NFL results: Daniel Jones brings fresh hope in New York, Browns fail late comeback attempt and other takeaways from week three

Alex Finnis
The Telegraph
Daniel Jones' rushing touchdown won the game for the Giants - FR171457 AP
Daniel Jones' rushing touchdown won the game for the Giants - FR171457 AP

On a night where the Patriots continued their traditional march to the Super Bowl, the Lions upset the Eagles and the Daniel Jones era started with a bang (and a win) in New York. Here's all the action from week three in the NFL, and what it could mean for the shape of the league going forward - with the London games just around the corner.

The Daniel Jones era is well and truly underway in New York

Scroll to continue with content
Ad

Daniel Jones walked out for the second half of his first NFL start 18 points down to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Less than two hours later he was celebrating his first win as a pro, after Matt Gay's missed 34-yard field goal allowed the New York Giants to escape with a 32-31 win.

Jones scrambled up the middle for what was to be the game-winning touchdown - his second rushing TD of the day - and he also threw for two (to Even Engram and Sherling Shepard) in an accomplished performance marred only slightly by two Shaq Barrett strip sacks. That's eight sacks in the first three games of the season for Barrett, who's the early leader in the clubhouse four Defensive Player of the Year honours.

Jones was mobile - a far cry from what we've come to expect from Eli Manning - and accurate. The early signs suggest the Giants have found their man, and if that is the case no one will be laughing at the 'reach' to select him sixth overall in this year's draft. No pick is too high for your franchise QB. 

Sadly there's nothing Jones can do about the Giants' torrid defense. Janoris Jenkins was continually smoked by Mike Evans, who hauled in eight passes for 190 yards and three first half touchdowns. His long catch late in the day would have given Tampa the win were it not for Gay losing his nerve on the final kick, but fate made sure it was Danny Dimes' day.

The Browns are still a few steps away

<span>Rams receiver Cooper Kupp scores a six-yard touchdown</span> <span>Credit: AP </span>
Rams receiver Cooper Kupp scores a six-yard touchdown Credit: AP

Baker Mayfield threw an interception to John Johnson in the end zone as the Browns fell just short of mounting a heroic comeback against the Rams. Cleveland picked off Jared Goff twice but weren't able to turn the takeaways into enough points on offense. Mayfield looked excellent when getting the ball out of his hands quickly but struggled when given time, and looked out of ideas as he tried to find the late touchdown which would have given his team the chance to steal a win.

Cooper Kupp continued his lightning start to the season for the Rams, catching 11 passes for 102 yards and two scores, and Brandin Cooks also went over 100, though Goff (24 of 38, 269 yards, two touchdowns, two picks) was not at his best and LA failed to get the ground game running too. Todd Gurley finished with just 43 yards from 14 carries.

This game showed where the Browns' limit might be - a hugely improved team but not one which is yet ready to hang with the big boys. They ran a lot of their offense through Nick Chubb (23 carries for 96 yards) but never really managed to get Odell Beckham going after his 89-yard score last weekend. He finished with 56 yards from six catches on the night, and wasn't targeted as Mayfield sought out the late comeback.

Not even Antonio Brown can distract the Patriots

<span>Tom Brady found life easy against the Jets</span> <span>Credit: USA Today </span>
Tom Brady found life easy against the Jets Credit: USA Today

Antonio Brown's tumultuous 11-day experience with the New England Patriots would probably unsettle any other team, but it was business as usual for the Pats as they swatted aside the depleted New York Jets 30-14 in a result which still flattered Gang Green. Tom Brady (28 of 42, 306 yards, two touchdowns) continues to look ageless, and had the Jets on the ropes from the very beginning. Each of New England's first three drives resulted in touchdowns and the game was over before it had even really started.

Beating the Jets forced to play their third-string quarterback isn't exactly a huge achievement, but the Pats are cruising in this early season and look in ominous form. The Patriots defense, which looks as good as it's ever been in the Bill Belichick era, held New York to a measly 105 yards of offense on the night, with Le'Veon Bell held to 1.9 yards per carry and no receiver going over 30 yards. The Jets' only scores came from a Jamal Adams pick six (from rookie quarterback Jarrett Stidham) and a muffed punt recovery.

Patrick Mahomes refuses to slow down

<span>Patrick Mahomes' Chiefs improved to 3-0</span> <span>Credit: AP </span>
Patrick Mahomes' Chiefs improved to 3-0 Credit: AP

Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson are the two hottest players in the NFL right now, and it was the reigning MVP who came out on top in a dual which may be the future of the AFC for many years to come. Just like last week against Oakland Mahomes exploded in the second quarter, putting up 23 unanswered points. Just enough for the Chiefs to cling on for a 33-28 win. 

LeSean McCoy found the endzone twice and Mecole Hardman went for a huge 89-yard score over the middle, but it was a stunning one-handed grab by Demarcus Robinson which stole the show. At this rate Mahomes will finish the season with a simply absurd 6,373 passing yards. You'd say he can't possibly keep it up, but Mahomes makes a living out of defying expectations. Who knows what he's capable of.

Jackson cooled down after his blistering start to the season, and struggled with accuracy on the deep ball. Mark Ingram's monster performance (16 carries for 103 yards and three touchdowns) kept Baltimore in the game until late, but in the end the Chiefs just had too much firepower. That's going to be a hallmark of the season.

The Lions could be this year's surprise package

<span>Marvin Jones dives for a touchdown reception</span> <span>Credit: USA Today </span>
Marvin Jones dives for a touchdown reception Credit: USA Today

The Detroit Lions are one of the hardest teams in the league to judge right now, and that only became more true after a surprise 27-24 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. Marvin Jones (six catches for 101 yards and a score) was Matthew Stafford's preferred receiver on a night where Kerryon Johnson (20 carries for just 36 yards) was largely ineffective but still found the end zone on a short rushing score.

The Lions' defense was stout, but was helped by a swathe of Eagles injuries. Does any team in the league have worse luck right now? Top two receivers Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson were already out, and Philly lost their two left tackles, Jason Peters and rookie Andre Dillard, in the first half.

It's tempting to give the Eagles a mulligan given the state of their casualties list but they are going to have to work out how to win with big names on the sideline, or a season which started with genuine Super Bowl ambitions could easily go south. Carson Wentz (19 of 36 for 259 yards and two scores) was constantly under threat from the Lions' pass rush. He'll be praying Peters and Dillard make speedy recoveries.

The Steelers and 49ers show how hard it is to predict the NFL

<span>Dante Pettis scores the touchdown which gave the 49ers the win</span> <span>Credit: USA Today </span>
Dante Pettis scores the touchdown which gave the 49ers the win Credit: USA Today

Who would have had the 49ers at 3-0 and the Steelers at 0-3 at the start of the season? San Francisco, who couldn't turn the ball over for their lives last season, had five takeaways in this game, as Mason Rudolph was disrupted and kept very quiet until the second half. Rudolph (14 of 27 for 174 yards, two touchdowns and a pick) struggled in his first NFL start, but did have a nice 76-yard TD strike to JuJu Smith-Schuster. Still, there weren't many signs the second-year QB has enough in the tank to raise the Steelers out of this hole with Ben Roethlisberger out for the season.

This was a game dominated by defense. Both teams were impressive on that side of the ball. Minkah Fitzpatrick snagged himself an interception on his Steelers debut, and rookie linebacker Devin Bush continued his strong start to the season with a fumble recovery.

It was Jimmy Garoppolo to Dante Pettis which gave the Niners the come-from-behind win late in the fourth quarter, Garoppolo was again inconsistent, and was intercepted twice, but isn't costing his team games. That could change against a better outfit, but right now San Fran are flying high and have an eye on a return to the postseason.

Dalvin Cook is a superstar in Minnesota

<span>Dalvin Cook starred again for the Vikings</span> <span>Credit: USA Today </span>
Dalvin Cook starred again for the Vikings Credit: USA Today

Dalvin Cook (16 carries for 116 yards and a touchdown, four receptions for 33) made it three straight games with over 100 yards rushing as the Vikings again signalled their intent to lean heavily on the running game. Cook's NFL career has been hampered by injuries so far, but in his third year he's now showing why he should be considered alongside the likes of Ezekiel Elliott, Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara as one of the very best backs in the league. He's a true difference maker and a joy to watch bursting through the tackles.

Kirk Cousins was solid in a 15/21, 174-yard, touchdown-performance, and the result was all but in the bag at the half, with the Vikings up 21-7. They ran out 34-14 winners as the Raiders came back to earth with a bump after a first start to the season. They're a much better team than they were in 2018, but they're still a long way from being a playoff team. The Vikes on the other hand? Anything is possible with performances like this.

Alvin Kamara can offset Drew Brees' injury

<span>Alvin Kamara had another big day for the Saints</span> <span>Credit: USA Today </span>
Alvin Kamara had another big day for the Saints Credit: USA Today

The Saints can still win their division without Drew Brees, and on offense that's largely because of the brilliance of Alvin Kamara. Kamara caught nine passes for 92 yards and a touchdown, and added 69 yards and another score on the ground as Teddy Bridgewater funneled his offense through the former third-round back. The 33-27 final score flattered the Seahawks a little - New Orleans led comfortably for most of the game, and held off a late Russell Wilson rally.

Wilson attempted 50 passes on the night - a far cry from his more limited usage in the first two games - and that's largely because the Saints defense did a good job shutting down Seattle's run game. Wilson was their most effective rusher as Chris Carson was held to just 53 yards from 15 carries.

The Saints will be encouraged by Bridgewater's day. He was solid if unspectacular on the way to 177 yards and two touchdowns from 19 completions (of 27 attempts). We saw less of Tayson Hill than expected - the Swiss army knife third-stringer didn't attempt a pass - but you have to expect his usage will go up in the coming weeks as New Orleans search to find an advantage in Brees' absence.

This Packers team lives by its defense

<span>Preston Smith had three sacks on the day</span> <span>Credit: USA Today </span>
Preston Smith had three sacks on the day Credit: USA Today

All the talk around Green Bay ahead of the season was about new head coach Matt LaFleur and his relationship with Aaron Rodgers. Could a first-year head coach control a QB known for occasionally being unwilling to bow to authority and taking play-calling matters into his own hands? When the defense looks good it hardly matters. That's been the real story of the Packers' season.

The defense twice set up touchdowns by turning the ball over with forced fumbles, while Preston Smith had three sacks and a Darnell Savage interception killed any hope of a Broncos comeback in the second half. Green Bay deserved their 27-16 win and at 3-0 sit alone atop a competitive NFC North.

Rodgers (17 of 29, 235 yards) had a nice 40-yard touchdown pass over the middle for Marques Valdez-Scantling, who finished just a yard shy of 100 yards from six receptions. The Broncos defense once again failed to record a sack or an interception - they may well be the most disappointing unit in the entire NFL in this early season. There's so much talent on that side of the ball in Denver, and with Vic Fangio - architect of last yea'rs ferocious Bears - running the show you'd have thought they'd be wrecking house in the regular. Instead the Broncos are looking sorry at 0-3 and any wildcard hopes are already hanging by a thread.

The Colts are smart enough to survive without Andrew Luck

<span>Jacoby Brissett did what was asked of him in the Colts' win</span> <span>Credit: AP </span>
Jacoby Brissett did what was asked of him in the Colts' win Credit: AP

Frank Reich could be in for a few Coach of the Year nods if he keeps the Colts rolling like this through to the end of December. Indianapolis are now 2-1 with Jacoby Brissett under centre after a 27-24 win over the Atlanta Falcons. Brissett Picked apart the Atlanta defense, completing 28 of 37 for 310 yards and two scores - to TY Hilton and Zach Pascal. Indianapolis are still very much in with a shout of taking the AFC South despite Andrew Luck's retirement. What an achievement that would be in a division which looks to be one of the most open and competitive in football.

The Colts led 20-3 at the half after the Falcons started awfully, but they very nearly swooped in to steal the win late on, when Matt Ryan got hot after a difficult first two quarters in which the offense managed just 152 yards. Two Austin Hooper grabs in the end zone and a late TD from Julio Jones in double coverage weren't quite enough as the Falcons slipped to 1-2.

The Bills have legitimate playoff hopes

<span>Tre'Davious White intercepts Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton</span> <span>Credit: AP </span>
Tre'Davious White intercepts Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton Credit: AP

Buffalo's schedule has been kind to them to start the season, but 3-0 is 3-0. This is a team which is built on its defense - one which deserves its place among the very best in the league, but so far Josh Allen is doing his job at quarterback, and his ability with his legs means he's always a lot of fun to watch.

The Bills limited Andy Dalton's offense to just over 300 yards and turned the ball over four times - including two interceptions from Tre'Davious White. The Bengals did have a chance to win the game late after rallying in the fourth quarter, putting together three consecutive scoring drives, but it was too little too late after being shut out in the first half, and Buffalo closed the game out 21-17. 

Can the Bills make the playoffs? After this start there's no reason why not. They're not going to win a division which includes the New England Patriots, but a wildcard berth should be well within their sights. This is the sort of team which could cause a bit of damage in January, too. 

The Dolphins really might be an 0-16 team

<span>Amari Cooper scored two touchdowns for Dallas</span> <span>Credit: AP </span>
Amari Cooper scored two touchdowns for Dallas Credit: AP

The Miami Dolphins are just straight up terrible. There's no point in beating around the bush. At this rate the team which once recorded a perfect season is in danger of doing the exact opposite - which may be exactly what the front office wants but you have to feel for the fans who are forking out hundreds of dollars every week to watch this embarrassing excuse for an NFL franchise.

Dak Prescott (19 of 32, 246 yards, two touchdowns, one interception) didn't even have to play well as the Cowboys trotted to a 31-6 victory. He and Tony Pollard both rushed into the end zone, while Amari Cooper caught two touchdown passes in an 88-yard display.

Josh Rosen wasn't given much of a chance in his first start as a Dolphin. He was sacked three times and hit 11 more behind an offensive line which is about as resilient as the turnstiles through which Dolphins fans streamed out of the stadium. The Cowboys are now 3-0, but we'll find out much more about them when they take on the 2-1 Saints next Monday night.

Houston's defense is learning from its mistakes

<span>JJ Watt had two sacks for the Texans</span> <span>Credit: USA Today </span>
JJ Watt had two sacks for the Texans Credit: USA Today

Three games and three close finishes - it's fun being a Texans fan this season, even if it's not the best for your heart rate. After giving up the lead in devastating fashion at the death against the Saints the Houston defense has come up big twice in a row, this time keeping Philip Rivers and the Chargers out of the endzone to cling on for a 27-20 victory.

Deshaun Watson was brilliant under pressure, repeatedly escaping LA's formidable Joey Bosa-led pass rush. His highlight was a 53-yard bullet to Jordan Akins for a touchdown while off balance and on the run. All three of Watson's passing TDs went to tight ends, with Akins going in twice and Darren Fells also finding the paint.

On the defensive side Whitney Mercilus continues his red hot start to the season, forcing a fumble which helped swing the game in the Texans' favour, while JJ Watt also recorded two sacks, proving his hit-free game in the season opener was nothing more than a blip. Keenan Allen (13 catches for 183 yards and two scores) had a monster game, but the Chargers offense was otherwise quiet, particularly on the group. The Texans held them to just 62 rushing yards on the  night.

Kyle Allen can carry the Panthers without Cam

<span>Kyle Allen led the Panthers to their first win of the season</span> <span>Credit: AP </span>
Kyle Allen led the Panthers to their first win of the season Credit: AP

The Panthers were yet to record a passing touchdown so far this season under Cam Newton, but Kyle Allen threw four as Carolina beat the Cardinals 38-20 for their first win of the season. Allen was impressive, completing 19 of 26 passes for 261 yards and no picks, showing the Panthers may just be alright to roll without Newton for a while and allow him the time he needs to recover from a nagging foot injury.

Allen was helped a lot by his defense, which sacked Kyler Murray eight times - including three for Mario Addison - and picked him off twice (both Donte Jackson). That may please Ron Rivera even more than Allen's performance. The Panthers' pass rush took a year off last season and while Murray is likely to get hit more than most, Carolina will fancy their chances of saving their season of they can keep up this kind of form after an 0-2 start.

What to Read Next