The high flying passing continued in week three in the NFL as records continued to tumble. Teams have more points (2,157), passing yards (23,560) and passing touchdowns (153) than in the first three weeks of any other season in NFL history. Sports News Ireland reviews week three in the NFL.
The Detroit Lions and Buffalo Bills continued their strong starts to the season with impressive comeback victories against the New England Patriots and Minnesota Vikings respectively. The Lions and Bill are now 3-0, with the Super Bowl champions the Green Bay Packers the only other undefeated team.
The Bills were particularly impressive at the weekend. The Patriots rushed into a 21-0 lead and looked on course for an easy victory. The Bills responded by forcing Tom Brady into an uncharacteristic four interceptions, with Drayton Florence returning one interception 27 yards for a touchdown. Buffalo scored 24 second half points and won the match 34-31 after a 28 yard Rian Lindell field goal as time expired. Ryan Fitzpatrick continued to impress through the air, throwing for 369 yards and two touchdowns, although his two first half interceptions could have been costly. Running back Fred Jackson was again a major factor, accumulating 161 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns.
The Lions trailed the Vikings 20-0 at half-time, but another master class from Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson helped them win 26-23 after overtime. Matthew Stafford threw for 378 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Calvin Johnson caught seven passes for 108 yards and two touchdowns, bringing his total to six touchdowns in three games. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew had his first quality outing of the season, catching 11 passes for 112 yards, while the Lions defence shut down the Vikings after half-time. After years of sub-par play, the Detroit Lions look to be for real.
The Lions and Bills were not the only teams to overcome deficits, as comeback victories were the order of business this past weekend. The Cleveland Browns, New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers, Tennessee Titans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers all won after trailing entering the fourth quarter.
After three weeks of the 2011 season, five teams have yet to register a victory. Unfortunately, most of them look set for long, arduous seasons.
The Minnesota Vikings are the team best built to overcome their early losses, but Donovan McNabb has not looked the quarterback he was a few years ago and the team is showing an inability to close out games. The Vikings have been a team of two halves. Minnesota have outscored the opposition 54-7 in the first half and lost by a score line of 6-67 after half-time. If the Vikings utilise running back Adrian Peterson more and develop an ability to hold leads, they could yet become a dangerous team. The Super Bowl champions Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions also inhabit the NFC North, however, and the Vikings could be knocked out of playoff contention if they cannot find some form.
The Miami Dolphins have endured a disappointing start to the season and conceded a touchdown with 43 seconds left on Sunday to lose 17-16 to the Cleveland Browns. Miami have the added woe of competing in one of the NFL’s hardest divisions. The AFC East already boasted the New England Patriots and New York Jets, but the Buffalo Bills have looked impressive this season and produced a stunning comeback against the Patriots to move to 3-0. The Dolphins will be hard pushed to make the playoffs in such a challenging division, especially after a weak start.
Meanwhile, the Indianapolis Colts and Kansas City Chiefs have lost their best players to injury in Peyton Manning and Jamal Charles, while the St Louis Rams are in the midst of an injury crisis.
McFadden Continues Great Form
Darren McFadden is quickly becoming one of the NFL’s best running backs and produced another sensational performance against the New York Jets. McFadden amassed 171 yards on 19 carries, including a 70 yard touchdown run, against what has been one of the NFL’s best defences in recent years. McFadden already has 477 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns after the first three games.
The 24 year old was the number four overall pick in the 2008 draft, but was disappointing in his first two seasons as he struggled with injuries and consistency. McFadden was much improved last season as he started to produce explosive plays, but the running back still missed three games through injury. If McFadden can stay fit, he could be en-route to an incredible season.
Texans Blow Big Lead
The Houston Texans are the team to beat in the AFC South, but Gary Kubiak’s charges will have to start closing out matches. The Texans looked to be in a commanding position on Sunday and led the Saints 26-17 when New Orleans received the ball with 11:20 to play in the fourth quarter. Saints quarterback Drew Brees was able to attack the Texans secondary, however, and he led New Orleans to 40-33 victory.
Brees completed touchdowns passes to Jimmy Graham and Lance Moore, running back Mark Ingram scored a rushing touchdown and Jabari Greer intercepted Texans quarterback Matt Schaub. The Saints also added a couple of two point conversions. The Texans remain joint first in the weak AFC South, but Houston will need to finish off games if they want to claim their first ever division title.
The weekend saw some unheralded wide receivers come to the fore. Baltimore Ravens rookie Torrey Smith was the most sensational, as he became the first player to catch three touchdowns in his first ever quarter of play. Smith picked up an injury in the fourth quarter but he adds an element of speed and dynamism that the Ravens passing game badly missed last year. Smith finished with five catches for 152 yards and three touchdowns against the ailing St. Louis Rams.
New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz also enjoyed an impressive outing. Cruz replaced the injured Mario Manningham in the line-up and was up against the Eagles vaunted cornerbacks. Cruz responded with three catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns. The 24 year old even wrestled a high ball off all-pro corner Nmamdi Asomugha for a 28 yard touchdown.
Kenny Britt was the latest big name player to receive a serious injury. The wide receiver had begun the season in brilliant form. Britt had 271 yards and three touchdowns after two games, but his season has sadly been cut short. The Tennessee Titans have placed Britt on the injured reserve list after he damaged the ACL and MCL in his knee on Sunday.