If you happen to be wondering what happened to week 2, I had most of it typed up and my computer crashed before it was saved. I knew I did not have the time to start completely over and finally just decided to trash it like the week it was and move on. While Week 2 had many exciting plays, the overlying story was the ever growing list of injured players. Ben Roethlisburger and Carson Wentz both had superficial injuries but were able to return for Week 3. Others such as Jarvis Landry and Tua Tagovailoa had injuries with more lasting effects that has them both still sidelined. With such a brutal week on so many teams so early in the season, one would expect a more tame Week 3 but that was far from the case. It seemed many teams decided to take this opportunity to showcase exactly what their respective franchises had to offer.
Thursday night in Houston, the Texans attempted to do just that when Christian McCaffrey went down early in regulation with an injured hamstring. Davis Mills had a respectable first start in his young career completing 19 of his 28 passes and was able to find Brandin Cooks nine times for 112 yards. He was also able to connect with Anthony Miller for a touchdown but was no match for a Carolina team that has just flat out been rolling this season. Sam Darnold tossed 23 of 34 passes recording 304 yards while punching in two touchdowns with his legs. Showing no signs of slowing down, he hit DJ Moore on eight occasions for 126 yards. While Houston’s defense continued to show they are not to be pushed around, Carolina was able to work the ground game and also spread the passes around enough to keep that defense guessing, which opened up ample opportunities for the Panthers to take this game 24-9.
Sunday afternoon brought us New Orleans versus New England. After a disappointing game against the Panthers, Jameis Winston came out to have a much better game this week throwing 13 of 21 for 128 yards securing two passing touchdowns and keeping the word “interception” off his stat line for the week. The same could not be said for Mac Jones, unfortunately. The rookie quarterback showed serious growing pains in this contest, completing only 30 of his 51 throws. He was able to eat up gains with Kendrick Bourne and Jakobi Meyers, each receiving for just under 100 yards each and Bourne earning a touchdown. His three interceptions, however, helped nothing in their effort and the Saints would go on to win against the Patriots 28-13.
The rookie woes continued on when the Jets traveled to Mile High Stadium to take on the Broncos. Zach Wilson raised eyebrows in all the wrong ways when he posted a mere 160 yards on 19 of 35 passes and two picks. Meanwhile, Teddy Bridgewater was able to pass the ball around as he continues to get comfortable in this Denver offense. He connected with seven different receivers for positive yardage. Tim Patrick was his main target receiving five passes for 98 yards. Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams would each rush for touchdowns as well. A stagnant New York defense never really got into the game and allowed Denver to experiment with different schemes and really get a feel on their playbook. New York was never able to get anything going in this one and dropped the game to Denver 26-0.
Another young quarterback would take on a more experienced counterpart as Washington took on Buffalo. Taylor Heinicke is making the most of his starts as Ryan Fitzpatrick continues to rehab a hip injury. The young signal caller completed 14 of his 24 targets for 212 yards and scored two touchdowns through the air while carrying one in himself. Antonio Gibson snagged one pass for 73 yards and a touchdown while the other end zone connection was to Logan Thomas. Washington’s defense also put up a valiant effort but Buffalo played as though they had something to prove as well. Josh Allen was out to shut the nay-sayers up as he connected on 32 of 43 throws for 358 yards and four touchdown passes while adding a score on the ground. Allen showed the kind of arsenal he has this year by scoring with two different receivers but arguably the greatest contribution came from Emmanuel Sanders whose two touchdown catches and 94 yards kept this game out of reach for the Football Team as the Bills improved to 3-0 with a 43-21 win.
With Tua Tagovailoa still sidelined with broken ribs, Jacoby Brissett would have yet another opportunity to prove his worth. Finding Mike Gesicki on 10 passes for 86 yards, Brissett would finish the game going 32 for 49 of his throws for 215 yards. He also reminded everyone what his legs can do by carrying the ball 37 yards himself while punching in a rushing touchdown along the way. Derek Carr under-impressed on his completion percentage, missing 17 of his targets, but was able to hit the big plays finishing the game with 386 yards and two touchdowns. Although Carr had trouble finding a reliable receiver to depend on for multiple plays, Peyton Barber was able to pick up the slack on the ground rushing for 111 yards and scoring a touchdown. The game went to overtime where a field goal shootout ensued, but time was on Las Vegas’ side as Daniel Carlson booted one in as time expired giving the Raiders the victory over the Dolphins 31-28.
Cincinnati would show us that sometimes less is more when they took the field to face their arch-rival Steelers. Only attempting 18 passes on the game, Joe Burrow was able to connect on 14 of them for 172 yards and three touchdowns. Ja’Marr Chase ate up 65 yards and two scores on four receptions. Joe Mixon also contributed 18 carries for 90 yards. Ben Roethlisburger gave some concern to Pittsburgh fans having completed 35 of 58 passes with two of those throws being intercepted. Najee Harris was productive with 14 receptions for 102 yards and 14 carries for another 40 yards. Chase Claypool also had a decent day, recording 96 yards on nine receptions. The struggles finding the end zone would ultimately be a thorn in the side for Pittsburgh and Cincinnati came away with the win here 24-10.
The Ravens faced off against the Lions on an emotional rollercoaster of a game. Both teams had trouble finding the end zone in this game but still managed to keep it interesting and drama filled. Jared Goff recorded 22 of 30 passes for 217 yards but the bulk of his offense would come on the ground. D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams would each rush one in combining for just under 100 yards. The offensive drought was also in effect for Baltimore. Completing only 16 of 31 passes, the Ravens were plagued by drops, many of which should have been touchdowns. Tight end Mark Andrews caught the bulk of the yardage, receiving five passes for 109 yards. Although he missed a rare field goal earlier in the game, Justin Tucker would seal this one up as time expired when it mattered. The 66-yard field goal would set a new NFL record and give the game to the Ravens 19-17
The Bears visited the Browns in yet another disappointing rookie performance. Baker Mayfield controlled this game from beginning to end completing 19 of his 31 lobs for 246 yards and a touchdown. The bulk of the Browns’ offense was on the ground with Nick Chubb taking most of the handoffs rushing for 84 yards on 22 carries while Kareem Hunt would tack on another 10 carries for 81 yards and a touchdown. Chicago was never able to get things going on either side of the ball. Justin Fields only completed 6 of his 20 attempts through the air and his offensive line did him no favors by allowing the rookie to be sacked nine times during the course of the game. The Bears’ offensive struggles were never solved resulting in only 112 yards of total offense and inciting many rumblings within the Chicago fan base about the future of head coach Matt Nagy. The Browns would go on to embarrass the Bears in this one 26-6.
Carson Wentz returned for duty against their division rival Tennessee Titans after suffering sprains in both ankles in Week 2. With lingering questions about the longevity of Jacob Eason as a starter, Wentz was once again thrust into action after a short recovery from injury. He managed to complete 19 of 37 passes for 194 yards. Jonathan Taylor was also able to contribute with 10 carries for 64 yards. The contest was largely a ground battle. Derrick Henry led Tennessee’s rushers with 144 total yards of offense on 31 touches. Ryan Tannehill completed 18 of 27 passes for 197 yards and added another 56 yards on the ground. Although he did get intercepted twice in the game his three touchdown passes would secure the AFC South win for the Titans 25-16.
Arizona went in to Jacksonville expecting to dominate the young restructuring team but a lackluster defensive showing for the Cardinals opened the door for the Jaguars to get a foot in the door and kept this matchup somewhat close. Kyler Murray hurled 28 of 34 passes for 316 yards and added another 19 yards and a touchdown on the ground. James Conner had 11 carries for 43 yards and found the end zone twice. Had it not been for the air game between AJ Green and Christian Kirk this game could have potentially went a lot worse. Fortunately for Arizona, the Jaguars are not quite clicking on all cylinders just yet. Possibly his best start to date, Trevor Lawrence recorded 246 yards of total offense and scored a touchdown pass but he threw two interceptions. Aside from the picks, Jacksonville fumbled four times, losing two of those to the defense. Arizona would manage to keep this one out of reach for Jacksonville beating the Jaguars 31-19.
The Chargers took on the Chiefs and this one was an absolute shootout. Justin Herbert has returned from his Rookie of the Year season without missing a step, showing more promise with every game. He connected on 26 of his 38 passes for 281 yards and four touchdowns. His favorite target of the game was Mike Williams, who had 122 yards on seven receptions and scored twice. Austin Ekeler and Keenan Allen would also combine for over 100 yards and two touchdowns. Kansas City was looking to bounce back after a close loss to the Ravens last week. Patrick Mahomes scored three touchdown passes and recorded 260 yards but he completed just 27 of 44 passes and threw two interceptions. That gave the Chargers the opportunity to edge out the Chiefs 30-24.
The Falcons were in New York facing off against the G-Men on Sunday. Matt Ryan went 27 of 36 passing for 243 yards and two touchdowns. While the bulk of the yards and passes were to Calvin Ridley and Cordarrelle Patterson, the two touchdown passes actually went to Olamide Zaccheus And Lee Smith who each caught three passes for 32 and seven yards, respectively. Daniel Jones had similar efficiency recording 24 of 35 in the air for 266 yards. The Giants’ scoring however came on the ground and through the uprights. Saquon Barkley scored the lone touchdown. As he eases back into action, he is starting to show glimpses of his old self rushing for 51 yards and receiving and additional 43 yards on six catches. Fittingly, this game would come down to a field goal as time expired giving Atlanta a much needed win 17-14.
When the Seahawks faced off against the Vikings, many were looking for Seattle to school their opponent, but Kirk Cousins had other ideas of his own. We should have seen this coming. Minnesota has been quietly building a deep roster over the past few seasons and Cousins was out to prove that he is not done yet. The veteran logged 323 yards on 30 of 38 passes and hit his receivers for three touchdowns. Displaying his full array of weapons, he found Justin Jefferson nine times for 118 yards and a touchdown. Tyler Conklin and Adam Thielen also contributed with 70 and 50 yards, respectively while each had touchdowns. With Dalvin Cook still sidelined with an ankle injury, Alexander Mattison was probably the most impressive. He rushed for 112 yards on 26 carries and also snagged six receptions for 59 yards. Dalvin Cook was expected to be back for Week 3, so it would be surprising for Mattison to get the start in Week 4. Look for this guy to do big things somewhere in the future regardless. Russell Wilson has not played to the standard that we have become accustomed to from the former Super Bowl champion and eight time Pro Bowler this season and has many scratching their heads over what might be missing. Wilson was 23 of 32 on the day, accumulating 298 yards and a passing touchdown. His biggest target, as always, was DK Metcalf who managed 107 yards and receiving Wilson’s only touchdown pass of the game. Chris Carson was also able to find the end zone rushing for 80 yards on 12 carries, but neither that nor Seattle’s 12th man were able stop the bleeding and the Vikings would make their statement heard, winning this one 30-17.
Another game that was not quite what fans might have been expecting came as Tampa Bay visited Los Angeles. While Tom Brady played a game that most NFL quarterbacks would have been more than satisfied with, for one who is consistently called the G.O.A.T., a little was left to be desired as a whole. Brady completed 41 of 55 throws for 432 yards and a touchdown while sneaking in another score on the ground on three carries. Mike Evans was the leading receiver, connecting with Brady 106 yards on eight receptions. Giovanni Bernard, getting more accustomed to life with the Bucs, was able to get into the endzone once, catching 9 passes for 51 yards. Matthew Stafford, however, has also started showing more comfort in his new digs. Stafford recorded 343 yards of his own through the air, finding receivers in the end zone four times. Cooper Kupp was instrumental in the assault, catching two of those touchdown passes from a total of 96 yards. Desean Jackson and Tyler Higbee had significantly fewer looks but both made the most of them scoring on just a handful of looks each. Rob Gronkowski suffered a minor chest injury, which may have meant the game for Tampa Bay as the Rams defeated the Buccaneers 34- 24.
The Sunday late games have been very exciting this season and the Week 3 did not disappoint. Green Bay and San Francisco were early favorites in their respective divisions and both teams desperately want to prove their believers right and their critics wrong. Aaron Rodgers would end up finishing the game with 261 yards and two touchdowns making the most of his 23 of 33 completions. Davante Adams showed that he is worth the raise he received in the offseason by receiving 12 passes for 132 yards and a touchdown. Aaron Jones had 19 carries for 82 yards and found the end zone once. The Packers defense played just below average but Jaire Alexander was able to steal one away for a 30-yard interception. While Jimmy Garopollo had a decent day, much was still left to be desired by many 49ers fans. The signal caller went 25 of 40 passing for 257 yards and two touchdowns. Those scores came by way of Kyle Juszcyk and Brandon Aiyuk who both strangely had identical stat lines of four receptions for 37 yards. George Kittle also helped out with 92 yards of his own on seven receptions. While the ground game was not spectacular for San Fransisco, Trey Sermon and Trey Lance were both able to punch in scores but at the end of the day, you can not give Aaron Rodgers time left on the clock. After the Niners took a one-point lead with 37 seconds remaining in regulation, Rodgers minced up the field quickly giving Mason Crosby the chance to win the game with a 54-yard field goal. The veteran kicker, who was perfect on the day, booted it through the uprights giving the Packers the win 30-28
As fun and exciting as the Sunday games were for the most part, Monday’s matchup between the Eagles and the Cowboys was at times hard to watch. Jalen Hurts did all that he could, airing it out for 326 yards on 25 of 39 passing and scoring two touchdowns. However, he also threw two interceptions. The Eagles struggled to get anything done on the ground, and Hurts had to take the bulk of the carries himself. Philadelphia’s offensive line was pretty much non-existent leaving Hurts little time or room to make anything happen. All things considered, Philly actually had a decent day defensively, getting to the quarterback six times for four sacks. After almost an entire season off due to an ankle injury last season, Dak Prescott showed that he was not in a mood to play nice. Prescott would pass for 238 yards on 21 of 26 attempts scoring three touchdowns along the way. Possibly the most impressive receiver was Dalton Shultz, who on only seven targets, captured six of them for 80 yards and two touchdowns. Ezekiel Elliott also showed that he was ready to get back to business rushing in a pair of touchdowns of his own on 17 carries, just narrowly missing the century mark with 95 yards. While Philadelphia continues to show promise for the future, they could not get much going on this outing and the home team would come away with this on 41-21.
With Weeks 1-3 behind us, we move on to the part of the season that the players look themselves in the mirror and really start buckling down and get serious about their goals. If Week 2 seemed brutal and Week 3 looked more competitive, the remainder of the season should start heating up very soon. As the storylines keep coming and big plays are made, I will continue to do my best to unwrap the tangle of information and package it up in a way that is hopefully interesting to everyone who takes the time to read. To those readers and supporters, I would just like to thank each of you for taking the time to hear what i have to say. Here’s to 14 more weeks of great football and endless prognosticating.
Jimmy Jones is a Contributor for Unwrapped Sports Network. Follow him on on Twitter @JimmyUnwrapped.