- Chad ReuterNFL Network
Ravens' Smith performed admirably under terrible circumstances
Although 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.
- Jason Smith NFL.com
Something strange is happening in the desert
I 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."
- Charley Casserly NFL.com
Patriots-Ravens rematch had it all
On 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!
- Akbar Gbajabiamila NFL.com
Jags' Shorts shows big things can come out of small schools
The 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.
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.
- Adam Rank NFL.com
Cardinals came out of nowhere -- sort of
The 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.
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