Week 3: Manning, Giants deliver

Originally Published: September 25, 2011
ESPN.com

STUDS

Manning
Manning

Eli Manning

Quarterback, New York Giants

Often criticized for his accuracy (or lack thereof), Manning was on the mark in Philadelphia. Manning threw four touchdown passes, including a pair to the unheralded Victor Cruz, to lead the Giants to a 29-16 victory over the favored Eagles. Manning finished 16-of-23 for 254 yards and did not throw an interception.


Ross
Ross

Aaron Ross

Cornerback, New York Giants

Benched last week, Ross came through with a big performance for the Giants on Sunday. The veteran cornerback intercepted two passes, which led to 14 points, and had five tackles in New York's upset of the Eagles.


Welker
Welker

Wes Welker

Wide receiver, New England Patriots

The Patriots took to the air in Buffalo, and Welker was Tom Brady's main target -- by far. Welker caught 16 passes for 217 yards (both career highs) and two touchdowns in the Patriots' 34-31 loss.


Stafford
Stafford

Matthew Stafford

Quarterback, Detroit Lions

Another week, another prolific output by Stafford. After a pedestrian first half, Stafford rallied the Lions to a 26-23 overtime victory at Minnesota. Stafford finished with 378 passing yards and two touchdowns. He has thrown for at least 294 yards in all three games this season.


Brees
Brees

Drew Brees

Quarterback, New Orleans Saints

Speaking of prolific passers, Brees threw for 370 yards and three touchdowns in a 40-33 victory over the Texans. Brees was picked off twice, but he twice led New Orleans back from fourth-quarter deficits. He has thrown at least one TD pass in 30 consecutive games. That ties him with Dan Marino for the third-longest streak of games with a touchdown pass in NFL history.


McFadden
McFadden

Darren McFadden

Running back, Oakland Raiders

If McFadden keeps running like this, he'll likely find himself in the MVP discussion before long. McFadden rushed for 171 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries (9.0 average) in the Raiders' 34-24 victory over the Jets.


Finley
Finley

Jermichael Finley

Tight end, Green Bay Packers

After missing most of the 2010 season with a knee injury, Finley is off to an impressive start in 2011. Finley caught seven passes for 85 yards and a career-high three touchdowns in the Packers' 27-17 victory over the Bears.


Smith
Smith

Torrey Smith

Wide receiver, Baltimore Ravens

Smith never caught a pass before Week 3. In the first quarter on Sunday, the rookie wideout suddenly became Joe Flacco's favorite target. Smith caught three first-quarter passes -- all for touchdowns -- to spark the Ravens to a 37-7 victory at St. Louis. Smith finished with five receptions for 152 yards. Flacco was 27-of-48 for a career-high 389 yards.




DUDS

Forte
Forte

Matt Forte

Running back, Chicago Bears

Forte had a game to forget against Green Bay. Forte gained just 2 yards on nine carries in Chicago's 27-17 loss. He had a negative-yardage total well into the second half. Forte did manage to contribute in the passing game. He had seven receptions for 80 yards.


Brady
Brady

Tom Brady

Quarterback, New England Patriots

Can someone be a dud after throwing for 387 yards? He can if that total was accompanied by four interceptions, including a costly pick-six. Although he's on a record pace for passing yards, Brady already has more interceptions this season (five) than he did all of last year (four).


Texans

The Texans' defense

The Texans were in position to beat the Saints and improve to 3-0, but their defense couldn't handle the good fortune. Houston blew two fourth-quarter leads and was picked apart late by Drew Brees (see above). The Texans allowed New Orleans to convert six of eight third downs in the second half and allowed a season-high 454 total yards.


Rams

The Rams' defense

The Rams entered Week 3 with the No. 32-ranked run defense, and they did little to boost their standing in the loss to Baltimore. St. Louis allowed 168 rushing yards, including a 53-yard run to Ray Rice, and a whopping 553 total yards. Ravens QB Joe Flacco (see above) torched the Rams for TD passes of 74, 41 and 18 yards.


Falcons

The Falcons' running game

In a close, physical game against the rival Bucs, Atlanta struggled to move the ball on the ground. A week after rushing for 138 yards in a win over Philadelphia, the Falcons mustered only 30 yards on 15 carries in a 16-13 loss to Tampa Bay. Michael Turner was held to 20 yards on 11 carries.