On Sunday night, Sep. 27, the Denver Broncos defeated the Detroit Lions by a final score of 24-12 to remain undefeated at 3-0 while dropping Detroit to 0-3. This capped off the third Sunday of NFL football action. The earlier games saw yet another star quarterback go down with an injury, when a knee injury sidelined Steelers signal-caller Ben Roethlisberger in the third quarter of his team’s win over the St. Louis Rams. This was a day in which starting quarterbacks Drew Brees, Jay Cutler and Tony Romo were already sitting out due to injury. Unfortunately, the attrition continues. Here is a look at all the other games of the day.
Raiders (2-1) 27, Browns (1-2) 20: @ CLE – Coming off a hard fought win over Baltimore last week, the Oakland Raiders good fortune continued in Cleveland. The Raiders built an early 10-0 lead and their defense spent most of the day harassing Browns quarterback Josh McCown. The Raiders defense sacked McCown five times and cornerback Charles Woodson had a crucial interception of McCown late in the game to end Cleveland’s final threat. On offense, the Raiders controlled the ball by way of a strong ground game led by running back Latavius Murray who had 26 carries for 139 yards and one touchdown. Oakland also had a 470-355 edge in total offensive yardage.
Falcons (3-0) 39, Cowboys (2-1) 28: @ DAL – Thanks to a strong ground game and the heroics of spectacular wide receiver Julio Jones, the Atlanta Falcons shook off an early 14-0 deficit and remained undefeated. The Cowboys, playing in their first game with Brandon Weeden replacing injured quarterback Tony Romo, looked strong early on but steadily wore down as the game went on. Cowboys running back Joseph Randle scored three touchdowns in the first half and looked on his way to becoming the star of the game, but it was not to be. That honor ultimately went to Atlanta running back Devonta Freeman who finished the game with 141 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries. Atlanta trailed 28-14 with less than a minute left in the first half, but kicked a late field goal to make the score 28-17 before coming out and scoring 21 unanswered points in the second half. Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones had 12 catches for 164 yards and scored the final touchdown of the game.
Colts (1-2) 35, Titans (1-2) 33: @ TEN – The Indianapolis Colts managed to narrowly avoid falling to an early season 0-3 record. This was a seesaw battle in which the only critical mistake by Titans’ rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota, figured heavily in the outcome. The Colts held a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter, but Tennessee came storming back. The home team scored 27 straight points to take a 27-14 lead by the end of the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, with the Colts having scored with a little over eight minutes to play, Mariota threw an interception which gave the ball to the Colts deep in Tennessee territory. Indy then took their first lead of the day at 28-27. A short time later, Indy scored again to push the lead to 35-27. The Titans scored a touchdown in the waning moments but were unsuccessful on a two-point conversion which would have tied the game. The Titans outgained Indy 433-378 in total offensive yardage, but it was all for naught.
Steelers (2-1) 12, Rams (1-2) 6: @ StL – The Pittsburgh Steelers won the game but may have suffered a big loss in the process. Their future Hall of fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger suffered a knee injury in the third quarter, was subsequently carted off the field and did not return. The injury turned out to be a sprained MCL; he is expected to miss four to six weeks. Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell played in his first game of the season after serving a two-game suspension, and had 62 yards on 19 carries and scored the game’s only touchdown. Playing in relief of Roethlisberger, Steelers Quarterback Michael Vick completed five of six passes for 38 yards and was sacked twice. Rams running back Todd Gurley made his long-awaited NFL debut, but gained just nine yards on six carries.
Vikings (2-1) 31, Chargers (1-2) 14: @ MIN – It is safe to say that Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is back. In front of a most appreciative home crowd, Peterson carried the ball 20 times for 126 yards and two touchdowns. The Vikings built an early 10-0 lead and never trailed. San Diego were able to move the ball, but the Minnesota defense bent but would not break. As a result, San Diego lost this game despite finishing with a 371-284 edge in total offensive yardage. The Chargers were still in striking distance, trailing 24-7 as the fourth quarter began, but Chad Greenway intercepted San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers and returned it 91 yards for a touchdown which crushed any remaining Chargers’ comeback hopes. In the loss, Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen had a big day, with 12 catches for 133 yards and two touchdowns.
Patriots (3-0) 51, Jaguars (1-2) 17: @ NE – Playing in front of the home crowd, the reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots crushed the inferior Jacksonville Jaguars. Just before the end of the first half, Pats quarterback Tom Brady joined elite company when he threw a touchdown pass to Danny Amendola. This not only gave his team a 20-3 lead, but was the 400th touchdown pass of Brady’s stellar NFL career. The outcome of this game was never in doubt. Pats running back LeGarrette Blount scored three one-yard touchdowns and the Patriots outgained the visiting team 471-293 in total offensive yardage.
Eagles (1-2) 24, Jets (2-1) 17: @ NYJ – Having rushed for just seven net yards last week, and with running back DeMarco Murray out of the lineup due to a hamstring injury, it looked like the Philadelphia Eagles had little chance for victory. Instead, the visiting came up with a spirited performance and got their first win of the season. Philly jumped out to a 24-0 first half lead and the gae was essentially over. The Eagles defense forced four turnovers, three of which were interceptions thrown by New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Eagles finally got the run game going, as they outrushed the Jets 123-47 in net rushing yardage.
Panthers (3-0) 27, Saints (0-3) 22: @ CAR – Despite playing without starting quarterback Drew Brees who is out with a shoulder injury, the New Orleans Saints played the Panthers tough. Luke McCown started at quarterback for the Saints and went 31-38 for 310 yards with one interception. New Orleans led 10-0 in the second quarter and 16-10 early in the third quarter, but could not hold on. On the day, Carolina quarterback Cam Newton threw two touchdown passes to tight end Greg Olsen and his 13-yard touchdown run with less than 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, gave his team a 27-16 lead and helped finally put the game out of reach.
Bengals (3-0) 28, Ravens (0-3) 24: @ BAL – In year’s past, Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton has had his share of trouble trying to win in Baltimore. This week, Dalton came through in a big way and sent the Ravens to the first ever 0-3 start in franchise history. It wasn’t easy, but the Bengals did come through after blowing a 14-point halftime lead. Down 14-0, the Ravens came out and scored the first 17 points of the second half. There were four lead changes in a fourth quarter in which the teams combined for 31 total points. The final points of the game were scored when Dalton hit All-Pro wide receiver A.J. Green for a seven-yard touchdown with just 2:10 remaining in regulation time. Green, and Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith put on quite a show. Each had two touchdown catches as they combined to catch 23 passes for 413 total yards.
Texans (1-2) 19, Buccaneers (1-2) 9: @ HOU – The rollercoaster ride of Tampa Bay’s rookie quarterback Jameis Winston, continues. His team held a 9-7 lead at halftime, but were unable to score in the second half. Houston quarterback Ryan Mallett had an efficient outing, completing 24 of 39 passes for 228 yards. The real star of the game, was unheralded Texans running back Alfred Blue. Blue rushed for 139 yards and one touchdown on 31 carries. Houston picked up their first win of the season as they outgained Tampa Bay 186-57 in total rushing yardage.
Cardinals (3-0) 47, 49ers (1-2) 7: @ AZ – After this game, the Arizona Cardinals may no longer be an under-the-radar team. The desert dwelling franchise came out and scored two defensive touchdowns in a span of 2:03 in the first quarter. By halftime, the 14-0 lead had ballooned into a 31-7 lead and that was the end of any drama either real or imagined. The swarming Arizona defense sacked San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick four times; two of which were returned for touchdowns. Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer had little trouble, as he earned a quarterback rating of 102.5 compared to the rating of just 16.7 for Kaepernick. The cardinals finished the game with a 446-156 edge in total offensive yardage.
Seahawks (1-2) 26, Bears (0-3) 0: @ SEA – Seattle safety Kam Chancellor ended his holdout earlier this week and competed in his first game of the season. Competing against a Chicago team which had to start backup quarterback Jimmy Clausen, the Seahawks were a bit sluggish as they adjusted to losing running back Marshawn Lynch early on, due to injury. The lead was just 6-0 at the half, but then kick returner Tyler Lockett returned the second half kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown and it seemed to spark the Seattle offense. Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham caught his first touchdown pass of the season, and little-known Seattle running back Thomas Rawls finished the game with 16 carries for 104 yards. The voracious Seattle defense held the Bears to just seven first downs and 146 total yards on offense.
Bills (2-1) 41, Dolphins (1-2) 14: @ MIA – These two division rivals continued on their opposite paths. Buffalo played inspired football on both offense and defense, while the Miami Dolphins continued what has been a season-long struggle on both sides of the ball. Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor threw for 277 yards and three touchdowns. Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill again was unable to find any consistency and wound up throwing two touchdown passes but also had three passes intercepted. The Bills finished the day with zero turnovers, and controlled the line of scrimmage with a strong running game in which Buffalo running back Karlos Williams had 12 carries for 110 yards and one touchdown.