SAN DIEGO – Every now and again, the National Football League escapes from its cult of coaching and provides fans with and an entire Sunday of offensive fireworks. And that’s exactly what the NFL gave us in Week 3.
From the 85 points scored in the Detroit-Tennessee game to the wide-open air shows between Cincinnati and Washington, Pittsburgh and Oakland and Houston and Denver, this was a week for the lovers of offense. Which means it wasn’t a great week for NFL coaches.
Detroit defensive end Cliff Avril couldn’t believe what happened in Tennessee, where the Titans beat the Lions 44-41 in overtime (see below): “That was definitely a roller coaster,” Avril told the Associated Press. “Never been a part of that. Crazy. You’re down 14 with a few minutes to go, and then the next thing you know you’re back in the game. It was definitely crazy.”
Meanwhile, in San Diego on Sunday, the Atlanta Falcons became one of only three teams to go 3-0 through the first three weeks of the season. Quarterback Matt Ryan called the Falcons 27-3 shellacking of the San Diego Chargers, “a confidence builder.”
“It’s early yet,” Ryan said. “Three weeks into the season and, collectively, we’ve played some good football. It’s definitely helping build confidence here and the guys certainly believe we can win games every week. But, hey, it’s early.
Ryan was being modest, but that’s always a smart move for NFL quarterbacks. No sense getting cocky and no sense pissing off any defensive lineman. And of course, Ryan is right: There is a lot of football remaining.
Oh, yeah, and how about Brandon’s Israel Idonije? He was spectacular in Chicago’s 23-6 drilling of the St. Louis Rams. In fact, Idonije was so good, might be up for NFL defensive player of the week.
Let’s take a close look at what happened around The League this week:
Minnesota 24 San Francisco 13
Christian Ponder threw two touchdown passes to Kyle Rudolph – the first on fourth and goal — and ran for another as Minnesota jumped out top a quick start and never looked back. Adrian Peterson carried 25 times for 86 yards. Alex Smith’s franchise record for most passes without an interception ended at 249.
Chicago 23 St. Louis 6
Major Wright returned an interception for a touchdown as the Bears defense saved the day for Chicago. Brandon’s Israel Idonije was tremendous with four tackles, an assist and two and a half sacks.
Buffalo 24 Cleveland 14
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw three touchdown passes but the Bills lost the great C.J. Spiller to a shoulder injury. Fitzpatrick finished 22-for-35 for 208 yards.
Dallas 16 Tampa Bay 10
DeMarco Murray had an 11-yard touchdown run and Dan Bailey kicked three field goals to lead Dallas. Tony Romo went 25-for-39 for 283 yards, no touchdowns and an interception that set up Tampa’s only TD.
Jacksonville 22 Indianapolis 17
What a way for the Colts to lose. The Jags Blaine Gabbert hit Cecil Shorts III on an 80-yard touchdown pass with 45 seconds left to win it just nine seconds after Andrew Luck drove the Colts 48 yards in five plays to set up Adam Vinatieri’s 37-yard field goal that gave Indy a 17-16 advantage. It was Jacksonville’s first win of the year.
NY Jets 23 Miami 20 (OT)
Nick Folk got a break. After his first try at the winning field goal in overtime was blocked, he found out that the Dolphins had called a time out. With his second chance, he booted the 33-yarder to win it. Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez went 21-for-45 for 306 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
Kansas City 27 New Orleans 24 (OT)
The greatest game of Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop’s career: He booted six field goals, including a 43-yarder with three seconds to play to send the game into overtime and a 31-yarder in OT to win it. Jamaal Charles scored the only touchdown for the Chiefs on a 91-yard run. Charles finished the day with 33 carries for 233 yards.
Tennessee 44 Detroit 41 (OT)
This might have been craziest game of the season and maybe even the decade. The Titans blew a 20-9 halftime lead as Detroit scored 18 straight points. Then Tennessee scored 21 straight points to take a two touchdown lead late in the third but Lions backup QB Sean Hill threw two late TD passes to tie it. This game proved you can win the NFL with no defense as long as the opponent has no defense either.
Cincinnati 38 Washington 31
Andy Dalton completed 19-of-27 passes for 328 yards and three touchdowns to lead Cincinnati while Robert Griffin III completed 21-of-34 passes for 221 yards and one TD. RG3 also carried 12 times for 85 yards and a touchdown.
Arizona 27 Philadelphia 6
Kevin Kolb isn’t the greatest QB in history but he’s pretty good. On Sunday, he threw for 22 yards and two touchdowns as the Cardinals improved to 3-0. Only three teams are now 3-0 – Arizona, Houston and Atlanta. Michael Vick fumbled twice for Philly. One of his fumbles was returned for a touchdown.
Atlanta 27 San Diego 3
Matt Ryan went 30-for-40 for 275 yards, three touchdowns to three different receivers plus his first interception of the season as Atlanta won on the road. RB Michael Turner carried 14 times for 80 yards and a touchdown. Philip Rivers completed 21-of-38 passes for 173, no touchdowns and two interceptions. He was awful.
Houston 31 Denver 25
The Texans Matt Schaub went 17-of-30 for 290 yards, four touchdowns and one interception while Denver’s Peyton Manning completed 26-of-52 passes for 330 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, but Arian Foster carried 25 times for 105 yards and that didn’t hurt Houston’s cause.
Oakland 34 Pittsburgh 31
Oakland trailed 31-21 late in the game but scored the final 13 points and Sebastien Janikowski kicked a 43-yard field goal on the final play to win it. Oakland’s Carson Palmer completed 24-of-34 passes for 209 yards and three touchdowns while Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger completed 36-of-49 passes for 384 yards and four touchdowns in a terrific quarterback battle, Darren McFadden was the difference. The big Oakland back carried 18 times for 113 yards and a touchdown.
Baltimore 31 New England 30
The Patriots led by nine points late in the game but Baltimore scored the final 10 points to win. Justin Tucker kicked a 27-yard field goal with no time on the clock to win it as Baltimore won its 12th in a row at home. Joe Flacco went 28-of-39 for 382 yards and three touchdowns while Tom Brady went 28-of-41 for 335 yards and one TD. It got so wild at the end of the game that New England coach Bill Belichick accosted an official. It was a nutty Sunday.
Update: Monday Night:
Seattle 14 Green Bay 12
Well, it sure was exciting. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate to win last night’s Monday Nighter in Seattle. Trouble was, it appeared as if the ball was intercepted by M.D. Jennings. The TD pass gave Seattle a 14-12 win as the Packers fell to 1-2 on the season.