The third week of the 2017 NFL season was important for more than just the football games. In fact, it was one of the most important weeks of football and, most importantly conversation, in a long time.
From NFL players and organizations exercising their right to stand — or kneel — against President Trump’s arrogant remarks to Thursday Night Football finally giving us a reason to watch football on Thursdays to Marcus Cooper making the stupidest move this season, it was certainly an eventful week in the NFL.
Let’s take a look at the winners and losers in Week 3 of the 2017 NFL season:
Thursday Night Football
In a season where Thursday Night Football disappoints on a weekly basis, the contest between the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers took an unexpected turn. The game was, dare we say, thrilling. Also it just so happened to be the best NFL game this season. Not exactly what you expect with words like “Thursday Night Football” and “Rams” and “49ers.” I mean, here was Jared Goff and Brian Hoyer getting into a shootout. Has hell frozen over?
NFL Players & Teams
Sunday was an incredibly important moment for the NFL — and history. Following remarks from President Trump that players that choose to kneel during the National Anthem are “sons of bitches,” NFL teams, players, and management stood up — in their own way — to the atrocious behavior of our president. It definitely generated conversation about the issue at hand, which — for those that still think this is about the American Flag — has to do with racial equality not the military. A round of applause for those NFL players and management that stood up for themselves and their teammates.
Running back Jordan Howard, along with rookie running back Tarik Cohen, single-handedly led the Chicago Bears to its first win of the season. While the Bears running game in general was phenomenal — racking up 216 rushing yards — Howard was the man who led the way for Chicago with 138 rushing yards and another 26 receiving yards. Not to mention it was Howard that had the walk-off touchdown run in overtime to give the Bears its first September win since 2014.
Well, you can’t say Houston Texans rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson isn’t a fast learner. While Tom Brady’s New England Patriots remain perfect against rookie quarterbacks (9-0), Watson made it a lot closer than most of us thought the game would be. In his first start, Watson used his legs to make the difference. But in his second start, it was all about balance for the rookie quarterback, completing 22-for-22 passes for 301 yards, two touchdowns, and a pair of interceptions. He also rushed for 41 yards on the day. While it wasn’t a perfect outing, Watson helped keep his team in it until the very end before Brady pulled his usual magic to give the Patriots the win.
The name you didn’t know coming into this week, and the name you should remember leaving this week. Philadelphia Eagles rookie kicker Jake Elliott made himself a household name — and a new foe of the New York Giants — as he booted a 61-yard walk-off field goal to win the game, 27-24, for the Eagles and avoid overtime. Welcome to the NFL, Mr. Elliott.
And then there were two. This might be one of the fastest years that talk of the ‘72 Dolphins being unseated quiets down. There are just two undefeated teams remaining who boast records of 3-0 – the Atlanta Falcons and the Kansas City Chiefs. Could we be seeing a possible Super Bowl 52 match-up here?
After two weeks where the Cincinnati Bengals offense failed to score a touchdown — the first time since the Eagles in 1936 — the Bengals offense scored not one, but two offensive touchdowns to break the losing streak. On top of a defensive score, it wasn’t enough for Cincinnati to hold onto a win as the Green Bay Packers forced overtime and pulled out the 27-24 win.
Last week, the Denver Broncos looked unstoppable both on the offensive and defensive side of the football as they manhandled Super Bowl favorites the Dallas Cowboys. But the Broncos might’ve underestimated the Buffalo Bills, who struggled this season. But behind Tyrod Taylor and a valiant defensive effort, the Bills upset the Broncos 26-16 en route to its second win of the season, which now ties them for first with the New England Patriots in the AFC East.
What should’ve been the easiest touchdown of NFL Sunday ended up being the stupidest play of the season to date. Chicago Bears cornerback Marcus Cooper, who actually had an impressive game on defense with one catch on nine passes defended, made the stupidest special teams blunder when a blocked ball landed right in his arms as he sprinted down the field. Only, stupidly, he stopped short of the endzone — whether it was in showmanship or just lack of awareness — and the ball was swatted out of his hands and pushed out of the back of the endzone. The easy touchdown resulted in a field goal for the Bears at the end of the half. But it could’ve cost them the game entirely.
There’s something deeply disconcerting about the current state of the Pittsburgh Steelers offense. While the Steelers glided to a 2-0 start heading into Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears, the Ben Roethlisberger-led offense has been less-than-impressive, including Sunday against the Bears. There’s something off with the Steelers offense, with Roethlisberger, LeVeon Bell, and that offensive line. Not that this Bears fan is complaining.
Despite tossing the ball for 328 yards and two scores, Jameis Winston tossed three interceptions as his Tampa Bay Buccaneers were downed by a Case Keenum-led Minnesota Vikings team 34-17. Despite the Buccaneers’ impressive season opening victory against the Chicago Bears last week, Winston didn’t look flashy. In fact, he looked rusty. He missed some deep throws that should’ve and would’ve been caught. Maybe it’s just about warming up. We’ll have to wait and see with Winston.
After soaring to a 2-0 start, they were pummeled 44-7 in the first London game of the season. For a defense that had had 11 takeaways coming into the game, the Ravens defense allowed four touchdowns to Blake. Freaking. Bortles. Baltimore’s offense wasn’t much better mustering only a single touchdown.
Well, count this as something I didn’t think I’d be writing in the “Losers” column. Derek Carr looked more like David Carr than his 2016 self. He finished 11-for-26 for 110 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. It wasn’t exactly what you expected from the Raiders as they vy for the lead in a very competitive and talented AFC West.
Who are your winners and losers from Week 3 of the 2017 NFL season?