What We Learned From Week 3 of the N.F.L. Season

The No. 1 takeaway from Week 3 in the N.F.L.? These new-look Los Angeles Chargers possess exactly what it takes to beat the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs: guts. An countless provide of guts.

Chargers Coach Brandon Staley understands that you simply kick at your individual peril in opposition to these Chiefs. Working the clock, too, is an historical idea that results in your demise. All standard soccer knowledge flies out the window relating to Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid and this juggernaut Chiefs offense. But it surely lastly seems {that a} coach, a quarterback and a staff in the A.F.C. West perceive all that.

Staley referred to as cross performs usually, early and late, and his quarterback, Justin Herbert, delivered 281 passing yards on 26-of-38 passing with 4 touchdowns and no interceptions. These Chargers proved they aren’t these Chargers of previous with a signature win, beautiful the Chiefs, 30-24, in Kansas Metropolis, Mo.

“Any time you’re enjoying an offense that’s this historic,” Staley mentioned at his postgame information convention, “if you’re enjoying in opposition to three gamers which might be historic gamers in the recreation, you must be aggressive. Not reckless. However you must be aggressive.”

Even with the Chargers taking a 14-point lead in the first half, it appeared there was greater than sufficient time for the typical Mahomes magic to develop. And that’s what occurred in the third quarter as Mahomes threw two consecutive landing passes to take a 17-14 lead. The drama ramped up when the Chiefs scored on an 8-yard pop cross to Mecole Hardman to take a 24-21 lead with 6 minutes 48 seconds to go.

However the Chargers punched again. First, Herbert directed a 10-play, 69-yard drive to tie it at 24. That’s when, only one week after his expensive turnover in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Mahomes had one other backbreaking error. His third-and-8 overthrow of tight finish Travis Kelce was intercepted by Alohi Gilman at the Chargers’ 41-yard line with rather less than two minutes left.

The 23-year-old Herbert went again to work. On third-and-2 on that first set of downs, he fired a 15-yarder to Keenan Allen in stride.

On fourth-and-4, with 48 seconds left, Staley bypassed a 47-yard field-goal try and win it. And when his rookie left sort out, Rashawn Slater, was flagged for a false begin? Staley stored the offense on the area for fourth-and-9. Herbert uncorked one other fastball at receiver Jalen Guyton, who was interfered with by Chiefs cornerback DeAndre Baker. No, Staley and Herbert weren’t finished. With the clock ticking to 41 seconds, and the ball at Kansas Metropolis’s 20-yard line, at Arrowhead, most groups would have opted to play for the area purpose.

Not these Chargers.

Herbert lobbed an ideal 16-yard cross to Mike Williams, who acquired out of bounds, then lofted a 4-yard rating to Williams on first-and-10 with 32 seconds remaining, a name that had the CBS analyst Tony Romo questioning whether or not the Chargers left Mahomes an excessive amount of time.

However the former most beneficial participant’s three cross makes an attempt went uncaught and a remaining Hail Mary fell quick.

A lot may have gone flawed for the Chargers whereas throwing the ball so late. Every incompletion made the case for a go-ahead field-goal try as an alternative of forging forward for a landing that will have required the Chiefs to go the size of the area to reply it. One sack may have been disastrous. One interception would have handed Kansas Metropolis the recreation.

Staley’s choice to go for it on fourth-and-4 after which once more on fourth-and-9 marks a brand new fearlessness in the face of the Chiefs’ magic. It got here the week after Ravens Coach John Harbaugh performed for the win in opposition to Kansas Metropolis in Week 2. These two coaches needed to have recalled final season’s A.F.C. playoffs.

In the divisional spherical, down, 22-17, to the Chiefs, Browns Coach Kevin Stefanski opted to punt on fourth-and-9 from his personal 32-yard line with 4:19 remaining. The Browns by no means touched the ball once more.

In the A.F.C. title recreation, Payments Coach Sean McDermott opted to kick a area purpose from Kansas Metropolis’s 2-yard line at the finish of the first half to chop Buffalo’s deficit to 21-12. And in the second half of that recreation, McDermott opted for one more area purpose on fourth down from the Chiefs’ 8-yard line. The Payments have been blown out, 38-24.

Each are completely advantageous coaches constructing long-term winners.

Each made grave errors in opposition to the Chiefs.

Recognizing that the Chargers have one of the greatest younger quarterbacks in soccer — one who’s surrounded by gifted receivers and is now 2-1 in opposition to the Chiefs — there was zero want for Staley to play it protected.

Staley can match wits with Reid, who was taken by ambulance to a hospital after the recreation.

Herbert can swap haymakers with Mahomes.

This rivalry goes to be so much of enjoyable.

Buffalonians are overcome with the similar “We can’t have good issues” worry yearly. Finally, we cause, every thing is certain to go flawed. So even after Josh Allen completed second in the M.V.P. Award voting final season and even after the Payments gained their first division title since 1995, a sense of dread lingers in Western New York.

In a Week 1 loss to Pittsburgh, Allen appeared like that uncooked rookie out of Wyoming.

In a Week 2 rout of Miami, he didn’t look significantly better.

Week 3? Allen eviscerated the Washington Soccer Workforce in a 43-21 win. With three landing passes to construct a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter, Allen appeared like the pinpointing thrower the Payments thought worthy of a six-year, $258 million contract this low season.

He rolled proper and slung a 28-yard cross to extensive receiver Emmanuel Sanders in the finish zone to cap Buffalo’s first drive.

Allen didn’t panic on the Payments’ third drive, when Washington defensive sort out Daron Payne introduced stress in the crimson zone. On third-and-4 from Washington’s 7-yard line, Allen shimmied to his proper and hit working again Zack Moss in stride with a landing cross.

When Jordan Poyer intercepted Taylor Heinicke on the ensuing Washington possession, giving the Payments a brief area, Allen discovered tight finish Dawson Knox’s again shoulder for a 14-yard rating. The ball placement was good.

Washington minimize the Payments’ result in 21-14 with fast scores in the second quarter, however Buffalo smothered the menace with offense, scoring on 5 of its remaining seven possessions. Allen was correct as ever, throwing for 358 yards, 4 touchdowns and no picks with a 129.8 passer ranking.

Every little thing got here really easy for the Payments’ passing recreation in 2020. Not since Jim Kelly in the early Nineteen Nineties may locals count on one thing good to occur late in the fourth quarter as an alternative of one thing unhealthy.

Quick-circuiting for 2 weeks ushered again that feeling of impending doom. Sunday’s win introduced on the realization that, pretty much as good as Stefon Diggs is, this Payments staff is at its greatest when Allen is dealing to receivers — like Emmanuel Sanders, who hauled in two landing catches — throughout the area.

When every thing’s good round quarterback Kirk Cousins, he’ll carve up an opposing protection. However for many of his profession, issues haven’t been good and his conventional fashion has folded in the face of stress. These Vikings (1-2), nevertheless, are loaded at receiver, and Cousins has had ample time to seek out them. The staggering outcomes of that blend confirmed in Sunday’s 30-17 win over the Seahawks (1-2).

By way of three video games, Cousins has handed for 918 yards with eight touchdowns, zero interceptions and has been sacked solely 5 occasions.

Seattle had no reply for him and no quantity of Russell Wilson would suffice.

Dalvin Prepare dinner was sidelined with an ankle damage and it didn’t matter.

Stress didn’t appear to hassle Cousins one bit. On arguably his greatest throw of the night time — a third-and-5 conversion with eight minutes left — he light backward simply sufficient to keep away from a blitzing, untouched linebacker and delivered a 15-yard cross to Okay.J. Osborn on a crossing route.

It was the type of throw we’ve not often seen Cousins make in his profession, but when he can beat the blitz like this? This Vikings offense will preserve rolling.

This was the huge danger the Pittsburgh Steelers took heading into 2021. That they had little interest in a complete rebuild and they also welcomed 39-year-old Ben Roethlisberger again — on a pay minimize — to a division the place Lamar Jackson (24), Baker Mayfield (26) and Joe Burrow (24) are the different starters.

With so much of protection, and simply sufficient of a floor recreation, Pittsburgh wager {that a} staff that began 11-0 in 2020 may once more rev into kind as a Tremendous Bowl contender. That will nonetheless become the case. Pittsburgh opened this 2021 season with a shocking win in Buffalo. However on Sunday, we realized this can be a really tough wager to experience by way of one other full season.

The Cincinnati Bengals, the A.F.C. North’s perpetually doormat, waltzed into Heinz Area and dominated, profitable at Pittsburgh, 24-10.

Burrow, a second-year quarterback who’s coming off a heinous knee damage final season, completed with a 122.9 passer ranking on 14-for-18 passing for 172 yards. The Steelers’ gifted secondary struggled maintaining with Burrow and his former Louisiana State teammate Ja’Marr Chase, who caught two of his three landing passes.

Roethlisberger threw the ball a ridiculous 58 occasions, which is about 38 extra occasions than Coach Mike Tomlin would most likely like. Najee Harris, the working again drafted in the first spherical to vary the ethos of this offense, has not been in a position to dominate fronts the method he did at Alabama and that remade Steelers line could have one thing to do with it.

Pittsburgh acquired down early, was not in a position to play a clock-controlling run recreation and certain can not assist however marvel if Roethlisberger will have the ability to sustain on this division.

Ravens 19, Lions 17: Kickers matter. Justin Tucker’s game-winning, 66-yard area purpose confirmed him as possibly the most clutch kicker of his era. However let’s not overlook what arrange the longest kick in N.F.L. historical past: Lamar Jackson’s 36-yard strike to Sammy Watkins on fourth-and-19 from his personal 16-yard line.

Cardinals 31, Jaguars 19: It was not fairly. A 68-yard field-goal try by the Cardinals backfired, badly, in the kind of a 109-yard landing return. However Arizona certain lacked ugly wins final season. Now that the Cardinals are 3-0 for the first time since 2015, they need to make no apologies.

Saints 28, Patriots 13: If Mac Jones must throw 51 occasions per recreation as he did Sunday, the Patriots aren’t going to win a lot. The play script acquired away from New England at dwelling and, of course, Jameis Winston provided the type of landing cross solely he can.

Falcons 17, Giants 14: The excellent news: Saquon Barkley scored his first landing since 2019. The unhealthy: every thing else. Barkley managed 3.2 yards per carry in opposition to the hapless Falcons, Daniel Jones was common and the Giants are 0-3.

Titans 25, Colts 16: Colts quarterback Carson Wentz gave it a go on two sprained ankles and performed like a quarterback on two sprained ankles. He didn’t run the ball as soon as, threw it away a number of occasions and the Titans rolled regardless of their three turnovers. Tennessee’s offense proved it’s gifted sufficient to win even when Derrick Henry and Julio Jones don’t rating.

Browns 26, Bears 6: Chicago followers needed to see Justin Fields. They acquired Justin Fields. The previous Ohio State star has an extended street forward — particularly with this roster. Fields had solely six completions the whole recreation, whereas getting sacked 9 occasions — 4.5 occasions by Myles Garrett — and hit 15 occasions in all.

Broncos 26, Jets 0: Till they play the Chargers or the Chiefs, it’s laborious to get an correct learn on how good this Broncos staff is, however there’s no denying the protection completely provides Denver a shot in opposition to Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert.

Rams 34, Buccaneers 24: We knew this Sean McVay-Matthew Stafford had potential however not many predicted they’d be able to down the Bucs protection this early in the season. Stafford accomplished 27 of 38 passes for 343 yards with 4 touchdowns, no picks and was solely sacked as soon as.

Raiders 31, Dolphins 28 (additional time): The Dolphins made it attention-grabbing however give Coach Jon Gruden and quarterback Derek Carr credit score for locating a technique to win one other shut recreation. Arguably no quarterback is enjoying higher than Carr proper now and the Raiders are 3-0.

Packers 30, 49ers 28: The slightest mistake will price a staff in opposition to a decided Aaron Rodgers and, likelihood is, Jimmy Garoppolo can be fascinated about snapping the ball with 12 seconds nonetheless on the play clock with lower than a minute left in the fourth quarter all week. Certain, the 49ers scored that play however Rodgers had greater than sufficient time — even with no timeouts — to get the Packers into area purpose vary. Two passes to Davante Adams, a 25-yarder and a 17-yarder, was all it took. Rookie quarterbacks have appeared actually unhealthy throughout the league, so that you get Kyle Shanahan’s logic in wanting to take a seat Trey Lance. However errors like this from Garoppolo should drive the 49ers coach mad.

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