Weekend Recap  


Redskins' lackluster offense helps Lions end historic streak


Bryant Johnson aims high to snag a 21-yard TD reception in the Lions' first win since Dec. 23, 2007.
(Paul Sancya / Associated Press)

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Lions 19, Redskins 14
The Redskins' scattershot offense continues to undermine their chances of winning. Though Jason Campbell notched a 300-yard passing game, the majority of his yardage was compiled against a defense that was playing to preserve a lead. While he occasionally connected with Santana Moss on a few big plays, Campbell was unable to consistently stay in sync with the rest of his receivers, which bogged down the offense. In addition, the team's inability to run effectively (Clinton Portis only rushed for 42 yards on 12 attempts) has hampered its play-action game and made it increasingly difficult to generate explosive plays on offense.

Bengals 23, Steelers 20
The Bengals relied on an unheralded set of receivers in the clutch to upset the Steelers. Andre Caldwell and Laveranues Coles repeatedly found openings in the middle of the field against the Steelers' zone-blitz. Cincinnati cleverly used bunch formations and quick option routes to get the pair open in soft spots. The use of the various cluster formations caused some hesitation among defenders, which created enough space for Carson Palmer to squeeze in a few tight throws. On the winning toss to Caldwell, the Bengals used a tight three-receiver alignment with Chad Ochocinco and Daniel Coates acting as decoys to free up Caldwell in the middle of the field. Ochocinco ran a deep square-in and Coates ran quickly to the flat to create an open window for Caldwell in the end zone. The well designed play took advantage of the zone-blitz and led the Bengals to a win.

Ravens 34, Browns 3
After having their identity tied to their defense since their inception, the Ravens are turning over a new leaf behind Joe Flacco and a suddenly explosive offensive attack. He passed for 342 yards with a score and provided enough big plays to complement to Baltimore's formidable rushing attack. With the Browns seemingly at a loss for how to defend the balanced attack, Baltimore rolled up 479 total yards and netted 28 first downs on the way to a 34-3 win. Seeking a spark, the Browns' decision to sit Brady Quinn at halftime did little to get the offense going. Derek Anderson completed 11 of 19 for 92 yards and threw three interceptions. With the offense lacking rhythm and explosiveness, it will be interesting to see who Eric Mangini tabs to direct the offense going forward.

Jaguars 31, Texans 24
The Jaguars returned to their roots by extensively using the running game to defeat the Texans. Maurice Jones-Drew carried 23 times for 119 yards and three touchdowns, which set the table for David Garrard to use play-action. Though Garrard didn't throw a touchdown, his went to Mike Sims-Walker and Torry Holt to help the Jaguars stay balanced and keep the Texans from loading up on the ground attack. In addition, Jacksonville went to more power formations to attack Houston's eight-man fronts. With Jones-Drew lined up at tailback in a tight "I-formation," the Jaguars ran an assortment of power plays at the heart of the defense. The strategy yielded 5.9 yards a carry and the Jaguars scored on each of their three red-zone possessions.

Patriots 26, Falcons 10
The Patriots may have found a solution to their offensive woes with the emergence of Fred Taylor. The 11-year veteran sparked the team's rushing attack by tallying 105 yards on 21 carries. His surprising play alleviated the pressure on Tom Brady to single-handedly carry the offense. With the ground game going, the Patriots controlled the clock and kept the Falcons' offense on the sidelines. However, the Patriots' red zone woes (only one touchdown in five tries) enabled the Falcons to hang around in a game where they were outplayed.

Packers 36, Rams 17
The Packers went to the long ball to ignite their struggling offense. Aaron Rodgers connected on deep passes to Donald Driver and Greg Jennings to help Green Bay score on its first five possessions. With the threat of the long ball established early, the Packers used an effective short passing game and efficient ground attack to overpower the Rams in the second half. While the pass protection issues remain a concern, the offense moved the ball effectively with Rodgers acting as a distributor against a defense that repeatedly brought five- and six-man pressures off the edges.

Giants 24, Buccaneers 0
The Giants' offensive diversity was too much for the Bucs. Led by stellar play on the offensive line, the Giants rushed for 226 yards with Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw doing most of their damage between the tackles. The grind-it-out strategy was bolstered early by Eli Manning and his emerging receiving corps. Steve Smith and Mario Manningham combined for 11 receptions, 118 yards and one score. With the Bucs forced to respect Manning and Co., Jacobs and Bradshaw faced fewer eight-man fronts as the team averaged 4.6 yards per carry.

Jets 24, Titans 17
The Jets confused Kerry Collins with a host of five-man zone pressures in the pocket. Rex Ryan used a variety of personnel packages to mask his blitzes and the ever-changing defense kept Collins from properly finding the sweet spot in the coverage. The tactic was particularly effective late as the Jets forced Collins into 13 straight incompletions to close the game.

Eagles 34, Chiefs 17
The Eagles showed explosiveness despite the absence of two of their biggest playmakers (Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook). While the much-anticipated debut of Michael Vick was expected to lead to a host of Wildcat formations, the superb play of Kevin Kolb allowed the Eagles to pick apart the Chiefs with a diverse passing game. Kolb connected on 24 of 34 for 327 yards and two scores. He also hit seven different receivers. With the Chiefs unable to identify the featured target, DeSean Jackson (six receptions for 149 yards and one score) and Brent Celek (eight receptions for 104 yards and one touchdown) emerged as the stars of the day. The Eagles spent much of the offseason retooling their offense and the time appears well spent so far.

Vikings 27, 49ers 24
The Vikings' persistence in signing Brett Favre was rewarded with their improbable come-from-behind win against the 49ers. The 39-year old quarterback not only led Minnesota to the winning touchdown with less than two minutes left and no timeouts, but he balanced the offense by passing for 301 yards. Operating in a quick-rhythm passing game that utilized a host of screens and short crossing routes, Favre took advantage of small windows in the coverage to keep the offense moving with Adrian Peterson effectively bottled up for most of the day.

Saints 27, Bills 7
After using the big play to terrorize their first two opponents, the Saints defeated the Bills with small ball. Drew Brees patiently worked the underneath areas in the zone coverage by targeting Jeremy Shockey and Marques Colston to stretch the defense horizontally. Additionally, the Saints turned to an underrated rushing attack to take advantage of the Bills' undersized defensive front. Operating out of an assortment of two-back, tight formations, Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush and Lynell Hamilton combined for 214 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries. The success on the ground allowed the Saints to win with a more conservative approach. With the defense playing well and the offense sporting a diversified look, the Saints have a team that can win in any fashion.

Bears 25, Seahawks 19
The acquisition of Jay Cutler is paying huge dividends for Chicago as the star quarterback is giving the team an added dimension. With the Seahawks intent on stuffing Matt Forte, Cutler picked apart the defense with a host of quick throws against single coverage on the outside. Cutler used the entire field to compete 21 passes. His use of the second- and third-option in the route kept the offense moving. It also enabled the Bears to use an effective two-minute offense to drive for the winning score. The Bears got a gunslinger when they acquired Cutler, but he's quickly developing into a better game manager during his time in Chicago.

Broncos 23, Raiders 3
The Broncos relied on a stingy defense and a downhill running game to defeat the Raiders. Josh McDaniels called an assortment of runs out of unconventional spread formations to attack the defense on the edges. Correll Buckhalter and Knowshon Moreno rushed for 198 rushing yards on 35 carries, as the Broncos won the rushing battle 215 to 95. The Broncos also dominated defensively by forcing three turnovers and racking up three sacks. With an old-school formula that relies on a strong defense and a physical rush attack, the Broncos have rolled out to a surprising 3-0 start.

Chargers 23, Dolphins 13
Philip Rivers has officially joined the ranks of the elite after guiding the Chargers to another victory without the assistance of a solid running game. He took advantage of an overmatched secondary by repeatedly throwing the ball downfield to Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd. Though Rivers didn't throw a touchdown, his ability to generate "explosives" in the passing game allowed the Chargers to control the things without the presence of a physical running game. While it remains to be seen if the Chargers can continue to win with a one-dimensional offense, the ascension of Rivers gives the team a chance while LaDainian Tomlinson nurses an ankle injury.

Colts 31, Cardinals 10
After playing in two physical games to open the season, the Colts' defense dominated the Cardinals in a wide-open affair that played to Indianapolis' strength. With Peyton Manning and Co. racing out to an early 21-3 lead, the defense unleashed a ferocious pass rush that kept Kurt Warner on the run. Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis and Raheem Brock combined for four sacks. Their presence also led to two interceptions. The Colts used the threat of the blitz to confuse the opposing offensive line, but primarily relied on pressure from their front four to generate heat on Warner. In addition, Indy moved Freeney around to take advantage of favorable matchups in passing situations. With the Cardinals intent on creating a track meet, the Colts relied on the speed and explosiveness of their defensive line to keep Arizona off balance.


Seven from Sunday

A look at seven statistical highlights from games played during the third week of the 2009 season.

» New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez became the first rookie quarterback to start and win his team's first three games of a season after leading the Jets to a 24-17 victory over the Tennessee Titans.

» The New England Patriots, who defeated the Atlanta Falcons 26-10, have won 16 consecutive regular-season games against the NFC, the longest winning streak any team has posted against the opposite conference since the 1970 merger.

» Philadelphia quarterback Kevin Kolb passed for 327 yards in the Eagles' 34-14 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, his second consecutive 300-yard game. Kolb became the first quarterback in NFL history to pass for 300 yards in each of his first two career starts.

» Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver/punt returner DeSean Jackson had a 64-yard touchdown reception in the Eagles' 34-14 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. Jackson has now scored a touchdown of at least 60 yards in all three games and is the first player in NFL history to accomplish the feat in each of his team's first three games of a season.

» Minnesota rookie wide receiver/kick returner Percy Harvin had a 101-yard kickoff return touchdown in the Vikings' 27-24 win over the San Francisco 49ers. Harvin has now scored a touchdown in all three games and joins Dallas' Felix Jones (2008) as the only rookies in the past five years to score a touchdown in each of the first three games of a season.

» Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward (10,022) recorded 82 receiving yards and joined the exclusive 10,000 receiving yards club. Ward became only the fifth player in NFL history with 10,000 career receiving yards all with one team ( Colts, Marvin Harrison; Seahawks, Steve Largent; Cowboys, Michael Irvin; Broncos, Rod Smith). Ward, who has 818 career receptions, also became just the 21st player in NFL history to record 800 receptions and 10,000 receiving yards in a career.

» The 30-year age difference between head coaches Tom Coughlin (63) of the New York Giants and Raheem Morris (33) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers marks just the second time in the past 10 seasons that two head coaches have faced one another with a gap of at least 30 years. The last time it happened was Nov. 4, 2007 when Joe Gibbs (66) of the Washington Redskins faced Eric Mangini (36) of the New York Jets.

Monday night

Panthers at Cowboys: Tony Romo and the Cowboys get another shot to properly christen their mammoth new playground in front of a national-television audience when they host the Panthers, a team struggling to find its identity in 2009 after winning the NFC South last season.
» Game preview

Injury report

» Chad Pennington, QB, Dolphins: Shoulder. More ...

» Frank Gore, RB, 49ers: Ankle. More ...

» Leodis McKelvin, CB, Bills: Leg. More ...

» Marc Bulger, QB, Rams: Shoulder. More ...

» NFL.com blogs: More updates

Fantasy studs

Who was this week's best fantasy player? Was it Jay Cutler? What about Kevin Kolb, Aaron Rodgers or Matt Schaub? Check out all of Michael Fabiano's nominees and cast your vote.
» Vote for Week 3 fantasy stud


The NFL delivered more exciting games and performances in Week 3, including the Lions getting their first win since 2007 and a frantic finish in Minneapolis. Check out the memorable moments with the best images from a Week 3.

» NFL cheerleaders during Week 3
» NFL.com photo gallery archives

Weekly Countdown

NFL Weekly Countdown, which airs each Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. ET on NFL Network, lets fans program the show. Check out the 15 nominations for the best performances, and then rank in the order you want to see those on the show. Come back Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. to see the results.

Top 15 moments of Week 3:

» Favre's miracle TD pass | Vote
» Palmer's winning TD | Vote
» Brady, Moss back on track | Vote
» Sanchez, Jets charge to 3-0 | Vote
» Ravens get four INTs | Vote
» Lions end losing streak | Vote
» Kolb impressive vs. Chiefs | Vote
» Jones-Drew gets three TDs | Vote
» Harvin to the house | Vote
» Giants blank Buccaneers | Vote
» Flacco has career-high in yards | Vote
» Broncos' surprising 3-0 start | Vote
» Driver does it all for Pack | Vote
» Cutler comes on strong | Vote
» Manning leads Colts' surge | Vote

» Vote: Week 3's top performances

Ahead ... Week 4!

Sunday (all times ET)
Detroit at Chicago, 1 p.m.
Cincinnati at Cleveland, 1 p.m.
Oakland at Houston, 1 p.m.
Seattle at Indianapolis, 1 p.m.
Tennessee at Jacksonville, 1 p.m.
N.Y. Giants at Kansas City, 1 p.m.
Baltimore at New England, 1 p.m.
Tampa Bay at Washington, 1 p.m.
Buffalo at Miami, 4:05 p.m.
N.Y. Jets at New Orleans, 4:05 p.m.
Dallas at Denver, 4:15 p.m.
St. Louis at San Francisco, 4:15 p.m.
San Diego at Pittsburgh, 8:20 p.m.
Green Bay at Minnesota, 8:30 p.m.

Bye week: Arizona, Atlanta, Carolina, Philadelphia.

» Complete schedule



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