Away teams dominated the early slate of games in week three of the NFL season. Atlanta (ehhh), New Orleans, Arizona, Baltimore, Cincinnati, and the Los Angeles Chargers earned road victories. The Falcons, Saints, and Chargers were all road dogs. There were some whacky endings in Week 3, and special teams earned the term “special.” Who would have thought the Chiefs would have a losing record through three games? Let’s see this week’s winners and losers.
The Chargers head coach went into Arrowhead and earned a victory against Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid. Staley was one of the biggest head coaching names after the job he performed as the defensive coordinator for the Rams. Staley employs a predominant tite front, middle of the field open match, type of defense. The two-high looks allow for more versatility and ambiguity with his coverages.
Los Angeles was able to contain Mahomes at home. They caused two interceptions and forced Mahomes to check down. The defense kept the speedy, skilled wide receivers in front and then hunkered down when it mattered, especially in the first half. The Chiefs were able to move the ball more in the second half, but it was too little too late. One way to earn the fan base’s respect is to go on the road - in division, against the best team in the NFL, and earn a win. Good for Staley, the defense, and the Chargers offense led by promising second-year player Justin Herbert.
Winning in Pittsburgh has been nearly impossible for the Bengals.
WHO DEY!!— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) September 26, 2021
Bengals come into Pittsburgh and leave with their largest win over the Steelers since 1995! pic.twitter.com/ibl68Icu9F
Zac Taylor coached Joe Burrow to a 172-yard performance on 14 of 18 passing for three touchdowns and an interception. Rookie receiver Ja’Marr Chase, and former college teammate of Burrow, played excellent sans Tee Higgins in the lineup. Chase had four catches for 65-yards and two touchdowns.
With 2 receiving TD today, Ja'Marr Chase became the youngest player (& first 21-year-old) in NFL history to have 4+ rec TD in his team's first 3 games of a season— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) September 26, 2021
HOF Randy Moss was the previous youngest player (21) w/ 3 rec TD in his team's first 3 games@Bengals @Real10jayy__
The Steelers’ offense is concerning, but that’s no referendum on the Bengals’ defense. Ben Roethlisberger threw the ball 58-times with two interceptions. The identity of the Steelers on offense is questionable, and their defense wasn’t the same without T.J. Watt. The Steelers have now dropped two home games in a row, as the Bengals improve to 2-1 to join the Browns and Ravens at the top of the division.
The Lions barely lost two games this season where they were significant underdogs. They just missed a Week 1 upset against the 49ers, and they were in position to defeat the Ravens in Week 3. Down by one point, Lamar Jackson found Sammy Watkins for 36-yards on a fourth-and-19. The Ravens spiked the ball, ran a play to kill time, and set up Justin Tucker for what would be the longest field goal in NFL history - a 66-yarder.
Justin Tucker's 66-yard game-winning field goal at the Lions is the longest made field goal in NFL history— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) September 26, 2021
His previous career-long of 61 yards was also a game-winner in an 18-16 game at the Lions in Week 15, 2013#BALvsDET
Here’s the video...
On the flip side, the Ravens steal a victory from the jaws of defeat for the second week in a row. Tucker missed a 49-yard field goal earlier in the game. It’s just an incredible way to end the game.
Sean McVay and the Rams
It was obvious that Jared Goff’s experience in Los Angeles was coming to an end late last season. After the Rams lost in the playoffs, Goff never talked with the Rams until he was traded with the Lions. It seemed like McVay knew he needed to upgrade his quarterback position. Goff is a fine quarterback, but Matt Stafford is a potential hall of famer.
The Rams are not shy when it comes to trading draft assets. McVay identified Stafford as the guy to run his offense, and through three games, he seems to be correct as the Rams beat the Super Bowl Champion Buccaneers 34-24. Stafford threw for 343 yards (27 of 38) with four touchdowns, including a 75-yard pass to DeSean Jackson.
Cooper Kupp continued his tear with Stafford by scoring two touchdowns in this game as well. It looks like the coffee narrative lives strong. Stafford allows the creative and innovative mind of McVay to flourish. He can execute every NFL type of throw and processes information well. The Rams sent two first-rounders, a three, and Goff to the Lions for Stafford. That’s a lot, but if they continue winning games and stressing defenses, then it’s well worth it.
After a slow start to Josh Allen’s season, the presumed potential MVP candidate made up for lost time at home against the Washington Football Team. Allen carved up the Football Team’s defense; he went 32 of 43 for 358 passing yards and four touchdowns while adding a touchdown on the ground.
Allen spread the wealth to his receivers while Washington’s defense continued to struggle. There was also a heartfelt aspect to this 43-21 beatdown of the Football Team.
Josh Allen says Brian Daboll lost his grandma this week. He said she raised him and that him and his family are hurting right now. Says roles are reversed after Josh lost his grandma and Daboll was there for him. Today Daboll fell into Josh’s arms after game.— Matt Parrino (@MattParrino) September 26, 2021
Allen and the Bills are set to host the Texans next week.
This one hits home. The Giants had three winnable games to open the season before facing the Buccaneers, Chiefs, Rams, Saints, and the undefeated Panthers in the next seven games. They lost two very winnable home games. In week one, they appeared like they didn’t deserve to be on the same football field.
In Week 3 at home, New York could only score 14 points against a team that surrendered the second-most points through two weeks. To be fair, losing Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton certainly did not help, but this team failed to overcome those unfortunate obstacles at home against a team that may finish with a top-five pick.
NYG decided to punt to ATL from the ATL 39 on 4th & 3 with 6:29 remaining in the 3rd while losing 6 to 7.— Surrender Index (@surrender_index) September 26, 2021
With a Surrender Index of 69.9, this punt ranks at the 100th percentile of cowardly punts of the 2021 season, and the 99.6th percentile of all punts since 1999.
This is not a great look for a coach who has been far too conservative. Judge says all the right things to the media. “We’re getting better every day; we focus on the fundamentals; we want to mitigate mistakes.” etc. However, the team keeps being undisciplined, and they fail to capitalize on opponent mistakes. The honeymoon phase of Joe Judge is over. Victories are too elusive, and the Giants are now, unfortunately, 0-3.
Steelers rushing attack
Pittsburgh started the 2020 season 11-0 before losing four of their last five games to finish 12-4. Their rushing attack with James Connor was stagnant, and they couldn’t win at the point of attack. This prompted the team to select Najee Harris in the first round.
Harris is a stud - that’s true, but studs can only take an offense so long. The Steelers gave Harris 14-carries against the Bengals, and he averaged 2.9-yards. Pittsburgh can’t run the football, and Ben Roethlisberger’s deep passing isn’t the same as it once was; so, similar to last season, teams are sitting on quick game and not allowing Pittsburgh to establish a rhythm which is leading to an inefficient passing attack coupled with a marginal running game.
The rookie running back can only do so much - it’s not his fault. The Steelers have to find ways to diversify their offense and move the chains, but they’re in a similar predicament that they found themselves in late in 2020. It’s going to be a long season for Steelers’ Nation if they can’t figure out these offensive woes.
68-yard field goal attempt
There’s no doubting the leg of Arizona kicker Matt Prater. He attempted to break his record for longest field goal, resulting in what Roger Sherman deemed a “kick-six.”
Matt Prater tried to break his own NFL record for longest field goal, missed, gave up a kick six, and then Justin Tucker came around and broke his record. Rough day for Matt— Rodger Sherman (@rodger) September 26, 2021
The field goal was missed resulting in a 109-yard missed field goal returned for a touchdown by Jamal Agnew as time expired in the first half. The game was more competitive than many imagined, but the Cardinals pulled away in the second half. Ironically enough, later in the one-o’clock slate, Ravens’ kicker Justin Tucker set a new record with a winning 66-yard field goal as time expired. Tucker hit the crossbar, and the ball bounced up and in for the win against Detriot.
Zach Wilson has had a terrible two-game stretch against two tough defenses. The Jets were shut out against the Broncos in week three, and Wilson threw for 160-yards and two interceptions. The offense couldn’t get anything going on the ground, Wilson was sacked five times, and the Broncos’ secondary clamped on the Jets’ receivers. It’s not a surprise that a rookie quarterback struggled to win against the Broncos in Denver, but going two straight weeks without a touchdown warrants a position on the list.
I’m in no position to ridicule any fanbase - I cover the Giants, and that’s not what I’m doing - however, Justin Fields’ first start against a very good opponent didn’t go too well. The Bears have rightfully been clamoring to see their rookie, but the Browns rained on the parade as Chicago fell to Cleveland 26-6. This is a Giants’ site, so we can rejoice in this Chicago loss.
Justin Fields recorded a completion percentage over expectation of -28% today.— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) September 26, 2021
That's the lowest CPOE game since Nathan Peterman in Week 1 of 2018 (-38%), per NFL Next Gen Stats (min. 14 pass attempts).
The Bears had 47-yards of total offense - wow. Matt Nagy didn’t necessarily help the young quarterback out. Cleveland had the ball for over 39-minutes. Chicago had one drive more than five plays - a nine-play drive that resulted in a field goal. One reason the Bears yard totals were so low was Cleveland’s nine sacks for a loss of 67-yards against Fields. There will be better days for this Chicago offense and Fields, but it was an ugly start in Cleveland.