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NFL Week 3 - Things We Learned

Will Robinson |
September 25, 2011 | 10:44 p.m. PDT

Staff Writer

Tom Brady and crew were finally figured out by their division rival Bills. (Keith Allison via Creative Commons)
Tom Brady and crew were finally figured out by their division rival Bills. (Keith Allison via Creative Commons)
We may be just wrapping up Week 3, but is it ever too early to start looking for themes? Here are a few notable takeaways from Sunday's NFL showdowns.

Teams that were not great last year look legit this season.

The Buffalo Bills seemed to take their typical form as they went down 21 against the New England Patriots. People began to call out that the Bills are done for, and that their first two weeks were flukes.

But man, was that second half impressive.

Buffalo’s defense intercepted Tom Brady FOUR times in the second half -- that is as many interceptions as he had all of last season -- including an interception returned for a touchdown by corner back Drayton Florence.

Ryan Fitzpatrick and his high-octane offense outscored the Pats 24-10 in the second half. Fitzpatrick had another impressive outing with 369 passing yards.

Running back Fred Jackson was great as well. The undrafted back out of Division III Coe College had 161 yards from scrimmage and added a score, which gave him three total on the season.

Across the Midwest towards Minnesota, the formerly lowly Lions fought back to win.

Detroit, the pre-season media darlings, collectively blinked their eyes and saw that the scoreboard read “Vikings 20, Lions 0” at halftime. But that did not discourage the Lions’ hearts.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford hooked up with his star wideout Calvin Johnson for two big touchdowns, and kicker Jason Hanson kicked four field goals, three of which came from 40 plus yards.

In overtime, Johnson made a remarkable catch to set up Hanson’s fifth field goal to seal the comeback victory. This Lions team is special.

Moving to the west coast, the Oakland Raiders followed up a disappointing fourth quarter loss in Buffalo against the New York Jets.

The Raiders went down 17-7 in the second quarter, but fought back to tie the score at 17 by halftime. Then the game opened up.

Darren McFadden had another standout game, gaining 178 yards from scrimmage, including a 70-yard scamper to score in the second quarter. Oakland dropped 17 points to New York’s ten to preserve the comeback.

And with the way San Diego has played so far, Oakland has a real chance to clinch its first division title since they attended the Super Bowl in 2003.

New Orleans edges out the Texans -- which is not bad for Houston

Houston lost its first game of the year in a 40-33 shootout in the Big Easy. But the loss was hardly cause for alarm.

The offense was still rolling, for one. Andre Johnson proved nobody does it better than him, and Matt Schaub was just shy of 400 passing yards. Without Arian Foster, Ben Tate ran the ball well, but was not great.

Clearly, allowing 40 points and 454 yards is bad. Actually, very, very bad. It was against the Saints and their strong passing attack. The Packers did not really hold them in check Week 1. The positives were that the Texans did sack and intercept Brees two times apiece.

The 23 points allowed in the fourth quarter was the main issue. If the defense can buckle down and play well throughout all four quarters, then Houston will be dangerous come January.

Who can stop the Pack attack?

Green Bay traveled to their heated rival’s home stadium in Chicago and did not miss a beat.

Aaron Rodgers turned in another robotic passing performance against the Bears defense. Who will be able to stop that passing offense? It is not quite ’07 Pats-esque, but it is great.

Their defense was able to pick off the likable Jay Cutler twice and sack him three times, continuing their dominance on both sides of the ball.

The only issue was James Starks and his running ability. He was horrendous; he could not achieve an average above one yard per carry. Fortunately, Matt Forté’s ineffectiveness on Sunday covered up Stark’s.

A couple of games down their schedule look tougher (Detroit twice, Oakland), but with the form they are in, the Packers look good on their promise to repeat their Super Bowl appearance.

Philly doesn’t look so dream-teamy

Through three weeks, opposing defenses have knocked Michael Vick out twice. Both games, the Eagles lost.

Sunday, it was the New York Giants breaking Vick’s right hand -- his non-throwing hand. Philly’s defense was the problem on Sunday, though.

Three Giants’ touchdowns went for 20 or more yards. Victor Cruz (who?) burned the Eagles’ amazing cornerback corps twice: once for a 74-yard touchdown catch and run, and the other on a 28-yard catch in double coverage for the score.

Next will be a nice breather with the Niners coming to the Linc, but Vick’s status is not good. With Mike Kafka or Vince Young running the offense, the Eagles’ passing offense could collapse, which in turn would hurt LeSean McCoy’s great season. Not the ideal start this team wanted.


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