NFL Nation: 2010 Week 3 Wrap-ups

Wrap-up: Seahawks 27, Chargers 20

September, 26, 2010
9/26/10
10:46
PM ET
What it means: The Chargers’ September woes continue. San Diego is now 6-8 in September under coach Norv Turner. After playing very well against Jacksonville, San Diego was sloppy at Seattle and the Chargers are now 1-2 and wondering why their early-season woes continue.

Injuries of note: Linebacker Shawne Merriman left with a calf injury and guard Louis Vasquez was carted off with a knee injury. If these two players miss an extend period of time, it could hurt San Diego.

Trending: San Diego is playing very poorly on special teams and is handing the ball over on offense. Seattle's Leon Washington had two returns for touchdowns, which was the difference in the game. San Diego has allowed three returns touchdowns in three games. The Chargers miss Kassim Osgood, now in Jacksonville, badly. After being sloppy with the ball early in last week’s game, San Diego committed five turnovers Sunday. If these two trends continue, the Chargers will have difficulty winning on a regular basis.

What’s next: San Diego plays a very winnable game Sunday when Arizona visits. The Chargers then go to Oakland in Week 5. San Diego has to get well in these two games or it could be in some trouble.

Wrap-up: Rams 30, Redskins 16

September, 26, 2010
9/26/10
8:26
PM ET
What it means: The Redskins fall into a three-way tie for second place in the NFC East with the Giants and Cowboys. This was a road win Washington had to have against a team that will be fortunate to win three or four games this season. Even after Rams running back Steven Jackson had to leave the game with a hamstring injury, the Redskins' defense couldn't get off the field when the game hung in the balance.

What I didn't like: The Skins had success in the running game in the first half but that dried up in the second half. It's pretty apparent that Ryan Torain is more explosive than Clinton Portis and that's an indictment on how coach Mike Shanahan approached this season. Quarterback Donovan McNabb is used to performing without the help of a consistent running game but at least he had the threat of Brian Westbrook when he was in Philly. On Sunday, he had to rely on Santana Moss and Chris Cooley, and that made the Skins one-dimensional for much of the game. Of course, the fumble by Moss early in the game put the Skins in a hole. You can't allow a bad team to hang around and that's what the Skins did. I've watched Jackson's 42-yard touchdown run several times and it looked like safety Kareem Moore had a clean shot at him. It also looks like everyone on the field overpursued the ball, allowing him to make a nice cut and race for the end zone.

Goat: I think you have to go with the entire defense. This unit was supposed to be a strength but the Redskins allowed rookie quarterback Sam Bradford to find a rhythm and didn't consistently knock him down. Brian Orakpo had the one sack but they didn't seem to intimidate Bradford at all. He and McNabb basically had the same numbers and that spelled trouble for the Skins. On offense, the Redskins definitely missed Trent Williams, but you have to be able to overcome that type of adversity.

"Special" teams issues: Losing punter Josh Bidwell in pregame warmups was an absolute killer. Kicker Graham Gano did his best, but Keiland Williams didn't help him out by whiffing on a block. The blocked punt gave the Rams a huge momentum play and inspired a crowd that has forgotten what it's like to see its team win at home.

What's next: McNabb will return to Philadelphia with the Eagles riding high. We'll write a ridiculous amount about McNabb's homecoming, but the main storyline is that Washington's season is already on the line. Even in this watered-down division, a 1-3 record would be disastrous. And there's nothing that occurred in St. Louis that pointed toward the Skins pulling off an upset against the Eagles. This looked a lot like the team that lost on the road to the Lions last season. And this should not have been a trap game for the Redskins. The Rams had stayed close in their first two games and Spagnulo's an excellent coach.

Wrap-up: Colts 27, Broncos 13

September, 26, 2010
9/26/10
8:01
PM ET
What It Means: The Colts stand even with the Texans and Titans each with 2-1 records in the AFC South. Houston’s opening day win over Indianapolis, however, gives the Texans an edge. The Colts played with typical precision, with big production from Peyton Manning and some nice red zone work from the defense in their 27-13 win over the Broncos.

Hero: Without two receivers who figured to be keys for them -- both Anthony Gonzalez and Pierre Garcon were out hurt -- the Colts got a monster day from Austin Collie. He caught 12 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns and looked like a crafty veteran though he hasn't played in 20 regular season games yet.

Trending: Manning has gone through the first three games without throwing an interception, while he’s already got nine touchdown passes. Denver had gone 15 home games without allowing a 300-yard passer. Manning finished with 325.

Significant stat: The Broncos scored only six points on five trips inside the Colts’ 20-yard line, turning it over on downs three times.

What’s Next: The Colts head to Jacksonville for their second division game to face the Jaguars, reeling after a beat down at the hands of the Eagles.

Wrap-up: Cardinals 24, Raiders 23

September, 26, 2010
9/26/10
7:50
PM ET
What it means: The Cardinals are going to have to grind, even against weak teams. That was the case for them against St. Louis in the season opener. It was the case for them against Oakland in the Cardinals' home opener, a 24-23 victory. But the Cardinals are 2-1 and the other teams in the division have issues. Arizona might be able to grind its way to a division title at this rate.

Big Revelation: Beanie Wells' knee surgery must not have been very serious. Wells was the Cardinals' most effective runner and arguably their most impressive skill-position player in this game. Wells has 14 carries for 75 yards. Look for him to become a bigger part of the offense.

Lucky stars The Cardinals are 2-1 because the Raiders' Sebastian Janikowski missed a 32-yard try in the final seconds. Janikowski also missed from 41 yards.

Receivers on radar: Derek Anerson was again erratic at times, but his scoring passes to Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston gave the Cardinals a chance. Fitzgerald had a tough matchup against Nnamdi Asomugha.

What's next: The Cardinals visit the San Diego Chargers in Week 4 before facing New Orleans at University of Phoenix Stadium the following week.

Wrap-up: Rams 30, Redskins 16

September, 26, 2010
9/26/10
7:38
PM ET
What it means: The St. Louis Rams aren't the last-place team in the NFC West -- a first since they were 2-4 and the Seattle Seahawks were 1-5 during the 2008 season. Losing Steven Jackson to a groin injury hurts, but this victory is bigger than one player (as long as Sam Bradford wasn't the one injured). The Rams now have tangible evidence that they can win a game against someone other than the Detroit Lions. They have reason to live, not just try to survive. This was big for the organization.

Big Revelation: The Rams could win a game after losing Jackson to injury. Kenneth Darby's 12-yard touchdown run gave St. Louis the lead for good. Darby is not the answer if Jackson misses an extended period, but he was good enough Sunday and coach Steve Spagnuolo loves his toughness.

Hindsight: The Rams should have done more to sign a capable backup running back. They knew Jackson had question marks on the injury front. This was going to be an easy criticism to make if something happened to Jackson. Easy doesn't mean incorrect. For the record, the Rams tried to land Brian Westbrook, but they did not view him as an every-down replacement if something happened to Jackson.

Missed opportunities: The Rams netted only 10 points from drives spanning 11, 12 and 17 yards, with kicker Josh Brown suffering his second blocked field-goal try in three games. The Rams controlled the ball in this game. Once Bradford gains more experience and the Rams gain some confidence -- plus some talent -- they'll capitalize more fully on their opportunities.

What's next: The Rams face the Seattle Seahawks at home in Week 4.

Wrap-up: Steelers 38, Buccaneers 13

September, 26, 2010
9/26/10
7:07
PM ET
What it means: All dynasties have to end sometime. Come on, did you really think the Bucs would keep winning? They beat two bad teams -- Cleveland and Carolina. Against a good team, we found out what we already knew. The Bucs probably aren’t headed for the playoffs this year. They’re improving and they’re going to keep improving, but there’s still a lot to be done before they’re ready to play with the big boys.

Could have seen this coming: Sitting in Tampa International Airport, which isn't Josh Freeman International Airport just yet, on Saturday afternoon, I saw the plane I was going to board unload passengers. It was coming from Philadelphia, which isn’t exactly Steelers territory. But, if you know anything about airline hubs these days, you could figure that a lot of people on that flight didn’t begin their day in Philadelphia. I saw at least 25 people wearing Steelers gear. Sounds like it was more of the same inside Raymond James Stadium as Pittsburgh fans had more of a presence than Tampa Bay fans.

Big revelation: There had been a lot of talk about how good Tampa Bay’s defense was. But that came after the Bucs beat Jake Delhomme and the guy who (momentarily) replaced Delhomme (Matt Moore). They got Charlie Batch on Sunday, and I don’t know that anyone has ever called Batch a big-time quarterback. But he has good players around him and that meant a reality check for Tampa Bay’s defense. If you’re letting Batch hang 30-plus points on the board, you have room for improvement.

What’s next: The bye week. Yeah, it’s early and some fans were griping about the fact it might stop Tampa Bay’s momentum. Well, Pittsburgh took care of that. The Bucs can take the good things from their two wins and try to continue to build on them as they get in a little extra practice time before going to Cincinnati on Oct. 10.

Wrap-up: Bengals 20, Panthers 7

September, 26, 2010
9/26/10
6:56
PM ET
What it means: Carolina’s problems go far beyond the quarterback situation following a 20-7 loss to the Bengals. Rookie Jimmy Clausen got his first NFL start and didn’t provide much more of a spark than Matt Moore did in the first two games. At least there’s some upside with Clausen and the Panthers might as well get him as much playing time as possible because it’s looking more and more like the Panthers should start getting ready for next year.

Tomorrow’s Talker: For a long time now, the popular debate has been if coach John Fox, whose contract expires after the season, will be with the Panthers next year. I think it’s time to change the syntax a bit and make the question: “Will Fox even last the rest of this season?’’ Yeah, things have gotten that bad in Carolina. I’m not saying owner Jerry Richardson is going to come out and fire Fox tomorrow. But, as the losses pile up and it becomes obvious there’s no way Fox returns, you have to wonder if Richardson will let this thing drag on all season. Unless there’s sudden improvement, November and December could be the time frame in Richardson has to make a move.

Could have seen this coming: Wide receiver Steve Smith reportedly was barking at Clausen on the field and on the sideline during the game. Smith was quiet and diplomatic in the locker room after the game. But a competitor like Smith, who didn’t have a catch until the fourth quarter and finished with three for 22 yards, isn’t going to stay quiet forever. Like I said, the next few months could be very interesting around the Panthers, for all the wrong reasons.

What’s next: For their next trick, the Panthers get to travel to the Superdome to play the defending Super Bowl champions, who just might feel like they’ve got something to prove after Sunday’s overtime loss to Atlanta. After that, the Panthers will hold “the inaugural Julius Peppers Homecoming Party’’ when they host Chicago Oct. 10.

Wrap-up: Titans 29, Giants 10

September, 26, 2010
9/26/10
5:27
PM ET
What it Means: A week after the Titans were overwhelmed by Pittsburgh, they bounced back and end up in good position in the AFC South at 2-1. They played tough defense and relied on the run game to beat the Giants, 29-10. When they stick with that recipe, they’re formidable.

What I Liked: Kenny Britt got more involved with a 13-yard touchdown catch, Vince Young played more of a game-manager role and Chris Johnson returned to familiar form with 32 carries, 125 rushing yards, and two touchdown.

Forcing Mistakes: Tennessee’s eight penalties for 80 yards weren’t good, but were more than offset by New York’s 11 penalties for 86 yards, which included four personal fouls. That suggests the Titans did well to walk away after the whistle while the Giants did not.

Unsung Heroes: Beyond blocking well for Johnson and the run game, the offensive line bounced back from a poor showing against Pittsburgh by allowing New York to record just one official hit on Young.

What’s next: The Titans host Denver at LP Field.

Wrap-up: Bengals 20, Panthers 7

September, 26, 2010
9/26/10
4:59
PM ET
Here are some thoughts on the Cincinnati Bengals' 20-7 win against the Carolina Panthers:

What it means: The Bengals showed maturity and took care of business against a lesser opponent on the road. Cincinnati has dominated the AFC North recently but struggled outside of the division. So every win outside of the AFC North demonstrates growth by the team.

What I liked: Cincinnati's defense showed up for the second straight week, holding Carolina (0-3) to just seven points. Rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen made his first NFL start and finished with 188 yards and one interception. After getting throttled by the New England Patriots, the Bengals have allowed just 17 points combined in the past two games.

What I didn't like: Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer continue his slow start by throwing for 195 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Palmer has a lot of new weapons in the passing game this year, so there is no excuse for him not to produce, particularly when he's turning over the football. Palmer's passer ratings in the first three games this season have gone from 92.5 to 60.1 to 53.3 against the Panthers.

What's next: The Bengals will play their second division game of the season when they travel next week to play the Cleveland Browns (0-3). Cincinnati swept the Browns in two games last season. The Bengals improved to 2-1 and remain one game behind the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0) in a competitive AFC North division.

Wrap-up: Ravens 24, Browns 17

September, 26, 2010
9/26/10
4:51
PM ET
Here are some thoughts on the Baltimore Ravens' victory over the Cleveland Browns:

What it means: The Ravens improved to 2-1 on the season and 1-1 in the division with a win over the Browns. Baltimore, after scoring just 20 points in the first two weeks, helped out the defense by scoring 24 points. For the Browns, they fought hard but lost their third straight game to start the season. Cleveland doesn't have many easy games on its schedule but has been competitive each week.

What I liked: There were some things I like from both teams. For Baltimore, the offense finally showed signs of life, particularly the passing game. Quarterback Joe Flacco threw for 262 yards and all three touchdowns were to receiver Anquan Boldin. For the Browns, they played tough and pushed the Ravens into the fourth quarter, despite being a huge underdog.

What I didn't like: Baltimore's run defense was unusually shaky in this game. Browns running back Peyton Hillis torched the Ravens for 144 rushing yards and a touchdown. That will be something Baltimore needs to clean up. For the Browns, they blew a second-half lead for the third straight game. Cleveland led 17-14 in the fourth quarter, but it couldn't stop Baltimore's offense from scoring 10 straight points to seal the game.

What's next: The Ravens have a big rivalry game next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0), which is always one of the most physical games of the season. Baltimore will try to take advantage of Pittsburgh in its final game without star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. For the Browns, the schedule doesn't let up as they host the defending AFC North champion Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) in the "Battle of Ohio." The Bengals swept the Browns in two games last season.

Wrap-up: Chiefs 31, 49ers 10

September, 26, 2010
9/26/10
4:24
PM ET
What it means: The Kansas City Chiefs are 3-0. This team won a total of 10 games the past three seasons. After winning two tough games to start the seasons, Kansas City absolutely dominated San Francisco, 31-10.

Tomorrow's Talker: Matt Cassel caught fire in the second half. After struggling in the first two games of the season, many Chiefs fans were complaining about Cassel despite the 2-0 record. He started slow Sunday, but he had a fine second half as the Chiefs turned a 10-3 lead at halftime into a laugher. Cassel completed 16 of 27 passes for 250 yards. He threw three touchdown passes and was intercepted once. If Cassel can continue this type of production, the Chiefs will be hard to beat, especially with running backs Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones running as they did Sunday.

Big Revelation: This defense is good. Kansas City has allowed 38 points in three games. Once again, the run defense was terrific. New defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel is doing a terrific job.

What’s next: Kansas City has its bye and then it enters its toughest stretch of the season when it visits Indianapolis and Houston.

Wrap-up: Chiefs 31, 49ers 10

September, 26, 2010
9/26/10
4:21
PM ET
What it means: The 49ers will take an 0-3 record into Atlanta and their strength will be tested. Having three of the first four games on the road put the 49ers at risk for a slow start, although winning at least one of the first three seemed like a reasonable expectation. Allowing more than 450 yards to the Chiefs did not. The schedule eases some after Week 4 and the other teams in the division aren't exactly perfect (Seattle and Arizona were outscored 72-21 in Week 3, after all). This division race is still only beginning. The key for San Francisco will be weathering the rough start emotionally and psychologically. Coach Mike Singletary's leadership style will be tested. Singletary talked last week about having more than one gear as a coach. Can he really mix it up? Or will his reaction to the disappointing start consist of backing up a few steps and ramming into the wall even harder?

Big Revelation: The 49ers' powerful defense can be exposed by teams with speed on offense. New Orleans' Reggie Bush had some success early in the Saints' game at San Francisco last week. The Chiefs' Jamaal Charles was a track star in college. Fellow Kansas City running back Dexter McCluster has big-play ability. The 49ers countered with a big, rugged front seven, but they had problems containing the Chiefs' speed on the outside. With the 49ers paying attention to the Chiefs' big-play perimeter threats, Kansas City beat them for a 45-yard touchdown on a trick play. Running back Thomas Jones took the snap and handed off to McCluster, who tossed back to quarterback Matt Cassel. Cassel tossed three touchdown passes, becoming the third quarterback this season to post a passer rating in triple digits against the 49ers.

Hindsight: The 49ers might have been better off sticking with Adam Snyder at right guard. Snyder started the Monday night game against New Orleans and the offensive line played what Singletary called its best game since he's been on staff. Snyder is a versatile veteran. Singletary put youngster Chilo Rachal back into the lineup against the Chiefs, as promised, once doctors cleared Rachal to return. I wondered why the 49ers would mess with a good thing, particularly given that Rachal has hardly been a consistently productive performer. The offensive line seemed to fall apart Sunday. Officials flagged Rachal for holding to wipe out an 11-yard scramble by Alex Smith. The 49ers probably could have used a veteran at right guard to help calm rookie right tackle Anthony Davis, who struggled and lost his cool, drawing a 15-yard penalty for fighting.

It's a team game: Smith's success against the Saints had much to do with the 49ers' strong running attack in that game. The Chiefs took away the 49ers running game and Smith wasn't going to make up the difference, particularly in that environment. Smith needs strong support to succeed.

Trending: The 49ers haven't looked very good when trying to get cute. They stalled on a third-down play last week when Brian Westbrook took a direct snap and found no running room. They tried a flea-flicker against the Chiefs and fooled no one. Trick plays are not the sign of creativity on offense. They're also tougher to pull off when key elements of the offense aren't working very well. The Chiefs had the 49ers' running game under control.

Trending II: Smith is not having much success connecting with tight end Vernon Davis on those familiar routes down the middle. The team hasn't tried many of them, either. Are defenses taking it away? Have the 49ers not done enough to exploit Davis' physical advantages? Those are questions I'd like to see answered.

Youth not served: San Francisco entered the 2010 season with the youngest starting offense in the league. That youth should serve the team well in the long term, but the immaturity has betrayed the 49ers in both road games this season. Michael Crabtree struggled in the opener at Seattle. Davis' struggles at right tackle stood out Sunday.

Coaching watch: The Chiefs were the second team this season with answers for everything the 49ers tried. Seattle had some additional familiarity with San Francisco based on having Jeff Ulbrich, Michael Robinson and Scot McCloughan on their side. That type of familiarity can be overrated, but it probably helped Seattle because the Seahawks had a new staff. Seattle also made some in-game adjustments that paid off well. Chiefs coach Todd Haley had a handle on the 49ers' defense after a successful run as the Cardinals' offensive coordinator. My initial impression was that Kansas City won the coaching battle in this game. Of course, the 49ers also got beat Sunday on both lines and that has much to do with making coaches look smart.

What's next: The 49ers visit the Atlanta Falcons in Week 4, followed by home games against Philadelphia and Oakland.

Wrap-up: Patriots 38, Bills 30

September, 26, 2010
9/26/10
4:21
PM ET
What it means: The Buffalo Bills gave the New England Patriots a good scare and plenty to think about. The Bills led three times and were within a touchdown and a two-point conversion on their final drive. But the Patriots' offense was too tough to get into a shootout with. Their winning streak over the Bills increases to 14 games.

What I liked: The Bills showed life after a demoralizing 0-2 start. Ryan Fitzpatrick gave the offense a jolt, helping it score one fewer point in the first half than the Trent Edwards-led offense was able to generate in eight quarters. The Bills averaged 176 yards in each of their first two games. They had 202 by halftime Sunday. Fitzpatrick did throw two frustrating interceptions, but his overall play is what gave the Bills a shot to be competitive.

For at least this week, the Patriots coped well without running back Kevin Faulk, who's out for the year with a knee injury. Danny Woodhead and BenJarvus Green-Ellis each broke off a touchdown run. They combined for 19 carries and 150 yards. Faulk's absence wasn't evident in pass protection either.

What I didn't like: New England's defense is in trouble. Fitzpatrick replacing Edwards isn't like Steve Young replacing an aging Joe Montana. New England's defense had difficulty stopping Buffalo's run game and pass game. Think about that. The Patriots surrendered 374 yards, more than double what the Bills averaged their first two games.

The Bills' pass defense didn't perform as though it's a strength. Tom Brady was 21 of 27 for 252 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. Not helping was a virtually non-existent pass rush. Aaron Maybin, last year's 11th overall draft pick, continues to be a colossal disappointment. Kyle Williams recorded Buffalo's first sack late in the fourth quarter.

Breakout: Bills rookie running back C.J. Spiller finally made his presence felt -- and in a huge way. After two games as a non-factor, he scored his first two NFL touchdowns. He scored on a 5-yard slip screen in the second quarter and a 95-yard kickoff return in the third quarter.

Breakout II: In his third NFL season, Woodhead scored his first touchdown. The New York Jets didn't have room for the popular running back and cut him last week. In his Patriots debut, he scampered 22 yards for a second-quarter score.

Big revelation: Marshawn Lynch has emerged as Chan Gailey's preferred running back. He started again and had 13 carries for 79 yards. Fred Jackson ran four times for 8 yards.

What's next: The Bills complete their first tour of the AFC East by hosting the Jets next Sunday afternoon. The Patriots will visit the Miami Dolphins on "Monday Night Football."

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