Friday, January 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL Week 3: What we learned

Take the knee … well, not NOW

The ol' walkoff runoff. That's how the Lions' undefeated season came to an end. Trailing the Falcons 30-26 and looking for another fourth-quarter comeback victory, which would have been their second of the season and 10th in the past two years, the Lions appeared to have taken the lead with 8 seconds left when QB Matthew Stafford hooked up with Golden Tate, who caught the ball at the Atlanta 2-yard line and dived into the end zone for an apparent go-ahead score. But replay showed his knee hit the turf before the ball crossed the goal line. And because the Lions were out of timeouts and the clock would have continued to run had the call on the field been down by contact and not a touchdown, they were subject to a 10-second runoff. And with 8 seconds left, well, do the math. This was how the Lions website described the ending: "IT'S #SHOWTIME!!!! @ShowtimeTate" Then a minute later: "Wow" Yup.

Duh, Bears!

The "Duh of the Day Award" goes to Bears cornerback Marcus Cooper, who picked up a blocked field goal on the last play of the first half against the Steelers and raced nearly the length of the field until he slowed to a walk and had the ball knocked out of his hand at Pittsburgh's 1-yard line by Vance McDonald, who never stopped hustling. The Steelers' Jordan Berry knocked the ball out of the end zone, resulting in a penalty for illegally batting the ball. The Bears took over at the half-yard line, but instead of a shot at a touchdown, they had a false start that resulted in a field goal and a 17-7 lead, which is good, but not as good as a 21-7 lead. The missed points proved big. Chicago did win, 23-17, but needed overtime.


What's going on in Buffalo?

LeSean McCoy has rushed for only 30 yards in the past two games. That hurt the Bills in an ugly 9-3 loss at Carolina in Week 2 but wasn't a factor Sunday, thanks to QB Tyrod Taylor. Taylor passed for two touchdowns in a 26-16 win against the Broncos. One of those came on a ball that was deflected at the front of the end zone by the Broncos' Zay Jones and bounced to the back, where it was caught by Andre Holmes.






Hey, Luck, no need to rush back

The Colts earned their first win of the season with one-time Gator quarterback Jacoby Brissett under center. Picked up this month in a trade with the Patriots, Brissett made his second start for the Colts and put his team on top 21-7 in the second quarter when he ran for two touchdowns and passed for a third. The guy who is still trying to learn the Colts' offense passed for 259 yards, one score and, most important, no interceptions.





Fender-bender for Jets' tank

That fan at Saturday's USC-Cal game holding a Jets jersey with Trojans QB San Darnold's name and number on the back has to be out-of-his-mind crazy today. The Jets lost a step in the race for the No. 1 overall pick in April's draft with a 20-6 victory against the Dolphins. The good news for fans of Gang Green: The Jets have a better record than the Giants.

Now listen to the story of a rookie kicker taken in the fifth round

How often do you see a kicker carried off on his teammates' shoulders? About as often as you see a kicker make a 61-yarder at the gun for a victory. The kick of rookie Jake Elliott (4 above) helped the Eagles avoid a punch-to-the gut fourth-quarter collapse against the Giants with his winner in the 27-24 victory. Elliott also made a 46-yarder with 51 seconds left to tie the score at 24. From there it was a couple of clock-stopping Eli Manning incompletions, a punt and a 19-yard pass from Carson Wentz to Alshon Jeffery to set up Elliott for the winner. Just how they drew it up.

Falcons extend redemption tour

Much was made last year of the Patriots' determination to win the Super Bowl after Tom Brady's four-game Deflategate suspension. How about the Falcons' determination to get back to the Super Bowl and finish the job? The Falcons held on for a thrilling 30-26 road win against the Lions with the help of replay and a quirky rule. They are 3-0, which includes a beatdown of the Packers in Atlanta. It wasn't pretty Sunday. Matt Ryan threw three interceptions, and the Falcons let Matthew Stafford drive the Lions down the field with no timeouts in the waning moments. But championship teams find ways to win ugly.

Bortles, Flacco switch bodies

Game line: 8-for-18, 28 yards, two interceptions: Blake Bortles or Joe Flacco? You would think Bortles, given how the Ravens' defense has played this season — 10 points allowed in its first eight quarters. But you would be wrong. Bortles shredded that defense for 244 yards and four touchdowns in a 44-7 smackdown in London. The Jags (2-1) are above .500 after three games for the first time since 2010. Flacco turned in a career-worst day with that awful line during a London debut he'd love to forget. The Ravens were held to minus-1 yard of offense in the first quarter and didn't cross midfield until the third.

Yeah, about that Browns pick

Perhaps it's best to wait until the Browns actually win a game before making them favorites to win a game. Yes, the Colts haven't been very good, and they are still without Andrew Luck, and yes, the Browns gave the Steelers a game in Week 2, but come on. Road favorites? Rookie QB DeShone Kizer threw a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes to make it close, but he also threw three interceptions. Final score: Colts 31, Browns 28. It was the 15th straight road loss for the Browns, who were a road favorite for the first time since 2012.

New England Bradys win again

Who needs a running game and a defense when you have Tom Brady (above)? The ageless wonder is carrying the Patriots. The defending champs don't have a running game to speak of, and their defense is a tad leaky, having allowed 31.7 points per game. But Brady continues to be Brady. He passed for 378 yards and five scores with no interceptions in a 36-33 win over the Texans. The winning points came on a 25-yard pass to Brandin Cooks with 25 seconds left.

Giants going to the dogs

Giants receiver Odell Beckham celebrated his first touchdown catch versus the Eagles by pretending to be a dog peeing in the end zone (above). "I'm a dog. So I acted like a dog," he said. Their offense woke up in the fourth quarter with three Eli Manning touchdown passes. But they lost 27-24 on a game-ending 61-yard field goal to go 0-3 for the first time since '13. In the past 37 years, only 3 percent of teams that began 0-3 made the playoffs.

But they probably had good wings

Did someone say trap game? The Broncos traveled to Buffalo, where they played the Bills one week after a big win against the visiting Cowboys and a week before a showdown with the Raiders. Final score: Bills 26, Broncos 16. A pair of second-half interceptions from QB Trevor Siemian didn't help. Neither did dropped passes and missed tackles.

Almost, but not quite

The Texans nearly won for only the second time in 10 games against the Patriots and first in six tries in Foxborough, and with a little better two-minute defense, they might have. It was a disappointing 36-33 loss, true, but the bright spot was the play of QB Deshaun Watson. The rookie making his second NFL start made mistakes, including two interceptions, one that led to a first-half Patriots' touchdown. But he had his team in front 33-28 in the final minute until Tom Brady stole the show.

League responds to Trump

The NFL rallied around itself in the wake of President Donald Trump criticizing players who protest during the national anthem and the owners who keep them employed. Many players knelt, sat or locked arms during the anthem. Three teams — the Steelers, Titans and Seahawks — remained in their locker rooms during it. The Steelers had one exception: tackle Alejandro Villanueva, a West Point graduate who served as an Army Ranger. The protests started in London, where the Jaguars, joined by owner Shad Khan, linked arms. "It was a privilege," Khan said. The Jets — whose owner Woody Johnson is the Trump-appointed U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom — all stood at attention.

Rodgers breaks his 0-fer

What is a more surprising stat: that Aaron Rodgers entered Sunday 0-for-7 for his career in overtime or that Andy Dalton has played in two ties? Most would agree Rodgers, right? Though Dalton's two ties does get your attention. But Rodgers is winless no more, thanks to a second-half surge that saw the Packers rally from 21-7 down to tie the Bengals at 24 on a Rodgers-to-Jordy Nelson touchdown with 21 seconds left in regulation. Green Bay won on an OT field goal.

Saints break their 0-fer, too

Drew Brees and the Saints went marching into Carolina, and Brees had his way with the top-ranked defense in the league, passing for three scores in a 34-13 win. The Panthers defense had allowed just six points through their first two games. It was a big win for the Saints, who avoided an 0-3 start.

Panthers trending down

What's going on with Panthers QB Cam Newton? He threw three interceptions and was never in synch in a 34-13 loss to the visiting Saints. What's more, receiver Kelvin Benjamin left the game with a knee injury. That's a big blow to an offense already without tight end Greg Olsen. The Panthers O-line allowed four sacks in their first loss.

Class of the rookie class

Chiefs running back Kareen Hunt is making a case for rookie of the year honors with another strong game: 172 rushing yards and a touchdown in a 24-10 road win against the Chargers. Included was a game-sealing 69-yard score with 1:49 to play. In three games he has 401 rushing yards and four touchdowns, and two touchdown catches.

It's a hat trick

Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman was flagged three times on one play in a 33-27 loss to the Titans: pass interference and holding against Eric Decker, then unsportsmanlike conduct.

Titans trending up

How about them Titans! They beat the Seahawks 33-27 with a physical performance that included 115 rushing yards from DeMarco Murray and a 225 yards passing, two TDs and zero interceptions from QB Marcus Mariota. It was the second straight 30-point week from the Titans, who could easily emerge as the class of a so-so AFC South.

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Updated: 01/18/18

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