Before we get into our Week 3 NFL recap, I’m going to discuss a slight formatting change. In previous recaps, we covered every game and provided some light insight – but let’s face it, not every game deserves a recap, so we are going to break the recaps from here on out into the following categories:
- Nail Biter of the Week – A recap of the week’s closest game and analysis of what the winning team did to seal the deal and what the losing team should have done differently to secure the win.
- NFL Education – The game that taught us the most about a particular team, whether in a win or a loss.
- Stat–Splosion – We will analyze some of the more interesting stats from the week including top rushers, passers, and special teams play.
- God Among Men – Highlight of the player who’s performance shone brighter than the rest
- Watch Out for Splinters – a performance so bad, they should probably be riding the pine next Sunday.
So without further ado, lets head into this week’s NFL recap.
Nail Biter of the Week
The nail biter of the week game has to go to Atlanta & New Orleans. This was the only game that went to overtime and there were plenty of points to analyze. Quite frankly, this game could have gone either direction, but let’s take a look at why the Falcons prevailed and the Saints fell short.
Why the Falcons Won:
The Falcons ultimately won because their field goal kicker didn’t miss when the chips were down – but it’s not as easy as that. The Falcons did all the right things throughout the game to keep Brees and the Saints on the sidelines for as long as possible. The Falcons put together four drives of 5:00 or longer, including a 19 play, 72 yard drive culminating in a touchdown. In contrast, the Saints only had one such drive which ultimately ended in a turnover. The Falcons kept the ball out of the Saints hands just long enough to keep the scoring close and then executed the most basic of FG tries for the win.
Why the Saints Lost:
The Saints lost because they couldn’t hang onto the ball, both literally and figuratively. Their 3 turnovers (4 if you count the easy FG they missed in OT) led to 10 points from the Falcons which is a little too much to make up, especially when your offense isn’t getting too many chances.
We have to turn to the Monday Night Game between the Packers and Da Bears for this week’s lesson. Let’s face it – even here at the All Sports Talk offices, we weren’t sold on the Bears, and very few people outside of Chicago saw them as a legitimate threat. The Bears proved that they belong in NFL Playoff discussions this year. Jay Cutler proved that with the right system, he can beat you with both his legs and his arm. The Bears defense also taught us that they are still a force to be reckoned with, effectively slowing down Rodgers and the Green Bay Offense. The Bears played well, didn’t beat themselves, and what’s more – they did it in the national spotlight of Monday Night. We also saw a group of receivers in Knox and Hester showcase their talents on offense and on special teams.
What happens when the announcer mentions that Hester hasn’t returned a punt for a Touchdown in over two years? Well first I sit back on my couch and say “If he hasn’t returned a punt for a TD in two years, how is he still considered an elite return man?” And then Hester blows the doors off of the Packer’s special teams coverage and takes it to the house. Lesson Learned.
Usually when a QB throws for an insane amount of yards, its an indicator that the team was either down for most of the contest and was forced to throw more to catch up, or that they are coached by Bill Bellichick and are trying to rub it in someone’s face. And then there’s Kyle Orton who led the NFL in week 3 passing with 476 yards, but even more surprising is that he found the end zone just once. Either way, Orton showed that he is capable of putting up big numbers, even if it doesn’t result in wins every time.
Adrian Peterson – get used to seeing his name here a LOT. He had a monster game, and not just because he was going up against one of the weakest rush defenses in the NFL, but probably more because he was starting to feel the pressure of possibly going 0-3. Big A-Pete strapped the Vikings and Brett Favre’s wheelchair onto his back and carried them for 160 yards and two Touchdowns.
Our top receiver played in the same game as our top passer, but he actually played for the other team. The Colt’s Austin Collie had a breakout game with 12 receptions and two touchdowns. On a team where he isn’t the first, second, or even third option, this is an impressive stat. This kid has some definite talent and he should be grateful to play for a QB like Peyton who can turn a relative unknown into a household name in just a matter of a week.
Without a doubt, the Seahawks Leon Washington is our special teams super star this week. He returned two kickoffs over 99 yards for touchdowns for just the third time in NFL History. In fact, Washington ran further on his touchdowns Sunday than most of us do in an entire week. His second touchdown return came when his team needed it the most, as the Chargers had just scored to tie the game with less than 7 minutes left. His touchdown put Seattle on top for good, which makes the returns even that much more important.
God among Men
We are going to take the time to give a great player his due. Despite his checkered past, Michael Vick has bounced back this year in a big way. Yeah he had some problems and turned himself into a social pariah, but where many would run and hide, Vick has taken the opportunity to completely revamp his career. You could argue that he is playing better now than he was before his two year hiatus from the game. You may not like Vick for personal reasons, but let’s put that aside for just a moment and talk about his performance against the Jaguars in week three. Vick accounted for every score the Eagles had on Sunday, including three touchdown passes and one rushing TD. He got the ball to his big playmakers and when the situation called for it, he made the plays himself.
For the first time in his career, he made everyone realize why he was such a highly regarded draft pick out of college. He needed to win this for the Eagles, for Andy Reid, and for himself. He accomplished all three.
Watch Out for Splinters
Derek Anderson is making the Cardinals management look like idiots. The Cardinals spent years trying to groom Matt Leinart, and then once Warner retires, they incite a quarterback controversy, ultimately letting their top pick hit the road. And what were they left with? Well, a lot of disappointed fans who bought Leinart’s Jersey and a quarterback who had the worst week in the NFL. Maybe the Cardinals didn’t realize that the Browns had the worst passing offense in the league last year with Anderson at the Helm. Maybe they thought that he just needed some better receivers. Either way, somewhere in Phoenix, Kurt Warner’s cell phone is getting blown up with texts from Larry Fitzgerald begging him to come back. Oh, and Anquan Boldin is just grateful to be out of Arizona.