NFL Game Recaps: Week 3, 2023

A.J. Brown




NFL Game Recaps of previous weeks and seasons can be found via links at the bottom of the page.


49ers 30, Giants 12
  • The Giants came into this game extremely shorthanded. Not only were they missing Saquon Barkley, but they also didn’t have two offensive linemen available, including All-Pro left tackle Andrew Thomas. This was very problematic against a 49ers pass rush ranked near the top of pressure rate.

    With that in mind, credit the Giants for being competitive for a while. This was just a five-point affair at some point in the third quarter, and San Francisco entered the final frame with a mere eight-point advantage. However, the 49ers’ superior talent and health eventually became prevalent, causing the Giants to suffer a 30-12 defeat.

  • Despite the win, there will be some concern about Brock Purdy and his accuracy in this game. Purdy, who missed two deep touchdowns last week, was off the mark on numerous throws in the opening half. This is what really allowed the Giants to hang around, as Purdy stalled in the red zone one too many times. Purdy finished with great stats – 25-of-37, 310 yards, two touchdowns – but that was more of his dynamic play-makers doing all the work.

    As an example, the 49ers had a touchdown drive in the first half when they converted a third-and-15 and a third-and-13. On those plays, Deebo Samuel and Christian McCaffrey both caught short tosses and zoomed past the bewildered Giants to the first-down marker. George Kittle later did the same thing on a third-and-13. Samuel and Kittle especially did a great job of breaking tackles and carrying defenders.

    Samuel ended up leading all players in receiving with six catches for 129 yards and a touchdown. He got banged up at the end of the game, but seemed OK walking off the field. Kittle was next with seven catches for 90 yards. McCaffrey, meanwhile, hauled in five balls for 34 receiving yards to go with his usual excellent rushing production, 18 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown.

  • As for the Giants, they struggled to sustain drives with their missing key pieces. Their only touchdown came on a short field following a bad punt and a penalty on special teams. Daniel Jones was constantly swarmed by the 49ers, so he had to release the ball quickly. This didn’t work as well as it did for the 49ers because Jones’ receivers are far worse. Jones completed 22-of-32 passes, but for only 137 yards. He also threw an interception, but that came at the end in desperation time on a deflection. It was disappointing to see Jones scramble only twice for five rushing yards.

  • Speaking of Jones’ receivers, Darius Slayton led the group with three catches and 32 yards. Parris Campbell had the most receptions (6), but produced only 24 receiving yards. Darren Waller saw the most targets (7), but caught three passes for 20 yards while drawing an interference flag. Wan’Dale Robinson (4-21) returned to action, but wasn’t very impressive. Jalin Hyatt didn’t log a single target.

  • With Barkley missing, Matt Breida and Gary Brightwell split carries evenly with both getting just four each. Breida outgained Brightwell, 17-5, and he also scored a touchdown. Breida also caught three passes, but accumulated only one receiving yards.


Colts 22, Ravens 19
  • Two weeks ago, the Ravens struggled against the Texans with pressure and ball security. This game echoed that one, as Baltimore made lots of mistakes against another AFC South team. Kenyan Drake lost a fumble in field goal range when the Ravens were up 7-0, and Lamar Jackson also coughed up the ball while trying a pump fake. The second give-away allowed the Colts to take the lead, 10-7.

    The Colts forcing turnovers was just part of the equation to pull the upset. Of course, they needed to operate well offensively without Anthony Richardson. They did so via Zack Moss, who once again looked like the second coming of Edgerrin James despite being a pedestrian player in prior years. Moss rumbled for 122 yards on 30 carries, and he also caught two passes for 23 receiving yards and a touchdown, which came on a wheel route. Moss, however, was stuffed on a fourth-and-1 in overtime, which appeared to give the Ravens a great chance to win on the leg of Justin Tucker. However, Isaiah Likely dropped a pass that would have put Baltimore in field goal range, and the Ravens then failed on fourth down because of a poor officiating moment. There was an obvious interference, but the flag wasn’t thrown. The Colts took over and moved into field goal range themselves, as Matt Gay hit the decisive 53-yard kick.

  • Gardner Minshew did a solid job of managing this game with a clean, turnover-free performance. He only made one blunder where he was strip-sacked because he held the ball too long, negating a scoring opportunity right before halftime. Luckily for him, a teammate recovered the ball. Minshew went 27-of-44 for 227 yards and a touchdown. Minshew made some nifty plays otherwise, like keeping a play alive on a third-and-7 by avoiding pass rushers in the pocket and then completing a pass to a teammate. He also showed great touch on the touchdown pass to Moss.

  • Minshew’s top target was Michael Pittman Jr., who snatched nine passes for 77 yards. He made a deep catch in overtime prior to Moss’ fourth-down stuff. Pittman’s sole mistake was an early dropped pass, but he more than made up for it.

    Elsewhere in the Colts receiving corps, Josh Downs secured eight of his 12 targets for 57 yards. Alec Pierce chipped in with three grabs for 43 yards.

  • As for the Colts, Lamar Jackson had a big rushing performance. He ran 14 times for 101 yards and two touchdowns. He was 22-of-31 for 202 yards as a passer. As mentioned earlier, ball security was an issue. He fumbled three times, recovering twice.

  • Zay Flowers continued to thrive, as he caught eight of his 10 targets for 48 yards. He was followed by Nelson Agholor (4-39) and Mark Andrews (4-35), with the latter having a disappointing performance.

  • The Ravens didn’t have too much success running the ball. Gus Edwards rushed for 51 yards on 11 carries. He lost way too many touches to the ineffective Melvin Gordon (10-32).


  • Browns 27, Titans 3
  • Mike Vrabel has a great track record as an underdog (24-9 against the spread getting three or more), while Kevin Stefanski has lousy production as a favorite (9-19 against the spread). With only that in mind, the Titans looked like a lock to cover, as they would undoubtedly pull the upset or win by 1-3 points to beat the number as 3.5-point underdogs. Instead, Tennessee was outclassed by Cleveland in every regard.

    Offensively, the Titans didn’t stand a chance to move the ball on the Browns. Cleveland has a dominant defensive front that is mostly responsible for the team’s No. 2 defensive EPA rankings. Ryan Tannehill was swarmed in the backfield and often had defenders in his face before he could make his second read. There was one play at the very end of the opening half where Tannehill took a sack as soon as he dropped back in the pocket, as Myles Garrett sacked both the left tackle and Tannehill, which allowed the clock to run out in field goal range. Tannehill took five sacks, as he barely completed half of his passes and eclipsed 100 yards. He went 13-of-25 for 104 yards. He also fumbled the ball on a strip-sack, but Derrick Henry recovered.

    It didn’t get much better defensively, as Tennessee’s woeful secondary allowed Deshaun Watson to look like the 2020 version of himself. Watson misfired just six times, going 27-of-33 for 289 yards and two touchdowns. The Browns, as a result, defeated Tennessee in a blowout.

  • Amari Cooper was also able to benefit from Tennessee’s defensive backfield struggles. He caught seven passes for 116 yards and a touchdown. The thing is, his numbers should’ve been much better. Cooper caught a pass and appeared to take it the distance, but an official blew the play dead because he thought Cooper stepped out of bounds. This turned out not to be the case, so Cooper was screwed out of a long score and was given just a 25-yard reception instead.

  • As far as other Cleveland receivers are concerned, Elijah Moore was highly efficient, converting all nine of his targets, but for only 49 yards. His only mistake was a fumble in field goal range. David Njoku (4-20) didn’t do much.

  • Jerome Ford had a tough matchup versus Tennessee’s stout run defense. He was limited to just 18 yards on 10 carries, but he made up for it with two touchdowns, one on the ground and one as a receiver. Despite the low yardage total, Ford nearly outgained Henry, who mustered only 20 yards on 11 attempts.

  • DeAndre Hopkins made a great 26-yard catch in this game, but didn’t do much otherwise. He caught three passes for 48 yards. He had more than half of Tennessee’s total net yards (94), as Tennessee achieved only six first downs in this very ugly performance.


  • Lions 20, Falcons 3
  • Falcons head coach Arthur Smith is known for utilizing an extremely run-heavy attack. He even used a top-10 draft choice on a running back when he already had a solid player at the position in Tyler Allgeier. He stuck with the run despite being down double digits versus the Packers in Week 2.

    Why, then, did the Falcons fail to run the ball in the second half? This game didn’t get out of hand until the fourth quarter, yet Bijan Robinson and Allgeier combined for just 17 total carries. Robinson had only 14 total touches, and only one in the fourth quarter! It’s not like he was playing poorly, as he had an early gain of 11 where he bounced off a defender. Smith simply refused to run the ball, instead opting Desmond Ridder to air it out 38 times.

    Ridder did not respond well to this increased usage. Despite battling a secondary missing three starters, Ridder was just 21-of-38 for 201 yards. A big problem was Detroit’s pass rush, which put heavy pressure on him throughout the afternoon. He took a whopping seven sacks. He also had some major problems with his accuracy. He overthrew Kyle Pitts on an early attempt, and he later overshot Drake London on a fourth down in the final quarter. He was lucky to have a potential interception dropped as well.

  • The three missing Detroit defensive backs were just a few of many missing players that the Lions had. They were also down two offensive linemen, while there was question about Amon-Ra St. Brown performing well coming off a turf toe injury. St. Brown had just one target after suffering the injury versus Seattle last week. If he wasn’t at full strength, it was going to be difficult for the Lions to move the ball successfully against an improved Atlanta defense.

    Well, no one told St. Brown that he was hurt, apparently. The turf toe was no factor at all, as St. Brown was his usual, dominant self. St. Brown reeled in nine of his 12 targets for 102 yards. His great presence allowed the Lions to keep drives alive, as Jared Goff didn’t see any pressure. Despite the two missing offensive linemen, Goff wasn’t sacked on a single occasion. Thanks to the elite protection, Goff went 22-of-33 for 243 yards, one touchdown and an interception on an overthrow.

    Goff’s touchdown went to Sam LaPorta on a 45-yard reception. LaPorta had a breakout party in this game, catching eight of his 11 targets for 84 yards and a touchdown. He, St. Brown, and Kalif Raymond (4-55) were the only Lions with more than two receiving yards.

  • The Lions promised more work for Jahmyr Gibbs this week. Gibbs was given 17 carries, which he turned into 80 yards. However, he caught only one pass. Still, Gibbs was able to outgain Robinson, who was limited to just 33 yards on 10 carries. Robinson at least caught four balls for 27 receiving yards. Robinson’s low usage was shocking, as the Falcons had Allgeier handle their rare running plays in the fourth quarter.

  • As for the Atlanta receivers, Pitts led the way with five grabs for 41 yards, but would have enjoyed a much better game had Ridder been more accurate. London was a huge disappointment with two grabs for 31 yards. He also missed out on a big play due to Ridder’s incompetence.


  • Dolphins 70, Broncos 20
  • Miami doesn’t have a very good defense, but its offense looks like the most explosive unit in the NFL through three weeks. The Broncos stood no chance, as their pathetic defense was completely steamrolled in this matchup.

    The Dolphins did anything they wanted to offensively, scoring in a wide variety of ways. They did so quickly, as Tyreek Hill reached the end zone on a 54-yard strike on the opening drive. They overcame adversity, with the third touchdown drive seeing them get through a first-and-20 and a first-and-17, with the latter occurring as the result of a touchdown negated by a hold. They scored aerially and did so on the ground. They even did so when taking advantage of a Denver turnover, scoring their fifth touchdown of the opening half following a Courtland Sutton lost fumble. This trip to the end zone put the Dolphins up 35-10, effectively ending the game prior to intermission.

  • Tua Tagovailoa was unstoppable. The word “unstoppable” is sometimes overused in sports writing, but that was actually the case in this game. Tagovailoa was perfect in the opening half, going 16-of-16 for 206 yards and two touchdowns.

    Miami didn’t slow down after intermission. In fact, the Dolphins scored 70 points, the first time an NFL team has done so since 1966. Tagovailoa finished a near-perfect 23-of-26 for 309 yards and four touchdowns.

  • As you might imagine, the Dolphins had a myriad of skill players perform at a high level. It was expected for Hill to thrive, especially with Jaylen Waddle sidelined with a concussion, and that’s exactly what happened, with Hill catching nine of his 11 targets for 157 yards and a touchdown.

    While Hill’s big day was no surprise, some other Miami players had shocking performances. This mostly refers to third-round rookie running back De’Von Achane, who exploded for 203 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. He also scored twice more as a receiver, hauling in four passes for 30 yards. Raheem Mostert fantasy owners would usually be disappointed by this sort of output, but Mostert had a huge game as well. Mostert dashed for 82 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries, and he also caught all seven targets for 60 receiving yards and a fourth score.

  • The Broncos, meanwhile, looked like they would be in position for a back-door cover against a poor Miami defense, but mistakes ruined their chances, and they just fell too far behind. For instance, after a big stop on a fourth-and-1, the Broncos squandered an opportunity by running the ball on a second-and-14, resulting in a quick three-and-out. Sutton’s aforementioned lost fumble was crushing, as was an offensive pass interference negating a touchdown of his. This wasn’t the only time something like this happened, as an illegal shift penalty nullified a Jerry Jeudy touchdown.

    Despite this, Russell Wilson still had a fine fantasy performance, going 23-of-38 for 306 yards, one touchdown and an interception. He threw mostly to Sutton, who had a great day outside of the fumble. He caught eight of his 11 targets for 91 yards and a touchdown. He should have scored a second time if it wasn’t for that aformentioned infraction. Jeudy, meanwhile, caught five balls for 81 yards. He would have scored if it wasn’t for a stupid procedural penalty.

  • The Broncos didn’t have much of a chance to run the ball because of the constant deficit. Javonte Williams was limited to just 42 yards on 11 carries.


  • Chargers 28, Vikings 24
  • This was the battle of two teams that have games decided at the end of regulation or overtime. It was also the battle of two teams that constantly find ways to shoot themselves in the foot, and we saw plenty of that in this affair that predictably went down to the wire.

    There was one hilarious stretch in the second quarter when both teams traded mistakes. It became when Joshua Palmer lost a fumble. The Chargers then committed pass interference on Jordan Addison, giving the Vikings a first-and-goal opportunity. That appeared to lead to a touchdown, but Alexander Mattison dropped a touchdown. The Vikings were bailed out by the Chargers, who gave Minnesota another set of downs because of a Derwin James unnecessary roughness penalty. The Vikings then seemingly gave the ball away, but a lost Mattison fumble was negated by an official’s error.

    It was only natural that this game would end on a gaffe. Down four, the Vikings drove down to the 6-yard line, thanks to the Chargers failing on fourth down on the previous drive. There was 30 seconds on the clock, and yet, the Vikings were able to get just one play off because they had issues lining up, and that play was an interception where the pass was deflected.

    Thanks to this massive blunder, the Vikings have dropped to 0-3. There were rumors that Kirk Cousins would be traded if Minnesota fell to that record, so we’ll see if that occurs. Meanwhile, the Chargers saved their season with a win, but it came at a price. That was because Mike Williams, who caught seven passes for 121 yards and a touchdown, was carted off the field with an injury in the second half. James also got hurt.
  • Despite the late mishap, Cousins played very well against the Chargers’ reeling secondary. He went 32-of-50 for 367 yards and an interception. Despite these great numbers, he was outclassed by Justin Herbert, who was a sterling 40-of-47 for 405 yards and three touchdowns. Herbert would be an MVP candidate if his defense allowed his team to have a winning record.

  • While Williams got hurt amid his big performance, Keenan Allen is still available to post monstrous numbers. Allen saw a ridiculous 20 targets, catching 18 of them for 215 yards. He also threw a 49-yard touchdown to Williams. The silver lining with Williams’ injury is that the Chargers have other talented receivers outside of Allen. Palmer overcame his fumble with four catches for 66 yards and a score. Quentin Johnson (2-10) is also available, but he didn’t do much in this game.

  • The Vikings obviously had some big stat lines from their receivers as well. Justin Jefferson caught seven of his 13 targets for 149 yards and a touchdown. There was a scary moment in the fourth quarter when Jefferson appeared to suffer an injury, but this turned out only to be a cramp. Meanwhile, T.J. Hockenson hauled in eight of his 11 targets for 78 yards, but lost a fumble in the red zone. Jordan Addison (6-52) also did well, while K.J. Osborn caught a touchdown on his only reception, a 36-yarder.

  • Minnesota ran the ball much better than the Chargers despite losing. Mattison overcame the two mistakes by rushing for 93 yards on 20 carries and also catching five passes for 32 receiving yards. His counterpart, Joshua Kelley was a huge disappointment. He mustered only 12 yards on 11 carries.


  • Patriots 15, Jets 10
  • Bill Belichick feasts on terrible quarterbacks, and Zach Wilson obviously qualifies. Belichick is 4-0 against Wilson, most recently beating him in a low-scoring game where Wilson wouldn’t take any blame for the loss, resulting in his benching. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if Wilson struggled once again versus the defensive mastermind coach, and that’s exactly what happened in this game, as the Jets spent most of the first half in negative yardage.

    It seemed like the Jets had no chance to score a touchdown, which was problematic because they trailed 13-3 in the fourth quarter. However, Wilson helped put together an unlikely scoring drive, marching 84 yards down the field. The Jets had two more chances to take the lead after that, but the first possession concluded when their problematic offensive line caused Wilson to get smothered in the end zone, resulting in a safety. The second drive went to midfield, where Wilson heaved a Hail Mary. The prayer was nearly answered when the ball almost bounced into Randall Cobb’s hands. Instead, it hit the ground, ending the game.

  • Wilson finished 18-of-36 for only 157 yards. He struggled to keep drives alive, going just 2-of-14 on third down. The offensive line really struggled, allowing three sacks and lots of pressures. However, Wilson was to blame for at least one of the sacks because he held the ball too long in the pocket as a result of being too slow in his progressions. He was also lucky to not be intercepted in the first quarter, as a Patriot defender dropped the ball.

  • While the Jets couldn’t move the ball at all, the Patriots had much more success. They were 8-of-19 on third down, as New England’s healthier offensive line allowed the Patriots to have better success running the ball. Rhamondre Stevenson rushed for 59 yards on 19 carries, while Ezekiel Elliott rumbled for 80 yards on 16 tries. The Patriots outgained the Jets, 358-171, and they would have won by a larger margin if they didn’t make some mistakes. Stevenson dropped a third-down pass that would have moved the Patriots into field goal range. Stevenson also dropped a pass when he didn’t see the ball coming to him.

    Mac Jones made a blunder as well, with an interception that was nullified by a drop by a defensive player. Jones barely completed half of his passes, going 15-of-29 for 201 yards and a touchdown.

  • Jones’ score came on a busted coverage to Pharaoh Brown, who ran 58 yards to the house. Aside from Brown, Kendrick Bourne (4-46) was the only Patriot with more than 20 receiving yards.

  • The Jets obviously didn’t have their play-makers do much. Garrett Wilson led the way with five catches for 48 yards, while Allen Lazard was close by with three receptions for 39 yards.

  • New York couldn’t run the ball nearly as well as New England. Breece Hall was limited to just 18 yards on 12 carries. He fumbled, but a teammate recovered. Dalvin Cook (8-18) had slightly more success, but also struggled because of the poor blocking.


  • Bills 37, Redskins 3
  • The final score says the Bills destroyed the Redskins, but this game looked promising for Washington at times. For instance, the Redskins’ initial possession saw thw team move into field goal range. However, Sam Howell took two sacks and then was intercepted when he didn’t see the linebacker in coverage. In another example, Howell had a heroic 18-yard run to set up a first-and-goal for his team. However, the Redskins came away with no points, thanks to a great goal-line stand by the Buffalo defense.

    The Redskins eventually fell too far behind, resulting in numerous turnovers in the second half. They gave the ball away on five occasions, four of which were Howell interceptions. Howell and his offensive line were simply outmatched by the Bills, as Howell took a ridiculous nine sacks.

  • Despite the 37-point total, the Buffalo offense didn’t have a great showing, as the defense did most of the work. Josh Allen was 20-of-32 for only 218 yards, one touchdown and an interception, which was one of his patented yolo deep shots into double coverage. Allen at least helped his fantasy owners as a runner, rushing for 46 yards and a touchdown on three scrambles.

  • Although Allen didn’t have a high yardage total, Stefon Diggs had a big afternoon with eight catches for 111 yards. Allen’s sole passing touchdown was thrown to Gabe Davis, who scored on his only reception of the afternoon, a 35-yard gain.

  • Allen wasn’t the only Buffalo player who rushed well in this contest, as James Cook dashed for 98 yards on 15 carries. Cook, naturally, was vultured at the goal line by Latavius Murray (5-15).

  • With the deficit in mind, it was surprising to see Brian Robinson rush for 70 yards on only 10 carries. Robinson should have even better job security because Antonio Gibson fumbled the ball yet again.

  • Thanks to atrocious blocking, Howell was 19-of-29 for just 170 yards and the four interceptions. Howell looked helpless in the second half, as he was forced into obvious throwing situations against a ferocious pass rush.

  • There wasn’t much to see from the Redskins pass-catchers. Curtis Samuel led the way with two grabs for 54 yards. Terry McLaurin was next (6-41), followed by Jahan Dotson (2-21).


  • Texans 37, Jaguars 17
  • Sometimes an NFL team just has another team’s number. The Texans were one of the worst teams in the NFL last year, yet they went into Jacksonville and won. History repeated itself yet again, though it could be argued that the Jaguars beat themselves more than anything.

    Jacksonville shot itself in the foot on numerous occasions in the opening half to help the Texans establish a 17-0 lead by intermission. The trouble started when Calvin Ridley dropped two passes, including one at the Houston 2-yard line. Brandon McManus then missed a 48-yard field goal. After that, the Jaguars had a field goal blocked, setting up the Texans with a touchdown on a short field. The Jaguars tried to bounce back and appeared to do so when Trevor Lawrence converted a fourth-and-1 on a pass to Ridley, but the play was negated by an illegal use of hands penalty. Another scoring opportunity was nullified after Jamal Agnew lost a fumble in Houston territory.

    Things finally began going the Jaguars’ way in the third quarter when Ridley drew an interference flag to set up a Tank Bigsby touchdown, but that didn’t last very long. The Jaguars allowed a touchdown on a kickoff return despite the ball bouncing to a fullback. Lawrence was then intercepted when he didn’t see the linebacker. This ultimately led to a score that looks like a blowout even though Jacksonville outgained Houston, 404-366.

  • This was a very disappointing game by the Jacksonville offense because the Texans couldn’t stop anything the Colts were doing last week. Travis Etienne was expected to have a huge performance against a horrible run defense, but was limited to 88 yards on 19 carries. Adding insult to injury, he was vultured at the goal line by Tank Bigsby (2-10). At the very least, Etienne caught four passes for 50 receiving yards to save his PPR fantasy owners.

  • Lawrence didn’t play great either, as he went 27-of-40 for 279 yards, one touchdown and a pick. He couldn’t connect to Ridley very well, as the No. 1 receiver caught just three of his seven targets for 40 yards. Ridley dropped two balls and had a fumble, though the Jaguars were able to retain possession.

  • Ridley was outgained by a prowl of Jaguars, primarily Evan Engram, who caught seven passes for 67 yards. Christian Kirk (4-54) reeled in Lawrence’s lone touchdown.

  • While the Jaguars imploded, that shouldn’t take anything away from C.J. Stroud’s terrific day. He went 20-of-30 for 280 yards and two touchdowns. He heaved multiple deep passes, as Houston’s four offensive line injuries were somehow completely irrelevant.

  • Stroud’s top weapon continued to be Tank Dell, who reeled in five catches for 145 yards and a touchdown. Dell almost scored twice, as a 46-yard reception of his ended at the Jacksonville 2-yard line. Both Robert Woods (3-34) and Nico Collins (2-34) failed to meet expectations.

  • Dameon Pierce scored following Dell’s aforementioned 46-yard catch. He needed the touchdown because he didn’t do anything otherwise, rumbling for just 31 yards on four carries.


  • Packers 18, Saints 17
    By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

  • EDITOR’S NOTE: I liked the Packers earlier in the week, but they were down David Bakhtiari, Jaire Alexander, Aaron Jones, Christian Watson, and Elgton Jenkins. Despite all of these absences, the Saints still couldn’t beat the Packers!


  • The Saints dominated the first half of this contest, with Packers quarterback Jordan Love struggling to sustain drives. New Orleans had some drives stall out, thanks in large part to struggling to block Rashan Gary, but the game turned in the second half when Derek Carr went out with a shoulder injury. Love rallied and engineered a fourth-quarter comeback to make both the Packers and Saints 2-1 after Week 3.


  • A Kenny Clark sack on the opening drive produced a punt that set up the Packers near midfield. But on a fourth-and-short, the Packers botched a trick play that was a blooper-reel fail. The New Orleans offense put together a drive on the short field, closing it out with Carr tossing a touchdown strike to Jimmy Graham. In the second quarter, Saints wide receiver Rashid Shaheed exploded down the field, showing his game-breaking speed with a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown. The Packers had a drive going midway through the second quarter, but an Alontae Taylor sack snuffed out the possession. The Saints took advantage with a field goal drive to go up 17-0 at the half.

    Love started the third quarter by throwing a terrible pass up for grabs, and Lonnie Johnson picked off the pass for the Saints. However, Gary stepped up with another big sack to get the Green Bay defense off the field and Carr sustained a shoulder injury on the play, forcing him into the locker room. Jameis Winston came into the game, and the offense went into the toilet without Carr.

    Midway through the third quarter, Love finally started moving the ball, making a couple of conversions and then hitting Romeo Doubs, who made an outstanding sideline catch for a 40-yard gain. However on a fourth-and-2 at the New Orleans 13 yard-line, Love’s pass was tipped and fell incomplete. Early in the fourth quarter, the Packers had a field goal drive. Another Gary sack got the ball for the Packers, and their drive was jump-started by a 22-yard pass interference. On fourth-and-goal, Love darted into the end zone on a read-option run. The ensuing two-point attempt was good, which cut the Saints’ lead to 17-11 with just under seven minutes remaining.

    New Orleans promptly punted, and Love took off on a 24-yard run to cross midfield. Jayden Reed (3-63) soon made a superb diving catch for 30 yards to the Saints 15. Love found then Doubs for a touchdown, and the extra point put the Packers in front 18-17 with 2:56 remaining. Winston finally started moving the ball with two completions to Chris Olave for 38 yards. A few short gains set up rookie kicker Blake Grupe for a 46-yard field goal, but he missed on the attempt, clinching the win for Green Bay.


  • Love completed 22-of-44 passes for 259 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He also rushed for 39 yards and another score.


  • A.J. Dillon rushed for 33 yards on 11 carries.


  • Doubs had five receptions for 73 yards.


  • Carr completed 13-of-18 passes for 103 yards and a touchdown.


  • Kendre Miller had 34 yards on nine carries.


  • Olave recorded eight catches for 104 yards.



  • Cardinals 28, Cowboys 16
    By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

  • EDITOR’S NOTE: From Awesome Kelly in Arizona: “I don’t know if you can fit it in your recap somehow, but this outcome for AZ doesn’t really surprise me. I mean, it does a little, to a point that during the 3rd quarter, I was tempted to hit the DAL ML when it was even. But I couldn’t because I knew AZ wouldn’t blow it. Beating Dallas means more to them than probably anything outside winning a Super Bowl. It’s just been a thing for how long? They kind of basically own Dallas. And it’s absolutely fantastic.”

  • The Cardinals had big leads on the Commanders and Giants, but ended up losing those games in Weeks 1 and 2, respectively. It turned out that the third time was the charm, as the Dallas defense struggled to defend against Josh Dobbs while the Dallas offense never found a grove to keep pace with Arizona. The loss of Trevon Diggs was felt right away by the Cowboys, and it looks like his absence will be a devastating this season.

  • On the opening drive, Josh Dobbs tricked the Dallas front on a zone-read run, and Dobbs took off for a 43-yard gain that produced a field goal for Arizona. After a Cowboys punt, Arizona moved down the field with a 16-yard completion to Marco Wilson, a 22-yard pass interference, and some good runs from James Conner, including a touchdown rush to go up 9-0 after a two-point play failed. Dallas responded with a field goal drive, but the Cardinals continued to rip the Dallas defense, with RonDale Moore taking a carry out of the backfield for a 45-yard touchdown run.

    The Cowboys got moving on a drive, and a screen pass to Rico Dowdle produced a 15-yard touchdown to cut their deficit to 15-10. Arizona responded with a field goal drive, and then Matt Prater hit a 62-yard field goal on the final play of the first half to take a 21-10 lead into the locker room.

    Dak Prescott opened the third quarter by connecting with CeeDee Lamb (4-53) for a nice gain, and that set up a field goal to cut Arizona’s lead to 21-10. Midway through the third quarter, Dallas started a drive into Arizona territory. The Cowboys went for a fourth-and-4 from the five-yard line, but Prescott’s pass was batted away incomplete.

    A Micah Parsons sack got the Dallas defense off the field, and Prescott kept moving the ball methodically down the field. This time, however, Mike McCarthy settled for a field goal to make the score 21-16 early in the fourth quarter. Arizona responded with Dobbs finding Marco Wilson wide open in busted coverage 30 yards downfield, and Wilson tacked on more yards of his own, ending up with 69 yards to set up a first-and-goal. A few plays later, Hollywood Brown got separation from Stephon Gilmore to get open for a short touchdown, giving the Cardinals a 28-16 lead just past the halfway point of the fourth quarter. The Cowboys drove down the field to get a first-and-goal, but Prescott threw a terrible pass that was intercepted by Kyzir White in the end zone to deal a fatal blow to the Cowboys’ comeback hopes.

  • Dobbs completed 17-of-21 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 55 yards.

  • Conner ran for 98 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.

  • Hollywood Brown caught five passes for 61 yards and a touchdown.

  • Prescott completed 25-of-40 passes for 249 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

  • Tony Pollard ran for 122 yards on 23 carries.

  • Michael Gallup caught six passes for 92 yards.


  • Seahawks 37, Panthers 27
  • The Panthers trailed 37-20 prior to a late touchdown, but they led in the third quarter. Their offense wasn’t the culprit this time, as Carolina generated nearly 400 net yards. The defense was the problem, which was previously the strength. The cause of this was the injury suffered by Frankie Luvu, as the talented linebacker was missed because Shaq Thompson was already sidelined. Carolina’s defense was discombobulated after Luvu got hurt, as there were so many blown assignments and out-of-place defenders on running plays.

    The Panthers simply could not stop the run in the second half, as Seattle moved the ball easily down the field. Kenneth Walker was just shy of the century mark with 97 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. He also caught three passes for 59 receiving yards. Zach Charbonnet chipped in with 46 yards on nine attempts.

    Meanwhile, the passing attack was difficult to stop with a diminished pass rush. Geno Smith suddenly had more time to throw than anticipated. Smith struggled a bit in the first half, as he threw an interception when he didn’t see Deion Jones. However, he was almost flawless following the second half, completing 12-of-13 passes. Smith finished 23-of-36 for 296 yards, one touchdown and the pick.

  • While the Panthers did relatively well offensively, they still had some struggles, which stemmed from the insanely loud crowd noise in Seattle. The Panthers were bothered by this because they had nine false starts. There were also other crucial procedural penalty, including one on a fourth-and-2 conversion with about five minutes remaining in regulation. Stuck in a fourth-and-7 instead, Andy Dalton took a sack, effectively ending the game.

    Dalton played well otherwise, going 34-of-58 for 361 yards and two touchdowns. This was especially impressive considering the state of his offensive line. The Seahawks, who ordinarily have no pass rush, were able to sack Dalton on three occasions.

  • Dalton loved throwing to Adam Thielen and D.J. Chark, who saw 14 and 11 targets, respectively. Thielen was much more efficient, catching 11 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown. Chark was more explosive with four grabs for 86 yards and a score. Jonathan Mingo (3-21) was a disappointment.

  • Miles Sanders didn’t get much on the ground, mustering 24 yards on nine carries, but he scored a touchdown and also caught five passes for 38 receiving yards. Sanders got banged up at one point just prior to halftime, but he didn’t miss much action.

  • As for the Seattle receivers, D.K. Metcalf paced the Seahawks in yardage by a wide margin. He caught six passes for 112 yards. Metcalf was the only one of the three main wideouts who was productive, as Tyler Lockett (3-34) and Jaxon Smith-Njigba (1-10) frustrated their fantasy owners.


  • Chiefs 41, Bears 10
  • All the buzz in this game was about the special guest in attendance, as Taylor Swift was on hand to watch her new boyfriend, Travis Pfizer. This was justified because this was a completely lopsided affair, as the Chiefs, with their fifth-ranked defense, put the clamps on everything the Bears tried to do. By the time the Chiefs sat Patrick Mahomes and the rest of their starters, the score was 41-0, so this game could have been much uglier had the Chiefs not taken their foot off the gas.

    Speaking of ugly, there was a hideous sight for Mahomes prior to halftime when a player rolled into his ankle. Mahomes held his leg in pain and began limping around. He didn’t leave the game, but was completely stationary in the pocket for the rest of the half. However, Mahomes remained under center following intermission, and he began moving around a bit more. It became apparent that this was not a big deal, so Mahomes was able to enjoy a great day overall, as he went 24-of-33 for 272 yards and three touchdowns. Mahomes easily could have thrown five touchdowns, as he had two throws to Rashee Rice that were stopped at the 1-yard line.

  • As for Swift’s boyfriend, Kelce caught seven passes for 69 yards and a touchdown. He led the Chiefs in receiving, followed by Rashee Rice, who caught five passes for 59 yards. Rice, as mentioned, could have scored twice, but was tackled at the 1-yard line on two occasions.

  • Both Isiah Pacheco (15-62) and Clyde Edwards-Helaire (15-55) scored right after Rice was tackled shy of the goal line. Jerick McKinnon also scored, doing so twice as a receiver.

  • Pacheco and Edwards-Helaire each outgained the Bears’ top rusher, Justin Fields. The struggling quarterback ran way more this week, scrambling 11 times for 47 rushing yards. However, Fields had no time in the pocket behind his poor offensive line. He completed just half of his passes, going 11-of-22 for only 99 yards, one touchdown and an interception.

  • D.J. Moore caught three passes for 41 yards and a touchdown, but he let his quarterback down with a deep drop downfield. He and Cole Kmet (2-22) were the only Bears with more than 15 receiving yards.

  • The Bears once again didn’t get much out of their ground attack, as Khalil Herbert (7-31) and Roschon Johnson (8-38) split the workload.


  • Steelers 23, Raiders 18
  • An easier matchup will do wonders for a struggling player. Kenny Pickett entered this game as a beleaguered quarterback, struggling mightily in the first two weeks of the season. However, there was reason for optimism. Pickett’s first two opponents, the 49ers and Browns, ranked fourth and second in defensive EPA heading into Week 3, respectively. The Raiders were 31st, so no one should have been surprised that Pickett’s play improved markedly.

    Pickett made one big mistake in the first half, which was a potential pick-six that was dropped. He otherwise performed well, hitting some big throws, including a 72-yard bomb to Calvin Austin. He finished 16-of-28 for 235 yards and two touchdowns. He managed the game well aside from the one potential interception, and he didn’t commit a turnover. This should give more hope for the Steelers moving forward.

  • Conversely, the Raiders must be concerned that Jimmy Garoppolo can consistently lead their team to victories. The stats don’t look terrible – 28-of-43, 324 yards, two touchdowns, three interceptions – but the numbers were a byproduct of garbage time. Garoppolo was guilty of two interceptions before the Steelers got out to a 23-7 lead. The first occurred when cornerback Levi Wallace cut in front of the defender, while the second happened because Garoppolo foolishly threw the ball up for grabs. Garoppolo’s final pick occurred on the final drive when he appeared to try to throw the ball away.

  • Despite Garoppolo’s struggles, Davante Adams had a monster night. He saw 20 targets, catching 13 of them for 172 yards and two touchdowns. Jakobi Meyers also thrived with seven receptions for 85 yards. They were the only Raiders with more than 18 receiving yards.

  • While the Steelers had issues defending the Raiders’ top two receivers, they were able to clamp down on Josh Jacobs, who was limited to 62 yards on 17 carries. He also caught three passes for 18 receiving yards. Jacobs appeared to lose a fumble in the opening quarter, but replay review showed that he was down by contact.

  • Jacobs nearly led both teams in rushing, but was barely edged out by Najee Harris, who rumbled for 65 yards on 19 carries. Jaylen Warren (8-29) should have gotten more work.

  • Pittsburgh’s top receiver was George Pickens, who hauled in four balls for 75 yards. Austin (2-72) and Pat Freiermuth (3-41) reeled in Pickett’s touchdowns.


  • Eagles 25, Buccaneers 11
  • The Buccaneers built their 2-0 record by defeating a pair of teams that currently don’t have any wins, so this was going to be their first real test. It was evident early that this game would go much differently, as Baker Mayfield was extremely sharp on third down versus the two poor defenses he battled in the first two weeks of the season. In this game, Mayfield converted a third-and-3, but was cold on third down after that, with the first miss being an errant throw toward Mike Evans.

    The Buccaneers’ inability to repeat their success on third down prevented them from sustaining drives. They achieved just 12 first downs – compared to 27 by the Eagles – and lost the time-of-possession battle by nearly 18 minutes. They were outgained, 472-174. The final score, if you couldn’t tell, was misleading, as the Buccaneers scored a touchdown in garbage time to trim the margin from 25-3 to a more respectable 25-11.

  • Tampa Bay’s defense didn’t stand much of a chance against the Eagles either. Jalen Hurts was mostly sharp despite not running as much as he often does. He went 23-of-37 for 277 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions to go along with 10 carries for 28 rushing yards and another score. One of Hurts’ picks wasn’t his fault because there was a miscommunication with the receiver. The second was the result of a deep shot to DeVonta Smith.

  • Hurts mostly threw to A.J. Brown, as the squeaky wheel got the grease. Brown complained about his diminished stats last week, so Hurts made sure that he feasted in this game. Brown hauled in nine of his 14 targets for 131 yards. He had a chance at a touchdown, but he dropped the ball in the end zone. Dallas Goedert chipped in with five catches for 41 yards, while Smith had just four receptions for 28 yards.

  • D’Andre Swift had another big game. He dashed for 130 yards on 16 carries. He actually shared the workload with Kenneth Gainwell, who managed 43 yards on 14 attempts. This was not the byproduct of garbage time, as both runners had five carries in the opening half.

  • The Buccaneers couldn’t get anything going with their running game. Rachaad White mustered just 38 yards on 14 carries. He lost a fumble when Jalen Carter punched the ball out of his hands, and he was also tackled in his own end zone for a safety.

  • The only skill player on the Buccaneers to thrive was Evans, who reeled in five of his 10 targets for 60 yards and a touchdown. Evans hurt his team with an early drop in scoring territory. Chris Godwin (3-32) did nothing outside of catch a two-point conversion in the final quarter.

  • Mayfield’s final numbers were 15-of-25 for 146 yards, one touchdown and an interception, which was a late, telegraphed throw. Mayfield also fumbled, but a teammate of his recovered.


  • Bengals 19, Rams 16
  • It was unclear if Joe Burrow would play even a few hours prior to kickoff. We all discovered the news once the Bengals released their inactives. Burrow was not on the list, and Cincinnati announced that he would be the starter in this game. This seemed to be a mistake, given that Burrow aggravated his troublesome calf last week versus Baltimore.

    Burrow played like a quarterback with a balky calf. This was just a 6-6 battle heading into the third quarter, as Burrow struggled to complete any downfield passes. Burrow dinked and dunked like some noodle-armed quarterback, posing zero threat to the Rams. It didn’t help that Tee Higgins attempted to sabotage a victory for Burrow. Higgins dropped two passes and committed an offensive pass interference penalty.

    The Bengals eventually got on track and scored 13 points after halftime. They did so by pounding Joe Mixon, who had 12 of his 19 carries in the second half (65 rushing yards). Mixon picked up some nice gains and ultimately scored a touchdown to put the Bengals up a touchdown. With the Rams’ offense struggling to sustain drives, the Bengals were able to cruise to an easy victory at the end to avoid an 0-3 start.

  • Burrow barely completed half of his passes, going 26-of-49 for only 259 yards and an interception, with occurred when a Rams defensive back wrestled the ball away from Tyler Boyd. Anyone who has aspirations of the Bengals making a deep run into the playoffs has to be concerned with Burrow’s play, despite the win. Again, Burrow couldn’t get anything downfield. This will all change when Burrow is 100 percent, but there’s no guarantee that will happen at any point this season.

  • While Higgins’ poor play hurt Burrow – two catches, 21 yards on eight targets – Ja’Marr Chase made some heroic plays. He hauled in 12 of his 15 targets for 141 yards. He and Boyd (5-39) were the only Cincinnati players with more than 30 receiving yards.

  • As for the Rams, they couldn’t sustain drives, as they were 1-of-11 on third down. They lost the time of possession by 12 minutes. Their biggest problem was pass protection, especially after Joe Noteboom suffered an injury. Matthew Stafford took six sacks, as Trey Hendrickson was a terror off the edge.

    Thankfully, Stafford got his act together on the final drive to led a touchdown drive to achieve a back-door cover. He was otherwise atrocious in the second half. Overall, he was 18-of-33 for 269 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. One pick wasn’t his fault because it came off a deflection, but the other was a horrendous side-armed throw that was made so carelessly.

  • It was puzzling that Sean McVay forced Stafford into doing so much. He gave Kyren Williams just 10 runs (38 yards) even though Cincinnati had a bottom-five ground defense heading into Week 3. Williams made a poor play when he dropped a pass in the end zone. He saw seven targets, but converted just two of them for 27 receiving yards.

  • It should come as no surprise that Puka Nacua led the Rams in receiving with five catches for 72 yards. He barely edged out Tyler Higbee (5-71), who had a touchdown called back by penalty. Tutu Atwell, who logged four receptions for 50 yards and a touchdown, also was screwed out of a touchdown when replay review incorrectly ruled that he stepped out of bounds prior to reaching the end zone.


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

     



    NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22


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