Week 3 in the NFL was easily the best we have seen so far in the young season. The thriller we got on Thursday night between the Rams and 49ers seemed like it would be the most exciting game all week. Instead, it was merely a hint of what would come.
On Sunday, most of the attention around the NFL was on the protests. But on the field, the games themselves had a little bit of everything. There were close finishes, unlikely heroes, plays we had never seen before, penalties we had never seen before, and even better games.
There was so much fun football that we decided to highlight the weirdest of what we saw. Because a Sunday as good as this deserves recognition — especially for those who might have missed it.
The Falcons’ walk-off win by 10-second runoff
The Falcons-Lions matchup was the week’s only battle between two 2-0 teams, and the game lived up to its promise. The Falcons looked great overall and never trailed all game, but the Lions wouldn’t go away.
The Lions got the ball back, down four with just over two minutes to go — aka, Matthew Stafford’s time to shine. Stafford had an NFL-record eight fourth-quarter comebacks last year and already put together one this season against the Cardinals. And just like those other times, Stafford led the Lions right down the field. It appeared he connected with Golden Tate for a touchdown to win it with eight seconds left, but the call was overturned.
It’s a slightly complicated rule, but because the call was overturned with less than 10 seconds left in the game, the Falcons won. The Lions could have saved themselves with a timeout, but were out of them, so the 10-second runoff rule went into effect.
Even stranger, the play came on the five-year anniversary of Tate’s Fail Mary touchdown when he was with the Seahawks.
Even stranger-er, but not really related except in a Murphy’s Law way, the Lions’ food caught on fire after the game.
The game was as entertaining as any on Sunday, and it’s clear these are two of the more talented teams in the NFC.
The Chicago Bears, at 0-2, weren’t expected to beat the 2-0 Steelers. But in the first half, the Bears looked like the better team. Then disaster almost struck right before halftime.
The Bears were up a touchdown and then came up with a huge play to extend their lead: They blocked Chris Boswell’s 35-yard field goal attempt. Marcus Cooper then scooped it and had the clearest of paths to the end zone. However, he slowed up, and the Steelers tight end Vance McDonald was able to catch him and chop the ball out of his hands.
After the ball was knocked loose in the end zone, Steelers punter Jordan Berry committed an illegal bat. At first, the officials said the half was over, and the Steelers started heading for the locker room.
After a review, the officials then decided the illegal bat would be enforced on the 1-yard line, giving the Bears an untimed down. So Steelers players had to run back onto the field for the down.
The Bears were set up with a golden opportunity to go up two touchdowns, but committed a false start, moving them back 5 yards. So instead of going for the touchdown, they opted for a field goal to make it a 17-7 game at the half.
Fortunately for the Bears, it didn’t end up costing them the game.
In overtime, Tarik Cohen looked like he scored a zig-zagging 73-yard touchdown. But it was called back when the review showed he stepped out at 37-yard line.
Jordan Howard put the game to bed two plays later with a 19-yard run.
Howard and Cohen led the way for the Bears all game, with a combined 35 carries for 216 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. They also led the team in receiving with a combined nine catches for 50 yards. In fact, only one wide receiver caught any passes for the Bears: Deonte Thompson, who hauled in one catch for nine yards.
Rookie Deshaun Watson almost topped Tom Brady
The Texans lost 36-33, but fans have every reason to be optimistic about the future of the team with Deshaun Watson behind center.
Watson didn’t exactly hang with Brady step for step, but few quarterbacks can do that. The rookie finished with a respectable 301 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions (including a failed Hail Mary attempt at the end).
Winning at Foxborough is hard enough, but Watson nearly pulled off the impossible: No opposing rookie quarterback has ever won at Gillette Stadium in the Bill Belichick era. Watson showed remarkable poise, once again, despite an offensive line that’s less than consistent. He took two sacks and was hit by New England six times. But he still managed to extend plays when he needed to, and made some tough throws under pressure.
And the Texans almost won. On the Patriots’ final drive, Brady was sacked and fumbled the ball, which was recovered by a teammate. Then Texans safety Corey Moore dropped a would-be interception. Those were all the chances Houston would get. Brady pulled off the game-winning drive with his fifth touchdown of the day, a 25-yard sideline kisser to Brandin Cooks with 23 seconds left.
This was the third time in the past year the Texans have lost to the Patriots, but it was the closest game yet. Houston’s defense is still a force. And on Sunday, Watson looked like the offensive key the team has been lacking.
Elliott, who had just been signed by the Eagles a couple of weeks ago, found himself in a high-pressure situation as the clock was winding down Sunday against the Giants.
For the win, the Eagles would need Elliott to convert a 61-yarder. No big deal — that was only the longest field goal in the history of Lincoln Financial Field. Well, for Elliott, it wasn’t a big deal. He drilled it.
It was just inside the uprights, which is understandable for an attempt that long. But you don’t get extra style points or anything for a more decisive field goal. The Eagles got the 27-24 win, thanks to Elliott’s leg.
Aaron Rodgers gets his first win over the Bengals AND his first OT win
Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks in the league, but somehow, he had never notched an overtime win in his career. He had never had a win over the Bengals before, either. That changed on Sunday, when Rodgers orchestrated a late-game comeback, tying the game on a touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson with less than a minute to play.
There’s nothing unusual about that. But then it wasn’t Nelson or Davante Adams who put the Packers in a position to win in overtime. It was a 72-yard pass to Geronimo Allison, an undrafted free agent in 2016 who was filling in for an injured Randall Cobb. And it was on a free play — the Bengals were called for offsides on the play, which the Packers obviously declined. Kicker Mason Crosby was able to knock in a 26-yard chip shot, and the three points gave Green Bay a 27-24 win.
Rodgers is unmatched when it comes to free plays and catching opponents with 12 men on the field. He did it again Sunday. Bengals cornerback William Jackson was flagged as he was airborne, literally jumping off of the field to avoid a penalty. The problem is that a player is considered to be on the field even if he’s in the air, so Rodgers’ ploy worked.
Now, Rodgers has at least one win over the 31 other teams in the NFL.
The Broncos losing to the Bills is weird enough. But if you ask superstar Von Miller who’s to blame for the loss, it’s him. Huh?
Well, Miller pulled the ol’ “too slow” move on Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor, which seemed silly enough to laugh off:
But the refs flagged Miller for unsportsmanlike conduct and it cost the Broncos 15 yards and gave the Bills a fresh set of downs. The Bills would have been forced to punt and the Broncos, down just seven points, would have gotten the ball back with more than seven minutes remaining. Instead, the Bills ate up clock and added a field goal with 3:14 left in the game.
Afterward, Miller owned up to his mistake.
“I can’t put my team in a situation like that,” Miller said, via the team’s official website. “I’ve brought us home 50 million times. I’ve closed games 50 million times. I’ve got to be smarter than that. I’m always on the rookies and all the young guys on being smart and doing this and doing that, and I go out there and do something like that in a crucial situation in the game. I’ve just got to be better than that.”
The penalty was costly, but it’s hard to fault Miller too much when he totaled six tackles and a sack in the game. And even Taylor knew the flag was a little ridiculous:
— Heather Prusak (@haprusak) September 25, 2017
Here are a few of our other favorite moments from Week 3:
- This Bills touchdown was the best mistake
- The Jaguars were up 37-0 and still roasted the Ravens with a fake punt
- DeShone Kizer’s mom got videobombed by a Browns fan practicing his sensual air guitar
- Tony Romo predicts the future again on a run play in Bengals vs. Packers
- Aaron Rodgers wants the Packers to know this was a “stupid f***ing call”
- Terrelle Pryor took out a camera guy and a kicking net on a 12-yard catch