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2014 NFL Week 3 Game Recaps



Tampa Bay Buccaneers 0-3-0
Versus
Atlanta Falcons 2-1-0


Game Recap: ATLANTA-Atlanta hosted the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday Night. This piece was written by Brian Thornsburrg. He might cover the other games in Florida involving the Colts and Jaguars along with the Chiefs VS Dolphins. For now Brian will write about the Buccaneers.


With Gerald McCoy and Doug Martin both sitting on the sidelines for tonight's game versus The Falcons, The Buccaneers will need their defense to apply a lot more pressure and get after The Quarterback if they want to avoid a 0-3 start this season.


That won’t be easy for The Buccaneers, who face off against Matt Ryan, who has averaged over 300 passing yards a game so far this season.  The Buccaneers defense are also without a single interception in their first two games, a stat they will desperately need to keep this game close against Matty Ice.


Matt Ryan wasted little time getting points on the board, going 4-4 on the opening drive of the game and connecting with Harry  Douglas in the  end zone for a five yard touchdown. Steven Jackson helped move the ball down the field quickly, with 12 yards rushing and forcing several missed tackles.


Bobby Rainey gets swallowed up by the Falcons defense on the opening play of their drive for no gain.  McCown then took his first pass of the game and connected with Brandon Myers for five yards. McCown threw to Brandon Rainey on third down and four, but the running back couldn't bring it in.


Despite a hiccup, when Levine. Toilolo fumbled the ball after a 13 yard pass, The Falcons marched down the field once again, ending their lengthy drive with  a eight yard touchdown pass to Julio Jones. Matt Ryan went 10/11, 110 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter of the game. Fantasy players with Ryan on their team have to be feeling pretty smart right now.


Josh McCown threw a interception to Kemal. Ishmael, who was more then happy to run it back 23 yards for another Atlanta Falcons touchdown. McCown is now 1/5 with five yards and one interception in the first quarter.  On the next drive McCown threw to Rainey for a 13 yard gain, but Rainey was stripped of the ball by Paul Worrilow and the ball was recovered by the Falcons.


After the turnover, Ryan handed the ball off to David Hester, who ran it 20 yards in for another Falcons touchdown to start the second quarter. The Falcons now lead 28-0 and now have a rushing, two receiving and a defensive touchdown in this game.


Tampa Bay showed some signs of life, by forcing a fumble at the one yard line, where Scot Solomon was able to recover the ball for The Bucs. McCown was unable to do anything after the turnover, going three and out and once again punting the ball to The Falcons. The Buccaneers have also failed to reach a first down so far in this game.


The woes continued for Tampa Bay, as Devin Hester ran the punt all the way back to house for a 62 yard punt return for touchdown. The touchdown moved Hester into first place in the record books for most Punt return touchdowns, passing his hero, Deon Sanders. Hester was penalized 15 yards during the play for unsportsmanlike conduct for showboating his way into the endzone.


On The Bucs next drive McCown threw a impressive pass to Mike Evans for their first 1st down of the game. McCown was sacked two plays later by Jonathan. Massaqoui for a loss of eight yards. He then took another hard hit on third and nine, forcing another punt for the Bucs after the incomplete pass by McCown.


With 4:42 left to go in the second quarter, Bucs quarterback, Josh McCown was escorted to the locker room after a hard hit on a previous drive. Reports said that it was a right thumb injury and his return was questionable.  Falcons player, Eric Douglas, was escorted to the locker room a few minutes later as well, after taking a hard hit and was slow to get up.


Mike Glennon took over for a injured Josh McCown late in the second quarter, throwing 3/5 for only 12 yards and one first down. It looks like no matter who Tampa Bay has under center, they will continue to have problems moving the football down the field. Mike Evans took a majority of the receiving yards in the first half for The Bucs, with three catches for 43 yards.


Mike Glennon started the second half for The Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Rainey got the handoff on the first play of the drive, but was stuffed after four yards. Mike Glennon then rushed for a 19 yard scramble, for The Bucs longest rushing play of the game. The Bucs quickly squandered their momentum on the next play, when Rainey fumbled the ball for the second time in the game. The Falcons recovered the ball at their own 44 yard line.


The Falcons fumbled the ball on their next drive, when Devonta Freeman lost the ball after a seven yard gain. The Buccaneers defense was able to stop the ball from going  out of bounds, allowing  Lavonte David to recover the ball. Evan Dietrich-Smith was called for a unnecessary  roughness penalty, resulting in a 15 yard pushback for The Bucs, making it third and 28 for Tampa.


The Falcons got their first score of the second half, when Ryan threw a 40 yard pass to Julio Jones, for his second touchdown of the night. The Falcons now lead 42-0 over The Buccaneers. The Falcons scored less then a minute later, after a snap slipped through the hands of Glennon and was recovered at the one yard line by Stansly Maponga. The falcons set up Steven Jackson for a rushing touchdown on the next play.


Glennon started the next drive with two straight passes to Luke Stocker for a total of 15 yards. Glennon then threw a incomplete pass that was almost intercepted by Dwight Lowry.  Rainey got the ball a play later for a short gain, but Evan Deitrich Smith was penalized  for Unnecessary roughness, and The Bucs were pushed back to second and 20. The Bucs eventually were forced to punt after two short passes.


Matt Ryan came out of the game late in the third quarter. He finished going 21/24 for 286 yards and three touchdowns.  TJ Yates came into the game to give Matt Ryan a rest and threw a 40 yard pass to Eric Weems on his very first play. Antone Smith got the handoff on the very next play and ran the ball 38 yards for another Atlanta Falcons touchdown. The Falcons now lead 56-0


After three scoreless quarters for Tampa bay, Mike Glennon finally guided his team 47 yards down the field in 12 plays, ending with a three yard touchdown reception by Vincent Jackson. Glennon is now 16/23 for 117 yards and one touchdown in this game.


Tampa Bay scored their first interception of the season, when Danny Lansanah picked off TJ Yates and ran it back for a 27 yard touchdown. The ball was intended for C. Roby. The score is now 56-14 late in fourth quarter.  The two teams battled it out without scoring for the rest of the game, making the final score 56-14.


Things are looking bad right now for The Buccaneers starting quarterback, Josh McCown, who went only 5/12 for 58 yards and a interception. He left the game in the second quarter with a right thumb injury and never returned to the game. Moving forward The Buccaneers might have to look towards starting Glennon next week, if they want to ramp up this offense a bit.


Tampa Bay will face The Minnesota Vikings next week, and hopefully a ten day rest for The Bucs will equal a much better result then tonight's 56-14 blow out by The Falcons.




San Diego Chargers 2-1-0
Versus
Buffalo Bills 2-1-0


Game Recap: BUFFALO-The undefeated 2-0 Bills hosted the San Diego Chargers who were coming off a huge win against the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks in week 2. I did this write up and the rest of the week 3 write ups after Brian Thornsburg covered Thursday nights games.


Head coach Mike McCoy talked about one of the reasons why the Chargers won was because they scored on four of their first five series during the post game press conference. Scoring 20 points on four out of five series is a very persuasive way as to convince your opponent why you should win.


The passing game was clicking on all cylinders for San Diego. Quarterback Philip Rivers received excellent pass protection by the Chargers’ offensive line. Rivers completed 18 out of 25 passes. He threw for 256 yards and fired 2 touchdowns to wide receiver Eddie Royal. Royal hauled in both receiving touchdowns, but Malcolm Floyd led San Diego with 98 receiving yards on 2 receptions that turned into 49 yard plays. Tight end LaDarius Green hauled in 4 receptions just like wide receiver Eddie Royal. Running back Donald Brown with 5 receptions. Antonio Gates had 1 impressive catch after scoring 3 receiving touchdowns against Seattle last week. Wide receiver Keenan Allen blocked cornerback Stephon Gilmore to give Royal the necessary space to run to the end zone to record his first receiving touchdown of the game which put the Chargers up 7-0.


When San Diego won, Rivers talked about the unselfishness of his wide receivers. Rivers did not mention the offensive line, because there were a few plays where the Bills managed to hurry Rivers despite not sacking him.


Buffalo Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel did not throw any interceptions completing 23 out 39 passes for 238 passing yards while throwing for 1 passing touchdown to running back Fred Jackson. Jackson had a nice, but not spectacular game running for 34 rushing yards. Jackson also caught a receiving touchdown while posting 78 receiving yards as a pass-catcher out of the backfield.


Doug Marone called the Chargers a playoff team stating that San Diego is certainly playing like a playoff team. Quarterback E.J. Manuel stated that everyone on Buffalo needs to take accountability for the loss without panicking and stating that this is a wake up call due to the teams 2-1 record by remaining calm. Manuel did point out that the team cannot allow as many penalties.


Manuel is exactly correct in that regard. The Bills gave up 11 penalties for 110 yards. You cannot win when you give up that many penalties. Running back Fred Jackson pointed out how the overall offense needs to do a better job executing after 2 outstanding wins. He failed to point out how the team was 0 for 2 on fourth down. Jackson should have emphasized the importance of executing on fourth down in the fourth quarter when trailing. The offensive line did not play like the offensive line that did not allow a sack against the Bears or the Dolphins. Left tackle Cordy Glenn, left guard Chris Williams, and right guard Erik Pears all allowed sacks on Sunday.


I do not think you can blame this Bills offense. San Diego was just that ready for the Bills. Corey Luiget and Kendall Reyes brought their A game both displaying outstanding ability as pass-rushers and run-stuffers in the 5 technique without Cam Thomas.


You have to credit the 3-4 linebackers for their game as well. Dwight Freeney got by left tackle Cordy Glenn numerous times throughout the game. While the Chargers’ 3-4 right outside linebacker Freeney specialized in getting pressure on Manuel, the rest of the linebackers focused on taking away the running game and daring Manuel to throw it downfield putting faith in the secondary. That risk paid off considering that 3-4 middle linebackers Donald Butler and Manti Te’o both had 4 solo tackles and 5 assisted tackles giving both guys 9 total tackles on the day. Jarrett Johnson started at 3-4 left outside linebacker instead of Melvin Ingram. Johnson posted 6 solo tackles and 2 assisted tackles. Right tackle Seantrel Henderson managed to protect Manuel as a pass blocker. Henderson’s run blocking sucked today, and Johnson along with the 3-4 defensive ends on San Diego, exposed his run blocking in this contest.


The secondary did their part in coverage. Especially the cornerbacks. Shareece Wright and Brandon Flowers both did an outstanding job covering at cornerback. Wright covered Robert Woods while Flowers blanketed Sammy Watkins. Wright played the field corner role and allowed Woods to get 3 receptions. Watkins was limited to 2 receptions by Brandon Flowers. Safety Eric Weddle had 10 total tackles with 9 solo tackles and 1 assisted tackle. When your secondary covers like that you win games even if you fail to record an interception you still win period.


The one thing the Chargers should be concerned about is the running game. Last week Ryan Matthews suffered a knee injury and his backup Danny Woodhead got carted off the field with an ankle injury. Donald Brown, the third string running back will likely see a majority of carries moving forward. Picking up Brown would be an awesome fantasy play for waiver wires if he is still a free agent in your league.




Dallas Cowboys 2-1-0
Versus
St. Louis Rams 1-2-0


Game Recap: ST LOUIS-This was the Rams second home game of the season after winning on the road last week to go to 1-1. Week 3 was also the Dallas Cowboys second week in a row where they wore blue jerseys. So far Dallas is 1-0 when wearing blue in 2014.


After tight end Lance Kendricks and wide receiver Brian Quick put the Rams on the scoreboard, Romo threw a pick 6 to cornerback Janoris Jenkins. That was Romo’s only interception of the day. That pick 6 the Rams up 21 to 0. Jenkins limited Dez Bryant to 6 receptions for 89 receiving yards in his first contest back from an injury.


The most disappointing thing about this game was that the Rams took a 21-0 lead and still lost this contest. Both teams had outstanding play by the offensive lines. Both teams provided the pass blocking, run blocking, and zone blocking up front to put their offense in the best position to win on the offensive line. Both quarterbacks threw interceptions.


Tony Romo completed 18 out of 23 passes for 217 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, and 1 interception. Running back DeMarco Murray posted his third consecutive game of 100 rushing yards. After failing to throw for 0 passing touchdowns in the first half, Romo looked like a different quarterback after the Cowboys posted 10 unanswered points following the 21 to 0 deficit.


Romo threw a 68 yard touchdown to Dez Bryant in the 3rd quarter. Outside of the Bryant touchdown, Dez only tallied 21 total receiving yards through the air on 5 receptions. That big play gave Romo the confidence to deliver. The Rams led 21 to 20 after three quarters. After the Rams got a field goal, the Cowboys scored a touchdown giving them their first lead of the game up 27 to 24 in the fourth quarter. It looked like the Rams would regain the lead before Davis threw a pick 6 to Bruce Carter. Both Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne did their job in coverage. Dallas took a 34 to 24 lead before winning 34 to 31.


Jeff Fisher applauded the players for their effort saying the team improved and looked smarter and sharper. Austin Davis told reporters the defense did not show up, but he showed no rage or disappointment when stating this. Still it sounded immature to an extent from a context standpoint because the quarterback is not supposed to blame the defense. Tony Romo was in a hurry to leave to go to the Jerry Jones Batmobile to fight crime. He answered questions dressed up like a don in the press conference, but did not sound sincere in the interview. Regardless of what happened this was an outstanding game with an awesome finish for the Cowboys.




Washington Redskins 1-2-0
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Philadelphia Eagles 3-0-0


Game Recap: PHILADELPHIA-Former Michigan State teammates Kirk Cousins and Nick Foles faced off against each other at Lincoln Financial Field.


Cousins threw 2 of his 3 passing touchdowns against the Eagles in the first quarter. A Chris Polk kickoff return for a touchdown prevented the Redskins from entering the second quarter with a 14-0 lead over the Eagles. Washington scored a field goal and took a 17 to 7 lead before Nick Foles threw his first passing touchdown. Again take away the kickoff return and it is 17-0 Redskins which illustrates the importance of special teams.


Foles threw 2 touchdowns to rookie wide receiver Jordan Matthews. The former Vanderbilt receiver had 8 receptions, 59 receiving yards, and 2 receiving touchdowns. Kai Forbath kicked another field goal prior to Matthews second receiving touchdown. Eagles led 21 to 20 at halftime.


The Eagles kicked two field goals in the third quarter to make it 27 to 20 before Kirk Cousins threw his final touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson to tie it at 27 entering the fourth quarter. One unfortunate thing in the third quarter was a torn achiles injury that cornerback DeAngelo Hall suffered. Hall is the Redskins best cornerback. After Hall got injured, it really opened things up for wide receiver Jeremy Maclin.


A lot happened in the fourth quarter. Jason Peters and Chris Baker were ejected from the game for fighting each other. The pick that Foles originally threw was an incompletion on second down. The third down that was an incompletion was later reversed in a first down. Jeremy Maclin would give the Eagles a 34 to 27 lead before Cousins threw a critical interception in the fourth quarter. Cousins’s wide receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson both posted over 100 receiving yards and 1 receiving touchdown in the contest. Garcon hauled in 11 receptions, for 138 receiving yards, and a receiving touchdown. Eagles were able to get a field goal off the pick and won 37 to 34 after gaining a 37 to 27 lead following the Cousins interception. Cousins finished the day 30 for 48 with 427 passing yards along with his 3 touchdowns and 1 interception.


Both teams did an excellent job pass blocking and neither team allowed a sack. It looks like Philadelphia has the NFC East under control at this point. Dallas or Washington has an outside shot of going 9-7 if the offensive line continues to keep Romo or Cousins from getting hit.


Washington Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden talked about how Cousins displayed a phenomenal outing against the Eagles other than the pick in the fourth quarter. Cousins talked about how the rest of these guys stepped up being very assertive and unselfish. "These guys are competitive no matter who is at quarterback", Cousins said.


Foles was just as unselfish as Cousins crediting the entire Eagles squad on the victory. Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly summarized it best by stating it is a division win we’ll take it.




Houston Texans 2-1-0
Versus
New York Giants 1-2-0


Game Recap: NEW YORK-Arian Foster was ruled out at running back prior to the start of this contest. Would the Texans miss their highly touted running back on the road?


Neither team scored in the first quarter. The New York Giants got two touchdowns in the second quarter. Victor Cruz scored the first touchdown on a 26 yard pass from Eli Manning. Cruz finished the day with 5 receptions, 107 receiving yards, and a receiving touchdown. Rashad Jennings would make it 14 to 0 with a 1 yard rushing touchdown. Jennings finished the day with 34 carries, 176 rushing yards, and 1 rushing touchdown.


The Giants got a field goal to gain a 17-0 lead before the Texans scored 10 unanswered. The Giants made it a 20 to 10 game before Eli Manning threw his second passing touchdown. Eli Manning goes 21 for 28 with 234 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, and 0 interceptions.


After Eli guided the Giants to a 27 to 10 lead, you knew the Texans were not going to start 3-0. Giants win 30 to 17. The fact that Manning, Jennings, and Cruz stepped up at quarterback, running back, and wide receiver gave the offense some spark helped. The secondary did well too. Cornerbacks like Prince Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers Cromartie both covered Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins. Tight end Garrett Graham also had issues catching the ball. Antrel Rolle did well covering at safety too. It was not just the coverage. Each of these players on the Giants’ secondary picked off Ryan Fitzpatrick at least once. Cudos to this pass defense for outstanding coverage along with the ability to throw 3 interceptions.


Both head coaches were objective and subjective about things. Rashad Jennings the Giants running back talked about how he watched film of the Texans’ defense this week to prepare for Houston. Then he credited the offensive line for his strong performance over the Texans.




Minnesota Vikings 1-2-0
Versus
New Orleans Saints 1-2-0


Game Recap: NEW ORLEANS-Adrian Peterson was hoping to return to New Orleans for the first time since his NFC Title appearance back in 2010. With Peterson out for abusing his child, the Saints would have an easy home win.


Pierre Thomas opened this contest up with a rushing touchdown before Drew Brees fired a passing touchdown to give the Saints a 13-0 lead in the first quarter.


The Vikings continued their drive heading into the second quarter. Something happened to Matt Cassel on 3rd and 10 at the Saints 12 yard line. Cassel scrambled for 5 yards before getting injured.


The Saints went 3 and out the following series. Then rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater made his NFL debut. Bridgewater would guide the Vikings to two more field goals. Bridgewater finished the game 12 for 20 with 150 passing yards. That’s not bad when you consider Bridgewater threw no picks.


In the fourth quarter, Drew Brees threw his second passing touchdown. Brees finished the game 27 for 35 with 293 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, and no interceptions.


Saints won 20-9. This was a must win game for the Saints. It is uncertain whether Matt Cassel or Teddy Bridgewater starts in week 4. Stay tuned for more info about that.




Tennessee Titans 1-2-0
Versus
Cincinnati Bengals 3-0-0


Game Recap: CINCINNATI-The Bengals won their first home game against the Atlanta Falcons last week. This week the Bengals would welcome a Tennessee Titans squad that was coming off a terrible game where quarterback Jake Locker struggled.


CIncinnati dropped 33 unanswered points before the Titans scored. The final score would be 33 to 7 Bengals. The play of the week was in this game and it involved quarterback Andy Dalton catching his first receiving touchdown for the Bengals. Titans’ quarterback Jake Locker threw 0 touchdowns and 2 picks. Locker needs to step up in week 4 against the Indianapolis Colts if he expects to save his job.


The offensive line showed up once again. Offensive tackles Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith continue to display their excellence as pass blockers, ruin blockers, and zone blockers. You see similar play from left guard Clint Bolling and right guard Kevin Zeitler. Both teams did well run blocking, but Cincinnati did not allow a single sack.


Carlos Dunlap got by Michael Roos at left tackle and managed to sack Jake Locker. Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green got by Jason McCourty in coverage all day by exposing one of the NFL’s better cornerbacks.


Starting 3-0 is huge for the Bengals. As for the Titans, Locker has to show up against the Colts next week to avoid losing his job.




Baltimore Ravens 2-1-0
Versus
Cleveland Browns 1-2-0


Game Recap: CLEVELAND-Cleveland was looking for a win and a 2-1 start against the former Browns now known as the 2 time Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens.


Both quarterbacks picked apart the opposing secondaries. Brian Hoyer completed 19 out of 25 passes for the Cleveland Browns throwing for 290 passing yards, 1 passing touchdown, and no interceptions. He outplayed Joe Flacco, yet Cleveland lost.


Flacco threw the ball to Steve Smith 5 times. Smith had 101 receiving yards on the day. Torrey Smith picked apart a suspect Justin Gilbert as well. Cleveland continues to struggle at secondary. One player the Ravens lost due to injuries was tight end Dennis Pitta. Strong safety Donte Whitner may not have to worry about Pitta when these teams meet again in Baltimore.


Andy Dalton was not the only AFC North quarterback to catch a pass. Johnny Manziel played the role of Johnny Wide Receiver on Sunday where he caught one reception.


Both pass blocking units did well. Courtney Upshaw of the Baltimore Ravens was the only player to record a sack for both teams. The run blocking on the offensive line was a different story. Baltimore ran for 160 total yards on offense. Left tackle Eugene Monroe had his second big game. You saw a Ravens offensive line that pass blocked, run blocked, and zone blocked like naturals. Cleveland only ran the ball for 91 rushing yards.


Lousy run blocking along with the poor play of Billy Cundiff led to the Browns losing. Cundiff went 0 for 2 when kicking field goals. Cleveland committed 12 penalties for 94 total yards while the Ravens only committed 5 penalties for 32 yards.


Taking those 3 things into account it is fair to say that the Browns lost this game rather than the Ravens won it. Baltimore will get the victory, but Cleveland shot themselves in the foot with poor play.




Green Bay Packers 1-2-0
Versus
Detroit Lions 2-1-0


Game Recap: DETROIT-Green Bay would face the Detroit at Ford Field. Both teams were 1-1 with huge implications in the NFC North on the line. You knew the winner of this game would have first place in the division and the confidence to go the distance the entire season.


Aaron Rodgers outplayed Matthew Stafford. Aaron Rodgers completed 16 out of 27 passes with 162 passing yards, 1 passing touchdown, and no interceptions. Matthew Stafford completed 22 out of 34 passes for 246 passing yards. Stafford threw 0 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, and even lost a fumble on a play that would result in a turnover.


It was difficult for Stafford because Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers got by the Lions offensive tackles. Left tackle Riley Reiff kept Clay Matthews from sacking Stafford, but Matthews got his fair share of hurries when it came to pressuring Stafford. Backup pass rusher Mike Neal got a sack by getting by right guard Larry Warford.


Both defenses sacked the opposing quarterback, stopped the run, and covered the receivers effectively. You have to be objective about how both defenses played.


There is a good reason why I am giving the Packers my Draft Utopia Hall Pass for week 3. Eddie Lacy gave the Lions nine points. Lacy fumbled the ball once at running back. That fumble resulted in a 40 yard touchdown off a fumble recovery for the Lions. Detroit also tackled Eddie Lacy in the end zone for a safety. Detroit defeated the Packers 19 to 7. The Lions scored 9 of their 19 points off Lacy. Poor play by Lacy led to a Lions win. Lacy was the starting running back heading into the game, and even James Starks their backup had a better day at Lacy.


The Lions led 12 to 7 in the fourth quarter before Reggie Bush ran for a rushing touchdown that would seal the Packers’ fate.




Indianapolis Colts 1-2-0
Versus
Jacksonville Jaguars 0-3-0


Game Recap: JACKSONVILLE-This game was Chad Henne’s final start. Blake Bortles showed why he was the quarterback of the future in this game.


Indianapolis took a 30-0 lead in the first half. After the first half, the Jaguars benched Chad Henne in favor of rookie quarterback Blake Bortles.


In one half of football, Blake Bortles completed 14 out of 24 pass attempts. The former Central Florida quarterback threw for 223 yards. Throwing 2 passing touchdowns gave Bortles some confidence even though he threw two interceptions.


Bortles made sure numerous guys like Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, and Cecil Shorts all received equal attention in the passing game. Robinson had 7 receptions for 79 receiving yards. Hurns was blanketed by Vontae Davis all day. The one reception he caught from Blake Bortles in the fourth quarter resulted in Bortles first career passing touchdown. Bortles would throw a second receiving touchdown to Cecil Shorts. Bortles did well considering that Vontae Davis, Darius Butler, and Greg Tolder did a good job covering these receivers at cornerback.


The 0-3 Jaguars will face San Diego in week 3 where Blake Bortles will ge this first career NFL start after being drafted 3rd overall in the 2014 NFL Draft. Bortles has 13 games to convince the Jaguars he is there guy. I think Bortles will get his first win against one of the quarterbacks from the 2004 NFL Draft whether it be Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, or Ben Roethlisberger. Which one of those quarterbacks he ends up defeating remains to be seen.


Both teams managed to run block effectively. Luke Joeckel kept Bjorn Werner in check at left tackle. Joeckel seems to be the only reliable offensive lineman Bortles has at the moment at the left tackle position.


Pass blocking was a different story. The Colts had better pass protection. Left tackle Anthony Costanzo, right tackle Gosder Cherillus, and left guard Jack Mewhort all prevented the Jaguars from getting to Luck. Costanzo had the best game among these offensive linemen.


Regardless of how the Colts did in pass protection, Andrew Luck played like a man among boys orchestrating the passing game like a conductor in a marching band. Luck threw the ball 39 times. He completed 31 of those 39 pass attempts. He would also throw for 370 passing yards, 4 passing touchdowns, and no interceptions.


It was not just the fact that Luck led the offense. You saw variety by all of his receivers in the passing game. T.Y. Hilton led the Colts with 5 recpetions and 80 receiving yards playing as a slot receiver. Reggie Wayne did well too with 4 receptions for 62 receiving yards as the #1 flanker receiver. Donte Moncrief, the highly touted rookie out of Ole Miss had 4 receptions for 55 receiving yards. Hakeem Nicks, the Colts #2 receiver had 4 receptions for 50 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown. Tight ends Coby FLeener and Dwayne Allen each posted 4 receptions as well along with 1 receiving touchdown. Both tight ends exceeded 40 receiving yards. Trent Richardson was the best pass catcher out of the backfield with 3 receptions for 23 receiving yards. Ahmad Bradshaw caught a pass for a receiving touchdown out of the backfield. You saw everybody that Luck throws to contribute. When the offense is this unselfish and when Andrew Luck is this decisive you will rarely win a ball game.


This offense is one of the reasons why I picked the Colts to win Super Bowl 49. For now, Indianapolis just needs to focus on getting back to .500 by beating the Tennessee Titans so they sit at 2-2 in the AFC South standings.




Oakland Raiders 0-3-0
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New England Patriots 2-1-0


Game Recap: NEW ENGLAND-Derek Carr was hoping for his first win as a starter after an 0-2 start. I gave Carr a hall pass in his first two weeks as a rookie. I am not sure I can make that claim after watching him play this week against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium.


Both kickers were proactive in this game by kicking 3 field goals. The run defense and pass defense showed up for both teams. Both squads had trouble sacking the quarterback as the pass protection showed up.


There were two plays that gave the Patriots the win. The first play involved a Tom Brady touchdown to Rob Gronkowski. The second big play involved a Vince Wilfork interception in the fourth quarter that cost the Raiders the game.


As far as the game goes, both quarterbacks posted statistics that stood out. Derek Carr completed 21 out of 34 passes for 174 passing yards, 0 passing touchdowns, along with the one interception to Wilfork. Tom Brady went 24 for 37 throwing for 237 passing yards. Brady made good choices in the pocket getting Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell, and Rob Gronkowski all involved in the offense, even though all of these guys were tested constantly by the Raiders’ secondary. Edelman led the Patriots with 10 receptions for 84 receiving yards. LaFell had 4 receptions for 46 yards while Gronkowski only posted 3 receptions for 44 yards despite posting the only receiving touchdown.


Carr may have no wide receivers and the Patriots may have one of the best secondaries with depth at cornerback, strong safety, and free safety. That does not justify the awful game Derek Carr posted. One more bad game, and it may be time to start Matt Schaub. There were rumors that the Raiders were going to bring back Terrell Pryor after Seattle released him during the 2014 Preseason. The fact that Oakland is uncertain about whether Carr, Schaub, McGloin, or Pryor should start spells disaster.


Whether the Oakland Raiders finish with the worst record in the NFL remains to be seen. Oakland, Jacksonville, and Tampa Bay are all 0-3 and none of those teams have bye weeks in week 4. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper are both options if the Raiders land the top pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.




San Francisco 49ers 1-2-0
Versus
Arizona Cardinals 3-0-0


Game Recap: ARIZONA-The 1-1 San Francisco 49ers could have been 2-0 heading into Arizona which was 2-0 playing for the right to be 3-0 in the NFC West. Arizona had to get the job done.


This game was a tale of two halves. The 49ers were ahead 14 to 6 in the first half. Drew Stanton threw 2 passing touchdowns in the third quarter. Those touchdowns put Arizona up 20 to 14. The Cardinals won 23 to 14 over the 49ers.


Drew Stanton completed 18 out of 33 passes for 244 passing yards. Stanton threw a couple of touchdowns and avoided throwing any picks. Michael Floyd hauled in 5 receptions for 114 receiving yards. Rookie John Brown continues to thrive in the slot receiver role. The former Pittsburgh State wide receiver posted 4 receptions, 52 receiving yards, and caught both of Stanton’s touchdowns. Former Pittsburgh Panther Larry Fitzgerald only posted 3 receptions for 34 receiving yards. The ten year veteran also fumbled the ball which resulted in the Cardinals only turnover of the game.


Both offensive lines did well protecting the quarterback, but both offensive lines also struggled with run blocking. Head Coach Bruce Arians was surprised that his front 7 stopped the 49ers backfield. Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde could not get by this front 7. Both rushers combined for 23 rushing yards. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick led the 49ers with 54 rushing yards.


While the Cardinals front 7 showed up the bigger surprise on defense involved the play at cornerback. Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie dominated in coverage in the first two weeks. Both guys struggled against Stevie Johnson and Michael Crabtree. Crabtree posted 10 receptions, 80 receiving yards, and 1 receiving touchdown having Patrick Peterson’s number throughout the game. Cromartie did just as poor playing the boundary. Johnson posted 9 receptions for 103 receiving yards.


Following the 23 to 14 loss, San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh was asked if he understood why the 49ers lost. Coach Harbaugh replied with a no. You get paid 4 million a year to understand what is going on. Harbaugh is going to be this years version of Jim Schwartz if the 49ers do not win games. Jim Harbaugh talked about how the team needs to commit less penalties. Giving up 9 penalties for 107 yards is unacceptable. You cannot win when you give up that many penalties.




Denver Broncos 2-1-0
Versus
Seattle Seahawks 2-1-0


Game Recap: SEATTLE-Both of these teams faced each other in Seattle for the first time since meeting up for Super Bowl 48 in New York.


This was a defensive game early in the first quarter. Seattle went 3 and out on their first season. The Broncos fumbled the ball on the first play of the game just like in Super Bowl 48. This time running back Montee Ball fumbled the ball on the first play instead of Peyton Manning on a bad snap. Strong safety Kam Chancellor forced a fumble in the first quarter.


After the Seahawks regained control of the ball they drove the ball downfield and got a field goal. Denver got a field goal on the following series with a 15 play drive that lasted 7 minutes and 6 seconds. The score would be 3 to 3 after one quarter.


Russell Wilson threw 2 passing touchdowns in the second quarter. After Wilson threw his first passing touchdown, Peyton Manning threw a pass to Demaryius Thomas that was fumbled. Free safety Earl Thomas forced a fumble that was recovered by Malcolm Smith. The fumble was ruled an incomplete pass. It would not matter because Manning failed to score on the drive. All the fumble would have done is put Seattle in better scoring position. The Seahawks executed a 10 play drive that resulted in a touchdown to close out the first half.


After gaining a 17 to 3 lead in the first half, neither team scored in the first quarter. The Seahawks were ahead by 2 touchdowns heading into the fourth quarter.


Denver’s defense made a statement when Seattle took the ball for the first time in the first quarter. First they kept Marshawn Lynch from passing the line of scrimmage. Then the Broncos sacked quarterback Russell Wilson on second down for a 7 yard loss. On 3rd and 17 at the Seahawks own 1 yard line, left tackle Russell Okung committed a false start penalty. The following play, the Broncos tackled Marshawn Lynch in his own end zone for a safety.


Denver attempted to score following the 2 point play from a safety. Denver failed to score. Both quarterbacks threw interceptions in the fourth quarter. Wilson threw his first pick following Denver’s failed scoring chance following the safety. Manning threw his first pick following a touchdown where he threw a shovel pass to Julius Thomas. Kam Chancellor picked off Manning after forcing a Montee Ball fumble on the first play of the game. Chancellor returned the interception for 52 yards putting the Seahawks in scoring position.


Seattle got a field goal off the Kam Chancellor interception. Seattle gained a 20 to 12 lead. Manning helped the Broncos score a touchdown in 6 plays with less than a minute left in the game. After tight end Jacob Tamme ran by cornerback Byron Maxwell to make it 20 to 18, Manning threw a pass to Demaryius Thomas while Thomas was triple covered to tie the game at 20.


The contest went into overtime. Russell Wilson kept his composure while showing some dual threat ability by moving the chains. WIlson used his scrambling and throwing as a decoy to to eventually set things up for Marshawn Lynch to get the game-winning touchdown.


Peyton Manning looked a lot better on Sunday than he did in Super Bowl 48. Manning exceeded 300 passing yards for the first time in 2014. Emmanuel Sanders is much better than Eric Decker. Sanders caught 11 passes for 149 receiving yards. Wes Welker caught 6 passes for 60 receiving yards following his 2 game suspension for violating the leagues substance abuse policy. The four game suspension got reduced to 2 games following the new drug testing policy that got passed this week. Demaryius Thomas had 4 receptions for 31 receiving yards including the 2 point conversion that tied the game at 20. Tight ends Jacob Tamme and Julius Thomas each had a receiving touchdown. Virgil Green had 1 reception for 10 yards before leaving the game with an injury.


Denver brought the pass protection. The Seahawks provided the run blocking. At the end of the day Marshawn Lynch and the 12th man was simply too much to handle for the Denver Broncos. Now both of last years conference champions are 2-1 after three weeks of the 2014 NFL Season.




Kansas City Chiefs 1-2-0
Versus
Miami Dolphins 1-2-0


Game Recap: MIAMI-The winless Chiefs traveled to Sun Life Stadium to take on the Miami Dolphins. Would the Chiefs finally win their first game of the 2014 NFL Season?


Both offensive lines did a horrible job in pass protection. Knowshon Moreno was out for the Dolphins again. The Chiefs run blocking showed up. Knile Davis would get a 21 yard rushing touchdown. Davis would finish the day with 32 carries, 132 rushing yards, and 1 rushing touchdown. The pass protection continued to struggle for both teams. One positive note about this game is that Eric Fisher has been much better in the last six quarters playing like a leader in the second half against Denver and playing flawless except for the one sack that Oliver Vernon recorded.


Fisher made at least 5 blocks where Alex Smith had 3 or more seconds to get rid of the football. Smith finished the day 19 for 25 with 186 passing yards, 3 passing touchdowns, and no interceptions. Derrick Johnson was the only 3-4 middle linebacker the Chiefs had. If you have a center that can keep 3-4 nose tackle Dontari Poe in check you can run through this defense.


Mike Pouncey did well enough as a run blocker to enable Lamar Miller to exceed 100 rushing yards. Pouncey gave up 2 sacks with lousy pass protection. The entire Dolphins offensive line looks like a joke after a promising week 1 game against the New England Patriots.


Miami has to show up in week 3. Both 1-2 teams need to keep winning if either expects to turn things around in 2014. Week 4 will decide a lot in a very competitive season so far where a lot of 2-1 and 1-2 teams are playing do or die games with major implications on the line.


After defeating the Miami Dolphins 34 to 15, Kansas City has 8 days to prepare for New England. With nearly 2 days gone, you have to believe that the Chiefs will remain focused to stopping the quarterback that lost to the Miami Dolphins in week 1. That signal-caller was Tom Brady.




Pittsburgh Steelers 2-1-0
Versus
Carolina Panthers 2-1-0


Game Recap: CAROLINA-The Panthers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field in the preseason. That preseason win was nothing because Cam Newton and Ben Roethlisberger both sat out in the game that would result in a Panthers victory. Would Carolina win in the regular season at home?


The Pittsburgh Steelers offense dominated this contest with a capital D. The offensive line did their part pass blocking, run blocking, and zone blocking. These guys finally responded to Mike Munchak after two weeks against AFC North division rivals.


Ben Roethlisberger did an great job picking apart this defense. He went 22 for 30 with 196 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, and no interceptions. Wide receiver Antonio Brown recorded 10 receptions for 90 receiving yards while catching both touchdowns from Ben Roethlisberger.


It wasn’t just these guys. The running backs had a say in this game. Usually teams win with run blocking by the offensive line. Two Steeler running backs Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount both exceeded 100 rushing yards in the same game. Carolina had 2 running backs in Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert get injured. Now DeAngelo Williams, Stewart, and Tolbert are all injured. With a depleted running game and no reliable wide receivers besides Kelvin Benjamin who had 8 receptions for 115 receiving yards and 1 receiving touchdown against the Steelers played well without Ike Taylor covering him.


You should be proud, but not surprised by the Steelers performance against such pedestrian wide receivers. You have Jason Avant and Jericho Cotchery as your other wide receivers after Kelvin Benjamin on the depth chart.


The Panthers defense was awful the only player with a big statistical game was Luke Kuechly. Kuechly posted 7 solo tackles, 7 assisted tackles, and 14 total tackles on the day. Besides Kuechly nobody showed up for Carolina.


Cam Newton threw for 250 passing yards, 1 touchdown, and no picks. His performance was still disappointing considering the fact that Derek Anderson threw the touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin in the fourth quarter. I guess you could say that about the entire Panthers’ offense considering the fact that Carolina got schooled by the Steelers.


Steelers won 34 to 15 in Carolina. The Steelers will host an 0-3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that will be starting Mike Glennon for the first time in 2014 at Heinz Field. Glennon took over for Josh Freeman at midseason last year after the Buccaneers benched Freeman. Now he will do the same for Josh McCown hoping to save his job and prevent the Buccaneers from drafting a quarterback in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.




Chicago Bears 2-1-0
Versus
New York Jets 1-2-0


Game Recap: NEW YORK-This was the second week 3 game in New York. Two 1-1 teams would battle for the right to be 2-1.


Both offensive lines stunk on Monday. The Jets’ run blocking was the best feature about either teams offensive lines. Both defenses made plays rushing the quarterback. Both front 7 units stopped the run. It really came down to which quarterback made better choices with his wide receivers by communicating. Left guard Matt Slauson a former New York Jet and center Roberto Garza were both out with injuries. I was really looking forward to seeing how the Jets would react to their former left guard on Monday Night Football. First, Slauson was injured and second New York sports fans don’t care for left guards. Some Jets fans still miss the Alan Faneca glory days. Not having Faneca or Slauson had to hurt. Not having Slauson hurt the Bears on Monday Night.


You look at Geno Smith. Smith went 26 for 43 throwing 316 passing yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions. One of those plays was a pick six from free safety Ryan Mundy who is finally developing the versatility to play strong safety. Mundy is finally blossoming after sitting out behind safeties Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark in Pittsburgh.


The Chicago Bears had Tim Jennings at field cornerback, Charles Tillman playing the boundary, Kyle Fuller playing boundary corner, Ryan Mundy playing strong safety, and Chris Conte starting at free safety. Rookie Brock Vereen looked good when getting some playing time. Both Mundy and Conte left the game with injuries at safety. Not having Charles Tillman at corner also hurts. This secondary was depleted, but the emergence of Fuller at cornerback gives Bears fans a reason to celebrate. One thing that helped the Bears win was the loss of wide receiver Eric Decker. Decker left the game with an injury.


Last year Geno Smith had no Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill as a #2 wide receiver, and Kellen Winslow as a tight end. Smith emerged late in his rookie season, but he had good playmakers most of the way. Jace Amaro should be starting at tight end instead of Cumberland. Kerely is a slot receiver not a #2 guy. Decker is a #2 wide receiver not a #1 guy. Decker had injury concerns coming out of Minnesota, but playing with Peyton Manning put those concerns to rest. Geno Smith threw into coverage 5 times. Jon Bostic nearly picked off Geno Smith for a third time at middle linebacker. You have to be concerned about this passing game if you are a Jets fan.


Jay Cutler was phenomenal despite the lousy blocking. That is probably because the Jets have no cornerbacks without Dee Milliner in the lineup. Cutler spread the ball out. He threw it to Alshon Jeffery 8 times. Jeffery ran for 105 receiving yards. Cutler threw it to tight end Martellus Bennett 5 times. Bennett scored 2 receiving touchdowns which means 40 percent of Bennett’s catches resulted in touchdowns. Matt Forte had 6 receptions at running back. Forte is still the best pass catching option in Fantasy leagues. Santonio Holmes, the former Jet is Jay Cutler’s slot receiver this year. Holmes had 2 receptions in the slot. Dante Rosario, the Bears backup tight end had 1 reception. Brandon Marshall had 1 reception for 8 yards which was the fewest amoung of receiving yards. Marshall did score a receiving touchdown that was called back due to an holding penalty by the left guard filling in for Matt Slauson. I love how Cutler got all these guys involved in the offense. He needs to duplicate these statistics against a much tougher defense before I am sold on him being a Super Bowl caliber quarterback.


Chicago wins 27 to 19. Cutler convinced me that the Bears can contend for the NFC North if he stays healthy for all 16 games. I still need to see Cutler play like this against quality cornerback tandems before I label him elite. He has faced three weak secondaries with the Bills. Chicago will get their first test against a Green Bay Packers secondary with depth at quality positions. The Packers’ secondary has played two good games despite the 1-2 record. Green Bay has looked like a different pass defense during the past two weeks since losing to the Seahawks.


Cutler has to beat Aaron Rodgers on Sunday in week 4 before I am convinced that Jay Cutler is a franchise quarterback that can take the Bears to the playoffs. For now, Chicago has to love their 2-1 start in the 2014 NFL Season.







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