NFL Week 3: Big Wins For Seattle And Arizona

Reigning Superbowl Champions Seattle Seahawks in action

Reigning Superbowl Champions Seattle Seahawks in action

Week three of the NFL season saw plenty of points being put on the board, with several shoot-outs matched by a few crushing blowouts. The regular season is in full flow now, and week three saw some teams make serious declarations of their intent. Let’s review the action here:

Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks (20-26)

The Seattle Seahawks win another regular season game at home, but they don’t often do it by surrendering a two-touchdown lead. Overall, the ‘hawks defense dominated Peyton Manning, giving him no time or room to do anything for the first three quarters, but then were hit three times on essentially the same play at the end, forcing overtime. The offense went away from the three-headed beast running game of weeks one and two, with Percy Harvin not getting a rushing attempt all day. Yet when they received the ball in overtime, Harvin was used very successfully as a decoy. It’s a neat variation on the read-option, and a very useful trick for Seattle to pull out, with Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson likely to profit from those plays. In the end, Seattle got it done when the game was on the line. If they get home-field advantage in the play-offs, they’ll go to the Super Bowl.

Mentally, this must have been a very tough game for the Denver Broncos to prepare for, after their Super Bowl decimation. Yet there were plenty of different faces on the field this time, and it tightened things up. Aqib Talib played hard on the outside, and DeMarcus Ware made a big play for the safety which turned the tide Denver’s way. The improved offensive line held up better, but Manning struggled until the fourth quarter. It’s tough to lose in over-time without getting to touch the football, but Denver can look forward. They need not fear playing Seattle again, if it happens.

San Francisco Forty-Niners at Arizona Cardinals (14-23)

Big win for the Arizona Cardinals here. NFC West divisional games are never easy, no matter what the opposition have going on. Drew Stanton threw a really good game, growing in confidence as it went on. Once he threw his first touchdown pass, to John Brown in the third quarter, the Cardinals took over. He was richly rewarded for feeding Michael Floyd five times, with the dynamic receiver coming home with 114 yards. The defense played its part, not giving up any points in the second half. They overcame a Larry Fitzgerald fumble to stamp out a late drive that could have seen them lose, and brought great pressure through the middle. The special-teams blocked a field goal attempt too, which was a massive momentum swing for the Cardinals, who sit atop the NFC West at 3-0.

It is hard to rationally explain what is wrong with the San Francisco Forty-Niners at the moment, but they look on the brink of full-on implosion. Yet again they didn’t show up for the second-half, and they let their frustrations boil over and gave up nine penalties for a demoralising 107 yards. Anquan Boldin turned a first and goal at the six yard line into first and twenty-one following a petulant headbutt, breathing new life into the Cardinals. The Niners scored touchdowns on their first two drives, and then didn’t put any more points on the board. They went away from the running game and, although Stevie Johnson had a solid outing, it looked a curious decision, given the absence of Vernon Davis. Jim Harbaugh has a lot of work to do.

San Diego Chargers at Buffalo Bills (22-10)

The San Diego Chargers are a streaky team. Last season they made the play-offs on the back of four straight wins to end the season, but also lost three on the bounce after their bye-week. So following up from their home win against the Seahawks, it could only be good for their hopes to win away in Buffalo. It’s not an easy fixture for them, given the distance travelled and the opponents’ form, but the Chargers dominated this one from the first to last play. They lost Danny Woodhead to injury after one run, but were able to find plenty of plays through the air to see them through. Most notably, Malcolm Floyd had two receptions, each for forty-nine yards. The Chargers took away Sammy Watkins, and were able to contain the rest comfortably.

A crash back down to Earth for the Buffalo Bills, but they never really looked like taking this one. The Chargers picked apart their secondary, which had been so good in weeks one and two. An inability to put Philip Rivers on the ground (recording only one sack) certainly wasn’t in the game plan. Fred Jackson has been a stalwart throughout his career, but the Bills won’t win many games with him leading both receiving and rushing stats for them.

Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions (7-19)

An ability to win in spite of Matt Stafford will be required occasionally for the Detroit Lions to prosper. They managed it here, beating their divisional rivals relatively comfortably, in spite of Stafford’s two interceptions and a fumble. Reggie Bush was explosive, taking twelve carries for 61 yards, while adding 38 more through the air. The arsenal of offensive weapons available in Detroit was too much for the defense, and it will likely not be the last time that happens this season. The injury-hit Lions secondary held the talented receivers in check, but the big advantage they had up front certainly helped there, with Aaron Rodgers never getting enough time to make plays. They converted 61% of third downs, a number that would help win plenty of football games.

The Green Bay Packers will have to be disappointed with only putting one touchdown on this patched-up Lions secondary, but they will have to address the imbalance that was Aaron Rodger’s offensive line taking on the destructive Lions D-line. It is hard to remember Rodgers ever having adequate pass protection, and they will struggle to add divisional titles with their quarterback scrambling for his life. The defense played pretty well, holding Detroit to 19 points, but the offense has got to find a way to combat the pressure.

Washington at Philadelphia Eagles (34-37)

The Philadelphia Eagles successfully came back and held off Washington in this one, climbing to 3-0 in the process. It has been tougher than expected for Philly thus far, and their tendancy to fall behind early is as worrying as their ability to come back and win is impressive. They dealt with the DeSean Jackson sideshow pretty well, but tensions did rise in this one, with more than one scuffle before the end. Nick Foles got lucky on a couple of occasions, but 27/41 for 325 yards and three touchdowns are game stats not to be sniffed at. He also maintained his composure manfully, as he was hit early and often (and late) by the defense. LeSean McCoy went out early, but the Eagles can win so many ways. Jeremy Maclin tore the defense apart, with eight receptions for 154 yards and a touchdown. Yet it was Malcolm Jenkins interceptions that may well have been decisive in the end, making a great play, setting up a field goal to put the Eagles ten points up. If Philly’s defense can force turnovers, they will be a force. They do have some serious injury problems on the offensive line now, though.

Washington came after the Eagles in this one, but made it really hard on themselves by giving up ten penalties in a feisty encounter. It was only one penalty more than Philadelphia, but cost them an extra 61 yards in total. They were wound up, no one more so than Jackson, who took some late shots himself. But problems from seasons past continue to haunt Washington, particularly special teams. They lost a touchdown to a kick-off return and missed a makeable field goal. Roy Helu Jr. made a big impact, despite only touching the ball twice, taking a catch for fifty-five yards, before rushing a one-yard touchdown. Pierre Garcon and Jackson both broke the hundred-yard barrier through the air, but the defense couldn’t stop Philly when it needed to. They have fresh injury concerns there too, with DeAngelo Hall and Jason Hatcher leaving the game hurt.

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