Winners, losers and other thoughts: Week 3
By James C. Black, Yahoo! Sports
September 23, 2007
Brett Favre got even. Donovan McNabb shook off the rust. And Kurt Warner crashed the party.
Three veteran quarterbacks, either routinely questioned or simply forgotten, on Sunday provided glimpses of the brilliance that made them among the game's elite signal-callers and once turned their franchises into Super Bowl contenders.
Favre, a three-time league Most Valuable Player, seems to be sending a message that retirement is not imminent. The Green Bay Packers sit atop the NFC North at 3-0 following a 31-24 win over the San Diego Chargers in which Favre threw three touchdown passes to tie Dan Marino for first all-time with 420.
McNabb, thrust into controversy again after stating that black quarterbacks are more criticized than their white counterparts, was even more impressive. After struggling in his first two games and hearing whispers about being replaced, McNabb threw for 381 yards and four touchdowns during the Philadelphia Eagles' 56-21 victory over the Detroit Lions. McNabb completed 18 straight passes at one point and finished 21-of-26.
But the shock of the group was Warner. If nothing else, Warner has established himself as the NFL's modern-day version of Michael Corleone: Just when you thought he was done, he keeps getting brought back for more. The two-time league MVP worked some of his old magic, throwing for 258 yards and two touchdowns in place of a struggling Matt Leinart as the Cardinals rallied during a 26-23 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
While the trio headlined, here are some more winners in addition to losers and other observations from Week 3:
Winners: All right, Mike Tomlin and crew, I am out of excuses for disregarding the Pittsburgh Steelers' early-season success. The Steelers haven't beaten a team deemed as one of the league's elite, nor does it matter. As Herm Edwards used to say, "you play to win the game." Well, that's what Pittsburgh is doing – and quite impressively, I might add – following a 37-16 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Pittsburgh has given up a combined 26 points and has not allowed any of its three opponents to gain 300 net yards this season. In the AFC North, where the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals don't look as good as advertised, Pittsburgh easily could rise to the top of its division.
• Quarterback Joey Harrington could have had his head down and been resigned to eventually losing his starting job. Yet despite 13 sacks and no touchdowns in the first two games and the Atlanta Falcons' signing of Byron Leftwich last week, Harrington completed 31-of-44 for 361 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-20 loss to the Carolina Panthers.
• The New York Giants must have sent a different set of defenders against the Washington Redskins than they had the previous two weeks when they allowed 80 points and a ton of yards. New York held Washington to 83 yards in the second half and kept the Redskins out of the end zone after a first-and-goal from the 1-yard line with 51 seconds remaining.
• There's no way of telling if the Old (Joey Galloway) and Obscure (Earnest Graham) can keep scoring multiple touchdowns for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the franchise at least should stay in games with the way it has been playing defense.
Losers: Norv, Norv! Please tell the fans of Chargersville that this woeful start is not the beginning of a painfully long and disappointing season. You'll get some benefit of the doubt given the tough schedule, but that excuse will only go so far. Especially when all-everything MVP LaDainian Tomlinson is getting bottled up more than a six-pack and his release comes in the form of exploding on quarterback Philip Rivers. This doesn't look good for a team that was deemed as the league's most talented and one possessing a head coach who perhaps is the "best offensive play caller in the game."
• Kevin Everett's improving health is about the only good thing happening for the Buffalo Bills. Not only did they get wiped out for a second straight week after a crushing season-opening loss, but quarterback J.P. Losman (sprained left knee) and first-round pick Paul Posluszny (broken left forearm) were sidelined during the loss to New England.
• So much for the new Greatest Show on Turf preseason projections. The St. Louis Rams have been limited to 32 points in three games, including Sunday's 24-3 loss to the Buccaneers. There is no doubt Orlando Pace is one of the league's best offensive tackles. However, the way the Rams look without him, it makes you wonder if he's simply one of the league's very best players.
Do us a favor and keep these jerseys buried deep in the storage chest. :dielaugh
Ugly uni alert: Apparently, there will be a weekly mention in this space of attire. Here's hoping the references to hideous jerseys are kept to a minimum. A week after the Pittsburgh Steelers decided to take unis from three eras – bad, ugly and worse – and create a new look, their in-state rivals decided to upstage them. The Eagles rolled out a yellow and baby blue throwback ensemble so ugly that any further description won't do justice. See for yourself.
Ask and you shall receive: Whatever tight end Vernon Davis said to the San Francisco 49ers coaching staff last week worked. The No. 6 overall pick in 2006 complained about being limited to four catches for 27 yards in the first two games. Against the Steelers on Sunday, Davis hauled in a 31-yard reception on the team's seventh play from scrimmage. He finished with four catches for 56 yards.
Karma, baby?: The Oakland Raiders' timeout and subsequent blocked field goal attempt against the Cleveland Browns will be labeled as payback following a similar occurrence taking place during a Week 2 loss to the Denver Broncos. The suspense and intensity weren't quite the same this time, particularly since Lane Kiffin was shown signaling for a timeout well before the kick and Oakland's defenders made little effort following the initial snap.
Overshadowed champs: When was the last time a Super Bowl team started 3-0 in defense of its title and was such an afterthought? The Indianapolis Colts have displayed the right mixture of offense and defense while beating three teams that seemingly had legitimate chances of prevailing, yet all the attention is on the high-scoring Patriots and disappointing Chargers. Somewhere in the Colts locker room, there's a player or coach on the verge of playing the disrespect card.
Broadcasting jinx: Don't you just love when announcers make comments or graphics are shown highlighting trends or streaks, only to have something bad happen on the very next play? As the Patriots drove inside the Bills' 5-yard line early in the second quarter, this graphic was shown: "Tom Brady has thrown 103 consecutive passes without an interception." So of course, he threw a pick on the next play, right? No … he lost a fumble at the 1-yard line instead.
Fantasy vs. reality: For the second week in a row, fantasy football owners turned cartwheels over a quarterback's numbers that made his real-life coach cringe. One week after Carson Palmer threw for 401 yards and six touchdowns in a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit's Jon Kitna threw for 446 yards and two touchdowns in the Lions' defeat in Philly.
Megatron breaks down: Gifted first-year Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who got his nickname from a Transformers character, made a tremendous leaping grab between two Eagles defenders that would be his last catch of the day. He hit the ground hard after the reception and did not return to action.
Questionable choreography: We're accustomed to seeing wide receivers and cornerbacks jump up and bump one another after touchdowns or big plays. Exactly when did it become fashionable for hefty tight ends (Carolina Panthers' Jeff King) and offensive linemen (unidentified member of the Seattle Seahawks) doing the same? What next, Sam Adams doing the Lambeau Leap after a defensive score? OK, wrong city, but you get the point.
Week 4 forecast: Is there any reason to watch the Patriots-Bengals game next week? After all, the Patriots have put up the same amount of points (38) in all of their contests while limiting the opposition to two scores or less.
James C. Black is the NFL editor for Yahoo! Sports.