There were some very exciting, strange, and unpredictable outcomes to NFL games during Week Three of the regular season. A few of these were so unfathomable, in fact, that questions need to be raised as to what in the world actually happened. What were coaching thinking? What were some players doing? Were referees paying attention? Here’s a deep dive at the three biggest head-scratchers:
Dallas Cowboys Losing to the Arizona Cardinals
I think every other NFC team’s fan base is laughing, pointing, and mocking the Cowboys for dropping what should have been an “easy W” against the Cardinals. You can almost hear the “Are you still them ‘Boys?” taunts. Quarterback, Dak Prescott, is an easy target to get after because he obviously runs the offense and threw a “crucial” pick at the end of the game with three minutes left and down by 12. Was he really to blame though? Answer: there’s plenty of blame to go around, but yes, Dak is to blame as well.
Prescott completed 62.5% of his passes for 249 yards with one TD and one INT. Not terrible numbers but if you watched the game, you know that a combination of penalties (13 total) and incomplete passes KILLED drives. Dallas had eight offensive series in the game. The second drive stalled with a made FG due to two incomplete passes. The fourth series ended with a punt due to a penalty and two incomplete passes. The fifth drive ended with a FG due to two incomplete passes. In this fifth drive in particular, Dallas had the ball at Arizona’s 22-yard line and ran six plays (3 incomplete passes, one pass for -2 yards and two runs for 13 and 3 yards respectively). They settled for a FG in the Red Zone. Their sixth drive was killed by a penalty and an incomplete pass at the Arizona four-yard line at the end of the third quarter. The seventh drive was stalled AGAIN in the Red Zone due to an incomplete pass, and the Cowboys needed to settle for a FG. Their eighth and final drive was killed due to a penalty, and incomplete pass, and an interception.
The Cowboys ran the ball 33 times for 185 yards. That’s 5.6 yards per carry. When they ran the ball, they were efficient, and they should have just kept the ball on the ground. Especially in the RED ZONE, where they had five total trips and scored only 13 points. At the end of the third quarter, the Cowboys were down by eight and could have gone for the easy three-points, but decided to go for it instead, and turned the ball over. Maybe next time, just go for the points.
Dallas’s defense was also non-existent and needs to share blame for the loss. They couldn’t seem to stop the Cardinals running game, which accumulated more yards for Arizona (222 yards) than their passing game did (189 yards). The Dallas D got zero turnovers, only two sacks, and they kept two drives alive for Arizona in the second quarter with Defensive Holding penalty and Offsides penalty that helped the Cards accumulate ten points total. So it wasn’t ALL Dak, but if you want to be labeled as a “great QB”, you have to play better against bad teams like this.
Baltimore Ravens Losing to the Indianapolis Colts
Unlike how everyone jumps on Dak for being a bad quarterback as soon as the Cowboys lose to an inferior team, Lamar Jackson seems to still get all the kudos even when his team loses to someone that they should have beaten. Yes, Lamar completed 70% of his passes, going 22 for 30 for 202 yards. That also means that he averages nine yards per pass, and that’s NOT including Yards After the Catch by the receivers. This “dink and dunk” passing offense doesn’t work, and if Jackson can’t start to increase his accuracy outside of 5-10 yards, this offense is never going to put up big points to keep up with the Chiefs, Bills, and Dolphins. Plus, you can chalk up one more turnover (a fumble) for Lamar who has two lost fumbles this year on four fumbles total. In his career, Jackson has just as many total turnovers as games played; he’s literally guaranteed to give up the ball once in every game that he plays.
Of course, that wasn’t the only reason that the Ravens didn’t win that game. How about the other turnover by Kenyon Drake on the Colts 22-yard line? Those were the only turnovers of the game and means the Ravens were a -2 in turnover differential. At -3 you’re almost guaranteed a loss. Where was the defense outside of Kyle Hamilton (who, quite honestly should win Defensive Player of the Week)?
Clock management was atrocious by both teams. The Ravens got a Safety to go up by three with 2:05 left in the game. On the ensuing punt return, John Harbaugh told Zay Flowers to fair catch the ball because the game clock showed 1:58 left. Per Harbaugh, it was only after the Ravens return team was sent onto the field for the punt return that the clock changed back to 2:05, and it wasn’t communicated to Flowers. The Ravens were then only able to take 22 seconds off the clock, HOWEVER, the officials “missed” a blatant facemask penalty against Zay Flowers on a short (go figure) pass by Jackson. Had the penalty been called, this would have ENDED THE GAME and sealed the Ravens victory. As it was, this game eventually went into overtime.
Before this game went into overtime, I think it’s also important to mention that Justin Tucker came up about 5-yards short on a 61-yard FG attempt with six seconds to go, that would have ended the game as well. It’s important, because in overtime the Ravens had TWO more chances to win the game with another 61-yard FG attempt, and a 64-yard FD attempt, but they decided to punt on both instead…in overtime…with time running out…and the best kicker in the league, who holds the record for longest FG in a game at 67-yards. Also, on the last offensive play that the Ravens had, there was ANOTHER “missed” penalty against the Colts that the officials decided not to call for Defensive Pass Interference at the Colts 47-yard line. Indy went on to win the game, and never in my life of watching professional football have I honestly thought that a game was being fixed until this one.
Jacksonville Losing at Home to the Houston Texans
If I told you that the final score of this game was going to be 37 to 17, I’m sure you would have thought, “yeah, Jacksonville should dominate that game”. That’s just how bad this Jaguars team played on Sunday, or how GOOD Houston played. After beating the Colts convincingly in Indy and then coming close to beating the Chiefs at home, the Jaguars were supposed to bounce back and beat the 0-2 Texans. This isn’t a tough game to analyze; Jacksonville lost in every facet of the game; Offense, Defense, and Special Teams. Trever Lawrence didn’t look sharp. Jacksonville’s rushing game averaged less than four yards per carry. Their defense couldn’t stop Houston on 3rd down, and their special teams was bad. How’s that for a recap?
To say that Jacksonville wasn’t sharp would be an understatement. They self-destructed. Their offensive
drives ended like this: a missed 48-yard FG, then they couldn’t convert on third and two, next was a blocked FG, then they converted on fourth and one (but it was called back due to a penalty, and they had to punt), they fumbled on the following drive, settled for a FG in the Red Zone on the next, and finally, Lawrence threw an interception. Meanwhile, Stroud showed why he should have been selected #1. CJ completed 67% of his passes for 280 yards, two TDs and no INTs. He also helped their offense in converting 60% of their third downs.
What will Houston look like next week hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers? More interestingly, will Jacksonville be able to regroup and beat the sputtering Falcons, who just lost to the Detroit Lions?
Honorable Mention: Miami Puts up 70 Points on Denver, and it Wasn’t in Madden
The Miami Dolphins are the only team left in the AFC without a loss, and they are looking like they are going to run away with it, like they did against Denver this week. Miami is FAST! I had them finishing the season at 10-7 this year, but they are definitely going over that mark. Denver on the other hand, I had only winning four games, and that’s looking pretty accurate. I wonder how Caleb Williams will like playing in Denver next year. It’s not too far away from USC. Thanks for the “read”!