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2022 NFL season, Week 3: What We Learned from Sunday's games

Around The NFL breaks down what you need to know from all of Sunday's action in Week 3 of the 2022 NFL season. Catch up on each game's biggest takeaways using the links below:

Denver Broncos
2022 · 2-1-0
San Francisco 49ers
2022 · 1-2-0

Bobby Kownack's takeaways:

  1. Broncos' offensive woes won't keep turning into Ws. When the Russell Wilson-led Broncos weren't shooting themselves in the foot with penalties or errant throws, they were being swarmed and stalled by the 49ers pass rush. The Broncos punted the ball 10 times on the night. They twice had a drive start at the 50-yard line and gained zero yards combined between the two possessions. Wilson was often out of sorts, taking four sacks and delivering several throws with little chance of completion despite attempting only one pass over 20 yards through the air. With that said, the Broncos did finally wake up, and Wilson looked like the elusive Russ of old on a 12-play, 80-yard drive to steal the low-scoring affair -- Denver had 50 yards of offense in its six other second-half possessions that didn't include kneel-downs -- but that won't be enough moving forward. The Broncos are now averaging 14.3 points per game and have not eclipsed 16 on the scoreboard despite sitting at 2-1. Offseason visions of what the offense could accomplish under Wilson must come to fruition sooner rather than later.
  2. The Jimmy G experience could be as trying for fans as it was in 2021. The familiar pitfalls of counting on Jimmy Garoppolo emerged in force during his first start of the year. The 49ers found success early using the quick passing game, scoring on a 3-yard slant to Brandon Aiyuk halfway through the first quarter. They would not venture farther than the Denver 47-yard line again until the fourth quarter -- and that was only because the drive started six yards past it. Garoppolo's most glaring errors reared their heads early and late in the second half. On the team's first two third-quarter possessions, Garoppolo lost a fumble and gave up an inexplicable safety by taking his drop too far, planting both feet out of bounds and throwing a pick-six (nullified by the safety). Worse still, when the Niners defense finally faltered and allowed a late go-ahead score, Garoppolo managed only 27 yards on his two final drives, which ended in his first pick of the season and Jeff Wilson's first fumble of the year. It was an inefficient roller coaster that will leave San Francisco fans wanting a smoother ride.
  3. Both defenses will need to carry the weight. The Sunday night showdown between San Francisco and Denver treated audiences to 17 punts, two fumble recoveries, two interceptions and a safety. It was a slog of an outing for fans used to the high-octane fireworks the modern NFL is capable of, and it was the second 11-10 final score in league history, per NFL Research. The Niners D held Denver to eight drives of 10 or less yards and brought its season average to 12.3 points per game. It held up its end of the bargain. Denver was just a little better, allowing only three points on San Francisco's final 12 drives and sacking Garoppolo at key moments of the game, such as the opening play of the game's final possession. The Broncos have now allowed just 11.6 points per game. Passes went missing and catches became misplayed bobbles because of relentless defensive play on both sides, and until the offenses wake up, this will have to be the way moving forward for both teams.

Next Gen Stat of the game: Niners QB Jimmy Garoppolo was pressured on 21.4% of his dropbacks without left tackle Trent Williams on the field (12.2% with Williams).

NFL Research: Broncos QB Russell Wilson and the Broncos had nine three-and-outs Sunday, which is the most in a game in Wilson's career and the most by the Broncos in a single game since 1991.

Green Bay Packers
2022 · 2-1-0
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2022 · 2-1-0

Nick Shook's takeaways:

  1. Green Bay makes it work. The Packers got off to a blazing start, with Aaron Rodgers completing 12 of his first 13 passes and leading the Packers on scoring drives of 10 and 12 plays to take a 14-3 lead. Then, all of the good offensive mojo ran into a brick wall comprised of Vita Vea and Lavonte David. Aaron Jones' goal-line fumble stopped the Packers in their tracks, and they never recovered. Fortunately for Green Bay, a combination of stifling defense and timely takeaways proved to be enough in this low-scoring affair. They'll likely need more in the weeks to come, and will hope to rediscover the fuel that had them operating at near-perfect efficiency in the first half.
  2. Tom Brady misses his top targets. We spent the week talking about broken Microsoft Surface tablets, but in hindsight, we should've been talking more about missing weapons and general frustration that seems to be pervasive throughout Tampa Bay's offense. Brady was forced to play Sunday without Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Julio Jones, leaving him with a cast headlined by Breshad Perriman, Russell Gage, Cameron Brate and Jaelon Darden. He nearly made it work, completing 31 of 42 passes for 271 yards and a touchdown, but the absences were impossible to overlook when Brady needed a go-to target for the potential game-tying two-point conversion in the game's final seconds. Instead, he targeted Gage, and the pass was broken up by De'Vondre Campbell. Tampa Bay is 2-1, but will attract enough negative attention to make folks believe it is 0-3. That WR trio can't come back soon enough.
  3. Welcome to the big league, Romeo Doubs. Much time has been spent lamenting the Packers' lack of a top target, and while those points remain valid, one rookie stepped up on Sunday. Doubs caught eight passes for 73 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown that put the Packers ahead early in the first. While the higher of the Packers' two 2022 receiver selections, Christian Watson, has gotten off to a slow start, Doubs has stepped in and made quite a difference through three weeks. The rookie officially leads the Packers in receiving, and his first career touchdown was an important trip to the end zone in a low-scoring affair. Green Bay will need players like Doubs to continue to contribute if it wants to meet its Super Bowl expectations, and so far, the Nevada product is proving to be up to the task.

Next Gen Stat of the game: Aaron Rodgers averaged just 4.7 air yards per attempt in Sunday's win, the second-fewest air yards per attempt in a game for Rodgers since 2016.

NFL Research: Aaron Rodgers helped the Packers improve to 2-1 on Sunday, but is averaging the fewest passing yards per game as a starter in his career at 228.

Jacksonville Jaguars
2022 · 2-1-0
Los Angeles Chargers
2022 · 1-2-0

Coral Smith's takeaways:

  1. Turnovers go Jaguars' way. Jacksonville got out to an early lead over Los Angeles with the help of some turnovers and never relinquished that advantage. On the Chargers' first drive of the second quarter, Justin Herbert threw a pass to Sony Michel, but the ball went right through Michel's hands and fell into the arms of Jaguars linebacker Devin Lloyd. Jacksonville took advantage on the resulting drive beginning in the red zone, eventually kicking a field goal. And then just minutes later when Los Angeles got the ball back, Herbert was sacked and fumbled, with Foye Oluokun recovering. Again starting a drive with great field position, the Jaguars drove 28 yards for a touchdown, and the back-to-back takeaways gave them a 13-0 lead. The Chargers could never overcome the early disadvantage, and the Jaguars left L.A. with their first road win since 2019.
  2. Injuries hamper Chargers. Going into Sunday's contest, the Chargers were already missing some key players, and with the in-game losses of more crucial pieces on both offense and defense, Los Angeles was just not up to the challenge of stopping Jacksonville. On offense, Herbert looked relatively OK considering he's playing through broken rib cartilage, finishing 25-of-45 for 297 yards, but his offense couldn't convert yards into points. And he wasn't getting the protection he needed, as starting center Corey Linsley was inactive and left tackle Rashawn Slater exited mid-game with a biceps injury. On defense, the lack of J.C. Jackson (inactive) and Joey Bosa (left with groin injury) was clearly felt, as the defense couldn't get the Jaguars off the field. L.A. allowed a Jacksonville score on seven of 11 drives and gave up 413 total yards. The Chargers didn't look nearly healthy enough to compete on Sunday, so they'll have to hope they get some positive injury news before their next game.
  3. Rookie LB impresses. The Jaguars defense looked great Sunday, limiting the Chargers to only two scoring drives all afternoon. Rookie linebacker Devin Lloyd was a big part of this winning effort, as he was all over the field making key plays. In addition to the pass he picked off in the second quarter, Lloyd had seven tackles and three passes defensed. Lloyd also had an interception in last week's win over the Colts, making him the first Jaguars player to record two INTs in their first three career games, and the first linebacker in the NFL to do so since 2015. The 27th-overall pick of this year's draft, Lloyd was expected to contribute early, and so far has met those expectations.

Next Gen stat of the game: No Chargers defenders had a quarterback pressure percentage of over 10.0% versus the Jaguars.

NFL Research: Trevor Lawrence became the second quarterback in the NFL common draft era to start his career with nine road losses and then win on his 10th road start. The only other QB to do so was Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, who also won his 10th road start in Week 3 of his second season in a game versus the Chargers.

Los Angeles Rams
2022 · 2-1-0
Arizona Cardinals
2022 · 1-2-0

Kevin Patra's takeaways

  1. Rams jump out to a fast start, hold on late. It wasn't a pretty performance for Sean McVay's club, but the Super Bowl champs hung on for the road win. L.A. scored on its first three possessions to skate to a 13-0 lead. The defense then bent but didn't break, forcing the Cards to settle for four field goals. Matthew Stafford didn't throw a touchdown for the first time as the Rams QB, and Cooper Kupp was held to just four catches for 44 yards. But Kupp's 20-yard touchdown run on the second drive gave L.A. the cushion needed. L.A. was outgained 365-339 and earned just 15 first downs, but the Rams' defense made crucial third-down stops to keep the Cards out of the end zone all game.
  2. Inability to finish drives dooms Cardinals. Kyler Murray and the Cards' offense got off to another slow start, generating just 22 yards on 13 plays over its first four drives. Then Arizona began making plays, with Murray taking a bevy of underneath throws to move the chains. The Cards' final five possessions went 19 plays, eight plays, 16 plays, 12 plays and 17 plays. But Arizona earned just four field goals and a turnover on downs. It's clear Kyler still misses DeAndre Hopkins when the field becomes compressed. The lack of TDs put a damper on the big day for the Murray-Marquise Brown connection. Brown caught 14 of 17 targets for 140 yards. After a wonky start to the season, the chemistry is there for the duo, but Murray still hasn't found the deep ball. With the Rams playing deep and forcing Murray to throw short, the QB attempted just two passes of 20-plus air yards, completing one.
  3. What will the Rams' RB rotation look like moving forward? Part of L.A.'s offensive malaise to open the season has been the lack of a consistent ground game. That was the case early Sunday, with Darrell Henderson getting the bulk of the first-half playing time but netting just four carries for 17 yards. Cam Akers had two carries for negative-1 yard at halftime. In the second half, the roles flipped, with Akers seeing the majority of reps. Akers briefly brought the Rams' run game to life, earning 60 yards on 10 carries in the final two quarters with a TD gallop. Had it ended there, we'd surmise Akers would be the guy moving forward. But the RB's goal-line fumble trying to stretch for the end zone that kept Arizona in the contest won't sit well with coaches. Even with the fumble, Akers looked like the better back Sunday. He generated 6 rushing yards over expected, the first time with a positive RYOE since tearing his Achilles, per Next Gen Stats.

Next Gen stat of the game: Matthew Stafford completed 10 of 11 passes on play action for 168 yards. Stafford's 46.2% play-action rate was his highest in a game over the last seven seasons.

NFL Research: Aaron Donald notched the 100th sack of his career in the first quarter. He became just the second player to primarily play defensive tackle to earn 100-plus sacks since 1982, joining Hall of Famer John Randle (137.5).

Atlanta Falcons
2022 · 1-2-0
Seattle Seahawks
2022 · 1-2-0

Eric Edholm's takeaways:

  1. Offense isn't the problem for the Falcons. Arthur Smith was taking shots early, and it showed the potential of this offense when it's humming. Marcus Mariota's first eight completions gained 183 yards -- and yes, Kyle Pitts (five catches, 87 yards) was far more involved after two quiet games. Drake London looks like a star in the making, catching what would hold up as the game-winner late in the third quarter. Throw in Cordarrelle Patterson's 153 yards from scrimmage -- including 119 after halftime -- and the Falcons have their first victory of the season. Mariota fumbled twice in the second half, losing one with five minutes left to open the door for Seattle. But overall, he played a solid game, running for a score, throwing for another and led six drives inside the Seattle 36-yard line. The Falcons might have to win games via shootouts, and though that's not going to work against every team, it was enough Sunday.
  2. Geno Smith was dealing ... until he wasn't. The Seahawks were likely prepared for the inevitable ups and downs after naming Smith the starting QB. Some even felt he backed into the job when Drew Lock missed crucial time late in the preseason. After a rough Week 2 performance against the 49ers, Smith was dialed in most of Sunday's game. Sure, there were some missed throws on third downs in the red zone that led to field goals, but then the Seahawks got the ball back late with a great chance to win. That's when Smith took a few late sacks, including a devastating 10-yard loss on third-and-8 from the Atlanta 28-yard line at the two-minute warning. On fourth down, Smith threw a no-chance pass that was picked, essentially ending the game. It was a mostly good game from Smith, but with a wicked finish. A few poorly timed mistakes by others hurt Smith's chances a bit, but he didn't quite make enough plays when it counted most.
  3. Both teams still have major room to improve defensively. If you watched nothing but the fourth quarter of this game, knowing nothing about either team coming in, you might think there were two decent defenses duking it out. The Falcons had their only two sacks of the game in the quarter, and each team forced a turnover. But we'll chalk those up to offensive errors as much as defensive prowess. Even with a few clear standouts on defense, Atlanta now has allowed Jameis Winston, Matthew Stafford and Smith to complete a combined 82 of 114 passes this season (71.9% completion rate). The Seahawks' defense, which might be the worst they've fielded in a decade, battled Russell Wilson well in Week 1 but now has been humbled two games in a row, forcing its first three-and-out of the season on Sunday. These teams have myriad issues, but it's clear on which side of the ball their biggest concerns currently lie.

Next Gen stat of the game: The Seahawks lost 19% win probability when Geno Smith took a sack with 2:00 left in the fourth quarter, moving the ball from the Falcons' 28-yard line to the 38.

NFL Research: The Falcons are 4-0 when Kyle Pitts has 80 or more receiving yards.

Miami Dolphins
2022 · 3-0-0
Buffalo Bills
2022 · 2-1-0

Kevin Patra's takeaways:

  1. Dolphins D holds down explosive Bills offense to secure 3-0 start. The "Butt Punt" safety pulled the Bills within a field goal of winning, but Miami's defense stood tall, stopping Buffalo short as time expired. The Dolphins' defense played well all game, not allowing the Bills' big-play offense to stay on track after a fast start. Miami made big plays in the red zone to keep Buffalo from stacking touchdowns as it had in the first two weeks. The Dolphins bamboozled Buffalo's offensive line, bringing blitz after blitz and swarming Josh Allen. The Fins compiled 20 QB pressures, 10 QB hits and four sacks of Allen, generating a 29.9 pressure percent (16.4% in Weeks 1-2), per Next Gen Stats. Emmanuel Ogbah (seven QB pressures) and Melvin Ingram (five QB pressures, two sacks) lived in the Bills' backfield. The secondary was equal to the task, with Xavien Howard playing well Stefon Diggs and Jevon Holland continuing to be a playmaker at every level. Despite being on the field all day, the Dophins made pivotal plays. The Bills came in scorching hot. The only thing hotter than the weather Sunday afternoon in Miami was the Dolphins D when it counted.
  2. Bills kicking themselves over miscues. Allen had a potential go-ahead TD late skip off the turf. The play was one of the few Allen wasn't pressured on. He just missed the throw. It was that sort of day for Buffalo. Allen fumbled inside his own 10-yard-line on the second possession, giving Miami an easy first score. The QB mishandled the snap on a spike to end the second quarter, negating a chance for a field goal. Kicker Tyler Bass shanked a 38-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. Linebacker Matt Milano dropped a would-be pick-six. Gabe Davis couldn't hang onto a late TD. Then on the final drive, Isaiah McKenzie was tackled in bounds, and the Bills couldn't get lined up quick enough to spike the ball before the clock ran out. Allen threw for 400 yards, and the offense generated 497 yards and 31 first downs, but Buffalo scored just 19 points. It was enough to make Buffalo offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey go berserk in frustration in the press box after the loss.
  3. Tua Tagovailoa exploits missing Bills DBs late to lead another comeback. It wasn't a big day for Tua and the Dolphins' offense, but the QB made two big plays in the fourth quarter to secure the win. Tagovailoa exploited the Bills missing both starting safeties, zipping a pass to Jaylen Waddle for 32 yards to get the driving going. Then he hit Waddle streaking deep between the replacement safeties for a 46-yard gain to set up the go-ahead TD. Earlier in the game, Tua rifled a bullet to River Cracraft in traffic for a key TD. The QB exited briefly to be checked for a concussion but was cleared to return in the second half. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Tua was dealing with a back injury. Fortunately for the undefeated Dolphins, the starter was able to return to spearhead the victory. On a day when the offense was outgained 497-212, Miami made the most of its chances, going 3-of-3 in the red zone, while Buffalo went 2-of-4.

Next Gen stat of the game: Josh Allen was blitzed on 34.3% of dropbacks. He went 16-of-29 for 185 yards and two TDs versus the blitz with three sacks and a lost fumble.

NFL Research: The Bills had the highest time of possession (40 minutes 40 seconds) in a non-OT loss since Week 7, 2014, when the Jets lost to the Patriots with a time of possession of 40:54. On Sunday, the Bills ran 90 offensive plays to Miami's 39.

Philadelphia Eagles
2022 · 3-0-0
Washington Commanders
2022 · 1-2-0

Michael Baca's takeaways:

  1. Eagles give Carson Wentz hell. Facing off against their former quarterback, the Eagles defenders pinned their ears back from the jump and sacked Wentz four times in the opening quarter to set the tone. The Wentz-led Commanders never really recovered, ending up with 240 total yards (153 passing, 87 rushing) and nearly getting shut out if not for a late scoring drive against a prevent defense. Veteran Brandon Graham led the wrecking crew with 2.5 sacks and forced Wentz's only turnover of the game, while Haason Reddick (1.5), Josh Sweat (1.5) and Fletcher Cox (1.5) also enjoyed the feast. The Eagles defense forced a turnover on downs on both of Washington's red-zone possessions. Wentz will certainly be feeling the result on Monday morning after getting sacked nine times and sustaining 17 QB hits.
  2. DeVonta Smith highlights Philadelphia's aerial showing. After a scoreless first quarter, the Eagles decided to air it out in the second frame. They never looked back. Smith led the team with 169 receiving yards off eight catches, setting single-game career highs. Smith's stellar performance featured several big plays and a critical touchdown that came in the waning seconds of the first half as the timeout-less Eagles went for it on fourth down at the goal line. It was a moment of growth as Smith jumped up and snatched the ball away from a defender. The former first-rounder is coming into his own in Year 2. A.J. Brown (five catches, 85 yards, TD) and Dallas Goedert (three catches, 26 yards, TD) also had good days, while quarterback Jalen Hurts did the distributing with 340 passing yards (22-of-35) and three TDs with zero interceptions.
  3. Commanders can't hide frustrations. Washington seemingly had had enough following its second turnover on downs in the red zone to start the fourth quarter. Frustrated receivers started dragging their feet back to the huddle following every fruitless pass play and defenders huffed and puffed after a treacherous day where they had three shutout quarters, but still lost by double-digits. Washington's defense gave the team the ideal start needed to beat its NFC East foe by forcing two punts and allowing 13 yards in two possessions in the first quarter, but it was ultimately failed by the offense. Wentz's day ended with 211 passing yards (25-of-43) and there was visible frustration from Terry McLaurin following a 45-yard catch that came late in the third quarter. It was seemingly the only time Wentz took a shot deep, and it was one facet of the offense the Commanders could've used -- if only he had time to throw.

Next Gen stat of the day: The Eagles pressured Carson Wentz on 36.5% of dropbacks (sacked on 17.3%), and seven players had three-plus QB pressures.

NFL Research: The Eagles scored all 24 of their points Sunday in the second quarter. Through three games, 65 of the Eagles' 84 points scored have come in the second quarter.

Chicago Bears
2022 · 2-1-0
Houston Texans
2022 · 0-2-1

Eric Edholm's takeaways:

  1. Roquan to the rescue. It wasn't even clear until 90 minutes before kickoff whether Roquan Smith would play Sunday due to a hip injury he suffered in Week 2. But he played -- and turned in one of his best career games. Smith finished with a whopping 16 tackles, including two for losses and a few wallops on Texans ball carriers. But it was Smith's late pick that helped deliver the Bears a victory and a 2-0 mark at Soldier Field. Smith stepped in front of an ill-fated Davis Mills pass and ran it back 18 yards to the Houston 12-yard line. One carry and two kneel-downs later, the Bears kicked the game-winning field goal. In a season in which Smith is betting on himself, contract-wise, he just delivered a statement: Pay me, Chicago, or someone else will. It's rare in this era for inside linebackers to be exceptionally valuable defenders, but Smith might be one of the exceptions to that rule of thumb.
  2. Khalil Herbert to the rescue, too. David Montgomery suffered an ankle/leg injury in the first quarter after he was rolled up on from behind. It clearly put the Bears in a tough spot, with the man who handled 32 of the 45 handoffs the first two games out for the remainder of the contest. But Herbert, who had shined in his limited opportunities entering Sunday, looked great in a leading role. He rushed 20 times for 157 yards and two scores, also catching two passes for 12 yards. In the first half, the Bears ran the ball on three third-and-long situations: with 6, 10 and 17 yards to go. Head coach Matt Eberflus also chose to take the air out of the ball when the Bears had the ball with 40 seconds left before halftime. It was clear this was going to be yet another conservative game plan early. That didn't change with the injury to Montgomery, and though it might suggest a lack of faith in Justin Fields -- who threw two picks versus Houston -- it also shows that the Bears believe they have two excellent backs.
  3. Texans' faith in rookie will be tested. On his fourth carry of the game, Texans rookie running back Dameon Pierce fumbled deep in the red zone. The Texans frankly were lucky to recover it. But instead of benching Pierce and turning to veteran Rex Burkhead, they stuck with the kid, giving him two straight handoffs after the fumble. It paid off. In a game in which both teams were shorthanded in the passing game, Pierce helped set up Houston's initial TD and ran it in himself for the second score. He finished with 81 yards on 21 carries and caught two passes for 21 yards. It was a sign for the Texans to maintain their faith in Pierce, especially after he'd been relatively quiet in Weeks 1 and 2. But then Pierce fumbled a second time; this time, Burkhead replaced him. Pierce was not a fumbler in college, putting four total on the ground in four years at Florida, including none in his final 19 games for the Gators. By going right back to him initially, it was an indication that the Texans view him as their workhorse back. But after the second one? It's hard to know where he stands.

Next Gen stat of the game: Khalil Herbert ran for 81 rushing yards over expected (76 expected, 157 actual).

NFL Research: Only two NFL players have a rush of 30-plus yards and a reception of 30-plus yards this season: Bears WR Equanimeous St. Brown and his brother, Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown.

Carolina Panthers
2022 · 1-2-0
New Orleans Saints
2022 · 1-2-0

Nick Shook's takeaways:

  1. The Snow Patrol launches its reunion tour. Carolina's defense was its strength in 2021, but lacked the same difference-making punch through two weeks this season. That changed Sunday, starting with Carolina's first takeaway of 2022. With its offense carrying its struggles into Week 3, the defense took the lead when Frankie Luvu stripping Alvin Kamara, leading to a recovery returned for a touchdown by Marquis Haynes. The tone-setting score gave Carolina an early cushion, and despite getting outgained 426-293, the Panthers repeatedly stood tall when it mattered most. Carolina blocked Wil Lutz's first field goal attempt and harassed Jameis Winston all afternoon, intercepting him early in the fourth quarter and recording another in a moment of desperation in the game's final seconds. It wasn't pretty from a statistical standpoint, but the Panthers kept the Saints out of the end zone for the first three quarters of the game and held on late. That's more than they could say about their first two outings this season.
  2. The Saints' offense is lost at sea. New Orleans moved the football fairly well, but couldn't get out of its own way for much of the afternoon, fumbling three times (losing one) as part of a three-turnover afternoon. Winston looks nothing like the quarterback who led a furious Week 1 comeback, repeatedly missing targets downfield so often that when he did connect with Chris Olave, it felt like a cause for celebration. Kamara averaged four yards per carry but struggled to make a difference, and the only standouts on the afternoon were Olave and Tre'Quan Smith, with the latter seeing additional attention because of Jarvis Landry's exit due to injury. New Orleans needs to look inward to figure out its problems, which unfortunately start with Winston.
  3. Panthers still have a ways to go ... but it's a start. Carolina's offense still leaves a lot to be desired. Baker Mayfield struggled for a third straight outing, and his passer rating likely would've been worse if not for the quick completion to Laviska Shenault Jr., who did the rest of the work on a 67-yard touchdown scamper. Christian McCaffrey churned out 108 yards on 25 attempts, but it was a hard-earned total. Nothing is coming easily for the Panthers, who can give the lion's share of the credit to their defense for this win. Carolina found ways to move the ball a little better than previous weeks, but once again, the Panthers needed one huge touchdown to make its mark offensively. Consistency remains fleeting.

Next Gen stat of the game: Jameis Winston completed 10 of 18 passes of 10-plus air yards for 245 yards and two interceptions Sunday. He's yet to throw a touchdown and has thrown five interceptions on such attempts this season.

NFL Research: The Saints have been shut out in the first half four times in their first 20 games following Drew Brees' retirement. They were shut out in the first half four times in 228 games with Brees as their starter (2006-2020).

Indianapolis Colts
2022 · 1-1-1
Kansas City Chiefs
2022 · 2-1-0

Eric Edholm's takeaways:

  1. Colts rookie pass catchers step up. The Colts have some clear limitations offensively. But there were some encouraging signs from two rookies whose roles could grow soon. Wide receiver Alec Pierce, who missed last week's loss, stepped up with three grabs for 61 yards. His 30-yard catch, with the Colts backed up against their own goal line, would have been more critical had Matt Ryan not fumbled a few plays later. The other rookie to step up was tight end Jelani Woods, who scored two touchdowns, including the game-winner with less than a minute left. Woods' route tree might be limited now, but on a team that is screaming for playmakers, he might demand expanded volume. Opponents have keyed in on Michael Pittman and Jonathan Taylor, and Ryan was under fire most of Sunday with the Chiefs' pressure, so all the help the Colts can get, they'll take.
  2. Special teams errors cost Chiefs. Kansas City cost itself seven points early when Skyy Moore muffed a punt following a Colts three-and-out, gifting an early touchdown to an offensively challenged team. The Chiefs matched the Colts' TD on their next drive but missed an extra point. Later, on fourth-and-11 in the fourth quarter, the Chiefs called for a punter to throw it to a backup tight end. Brace for a shocker: The play didn't pan out. We should mention that it was a fake field goal, but the decision was an odd one. The Chiefs' comfort level with backup Matt Ammendola kicking clearly is limited; he made a 26-yard field goal earlier in the game but missed a longer extra-point try and later shanked a 34-yard FG try. But if you're going to go for it, do it with Patrick Mahomes, not Tommy Townsend. All respect to Townshend and his 100% career passing accuracy entering Sunday (2 for 2), but we know who the better thrower is. Special teams really killed Kansas City's chances of beating a previously winless team Sunday.
  3. Ryan's fumbling raises eyebrows. Ryan deserves a ton of credit for taking five sacks and 10 QB hits and still being able to turn in a game-winning drive where he completed eight of his 10 passes. But his two fumbles brought his league-high total to seven on the season. His season high for fumbles is 12 back in 2015, but Ryan also had 11 last year. He's never had the greatest ball security of all time, but this number raises some questions. It's clearly not all his fault, as the Colts' offensive line -- considered a strength heading into the season -- has been a big disappointment overall through three games. Ryan also is guilty of not sensing pressure at times and holding onto the ball too long, likely hoping for his receivers to uncover late. Whatever the reason, it must be fixed. The margin for error with this Colts offense is relatively small right now.

Next Gen stat of the game: Patrick Mahomes was only blitzed by the Colts on two of his 35 dropbacks after being blitzed on 45.3% of his dropbacks in Weeks 1 and 2.

NFL Research: Matt Ryan delivered his 43rd career game-winning drive, which is tied for the sixth-most by any QB in the Super Bowl era and the most by any QB since Ryan was drafted in 2008.

Baltimore Ravens
2022 · 2-1-0
New England Patriots
2022 · 1-2-0

Nick Shook's takeaways:

  1. Lamar's price keeps climbing. Lamar Jackson wasn't perfect on Sunday, but what mattered more was his production. Jackson finished with a passing line of 18-of-29 for 218 yards and four touchdowns, and his performance in Baltimore's final scoring drive was the loudest statement of the day. Clinging to a five-point lead and flirting with collapse, Jackson and the Ravens' offense took over at their own 27 following a Nelson Agholor fumble and emphatically put the game away. Jackson completed passes of 35, 20, 6 and 3 yards, gaining 64 yards through the air before the quarterback took a third-and-1 carry 9 yards for a decisive touchdown. Jackson produced five scores on the day and almost single-handedly put away a game that very easily could've gone the other way. These moments prove why he's regarded so highly -- and why he'll command an astronomical salary whenever the Ravens finally decide to strike a deal on an extension with him.
  2. The Patriots had their chances, but didn't capitalize. When Jabrill Peppers recovered a Rashod Bateman fumble early in the fourth quarter, New England appeared set to pull off a comeback that would send the Ravens to another heartbreaking loss. Instead, that drive ended with an ill-advised prayer of a Mac Jones throw to the back corner of the end zone, where Marlon Humphrey easily hauled it in for a drive-ending interception. The Patriots found another opportunity later in the quarter when Jones connected with Agholor, but the receiver fumbled while running after the catch. At that point, New England had exhausted its chances, and Jackson put them to bed with his touchdown run. To make matters worse, Jones suffered an ankle injury in the final moments of the game. New England will lament its wasted chances in Week 3 and hope to get good news on Jones. At 1-2, they can't afford to repeat these same mistakes if they want to keep pace with the Dolphins and Bills.
  3. Baltimore bounces back. The Ravens had every reason to believe another collapse was coming at the hands of an AFC East opponent. A week earlier, Tua Tagovailoa shocked Charm City by leading an unlikely comeback, and Jones appeared poised to pull off a similar feat. Instead of crumbling, these Ravens rose to the occasion, refusing end zone entry and forcing a crucial turnover when the Patriots had another shot at a go-ahead score. Jackson's ensuing touchdown capped a resilient performance from a team that had enough reasons to lose (including losing its backup left tackle to injury). John Harbaugh's team refused to acquiesce to the Patriots' desires, forcing four turnovers on the day to improve to 2-1 and sit tied atop the AFC North.

Next Gen stat of the game: Mac Jones completed just 3 of 8 intermediate passes (10-19 air yards) for 74 yards and three interceptions.

NFL Research: Lamar Jackson is the first player in the Super Bowl era with 10-plus passing touchdowns and 100-plus rushing yards in his first three games of a season.

Tennessee Titans
2022 · 1-2-0
Las Vegas Raiders
2022 · 0-3-0

Coral Smith's takeaways:

  1. Titans eke out win. Six days after looking stagnant against the Bills, the Titans came out of the gate swinging versus the Raiders, scoring touchdowns on their first three possessions of the game. Going into halftime with a 24-10 lead, Tennessee looked much more like the team which got the AFC No. 1 seed for the playoffs last season, and less like the 0-2 team we'd seen so far this season. But once the third quarter started, the Titans started to revert back to the issues that had previously hampered them. Ryan Tannehill threw an interception and later fumbled, and the offense as a whole couldn't get anything going. Tennessee was held scoreless in the second half, and was one two-point conversion away from a tied game with a minute left. While the defense held when needed, stopping Raiders quarterback Derek Carr from finding Darren Waller in the end zone for the conversion, the rest of the second half performance by the Titans left room for improvement, and cause for concern over their apparent struggle to play a full 60-minute game.
  2. Hollins breaks through. Wide receiver Mack Hollins repeatedly came up with big plays in crucial moments to keep the Raiders' late-game drives alive, giving his team a chance to make a comeback. With Hunter Renfrow out and Davante Adams struggling to contribute consistently, Hollins had himself a career outing. With six minutes left in the fourth quarter, Hollins hauled in a 60-yard pass from Carr that set up a field goal to bring the Raiders within one score. And then on the last drive of the game, Hollins caught passes on two fourth-down plays, first for a 48-yard gain to put Las Vegas in the red zone, and then for a touchdown. Before coming to Las Vegas this offseason, Hollins had never finished a season with more than 226 total receiving yards, but has already surpassed that in three games, adding his 158 receiving yards on Sunday for 240 receiving yards overall. Based on this breakout performance, we might be seeing a lot more from Hollins as the season continues.
  3. Derrick Henry is back. After collecting a measly 25 rushing yards going up against the formidable Bills defense last week, Henry definitely needed a rebound game. And he got it. While his production wasn't quite at the level of some of his most impressive performances, Henry had a quality game, supplementing his rushing numbers with receiving yards to help give Tennessee the early lead. Henry took on the bulk of the rushing duties as usual, rushing 20 times for 85 yards and a touchdown. In addition, he finished with five receptions for 58 yards. Henry did quiet down a bit in the second half (so did the rest of the offense), but nevertheless his numbers in Sunday's game are a great sign for Tennessee as it looks to improve from its shaky start to the season.

Next Gen stat of the game: Ryan Tannehill utilized play action on 50% of his dropbacks versus the Raiders, after averaging 35% in Weeks 1 and 2.

NFL Research: With his TD catch on Sunday, Davante Adams has caught a touchdown pass from Derek Carr in 12 straight games as college/NFL teammates dating back to the 2013 season at Fresno State.

Minnesota Vikings
2022 · 2-1-0
Detroit Lions
2022 · 1-2-0

Kevin Patra's takeaways:

  1. Kirk Cousins overcomes dismal day to make game-winning play. It was another day of struggles for the Minnesota quarterback, who couldn't find any rhythm for nearly four quarters. Cousins had zero touch deep, netting just one completion of 20-plus air yards on the game. Fortunately for the Vikings, that connection was the game-winning score to K.J. Osborn for a 28-yard touchdown after Minnesota trailed late. The Vikings were gifted a chance to win the game, with the Lions missing a long field goal late, and Cousins took advantage. Still, it wasn't a pretty day for the second consecutive week as Cousins continues to get experience in Kevin O'Connell's offense. The QB finished 24-of-41 passing for 260 yards and two TDs. He was outplayed by Jared Goff for the bulk of the contest. A bevy of check-downs from Cousins isn't going to consistently win against better teams. The Vikings offense needs Cousins to be better than he was Sunday.
  2. Lions coach Dan Campbell regrets not going for it on the key fourth down late. Campbell displayed fearlessness most of the game, with the Lions attempting six fourth downs, converting four as they ran out to a lead and regained it in the second half. On third-and-longs, the Lions were comfortable throwing short of the sticks to set up fourth-and-1s and fourth-and-2s. It was clearly part of Campbell's plan. But with a fourth-and-4 up three points with 1:14 remaining, Campbell attempted a 54-yard field goal that Austin Seibert missed badly. The botch allowed the Vikings to scorch the defense for the go-ahead TD. Opting for the field goal -- after Seibert already missed a 48-yarder -- was arguably the worst of the three choices. Campbell could have gone for the game-sealing first down or even punted to make the field longer for Minnesota. So it was surprising that after trusting his offense all game on fourth downs, Campbell didn't in the biggest moment.
  3. Justin Jefferson has another quiet day. After a scorching Week 1, the star wideout was smothered for the second straight game. Jefferson was held to a career-low 14 yards on three catches with six targets (fewest targets since Week 9, 2021 versus Baltimore). His long catch went 6 yards. Seven Vikings had more yards than Jefferson on Sunday, including fullback C.J. Ham (15 on two grabs). In the last two weeks, Cousins hasn't been able to find Jefferson for big plays. Minnesota needs that streak to end in London next week against the Saints. Credit goes to the Lions' defense, which came in not wanting to let JJ go wild. Former No. 3 overall pick Jeff Okudah might have had his best day at corner for the Lions. Okudah lined up against Jefferson on 32 routes (78%) and allowed just three catches for 14 yards against the star WR, per Next Gen Stats. Okudah was in press coverage versus Jefferson on 68.8% of those plays.

Next Gen stat of the game: Jared Goff went 8-of-13 for 114 yards and a TD on play-action.

NFL Research: Kirk Cousins earned his 33rd straight game with a TD pass (longest active streak) and his 21st game-winning drive (second all time by a fourth-rounder to Joe Theismann).

Cincinnati Bengals
2022 · 1-2-0
New York Jets
2022 · 1-2-0

Michael Baca's takeaways:

  1. Bengals defense stops the bleeding. The Bengals defense was an overlooked catalyst of the Bengals' Super Bowl run in 2021. The unit was essential to getting Cincinnati its first win of 2022. Trey Hendrickson led the way with 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles while adding four tackles and four QB hits. Bengals teammates fed off Hendrickson's tenacious energy, forcing Joe Flacco to throw errant passes as he constantly anticipated pressure even in the instances it wasn't really there. Linebacker Logan Wilson and safety Jessie Bates each found an interception on the day while the Bengals picked up a total of eight passes defensed and delivered several big hits that had Jets wideouts reeling. The 14 first-quarter points the Bengals offense provided were more than enough for a defense that kept the Jets out of the end zone.
  2. Joe Burrow gets back on track. The Bengals' star quarterback picked apart a fiery Jets defense right out of the gate, amassing a career-high 163 passing yards in the opening quarter and throwing two touchdowns in the process. Sacked only twice on the day, Burrow made several key throws while avoiding pressure in the pocket and kept the chains moving for an offense that was bottled up on the ground (69 rushing yards). Tyler Boyd led all receivers with 105 yards off four receptions (one TD) while Tee Higgins (five catches, 93 yards) was Burrow's go-to target during the hot start. Burrow completed 23 of 36 passes for 275 yards and three TDs at the end of the day, and it could've easily been a more impressive stat line if it were needed after three quarters of play.
  3. Lost in the Sauce. It was another forgetful home game for Gang Green with a messy, turnover-prone offense continuously settling for field goals and doing little to help a defense that entered a whirlwind in the first half. But New York can take solace with its rookie cornerback Sauce Gardner, who turned in another solid performance in his third career game. Gardner locked horns with Bengals receiver Ja'Marr Chase for most of the afternoon, and seemingly came out on top whenever the ball came their way. Burrow tested the rookie with a deep shot in the first quarter to Chase, and Gardner did a snow angel on the turf to celebrate the incompletion. Chase might have found the end zone at the end of the day, but Sauce wasn't near it. Gardner finished the game with four tackles (one tackle for loss) and two passes defensed, and is so far living up to the expectations that come with being a No. 4 overall pick in the Big Apple.

Next Gen stat of the day: Joe Burrow went 5-of-13 for 97 yards and three TDs under pressure (first career game with multiple TDs under pressure).

NFL Research: Bengals WR Ja'Marr Chase made his 15th career TD reception in the third quarter (tied for fourth-most receiving TDs in a player's first 20 career games since 1950). HOFer Randy Moss, Odell Beckham Jr. and Daryl Turner are only players with more. Fifteen TDs is tied with Rob Gronkowski, John Jefferson & Louis Lipps.

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