For the second week in a row, Atlanta has put on a clinic in how to throw away a lead. It's NFL Week 3, writes Matthew Carolan.
Wilson continued to show the world why he should be MVP, and the NFC East sunk to a new low in week three of the NFL. Plus Buffalo edged out LA with the help of inconsistent NFL refereeing.
The Rams got robbed
Going into the early slate of games on Sunday, few stood out as must-watch affairs, but the Rams’ trip to Buffalo was definitely the pick of the litter. With two teams looking good, if not great, and sitting at 2-0, something had to give.
As it so happened, the something that gave was an egregious defensive pass interference call against the Rams with just seconds remaining on the clock. On fourth down with 21 seconds remaining, Josh Allen threw the ball into the end zone and missed his man. But that was not the end of it, as the referees called DPI on LA for minimum, if any, contact on the receiver.
The Bills got the ball, and a fresh set of downs, back. Allen threw it to his tight end, Tyler Kroft, on first and goal and Buffalo went on to win 35-32.
There was a point in the game when Buffalo led 28-3, so for LA to have come back into the game and win would have been comparable to the Super Bowl faux pas of Atlanta a few years ago (more on that becoming common practice for them later). LA showed poise and, as you would expect from McVay, excellent schemes to get back into the game.
Ultimately, the teams were relatively well-matched, even if the scoreline only showed that towards the very end. Sure, there were other poor calls by the refereeing team in the game, and LA have benefitted from such calls in the past (see LA v New Orleans in the 2019 playoffs), but the timing and impact of the DPI call on LA could prove huge in relation to seeding come January. They were robbed.
How did nobody else pick up Cam?
There was a point in the NFL off-season when Chicago was looking for a new quarterback, and at that time Cam Newton was a free agent. It seemed too good to be true. Could Chicago finally find a competent quarterback and end their years of mediocrity in the position? The answer was inevitable and short - no.
Instead, the Bears, true to form, decided to pick up a man synonymous with mediocre quarterback play in Nick Foles. As a result, Cam Newton was left waiting with no suitors.
Then something even more inevitable than the Bears making a bad decision happened. New England entered the room like a handsome prince ready to save the damsel in distress. They had a free run at Cam with very little downside to the deal they would make.
The upside of the deal is that New England seamlessly transitions from one type of powerhouse to another, more versatile, type of powerhouse. The downside? He gets injured and they are back where they were in pre-season with little-to-no financial hit.
The Patriots are no strangers to taking a shot on someone when nobody else will. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not, but they rarely end up with egg on their face. Sure, the Antonio Brown era did not end well, but the upside was so big that it was a risk worth taking.
The DK Metcalf blunder
Every year there will be a compilation video of the NFL season doing the rounds. It will be filled with bloopers, controversial moments, funny happenings and so on. It is only Week 3, but the DK Metcalf blunder against Dallas might be the cream of the crop for that compilation video.
It is the sort of moment that non-NFL fans will get a hold of and point to and mock the sport over. And rightly so. It is not the first time this has happened in the league and it will probably not be the last.
With the game tied 9-9, Russell Wilson dropped back and threw a beautiful deep ball to find a wide-open DK Metcalf, who had lost Trevon Diggs with ease. But as he hauled it in and was a mere foot from the end zone, Diggs caught up and punched it out of his loose, one-hand grip. The end result was a fumble and a touchback, and the Cowboys took over.
Of course, it did not matter to the end result as Seattle went on to win anyway, but Pete Carroll is sure to have some tough words for Metcalf on the back of it, although he was somewhat glass-half-full in his post-game interview, stating “the lesson learned will help everybody”.
Win or not, shame on Metcalf.
Watch the latest episode of The Snap with Ger Gilroy and Cian Fahey:
Mitch gets ditched in another Atlanta collapse
Two inevitabilities occurred in one game on Sunday. This was not a game that should have delivered much by way of entertainment, but Chicago’s trip to Atlanta was doused in drama, albeit dramatic instances we expected might happen.
The first of such instances was the benching of the second overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Mitch Trubisky. The much-maligned quarterback has been under pressure since the Bears acquired Nick Foles from Jacksonville. That pressure culminated in another haphazard interception by Atlanta, which resulted in Head Coach Matt Nagy saying ‘enough is enough’.
He put in Nick Foles and Mitch has, in effect, lost his starting job. His position for Week 4 remains to be seen, but the nature of Foles leading Chicago to a dramatic comeback victory (and thus getting them to 3-0) should be enough to give him the starting role.
That brings us to the second instance we might have anticipated in advance of Week 3, and that was another Atlanta collapse. The thing about the Atlanta collapse this week is that any suggestion of it happening again could have been read as tongue-in-cheek. After all, it is not like they blow leads every week, or at least it was not always like that. Maybe it is now, though.
Atlanta blew a lead to an average Chicago Bears team. Sure, some credence should be paid to a new quarterback coming in and showing some calmness. Maybe that galvanised the team to get over the hump. But that does not mean that they are some juggernaut who are renowned for putting up big points or playing thrilling games.
That said, it is two comebacks in three weeks for Chicago - a team who have benefited from a remarkably easy start to the season. If these comeback wins keep piling up, who knows? Maybe momentum will follow with some self-belief, resulting in more wins. They host Indianapolis and Tampa Bay over the next two weeks - better opposition than what they have faced so far, for sure.
As for Atlanta, perhaps they could consider chasing games instead of blowing leads in the future. Everyone loves an underdog.
Seattle are always fun and competitive
In spite of the fact that Seattle has only now pivoted towards being an offense that allows Wilson to flourish as a priority, they are a team who always seem to feature in thrilling fun games. And more often than not, that results in playoff football.
Sunday saw them defeat the Dallas Cowboys in a high octane performance that almost finished with a Cowboys victory. The aforementioned Metcalf blunder was a notable glitch that we might have looked back on with even more scrutiny had they lost, but as it stands, you could now view it as an excellent throw by Wilson that was not capitalised on.
Seattle were up 30-15 in the third quarter, and from that point on, Dallas crept back in. They took the lead with just under four minutes left in the fourth quarter. That is a lot of time for Wilson. Sure enough, Metcalf redeemed himself with the game-winning touchdown, less than two minutes left on the clock, and Seattle won the game.
The win puts them at 3-0 and they genuinely look like the pick of the NFC right now along with Green Bay. With thrilling wins against Atlanta, New England and Dallas, the Seahawks are not just a winning team, they are one you look forward to watching ahead of most teams. Fun and competitive is a good mix.
Of course, this is nothing new. The Seahawks finished 11-5 and made it to the divisional round last season. They are a team with a winning mentality who have been consistently in the mix for a decade with Carroll at the helm. Since then, they are 103-59-1, a 63% winning record with eight seasons resulting in playoff football. Another playoff berth looks likely in Carroll’s 11th season in charge.
NFC "Least" once more
Last week, we stated that the New York Football Giants might be the worst team in the league over the past decade. They might currently be the worst team in the league too. That does nothing to improve the overall standard of their division, the NFC East, who are once again the worst division in the league.
It is a sad state of affairs when a team with no name is the best team in a division. At 1-2, Washington share the top spot with the Dallas Cowboys, closely followed by the 0-2-1 Philadelphia Eagles. Then you have the aforementioned New York Giants at 0-3 in last place. A truly sorry bunch of teams with little to no promise for the season ahead, the combined four teams have two wins from 12 games.
The thought of a losing team making it to the playoffs is not a new one, but the sum of the division’s parts outweighs that one atrocity alone. The NFC East as a whole is dysfunctional with question marks in key positions across the board. Dallas should be better than they are, but their two losses are against Seattle and LA - no easy feat for any team.
As for the rest, Washington’s quarterback is in regression in his second year, the Giants have spent years building a ‘winning’ culture but have more losses than the rest of the league, and the Eagles might be facing a harsh reality that Carson Wentz just is not that good anymore.
If Trevor Lawrence is everything he is said to be, then there are three teams in the NFC East alone that should be considering ditching their current situation, because a good quarterback outweighs a lot of other issues - and these teams have them by the boatload.