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Sunday Evening Quick-Hitters: Reactions from Week 3 in the NFL

Every Sunday evening throughout the 2011 NFL season I’ll compile quick-hit reactions from the day that was in football. I vow to always overreact, side with sensationalism over rationalism, and draw conclusions based on small sample sizes instead of cold, hard facts. It’s the only way I know how to write…

DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING…

New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker (83) chases Buffalo Bills cornerback Drayton Florence, as he runs an interception in for a touchdown, in the fourth quarter of their NFL football game at Orchard Park, New York September 25, 2011. REUTERS/Doug Benz (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

- Raise your hand if you had the Bills sitting atop the AFC East standings alone after Week 3. I can hear someone right now: “Actually, I did call the Bills being 3-0.” LIAR! Nobody had the Bills at 3-0 because that would mean they would have had to beat the Patriots at home in Week 3 and pfff, like that was going to happen. Well, it did happen. Not unlike last Sunday against the Raiders, the Bill spotted the Patriots a 21-0 lead and then proceeded to storm back, intercepting Tom Brady four times as Ryan Fitzpatrick led the comeback of all comebacks. And what a great decision by Chan Gailey at the end. He knew with the score tied 31-31 and the Bills well within field goal range that he could bleed the clock, kick the field goal and leave Brady with no time to respond. Outstanding coaching move. Outstanding game. Outstanding win.

- I definitely thought the Giants would keep things closer than the 9-points that Vegas gave them heading into Philly, but wow. Didn’t see an outright win coming. With most of his receivers out due to various injuries, Eli Manning had one of the better games of his career. You really have to hand it to the Giants, who were playing on a short week and who have been banged up all year. Instead of lying down like many expected, they took the fight to the Eagles’ front doorsteps and then delivered a knockout in the fourth quarter. I don’t care if Michael Vick stays in this game or not: The Eagles weren’t winning it.

- What do you mean Cam Newton didn’t throw for 400 yards? See, total bust. Just like everyone predicted…

AND YOU CALL YOURSELF A PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL TEAM…

Oakland Raiders Darren McFadden (20) runs against the New York Jets at the Coliseum in Oakland, California on September 25, 2011. McFadden ran for 171 yards as the Raiders defeated the Jets 34-24. UPI/Terry Schmitt

- Funny how Bart Scott once said that the Patriots “couldn’t stop a nose bleed,” because the same thing could be said about the Jets’ defense today. What a horrendous display of tackling by Rex Ryan’s veteran-laden squad. Hey Rex, did you not think that the Raiders would feature Darren McFadden? As if they were going to dress him and have him just hang out on the sidelines? Horrible effort by the J.E.T.S today, who got beat by a better-than-average Oakland team and, quite frankly, by themselves. Antonio Cromartie will love watching himself on film tomorrow: the corner was flagged four times for 46 yards on the day.

- The Patriots had a 21-0 lead, Tom Brady threw four touchdowns and Wes Welker caught 16 freaking passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns. And New England still lost. In a weird way, this defeat will probably serve Bill Belichick and his team well down the road, but man this one is going to sting all week.

- Sounds like Mikey Vick is a little frustrated these days. He should be. After boastfully saying in preseason that, “You can’t design a defense to stop me,” he’s gotten his ass handed to him in back-to-back weeks and has had to watch from the sidelines (or locker room) as his team loses. Last week he suffered a concussion versus his former team, the Falcons, and in the Eagles’ loss to the Giants on Sunday, he broke his non-throwing hand. Following the loss, Vick spouted off about how the refs “have got to do their jobs,” which was in reference to him getting hit all the time. He also said, “I don’t know why I don’t get the 15-yard flags like everybody else does.” Sorry, but I have zero sympathy for Vick. I watched both of the Eagles’ games the last two weeks and I didn’t see anything that wasn’t flagged that should have been. I understand his frustration but he’s not struggling because of the refs. The Eagles aren’t 1-2 because of the refs. Everyone knew the Eagles’ offensive line was a major question mark heading into the season and their defense is being exploited on the ground. The “Dream Team” was ready to hold up the Lombardi Trophy before it even took the field and now that things haven’t started the way they wanted, they just have to man up and stop beating themselves. That includes Vick, who has played sloppy football the last two weeks.

- My best friend Doug (a huge Bears fan), sent me this text during the second half of the Green Bay-Chicago game: “Here’s the offensive approach for the Bears: First down, sack for negative 5-8 yards. Second down, run for 0-to-negative-3 yards. Third down, incomplete pass with Jay Cutler head shake.” Fantastic. Lovie Smith had a chat with Mike Martz last year about incorporating the run more into his game plan and it looks like Smith might have to have that little sit-down again. How can Matt Forte only finish with nine carries? Blasphemy.

- News Flash: The Atlanta Falcons aren’t very good. That’s not to say they won’t figure it out eventually, but right now they’re getting completely exposed. The defense actually played well today in Tampa, but Matt Ryan took another massive beating thanks to an offensive line that has resembled one of those big revolving doors that you see at the front of nice hotels. They’re horrible right now, particularly left tackle Sam Baker. Ryan turned the ball over 67 times today but it’s the Jay Cutler affect: If a quarterback only has a millisecond to throw, he’s going to make mistakes. Of course, for the second week in a row the only time the Falcons moved the ball was when they went with the no huddle in the fourth quarter. Maybe it’s time to take the controls out of Mike Mularkey’s hands and put them into Matt Ryan’s. Just a thought.

- The Chargers, a 14.5-point home favorite, barely squeaked by a Kansas City Chiefs team that had been outscored 89-6 in their first two games. Philip Rivers has now thrown two interceptions in all three of San Diego’s games this season, which is noteworthy when you consider his highest interception total for a season is 15. Honestly, if the Raiders and Chargers were to play tomorrow at a neutral site, I wouldn’t hesitate to predict an Oakland victory. Even though they’re 2-1, the Bolts are off to a rather Bolt-like slow start to the season.

- Poor Rams. A lot of people were predicting them to win the NFC West this year but thanks to poor play and a brutal schedule, they’re 0-3 and look lost. For the third straight week, an opponent has returned a Sam Bradford fumble for a touchdown. How does that happen three times in a year, nevertheless in three straight weeks?

- Look, playing in Seattle is like playing on another planet: I don’t care how bad the Seahawks are. But how do the Cardinals lose to a team whose head coach is playing for a top-5 pick next season? (Oh, he’s not? Then you tell me why Pete Carroll is sticking with Tarvaris Jackson.) The NFC West is ripe for the taking and if the Cardinals can avoid beating themselves like they did today, they have a good shot to make the playoffs. But if Kevin Kolb (who threw two costly interceptions) can’t take over games like this, then Arizona will have a golden opportunity slip through its fingers.

- The Dolphins’ red zone woes continued in another ugly loss for Tony Sparano. It’s not his fault that his team absolutely loses its mind when it gets inside the 20, or that Reggie Bush can’t hang onto the ball, or that Chad Henne is his quarterback because the front office failed to land Kyle Orton in the offseason. But somebody has to pay in Miami and it’s going to be the head coach. The only question now is when Sparano is going to get the axe.

- Hey Chris Johnson, can the Titans demand a portion of your contract back if you continue to play like crap because you held out the entire preseason? No? Okay, just checking. I know you were criminally underpaid in your first three seasons but the Titans did pay you. You can start playing again.

- Sunday marked the third time in as many weeks that the Vikings thoroughly outplayed their opponent in the first half only come out after halftime and choke on applesauce. Word to the wise, Bill Musgrave: If you’re going to go for it on fourth-and-1 instead of taking a chip shot field goal, then at least hand the ball off to Adrian Peterson. I know Toby Gerhart is a big boy but you’ve got to dance with the partner that took you.

- What a frustrating loss for the Texans, who once again failed to drive the final nail in the coffin when it had an opponent on the ropes. Houston looked so good in the first half and well into the third quarter, but it allowed Drew Brees to take over in the second half. The Texans will certainly take a 2-1 start and I’m not going to suggest that they had this game in the bag. No way. Still, they at least had a great chance of pulling off the upset and just like many times before, they failed to come up big in the end.

“CHAMPIONSHIP…”

Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers throws a pass against the Chicago Bears during the first quarter of their NFL football game in Chicago September 25, 2011. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

- It’s amazing. The Bears’ defense usually does a fantastic job taking away the big play, as it did again today versus the Packers. But Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay still managed to score 27 points despite not taking many chances downfield. That’s the difference between teams like the Packers, whom beat the Bears 27-17 on Sunday, and the Falcons, who wilted in Chicago during an ugly Week 1 loss. I point that out because a lot of people were high on the Falcons’ offense coming into the season and yet, games like this prove that no team in the NFC is in Green Bay’s class yet outside of maybe New Orleans. The Packers still have some issues to iron out on defense but their offense has been in midseason form since its first possession of Week 1.

- I know the Bucs just got a huge monkey off their backs today, but nobody is beating the Saints in that division this year. New Orleans has issues on defense but when Drew Brees and that offense gets revved up, it’s like watching someone paint a masterpiece. For those scoring at home, the Saints have now scored 30 points or more in each of their first two games. As I predicted at the start of the season, I like the chances of their being a repeat of opening night in the NFC Championship Game.

- The Raiders are one lousy half in Buffalo from being 3-0 on the season. Any offense that can do that to Rex Ryan’s defense deserves big-time respect and as long as Darren McFadden can stay healthy, don’t think for a second he couldn’t contend for the MVP award. (I would have put the Raiders in the “Didn’t See that Coming” section but I actually predicted them to at least cover the spread today.)

- Anyone think the Ravens were pissed off about their effort last week in Tennessee? Holy domination, Batman. Torrey Smith became the first rookie to score three touchdowns in the same quarter, Joe Flacco threw for a career-high 389 yards, and the defense racked up 11 quarterback hits and five sacks on Sam Bradford. Unfortunately for them they won’t get to play a banged up St. Louis team every week but imagine if Baltimore would at least give that kind of effort every Sunday.

- What a game by Bucs’ middle linebacker Mason Foster, who started and called the defensive plays today while Quincy Black was out with an ankle injury. Foster was a man-child against the run and took down Matt Ryan on a huge sack in the third quarter. Might want to keep the kid on the field, Raheem Morris.

- Nice finish for Colt McCoy. He didn’t have a great game but he was nine of 13 for 80 yards on the Browns’ final drive, which concluded with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Massquoi (who made an excellent leaping catch) with 43 seconds remaining. The West Coast Kid continues to make strides.

- Today was an important win for the Lions and not just because it got them to 3-0 on the season. They played awful in the first half against the Vikings but they showed a little character in bouncing back and earning a hard-fought 26-23 win. This is the type of victory that will serve a young team like Detroit all season. Because they believe they can win now, no matter what the circumstance. The Vikings aren’t world-beaters by any means but still, it was a great win for the Lions. And by the way, that Calvin Johnson guy is pretty s.i.c.k.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

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