Week 3 of the NFL season was filled with action.
Ravens kicker Justin Tucker was the big winner of the weekend, setting an NFL record with a game-winning 66-yard field goal to beat the Detroit Lions and further his case as the greatest kicker of all time.
Meanwhile, Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy was a big loser. Take a look below at all the winners and losers from Week 3 of the NFL season.
WINNER: Justin Tucker
Justin Tucker is the greatest kicker alive. Against the Lions, he drilled a record-setting 66-yard field goal as time expired to send the Ravens home winners.
Tucker had been teasing his potential for a record-setting kick for years, and when his moment finally came, he was ready.
LOSER: Matt Prater
While one kicker booted their way to glory this week, another came up just short to dreadful consequences. Just before halftime, the Arizona Cardinals sent out kicker Matt Prater to attempt a 68-yard field goal.
Prater’s attempt was straight enough but came up just short of the uprights, landing in the hands of Jaguars return specialist Jamal Agnew.
Agnew turned upfield, got some blocks, and 109 yards later, recorded the longest touchdown in Jaguars history, and tied the unbreakable NFL record.
While the Cardinals came back and won the game comfortably, don’t be surprised if head coach Kliff Kingsbury plays things a little more conservatively the next time he has a similar opportunity.
WINNER: Aaron Rodgers
After the Packers’ Week 1 loss to the Saints, Aaron Rodgers told the world that it was just one game. Two games later, Rodgers has made good on that bold framing.
The Packers had led the 49ers for most of the night, but after a late score by San Francisco, Rodgers got the ball back in his hands, needing a field goal to win with just 37 seconds to go and no timeouts left.
Rodgers was unphased. On his first drop back, Rodgers connected with Davante Adams to get the ball to midfield.
One spike and one play later, the Packers were in field goal range, with Rodgers rushing up to spike the ball with three seconds left to play. Rodgers celebrated.
Still, there was work to be done, and Rodgers was shown invested on the sideline as he watched kicker Mason Crosby attempt to complete the unlikely comeback. Crosby’s kick was true, and Rodgers rejoiced.
No matter how dire the circumstances look, if the Packers have the ball in Rodgers’ hands and some time on the clock, they have a chance.
LOSER: Leaving Aaron Rodgers time to work
Just before Rodgers’ heroics, the 49ers were working on a comeback of their own.
The 49ers needed a touchdown to take the lead and got one when fullback Kyle Juszczyk dove into the end zone after a nice completion.
The only problem for the 49ers is they left Rodgers 37 seconds, which proved to be too much time.
It’s difficult to fault the 49ers for finding the end zone when they did. Given the team still had three timeouts to work with, Juszczyk could have fallen just shy of the end zone, allowing the 49ers to drain some more time from the clock before punching the ball in for a score.
Still, when trailing by a touchdown, it’s difficult to let the potential of a Rodgers comeback hold up the current comeback that your team is attempting to complete. Before worrying about Rodgers, you have to take care of your own business.
The 49ers got the score they needed, but unfortunately, it might have come a play too soon. Better luck next time.
WINNER: Going for it against the Chiefs
Kansas City has now lost two straight games at the hands of teams that decided to play with an extremely aggressive outlook on possession and fourth down rate.
In Week 2, the Ravens decided to go for it on a critical fourth down that would decide the game, with quarterback Lamar Jackson picking up the one yard necessary to secure their win.
This week, the Chargers took things a step further. With the game tied 24-24, Los Angeles faced fourth-and-9 from the Chiefs 35-yard line and 48 seconds remaining on the clock.
Already in field goal range, the Chargers could have opted to try for a field goal that would give them the lead and give the ball back to Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense with half a minute to work.
Instead, Chargers head coach Brandon Staley went for the conversion and was rewarded for his aggressive decision with a defensive pass interference penalty that gave his team a first down in the red zone. Two plays later, the Chargers scored what would prove to be the game-winning touchdown.
After two straight losses for Kansas City, it appears a playbook to defeat the most dangerous team in football is emerging. Both the Ravens and Chargers played to win, controlled the tempo, and crucially, were able to keep Mahomes off of the field for a potential game-winning drive of his own.
WINNER: Los Angeles Rams
In one of the biggest games of the NFL season thus far, the Los Angeles Rams claimed NFC supremacy away from the reigning Super Bowl champions with a 34-24 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Matthew Stafford continued his early MVP campaign with 343 yards and four touchdowns on the day, including this dime to a wide-open DeSean Jackson.
The Rams have a ton of talent on both sides of the ball and are playing like a Super Bowl contender. If we got a rematch of this game in the NFC Championship, I don’t think many football fans would be complaining.
LOSER: Matt Nagy
Rookie quarterback Justin Fields finally got to start for the Chicago Bears this week, and it wasn’t pretty.
Fields dropped back 30 times in the game and was sacked nine times. He finished with just one – 1! – net yard of passing offense after his 68 yards in the air were offset by 67 yards lost due to sacks. The Bears only managed six points,
But while Fields looked far from great in his debut, some commentators made the point to hang his poor performance squarely on the shoulders of head coach Matt Nagy.
ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky called for Nagy to be fired.
Fields was undeniably terrible on Sunday, but if the Bears are going to find a way forward, Nagy is going to have to figure out how to get the most out of his talented rookie, rather than attempt to fit him into his own system.
WINNER: Sam Darnold
In the offseason, Sam Darnold was dumped by the New York Jets so they could devote their attention to incoming rookie quarterback Zach Wilson.
Since leaving New York, Darnold has looked like a new man, leading the Carolina Panthers to a 3-0 start. After Thursday night’s win over the Texans, Darnold brushed aside a question about the Jets.
“I don’t want to talk too much about New York to be honest with you,” Darnold said. “That’s in the past for me.”
Congratualtions Sam, you are winning the breakup.
WINNER: Primetime football
Three weeks into the NFL season, we’ve already been blessed by several brilliant games of football in primetime, capped off by Sunday night’s thriller between the Packers and 49ers.
Look at this list.
It’s going to be tough to maintain that kind of hit rate of great games, but if it keeps up, we could be in for one of the most compelling seasons in recent memory.
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