(Philadelphia, Pa) —- As we head towards the first quarter marker of the NFL season in Week 4, let’s take a look back at week three of the best league in the world. Week Three’s games featured more offensive fireworks as 18 teams scored 24 points or more including the Philadelphia Eagles putting up a whopping 56 points. Four playoff teams from 2006 (Eagles, Giants, Jets, and Chiefs) that started the season (0-2) made the transition towards respectability by winning must-win games. But the NFL is a tough league where last year doesn’t matter and every year is different, which last year’s darling franchise the New Orleans Saints are learning quickly after falling to (0-3). The Saints were joined by the Falcons, Bills, Rams, and Dolphins in the dubious “no wins” club, which may signal the beginning of a long frustrating season as only 2 teams since 1990 have come back from (0-3) to make the playoffs.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Steelers, Colts, Patriots, Cowboys, and the surprising Packers cemented themselves as early playoff favorites by remaining undefeated at (3-0). Dropping from the ranks of the unbeaten were the Redskins, Lions, 49ers, and Broncos causing some to question whether they are legitimate contenders or pretenders, especially with the 49ers and Lions being blown out.
This week did teach us a few things about the NFL: Brett Favre is not too old at 37 (Packers are 3-0, he threw for over 300 yards w/ 3 TD’s and he tied another record —Marino’s touchdown record of 420), the Raiders will never quit (For the second week in a row it came down to a field goal, but this time they “iced” the game with a block), Watch out for the Steelers (Mike Tomlin has this team clicking and they won again in dismantling fashion), The Eagles “Throwback” Uniforms were ugly, but they may have brought a different mentality to the team (The Eagles seemed revitalized in their yellow and powder blue 75th anniversary uniforms crushing the Lions), and Turnovers and Penalties will cause any team to look like a bunch of sandlot kids in losses (Saints – 5 turnovers, Bengals – 10 Penalties, the Falcons (DeAngelo Hall – 67 yards worth of penalties at the end of a loss), and the Bears – 3 INTs including one returned for a touchdown).
Games BallsPhiladelphia Eagles QB Donovan McNabb – After enduring a tough home loss to the Redskins on MNF and receiving arrows from everywhere regarding his interview with HBO’s Real Sports — McNabb maintains that African-American quarterbacks are criticized more harshly than white counterparts — Big 5 took off his knee brace and dismantled the Lions. He was at first greeted by more than a smattering of boos from fans, but they quickly turned to cheers as McNabb led the way in a 56-21 rout. He was pinpoint and had a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3, finishing 21-26 passing for 381 yards and four touchdowns. I don’t know if it was the throwback uniforms, the chip on his shoulder or his new repoirre with wide receiver Kevin Curtis, but it was evident McNabb came to play and to silence his critics. He said after the game about his comments, “What’s been said has been said” and “Sometimes reality hurts. Some people don’t want to accept it. Some people feel they aren’t a part of it. But I don’t take it back. I don’t regret it.”
Honorable Mention: New England Patriots WR Randy Moss (Was dominant again, posting his third consecutive 100-yard receiving game, making him the first player in NFL history to do so in his first three games with a team), Dallas Cowboys WR Terrell Owens (Caught eight passes for 145 yards, moving past Michael Irvin into 14th place on the NFL’s career list with 12,044 yards), Brett Favre (See Overview), Eagles DT Broderick Bunkley (The Hulking DT was dominant and looked like a first rounder with 4 TKLS and 2 Sacks), Eagles WR Kevin Curtis (The next Steve Largent ???, finished with an amazing 11 catches for 221 yards w/ 3 TDs), Houston Texans KR Jerome Mathis (Returned the opening kickoff 84 yards for a touchdown), Baltimore Ravens Kicker Matt Stover (Kicked four field goals including his 12th game-winning one) and Eagles DE Trent Cole (He was everywhere for the Birds Defense w/ 5 TKLs, 3 Sacks, and 1 FF).
Lloyd’s LackeyAtlanta Falcons CB DeAngelo Hall – The two-time Pro Bowl player had a crucial role in a loss to the Panthers including receiving two key penalties during the other teams game-winning drive and mouthing off to Falcons Head Coach Bobby Petrino and assistant coach Joe Whitt Jr. Hall’s woes came from him being taken out of his game by Carolina WR Steve Smith, who got under his skin to the point he lost the game for his entire 53-man team. Petrino promised disciplinary actions against Hall, who at one point had to be restrained by three players. There is even talk of Petrino sitting him for next week’s game against Houston.
Dishonorable Mention: The Eagles Throwback Jerseys (Every fan I talked at the game did not like the bright yellow uniforms – We know it was all about merchandising, but they were not appealing to anyone but the team that played possessed in them), Chicago Bears QB Rex Grossman (3 more INTS including one returned for a TD and now his teammates are looking for backup Griese and Lovie is on board too), Eagles DE Jevon Kearse (Was rightfully benched for Jaqua Thomas and it looks like the explosiveness is gone), and New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees (Looked terrible in another loss, going 29-45 for 225 yards, 0 TDs, 1 Lost Fumble, and 4 INTs).
Sunday, September 23, 2007 FedEx Field
Giants (0-2-0) 3 0 7 14 24
Redskins (2-1-0) 7 10 0 0 17
This game came down to a final goal line stand by the Giants. The Giants stuffed Redskins running back Ladell Betts on third-and fourth down in the final minute to secure a 24-17 road victory. Two standouts were New York receiver Plaxico Burress (scored the game-winning touchdown with numbers of five catches for 86 yards) and Redskins Middle linebacker London Fletcher (10 TKLs, 1 INT, 1 Fumble Recovery)
Panthers (1-1-0) 0 10 14 3 27
Falcons (0-3-0) 0 10 7 3 20
Despite a good day passing from Atlanta quarterback Joey Harrington (31-44, 361 w/ 1 TD), the Falcons fell to 0-3 for 2007 by losing to the Panthers 27-20. The Panthers were led by DeShaun Foster, who on the final drive helped Carolina burn the final four and a half minutes with a series of runs. For the game Foster finished with 122 yards rushing with a one receiving touchdown. Steve Smith left the game with an undisclosed injury and only had one catch. The Falcons had 10 penalties for 135 yards, which led to their downfall.
Jaguars (1-1-0) 0 17 3 3 23
Broncos (2-1-0) 0 7 0 7 14
There was no miracle win this week for the Broncos as their magic ran out losing to the Jaguars 23-14 in Denver. In the loss, the Broncos will be haunted by a questionable fourth-and-5 from their own 9-yard line with just over four minutes remaining that they didn’t convert. On the play, David Graham dropped a nice pass from Jay Cutler. The Jaguars played ball control holding the ball for 38:42 and their defense held Broncos RB Travis Henry and WR Javon Walker to 45 total yards.
Browns (1-1-0) 0 10 7 7 24
Raiders (1-2-0) 3 13 7 3 26
The Raiders blocked Phil Dawson’s 40-yard field goal attempt with three seconds remaining to preserve a 26-24 victory, giving them their first win of the season.
The Raiders were powered by RB LaMont Jordan, who ran for 121 yards and one touchdown on 29 carries. Jordan also had a critical 27 yard catch and run late in the game on a third down. The win gave Raiders Head Coach Lane Kiffin, the youngest head coach in the NFL (32), his first career win. The win snapped Oakland’s franchise-record 11-game losing streak. Look for Oakland backup QB Daunte Culpepper (8-14, 118) to replace Josh McCown who left with an injured foot.
Bengals (1-1-0) 7 3 2 9 21
Seahawks (2-1-0) 7 7 0 10 24
In an entertaining battle, the Seahawks held off Bengals 24-21 in a game that went down to the final minutes. The game turned in the Seahawks favor for good when QB Matt Hasselbeck threw a 22-yard strike to Nate Burleson with 1:06 to play. After the touchdown, the Seahawks special teams sealed the win by forcing and recovering a fumble on the ensuing kickoff. The Bengals again put up some big offensive numbers with QB Carson Palmer throwing for 342 yards and receivers T.J. Houshmandzadeh (12 catches for 141 w/ 1 TD) and Chad Johnson (9 catches for 138 yards), but they gave up four turnovers and committed 10 penalties for 72 yards.
M&T Bank Stadium
Cardinals (1-2-0) 0 3 3 17 23
Ravens (2-1-0) 3 17 3 3 26
In a game that came down to the last minute, the Ravens showed that good defense and special teams are keys to winning the NFL taking down the Cardinals 26-23 in Baltimore. The Ravens only had one offensive touchdown, as KR Yamon Figur’s 75-yard punt return and Kicker Matt Stover accounted for the other 20 points.
The win was not decided until the end until veteran Ravens kicker Stover connected on a game-winning field goal as time expired. An odd point of the game was Cardinals Head Coach rotating quarterbacks Kurt Warne and Matt Leinart throughout the game. I believe that the Cardinals will turn to Warner, who led the Cardinals to two and finished with 258 yards on 15-of-20 passing.
Dolphins (0-3-0) 0 13 0 15 28
Jets (1-2-0) 7 14 3 7 31 The Jets decided that they didn’t want their season to be basically over (0-3) by beating the win-less and faltering Dolphins 31-28 in New York. The Jets were led by returning to the lineup quarterback Chad Pennington (15-22, 124 yards w/ 2 TDs) and Thomas Jones (25 rushes for 110 yards). New York should have known things were going to be good when KR Leon Washington returned the opening kickoff 98 yards for a score. The loss spoiled a great effort by Dolphins RB Ronnie Brown, who had 112 yards rushing with two touchdowns and added six catches for 99 yards with a spectacular 22-yard TD.
Bills (0-3-0) 7 0 0 0 7
Patriots (3-0-0) 3 14 14 7 38 Should the NFL just hand the Lombardi trophy to the Patriots ??? They should wait, but the team does look tremendous and Sunday was no different as they destroyed the Bills 38-7 in Foxboro. Led by quarterback Tom Brady (23-29, 311 yards with four touchdowns) and receiver Randy Moss (5 catches 115 yards w/ 2 TDs), the Patriots turned a 17-7 halftime led into a rout. The Patriots dominated in every aspect of the game including time of posession (34:19 to 25:41). The Bills never had a chance as they lost QB J.P. Losman on the first play of the game, when Patriots DT Vince Wilfork rolled into his left knee. They also lost rookie sensation LB Paul Posluszny with a broken left forearm. In the win the Patriots totaled 38 points for the third consecutive time this season.
Chargers (1-2-0) 7 7 7 3 24
Packers (3-0-0) 3 14 0 14 31
The Packers showed that they are for real by shutting down the stagnant Chargers 31-24 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The game was all about Packers QB Brett Favre, who was very strong leading the Packer to a 3-0 start (first time since 1991) finishing with 369 yards and three touchdowns including a record tying one (420 TDs shares with Dan Marino) in the win. Credit also needs to be given to the Packers’ offensive line (only 2 sacks). The Packers were also strong on defense holding Chargers RB LaDanian Tomlinson to 62 rushing yards.
Colts (3-0-0) 7 7 13 3 30
Texans (2-1-0) 7 3 0 14 24
Led by quarterback Peyton Manning (20-29, 273), Houston native RB Joseph Addai (22 rushes for 72 yards w/ 1TD), and LB Gary Brackett (9 TKLs, 1 FR, and 1 INT in the endzone) the defending Super Bowl champion Colts had too much for the previously unbeaten Texans 30-24 in Houston. The win was the Colts second straight over an AFC South opponent. The Colts were professional in the win and what impresses me is their defense, which held the Texans to 40 yards rushing and intercepted Texans QB Matt Schaub twice.
Lincoln Financial Field
Lions (2-1-0) 7 14 0 0 21
Eagles (1-2-0) 21 21 7 7 56
Playing without Pro Bowl players Brian Dawkins and Lito Sheppard on defense, the Eagles offensive put on a hellacious offensive performance producing 21 points in the 1st and 2nd quarters on their way to destroying the Lions 56-21 in Philadelphia. The game was a shootout that contained 968 total yards, but it was the Eagles offense that dominated. Maybe it was their 75th anniversary uniforms or that the team was tired of hearing whispers of their demise, but either way led by Donovan McNabb (See Gameballs), RB Brian Westbrook (110 rushing w/ 2 TDs, 111 receiving yards w/ 1 TD), and WR Kevin Curtis (11 catches for 221 yards w/ 3 TDs). A side note is that for the first time in NFL history that two receivers tallied 200 yards in the same game (Curtis and Detroit’s Roy Williams – 9 catches for 204 yards w/ 1 TD). The Eagles defense also deserves some props for shutting the Lions out in the 2nd half and producing nine sacks and three turnovers.
49ers (2-1-0) 6 0 3 7 16
Steelers (3-0-0) 7 7 3 20 37
The Steelers improved to 3-0 in a dominating rout of the previously unbeaten Niners 37-16 in Pittsburgh. The game featured another strong running performance by Steelers RB Willie Parker (24 rushes for 133 yards) and the blitzing Steelers defense. The defense was stifling as the unit constantly harassed Niners QB Alex Smith all day. The defensive highlight for the Steelers came when cornerback Bryant McFadden intercepted a Smith pass and ran the ball back 50 yards for his first career touchdown. With the win Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin joined former Steelers Head Coach Bill Cowher in starting their careers at 3-0.
Raymond James Stadium
Rams (0-3-0) 0 0 0 3 3
Buccaneers (2-1-0) 0 3 7 14 24
Led by quarterback Jeff Garcia (14-22, 151 yards w/ 2 TDs), the Buccaneers dominated the falling Rams (0-3) 24-3 in Tampa Bay. The Rams, who have been battling injuries especially on their O-Line were never in the game as their Pro Bowl quarterback Marc Bulger threw three interceptions, including one in the end zone.
Vikings (1-2-0) 7 3 0 0 10
Chiefs (1-2-0) 0 3 3 7 13
In a rather boring slugfest, the Chiefs defended their home turf by winning 13-10. The Chiefs were led by quarterback Damon Huard (20-29, 206), who is now 7-0 as a starter at home. For the Vikings, rookie running back Adrian Peterson rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown, but it was not enough. In his return from a two-game suspension Kansas City DE Jared Allen had his seventh multi-sack game finishing with 8 TKLs, 2 Sacks, and a fumble recovery.
Cowboys (2-0-0) 0 3 14 17 34
Bears (1-1-0) 3 0 7 0 10
The Dallas Cowboys and their quarterback Tony Romo (22-35, 329 yards w/ 2 TDs) shoed that they are ready to compete for NFC dominance by flying past the Bears 34-10 on NBC Sunday Night football. The Cowboys broken open a close game in the first half by turning three interceptions by Bears Rex Grossman into points. The victory gives Dallas its first 3-0 start since 1999, while the defending NFC champions fell to 1-2. Wide receiver Terrell Owens caught eight passes for 145 yards, moving past Michael Irvin into 14th place on the NFL’s career list with 12,044 yards.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Titans (2-1-0) 3 7 7 14 31
Saints (0-3-0) 0 7 7 0 14
On Monday Nigh Football, the Titans led by quarterback Vince Young (14-22, 164 yards w/ 2 TDs and 23 yards rushing) and LB Keith Bulluck (3 INTs) defeated the win-less Saints in New Orleans. The game was supposed to be a rematch of the 2005 Heisman and 2006 Rose Bowl, but Vince Young got the best of Reggie Bush again. The Titans were fueled by a running game led by running backs LenDale White and Chris Brown. The player with the most to prove now for the Saints seems to be QB Drew Brees, who had another miserable game finishing with five turnovers (4 INTs and 1 Fumble lost).