32 things we learned from Week 3 of the 2019 NFL season
The 32 things we learned from Week 3 of the 2019 NFL season:
1. Welp, it was bound to happen. When so many ancient quarterbacks hang around, the bottom will inevitably fall out — maybe at once — as age and ineffectiveness (or is it politics?) eventually creep in. So Week 3 dawned with Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning sidelined, perhaps heralding a new guard even with Tom Brady and Philip Rivers hanging on (for now) as 20 quarterbacks 26 years of age or younger started — most in one week during the Super Bowl era.
1a. Ironically, Week 3 marked the 15-year anniversary since Big Ben replaced Tommy Maddox as Pittsburgh's starter and 18 years since Brady permanently supplanted Drew Blesdoe in New England.
2. But seeing Saints QB Teddy Bridgewater, 26, climb into Brees' saddle Sunday in Seattle and notch his first win since he was a Pro Bowler with the Vikings in 2015 had to be the weekend's most heartwarming development. (More so for me since I picked the upset — the Seahawks' first September home loss under Pete Carroll after a 15-0 start.)
3. Brees and Brady began Sunday tied with 522 career TD passes. However another unfortunate aspect of Brees' surgery is that we won't get to see this duo's race to overtake Peyton Manning's all-time record (539). Brady stands at 524 after New England mauled the Jets.
4. Giants GM Dave Gettleman is a long way from getting the last laugh, but he earned his first one Sunday when his highly criticized first-round pick, QB Daniel Jones, passed for 336 yards and two TDs while rushing for two more (no rookie had reached all those thresholds in one game since the 1970 merger). He also ran in the game winner while leading a comeback in his debut as Eli Manning's replacement as New York's starter.
4a. Crazy to think that six months ago, the Giants' Big Three on offense were Manning, RB Saquon Barkley and WR Odell Beckham Jr. Now, if Barkley's ankle injury keeps him out for a significant period, New York's "Big Three" moving forward will be Jones, RB Wayne Gallman and WR Sterling Shepard.
5. The Patriots defense has allowed just three points this season, though New England let the Jets score one touchdown apiece Sunday on defense and special teams.
5a. Those marked the Jets' first TDs in Foxborough, which they visit annually, since 2015.
5b. Still, New England became the first team of the Super Bowl era that didn't permit a passing or rushing TD in its first three games. In fact, the Patriots haven't surrendered an offensive TD since beating the Chiefs in last season's AFC Championship Game.
6. Is there anything Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes can't do? The reigning MVP is now 6-0 in September starts. He's led Kansas City to at least 25 points in all 22 of his NFL starts, including postseason. And he only needed 20 regular-season starts to throw 60 TD passes, smashing Dan Marino's previous mark by five games. Mahomes is squarely on track to become the first back-to-back league MVP since Peyton Manning did it a decade ago.
6a. Mahomes is also making a player like Earl Thomas, likely a first-ballot Hall of Famer one day, look silly. “Luckily the Ravens have me playing free safety, controlling the deep end,” Thomas said before facing Kansas City. “I plan on eliminating all the big plays.” You know what they say about those best-laid plans, Earl ...
7. Ravens QB Lamar Jackson is 0-2 in regular-season starts against the Chiefs. He's 8-0 against everybody else.
8. However Baltimore almost made its 33-28 defeat far more interesting when K Justin Tucker used a dropkick on an onside attempt to try to get the ball back for one final possession. Head coach John Harbaugh's brilliant special teams mind surfaces again in a league where the new kickoff rules have made onside recoveries virtually impossible.
9. Nice to see a fantastic football town like Cleveland finally earn an appearance on "Sunday Night Football," the city's first since 2008. Unfortunately, despite that Week 2 Monday night win against the underpowered Jets, the Browns still aren't quite ready for prime time. They're now 0-5 at home on Sunday night since 1978.
10. Tampa Bay ownership needs to fire GM Jason Licht if he drafts one more kicker ... though it's pretty amazing Licht has lasted this long.
11a. That's never happened with QB Dak Prescott as the starter. He's awaiting a new contract.
11b. It's also never happened with Jason Garrett as the head coach. He's also awaiting a new contract.
11c. And Dallas WR Amari Cooper, who scored two TDs on Sunday? Yep, also needs to get paid.
12. The San Francisco 49ers are also 3-0. First time since 1998. Sound the Steve Young/Mariucci siren.
13. Hand it to the Dolphins — they're getting better ... or at least trying to make any accusations of tanking appear less obvious. After losing their opener by 49 points and their Week 2 game by 43, they gave the Cowboys all they could handle ... for a half ... before succumbing by 25 points.
13a. The Fins have now been collectively outscored 133-16, allowing the most points to open a season in the Super Bowl era. Per ESPN Stats & Info, only the the 1922 Louisville Brecks (minus-134) and 1923 Rochester Jeffersons (minus-122) had a worse point differential than Miami's after three games. No truth to the rumor the Jeffersons were trying to tank for Red Grange.
13b. But at least the Dolphins enjoyed a nice (fish) Taco Sunday, Cowboys castoff Taco Charlton collecting a sack in his Miami debut.
14. Head-to-head Watt comparison: Texans DE J.J. (5 tackles, 2 sacks and the win) > Chargers FB and brother Derek (minus-1 yard rushing).
14a. Up the California coast, Steelers LB T.J. Watt picked off a pass and recovered a fumble, though it wasn't enough in Pittsburgh's four-point loss to San Francisco.
15. NFL rushing leader Dalvin Cook (375 yards) has an early bead on all-pro honors after becoming the first Viking to rush for at least 100 yards in the team's first three games of a season.
15a. However Cook better keep an eye on teammate Adam Thielen given the wideout scored twice Sunday, including on a goal-line rush.
16. Somewhere, Troy Polamalu is probably smiling. Newly acquired Steelers S Minkah Fitzpatrick picked off a pass and forced a fumble in his Pittsburgh debut.
17. The Lions (2-0-1), who really should be 3-0, have beaten my preseason Super Bowl teams (Chargers, Eagles) in successive weeks. Shrug. I'm still feeling — slightly — better than my colleagues, who all picked the Saints.
17a. But credit Detroit. The Lions don't appear spectacular in any particular area, but they converted two Philadelphia fumbles into field goals and benefited from a 100-yard kickoff return by Jamal Agnew — the team's first TD off a kickoff in six years and first in the NFL this season. Good teams find a way.
18. Anyone aside from Patriots fans and fantasy owners miss Antonio Brown on Sunday? Didn't think so.
19. Anyone aside from Jets fans and fantasy owners miss Le'Veon Bell on Sunday? Wait, he played?
20. Bills fans continue to love Bengals QB Andy Dalton, who served up two INTs Sunday during his first regular-season visit to Buffalo since he vaulted the Bills into the playoffs two years ago by engineering Cincinnati's 2017 Week 17 upset of the Ravens.
20a. Buffalo's Tre'Davious White picked off both of Dalton's passes, the second a nice swipe off a deflection that sealed the win.
20b. The Bills are 3-0 for the first time since 2011, when they enjoyed some short-lived FitzMagic.
20c. Also a surprising 3-0? How about the Packers, who, like Buffalo and San Fran, didn't sniff postseason a year ago.
21. The Denver Broncos still don't have a single sack. Yes, Von Miller and Bradley Chubb still play for them.
21a. Broncos QB Joe Flacco has been sacked 11 times. Yes, Garett Bolles still plays for them — though he was not flagged Sunday after collecting 34 penalties in his first 34 NFL starts.
22. Panthers QB Kyle Allen, starting in place of injured Cam Newton, threw four TD passes in Sunday's win at Arizona. Newton has four total TD passes in his past six starts, none in the last four.
23. Props to Raiders TE Darren Waller, who easily established career-highs Sunday with a 13-catch, 134-yard performance. Given how little has come easily to Waller amid substance-abuse battles, nice to see his turnaround headed in a productive direction. Knock on wood if you're with me.
23a. However the Raiders, who don't play in Oakland again until November, began their five-city road trip — which includes a "home" game in London — with a loss.
24. TE Jordan Akins will likely be a hot fantasy waiver claim this week. Who, you ask? Texans tight end. Scored twice Sunday. First TDs of his two-year career.
25. Might finally be time for some rapprochement between the Chargers and holdout RB Melvin Gordon after the Bolts lost their second in a row, managing just 73 rushing yards against Houston.
26. Bucs LB Shaquil Barrett already has eight sacks. He had 8½ total in his last three seasons with Denver. He joins the Jets' Mark Gastineau (1984) for the best three-game start ever in the sack department.
27a. The Cardinals could also use Nate Davis — seriously!!! — after No. 1 pick Kyler Murray was bagged eight more times Sunday. Now sacked 16 times, how much punishment can the diminutive Murray take?
28. If the Jaguars want two first-round picks for disgruntled Pro Bowl CB Jalen Ramsey, why not just call the Texans? They'll probably offer even more than that ...
29. Has QB Nick Foles already taken his last snap as a Jaguar? Rookie Gardner Minshew II is showing no signs of relinquishing that job after joining Byron Leftwich as the only passers in franchise history to throw a TD in his first three NFL games.
29a. Jacksonville RB Leonard Fournette ripped off a 69-yard run Thursday night. His other 14 carries totaled minus-3 yards.
29b. Jaguars WR D.J. Chark has a receiving TD in all three games this season. He was held scoreless in 11 games as a rookie last year.
30. Falcons S Keanu Neal tore an ACL in last season's regular-season opener. Sunday, he suffered an Achilles injury that appeared serious in the moment given his emotional reaction following the play — which included an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty from the officials when he tossed his helmet in frustration. Nice job, Zebras ... way to literally add insult to injury.
31. After missing five of his first eight kicks this season (3 PATs and 2 FGs), K Adam Vinatieri got a warm ovation from the Lucas Oil Stadium at the Colts' home opener. He converted both of his field-goal tries and all three extra points in a 27-24 win over Atlanta.
31a. Of course, way too many Indianapolis fans also booed QB Andrew Luck at a preseason game when they learned he was retiring. Push. Actually, not even ... Boo, Colts fans.
32. QB Jacoby Brissett has the Colts off to a 2-1 start, something Luck managed only once in his entire career. Continue making squirrel oil on the farm free of worry, Captain Andrew ... Indy is in good hands with Major Brissett.
Follow USA TODAY Sports' Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis
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