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Sunday, September 23, 2007
Updated: September 25, 12:13 AM ET
Scouts Buzz: Week 3

By Scouts Inc.

Scouts Inc. is watching every NFL game and will let you know what had us buzzing after each game. It might be an individual player or a particular play, a theme that played out over the course of the game, or an important sequence that affected the outcome of the game.

Check in with the Scouts Buzz every week to get the inside info on why each game was won or lost and who or what impressed the scouts.

Titans 31, Saints 14
As the game moved into the latter parts of the third quarter, you could see the New Orleans Saints start to tire. The defensive front started to lose their gap responsibilities, which opened up run lanes for LenDale White and Chris Brown. When playing a zone blocking scheme, defensive linemen have to maintain gap integrity and responsibility or running backs are able to find holes. This was followed up by a key play in the fourth quarter when the outside linebacker lost his containment on Vince Young, who ran to the outside for an 11-yard gain and a first down. Five plays later, Young sprinted out to his right and forced the defense to concentrate on him so much that it left Bo Scaife open in the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown.
-- Doug Kretz

Cowboys 34, Bears 10
The most interesting matchup was Charles Tillman against Terrell Owens. The Bears kept Tillman almost exclusively on Owens all evening. Even though Owens had a monster game, this was not a terrible strategy. Tillman is tough and has the size to compete with Owens, along with the long speed to handle the deep routes. Of all the corners in the league, he is one of the best candidates to battle Owens from purely a size, strength and athletic standpoint. However, offensive coordinator Jason Garrett did an exceptional job of using Owens. He was often on the move with presnap motion and lined up all over the field. Tillman had a tough time keeping up with TO on crossing patterns, especially after putting TO in motion. When the play broke down, Owens got himself into Tony Romo's line of vision, and they consistently converted.
-- Matt Williamson

Jaguars 23, Broncos 14
Jacksonville did a great job of shutting down Denver's high-powered offense. Even without DT John Henderson, the Jaguars controlled the line of scrimmage and contained RB Travis Henry with an assortments of run blitzes and interior line stunts that disrupted the flow and rhythm of the Broncos' power zone running game, especially off tackle. Defensive coordinator Mike Smith used SS Sammy Knight up near the line of scrimmage on early downs as an extra defender, which allowed Jacksonville to restrict the cutback lanes open to Henry. The Jaguars were very disciplined in their gap responsibilities, which forced Jay Cutler to attack through the air. This was a very impressive road win.
-- Keith Kidd

Giants 24, Redskins 17
The Redskins took an early lead in this game, but this team has no "killer" instinct. Despite three Washington turnovers and plenty of opportunities, offensive coordinator Al Saunders refused to take the handcuffs off QB Jason Campbell. The Redskins never opened up the passing game until it was too late. Campbell showed great poise in the first half, but then in the second half, the Redskins had way too many third-and-long situations because they would not throw the ball on first and second down. When Washington needed to crank up the passing game late, it just was not there. Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El were completely neutralized in this game. That's not just Campbell's fault; Saunders and the offensive coaches need to shoulder a big portion of the blame, as well. This offense is way too conservative. With three shots inside the 3-yard line, Clinton Portis is on the bench and the Skins attempt only one pass. Until they open up the offense and turn Campbell loose, the Redskins are going to be in close games every weekend.
-- Jeremy Green

Panthers 27, Falcons 20
Carolina offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson relied on the Panthers' power zone rushing attack and used DeShaun Foster to attack the edges of the Falcons' defense. The Panthers also mixed it up with change-of-pace RB DeAngelo Williams while using a lot of shifts and motioning to create mismatches based on their alignments. Foster was very effective in making the first defender miss in Carolina's Power "O" rushing attack, which placed the Panthers in more manageable second- and third-down situations. Even with explosive playmaker Steve Smith being held to just one reception for 10 yards, the Panthers' running game set them up for a big NFC South road win.
-- Keith Kidd

Seahawks 24, Bengals 21
For Cincinnati, it was a different week but the same old issues. This is not a disciplined football team. It had 10 penalties, four turnovers and once again was subpar on special teams. The biggest issue right now is on the defensive side of the ball. This team can't generate pressure and is scared to blitz because it would leave corners Deltha O'Neal and Johnathan Joseph on an island. Both O'Neal and Joseph consistently struggle to plant and get out of their breaks, and they cannot defend the out route. QB Matt Hasselbeck hit that route all day, especially on Seattle's game-winning TD drive. The Seahawks receivers, like the Browns last week, did a great job of adjusting their routes in this game. When Cincinnati played off, the Seattle receivers ran short to intermediate out routes. When the Bengals tried to play bump-and-run, the Seahawks receivers took them over the top. Basically, it was the same old story -- Cincinnati does not have anyone in the back end who can cover anyone.
-- Jeremy Green

Raiders 26, Browns 24
The Oakland special teams got their revenge this week against Cleveland. Although the Raiders gave up a long touchdown return to Josh Cribbs, they redeemed themselves at the end of the game when they blocked a Phil Dawson field goal. Dawson is not to blame in this case. The left guard and left tackle on the Browns' field goal team were split, and that's what caused the field goal block. Oakland special-teams coach Brian Schneider called a triple middle block, which has three defenders pushing three down linemen on the right of the long-snapper. It caused leakage against the Browns and allowed the Raiders to block the field goal and earn their first win of the season.
-- Marwan Maalouf

Colts 30, Texans 24
The Indianapolis offense was just too versatile and too much for Houston to handle. Offensive coordinator Tom Moore did an excellent job of slowing the tempo of the game by using running back Joseph Addai on draw plays and inside zone runs to establish the ground game and keep the Texans guessing on defense. When Houston tried to account for Addai, Peyton Manning chipped away with intermediate routes to TE Dallas Clark and receivers Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison. The Texans did a good job of slowing down the deep passes by using Cover 2 and Quarters coverage, but that left the underneath throws open, and Manning took advantage of it.
-- Marwan Maalouf

Eagles 56, Lions 21
Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg did a great job of calling plays to get the ball to running back Brian Westbrook and establish the run game early. Westbrook took advantage of the outside zone running tracks the Philly offensive line made for him as the Eagles easily handled the Lions' defensive front 7. The Eagles' running game featured a steady dose of the zone scheme along with the occasional flip play, when the offensive line blocked in one direction to make the defense react and Westbrook got the ball and headed the other direction to get to the opposite edge running the ball. Once Philadelphia got Westbrook and the ground game going, it opened up the play-action pass game for QB Donovan McNabb to get the ball to Kevin Curtis and the rest of the Eagles' wideouts.
-- Marwan Maalouf

Steelers 37, 49ers 16
The Pittsburgh defense was stifling and followed its game plan to a T. Running room for Frank Gore was nonexistent. The Steelers' defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage with its two-gapping technique and ate space for the linebackers to attack the running game downhill. This forced the pressure onto 49ers QB Alex Smith's shoulders, and he was unable to put the offense on his back. He showed flashes of potency and used his tight end well on occasion, but there were far too many instances when he held the ball too long, looked nervous and didn't step into his throws as he should.
-- Matt Williamson

Buccaneers 24, Rams 3
Although St. Louis RB Steven Jackson managed to break out of his slump with 115 yards and was the game's leading rusher, don't be fooled into thinking the Rams' offensive line had a great day. It was the Bucs' offensive line and perimeter players who excelled in the win over St. Louis.

The Tampa Bay offensive line sustained its blocks for a second longer and did a better job of finishing off its blocks than the Rams' did. This enabled the Bucs to break some longer runs, including a 28-yard TD by Earnest Graham. The longest run by Jackson was 14 yards. Not only did the offensive line sustain its blocks longer but the tight ends and wide receivers did a better job of blocking downfield. That meant that when Graham or Cadillac Williams broke through the first level, he had a chance to go all the way -- or at least gain enough for a first down.
-- Doug Kretz

Chiefs 13, Vikings 10
Sometimes you have to just catch the ball, even when covered. It can be the difference between winning and losing. The Chiefs managed to do just that, especially in crunch time, but the Vikings couldn't find anyone to come through.

With 9:23 left in the fourth quarter and his team behind by four points, Damon Huard threw a touch pass to WR Dwayne Bowe in the end zone. Bowe, who was covered by a smaller defensive back, went up high to make the catch over the top for the go-ahead score. When quarterbacks know they have a smaller corner covering one of their tall WRs, they can gamble and throw a soft ball up high and let the height of their WR make the difference. And knowing their receiver will make a play makes all the difference.
-- Doug Kretz

Jets 31, Dolphins 28
Jets QB Chad Pennington showed great toughness and resolve playing with limited movement with his previously sprained ankle. The New York offensive line appeared to protect better, and Pennington showed poise and patience in the pocket, especially when converting third-down situations. The way Pennington performed was reminiscent of how he led his team to the postseason in 2006. His vision, accuracy and timing made it tough on a banged-up Miami secondary. Pennington used the no-huddle offense most of the game to keep the Dolphins off balance and make plays when needed to get the Jets the win.
-- Ken Moll

Patriots 38, Bills 7
New England took advantage of a banged-up Buffalo team at home. The Patriots' offense used a balanced attack with RB Laurence Maroney averaging more than 5 yards a carry. Tom Brady hit receivers at all levels and threw four TDs to three different targets. The Bills were unable to pressure Brady. He had plenty of time to scan the field and pick apart the Buffalo secondary. It was another complete effort from the New England offense.
-- Ken Moll

Ravens 26, Cardinals 23
It was interesting to watch the quarterback play in this game. After missing last week, Baltimore's Steve McNair returned and performed well. He took what the defense gave him, completing short and intermediate routes to sustain long drives. The Arizona defense appeared to be playing a bend-but-don't-break philosophy defending against the big play, but McNair made enough plays to keep the chains moving. McNair couldn't make it all the way through the game, though. Kyle Boller replaced him in the fourth quarter, and he performed well enough to hold on for the victory.

Meanwhile, Baltimore defensive coordinator Rex Ryan used a good mixture of coverages and blitzes to make Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart uncomfortable. He struggled much of the game, and head coach Ken Whisenhunt replaced him with Kurt Warner. Warner moved the chains effectively in the second half and he rallied the Cardinals, even tying the score late in the fourth quarter. It will be interesting to see how this game of musical quarterbacks ends up.
-- Ken Moll

Packers 31, Chargers 24
The Packers challenged Philip Rivers to beat them, and although the Chargers QB did not come through, he did make great strides on the road. Rivers struggled mightily in the first two weeks of the season, but he showed accuracy, poise and pocket presence Sunday. When he was off a bit on his throws, his receivers contorted to haul in the tough grab. Of course, having Antonio Gates to throw to doesn't hurt. Gates exploited the weakness of Green Bay's impressive defense -- its safeties. San Diego used Gates in a variety of ways, and regardless where he lined up, the star tight end ran routes as well as an upper-echelon wide receiver. Combining that with his size and strength, he was a tough matchup for the Packers linebackers and safeties.
-- Matt Williamson

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.