NFL Week 3 highlights and lowlights

NFL Week 3 saw the Detroit Lions and Buffalo Bills improve to 3-0 while the Colts and Chiefs dropped to 0-3.

Pittsburgh Steelers over Indianapolis Colts 23-20: In the SNF game, after the Steelers and Colts traded fumble return TDs, the game was tied at 20 going into the final two minutes. That’s all Big Ben would need as he would lead the Pittsburgh offense down the field to set up a game-winning 38-yard FG by Shaun Suisham with four seconds left. Filling in for the injured Peyton Manning, Kerry Collins finished the day 13-of-29 for 93 yards and was later replaced by third string QB Curtis Painter. The Colts (0-3) remain a front-runner in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.

Green Bay Packers beat Chicago Bears 27-17: The Green Bay offensive juggernaut was clipped by the Bears defense but Chicago had a lot of trouble putting points on the board. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers finished 28-of-38 for 297 yards and three TDs; all to TE Jermichael Finley. The Bears running game was non-existent with Matt Forte finishing with nine carries for two yards. Bears QB Jay Cutler had a difficult time finding any rhythm and his team fell to 1-2 while the Packers remain unbeaten at 3-0.

Oakland Raiders take down the N.Y. Jets 34-24: Raiders RB Darren McFadden rushed for 171 yards and found the endzone twice and the Oakland defense held the Jets on a late-game 4th and goal from the one-yard line to hang on to win. Sanchez finished 27-of-43 for 369 yards a two TDs. Antonio Cromartie put the Jets backs to the wall when he fumbled a kick return, leading to the Oakland TD and 31-17 lead. Plaxico Burress caught a late TD to get the Jets close but it wasn’t enough. Rex Ryan’s Jets drop to 2-1.

San Diego Chargers over the Kansas City 20-17: QB Philip Rivers was intercepted twice in the first half but RB Ryan Matthews picked up the slack with two rushing TDs. Kansas City was scoreless at half-time until QB Matt Cassel (17-of-24, 176 yards) put points on the board throwing for two second-half TDs. The underachieving Chiefs fall to 0-3.

Detroit Lions beat Minnesota Vikings 26-23 : Minny continued their M.O. and squandered a 20-0 lead at the half. Adrian Peterson had a great first half but was shut down in the second by the Lions D who stood their ground allowing Matt Stafford to throw two TDs and K Jason Hanson to contribute three FGs for the comeback OT win. After the Vikings tied it at 23-23 late in regulation, Lions QB Matthew Stafford (32-of-46, 378 yds. 2 TDs) led an opening OT drive, hitting Calvin Johnson (7 catches, 108 yds. 2 TDs) on a 40-yard strike. That set up 40-year-old Hanson to seal it with a 32 yarder. The Lions go to 3-0 for the first time since 1980 while the Vikes drop to 0-3.

Seattle Seahawks top the Arizona Cardinals 13-10: Seattle’s WR Sidney Rice made contributions worthy of a high-profile WR finishing with eight catches for 109 yards. Seahawks’ defense picked Cards’ QB Kevin Kolb twice and held him to 237 yards passing with one TD. Both teams are 1-2 on the year.

Tampa Bay Bucs top the Atlanta Falcons 16-13:
Atlanta’s QB Matt Ryan threw for 330 yards but the Falcons offense could only manage one TD on the day and that came in the fourth quarter on a 10-yard toss to TE Tony Gonzalez. Ryan’s three turnovers; two fumbles and one pick didn’t help the cause and RB Michael Turner ran for a mere 20 yards. The Buccaneers’ QB Josh Freeman ran the ball into the end zone for Tampa’s only TD of the day and K Connor Barth put up three FGs. The Falcons fall to 1-2 while the Bucs improve to 2-1 to share a lead in the NFC South with the Saints.

New Orleans Saints top Houston Texans 40-33: The Texans put up big offensive numbers but when you’re playing the Saints, sometimes that isn’t enough. Texans QB Matt Schaub (22-of-39, 373 3TDs) hit favorite target Andre Johnson (7 catches, 128 yards) and WR James Casey (5 catches, 126 yds, 1 TD) throughout the game. The Houston defense contributed two picks and two sacks but that didn’t stop Saints QB Drew Brees from throwing for 370 yards and three TDs. The Saints backfield scored twice; one each for Mark Ingram and Darren Sproles.

Buffalo Bills over New England: 34-31:
The Pats went up 21-0 in the second quarter as QB Tom Brady connected twice with TE Gronkowski and once with Wes Welker (16 catches, 217 yards). Just when it was looking like a blowout, the Bills rallied to close the gap. Down by seven in the fourth quarter, Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick tied the game at 24 and after the lead changed three times, the Bills Rian Lindell kicked a 28-yard game-winning FG with three seconds left in regulation. Brady was picked a career-high four times on the day and threw for four TDs to pad his league-leading total to 11. Fitzpatrick finished (27-of-40, 369, 2 TDs) and the Bills go to 3-0.

Cleveland Browns beat Miami Dolphins 17-16. The Dolphins fell to a dismal 0-3 but were ahead at the half. K Dan Carpenter kept Miami in the game as the team could manage only one TD on the day. With less than one minute left in the game, Cleveland QB’s Colt McCoy connected with Mohamed Massaquoi to win late.

Tennessee Titans over Denver Broncos 17-14: The Titans finally got a big day out of QB Matt Hasselbeck who threw for 311 yards on 27-of-36 passing and two TDs. The Broncos were held scoreless in the fourth quarter as Kyle Orton was picked twice and threw for only 173 yards on the day; can you hear the Tebow chants? Chris Johnson remained a disappointment for 2011 with only 21 yards on 13 carries.

NY Giants top Philadelphia Eagles 29-16: The Giants led 14-0 in the first quarter as Eli Manning connected for TDs with WR Victor Cruze and RB Brandon Jacobs. The Giants defense was supposed to be porous but was anything but as they picked Michael Vick once and hit him throughout the game; sending him to the sidelines with a broken hand. LeSean McCoy scored the only TD for the Eagles. Manning (16-of23, 254 yrds, 4 TDs) later hit Cruze again and RB Bradshaw to complete a four-TD day.

San Franciso 49ers take Cincinnati Bengals 13-8:
It was an ugly win for SF but they improved to 2-1 on the year. Only one TD was scored in this game; on a 7-yard run by 49ers’ Kendall Hunter. Cincinnati QB Andy Dalton was picked twice and the Bengals scoring came on two FGs and a safety.

Carolina Panthers beat Jacksonville Jags 16-10 The battle of rookie QBs, Gabbert vs. Newton was affected by torrential rain in the first half. Gabbert got caught for a safety early but then threw his 1st career TD to give the Jags the lead. Cam Newton’s numbers came back down to earth (18-of34, 158 yds. 1 TD) but it was all the team needed with PK Olindo Mare adding two FGs in the win.

Baltimore Ravens beat the St. Louis Rams 30-7: The Ravens took a 21-0 lead before the Rams knew what hit them; all on Joe Flacco TD tosses to rookie WR Torrey Smith, then added two FGs by PK Billy Cundiff to go up 27-0 at the half. The Rams scored late in the third quarter on a Sam Bradford TD pass to Brandon Gibson but the QB’s fumble late in the fourth quarter was taken to the house by Ravens lineman Haloti Ngata. Ravens improve to 2-1 while the Rams drop to 0-3.

Used with permission of the author.

Paula Duffy is a national sports columnist for Examiner.com and the Huffington Post and regularly comments on sports/legal matters for radio affiliates of ESPN and Fox Sports. She founded the sports information site, Incidental Contact, is the author of a line of audio books designed for sports novices and in her spare time practices law in Los Angeles.

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