Week Three of the 2011 NFL season has already come and gone, yet the AFRO Sports Desk hasn’t had one Faceoff debating the action of America’s favorite professional sport. Weird, isn’t it? Not as weird as some of the shocking final scores and upsets that occurred around the league this past Sunday, Sept. 25.
After outscoring its opponents, 73-45, in the first two weeks of the season, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots surprisingly lost a shootout to the Buffalo Bills, 34-31, on Sunday. The Philadelphia Eagles also shocked NFL watchers by losing its second consecutive game this season, this week to the New York Giants. But the actual 29-16 loss wasn’t as much of a shocker as watching Eagles’ $100-million-quarterback Michael Vick sit out the final minutes of a game for the second straight week due to injuries. The Eagles (0-2 overall) were proclaimed by one of their own players this offseason as the “dream team” of the league because of all the high-profiled players they have on roster. But they’re looking more like a “dream deferred” with such a lousy start to the new season.
But even with the disappointing starts and shocking losses, there was still a lot of good football played on Sunday. The AFRO’s Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley explains who they believe played the most impressive and who stunk it up the worst through Week Three:
Most Impressive Team Performance:
Green: The most impressive team performance this week undoubtedly came from the Buffalo Bills. Their 34-31 win over the Patriots (2-0 overall) marked their second straight comeback victory this season. The Bills (3-0 overall) trailed by 21 points early in this game, but Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick did his best Brady impression and led his team on a second-half scoring rampage, fighting back to put themselves in position for a game-winning field goal as the final seconds ticked off the game clock. And what about the job the Bills’ defense did on Brady? We already knew Buffalo had an exciting offense from their play in 2010, but boy did their defensive unit step up big time. Who would have ever predicted they would pick off Brady for four interceptions? I have to respect them as a real contender now.
Riley: The team that most impressed me is the Detroit Lions, who advanced to a 3-0 record after edging the Minnesota Vikings, 26-23, on Sunday. I’ve now seen the Lions win a football game in every way you can this season: a tight-score win over Tampa Bay in Week One; a blowout win over Kansas City in Week Two, and a come-from-behind win over the Vikings (0-3 overall) in Week Three. They hadn’t allowed a sack in the first two weeks, so their offensive line is giving third-year quarterback Mathew Stafford plenty of time to get the ball to the best receiver in the league, 6-foot-5-inch, 235-pound Calvin Johnson. I wouldn’t be surprised if Stafford wins Comeback Player of the Year after missing most of last season with injuries. Of course, Johnson would be Offensive Player of the Year, while star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh takes Defensive Player of the Year.
Most Disappointing Team Performance:
Riley: Coincidentally, the Lions’ latest opponents, the Vikings, are my biggest disappointment. They’ve outscored opponents, 52-7, in the first half of all of their first three games combined, so I know they have the offensive personnel capable of being explosive. Their problem is not being able to close out games with the same effectiveness that they open games with. This shouldn’t be an issue when you have a proven winning quarterback in Donovan McNabb, but McNabb hasn’t met his usual standard of play. Maybe the Eagles and Washington Redskins were on to something when they both traded the former All-Pro passer in back-to-back seasons. McNabb’s great run in the NFL may soon be over.
Green: I’m going with the defending AFC Champion Pittsburgh Steelers as the biggest disappointment. Sure, they won Sunday night’s showdown versus the Indianapolis Colts in Week Three, advancing to a decent 2-1 record. But it still took them to the final seconds just to pull out victorious against the Colts, who will play the entire season without future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning. The Colts (0-3 overall) can’t do anything offensively without Manning at the helm, so Pittsburgh should have beaten them with ease. Instead, the Steelers struggled on offense and barely escaped, 23-20, with a game-winning field goal to end the game. I don’t expect to see the Super Bowl runner-up struggling to win games against backup quarterbacks; I would think they would be the most dominating team in their conference, again. That hasn’t been the case so far this season for the inconsistent Steelers.