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Team Notes week 4 2022
NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS AND OTHER GOOD STUFF
Directly from the desk of FlashUpdate Editor Bob Harris. There is no better way to jump-start your weekend than browsing these always educational -- often irreverent -- team-by-team, Fantasy-specific offerings. ...Team Menu
Arizona CardinalsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 27 September 2022
As Kevin Parrish Jr. of the team's official website framed it: "No DeAndre Hopkins. No Rondale Moore. No A.J. Green available for the second half because of injury.
"Wide receiver Marquise Brown understood the assignment and answered the challenge Sunday in the Cardinals' 20-12 defeat to the Rams in Week 3. ..."
"He did a good job as he continues to get comfortable in the system," head coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "He's going to be a good player for us."
Brown finished with 140 receiving yards on 14 catches, averaging 10 yards per catch. It's the first 100-receiving-yard performance for Brown as a Cardinal in three games. His catch total is a career-high as well.
But Brown was thinking about what caused the loss, not what he achieved in the box score.
"I feel terrible," Brown said. "I didn't even know I had a big game until I came in here and heard the stats. I was just out trying to make plays. But to lose is not a good feeling."
The connection between quarterback Kyler Murray and Brown on Sunday is what the Cardinals envisioned when the team acquired Murray's best friend and college teammate last offseason. Brown had 17 targets, the most in his career.
Their one mishap happened late in the third quarter when Brown beat Rams cornerback Derion Kendrick on a post route downfield. Murray slightly overthrew Brown on the shot that should have been a touchdown, causing the hands-on helmet frustration gesture.
"I let it go too early," Murray said. "But he made a bunch of plays."
As the Cardinals receiving room deals with the injury bug and continue to await Hopkins' return from suspension, Brown will remain the main target of the pass game.
Brown isn't thinking about more games with increased targets or the task of carrying the load, though. He's just doing his part to help the Cardinals win games.
"We're light at receiver, so if I have to play the whole game with no break, I'll do it," Brown said. "If the ball comes, my job is to catch it. I'm not worried about how many."
It's worth noting that for the third time in as many games to start this season, the Cardinals found themselves playing from behind in the second half.
Arizona fell into a quick 14-point hole and never recovered in a season-opening 44-21 loss to Kansas City. The Cardinals managed to bounce back from a shaky start last week at Las Vegas, overcoming a 20-point halftime deficit to beat the Raiders 29-23 in overtime.
Another week, another hole, no comeback this time.
There are 14 games left, but mounting comebacks every week isn't the recipe to a playoff berth.
So why can't Arizona get off to better starts?
According to ESPN.com's Josh Weinfuss, it comes down to playcalling.
The Cardinals don't get Murray's legs moving early in the first quarter and it stagnates the offense. By the time Arizona gets something going, they're trailing.
They'll try to rectify those issues in Carolina when then take on a tough Panthers defense this Sunday. ...
Other notes of interest. ... It was a rough outing for Green. On the same play in which he dropped a pass, he came down oddly and grabbed his left knee -- a knee that had already been bothering him earlier in the game. He left and did not return. Kingsbury said Green has a bone bruise and is doubtful Sunday's game against the Panthers -- and perhaps beyond that.
Assuming that's the case, the top four available Cardinals wide receivers are Brown (5-9), Greg Dortch (5-7), Andy Isabella (5-9) and Andre Baccellia (5-10).
One of the reasons the Cardinals want Green in there is because of his size. ...
I'll be following up on Green and Moore, who was back on the practice field Wednesday, via Late-Breaking Update in coming days; Moore has yet to play this season due to the hamstring injury he suffered in practice prior to Week 1.
James Conner played through an ankle issue without any apparent setback, but he was limited Wednesday with a knee issue while Dortch (back) was also limited. ...
As FantasyLife.com's Dwain McFarland pointed out after Sunday's game, Brown was quiet in the first two weeks of the season despite great route participation and weak target competition.
In Week 3, Brown got right with 17 targets (31 percent) and 41 percent of Arizona's air yards, per Pro Football Focus data.
This prompted McFarland to note that Brown has WR1 upside every week while waiting on Hopkins and/or Moore. ...
Tight end Zach Ertz nearly pulled in a touchdown catch on the Cardinals' first scoring drive, and he was still thinking about it postgame.
"I did not play well," Ertz said. "I've got to play better. I hold myself to a high standard. The ball is in the air, especially in the red zone, we've got to make the play. I let the team down a couple of times. It's frustrating, but I've got to improve."
Ertz wasn't the only one who couldn't bring in expected catches during the game. Conner, the play after Ertz couldn't bring it in, dropped a ball near the goal line on third down. A catch and the Cardinals likely go for it; instead, they kicked. There were a few other plays during the game that catches weren't made.
"I tell guys all the time, you've got to be awake playing with me," Murray said. "No matter what the play is. I've got free reign to do whatever, get it to whoever. When you're asleep and you don't think you're getting the ball, we can't play like that. Everybody is going to be lit up, in the game, locked in."
Murray finished the game 37-of-58 passing for 314 yards, setting a new career high in passing attempts.
As for the slow starts, Murray said he didn't know if there was a common theme. But he knows the Cardinals have to be better to set themselves up for more success later in games.
"I wish I had the answer right now," Murray said. "I'm not sure, besides, 'Let's start winning some football.' The rest of the game is competitive. The first quarter, you can't make anything happen. You can't get anything going. It's just bad football. ..."
As Associated Press sports writer David Brandt noted Monday, Conner has had a slow start to the season with just 90 yards rushing. Brandt added the lack of production isn't totally Conner's fault. The Cardinals have had to rely on the passing game during the first three weeks because they're falling behind early.
Conner was selected for the Pro Bowl last season after scoring 18 touchdowns, including 15 on the ground.
Murray said he would like to see Conner more involved: "He's one of our best players, got to give your best players the ball, and I think we'll do that. ..."
Finally. ... The third field goal Matt Prater kicked Sunday pushed him over the 16,000-point mark for his career. He now has 16,005 points in his career.
You can access complete stats for the Cardinals Week 3 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Kyler Murray, Colt McCoy, Trace McSorley
RBs: James Conner, Keaontay Ingram, Jonathan Ward, Darrel Williams
WRs: DeAndre Hopkins, Marquise Brown, Rondale Moore, A.J. Green, Robbie Anderson, Greg Dortch, Antoine Wesley
TEs: Trey McBride, Maxx Williams, Stephen Anderson, Zach Ertz
Atlanta FalconsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 27 September 2022
According to Associated Press sports writer Charles Odum, it's time to put away any thoughts that Cordarrelle Patterson's move from wide receiver to running back was destined to be a short-lived experiment.
The 31-year-old Patterson again showed he is more than a novelty item on the Atlanta Falcons' depth chart. He set a career high in rushing for the second time in three weeks by running for 141 yards and a touchdown in Atlanta's 27-23 win at Seattle on Sunday. He ran for 107 yards in the second half.
On Wednesday, Patterson was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week.
Patterson faded badly in the second half of last season as he appeared to wear down following his move to the backfield.
This year's additions of veteran Damien Williams and rookie Tyler Allgeier provided options if Patterson couldn't again prove he was capable of taking the lead role at running back.
Patterson still looks like a receiver as he wears No. 84, but the Falcons remained committed to the veteran as their starting running back. He has proved the point.
With Williams, expected to be Patterson's top backup, on injured reserve with a rib injury, Patterson led the Falcons (1-2) to their first win.
Patterson set career highs with 120 yards on 22 carries in a season-opening 27-26 loss to New Orleans. His lead role changed when he and Allgeier each had 10 carries in a 31-27 loss at the Los Angeles Rams in Week 2.
Patterson again was Atlanta's dominant back with 17 carries against Seattle. Allgeier had six carries for 25 yards.
A key to Patterson's success has been the Falcons' improved run-blocking. The offensive line overcame the absence of starting left guard Elijah Wilkinson, who missed Sunday's game because of undisclosed personal reasons.
Patterson averaged 8.3 yards per carry, setting another career high, against Seattle. His production is crucial, as head coach Arthur Smith is determined to establish a running game. The Falcons rushed for 179 yards and have topped 175 yards on the ground in two of their first three games for the first time since 2010.
"I mean even though he's 31, he's continuing to evolve, and he works to improve," said Smith of Patterson. "And it's fun to coach him."
Quarterback Marcus Mariota threw only 20 passes against the Seahawks, completing 13 for 229 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Meanwhile, after catching four passes for 38 yards in the first two weeks of the season, tight end Kyle Pitts offered assurances that he was not frustrated by his lack of opportunities to make plays for the offense.
Pitts didn't have to go back to that well after Sunday's game. The second-year man had five catches for 87 yards.
The tight end had a rather simple explanation for why he was able to break through this weekend.
"The ball finally found me," Pitts told the team's official website. "I feel like we've been doing a good job all week just preparing and trying to expose some of their defensive weaknesses and matchups."
Four of Pitts' catches came on scoring drives in the first half and Mariota credited the production with loosening things up for the run game in the second half. That formula would be a good one for the Falcons to employ as they try to add to their win total in the weeks to come.
Smith said Pitts provides more than just catches and played an important role even when his receptions were down.
"As you really study the run game too, he's really becoming a complete player," Smith said. "It's only going to benefit us in the long haul."
Mariota was able to take advantage of both Pitts and this year's top rookie, wide receiver Drake London, in the passing game.
London had three catches for 54 yards and a touchdown. It was London's second consecutive game with a scoring catch.
Per FantasyLife.com's Dwain McFarland, Pitts, who 13 fantasy points, dominated targets (42 percent) and air yards (49 percent) with 18.4 average depth of target (ADOT).
London, meanwhile, drew a 32 percent target share and 31 percent of the team's air yards.
McFarland added: "London might be a WR1 in fantasy this season and was an absolute steal in fantasy drafts. Dude is balling."
That said, turnovers remain a concern.
Mariota threw an interception and lost a fumble against Seattle. For the season, the Falcons have three interceptions and lost four fumbles. Through Sunday's games, only two teams in the league had more than Atlanta's total of seven giveaways. The Falcons have a minus-2 turnover ratio.
Still, more broadly speaking, AtlantaFalcons.com's Tori McElhaney believes Sunday was -- arguably -- the best collective performance of Mariota we've seen through three games.
Of course, that doesn't exclude the issues we did see, but it does help us see the bigger picture.
Mariota finished the game 13-of-20 through the air. He had 229 passing yards, and averaged 11.5 yards per attempt.
He didn't have the rushing yards we're used to seeing from him, but when looking back you could tell that Seattle's defense did respect his scrambling ability in their alignments.
At the end of the day, the Falcons averaged 7.1 yards a play on Sunday. Mariota plays a large role in that production whether some people want to admit it or not.
Next up, the Falcons will try again to establish a home-field advantage when they play Cleveland on Sunday. The Falcons finished 7-10 last season despite a 2-6 home record, and they lost their first home game against New Orleans this season. ...
One other issue: Though the run-blocking earned high marks, Mariota was sacked three times. He has been sacked six times this season. That's a high number for an offense which has averaged only 26 passes per game.
Smith said he expects Wilkinson to return to practice on Wednesday and will move back into his starting job that was filled by Colby Gossett against Seattle. ...
You can access complete stats for the Falcons Week 3 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Marcus Mariota, Desmond Ridder
RBs: Cordarrelle Patterson, Tyler Allgeier, Caleb Huntley, Avery Williams, Damien Williams
WRs: Drake London, Olamide Zaccheaus, Damiere Byrd, KhaDarel Hodge, Bryan Edwards, Jared Bernhardt
TEs: MyCole Pruitt, Parker Hesse, Anthony Firkser, Feleipe Franks, Kyle Pitts
Baltimore RavensCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 27 September 2022
Lamar Jackson is continuing to show that he's a unique player in NFL history.
Jackson threw for four touchdowns and ran for one Sunday, leading Baltimore to a 37-26 victory over New England.
It was the second road win of the season for the Ravens, and it was a crucial one with Buffalo and Cincinnati coming to town next.
Jackson had 218 passing yards and 107 rushing yards in Sunday's win. As Profootballtalk.com's Michael David Smith suggests, those numbers are highly unusual for any other quarterback in NFL history, but par for the course for Jackson.
Sunday was Jackson's 14th career double-triple, which is when a player records triple-digit yardage in two different statistical categories. Jackson has now done that in two consecutive games and done it 11 times in the regular season and twice in the postseason. No one in NFL history has come close to Jackson's record on double-triples.
Michael Vick has the second-most double-triples in NFL history, with eight. And Vick played in 149 games in his career to record those eight double-triples. Jackson's 14th double-triple came in his 64th career game.
Other than Jackson and Vick, no one in NFL history has more than four double-triples.
In addition, he became the first player in the Super Bowl era with three or more passing touchdowns and 100-plus rushing yards in consecutive games.
Through three Sundays of this NFL season, Jackson is a leading candidate for league MVP. He's doing things no other quarterback can do.
Sunday's victory was crucial for the Ravens (2-1), getting them back on the right track before they host Buffalo (2-1) in Week 4. The work Jackson put into his game this offseason is showing, and Harbaugh loves what he sees.
"He's still a young quarterback," Harbaugh said. "You watch him play, does it look like he understands what he's going up against and what he's dealing with out there? That's the result of that process. It's really impressive."
The Ravens (2-1) allowed 447 yards, but after New England took a 20-14 lead in the third quarter, Baltimore scored two touchdowns and a field goal on its next three possessions. Jackson finished with 107 yards rushing and a passer rating of 110.3.
"I just want to win," Jackson said. "I just got to do what I do, play Lamar football."
It's not just Jackson. The whole offense is humming right now despite the fact that Baltimore was down to its fourth choice at left tackle because of injuries to Ronnie Stanley, Ja'Wuan James and Patrick Mekari.
Only Jacksonville, with 38 points against the Chargers, scored more points than Baltimore on Sunday, and a week earlier, the Ravens put up 38 in their loss to Miami.
Harbaugh credits offensive coordinator Greg Roman.
"If you ask any defensive coordinator or head coach in this league, they'll tell you that this offense is hard to defend," Harbaugh said Monday. "Executing and then keeping it going and coming up with ways to keep people off balance, that's what coaches do, that's what coordinators do. I really believe Greg is one of the very best in the business at that."
Meanwhile, as Clifton Brown of the team's official website noted, when the day of his return finally arrived, J.K. Dobbins was ready to deliver.
Rushing for 23 yards on seven carries and catching two passes for 17 yards against the Patriots on Sunday, Dobbins added immediate punch to Baltimore's offense in his first game back after major knee surgery.
Dobbins missed the entire 2021 season and the first two games this year, but now that his return is real, he's looking to make a great impact as he rounds into form.
"If felt great, (I'm) blessed to be back out there," Dobbins said. "I'm happy about that, but now it's time for me to try to do what I do. And that's run for 100 yards and stuff like that."
It was no surprise that Dobbins wasn't a workhorse back in Baltimore's 37-26 victory, and the hot hand at running back was Justice Hill (six carries, 60 yards) as the Ravens' run game had its most effective outing of the season.
The two backs practically split the offensive snaps. Hill had 29 and Dobbins had 26.
For Dobbins, returning to what he loves to do was huge both physically and mentally.
"The emotions were very high," Dobbins said. "When I got out there, I wasn't even worried about taking that first hit; I was just worried about making a play. The night before, I was thinking about it, but it was good to get back out there."
Head Coach John Harbaugh saw enough from Dobbins during the week in practice to feel that Week 3 was the right time for him to return.
"We were looking at last week and just felt like this week would be the kind of week, and it just kind of made sense this week in terms of how he looked," Harbaugh said.
With this game under his belt, Dobbins is looking forward to fulfilling the promise he showed prior to his injury when he rushed for 805 yards as a rookie. His rehab was long and difficult, but getting back on the field made it all worthwhile.
"It's made me a better person, a better man, and I keep chipping away, keep getting better each week," Dobbins said.
But according to Harbaugh, Hill shouldn't be overlooked.
"I thought Justice Hill really stepped up," the coach said. "He was kinda the bell cow today. He made some exceptional runs. He and I have been talking about that for a couple weeks -- he was gonna break out and run like a star running back, and he did. ..."
With their defense playing poorly right now, strong rushing attack will be helpful going up against Josh Allen and the Bills on Sunday, and then Joe Burrow and the Bengals are up the following weekend.
Other notes of interest. ... Mark Andrews caught 8-of-13 targets for 89 yards and two touchdowns against the Patriots.
As NBCSportsEdge.com notes, Andrews was targeted early and often in this one, with his best drive coming on the Ravens' second possession of the game. On that drive, Andrews caught four passes for 39 yards, capping the drive with a five-yard score to give the Ravens their first touchdown of the afternoon. Andrews would score on a 16-yard touchdown in the second quarter, accounting for two of Jackson's four passing touchdowns on the afternoon.
Andrews has now caught 22 passes for 245 yards and three touchdowns on the season. Arguably the best fantasy tight end in the game, he could be in for another big game next week against the Bills. ...
After scoring a long touchdown in each of the first two games, Rashod Bateman had only two catches against New England and lost a fumble after one of them.
Devin Duvernay continues to provide splash plays for fantasy managers but is anything but reliable in regard to volume. The third-year receiver has caught three touchdowns on the season and returned a kickoff for a score in Week 2 against the Dolphins.
Duvernay has now caught eight passes for 121 yards and three scores on the season but has yet to see more than four targets in a game. ...
Finally. ... The Ravens have not had much luck keeping their left tackles healthy, but the latest one to get hurt has apparently avoided a serious injury.
Patrick Mekari left Sunday's game after hurting his ankle and Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reports that Mekari has been diagnosed with a sprain. It's a low-ankle sprain, which generally carries a quicker recovery time than the high-ankle variety, and Mekari avoided any major damage when he went down against the Patriots.
Mekari was pressed into service at left tackle after Ja'Wuan James tore his Achilles in the season opener. James was starting in place of Ronnie Stanley, who is on the active roster but has been held out of the first three games because of the ankle injury that kept him out for the final 16 games of last season.
Daniel Faalele stepped in for Mekari on Sunday and would likely get the call if neither Mekari nor Stanley are cleared to play against the Bills this week.
You can access complete stats for the Ravens Week 3 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Lamar Jackson, Tyler Huntley
RBs: Gus Edwards, Kenyan Drake, Justice Hill, Mike Davis, J.K. Dobbins
WRs: Devin Duvernay, Demarcus Robinson, James Proche, DeSean Jackson, Tylan Wallace, Rashod Bateman
TEs: Mark Andrews, Isaiah Likely, Josh Oliver, Nick Boyle, Charlie Kolar
Buffalo BillsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 27 September 2022
Forget the excuses of the Buffalo Bills being undermanned and overheated in the South Florida humidity.
If there's one moment encapsulating the frustration of Buffalo's first loss of the season, it came via a 7-second CBS video clip showing offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey's volatile eruption in the visitor's coaches booth following a 21-19 decision to the Dolphins.
Ripping off his headset and violently bouncing it off the desk, Dorsey proceeded to trash his game notes before someone had the wisdom to cover the camera lens with their hand.
While Dorsey can no longer laugh off questions about his ultra-competitive reputation, which has been well-documented by players and fellow coaches since ascending to the job this offseason, the Bills must own up to an outcome mostly of their own undoing in a game they dominated Miami in nearly every statistical category.
Their defense, minus four regulars and featuring a secondary of rookies and backups, limited the Dolphins to a meager 212 yards and 15 first downs. Buffalo's offense, despite finishing the game with a piecemeal line, gained 497 yards on a near-franchise record 90 plays from scrimmage.
And yet, a series of critical errors cost them.
As Associated Press sports writer John Wawrow noted, there were mishandled snaps. And a blown coverage, which led to Jaylen Waddle's 45-yard catch -- on third-and-22, no less -- to set up the go-ahead score.
The Bills failed to respond in being thwarted on five snaps from inside the Miami 6. And a holding penalty on backup lineman David Quessenberry with 18 seconds left led to Buffalo not having enough time to make up the ground and attempt a field goal before time expired.
As much as the Bills (2-1) deserve credit for showing perseverance, what mostly stood out was a team crumbling in familiar fashion with the outcome on the line.
Buffalo can boast having tied the NFL record in winning its past 20 games by 10 or more points.
According to Wawrow, what's worrisome is how the Bills have dropped eight straight, including playoffs, in games decided by seven points or fewer. The streak is tied for the NFL's sixth longest since 2010.
Head coach Sean McDermott downplayed Buffalo's struggles in tight games two weeks ago, when noting how the Bills overcame their first-half struggles in rallying to outscore the Rams 21-0 in the second half of a 31-10 win. And yet, if the Bills want to be measured as Super Bowl contenders, they'll face similar questions until showing an ability to win in the clutch.
Last season's final seven playoff games were decided by six points or fewer.
As for the afore-mentioned injury and heat-related issues. ... The Bills knew they were going into Sunday's game shorthanded missing four starters on defense as well as their starting center on offense.
But the humid conditions sapped the roster of any depth it had left as players left the game due to heat exhaustion or an injury as the game neared halftime.
Right tackle Spencer Brown was struggling with heat illness and exited the game in the first half as well with David Quessenberry coming on for him. Tight end Dawson Knox and Isaiah McKenzie also succumbed to the heat, though McKenzie was able to return to the game.
"It was so hot," said McKenzie, a south Florida native. "It was hot the whole game. I started throwing up, so I'm like, 'Okay, I'm going to just take a breather.' So, I came out and had to come back to the locker room and get an IV. I thought was used to this just coming from Miami, but I guess I'm more familiar with Buffalo at this moment."
In addition to the players having to retire from the heat, there were other players leaving the game with injuries.
Receiver Jake Kumerow sustained an ankle injury after making a reception in the first half and could not return to the game leaving Buffalo with just four receivers. Rookie CB Christian Benford sustained a fractured bone in his hand, and though he returned to the game he could only play on special teams. It forced undrafted rookie practice squad call up Ja'Marcus Ingram to play at corner.
Several other players on offense sustained muscle cramps -- including Stefon Diggs, and had to step out briefly and then return to the game.
While Allen took a face mask or a helmet to what appeared to be his right hand on the sideline and entered the X-ray room at Hard Rock Stadium, he said after the game he was "fine."
"[Allen's] good," McDermott added.
Allen became the first player in franchise history to attempt 60 passes.
But on a day when Buffalo's passing game was forced to throw short and Miami remained aggressive with their pressure packages, Allen relied heavily on his backs in Sunday's game.
Devin Singletary, Zack Moss, and James Cook all made contributions to keep offensive drives alive.
Singletary's first catch of the day was on a checkdown throw from Allen that he caught and took for 19 yards. He then capped that drive with a short two-yard reception on fourth and goal to put Buffalo on the board first.
By halftime Singletary had seven receptions for 52 yards.
"It felt good. Just doing my one eleventh," Singletary said. "Any way I can just help the team out. That's what it was just Josh checking it down and me trying to keep us on the field."
In the second half, Moss took a hand-off out to the right flank and got the corner on Dolphins CB Nik Needham and rumbled for 43 yards to put the Bills in Miami territory on what wound up being a field goal drive for Buffalo to break a 14-14 tie and give Buffalo the lead (17-14).
Cook also contributed with four receptions for 37 yards.
The impact of the backs was critical with the Miami secondary not giving up anything deep to Buffalo's receivers, who were also getting heavy legged in the heat.
"I thought Josh did a good job on those checked downs early and I mean that frustrates defensive play callers when you do that," said McDermott. "You set up 2nd-and-2, so hard to call that for a defensive coordinator. Josh and the backs did a good job getting on the same page early. Doing some things blocking-wise with their pressures and we expected some defenders dropping out as well. So, I thought we handled that really well."
For Singletary his nine receptions led the team and were a single-game career high as were his 78 receiving yards.
Still, a running attack in which Allen accounts for 123 of the team's combined 337 yards this season, and scored its only TD rushing, needs more from Singletary, Moss and Cook. ...
For what it's worth, Buffalo will face even more adversity with offensive lineman Tommy Doyle out with a torn ACL. Benford will miss a few weeks with a broken hand and Kumerow will be week to week with a high ankle sprain. He did not practice Wednesday.
"That was a heck of an effort. Never want to come up short," McDermott said. "There's no ribbons for second place, and they know it. ..."
Gabe Davis (ankle) and Knox (back/hip) were limited in Wednesday's practice; watch the Late-Breaking Updates section for more. ...
Also worth noting here. ... McKenzie scored 21 fantasy points against Miami but remained in a timeshare with Jamison Crowder.
According to FantasyLife.com's Dwain McFarland, McKenzie was on the field for 55 percent of Allen's dropbacks. Davis saw 96 percent route participation, but didn't demand many targets (11 percent).
It seems numbers like this are indicative of a team with an abundance of viable options. ...
Finally. ... The Bills are signing veteran cornerback Xavier Rhodes to the practice squad, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reported Tuesday.
It reunites Rhodes with Leslie Frazier from their time together in Minnesota.
The Bills went into Sunday's game against the Dolphins without cornerbacks Dane Jackson and Tre'Davious White and Benford suffered the above-mentioned hand injury. They also were without safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, so they're thin in the defensive backfield.
Rhodes spent the past two seasons with the Colts, starting 29 games and totaling 81 tackles, three interceptions and 19 pass breakups.
He made the Pro Bowl three times with the Vikings and earned All-Pro honors in 2017.
You can access complete stats for the Bills Week 3 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Josh Allen, Case Keenum
RBs: Devin Singletary, James Cook, Nyheim Hines, Reggie Gilliam, Duke Johnson
WRs: Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, Isaiah McKenzie, Khalil Shakir, Jake Kumerow, Jamison Crowder
TEs: Dawson Knox, Quintin Morris, Tommy Sweeney
Carolina PanthersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 27 September 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Steve Reed noted, while the Panthers finally got their first victory of the season with a 22-14 win over the New Orleans Saints, the passing game remains a major issue.
Baker Mayfield has struggled since his arrival in Carolina, completing just 51.9 percent of his passes for 550 yards with three touchdowns and one interception through three games. He has been sacked nine times and hasn't played with same swagger he had during his four seasons with the Cleveland Browns.
So while the Panthers (1-2) were busy celebrating the end of a league-long nine-game losing streak on Sunday, the reality is there is an enormous amount of work that needs to be done for this team to take a step forward offensively.
"I am going to look back at the tape and not be real happy with how I played, considering the third down conversions and our passing game," Mayfield said after his first win with the Panthers.
"We will take wins when we can get them, there's no doubt about that. Just need to capitalize."
According to ESPN.com's David Newton, Mayfield has been off-target (passes underthrown or overthrown) on 21.1 percent of his pass attempts this season, tied for the fifth-highest rate in the NFL with Derek Carr. Entering this season, Mayfield's career off-target percentage was 17.6 percent.
Yet another stat where Mayfield is having a career-worst season.
"I know there is going to be bumps in the road, but I expect to be a whole lot better than I have been so far," Mayfield said Sunday.
Mayfield said he doesn't think the issues are the result of the scheme.
The Panthers are converting just 27 percent of their third downs, which is 30th in the league.
Mayfield has a meager QB rating of 45.6 on third downs, completing just 11 of 20 passes for 145 yards with one interception and no touchdown passes.
The Panthers are 29th in the league in passing and Mayfield is ranked among the worst QBs in the league so far.
"We thought we would be more explosive in the intermediate areas. We weren't," head coach Matt Rhule said after the win against the Saints. "There is a lot of work to be done offensively to get this thing to the level that we want."
But the running game is coming on. ...
As Darin Gantt of the team's official website reports, the Panthers are 13th in the league in rushing offense, and Christian McCaffrey is coming off back-to-back 100-yard rushing games for the first time since 2019. For a team that hasn't even averaged 60 snaps in a game, that's something of an accomplishment.
"You get tired of saying it, but we've got to convert some third downs and stay on the field," head coach Matt Rhule said Monday. "I think that's when you really start to see the run game take effect on people.
"For us to run the ball for the yards the last two games without converting third downs usually doesn't happen. This game was different. Last week was one big run; this was a lot of really efficient runs."
Rhule said he was encouraged by Chuba Hubbard's work (three carries for 25 yards, including a 14-yarder which saw him spin out of contact and grip the ball the way coaches teach you to in clinics). D'Onta Foreman didn't get a carry against the Saints, but got a couple against the Giants.
McCaffrey, meanwhile, had 15 carries for 102 yards against New York (including the aforementioned 49-yarder) and 25 carries for 108 yards against the Saints.
"They're there," Rhule replied when asked if he wanted to get the other two backs more involved. "Chuba was another real bright spot; I thought he had two really good runs. The one run he had where he got hit, spun out, and ran 10 or 12 yards. He protected the football at a high level. I'd love to get D'Onta rolling. It just hasn't worked out yet. He's practicing well; we know he can be a weapon for us.
"I'd like to get those guys involved. It's hard to take Christian off the field."
Those last two facts are related, as they want to be mindful of McCaffrey's workload but also know he's their best offensive player.
He takes a low-key approach to his own numbers, but McCaffrey was quick to praise the offensive line for the way they've opened holes for all of them. The Panthers have been fortunate that their five starters have played every snap of every game so far, and McCaffrey can see the progress that group has made.
"Those guys block their ass off, man," he said Sunday. "They work hard every single day. And I honestly have got to do a better job of making them look better on a few of these carries. We are going to continue to work, but I am so proud of those guys and lucky to have them in front of me."
At the very least, McCaffrey appears to be back and in great shape after missing 23 of 33 games the previous two seasons with injuries. After being limited to 33 yards rushing in the season opener against the Cleveland Browns, McCaffrey has now upped his yards per carry to 4.9 and again appears to be a force on offense.
The same can't be said of the team's starting wide receivers. D.J. Moore and Robbie Anderson combined for just two receptions against the Saints.
"To win a football game in the NFC South and have Robbie and D.J. each have one catch, I wouldn't have thought that would happen," Rhule said. "It has to get better next week."
Next up, Carolina will look to continue its dominance against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
The Panthers are 14-5 overall against the Cardinals, including an 8-3 mark at home. The Panthers have won six straight in the series, including wins in each of the past three seasons. During that six-game win streak, the Panthers have not scored fewer than 27 points. ...
For what it's worth. ... Newton reminded readers that Mayfield won the starting job over Sam Darnold in training camp, and it wasn't that close. But with Darnold set to come off injured reserve after next week's game against Arizona and Mayfield struggling, it at least opens the door for a change. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Acquired in a late preseason trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Laviska Shenault Jr. was inactive the first two games but made an immediate impact after getting a jersey for the first time on Sunday. Shenault took a short reception from Mayfield in the flat and used his speed to race 67 yards for a touchdown, helping the Panthers build a 19-7 lead in the fourth quarter.
Shenault was activated primarily to replace Hubbard as the team's kick returner, but made an impact in the passing game with two catches for 90 yards despite limited reps.
He said he feels like "it's just the beginning" of what he can do.
Meanwhile, receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. The Panthers' second-round draft pick last year is beginning to look like a bust. His production was limited as a rookie because of injuries and Marshall has lacked the ability to get open in practices and fallen behind Shi Smith on the depth chart. Marshall didn't catch a pass the first two games of the season and was a healthy scratch on Sunday as the Panthers went with Shenault instead.
Marshall's days in Carolina appeared to be numbered unless the former LSU star is able to convince coaches he can play at this level.
On the injury front. ... McCaffrey has been getting Wednesdays off anyway, but this week, he's on the injury report for a reason.
McCaffrey was listed as not participating in practice because of a thigh injury.
He was on the report last week with an ankle issue on Thursday but practiced fully Friday, and responded with the above-outlined 100-yard rushing day.
Safety Xavier Woods (hamstring) was limited in Wednesday's practice, among a group of other defensive backs on the report.
Cornerback Jaycee Horn (calf) was listed as limited, along with corner Stantley Thomas-Oliver III (Achilles).
Shenault (hamstring) and tight end Ian Thomas (ankle) were also listed as limited.
I'll obviously be watching McCaffrey's status closely in coming days; check the Late-Breaking Updates section for more. ...
And finally. ... As Newton pointed out, the Carolina defense, which came into the day ranked ninth in the league, is for real. Short of forcing a turnover in the first two games, this unit played well enough to win during an 0-2 start. The turnovers finally came Sunday, starting with a 44-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the first quarter
The Panthers added a fourth-quarter interception to set up a field goal and another to seal the outcome with eight seconds to play. They kept quarterback Jameis Winston under constant pressure. The run defense that shut down New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley last week held Alvin Kamara in check after an early 27-yard run.
The goal for this unit was to go from good to great, and Sunday's performance was an early sign it's headed in the right direction.
You can access complete stats for the Panthers Week 3 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, P.J. Walker, Matt Corral
RBs: D'Onta Foreman, Chuba Hubbard, Spencer Brown, Raheem Blackshear
WRs: D.J. Moore, Terrace Marshall Jr., Shi Smith, Laviska Shenault, Rashard Higgins, Andre Roberts
TEs: Ian Thomas, Tommy Tremble, Stephen Sullivan
Chicago BearsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 27 September 2022
As ESPN.com's Courtney Cronin reported, the Bears escaped Week 3 with a 23-20 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday, thanks in large part to a late interception by linebacker Roquan Smith that set up Cairo Santos' game-winning 30-yard field goal as time expired.
But quarterback Justin Fields continued to struggle.
After tallying 48 net passing yards in a loss at Green Bay in Week 2, he completed just 8 of 17 passes for 106 yards and two interceptions against Houston. He also fumbled twice and tallied a 27.7 passer rating, the lowest of his NFL career.
The Fields-to-Darnell Mooney passing connection has resulted in four catches on the season after a season-high two on Sunday. Cole Kmet caught his first two passes of the season on Sunday and no Bears receiver had more than two receptions.
Houston's Jalen Pitre caught as many Fields passes as any Bears receiver. He had both of the Texans interceptions.
Following the game, Fields offered a harsh assessment of his performance.
"Straight up, I just played -- I don't want to say the A-word, but I played like trash," Fields said. "Really just got to be better."
Fields said he was most upset by his two interceptions and planned to begin the process of correcting his mistakes immediately.
"I'm going to go see the film tonight. I played terrible," he said. "See what I could have done better and get better."
Fields' first interception came with 2:54 remaining in the first quarter when he tried to connect with Kmet on a seam route and missed the tight end, whom he said was wide open. The second interception happened in the third quarter and was the byproduct of what Fields described as a poor decision coupled with a poor throw to Mooney with three defenders around him.
"I got pressure, saw Cover 2, (the middle linebacker) running with Darnell," Fields said. "When I saw that, I got hit while I was throwing, so next time I've got to take the check-down. So that's one thing that I'm going to work on this week: getting pressure -- boom -- check down."
The Bears attempted only six passes in the second half and leaned heavily on their run game while Fields struggled. Khalil Herbert, who finished with 20 carries for 157 yards and two touchdowns in place of an injured David Montgomery, shouldered the load for a run game that eclipsed 281 yards.
Chicago's offense sought more balance after a paltry outing against the Packers and struggled to move the ball effectively with its passing game.
Head coach Matt Eberflus addressed Fields' shortcomings postgame and how the team can continue to instill confidence in his its young quarterback.
"I think when you are working with a young quarterback in a new offense, I think the people around him have to be solid," Eberflus said. "So that's important for us, meaning that the protection has to be good, the run game has to be good, the defense has to be really good and special teams, we've got to be awesome.
"What you do is you support that quarterback while he's growing. And while he's going through this, and there's going to be good and there's going to be things that he has to improve on, but that's on the whole football team. The whole football team is like that."
Despite Fields' struggles, the Bears still were able to pull off a win to improve to 2-1. Fields pointed to the way he fought in Week 3 as a positive and emphasized his desire to win by any means necessary.
"After two picks, the score is 20-20," Fields said. "The picks are not going to do anything for me now. It's like at that point, I'm going to do whatever I can to help us win the game. Of course, I want to play better but -- I can't be out here sulking, this and that. Got to win the game."
With so many glaring issues with Fields, can the Bears continue to ride their run game and defense?
In back-to-back weeks, the Bears' run game, which finished with 281 yards, was the failsafe for this offense and a quarterback who completed only eight passes.
"I mean, it's fun when it's working," Kmet said of the rushing attack. "So whatever we've got to do to win, you know I'm all for this run game and how it's been working for us."
As Cronin summed up, "It's going to be tough to win many games when the offense is one-dimensional. ..."
Next up, the Bears travel to play the New York Giants on Sunday. ...
Meanwhile, the news on Montgomery's injury initially was good, with Eberflus telling reporters after Sunday's game: "He's going to be day-to-day, so that's a positive. We'll see where he is [Monday] and re-evaluate it from there. It's a positive, for sure."
If Montgomery is forced to miss any time moving forward, the Bears are more than confident in Herbert, who excelled in a similar situation during his rookie season last year. In four games that Montgomery missed with a knee injury from Weeks 5-8, Herbert rushed for 344 yards, the fourth most by an NFL running back during that span.
"[I'm] always ready," Herbert said. "Always ready when my time is called. Ready for any opportunity I get and try to make the most of it."
I'll have more on Montgomery, who didn't practice Wednesday, and Velus Jones Jr., who was limited, via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
Elsewhere on the injury front. ... The Bears on Tuesday placed receiver Byron Pringle on injured reserve and signed linebacker Joe Thomas off their practice squad.
Pringle exited Sunday's win over the Texans with a calf injury in the first half after catching one pass for 11 yards. In his first season with the Bears, the five-year NFL veteran has two receptions for 33 yards.
Pringle must miss a minimum of four games, which means he won't be eligible to play until Oct. 30 against the Cowboys in Dallas.
You can access complete stats for the Bears Week 3 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Justin Fields, Trevor Siemian
RBs: David Montgomery, Trestan Ebner, Darrynton Evans, Khalil Herbert
WRs: Darnell Mooney, Chase Claypool, Equanimeous St. Brown, Dante Pettis, Velus Jones Jr., Byron Pringle, N'Keal Harry, Tajae Sharpe
TEs: Cole Kmet, Ryan Griffin, Trevon Wesco
Cincinnati BengalsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 27 September 2022
As Profootballtalk.com's Josh Alper noted, the Bengals tried something new on Sunday.
After losing their first two games, the Bengals resolved to break with their tradition since hiring head coach Zac Taylor and take the ball rather than deferring if they won the coin toss before the game. That's exactly what happened and the team drove for a quick touchdown to kick off a 27-12 win over the Jets.
"That's something we talk about every week," Taylor said. "We talk about the coin toss and what we're going to do every week. This week we just felt like we needed the ball to start and get us going and get some momentum."
After losing their first two mistake-filled games by a combined six points, the Bengals needed to start getting things right. And, for the most part, they did.
The Bengals were aggressive once they got the ball and penalties during the drive meant that quarterback Joe Burrow wound up with 95 passing yards en route to Samaje Perine's touchdown catch. Burrow stayed sharp all day and he also stayed upright for most of it, which was as welcome a change from the first two weeks as the result.
Play-calling was more diverse, and Burrow took downfield shots looking for explosive plays.
After an early rough patch, Burrow again looked like the quarterback that took Cincinnati to the Super Bowl last season. "We came out aggressive and it paid off for us," said Burrow, who was 23 for 36 for 275 yards and three touchdowns. Ja'Marr Chase and Tyler Boyd also caught TD passes.
"We just needed to get the first win," Taylor said. "I didn't really care what it looked like. I really didn't care whether it was 3-0 or 49-3. We just need to rip that Band-Aid off, get that first win. We've been a confident team all along."
The Bengals will try to maintain the momentum and positive vibes through a short week as they prepare to host the 3-0 Miami Dolphins on Thursday night at Paycor Stadium. The Dolphins beat the previously unbeaten Buffalo Bills 21-19 on Sunday. ...
Other notes of interest. ... The offensive line kept Burrow from getting sacked more than twice, but couldn't break open the running game. As ESPN.com's Ben Baby pointed out, Joe Mixon has been ineffective against light defensive boxes this season.
When Perine entered the game in the fourth quarter, he quickly surpassed Mixon's 24 yards on 12 carries. It's certainly something to monitor as the season progresses.
Mixon didn't play for much of the fourth quarter because of a sore ankle.
On Monday, Taylor told reporters Mixon will be available to play on Thursday. Receiver Tee Higgins also remains clear of the concussion protocol after sustaining a hard hit that was flagged during the game.
"He was good, he responded well once he popped up," Taylor said in his press conference. "They just did a check that they usually do in the tent and then he was cleared a couple of plays later."
In fact, Mixon, Higgins and Hayden Hurst (groin) all avoided injury designation on Wednesday. ...
However, things may not be as positive for defensive tackle D.J. Reader, who exited the game due to a knee injury before halftime.
Kelsey Conway of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Reader is expected to miss an extended period of time due to the injury. That will make him a candidate for injured reserve and he'll have to miss at least four games if he winds up on that list.
Reader has 10 tackles and a fumble recovery this season. After his first season with the Bengals was cut short by a quad injury, Reader returned to make 15 starts last season and had 43 tackles and two sacks in those games. He added 12 tackles and a sack in the postseason.
Josh Tupou will likely step into a larger role alongside B.J. Hill for as long as Reader is out of action.
Also worth noting. ... Boyd, who can be overshadowed by fellow receivers Chase and Higgins, caught four of his five targets for 105 yards. Boyd turned in the most exciting play of the day when he grabbed a short pass from Burrow, bounced off two defenders and romped for a 56-yard touchdown late in the first quarter.
You can access complete stats for the Bengals Week 3 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Joe Burrow, Brandon Allen
RBs: Joe Mixon, Samaje Perine, Chris Evans, Trayveon Williams
WRs: Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, Trent Taylor, Stanley Morgan, Trenton Irwin
TEs: Hayden Hurst, Mitchell Wilcox, Devin Asiasi, Drew Sample
Cleveland BrownsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 27 September 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Tom Withers framed it, "Jacoby Brissett's assignment is clear: keep the Browns competitive and in contention while Deshaun Watson's away.
"He's doing much more than that. ..."
During a 29-17 win over the Steelers last Thursday night, Brissett, who has zero illusions about his role with Cleveland, effectively moved the offense with pin-point throws and picked up first downs with timely quarterback sneaks.
It was the second straight strong performance by the cool-headed 29-year-old Brissett, who also provided off-field leadership during a short week in helping his young teammates shake off a disastrous loss to the New York Jets four days earlier.
"He's doing a great job leading us and he's hungry, too, man," said running back Kareem Hunt. "He's a heck of a football player going out there and showing what he can do."
Brissett's steadiness and play is why the Browns (2-1) signed him. He's also given them confidence they'll be in the playoff mix when Watson returns from his 11-game suspension for alleged sexual misconduct in December.
Until then, it's Brissett's show.
"He's done great for us," said All-Pro left guard Joel Bitonio. "He's just a charismatic, natural leader. He has a standard that he wants to play to and that he wants to hold guys to. It's cool to see.
"He's been around some of the great quarterbacks in the game, and he just carries himself that way."
Some of Tom Brady rubbed off on Brissett when he broke in with New England, and he developed further in Indianapolis as first Andrew Luck's backup and then the Colts starter for 30 games.
Brissett's not trying to impress anyone.
"I'm not in this to answer anybody's questions," he said after beating the Steelers, something few Cleveland quarterbacks have achieved in the past 20 years. "I'm in here to play good football, play for my teammates and enjoy this moment. That's really what it's all about."
Brissett has settled in after an emotional, shaky opener at Carolina, an outing that had Browns fans worried this season might jump the track.
In the past two games, he's completed 43 of 58 passes (74 percent) for 449 yards with three touchdowns and one pick. Brissett's taking care of the ball, spreading it around, and he's developing great chemistry with wide receiver Amari Cooper, who has 16 catches the last two weeks.
"I don't think he's proven anything we didn't already know about him," Cooper said. "I don't think he would be in the league if he wasn't a good quarterback at this point. We're really glad to have him."
Brissett's soaking in every moment.
In the fourth quarter against Pittsburgh, the 6-4, 235-pounder busted through the line on a third-and-1 sneak for 6 yards. He tumbled to the ground, popped up and punched the air in celebration.
"Every time I see a quarterback do that in a game, I'm like, 'Dang, that is so sick. I want to do that one time.' I told myself if I get a sneak, I'm doing it," he said with a smile. "I almost blacked out."
It helps that Cleveland's ground game is hitting on all cylinders.
With right tackle Jack Conklin making his season debut following knee surgery in December, the Browns manhandled the Steelers' front and gained 171 yards rushing.
In fact, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin opened his postgame news conference the loss by tipping his cap to Nick Chubb and the Browns' running game.
"I'd like to compliment Cleveland. They did what was required for victory, and you have to acknowledge that," Tomlin said. "I thought they controlled the line of scrimmage, particularly in the second half. If you can't slow down Chubb, you can't beat this group. We kind of knew that and we didn't get it done. We have to own the outcome and we will, so there's not really a lot to talk about. We'll look at this tape and learn, get better, and get better very fast."
While Brissett, Cooper and David Njoku shined in the passing game, the victory was about Chubb's ability to churn out yards, move the chains and keep the clock moving.
Chubb generated 113 rushing yards on 23 carries and scored the game-sealing touchdown on fourth-and-1.
"I thought they controlled the game, man. They possessed the ball. Chubb controlled the game," Tomlin said. "He was running through arm tackles and things of that nature, getting yards after contact. It wasn't good enough."
Thursday marked Chubb's 15th game with 100-plus rush yards and at least one touchdown since he entered the league in 2018 (second-most in that span). His 24 100-plus rushing games since 2018 are one more than Derrick Henry entering Sunday (next closest is Ezekiel Elliott and Dalvin Cook with 18 each).
The Browns have rushed for 170-plus yards in four consecutive games dating back to last season and are averaging a whopping 190.7 rush yards per game this season.
"We felt like Nick would have another good day today," head coach Kevin Stefanski said. "He felt confident I think in a lot of the run schemes. He gives you an honest day's work. He ran hard. He gets stronger as the game wears on. Part of that, you have to attribute to (RB) Kareem (Hunt) coming in there and taking the workload. That 1-2 punch, we have talked about it. It is 1A and 1B."
The Browns' offensive line opened holes versus at T.J. Watt-less Steelers defense, but Chubb's ability to break tackles turned 3-yard gains into 8-yard gains. The RB finished with +40 rushing yards over expected, per Next Gen Stats, and leads the NFL with +104 RYOE in 2022, entering Sunday's slate.
"They did what they wanted to," Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick said. "What they wanted to do was give Chubb the ball, and he ran over 100 yards. When you let a guy like that do what he wants, they will win the game."
Chubb's 341-yard rushing total through three games, the most for a Browns back since Hall of Famer Jim Brown's 482 in 1958. ...
Next up, after a long weekend, giving the Browns time to do some self-evaluation and healing up, they visit the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Njoku had the best game of his career -- 9 catches for 89 yards and a touchdown.
The Browns envision big things for Njoku, which is why they signed him to a four-year, $56.75 million contract extension.
Brissett may look for him even more.
"He always tells me he's always open," Brissett said. "Every time in the huddle he's like, 'I got you, I got you, I got you.'"
Special teams remain a major concern. Cleveland's getting nothing from its return game, rookie Cade York missed another extra point, and the Browns looked shaky on a late onside kick after failing to recover one against the Jets.
York's second missed extra point in two weeks would be more worrisome if he didn't bounce back. He made a 34-yard field goal in the third quarter and his last PAT in blustery conditions.
On the injury front. ... Linebacker Anthony Walker Jr.'s season-ending left quadriceps injury is a major blow. He'll soon undergo surgery. A captain, he's also the defensive signal caller, a role that will fall to Jacob Phillips, who had a sack and broke up a pass after replacing Walker. ... LB Jeremiah Owusuro Koramoah (groin), DT Taven Bryan (hamstring) were also hurt but the team didn't have any updates on them.
Finally. ... Defensive end Myles Garrett had a harrowing experience on Monday, when his Porsche flipped multiple times.
The Brown issued a statement regarding Garrett's status on Tuesday.
"First -- and most importantly -- we are thankful that Myles, his passengers and no other parties were seriously injured in the single-car accident yesterday," the team said. "After medical evaluation today, our team doctors at University Hospital have concluded that Myles has sustained a shoulder sprain, a biceps strain, minor lacerations as well as some bumps and bruises to various other body parts.
"Myles didn't suffer any fractures and has also cleared concussion protocol. Currently, our focus is on providing Myles the medical care needed for him to return to football activity. Although we hope to have him back soon, his availability for Sunday's game in Atlanta will be evaluated by team doctors throughout the week."
Football continues to be a secondary consideration. But it appears that Garrett won't miss much time due to Monday's accident.
Photos of the car show how significant the accident was, and how serious the injuries could have been.
You can access complete stats for the Browns Week 3 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Jacoby Brissett, Josh Dobbs, Deshaun Watson
RBs: Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, D'Ernest Johnson, Demetric Felton, Jerome Ford
WRs: Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones, David Bell, Anthony Schwartz, Michael Woods II
TEs: David Njoku, Harrison Bryant, Pharaoh Brown
Dallas CowboysCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 27 September 2022
As NFL.com's Kevin Patra framed it: "Cooper Rush to the rescue. ..."
The Dallas Cowboys earned their second win of the season with the backup quarterback at the helm, taking down the New York Giants, 23-16, on Monday night.
The victory moves Rush to 3-0 in his career while making starts for an injured Dak Prescott.
Rush joins Hall of Famer Roger Staubach and Jason Garrett as the only Cowboys starting QBs to win their first three career starts.
"Well, he doesn't get rattled," head coach Mike McCarthy said of Rush after the victory. "He's the same, every day. So consistent. But yeah, he's playing good football right now. I'm glad to recognize him for it. He's giving us the boost to just keep playing on offense."
The Dallas quarterback became the first undrafted QB to win each of his first three starts and throw for 750-plus passing yards in those starts since Hall of Famer Kurt Warner with the Rams in 1999, per NFL Research.
Rush also is the first QB since at least 1950 to win his first three career starts while having a 60-plus completion percentage, 200-plus pass yards and 90-plus passer rating in each start.
Monday night, Rush played poised, made a host of good throws and was never rattled on the road. He finished 21-of-31 passing for 215 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions for a 98.2 passer rating. Those numbers would look even better if his receivers had helped him out on a few good passes in the first half.
When the Cowboys got down in the third quarter after a brilliant Saquon Barkley 36-yard TD sprint, Rush didn't blink. Dallas scored on each of its next three possessions, including back-to-back touchdown drives to regain the lead.
Rush became one of two QBs to have a game-winning drive in each of their first three career starts in the Super Bowl era (Other: Bears' Virgil Carter in 1968).
With Prescott on the sideline, Rush proved he could hold the fort.
"Yeah, that's the job," Rush said. "You've got to come in and you've got to play well every week. That's how this league works at every position. Week-in and week-out you've got to show up and you know we were able to build some momentum last week and it carried into this week, and we just don't hurt ourselves and keep staying on track and making plays, I think we'll do alright."
When Prescott went down with a hand injury in Week 1, it could have spelled doom for Dallas. Instead, they rose to the occasion with back-to-back victories.
"It tells you the kind of team you have," McCarthy said of wins with Rush under center. "These guys have been leaning on one another. This is an outstanding locker room. The accountability is very high. The resilience is there, you can see it every step of the way. It's just like anything, sometimes you have to go through some hard times to get to where you want to go and hopefully we've built a good foundation to get to where we want to go."
Appearing on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, Jones said on Tuesday Rush has "the makeup of a top quarterback."
"Let me say this," Jones added, "he's certainly playing as well as anybody could've expected."
Meanwhile, Prescott continues to push to return from the Week 1 hand fracture that initially was supposed to result in a 6-8 week absence. Prescott has been saying he intends to return soon. Maybe by Week 5 against the Rams. Maybe by Week 6 against the Eagles.
Maybe by this Sunday against the Commanders.
"I think his progress is nothing short of amazing," Jones said regarding Prescott's recovery. Jones said that Prescott's return will hinge on his ability to grip the ball properly.
But McCarthy said Tuesday that Prescott still has swelling in his surgically repaired hand, and the quarterback has no timeline for when he will begin throwing.
While no one has ruled out Prescott playing against the Commanders on Sunday, Prescott said after Monday night's victory over the Giants that Week 5 against the Rams probably is more realistic for his return.
"Nah, probably not," Prescott told Lorenzo Reyes of USA Today Sports about playing against Washington. "But Week 5 against the Rams? That's the one I'm looking at."
There should be no hurry.
If Prescott pushes to return before he's ready and doesn't play well, there's nothing they can really do. It's far better to wait for Prescott to be truly 100 percent, especially if the Cowboys can keep winning with Rush.
As Profootballtalk.com's Mike Florio suggests, the best outcome for the Cowboys would be to find a way to ride the hot hand of Rush for as long as it stays that way, with Prescott's hand declared to be "100 percent" the moment Rush cools off. But good luck getting Prescott to go along with that, once he thinks he's ready to go.
But there is no QB controversy in Dallas. When Dak is healthy, it's his team. It's just a matter of when. ...
Other notes of interest. ... As he walked to the Dallas Cowboys' buses after Monday night's game, CeeDee Lamb could only shake his head.
"I've worked so hard just on catching the ball," Lamb said. "Honestly, I kept saying, 'I don't know where that s--- came from. Dropping the ball has never been my forte.' I want to say that was my first one of the season. That s--- is annoying. I made a promise to the guys, and you can tell the fans too, that it won't happen again. I promise you."
Monday wasn't Lamb's most productive game. Not in terms of catches or yards. It wasn't even a 100-yard game.
But it might just have been the most important game for Lamb.
It was how he reacted to the adversity and made some of the game-deciding receptions in the second half.
A second-quarter drop of a perfectly thrown pass from Rush for what would have been at least a 33-yard gain if not a touchdown, was followed by a drop of a tipped pass that could have put the Cowboys (2-1) in better field goal range.
In the second half, Lamb gained redemption. He caught six of his eight passes for 67 of his 87 yards, including a one-handed touchdown catch with 8:30 remaining in the corner of the end zone.
"CeeDee's the guy you don't really worry that type of mentality with him," Rush said. "He's a big-time player. He's going to make plays. The ball's coming his way some more, so he knew it, I knew it, we all knew it, and he was fine."
Against the Giants with the game tied, Lamb came through and scored a touchdown for the first time since Week 10 last season. On the go-ahead drive, Lamb caught four passes for 48 yards.
"There's going to be ebbs and flows," Lamb said of his evolution into a No. 1 receiver. "It's all about staying consistent, staying positive. Everything's not going to go my way [but] when it does, it's going to go big. ..."
After missing the Cowboys' close 23-16 win against the Giants, Michael Gallup and Dalton Schultz will, "in all likelihood", "be out there next week", according to Jerry Jones.
This is good news, especially after both almost suited up during Week 3.
The return of Gallup is definitely the bigger story, as he hasn't played since January after he tore his ACL against the Arizona Cardinals in a 25-22 loss. His return will give some much needed breathing space for Lamb, who's had to adjust to the increased defensive focus on him following the departure of Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns during the offseason.
Gallup, in nine games last season (eight starts), put up 35 receptions for 445 yards and two touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Schultz, who's dealing with a nagging PCL injury, has been a reliable passing option in the first two games. He was instrumental in the Cowboys' Week 1 loss against the Buccaneers, having led the team in receptions with seven, accumulating 62 yards. While not as flashy as Gallup's potential, Schultz just performs his role effectively, and every team needs guys like that to succeed.
I'll have more on their status -- along with that of Prescott -- via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
As for the backfield. ... Ezekiel Elliott rushed the ball 15 times for 73 yards and a touchdown in Monday's win.
Elliott had an impressive primetime showing, recording both his first rush of more than 20 yards and also his first touchdown of the season. The former came on a pitch play to the left side of the line and the latter on a one-yard plunge late in the third quarter.
Despite the positive performance, Elliott only narrowly held the touch advantage over Tony Pollard, tallying 16 total opportunities to Pollard's 13.
Through three games, Elliott has 178 rushing yards on 40 carries. ...
You can access complete stats for the Cowboys Week 3 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush, Will Grier
RBs: Tony Pollard, Ezekiel Elliott, Malik Davis, Qadree Ollison
WRs: CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, Noah Brown, Simi Fehoko, KaVontae Turpin, Jalen Tolbert, James Washington
TEs: Dalton Schultz, Jake Ferguson, Peyton Hendershot
Denver BroncosCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 27 September 2022
According to Associated Press sports writer Arnie Stapleton, the Broncos went three-and-out nine times against the 49ers, the most in Russell Wilson's 11-year career. And only once did they get anywhere near the end zone.
"In the fourth quarter, when it mattered most, we clicked," Wilson said after leading the lone long touchdown drive that powered the Broncos past the 49ers 11-10 Sunday night.
Wilson has gotten off to a slow start with his new team as he tries to mesh his style that embraces off-schedule plays when defenses break down with the philosophies of rookie head coach Nathaniel Hackett, whose version of the West Coast offense is predicated on quick throws.
Wilson has just three touchdown passes in three games and he has rushed for just 22 yards.
But he has engineered back-to-back fourth-quarter comebacks over Houston and San Francisco, and the Broncos are tied atop the AFC West with Kansas City at 2-1 after the Chiefs, Chargers and Raiders all lost Sunday.
Midway through the fourth quarter Sunday night, Wilson finally looked like the quarterback who signed a $245 million extension before he'd even taken a single snap for the Broncos.
On third-and-10 from his own 33, Wilson bought time in the pocket by spinning to his left and launching a 27-yard pass on the run to Kendall Hinton at the San Francisco 40.
"I guess I can still go left," Wilson said in a potshot at his former coach in Seattle, Pete Carroll, who gloated after the Seahawks' 17-16 win over Denver in Week 1 that he schemed to get Wilson moving to his left.
Three plays later, on third-and-6, Wilson found his receivers covered, stepped up and darted through the line for a 12-yard gain -- by far his longest run of 2022.
"Really in the fourth quarter, I had to kind of use my legs and take over," Wilson said. "Just try to move around and find some first downs."
One play after that, he audibled out of a run call and hit Courtland Sutton in 1-on-1 coverage at the 5-yard line, and Melvin Gordon took it in from the 1 two plays later to put Denver ahead for the first time.
"That was pretty huge how he walked into the end zone there," Wilson said after the Broncos' first red zone touchdown in seven tries this season.
Wilson's 2-point conversion pass was batted down, leaving the Broncos vulnerable to a game-winning field goal attempt. Robbie Gould never got that opportunity because Denver's stingy defense recorded two more takeaways: Jonas Griffith's interception of Jimmy Garoppolo's pass and Kareem Jackson's recovery of running back Jeff Wilson Jr.'s fumble.
"This atmosphere felt like a playoff atmosphere," Wilson said. "That's what we need. It means a lot to us as players to obviously go against a great team like that. We're still all learning each other -- it's a whole new system. Everyone is coming together but there's so much greatness in store. I can't wait for it.
"Just watching out defense battle, battle, battle against a really good offense and then giving us a chance. And everybody just believes in each other. That's what football is all about."
Next up, the Broncos visit the winless Raiders (0-3) and if Hackett wants to quiet the boo-birds he cannot hand Josh McDaniels his first win as a head coach since Nov. 24, 2010, when his brief stay in Denver was quickly winding down. ...
Other notes of interest. ... San Francisco entered Sunday's game allowing the second-fewest rushing yards in the league, but the Broncos nevertheless found a way to run the ball in crucial moments.
The Broncos scored their first red-zone touchdown of the season against the 49ers, and it came on the above-mentioned one-yard rush from Gordon. Neither running back put up massive numbers on the ground -- Javonte Williams rushed for 58 yards, while Gordon rushed for 26 -- but it was enough to give them the edge against one of the toughest run defenses they'll face all season.
Sutton caught 8-of-10 targets for 97 yards against the 49ers. Jerry Jeudy caught 2-of-6 targets for 17 yards and K.J. Hamler was noted targeted. Albert Okwuegbunam's 12-yard catch was the only one by Denver's tight ends (who were only targeted three times).
As NBCSportsEdge.com suggested, while many of Denver's secondary receivers looked out of sync with Wilson, Sutton and Wilson appear to have good chemistry already. Sutton now has 28 targets in three games and has outscored Jeudy in each of the last two weeks.
Sutton figures to be a high-end WR2 for Week 4 against the Raiders, and is held back from WR1 only on account of the fact that the Broncos offense is struggling in general.
Defensive tackle D.J. Jones is in the NFL's concussion protocol, Hackett announced on Monday. Outside linebacker Baron Browning temporarily left the game with a knee injury, though he later returned to the contest . ... RT Billy Turner still hasn't been active for his comeback from offseason knee surgery.
You can access complete stats for the Broncos Week 3 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Russell Wilson, Brett Rypien
RBs: Latavius Murray, Marlon Mack, Mike Boone, Devine Ozigbo, Javonte Williams, Chase Edmonds
WRs: Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Montrell Washington, Kendall Hinton, Jalen Virgil, K.J. Hamler, Tyrie Cleveland
TEs: Greg Dulcich, Eric Tomlinson, Eric Saubert, Andrew Beck, Albert Okwuegbunam
Detroit LionsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 27 September 2022
Running back D'Andre Swift is considered week-to-week with a shoulder sprain, a source told ESPN's Jeremy Fowler on Monday. Swift aggravated a previous shoulder issue, which is not expected to require surgery, the source said.
Swift could barely use his left arm inside the visitors’ locker room as he dressed to leave U.S. Bank Stadium after Sunday's 28-24 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
The Georgia product was also dealing with an ankle injury entering the Vikings contest and battled through a shoulder sprain last season, which sidelined him for four games.
Head coach Dan Campbell acknowledged that Swift's shoulder injury "could potentially" sideline him for some time.
"We'll see where he's at, but it could be an issue," Campbell said of Swift.
Campbell feels Swift could possibly benefit from taking two weeks off to return after the bye in Dallas on Oct. 23 to heal from the pounding that his body has taken.
"We thought about that and that was one of the things I was thinking about last night and this morning," Campbell said. "Certainly, it's on my mind, it's on our mind. If we feel like he's good enough to go, we know what he's capable, but not at the expense of him not being even up to 75 percent of himself."
As ESPN.com's Eric Woodyard noted, Swift got off to a hot start in the first two games of the 2022 season, becoming the first Lions player since Barry Sanders in 1997 to go back-to-back games in producing a 50-plus-yard rush.
He leads the team with 231 rushing yards on 27 attempts, averaging a career-best 8.6 yards per carry in three games, but received limited touches Sunday because of the injury during Detroit's second loss this season.
"Things like that separate the good teams from the great teams," Swift said after the Vikings game. "We've got to find a way to finish."
Generally speaking, the Lions' running game wasn't as explosive as it had been against the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Commanders, but still put up 139 yards and two touchdowns.
In three games, Detroit has rushed for 511 yards at 5.9 yards per carry and scored five times.
That's with Swift only carrying the ball 27 times and the Lions juggling their offensive line to find five healthy players.
With Swift banged up, Jamaal Williams has stepped up to carry a bigger share of the load.
He's not as explosive as Swift, but had 87 yards rushing and two touchdowns Sunday and caught two passes for 20 yards.
Craig Reynolds will move up in the rotation behind Williams.
Amon-Ra St. Brown battled through an ankle injury in Sunday's loss to the Vikings. NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reports that St. Brown underwent tests Monday on the ankle injury, and the results were encouraging overall, per sources informed of the situation.
Pelissero added that the Lions would be cautious with the wideout, but if he misses time, it shouldn't be anything long-term.
St. Brown has been a shining star for Detroit. The former 4th-round pick has generated 23 catches for 253 yards and three TDs in 2022. Sunday, he earned six catches for 73 yards. The game ended St. Brown's streak of games with eight-plus catches dating back to last season, tied for the longest in NFL history (Michael Thomas, Antonio Brown).
Wide receiver Josh Reynolds left the game for a bit with a leg injury. This will be an important week to monitor the practice report with Seattle coming to town Sunday.
I'll have more on Swift, St. Brown and Reynolds via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
While Swift missing two games would be a significant blow to the Lions, losing S Tracy Walker for the season with an Achilles tendon injury will be a bigger problem.
The Lions placed Walker on IR Tuesday.
"That hurts us for multiple reasons," Campbell said. "Since I walked in the door last year, Tracy has been all in, and he's been one of our team captains. Nobody puts in more work than he does, and he's one of the smartest players we have on defense. We're losing a big cog in our machine."
Meanwhile, the Lions hope to get on the winning track this week. Forget about last season's 51-29 loss in Seattle -- a game the Lions trailed 38-7 at one point -- and focus on the Seahawks as a very beatable team at home. Russell Wilson went 20 for 29 for 236 yards and four touchdowns, but Detroit will be facing Geno Smith this time.
Other notes of interest. ... Jared Goff is in his second year as Detroit's quarterback, but he's still struggling to give the Lions any kind of vertical passing threat. His yards per completion is up from 9.8 last year to 11.3 this season, but his receivers gained 136 of their 277 yards after the catch Sunday.
That means, on average, they were catching the ball just 5.6 yards downfield.
The Lions wanted to get wide receiver D.J. Chark more touches this week after he was shut out of the catch column in Week 2. Chark picked up two catches for 40 receiving yards on the first three plays of the game. Goff couldn't connect with him on what could have been a big gain at a critical moment right after the Dalvin Cook fumble late in the third quarter.
Chark finished with three catches on six targets for 46 yards. ...
Finally. ... Austin Seibert missed two of his three field goal attempts Sunday, including a 54-yarder in the final minute that could have made the Vikings comeback much harder to navigate.
"I'd be willing to give him another go," Campbell said. "If I didn't feel that way I wouldn't have let him kick there at the end of the game."
Campbell said Seibert was "sore" Monday, which means he might have been dealing with an injury himself Sunday. We'll have to monitor his status this week.
You can access complete stats for the Lions Week 3 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Jared Goff, Nate Sudfeld
RBs: Jamaal Williams, D'Andre Swift, Justin Jackson, Craig Reynolds
WRs: Amon-Ra St. Brown, D.J. Chark, Josh Reynolds, Kalif Raymond, Tom Kennedy, Quintez Cephus, Brandon Zylstra, Jameson Williams
TEs: Brock Wright, James Mitchell, Shane Zylstra
Green Bay PackersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 27 September 2022
According to USA Today's Zach Kruse, head coach Matt LaFleur said he believes rookie receiver Romeo Doubs is "not even close to his ceiling" and has "a ton of potential" after watching him catch eight passes for 73 yards and a touchdown during a breakout performance in his first NFL start on Sunday.
Doubs, a summer star of training camp, "earned" the opportunity to play 55 snaps during Green Bay's 14-12 victory at Tampa Bay.
"He made the most of his snaps yesterday. He did an outstanding job," LaFleur said Monday. "He was a guy who showed up consistently being able to separate versus man coverage that we were getting."
Doubs scored his first NFL touchdown in the first quarter and also extended his streak of games with at least one catch of 20 yards to three to start his career.
How good has the fourth-round pick been so far despite playing only 38 snaps per game?
Through three weeks, Doubs has a team-high 14 catches for 137 yards. He ranks first among rookie receivers in catch percentage (87.5), yards after the catch (87) and passer rating when targeted (123.2), fourth in receptions and receiving yards, and sixth in yards per route run (1.90).
The only three rookie receivers ahead of him in catches and yards are first-round picks -- Drake London, Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave.
Doubs was the 132nd overall pick.
"He's got the body-movement skills. He's got the explosiveness. He plays on his insteps, gets both feet in the ground, and that allows him to get off bump coverage. The game is certainly not too big for him," LaFleur said. "You feel it every time we go out there, he's a guy who is showing more and more confidence. That's a big part of playing up to your potential, and this is a kid that's got a ton of potential. We're excited about him."
LaFleur talks about Doubs like he's the next great wide receiver find in Green Bay.
The rookie will continue to get opportunities with Sammy Watkins on injured reserve. In a month's time, it might be tough for Watkins to get back on the field in a meaningful way.
"These next few weeks will be critical to his growth. Having the majority of the snaps playing the X," LaFleur said.
The Packers play the New England Patriots, New York Giants and New York Giants over the next three weeks.
According to ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky, the way Aaron Rodgers raved about him after Sunday's game, Doubs just might already be the team's top option at the position.
While Rodgers is always going to rely on Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard, Demovsky points out there's no denying that Doubs can do things others can.
His combination of route running and athletic ability -- combined with fast-improving hands -- make him the most likely receiver to break out in this offense. That's not to say Christian Watson won't, but Doubs is off to a much faster start, and there might not be any looking back now.
Watson (hamstring) was inactive for Sunday's game, but he was on the practice field Wednesday.
One of Doubs advantages is his versatility. The Packers don't just have to play Doubs out wide.
"That's the beauty with him," LaFleur said. He's not just an outside receiver, you can put him in the slot, he has that versatility. He knows our concepts, he cares about the game, and he gives great effort each and every day."
Doubs has played 95 snaps out wide and 20 in the slot, per PFF, so this isn't just coach speak.
With 14 catches in three games, Doubs is on pace to catch almost 80 passes in 17 games. It would be a rare season for a rookie picked in the fourth round or later.
As Kruse summed up: "The flashes are real. The potential is real. It's early, and LaFleur and Rodgers know more growing pains are to come, but Doubs has a unique combination: Obvious talent, and real opportunity. The two are coming together to create a special start to the rookie's first season in Green Bay. ..."
Meanwhile, Associated Press sports writer Steve Megargee noted that whether the Green Bay Packers will continue rotating David Bakhtiari and Yosh Nijman at left tackle remains uncertain.
The Packers are just happy they have the option of using Bakhtiari in any fashion now that the 2018 and 2020 All-Pro finally has returned from a severe knee injury that required three surgeries.
LaFleur worked Bakhtiari in gradually Sunday by having him alternate series with Nijman.
"Is it going to be something we do next week?" LaFleur said Monday. "I don't know that. I think we'll see where he's at and come up with a game plan for this week."
LaFleur said he also hasn't decided how the Packers will arrange their offensive line once Bakhtiari is ready to play a full game. The Packers have plenty of options because right tackle Elgton Jenkins has started games at every position but right guard.
The Packers' decision will depend in part on how well Bakhtiari's knee responds in the next day or so.
Bakhtiari returned a week after Jenkins came back from his own torn ACL that had sidelined him since last November. Although Green Bay's offense had a disappointing day overall after reaching the end zone on its first two possessions, the presence of Bakhtiari and Jenkins made a difference in pass protection.
"I got hit maybe three or four times with one sack," Rodgers said after the game. "That's kind of a dream-type of day, especially against that front on the road."
The Packers had given up five sacks in each of their two losses to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2020 season, when these two teams last faced each other.
Green Bay gave Rodgers more time Sunday while utilizing a rotation that LaFleur recalled from his stint as a Houston Texans assistant.
LaFleur worked in Houston from 2008-09 and remembered an instance when Mike Brisiel and Kasey Studdard rotated in at one spot on the Texans' offensive line.
LaFleur believed such a plan might help as the Packers tried taking a cautious approach with Bakhtiari.
"We weren't going to go zero to 60 with him, so we were either going to do some kind of a pitch count with him in terms of potentially pulling him at halftime or just started thinking about, getting back to my previous experience with doing this in Houston," LaFleur said.
For one week, it worked. Now the Packers must decide whether to keep it going as they prepare to take on the Patriots this weekend. ...
On the injury front. ... As previously noted, Watson was on the field Wednesday as was Lazard, who continued to work on a limitd basis with his ongoing ankle issue. A.J. Dillon (knee) was limited in Wednesday's practice. The fact that all three were on the field is a positive, but I'll have more on their progress via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
Other notes of interest. ... This marked the 143rd career game in which Rodgers threw at least two touchdown passes, enabling him to overtake Philip Rivers for fifth place in that category. The quarterbacks who have accumulated more career games with at least two touchdown passes are Brady (198), Drew Brees (173), Peyton Manning (165) and Brett Favre (159). ...
The Bucs continue to give running back Aaron Jones fits. Jones rushed for 36 yards on 12 carries and lost a fumble that Tampa Bay's Logan Ryan recovered in the end zone for a touchback. Jones also lost a fumble in Green Bay's NFC championship game loss to the Bucs two seasons ago and had just 10 carries for 15 yards when the Packers fell at Tampa Bay on Oct. 18, 2020.
The Packers gained just 2.7 yards per carry. Green Bay has committed five turnovers while producing only three takeaways. ...
The Packers' special teams unit had one of its best games in recent memory, as Tampa Bay didn't start from beyond its 25-yard line on 11 of its 12 possessions.
You can access complete stats for the Packers Week 3 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love
RBs: Aaron Jones, A.J. Dillon, Tyler Goodson, Patrick Taylor
WRs: Allen Lazard, Christian Watson, Randall Cobb, Sammy Watkins, Samori Toure, Romeo Doubs
TEs: Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis, Josiah Deguara, Tyler Davis
Houston TexansCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 27 September 2022
As ESPN.com's DJ Bien-Aime reported, a golden chance for the Texans to capture their first win rested on the shoulders of the offense.
The Texans lined up with 1:14 remaining in the fourth quarter from the Texans' 26. The stakes were high with the score knotted at 20-20 on third-and-1.
Second-year quarterback Davis Mills received the shotgun snap and quickly surveyed the field, went through his progressions and threw a check-down pass to running back Rex Burkhead.
Chicago Bears' defensive tackle Angelo Blackson stuck his hands out as Mills threw the ball and deflected the pass into linebacker Roquan Smith's hands.
The interception capped another frustrating game for the Texans (0-2-1).
Against the Bears (2-1), Mills threw for season highs in yards (245), completion percentage (62.5) and interceptions (2). He also added a touchdown pass in the 23-20 loss.
Through three games, Mills, the third-round pick out of Stanford, hasn't built on the momentum he created from his past nine starts of his rookie year when he threw for 2,307 yards, 14 touchdowns and five interceptions with a passer rating of 96.
Mills is completing 57.9 percent of his passes, third-worst in the NFL among starting quarterbacks. Last year he completed 66 percent with a passer rating of 88. He currently has a passer rating of 77.7, which is tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers' Mitch Trubisky for the fifth worst in the NFL.
And this years' production has come with good protection around Mills. He has been pressured on only 18.4 percent of his dropbacks, third fewest among starting QBs, according to Next Gen Stats.
Mills' biggest issues have been third downs and production in the fourth quarter.
On third downs, Mills is completing 47 percent of his passes, fourth worst in the NFL, compared to last season when he completed 63 percent (12th).
And the fourth-quarter troubles from Mills might be the most concerning. He's completing 48 percent of his passes for 124 yards with an interception for a passer rating of 46. And according to Next Gen Stats, the expected completion percentage is 69. Last year he produced a passer rating of 88 and completed 64 percent of his throws with seven touchdowns and four interceptions.
Mills isn't the only one struggling, as the defense has given up a league-high 607 rushing yards -- including 281 against the Bears. Ironically, the Bears (who gave up 92 rushing yards to the Texans) is tied for the second worst at 471.
Sunday marked the third straight game where the Texans had an opportunity to win, but the offense, led by Mills, has failed to score a point in the fourth quarter all season.
Mills feels the unit is "close," and it just comes down to the small details.
"I thought today we were moving the ball well," Mills said. "Had a tough situation, got called for a penalty, backed us up a little bit and kind of killed the drive. So I guess shooting ourselves in the foot. Really that last drive, I thought we were all confident that we were going to move the ball down the field and go down and either kick a field goal to win it or score a touchdown. That defender made a good play at the line of scrimmage to tip it, and they got the turnover. Tough one today."
The fourth-quarter struggles from Mills don't fall solely at his feet, but head coach Lovie Smith isn't sure what the fix is.
"It's like everybody else, we're just not quite there yet," Smith said. "I wish I could tell you exactly -- if I could tell you exactly why, I would tell you. ... Got to make better decisions. Got to protect the ball."
More importantly, Smith added: "It's hard winning football games when you can't finish."
The Texans have been outscored a combined 30-0 in the fourth quarter this season.
There are things to focus on, however heading into Week 4. The Texans must improve their run defense and limit their mistakes if they hope to get Smith his first win as the team's head coach Sunday when they host a Chargers team trying to end a two-game skid. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Running back Dameon Pierce carried the Texans' running game as he finished with 80 yards and his first career rushing touchdown. Pierce did fumble twice, though, so that needs to be corrected if he wants to build on the performance.
Brandin Cooks caught 2-of-7 targets for 22 yards against Chicago. Nico Collins caught 2-of-4 targets for 41 yards and Chris Moore caught 3-of-3 targets for 63 yards.
Per NFL Next Gen Stats, Cooks saw an average of 1.98 yards of separation in Week 3 en route to his worst performance since Week 11 of last season. As NBCSportsEdge.com notes, these games will happen when defenses decide to gang up on Cooks and let the rest of Houston's receiving corps try to win the game.
With TE Brevin Jordan out, Pharaoh Brown caught 3-of-4 targets for 31 yards while Jordan Akins caught 3-of-4 targets for 31 yards and a touchdown. O.J. Howard started along with Brown as the Texans opened in a two-tight end set. Howard was not targeted despite playing 31 percent of the snaps.
Elevated from the practice squad before the game, Akins continued to show that Mills and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton are experts at making secondary tight ends a major part of the game plan. To his credit, Akins made a well-defensed catch in the end zone on play-action for Houston's only receiving touchdown of the game.
We'll see if Jordan (ankle) is healthy enough to keep Akins off the roster this week.
The team didn't report any injuries after Sunday's game, so Jordan will be the player to follow up on this week. I'll have more via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ..
You can access complete stats for the Texans Week 3 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Davis Mills, Kyle Allen
RBs: Dameon Pierce, Rex Burkhead, Eno Benjamin, Dare Ogunbowale, Royce Freeman
WRs: Brandin Cooks, Nico Collins, Chris Moore, Phillip Dorsett, Tyron Johnson
TEs: O.J. Howard, Jordan Akins, Teagan Quitoriano, Brevin Jordan
Indianapolis ColtsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 27 September 2022
According to ESPN.com's Stephen Holder, even after notching their first win of the season on Sunday, no one in the Colts' locker room would dare say they've resolved their litany of issues. Veterans like quarterback Matt Ryan know better.
In their 20-17 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, the Colts (1-1-1) showed their mettle while also displaying their flaws.
As Holder suggests, that can be a difficult balance to strike, but as the Colts continue to collect themselves after a messy start to the season, they believe it's possible to stay afloat while simultaneously figuring things out.
"We still have a lot of improving to do," Ryan said. "And what I've found throughout my career is you usually continue to get better as the year goes on, and you clean things up. But you've got to find ways to win along the way as you're improving. That's what I'm proud of today."
That's the challenge for the Colts.
Can they, for instance, navigate their deepening offensive-line issues enough to give Ryan more opportunities like the one he seized Sunday, engineering a 16-play, 76-yard game-winning drive -- the 43rd such drive of his 15-year career? Can their exceptionally young passing targets continue to produce while also learning on the fly, the way rookie tight end Jelani Woods did with his improbable pair of touchdown catches against Kansas City? And can the Colts' defense keep holding on until the unit's leader, linebacker Shaquille Leonard, returns from back surgery?
The Colts used this elusive formula on Sunday, taking advantage of the Chiefs' many mistakes en route to a much-needed win that flipped the narrative around a team whose fans were growing anxious.
Ryan, while alternatively struggling with protecting the ball and from his lack of elusiveness, earned the nickname "Matty Ice" for a reason. Head coach Frank Reich on Sunday called him "unflappable." Also, the excitement generated by additions like defenders Stephon Gilmore and Yannick Ngakoue might have been warranted after all.
To be sure, there is legitimate talent on this team. What remains lacking, however, is synergy. The offensive line, according to center Ryan Kelly, is still adjusting to its two new starters. That, he said, is the reason behind the parade of unblocked blitzers who were teeing off on Ryan on Sunday.
The Chiefs registered 10 quarterback hits, one week after the Jaguars recorded 11 in a win over the Colts.
The offense as a whole generated 3.8 yards per play against Kansas City. That probably isn't sustainable if the Colts want to be a viable team. But, on the other hand, the confidence that will come from the contributions of players like Woods and fellow rookie Alec Pierce (three catches, 61 yards) can help jumpstart what has been a stagnant offense.
That's how a team manages to win while experiencing growing pains.
Still, through the first two games, Pierce -- a second-rounder -- was better known for dropping a TD pass in the Week 1 tie at Houston and sitting out Week 2 (concussion protocol). Woods, a third-round pick considered a gifted college blocker, didn't even have a pass thrown his direction in the first two weeks.
On Sunday when Ryan needed playmakers late, the rookies delivered.
Pierce used his body control and technical skills to catch three passes for 61 yards and Woods used his 6-foot-7, 253-pound body to fend off defenders for his first two career catches -- a 1-yard TD reception to give Indy (1-1-1) its first lead of the season and the 12-yarder for the Colts' first win.
"That's the player we expect Jelani to be, make the big play. He's a big man, and he's fast," Reich said before discussing Pierce. "The go-ball, that's what he's here for, and then he made the play down there on that last drive. That was a big throw and catch."
This week, Pierce and Woods provided the jolt of energy Indy desperately needed to rebound from an embarrassing shutout in Jacksonville. But the long-term implications of their ability to make plays could open things up for Michael Pittman Jr. and Jonathan Taylor -- and get the Colts' offense on track.
Meanwhile, the Colts, who are in their first season under new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, had been allowing quarterbacks to throw with concerning accuracy through two weeks. But Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes' tendency to extend plays coupled with a more aggressive defensive coverage plan allowed the Colts to reverse that trend.
Sunday was the best example of team defense the Colts have displayed so far this season, and it stymied the Chiefs at times. The improved play in the secondary was combined with production up front. Ngakoue showed his value with a sack and two quarterback hits while defensive tackle DeForest Buckner had his best performance.
Mahomes was pressured on 38 percent of his dropbacks, according to ESPN Stats and Information, versus just 21 percent through the Chiefs' first two games.
The Colts even seem to have stabilized their kicking game, an area that was in disarray in recent weeks. Punter Matt Haack has filled in beautifully for injured Rigoberto Sanchez (torn Achilles in right leg). And kicker Chase McLaughlin, who was brought in as an emergency replacement after Rodrigo Blankenship missed a game-winning field goal in Week 1, converted field goals from 43 and 51 yards.
Can the Colts figure out the rest of it?
As Holder wrote, "Time will tell. In the meantime, they demonstrated that they can, perhaps, find ways to win while they find their way."
"This showed us we can be the team that we want to be," Reich said. "We can be the team that we think coming into this season we were going to be. We can be that team. But we've got to work to get better."
Getting a win in the home opener was essential to staying in the AFC South title hunt. Now the Colts face an old nemesis in two-time defending division champion Tennessee. The Titans also struggled the first two weeks before winning Sunday. But until Indy's offensive line starts pass-blocking and run-blocking more consistently, the Colts will continue to struggle.
Other notes of interest. ... Taylor carried 21 times for 71 yards and brought in three of five targets for 20 yards on Sunday.
As CBSSports.com noted, Taylor was frequently stymied by a tough Chiefs front, with his longest run of the day going for a modest 13 yards. Taylor's involvement in the passing game was a nice bonus, however, and the star back now has 13 targets through three games. The 2020 second-round pick does have two straight sub-100-yard games, but he looks as explosive as last season and draws a very favorable statistical matchup against the Titans' suspect run defense this Sunday. ...
Pittman caught 8-of-9 targets for 72 yards on Sunday.
As NBCSportsEdge.com reported, after missing Week 2 with a quad issue, Pittman returned and paced the Colts in targets, seeing three more than Nyheim Hines. Pittman's line is nothing to write home about, but he didn't appear to have any ill-effects from the quad.
In fact, Pittman led the Colts with a 25 percent target share against the Chiefs.
Though the two rookies, Pierce and Woods, shined late, second-year tight end Kylen Granson also played well. He recovered a muffed punt at the Chiefs 4, then barely kept his balance to pin Kansas City inside the 1 on Indy's next punt. He also had two catches and might be carving out his own niche.
Conversely, Indy needs former Ohio State star Parris Campbell to become a real playmaker this season. While he has shown some glimpses, he has not yet emerged as a major part of the game plan.
According to FantasyLife.com's Dwain McFarland, Campbell continues to get in his cardio steps with an 89 percent route participation -- but only a 6 percent targets share.
Pierce and Ashton Dulin rotated (47 percent and 27 percent snap share, respectively). ...
On the injury front. ... Taylor (toe) didn't practice Wednesday. According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, his understanding is it's precautionary after Taylor had some soreness coming out of the Chiefs game. "He'll be ready to roll," a source told Pelissero.
That said, I'll be following up via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
Starting safety Julian Blackmon missed the second half with a sprained left ankle and it's unclear whether he'll play this weekend against Tennessee. ... Indy also continues to await the season debut of three-time All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard (back surgery).
One last note here. .. Ryan has been sacked 12 times and thrown four interceptions. But the most surprising stat may be his seven fumbles. With 14 games remaining, Ryan has already posted the fifth-highest single-season total in his 15-year career.
You can access complete stats for the Colts Week 3 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Matt Ryan, Nick Foles, Sam Ehlinger
RBs: Jonathan Taylor, Deon Jackson, Zack Moss, Jordan Wilkins, D'Vonte Price
WRs: Michael Pittman Jr., Parris Campbell, Alec Pierce, Ashton Dulin, Mike Strachan
TEs: Mo Alie-Cox, Kylen Granson, Jelani Woods
Jacksonville JaguarsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 27 September 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Mark Long framed it, "The Jacksonville Jaguars might still have some doubters, a few holdouts who view the past two weeks as more of a fluke than a factuality.
"It makes sense considering the Jaguars (2-1) had a league-low four wins combined the past two seasons and have long been among the NFL's most dysfunctional franchises (see Urban Meyer).
"But there's no denying what they did in consecutive games against two teams widely considered to be AFC playoff contenders in 2022. ..."
Hard to argue the point.
They dominated Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers 38-10 on the road Sunday a week after pummeling Matt Ryan and Indianapolis 24-0. It's the best two-game stretch Jacksonville has put together since its AFC championship game run in 2017.
"We're still young and we're still learning how to win and how to do all that stuff," first-year head coach Doug Pederson said. "I think this is just a great step in the right direction."
But there's sure to be skeptics.
The Chargers were without Pro Bowl receiver Keenan Allen, Pro Bowl center Corey Linsley, Pro Bowl cornerback J.C. Jackson and had Herbert playing through a rib injury. The Bolts also lost star pass rusher Joey Bosa early and left tackle Rashawn Slater late.
The Colts played without starting receivers Michael Pittman Jr. and Alec Pierce as well as All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard.
Nonetheless, it's impossible to ignore what the Jaguars did in both games on both sides of the ball.
Trevor Lawrence, the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft, rebounded from a sub-par opener with the two best games of his pro career. He threw for 487 combined yards in those games, with five touchdowns, no turnovers and no sacks.
James Robinson ran for 100 yards against the Chargers and scored for the third consecutive week. Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Evan Engram have provided Lawrence with the kind of playmakers long missing in Jacksonville.
Defensively, the Jaguars have eight takeaways in three games, one shy of their 2021 season total, and haven't allowed a rushing touchdown through three games for the first time in two decades. Jacksonville ranks first against the run, second in points allowed and eighth in yards.
This past Sunday, as ESPN.com's Mike DiRocco notes the Jaguars out-gained the Chargers by more than 100 yards, Lawrence threw for 262 yards and three touchdowns, rookie Devin Lloyd intercepted his second pass in as many weeks and Dawuane Smoot forced a fumble that Foye Oluokun recovered.
More than the stats, though, is this: The Jaguars didn't turn the ball over, committed just two penalties and went on a 22-0 run after the Chargers kicked a field goal to cut the Jaguars' lead to nine points early in the third quarter. It's the second week in a row the team closed out a victory with a dominant second half.
DiRocco added: "The team seems to be coming together."
Lawrence has arguably been the league's top quarterback these past two weeks. His Total QBR of 84.6 is second only to Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa (87.0) and he leads the league in completion percentage (76.8 percent). With the afore-mentioned five touchdown passes and no interceptions against the Colts and Chargers, he delivered the second- and third-highest rated games of his career.
Through three weeks, he's sixth in the NFL in Total QBR (72.9) and seventh in completion percentage (69.4 percent). Most importantly, he's not turning the ball over (just one interception).
"The guys are doing a great job up front with the protection," Pederson said. "Guys are getting open and we had opportunities to take shots and we completed those down the field. There were some opportunities there [for explosive plays] and we hit them, and we were efficient in the passing game. That's all we can ask of our guys. It takes 11 [players] to do it, but [Lawrence] was very efficient, very accurate."
And the Jaguars haven't been making the kind of mistakes that have been a hallmark of the franchise the past several seasons. They're an NFL-best plus-seven in turnover margin (they were an NFL-worst minus-20 last season), have committed just five penalties in the last two games (they had 13 in the first game and averaged seven per game last season), and are converting 47 percent of their third downs the past two weeks.
"We played a complete game," Lawrence, who on Wednesday was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week, said. "To stack two weeks in a row is big to us."
"Obviously, the way we have played, you can't deny that we are a really good team," Lawrence said. "But at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what they say about us. We know who we are."
To make it three weeks in a row would really be an indication the Jaguars are for real because it would mean beating the Philadelphia Eagles on the road. In addition to the sub-plot of Pederson returning to the city that he led to a Super Bowl title is the fact that the Eagles (3-0) are likely the best team in the NFC and potentially the NFL.
The Jaguars have lost their last 18 games against NFC opponents dating back to a victory over the New York Giants in the 2018 season opener. Snapping that streak would get the rest of the NFL talking.
Other notes of interest. ... Zay Jones caught 10 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown, his first with the Jaguars. Playing for his third team in four years, Jones has been a nice complement to Kirk and leads the team with 19 receptions. The 27-year-old receiver, who still holds the Division I record for career receptions (399), is on pace for a breakout season after signing a three-year, $24 million contract in free agency.
His role supports the numbers.
Jones' target shares over the first three weeks: 25 percent; 13 percent; and 30 percent.
He finished Sunday's game with 24 fantasy points.
As FantasyLife.com's Dwain McFarland reminded his Twitter followers, "There was a ton of buzz about the connection between him and Lawrence throughout training camp. Seems those reports were accurate. ..."
Tight end Dan Arnold played just eight snaps against the Chargers and has become an afterthought in a passing game that features Kirk, Zay Jones, Marvin Jones and Evan Engram. Arnold has one catch for 8 yards while playing behind Engram and blocking tight end Chris Manhertz. ...
Still, the positives far outweigh the negative.
According to Long, the play-calling has been nothing short of masterful in the past two games. Pederson's offense is operating with poise, precision and near perfection. Mike Caldwell's defense has been stout against the run and nearly as good against the pass, notching six interceptions and seven sacks.
Which brings us to the "Pederson Revenge Game" narrative.
Between his days as a player and a coach, Pederson has spent a lot of time in Philadelphia. After five seasons leading the Eagles, including a victory over the Patriots in Super Bowl LII, he will be back in the city this weekend.
In his Monday press conference, Pederson said he's looking forward to going back to a place where he created a lot of good memories.
"I spent eight or nine years there, once with coach [Andy] Reid and then once obviously as the head coach and brought that city a championship and something to be proud of, obviously," Pederson said. "I understand that city, I understand that passion for football, but now I'm on the other side. It's still a long way away. It's seven days away or six days away, but we have to prepare this week like we have these last couple of weeks. But I'm looking forward to it, to getting back up there. It's been a great place. We did a lot of good things there and I'm looking forward to, hopefully, the welcome."
While Pederson did coach the team that won Philadelphia's only Super Bowl, he realizes that doesn't mean he'll get a warm reception from Philly fans.
"I don't know. It could be mixed," Pederson said. "Listen, I have to get this team here ready to go and I'm not going to be concerned with that. You hope it's a good one obviously for the things you did there, but I also know that crowd and they can be a little hostile and [I'm] looking forward to that too. Listen, understanding that and having been there and worked there, you just understand that it's [how it is]. Even when I was there and we were winning games or losing games, you were still getting booed, so it doesn't really matter."
Pederson will certainly be a talking point over the next several days, but he's not the focus internally.
"My job is to prepare the team to go play in a great environment against a really good football team that's playing extremely well right now," Pederson said. "For us, it's the next one on the schedule and it just so happens to be Philly. But at the same time, it's my job to prepare the guys this week and go play. ..."
Finally, on the injury front. ... CB Shaquill Griffin sustained a hip injury in practice Friday and was inactive against the Chargers. He was the team's first starter to miss a game this season and the only guy on the injury report the past two weeks.
You can access complete stats for the Jaguars Week 3 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Trevor Lawrence, C.J. Beathard
RBs: Travis Etienne Jr., JaMycal Hasty, Snoop Conner
WRs: Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, Marvin Jones, Jamal Agnew, Tim Jones, Kendric Pryor
TEs: Evan Engram, Dan Arnold, Chris Manhertz, Luke Farrell
Kansas City ChiefsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 27 September 2022
The Chiefs' stunning loss to the Indianapolis Colts was special in all the wrong ways.
As Associated Press sports writer Dave Skretta noted, here was the fumbled punt that led to a touchdown. The near-fumble that backed them up to their own goal line. The missed field goal and missed extra point. The head-scratching decision to try a fake field goal rather than put the ball in the hands of one of the league's best quarterbacks. And lousy kick returns that led to more poor field position.
To put it bluntly: The Chiefs' special teams were an abject disaster in their 20-17 loss on Sunday in Indianapolis.
"Listen, in the NFL the parity is crazy," head coach Andy Reid said, "so any mistakes get magnified, and that's just how it goes. So we have to clean that up. We have to clean it up. We'll get that taken care of."
It would help to get Harrison Butker, one of the league's best kickers, back from an ankle that he sprained on the shoddy turf in Arizona. The Chiefs have been forced to use fill-in Matt Ammendola the past two weeks, and while he was solid in a win over the Chargers, he showed Sunday exactly why he wasn't on a roster at the end of training camp.
His missed extra point kept Kansas City from tying the game late in the first quarter, and it may have played into Reid's decision to try a fake field goal on fourth-and-11 from the Colts 24 early in the fourth quarter. Tommy Townsend, the holder, wound up throwing an incomplete pass on a play that wouldn't have picked up the first down anyway.
Pressed on the decision, Reid replied: "I probably should not have done that."
Given what happened, maybe going for it on fourth down was a good idea -- though perhaps with the ball in Patrick Mahomes' hands instead.
In any case, the Chiefs sent Ammendola back out with 8 1/2 minutes to go, but his 34-yard field-goal try was wide, keeping the game 17-13; those points would have forced overtime the way the game played out.
Not surprisingly, the Chiefs waived Ammendola from the practice squad on Monday. The team surely will work out kickers this week, signing one to the practice squad, while hoping Butker is healthy enough to return. In fact, The Athletic's Nate Taylor advised his readers the team is "optimistic" that Butker will be available this weekend.
"Obviously we missed some kicks and stuff like that," Mahomes said, "but the end of the day we had multiple opportunities to score. We have to find ways to get the ball in the end zone, and that starts with me."
Indeed, the Chiefs came away with two touchdowns in four red-zone tries, one reason for their 20-17 loss Sunday.
"We've got to make it so those little mistakes don't cause the loss," said Mahomes, who threw an interception late in the game as the Chiefs were frantically trying to get into field goal range as they attempted to send the game to overtime. "We had multiple chances to get in the end zone, and if we get (in) the end zone one time, don't stall out in the red zone, get seven (instead of the missed field goal in the fourth quarter), the game's over."
Mahomes is throwing to a mostly new cast of wide receivers that includes free-agent additions JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. He declined to use that as an excuse for the Chiefs scoring just 20 points on offense last week against the Los Angeles Chargers and then 17 against the Colts.
"I don't expect any growing pains," he said. "Obviously have new players and you don't know everybody's going to respond to tough situations.
"We've got to gel all together. It starts with me. There were certain throws I was putting on guys' back hips instead of in front of him. There were certain situations where we were just barely off of it. ... Whenever you're playing a tough game like that, you have to execute at a higher level and we have to learn from it. Our schedule gets no easier. We have a hard game Sunday (against) Tampa next week with a great defense, so we have to get better quickly. And if we don't, we don't want these (losses) to start piling up. We want to make sure we get back on that winning train."
Mahomes' frustration showed toward the end of the first half when TV cameras caught him in what appeared to be a spirited discussion with offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. The Chiefs ran out the clock rather than try to get into field goal range.
Coach Andy Reid guided Mahomes away from Bieniemy.
"I wanted to go try to score," Mahomes said. "That's just who I am. We were in a tough situation. I believe it was second- or third-and -20, something like that, and probably the smart decision was to go to halftime. But I'm always going to want to score. I pretty much just said, 'Let me have a chance at it,' and he was just like, 'Let's get to the locker room and get to the next half.'
"I don't know if that's an altercation. That was the end of the conversation. ..."
The Chiefs hit the road for the third time in the first four weeks when they visit Tampa Bay on Sunday. The Buccaneers have hardly looked like the same dynamic outfit that routed Kansas City in the Super Bowl a couple of years ago, losing 14-12 to the Packers on Sunday in a game that often seemed as if nobody wanted to win.
Other notes of interest. ... Is this a full-blown backfield committee where nobody matters for fantasy?
According to ESPN.com's Adam Teicher, the Chiefs still don't seem comfortable using Clyde Edwards-Helaire in most third-down situations, and until they do, the backfield is going to be more of a committee thing. But don't ignore that Edwards-Helaire has three touchdowns in three games. He probably won't maintain that pace, but he seems to be the Chiefs' favorite near the goal line.
Edwards-Helaire scored 14 fantasy points against the Colts, but FantasyLife.com's Dwain McFarland reminded his Twitter followers the third-year man remained in a committee with Jerick McKinnon and Isiah Pacheco.
McFarland went on to note that Edwards-Helaire is "living on TD luck right now. (An) RB3 profile scoring RB1 points. ..."
Meanwhile, The Chiefs selected Skyy Moore in the second round of this year's draft and it seemed like he could be a significant early contributor to the team's offense.
But instead, Moore has mostly been a punt returner -- and even that is a job where he could use some improvement. Moore muffed the first punt of Sunday's loss to the Colts, which set up an Indianapolis touchdown.
Moore has played has made only one catch so far -- a 30-yard grab against the Cardinals in Week 1. He played only two offensive snaps in the Week 2 victory over the Chargers and eight offensive snaps in Sunday's loss to the Colts.
Moore said after Week 2 that he knows he has to wait his turn in Kansas City's offense. On Monday, Reid said Moore's time is coming.
"We actually had some in for him this game and it didn't work out that way -- we didn't have a ton of first- and second-down calls, and that we got to do better with," Reid said in his Monday video conference. "And so, his number didn't get dialed up as much as we wanted. When it did, the defense didn't play it the way where he would be open.
"But it'll come, we're through game three here now. His time will come. We'll just keep working on it."
Through three games, tight end Travis Kelce unsurprisingly leads the chiefs with 17 catches and 230 yards. Smith-Schuster is second with 14 receptions and 179 yards.
Smith-Schuster had his best game in a Chiefs uniform on Sunday. He caught five passes for 89 yards.
On the injury front. ... Mecole Hardman (heel) did not practice Wednesday. Butker was on the practice field. I'll have more on that via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ..
Finally. ... With Hurricane Ian due to make landfall in Western Florida shortly, the NFL has not yet moved Sunday’s matchup between the Chiefs and Buccaneers.
But if the game is relocated, we now know where it will be played.
NFL executive vice president Jeff Miller told reporters on Wednesday that the game would be played at U.S. Bank Stadium, home of the Vikings.
Minnesota is playing the Saints in London on Sunday, which makes the venue available.
But Miller noted, via Albert Breer of SI.com, that “until we know more about the storm, it’s gonna be difficult to make that decision.”
The NFL may take up to Friday to determine where Sunday’s game between Kansas City and Tampa Bay will be located.
You can access complete stats for the Chiefs Week 3 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Patrick Mahomes, Chad Henne, Shane Buechele
RBs: Isiah Pacheco, Jerick McKinnon, Ronald Jones, Clyde Edwards-Helaire
WRs: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kadarius Toney, Justin Watson, Skyy Moore, Mecole Hardman
TEs: Travis Kelce, Noah Gray, Jody Fortson, Blake Bell
Las Vegas RaidersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 27 September 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Josh Dubow framed it: "All those close games that seemed to go the Las Vegas Raiders' way last season have ended up as losses so far in 2022.
"That's left the Raiders as the NFL's only team with three losses in three weeks. ..."
Las Vegas fell short at the end once again Sunday, missing a late 2-point conversion in a 24-22 loss to the Tennessee Titans -- the Raiders' third one-score loss of the season.
"Like most close games are, there's a handful of plays that that they made and we didn't that would sway the outcome, and unfortunately that's three weeks in a row," head coach Josh McDaniels said last season.
The Raiders missed a chance to drive for the game-winning score in a 24-19 loss in Week 1 to the Chargers and then blew a 20-0 lead before losing 29-23 in overtime to Arizona in Week 2.
As ESPN.com's Paul Gutierrez reminded readers, the Raiders, as unlikely as it was last season, were a playoff team, one that ran off four straight white-knuckle wins to finish 10-7 under an interim coach in Rich Bisaccia to force their way into the postseason.
Letting Bisaccia and general manager Mike Mayock go and bringing in McDaniels and Dave Ziegler was supposed to be an upgrade for the Raiders and owner Mark Davis. Oh, to be a fly on the wall in McDaniels' office after Sunday's loss, a closed-door meeting with an obviously perturbed Davis that delayed the coach's appearance for his postgame presser.
A "next step," Davis called the McDaniels hire back in January.
Instead, these Raiders are tripping over themselves while looking like a team still in transition, rather than a playoff-tested outfit. Sunday's loss makes them the only NFL team with an 0-3 record, which, according to ESPN Stats and Information research, marks the fewest teams to lose their first three games of a season since 1959, when the Detroit Lions were the only 0-3 team.
Dubow went on to point out it wasn't supposed to be this way for the Raiders after they hired McDaniels and brought in big-ticket names Davante Adams and Chandler Jones.
But Adams and Jones haven't made the expected impact early and the Raiders have regressed.
There are some legitimate issues here, of course.
Consider: Through three games, the Raiders have already used seven different combinations on the offensive line. Continuity? Chemistry? Comfortability for Carr?
"Those guys are working hard to do it," Carr said after his O-line consisted of Kolton Miller at left tackle, practice squad promotee Alex Bars at left guard, rookie third-rounder Dylan Parham replacing the concussed Andre James at center, Jermaine Eluemunor moving in to right guard from the outside, and seventh-round rookie Thayer Munford Jr. at right tackle.
"It's hard ... the more you are around them, the more you understand, the more chemistry you have. ... Time on task will help them."
Still, Carr came close to criticizing the practice habits of certain teammates before walking it back.
"You try your best to do it the right way in practice and if you don't do it right in practice, then you can't expect it to go right in the game," he said. "We've got to look at that, each man as an individual and say, 'OK then, I've got to get better at this, this, and this.'
"I thought we had a good week, but there were certain areas that if something just keeps showing up, then you've got to address it so it doesn't become a problem in a game."
McDaniels, seen as an elite playcaller with six Super Bowl rings, was going to elevate an already electric offense that added the best receiver in the league in Adams. And after Adams shined in the opener with 10 catches, on 17 targets, for 141 yards and a touchdown, he has had a combined seven catches, on 17 targets, for 48 yards and two TDs since. Adams is averaging 1.48 yards per route run, down from 2.81 last season, according to Pro Football Focus analytics.
Against the Titans, though, something happened at halftime. Carr was 3-for-3 targeting Adams in the first half, including a 5-yard TD, but was just 2-for-6 targeting him in the second half, including 0-for-3 in the fourth quarter. On the flip side, receiver Mack Hollins had a career day with eight catches for 158 yards and a TD.
Carr connected on deep shots to Hollins that went for 48 and 60 yards.
Asked if he was more frustrated or angry with the loss and 0-3 start, Adams paused.
"Both," he said, "It's not the end of the world to be frustrated. I don't think anybody in here should be happy or content with losing. Especially when you have the type of men we have in this locker room. And like I've said from the very beginning -- just because we're good on paper doesn't mean we're going to be great as a team.
"Frustration if OK, as long as you do something about it."
"I'm excited to see how we respond," said tight end Darren Waller, who had a pair of costly drops, including one that was intercepted in the end zone, and blamed a lack of fundamentals on his part for the miscues. He was also the intended target on Carr's 2-point attempt pass that would have tied the game with 1:14 left.
Defensively for the Raiders, edge rusher Maxx Crosby was again a menace, with a sack among his nine tackles (five solo), a QB hit, a forced fumble and a pass defensed. But not even he could single-handedly pull it out for Las Vegas.
"We're so close," said Crosby, who has both of the Raiders' sacks thus far. "We're doing a lot of good things but we're just not finishing, getting the win ... even though it's hard right now, it seems like the world's closing [in], we have a lot of positive things to take from it.
"You're either going to sink or swim."
As McDaniels said often in training camp, the Raiders had to "learn" how to win. He has an addendum.
"We're going to have to learn how play a full 60 minutes and earn the right to win," said McDaniels, who is just 5-20 as a head coach after starting 6-0 with the Denver Broncos in 2009. Guess who the Raiders play next?
"This league requires a lot of mental toughness, and nobody likes losing. It should hurt when we lose. We all feel s---ty."
Next up, the Raiders host Denver on Sunday, trying to avoid their first 0-4 start since 2006. ...
Other notes of interest. ... The Raiders made a big focus on fixing their red zone woes this offseason but it hasn't paid off yet. Las Vegas drove inside the 20 six times against the Titans and ended up with only two TDs. Three drives ended in field goals and another on an interception in the end zone. The Raiders have scored TDs on 6 of 13 red zone drives, seventh worst in the NFL. ...
Josh Jacobs carried the ball 13 times for 66 yards against the Titans. He added five receptions for 31 yards.
Jacobs was questionable for this contest after he didn't make the original trip with the team. However, he was active for the game and dominated opportunities out of the Las Vegas backfield. He was efficient with his opportunity on the ground and also tied for second on the team with five receptions.
The only thing missing was a trip to the end zone, though he got no work near the goal line. His production hasn't been spectacular to begin the season, but Jacobs has topped 70 total yards in each of his three games. ...
Worth noting. ... Hollins has 240 yards receiving in three games this season, more than he has had in any previous season since entering the NFL in 2017.
On the injury front. ...The Raiders hope to get C Andre James (concussion) and receiver Hunter Renfrow (concussion) back this week.
I'll have more on Renfrow, who did not practice Wednesday, via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
In addition, CB Nate Hobbs in in the concussion protocol after getting hurt Sunday. CB Rock Ya-Sin also left the game with an injury. ...
You can access complete stats for the Raiders Week 3 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Derek Carr, Jarrett Stidham
RBs: Josh Jacobs, Zamir White, Brandon Bolden, Ameer Abdullah, Brittain Brown
WRs: Davante Adams, Mack Hollins, Keelan Cole, DJ Turner, Hunter Renfrow
TEs: Foster Moreau, Jesper Horsted, Jacob Hollister, Darren Waller
Los Angeles ChargersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 27 September 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Joe Reedy framed it: "Reeling and wounded are two descriptions no team likes to have three weeks into the season."
Yet that is the position the Chargers find themselves in after their worst loss in Brandon Staley's two-year tenure.
Jacksonville's 38-10 rout on Sunday not only was the Chargers' second straight defeat, but the injury list grew longer as the game wore on.
Not only does quarterback Justin Herbert's rib injury remain a concern, but offensive tackle Rashawn Slater will likely miss the rest of the season due to a torn left biceps. And linebacker Joey Bosa has what Staley termed a "significant groin injury" that will keep him sidelined a while. Receiver Jalen Guyton suffered a season-ending torn ACL.
The injuries come at the worst possible time for Los Angeles, which was already missing center Corey Linsley because of a knee issue, wide receiver Keenan Allen (hamstring) and cornerback J.C. Jackson (ankle).
Allen is likely to return to practice this week, while the statuses of Linsley and Jackson remain undetermined.
"For injuries to happen to high-profile players like we have, it's not uncommon," Staley said. "And what you've got to do is just kind of weather that storm and stay together. I think that's where we're at right now."
Slater's injury is the most significant and could cause some shuffling on the offensive line. Storm Norton played left tackle after Slater went out in the second half, but struggled most of last season starting at right tackle before Trey Pipkins won the job in training camp. Rookie guard Jamaree Salyer -- who played tackle at the University of Georgia -- could be another option.
Herbert played the entire game despite it being out of reach in the fourth quarter. Staley took plenty of criticism after the game for Herbert staying in and said it was a joint decision.
"He wanted to be out there with his teammates," Chargers coach Brandon Staley said. "He felt good and he wanted to finish the game."
According to ESPN.com's Lindsey Thiry, reporters asked Staley 20 questions during a seven-minute and 30-second postgame news conference. More than half of the questions were about Herbert and the risk the franchise quarterback faced by remaining in the game.
"I understand your entire line of questioning, I understand it," Staley said. "Justin is going to be feeling like this when he is out there playing. This injury is going to be there for a while. If you guys know the injury, it's not like it's going to feel better next week or the week after that. This thing is going to be present for a while. He felt good today and we're going to continue to manage it the best we can."
Staley said he "definitely" had a conversation with Herbert about remaining in the game and confirmed that the quarterback was adamant that he wanted to continue.
"I just didn't want to quit on the team," Herbert said.
When asked if he needed to protect the franchise quarterback, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2020 draft who the organization has built a Super-Bowl caliber roster around, from himself, Staley said, "For sure."
"Throughout the entire game, that's the first thought throughout the game and at the end of the game, so trust me, there's no one that's thinking about it more than I am," Staley said.
For his part, Herbert reiterated that he did not want to quit when asked how he balanced the decision to continue playing versus remaining on the sideline to protect himself from further injury.
"It's what the team needs," said Herbert, who finished 25-of-45 for 297 yards and a touchdown, with an interception and lost sack fumble. "Sometimes, you have to put your own goals and everything ahead, or behind the team and I think that's what's most important and I felt like I was safe out there and I didn't want to quit on my team."
Herbert said he knew he would play Sunday "probably right before kickoff."
"I had a feeling that I was going to go in and was just going to see how it felt," Herbert said. "Before warm-ups, it felt good, so I was going to roll with it."
When asked if he received a pain-killing injection before the game, Herbert declined to provide an answer.
"However I take care of my body, I think that is one of things that I'd like to keep private," Herbert said. "I trust the medical staff. I trust the training staff. They are not going to put me in harm's way. I felt like it was safe, they felt like it was safe, so I was going to go out there and play."
Herbert had never missed a game since taking over as starter in Week 2 of 2020, when then-starter Tyrod Taylor was ruled out only minutes before the game after suffering a punctured lung when a team doctor, who is also now caring for Herbert, attempted to administer a pain-killing injection to aid the quarterback's cracked ribs.
That doctor is being sued for medical malpractice by Taylor, who is seeking at least $5 million, according to copies of the original lawsuit and subsequent filings related to the case obtained by ESPN.
Against the Jaguars, the Chargers fell behind 13-0 in the second quarter after the Jaguars scored 10 points off turnovers, including the interception thrown and lost sack fumble.
Herbert bounced back to lead a nine-play, 75-yard drive that he capped with a 15-yard touchdown pass to receiver Mike Williams in the corner of the end zone.
Herbert also completed an impressive 54-yard yard pass to Guyton to open the second half, which led to a 25-yard field goal to make it a one-possession game before the Jaguars pulled away for good.
"He was throwing the football well," Staley said. "The protection -- the rush was there today which forced him to have to speed up at times, but he threw the ball well out there today."
Herbert said of his performance: "It was not a great day by any means."
But when asked how he felt physically? "I feel good," Herbert said, "thank you."
Still, one day later, Staley said if the same situation arises, he would do a better job of communicating to Herbert that coming out would serve everyone best.
"In that moment, I don't regret how we went through that together. But I think that the lesson moving forward is just making sure that he knows that he's already done enough," Staley said. "Playing in that ballgame alone shows how much Justin cares about them. And they know the type of fight that he has."
The Chargers hit the road the next two weeks, beginning Sunday against Houston. The Texans have won three of the last four, including 41-29 in Week 16 last season that was part of a stretch during which the Chargers dropped three of their final four to miss the playoffs.
I will, of course, be watching Herbert and Allen closely in coming days; check the Late-Breaking Updates section for more as the week progresses. ...
Other notes of interest. ... As Reedy pointed out, the run game has been abysmal, averaging only 2.64 yards per carry, 20 of their 64 attempts this season going for no gain or negative yards and only one run going for 10 yards or more. The Jaguars made the Chargers a one-dimensional offense by holding them to zero ground yards in the first quarter and 14 in the first half despite it being a nine-point game.
On a more positive note, with Allen sidelined for the second straight game, Joshua Palmer stepped up with six receptions for 99 yards. According to Pro Football Focus date (via FantasyLife.com's Dwain McFarland), Palmer scored 15.9 points and tied Austin Ekeler for the team lead in targets (21 percent). He operated mostly underneath (7.4) average depth of target (ADOT) filling in for Allen.
Palmer's best catch came on the last play of the third quarter, when he beat Jaguars CB Andre Cisco on a crossing route and went 45 yards up the left sideline before being pushed out of bounds. ...
According to Thiry, when Allen returns, he will once again be Herbert's go-to target, but expect that the third-year quarterback will continue to spread the ball around to include Palmer. The two proved to have an established rapport during training camp.
For what it's worth. ... Williams only saw a 13 percent target share but led team with 32 percent of air yards (23-yard ADOT).
Finally. ... Staley announced on Wednesday that that Bosa (groin) will have surgery and be placed on injured rReserve. He should be back later in the season. The Chargers also placed Guyton on injured reserve Tuesday after claiming outside linebacker Derrek Tuszka off waivers from the Titans.
You can access complete stats for the Chargers Week 3 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Justin Herbert, Chase Daniel, Easton Stick
RBs: Austin Ekeler, Isaiah Spiller, Sony Michel, Joshua Kelley
WRs: Keenan Allen, Josh Palmer, DeAndre Carter, Mike Williams, Michael Bandy, Jason Moore, Jalen Guyton
TEs: Gerald Everett, Tre' McKitty, Donald Parham
Los Angeles RamsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 27 September 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Greg Beacham suggested this week, the Rams almost certainly wouldn't be such consistent winners if this team hadn't stayed relatively healthy over the past half-decade.
The Rams' overall health is much worse than normal this September after a spate of early season injuries, yet it hasn't stopped Sean McVay's team from recording back-to-back victories.
Los Angeles (2-1) beat the Arizona Cardinals 20-12 on Sunday despite playing without two key offensive players and the majority of its regular contributors in the secondary.
The Rams have been forced to dig deep into their depth -- and even into other teams' practice squads -- in the past two weeks, yet the Super Bowl champs' healthy playmakers have kept them moving toward Monday night's showdown with San Francisco.
In Arizona, defensive back Grant Haley came off the practice squad and played 67 snaps in his first game of the season. Sixth-round pick Derion Kendrick barely left the field in his NFL debut, playing a whopping 75 snaps. Terrell Burgess was the third defensive back to get his first snaps of the season in Arizona while the Rams were without injured Troy Hill, Cobie Durant, David Long and Jordan Fuller.
Defensive lineman Takk McKinley also made his Rams debut a few days after joining the team, and Kendall Blanton returned to the team that cut him last month and promptly made a key reception while filling in as the backup tight end for the suspended Brycen Hopkins.
This win got even weirder: The Rams ran only 46 offensive plays to the Cards' 81, and they won even without standout games from Matthew Stafford or Cooper Kupp.
They did it with coach McVay scheming up multiple plays that used receiver Ben Skowronek in a traditional fullback role, and they did it with a defense that allowed 365 yards, but didn't let Arizona get into the end zone.
"There is no style points in this league, but there are ways of playing more complete games," McVay said. "That's what we're hunting up. There's still so much football to be played."
One way is for their high-profile skill players to deliver.
Allen Robinson still isn't on track with his new team. The veteran receiver had two catches for 23 yards on five targets, and he dropped a near-certain touchdown pass on an early goal-line slant. Rams fans are missing Robert Woods, the veteran Los Angeles native who was traded so the Rams could add Robinson, but McVay remains confident Robinson and Stafford will sync up soon.
Meanwhile, Stafford didn't throw a touchdown pass for the first time in his 24 games with the Rams, yet he was largely outstanding against the Cardinals after throwing five interceptions in his first two games. The veteran quarterback went 18 of 25 for 249 yards with a handful of outstanding throws.
Robinson and Kupp didn't help him out by dropping probable touchdown passes.
Kupp's 44 yards receiving against the Cardinals are the fewest in any game for the NFL's Offensive Player of the Year since Stafford joined the Rams last season. Kupp had fewer than 90 yards receiving for only the third time in those 24 games.
The Rams' running game still isn't excelling, even with all the twists and tweaks added by McVay -- including a beautiful 20-yard TD run by Kupp on a jet sweep.
Cam Akers had a strong game with 61 yards and a TD on the ground, but he also fumbled on the goal line while trying to score a touchdown that would have put the game away. McVay expressed his confidence in Akers after the game, but Akers realizes he won't get many more chances to make such a mistake.
So what should we expect the touch split between Akers and Darrell Henderson Jr. to be moving forward?
According to ESPN.com's Sarah Barshop, the way the game is playing out really affects these splits, so it's hard to predict.
Akers spent most of the first half against the Cardinals on the sidelines, but after an impressive series, McVay continued to lean on him, and he and Henderson ended the game with a 50/50 split in carries. Barshop would lean on close to that going forward, with the expectation there will be several games this season where McVay just continues to ride the hot hand. ...
What about this week?
Attempting to end the 49ers' mastery of the Rams over the past three seasons. Los Angeles (barely) beat San Francisco in the NFC title game last January, but Kyle Shanahan has won six straight and seven of 10 over McVay in the regular season. We'll see if the Rams can get another one in their win column on Monday night in San Francisco. ..
One last note here. ... The Rams placed receiver Van Jefferson on injured reserve Saturday. McVay explained Monday that Jefferson has not had a setback, and the Rams put him on the list temporarily because they need the roster spot.
It means Jefferson will have to miss at least the next four games before returning to the 53-player roster.
"The goal for us maybe was that it would be in a couple of weeks," McVay said, via Stu Jackson of the team website. "He had been making really good progress, and that's been in alignment. But there's a lot of layers to whether we put a guy on IR or not that's not exclusive to just that person in particular. But I think when you look at where the bye [week] was going to fall for us, we had to make that decision and designation so that you don't end up restricting his ability to return after the bye."
The Rams expect Jefferson to be "ready to roll" after their Week 7 bye, McVay said.
Jefferson underwent "minor" knee surgery Aug. 2 after an earlier surgery on the same knee in the offseason.
He caught 50 passes for 802 yards and six touchdowns last season after making 19 receptions for 220 yards and one touchdown as a rookie in 2020.
You can access complete stats for the Rams Week 3 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Matthew Stafford, John Wolford, Bryce Perkins
RBs: Cam Akers, Kyren Williams, Malcolm Brown, Ronnie Rivers
WRs: Allen Robinson, Van Jefferson, Ben Skowronek, Brandon Powell, Tutu Atwell, Lance McCutcheon, Cooper Kupp
TEs: Tyler Higbee, Kendall Blanton, Brycen Hopkins
Miami DolphinsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 27 September 2022
Tua Tagovailoa doesn't have much time to rest his aching back with the Miami Dolphins playing in Cincinnati on Thursday night.
The quarterback said Tuesday he's preparing to play the Bengals despite dealing with a back injury that hampered him in the Dolphins' victory over Buffalo on Sunday.
"That's the plan," he said. "Doing everything I can to get back out there. So, hopefully, I can get out there and play."
Tagovailoa said it's mostly the back injury that's bothered him since Sunday, not the ankle issue that's also on the injury report.
He called the ankle "after the game soreness" while his back injury has a serious impact on his ability to run the offense.
"I would say everything. Having to twist to hand the ball off, having to toss the ball, having to throw the ball. Every aspect of it," Tagovailoa said when asked how the injury affects him on the field.
"I've been up here, getting treatment, doing everything I can to get as close to 100 percent as possible," he said. "That means, after all of this, staying as long as I have to until these guys have to go home."
The signal-caller noted that it was "difficult" to throw the ball in the second half Sunday due to the back injury.
Tagovailoa left Sunday's win over Buffalo at the end of the first half after taking a hit that caused the quarterback's head to slam against the turf. Tagovailoa stood up and took a few steps before stumbling. He was examined for a possible concussion before being cleared to return.
NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Sunday that the NFL Players Association planned to initiate an investigation into the team's handling of Tagovailoa's concussion evaluation.
Tua said Tuesday he's not dealing with any sort of head injury.
With the Dolphins playing Thursday night, it puts Tagovailoa's availability in question. Head coach Mike McDaniel said if it were a normal week, the QB would have been limited Tuesday and probably questionable for the game.
McDaniel noted that trying to prepare both Tua and backup Teddy Bridgewater on a short week makes things difficult.
"It's a tricky scenario," the coach said. "Luckily, it's one of the reasons why we feel so fortunate to have Teddy. But if this were an actual real practice on a normal week, Tua would be limited, and he would be questionable for the game. As far as walkthroughs and stuff and just in general, this much I know about Tua, him and my relationship is strong. Him talking to me, I can tell in his voice he is literally going to do everything that he can and in his power.
"I know that he is going to do everything that he can to play. So, I'll know if he doesn't play that, it literally was not possible. And we're just taking measures accordingly for Teddy beyond that. But happy with the way he's so far progressed, and feel very optimistic because of how he's gone about it."
After Tuesday's walkthrough, the Dolphins planned evaluate where Tagovailoa is on Wednesday before deciding on his designation for Thursday's game.
McDaniel noted that he hopes to have a definitive decision by Wednesday or early Thursday, but he characterized Tua as "questionable" on Tuesday and that sounds likely to be his injury designation on Wednesday if all goes well.
McDaniel said Tagovailoa's availability will come down to both pain tolerance and stability for the back and ankle issues.
"It's the functionality of it because all of a sudden your back is overly tight or you feel that crazy pain -- your body has a reaction process that you can all of a sudden lose power in your throws, you can't redirect," McDaniel said. "And once you can't protect yourself on an NFL football field, we have to protect you. So it's both. Yeah, there will be some pain regardless. It's whether or not that pain hurts him from being able to put his production on the field and escape impending danger, which is part of the job of an NFL quarterback."
Not surprisingly, Tua was listed as questionable along with receiver Jaylen Waddle (groin), CB Xavien Howard (groin/glute) and LT Terron Armstead (toe).
I will, of course, be following up on this one right up through Thursday night's kickoff against the Bengals. ...
One other injury note here. ... Miami announced tight end Cethan Carter (concussion) is not traveling with the team to Cincinnati and is out. ...
Meanwhile, Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins' offense were barely on the field Sunday. But Miami's defense kept Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills from putting together another explosive win.
Miami held the Bills to 19 points, their fewest since Week 13 last season, and got pivotal stops down the stretch to mount a comeback victory for the second straight week and remain undefeated.
A win over the Bills had eluded Miami for the previous seven matchups. But the Dolphins are now 3-0 for the first time since 2018 and are one of only three undefeated teams in the NFL.
McDaniel said the team's goals can change as circumstances change and as they continue to build success. They know they have a team they're confident can take them far, but they don't want to get too far ahead of themselves.
"If you are talking about goals that happen 15 weeks from now, you're just going to get hit in the mouth because every single week in the National Football League everyone is giving you their best shot," McDaniel said. "So I think now we can talk about not sneaking up on people, but realistically whether we're 0-3 or 3-0, we're playing the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night."
Other notes of interest. ... After Sunday's win, receiver Tyreek Hill issued a warning to Bengals cornerback Eli Apple: "I owe you, boy. ... The Cheetah is here," Hill said.
Tagovailoa has posted a 100-plus rating in all three games this season. It's the second time in his career he has a rating of at least 100 in three straight games. He did it in four consecutive games from Nov. 11, 2021, to Dec. 5, 2021.
Finally. ... The Dolphins put the franchise tag on tight end Mike Gesicki this offseason despite questions about whether he'd fit in McDaniel's offense. As Profootballtalk.com's Michael David Smith notes, through three games, it's looking like the answer to those questions is "No."
Gesicki played just 17 snaps in Sunday's win over the Bills and caught just one pass for six yards. For the season, Gesicki has just six catches for 48 yards. He hasn't been in the starting lineup for any of the Dolphins' three games and has played less than half of the Dolphins' offensive snaps.
That's obviously not the kind of production a team hopes for when giving a tight end a $10.931 million guaranteed salary. Durham Smythe, whose salary this season is just $2 million, has started all three games at tight end this season and moved ahead of Gesicki on the Dolphins' depth chart.
There was talk before the season that the Dolphins could be looking to trade Gesicki. It wouldn't be surprising if the Dolphins explore that possibility again before the trade deadline, although there may not be a team interested in taking on that $10.931 million salary.
You can access complete stats for the Dolphins Week 3 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Tua Tagovailoa, Teddy Bridgewater, Skylar Thompson
RBs: Jeff Wilson, Raheem Mostert, Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed
WRs: Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Trent Sherfield, Cedrick Wilson, Erik Ezukanma, Tanner Conner
TEs: Mike Gesicki, Durham Smythe, Adam Shaheen, Hunter Long, Cethan Carter
Minnesota VikingsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 27 September 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Brian Hall noted, after opening with a decisive win against the Green Bay Packers, the Minnesota Vikings have been tested the past two weeks.
A Minnesota offense looking to make a jump under new coach Kevin O'Connell is still a work in progress. But a three-play, 56-yard drive in the final minute Sunday against Detroit led to a comeback win and has the Vikings tied atop the NFC North while enduring their growing pains.
With star receiver Justin Jefferson being taken away by opponents and with running back Dalvin Cook out of the game with an injury, quarterback Kirk Cousins found K.J. Osborn for two big plays, including a 28-yard touchdown with 45 seconds remaining in Sunday's 28-24 win.
"We're still getting there," Cousins said after the game. "We're still getting there. And I think you can see today, it's not where I want it to be. It's a good plan. It's just, time on task. Every game, we're learning something and getting better. But we just don't have time. We've got to get it locked in."
Minnesota had 317 total yards before the game-winning drive. Through three weeks, the Vikings are 18th in the NFL in offensive yards (344 per game) and tied for 17th in points per game (19.3) entering Monday.
"We're just continuing to evolve and we are still just three games into, officially, our guys running this system and this offense, so there's going to be some times where we've got to try to have that learning curve happen on the fly," O'Connell said Monday. "We've got such talented players that we feel strongly about when they do that and when they feel comfortable completely, the execution will be a bit more consistent across the board and we'll be at our best."
Despite entering O'Connell's first season as coach, Minnesota chose health over preseason game repetitions, sitting out much of the first-team offense for the three games.
In Week 1 against Green Bay, the Vikings didn't show many signs of novelty, racing out to a 20-0 lead and putting up 395 yards.
The past two weeks, with Philadelphia and Detroit able to see what Minnesota did against the Packers, the execution on offense has been a bigger challenge.
"Sometimes, for whatever reason, it can be one or 11, where there's just some indecisiveness somewhere across the board of guys doing their jobs depending on the look," O'Connell said.
Cook left Sunday's game late in the third quarter with a shoulder injury when he fumbled on his final carry. Before that, the Vikings' offensive line opened up several holes in the running game.
Cook's longest run was 13 yards, but he averaged 5.6 yards per carry. With one cut, he often found running room straight up the middle of the defense.
After Sunday's game, Profootballtalk.com's Mike Florio reported that Cook would try to play through the injury while wearing a harness as extra protection.
On Monday, O'Connell delivered the same message. Cook dislocated his shoulder and the injury is similar to one he suffered last season. Cook missed one game before returning with the harness and O'Connell said that Cook is hoping to avoid missing any games this time around.
"He's dealt with that at times, but I think it's something he's prepared to try to play with while also knowing we're going to do what's best for him to make sure we can have him as much as possible throughout the ins and outs of the rest of the season," O'Connell said, via Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. "We'll take it, it truly is a day-to-day thing, see how the management goes, but he wants to be out there with his teammates."
O'Connell also said that the team expects to have safety Harrison Smith back for their matchup with the Saints in London in Week 4. Smith missed Sunday's win with a concussion.
I'll have more on Cook, who didn't practice Wednesday via Late-Breaking Update as the week progresses. ...
Meanwhile, as mentioned above, another week provides another challenge for Minnesota. This time, it's the opponent and the circumstances. The Vikings will practice at home Wednesday and Thursday before leaving to play the New Orleans Saints in London on Sunday. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Cousins, who has only been sacked four times, has 32 pass attempts while being blitzed this season, according to SportRadar. He's completed just 12 passes for 81 yards. His 51.0 passer rating in those situations is ahead of only New England's Mac Jones and Chicago's Justin Fields.
Cousins is 0 for 9 when facing at least six rushers.
Cousins' completion rate over the past two weeks is 58.6 percent. A career 66.8 percent passer, Cousins completed 71.88 percent in Week 1 and is 22nd in the league in completion rate this season (62.2 percent). ...
Osborn was expected to have an increased role under O'Connell, with three-receiver sets becoming more common. The third-year receiver only had six targets in the first two games, catching five passes for 39 yards. With Jefferson drawing extra attention, Osborn came through on Sunday. He had five catches on eight targets for 73 yards in the game. On the final drive, Osborn got loose for two 28-yard receptions.
So what about Jefferson?
According to ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert, scheming Jefferson to run wild through defensive secondaries, as he did in Week 1 against the Packers, seemed most likely to be an exception rather than the rule. The Eagles and Lions have limited him in Weeks 2-3 by consistent double teams, but O'Connell is determined not to allow defenses to dictate Jefferson's productivity.
Look for the Vikings to continue tinkering with their scheme to spring Jefferson in the coming weeks.
"I have to do a better job," O'Connell said, "of giving Justin different aspects of lining up in different spots, different personnel groupings, whatever I need to do to help him. ..."
Finally. ... Greg Joseph had been perfect through two games, hitting three field goals and three extra-point attempts. On Sunday, he connected on all four of his PATs, but missed a pair of 56-yard field goals.
Joseph has already made one 56-yard attempt this season for his career-long conversion, but neither attempt Sunday was close.
"My confidence will not waver in Greg, and everybody in that locker room feels that same way," O'Connell said.
You can access complete stats for the Vikings Week 3 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Kirk Cousins, Nick Mullens
RBs: Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, C.J. Ham, Kene Nwangwu, Ty Chandler
WRs: Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, K.J. Osborn, Jalen Reagor, Jalen Nailor, Olabisi Johnson
TEs: T.J. Hockenson, Johnny Mundt, Ben Ellefson, Nick Muse, Irv Smith Jr.
New England PatriotsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 27 September 2022
Quarterback Mac Jones is dealing with what doctors have diagnosed as a severe high ankle sprain that would cause many to have surgery, sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Jones is likely to miss multiple games, Schefter's sources said, and he and the Patriots still are discussing his options and the best way to proceed.
In an update, James Stewart of 98.5 The Sports Hub reported on Monday evening that Jones and the Pats "are at a disagreement" over how to proceed.
According to Stewart, the team prefers that Jones returns "as soon as possible", whereas Jones would rather "proceed with caution" and get a second opinion.
Jones, who suffered the sprain on Sunday in the 37-26 home loss to the Baltimore Ravens, deflected questions on his timetable for recovery when asked about it earlier Monday.
In a videoconference with reporters from the Patriots' facility, Jones repeated the words "day by day" or "day to day" nine times.
"I'm just going to take it day by day, get my treatment and do what I do. Just see how I feel," he said. "If you have any more of those type questions, talk to Coach [Bill] Belichick. I think he likes those questions."
Jones, who was in considerable pain as he hopped off the field on Sunday, laughed and flashed a smile as he delivered the line about Belichick, who famously disdains addressing injuries with reporters.
The Patriots (1-2) visit the Green Bay Packers (2-1) on Sunday, and Belichick said early Monday he wouldn't speculate if Jones might be placed on injured reserve.
Jones echoed those thoughts, saying: "A lot of times, you don't really know exactly what happens. You just have to get your treatment, and hopefully, you feel better the next day, and you grow from there. ... I'm just waiting on the time here, just kind of letting it play out, seeing how I feel. Honestly, I'm just trying to make it to tomorrow and get my rehab going."
Veteran Brian Hoyer is the Patriots' top backup, and fourth-round draft pick Bailey Zappe out of Western Kentucky has been the No. 3 option.
Longtime captain Matthew Slater was asked Monday how the Patriots might respond if they are without Jones.
"I hope we don't have to find that out, but I do believe we'll respond the right way," he said. "We're very early in our season, and if we don't handle it the right way, this thing could spiral away from us."
Hoyer has been around for a while, entering the league with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2009. While he's spent the majority of his career with New England, he's started only one game for the club. Hoyer has made 38 starts elsewhere, 16 of which came with his hometown Browns from 2013-2014.
New England quarterbacks coach Joe Judge praised Hoyer when speaking to the media on Tuesday.
"One thing that Brian does whether it's practice or games, is he's always engaged. ... Always ready to take that next snap when he's called on," Judge said, via Mike Giardi of NFL Media.
Judge also noted, via Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald, that New England will tweak its offense to fit the skillset of whatever quarterback is behind center, but there won't be wholesale changes.
"You're always looking to play to a player's strengths," Judge said.
Belichick told reporters before Wednesday's practice that Jones had made a lot of progress in last 24-48 hours and the team is taking it day-to-day, but the second-year man did not practice Wednesday. Belichick also confirmed that Hoyer would start if Jones can't. I'll obviously be following up on Jones' status as needed via Late-Breaking Update.
The same goes with Jakobi Meyers, who missed Sunday's game with a knee injury. Meyers was present for the start of practice Wednesday. ...
With the team making a trip to Lambeau Field to face the Packers this weekend, they'll meet a defense that just held a short-handed Bucs offense led by Tom Brady to 12 points and 285 total yards. Green Bay's defensive front shut down Tampa Bay's running game and pressured Brady into three sacks and a 2-for-11 showing on third down.
New England will likely tweak multiple elements of their offense with Jones sidelined. But a major component as they turn to their 36-year-old backup is fewer downfield throws.
For what it's worth. ... Hoyer has lost 11 consecutive starts (from 2016 to 2020), which is the longest active streak in the NFL. The Packers, meanwhile, have won 14 straight regular-season home games, also the longest active streak.
So what happens to the offense with Jones out?
According to The Athletic's Chad Graff, the Patriots offense was starting to find some success. Play action led to some big plays. Jones' downfield passes (his average target Sunday was an astounding 12 yards past the line of scrimmage) were forcing the Ravens to cover deep, which in turn opened up some rushing lanes. Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris combined for 147 yards of offense.
DeVante Parker had a breakout game, totaling five catches for 156 yards (even if two of Jones' interceptions came when targeting Parker).
But now that progress is in jeopardy.
With Hoyer at quarterback, the Patriots' ability to push the ball downfield would be limited.
In 39 career starts, Hoyer has averaged 6.8 yards per attempt and thrown 43 touchdowns against 30 interceptions. Teams would presumably play more single-high safety against a Hoyer-led offense to slow the Patriots' running game. Suddenly, Stevenson and Harris would likely be facing eight-man boxes with teams daring Hoyer and his middling group of receivers to beat them.
Also worth questioning: Why isn't Kendrick Bourne playing more?
Bourne, who was the Patriots' second-leading receiver last season, played just 20 snaps, an unofficial total charted during the game. That was significantly fewer than fellow receivers Parker (66), Lil'Jordan Humphrey (53) and Nelson Agholor (51).
As ESPN.com's Mike Reiss notes, the discrepancy between Humphrey (zero catches) and Bourne (four catches, 58 yards) is most notable, as Humphrey was elevated from the practice squad one week into the season and isn't as dynamic of a playmaker as Bourne.
One last note here. ... Kicker Nick Folk made a 35-yard field goal in the second quarter of Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens that was his 57th in a row from inside 50 yards -- an NFL record.
Folk hasn't missed from inside 50 since the 2020 season opener against Miami.
The kick cut the Baltimore lead to 7-3 and broke the record that Ryan Succop set with Tennessee from 2014-17.
Folk made one of two field-goal attempts in the first two games, missing from 52 yards against Pittsburgh last week.
You can access complete stats for the Patriots Week 3 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Mac Jones, Bailey Zappe, Brian Hoyer
RBs: Rhamondre Stevenson, Damien Harris, Pierre Strong Jr., Ty Montgomery
WRs: Jakobi Meyers, DeVante Parker, Tyquan Thornton, Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor, Matt Slater
TEs: Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith
New Orleans SaintsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 27 September 2022
According to ESPN.com's Katherine Terrell, Katherine Terrell head coach Dennis Allen said the team is not considering a quarterback change despite its offensive struggles and inconsistency.
Quarterback Jameis Winston is dealing with a back injury that he described as a "transverse fracture" to the Fox game broadcast. Winston said he was in pain and wearing four layers of protection and a custom backplate against the Panthers.
He also said, according to Fox's sideline reporter, that "every time it presses down on his psoas muscle it makes it really hard when he applies weight on his back foot."
The Saints have struggled to move the ball in their three games, except in the fourth quarters against the Falcons and Panthers. Thirty-eight of their 51 points this season have come in the fourth quarter.
"No, no. We all have to play better," Allen said. "I'm not looking to single anything out, obviously we've got to make some corrections and we've got to do a better job as a group."
The Saints did not score until the 12:31 mark in the fourth quarter. Running back Alvin Kamara lost a fumble in the first quarter and the Saints had a field goal blocked. Kicker Wil Lutz also missed a 48-yard field goal attempt.
"I think everybody, when you get in these situations, is kind of looking for a place to place blame," Allen said. "There's enough mistakes to go around, I don't really want to go there. I feel confident with Jameis. Certainly, we all need to do better and that's what we're going to do."
The Saints are dealing with numerous injuries on offense. They lost four offensive players during the game after guard Andrus Peat and wide receivers Michael Thomas, Jarvis Landry and Tre'Quan Smith left with injuries. The team already was missing tight end Taysom Hill and wide receiver Deonte Harty.
Winston has had the biggest spotlight this season due to numerous injuries, as he came into training camp recovering from last year's torn ACL, sprained his foot during the preseason and then injured his back in Week 1. The ankle issue appeared on the injury report this week.
"Certainly, he's a competitor, he's a battler, he's tough," Allen said. "Yeah, he's fighting through some things. And that's part of playing football."
Winston has declined to elaborate on his back injury publicly, although he said it will heal and won't be something he deals with the entire season.
He has maintained a positive public attitude although at one point in the game Sunday, he appeared visibly upset on the sideline after looking at the tablet with quarterbacks coach Ronald Curry and backup quarterback Andy Dalton.
Winston got up from the bench and started to walk off before another assistant coach called him back. He walked back to Curry but then walked away again and was seen talking to the offensive line shortly after.
"I was trying to keep my poise. It was probably a reaction to something I saw on the screens or something," Winston said. "I don't think it escalated from there. Looks can be very deceiving."
Winston has completed 63.5 percent of his passes this season for 858 yards, 4 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. He has been sacked 11 times.
"This team, this organization has been here before, so we're going to find a way to persevere, get on a run," Winston said. "Look in, assess ourselves and find a way to get better."
As Associated Press sports writer Brett Martel suggested, Allen might have liked to keep his focus on defense, an area he built into a strength of the club as a coordinator the past six-plus seasons.
The Saints' defense has allowed just one touchdown in each of their past two games and ranked fifth against the pass before Monday night's game.
After going 9-8 during an injury-ravaged 2021 season, the Saints hoped to fare better this season with a seemingly healthier and deeper roster.
Sean Payton's retirement after last season, and Allen's promotion, was bound to be an adjustment. But the Saints hoped it would be a smooth transition given the relative continuity on the coaching staff and across the roster.
Perhaps it's too early to tell.
Next up, the Saints are spending a week out of the country, which might be exactly the kind of team-bonding experience they need as they try to regroup in advance of Sunday's international series game against Minnesota in north London's Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. ...
On the injury front. ... In addition to Winston, I'll be watching for more on Thomas (toe), Landry (ankle) and Smith (concussion), who, as noted above, were all sidelined early against Carolina.
Winston, Thomas and Landry all sat out Wednesday's practice. Allen said after the session that there’s no cause for alarm in Winston's case.
“Really, it’s more just trying to rest and trying to make sure he’s healthy,” Allen said in his press conference. “I anticipate that he’ll be back out there tomorrow.”
Allen also noted that Thomas and Landry are still considered day-to-day as they work through the week.
Check the Late-Breaking Updates section for more on all the Saints' walking wounded as the week progresses. ...
Also of interest. ... Rookie receiver Chris Olave is living up to his first-round draft status. He had nine catches for 147 yards in just his third regular-season game.
Olave became the first Saints rookie to have more than 100 receiving yards since the 2018 season while Marquez Callaway had a one-handed touchdown grab in traffic in the fourth quarter.
Olave now has 13 targets in consecutive games. Is he someone we can count on weekly?
According to Terrell, for now, yes, because the other options are dwindling by the week. With Hill, Thomas, Landry, Harris and Smith all injured in some form, Olave just might be the last man standing. On a positive note, the rookie appears to be improving by the week.
And finally. ... After missing all of last season with a core muscle injury, Lutz aims to once again be as reliable as he was when he kicked in every Saints game for his first five seasons. But he's got some work to do after having one field-goal attempt blocked and missing another in Week 3. He also missed a field-goal attempt at Atlanta in Week 1. ...
You can access complete stats for the Saints Week 3 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston
RBs: Alvin Kamara, David Johnson, Mark Ingram, Dwayne Washington
WRs: Chris Olave, Jarvis Landry, Tre'Quan Smith, Marquez Callaway, Rashid Shaheed, Michael Thomas, Deonte Harty
TEs: Juwan Johnson, Taysom Hill, Adam Trautman, Nick Vannett
New York GiantsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 27 September 2022
Kenny Golladay had his chance to make a big play in the New York Giants' 23-16 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. He dropped it.
As NFL.com's Kevin Patra reported, with Big Blue trailing by seven points in the fourth quarter, Daniel Jones hit Golladay in the numbers on a third down with room to run for the first down, but the highly paid wideout flubbed the ball.
"I missed one opportunity, I wish I had it back," Golladay said. "Me just not looking it all the way in. Me just trying to make a play for the team and get up the field. I was running before I really secured the ball. That's pretty much all that that was. That's stuff that can't happen, especially when 8 is pretty much doing everything to get us the ball and to get us in position to win the football game. I want to be a guy that can make that play, so I definitely put that on myself. It was third down and that can't happen."
After playing just two snaps in Week 2, Golladay saw 22 of 67 reps Sunday, as both Wan'Dale Robinson and Kadarius Toney were inactive. Golladay saw three targets with zero catches.
Golladay had a potential big play in the first half -- a catch on a third-and-13 that could have put the Giants in field goal range late in the second quarter -- nullified by a suspect pass interference call when Cowboys corner Trevon Diggs and New York receiver Sterling Shepard collided.
For a player under the microscope in New York, the fourth-quarter drop summed up his time with Big Blue.
"It's very difficult. I'm beating myself up about it," he said. "I definitely wish I could have it back."
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday that the Giants could look to trade Golladay if the situation doesn't improve, but that would necessitate New York eating a large chunk of his contract.
The four-year, $72 million deal from former general manager Dave Gettleman signed last year has been an epic disaster for New York. In three games this season, he has two catches on five targets for 22 yards. In 2021, Golladay earned 521 yards and zero touchdowns on 37 catches in 14 games.
Monday night's performance won't raise Golladay's trade stock.
Shepard suffered a torn ACL during the game and will miss the rest of the 2022 season, head coach Brian Daboll announced Tuesday.
Shepard tallied 13 receptions for 154 yards and one touchdown in three games upon his return.
His absence could mean the Giants need Golladay in 2022.
If he gets another chance in New York, the big-money wideout can't drop it.
The good news for the Giants is that running back Saquon Barkley has rediscovered the health, and the form, that made him a great running back early in his career. The bad news for the Giants is that Barkley is pretty much all they have on offense.
They need help at receiver. Plenty of it.
Obviously, they need more (or anything) from Golladay and Toney, who in two games this year, has two receptions for zero yards. They've tried to get Cole Beasley -- and still can. He's on the Tampa Bay practice squad. If/when the Giants make him an offer he won't refuse, they can add him to the active roster.
Beyond that, there's not much more than can be done. The guys they have aren't consistently getting open, not quickly enough to keep Jones from being relentlessly harassed. Against the Cowboys, he was hurried 24 times, hit 12 times, sacked five times.
And while he's no longer holding the ball too long in the pocket, he's often waiting too long to pull the trigger once he has left it. But what else can he do if guys aren't open?
Jones completed 20 of 37 passes for 196 yards. He threw an interception on the Giants' final offensive play after intended receiver David Sills slipped to the ground. He also ran for 79 yards on nine carries, many of them unscheduled after the Cowboys chased Jones from the pocket.
Despite the loss, Daboll was impressed with his quarterback's performance.
"I think he's made steps each game," Daboll said in his postmortem. "I thought he played well yesterday. He was under some duress. He escaped. He made some loose plays. He did some things with his feet. He made some good throws. He competed his tail off. I thought all the guys competed. I thought we played hard, and we competed for 60 minutes. We just lacked on some other things that caused us to have the result that we had.
"I thought he was really good on the sideline. Again, I think he's improved every game. He's really improved every practice, and he was a good leader out there. And he competed as hard as he could compete and gave us a chance."
In three games, Jones has been sacked 13 times, trailing only Washington's Carson Wentz and Cincinnati's Joe Burrow (15 apiece).
The Giants would prefer Jones have an opportunity to play without so much pressure from the opposing team. But how he responds to it is all part of the unending assessment of the quarterback.
Whatever the case, Jones can only do so much. Barkley can only do so much.
At some point, they need others to step up. And if they can't or won't, the Giants need to look wherever they can for help.
For the record, Daboll said the Giants will try to use the players on the roster to replace Shepard.
Robinson (knee) and Toney (hamstring) both were inactive on Monday, but the coach said they are making progress and "getting closer" with their injuries. That said, neither practiced Wednesday. I'll have more on their progress via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
You can access complete stats for the Giants Week 3 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Daniel Jones, Tyrod Taylor
RBs: Saquon Barkley, Matt Breida, Gary Brightwell, Antonio Williams
WRs: Darius Slayton, Richie James, David Sills, Kenny Golladay, Marcus Johnson, Isaiah Hodgins, Sterling Shepard, Wan'Dale Robinson
TEs: Lawrence Cager, Tanner Hudson, Chris Myarick, Daniel Bellinger
New York JetsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 27 September 2022
After sitting out three games with a knee injury, quarterback Zach Wilson will return Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Head coach Robert Saleh announced on Wednesday that Wilson has been cleared by doctors to return from the surgery he had to repair the meniscus in his knee after getting hurt in the team’s preseason opener last month. This was the news that the team expected to hear and it puts Wilson in line to start against the Steelers in Week Four.
“It’s really just exciting for him to get back on the football field,” Saleh said. “It’s been six weeks. There’s a lot of different things that have to go around in terms of making sure we run an efficient offense. From us as coaches to O-line to receivers running routes, everybody’s involved. It is exciting to get him back out there, but, at the same time, it’s not all about Zach. It’s making sure we’re executing on all cylinders as we should every week.”
Wilson will be playing behind an injury-diminished offensive line, but he has a stronger set of targets than he had as a rookie and the Jets will be looking for him to make a big step forward from where he was last season.
Sunday will be the first chance to see if that’s going to happen.
There might have been a mini-controversy if backup Joe Flacco had remained hot, but that certainly wasn't the case Sunday. He threw two interceptions, lost a fumble and took four sacks in a lackluster performance by the entire offense, which failed to score a touchdown against the Bengals.
A week earlier, Flacco, 37, delivered one of the best games of his career, throwing four touchdowns to lead the Jets to a miracle comeback win against the Cleveland Browns. Now he's heading back to the bench.
"We'll see. You guys know more than I do," Flacco said. "I'm going to keep my head down and keep working, doing all I can for this team in whatever role that may be."
Wilson, who suffered a meniscus tear and bone bruise in his right knee in the preseason opener, underwent arthroscopic surgery on Aug. 16. The Jets said he'd be back for Week 4 at the earliest. Adhering to that timetable, Wilson returned to limited practice two weeks ago, beginning a gradual ramp-up that should culminate with him practicing fully on Wednesday. Before Sunday's game, Wilson was seen in the pregame warm-ups, throwing and moving well with no sleeve on his surgically repaired knee.
As ESPN.com's Rich Cimini suggested, the Jets could use a spark.
After scoring two touchdowns in the final two minutes of their Cleveland comeback, they mostly sputtered against the Bengals. The home crowd booed in the second half and chanted for Mike White, the Jets' third-stringer who was active.
Asked whether he considered an in-game change, Saleh said simply, "No."
Flacco completed 28 of 52 passes for 285 yards, giving him 155 pass attempts in three games. He has five touchdown passes, three interceptions, 901 passing yards and a meager 39.6 QBR. The Jets (1-2) played from behind in each of the first three games and failed to establish a consistent ground game, putting pressure on Flacco.
The pass protection also broke down against the Bengals. Left tackle George Fant allowed two sacks and left an aggravation to his surgically repaired knee. He was replaced by Conor McDermott, who made his 2022 debut and allowed a sack.
"Fans want to see you win football games," said Flacco, addressing the boos. "You get the frustration, but it was a two-score game. If we put one in the end zone there. ... We have more important things to worry about than listening to that stuff."
Make no mistake: From the moment last season ended, this season has been all about how Wilson progresses and develops. That was put on pause because of the knee injury, but he'll get the chance to give the Jets a better feel if he is -- or isn't -- the quarterback of the future.
As Associated Press sports writer Dennis Waszak Jr. reminded readers, Wilson was viewed as somewhat of a savior when he was drafted second overall last year. There's a bit of that feeling again with the Jets struggling to consistently be effective on offense.
Wilson could be the spark Cimini claims is necessary. But New York has a laundry list of issues -- on offense and defense -- that need to be fixed before this season flames out.
As noted above, the offensive line tops that list.
The big guys up front allowed four sacks, including two strip-sacks of Flacco, and nine pressures against Cincinnati. There were concerns coming into the season about how the line would jell after dealing with injuries and a lack of time together, and they seem to have been warranted.
The situation is also getting worse.
Left tackle George Fant was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, their third offensive tackle to land on IR since training camp.
That means, if Wilson starts, his blindside will be protected by a third-string left tackle, most likely Conor McDermott, a career backup.
Fant's surgically repaired left knee has been bothering him since training camp -- the procedure was performed in the offseason -- finally forcing him to the sideline during last Sunday's loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. He will miss at least four games.
The Jets have endured a run of rotten luck at tackle.
In August, right tackle Mekhi Becton went down in practice with a season-ending knee injury that required surgery. They responded by signing former Pro Bowl left tackle Duane Brown to a two-year, $20 million contract, moving Fant to right tackle. Brown lasted seven practices and one preseason game before a serious shoulder injury forced him to IR.
Brown, 37, is eligible to return next week, although it's hardly a guarantee he will be ready to play.
For now, it looks like McDermott and rookie Max Mitchell (three starts) at left and right tackle, respectively.
On Tuesday, the Jets added reinforcements, signing former Cincinnati Bengals first-round pick Cedric Ogbuehi from the Houston Texans' practice squad. He was added to the Jets' 53-man roster, meaning he might be their top backup on Sunday. Ogbuehi has 30 career starts, but only five over the last four seasons. He has been released by three different teams.
They also signed veteran tackle Mike Remmers to the practice squad. He has 90 career starts, including two last season for the Kansas City Chiefs. He wasn't with a team in the preseason.
This may not bode well for Wilson.
"You're down to your fourth and fifth guys," Saleh said of the tackle situation. "At this point in the season, you don't anticipate that. ... At the end of the day, no one cares. You have to line up, you have to play football, you have to protect the quarterback. ...
So what's going well?
After a shaky start to his stint with the Jets, "Greg the Leg" has been reliable -- and from long distance. He missed a 45-yard field goal and an extra point in the opener, but is 6 for 6 on field-goal attempts since and made all four of his extra points. He accounted for all of New York's scoring against Cincinnati with four field goals Sunday.
Zuerlein is also 3 for 3 from 50 yards or greater, becoming the first Jets kicker to have multiple makes from that distance in the first three games.
Also. ... Garrett Wilson caught 6-of-10 targets for 60 yards against the Bengals. Elijah Moore caught 4-of-10 targets for 49 yards and Corey Davis caught 2-of-5 targets for 27 yards. Tight end Tyler Conklin caught 8-of-8 targets for 84 yards.
Wilson was again the focal point of the Jets' passing game as expected. His stat line probably would've been better had he not left the game briefly after taking a shot to the ribs. Wilson will continue to be the top WR play in a Jets' offense that will always be fighting to come from behind.
Breece Hall rushed eight times for 39 yards, adding six receptions for an additional 53 yards.
As NBCSsportsEdge.com notes, with the Jets in a negative game script and Flacco passing 52 times, there was sure to be some targets going around. Hall benefitted and was able to gain 92 total yards. Hall ran well on his limited number of carries. While it's still a committee with him and Michael Carter, Hall showed that he is indeed a back with dual-threat skills.
In fact, FantasyLife.com’s Dwain McFarland takes that a bit further. Based on Pro Football Focus' utilization data (snaps 54 percent, attempts 40 percent, routes 53 percent, targets 24 percent and targets per route 37 percent), Hall has moved into a slight lead over Carter. ...
Again, I'll follow up on the both Wilsons, Zach for general progress and Garrett if the ribs are an issue, as needed via Late-Breaking Update as Sunday's game draws nearer.
Normally, the fourth game of the season is way too early to be considered a must win, especially when it's at Pittsburgh. But the Jets are facing a very beatable Steelers team and could get back to .500 before facing what now appears a brutal stretch on the schedule before their bye: home vs. Miami, at Green Bay and Denver, and home vs. New England and Buffalo.
You can access complete stats for the Jets Week 3 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Mike White, Joe Flacco, Zach Wilson
RBs: Michael Carter, James Robinson, Ty Johnson, Breece Hall
WRs: Garrett Wilson, Elijah Moore, Corey Davis, Denzel Mims, Braxton Berrios, Jeff Smith
TEs: Tyler Conklin, C.J. Uzomah, Jeremy Ruckert, Kenny Yeboah
Philadelphia EaglesCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 27 September 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Dan Gelston reported, Jalen Hurts bounded off Washington's field and waved his arms while the Eagles fans who turned the stadium into a South Philly pep rally chanted "MVP! MVP!"
Too soon? No way.
Through three games, three wins and a sharp rise in Philadelphia's most popular athlete rankings, Hurts' performance has soared to MVP standards and has fans already predicting the NFC East will be won in a walkover.
But Hurts and the Eagles have barely scratched the surface of what a healthy team can achieve. Hurts was 22 of 35 for 340 yards and three touchdown passes, one each to DeVonta Smith, A.J. Brown and Dallas Goedert in Sunday's 24-8 win over the Washington Commanders.
"I think we have yet to play our best ball," Hurts said.
Meanwhile, Smith had a simple mentality when Hurts threw him the ball in coverage.
"My ball or nobody's," he said.
Smith made sure of that, catching eight passes for a career-high 169 yards and the above-mentioned touchdown. Teammates put a Batman cape on Smith, who surpassed his previous professional high for yards receiving before halftime of another superhero performance for the unbeaten Birds.
"By the eyes he might be a little slight, but he plays like a big boy," said Hurts. "He's a guy when his number's called, I know he'll answer the phone."
Hurts dialed up the bat phone plenty for Smith, who made acrobatic catches along the sideline and to the edge of the end zone for respective gains of 45 and 44 yards, and hauled in a TD pass on fourth down to end the first half with no time left on the clock. The 2020 Heisman Trophy winner out of Alabama has responded in a big way since being held without a catch in the season opener.
"You've got to make the most of your opportunities," said Smith, whose 156 yards were the most by an Eagles player in a half since Kevin Curtis in 2007. "When they come, you've got to make the most of them."
Coming off a three-TD game with two on the ground, Hurts continued to show he could get the job done with his throwing arm, along with his legs.
"He played his butt off again," head coach Nick Sirianni said. "What was great there is that they were taking away some of the things in the run game. To be able to go out there and say, 'OK, you're doing a good job on the run, let's go pass the football,' Jalen did a great job and we had great playmakers make plays."
So what's not working?
Nothing is not working. It's all good. The offense. The defense. The Eagles are 3-0 for the 10th time in franchise history and won their first two road games for the first time since 2010.
"We see 3-0 teams, 5-0 teams, start hot all the time, but it's just about going back to work because this game will humble you very quickly if you get too high on it," Sirianni said
One possible issue?
The Eagles scored all 24 points in the first half against Minnesota and all 24 in the first half against Washington. The second-half shutouts might not be a big deal in a romp but can certainly come back to bite them when the games get tight.
In addition, the Eagles did have only 72 yards rushing and haven't had a 100-yard rusher yet.
Next up, the reunion tour continues. The Eagles head home to play the Jacksonville Jaguars, led by coach Doug Pederson.
Pederson, of course, was the first Eagles coach to ever win the Super Bowl, knocking off the New England Patriots after the 2017 season. Pederson was 42-37-1 in five seasons. He guided the Eagles to two division championships and three playoff appearances before going 4-11-1 in 2020. Pederson was fired with two years remaining on his contract.
Pederson was a starting quarterback in Philadelphia in 1999 and later served as an assistant coach under Andy Reid with the Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs. The Eagles hired him in January 2016 after abruptly firing Chip Kelly a month earlier. ...
On the injury front. ... The Eagles suffered minor injuries -- cornerback Darius Slay briefly left with cramps and Goedert shook off a shin injury to catch three passes and a touchdown -- but nothing that should hamper them against Jacksonville. I'll follow up on Goedert as needed via Late-Breaking Update. ...
Also of interest. ... Miles Sanders continues to see around half of the Eagles' rushing attempts (56 percent) but leaves the field on passing downs.
According to FantasyLife.com's Dwain McFarland, Kenneth Gainwell played 77 percent of long-down-distance snaps and split two-minute offense with Boston Scott (56 percent, 44 percent respectively).
McFarland added: "Sanders is a TD-dependent RB3. ..."
One last item here. ... Asked if Hurts can support two weekly fantasy locks at the WR position, ESPN.com's Tim McManus suggested "locks" is a little strong.
That's especially true when we look back to Week 1 and see Smith had zero catches on four targets. Brown is being targeted on 33.3 percent of his routes, the 10th highest rate in the NFL, compared to 23.9 percent for Smith, which ranks 65th. It's probably best to expect a steady level of production from Brown and more variance in Smith's output week-to-week, with his ceiling clearly superhero high.
Smith and Brown combined for 64 percent of the Eagles' targets and 88 percent of the air yards in this one. Philadelphia dropped back to pass on 61 percent of plays....
You can access complete stats for the Eagles Week 3 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Jalen Hurts, Gardner Minshew, Ian Book
RBs: Miles Sanders, Kenneth Gainwell, Boston Scott, Jason Huntley, Kennedy Brooks
WRs: A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins, Zach Pascal, Britain Covey
TEs: Jack Stoll, Grant Calcaterra, Dallas Goedert
Pittsburgh SteelersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 27 September 2022
As NFL.com's Michael Baca noted, questions surrounding the Steelers' quarterback situation will come as frequently as the losses do in Pittsburgh during the 2022 season, but you can expect head coach Mike Tomlin to remain consistent on the matter in the immediate aftermath of defeat.
Tomlin gave a clear-cut answer when asked if he will re-evaluate Mitchell Trubisky's status as team's starting QB following last Thursday night's 29-17 loss to the division-rival Cleveland Browns. His resolve was reminiscent of that during the Steelers' QB competition this past summer.
"I'm not in that mindset," Tomlin said postgame. "I'm interested in reviewing his tape and looking at the totality of it and figuring how we collectively get better.
"So, the answer to that question is definitively no."
Forgoing any knee-jerk reactions has been a consistent approach from Tomlin since the preseason. However, with rookie Kenny Pickett waiting in the wings and Pittsburgh fans letting Trubisky hear it in last week's home-opening loss, the storyline is seemingly on the brink of turning a page.
Trubisky's night wasn't all that bad on paper, especially in the first half. The Steelers went into halftime with a 14-13 lead thanks to Trubisky's mistake-free start as he went 9-of-13 passing for 109 yards and scored one of Pittsburgh's two touchdowns on a 1-yard run.
Offensive coordinator Matt Canada set Trubisky up for success with crafty play-calling that played into his QB's strengths, but a well-adjusted Browns defense was ready for it in the second half, where the Steelers punted on four of five drives and mustered just three points in the defeat.
"I feel like I'm in a good rhythm with my routine," said Trubisky, who finished 20 of 32 for 207 yards passing. "Felt good tonight -- just got to be better in the second half."
According to Next Gen Stats, 78.1 percent of Trubisky's attempts were thrown outside the numbers and he was 9 of 12 for 129 yards on intermediate passes. Trubisky completed just 1 of 6 deep passes for 36 yards, and the lone connection was due in large part to George Pickens' amazing catch.
Once the Browns took away the sidelines and forced Trubisky to throw down the middle, the Steelers offense stagnated and made life easy for a Browns defense that blew a late lead last Sunday. At the end of the night, Pittsburgh had 308 yards of total offense and converted just 1 of 11 third downs.
Perhaps Tomlin will have a better idea after reviewing the tape, but the respected Steelers coach could be facing his first losing record in 16 seasons if he doesn't find a solution to the struggling Steelers offense quickly.
"I thought he made some plays but we all collectively came up short, and so that's how we measure performance -- winning is our business and we didn't handle business," Tomlin said. "So we don't break that apart and look for the feel-good."
Also possible, Trubisky comes up big against the struggling New York Jets this Sunday and all the questions go by the wayside. ... At least for another week.
Tomlin reiterated at his Tuesday press conference that he has seen improvement from the quarterback in "all areas" over the first three weeks of the season.
More generally, Tomlin said that the offense has been better with each outing and that "there's reason to think that improvement will continue" in Week 4 and beyond.
The Steelers have the Bills, Bucs, Dolphins, and Eagles on the schedule after the Jets, so that offensive improvement may need to come even faster if they're going to remain in the playoff hunt come the second half of the season. ...
Other notes of interest. ... According to Associated Press sports writer Will Graves, the offensive line generated a little push in the running game, with the Steelers going over 100 yards for the first time this season. Rookie undrafted free agent Jaylen Warren looks like nice compliment to starter Najee Harris.
Warren ran for 30 yards and had 32-yard reception wiped out by a penalty that had nothing to do with the execution of the play.
Pickens showed flashes of the brilliance he displayed regularly during training camp, making the above-mentioned improbable one-handed 36-yard reception in the first half that set up a Harris touchdown.
On the injury front. ... Tomlin said S Minkah Fitzpatrick is in the concussion protocol.
It's unclear when Fitzpatrick suffered the injury; he played every defensive snap of Thursday night's game against the Browns.
Fitzpatrick will have to get cleared by the league's process, which includes an independent medical exam, before he can play on Sunday against the Jets.
Tomlin also said cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon has a hamstring injury that could limit him this week, guard Kevin Dotson has an ankle injury and punter Pressley Harvin has a hip injury.
You can access complete stats for the Steelers Week 3 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Kenny Pickett, Mitchell Trubisky, Mason Rudolph
RBs: Najee Harris, Jaylen Warren, Benny Snell
WRs: George Pickens, Diontae Johnson, Miles Boykin, Steven Sims, Gunner Olszewski
TEs: Pat Freiermuth, Zach Gentry, Connor Heyward
San Francisco 49ersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 27 September 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Josh Dubow recounted, seven punts, three turnovers and an inexplicable play when Jimmy Garoppolo stepped out of bounds in the end zone for a safety summed up the night for the San Francisco 49ers offense.
Now they have to go forward for the next few weeks without perhaps their best offensive player.
All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams suffered a high ankle sprain during San Francisco's 11-10 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday night and will miss at least a few weeks.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan said Monday that the injuries typically take four to six weeks to heel, but didn't rule out an earlier return for Williams.
The Niners did very little offensively when Williams was in the game and even less after he left. The final five drives without Williams produced four first downs, two punts and two turnovers. The only score came on a field goal on a drive that started on the Denver 41.
"It felt and looked exactly what I thought," Shanahan said Monday. "The first half was similar to what I thought. I thought we missed some (opportunities). I thought we should have had a lot more points than what our production showed, but the second half was exactly how it felt out there. There wasn't one position, there wasn't one thing in particular, everyone had their part."
The Niners went 1 for 10 on third downs, got two long runs from Jeff Wilson Jr. but nothing else on the ground and a shaky performance by Garoppolo in his first start of the season.
He missed chances for big plays in the first half and failed to do much of anything in the second half with his safety the biggest mistake.
"I just felt that we were not in rhythm," Garoppolo said. "We started off pretty good. I felt like we were in a rhythm early, but then we just got away from it. Things did not go our way."
Fortunately, the one consistent aspect for the Niners this season has been the defense, which has held all three opponents to fewer than 20 points this season. San Francisco forced nine three-and-outs -- the most in a game for any team since 2014 -- and allowed only 3.7 yards per play.
But fantasy managers are looking for more from Garoppolo and the offense.
After a promising relief appearance in Week 2 after starter Trey Lance got hurt, Garoppolo showed the flaws that led the Niners to trade three first-round picks to draft Lance in 2021. He went 18 for 29 for 211 yards, but missed on some chances at big plays, turned the ball over twice and had the safety.
Next up, the 49ers host the Rams on Monday night in a rematch of last season's NFC title game won by Los Angeles. San Francisco has won the past six regular-season matchups.
Other notes of interest. ... As 49ersWebZone.com's David Bonilla noted, George Kittle caught just four passes for 28 yards during his 2022 season debut on Sunday night against the Denver Broncos. The San Francisco 49ers tight end is returning from a groin injury that forced him to miss Weeks 1 and 2. He wasn't much of a factor in the 11-10 loss to Denver, though.
Shanahan spoke with reporters via a Monday conference call and asked if Kittle is still working his way back into game shape.
"Yeah, definitely," Shanahan responded. "You can't underestimate how much, when guys miss time, how hard it is to go out and play a game like that. So yeah, George, he did some good things, but he's not there yet because he hasn't been playing much. It was nice to get him back in practice more last week. It was nice to get him through the game healthy. And if we can keep that trend, I know he'll keep getting back to himself."
Another reduced factor in Sunday's game was Deebo Samuel.
Yes, he caught five passes for 73 yards, but the receiver made a name for himself last year playing the "wide back" role, carrying the football. The Broncos defense held Samuel to six rushing yards on five carries.
"We're not surprising anybody, that's for sure," Shanahan explained. "Everyone knows how committed all 11 guys got to be when Deebo's back there because they know what he can do. That always makes it harder when you can't surprise the league because everybody knows how good he is.
"But I do think there's a few opportunities. He still got his numbers to a degree. He didn't get them last night, but I still believe, on a number of those plays, if we can execute the blocks just a little bit better, I think Deebo's got a good chance to get a big one.
"That's why you get those opportunities because he's the best guy on our team that has the chance to get the big one. We've just got to get him back there when we've got a better look for him. ..."
Wilson carried the ball 12 times for 75 yards, adding three catches for 31 additional yards on three targets.
Wilson fumbled on San Francisco's final drive of the game, but his 37-yard carry in the first quarter set up the lone 49ers touchdown of the game, and he had an 18-yard carry that got the 49ers into Denver territory before a Garoppolo sack quickly ended the drive.
As NBCSportsEdge.com suggested, while he's still a good back, San Francisco's offensive line situation is starting to look dire and that could ratchet down his fantasy value. ...
In addition to Williams, LB Azeez Al-Shaair (knee) is expected to miss about eight weeks. TE Ross Dwelley (ribs) is day to day. OL Daniel Brunskill (hamstring) could return to practice this week for the first time since getting hurt in the exhibition opener.
You can access complete stats for the 49ers Week 3 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Jimmy Garoppolo, Brock Purdy, Trey Lance
RBs: Christian McCaffrey, Elijah Mitchell, Kyle Juszczyk, Jordan Mason, Tyrion Davis-Price
WRs: Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings, Danny Gray, Ray-Ray McCloud, Malik Turner
TEs: George Kittle, Ross Dwelley, Charlie Woerner, Tyler Kroft
Seattle SeahawksCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 27 September 2022
In the aftermath of a narrow loss, another debatable decision from head coach Pete Carroll quickly became a focal point.
Seattle played it safe and likely paid the price.
As ESPN.com's Brady Henderson recounted it, With the game tied 20-20 late in the third quarter Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks kept their offense on the field on fourth-and-2, intent on going for it from the Atlanta Falcons' 7-yard line. But then they didn't.
Head coach Pete Carroll saw something he didn't like, called a timeout and decided to kick a chip-shot field goal instead. The resulting 23-20 lead quickly vanished, giving way to a disappointing 27-23 loss at Lumen Field.
"They were a little out of whack on the field because of what happened on the play before," Carroll said about his change of heart. "I'll leave it at that."
With Carroll declining to go into detail other than to say his offense wasn't ready on fourth down -- a comment quarterback Geno Smith later backed up -- what's left unanswered is why he didn't send them back onto the field after the timeout. They had been in no-huddle mode on that drive and perhaps felt that the advantage they had in going for it was eliminated once the stoppage allowed Atlanta's defense to catch its breath and change personnel.
Either way, a three-point lead didn't seem like enough given how badly Seattle's defense was getting gashed, and it wasn't. On the ensuing possession, the Falcons drove 75 yards for the go-ahead touchdown and a four-point lead that they held onto when Smith and Seattle's resurgent offense botched a final opportunity for the winning touchdown.
All of which is to say that there were plenty of reasons the Seahawks fell to 1-2 on Sunday.
But whether right or wrong, Carroll's decision to kick a field goal on fourth-and-2 put a lot of faith in a defense that hasn't earned it. Certainly not last week in a 27-7 loss to the San Francisco 49ers and not on Sunday, when, by that point, the Falcons had scored on four of five possessions (excluding one that began with five seconds left in the first half).
"We stunk it up on defense," said safety Quandre Diggs, Seattle's defensive co-captain.
Henderson went on to note another egg laid by the Seahawks' defense wasted what was mostly a nice bounce-back for an offense that had gone its previous six quarters without scoring, dating to halftime of the season-opening win against the Denver Broncos.
Smith and Co. snapped that streak right away, driving for a field goal on the opening possession and scoring on four of their five first-half drives.
One of the issues during their scoring drought was the absence of a deep passing game. Smith entered Week 3 with the league's best completion percentage by a wide margin and the 10th-best Total QBR but an average of only 5.22 air yards per attempt, which ranked 32nd among qualifying quarterbacks.
Smith wasn't airing it out Russell Wilson-style Sunday but found some success beyond short and intermediate throws. Two came early via a 36-yard completion to Colby Parkinson that set up an 18-yard touchdown to fellow tight end Will Dissly. Later in the first half, Smith hit receiver Marquise Goodwin for 23 yards on another fourth-and-2 play, then hit a leaping DK Metcalf in the end zone on the next play for an 18-yard score.
"We were in a really good groove, running the football, spreading the ball out," Dissly said of an offense that gained 420 yards. "You have to give credit to the O-Line for getting s--- done early. And then Geno was hitting his spots. He played a really good game and guys responded."
Smith finished 32-of-44 with two touchdown passes and his late interception. His 325 passing yards were the third-most of his career and his most since 2014. The Seahawks went 9 of 17 on third down and got more than 100 yards on the ground from the trio of Rashaad Penny, Kenneth Walker III and DeeJay Dallas.
"We did all kinds of things today in the passing game," Carroll said. "I thought it was really, really well-orchestrated. We threw for over 300, big completion percentage and a really good conversion rate. That was a really good look at us on third down today and coming through. Geno had to run one as well, but he did his stuff and the receivers came through. That's something we can really continue to build on."
Smith is completing 77 percent of his passes and Sunday was the first time he was below 80 percent. The Seahawks were more aggressive pushing the ball downfield against the Falcons and found success. He's distributing his passes across the board, whether it's running backs, tight ends or wide receivers. Ten Seahawks caught a pass against the Falcons.
As Associated Press sports writer Tim Booth put it, "Quarterback is not the issue for Seattle right now."
The next step for Smith and Seattle's offense: finishing off a close victory. They couldn't do it in three tries last season while Smith was filling in for Wilson nor could they Sunday, even when a gift of a turnover -- a Falcons fumble on a botched exchange -- gave them the ball back at their 37 with over five minutes left.
Smith was in position to deliver his signature win when he drove Seattle to the Atlanta 24. Then came a false start penalty on left guard Damien Lewis, a 10-yard sack that Smith shouldn't have taken and an interception on fourth-and-18.
"I think we saw some real bright spots," Carroll said. "I thought you saw us get better today, but it wasn't good enough for winning. That's what really counts."
Next up, Seattle begins a two-game road trip next Sunday at Detroit. It's the start of a brutal stretch during which the Seahawks have just two games at home between now and Nov. 28.
Other notes of interest. ... Penny played 49 of the Seahawks' 71 offensive snaps against Atlanta. That was more than three times as many as Seattle's next tailback, Dallas at 15. Walker was again third in the backfield rotation, playing only nine snaps. Travis Homer played two snaps before leaving with a rib injury.
D'Wayne Eskridge's 12 snaps were one more than he played over the first two games combined. He was again fourth among receivers behind Metcalf, Lockett and Goodwin. ...
Carroll said the plan was to get his trio of tight ends more involved and the Seahawks succeeded. Dissly, Noah Fant and Parkinson combined for nine receptions for 105 yards, including Dissly's 18-yard TD in the first half.
Not only was the trio strong in the passing game, but Seattle had some of its best success running the ball against the Falcons with multiple tight ends on the field. It should be a look the Seahawks use more moving forward.
"We have a really good group and those guys are going to continue to be involved," Smith said. "I think they help our offense not only stay balanced, but also be dynamic."
On the injury front. ... The team announced on Wednesday that Homer has been placed on injured reserve. He'll miss at least four games after going on the list.
Penny, Walker and Dallas remain on the active roster at running back. Darwin Thompson was already on the practice squad and the Seahawks announced Wednesday that they have signed former Lion Godwin Igwebuike to the practice squad as well.
Another question for Seattle was the decision to have cornerbacks Artie Burns and Sidney Jones inactive despite neither having an injury designation. Carroll said Jones is still in the competition at cornerback and being inactive was more due to special teams needs.
Seattle wanted to give Burns one more week after being out due to a groin injury.
You can access complete stats for the Seahawks Week 3 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Geno Smith, Drew Lock
RBs: Kenneth Walker III, DeeJay Dallas, Travis Homer, Tony Jones Jr.
WRs: Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, Marquise Goodwin, D'Wayne Eskridge, Penny Hart, Dareke Young
TEs: Noah Fant, Will Dissly, Colby Parkinson
Tampa Bay BuccaneersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 27 September 2022
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will practice in Miami this week due to the threat of Hurricane Ian.
Per usual, Tom Brady won't allow the Bucs to use the jostled schedule as a reason to be ill-prepared to take on Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday night.
"Great opponent, well-coached, great quarterback, explosive offense, great D-coordinator, a lot of talented players on defense," Brady said Monday on SiriusXM's "Let's Go!" podcast. "They lost a tough one on the road (to the Colts), so they'll be hungry. They'll kind of have a normal week of prep. And, look, I think when you are dealing with some of the things that we're gonna have to deal with this week, there's built-in excuses that should never be excuses for anything.
"We gotta approach the week with the championship attitude that no matter what we face and no matter who plays, we're gonna have to go out there and find a way to win the game. So it's not gonna be easy. It's a huge test. We're playing at home. It's a night game and it's gonna be a challenge. And that's what we should want and that's what we should expect from one of the best teams in the league that we're gonna face. So we gotta be at our best. Hopefully, we can be that. And to get to 3-1 would be a great feeling after yesterday's tough loss."
The Bucs will use the Dolphins' facilities in Miami due to the latter's Thursday game against the Bengals in Cincinnati, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Monday.
Currently, Sunday's prime-time game between the Bucs and Chiefs in Tampa remains on track to be played as scheduled. But that could change in the coming days as the league monitors the situation.
"The plan is, and things are kind of, you know, trying to adjust on the fly and preparations for an NFL game are pretty intense," Brady said of the Bucs moving to Miami for practices. "This is a little different for me. I've never had to deal with anything like this. We had COVID for a couple years and now with this seems like a pretty intense hurricane coming our way.
"I don't think Tampa's probably, I don't think any place is very well suited for a hurricane to hit, but everyone in this area will be in our thoughts and prayers as we go through it.
"I know our team is going to have to adjust, go to Miami and practice there for the week, and then hopefully we can come back later in the week and play against the Chiefs Sunday night. So a lot of things can happen in a short period of time, and I think it's suited for all of us to stay adaptable to the situation."
Meanwhile, back on the field of play. ... Injuries have been a factor, but there's more to Tampa Bay's scoring woes than a young offensive line and the absence of Brady's top receivers.
"I'm not going to sit here and blame it on the rookies," head coach Todd Bowles said Monday, reflecting on the Buccaneers (2-1) being limited to three offensive touchdowns through three games after averaging 29.9 points per game last season.
With a second-year pro playing center and a rookie filling in at left guard after two starting linemen went down during training camp, Brady has struggled to get the offense going in victories over Dallas and New Orleans, as well as during a 14-12 loss to the Green Bay Packers.
It hasn't helped that leading receiver Mike Evans sat out against the Packers while serving a one-game suspension or that two of Brady's other primary targets -- Chris Godwin and Julio Jones -- missed the past two weeks because of injuries.
Bowles reiterated that center Robert Hainsey, guard Luke Goedeke and third string left tackle Brandon Walton, another inexperienced player thrust into the lineup because starter Donovan Smith and backup Josh Wells are injured, were not the reason the Bucs didn't get into the end zone until just 14 seconds remained against Green Bay.
"They're playing good football. They're making a few mistakes, but they're not the blame for everything that's going on offense," Bowles said. "It's the offense as a total. We've got to get better running our plays and executing overall -- young guys and older guys, coaches, everybody."
The Bucs lost two fumbles, were 2 for 11 on third-down conversions and rushed for only 34 yards on 14 attempts on Sunday.
Brady completed 31 of a season-high 42 passes for 271 yards, relying on Russell Gage, Breshad Perriman, Scotty Miller, Jaelon Darden and newly signed Cole Beasley to take up the slack for the absence of Evans, Godwin and Jones at receiver.
Gage's 1-yard TD reception trimmed Green Bay's lead to 14-12 before Brady's bid to force overtime with a 2-point conversion was thwarted -- in part -- by a delay of game penalty that was the final miscue on a mistake-filled day.
"We've got to get the ball off. We've got to be cognizant of that as a unit," Bowles said. "We've played enough ball to where we know we've got to get the ball snapped."
The penalty backed the ball up to the 7-yard line, increasing the difficulty of making a 2-point conversion. Brady's pass intended for Gage was tipped by Packers linebacker De'Vondre Campbell before falling incomplete.
"We didn't play well enough. There wasn't one thing," Bowles said, summing up the loss.
"We didn't play well enough. We didn't score enough points. We let them get out to a fast start. You can name a number of things that could have went right that didn't go right," Bowles added. "We didn't play like we played the last two games. We had more mistakes than we had the previous two."
But the absence of Evans and Godwin shouldn't be understated.
"Let's put it this way," ESPN.com's Jenna Laine wrote. "Evans and Godwin had the most third-down conversions from Brady entering this week since Brady joined the Bucs, with Evans having registered 35 and Godwin 27. The next closest player is tight end Cameron Brate with 10. Leonard Fournette and Miller had five each, with Perriman having three."
They'll get Evans back this week, and Beasley made a couple of tough catches in his first game as a Buc. And Donovan Smith attempted to practice on Thursday, so there's hope.
Bowles said there's a chance Jones (knee) will be able to play this week against Kansas City. He sounded less certain about Godwin (hamstring) and Smith (elbow), saying their progress will monitored in practice.
I'll be following up on Evans, Godwin and Jones via Late-Breaking Update as the week progresses. ...
In a related note. ... Also on last Monday’s Let's Go! podcast, Brady disclosed that he has a finger injury. His team didn't disclose the injury until the Friday report.
This week the podcast, Jim Gray asked Brady how the finger is doing, and whether it affected his performance against the Packers.
"No, it didn't affect it at all," Brady said. "It's doing a lot better than last week. I mean, it was a pretty good swollen finger, but it's just part of the game, and I think there's a lot of bumps and bruises for guys across the league. If it was my left finger it would be totally insignificant.
"It was my right finger, so just deal with it a little bit. But in the end it really did nothing. I practiced all week. I took every rep in practice and didn't bother me at all in the game."
As Profootballtalk.com suggested, a fingers that touch the football go for a quarterback, the ring finger is basically a bystander. As evidenced by the fact that he was able to throw the ball without any problems, despite the finger being swollen. ...
Also of interest. ... Gage scored 26 fantasy points and posted a dominant 33 percent target share with Evans, Godwin and Jones out. FantasyLife.com's Dwain McFarland reminded his Twitter followers Gage has been battling a hamstring injury early in the season. He showed promise last two seasons in Atlanta -- especially versus man coverage. He might be ready to pick up the pace even when the others return. ...
The Bucs rushed for 34 yards, with Fournette gaining 35 on 12 attempts, against the Packers. Backup RBs Rachaad White and Ke'Shawn Vaughn did not play any snaps on offense, which Bowles said has to change.
"We've got to play the other two more," the coach said. "When Lenny gets in a flow, we've still got to play the other two more. ..."
Still, expecting the other two to play significant roles seems like a reach.
As McFarland put it: "Fournette doesn't leave the field -- like ever.
"We just need the old Buccaneers offense back. When that happens, Fournette is going to explode. ..."
Finally. ... With Hurricane Ian due to make landfall in Western Florida shortly, the NFL has not yet moved Sunday’s matchup between the Chiefs and Buccaneers.
But if the game is relocated, we now know where it will be played.
NFL executive vice president Jeff Miller told reporters on Wednesday that the game would be played at U.S. Bank Stadium, home of the Vikings.
Minnesota is playing the Saints in London on Sunday, which makes the venue available.
But Miller noted, via Albert Breer of SI.com, that “until we know more about the storm, it’s gonna be difficult to make that decision.”
The NFL may take up to Friday to determine where Sunday’s game between Kansas City and Tampa Bay will be located.
You can access complete stats for the Buccaneers Week 3 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Tom Brady, Blaine Gabbert, Kyle Trask
RBs: Leonard Fournette, Rachaad White, Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Giovani Bernard
WRs: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Julio Jones, Russell Gage, Breshad Perriman, Scott Miller, Jaelon Darden, Kaylon Geiger
TEs: Cade Otton, Cameron Brate, Ko Kieft, Kyle Rudolph
Tennessee TitansCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 27 September 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Teresa M. Walker set it up: "The Tennessee Titans finally made a stand on their home field and got the ball to Derrick Henry along with the rest of their new playmakers to notch their first victory of the season.
"Now the road literally gets tougher. ..."
The two-time defending AFC South champs now face the toughest part of their schedule with four of the next five games on the road starting Sunday with a trip to division rival Indianapolis.
Luckily, their bye comes during this upcoming stretch after a much-needed first victory of the season after holding off the Raiders 24-22.
Henry, tapped the cliche of "one game at a time."
"That's all you can do. ... And be ready for each opponent," Henry said. "It is just about getting better in all three phases, so we have to take it one game at a time."
The Titans (1-2) have plenty to work on.
Sure, they scored on their first three possessions against Las Vegas and squeezed in a field goal just as the first half expired. They needed every bit of that 24-10 halftime lead.
They were outgained 266-86 in the second half and got nothing from five possessions, including one that ended in a turnover on downs, two punts and then finally a kneel down for the victory.
"We came out and we played with an attitude, played with an edge and found a way to win at the end of the day," quarterback Ryan Tannehill said.
Indeed, the Titans had opened their first two games driving for touchdowns only to bog down with just 13 points combined on 20 other drives.
Against the Raiders, they scored touchdowns on their first three possessions -- all at least 75 yards or more.
The Titans also got a 48-yard field goal from Randy Bullock that provided the winning edge. The field goal came from almost the same spot where Bullock missed a 47-yarder wide left in a season-opening loss to the Giants.
According to Jim Wyatt of the team's official website, Henry has had bigger games, with more highlight-reel plays. But on Sunday, the Titans running back looked like a man on a mission.
Henry ran hard en route to piling up 85 rushing yards and touchdown on 20 carries, including a long run of 24 yards. Henry also caught five passes for 58 yards, including a 23-yard grab. Henry had some tough runs, and he was a battering ram.
According to ESPN.com's Turron Davenport, Henry ran with a different sense of urgency and separation that allowed him to finish runs with a little more oomph.
Tennessee's success on the ground helped set up the play-action passing game.
Tannehill's longest completion came off play action, when he delivered a perfectly placed pass to Robert Woods for 41 yards to set up the Titans' second touchdown. Tannehill's sole touchdown pass also came off of play action when he hit Geoff Swaim for an easy 2-yard score on Tennessee's first drive.
Henry also benefited from play action on three of his five receptions, which was one short of his single-game career high.
It was good to see for an offense that will need him each and every Sunday.
"I'm happy that I was able to contribute to a great team win," said Henry, who now has 192 yards and two scores in three games. "I was just trying to run hard, finish strong, get north and south and break tackles, and do what I can to help up move forward."
Worth noting. ... Henry joined exclusive company as only the third player for this franchise to score at least 70 TDs. He now trails Eddie George (74) and Pro Football Hall of Famer Earl Campbell (73).
Also of interest. ... Woods, acquired this offseason in a trade with the Rams, was quiet in the first two weeks of the season, in large part because of limited opportunities. But Woods was a big factor on Sunday as he made four catches for a team-high 85 yards, including the afore-mentioned 41-yard catch.
Woods also returned a punt for 21 yards, part of his biggest game to date for the Titans.
"Just trying to start fast, being able to be a part of this offense," Woods said. "(Being) able to impact other than blocking and being involved in the pass game. Keep the chains going. Able to bring some energy, when I do get the ball. Fire up our guys and try to just lead by example, lead with the ball in my hands and really just play fast. We've got a lot of weapons. We want everybody to strike and play fast."
When all was said and done, rookie Treylon Burks had two targets compared to six for Henry and nine for Woods.
Should we remain patient on the rookie or are we looking at an unreliable fantasy asset for the rest of this season?
"Remain patient," Davenport wrote in response to that question.
Davenport went on to explain that Burks is continuing to find an increasing role in the Titans game plan. The targets will continue to come his way. Offensive coordinator Todd Downing wants to get him more opportunities with the ball in his hands to take advantage of his yards after the catch ability.
Downing said Burks has been growing every week and generating confidence with the coaching staff because of how he's taken advantage of the opportunities that have come his way. The play-action pass across the middle that used to result in touchdowns for A.J. Brown are now earmarked for Burks.
Tannehill called Burks a big, strong, physical receiver with great hands and good body control.
Hopefully our patience will eventually pay off. ...
On the injury front. ... Austin Hooper (neck) did not practice Wednesday; I'll have more on his status via Late-Breaking Update in coming days.
In addition, linebacker Zach Cunningham hurt a knee in practice last Thursday, then went to the locker room with an injured elbow. Starting CB Kristian Fulton went down in the end zone defending a receiver late in the game.
And finally. ... The Titans added some depth to their offensive line on Tuesday. The team announced that they signed Le'Raven Clark off of the Eagles' practice squad to their active roster.
Clark was a 2016 third-round pick of the Colts and he appeared in 47 games for them through the 2020 season. He played in four games for the Colts last season and has made 16 starts at guard and tackle over his entire career.
The move comes after the Titans placed left tackle Taylor Lewan on injured reserve last week. Dennis Daley started in his place in Sunday's win over the Raiders and third-round pick Nicholas Petit-Frere started on the right side of the line.
The Titans also announced that veteran linebacker Joe Schobert signed to the practice squad.
You can access complete stats for the Titans Week 3 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Ryan Tannehill, Malik Willis
RBs: Derrick Henry, Dontrell Hilliard, Hassan Haskins, Julius Chestnut, Trenton Cannon
WRs: Robert Woods, Treylon Burks, Nick Westbrook_Ikhine, Cody Hollister, Chris Conley, Kyle Philips
TEs: Austin Hooper, Chigoziem Okonkwo, Geoff Swaim, Kevin Rader
Washington CommandersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 27 September 2022
As Associated Press sports writer Stephen Whyno put it, "Carson Wentz is not channeling his inner Chicken Little after the Washington Commanders fell to 1-2 on the season. ..."
"We've got to fix some things," Wentz said. "I don't think it's anything major. I don't think it's anything like 'Oh boy, the sky is falling.'"
In the aftermath of 24-8 home loss to Philadelphia and with another key NFC East game at Dallas coming up Sunday, head coach Ron Rivera echoed those sentiments -- while adding he's not in the business of calling out players for the mistakes they know they're making.
"The guys that need to play better got to play better," Rivera said Monday. "There's some things that we have to fix, and that's the truth of the matter. We have to play better. When we're in opportunities and situations to make something happen, we've got to do those things."
One of those things is keeping Wentz upright; the Eagles sacked him nine times while racking up a total of 17 quarterback hits.
Wentz finished the contest 25-of-43 passing for 211 yards with no touchdowns, no picks, and two fumbles -- one of which was lost. He looked generally uncomfortable and often had to run out of the pocket, tallying 22 rushing yards. Some of that could be blamed on protection breakdowns, though Rivera agreed after watching game film that Wentz made a few mistakes by holding onto the ball too long.
Wentz acknowledged that after a poor showing in his first chance to face the team that drafted him.
"It's not the O-line," Wentz said. "I've got to be better. I have to get rid of the ball in a lot of those situations, find a check down and move on -- different things like that."
Still, Rivera still feels good about his quarterback entering Week 4.
"I'm not worried about Carson. Carson's going to bounce back," Rivera said in an interview with NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay. "He's a very resilient young man. And I loved his press conference, accepting responsibility. And he put it on himself and he tried to make sure everybody understood that this is a team game -- we're all culpable. And I don't disagree with him. We are all culpable, myself included.
"But there is a sense of urgency. There is a 'gotta have it,' a 'gotta go out and get it done' type of mentality. It was the same thing last week. We wanted it. We worked to do it, and we're going to do it every week that way. It's just sometimes, it doesn't work your way."
Avoiding a 1-3 start means winning at Dallas, a second consecutive opponent coming off a short week. FanDuel Sportsbook opened with the Cowboys as 3-point home favorites.
"This is a very important game, mostly because it's the one we're about to play and it's the only one we'll play this week, so we've got to focus on exactly that," Rivera said. "We've got to focus on Dallas, focus on who they are."
Remember: Wentz has now been sacked a league-high 15 times -- tied with Cincinnati's Joe Burrow. The Commanders have a lot of work to do to improve their pass protection in a short time, as Dallas leads the league with 13 sacks through three weeks.
Other notes of interest. ... For the past two weeks, Washington has dug itself into double-digit holes in the first half. It was outscored 46-0 in the first quarter and second quarters against the Lions and Eagles, which is more frustrating when accounting for the talent that is on offense. The players are determined to remedy those issues with 14 games ahead of them.
"You're not going to win too many games without putting any points on the board in the first half like we have in the last few weeks," Terry McLaurin said. "We all know that, and we all have to take individual accountability for that and improve."
There is certainly plenty of room for improvement after the results of the past two weeks. The Commanders put up just 106 combined net yards of offense in the first halves against the Lions and Eagles, averaging 1.85 and 2.0 yards per play in those spans, respectively.
Though Washington's offense showed its potential in the first two games of the season, it looked lackluster against the Eagles. The performance forced Rivera to get honest about where the unit's identity stands as its many weapons look to coalesce.
"I think we're still working through it," Rivera said. "We have a mixture of playmakers, and we have to figure out the best way to use them."
Several of the playmakers that have been heavily used thus far are in the wide receiver room. Curtis Samuel, Jahan Dotson and McLaurin are an electrifying trio. Too much attention on them, though, can be harmful when it comes to game day.
"We can't feel that our best three offensive players are our wide receivers, because if we go into that with that mindset, the tendency is going to be to throw the ball, to get it in their hands," Rivera said.
That desire to sling longer throws in the hopes of finding a receiver's hands was perhaps a factor in Wentz getting stuck taking too long to make a decision in the pocket. Rivera wants to get more dynamic and creative with how the offense uses the very capable players it has.
"With what we can do with our ability to run the ball, we have to give that a shot as well…we have some very capable runners" Rivera said. "Then same thing with the tight end position. We can't forget those guys."
The goal will be to get in a rhythm where shorter, intermediate and longer passes are all part of the offensive equation in varying degrees on each drive. This week leading up to Dallas will present more opportunities to work on implementing the right mix.
"I think understanding how to spread the ball we're still trying to find," Rivera said. "We have so many playmakers, but there's only one ball and we've gotta find that combination."
McLaurin hauled in six passes for 102 yards. It was his first 100-yard receiving game since November 21, 2021 against Carolina. It was the 12th 100-plus receiving yard game of McLaurin's career. Through 50 career games in D.C., McLaurin has recorded 3,325 receiving yards, the second-most in franchise history.
That said, Curtis Samuel led the Commanders in targets for the third consecutive game (25 percent).
According to FantasyLife.com's Dwain McFarland, "No player is getting schemed up more than Samuel. Lining up in the slot and backfield. Lots of motion, screens and play-action."
Samuel scored 13 fantasy points against the Eagles and had a WR2 utilization profile. Get used to it people. ...
Running Back Antonio Gibson rushed 12 times for 38 yards and a touchdown. He now has a rushing touchdown in back-to-back games. Gibson now has 20 rushing scores in his career. He tied Alfred Morris for the most by a player through 33 games in franchise history.
Running Back J.D. McKissic had three carries for eight yards and three receptions for 32 yards. He eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark in his career with a six-yard rush in the first quarter.
On the injury front. ... William Jackson's status bears watching this week after the back injury crept up over the weekend and led to him getting scratched. Washington is also banged up along the defensive line, playing without Chase Young (ACL surgery recovery), Casey Toohill (concussion), Daniel Wise (ankle) and rookie Phidarian Mathis (knee)
Rookie running back Brian Robinson Jr., who is recovering from two gunshot wounds to his right leg, worked out on the field prior to the game Sunday. Robinson can be activated as soon as Week 5 when Washington hosts Tennessee, but that's no guarantee.
"He's headed in the right direction, but we don't really know," Rivera said. "We won't know until we get to that point where we have that feel. The doctors are going to examine, the doctors are going to let us know."
You can access complete stats for the Commanders Week 3 game via our exclusive Fantasy BoxScore.
QBs: Taylor Heinicke, Sam Howell, Carson Wentz
RBs: Brian Robinson Jr., Antonio Gibson, Jonathan Williams, J.D. McKissic
WRs: Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, Jahan Dotson, Dyami Brown, Cam Sims, Dax Milne
TEs: Logan Thomas, John Bates, Cole Turner, Armani Rogers