What a day! One of the more scintillating Sundays in recent memory featured a little bit of everything: Hail Marys answered, trick-play touchdowns and over-the-back catches. And all of that occurred in just one game. Of everything that we saw in Week 3, which moment stood out the most?
Ravens' Smith performed admirably under terrible circumstancesAlthough there were several memorable plays on Sunday, the best feeling I had all day came from watching Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith step up in a 31-30 win over the New England Patriots less than 24 hours after the death of his brother, Tevin Jones.
With six catches for 127 yards and two touchdowns, Smith certainly showed he's ready to be the playmaker the Ravens need to make a Super Bowl run. But he also showed composure and strength after losing a younger sibling for whom he served as a father figure, and that was what really impressed.
Something strange is happening in the desertI think I'll be starting most of my conversations Monday with the phrase "Dude, the Arizona Cardinals are 3-0."
There are three unbeaten teams in the NFL, and two of them (the Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons) look to be, at the very least, contenders for the AFC and NFC championships, respectively. But the moment I'll remember most from Sunday is when my wife's best friend breathlessly texted me (if it's possible to infer that a text has been sent breathlessly) from an airport after watching Arizona trounce Philadelphia while waiting for her plane home, wanting to know if the Cardinals can make it back to the Super Bowl. It's absolutely crazy. I turned to my wife and said, "Now, that's the cherry on top of this Week 3 sundae."
Arizona beat the Patriots in New England before throttling a pretty good Eagles offense on Sunday. Dude, the Cardinals are 3-0. Special props go to the Eagles, who continually find ways to lose games when LeSean McCoy averages more than five yards per carry.
Patriots-Ravens rematch had it allOn a day that featured a year's worth of highlights, the final moment of the matchup between the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens was my choice. It was fitting that, after all the great finishes Sunday, the last game of the day would end on the last play.
It was a replay of the 2011 AFC Championship Game. Like that matchup, this game was decided by a Ravens field-goal attempt, though this one was inside the upright (barely). Joe Flacco made another statement about his development as an elite quarterback by leading the Ravens on that last drive, and he was helped by backup receiver Jacoby Jones, who came up big. Then there was the backdrop of Torrey Smith's tragic story. Finally, you had both teams disagreeing with the officials' calls on the field.
NFL Films will love this game. The NFL honored the late Steve Sabol before kickoff; the players continued to honor him on the field with a day of incredible plays. Sabol was certainly smiling!
Jags' Shorts shows big things can come out of small schoolsThe moment that most stood out to me was the clutch performance by second-year Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Cecil Shorts III. His 80-yard touchdown reception helped the Jaguars beat the Indianapolis Colts and notch their first victory of the season.
Did you see Shorts blow past Colts defenders Antoine Bethea, Cassius Vaughn and Tom Zbikowski? He made me quickly forget about Maurice Jones Drew's 177-yard rushing day.
Fans, coaches and players expect the big-name players from big-time college programs to make an impact. But so far this season, Shorts, who came from Division III Mount Union in the 2011 draft, has outperformed Jaguars rookie Justin Blackmon, an Oklahoma State product. Players like Shorts and New York Giants receiver Ramses Barden (a product of Cal Poly) are helping to make a name for small schools.
Cardinals came out of nowhere -- sort ofThe highlight of the weekend was your Arizona Cardinals improving to 3-0 for the first time since the club was in St. Louis and guided by quarterback Jimmy Hart. No, not that Jimmy Hart, this Jimmy Hart.
Every year, the experts try to figure out who is going to be the upstart team in the NFL. (For evidence, see my prediction that the Kansas City Chiefs would make the Super Bowl -- though I'm not ready to give up on that just yet.) Every year, we are completely blindsided (much like Michael Vick against the Cardinals' defense in Week 3).
Make no mistake. The Cardinals are legit, thanks to the defense led by coordinator Ray Horton. We should have seen this coming, too. The Cardinals ended the 2011 season by winning five of their last six games. Now they've won eight of their last nine.
Given what happened to the San Francisco 49ers in Minnesota on Sunday, we shouldn't be very quick to hand the NFC over to anyone.