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October 20, 2020
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NFL Week 3 takeaways: Bills survive, but the Falcons collapse — again

Week 3 in the NFL was pretty wild. The Bills nearly fell to the Rams after taking a big lead, but quarterback Josh Allen led an eventful final drive to move Buffalo to 3-0 on the year. The Falcons did fall to the Bears, losing their second double-digit lead in as many weeks. The Titans snuck past the Vikings, the injury-riddled 49ers had no problem with the Giants and the Steelers kept the Texans winless. Oh, and the Eagles and Bengals tied?

In the afternoon slate, the Seahawks marched back to beat the Cowboys behind Russell Wilson‘s second straight five-TD passing performance, and the Lions finally got a win — on a field goal in the closing seconds.

All that and more in Week 3‘s biggest takeaways from NFL Nation.

Jump to a matchup:

Standout performer for LAR-BUF: Josh Allen, 311 passing yards, 4 TDs, 1 rushing TD

Josh Allen is the real deal. Facing a late-game deficit for the second consecutive week, Allen led an 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive to secure the Bills’ third win of the year. He took long sacks, he ran for his life and he committed inexcusable penalties, but ultimately, he did what it took to win the game. His third straight 300-yard game gives him more than 1,000 passing yards; his hot start is not a fluke. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Next game: at Raiders (4:25 p.m. ET Sunday)

The Rams can take solace departing Buffalo just short of a historic come-from-behind win. Facing a 25-point deficit early in the third quarter, the Rams forced two turnovers and scored touchdowns on four consecutive possessions to take a 32-28 lead before they eventually fell to the Bills. Halftime adjustments on defense proved critical after the Rams failed to disrupt Allen in the first half. And offensively, quarterback Jared Goff found a rhythm with Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods in the second half. — Lindsey Thiry

Next game: vs. Giants (4:05 p.m. ET Sunday)

Standout performer for LV-NE: Sony Michel, 117 rushing yards

A running-game revival led the Patriots past the Raiders on Sunday. Sony Michel ran with a renewed energy in making a decisive statement to keep his job as the team’s No. 1 back as Damien Harris becomes eligible to return from injured reserve this week. And eight-year veteran Rex Burkhead registered his first career three-touchdown game. In all, the Patriots eclipsed 200 yards rushing for the second time this season, marking the first time they’ve had 200 rushing yards twice within the first three games of a season since 1983. — Mike Reiss

Next game: at Chiefs (4:25 p.m. ET Sunday)

The Raiders stumbled all over themselves after absolutely dominating early when they could have taken a three-score lead. But self-inflicted wounds in the guise of penalties, turnovers by Derek Carr (twice, including a late strip sack for a TD in the end zone) and Josh Jacobs, a missed field goal and the inability to take advantage of momentum early in each half spelled the Raiders’ doom as they fell to 1-2. — Paul Gutierrez

Next game: vs. Bills (4:25 p.m. ET Sunday)

Standout performer for TEN-MIN: Stephen Gostkowski, 6-for-6 FGs, including 51-, 54- and 55-yarders

The Titans’ defense continues to be a question after giving up 464 yards of total offense to the previously struggling Vikings attack. That’s two consecutive weeks in which teams have gained more than 450 yards against Tennessee. Dalvin Cook rushed for a career-high 181 yards, and rookie receiver Justin Jefferson had 175 receiving yards. But the Titans are now 3-0 for the first time since 2008, and they’ll have a tough matchup next week when the 3-0 Steelers come to town. — Turron Davenport

Next game: vs. Steelers (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

What is it going to take for the Vikings to avoid another monumental collapse when they hit the road for Houston and Seattle in Weeks 4 and 5? Minnesota is the first team in NFL history to have one player record 175 rushing yards and another player record 175 receiving yards in the same game, according to Elias Sports Bureau research, and the Vikings still lost. When the offense had a chance to give the Vikings their first victory, it faltered in chaotic fashion on a disastrous final drive. The Vikings aren’t getting any help from the defense, either. It’s going to be up to the offense, which put up 464 yards and 30 points in a loss, to get into shootouts to win games. — Courtney Cronin

Next game: at Texans (1 p.m. ET Sunday)



Kirk Cousins throws downfield to Justin Jefferson, who cuts back inside to blow by his defenders and complete the 71-yard touchdown play.

Standout performer for HOU-PIT: James Conner, 109 rushing yards, 40 receiving yards, 1 TD

The Steelers moved to 3-0 for the first time in a decade with complementary football in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game, thanks to a combination of well-timed defensive stops and their best run-game performance of the season. After a slow start, the Steelers sacked Deshaun Watson five times, including a crucial one by T.J. Watt late in the fourth quarter. The Steelers rushed for 169 yards on 38 carries, controlling the clock for almost 37 minutes. — Brooke Pryor

Next game: at Titans (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

The Texans were more competitive in their Week 3 loss to the Steelers than they had been through two games, but their early-season weaknesses were on display, including an inability by the defense to get off the field in the second half. Next up for Houston’s poor rushing defense? The Vikings and Dalvin Cook, who ran for 181 yards on Sunday. — Sarah Barshop

Next game: vs. Vikings (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Standout performer for SF-NYG: Nick Mullens, 343 passing yards, 1 TD

The injury-ravaged Niners entered Sunday’s game against the Giants with 10 projected starters out because of injury. And they were returning to the artificial surface of MetLife Stadium, where many of those injuries occurred a week ago against the Jets. No matter — the 49ers dominated the Giants. Yes, it was just another win against another lowly New York team, but that shouldn’t mean the Niners get any less credit for what they did on their two-game New York swing. With winnable home games against the Eagles and Dolphins in the next two weeks, the Niners could be 4-1 when the Rams come calling on Oct. 18. — Nick Wagoner

Next game: vs. Eagles (8:20 p.m. ET Sunday)

Another disappointment. There really is no other way to say it for QB Daniel Jones and the Giants. They are 0-3 in Joe Judge’s first season as coach, and Jones has six turnovers in 12 quarters, with two more coming in Sunday’s loss to the decimated 49ers. “Those are costly mistakes,” Jones said. “Certainly need to correct.” If Jones can’t fix his turnover issues, the Giants have to question whether he is their quarterback of the future. With the fumble in the first quarter, Jones now has 20 fumbles in his first 16 career games. The only player with more through his first 16 career games in the Super Bowl era is Tony Banks (24), per ESPN Stats & Information research. — Jordan Raanan

Next game: at Rams (4:05 p.m. ET Sunday)

Standout performer for CHI-ATL: Nick Foles, 188 passing yards, 3 TDs

Coach Matt Nagy stopped short of naming veteran quarterback Nick Foles the starter for next week’s game at Indianapolis, but Foles earned the job with three second-half touchdown passes in Chicago’s comeback victory over Atlanta. Foles has been up and down in his career, but he sees the field better than Mitchell Trubisky, who, once again, had trouble connecting on deep passes Sunday. Foles provides Chicago with a more consistent option at quarterback, and the Bears need to play more consistent football, period. Chicago is lucky to be 3-0, and Nagy needs to ride Foles’ hot hand until further notice. — Jeff Dickerson

Next game: vs. Colts (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

There has to be some sort of major change made after the Falcons were outscored 20-0 in the fourth quarter to blow a 26-10 lead and fall to the Bears. Coach Dan Quinn appears to be on the verge of being fired, although he avoided talking about his job status postgame. The Falcons threw the ball five times and ran it once during consecutive fourth-quarter possessions after holding a 26-16 lead. Coupled with a Week 2 loss at Dallas in which the Falcons blew a 39-24 fourth-quarter lead, the Falcons now are the first team to lose twice in one season while holding 15-plus-point leads, according to Elias Sports Bureau research. If Quinn isn’t let go, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter certainly might be in trouble for his playcalling. — Vaughn McClure

Next game: at Packers (8:20 p.m. ET Monday, Oct. 5)

Standout performer for WSH-CLE: Nick Chubb, 108 rushing yards, 2 TDs

The Browns have a record above .500 for the first time in six years. They weren’t especially crisp and trailed Washington 20-17 in the fourth quarter. But Cleveland finally got the running game going, and the defense stepped up with a pair of key turnovers. Before Sunday, Cleveland had gone 90 consecutive weeks without a winning record, easily the longest active streak in the NFL. The Browns were last above .500 going into Week 15 of the 2014 season, when they were 7-6 — then they lost their final three games of the year. — Jake Trotter

Next game: at Cowboys (1 p.m. ET Sunday)



Nick Chubb finds the end zone twice on the ground, while Kareem Hunt records one through the air, as Cleveland defeats Washington 34-20.

Coach Ron Rivera is sticking with Dwayne Haskins Jr., which shouldn’t be surprising because he sold owner Dan Snyder on his plan to develop the quarterback. Haskins needs to start showing more consistency and threaten teams down the field, as his inaccuracy remains an issue, though he did start strong and was more in rhythm before his three interceptions occurred. His development will dictate Washington’s future — not just this year but the next several and then some. If Washington pulls the plug, that will signal the obvious: It will be in the market for another quarterback in the offseason. Haskins’ mindset after the game was good; he said the only thing that now matters is preparing for Week 4. He warrants patience, but at some point this season, he’ll have to reward Rivera for his belief. — John Keim

Next game: vs. Ravens (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Standout performer for CIN-PHI: Tyler Boyd, 125 receiving yards

Bengals rookie Joe Burrow showed he is the franchise quarterback the team hoped for when it drafted him with the first overall pick. Even in a tie with the Eagles on Sunday, Burrow looked his sharpest yet in a young rookie season. The LSU product was 31-of-44 passing for 312 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Burrow weathered some big hits to deliver in the second half, completing 19 of his 26 attempts for 218 yards. “He gives us a chance to win,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said after the game. — Ben Baby

Next game: vs. Jaguars (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

It’s officially time to be concerned about the Eagles and Carson Wentz. The quarterback made some plays late in regulation to force OT but had his third shaky outing in as many starts, going 29-of-47 for 225 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, as the Eagles moved to 0-2-1. Wentz now has six picks on the year — one fewer than he had all of last season. It’s premature to think a changing of the guard is at hand, but there will be plenty of chatter about inserting second-round pick Jalen Hurts into the lineup this week as a dismayed fan base searches for ways to save a season heading off a cliff. — Tim McManus

Next game: at 49ers (8:20 p.m. ET Sunday)

Standout performer for NYJ-IND: Xavier Rhodes, 2 interceptions, 1 touchdown

Quarterback Philip Rivers joined elite company, becoming just the sixth quarterback in NFL history to throw at least 400 career touchdown passes and for 60,000 yards. He reached the career touchdown mark on the second play of the second quarter, when he completed a 1-yard score to tight end Mo Alie-Cox. The Colts were never really threatened past the first quarter, but Rivers finished 17-of-21 for 217 yards and a touchdown as the Colts’ offense looked efficient. — Mike Wells

Next game: at Bears (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Sam Darnold played one of his worst games as a pro, throwing three interceptions — two pick-sixes and a red zone interception. They don’t get more costly than that. He has regressed this season, which doesn’t bode well for embattled coach Adam Gase, who was hired to make Darnold a star. The way things are going for the Jets (0-3), Gase is trending toward unemployment. — Rich Cimini

Next game: vs. Broncos (8:20 p.m. ET Thursday)

Standout performer for CAR-LAC: Teddy Bridgewater, 235 passing yards, 1 TD

Coach Matt Rhule said he believes the Panthers, even without injured Christian McCaffrey, can win now. This isn’t to suggest Carolina will be a playoff team this season, but when you consider how they had a chance to beat the Raiders and Bucs in their first two games, and how they beat the Chargers despite mistakes, it shows at the very least the culture Rhule has been preaching is starting to sink in. “Not perfect,” Rhule said. “But that might be the good news. We found a way to win on the road despite not being perfect.” If a young defense can continue to grow as it did Sunday, and if the offense can hold things together until McCaffrey returns in four to six weeks, then the Panthers at the very least will give good teams problems. — David Newton

Next game: vs. Cardinals (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Justin Herbert was thrown into the mix last week against the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs, and the shock might have worked in his favor. But Sunday against Carolina was a reality check at best for the rookie No. 6 overall draft pick, who had two turnovers. But gone were the easy slants, the dump-offs and anything that was really a surprise against the Panthers. It doesn’t get any easier next week against the Buccaneers and Tom Brady. — Shelley Smith

Next game: at Buccaneers (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Standout performer for DAL-SEA: Russell Wilson, 315 passing yards, 5 TDs

The Seahawks might need Russell Wilson to continue his record pace with how poorly they’re playing on defense. Their struggles on that side of the ball continued Sunday in their win over Dallas, a game that was only close because they lost a 15-point lead in the second half. They’ve made game-saving plays in each of the past two weeks — a goal-line stand against New England and Ryan Neal‘s interception of Dak Prescott on Dallas’ final play Sunday. But they’ve allowed at least 450 yards in each of the first three games, including 522 to the Cowboys. No wonder Bobby Wagner and Shaquill Griffin each sounded as though they were discussing a loss in their downtrodden postgame videoconferences. To make matters potentially worse, Jamal Adams (groin) and first-round pick Jordyn Brooks (knee) left Sunday’s game with injures. — Brady Henderson

Next game: at Dolphins (1 p.m. ET Sunday)



Tyler Lockett connects with Russell Wilson for three touchdowns in Seattle’s win over the Dallas.

As long as the Cowboys play in the NFC East, they will always have a chance. Standing at 1-2 after their loss at Seattle, the Cowboys trail Washington only because of its Week 1 division win vs. Philadelphia. But the Cowboys need to fix their defense, which has given up 39 and 38 points in the past two games, respectively. And the offense needs to stop turning the ball over (three giveaways against the Seahawks and minus-4 in the turnover battle for the season). “It’s three games into the season,” QB Dak Prescott said. “We’ll get this thing right and be proud of what we can do.” — Todd Archer

Next game: vs. Browns (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Standout performer for TB-DEN: Shaquil Barrett, 2 sacks, 1 safety, 3 tackles for a loss

With receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin on the field together for the first time this season, and tight end Rob Gronkowski seeing an increased role, the Buccaneers’ offense showed glimpses of how dangerous it could become in their win over the Broncos. But for the second consecutive week, the offense — for as much as it wowed in the first half — struggled to regain its rhythm in the second, scoring three points (Shaquil Barrett‘s safety contributed an additional two points). “We’ve started fast in every ball game, we get a lead and we have to develop better finish. I won’t say a killer instinct — just a finish,” coach Bruce Arians said. — Jenna Laine

Next game: vs. Chargers (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

The Broncos find themselves 0-3 for the second consecutive season, a first in franchise history. And their long list of injuries has contributed to the two biggest reasons for their struggles in September. They haven’t consistently protected their quarterbacks — they’ve used three of them in three games and surrendered 13 sacks in the past two contests — and they haven’t done enough on third down on defense, where they might miss Von Miller most of all. Help isn’t on the way, so the Broncos will have to figure out how to do better in both of those areas — and soon if they are going to avoid a repeat of last season’s 0-4 start. — Jeff Legwold

Next game: at Jets (8:20 p.m. ET Thursday)

Standout performer for DET-ARI: Matt Prater, 4-for-4 FGs, including a 39-yard game winner

The streak is over. For the first time since October of last season, the Lions won a football game. The victory ends an 11-game losing streak for Detroit. There’s some symmetry in the Lions winning late against Arizona, since it was perhaps the scene of the team’s worst collapse under coach Matt Patricia in the season opener last year. But Matthew Stafford led two field-goal drives in the fourth quarter to come from behind for only the second time under Patricia. — Michael Rothstein

Next game: vs. Saints (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Despite one of Kyler Murray‘s most impressive runs of his young career, Sunday’s loss to the Lions included some of the quarterback’s worst play in the NFL. The reigning Rookie of the Year threw three interceptions — and came close to throwing a fourth — and was able to run for only 29 yards after averaging 79 rushing yards in his first two games. He will look to get back on track next week against the Panthers. — Josh Weinfuss

Next game: at Panthers (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

Standout performer for MIA-JAX: Ryan Fitzpatrick, 160 passing yards, 2 passing TDs, 1 rushing TD

The Dolphins pulled back from the precipice. Had they added a third loss to their 0-2 start, the drumbeat for the debut of rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa would have gained strength. But after soundly defeating the Jaguars on Thursday night, the Dolphins are back in the AFC East race. And they’ll push forward with a rejuvenated starter in Ryan Fitzpatrick, who opened Thursday night’s game with a career-high 12 consecutive completions. — Kevin Seifert

Next game: vs. Seahawks (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

The Jaguars keep getting off to slow starts. They gave up an opening-drive TD in Week 1, back-to-back TD drives in Week 2 and back-to-back TD drives again Thursday night against Miami. This time, the Jaguars couldn’t overcome it because the offense struggled to get anything going without DJ Chark Jr. (back/chest) to stretch the field and give the other receivers space to work underneath. The defense continues to have issues pressuring the quarterback on third down, and opposing QBs are putting up career numbers. — Mike DiRocco

Next game: at Bengals (1 p.m. ET Sunday)

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