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Forty-two things you need to know from Week 3

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The future is now in Minnesota and Jacksonville.

When Matt Cassel was carted to the locker room with fractured bones in his foot, his short stint as the Vikings' starting quarterback came to a close.

Coach Mike Zimmer confirmed after the Vikings' 20-9 loss at New Orleans that rookie Teddy Bridgewater is now the quarterback, ready or not.

Whereas Cassel's injury forced Zimmer's hand, coach Gus Bradley aborted the Jaguars' offseason plan to give his reeling team a boost after getting outscored 105-10 over the previous eight quarters.

With Chad Henne struggling to move the chains behind a makeshift offensive line, Bradley launched the Blake Bortles era in garbage time of a 44-17 thrashing at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts.

Both rookies turned in uneven debuts, which should be par for the course going forward. Until the two quarterbacks gain experience and receive better play from their supporting casts, the miscues will likely outnumber the exciting plays.

Seattle Seahawks 26, Denver Broncos 20 (OT)

1. Averaging 4.7 yards per play, the Broncos offense wasn't any more effective than the one that was stymied in the Super Bowl XLVIII rout. Until Denver's defense came through with a safety and an interception in the fourth quarter, the offense had run only one play in Seattle territory since a first quarter field goal. Nearly every catch was contested. It didn't help matters that Peyton Manning suffered through several more stretches with his passes fluttering and sailing before completing 13 of 20 passes for 162 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

2. Playing through a foot injury, Demaryius Thomas hasn't been himself this season. He drew Richard Sherman in coverage for much of the afternoon, was lucky not to get charged with a fumble and failed to make an impact on nine targets before his game-tying two-point conversation late in the fourth quarter.

3. A non-factor for much of the game, Percy Harvin came down with three key catches and was sent in motion to distract the defense on nearly every play on the game-winning touchdown drive. Between the threat of Harvin and Russell Wilson's scrambling ability, the Broncos couldn't stop the Seahawks when they had to make a play.

-- Chris Wesseling

Philadelphia Eagles 37, Washington Redskins 34

1. This matchup has extra juice after DeSean Jackson changed teams. The tone was set early in this game when DeSean Jackson took a late hit, and then started a small fracas by shoving safety Malcolm Jenkins in the neck. Jackson was in the middle of the action all day: He caught an 81-yard touchdown and then did Philly's trademark "Fly, Eagles, Fly" celebration.

Later in the contest, Washington's Chris Baker and Philadelphia's Jason Peters were ejected after a brawl broke out. The fracas was caused by a cheap shot by Baker on Nick Foles during an interception return. (The pick was ultimately overturned and was a huge turning point in the game.)

2. Foles missed a few throws in the second half that could have ended the game, but he played much better than the first two weeks. He took a lot of big shots and kept getting up. He was nearly flawless with his throws in the first half, including a beautiful touchdown to Jordan Matthews right before half.

3. Kirk Cousins is going to be Washington's starter for a while if he keeps playing like this: 427 yards, three scores and a fourth-quarter interception. Cousins didn't close the game out strong but he put on a show for most of the contest. His deep throws aren't pretty, but they are nearly always on point. He made terrific decisions on third down.

-- Gregg Rosenthal

Arizona Cardinals 23, San Francisco 49ers 14

1. After last week's ugly meltdown against the Bears, Colin Kaepernick was a clean 7-for-7 passing with a touchdown strike on San Francisco's opening drive. The 49ers starter accounted for 161 of his team's 182 yards in the first half, but Kaepernick's offense -- which hasn't scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter this season -- fizzled out down the stretch. So did a Niners defense overwhelmed by Arizona's speedy cachet of pass-catchers: Michael Floyd and John Brown made mincemeat of San Francisco's secondary.

2. Drew Stanton was the story of the second half. The Cardinals backup absorbed a string of clock-cleaning hits, but kept getting back up. Stanton lit up the 49ers with a pair of third-quarter touchdown darts to Brown, who repeatedly beat coverage before drawing a critical pass interference call on Arizona's game-clinching march. While Stanton missed his share of deep strikes to open targets, Carson Palmer's understudy was all grit.

3. Those who love long, slow drives should view this one on Game Rewind. A first-half stretch saw San Francisco score on a 12-play, 80-yard march before Arizona countered with a 17-play, 66-yard series that chewed eight-plus minutes off the clock. The 49ers countered with a 14-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that melted another 8:35 out of the first half.

-- Marc Sessler

Baltimore Ravens 23, Cleveland Browns 21

1. Joe Flacco came into the game with an outrageous 11-1 mark against Cleveland, but this isn't the Browns team he's used to frying with ease. Mike Pettine's defense kept the quarterback at bay while holding the Ravens to just 4-of-12 on third downs. Baltimore, though, turned the table on the Browns -- who beat the Saints with a game-winning field goal last week -- with a two-minute drive capped by Justin Tucker's 32-yard boot as time expired.

2. Flacco leaned on his tight ends early, but that strategy took a blow when Dennis Pitta left in the second quarter after re-injuring the hip he fractured last season. Pitta was taken to a nearby hospital after crumbling awkwardly to the ground on a pass from his quarterback. It's a devastating loss for Gary Kubiak's offense.

3. The Ravens didn't miss Bernard Pierce -- or Ray Rice for that matter -- on Sunday. After pounding Pittsburgh for 157 yards last week, they piled up another 160 against Cleveland, sustaining drives with a combination of Justin Forsett and rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro. Across the way, the Browns continued to lean on rookies Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell, as Cleveland's ground game got a pair of touchdowns from their first-year runners.

-- Marc Sessler

San Diego Chargers 22, Buffalo Bills 10

1. Philip Rivers is locked in right now. The veteran quarterback connected with his receivers on six plays of more than 20 yards and finished with a season-high passer rating of 131.4. Is it too early to talk MVP candidates? He's a legit contender through three weeks.

2. Danny Woodhead was carted off the field during the Chargers' first possession with an ankle injury. Donald Brown stepped in and finished with 62 yards on a career-high 31 carries. With Ryan Mathews also out, San Diego suddenly has depth issues in the backfield.

3. EJ Manuel is just ... meh. The second-year Bills quarterback holds the ball too long and doesn't take enough chances downfield. An intentional grounding penalty in the end zone cost his team two points and any realistic shot at a comeback. He's holding this offense back right now.

-- Dan Hanzus

New England Patriots 16, Oakland Raiders 9

1. For the third straight week the Patriots' offense couldn't generate big plays, and Tom Brady was under duress once again. The quarterback didn't look sharp, missing slightly on several passes -- including two from the 2-yard line. This is a station-to-station offense that didn't earn a 20-plus-yard gain until 2:00 remaining in the third quarter. The Pats won, but against better offensive teams, it could be a big problem.

2. The Raiders' defensive line terrorized the Patriots' offensive line. Justin Tuck (three QB hits) and gang were all over Brady, earning two sacks, six QB hits and a plethora of rushed throws.

3. Derek Carr made some good throws until his final pass was tipped and intercepted by Vince Wilfork. He also stared down too many receivers and made some amateur passes. He was in dink-and-dunk, "take what the defense gives him" mode early before opening it up late. Carr's fearlessness in going at Darrelle Revis late is a good sign. His poise against the rush was another positive for the Raiders' coaches to build on.

-- Kevin Patra

Detroit Lions 19, Green Bay Packers 7

1. Credit where credit is due: The much-maligned Lions' defense battered and frustrated Aaron Rodgers all game long, holding the quarterback to just 162 yards on 16-of-27 passing. The defensive line kept Eddie Lacy and Green Bay's running game in check and got after Rodgers. DeAndre Levy was phenomenal once again, but it was a banged-up secondary that played its best game in years. Coordinator Teryl Austin should wear a wide grin tonight.

2. Rodgers generally destroys the Lions by picking apart a weak secondary. However, he never looked comfortable Sunday. The signal-caller was consistently pushed off his spot. He looked frustrated throughout the second half and couldn't find open receivers. Rodgers uncharacteristically missed badly on what should have been a touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson on fourth down late in the fourth quarter, essentially icing the game.

3. The Lions' rushing attack helped Matthew Stafford overcome three turnovers (two interceptions and a fumble). Their running backs carried the ball 30 times and churned out yardage late against a worn-out Packers defense that was on the field all day. The quarterback played poorly, but his teammates picked him up.

-- Kevin Patra

New Orleans Saints 20, Minnesota Vikings 9

1. Matt Cassel left early in the second quarter with a toe injury and was ruled out for the game shortly thereafter. Rookie Teddy Bridgewater injected life into the offense, but managed just a pair of field-goal drives the rest of the way. Bridgewater was uneven, standing in against Rob Ryan's pressure but failing to respond to the Saints' scores in the second half. Per NFL Media's Albert Breer, Cassel has several fractured bones in his foot. Coach Mike Zimmer confirmed after the game that Bridgewater is now his quarterback.

2. The Saints had no trouble cruising through the Vikings' defense on the first two drives of the game, but the offense missed Mark Ingram's playmaking ability as the ground attack was shut down in the second and third quarters. Khiry Robinson (18 rushes) and Pierre Thomas (11 touches) split the load while Travaris Cadet saw just two carries.

3. Marques Colston had a bad drop early in the game after being held catchless in Week 2 and fumbling the game away in Week 1. Just when we were beginning to wonder if he had much left in the tank, he gave the Saints a 20-9 lead with an 18-yard touchdown catch. He's still well behind Brandin Cooks in the pecking order.

-- Chris Wesseling

Cincinnati Bengals 33, Tennessee Titans 7

1. This affair was never in question as Cincinnati's underrated defense squelched everything Jake Locker and the Titans attempted. Extending their home win streak to an NFL-leading 11 games, the Bengals deserve to be seen for what they are: The best team in the AFC North after three weeks.

2. After leaving last week's victory over the Falcons with a toe injury, Bengals receiver A.J. Green didn't skip a beat against the Titans. The best wideout on the field piled up 68 yards in the first quarter alone en route to six catches for 102 yards from Andy Dalton. Green is the heart of this air attack, but Dalton is doing a better job spreading the rock around this season.

3. Play of the game? Mohamed Sanu's touchdown strike to ... Andy Dalton. Taking a pitch from the quarterback, Sanu swept right -- bringing the defense with him -- only to spin and fling the ball back to The Red Rifle, who barreled down the sideline for an 18-yard score. Sanu -- now 4-for-4 passing for 166 yards and two scores over his career -- might have the team's strongest arm. Meanwhile, Dalton becomes the first quarterback in Bengals history to catch a touchdown pass.

-- Marc Sessler

New York Giants 30, Houston Texans 17

1. The Giants' offensive stars stepped up. Eli Manning had his second straight solid game, Victor Cruz topped 100 yards, and Rashad Jennings went for 174 yards as New York moved the ball all day. Extra credit goes to Jennings, who would not go down on first contact. Jennings took the game over after the Texans ripped off 10 straight points in the third quarter.

2. New York's passing attack is taking shape. Manning made good decisions and didn't miss many throws. The Giants' offense actually left points on the field when Larry Donnell fumbled one catch in the red zone, and the Giants had a bad snap on a field goal. A drop also ruined a pretty Manning pass that could have kept a drive going. In short: Manning has turned things around.

3. The bad Ryan Fitzpatrick finally showed up. He had two interceptions at halftime, and only 23 yards passing. He was frenetic when pressure was around him, which was often. Jason Pierre-Paul didn't show up much in the box score, but he applied a lot of heat.

-- Gregg Rosenthal

Indianapolis Colts 44, Jacksonville Jaguars 17

1. Luck's 140.4 passer rating was easily the best single-game mark of his career. The four touchdowns are tied for a career best and the 370 yards are tied for the fourth-most in any single game. He would have had a fifth touchdown, but Coby Fleener dropped a perfectly thrown pass in the end zone. Luck put on a clinic in the pocket. If not for red-zone miscues, the Colts would have cleared 50 points.

2. Jaguars coach Gus Bradley announced after the game that rookie Blake Bortles will start in Week 4 at San Diego. Chad Henne was yanked at halftime after the Jaguars managed just 55 yards -- to 330 for the Colts -- in the first two quarters. Bortles' boxscore looks much better than Henne's, but that's purely the result of a couple of garbage-time touchdown drives. Bortles started 1 of 5, threw a pick-six and was lucky that an illegal contact penalty nullified a strip-sack safety.

3. Jacksonville's offensive line is the worst position group in the NFL. The Colts are a team without a pass rusher, but that didn't stop them from registering four sacks in addition to the near-safety. Bortles is a major talent upgrade over Henne. Porous pass protection will prevent him from turning the Jaguars' season around.

-- Chris Wesseling

Dallas Cowboys 34, St. Louis Rams 31

1. All eyes were on Tony Romo after consecutive sluggish games were followed by a missed practice on Wednesday due to back tightness. The quarterback silenced the critics -- at least for one week -- bouncing back from a second-quarter pick six to play easily his best game of the season. Romo's biggest throw of the day was a too-easy 68-yard TD hookup with Dez Bryant. Romo finished with a passer rating of 116.8.

2. Jared Cook cost the Rams four points (check the final score again) with a killer third-down drop in the end zone. To make matters worse, he showed a lack of common sense by physically dismissing his own quarterback on the sideline. This led to some words with teammates. Just an all-around ugly look for the underachieving tight end.

3. Austin Davis -- the subject of Cook's immaturity -- played very well for the second straight week, throwing for 327 yards and three TDs. His one interception was a costly one, however, a pick six by Bruce Carter that gave Dallas the cushion it needed.

-- Dan Hanzus

Kansas City Chiefs 34, Miami Dolphins 15

1. Ryan Tannehill essentially called himself out last week, acknowledging he needed to be better. The self pep talk didn't have the intended effect against the Chiefs. Tannehill finished with a 4.8 yards per attempt average (the dreaded Gabbert Zone) and continued to struggle with accuracy and vision. If social media is any indication, Dolphins fans are about out of faith in their one-time wonder kid.

2. Much credit to the Chiefs, who are missing so many key contributors and still came away with a decisive road win. Knile Davis, filling in for an injured Jamaal Charles, gashed the Dolphins for 132 yards and a score. Joe McKnight made the most of his opportunities, scoring the first two offensive touchdowns of his career. Rex Ryan tried to get that out of the running back for years.

3. A silver lining for the Dolphins? They have a legit player in linebacker Jelani Jenkins, who finished with 14 tackles, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. That is an earned paycheck right there.

-- Dan Hanzus

Pittsburgh Steelers 37, Carolina Panthers 19

1. The Steelers looked lost against the Baltimore Ravens in their last game. Here, they dominated the Panthers on both sides of the ball. The offense was especially impressive against what's widely regarded as one of the best defenses in the NFL. That the Steelers did it on the road was even more impressive.

2. Cam Newton still doesn't look quite right, and he took way too many hits on Sunday. The Steelers pounded on the Panthers' quarterback, who was limping noticeably by the end of the night. The Panthers need to find some balance on offense and not put Newton in as many obvious passing situations.

3. Le'Veon Bell's breakout season is taking flight. The second-year running back set up a touchdown with an 81-yard run -- the longest run in the NFL this season -- and finished with 146 yards on 20 carries. LeGarrette Blount added a 50-yard rumble later in the game, putting the Steelers over 200 yards for the night. Not a bad combo.

-- Dan Hanzus

The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps all of the Week 3 action and picks the top team in the AFC.


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