintain drives. Dallas actually roared back and took a 31-30 lead, but some late heroics by Russell Wilson gave the Seahawks the victory.
Seattle is now 3-0, but there's a very dark cloud over this victory. Countless players suffered injuries, including Jamal Adams, Jordyn Brooks, Ethan Pocic and Mike Iupati. The Seahawks are the best team in the NFC when healthy, but that's not the case at the moment.
While the Seahawks now have tons of injuries to deal with, they'll always have a chance to win any game because of Wilson. The MVP front-runner was phenomenal once again, as he went 27-of-40 for 315 yards and five touchdowns. He also scrambled six times for 22 rushing yards, and he was very clutch on the team's final offensive possession. What's crazy is that Wilson should've had a much better stat line, but D.K. Metcalf had one of the most bone-headed plays you'll ever see. Metcalf caught a 62-yard bomb from Wilson, which would've been a 63-yard touchdown had Metcalf not inexplicably let up and allowed rookie cornerback Trevon Diggs to bat the ball out of his hands, resulting in a touchback.
This gaffe nearly ruined Metcalf's afternoon, but he caught the game-winning touchdown to make amends. He even led the team in receiving with four catches for 110 yards and the score, but his fantasy owners have a right to be disgruntled. Even worse for them, they had to watch Tyler Lockett haul in three touchdowns to go along with his nine grabs for 100 yards.
Another of Seattle's injuries was to running back Chris Carson, who also got hurt when a Dallas defender landed on his knees. Carson rushed for 64 yards on 14 carries.
Ezekiel Elliott didn't get injured like his counterpart, but he had a rough afternoon. He found the end zone once, but was limited to just 34 yards on 14 carries. He also caught six passes for 24 receiving yards. However, Elliott took a safety and dropped three passes, two of which came on consecutive plays. One drop bounced off Elliott's head, so it's fair to wonder if he was mentally focused for this affair.
Dak Prescott made up for Elliott's struggles, though he needed all of Seattle's injuries to thrive. Prescott, stuck in a constant deficit, had to air out the ball 57 times. He completed 37 of those passes to accumulate 472 yards, three touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. One pick wasn't his fault because it occurred at the very end on a desperation throw. That said, Prescott had a sure pick that was dropped. In fact, it popped into the air and into the arms of a Dallas player. With this sort of good luck, it's a wonder that the Cowboys lost this game.
Of Prescott's three touchdowns, only one went to Michael Gallup, Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Dalton Schultz. Amazingly, someone named Cedrick Wilson caught five passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns. Wilson, a sixth-round pick from the 2018 NFL Draft, simply had an outlier performance. He's clearly the fourth receiver, as he's even behind Gallup, who caught six passes for 138 yards and a touchdown. Cooper (9-86) had a strong performance, while Lamb (5-65) was just fine.
Packers 37, Saints 30
It's a different world in 2020. This includes the Saints' usually hectic Superdome, which is dead silent now with just a few fans scattered in the stands. Aaron Rodgers used this to his full advantage, utilizing the hard count to have the Saints jump offsides on numerous occasions, almost as if this game were taking place at Lambeau Field. One such occasion forced a pass interference in the end zone, which ultimately won the game for the Packers.
Rodgers continued to play at the top of his game, shredding the Saints mercilessly despite not having Davante Adams at his disposal. Rodgers went 21-of-32 for 283 yards and three touchdowns. It's scary to think what Rodgers could do with more talent around him. Then again, perhaps he wouldn't be so out for blood as a result of the front office disrespecting him in the 2020 NFL Draft.
With Adams out, Rodgers leaned heavily on Allen Lazard. The young receiver had a huge night, catching six of his eight targets for 146 yards and a touchdown. He also drew an interference flag in the end zone, as the covering defensive back held one of his arms down; otherwise, Lazard would've had an even better stat line. Lazard was almost perfect in this game, with his sole mistake being a drop.
Elsewhere in the receiving corps, Marquez Valdes-Scantling was held in check by Marshon Lattimore, catching just one pass for five yards. Meanwhile, Rodgers' other touchdowns went to tight ends Robert Tonyan (5-50) and Marcedes Lewis (1-18). Lewis' score was highly controversial, as he blatantly pushed off the defensive back. If this were 2019, the play would've been automatically reviewed and overturned.
Aaron Jones just missed out on a big night. He rushed for 69 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries in a very difficult matchup. However, he was tackled inches shy of the goal line in the fourth quarter.
While Jones played well, he was nothing compared to Alvin Kamara. NBC color analyst Cris Collinsworth called Kamara the "best running back in the NFL," and Kamara lived up to the praise. Kamara's rushing numbers weren't anything special - six carries, 58 yards - but what he did as a receiver out of the backfield was just special. Kamara, who caught 13 of his 14 targets for 129 receiving yards and two touchdowns, danced around bewildered Green Bay defenders as if he were Bo Jackson in Tecmo Bowl. If you haven't seen his 52-yard touchdown reception, please stop what you're doing and look it up on YouTube. It was one of the best plays I've ever seen covering the NFL for 21 years.
Despite Kamara's heroics, the Saints came up just a bit short. This was thanks to Drew Brees being on the sideline for a key play. Following a fourth-and-1 stuff on Jones, the Saints took over near midfield with an opportunity to take the lead. However, Taysom Hill was on the field for a trick play, and he promptly fumbled. This set up the Packers with a go-ahead touchdown.
The Hill plays work sometimes, but it's fair to wonder why the Saints bother to take out a Hall of Fame quarterback for these gadget situations. It's not like Brees was playing poorly either; he rebounded nicely from the Monday night debacle, going 29-of-36 for 288 yards and three touchdowns despite not having the services of Michael Thomas.
With Thomas out of the lineup, Emmanuel Sanders led the non-Kamara Saints in receiving with four catches for 56 yards and a touchdown. Tre'Quan Smith, taking a predictable step backward from his Monday night showing, hauled in four passes for 42 yards.
Chiefs 34, Ravens 20
This was billed as the greatest regular-season game of the 2020 campaign, but it did not live up to the hype. The Chiefs showed up and were spectacular, but the Ravens were very underwhelming in comparison.
This sort of disappointment has been a trend for Lamar Jackson. The athletic quarterback can bedazzle weaker opponents, but he hasn't played his best against top competition. That continued in this contest, though Jackson got off to a good start with a 32-yard scramble on the opening drive to set up a field goal. Jackson, however, was strip-sacked by Chris Jones on the ensuing possession. This was the beginning of Jackson's troubles. Jackson suffered a drop from Marquise Brown on third down, then threw behind Mark Andrews on the next drive. He capped off that series by heaving the ball late across the field, resulting in a dropped interception. Jackson then lost a fumble, thanks once again to Jones.
All of this occurred in the opening half. Jackson went into the tunnel 7-of-15 for just 35 yards. He was only marginally better in the second half, as he overthrew Brown for a deep shot and then got away with another potential pick on a drop by the Chiefs. Jackson was also unlucky, with Andrews dropping a touchdown.
Jackson finished a measly 15-of-28 for 97 yards, one touchdown and a lost fumble. He managed to scramble nine times for 83 yards, which was nice, but he also should've been picked on two occasions. Jackson has improved as a passer overall, but this game proved that he still has a long way to go.
Patrick Mahomes, conversely, dominated Baltimore. The Ravens had no answer for him. They repeatedly blitzed him, which is often a losing formula against a smart quarterback. Mahomes is terrific against the blitz, so he was able to beat Baltimore with ease. The way to slow down someone as great as Mahomes is to pressure him heavily with only four players and utilize man coverage underneath. This is what the 49ers did in the Super Bowl, and they would have beaten Mahomes if they could've scored in the fourth quarter. The Ravens couldn't repeat what the 49ers accomplished because they just don't have the pass rushers.
Mahomes ended up with a stellar stat line, going 31-of-42 for 385 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran in a fifth score, scrambling four times for 26 yards. While Jackson is the better runner, Mahomes is the ultimate dual-threat quarterback because he's both excellent as a scrambler and a passer. There's no better quarterback in the NFL, and Russell Wilson is the only one who's remotely close.
All four of Mahomes' passing touchdowns went to different players: Tyreek Hill (5-77), Mecole Hardman (4-81), Anthony Sherman on a flip, and left tackle Eric Fisher on a trick play. Travis Kelce didn't find the end zone, but he managed to lead the Chiefs in receiving with six grabs for 87 yards.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire had a nice performance despite not finding much room on the ground. The Ravens' tough run defense limited him to 64 yards on 20 carries. However, the rookie was dynamic as a receiver out of the backfield, snatching five balls for 70 receiving yards. I don't know where I heard it, but I enjoyed the comparison someone made, likening Edwards-Helaire to Brian Westbrook.
The Ravens have a rookie running back of their own, but he didn't get to do much. J.K. Dobbins actually carried the ball just once, getting six yards out of the deal. He received far less work than Mark Ingram (7-30) and Gus Edwards (4-39). That said, Dobbins managed to lead the team in receiving with four catches for 38 yards.
It seems clear to me that the Ravens should move on from Ingram. The long-time veteran seems washed up, and Baltimore's offense is so much more explosive whenever Dobbins or Edwards is in the backfield.
Excluding Dobbins, Andrews paced the Ravens in receiving, albeit with just three catches for 22 yards. As mentioned earlier, Andrews dropped a touchdown, so his night could've been much better. Brown, who also had a drop, caught just two passes for 13 yards. He would've enjoyed a much better stat line had Jackson not overthrown him for a deep gain.
For more thoughts, check out my updated NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.