Whew. Let’s all take a minute and catch our breath. Grab a drink of water, take a seat and just relax.
No one knew what would come on what would be a Sunday talked about for some time. However, amongst the political action, Sunday brought plenty of intrigue and plenty of excitement to the NFL. From wild finishes to crazy sequences, the product of the NFL finally showed up in a big big way.
Protests Loom Large
Everyone following the NFL knew about the looming protests in wake of some very controversial comments from President Trump. For the most part, protests went as expected. Some teams, like the Steelers and Seahawks, stayed in the locker room for the anthem. Some teams had nearly every player sitting, like the Oakland Raiders. The others? They locked arms, showing an answer of unity in the face of divide.
However, not everyone took a seat or followed the script. Steelers offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva decided to come out of the locker room and stand near the tunnel for the national anthem. In a wake of protest, Villanueva, a former army ranger, stood for his own beliefs.
What does this mean? There’s no doubt more protests will be on deck, especially in the Monday night game. This will most likely continue to happen all season long. The question is, when does the sitting end and the acting begin?
Heartbreaker Of The Week: Detroit Lions
Moving on to football, the Lions and Falcons duked it out in a back and forth thriller. With limited time on the clock, the Lions went down the field to hand the Falcons their first loss of the season. On third and goal, Matt Stafford found Golden Tate and he made it into the end zone.
Or so they thought. After review, it was determined that Tate was in fact down before the goal line.
Here’s where the heartbreak comes in. Because the Lions had no timeouts and it was ruled that Tate was down in the field of play, a 10 second runoff had to be taken. Unfortunately, there were only eight seconds on the clock. Ballgame.
Crazy Sequence Of The Week: Steelers-Bears
This is easily the nuttiest end to a first half I have ever seen. The Steelers lined up for a field goal on what many thought would be the last play of the half. Instead, the field goal was blocked and Marcus Cooper of the Bears picked it up.
As Cooper neared the end zone, he slowed up a bit, which turned out to be a big mistake. Vance McDonald chased Cooper down and forced a fumble, resulting in a touchback and the worst blunder in a while.
Or so they thought. After the fumble occurred, Berry, the Steelers holder, illegally batted the ball out of the end zone. That rule states that since the Steelers were the defenders on the play, batting it out of the end zone gives the offensive team the ball at the one yard line.
The funny thing? Many Steelers defenders had already entered the tunnel and were in the locker room. They had to come out for one more untimed down in the half.
The Bears came out with the offense, determined to get a touchdown. However, offensive lineman Charles Leno committed a false start penalty. That led to the field goal unit coming on, and the Bears got three.
Get all that? It’s okay, read it a couple times. This isn’t going anywhere.
Dominant Performance Of The Week: Case Keenum
It seemed like the Bucs were clear favorites heading into U.S. Bank Stadium to face the Vikings. Sam Bradford was out again, and Keenum didn’t look good against Pittsburgh the week before. With help from a lack of pressure from Tampa Bay, Keenum balled out. He went 25-33 for 369 yards and three touchdowns, and made some real excellent throws. Of course, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are part of the equation. This team, with Dalvin Cook and running back and a top defense, is one to watch.
Surprise Of The Week: New York Jets
The New York Jets for 0-16? Not anymore. The Jets showed up in a big way against the Miami Dolphins at home. Josh McCown completed 18 of his 23 passes for 249 yards and a long touchdown pass to Robbie Anderson.
The biggest part of the Jets win came on the defensive side of the ball. The defensive line, led by Leonard Willams and Muhammad Wilkerson, shut down Jay Ajayi, holding him to 16 yards on 11 carries. Jay Cutler also struggled on the day, taking three sacks and looking very Jay Cutler-like. Also, Jamal Adams continues to impress in his rookie season.
Unsung Hero Award: Geronimo Allison
The Packers found themselves in an odd spot at home trailing 21-7 to the Bengals at halftime. The Packers found some success in the second half, but still trailed by seven with under four minutes to play. Aaron Rodgers looked to Geronimo Allison early on the drive. However, a drop on second and nine set up a tough third down. What did Rodgers do? He went right back to Allison, who made a very good play on a contested ball. That was a huge catalyst on the touchdown drive. In overtime, Green Bay was backed up on their first offensive possession. Rodgers caught the Bengals offside on third down, and Allison beat his man down the left sideline and Rodgers found him. Allison made Adam Jones miss twice en route to a 72 yard gain. That set up the winning field goal. Teams should take notice of Allison now.
The No Fun League Returns
This was really painful to watch. The Bills led the Broncos by seven in the fourth quarter. The Broncos got pressure on Tyrod Taylor, and Von Miller ended up getting a good hit on Taylor. However, Miller reached for Taylor’s hand to help him up, but then pulled it away jokingly. Both Miller and Taylor were laughing at that, but then the refs unnecessarily stepped in and threw a flag. That 15 yard penalty led to a Bills field goal, and very well cost Denver the game.
Apparently, the no fun league is still in effect. A garbage call.
Best Celebration: Lions Curling
The celebrations are getting much better now that the NFL lifted the rule on penalizing celebrations after touchdowns. The Lions are the best team at this. Last week, they played some ping pong, and this week it looked like they tried some curling after Golden Tate scored. Keep it up Detroit.
2-0. Real Or Fake?
Many teams entered the week at 2-0. However, not all 2-0 teams are created equal. Some teams were exposed as a fake 2-0 team and will struggle this season despite their start. Let’s look at some candidates (all these 2-0 teams lost).
Baltimore Ravens – Fake. The defense looked good against the Bengals and Browns, but those were the Bengals and Browns. The offense struggled mightily against a good defense, and they just don’t have the weapons to win high scoring games.
Carolina Panthers – Fake. The issues with the Panthers lie in the secondary and on offense. Drew Brees lit them up this past week. Also, the offense looked anemic at best. With no Greg Olsen, and the uncertainty of Kelvin Benjamin, the Panthers could struggle even more going forward. The good news? Christian McCaffrey looks excellent, especially out of the backfield.
Oakland Raiders – Real. This is still a playoff contender. The offense looked awful on Sunday night, but it’s one game. They still have the pieces on offense to outscore opponents. The defense gives up big plays, but their issues aren’t as major.
Denver Broncos – Real. For now, like Oakland, they are fine. They looked too good in previous weeks at this point. Plus, the Bills play good defense. If Siemian continues to play well, they will be contenders.
Detroit Lions – Real. Again, for now, this team looks fine. The defense got very opportunistic in this game, picking off Matt Ryan three times. As defenders return, they’ll only get better there. They were also inches from beating Atlanta and not being on this.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Real. This is because their division is bad. They still have serious offensive issues, and they tend to give up big plays. Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen slashed them to pieces Sunday. They need to figure it out to be a title contender.
Two Teams Stand Tall
After three weeks of action, only two teams remain undefeated.
The Chiefs look great on both sides of the ball, and Kareem Hunt is a star right now. They have three wins over quality teams. Yes, the Chargers are a quality team, despite being 0-3.
The other? None other than the team who blew a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl. The Falcons have had tests in every week against the NFC North, and they haven’t flinched. They are off to a good start. Let’s see how they handle it.
What We Learned
Here’s some nuggets from week three.
- Tony Romo is excellent in the booth. I missed it this past week because I was in Lambeau, but I’ve seen the replay. He has excellent analysis and really enjoys himself there. He is miles ahead of where some thought he’d be. I want him calling as many games as he can.
- How can you not mention Eagles kicker Jake Elliott? He was brought up from the practice squad, and nailed a 61 yard game winner in his second game. Well done.
- A lot of contenders are having scares early in the season. Green Bay struggled against Cincinnati. Seattle was bullied by Tennessee. Pittsburgh can’t find their offensive rhythm. Oakland laid an egg against Washington. The good news? It’s a long season.
- I fully expect the protests to continue. However, what the Cowboys did last night is interesting. They knelt in unity before the national anthem. They may have set a standard with that.
- Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady both led comebacks and game winning drives this week. The best two in the business are playing well.
- The rookie running backs are studs. Dalvin Cook and Christian McCaffrey did well this week. Kareem Hunt is absolutely ridiculous right now. It’s so difficult to bring him down. Leonard Fournette is finding holes despite playing good run defenses so far. The Bengals have finally gotten Joe Mixon on the field. Smart move.
- Week three was extremely difficult to predict. This week shows that the NFL is a week-to-week league, and no one has it completely figured out. We still overreact after two weeks, and it bit people in the rear this week.
- Note: I put week three down as a week to bet spreads. Take the points in lots of week three match-ups. Got it.
- Also, regarding timing. I will do better next week to get this done earlier.
Jake Schyvinck is having issues with his deadlines this year. Smoke him on Twitter @JSchyvinck13 for this. Also, give him a follow, and share this post.