NFL Week 3 Grades: Redskins Get an ‘A’ for Thrashing Packers, Lions Earn ‘A+’ for Upset of Patriots

Nate Ebner #43 of the New England Patriots attempts to tackle Kerryon Johnson #33 of the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on September 23, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions defeated the Patriots 26-10. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

With a roster that includes Alex Smith, Adrian Peterson and Vernon Davis, the Redskins seem like a team that would be built to win if the year was 2012, but nope, it’s starting to look like they might be a team that the rest of the NFL is going to have to worry about in 2018.

Led by three players who are all over the age of 30, the Redskins fittingly topped the 30-point mark during their dominating 31-17 win over the Packers on Sunday. The Packers had no answer for Adrian Peterson, who gashed his way through Green Bay’s defense for 120 yards on just 19 carries.

Four weeks ago, Peterson didn’t even have a job, and now he’s terrorizing opposing defenses at age 33. Normally, that’s an age when most running backs are retired or thinking about it, but not Peterson, who ripped off several long runs against the Packers, including the 41-yarder you can see below.

Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson (26) leaps over Green Bay Packers linebacker Kyler Fackrell (51) at FedEx Field. (Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The most impressive part about Peterson’s game is that he was able to keep it going for four quarters. Not only did he have several big runs in the first half, but he also helped the Redskins ice away the game with several big runs in the fourth quarter. All Day definitely lived up to his nickname because he ran over the Packers all day.

The only thing more impressive than Peterson’s performance was what Smith did to the Packers defense in the first half.

The Redskins shot out to 14-0 lead in the first quarter, thanks in large part to Smith, who threw for 88 yards and a touchdown in the game’s opening quarter. That total includes a 46-yard touchdown pass to Paul Richardson on his third throw of the game.
Keep in mind, this is a quarterback who has basically been dumped by every team that he’s played for. First, it was the 49ers. Then, it was the Chiefs, but now, Smith seems to have found a place where he can finally fit in.

Not only is Smith handing the ball off to someone his age, but he’s also throwing passes to someone his age in Vernon Davis. The Redskins’ 34-year-old tight end caught two passes for 70 yards against the Packers, including a huge 50-yard catch in the second quarter that set up Washington’s final touchdown of the half.

Old people love the early bird special, and thanks to Washington’s trio of old guys, the Redskins were able to tuck this game in early and put it to bed before halftime. The good news for the old guys is that when they slowed down in the second half, the Redskins defense was able to carry things the rest of the way home.

Washington 31-17 over Green Bay

Packers: D

With Aaron Rodgers playing on a gimpy knee in rainy weather, you’d think he would have been an issue in this game for the Packers, but that wasn’t the case. The biggest issue for the Packers was the fact that their defense couldn’t slow down the Redskins. The Packers trailed 28-3 at one point in this game due in large part that they gave up more than 300 yards of offense in the first half.

Redskins: A

The Redskins defense was definitely able to take advantage of the fact that Aaron Rodgers was limping around on Sunday. Not only was Rodgers under constant pressure, but Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen and Matt Ioannidis combined to sacked the Packers quarterback a total of four times.

Buffalo 27-6 over Minnesota

Bills: A+

Maybe Vontae Davis was holding the Bills‘ defense back. One week after the cornerback ditched the team at halftime of a loss, the Bills defense responded by playing their best game of the season. Led by Jerry Hughes and Trent Murphy — who both caused fumbles — the Bills racked up four sacks on Kirk Cousins. Oh, and we should probably give some credit to Josh Allen, who stiff-armed and hurdled the Vikings defense for 39 yards on the ground and two rushing touchdowns. In his first road start, the rookie also threw for 196 yards and a touchdown.

Vikings: F

Kirk Cousins might have an $84 million contract, but he played more like a guy with an $84 contract. Although this loss was a total failure from top to bottom for the Vikings, Cousins made several costly mistakes. The Vikings quarterback was personally responsible for three turnovers (lost two fumbles and threw an interception) that the Bills turned into 10 of their 27 points. The ugliest stat from this game for the Vikings might have been their rushing total. Minnesota was held to just 14 yards on the ground, the team’s lowest total since 2005.

Carolina 31-21 over Cincinnati

Bengals: C

Andy Dalton giventh and Andy Dalton taketh away. This game was a textbook example of everything that’s good about Dalton, but also everything that’s bad. Dalton kept the Bengals in the game with 352 passing yards and two touchdown passes, but he also threw four interceptions. Although one interception came on the final play, the other three were still costly: The Panthers turned those three picks into 17 points. Dalton definitely wasn’t on the same page as John Ross, who was the target for two of the picks. Of course, the biggest concern for the Bengals might be a defense that gave up 230 rushing yards, marking just the second time since 2010 that Cincinnati has surrendered that many yards in a game on the ground.

Panthers: B+

Before the season started, the Panthers said they wanted to get 25-30 touches per game for Christian McCaffrey and now we know why. McCaffrey had exactly 30 touches for the Panthers in this game and totaled 194 yards, including a career-high 184 on the ground. Cam Newton was also a beast on the ground, rushing for two touchdowns (and also throwing for two other TDs). The important thing is that the Panthers have now figured out the key to victory: rush for more than 215 yards. Carolina totaled 230 rushing yards against the Bengals and are now 17-0 in franchise history when they rush for 215 or more yards.

Baltimore 27-14 over Denver

Broncos: C-

Before garbage time late in the fourth quarter, the Broncos only had one drive in this game that went for more than 40 yards. For the Broncos, it felt like the only thing that went right on Sunday was their special teams play. In the first half alone, the Broncos blocked a field goal and blocked a punt. Other than that, Broncos fans didn’t have much to cheer about in this game, which included Philip Lindsay getting ejected in the first half. The Broncos also got flagged 13 times for 120 yards, the team’s most penalty yardage since Week 15 of 2015.

Ravens: A-

The Ravens‘ gameplan in this game was clearly to take advantage of the Broncos’ beat-up secondary, and that’s exact what they did. Joe Flacco threw early and often against Denver, completing 25 of 40 passes for 277 yards and a touchdown. The most impressive thing from this game might be the fact that the Ravens converted 8 of 13 times on third down after starting 0 for 3 in the first half. Actually, here’s a more impressive stat: The Ravens scored a touchdown on three of their trips to the red zone and have now scored a touchdown on every red zone trip they’ve made this season.

Philadelphia 20-16 over Indianapolis

Colts: C

Going into the 2018 season, the Colts defense was supposed to be the weak link of the team, but all of a sudden, it’s starting to look like the offense has stolen that mantle. The Colts totaled just 209 yards in this game, which was the team’s lowest offensive output ever in a game that Andrew Luck started. It’s also a number that would have been their team-low last season when Luck didn’t even play. Basically, this was a historically bad performance for the Colts, who were only in this game due to a defense that forced two turnovers, setting up six of Indy’s 17 points. The Colts defense also sacked Carson Wentz five times.

Eagles: B

Carson Wentz wasn’t perfect against Indy, but considering the fact that he hadn’t played an actual game in nine months, we’re going to give him the benefit of the doubt. If Wentz was nervous, he didn’t show it to start the game, going 5 of 7 for 55 yards and a touchdown on Philly’s opening drive. Of course, it wasn’t Wentz who carried the team to the win on Sunday, but the Eagles defense. The Eagles shut the Colts down in the red zone (just one touchdown on five trips) and limited them to just a 2-of-12 performance on third-down conversions. The Eagles defense might have been extra motivated in this game, and that’s because they were going up against former Philly offensive coordinator Frank Reich.

New Orleans 43-37 over Atlanta (OT)

Saints: A

Remember last year when the Saints relied on their defense and rushing attack to win games? Well, we can throw that out the window, because it appears they’re now back to relying on Drew Brees‘ right arm (and surprisingly, his legs). Brees threw 49 passes in this game, which is more than he threw in any game last season, and the Saints needed every single one as Brees threw for 396 yards and three touchdowns. The bigger surprise in this game is that Brees has two rushing touchdowns, including a one-yard run that won the game in overtime. This game marked just the second time in Brees’ career that he’s rushed for two touchdowns.

Falcons: B-

The good news for the Falcons? Their offense seems to have figured out their red zone problems. The bad news? Now their defense can’t stop anyone. The Saints totaled 534 yards and scored a touchdown on five of their six trips to the red zone, including the game-winning TD in overtime. This game marked the first time since 1993 that the Falcons allowed more than 530 yards of offense in a home game, and not surprisingly, that also came against the Saints.

New York Giants 27-22 over Houston

Giants: A

Twenty-seven points isn’t usually considered an offensive explosion, but it is for the Giants. Before Sunday, the Giants had only hit the 27-point mark one time in their past 21 regular season games. The Giants were able to explode thanks to a highly accurate Eli Manning, who completed 25 of 29 passes (86.2 percent). It was the second-highest completion percentage of Eli’s 15-year career. Except for Eli getting sacked four times, it’s probably safe to say that this entire game was basically what Pat Shurmur had in mind when he revamped the team’s offense.

Texans: C-

The Texans have the longest losing streak in the NFL right now, and it’s easy to see why: They look completely lost on offense. Although Houston put up big numbers, most of those game was garbage time as the Texans scored two touchdowns over the final 7:37 of the game. Also, Deshaun Watson (385 passing yards) had no help in the game as the Texans totaled just 59 yards on the ground. It was Houston’s lowest rushing total at home since Week 8 in 2015.

Miami 28-20 over Oakland

Raiders: C-

If you’ve seen one Raiders game, you’ve seen them all. For the third straight week, the Raiders jumped out to a first-half lead, only to completely blow it in the second half. Through the first two weeks of the season, the Raiders had been outscored by 36 points in the second half — to put that in perspective, the next closest team had been outscored by 24 points — and they got blown out of the second half again on Sunday, getting outscored 21-10 by the Dolphins.

Dolphins: B+

Hopefully Albert Wilson DVR’d this game, because he’s probably going to watch it at least once a week for the rest of his life after what he did to the Raiders. The Dolphins receiver single-handedly carried his team to victory with a huge fourth quarter that included him throwing a 52-yard touchdown pass and catching a 75-yard TD pass from Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins scored twice on short shovel passes that turned into long touchdowns. Basically, Adam Gase brought his coaching ‘A’ game and Jon Gruden didn’t. The Dolphins have been winning oddly all season, and this one was no different. With just 41 rushing yards, this game marked just the third time since 2007 that Miami won in a game where they had 45 or less rushing yards.

49ers: D

This game was ugly for the 49ers, and it only got uglier in the second half after Jimmy Garoppolo went down with a knee injury that could cost him the rest of the season.

Chiefs: A

The Chiefs scored on their first five possessions and had a 35-7 lead in this game before anyone even broke a sweat. At the rate things are going, Patrick Mahomes is going to have thrown a TD pass to every single player on the Chiefs’ roster by the end of the season. The Chiefs quarterback has now thrown a TD pass to nine different players, which is just four shy of the NFL record for an entire season. Mahomes also had 13 TD passes through his first three games, which breaks Peyton Manning‘s NFL record of 12.

Tennessee 9-6 over Jacksonville

Titans: B+

The Titans had zero healthy quarterbacks by the end of this game, and they only managed one passing yard in the first half, but they still got the win in Jacksonville thanks to a defense that sacked Blake Bortles three times and a kicker who came up in the clutch. Ryan Succop provided all nine of Tennessee’s points in this game in the form of three field goals (39, 36, 28). The Titans defense came up with several huge stops in Jacksonville, including a first-quarter series where they shut down a Jags fake punt attempt on fourth-and-4.

Jaguars: C-

It’s a good thing that jaguars don’t play the Titans every week; otherwise, they would probably never win again. Since the beginning of last season, the Jaguars have gone 0-3 against the Titans and 12-4 against the rest of the NFL. The biggest reason the Jaguars lost this game is because they couldn’t stop the Titans on the ground. The Jags surrendered 150 rushing yards against the Titans and are now 0-30 since 2011 when they give up 150 or more rushing yards in a game.

L.A. Rams 35-23 over L.A. Chargers

Chargers: C-

It’s a good thing the loser of this game didn’t have to leave Los Angeles, otherwise the Chargers would be headed back to San Diego with their tail tucked between their legs. No team in the NFL shoots themselves in the foot as often as the Chargers, and that streak continued in this game. Not only did the Chargers turn the ball over twice, leading to seven Rams’ points, but they also gave up a blocked punt return for a touchdown.

Rams: A-

Just to give you an idea of how insanely impressive the Rams offense was on Sunday, they did something that not even the “Greatest Show on Turf” Rams teams ever did: passing for 350 or more yards and rushing for 170 yards in the same game. In their win over the Chargers, the Rams passed for 350 yards and rushed for 171 yards, marking only the second time the team has done that since 1980 (the only other instance came in 2006). This team has too many weapons to stop with Todd Gurley (105 rushing yards), Robert Woods (104 receiving yards, 2 TDs), Brandin Cooks (90 yards) and Cooper Cupp (71 yards, 1 TD) all tallying over 70 yards. As if that’s not enough, the Rams also threw in a special teams touchdown to rub things in.

Chicago 16-14 over Arizona

Bears: B

Giving up two first-round picks for Khalil Mack continues to look like the smartest decision that the Bears have ever made. In this week’s episode of “How did Mack terrorize the opposing offense?” Khalil registered two sacks and a forced fumble in this game and somehow now has at least one sacked and one forced fumble in every game this season. This game marks just the second time since 2013 that the Bears have held an opponent under 225 yards of offense (the Cards finished with 221).

Cardinals: D

It’s hard to get a “D” when you only lose by two points, but that’s what we’re giving the Cardinals here due to what might have been the ugliest second half that any NFL team has played this season. After taking a 14-3 lead into the half, here’s what the Cardinals did with their first four possessions of the second half: Interception, interception, fumble, interception. Coach Steve Wilks tried to jumpstart the offense by benching Sam Bradford, but his decision to throw Josh Rosen to the wolves in the fourth quarter definitely didn’t pay off. And by wolves, we mean the Bears defense.

Seattle 24-13 over Dallas

Cowboys: D

If Jason Garret wasn’t on the hot seat before Sunday, he might be now. And if he’s not, then you have to think that offensive coordinator Scott Linehan is after another ugly performance from the Cowboys offense. Going into this game, the Cowboys had averaged just 13.2 points in their past five regular season games, so maybe no one should be surprised that they were only able to muster 13 in Seattle. Dak Prescott was under pressure all game and ended up getting sacked five times. The Cowboys’ only bright spot on offense was Ezekiel Elliott (16 carries, 127 yards), but even he made a mistake with a pivotal fourth-quarter fumble.

Seahawks: A

If we’ve learned one thing about the Seahawks under Pete Carroll, it’s that you can’t beat them at home in September. Since Carroll took over in 2010, the Seahawks are 14-0 in September home games, including this win over the Cowboys. The most impressive thing about this win is that the Seahawks offensive line actually protected Russell Wilson. Although the Cowboys went into this game with the second most sacks in the NFL (9), they were only able to register two against Seattle. Of course, the most impressive performance from this game came from Earl Thomas, who picked off Dak Prescott twice. That could make for some awkward conversations if Thomas ever gets traded to Dallas.

Detroit 26-10 over New England

Patriots: D

This game is definitely going to go down as one of the ugliest offensive performances that the Patriots have pulled off in the Brady-Belichick era. The Patriots totaled only 209 yards, their fifth lowest total since 2003. Outside of Gronk, Brady has no one to throw to, which means things might not get better for New England until Julian Edelman returns in Week 5. The Patriots also hope that Josh Gordon starts picking up the offense sometime real soon. With the 16-point loss, the Patriots have now lost by double-digits in two straight games for the first time since December 2002. Just imagine how ugly this game would have gotten if the Patriots had traded Gronk to the Lions. Oh, and the Patriots defense wasn’t great either. The team can’t stop the run, and it’s a problem that Belichick can’t seem to solve. The Patriots have surrendered at least 4.3 yards per carry in every game they’ve played this season.

Lions: A+

This game couldn’t have gone any better for Lions coach Matt Patricia. Not only did the former Patriots defensive coordinator devise a game plan that absolutely shut down his old team, but he also got to watch a Lions running back (Kerryon Johnson) rush for more than 100 yards. That’s mostly notable because no Lions back had rushed for 100 or more yards since November 2013. With one win, the Lions’ season has gone from seemingly hopeless to looking hopeful.

About Blake Haley 118 Articles
Blake Haley is the Managing Editor for Meggamag. He is a journalism-lifer with his skills fine-tuned at Ohio University and several newspapers throughout Southwestern Ohio. Blake is a sports junkie and a Florida Gators die-hard fan. You can find him during his free time on a golf course or on a baseball diamond umpiring or coaching his young son.

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