Week 3: Offenses cranking it up; Cassel-led Pats far from perfect
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Week 3 analysis: Offenses setting blistering pace
By John Clayton, ESPN.comScoring is up. Defense is down, and it's forcing teams -- especially the Broncos -- to manage a different type of game. Broncos coach Mike Shanahan has thrown caution to the Mile High winds. His Broncos barely beat the Saints 34-32 because his offense scored 34 points on only 58 plays. Even though the Broncos jumped out to a 21-3 lead in the first 16 minutes, Shanahan couldn't get conservative because he knows his defense has flaws. "You try to score,'' Shanahan said of how to manage a high-scoring game. "You're going to have games like that. You don't want to settle for field goals. You want to settle for touchdowns. We had that freak fumble [Tony Scheffler's at the Saints' 8 with 5:44 left] there at the end, but I thought we moved the ball good and had momentum going. Unfortunately, it was a fumble, and our defense made a play when they had to.'' Shanahan was giving his defense too much credit. The Broncos' D stopped the Saints on a third-and-1, but not before New Orleans drove to the Denver 24. Fortunately for the Broncos, Martin Gramatica missed a 43-yard field-goal attempt with two minutes left that could've given New Orleans the victory. Scoring is now at 43.8 points per game, the highest-scoring start since 2002. The normally low-scoring NFC, which for years conceded quarterback play to the AFC, has only four teams scoring fewer than 20 points a game. The idea of running downhill and wearing down a defense seems to be a lost offensive art. Here are some samples of the offensive excess. • The Bengals put together scoring drives of 82 and 71 yards in the final 4:39 to send their game with the Giants into overtime. Carson Palmer hit T.J. Houshmandzadeh with a 17-yard touchdown pass to give the Bengals a 20-16 led. Then Giants QB Eli Manning drove 68 yards and connected with tight end Kevin Boss on a 4-yard touchdown with 1:50 left. The Bengals ended up losing 26-23 in overtime because Palmer had to settle for a 21-yard field goal at the end of regulation. • Brian Griese had drives of 63 and 79 yards in the final 3:11 to put up 10 points and send the Bucs-Bears game into overtime. Then he orchestrated a 90-yard drive, which culminated with a 21-yard field goal by Matt Bryant, to give Tampa Bay a 27-24 victory. Three drives for 232 yards. That's a good game for the Chiefs' offense.
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Trent Edwards used some fourth-quarter heroics to lead Buffalo to a narrow victory over Oakland.
• Bills QB Trent Edwards led touchdown drives of 96 and 69 yards in a four-minute spurt in the fourth quarter. Then he beat the Raiders with a 46-yard scoring drive, capped by a Rian Lindell 38-yard field goal, to complete a 24-23 win.• Peyton Manning was too efficient for the Colts in their loss to the Jaguars. Trailing 20-14 with 2:33 left, Manning completed 5 of 10 passes for 75 yards and the Colts took the lead on a 2-yard touchdown run by Joseph Addai. Still, Manning left 1:07 on the clock, which was enough time for Jaguars QB David Garrard to put together a drive for the winning field goal in a 23-21 victory that may have saved Jacksonville's season. As for the Broncos, they beat the Chargers last week after referee Ed Hochuli blew a call on a fumble late in the game. On Sunday, Gramatica missed a pivotal field goal. Expect to see the Broncos play a lot of these types of games -- unless their defense makes a miraculous turnaround.
Five things I learned in Week 3
By John Clayton, ESPN.com
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Falcons rookie QB Matt Ryan did not throw an interception for the second time in three games.
Don't underestimate the Chiefs draft, though. Glenn Dorsey should be a dominating defensive tackle. Rookie cornerbacks Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr should be the backbone of their secondary for years, Branden Albert should be solid at left tackle, and DaJuan Morgan should move into a starting safety spot next year, if not later this season.Like the Falcons, the Chiefs have a powerful running back (Larry Johnson) and a talented wide receiver (Dwayne Bowe), but it means nothing without a quarterback. After three weeks, the Chiefs are averaging 10.7 points a game. The Falcons are averaging 27, although their two wins were against the Falcons and Lions at home.
John Clayton's game balls
• Week 3 Studs & Duds: Dolphins RB Ronnie Brown accounted for five touchdowns in a victory at New England. Browns QB Derek Anderson had another subpar performance, throwing for only 125 yards in a loss to the Ravens.• Fantasy: The Trum Blog: What Brown can do • Experts' picks: How did we do?
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Week 3 rundown• Atlanta 38, Kansas City 14
The Falcons scored more than 30 points only once last season (Week 17). They've already done it twice in 2008, even though QB Matt Ryan has yet to throw for more than 200 yards in any game. Photos
• Buffalo 24, Oakland 23
Does Raiders coach Lane Kiffin live to see another week? Kiffin, who's seemingly operating with no margin for error, can't be feeling very secure after watching his team blow a nine-point, fourth-quarter lead. Photos
Tampa Bay 27, Chicago 24 (OT)
If the Bears knew how to finish games, they would be 3-0 and positioning themselves as legitimate contenders. Instead, they're 1-2 after blowing double-digit leads in each of the past two games. Photos
N.Y. Giants 26, Cincinnati 23 (OT)
The Bengals finally showed some life. But with the game on the line, the Giants showed the same resolve and focus they had during last season's Super Bowl run. Photos
Washington 24, Arizona 17
Are the Redskins flying under the radar in the ultra-competitive NFC East? The Cardinals, done in by two costly turnovers, came up short in their first real test of the season. Photos
San Francisco 31, Detroit 13
Niners offensive coordinator Mike Martz used a balanced attack -- which his critics say he didn't use nearly enough in Detroit -- to keep his former team winless. Photos
A season-saving victory for the Jags? Maybe. The running back duo of Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew (228 combined yards) made it possible. Photos • Philadelphia 15, Pittsburgh 6
The season is young, but it has already taken quite a toll on Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben, sacked eight times Sunday, now has a sore throwing hand to go along with his tender shoulder. Photos • Baltimore 28, Cleveland 10
A one-year wonder? Through three games, Browns QB Derek Anderson has yet to show the form that made him a breakthrough star last season. Photos • Dallas 27, Green Bay 16
How dangerous are the Cowboys? Terrell Owens was held to two catches for 17 yards, yet Dallas was able to win comfortably in a hostile environment. Photos • Monday Night Football: Jets at Chargers
(ESPN, 8:30 ET) Philip Rivers and Brett Favre may be headliners, but it's the San Diego defense that's on the hot seat Monday. Will it deliver for the 0-2 Bolts? Bill Williamson • Outsiders: Sproles steps up | Watch: Favre
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Looking aheadAn early look at next weekend's biggest games:
• Minnesota (1-2) at Tennessee (3-0): The Titans are rolling. Will Tennessee's defense be able to corral Adrian Peterson?• Washington (2-1) at Dallas (3-0): The Skins have looked strong since their opening-night loss to the Giants. They can make a big statement by knocking off the Cowboys. • Week 4 schedule