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Week 3 in the NFL is just about over with, so with most of the action already in the rear-view mirror, we take a few minutes to digest what we just saw.
Injuries, big-time wins (and consequently, big-time losses), and rookie debuts headline the Week 3 observations. Here’s a look back at the six takeaways from the second week of the NFL season.
1. Bridgewater, Bortles make their debuts
None of the quarterbacks taken in the first round of May’s draft earned starting jobs before Week 1, but as of Week 3, two are slated to get the nod for Week 4.
An injury to Matt Cassel forced Teddy Bridgewater into action for the Vikings against the Saints. The last quarterback selected in the first round completed 12-of-20 passes for 150 yards, but also was sacked twice. All in all, it was a pretty successful first outing.
The same can be said for Bortles, who due to ineffective play came in to relieve Chad Henne. Bortles went 14-of-24 for 223 yards, a pair of touchdowns and a pair of interceptions, but helped Jacksonville avoid the shutout against Indianapolis.
2. Super Bowl rematch goes into overtime
Denver outscored Seattle 17-0 in the final quarter of Sunday afternoon’s Super Bowl 48 rematch to force overtime against the defending champions.
The Seahawks led 17-3 through three quarters, and after Kam Chancellor picked off Peyton Manning with just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter the game appeared to be all but over. Seattle upped its lead to eight with a field goal, but Manning engineered an 80-play drive downfield in 41 seconds to even it up at 20-all and send it into overtime.
Marshawn Lynch‘s six-yard touchdown run made the difference, as Seattle against got the best of Denver. But it did prove to me two things: 1) These are not the same Broncos that were torched last February. They’re tougher physically and mentally, evident by Manning’s late-game drive to tie in regulation. 2) These are the same Seahawks — resilient and still the class of the NFL.
3. Three unbeatens remain
Philadelphia,Cincinnati and Arizona remain the lone undefeated teams in the NFL.
The Bills finally were exposed by the upstart Chargers, and Houston could not come through against the then-winless Giants in New York.
Arizona kept its momentum by getting the best of division rival San Francisco, and Philly — in a shootout — got past Kirk Cousins and Washington. Cincinnati continues to shine, easily cruising past Tennessee.
4. Cincy keeps on rolling
You can make a case that the Bengals look like they are the best team to start 2014. Defensively, the team is giving up just 10 points per game. Andy Dalton is engineering a sound, efficient and at times explosive offense. And through three weeks, no team has looked sharper in all three phases of the game.
Cincinnati has already defeated Baltimore and Atlanta, teams that’ll be vying for playoff spots and perhaps division titles. They now have a bye week, where they could get back a healthy Marvin Jones, before facing a tough stretch that includes the Patriots, Panthers, Colts and Ravens.
The Bengals have passed every test they’ve faced so far in the early season, but by Week 9 we should have a more accurate gauge of whether or not they truly are the best team in the AFC this year.
5. Injury roundout
It’s never fun to recap all the injuries that took place on Sunday, but nevertheless it’s an important storyline.
Matt Cassel had to be carted off the field in the Superdome after fracturing several bones in his foot. He looks to be sidelined for a while as Bridgewater becomes the man for the Vikings.
Dennis Pitta was also carted off the field after dislocating his right hip. It’s the same injury that sidelined him in training camp last year. He’s set to undergo an MRI.
DeAngelo Williams was already inactive for Carolina Sunday night, and now Jonathan Stewart could join him on the sidelines. Stewart suffered a right knee contusion, which is just the latest to plague the injury prone back.
The Chargers are already without Ryan Mathews, and now Danny Woodhead will miss time. Woodhead suffered a high ankle sprain and a fractured fibula in Buffalo and is expected to miss the rest of the season. Donald Brown takes over as the starter in San Diego.
Clay Matthews suffered a groin injury in Green Bay’s loss to Detroit. That’s a tough blow for a defense that has already been underachieving, and now could be without its top pass-rusher.
Kyle Rudolph also left the game against New Orleans with a groin injury. He’ll undergo an MRI on Monday.
6. Captain Kirk earning a job?
Though Washington fell short in its shootout with the Eagles, Kirk Cousins proved he might just be the best option the team has under center.
Robert Griffin III’s longtime backup passed for 427 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, finishing with a quarterback rating of 103.4. With Cousins under center, Washington has scored 41 and 34 points, compared to six when RGIII was the starter.
Griffin will be sidelined for about two more months, and thus far Cousins has taken and run away with his opportunity. If this continues, Jay Gruden will have the tough job of benching Cousins for RGIII. Could Washington look to trade the former No. 2 overall pick away?
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